Simply Uninspired

Well it has been quite some time hasn’t it?  Time has passed in the form of days, weeks and months- so months and months later, here I am.  Back.  Back to writing.  Back to doing my best attempt at putting my thoughts into words.  It hasn’t been easy for one simple, yet fairly big hurdle.  I’ve been simply uninspired.

When I set out to start this blog, I had so many ideas racing through my mind about the direction I would take it.  I tried a few things, changed a few things, and most importantly, I typed out my thoughts, and emotions and my dreams. It always felt so good to complete a blog post because there is something about writing out my thoughts that I can’t explain.  It is so comforting.  It simply makes me happy.  But time passed… and passed…and passed.

I have felt this way for some time now, well for close to a year honestly.  Then I came across this quote in nothing but black and white.  No fancy fonts or backgrounds or catchy words.  Simply a big truth and the words “you’re uninspired” side by side.  It stopped me in my tracks. It was true.  I could relate and I felt like I needed to stop and think about it all, about why I’ve been feeling this way.

While I am so very grateful for my job, and I think very highly of the people I work with, I have hard days and long days just like any other working human being.  I also have my home life to tend to, which I love.  With so many demands on my time and my mental and physical energy, I feel like I’ve been depleted of my desire to blog, to write, to take pictures that I feel can put a smile on someone’s face and inspire others.  Most days lately, I’m in need of inspiration myself.  That and large amounts of coffee.

So I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that you kept coming back hoping to find something new, and so maybe you stopped coming back.  I don’t blame you.  I owe you at least an explanation simply because you took the time to stop by my open journal.  And you didn’t have to.

I feel like I had lost my inspiration, terribly terribly lost it, and I didn’t know if I would ever find it again.  Then these words and the thought of you behind your own computer screen reading my snippets came to mind.  The many times I’ve been told that I’m good at this.  So here are my words once again… The lack of words and ideas and dreams is much a place I’d rather not visit again.  It felt so cold and empty there.  Here’s to hoping and praying that the words flow for years to come!

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True Love and Ten Years Gone

 “Marriage is for the display of Christ’s covenant-keeping grace…God gets glory when two very different and very imperfect people forge a life of faithfulness in the furnace of affliction by relying on Christ.”  -John Piper, This Momentary Marriage

 

This year marks ten years of having met, and fallen in love with my Josh, and in just five days we will be celebrating eight years of marriage.  It’s silly that it seems like a lifetime ago, and at the same time it seems like only yesterday that we met, fell in love and said “I do.”  It happened so quickly.  I think our souls knew they were meant to be together from the start.  It was at a mutual friends’ Fourth of July cookout where I first saw Josh.  A few months prior to that cookout, maybe three of four months, I had prayed and truly for the first time surrendered to God my heart’s desire and longing for the man I was meant to marry.  I remember so much of that prayer.  I remember feeling at peace being single and little did I know how soon after that the answer to my prayer would come!

It was bold in that prayer.  I told him that I felt I was ready to love and care for someone.  I told him that I wanted to marry a man who loved Him first, and who would love me for who I was.  I wanted in that man someone who would love and respect me and my family and our cultural background.  I realized I needed in that man someone who would compliment me.  A man who would perhaps be opposite of me in so many ways, and that’s just what I got!

I walked into the courtyard of our friend’s apartment complex.  Greeted him and started to work my way in and around the crowd, looking perhaps for familiar faces, but to be honest I don’t remember very much who I spoke with, what I ate or what I did while I was there.  I do remember spotting him across the courtyard sitting at a table surrounded by others, playing a cards game.  He wore a light blue Lacoste Polo, and his hair spiked up in what I’ve come to love and call his trademark look.  Oh boy.  I remember thinking how cute he was and how much out of my league he probably was so there was no point in even trying.

After that first time I saw him, I would see him at almost every Summer activity I was invited to that year.  I recall a couple of conversations and eventually a formal introduction.  This was back when Facebook was still only beginning, cool and exciting.  I had my account on complete lock down, so Josh claims he couldn’t even find me on there to reach out for a Friend request.  In August, someone snapped a photo of us, and tagged us in it, so I finally made the “first” move and sent him a friend Request.  I still remember in my message on my Friend Request I typed, “I think we should be friends 🙂 ” and the rest, I guess is history!

