My recommendations from books to websites to vacation spots. I only recommend what I have personally experienced.

Renewal: Debt-free Living



Taking Stock

It’s Thursday, and that means one thing at my house: budget day!

There are a few things that I do before diving into the budget.

First, I pay tithe

Second, I take stock of the finances.

I am going to save what I mean by paying tithe for a later post and first discuss what it means to take stock.

As mentioned in the first post of this series, we did all of the homework assigned in Financial Peace no matter how brutal. The first assignment was to take stock of our finances.

Taking stock as described by Ramsey is totaling one’s “non-mortgage debt,” including “any money [one] owes on anything.” This means listing totals of credit cards, student loans, bank notes, car loans, outstanding doctor/dentist bills, home equity loans, etc. Everything one may owe outside of the first mortgage and monthly utilities.

This assignment was probably the single most eye-opening assignment of the class. I knew in my head how much we owed and to whom, but I never actually added it all together. Listing our debtors by name or title and the amount we owed to each brought a new level of seriousness to our situation. When I calculated the list and wrote down the total in the workbook, it brought me to a shocking realization: we were in debt more than $50,000. It took the wind right out of me.

What the heck? How did this happen? We can’t possibly own that much?

So I added it together again. The total was the same.

What the heck? None of the bills seem that large! Well, except the two car payments, but that couldn’t be helped. You can’t plan for a deer jumping out of the ditch and totaling your car.

And on and on went the week-long conversation I had with myself.

By the end of the week, I was mad. I remembered going into the first class hopeful that we would learn to live debt free. Now I was determined. It wasn’t a regular type of determination. It was fire and brimstone determination. I walked into the second class ready to get to work and pay off all the debt.

After that class, every Thursday I have taken stock of our finances. I make a grid on a simple sheet of writing paper, write the debtors on the lines, how much we owe, what is paid that week, and how much extra we can afford to pay, and then I total everything up.


A template of the grid I use. As you can see, I am not highly technical. I am positive that using a spreadsheet program would be easier and less time consuming; however, writing it by hand and calculating it myself forces me to pay closer attention to the details.



This is an example of what it looks like filled in. The grid is designed according to Ramsey’s signature “Debt Snowball” – listing debts from smallest to greatest by the balance owed. The amount listed in the “Payment” column is how much is being paid out that week. The “Extra” column is for any additional payments I can make that week.

I do this weekly because we get paid weekly. Plus we make weekly car payments and bi-weekly mortgage payments (I’ll explain why in a later post), so it helps me to keep track of how much we pay and when.

It may seem tedious, but I do this every Thursday for three reasons:

  1. It reminds me of the reality of our situation. By writing it down every week with my own hand, I am forced to claim it and take responsibility for it. That’s is my handwriting. That is my debt.
  2. It reminds me from whence we came. Each week, I am reminded of how much has changed for the better.
  3. It encourages me to not give up. As I see the gap grow between where we started and where we are now, I take pride in writing down a smaller number each week, not to mention the great satisfaction I get from crossing a debtor’s name off the list.

Once I have taken stock of our bills, I am ready to dive into the budget. Taking stock before doing the budget strengthens my resolve to live debt free, and I start cutting out unnecessary spending with a renewed vigor.

As Dave Ramsey says, “If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

That’s the goal.

This is an example of what it looks like filled in. The grid is designed according to Ramsey’s signature “Debt Snowball” – listing debts from smallest to greatest by the balance owed. The amount listed in the “Payment” column is how much is being paid out that week. The “Extra” column is for any additional payments I can make that week.

Note: I am not a credit counselor, nor am I or this blog affiliated with Dave Ramsey or Financial Peace University in any capacity other than a student. The following post strictly a testimonial designed to encourage debt-free living.
Categories: Personal, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing Challenge Day 23: If I Won The Lottery

First, let it be known that if I won the lottery, it’s because someone bought me a ticket.

So if I won with the ticket someone had given me, I’d scream. Long and loudly. There might be some jumping and squatting mixed intermittently with the screaming, but screaming and jumping would happen.

Like 70% of the people who suddenly come into large amounts of money, I’d probably end up being broke within 3 years by blowing the winnings on paying everything off and taking multiple trips to Europe.

