Friday, December 31, 2010

I Resolve To Do Less. No, Really.

I will say I am not one for resolutions. I always have an idea of things I would like to do differently, but I very rarely actually make a resolution. I don't deal well with the self-condemnation that comes when I inevitably mess it up.

I have decided that instead of focusing on what I might do differently in the upcoming year (which tends to remind me of all of my shortcomings) that I will reflect on what I think (insert air quotes around this next word) "I" actually did RIGHT in 2010.

I have had some victories in 2010, none of which, ironically, have much to do with anything (here come those air quotes again) "I" have done to change. You see, I am learning that change comes most effectively when you RELINQUISH control and say. Yeah. There is absolutely, without a doubt, nothing I can do about this. And strangely, while this seems like potentially the worst place to be, it really is the BEST place to be.

HELP.

God? (you know, the one who actually has the ability to control things)

Please, help. God.

Please.

Will you HELP?

And you know what? He will. He REALLY will.

I KNOW this to be true. I've experienced this in both tangible and intangible ways. He has blown me away with how He helps when I let Him. But you know what? I STILL don't trust Him with everything. I have experienced true peace in circumstances that should not AT ALL feel peaceful, yet still so many times, I don't choose that peace. I choose worry, and fretting, and obsessing. Ick. Why? I don't know, but it's true. However, I do find the more times I choose His peace and genuinely relinquish control, the more I actually at least consider trusting Him with a situation instead of worrying, fretting, obsessing. I know. How good of me actually consider trusting the Creator of the whole stinking universe with my little (to Him) problems. It's absurd when you think about it, but nonetheless, TRUE.

So, maybe I will make a resolution this year. Maybe I will resolve to do less, and allow HIM to DO MORE. Somehow I think that will affect more change than any resolution (insert air quotes) "I" could possibly make.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Friendly Reminder To Myself

My Worth is NOT in...

...What other people think of me.
...How much I weigh.
...How clean my house is.
...How well my kids behave.
...What other people say about me.
...How pretty I am.
...How smart I am.
...How funny I am.
...How many friends I have.
...How cute my clothes are.
...How successful I am.
...What kind of job I have.
...How much money I have.
...The mistakes I have made.
...How tall my laundry pile is.
...The good things I do (or do not do) for others.

Just to name a FEW.

My worth IS in...

...How GOD sees me!

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Psalm 139:14

"You make everything GLORIOUS, what does that make me?!"


Everything Glorious by David Crowder Band

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Favorite Christmas Gift (Other Than The Obvious One, Of Course!)

So, I have to share with you my favorite Christmas gift this year. Check it out.

It's a Bible! And it's PINK AND BROWN! And it looks like a clutch purse, complete with a handle! LOVE.

Seriously, I love it so much. Rich did well. Of course, I did actually find it while shopping and practically beg him to buy it for me, but he did! Yay! Isn't it just wonderful how God humors us with these things? I mean if I were to design a Bible for myself it would look just like this. I think He loves to bless us with little pleasures like this.

Now on a more serious note, aside from the aesthetic appeal of this item, we all know it is truly the INTERIOR that counts. It has become more and more evident to me over the last year or so, just how VALUABLE and NECESSARY the interior of this precious package is.

Consider the handle on this Bible with me. I could literally carry it around all the time. What a parallel for life. I have been learning not to underestimate the importance of (more figuratively) carrying around His truth with me wherever I go.

It's what is necessary for me to have PEACE despite DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES.

It's what is necessary for me to have JOY amidst SADNESS.

It's what is necessary for me to replace NEGATIVE thoughts with POSITIVE ones.

It's what is necessary for me to KNOW TRUTH instead of believing LIES.

It's what is necessary for me to WAIT and TRUST even when things don't make ANY SENSE to me.

The list could go on, but those are the ones I have been dealing with the most lately and honestly I wouldn't trade this little pink and brown bible for anything. You could change the color and the size, and take off the handle (although I would still prefer you didn't...ha!) and it wouldn't matter, because as the saying goes, it is truly what is on the INSIDE that counts!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cummings Family "Christmas Card" 2010

Merry CHRISTmas!

May the joy and wonder of that very first Christmas be with you this and every year!






Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010 - Two Out Of Three Is Not Bad!

