Friday, October 30, 2015

I Want Bacon | Five-Minute Friday

I vote today as the most unique Five-Minute Friday topic ever.

Our topic today: BACON. It's a bit odd, slightly quirky but who doesn't love bacon?! I enjoy bacon but it did feel strange making a header image of just... bacon.

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!


00:00 START the timer!
______________________

The interrogation begins the second our sweet little toddler wakes up. "We have pancakes for breakfast?"  No, no pancakes today. Mommy is making bacon and eggs.

Then come the wants.

I want cheese.
I want the flashlight.
I want eggs.
I want milk.
I want bacon, mama.

Some days he gets the "May I please have _____?" down pretty well but not this morning. Maybe by the time he's 3 it will start to sink in...

I don't mind him asking for things. We love our kids and want to give them good things! But, whew, it gets draining when everything that comes out of the child's mouth is want, need, gimme. I feel like a human vending machine.

I wonder if I sound like that to God. He loves His children dearly and wants to give us good things. He is even pleased to give us the kingdom! That blows my mind.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." LUKE 12:32
God is patient, loving, compassionate, gracious and so full of love for us.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all He has made.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth. PSALM 145:8-9, 18
And His Word tells us to ask and we will receive and to approach His throne boldly. Our prayers are even powerful and effective.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. JAMES 5:16
I can't help but wonder if He gets just an itsy bitsy annoyed with my "I want" prayers. God, bless this. Heal that. Protect us. Give us this. Free me from that. 

My toddler is 2.5 years old. That's his excuse. So what's mine? While I will continue to take all of my cares to the Lord, I want to spend more time praising Him for who He is and focusing on His promises. Sometimes my prayers are so "me-focused".

The more I praise our mighty God and give thanks to Him, the smaller my problems here on earth seem. He is the awesome Father that knows what we need, always provides for us and listens to even my me-focused prayers! Praise Him!
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in His sanctuary;
     praise Him in His mighty heavens.
Praise Him for His acts of power;
    praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet,
   praise Him with the harp and lyre,
praise Him with timbrel and dancing,
   praise Him with the strings and pipe,
praise Him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise Him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.
PSALM 150
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05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verses added after the timer***



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

12 Ways to Loathe Marathon Training

"Why on earth would you want to run a marathon?!"

That's the big question and my answer is quite simple: "Because I like to run."

Training for and running a marathon is actually enjoyable. Why else would you run a marathon? I can't speak for other marathon runners but as for me, it's fun. There is something about the self-discipline and limit-pushing of the marathon that I love.

So, yes, I said training for a marathon is enjoyable... sometimes. Looking back over my previous marathons, I compiled a list of things that have caused me to loathe - or strongly dislike - long-distance running.

If you are looking to run a marathon or are currently training for one, this is a list of things you SHOULD NOT do. Many of these laughable "no-no's" are from my personal experience and some I have heard through the grapevine.

Enjoy :)