It seems as if we blinked and here we are, but I must say through it all we have seen God’s hand.  We have had very dark seasons in our lives as husband and wife.  We have had the good times and the bad.  The sickness and health.  The richer or poorer.  As we talked earlier this week, really recounting the countless times we’ve seen God grace at work in our lives, we just grew all the more grateful to Him and excited for the future.

While we do not know so much of what our future holds, we know who holds our future.  God promised in His Word that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6), and we cling to that promise.  I admit there have been many days when it has been awfully hard to cling to that truth, but that’s when the extra measures of grace are poured out and we make it out of the deep valleys.

And though the course may change sometimes

Rivers always reach the sea

I must say that marriage has taught me more than I ever thought it would, and for that I am grateful.  We both are.  We both had a lot of growing up to do, and still there are many ways in which God will use our relationship to refine us.  Marriage is a daily act of selflessness, humility, grace, forgiveness and love that makes for a lifetime of learning, and as strange as it sounds- a lifetime of joy and friendship unlike any other. We don’t know what life will look like a year or two from now, but we do know that we will not be walking alone.  God will always be by our side, infusing us with the strength, grace and perseverance for each and every day.

Always strive to give your spouse the very best of yourself, not what’s left over after you gave

your best to everyone else. -Dave Willis

I love you more than words can say, Josh.  You are definitely the man God hand-picked just for me.  You are a wonderful person.  I have seen God working all things in your life for your good and for His glory and look forward to many more years on this earth watching His perfect plan for our lives unfold.

Happy 8 years of marriage, my love!  One decade later, you’re still the most handsome guy in the room!  You always will be!

 

 

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How To Turn Your Mornings From Mayhem To Manageable

Mornings are my favorite.  Not because I love waking up from my deep sleep and rolling out of my warm bed, but because I love that the early morning hours allow for the opportunity to start my day off in a very productive and manageable manner.  Over the years and after much trial and lots of errors, I have learned and established a good routine in our home to ensure that the early morning hours are not wasted, but put to work to make sure the days starts off on the right foot.

While for those of us who consider ourselves “morning people” mornings can be much easier to tackle than our “night owl” counterparts, our productivity in these early hours is really what makes a difference.  If we don’t have a plan for those early morning hours, then we’re just losing sleep!  So whether you are waking up at 5 a.m. or 8 a.m.  here are several suggestions to ensure that you start your mornings are pleasant and manageable instead of a total mayhem!

1. You snooze, you lose!

Don’t do it! Don’t use the snooze button.  It is the sticky trap that will ensnare you with the lie that “just five more minutes” in bed will do you any good.  Face it, you’re not fully asleep at that point, and the clock is ticking.  You’re literally just fighting the inevitable moment when you have to roll out of bed, so just bite the bullet and roll on out of bed!

2.  Treat yourself!

My favorite incentive for an early morning wake up call is the smell of coffee brewing in my kitchen.  We set the coffee maker timer and my alarm to both go off at the same time.  95% of the time, that smell will roll me out of bed with less fuzzing.  If you’re not a coffee drinker, find an incentive that works for you.  Maybe drink your favorite tea in the morning, or buy a fun pajama robe and slippers that you really will enjoy slipping into early in the morning.  To ensure full morning hour wake up success, I tackle all three of these! 🙂

3. Get moving right away!

Get productive the moment you roll out of bed.  Don’t linger in bed or as I like to call it don’t dilly dally!  I used to be the worse dilly dally-er.  I would wake up early enough, but I’d sit around drinking my coffee instead of taking advantage of the time I had.  Definitely set aside some quiet moments.  I now have a list of three or four tasks that happen as soon as I wake up, then I shower and THEN I have time to pray and have a few minutes of quiet serenity.

4. Nighttime prep time!

This tip has helped me so much.  I now start my mornings up on the right foot because the night before I leave as much ready as possible.  This includes breakfast prep and lunch ready to get packed in my lunch bag, clothes for the next day, an organized house, bags packed, etc.  The more we prepare ahead of time the night before  the less hectic our mornings usually are.  Trying to find shoes, keys, and lunch bags in the morning when you’re already on a time crunch will only add to an already stressful situation.

5. Dry shampoo and hangers are your friends!

Ever since I was introduced to dry shampoo my life was changed!  Seriously, it has saved me so much time!  Don’t wash your hair every morning.  It is not only bad for your hair because it strips your hair and scalp from its natural oils, it is a huge time sucker because now you have to untangle, dry and style.  Wash only when absolutely necessary.

I have gotten into the habit of picking out my outfits for the entire week on Sunday evenings.  This includes undergarments, and accessories.  Every day gets one hanger.  This may sound extreme, but it is an extreme time saver in my eyes.  When I don’t take the time to prepare my wardrobe for the week, I definitely waste time rummaging through my closet and drawers to find what I need.  Try it! One hanger for each day.  It will save you time and energy.  If you’re not quite ready to plan your wardrobe for an entire week, at least plan out your outfit the night before.  If you have kids, this will also be a huge time saver for the whole family. Who wants to fret about what to wear on Monday morning anyways?!

So whether you are like me and you enjoy waking up early, or whether you prefer to sleep a bit longer, we can all adjust our habits and mornings to make sure that we are managing our mornings instead of letting our mornings run us ragged before we even walk out the door.  I would love to hear what your favorite morning routine tips are!  How you do ensure your mornings get off to a good start?

 

 

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Week One Summary and Progress in Week Two

There is never a perfect time to start, sometimes you just have to start.  I started my personal 60 day challenge using Hammer & Chisel as my workout program of choice.  I have enjoyed the workouts thus far.

Week One Summary

Last week Josh and I were busy planning our church’s annual Missions Conference.  It required grocery store runs, cooking, a full weekend and irregular schedules, but it was a huge blessing.   I was thrown off from my workout routine for four days, but instead of beating myself up about it, I decided to pick up where I left off and just make each workout count.

I have definitely seen progress in my muscle definition and my strength.  I do have to moderate some of the more difficult moves, but overall I am keeping up with the workout routines.

In terms of nutrition,  we did have to deviate from the eating plan somewhat, but kept it as clean and healthy as possible.  I was so happy to see the scale budge down by one pound even in the midst of the busyness.

Week Two Progress

Week two has brought in a can-do attitude and I’m really excited about it.  I see Josh is also more active and we are working out together more frequently.  I have even noticed that my energy levels are up and I’m sleeping better at night.  This really helps me wake up early and get things done around the house rather than sleep an extra hour in the morning.  It’s amazing what you can do in an hour and a half when you’ve had a good night’s sleep 🙂

The area we’re still working on improving the most is our meal planning and nutrition.  It is key and we struggle, but manage to stay on course for the most part.  The key to success in the kitchen is preparation.  We are learning to menu plan strategically, shop once a week and stick to the plan.   Each time we opt to cook and eat the healthy meal instead of take-out or we say no to desserts when we’re buying groceries or we get creative to make a healthier version of our favorite treats, it’s all better choices that over time will add up.  Some days it’s easy others not so much, but I know we’re making progress.

Overall, physically I feel stronger and I have more stamina.  Emotionally, I feel more capable to do the hard workouts because I am seeing the progress and feeling better and better each day.  More strength, energy, happier.

I have four weeks to go on the plan.  I am excited to share a before and after of my stats as well, we’ll see what happens!  My feeling is it’s going to be a good outcome! 🙂

 

 

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An Irish Blessing

Not just today, but may every day be filled with wonderful blessings from above!  I hope you find your way any time that you feel off course and that there will always be a helping had ready to reach out when you need it most.  Most importantly, never forget that the creator of heaven and earth LOVES YOU and is ALWAYS available and ready to hear your prayers and to strengthen and comfort you on this journey.

 

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Meal Planning for Success

I said I would share my Hammer & Chisel journey with you all, and I want to keep my word.  I start Hammer & Chisel on Monday March 20th as part of my personal commitment to getting my health and fitness back on the right track.  I want the discipline.  I need it.  I feel mentally and emotionally ready for the challenge.  Physically, I’ll get there!

I had originally planned on starting this week, but due to a few minor set-backs I was unable to fully prepare my meal plan for this week.  For this reason I decided to push it back one week.  I made this decision because in the past I would have gone ahead without a meal plan.  It was easy to stick to the workout plan, but I would easily fail in the kitchen due to a lack or preparation.  I was very strict in my consumption of the allotted amount of containers per day, but not very creative in the kitchen.  I really think that having had more variety in my diet would have made the process more fun, interesting and engaging.

I have learned from those mistakes and I am fully committed this time to doing the program the right way from start to finish.  I have learned that I can’t separate the fitness and the kitchen from each other.  Full success will require a full commitment on both fronts.

Meal Plan

Armed with the lessons from my previous failures in this arena,  I have created a meal plan from scratch and I will share it with you because I really like how it turned out.  I was able to put together my meal plan from scratch and customize it to fit my personal needs.  This is very much made to fit my lifestyle.  It is straight and to the point and I can easily reference my portion requirements for each food group since I will be strictly following the portion control containers system based on the plan I fell into once following a nutrition plan equation in the program guide.

For quick and easy access I have it saved and all I have to do is update it each week, print it out and go!  I also plugged in the links to all of the recipes I will use from the Beachbody recipe library in order to quickly access each recipe for ingredients.

 

The Hard Part

I am not much of a snacker so that will definitely be a struggle for me.  Well, aside from the difficult training program I’m taking on! I know it sounds weird that I’ll struggle to eat, but it really is eating smaller portions more often that I struggle with .  Since I’m not a snacker, I tend to eat a bigger meal when I do eat because I’m usually pretty hungry by then.

My hardest time is right before I get home from work.  I’m usually pretty hungry at that point, so if I don’t consume a healthy snack I will most likely get home and SNACK and totally ruin my plans for any workout.  Having my snack at around 4 p.m. should solve that problem!

The Easy Part

The easy part is obviously eating!  I made sure that I added a lot of variety to my menu to make it fun and enjoyable.  The meal planner also allows me to easily access each recipe quickly so I can print them and go!  That is easy enough 😉

The fun part

It will be so much fun to see the transformation happen- not only physically, but with our diet and cooking and eating habits.  This program will get me in the kitchen a lot more.  It is a new challenge for me to so thoroughly plan out a menu and grocery shop, but it is a challenge that I think will help me grow in many ways.

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Fitting In Fitness And A Career

Your 30’s are about discovering the truest, healthiest version of yourself.

                                                                                                -Career Contessa

Finding The Time

The alarm goes of gently at 6:57 a.m. . .  The alarm is supposed to gently awaken me from my sleep with a very gentle melody.  Three minutes later it tells me “OK, I’m serious, get up now!”  with a bit more of an annoying alarm sound.  I strategically placed the phone across the room the night before because the  snooze button would be far too tantalizing on my nightstand.

I push my legs out from under the weight of a snoring dog and sadly from under the warmth of my sheets.  Time to get this day started!

It hasn’t been easy, but I am finding the best ways I can stay on track with my life’s demands.  I admit that since my shoulder surgery in August and since I started working full-time outside of the home in September, I have put exercising and eating right on the back burner.   Aside from a lengthy recovery, I sadly lost all of the progress I had made with my muscle tone, strength, endurance and even my flexibility.

My Plan Of Attack!

Now that I am fully recovered, I feel like it is time for a new challenge in my workout routine so I am giving The Master’s Hammer & Chisel a try for the next 60 days to see some results.  One of the main reasons why I chose this program is because one of the trainers is Autumn Calebrese.  I really enjoy her training style.  It helps me want to push myself a bit more each workout, and overall it works well for me.

Another major reason is that I want to focus more on strength training right now over cardio.  I have always just been so focused on cardio, and have neglected strength training.  Now that I am in my early 30’s I have to face the fact that I am losing muscle mass at a higher rate.  It is important for me to maintain my muscle mass and that is going to require some work- physically and also in the kitchen.

 

I want to have the endurance, strength and energy that I need to keep up with the demands of my busy life. I feel that it is a critical time for me to focus on developing a stronger body and put an even stronger emphasis on my nutrition.

How The Program Works

The Master’s Hammer and Chisel program incorporates all three phases of body transformation, known as SSP Training—short for Stabilization, Strength, and Power. The goal of applying these techniques is to build, sculpt, and refine your physique over the course of 60 days.

 

There is a formula involved that tells you where you land on your nutrition plan, which for me is Plan B.

 

Portion Control containers, I’m coming back for you!  I will also be following the 60-day workout calendar, and will most likely be following the workout modifier, at least at the start.  I am excited and nervous!

Working It Into My Busy Schedule

I plan to workout mostly in the evenings after work.  Early morning workouts are not necessarily my favorite.  I prefer to set aside quiet time for prayer in my early morning hours, as well as take care of a few chores.  I also prefer my afternoon workout sessions because they help me decompress from a stressful day at work.  The workouts are between 30-40 minutes long.  If I workout as soon as I get home from work, I can be done by approximately 6:30 p.m. and be eating dinner by 7 p.m!

I know this is a huge change of pace from my usual workout routine, but I feel in my heart that it is also the best time to get my fitness and nutrition revved up.  I have yet to see what my body is truly capable of.  I have seen it make amazing progress with weight loss.  Now I want to see it strong and most importantly in optimal health!

What Can I expect?

I know for a fact that I will be sore at first, oh and probably hungry at some point because of reduced potions.  It happened with 21 Day Fix, but after my body adjusted to the exercise and the smaller meals, I felt better.  My hunger was more in week 1 of the portion control plan, but I often felt very satisfied after each portioned meal after a few days.  I think part of that had to do with going from a mostly carbohydrate diet to a high protein low carbohydrate plan.  I suspect I will have a similar experience, but an easier transition period since I am already eating a low carbohydrate diet and I start my mornings with Shakeology.

Time to Take Action!

I am excited to share this journey with you because it will help me stay accountable.  I also hope to inspire you to do something outside of your comfort zone as well!  Trust me, this scares me.  I’m totally new to this fitness approach, but I know that I have so much that I can gain from this experience.  I am totally going out on a limb here, but that’s sometimes what it takes to experience growth!

 

 

I can now hold a plank! Not for too long, but that’s quite a feat for my weak upper body!

 

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There’s A Better Life

I love this song by Zach Williams so much.  It is so inspiring.  Please listen to it the whole way through.  I love the message because we all have different things we struggle with, but there is ALWAYS a way out! Never believe the lie that you are a lost cause, or that you’ve messed up beyond repair because that’s not true! You can find a way out!  God will always send a helping hand and His love covers a multitude of sins!  Pray for a way out, and He will provide that grace and that helping hand you need to reach into the pit and pull you out.

 

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On Gardening . . .

 

They say you only really appreciate a garden once you reach a certain age, and I suppose there is a truth in that.  It’s probably something to do with the great circle of life.  There seems to be something miraculous about seeing the relentless optimism of new growth after the bleakness of winter, a kind of joy in the difference every year, the way nature chooses to show off different parts of the garden to its full advantage . . . 

-Camilla, Me Before You

Last year’s flower bed thrived beneath the rays of the Summer sunlight.

As the temperatures continue to rise and the blades of green grass break though the dormant soil, all I can think about is what we’ll plant this year.  My hands are itching to get back into the dirt and to add life and color to the little plot of land I call my own.

It is as if when we are out in the yard, sometimes covered in dirt (we manage to get pretty messy when we’re gardening), that life becomes exceedingly tranquil.  The cars zoom past our house and onto the main road ahead, yet all we hear is the shovel as it meets the  soil beneath and our conversation as we discuss which plant goes where.  We dig deep, year after year.  And with every passing season, we see progress.  We see the yard convert slowly into what we picture in our minds, and into what we chat about as we drive to the Lowe’s garden center.

It calms us.  It brings us closer together.  There is something about the process of laboring in and nurturing our garden that we find so gratifying.  Maybe it’s the life it breathes on its own or the way we are so hopeful each year and when we see the progress. That moment when you just know its been worth the work.

 

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Finding Balance When Life Gets Busy

Rest and self-care are so important.  When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow.  You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

Eleanor Brownn

Another month creeped up on me.  Is it really mid-February?!  They tend to do that lately.  Time has a way slipping through our fingers.  For me, life changes have made my days fly by since I scurried my way back into the rat race of the 9-5 life a few months back.  I have to say the transition from housewife to working outside of the home has been a tough adjustment.  I have felt extremely aware of my shortcomings and weaknesses during this transition.

I am slowly learning to take one moment at a time, and that at the end of the day, I am only one person, and have a limited resource of energy therefore I must use it wisely to ensure that my home and family life don’t suffer the consequences of my busy schedule.  Why am I so sure you ask?  Well, because it’s happened.  Some days my plan for more balance works marvelously and some days it feels more like that really complicated jigsaw puzzle-you know, the ones with over 100 pieces  that you can never quite find the four corners for?!

I am a core member of my home and work life and therefore I have to take care of me.  I have to make sure that my spiritual, emotional, and physical needs are met or I will not have anything in me to give.  Here are a few of the tips I can share with  you that have helped me in my transition from busy housewife to working wife who is still busy when she gets home!

PC:Stephanie Leight

1.Evaluate all daily activities, and establish priorities

Every day activities change drastically in priority once the good old 9-5 schedule takes over.  While I enjoyed my quiet time early in the mornings and working out mid-afternoon while I was home during the day, and fitting everything else in between, this is not an option right now.  I have had to learn to adjust my time from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed.

The key is to be very purposeful with your time.  Minutes can turn into hours when we are not intentional with our time.  You will need to evaluate what activities to tackle on each day.  What is Monday’s top priority?  What can be moved to the following day?  Set realistic expectations for yourself and those in your family unit.  Schedule it all in your planner, family calendar or whatever method you use… There’s nothing worse than a missed dental appointment you’ve booked months in advance!  Yeah, I should know.

2.Think twice before saying ‘Yes’ to any commitment

While commitment is a very healthy thing, saying yes to every request that comes your way is not.  This will only leave you running on fumes.  Commitments outside of work for us include our extended family, church activities, friends and of course, work.  Fellowship with family and friends as well as volunteer work are a tremendous blessing when they don’t leave you spread too thin or throwing important responsibilities off to the side.

Make time for these commitments, but always evaluating when it is realistic to get together with friends versus, being at home with your family and doing every day life with them and getting those chores done.  Maybe one night a month you get together with friends, or sign up for volunteer on days and months when you know it will be doable.  The worst is saying yes to something and backing out last minute because you couldn’t possibly fit it in.

3. Make time for healthy habits for yourself.  It will go a long way.

PC: Stephanie Leight

I firmly believe that quiet time, eating healthy and exercise help me thrive.  When I am not implementing these three habits in my daily life, I can feel it and it does not feel good.  When I don’t set aside quiet time for prayer and scripture reading, I can feel quite flustered, off balance and irritable.  I need God’s daily measure of grace and strength to face each day.  Also, when I eat rubbish I feel rubbish!  It’s so easy to eat poorly, but I know that I will not feel well when I do.  I must feed and nourish my body if I want it to get me through my busy day.

I can’t describe in words how good I feel after a good workout.  The challenge I always face is getting myself laced up to get said workout.  If I don’t stop and push something aside for 30 minutes I know the workout won’t happen.  Find the time that fits best into your busy day.  Maybe it’s before everyone else is up.  Maybe during your lunch break or after the kids have gone to bed.  Not only will you feel stronger, but you will actually be healthier and giving your body and mind a healthy outlet to decompress.

At the end of the day, we all have really busy lives and schedules and people that demand our time and attention.  The best thing we can do is breathe deep and remind ourselves that we are just one person.  Finding healthy ways to recharge our batteries can not only lead to a happier you, but also a happier family around you!

4.  Delegate!

There are days when there are just way too many things that need to get done, and it feels like not enough time or resources to get it all done!  That’s when we just have to tag team it.  For us, some days get crazy but so that’s when we have to delegate who errands, who will do laundry or chores that day, who will make a run to the post office, bank, etc..  We must find ways to work in what must get done, and do it as a team.  Delegate tasks to each member of the family so that no one person is left carrying to full load.  Even small kids can take on small tasks around the house.  This will not only teach them a sense of responsibility, but also begin to form positive habits in their lives that will go a very long way as they grow older.  Hey, if my dogs could help out too, I’d have them poop scoop the yard!

Trust me when I tell you that I don’t have it all figured out.  Some days go better than others, and I’m still learning to adjust to this new life.  Every season of life has challenges, up and downs.  Priorities, roles, and responsibilities come and go, but at the core of all of it is YOU.  Feed and nourish your mind, body and soul in the healthiest ways possible so as to give those you love from the overflow of your life.

 

 

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