October 28, 2009

Life’s Little Moments

For a few weeks now I have been overwhelmed with current events. Every day I found myself glued to the news (mostly online), checking for the lastest stories to keep me abreast on what’s happening around the world and here at home in the U.S. I’ve been disheartened with what’s going on. Yet, at the same time, I feel my spirit dancing because I know this world is not my home, and one of these days I’ll be called home to be with my Savior forever.

But for now, how do you deal with everything? It’s easy to become overwhelmed and inundated by the craziness of this world. It’s scary to know what happens all around us, sometimes right in our own back yards. But we can’t become paralyzed with fear.

Life happens in small moments. If we spend every moment worrying about the future, we’ll miss the goodness in our life right now. So I’m learning to take it all in doses. Yes, I still read the news because I think it is important to be knowledgeable. However, when I feel myself beginning to slip into that worrisome, fearful state of mind, I back away from the news. God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:4), so I refuse to allow myself to succumb to that.  I’m going to enjoy life’s little moments and know that God is in total control.

October 22, 2009

Are you ready?

With every passing day, there are more and more events happening and plans being set into motion that confirm the Word of God about the end of time. It seems like the last few weeks my awareness has become much more astute than ever before.

Growing up, I always heard older people talking about the rapture. I heard them say many times that Jesus was coming soon. And I’ve always believed that one day Jesus will come back for His church, but it has never been more real to me than it is right now.

This heightened awareness makes my spirit leap for joy. I cannot wait until the burdens of this life roll away and we are caught up to meet Him in the air. When that awesome day comes, I know without a doubt that every burden and trial we’ve ever faced here on this earth will forever be forgotten. I can hardly wait!

Some people become a little scared when they hear others talking about the end times. They feel nervous about what might happen, or how it will happen. I have no idea what will take place or when God will call His children home to be with Him. I can’t allow myself to become encumbered with worry over what events might take place and how it might affect me. All I can do is make sure I’m prayed up and ready when He comes. I need to see after my family and do everything I can to encourage others to make their souls ready and right with God.

Are you ready? Will your traveling shoes be on when that great trumpet sounds?

September 29, 2009

When God Tells You To Ask

“Moreover, the Lord spoke again to King Ahaz, saying, Ask for yourself a sign (a token or proof) of the Lord your God [one that will convince you that God has spoken and will keep His word]; ask it either in the depth below or the height above [let it be as deep as Sheol or as high as heaven]. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.”
- Isaiah 7:10-12


War was unsuccessfully being plotted against Jerusalem. It was scary times, but God was on the scene and in control. He knew about the evil plotting against His people and He did not like it one bit. So He sent Isaiah with a message for Ahaz.

God was so thorough that He not only told Ahaz, through the prophet, that Jerusalem was in danger, but He even went as far as to lay out the plans in detail that had been created to destroy them. How amazing is that? That fact alone, that God would love a people so much that He would send specific word about someone’s plans to destroy them astounds me.

After revealing the enemy’s plans of destruction, the Lord tells Ahaz not to worry, that the plans wouldn’t stand and would never come to pass. But then He takes it one step even further, when He gives HIS offensive plan to Ahaz, with a clear timeline of how and when everything will happen.

But the Lord didn’t even stop there. He loved Ahaz so much, and was so concerned that Ahaz be strengthened and encouraged to believe in His word, that He told Ahaz to ask Him for a sign as confirmation of God’s word. And here’s the kicker...Ahaz refused the Lord.

How many times have we done this? How often have we listened to and received a word from God, through our pastor or a preacher, then crossed our arms and refused it? How many times has God reached out to us, through the ministry, and tugged on our heartstrings? Yet we feel condemned of our own sins, shortcomings, flaws, or faults, so we choose to shake our heads and say, “No, I don’t deserve to ask God for anything. I’m not worthy to receive a word from Him.”

I wonder how often God becomes weary with me. I can just imagine Him reaching to me, saying, “Hope, here I am. Ask what you want of me and I’ll grant it to you.” And there I sit, trapped by my own fears or failures, convincing myself that I shouldn’t request something more from God.

How dare we refuse God? How dare we weary Him with our foolishness?

Perhaps there is an underlying reason why we decide not to ask Him for that sign that we need, or otherwise. Maybe it’s because there is hidden rebellion in our heart. Maybe we think we have the answers we need already, so what more could God say to convince us otherwise? This is a scary place to be.

Or maybe we want to believe God’s word spoken to our lives, but we’ve lost all hope and that word seems far too wonderful, beyond our wildest expectations. Maybe our vision has dimmed to the point that we can barely see the hope of the prize we strive for.

Whatever the reason, we must choose to set it aside. We have to realize that God loves us. He sent His son into this world of sin, so that we could be saved. How can we refuse such love?

The solution to this is simple. When God calls, respond. When He speaks a word into your life that sparks hope inside you, but you’re still afraid, ask for that sign you need. When He gives you that promise, write it down. Count on it. Believe it. Above all, never be afraid to ask, especially when He tells you to.

September 28, 2009

What’s on the agenda

This morning I’m sitting here thinking about all the things I need to do and all the things I want to do this week. The last few weeks have been especially interesting around here—mostly because I have been struggling to find balance in my life amidst a lot of stress. I have totally disregarded schedules and planning and I think that is only contributing to my stress levels. I like order. I like schedules. I like knowing what’s going to happen and when.

So I want to create a tentative agenda for myself for this week. I think it will make me feel better. I’m going to do this in two ways. First, I’m going to jot a quick list of tasks. Then I’m going to plug these into my calendar. I don’t know if this will work or not, but I’m going to find out! :)

Quick List

  1. Housework (cleaning, laundry, etc.)—Monday
  2. Study
    1. Sunday School lesson for next week
    2. bible study
    3. Woman After God’s Own Heart
  3. Writing
    1. catch up on last week’s stuff
    2. start outlining article for magazine
    3. book
  4. Go through closets & toys for donation box
  5. Finances
    1. budget for October
    2. Christmas
    3. pay kids’ lunch money @ school
  6. Read
    1. WAGOH (#2 above)
    2. fiction
  7. School
    1. Call to finalize withdrawal process
    2. take care of financial aid stuff
    3. check up on misc. stuff
    4. check in with advisor for next steps

I have a lot more than this I want to accomplish, but I am going to continue this list offline after I get started on the housework this morning.

What’s on your agenda this week?

September 21, 2009

I Almost Let Go


How many times has this been my song? I can’t even begin to count.

The last week has been a really tough one for me. I have lost so much sleep in the last six months or so, and it finally caught up with me. My body started ignoring me, deciding it was time for me to listen to it and slow down and rest. My mind began to fail, as my emotions took control of me. Finally, over the weekend everything came to a head and I had to just stop everything and rest my mind and body.

You know what? It’s right in these times of emptiness when the devil starts whispering ugly things in our ears. He knows when we are weak in our minds, his attacks are usually more effective.

Satan started whispering in my ear yesterday. I almost started believing his lies. Thank God I called on my sister and she set me straight. I told her I felt like something must be wrong with my spirit, or I’d be able to overcome this weariness quicker. She told me not to dwell on those thoughts because Satan would use it to make me believe his lies. And she was so right.

God has kept me through so many storms and dark nights in my life. If I started telling you about them all right now, it would take years to tell you about them all. He wrapped His loving arms around me through some long, cold nights when I feared the hand of death itself. He kept me through years of depression and anxiety, when I felt like the best thing I could do for my family was sink in a hole and die. He kept me through long years of fear and torment that I thought would never end. He has walked by my side, holding my hand through stressful situations. When I felt like I couldn’t take another step, He carried me until I had strength to stand on my own again.

I’m still weak right now, but I am holding fast to His hand. I know this weariness will pass. I’m counting on it bringing me greater strength for the future. Because I know there is a reason for everything we go through.