12 Ways to Loathe Marathon Training

  1. Let the training plan rule your life. Instead of choosing a plan that fits your schedule, force your life to fit the training plan. Exhausted after being up with a sick kid all night? You still need to get that 20-miler in bright and early... because the plan says so! No time for spontaneity either... you are the plan's slave.
  2. Skip the rest days. Resting is for mere mortals. Run more, more, more! Recovery... what's that? Just keep pushing your body until you hit the breaking point - which you will eventually.
  3. Run fast all the time. Don't let your neighbors catch you running at an easy-effort pace. Why not just make every day a speed day?! 
  4. Overthink every long run. Dread it all week and then barely sleep the night before because you're so stressed out over a simple run. Now that's fun!
  5. Make no time for stretching and strength training. As Americans, flaunting "busyness" is like a status symbol. Of course you don't have time to stretch or strength train! Don't worry - when you are injured and unable to run, you will have plenty of time to fit it in then.
  6. Forget the Vaseline or body glide for the long runs. That first shower after long, heavily-chafed run is enough to make a grown man cry. If you really want to dislike training, skip that Vaseline or body glide. Chafing? 'Tis a mere flesh wound!
  7. Be driven solely by your weekly mileage total. Ignore the workout goals, just strive to hit high mileage regardless of what your body says about it. The week's mileage goal was 50 miles and you ended up with 49.50 miles? FAIL. 
  8. Don't adapt training for your current life season. I mean, how much can two small children possibly change your life? (... that sentence is dripping in sarcasm)
  9. Let a bad run ruin your entire day. Because somehow the quality of your run defines your value as a person. 
  10. Run through any injury or illness. No time for rest and recovery! Keep pushing those miles. Why toe the starting line healthy yet slightly under-trained? Get those miles in and be a sick, limping zombie on race day. You're that hardcore. 
  11. Constantly compare to other runners. Instead of just being your unique self, push to run X miles per week at X pace because a fellow runner does. Be constantly discontent with your build because you don't look like a "real runner" (whatever that is!). 
  12. Make running the focus of your life. If you get injured or can't run for some other reason, your world will come crashing down. Only a life rooted in the Lord will keep you from being thrown around in life's waves. Running is a wonderful gift but that's all it is - a gift. Don't let it become your "god". 
What is one of your biggest training mistakes?

Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish. #thefitdish

Friday, October 23, 2015

Steadfast Joy | Five-Minute Friday

Whew. It's finally Friday. It really is! Let's jump into another Five-Minute Friday!

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!


00:00 START the timer!
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I believe in God's providence, there are no "coincidences" or "by chances" in my life.

When I ready today's Five-Minute Friday word, "Joy", I laughed out loud. This week I have been struggling in the joy department. I will call it my joy "desert" with joy being the palm-tree encircled oasis that I just can't find.

As God's children, knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and having the hope of eternal life gives us joy and that joy is unshakeable!

What's wrong with me then?! Lately I have felt hopeless, absolutely exhausted and totally defeated. Far from joyful.

Joy is NOT the same as happiness. Joy is NOT dependent on our circumstances or our feelings. Kay Warren shares her definition of joy in her book, “Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough.”
"Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation."
When I finally laid down for the night, toddler in bed and baby boy laying on me, I wanted to cry. I wasn't even sure why. I just felt completely overwhelmed.

As I laid there, I made a list of "joy-suckers" that rob us of joy in this life:
  • Busyness
  • Fatigue
  • Comparing to others
  • Ungratefulness
  • Guilt
  • Lack of grace for yourself (or others)
  • People-pleasing
  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Physical, mental and emotional exhaustion
  • Negative thought life

I looked back through my journal and found the verse God had given me in my morning devotional time that day. Psalm 51:10-12... Specifically verse 12 spoke to me. Oh, how my joy needed to be restored.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. 

The Holy Spirit has brought up the word "steadfast" in many Scriptures through the past couple weeks; verse 10 being one of them. To be "steadfast" means firm in belief, determination, or adherence (thanks, merriam-webster).

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 

I want to live with steadfast joy; with my focus firmly fixed on the Lord and my joy unshakable regardless of my circumstances.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
PSALM 51:10-12


Praise the Lord for the grace He gives to His children.

Praise Him for the unfailing love He has for us.

In spite of my joylessness this past week and the many times I have failed Him in this life, I have hope that God will restore that joy to me. He is true to all of His promises and I know He will renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Time and time again, God forgives my mistakes, He picks me up, brushes me off and gives me the strength to press on.

Oh, the Lord is so good to us as we seek after Him!

Heavenly Father, thank You for the strength to have steadfast joy! You are my hope. I have joy in knowing that Your compassions are new every morning. Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness! Amen.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
LAMENTATIONS 3:21-26
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05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verses and quote added after the timer***



Monday, October 19, 2015

Runner Spotlight: Angie

Today I'm kicking off the week with my first Runner Spotlight interview and, wow, do we have an amazing first interviewee!