Recent Facebook Status Update:

"Forget the jewelry, fancy dinners, and spa treatments. All I want for Mother's Day is a clean house, a clean car, and empty laundry baskets so that I can enjoy the day without feeling like I need to do those things!"

And now on Mother's Day eve I am celebrating two out of three! Yay! Yesterday Rich helped me get the house cleaned and today all of my boys are cleaning the car for me (scary inside included)!

Sadly, my laundry piles looking like the before picture in this post again, but I'm going to enjoy these other victories and save that BATTLE for another day!

Happy Mother's Day, friends!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"I'm strong to the finish 'cause I eats my spinach!"

I put this salad together today, I kind of drew from different sources to create it. I really love the combination of flavors. Enjoy! I'll call it...

"Alana is Eating Spinach!" Salad
(aptly named because eating spinach is a new thing for me)

Baby Spinach Leaves


Sliced Strawberries


Toasted Almonds


Sliced Cucumbers (I prefer peeled)


Brianna's Blushed Wine Vinaigrette Dressing


This dressing is sooooooo delicious!!

Well, that is basically it, I hope you enjoy it. Of course, you could add some diced chicken to it and that would make a wonderful and healthy lunch or meal!

I loved all your recipes for vegetables in the my last post, how about sharing some of your favorite salad recipes with me as well? Especially ones that include spinach as I am trying to fit more of this into my diet!

Thanks, friends!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Eat Your Veggies!

I have never been a fan of vegetables. Ask my Mom. As a kid, the extent of my vegetable repertoire was green beans, corn, and potatoes (provided you count those last two as actual vegetables). I have broadened my horizon a bit as an adult, but want to do better. It's just...well....they don't taste very good! This is where you come in. Will you share your favorite vegetables with me and how you prepare them? In turn, I will share my favorite vegetable recipe with you. This one is super healthy and soooooo good!

Crisp Green Beans with Lemon
(I made that title up...pretty catchy, huh?)

Fresh Green Beans
Lemon
Olive Oil
Salt

Snap the ends off the green beans (or buy the ones in the packaged that are already snapped....but only use fresh ones)! Boil the beans until they are crisp tender. Drain water, add fresh lemon juice (start with 1/2 a lemon and add more to taste), drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Adjust all ingredients to taste. Start with smaller amounts and add more as needed. These are simply delicious. Try them!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Haiku


understanding grace
years of wasted energy
rest in You at last

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Will's Letter To Haiti

I posted this on Facebook awhile back, but I wanted to record it here as well.

One day out of the blue, William handed me this "letter" to the people of Haiti. He wrote it completely on his own with no prompting from us. I just love this little guy's heart.

Translation:

Dear The People of Haiti,

I'm sorry that you had an earthquake.

From Will

Sweet boy. I just love it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Frugal Starts With An F, But is Not A Bad Word - #1

So Rich and I have been making some drastic changing to our spending and general financial habits lately. We read Dave Ramsey's, Total Money Makeover, and have been taking his Financial Peace course. I HIGHLY recommend both by the way. It has completely changed our thinking on financial matters in a very positive way. We are talking paradigm shift, 180 degree kind of change! As a result we have been looking for lots of ways to save money and pay off any and ALL debt ASAP! I thought I would share a few of the ways I have been doing that.

Now I will admit that not all of the changes we have made have been fun ones, but there are some that I have actually come to like and/or appreciate. These are the ones I will share with you from time to time. The first one I am going to share is the most recent. Are you ready for this? I made my own laundry detergent. Yep. Rich and I actually made it together and I will go so far as to say that it was actually kind of fun. Rich totally digs this kind of stuff. One time (just for fun) he tried to make batteries using only water. Yeah, I don't get it either, but to each his own, right?

Anywho. I admit that I probably would have never tried this if I had not actually tried a sample that a friend gave me and liked it. Of course, it took me about two years to get around to actually making it myself, but here I am nonetheless.

So, here is the recipe that I used. It is actually REALLY easy. The hardest part was actually finding the ingredients. Btown friends, let me know if you want to try it and I will give you a sample of what I made. Also, I can tell you where to find all the ingredients in one place instead of traipsing all over town for the various items.