Because I have this problem being identified “status quo,” I did a little research on how to get overwhelmed by the riches (assuming that the ticket garnered millions).

Maria P. Duffy writes in her article “4 Steps to Protect a Windfall” on that adjusting to a life-altering experience such as the inheritance or winning of large amounts of money can take up to 5 years.  During that time, Duffy advises to put 90% of the money in a hard to access place such as a Certificate of Deposit for at least one year, until one’s status can be reviewed with the help of an unrelated financial planner.  10% of the money, Duffy suggests, should be used for “fun money;” although she advises spending it on making memories and not stuff.

Although I found Ms. Duffy’s steps helpful, I wanted something more specific, so I looked to Forbes.

Debra L. Jacobs, author of “10 Things to do When You Win the Lottery,” suggests the following:

1. Remain anonymous, if possible – this will keep the crazies out of your front yard, including needy family.

2. See a tax pro before cashing the ticket –

3. Avoid sudden life changes – okay, so there goes selling this house and buying into the Biltmore Estate.

4. Pay off all debt – not having to pay debt is a total life change. I may not need to touch the winnings if I could actually life debt free, which of course, I’m trying to do.

5. Assemble a team of legal and financial advisers   – *brrrring, brrring* “Hello, Warren? From one Nebraskan to another….”

6. Invest prudently – “While I have you on the phone, Warren,…”

7. Live within a budget – It should be easier now that I don’t have to pay credit cards, right?

8. Take steps to protect assets – “Ummm… one last thing, Warren, before I let you go, …”

9. Plan charitable gifts – this doesn’t mean Aunt Susie and cousin Mel. Although they may be charity cases, they do not constitute what Jacobs terms as “charitable gifts.”  She does suggest that when one does donate a large sum to charity, to do it anonymously in order to escape being badgered by requests (see #1).

10. Review estate plan – what Jacobs meant to say was make an estate plan. I’m thinking, and I may be wrong about this, that most of the people who play the lottery don’t have an estate plan to begin with; otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be playing the lottery.

Again, although extremely helpful, I was left wanting a percentage breakdown of the money: how much to spend, how much in short term investments, how much in long term investments, etc.

Carle Richards writer for Bucks blog and author of “A Financial Plan for Misbehaving Lottery Winners” (which I would assuredly be), suggests taking 10% of the winnings and going crazy with it – blow it freely and get it out of your system – and then put the remaining 90% in investments. The key, says Richards, is putting “two or three steps between you and your ability to spend the principle,” meaning placing the designated principle amount in an investment that isn’t readily available to you and living comfortably off the interest.

This plan sounded better. I could do that. Just tell me how much I can blow immediately, how much to squirrel away, and how much I have to live on and I can manage. I would have to work, though. There is no way that I couldn’t work and be a happy individual.

I don’t know if I would continue to teach. I may just become a professional writing retreater and attend writing retreats, conferences and workshops all over the country. That sounds like a dandy of a job!

I want a lottery ticket.

What would be your long-term plan if you won the lottery?

Categories: Daily Writing Challenge, Recommendations | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Influential Blogger Award

*This award was conferred almost a year ago. Apologies for taking so long to respond. No excuses. Just apologies.*

The title is actually Most Influential Blogger Award, but we all know that I’m not that. I’m not about to claim that I am the “most” at anything, but if I influenced you even in the slightest to laugh, think, question or write, I’m okay with that.

The nomination comes from Mouse of Girl in a Basemeninfluential-bloggert. She does all of those things I listed above and then some.

Mouse gave a sweeping nomination to all her followers, and although I’m not sure she’s even read my blog and the nomination isn’t exactly what one would call personal, I’m taking it anyway.  Like a free sample.

Rules: Answer the questions posed by the

Mouse’s Questions, My Answers

1. What is the dumbest thing you’ve ever encountered? It could be something somebody did or said, something you read, or even a stupid sign you’ve seen posted, just as some examples.  