The Runner Spotlight is something new on my blog that came about because I love to meet new people and, of course, talk running. What better way to get to know other runners than to throw a bunch of questions at them!

Twice a month, a new runner will be featured on the Runner Spotlight. Through these interviews, we will meet and learn from runners of all distances, paces and food preferences.

-----

Let me introduce you to Angie.

She's a marathoner, ULTRA-marathoner, running coach and RN - along with being a wife and mom of 3. Angie and her husband, Trevor, have changed my life though they may not even realize it!

Back in 2010, I decided to run my first marathon on a whim. I had run a few 5k's and a 10k before but had no idea how to train for a full marathon. I found Angie and Trevor's podcasts on their website, the Marathon Training Academy, and found a training plan there as well.

With their coaching, I completed the marathon and actually liked it! So much that I am running marathon #7 next Spring. They are all about educating, inspiring and encouraging. It's awesome.

Enough of my talk, let's hear from Angie herself.


All About Running:

When did you start running? What spurred your interest?

I started running in high school because my best friend and I were always trying to lose weight. I ran off and on during my teens and early 20's but didn't get serious about long distance running until 2007.

When did you run your first race? What were your thoughts before/after?

I signed up for my first 5k during the fall of 2007 and was extremely nervous. I was sure that everyone there would be able to tell that I wasn't a "real" runner (whatever that is). I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were lots of "normal" people there and I discovered that I had a competitive side.

What is your favorite distance to race?

I ran my first marathon in April 2008 and fell in love with that distance. That first marathon was a bit rough but I've gone on to run 35 marathons and 3 ultra-marathons as well as lots of shorter races.

Do you work with a coach or are you self-coached?

I'm self-coached and am actually a running coach myself (which may not be the best combination). However, I'm self-motivated when it comes to running and fitness activities so it has worked well up to this point.

What weekly mileage do you run during training on average?

I run anywhere from 25-60 miles depending on what I'm training for.

What do you think is the most important aspect of training for a long-distance race?

It's very important to find that balance between doing easy and hard runs. I find that many people tend to run most of their training runs too fast which doesn't leave adequate time for recovery. Finding that balance between running and focused cross training is also very important for success in distance running.

What are your PRs?

I really haven't kept up with any PR's other than in the marathon. My marathon PR is 3:35:41 (2012).

What has been your favorite race experience? Tell us a little about it!

I don't know if I could narrow it down to just one race...there have been so many amazing race experiences. Some of the highlights include running the Marine Corps Marathon in 2014 with my sister, qualifying for Boston at the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon in 2014 and running the Boston Marathon in 2015.

What is your favorite post-race treat?

I am always super hungry post race so food tastes amazing. Having a good burger, fries and ice cream has to rank right up there in my favorite post-marathon foods.

Personal/Family Life Balance:

How many kids do you have? How old are they?

We have three boys ages 11, 8 and 5.

Is your family interested in running as well?

My husband is also a runner but my kids really haven't developed a love of running (yet). They enjoy going to races with us and the older two have participated in a 5k and some kid's races.

How do you balance family time, daily responsibilities and training?

I do my running early in the morning, usually before anyone else is up so that most of my training is "invisible." I find that running and fitness in general makes me a more energetic and positive person so that definitely benefits my family. But I also go to bed early so that I can get up easier in the morning.

When do you fit running/training into your day?

Running happens early in the morning so that I can get back home and get the kids ready for school. I do fit in strength training and yoga classes during the week at times that work well with my schedule.

What advice would you give to new runners and/or parents trying to balance running and family life?

It's all about finding a routine that works well for you and that may end up changing over time. In general, most people find that running in the morning is the best way to avoid it getting pushed aside for other things. But don't feel guilty about taking time for yourself to exercise. It's going to make you a healthier person both physically and in your relationships.

Thank you, Angie, for taking the time to talk with us and for inspiring so many to take on their first marathon. If you want to check a ND or MN marathon off your "50 state quest", you are always welcome in our neck of the woods - seriously!

