Little Spice in Life

Fall is coming y’all!   I love fall.  I love the change in the temperatures.  I love getting back into a more structured schedule.  I love sitting on the back porch by the fire (having a good old s’more every now and then).  I love thinking about the coming holidays.  All of it spurs me to clean, to get up a little earlier, to read more and to cook more.  Fall just seems to be the season for hospitality and adding some spice to life.  It’s a time for laughter around the table, brisk walks in the cool morning air.  It’s a time to cheer on our favorite football teams.  Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg.  Barbecue sauces, roasted chilies, peppercorns.  Fall.

My weekly menus needed a little spicing up.  I was growing tired of our favorite summer recipes.  As I began this past week to think through some old fall favorites and peruse Pinterest for some fall cooking inspiration, I found myself inspired by the colors of fall.  Reds, green, oranges.  Apples, peppers, carrots, pumpkins and squash.  Yum!  Immediately I knew it was time to pull out one of my “tweaked” family favorites.  I grew up eating candied carrots.  The good old Southern kind smothered in butter and brown sugar, slow cooked until glazed and slightly browned.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that good old Southern recipe, adding a little spice always makes everything nice!  Honey Glazed Pepper Jelly Carrots.  Yep.  Nothing better.  Even grandma approved! Yes, the same grandma who taught me the traditional candied carrot cooking method.

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I promise you will want to try this recipe.  Go for it!  It’s the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.  Just enough heat to make you perk up, but sweet enough to comfort.

Honey Glazed Hot Pepper Jelly Carrots

I apologize to all my readers for my recent absence.  Life has just been happening and frankly, I needed a break.  However, speaking of needing a little spice in life.  I have a lot more to say on that subject.  I have been in a leadership training the past few days, and as I was prompted to think on my mission, think about my behavior style, I was reminded I need to be bold, to take more risks, to speak up and doubt less.  It’s time to get back at this blog thing!

 

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Consistently Managing the Paper

Managing paper is an ongoing challenge for many of us.  A few years back, after reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, I finally came up with a system that has been working for me-consistently.

Consistent.  That word driving me to make changes.  That word driving me to self-discipline.  I don’t want to be organized or get organized for a moment.  I want to live an organized life consistently.  I want systems that work, can be used daily and keep me from feeling compelled to engage in the “30 Days” to an organized home challenges.

My system is simple.  I’m a simple girl, so it takes simple systems!  If you follow my blog you know I LOVE a paper planner system.  However, my managing paper system can work for digital planners or paper planners.

If you work outside the home and are on the go a great deal utilizing a binder system will work best.  (I use this as a part of my planner.)  Purchase a set of monthly tab dividers. Not calendar pages, just monthly tabs.  That’s it!  Simple.  As paper comes in you have choices.  Read it and trash it.  Read it and determine it requires action at a later date or has information included you will need the day of the event.  (ie. birthday invitations, meeting announcement, agendas…)  Hole punch the paper and place it behind the appropriate month in the slim binder.  Note the event date on your calendar.  Each Friday during my Friday Planning I look behind that month’s tab to determine if there are any actions for the next week.  If the paper is for information purposes only (agenda, minutes …) I know I  will have it with me when I arrive to the appointed event.

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If you work from home or spend most of your day at a desk the file box version of this system may work best for you.  Purchase a  monthly dated, expandable folder.  They are ugly (brown), but you can fit them inside a file drawer or place them inside a more attractive file box.  Utilize the same concept.  Any paper worth keeping, necessary for performing a task or having relevant information at an appointment, drop into the file pocket for the corresponding month.  Pull papers out during your Friday Planning.

So often we keep papers in piles.  We fear if we file them, store them we will forget where they are.  However, we spend wasted hours repeatedly going through piles touching the same papers over and over.  Using a tickler system like the one above affords you a simple way to track papers.  You keep only what is really necessary and can quickly put your hands on the item when needed.

Consistency.  Having used this system I have been able to consistently keep up with items I need.  My file system has been simplified.  I keep fewer documents.  I can enter a meeting or appointment on the run and know I will have the necessary paperwork at my finger tips.

 

Next Steps Instead of New Goals

It’s that time of year.  Goals, resolutions, one word challenges.  I have done it all.  I have set goals.  I have run from goals.  I have made broad resolutions and I have championed a word for myself.  And like you, I have found myself disappointed, frustrated, and on occasion have experienced a sense of accomplishment.

This year is different.  This year has been about stepping back, so I could move forward.  This year has been about letting go so I could experience more joy, more freedom.  This year has been about settling into the here and now, trusting God with the future.  As I have settled into this new way of thinking, living, being, I have come to realize that I don’t need new goals each year.  What I need are next steps.  Rome was not built in a day. I will not become the best version of myself in a years’ time.   Goals take years to achieve.  And often, even when we think we have arrived, we realize there is farther to go.

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This year there are no new goals, just some new next steps.  I have some steps I need to take again, but by in large, there are new next steps.  I don’t want to rush life.  I don’t want to strive and grab at life.  I want to relish the lessons along the way, taking it one step at a time.  I want to move past doing and continue to learn to be.  I want to be content with progress, not seeking success in vain.  I want to move forward more than I move backward.  I want to keep perspective, remembering life is so much bigger than me.  I want to live simply, to take one step at a time.  Next steps will guide me this year.  Next steps will bring me closer to my goals. Next steps hold promise.

What are your next steps?  Give yourself permission to grow, stretch.  Give yourself permission to keep the same goals.  Acknowledge the accomplishments, determine what you can do more of or do better. Commit to next steps.

 

Clothes, Clothes and More Clothes

I wanted to share a great blog post from Shambray.  We all struggle with keeping our closets organized-after all, mom’s space is often the last space we find time to take care of.  It’s a nice rainy day here where I am.  Never hurts to do a little closet purging-things I haven’t worn all summer, things that still don’t fit, …  Plus, it’s fun to make room for new fall clothes!

http://www.shambray.com/2015/01/cleaning-out-your-closet-organization-declutter.html

A Year Ago: The Inspire Conference that Broke Me

An update to a year old post.

Simplified Organized Styled

I have spent the last few months preparing to lead a breakout session at Inspire 2015.  A year ago, this very conference was the site of a HUGE God moment for me.  It wasn’t the event.  It was a simple act of obedience on my part and on the part of every other woman who made a choice to be present.  Inspire is a simple conference.  Just one day-not even a full day.  It is just a day for women of faith to gather and share their stories.  Yet the simple impacts.  The sharing of stories draws us to REAL life, REAL hearts, REAL faith.  

I was coming out of one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  I was disheartened by the church.  I had been struggling with my own striving.  I was in the midst of changing my reactions to my relationship with my mother and…

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An Unexpected Post-Because I Needed to Hear It

I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but this post came across my feed today and convicted me.  The kind of conviction that sticks with you, makes you want to grab your kids, grab them and hold on tight.  I will admit it.  I have had those days when I yell at my kids.  Those days are always full of regret.  And most often those days are not the days my kids have done something wrong, but are more often the days I have not planned well, I have over-committed myself  or have failed to get the rest I need.  They are the days I let other people’s schedules dictate mine or allow the pressures and perceived expectations rise above my priorities.  I know you have been there.  In reality, as moms we will probably all be there again.  It’s not o.k. But, just as we grant grace to our children, our heavenly Father grants us grace and gives us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do it.

http://www.thebettermom.com/2015/1/26/dont-say-something-permanently-painful-just-because-youre-temporarily-ticked-off

I love the Better Mom blog.  I encourage you to follow.  I pray this post convicts you too, but more importantly I pray it leads each of us to guard our priorities, our hearts and our thoughts.  I pray it leads each of us to be Better Moms.

Gratitude at Christmas

We move so quickly from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  We move from Gratitude to Giving and Getting.  The pace quickens and before we know it we are tired, disheartened, overwhelmed.

This past year my word for the year was “Peace”.  I wanted to experience peace.  Not just a quiet or a calm, but peace of mind. You know I struggle with the worry beast, and it robs me of peace.  So this past year I focused on peace, filling my mind with that which would encourage peace.  A HUGE part of that has been developing the practice of gratitude.  As I have sought to name the thankfulness and keep the lists, I have come to realize that it is in the seeking gratitude that life changes and peace comes. Seeking gratitude requires presence, alertness and stillness.  It requires I lean into God when I do not understand or can not find that for which to be thankful.  As I open myself up to the practice of gratitude I find myself practicing hospitality, opening my heart, my mind, my time, my home, my life to others.  The deepest connection, the deepest gratitude has come as together friend or acquaintance and I seek Him in the darkest moments.  Holding the hand of my friend’s stillborn daughter and taking in her tiny features, her precious face.  Wrapping arms around the woman so lonely she wasn’t living, yet brave enough to seek out encouragement and finding new strength, new love, new hope.

Our Savior came in darkness, to world too full, too busy for Him.  His life was short, and full of darkness, pain and suffering. Yet He came bringing Peace.  He came to give His all that we might be saved.

This Christmas I carry on the gratitude.  I don’t want to forget those holy moments with friends and family when hurt turned to joy, when peace came over us in the midst of the storm.  I want to be grateful, not just in word, but in the way I live.  I want my gratitude to continue to lead me to hospitality, to relationships deep and true.  I want Christ to know my “thank you” is not enough, but my life for Him is.

Peace.  I experience it daily when I practice gratitude-being alert, present and still.  This Christmas Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Man.  

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Every Decision Matters-For THIS Moment

Our family has had ample opportunity this past month to discuss the importance of decisions.  There have been the normal school decisions, friend issues, but added to that our family circle and community have been impacted by infidelity, pregnancy outside of marriage, loss of life, crime, etc…  Those “big” items that cause you to stop.  As parents, my husband and I have found ourselves pausing to think long and hard about how to explain.  How to teach grace, justice and accountability.  It is not easy.  It often doesn’t make sense.  We want our girls to be forgiving and gracious, yet we want them to understand that no place in God’s word does it say that forgiveness means no consequences, no judgement, no accountability.  They have questions.  We have questions.  We admit all we do not understand.  We share what we know to be truth.

One thing became abundantly clear as we had these discussions over the course of the past few months.  God’s word is not void of instruction.  His word is clear we have choices, which means we have decisions to make.  Every decision matters, for THIS moment and for eternity.  What seems like a seemingly singular event can carry heart ache or patterns of behavior through generations.  One lapse in judgement can create life.  In some of the situations we discussed, our girls could quickly see a pattern of decisions/ a series of decisions, that led to the hardship.  In others it is not so clear.  For some, they are innocent, yet the choices/the decisions of those around them have had impact upon them.  It is much like dropping the stone in the still water.  Circles form, spreading out through the entire lake.  Even the smallest of stones can create a small wave, movement of still waters.

While there were many “Why” questions left unanswered, one lesson was learned by us all.  We were reminded our decisions matter.  Our decisions impact others.  Our decisions are for THIS moment and eternity.  Whether our decisions be good or bad, they have lasting impact.

I am not glad the situations we discussed exist.  They are difficult.  They carry pain and sorrow.  They bring disappointment. However, I am glad the situations led to discussions which led to realizations.  In THIS moment we are conscious of our every choice.  I  know we will not always be on high alert, although we should be.  But for today we are.  I pray the consciousness lingers.  I pray we remember.  I pray we choose His truths, His ways, and we decide obedience.