I have encountered a lot of dumb things in my life. In fact, I write a blog about them. 😉

The dumbest thing I’ve seen recently is a video of a college freshman, at the urging of his fellow classmates, do a trust fall off of the roof of a shed into the ill-prepared arms of 6 – 8 of said classmates. Thank God (and I do mean that literally) he didn’t break his back when he hit the ground. Yes, I know these people personally. *sigh*

2. What kind of car would you drive, if money were no object?

Right now, I would choose a Ford Flex, mainly because I still have kids. If kids weren’t the issue and the car was just for little ol’ me, then a Mazda Miata of course. I wrote a poem once about driving a Miata when I’m old and gray. I may have to dig it up and post it. I think it also involved blowing Pepsi from my nose and whistling at young men.

3. What do you believe makes someone successful?

Doing what they love and loving what they’re doing. I’m not much into money.  I can be miserable no matter how much moolah I have. That’s not entirely true. I’m a pretty happy human being; however, I tend toward “grass is greener” thinking from time to time. I think that’s what gets my butt off the couch to get things done.

4. What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever donned or seen someone else don?

In my hometown in Northeast Nebraska, the Jaycee’s throw a  Costume Party for Halloween. One couple showed up as a hot dog and bun. She was the hot dog and he was the bun. She fit perfectly inside him, which now that I type that, sounds kinda gross. But it really was funny.

5. Do you like sitting right in front of the screen at a movie theater, or in the very back?

Neither. I like to sit smack dab in the middle of the theater with my huge bucket of popcorn and my smuggled-in bottle of Coke and 3 pound bag of Twizzlers.

6. What’s the most vivid dream you’ve ever had?

This is a hard one because I’ve had vivid dreams (my mother called them nightmares) in which I wake screaming, yelling, or in front of the refrigeration all my life.

When I was in the third grade, I dreamed that I opened my lunch box at the foot of my bed and snakes poured out. The kept coming out until they filled my room almost to the top of the bed. Some of them began slithering up my blankets and I started screaming for my mother. I woke balled up against my headboard with my mother wrapped around me stroking my hair gently telling me to wake, my pajamas and hair wet with sweat.

7. What do you believe in?

I believe Jesus Christ and seek to follow Him daily.  (For more of an explanation click here.)  I believe in learning something new everyday, even if it is something small or painful.  I believe we owe it to the everyone to be the best person we can be. You never know who you will influence.

Normally, the nominees would be asked to answer questions that I then pose, but as some of the influential bloggers are professional bloggers, I will just offer their links and leave it to you to check them out.

And the nominees are….

101 Books 

The Bookshelf of Emily J. 

Leanne Cole Photography

Morning Story and Dilbert

Aging Inappropriately 

Not a Day Over 45

Thanks you to the above bloggers for their inspiration and influence on me and so many other bloggers.

Categories: Awards, Personal, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I have fallen in love with IKEA

I love IKEA.

There. I said it.

There are plenty of haters, but after a recent trip to Fort Worth, I’m not one of them.

Where I live, the nearest IKEA is 412 miles away in Atlanta, a six an a half hours of driving. We were in Fort Worth, TX for a week, so we decided to pop in and see what it was all about.  I simply fell in love.

Driving up to IKEA in Frisco, TX.

Driving up to IKEA in Frisco, TX.

Yes, it is inexpensive. Yes, some of the merchandise is cheaply made (you get what you pay for).

The store displays the merchandise according to rooms, and not just by rooms like some furniture stores, but they have serveral completely furnished (ceiling to floor) rooms for you to browse.  That, my friends, made my heart go pitter-pat.

Looking for bedroom furniture? There are 10 to 15 completely furnished bedrooms to browse. Looking for kitchen ideas? There are 20 to 30 completely furnished kitchens to browse.  Some brainiac even came up with the idea of furnishing entire apartments with the stuff you can buy in IKEA.  Your apartment is only 900 square feet? No problem, IKEA can show you how to furnish it.  Your apartment is only 600 square feet? No problem, IKEA can show you how to furnish it AND have a ton of storage. It is incredible!  And it’s all labeled and priced. All a shopper has to do is jot down the item numbers, hand the list to an IKEA employee, and they will bring it to you.  What is not pure heaven about that?