Check out the Marathon Training Academy's website and Facebook page!

Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish link-up. #thefitdish

Friday, October 16, 2015

She Laughs | Five-Minute Friday

Happy Friday to you and welcome to another free write with Five-Minute Friday! Today our word is "Green".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!


00:00 START the timer!
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"Green" brings so many different directions into my mind. Green is finances, growth, new life, spring time, go. It's fresh, bright and full of action.

Green is hope. It's forward motion. It's the future.

Thinking about the future can bring excitement and joyful expectation of the things to come in this life and eternity. 

Watching our boys grow up.
Celebrating birthdays as a family.
Dates on our wedding anniversary.
Family camping trips.
Making memories together.
Spending eternity in heaven with the Lord.
Being completely free of all pain, suffering and sin.

Thinking about the future can also bring worry, fear, dread and uncertainty.

Will we have enough?
What kind of world will our children grow up in?
Are we doing this parenting thing right?
What will we do if our health fails us?
Will God provide even when (insert circumstance here)?
What if a loved one dies?
How bad will it get before Jesus returns?

One lesson that I have learned repeatedly in my life is that worrying doesn't get me anywhere. It doesn't change the situation. Sometimes what I worry about doesn't even happen! Worry is wasted time and energy.
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? LUKE 12:25
As I think about the future, a blur of worries tries to sneak in but I am choosing to trust. That Proverbs 31 woman always has her ducks in a row! I especially love the end of verse 25. She LAUGHS without fear of the future.

She isn't ignorant or careless. She simply knows how to cast her cares on the Lord. Her energy isn't wasted on the worries of this world. She lives her days joyfully and without fear.
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25 NLT
God has great plans for the lives of His children. We can live in joyful expectation because He has special plans for each of us and He gives us hope for the future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. JEREMIAH 29:11
Struggles will come, Jesus tells us they will, but we can take heart because we have victory in our Lord and Savior!
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." JOHN 16:33
For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 JOHN 5:4 NLT
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05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verses added after the timer***



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Manitoba Hemp Hearts Review and GIVEAWAY!

Disclosure: I received this product for free through my affiliation with Fit Approach as a Sweat Pink Ambassador in exchange for a blog review. I received no other compensation and opinions are 100% my own.

I went on a Fall baking spree last week and, thanks to Manitoba Harvest, I was able to put a healthy new spin on one of my favorite recipes. They sent me a bag of Hemp Hearts to review and I get to giveaway a 2 oz/56g bag of Hemp Hearts to one of you!

Prior to learning about Manitoba Harvest, I had never heard of eating hemp and I was a little skeptical. After exploring their website and their products, I learned that hemp is not the same as marijuana.

Hemp Hearts are safe for adults and children to consume and it's nutritious, too! If you have any questions about hemp products, please check out Manitoba Harvest's FAQs.

I was really impressed with Manitoba Harvest's Hemp Hearts. They have a great nutty taste, similar to sesame seeds or pine nuts, and they pack a whopping 10 grams of protein and 10 grams of omegas per 30 gram serving!


So how did I use my bag of Hemp Hearts? I sprinkled it on my morning oatmeal and I added it to my favorite banana bread recipe. It's only fair that I share my favorite Fall recipe with you!

Hemp Peanut Butter Banana Bread

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I use crunchy pb)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup Manitoba Harvest's Hemp Hearts

Preheat oven to 350°.

In large mixing bowl, combine flours, oats, baking soda and salt. Stir until evenly mixed. Keep children content and out of trouble.
I had such an amazing helper pouring the dry ingredients for me!


To keep baby brother busy we rotated playing on the floor and the exersaucer.


In separate bowl, mix peanut butter, canola oil and egg. I prefer to heat the peanut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds so it is easier to stir. Mix well and then combine with dry ingredients.


Mash bananas well. Combine with other ingredients and stir.


Add hemp hearts to the mixture.


Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.


Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Insert knife in baked bread and if it comes out clean, it's done (if it doesn't, bake for 5 minutes more and try again!).


Allow bread to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then flip onto cutting board.
Lightly butter the top of the bread, slice and serve!


a Rafflecopter giveaway **Must live in the United States or Canada to enter the giveaway**

Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish. #dishthefit

Friday, October 9, 2015

If I Trusted God | Five-Minute Friday

Gooooood morning! Thanks for joining us for another free write with Five-Minute Friday!

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!


00:00 START the timer!
______________________

What would life be like if I really trusted God?

I can say confidently that I trust the Lord and I know He works out good for His children (Romans 8:28) but it seems that my trust wavers throughout the day and life circumstances.

When a worry or frustration arises, I get worked up about it for a while and, eventually, when I'm sick of mulling over it, I surrender it to God. Once it's in God's hands, I feel so much more peace and freedom.

How different would my life look if I trusted God every second of the day?

If I trusted God every second of the day,
My worries would be replaced with peace. Is my husband going to come home today? I hope there haven't been any accidents tonight.  Do you think the boys will grow up to be godly men? Are toddler boys supposed to be this crazy? Will God provide for our financial needs?

If I trusted God every second of the day, 
I would look to the future with excitement and a sense of adventure! We could dream of the amazing things God has in store for us rather than wonder what bad thing will happen next. What's the next tragedy to make the newspaper headline? Can this world get any worse? (Sadly, yes it can.)

If I trusted God every second of the day, 
I would be free to be the person God has made me to be. I would no longer question what so-and-so thinks of me or if this person likes me. I wouldn't feel insecure about my career choice as a full-time mom. I wouldn't feel anxious about sharing with others that we may homeschool our boys. I would be my goofy self more often.

If I trusted God every second of the day,
I would believe His promises and fill my mind with them. The lies that God is "mad at me" or that He is going to give up on me would be gone. The guilt and the shame of my past wouldn't try to return anymore. All negative thoughts would be replaced with God's perfect truth.

If I trusted God every second of the day,
I would tell more people about Jesus. The thoughts of them shutting me down or thinking I'm weird would be gone. Every insecurity would be replaced with confidence in my God and compassion for the people who don't know Him yet. My own ego would be out of the way and I would be on a mission for Christ, and Him alone.

Heavenly Father - 
Starting today, teach me to live in complete trust in Your promises and who You are! Free me from my insecurities, from the fear of what others think of me, and the fear of bad things happening. Thank You for Your sovereignty and knowing exactly what we need every day! Show me how to live boldly and fearlessly for You. Lord, You are wonderful and I choose to rest in Your truth today and always. 
Amen.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. PROVERBS 29:25
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. PSALM 112:7
You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to You. PSALM 86:5
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. MATTHEW 6:31-33
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05:00 STOP the timer!



Monday, October 5, 2015

Breaking Through the Afternoon Crash

I love my mornings. When my alarm goes off, I fly out of bed regardless of how much baby boy was up that night.

Grab my coffee, open up my Bible and spend some time with God.

Lately the toddler has been up at 6:00 am to join me for my quiet time. Which means my quiet time is no longer quiet! I have mixed feelings on that.


So mornings are my favorite. But after lunch, my body realizes how tired it really is.

This week I'm joining up with the Fit Dish crew's [optional] topic to share our favorite afternoon energy boost.


I really enjoy my morning coffee but it's not an option later in the day. Unless I want this little honey to be up more than he already is at night...


Eating sweet treats after lunch is a temptation, especially when you're running low on sleep. Problem is, the sugar high will eventually crash and leave you worse off than you were before!

My favorite afternoon energy boost is to GET MOVING.

If I didn't workout early that morning, I exercise during the toddler's nap time. Baby W is (usually) content to nap in his swing so I do my best to juggle his needs with a quick endorphin-blasting workout.

On those desperately tired days, I take a 20- to 30-MINUTE POWER NAP with the baby. It's hard to shut off my mind enough to nap but I feel like a million bucks even after 20 minutes!