LAUNDRY DETERGENT

6 cups water
1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 Cup Super Washing Soda(Arm & Hammer)
2 TBL Glycerin
2.5 Gallon Bucket

Heat 6 cups water on medium heat in a pot on the stove. Grate the bar of Fels Naptha Soap into the hot water and stir until dissolved. Add the washing soda and borax. Stir until thickened. Remove from heat. Pour into 2.5 gallon bucket. Add glycerin and fill to top with hot water, mixing well. Let stand 12-24 hours until cool and gelled. Mixture can be scented with pure essential oils. (about 12 drops for the whole recipe or divide it up into smaller amounts and experiment if you like) Shake well before each use and use 1/2 cup per load.

Happy Laundering!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Do You Savor?

I had this question posed to me recently and my first initial reaction was, "Of course!". However, upon further reflection I found that I actually was not savoring. In fact, I'm not sure I had even taken the time to understand the word fully ("taken the time" being operative words here). I think I was enjoying at best. To me, enjoying is noticing the moment and thinking "this is nice", but that's about it. There isn't a lot more to the thought process or experience than that. Savoring, I am discovering is an entirely different thing. It includes being present and taking the time to truly feel, experience, appreciate, and take in all the aspects of the moment. Savoring necessitates your presence. If you aren't fully present in the moment, you aren't savoring it.

When I really started thinking about this and trying it out, I found that instead of savoring the moment, I was always thinking about what came next. I might be taking a nice long bubble bath, but during the bath I was thinking about what I had to do next (laundry, dishes, phone calls, cleaning, etc.). I decided to make a concerted effort to change this and it has been such a beautiful change. I mean God gave us this lovely thing called life, and yes there are difficult aspects to it, but there are also so many wonderful aspects that we have to not only enjoy, but savor. Now, when I have a moment to myself to have a bath or eat a chocolate, or sip a nice cup of hot tea, I really try to be present in the moment. I even find myself setting the stage for the moment by lighting a candle and picking my favorite bubble bath, or choosing my favorite tea cup to enhance my favorite flavor of tea (Earl Grey). I have come to love these experiences so much.

I challenge you to ask yourself the question, "Do I savor?" and then answer it honestly. Some of you will realize that you already do a great job of savoring, and some of you will come to a different realization and find that you are enjoying at best.

Before I close, let me just address some of the excuses that may already be popping up in your head.

1) "I don't have time to savor."

This was one of the first ones that came to mind for me. But let's face it, if you have time to read this blog post or peruse FB or...or...or..., you have time to spend 10 minutes (at least) in a bubble bath, or taking a walk, or sipping a cup of tea or coffee, or (fill in the blank with something you really enjoy doing). It's not really about quantity as much as quality.

2) "I don't have the money to savor."

This one also came to my mind as we are currently on a very tight budget. It's not like I could pay for a trip to the spa or anything. In fact, I really couldn't even splurge on a new candle scent, bubble bath, or tea cup. Just use what you have! You'll be surprised what you already have hanging out in your house that you can use for this purpose. I found candles I had completely forgotten about. Also, you can hit the sales or even a thrift store.

3) "Kids. Need I say more?"

No, you need not say more. I understand this and although my kids are older than some of yours, I do know that all kids go to bed, and some of them take naps. Instead of using all of their sleep time to catch up on chores (or blogs or FB or even sleep), use some of it to have a moment of savoring. You won't regret it!

Okay, one last thing. When you take this time to truly be quiet and savor, you will find Someone there to meet you. And by someone I do not mean your husband or kids (although I realize this might be a distinct possibility). I am referring to God. You will find that He will meet you right where you are at in that moment and if you are open to it, He will fill you up with His love, grace, and truth! And we can all use a little more of that in our lives! Amen? And just for the record, I did not set out for these savoring times to become "quiet times" per se, but many times that is what just naturally comes to be. When you are truly quiet and present, it gives Him space to show up. It's a truly wonderful thing! I pray you will try it...and if you do, please let me know how your experience turns out!

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sick Kids 101

I think this might be for real. I think I might really be back to blogging. I know I've said that before, but it feels different this time. Of course, it is still too soon to tell, I may just fake myself out like I have a few times in the past and dwindle again in a week or a month, but it seems fun again and that is a good sign, I think.