I’m sorry. I’m sure some of you are thinking, IKEA? Really? You get your decorating ideas from IKEA? 

Yes, and I’m not even ashamed or sorry. For anyone as interior-design challenged as I am, IKEA is a dream come true. It is really the concept that I love about IKEA. No longer do I have to pluck rooms from Better Homes and Gardens or Martha Stewart Living and search the world over for each individual piece. It is all right there in front of my eyes waiting for me to say, “I’ll take it.”  If there is an item that I’d like to swap for something of higher quality, such as a couch or mattress, I can find that item at a different store. No big deal.

But the furniture doesn’t last, you say? I’ll have to replace it in 10 years, you say? So what! I’d have to replace in 10 years anyway. My kids are 9 and 7.  What they don’t completely destroy, they’re not going to be satisfied with when they are teenagers anyway. In less than 10 years, I’m going to need storage solutions, so it doesn’t matter to me that the furniture isn’t the highest quality.

The Swedes are great at using every inch of a small space. I like that – the using every inch part, not the small space part. I’m claustrophobic. Seriously, the storage they are able to squeeze out of a small space is amazing.

I want to redo Eff’s and Z’s bedrooms this summer, and if I had a hitch on my Scion xB, I would have rented a U-Haul trailer and packed it full. Instead, I took pictures and will order online or plan a weekend trip to Atlanta.

Z picked this room. The chair he is sitting on folds out to a single futon-type bed.

Z picked this room. The chair folds out to a single futon-type bed.

Minus the TV, this could definitely be his room. He wanted to look like he was studying at his desk. :)

Minus the TV, this could definitely be his room.
P.S. He wanted to practice studying at his desk. 🙂

Shopping online isn’t the same as going to a store. Although there are pictures of furnished rooms, one doesn’t experience the feeling of the room or experience just how much storage is actually in the room. Little “check out the inside” stickers show up in the oddest of places to reviel some incredible storage solutions.  Plus, the IKEA website doesn’t include the completely furnished apartments like the showroom. The showroom is amazing. It really is a tourist attraction all by itself.

I can’t wait to start on the kids’ rooms. Aflutter is what you might call me, all aflutter.

Hanging this up was the first thing I did when I got home. It's perfect!

Hanging this up was the first thing I did when I got home. It’s perfect!

Meanwhile, I snagged a nifty contraption that holds all those pesky plastic bags. I love it!

Time will tell if I my infatuation with IKEA is really, truely love, or if I will find another company who is willing to cater to my handicapped eye for all things interior design.  In the mean time, leave me a comment and let me know, are you an IKEA lover or hater?

Categories: Recommendations, Vacation | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Award! Award! Award!


Ugh! I promised Rachel of Whims that I would post this in April. Little did I know that the last three months of school were going to be this hectic! And for those of you thinking it, no, this is not an example of my procrastination and master excuse making.

I do want to thank Rachel for nominating me for the Liebster Award. It is humbling to find out that you have a deeper readership than just family and friends. Please check out her blog. You will not regret it.

Now, on with the show!

How It Works

I’ve answered Rachel’s  questions for me below so you can get to know me a little better. In turn, I have nominated bloggers who inspire me with every post they write. I then listed 11 questions further below for them to answer. Then they nominate bloggers and list a different set of 11 questions for them to answer. Just make sure you let the blogger know you’ve nominated them!

So here goes!

Rachel’s Questions, My Answers

1) When are you happiest?

I’m happiest when I am either alone and in complete silence or in a group being creative.   

2) What is the last book you’ve read?

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

3) Are you sitting in your pajamas/yoga pants right now?

Always, unless I’m leaving the house. Then I’m in my sweatpants because they are more socially acceptable than pajama and yoga pants. 

4) How many times a day do you check Facebook?

I : Facebook :: poop : toilet

Facebook is like Walmart. One complains about all the crap, but it’s the one place guaranteed to find your family and friends.

5) Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever put your fingers?

Wow, I have kids and dogs, so that is almost impossible to pinpoint.

6) Why did you start a blog?

I started to blog to overcome fear, which I discuss in a post titled I Blog To Overcome Fear.

7) What priceless piece of advice can you give to the rest of us?