Today's afternoon workout was 3.5 miles on the treadmill at base pace (8:35/mile). During the peak of sugar beet harvest, my running options are either the treadmill or the double jogging stroller. On a rainy and windy day like today, the treadmill sounded mighty fine to me.

I am SO thankful for that treadmill!


Since last weekend's half marathon, I'm in that awkward "not-training-for-a-race-so-now-what-do-I-do" phase. Currently I'm figuring out my exercise goals for the next couple months.

Having a goal in mind is really important to me. It gives me the motivation to make time for exercise.

I'm thinking speed-work and strength training are going to be my focus. My goal is to get comfortable with the 7:00-7:30/mile pace for upcoming races.

On the topic of upcoming races... I'm running a full marathon in May 2016!

This will be my 7th full marathon but my first as a mom of two. I'm looking forward to racing my favorite distance again, especially after trying my hand at the half marathon over the past year and a half!

Training for the full again will be quite an adventure. It always is!

More to come on that topic...

How do you break through the afternoon energy crash?
Have you experienced the "not-training-for-a-race-so-now-what-do-I-do" phase?

Linking up with the Fit Switch and Jill Conyers. #dishthefit

Friday, October 2, 2015

Our Messy Home | Five-Minute Friday

If it weren't for Five-Minute Friday I likely would have forgotten today IS Friday!

October means nocturnal harvest hours for my husband and daddy being gone all the time has been hard for our toddler to understand. This is farming and I'm fine with that. Though this week has felt like it's Monday EVERY DAY!

Today our free write topic is "family". Stop by the link-up to check out everyone else's writing as well :)

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!


00:00 START the timer!
______________________

No matter how hard I try to keep it up, I feel like our house is always a mess.

Maybe one room is clean but then all of the others are messy. If the laundry is caught up, the kitchen must look like the aftermath of a tornado. It's rarely all clean at once!

Back in January, my husband was at an out-of-state training for three weeks. With just the toddler and I at home, Baby W still "in utero", my husband gone and brother-in-law back at school, keeping the house up was so much easier.

The chores were all done and mess was gone. My husband's work boots weren't tracking dirt, I didn't need to cook full meals and therefore we had much fewer dishes.

But the house felt quiet and lonely, especially when my toddler was sleeping. While I'm not an advocate for neglecting the home, those three weeks helped me to see blessings in the mess.

Dirty dishes in the sink is evidence of our family meal. We are blessed with food to eat and we have enjoyed the time together!

The mountainous pile of laundry means we have clothes to wear. Like a lot of clothes! Too many clothes...

My husband's greasy work clothes mean he is working to provide for our family and he is blessed with a great job.

The little baby and toddler outfits mean the Lord has blessed us with two beautiful baby boys!

The impossibility of having every room in the house clean means there are numerous rooms in our house! Having a bigger house (compared to our last one) is a wonderful thing I don't want to take for granted.

I'm tired and, no, the baby is not sleeping through the night. Yet I feel so blessed to have that baby boy to snuggle with at night. He is an answer to prayer!

My devotion time in the morning tends to be distracted because the toddler joins me to "read his Bible" (translated: I read to him) at 6:00 am. I'm thankful for him joining me because I want him to see the importance of spending time with the Lord and reading the Bible.

Our home isn't perfect, it's certainly more messy and much more exhausted than it was four years ago. But I love it.

Keeping a perfect home isn't my mission as a stay-at-home mom. It's not about the vacuuming or the loads of laundry I do.

Staying home with my children is about investing time in our family. I'm here to teach our children about the Lord, to take care of my families needs and, yes, to make this sometimes... okay, usually... messy house our home.

This messy home is full of family, love, memories and, most importantly, Jesus.
Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love,
   that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us,
   for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May Your deeds be shown to your servants,
   your splendor to their children.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
   establish the work of our hands for us—
   yes, establish the work of our hands.
PSALM 90:14-17
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