Anyway, back to the title of this post. Sick Kids 101. So, it is spring break here in our household and instead of sunning ourselves in some tropical paradise, we are becoming Vitamin D deficient here in dreary Btown complete with high fevers and painful head congestion! Am I happy about this current reality? No. Am I resolved to it? Yes. For this particular minute, anyway.

So. I thought I would share some of my tips for surviving sick kids. I don't have a lot, honestly, but there are a few that in light of yesterday's post (re:laundry) are worth mentioning. Isn't it just like life for you to catch up on your laundry and then end up with sick kids? I mean, is there nothing MORE detrimental to an empty laundry basket than a sick kid or kids? I think not. Right. Back to those tips.

1) The Bed - Remove all bedding except the fitted sheet, one pillow with pillow case, and a blanket. Make sure the rest of the bedding is clean and put it away (far, far away from the sick child) so that you do not have to wash it again...and again...and (possibly) again. If you want to be super vigilant, take the fitted sheet, pillowcase, and blanket off each morning, replace with clean linens and then wash the dirty set. Sometimes I do this, other times I just wait until the sickness has passed to wash them.

2) Couch - Take one twin size fitted sheet and put it over the couch. It actually fits pretty well (at least for my couch). This way you minimize the chance of any "germ"age or potential bodily fluids getting on the couch (I love how I write this as I eat my dinner...mmm). IF there are bodily fluids involved (thank the Lord in this case there is not...knock knock) I also take a thick towel and put it over the pillow (or you could put it between pillow and case) and then place a thick towel on the floor underneath the bodily fluid receptacle (aka trash can). It is much easier to grab the towel(s) and clean them then it is to clean a pillow. Ick. Also, you can use a waterproof pad under the sheet to avoid any leakage. I know, I don't like that word either.

3) Keep a running tab of medication distribution in a central place. I use the dry erase board on my refrigerator. This is especially helpful if I have more than one sick kid and/or am dispensing a lot of medication in the nighttime when I am, shall we say, less than alert.

Maybe you guys have already figured these out, maybe not. I didn't figure the first two out until last year and am so glad I did!

It appears that I may have reached a whole new low on my blog referring to bodily fluids and eating dinner in the same sentence, but hey...this is real life and it's my life...at least for today. What about you guys? Any tips for managing sickness in the household? I'm all ears...or should I say eyes? Okay, that one was a little over the top.

Until next time...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Before and After


Before



After



Is there anything better than that? I just don't know if there is. Don't you just love the contrast in these photos? I mean the first one is dark and dreary and the second one is bright and cheery. Best part is, I didn't do any fancy tricks with the lighting. It just is what it is. You know? Of course, I am not showing you the other side of the closet that has two baskets of towels, but towels don't count, right? Okay, okay...I'm workin' on it!

*Disclaimer: I did not do this in one day. Baby steps, I tell ya!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ode to Coca-Cola

This is the Valentine Will made for me. Does he know his Mommy or what?


I just love it because...

1) It is actually quite a good likeness of the Coke bottle.
2) I really do love Coke, which I think he captured quite well with the two hearts on either side of the bottle.
3) He obviously put some thought into his gift to me.
4) It's sweet. Both figuratively and literally.

SO. Speaking of Coke. I recently declared on Facebook that I was attempting to give it up, or at least significantly decrease my consumption. If you know me well, you know this is a BIG deal. Because me and Coke? Well we are like THIS (picture appropriate hand gesture). In fact, it has always been one of those things that I literally "feel" like I can't live without. This to me was all the more reason to attempt giving it up. And so I did. Attempt being the operative word here. Right. I'll start with the bad news. Bad news is I did not give it up altogether. Good news is, it does not have the hold on me that it once had. I can now go a day or days without drinking it. HUGE progress. If I am at a social function and there is none available, I no longer break out into a cold sweat. You think I'm joking. So. I'm actually pretty happy with that. I would like at some point to give it up entirely, but for now I am content with this progress. Baby steps seem to be a theme in my life lately. It seems to work so much better than the "all or nothing" approach I have taken in the past.