This is a hard one. I’m usually brimming with advice (I like to call it encouragement), so my motto is “take what you need and leave what you don’t.”  Staying in line with my motto, here goes:

      • Jesus saves
      • Don’t eat yellow snow
      • Never, under any circumstance, take a sleeping pill and a laxative at the same time. 
      • Do what you love. 
      • Do what you fear. 
      • Start now. 

8) Favorite food?


9) Least favorite relative? Okay, if you don’t want to answer that, how about Favorite book?

Whew! I’m glad you gave me an alternative question to answer. I almost broke out into a sweat. 

These Is My Words by Nancy Turner

10) Biggest fear?

I have two biggest fears: drowning and coming to the end of my life and having regrets.

11) How much do you love me right now for nominating you? :-D

As much as you want me to. 🙂

And the Nominees are….

A Year of Reading the World

Aging Appropriately

DisneyUK’s Blog 

It Started With a Quote

Gypsy Queen

The Bookshelf of Emily J.

The Belle Jar

The Two Boys Club

Rants From the Crib

May Your Soul Stir

Congratulations People! Now, copy and paste these questions to your post. Answer them and come up with 11 questions of your own for your nominees. Ready?

1. What is the worst book you have ever read?

2. What is one thing you would tell your younger self?

3. Which would you rather have stolen, your car or your cell phone?

4. What is the best book you read in the last six months?

5. What snack must you have when going to the movies?

6. Would you rather talk like Yoda or breathe like Vader?

7. What is one thing that you will always be glad you did?

8. How much did your most expensive pair of shoes cost?

9. Are you an indoor or an outdoor person?

10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Why?

11. What time do you wake in the morning, and what’s the first thing you do?

Congratulations, nominees! Thanks for all your inspiring work. Keep it up!

Categories: Awards, Recommendations | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Random Thoughts Friday #25

Random Thoughts

I am so glad the month of March is almost over. I don’t usually wish time away, but this month has worn me out.  Tomorrow my family and I will take off for the last of four trips for this month.

With all this traveling, one thing I have had is time to think. And it is amazing the thoughts one can have when you have time to think. Sadly, none of my thoughts were earth-shakingly brilliant.

1. My husband was right about the seats in my car. They make your butt hurt.

2. There is no way that I will admit that to him. Ever.

3. As many times as I have traveled I-70 across Missouri, I should know exactly where all the good exits are located. I don’t, so I scan the “Food” road signs at each exit wondering all the while whether that would be the last exit that has decent food.

4. I should start a travel blog. If it is anything like my thoughts after I started Random Thoughts Friday, all my traveling will come to an abrupt end.

5. Most people do not like black licorice, but I do. Twizzler is usually my go to licorice for road trips, but that

has changed. Now Darrell Lea’s Soft Eating Liquorice is my traveling companion. It is smooth, chewy and down right delicious. Yummmm-O!

6. When you travel, most people will assume that it is for fun. Only one of the four trips I have taken this month was for fun.

7. My #1 rule when packing: you can always buy what you forget.

8. There is no way out of getting fat when in a car most of the month.

9. Absence must make the heart grow fonder. #9 and his wife, #8 and her husband and I were eating supper at Whiskey Creek the night before I left to drive back to Tennessee. As we left the table, I decided to surprise #9 with a hug once we were outside the restaurant. I didn’t even get a chance to get outside! #9 walked up to me while we were leaving, put his arm around me, gave me a squeeze and told me that he was glad we got together and to have a safe trip home. I was stunned. That may have been the only time he’s ever hugged me. That made my trip.

Me and Dave

10. Something big must be about to happen. My brothers are acting lovey dovey.  #6 made a surprise visit this fall, and we spent the day at Graceland. We talked more in that 24 hours than we had in all my life. He not only gave me a big hug, but also took a picture with me – something he doesn’t normally do without coaxing.  Then #9, who usually doesn’t care whether I’m in town, requests to have supper with me before I return to Tennessee, and he hugs me! Their actions might be normal for most brothers, but for mine, these behaviors are  most certainly unusual and lovey dovey. All this attention has left me wondering if some great cataclysmic occurrence is imminent!