I praise God for His unfailing love and mercy. It is only because of Him that I am alive and well today. Thank You for Your mercy and grace that kept me, sweet Jesus! Thank You for holding me close, Lord, so I wouldn’t let go.

September 17, 2009

How do you know when you’re in the will of God?

This is a question I’ve asked myself many times. Is it even possible to know the will of God? How can I be sure I am in the will of God? At one point, I even felt like this was some elusive, supernatural subject that I simply would never comprehend. So I pretty much gave up on trying to figure it out.

So…can you know if you’re in the will of God? Definitely! Trust me, when you aren’t in His will, your life will feel like it’s raveling apart quicker than you can mend it and attempt to piece it back together.

How do you find the will of God for your life? Prayer. Fasting. Studying His word. Seeking Him. As you start to do all these things, asking for His direction and guidance, it will begin to come together.

I feel like this is the place where I’ve been for a while now. At first, I just gave up trying to figure it all out, and I seriously think if you have endless questions and feel confused, this is exactly what you need to do. Stop trying to figure it out. You can’t.

Last night something happened that made me pause for a moment. I saw God’s hand in it, and felt like He was saying to me, “Okay, Hope. Here’s an opportunity for you. I’m opening this door again. What are you going to do with it?”

I don’t take this lightly. I feel like this is just one of several doors that God has led me to lately, and I’m walking through it with much prayer and consideration. I want to live my life so that it is pleasing to Him. I want Him to receive all glory and honor. I recognize that I cannot do a thing if He’s not in it, and I pray that He engulfs every aspect of my life. I want to be transformed and changed through Him.

So how do you know when you’re in the will of God? I believe things will start to click and come together. There may be opportunities presented to you, doors open that you thought had been shut and bolted forever. What seems impossible, God will make possible. Where you feel like there’s a huge question mark, and you’re not sure where the answer will come from, God will provide it. When you are walking with Him, the road won’t be without bumps or potholes, but you’ll have everything you need to travel it, and just when you need it the most.

September 14, 2009

Thank God For The Broken Pieces

broken pieces Last night my pastor preached an awesome message, under the anointing of the Holy Ghost. For a brief summary, he preached that God has provided the broken pieces in our lives so that we can be saved. But all too often, we worry about the broken mess in our life, and become frantic, feeling like there’s no way we can salvage the brokenness. We’re barely treading water, so we can’t see or understand that God has allowed the broken pieces to float around us, so that we can grab them and hang on. Because of the broken pieces, we can be saved.

I have a lot of broken pieces in my life. There are some broken pieces that I thought I had super glued back together, only to learn recently that all the glue in the world cannot hold some things together. As hard as I had worked to rebuild something that was never there to begin with, it all came crashing down yet again.

I’ve been struggling with this thing, this relationship. I have never understood it, never have been able to come to an understanding why what should have always been a very basic, steady, solid relationship in my life has been anything but that. Instead, it seems to have always been a volatile one that, at one time, yanked my emotions harshly from one extreme to another.

It is one that I have worked on for many years. I had a lot of anger, bitterness, and even hatred in my heart towards this person at one time. It took a few years before I could finally come to the realization that all this negative energy was only hurting myself and my spirit. After I was able to forgive, it seemed like things were slowly beginning to get better, and the possibility of a real relationship with this person was looking up.

But then out of nowhere they turned on me. A simple comment from me—something that was meant only as a joke, and nothing more—was twisted into something very different. What followed was shocking, sad, and totally unexpected. Since then, although I’ve been sad at the events, but I have also recognized that (A) the devil loves to try to use things from our past to cause trouble, (B) he is the father of lies and (C) I only control my actions, thoughts, words, and deeds; I can’t change anything else.

I know I’m probably talking in riddles to most of you. But to say the least, these broken pieces have been here my entire life. I think some of you will understand what I mean, because you have broken pieces that have been in your life forever, too. Even though I thought I’d patched them up and fixed them well enough, I was wrong, and they all became broken again.

Last night, though, I finally understood. I’ve been looking at these broken pieces the wrong way. I’ve been seeing them as something bad, something sad, something ugly. And while they might be all those things, they are also a blessing in my life. I just couldn’t see that until now. At one time in my life I only saw those broken pieces as horrible parts of my past I wanted to forget—they made me untrusting of others, have zero self-esteem, unable to say, “I’m sorry”, feel lonely and empty inside, like I didn’t belong anywhere, etc. Now I see the broken pieces as a blessing from God—they made me hold on tighter to God, refined a deeper strength within me, taught me how to be a Godly wife and mother, etc.

Thank God for all the broken pieces of my life—they truly did save me! I’m not going to question God any more about them. I’m going to grab hold of them, hang on, and swim towards the shore until my feet touch sand. I know God has a plan for it all; I’m trusting Him to refine me and lead me to that shore, where those broken pieces will all come together, like a jigsaw puzzle, to glorify God.

September 11, 2009

Home Management 101 – Part 1

home management

Read the Managers of Our Homes series to learn more.

As I created my Household Notebook, it opened my eyes to how I had been allowing some things to slip through my fingers because I either wasn’t paying attention to them, or hadn’t thought of them in the first place. Another thing I learned was that that are many facets to running a home, and my diamond needed some polishing—ASAP.

So my HN became my guidebook, my command center of operations. And it has truly helped me in many ways. The most important aspect of it, I think, is that it keeps everything in one place. All my budgets, financial planning worksheets, Bible studies, school schedules, etc. are all in my notebook. When I started adding personal items to it, like a project idea sheet, I realized this notebook is much more important than I’d originally realized. As I keep my notebook updated and organized, I can think much more clearly, and best of all, everything I need is at my fingertips. All I have to do is open my notebook and flip open the section I need.

Bible-based concepts on Home Management for women

My Household Notebook play a huge role in my home management. But there are other things I’m learning along the way as well about being a good manager of my home. My findings are scripturally-based, and I continue to seek and study the Word to refine my home management skills. So here are some of those lessons:

Home Manager: A wise woman, who oversees the physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial needs of her family.

1. A home manager is trustworthy and charitable.

*Proverbs 31:11-12: “Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.”

We woman are the core of our homes. Honesty and trustworthiness begins with us. As the manager of my home, if I am dishonest with my husband or children, it erodes not only our personal bonds, but my family unit as well. My husband must know in his heart that he can trust me in any situation or circumstance. He should never have reason to doubt me, and above all, I should never give him reason to regret trusting me. Once trust is broken, it is very hard to earn back.

Verse 12 is one that I think many women have a problem with. What’s the first thing you tend to do when you’re mad at your husband? If you’re human, you probably want to lash out at him. You might even have a streak of spitefulness in you and try to figure out how you can even the score with him. If you want to be a good Home Manager, you have to stop this. You have to learn to be giving and have an open heart.

This was one of the main things that made me fall in love with my husband—he has a huge heart. There were times when I couldn’t understand how he could forgive and forget so easily when someone did him wrong, then turn around and help them in the next instant when they needed help. I model myself after him (although I do struggle with this at times). I want to be like that: compassionate, bighearted, generous in all I say and do.

2. A home manager is thrifty and frugal when necessary.

*Proverbs 31:13-14: “She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.”

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t fallen on hard times at some point in their life. Unfortunately, if you don’t learn how to be frugal before this happens, you’ll be forced to learn it then. This isn’t to say that you have to be cheap, but I think sometimes we waste a lot of money—and time—on things that aren’t necessary, or aren’t good for us.

The best thing about being frugal with your money is that you learn how to get around price tags and become more creative and adventurous. You learn to think outside the box, instead of just grabbing something off the shelf and doling out too much money to pay for it, or worse yet, charging it to a high-interest credit card when you know you can’t afford it in the first place. Believe me, I’m not preaching about something I don’t know anything about. Been there, done that, have the scars to prove it. (Maybe one day I’ll share more about this, too.) So I know what I’m talking about when I say that although you might get that temporary high from doing what everyone else is doing, you will come crashing down.

One thing that really disturbs me is watching women chase after elaborate, expensive things in an effort to keep up with others, or make others believe they have more money than they truly do. (Look back at #1. This principle applies to everyone in your life, not just your husband/family.) Be real. Be you. When you create an imaginary life built on dishonesty, you will eventually become so twisted and entangled in the deceit that you will become empty, unhappy, and broken inside.

For me, thriftiness and frugal living doesn’t only apply to money matters. It applies to my time as well. It took many years for me to finally learn this. My time is just as, if not more than, important than my finances. When I allow my time to be eroded away by listening to people gripe or gossip, or when I’m surrounded by negative people all the time, this rubs off on my spirit. I can have the most positive attitude ever, but if I constantly give my time to negative people, chances are, that pessimistic attitude is going to end up rubbing off on me. And because I’m the manager of my home, guess who that bad attitude will become present in next? You guessed it….my family. So I have become much more aware of this and work diligently towards guarding my time against such socialization.

3. A home manager attends to her families needs and has good time management skills.

*Proverbs 31:15: “She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.”

Proverbs 31:21: “She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.”

I can hear what some of you are thinking right now: ‘But I hate cooking! And up before dawn?! Are you crazy??’

home managementI’m not going to sit here and tell you that you need to get up early every morning and cook a full breakfast for your family. If you enjoy doing that, great! The point I do want to make here is that as a Home Manager, it is our responsibility to make sure our family has what they need. Make sure your children have breakfast, whether it’s a bowl of cereal or scrambled eggs and biscuits. See to it they have lunch money for school, or that their socks are still in good shape. My family is a reflection of me, so I want to be sure they have what they need to be successful and confident each day.

Most of all, I have been entrusted with 24 hours a day. At least 10 of those hours are for sleeping, for the kids (not quite so much for me). That leaves 14 hours for them. They are at school 7 1/2 hours a day during the week. That gives us about 6-6.5 hours together per day, excluding weekends. If I am not wise in time management, those few precious hours can be easily squandered away.

That concept aside, if I don’t organize my time each day, there is a much greater chance that I will end up wasting a lot of time on something pointless. In addition, there are always appointments to be kept, places we need to go, and things that must be done on a certain day, at a specific time. If I am late for everything because I forgot about it, this is not a positive reflection on me or my family. Instead, this tells others that I don’t value my time, thus I don’t value theirs, either.

4. A home manager saves money, is a sage investor, and uses her profits wisely.

*Proverbs 31:16: “She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.”

I am not the smartest when it comes to investing money in the stock market. I don’t know anything about savings bonds. But I can always learn. I think this is something that trips some women and I’m hoping to encourage us all to do something about it. I’ve always very much been a DIY kind of person. If I want to do something, I figure out how to do it. I might study and read up on it for months, or maybe even a few years, but I’ll figure out a way to get that thing done. I think we should take the same approach with our money. If you, like me, aren’t wise in the world of investing, let’s learn about it so we can discover ways to make our money work for us.

Otherwise, I might not know much about that, but I do know how to save money. Even if you don’t understanding big bank investing, anyone can go to a bank with $100 and open a savings account. Even though it won’t yield much in return, you will be saving money. Another good idea is a Christmas club account. Lots of banks offer this way to save any amount of money throughout the year, then empty your account at the end of the year and send you a check. No worries about how you’re going to buy presents!

Likewise, as Home Managers, we have an important duty of thinking things through before we spend money on anything. Think of the field in this scripture as a metaphor. Before you drop a lot of money on a new wardrobe, ask yourself if you really need it? Or do you want new clothes because you’re trying to maintain appearances among others? When you look at the price tag on that pretty dress, do you think about how much this will set you back on your budget, then wait a couple of weeks to see if it will go on sale, or do you spend money out of your grocery budget because you “just have to have it”?

5. A home manager isn’t afraid of hard work and recognizes its importance.

*Proverbs 31:17-19: “First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.”

As managers of our homes, we have to understand the importance of hard work. Whether you are at home, like me, or work outside the home, this applies to all of us. If we greet the day with woe and laziness, our time will be squandered away. At the very least, our bad attitude about what we “have” to do will be noticeable to everyone we come in contact with.

In addition, we home managers must not quit until our work is done. We have to come to an understanding that what we do is important. Whether it’s washing dishes, or running a multi-million dollar business, we all hold great and important work. My family depends on me to fulfill my duties. When I don’t, everyone is affected, not just me.

6. A home manager displays a kind, helping spirit.

*Proverbs 31:20: “She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.”

This is, I think, a very important lesson to learn, because I believe when we can grab hold of it, we will open up a whole new world of blessings. I know a woman who gives and can never say no to people who ask for help, but she doesn’t want to do any of it. She gives, but in her heart, holds one fist clenched. Even though she gives, she doesn’t have a giving heart.

This is an important lesson we can teach our children, through our examples of giving with a loving heart. Deuteronomy 15:10-11 (The Message) points this out clearly, “Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.”

In addition to giving financially, such as in offerings and special pledges, I believe it is important to give of our time as well. Dedicating special time for prayer and meditation, lending a volunteer hand, or pitching in where you know help is needed and not asking for anything in return are just a few ways of doing so.

More lessons to learn

These six things provide a great starting point for learning how to be good managers of our homes. There are many more lessons to learn from this passage of scripture and as I study them through, I’ll share more of what I’m learning with you.

I hope this series is blessing you as much as it is me!

*The Message version.

Managers of our Homes – The Series

If you missed any of this 3-part series I’ve been writing, about managing our homes, here are the links to all three parts:

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

September 10, 2009

Managers of our Homes – Part 3

How to Become a Mom, CEO (aka. Home Manager)

home manager Now that we’ve laid a foundation for this series, I am going to discuss some things I’ve personally begun doing in my own home. I’ll probably also share ideas of ways I plan to continue building on this. I’m not saying I have the answers to all this; I’m learning as I go. One thing I know for sure, since I started embracing the role of Mom, CEO of my home, it has definitely changed a lot of things for me. So let’s get started…

First, I’ll share a little background about myself, in case you don’t personally know me. I’ve been mostly at home for the last 10+ years. I’ve taken the occasional part-time job to help out with finances a few times as needed, but for the most part, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been at home to raise our children. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always used this time wisely. But I am learning more and more that each day is a gift from God, and every second of the 24 hours He gives me each day is a blessing I can’t afford to mess around with. So I am striving to become a better time manager, in addition to other things.

Second, this concept of being a Home Manager is nothing new. There are books out there you can pick up and read, which would probably provide you a lot more in-depth information and research than what I’m giving you. I am simply sharing from my heart about a transformation I’m undergoing, in hopes that some of you might share your own as well, if you’ve experienced the same thing. I am a firm believer that we can all learn something from each other. And women should especially be more open to sharing and learning from one another. I love this portion of scripture from Titus 2:3-5, of the Amplified version:

“Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink. They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, So that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited).”

The Household Notebook

I think the beginning of my understanding started taking shape earlier this year when I decided to make myself a Household Notebook. After Rob left, I sat down with all our bills and immediately became frustrated, scared, and nervous when I saw just how much debt we were under. You don’t really realize the amount of debt you have if you don’t make a list and add it all up. Paying $50 here, $225 there doesn’t really make you see how much debt you have. Tallying a total, though, might be mind-boggling if you’ve never done it.

As I sat there with all our bills, I decided then and there that I could either ignore the problem, or I could do something about it. And I knew that with Rob being gone for about a year could either be a turning point for us, or make no effect at all (because our income would increase just a bit). It was then that I purposed in my heart to buckle down, make a plan, and stick to the plan to see some positive changes and results before Rob came back home from Iraq.

It was right then that I realized I could either play around (with my time and money), or I could get serious about our situation (not that it was bad, but I want better for us) and change the course of our path. I have dreams and goals for our family, and I knew that if things didn’t change for us, all those dreams and goals would sprout wings and fly away.

With Robert gone, and the sole responsibility of running and maintaining our household falling totally on my shoulders, I grasped right then and there the importance of me stepping up and taking charge. It was a mental shift, more than anything, when it became clear to me that I am truly the manager of my home. If the water bill goes unpaid and they shut off the water, it’s nobody’s fault but mine. I can’t make excuses and lay blame because I am solely responsible for what happens in our family right now.

And this is the mindset I think I should have had many years ago, but now that I understood it, it suddenly made me feel a lot more important….to my husband, to my children, to our family, but most of all, to myself. If I am managing our home and things go awry that are within reason of my doing something about them, it’s my fault. This was a huge dose of the reality of responsibility I needed. Thus, the birth of my Household Notebook.

As I started building my HN, I felt a surge of excitement and hope course through me that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Yes, it was scary listing all our debt and adding up the total. But by facing the scariness of this and doing it anyway, I totally knocked out all fear and felt courage rise within myself, and confidence that we can do whatever it takes to make our family successful.

Here’s the secret: No matter how much you avoid something, it’s still there. It will remain there, like an ugly monster growing bigger every day. Work up your courage to face it, deal with it, meet it head-on.

The fear of the unknown is always worse than knowing what you are dealing with. So if you’ve been struggling in your finances, and you don’t really know what your total debt is, that might be one clue as to why you are still struggling. This is such a simple concept, but one that I ignored and avoided at all costs for a really long time. I didn’t want to know what our total debt was. It was too scary. We struggled to make ends meet for many years. Looking back now, I see that we were flopping in the wind, with no plan at all. That’s why we never got anywhere.

Here’s another secret tip: No plan, no destination.

If you’re going on a road trip to some place you’ve never been to before, are you going to load up your family, get in the car, and just start driving, hoping you’ll get where you want to go? Of course not! You’re going to plan the entire trip with maps, marking rest stops, the best dining areas, and fun pit stops along the way. You’ll probably even figure out more than one possible route, to find the quickest or shortest distance. You’ll plan even further for your trip by stocking up on snacks and drinks, if it’s a long trip, and deciding where the half-way point is to stop and rest overnight. If you’d take such great measures to plan a road trip, why not create a life plan?

So the household notebook is one step in becoming a good Home Manager. You can click here to read more about how I created mine. If you have a Household Notebook, or something similar, leave a comment and share what your system is like.

Managers of our Homes– Part 2

Laying the Foundation

home managementTo become a manager, or land a supervisory position in the “real” working world, there are certain measures you must take. Unless you are super special, you won’t land a managerial position until you have knowledge and experience in that field. You have to have a proven track record that shows you can actually follow through and do what your resume says you can do for that company.

Becoming a manager of your home works much the same way. You might not understand or know everything necessary to running your home. But you can learn and grow daily and grow more confident in being a home manager.

Just like building a house, you have to begin laying a solid foundation as you embrace this new role as the manager of your home. A good foundation is always grounded in prayer and studying God’s Word. Through these, we can seek and find direction from God and gain wisdom, knowledge and understanding for things beyond our grasp of reasoning or experience.

Adding Walls and a Roof

The more we study and learn and grow, the more depth we can add to what we’re already doing. Maybe you think you’ve done a pretty good job so far without God’s help. While that might be true, why not just give God a try? Job 28:28 (KJV) states, “…the fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” Why not ask Him for help, and see how much better you can do with His help?

Knowledge without wisdom won’t get you very far. Proverbs 4:6 (NIV) says, “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” I learned a long time ago that I don’t have all the answers I’ll ever need in life. Just when I think I’ve figured out something, I learn very quick that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. But when I turn to God and ask him to open my eyes, heart, and mind, He never fails to guide and instruct me.

Fixing a Cracked Foundation

Maybe you feel like you started with a solid foundation, but have veered off the path and you aren’t sure anymore if you’re even worthy of God offering you help. If I don’t impart any other word of wisdom to you through this series, listen up and take note of this one thing: None of us are perfect. I fall and fall and fall again. I used to beat myself up while I was down, but God doesn’t expect or want that kind of behavior from us. So if you’re feeling this way, let me assure you, God will always provide correction for any problem you might have. So forget about perfection and mistakes. Ask for forgiveness, be covered afresh with His blood, then get back up, dust yourself off, and try again.

Managers of our Homes – Part 1


home manager I was originally going to direct this thought towards stay-at-home-moms/women, but then I decided this isn’t only relevant to at-home women, but to all of us women. We’ve all read and studied the Proverbs 31 woman, and I’ll be the first to admit that so many of us have discussed it that sometimes it seems a tad redundant. But if we seek to be more like Christ and follow His teachings and the Word, nothing therein should ever become redundant to us. So I’m going to dive back into this portion of scripture again and share something that has been on my heart for a few weeks now.

Embrace a different frame of mind

I think one reason why some women don’t agree with the Proverbs 31 woman is because it’s easier to just live your life the way you want to. And for some, the Proverbs 31 woman seems to be a woman of the “old days”…and we’ve moved beyond that, right? Wrong.

We may not have to gather wheat in the fields anymore, or sew or own clothes by hand with a thread and needle, but the basic principles still remain the same. The only way we can come to understand this better is to change the way we think. As women, we have a huge responsibility, especially when there are children involved. Yes, the man is biblically the head of our household, but as women, we have a huge and intricate part of our household as well.

I guess after going through one deployment and living alone for the first time in years, for a year-and-a-half, and now going through a second deployment, has really opened my eyes to things that I think a lot of [married] women take for granted. Even though I’d always been an independent person, after marrying my husband, and then eventually becoming a stay-at-home-mom/wife, I came to depend totally on him for everything. I was no longer working and earning my own portion of the household income. I had to learn to look to my husband to provide for the needs of our family.

Through both of these deployments, I’ve been forced to learn how to rely on myself to do a lot of things again without any help: mowing the lawn, taking out the trash on garbage day, maintenance on both vehicles, paying the bills each month, etc. And I have come to realize that even when my husband is at home, I still have big responsibilities as a wife, mother, and woman. Some of the load and burden will shift when there are two of us to carry it, but there are basic responsibilities there that I can’t ignore. One of them, I have come to learn, is being the manager of my home.

Before you can become a manager of your home, you truly have to first embrace a totally different perspective—of yourself and your place in your home. Until this happens, reading the rest of this probably either won’t make much sense to you, or you might find it silly and nonsense.

September 09, 2009

Clutter Dump

This morning I stumbled across this blog post, where the writer started a 10 Things Challenge, in an effort to get rid of ten things per week. I really like this idea. I’ve been ignoring an urge to dig through closets and boxes and do a huge clutter dump from my house. Reading that blog post sparked the courage in me to get started this week.

I’ve been ignoring and procrastinating this because (a) I still have TONS of boxes shoved in every closet and free space in this house since our move in May and (b) I hate this kind of cleaning. I tend to make emotional attachments to non-essential items, thus making it very hard to get rid of anything. But the clutter is driving me crazy.

So I think I’ll follow suit of this blogger and start this week. I’m going to go on a search today and find 10 things to dump. That should be easy enough. Will update with a picture of my ten things when I’m ready.

September 05, 2009

5 Reasons Why I’m A Better Person Today

Sometimes I feel self-doubt creep in and start to question myself. Have I really grown? Am I refining myself like I need to? How am I changing into a better person? Most of the time when I start doubting myself, it’s because I have allowed outside circumstances to dominate my mind and time. One of the best ways to stop myself from heading into a tail spin is to define ways I’ve changed and grown. So I think I’ll do that this morning.

1. I’m learning from my mistakes.

We all make mistakes, but we don’t always learn from them. I’ve been working very hard on learning from the mistakes I made. Mostly, because I don’t want to repeat them again. If I mess up, I want to pinpoint where, why, and how it happened because I don’t want to do the same thing again. There’s always a lesson in every mistake, if I dig deep enough to find it.

2. I’m taking responsibility for my own actions.

It would be incredibly easy for me to take on a victim role and start blaming other people for everything I think is going wrong in my life. But I have learned that blaming others not only covers up the heart of the problem, but it causes me to become blind to areas of my life I need to work on. I am responsible for my own life. Nobody can force me to say or do anything I don’t want to. If I mess up, it is my fault, nobody else’s.

3. I’m learning to be in control of myself.

Accepting responsibility for my actions holds hands with me being in control of myself. If I can’t maintain a level of self-control, it’s a lot easier to point the finger of blame at others. This is one area that I still am working diligently to refine because it’s one of my weaker qualities. It’s so easy to jump to conclusions or be defensive (and sometimes I still am). I pray many times throughout nearly ever day for God to help me to control my thoughts and my tongue. I know if my mind is under submission to God, my tongue will follow. Best of all, my heart will remain in the right place as well. Self-control is a powerful tool against Satan.

4. I have more self-respect.

There was a time when I had absolutely no self-esteem. I felt worthless and empty. It took some time, but I built a foundation of self-esteem. There are times when I still struggle with it, but that does not nearly plague me like it once did. I know that I am a good person, with a good heart, no matter what anyone else says or thinks about me. And because I’ve learned this, I have begun to build a tower of self-respect in my life. I’ve learned that when I don’t respect myself, neither will others.

5. I’m learning how to stand up for myself.

When I married Robert, he was the first person in my life that ever truly loved me unconditionally. He made me feel loved and protected, like nothing in this world could ever hurt me again, because he’d be right there to make sure I was protected from all ugliness. Because I’d never felt this measure of trust or strength, I came to rely on him a little too much. I depended on him to fight my battles for me, and take up for me. While that’s okay, and I believe a husband and wife should form such a partnership, I really needed to learn how to stand  up for myself. Inside, I’d been a scared little girl my entire life. With this second deployment, though, I am learning that I am not that little girl anymore. The things that once stood in my way and loomed over my head don’t hold that power anymore. I am a strong woman, deserving of respect. And I know now that, while it’s nice to know Rob has my back, I can take care of myself, too.

How have you changed and grown over the last few years?

August 27, 2009

I have a testimony

Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony…”

The devil has been trying his best to attack me this week. The best place to find strength this morning was in the Word, and this scripture popped up first thing. I need to overcome Satan right now, so I'm going to share a testimony with you. (In your face, Satan!)

Several years ago, after I gave birth to my son, I suffered through post-partum depression. It was bad, and I didn't have a clue what was wrong with me. All I knew was that I couldn't stop crying and I had no desire to hold my new baby, which made me cry even more. When Robert finally insisted I go to the doctor, I was diagnosed with PPD.

I started taking medications and by the end of the first month, I started feeling a lot better. I stayed on the medication for not quite a year, and after a consultation with my family doctor, I weaned myself off them. At first, I was fine, but then as more time passed, I felt myself slipping back into a depressive state again.

This was the beginning of a time period in which I went in and out of depression after depression. I had suicidal thoughts at times. Most of the time I wanted to just dig a hole, climb into it and never come back out again. I turned into a reclue, hiding away from the world. What I couldn't see then was that this was a spiritual warfare, and had nothing to do with my body. (In the beginning it did start as an imbalance in my body. Isn't that how the devil loves to work? He picks at a *real* scab to make it bleed, then once you've healed, he tricks you attacks you again and tries to make you believe it's still that same problem....when in reality, his main goal is to steal, kill, and destroy.)

For a few years, I went through cycles of going back on depression medicine, then getting off, only to get back on them again. In 2006, my family and I moved to Louisiana. At the time, I was off the medication and felt like I was literally going to lose my mind. I reached a point where I felt desperate for medication to help me, but we didn't have two nickles to rub together, so it was out of the question. (Another Christian irony...why do we always wait until we have nowhere else to turn, but God, before we seek His help?)

It was during this time that our church held a long series of revival meetings with Bro. & Sis. Lorman. One night, Bro. Lorman gathered some ministers and men of God at the front, and told the church that if anyone needed a healing, to form a prayer line. I was at my lowest point then, and so very desperate to be free from the torment of depression. I got in that prayer line and when I received prayer, I told God, "I can't do this anymore. You have to take this from me. Please touch my mind!" And He did. I was healed and am free from depression since that night.

I still have my struggles--don't we all? Nobody promised this life would be easy. But I praise God and thank Him that He touched my mind and freed me from that struggle and burden. Medicine couldn't do it for me. Only Jesus.


August 03, 2009

Personal Themes

After reading about my friend setting a yearly theme for herself, I pondered on that idea for quite some time. I read the article she referred to, but it still needed time to sink in. This morning I realized that even though I didn’t consciously set a yearly theme for myself for 2009, I’ve actually had one (or more) all along.

Make new friends.

This is something I’ve struggled with for several years now. It has never been easy for me to make new friends. I tend to be overly cautious and wary of opening up to new people. This year, though, I have made some new friends that I hope to build lifelong relationships with.

No more outside influences.

For almost my entire life, I felt like I lived for everyone else. I did what was expected (or what I thought others expected from me). I wouldn’t make waves because I didn’t want to be labeled as rebellious or rude. In fact, until just over three years ago, I had become so miserable with living my life according to others that I didn’t even have the desire to live another day.

In the last 6-12 months my eyes have been opened to a lot of things. I’m not living my life for anyone else but me. And if others don’t like it, well, then…I’ve learned that is their problem, not mine.

Become empowered through education.

This is the one thing I am most proud of. For just over a year now, I have been in college, working on that once-elusive degree. I’m almost half-way to earning my bachelor’s degree and I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. When I finally decided to do this, once and for all, it was like I dug my heels into the ground and nothing can stop me now.

What’s to come

I don’t know what the next 6-12 months has in store for me. Maybe I will sit down and set a personal theme for myself, now that I can see how far I’ve recently come. Either way, I know that my life is evolving and I am slowly becoming more of what I hope to be, instead of fretting over others’ expectations. It feels great!

June 18, 2009

My 33rd List

I’ve been having a pity party for a couple of days now. Between turning 33 yesterday and another major important event in my life all happening at once, it has been extremely overwhelming. I have to admit I haven’t handled it very well. If not for my children I would have stayed in bed both days.


So tonight I’m sitting here working on some things and thinking about what’s been bothering me most about my birthday this year. I’ve had the recurring thought that I accomplished absolutely nothing last year. Of course, I did, but to me—the perfectionist—it feels like nothing. (For the record, I’ve completed over a year of college.)


I never really jumped on the Bucket List bandwagon. I guess I never saw any relevance in it for myself. Until now. I just had the thought that I don’t want to wait until I get bad news or my health goes south to decide to finally do something with my life. Maybe the reason I didn’t accomplish much is because I didn’t really plan to accomplish anything. Interesting school of thought there…


So here it is…*a list of things I hope to accomplish during my 33rd year on this Earth (or, at least, some time in the near future):


  • Finish writing a book (fiction).
  • Submit book/find an agent.
  • Earn my A.A. degree.
  • Graduate with an “A” average.
  • Enroll in Bachelors program.
  • Decide what I want to do (career-wise).
  • Learn how to have fun with my kids again.
  • Send more snail mail to friends/family.
  • Follow my creative urges/don’t stifle my creativity.
  • Love myself a little more. (Stop being so critical towards myself.)
  • Encourage my daughter to be more daring with her art.
  • Go on a vacation with my family.
  • Laugh more.
  • Learn how to relax.
  • Sew more raggedy dolls.
  • Sew Emily some skirts for school.


*I reserve the right to add to this list or revise as necessary. :)

June 15, 2009

Letting Myself Go

It's one of those days. After lots of great family time last week, it all ended Saturday night when we had to take Robert back. Then I got the news yesterday about what day they'll be leaving and that has just thrown me into a huge tailspin.

I've known this was coming for months. I kept telling myself this time would be easier. It isn't. In fact, it's worse. I feel like there's so many things left undone and unspoken and too many loose ends flapping in the wind. I pray to God I can make it through the coming months.

I'm tired. I'm stressed. I'm worried. I feel like letting myself go. I'm so tired of struggling. I'm tired of fighting for what seems to be a hopeless cause sometimes. Is this all there is to life? I hope not.


(I will be okay. I just need to vent today.)

May 29, 2009

Digging It Out Of The Trash

My life has been a whirlwind of insane events over the last two months. Every ounce of me has been uprooted and changed. And I don't like it.

I've been "just dealing" with everything that's been happening, telling myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it through another day. But I don't want to just barely survive. I want to live.

I have avoided blogging for several reasons. First, I have found that when I am most open and honest, I get a greater response--on both ends of the spectrum. People call me and ask "politely" if I'm okay, or how I'd doing. (By the way, if you do that, that's ALWAYS a sure sign to me that you've been "checking up" on me. *wink*) I don't like those questions. Especially when they're asked every single day. I appreciate the concern, but sometimes it almost feels unauthentic. Not just that, but this is a very difficult time for me, and every day is a challenge. Sometimes I just need support and encouragement, not questions.

The next reason is because sometimes avoiding talking about it keeps me under control of myself. My emotions are terribly out of whack right now, and talking about what's bothering me usually sends me into an awful crying fit. I try very hard to keep myself pulled together so my children won't be alarmed by anything going on.

Third, I've pretty much put a stop to every bit of writing. Period. I tend to do this when I'm going through a rough time. I plug my writing and it comes to a screeching halt. There again, it's the same as above: writing is talking, and talking brings out a lot of emotion at times.

Those last two reasons have had me thinking, though. The last time Robert was deployed to Iraq, I wrote, and I wrote a lot. I wrote about everything and shared every emotion I felt during that time. Sometimes I wonder if that was a good thing or not (I am glad I did it, for posterity).

I don't like to allow myself to become vulnerable to the general public. At the same time, though, I know without a doubt that every time I share something deeply personal, without fail I get a lot of response from others sharing their own similar experiences, or offering to pray for me, or just letting me know that they care and are thinking about me. That means a lot.

I guess you could say when things started getting hectic in my life, I decided to just trash my blogs. Let them go to waste. Have the weeds take over. I figured eventually everyone would forget about me if I just stopped talking. Then I realized that I've always blogged for me. Yes, the attention is gratifying, but that was never what made me start my first blog. I wanted to share. I wanted to live. I wanted to connect.

So while I would love nothing more than to hide, I think I will dig this blog out of the garbage and bring it back to life. That doesn't mean I'll be here every day. I have to take it slowly--one day at a time.

April 15, 2009

One Step At A Time

college education When I decided to go back to college last year and finally get a degree, it was a huge leap of faith. Several months into my education, I became incredibly unhappy with my classes, but couldn't understand why. My grades were great (except for the last class I had), but there was something missing.

I was excited about the prospect of earning a college degree. But the excitement of what I was going for quickly waned. For years I'd dreamed of becoming a teacher, yet when the sudden realization hit me that this was a dream that would quickly become reality, I was uneasy, unsure, and most of all afraid of making a mistake.

Dreams Morph

It wasn't really that I no longer wanted to be a teacher. I'd still love to at least give it a try to see if I'd be good at it or not. But my course of studies was definitely not one that I enjoyed. Social Sciences, which is what my major was, just did not seem to be my thing. Yet, after having waited so long to finally decide to stick it out and get a degree, I was afraid of admitting that I was not enjoying my studies. Shouldn't learning be fun, after all?

After a few months of deliberation and consideration, I finally decided I needed to either change paths or suffer and deal with the agony of studying something I wasn't interested in, just so I could say, "I finally finished." Not good.

See, this is how I've lived almost my entire life. Living and doing to please others. So worried about what others would say or think about me. But this is my life. The only miserable person would be me. And that just wouldn't work.

Dreams change. People change. And if we aren't careful, we could go on living off of dead dreams...dreams that died so long ago they're dirty, stinking, rotten dreams. I think that's where I found myself: Fighting for a dead dream. My life is much different now than it was 10-15 years ago. I finally figured out there's nothing wrong with a dream dying. There's something really wrong with holding on to it and trying to make it still fit into my life, though.

Making a Change

I worked up my courage and decided what I wanted to study was something totally different. I realized then that the school I was attending did not offer a program tailored to my needs. This was obstacle #2. To change my plan, I needed to change schools. Scary.

Change is never easy and rarely fun, but sometimes very necessary. Once I'd finally worked up the nerve to talk to someone at a different school, I discovered my zeal for higher education suddenly sparked to life again. Just hearing about a possible course of action I could take to change my college major made me feel better. I knew these classes would be much more interesting to me. It was the right thing--for me.

Breathe, Release

This is still an ongoing process. I will be starting classes at my new school, under a new degree program, in less than two weeks. I'm still scared, but excited. It was far from easy for me to make the decision to change my major, let alone withdraw from my current school and enroll in a new one.

I don't like change. It makes me nervous. But there are times in life when change is required, and when you make it, your life instantly shifts and becomes better, especially when you know the change placed you back on the right path.

For now, I'll breathe, and release. Very shortly, I will hold those wonderful documents in my hands that verify my accomplishments. Those will be fantastic, no doubt. Even better than that is the inner satisfaction I have, knowing I'm doing something to better myself and my family. Nothing can top that.

Books that surprise you

I can’t keep it a secret any longer. I am officially a Stephenie Meyer fan. Specifically, a Twilight fan. I didn’t want to be. I tried my best not to be sucked into the vortex. Alas, I failed.  :)

After watching the Twilight movie this past weekend, I was too interested in “what happens next…?” I had to grab New Moon to find out, and ended up reading it in less than 3 days.

I love it when books surprise me…don’t you?

One hour at a time

time I’m at a time in my life when I am faced again with living in the moment. I literally have to mark my life one hour at a time. I am having trouble sleeping at night. I don’t feel afraid, just leery of closing my eyes. I hate this.

The time passes slowly, when I wish it would fly. When I’d like it to slow down, it moves too quickly. It’s my Catch 24 right now.

I’m sure it sounds like I’m talking in riddles. Those closest to me that read this will know exactly what I’m talking about. I dread the coming months. I dread the endless sleepless nights. Before it’s over with, I may be spending many nights away from home. I don’t know how else I will make it through this.

Have you ever lived like this? Has your life ever been disturbed in such a way that very little feels stable? I’m so thankful that my God never changes. That is the single shred of hope I have to hold on to right now.

April 08, 2009

Make Sure You Know Your Mouth

I've had a cavity that I let fester because I haven't had dental insurance. I had already went beyond "pain." It had hurt for so long that I guess I just ignored the pain. Until part of my tooth broke off last week. Yeah. When I went to the dentist, hoping he could wave his magic mouth tools and fix it, he shook his head and told me that I'd either need a root canal or pull the tooth because the nerve was exposed. Without dental insurance, guess which choice I went with. Yep. Extraction. So that meant a referral to an oral surgeon.

You know, the worst part about having a tooth pulled is not the actual pulling (which last about 30 minutes, by the way). It's the sitting in the waiting room reading the 3-page stapled handout they give you. You know, the one that lists a full page of things that could "possibly" go wrong with your oral surgery (paralysis on one side of the face, brain injury, DEATH). I mean, by the time I finished reading that litany of intimidating "possibilities" I was scared out of my mind.

Thank God Crystal, my sister, went with me. She must have sensed my anxiety because she started texting me goofy stuff...from three chairs down. :) She texted me a silly joke: What does the rabbit say when he mimics a frog? Rabbit! :) I broke out in laughter and I'm pretty sure the people sitting across from us thought we'd lost our minds.

After waiting for an hour, they finally called me to the back and introduced me to the chair. By this time, I'd worked myself up into such a frenzy that I had horrible heartburn and felt like it was going to turn into a vomit session at any second. Then they made me sign my name and date the bottom of the "possible side effects" document, which totally made me feel like I was signing my own death sentence.

What really freaked me out, though, was when the assistant came in, squirted the numbing agent on her q-tip-thingy, smiled at me, stuck it in the wrong side of my mouth, and said, "He'll be in in a minute to give you a shot to numb you."

I pushed that stick out of my mouth with my tongue, pointed to my left cheek and said, "On this side?!" My broke tooth was on the RIGHT side!!! I must have startled her because she grabbed the x-ray and referral sheet and said, "Let me go call your dentist and double-check." Uh, yeah, that's right, sweetie. You go call, but I know what side of my mouth my bad tooth is on!

I felt very much like Shaggy at that moment: ZOIKS!

About 45 minutes later, after two shots (and I could swear they gassed me just a tad!) and some soothing from the surgeon, I was down one tooth. Best part of it all was that my sister was with me and kept both my kids in the waiting room with her. They were very interested in what was going on with my tooth, but I'm glad they didn't see that their Moma is just as big a chicken as they are when in the dentist's chair!

Moral of this story: If you need to have a tooth pulled, you'd better be sure you know which one it is, else you might leave the chair without a tooth that didn't need to be pulled! :)

April 07, 2009

Making a Household Notebook

Over the last couple of days, I did a lot of researching and printing. I have learned quite a bit along the way about creating a Household Notebook. (By the way, there is lots of advice online about doing this. Just Google "Household Notebook" and you'll get a ton of links to blogs and websites on this topic.) I decided to begin by creating these sections (not necessarily in this order in my notebook):

  1. Finances (see below for more details on this section)
  2. Home Management
    1. Schedules
    2. Cleaning charts
    3. Planners
    4. Positive reinforcement ideas for kids
    5. Loaned/Borrowed
    6. To Do lists
    7. Year at a Glance
  3. Recipes (I'm only giving this its own section to make it quick & easy for me to find.)
  4. Homeschooling
    1. Grade chart
    2. Extra worksheets
    3. Ideas, notes
  5. School (mine--I'm in college right now)
    1. Schedules
    2. Important information
  6. Projects
    1. Crafts
    2. Ideas for projects I'd like to work on
    3. WIPs I need to finish
  7. Writing
    1. Blogs
    2. Articles
    3. Ideas
  8. Personal
    1. Inspiring quotes, scriptures
    2. Prayer requests
    3. Devotionals
    4. Answered prayers


I started with financial worksheets because this is my main focus right now. The worksheets in my notebook right now include:

  • Debt Release Plan (based on Dave Ramsey's Snowball Method) - Lists all our debts, from smallest to largest, in compliance with the snowball method. I plan on updating it with new sheets as I pay off each debt. (This worksheet alone motivated me. I was very apprehensive about sitting down and completing it. But the fear of the unknown is always worse than the truth. Once I finally finished filling out this worksheet, I was very excited and hopeful.)
  • Monthly Budget (Pear Budget is a nice alternative, if you'd rather do it online instead of on paper. They offer a free trial and the monthly expense for using their program is extremely affordable. If you are barely squeaking by, though, do your monthly budget on paper for now. I also recommend Simple Mom's Zero-Based Budgets for the Home: A Primer)
  • Savings worksheet - This worksheet is for specific things we would like to purchase. First the goal is listed, followed by the target amount needed to purchase it. Then I can set a dated goal of when I want to purchase the item, which in turn leads to a monthly savings goal. If we're serious about the purchase, this monthly savings goal goes into its own savings envelope for future purchase.
  • Rainy Day Fund - This is just a simple worksheet to keep track of our RDF. Our beginning balance goes at the top of the page, followed by dated entries of debits or credits, with a running tally. It operates very much like a checkbook register. Simple and easy.
  • Vacation Fund - This works the same as above. We have a family goal right now to go on a vacation to Disney next year once Robert's deployment is finished. I've broken down the dollar amount needed for this trip to create a monthly savings plan. This worksheet helps us keep a running total on how much we have saved towards our vacation. (More to come on this later.)
  • Entertainment Fund - This one is specifically to track our "extra" spending because I know this is where we are sinking way too much money that could be used to pay down our debt. This one will be used with the envelope system, too. If we can get this category under control, I believe it will be a huge factor in accelerating our debt-free plan.

April 05, 2009

Managing My Home & Finances

After a pretty rough month last month and a well-deserved break, I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get back to work. I've been letting things "go" just to maintain my own sanity, but enough is enough. Now it's time to get back to the land of the living.

I am starting April with a new outlook on my personal life. My sister has encouraged and motivated me to step up and fill my own shoes. I've been using the excuse for way too long that, "I don't know how" but that excuse just won't cut it anymore. I'm teaching myself how to manage my life, my home, my family. Because the truth is, that is exactly what my job is right now. So I need to become the best at it that I can be.

First things first.

There are two main areas I am concentrating on right now: organizing my home and my finances. I personally believe these are two very important factors of a home and they go hand-in-hand. When the house is a wreck and relationships falter, more than likely if you dig a little deeper there's financial problems lurking, too. I don't want either of these to happen to my family, so I'm going to be much more proactive about safeguarding both.

How I'm doing it.

After I decided this, I knew I needed a game plan. I need to become totally focused to accomplish the following things (in no particular order):

  • Becoming debt-free
  • Organize my schedule
  • Organize my family's schedule
  • Organize our homeschool routine
  • Organize our household chores and routines
  • Implement new house rules, chore charts, rewards & consequences system, & allowance plan for kids

Now that I know exactly what areas I want to concentrate on first, I can create my plan of execution. Doesn't that sound SERIOUS?! :) I want it to. ;) I started by creating a few financial worksheets, based on Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover book. I built them in Word and tweaked them to fit my own needs.

Next, I went hunting online for more printables to stock my notebook. I needed a simple planner system for myself and another to create a homeschool schedule for my daughter. I also dug around until I found more printables for chore charts, financial goal setting worksheets, etc. (I discovered a FANTASTIC website for printables that is VERY affordable--check my resources at the end of this post.)

Little by little.

I'm currently still putting together my Household Notebook. I started with my financial worksheets because that was the most important thing at the top of my list. Once I got all those together, I came back to my computer and printed out more sheets for the rest of my notebook. I'll most likely just build on it over the weeks to come, printing out sheets as I see need for them. (I don't want to waste ink or paper on pages I "might" use. I want to be sure they are essential to my system.)

Interested in hearing more?

I will share my experiences as I revamp my home and finances. I'm excited and hopeful. The only way to change something is to stop talking about it, stop dreaming about it, stop wishing it would happen, and get up and DO SOMETHING to start making those changes today. You can't change everything overnight, but every tiny little step forward adds up to a journey of a thousand miles. :)



March 30, 2009

Finding My Footing

I haven’t blogged in a few weeks because I’ve been trying to find my footing. I also don’t find it as easy to blog about personal matters any more. I used to blog about everything from screwing up my weight loss to missing my husband while he was in Iraq. Now I find it difficult to open up and share very much, for fear it will be somehow used against me. I’ll set aside those apprehensions for now to give a brief update.

I’ve been on a break from school. I’ve actually changed schools and my major as well and feel so much better since. I finally realized the biggest reason why I’ve been struggling to make it through every class was largely due to me chasing a dead dream. Once I realized this, making the decision to change my major became incredibly simple and easy.

There are many things going on right now that pulls at me from every direction. Some days I feel like I’ll break. Of course, everybody insists that I’m strong so somehow I manage to pull through despite the pressure.

For now, I’m learning—yet again—how to create balance and maintain my sanity. Going through a repeat of what we went through a few short years ago isn’t any easier now than it was back then.

I’m also working on improving certain areas of my life, some of which I might decide to share about here for posterity sake. One thing I know for sure is life is anything but boring. :)

March 07, 2009


I feel like the last three months of my life have been a whirlwind that I was swept up in. So many changes, so many things happening. And when I feel like I just might have a handle on things, something else happens to trip me yet again. Somehow I manage to get back up, though.

The last few weeks have been particularly challenging for me. Without going into great detail, I have questioned many aspects of my life. I’ve questioned myself. I’ve questioned my own motives, thoughts, abilities, actions, etc. And there has been a deep, almost painful longing within me for something more. More from my relationships. More from my friendships. More from my family. More from me. Most of all, more of God.

I have drifted again. It’s almost as if the rocky waves of my life push me in the wrong direction spiritually. As it has been quoted so often, “The more I want to do good, I do bad.” I don’t intentionally push God away. And it isn’t even that I’ve done that. I’ve just become very slack in reading the Bible, praying, meditating. I’ve allowed “stuff” to consume my thoughts and time, rather than turning to the One who holds all the answers.

I’m turning this around. I have to. I need God, more now than ever before. I need His guidance, direction, strength, and encouragement. I need my Father. And I think He needs me, too.

March 03, 2009

Pay It Forward

If you have a few extra dollars and want to do something nice for someone else, click here to read Jenn’s post. It’s a good cause for a little boy that will be positively affected by your generosity. No amount is ever too small.

February 15, 2009

It makes my world go 'round

When I got up this morning, I found a note from my husband on my laptop. (Smart fella, figuring out the right spot to leave me a note. *wink*) I couldn’t help but smile as I read it. He apologized twice for not having a card to give me (yesterday). I couldn’t care less about not getting a card. The idea that he took the time to sit down and write me a note before he left for work this morning gave me a much bigger thrill than if he had left me a pretty card.

A love note from my Sweetie Pie…it’s what makes my world go ‘round.

February 14, 2009

Thank God for You

I thank my God every time I remember you.
    -- Philippians 1:3

I know today is a day for sweethearts. It’s a special day to remember to tell your sweetie how much you love him/her. But this morning, my heart is in a different place. Today I’m thinking about someone very special to me that isn’t on this earth anymore. So I just want to take a few moments to remember her.

Cindy Martin was a very special woman. Her daughter, Sarah, and I quickly became best friends when I moved to Tennessee in 1994. In Sarah, I found a kindred spirit, something I’d never experienced before. As our friendship blossomed, I also began to get to know her parents and family better, too.

Cindy was a no-nonsense kind of person. She didn’t mind telling me when she thought I did wrong. That was something I appreciated about her. She kind of took me under her wing, mothering me when I was motherless. She gave me advice about life and dating and marriage and having babies.

The year my daughter was born, 1999, cancer claimed Cindy’s life. She fought it tooth and nail to the very end. I’ve never seen someone so strong, in such a weak condition. Even though she knew the cancer was taking its toll, her spirit never broke. She was strong in her faith in God. She knew where she was going when she was finally done with this mortal ground.

The morning I got the phone call, I was on my way to get groceries. (Thank God for cell phones!) I immediately turned around and ran back home so I could change and go be with Sarah. It was a sad, yet happy day and I didn’t want Sarah to be alone through it all.

Thinking back, I’m a little sad that I never told Cindy how much she meant to me. I wish I had taken the time to express my feelings toward her. In so many ways, she became the mother I never had. She was my spiritual mother as well. I wonder if she even knows the impact she had on my life, or how much I appreciated her.

This morning I want to remind you…

If you love someone, tell them. Don’t wait. We have no promise of tomorrow. We are only given this very moment in time. Use it wisely.

I thank my God every time I think of you, Cindy Martin. I hope you are dancing on the hills of glory with Sis. Shirley, waiting for me and Sarah to join you!

February 06, 2009

Figuring it out as I go

I’ve been MIA for a while now because there’s been much going on in my life. The kids and I moved back to Louisiana after a month. Mississippi was great—Emily’s school was wonderful—but it just wasn’t home. We were all sad and homesick, and after suffering through a few weeks, I finally made an executive decision to come back home.

Right now we’re coming off a week-long sickness. First I got sick, then both kids, and finally Robert. We’re all feeling better now but I am left with quite a hangover. I can’t seem to string together a cohesive thought and I’m doing good just to get my school work done. The house is a mess, as we await new carpet for the kids’ rooms.

I’ve been questioning a lot that I do over the last few weeks. Am I living up to my full potential? Am I chasing fantasy dreams that are meaningless? Do I provide my family enough of me? Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going?

The best answer I have, even for myself right now, is that I’m simply figuring it out as I go along. So much has happened since Christmas, and much more is happening right now. I’m trying really hard to remind myself that time is short and I should just live in the moment and take things as they come.

January 13, 2009

Longing For Something To Happen

Have you ever had that feeling like you are just dying for some sort of change in your life? That’s where I’m at right now. I feel like I’m on the cusp of…something. I don’t know what. I’m dying for something good to happen in my life. I long for a change—a positive one. I’m longing for something to happen.

I’ve been praying for God to use me…for whatever His purpose may be. I’m also praying for God to help me to be available and willing to do that thing. Sometimes what He wants us to do, and what we think we want to do are two very different things.

Often He calls us to do things that are either out of our comfort zone or things that we really do not want to do. If He asks me to do such a thing, I want to be willing to say, “Yes, Lord,” anyway. More than that, I want to be able to fulfill His calling with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

January 08, 2009

What's Your Word?

Your Word is "Peace"
You see life as precious, and you wish everyone was safe, happy, and taken care of.
Social justice, human rights, and peace for all nations are all important to you.

While you can't stop war, you try to be as calm and compassionate as possible in your everyday life.
You promote harmony and cooperation. You're always willing to meet someone a little more than halfway.

January 07, 2009

Getting back into routines

School started back Monday. Although the first day in her new school didn't go so well for Emily, yesterday and today were much better. (Actually, school went fine--they put her on the wrong bus Monday afternoon.)

Now that she's back in school, I am adjusting to having Elijah at home with me all the time again. He was in Pre-K in Louisiana. They don't have that here in Mississippi. So for now he's back at home with me.

I love routines. They give me a sense of stability. Daily routines, no matter how big or small, help me stay focused. So getting back into the swing of things this week included:

  • Starting on my class work again
  • Learning to adjust to Elijah being at home
  • Emily going back to school
  • etc.

The "etc." includes things I don't really want to discuss publicly yet. I've gone through quite a bit of changes in the last month and still many more to go through in the coming months.

Hooray for routines! :)

January 01, 2009

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009

I'm ringing in the new year in a new home. The first few days were hectic and very emotional, but we are beginning to settle in and I think things are going to be just fine.

I have been so busy with the move that I've had very little time to reflect on 2008. Today was sort of a lazy, quiet day, though, and I've had plenty of thinking time on my hands. 2008 was very much a year of inner personal transformation for me. I have a feeling that some people might begin to think of me as turning into a very-not-nice person in the coming months. Truth is, I'm learning how to say no and stand up for me. It is what it is. :)

I'm looking forward to this year. There will be a lot of changes happening in my life in the coming 3-4 months. I'm actually looking forward to meeting them with a strong back and firm stance. And that's all I have to say about that for now. :)

Hello 2009...may this be a happy, healthy, productive, and prosperous year for us all!