Thanksday #93

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Please don’t turn me in, but we sorta kinda played hooky yesterday.

We got a sudden influx of snow on Tuesday night, which caught everyone off-guard. They delayed the school day a couple of hours but the back roads by our house were still icy and slick, so we made an executive decision to keep everyone home. And then church was cancelled for the night.

So we sledded and threw snowballs (me and the kids) and took naps (Paxton) and drank coffee (not the kids) and played video games (not me). And for the first time in a long while, not a single one of us had to leave the house at all (not a single one of us).

Except to sled.

It was as glorious as it sounds.

Here’s the thing about me — if finances and time permitted, I’d be jettisoning off to Paris or Europe or Africa on adventures and mission trips all the time. But if you make me leave the house multiple times a day to do school and grocery and church and doctor appointment runs, I’m going to complain pretty much non-stop about how I just don’t want to have to go anywhere for one stinking day, please! and can I just have all my people under one roof for that day, too?? That’d be awesome.

Thankfuls this week:

1. Glee. Do you know what pure, unadulterated glee sounds like? It sounds like a four year-old boy who sleds down the same hill time after time after time laughing his adorable little head off, then jumping up and shouting “again!” and running with a bad case of the giggles up the hill just one…more…time.

2. Dirty Dishes. The dishes need to be emptied from the dishwasher — it’s been hours and hours since they were washed — and the sink is full of a whole new batch and the floors need to be vacuumed. But I haven’t done a lick of it yet, and feel no stress or anxiety about making sure it gets done right this minute! Instead I’m going with the flow of today, and it doesn’t include dirty dishes. Yet. (I’m calling that maturity, not laziness, FYI.)

3. Super Bowls. And I’m not talking soups for bowls. My hometown team — the team I grew up watching, the team that had the greatest duo ever, Zorn and Largent…IS GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL! It’s so stinking exciting. I feel like I’m 10 years old cheering them on again and stalking Jim Zorn around my church when he was a guest speaker. Or something like that. #goseahawks #12thman #hashtagsinblogpostsdontmakesense

4. Be Still by Bethel Music. This song here is my mantra right now.

Be still my heart and know
You are God alone
Stop thinking so much
and just let go…

5. A Listening Ear. Do you know what’s absolutely priceless? A doctor who listens — really listens — to what’s going on with you and doesn’t brush you off or make you feel like you’re crazy. A doctor who actually verifies some things you thought were going on. For the first time in years, I felt completely heard. This new doctor took me seriously and offered real solutions. It meant so much to me I cried right there on the paper-covered exam table.

6. No Distractions. Our pastor challenged the church to a week-long distraction-free fast this week…to put down any social media or technology that is a distraction to us and instead focus on praying for those in need in our lives. After assessing the things most distracting to me, I decided to fast Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. And I have to admit — the first day was hard. I’m so used to mindlessly scrolling through each of these apps throughout the day — in carline, when I’m procrastinating, when I’m watching TV even. But after day two, it got a lot easier. And by day three, I haven’t really missed it at all. I know I’ll be back on each of these after the fast, but I’m hoping my involvement is more intentional and active, not just a passive way to pass time. (And it forced me to personally connect with people — specifically, two friends who are literally about to have babies any minute! And personal connection wins every time.) (I just tend to forget that.)

7. One Hour. After sick days and snow days and doctor appointment days, it was heavenly to have just one hour alone at the coffee shop this week. (I adore all my people together under one roof, but all the togetherness has to be balanced with some solo time for Mama. You know?) It was just me, my roasted red pepper soup and drip coffee with two shots. Just what the doctor ordered.

8. From the Mouths of Babes. This month at church is called “Famuary” where we have our kids with us during the worship part of our service and some of our kids even help lead worship. And I am here to tell you — being a part of a service led by kids ranging from 5-12 years old is about the most holy thing you’ll ever experience. If your heart isn’t moved as they proclaim scripture and sing their hearts out to Jesus, you’re just a mean one, Mrs. Grinch.

9. Hilarity. Laughter is the best medicine, and I love, love, love, love, LOVE that it can be found almost daily at my house. “You have filled me with joy, and happiness has risen in my heart, great delight and unrivaled joy, even more than when bread abounds and wine flows freely.” (Psalm 4:7, The Voice)

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10. Freezers. This is so ridiculous. But due to our snow day yesterday we didn’t get to church last night. And since there was no church, there was no dinner planned at my house, since we usually eat at church on Wednesdays. Fortunately, I had a hodge-podge of french fries, fried pickles and boneless wings in the freezer, and therefore, we feasted like kings.

I’m so grateful for you — you make this post the most fun one of my week! Please share your thankfuls so we can all celebrate together. Happy almost-weekend, everyone.

What are you thankful for this week?

Thanksday #92

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As soon as church was over last night, Paxton turned to me suddenly and said, “I think I might frow up.” Which for him, usually means he’s exhausted and ready to go to bed, especially since it was literally 10 minutes from his bedtime. So I poo-poo’d his supposed “nausea” and headed out to say goodbye to Greg.

We walked down the hall and suddenly, right there in the hall outside the sanctuary, he lost his dinner. We raced home and he was fine until 10 pm when he kept saying he might throw up but didn’t; he just tossed and turned for four hours and finally fell asleep around 2 am after a pretty significant upchuck.

So I’m incredibly discombobulated today, due to lack of sleep and fear that every minor sensation in my stomach means I’ve caught his stomach bug.

Needless to say, I’m very thankful for:

1. Coffee. I cannot deal with just five hours of sleep. Can. Not. Deal.

2. Lysol. It’s so obviously a fumigation kind of day.

3. Paper Towels. I mentioned this briefly on Facebook the other day — I have a slight obsession with paper towels, and use an extraordinary amount of them every week. There is nothing like the feeling of being down to the end of your last roll…and then coming home from the store with a fresh 6-pack. There really isn’t. I know it’s probably not very eco-friendly and it’s not super cost-effective, but it grosses me out to no end to use cloth to clean countertops and stovetops and all things kitchen and bathroom. And since I’m not a super-duper cleaner in any other way, shape or form, I feel it’s important to at least clean these countertops with excellence. And with the quicker picker-upper.

4. Windex Multi-Surface Cleaner. I became slight addicted to this after staying with my sister-in-law at Thanksgiving, and I even sent her a text of gratitude. It smells divine and can be used on mirrors, counters, and (more!) since it’s also anti-bacterial. Cleaning counters with excellence. It’s our new family motto.

5. Normal Sleep Settings. I mentioned last week how my FitBit is showing very erratic sleeping patterns, which probably explains a general fatigue most days. Well after some investigation, I realized it was set to a “sensitive” sleep setting which pretty much tracks any movement (rolling over) as “restless.” After changing it to “normal” however, it now shows an 80-90% sleep efficiency, versus 50-60%. This doesn’t affect my sleep whatsoever, or make me feel more rested in the morning per se, but instead of stressing out every morning about ineffective sleep, I think, “not bad.”

6. Nitrous Oxide (aka Laughing Gas). I am a 40-year old ninny when it comes to the dentist. And this week I had to get a crown because I AM A QUEEN. (Why is it that just sitting in the waiting room of a dentist’s office makes my inside churn I resort to a fearful nine year-old girl?) When they called me back to the chair, I proudly stood and lifted my head high and looked down my nose like the Dowager Countess and said, “I’d like some nitrous today, please.” And the laughing gas, coupled with my Justin Timberlake album, brought me to a happy, happy place. (With an 85% sleep efficiency.)

7. Downton Abbey. Listen, I adore Downton for all the same reasons you do — the setting, the accents, the clothes, Maggie Smith, the DRAMA. But my most favorite thing about Downton is that IT IS COMMERCIAL-FREE. It’s so nice to watch something recorded and not have to fast-forward through five minutes of commercials every eight minutes. #firstworldproblems

8. New Blog Series. I’m starting a new blog series in a couple of weeks called A Beautiful Life. It’s based on Psalm 16:11 from The Voice, “You direct me on a path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with you, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.” The reason I’m so excited about it is that I’m going to have four or five of my most favorite bloggers as guests for the series AND YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THEM! I simply cannot wait to share their beautiful perspectives and watch how God weaves together this amazing kaleidoscope of beauty together. Make sure to tune in on Tuesday, January 25 as we kick off the series!

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9. Beanitos Black Bean Chips. When your church corporately does a Daniel Fast, one finds it hard to let go of their tortilla chip and Cheez-It habit. (Or so I hear.) A friend introduced me to the Beanito Black Bean Chip last year during the fast, and I have to admit I am completely addicted. And I feel no guilt eating them during the Fast since they are literally just made of black beans, rice, safflower oil and sea salt. Know this about me, if there is a loophole to be found, I WILL FIND IT.

10. ALL CAPS. Obviously I am a fan of the all caps option today. I have no explanations.

Alright folks, my little sickie is off for his nap to make up for the fact he only got five of his required 12 hours of sleep last night. And that means I’m off to take mine since I only got five of my required seven-and-a-half to eight. Here’s to hoping my nap gives me a solid 90% sleep efficiency.

What are you thankful for this week?

Thanksday #91

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(tap, tap, tap)

Check one, two…check one, two, three…

Is this thing on?

(ahem)

Hi, my name is Monica and it’s been FOUR MONTHS since my last Thanksday.

(My penance will be abstaining from the Cheez-It.)

I know, four months. It’s pretty ridiculous. It’s not that I haven’t been thankful — because believe you me, the thanks are thick — I’ve just been focused on some other things. Like kids and husband and kids and husband in school and this BE thing, and because of all that, I’ve let this little ol’ blog slide. But as I mentioned on one of our BE podcasts recently, I miss my Thanksdays. I miss being silly and letting loose. I miss keeping track of my thankfuls in Evernote. I miss the consistency of writing each week.

And mostly I miss your comments about what you’re thankful for. Those always make me laugh and inspire me to no end.

So I’m stretching and creaking and blowing off the cobwebs and getting this ship pointed back in the right direction. (Did you hear my knees just crack?)

Without further ado, thankfuls this week are (in no particular order):

1. 9 am School Starts. My kids’ school and preschool both start at 9 am. And it is the most wonderful, blessed thing on the face of the earth. I cannot count how many mornings I’ve blowed dry my hair at 8:15 am and thought, “Thank you GOD that school doesn’t start until 9!” Our mornings are smooth(er) and calm(er) than they would be if we all rushed around like crazy people to leave the house at 7:40. It would be pandemonium. Chaos. Anarchy! (I’d be the anarchist, purposely making them tardy every. single. day.)

2. FitBit. I got a FitBit over Christmas break and I’m in love. It’s the Flex — I wear it on my wrist and it tracks everything I do, from showering to walking around the house to sleeping. I’ve linked it to my Lose It account and so I am keeping meticulous track of activity and food, and it’s been incredibly insightful for me. (Such as, I like to eat. Who knew??) In fact, I’ve discovered since I got it that my sleep patterns are totally whack. Every single night, it seems I follow the pattern of restless sleep for 10 minutes, restful sleep for 30. Restless for 10, restful for 30. And that happens all night every night. No wonder I’m a fatigued mess and IV coffee all day long. Just have to figure out what to do to fix that. Any ideas??

3. Down Time. I started something new this week — I won’t call it a “resolution” per se, but a plan to be more intentional at home. From 5 o’clock each day until the kids go to bed, I put down the computer, phone and iPad, and allow myself to be present. This not only provides down time for me, but makes me more aware of the kids and the house and helps me to slow down and enjoy our evenings. It’s made our nights (really, it’s made ME) more relaxed and enjoyable…and while the kids might be playing on the stuff and doing other things, I’m not. I’m just there in the mix with them…ready if they need me or are asking me anything. It’s been a blessing for me.

4. Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia. I’m trying to limit my artificial sweetener intake and use just pure Stevia when necessary. But since most coffee shops and restaurants don’t carry it, I bought a bottle in the Vanilla Creme flavor to keep in my purse everywhere I go. I’m sure I look incredibly sketch doing it — like I’m sneaking drops of liquid crack into my coffee — but it’s working for me. Score.

5.  Aloneness. I admit, I’m that weird mom who loves having her kids home from break. I was fervently praying we’d have a couple snow/bad weather days to stay home after the new year to prolong school just a little. bit. longer. I love the lack of schedule, the hanging out in PJs, the laughter and giggles, naps — all of it. HOWEVER. Now that the kids are back, my introverted self who thrives on silence and being alone has been very, very happy and has a much fuller energy tank after a couple mornings alone in her house. Just sitting here by the sunny window in an eerily quiet house with my hot stevia’d coffee warms the cockles of my heart. Yes, the cockles of my heart.

6. HCJ and AI. Listen, I haven’t watched American Idol in years. Once Simon left I couldn’t care less about the show. So I’ve had no intentions of watching Idol ever again. Until. One night, mindlessly watching TV and reading, I heard that smooth voice and charming personality leap through the screen into the living room. I looked up in amazement as I saw Harry Connick, Jr as a judge for the upcoming season. And in a split nano-second, I decided I AM ALL IN. I will be watching every single episode all season long. I’m back, I’m hooked, I might actually call in and vote. Well played, Idol.

7. Be Still Be FreeI am beyond blessed that God has allowed me to be a part of this amazing thing He’s doing with BE. Week after week, with every podcast and post, He is so faithful to us. I shake my head in amazement often.

8. Seat Warmers. It was a balmy 1-degree earlier this week. Need I say more?

9. A Hilarious Husband. There is no one — not a single one — who makes me laugh as much as my husband does. This has been a particularly hilarious week, and I’m beyond thankful for a spouse who loves to enjoy life, not just live it.

10. Grown-up Furniture. For the first time in our marriage we have a real dresser. And real nightstands. And our master bedroom — for the first time in almost 11 years — isn’t the shabbiest room in the house with all the leftovers. #whatadifference

Well friends, that felt good. Real good. I guess Thanksday blogging is really like riding a bike.

Steely. Out.

What are you thankful for this week?

That Time I Was Grateful for Fear

I’m sharing about fear over here today — at my friend Kayse’s. I’m sharing about fear.

About how I didn’t want to do it.

About how she called on a normal afternoon and we had a normal conversation, and then suddenly the winds changed and blew in from the east and the words she spoke made me shudder from the inside out,

“I’d like to put in your name as a possible speaker for our women’s event in the fall.”

And about how I sort-of-kind-of threw up just a little bit in my mouth.

And then about the good that came from the fear and how by the end, I was grateful.

Make sure you click over to Kayse’s to read the whole story, wrapped up in the amazing grace of God’s faithfulness.

Blessings, friend!

Thanksday #90

Wow, this is my 90th Thanksday.

Technically I should have well over 150 by now, since my first one was back in October 2010. But that’s why they call it “grace,” my friends. You just take a little and throw it at your feet for those times you were moving for the fourth time, or dealing with your baby just starting to walk, or moving for the fifth time, or washing your hands of this whole writing thing altogether.

Or moving for the sixth time.

Or flat-out forgetting.

The point is, life happens. And some weeks the focus needs to be elsewhere. And that’s okay.

Thankfuls for this week:

1. Rain. I’m going to just praise God for the rain and not complain one iota about the lack of sun. I’m thankful for warm clothes and socks and shoes and rain coats and galoshes. I’m thankful for afternoon cups of coffee and naps that linger on because it’s just so cozy in bed.

2. Back-to-School Shopping. I absolutely geek out over getting ready for back to school. I don’t enjoy school actually starting, but oh, I do love shopping for it. Jaana and I did most of our shopping online this year, but it was still so fun. Even more fun is having packages arrive daily just for her. And I’m beyond excited about these two words this year: saddle shoes. I canNOT wait to see her in her kicky pleated skirts and side ponytail and saddle shoes. Pinch me, for realz.

3. FaceTiming. This week, I finally got to see the beautiful face and hear the melodic voice of a bloggy friend I haven’t met in person yet. And oh my lands, are we two sisters from another mister! I adore her so much already, and can’t wait to hug her neck at Allume in October!

4. Jen Hatmaker. Because for realz, I cry with laughter when I read most of her blog posts. But especially this one right here.

5. The Letter Z. Because “for realz” is so much more fun to type with a “z.”

6. Making Lemonade. Not in the “when life hands you lemons” way, but (say it together) for realz making lemonade. Jaana wants to earn some money for church offering (collective “awwwwww” inserted here), so we spent one day this week melting sugar in hot water and squeezing lemons and lit’rly making lemonade. Here’s to hoping more money ends up in the offering plate than her piggy bank. (Y’all think I’m kidding, but I did not birth a total saint.) (True dat.)

7. BE-ing. You know what happens when you’re fully present where you are? And you sorta-kinda stop stressing about certain things? God has a way of filling in the gaps. And He’s been busy filling gaps lately. And while He’s filling gaps, I’m at peace and working hard, but not striving — and it’s a whole new world, there’s no doubt about it. But I’m embracing it with two wide open arms. Come to Mama.

8. Home Sweet Home. My sister-in-law and niece and nephew are back from a fun few weeks in Japan, and so we made an impromptu trip to The Big City to see them before they started school this week. There is nothing like seeing cousins who adore each other reunited and playing Chicken in the swimming pool. There just isn’t.

9. Extra Care Bucks. I rarely shop at CVS, mainly because there isn’t one close enough to frequent. But I go every time I’m in The Big City, and my in-store coupons that print out are endless. Well this week, I completed an online survey that earned me $10 in Extra Care Bucks, and I had another $6 in random bucks plus 30% off. So Mama got herself some mascara and such and paid next to nothin’. ‘Twas glorious.

10. And Such. I am thankful for phrases like “and such” that give no extra insight as to what I might have purchased at the CVS. It’s the “yada yada yada” of today’s youth, is what it is. For realz.

Well.

That’s about it, I believe. Life is about to happen, so it’s time for me to focus on this thing called Alone Time.

For realz.

What are you thankful for this week?

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