Have a happy weekend, and I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts.

So what have you been thinking?

Categories: Family, Random Thought Friday, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cafe Du Monde only takes cash

When G was 16, the two of us spent a surprisingly cold, and later wet, weekend in New Orleans. When we arrived it was just cold, so I took advantage of the relatively nice weather to escort her through Bourbon Street.  The sun was still shining and the eclectic debauchery of the French Quarter was not yet in full swing. We walked the length of Bourbon Street, looking at the architecture,  listening to a few street musicians, meandering through a handful of specialty shops, and from time to time, smelling the repugnant aroma of bodily fluids mixed with alcohol.  The latter being enough to make G want to take an alternate route back to our hotel.

We spent most of our time shopping and eating on Canal Street and buying gifts for special people on Magazine Street. Cafe Du Monde 2The morning we were scheduled to leave New Orleans, we breakfasted at the original Cafe’ Du Monde on Decatur Street in the French Market.

There was a small wait to get inside, but it was well worth it.  Nice and toasty warm, we were glad to have a seat inside out of the wind instead of the green tarpaulin enclosed porch.  We sat down at a vacant table and within a moment, a waiter was before us taking out order.  Since the menu consists of beignets and coffee, that’s what we ordered – 6 beignets and two cafe′ au laits.  After ordering, I asked the waiter, “Do you take debit cards?”  I didn’t have a penny in my pocket and knew I’d be in trouble if they didn’t accept either.  

I was in trouble. They didn’t take checks, credit or debit. Cash only.

Feeling like a complete fool, I admitted to the waiter that I didn’t have any cash and he’d have to cancel the order.  His kind smile betrayed his “here sits another unprepared tourist” thoughts.

“It’s okay,” he said. “It happens all the time (drawing out ‘all the time’ as if it happens aaaaall the tiiiiiime). There is an ATM in the variety store across the street. Leave your daughter as collateral.”  G’s eyes pop open in shock.

I said, “Okay. Thanks!”  I looked at G who was on the verge of being mortified and told her, “I’ll be right back,” and then left her there.

I ran across the street, retrieved enough moolah to ensure I would not be stuck in this predicament again, and then ran right back to Cafe’ du Monde and enjoyed wonderfully warm beignets ensconced in a mountain of powdered sugar and the best cafe’ au lait I’ve ever experienced.

Catty-corner from the du Monde, I bought this beauty from a street artist with the left over cash. wpid-IMAG1223.jpgIt is now hanging in the entry way of my house.

If you are planning a trip to New Orleans, make time to have beignets and coffee at Cafe’ du Monde. It is well worth it.

Just remember to take cash.

Categories: Bad Decisions, Family, Food, Parenting, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

2013 Reading List

I am republishing this list (original found here) for a couple of reasons.

  • I like to share my reading lists.
  • This will help me stay accountable and on track with my reading goals.

In my pursuit to be better, I will be diversifying my writing skills by adding the occasional book review. I don’t usually write reviews, so this is going to be a challenge.  The books that are already crossed off the list were started and finished between October and January. I will be reviewing these first.

2013 reading wish list:

What book do you suggest I add to my list?

Categories: Books!, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Years Resolutions

I don’t think resolutions are stupid or pointless. The idea of beginning again, opting for change, and starting over inherently comes with the beginning of a new year. Like spring, the new year is froth with possibilities, inciting a new energy that is hard to manufacture at other times during the year. (I know there are nay-sayers out there who think I’m full of bunk. Well, ya better stop reading now because it’s gunna get a whole lot bunkier up in here.)


I also think it is important to examine one’s life. Socrates said it, and you’ve heard it: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” For a person who is predisposed to investigate pretty much everything, the quote isn’t merely a saying, it’s a way of life. From time to time, I let myself get off-balance and I over do it, becoming unhappy with everything in and everything about my life. When that happens, I usually have a tremendously long resolution list that I can’t possibly keep.

This time last year I was feeling overwhelmed with all the change that my life seemed to need, and then I came across My One Word – “an experiment to move [people] beyond [the New Year’s resolution make and break] cycle . . . and instead pick one word, provid[ing] clarity by narrowing [the list] into a single focus.”