And yes, I realize that wasn't an Ode. I am exercising my literary license on this one. A literary license also excuses fragments, by the way.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Let's Have A Heart To Heart

I'm not sure if it is all the Vitamin D from the sunshine I soaked in today or what, but I just felt the urge to update my blog. So here I am. I would like to set a realistic goal of updating it like once a week or so, but do not want to make any promises (especially to myself) that I can't keep. So let's just see how it goes, shall we? One day at a time. That saying works for all sorts of things, including but certainly not limited to blogging.

So, how in the world are you? Doing pretty well here. I mean, I have my struggles, but lately I have been experiencing some pretty cool things in the area of personal growth. And that growth is something I'd really like to share with you all. Partly because I need to share the testimony of what God has done in my life regarding this particular subject and partly because I think it might be helpful to some of you.

It may or may not surprise you to know that I have always struggled in the area of self-worth. I have always been aware of this, but recently realized just how BIG of a role this plays in a person's life. To me it didn't seem like a big deal. An issue? Yes. A big deal? No. I have recently discovered just how mistaken I was because as I took to heart some wise counsel on the subject and put into practice the suggestions made to me, I realized that this issue was effecting EVERY ASPECT OF MY LIFE.

Let me paint a picture for you. I did not love myself. I did not see my worth as a human being or a child of God. I thought that I did, but I truly did not. I constantly berated myself for not measuring up in any and all areas of my life. I said terrible, terrible things to myself constantly. This negative self-talk was so pervasive, that when I started to think about how I would stop it and ultimately reverse it, I was overwhelmed. How could I change my very being? It had gone beyond words, it was who I had become.

However, I did listen to the wise counsel I received and tried to put it into practice. Basically it boiled down to the fact that I had certain beliefs about myself and those beliefs were based on the words that had been spoken to me and that I spoke to myself. I was told that if I could replace those negative words with positive words and truth, then I would start to believe differently about myself. I will be honest, I was skeptical at best when this was suggested to me. I was also put off by the thought of saying nice things (words) to myself. Why? Because I knew I wouldn't believe them and it would feel fake. So, I set instead a goal of simply stopping the negative thoughts (words). I figured if that worked, I might eventually be able to also replace the negative words with positive ones.

SO. I did that. I started trying to simply be aware of all my thoughts and when a negative one came into my brain, I would just say, "No, I'm not going to think that." It was the best I could do at first and was actually quite overwhelming because as I said before, the negative thoughts were constant and pervasive. Eventually this became a habit and I was ready to move on to the next step, replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones. I chose to do this with scripture. I made a list of verses that were full of truth regarding my worth in Christ, typed them onto a piece of paper and placed them in my purse. When I started to have "those" feelings and felt "those" words come to mind, I stopped the thought, pulled the list out of my purse and replaced the thought with the TRUTH about me according to my Maker. It was cumbersome at first, but eventually it became second nature.

It sounds simple, doesn't it? And it is. And it isn't. Either way, it works. Or at least it worked for me. This paradigm shift in my thinking has truly changed my life for the better. I am amazed at how it has changed me in so many positive ways. It has gone beyond words, it is who I have become! Praise God! I can honestly say that I am almost completely FREE of those negative thoughts. I am truly bewildered and amazed by this fact daily. But wait, I haven't told you the best part. The best part is that this whole process has helped me to realize some things about God that I only thought I understood before. And that is the depth of His LOVE and GRACE for me, and my value to Him. Not only do I have a better understanding of that love and grace, but I have also figured out how to truly ACCEPT it. Thank you, God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I know this has been quite lengthy, but it is only a glimpse of the journey I have been on. I hope and pray that these words will reach someone who needs to hear them as desperately as I did. If you struggle with this and would like to talk more about this with me, I would be honored to do so with you. Please send me an email or leave a comment with your contact info and we will chat over FB, phone, or even coffee if possible. I would love to share with you, pray with you, and help if I can.

I'd like to leave you with some verses and a couple of songs that have been my truth and comfort in this process.

"You are altogether beautiful, my love, there is no flaw in you." Song of Solomon 4:7

"Your hands shaped me and made me." Job 10:8

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:29-31

"The king is enthralled with your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord." Psalm 45:11

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8




(This one I can't seem to embed, but trust me, it's worth the click)

How He Loves by The David Crowder Band

I pray you discover your true worth in Him, my friends!

Sunday, February 14, 2010