One word? Single focus? I’m in!

Last year’s word was Contentment.

Or was it Peace.

Crap, I can’t even remember.

Either way, it meant looking for and striving for the positive, being okay where I am right here and now. That didn’t mean that I didn’t want to progress. It meant that I needed to stop striving and be grateful for what I had. It meant that I needed to stop trying to make things better and see that my life wasn’t that bad where I was.

Low and behold, when I stopped and started seeing what I had and what it was worth, I was content and peaceful.

It wasn’t easy because I innately believe everything can be better and no one has ever “made it.” I don’t care what Barry Manilow says.  I like to evaluate what’s not working, fix it, and move on, so to stop and smell the roses was an everyday struggle.  Some days I failed miserably, some days I received gentle reminders from friends and family, and some days I had to have a strongly worded conversation with myself, but I ended 2012 with contentment and peace.

Here I am at the beginning of 2013, thinking that My One Word resolution works for me.  I can focus on one word. (Yes, the book is on my list, and yes, I read the blog.)

This year’s word is Better.

This year I am going to do and be better. That may seem huge and unattainable, but c’mon, I’m not shooting for the moon here people. I just want to be better. Even if it is an infinitesimal spec better, that’s progress (continuing to strive for contentment)!


Photo Credit:

I don’t have to beat myself up by not making big enough stides in becoming the best person I can be, because in reality, that goal is unattainable; however, I can be better. And if I don’t consult the devilish stick that measures me against other people and stick to one simple question – Am I better than I was? – then I can do it.

And so can you.

So . . . what’s your one word?

Categories: Faith, Personal, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hiatus and Awards! Awards! Awards!

I hope I still have readers after the unannounced hiatus I took this past month.  It was much needed.

I wish I could say I was traipsing across Europe with my husband and children, trodding where the wind blows, but negatory. I was doing what  I do best when I have multiple choices to a simple decision: I wind myself up, unravel, sort out the pieces, make a pros and cons list, talk to trustworthy people of differing temperaments, add to the pros and cons list, ponder, write about it, pray, pray, pray, look over the pros and cons list, write, and finally pursue all choice and let God figure it out.

Here I am, all directions pursued, ready to come back to my blog.  Thank you to all who did not drop me from their reading list. I appreciate your patience.

Now on to awards!

Right before Thanksgiving, two of my favorite bloggers nominated me for Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  I am humbled because facelikeafryingpan of The Embiggens Project  and wedelmom of The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle actually inspire me!

Although, I’m uncertain how all my nincompoopness is inspiring, I humbly acknowledge the nomination. 😉

Here is what I have to do next:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.

Inspiring award

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

  • Done

3. State 7 things about yourself.

  1. I hate stating things about myself.
  2. I am a sucker for personality sorters. According to Kiersian temperament Theory, I am a Rational Fieldmarshall. According to Futurian Giftings, I operate most highly as a Teacher, Encourager, Administrator and operate least as Compassion Person. According to Rathian Strengths Finder 2.0, my top five strengths are Intellection, Input, Connectedness, Learner, and Responsibility. According to Mandlonian Theory, I’m a Do It My Way And No One Gets Hurt.
  3. Books are my friends. They take me on adventures.
  4. In my head I am ultra serious, in person not so much.
  5. If people would think like me, the world would be a much better place.
  6. I love embarrassing my children. Just last Sunday, I danced around playing a tambourine in church. G was mortified.
  7. I dream of one day being organized. I have started using an agenda.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.

  1. Here and There
  2. Live to Write – Write to Live
  3. The Better Man Project
  4. hooleywithaz
  5. Canadian Hiking Photography
  6. A Detailed House
  7. Fortyteen Candles
  8. Stillness of Heart
  9. A Confederacy of Spinsters
  10. The Yellow House
  11. Subtlekate
  12. Aging Appropriately
  13. Monica’s Pen
  14. The Way Everlasting
  15. I Am Second

5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

  • Done

There is all kinds of inspiration going on in these blogs, so take a moment to check them out.

Who couldn’t use some inspiration from time to time?

Categories: Awards, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment