The Race to Nowhere In Youth Sports

An incredible, heart felt article that touches on much of what I think about, pray about.

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My Perfect Planner

Yes. You read it. I have finally come up with the perfect planner! The perfect planner for me. The perfect planner for me at this time.

Usually school rolls around and I find myself wasting hours looking on-line, on Pinterest, at Barnes and Noble, for the perfect planner. Beginning of school is like a new year for me!  Our schedule changes, I have new lists of chores and ideas for how I want things to work, move along, go each day.  I love it!  It’s the perfect time of year for us type A women.  Stores are full of pens, paper, pencils, post-it notes, notebooks, planners, baskets, and an array of other organizing tools.  Heaven!  This year though, I am beginning the school year with my same old planner.  I will confess, I looked for a brief moment late one evening.  (it’s an illness)  No, I’m sticking with my planner.  I love my planner.

My planner works for me and well, at the end of the day that is what matters.  It’s not pretty.  It doesn’t fit in my purse.  (I am still a little miffed over that, but learning to let it go.)  What it does though is keep everything I need in one handy place.  It is truly a mini office.  It is great!

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See.  Not so pretty.  It is the big black thing, not the pretty pink thing (that is my new plan for my pray journal-post on that later).  It is a plain old black, soft, faux leather three ring binder.  You would think it this day and age someone out there would make these things in pretty colors.  No such luck.  I have searched the universe on the world wide web.  No soft leather three ring binders.  (Hoping I just gave someone a brilliant idea and they’ll make millions and at least acknowledge me with 2% of their earnings.)  As we progress along you’ll see why I chose this size.  (And the size is the issue when it comes to finding any kind of selection.)

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In the front I have placed a poem I found over 15 years ago.  It inspires me and keeps me focused, so I love that I can see it each time I open my planner.

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Next I have my Life Statement, which I did after going through Katie Brazelton’s book “Pathway to Purpose for Women”, and my weekly cleaning schedule.  Before you are too impressed, please know I rarely stick with this schedule and there is many a Friday I can be found frantically cleaning the entire house so it’s ready for the weekend and/or guests.

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Now come the pages that make it all work for me.  I order my planning pages from Life is Crafted.  I am in LOVE with these pages.  You can order a set pre-printed or you can purchase a download version and print them off yourself.  I do the latter. This page is my Master To Do list.  This is where I dump my brain at least once a week.  I just started a new page-felt I needed to after completing the house.  I write down anything and everything here if it does not have a specific date or time in which it needs to be done.  It is amazing how much stress can be relieved just knowing I have things written down and I don’t have to worry about forgetting something.

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Next, and final section I am sharing today, are the project pages.  There is a page for each project I am currently working on.  I keep a list of items I need to do or follow up on here.  Not only do these pages capture things I don’t want to forget, but having one for each project gives me a visual of how many major commitments I have made.  Too many of these pages means I am over committed, which usually means my family and my home begin to suffer.  I try to keep projects between 3 to 5 at any given time.  

The best pages are yet to come.  If you like what you see so far, I encourage you to go over to http://lifeiscrafted.com/ and browse her shop.  

Life is LIVED in the White Space: 8 Lessons in Simplicity

It has been a while since I entered a post.  Sadly I am not one of those bloggers who has reached the point of scheduling blog posts.  That’s on the “one day” list.  For now I live life and stop to blog when I have a moment.

Our move is finally over.  I really can’t complain-and believe me, I have had to remind myself of that fact repeatedly!  I have been privileged to build a home of my dreams, my family’s dreams.  It’s not a mansion.  In fact, it is slightly smaller than our old home.  However, it has a pool and an outdoor fireplace, and well, that is pretty cool.  We built the home with our empty nester years in mind.  coming all too quickly and I could break out in hives as I write if I ponder it too long, so let’s just move right along!

Before our decision to move and build, our family had hit some trials.  Not little bumps in the road, but more like white water rapids.  The economy plunged a few years back (feel certain none of us needs to be reminded of that fact) and my husband’s business declined.  We had to make a decision to end some fairly major financial support of my mother, who struggles with depression and living life as a single woman after 24 years of marriage and living life as a minister’s wife.  There was lots of family conflict (not between my husband and I) and emotional turmoil attached to that decision.  It’s amazing how much we can suppress and push to the core of our being in an attempt to avoid processing or making the difficult decisions.  I also made an attempt at going back to work full time and then part-time, neither of which worked for our family.  My husband and I both knew God was calling me to be at home, a calling we had been clear of 14 years earlier.  You see, we had fallen prey to some “panic” and worked ourselves into “striving mode”.  Neither a faith response to circumstances.

I am so thankful in the two years leading up to this move I made the decision to do some internal work, digging deep to see what God wanted to teach me through the trials, the heartache, the situations I could not control.  He’s taught me a lot.  I let Him, this time ’round.  Most of all He has taught me life is lived in the WHITE SPACE-the moments in time when nothing else exists but me and Him.  So often I struggle to hear Him, to see Him at work around me, to sense His presence.  That’s all on me.  One of those things I have to OWN.  Once I owned it He began to convict me and speak to me in very real, clear, tangible ways.  As a result, WHITE SPACE, has become a really big deal around here.  Not only do I seek to implement white space in my daily schedule, literally blocking it off on my calendar, but He prompted me to design my new home with WHITE SPACE in mind.

The concept of WHITE SPACE is really a marketing/print media concept.  It’s the notion that a page too full, too busy actually distracts the human eye and takes away from the message.  The better advertisement or page layout includes critical white space, areas for the reader’s eye to rest, causing one to pause and take in fully the message being conveyed.  The same can convey to our schedules, our planner pages, our home decor, our cabinet storage, etc…  We need places to rest, to stop, to be able to take it all in.  God designed the world using this very idea.  He didn’t just ‘BAM” create it all in one moment (and we know full well He could have).  He took 6 days.  He was deliberate.  He was orderly.  He rested at the end of each day (WHITE SPACE) and took in the majesty of what He himself had created.  On the 7th day, He rested and delighted in it all.  He has provided us through His creation “white spaces”-the expanse of the skies, the depths and widths of the oceans, the horizons, …  He has given us rhythm to our days-night providing us the WHITE SPACE in which to sleep, rest, rejuvenate; seasons bringing new weather, new plants, new rhythms to our days.

How do I live in the WHITE SPACE?

1.  I have a little corner of my home created for me.  A place I sit each and every morning to ponder His word, journal and pray.

2.  I am working to do a better job of protecting Sunday and keeping it a true Sabbath-a day for no work, just worship, rest and play.  A day for my family.

3.  I attempt to discipline myself in the management of my calendar and our family calendar, leaving literal white space-15-20 minutes between activities, protect dinner time as a WHITE SPACE, build in blocks of time for nothingness to be filled by His prompting.

4.  I literally used shades of white as the backdrop for our home.

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Yes, that is the color of my walls.  It is a soft white.  The trim and cabinetry are in the same color family, just 4 shades darker.  They are slightly contrasted with the walls.  My entire house is all one color.  Yep.  Hard to believe.  The tile, the fixtures etc… all tone on tone.  And let me tell you, that is way harder to do than picking vibrant colors.  There were many a day I wished I had hired a designer, as I fretted over ensuring this whole tone on tone thing would blend and not look like a mess of white gone awry!

5.  We have purged, and purged and then purged some more.  A garage sale before the move.  Runs to Goodwill after the second move to the second furnished apartment.  And upon moving in to our new home, 4 runs to Goodwill.  There is something about moving into an open, white on white space that just makes you want to keep it fresh and clean and EMPTY!

 

What have I learned from living in the WHITE SPACE?

1.  I am less stressed when I begin my day reading the Bible, sitting in quiet, spending uninterrupted time with God.  I have also realized I’ve got a lot of work to do to create some more WHITE SPACE in my brain.  The cluttering messages, Satan’s attacks just seem to jump on that time and do everything they can to distract, panic and overcome my peace and joy!

2.  I snap less at my family and those I care about most.  There is room to breathe in the WHITE SPACE, room to step back and evaluate before reacting.  And I am not a good reactor, my tendency is to react negatively :(.

3.  Conversations, real conversations, happen when we are not hurried.

4.  I am more positive.  WHITE SPACE gives me opportunity to see, to really pull back and look at what I have, what just happened, and enjoy it, take pride in it, be glad in it.

5.  I am more thankful.  Ann Voskamp has taught me much about gratitude.  Again, it is about pausing, WHITE SPACE, and naming all that you are grateful for- “One Thousand Gifts”.

6.  There is more light in the WHITE SPACE.  My home is full of light.  One, because it is an open plan.  Secondly, because the walls are light and the ceilings are high (10 feet throughout).  Light reflects.  There are not shadows.  No place for dust bunnies to hide (that has become a challenge), stacks to go unnoticed, etc…

7.  Color pops off of white.  Everything I have looks new!  My dark antique wood family pieces look rich and deep next to white walls.  The art pops off the walls.  The plants (silk and real) look lush and rich in color in front of the white.  I notice everything more.  And having less makes it all even more noticeable.

8.  The desire to keep it pure and simple and white has caused me to really think about what I have and why I have it.  Letting go has brought space, room to breathe and that has brought peace.

 

I love my WHITE SPACE.  I am so glad I said “yes” to doing something that seemed against my nature, my better judgement, something that was scary.  I am so glad I have a physical reminder of what God has been teaching me about my life-my schedule, my thoughts, my planning, my living.  Life doesn’t happen in the hectic, hurried moments of trying to run from one event to the next.  Life doesn’t happen in the cluttered house, where time is spent managing things.  Life doesn’t happen in the car.  Life doesn’t happen in activity.  No, life is lived best in the WHITE SPACE, where I and those I am with have room to breathe, to rest, to take it all in, to be present.

I look forward to sharing with you a room by room glance at our new home and my “new” and improved way of  living.  I pray it will challenge you, move you to create a little WHITE SPACE of your own.

Italian Sausage Penne with Tomato Cream Sauce

It’s what’s for dinner.  

Cooking in a furnished apartment is proving to be a challenge.  I must admit I’m spoiled.  I am used to my pots and pans, my large fridge for storing foods, a pantry etc…  Tonight was time to improvise-create something new out of what was on hand.  It was a hit, and shall be a “keeper” recipe.  I didn’t get a photo, and so wish I had.  It turned out a beautiful pinkish color.  One of the girls made a kale and romaine salad with Asian pear and fresh blueberries, topped with grated Parmesan and a berry vinaigrette.  It turned out to be a fresh, pleasing to the eye summer supper.

Italian Sausage Penne with Tomato Cream Sauce

Brown 1 lb Italian Sausage, then drain.  Add 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.  Saute.  Once the flavors have blended, add 1/4 cup half and half (I used Non Fat Land O Lakes) and 6 oz cream cheese.  Stir until the cream cheese is melted and blended with the other ingredients.  Once blended, pour in one can of diced roasted diced tomatoes with garlic.  Stir and let simmer.

While the Italian Sausage mixture is cooking, cook one package of whole wheat Penne pasta according to directions.  Drain.  Pour the Italian Sausage mixture over the Penne Pasta, adding one half cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir until all the noodles are coated.  Serve onto plates (as we did since we have no serving platters) or “dump” the Pasta-Italian Sausage mixture onto a serving platter.

Nice blend of sweet from the tomatoes and a hint of spice from the Italian Sausage (I like to use hot Italian Sausage).  

Just a reminder dinner can be quick, simple and still delicious.  it also means my family can spend an evening around the table-and that is the ultimate blessing in my book.

The Organized Life: It’s Not Magic

I am often asked how I do it all.  On the one hand I am somewhat honored/flattered, but more often than naught it makes me twinge and feel a little guilty.  While I want to daily present and be the best I can be, I never want to present an illusion, I never want to seem to be more than I am.  I am imperfect.  I sin daily.  My family sees my bad side, and that makes me sad.  I do not do it all.  I used to want to.  I used to strive to.  I used to believe I could.  But there is no magic- no magic wand, no magic formula, no magic planner, no magic system, no magic container, no magic home.  

I am fairly organized.  I function better in a cleaned up, uncluttered environment.  That’s my nature, the way God wired me.  I also believe God is a God of order and desires we, especially as women, create order and beauty in our lives.  He created us to create and complete.  However, I have learned the real key to organization is discipline.  I prefer to think of how I live my life in those terms. Am I living a disciplined life?  Do I honor God and His precepts with my choices, my words, my actions?  I do not do it all, because I no longer attempt to do it all.  There are a lot of things I say “No” to.  There are a lot of things I desire to do, but I know God has reserved for another season.  Living that way, and that way only, enables me to do what I need to do, no more.  In that I can find rest and peace.  I no longer have to rush, chase the illusive “do it all” mantra.  I can let go and enjoy the very best God has for me.  I have times where I take on too much, lose sight of the “best” and run after the “good”.  Fortunately though I have built in some disciplines that provide me time and opportunity to step back and take notice when these things happen and I can recover, before life spins out of control.

Disciplines to a more balanced/organized life:

  1. Daily quiet time with God BEFORE the day begins.  
  2. Pray over daily calendar.
  3. Know priorities and evaluate them yearly.
  4. Use a monthly and weekly calendar.
  5. Leave white space on the calendar:  at least 15 minutes between every task/appointment.
  6. Review calendar and set up the following week’s schedule on Friday, so the weekend can be enjoyed.
  7. Sabbath retreat the 31st of each month with 31 days.  Solitude, Prayer, Reflection, Planning
  8. Rest:  physical rest (early to bed/early to rise) and the kind of rest that means to quit striving
  9. Write it down: goals, appointments, thoughts for future, to do…
  10. Purge: 4 times per year focus on problem area in house and in schedule.  Purge.

It takes discipline to be organized.  Like most everything worth having in life, organization comes from doing a few things you don’t want to do and making sacrifices.  It also takes real desire and want.  Not to want to be organized, but to want to have time to live life fully, to enjoy your home, your family, the things you choose to engage in, your friends.  

I don’t do it all.  I don’t strive to do it all.  I seek order, but solely to enable me to care for what I have (be a good steward) and to enjoy life.  When all I sought was organization, order and/or perfection, all I got was fatigue, illness and poor attitude.  Life and things managed me.  I now manage life and things as I follow God’s direction and seek to do only the very BEST things He has placed before me.  I can let go of the rest, knowing He has a plan and a time for everything.  I’m not missing out.  I’m not needing to keep up.  I’m getting to live, live fully.

Intentional Living Monthly Checklist for May

It has been a crazy week.  We have moved into temporary housing until our new home is completed.  At the beginning of the same week our area experienced one of the most destructive tornadoes to date.  There has been devastation and loss beyond anything I can comprehend.  It puts life, all things, in perspective and reminds me, living intentionally is so very important.  In the midst of all happening, I again find comfort in simple reminders, in a simpler life and in a simple faith.  Enjoy the monthly checklist.  I encourage you to follow the blog for inspiration!  I love the blog community and the wealth of wisdom and encouragement I find.

 

Intentional Living Monthly Checklist for May.

Worry Wart Remover: 8 Ways to Let It Go

I am a self-proclaimed worrier.  It is a sin.  I know it is a sin.  I struggle.  My mind goes 90 miles an hour, mostly at night.  I have been intentionally working on this sin habit this year.  Came across this article.  It melds my love of organization with my sin habit of worry.

 

Worry Wart Remover: 8 Ways to Let It Go.

Over-Complicated Life, Over-Simplified Faith

I fear we have over-complicated life and over-simplified faith.  The result?  More young adults leaving the church than ever before.  Why are they leaving?  Research says they are leaving because they have no real theology and do not see the church to be authentic, do not see their parents as authentic.  Ouch.  This has happened on my watch, my generation seems primarily responsible.  Could it be in our abundance, we failed to focus on the important?  Could it be that as we were caught up in the “good life”, the church sought to make itself appealing to us through music, watered down sermons, worship centers that look more like gymnasiums than the House of the Lord, espresso to see us through a one hour service, and church names that bare no sign of any particular affiliation or theology, and so it all became nothing more than one more activity on the calendar?

The simple message sounds good-believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God, that He was born of the virgin Mary and died on the cross to atone for our sins.  He rose on the third day, victorious over death.  All you have to do is believe.  You believe and you’ve got a seat reserved in heaven.  Simple enough.  Sounds great.  In our over-complicated lives, an over-simplified faith sounds appealing.  We can get people to make that kind of decision. We can make that kind of decision.  But once our seat in heaven is reserved does all else in scripture falls by the wayside?  That’s just it.  It’s an over-simplified faith.  Christ didn’t just come that we might be saved.  He came that we might be saved and have life abundant.  One in two marriages ending in divorce.  One in six men in the church addicted to pornography.  In other words, things that were more prevalent outside the church and its members, are now as prevalent within the church and its members.  That’s not life abundant.  That’s not life that reflects a living faith.

I am convicted.  I am saddened.  Is it enough though to feel those emotions?  I do not write to judge, but I write out of conviction, out of a desire to spur myself to change and accountability.  I am but a fool if I do not give thought to the research, to what my own girls have seen lived out, heard from the pulpit and understand from their friends.  I am a fool if I think, “But never my child.”  The wise heed instruction.  The wise allow God to instruct, prune and rebuke.  I want to be wise.  I have three more years with my girls-three more influential years before they are set free to fly, to discover, to choose for themselves.  Will they do as their father and I have done?  Will they choose, “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord?”  I pray they do, but if they do it will not be by chance.

I have given a lot of thought lately to “what else” I want to implant in my girls’ minds.  I have given a lot of thought to my own choices and daily conversations, wondering if they ring sincere to my girls.  Am I authentic? Am I willing to be authentic?  It’s not easy.  I don’t want to get caught up in the past, falling into despair over mistakes made.  I want to look back just long enough to know what needs to change.

I need to get back to or begin the following:

Prayer time with my girls’.  Those were treasured evening rituals when they were younger.  We’ve let it slide out of our habits.

Letter writing to each other.  We used to leave each other little notes or letters.  Not daily, not even weekly, but at least once a month.  I keep a journal for my girls-prayers, scriptures, thoughts…  I have kept it since before their birth.  It will be theirs when they leave for college.  But the letters, the letters were just little extras that opened the door for spiritual discussions.

Less complaining and worry.  This is a big one for me.  My greatest sin is worry.  Lately I have let it become a major stumbling block.  That is not faith-it is the complete opposite.  That is not what I want to be remembered for, nor is it the pattern I want to teach my girls.  I am convicted.  I am working diligently in this area.

Joy.  It’s hard to have joy, when you are full of worry.  But joy is what we need.  Even when life is hard.  Even when we have no idea how college will be paid for, or how medical insurance will be paid for… there  is much in life to be thankful for.  Out of thankfulness grows joy.

Most of all, I want us to have conversations about faith-that it is complicated, hard, but oh so worth the perseverance.  I want our lives to be simpler and our faith to be more complicated.  I want us turning to His word, trusting His word and living His word.  We are going to turn it upside down.  The Chaplin home is going to have over-complicated faith in an over-simple life.

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Can We Even Know Him in the Good Times?

We live in a culture seemingly all about happiness, success, livin’ it up…  Even our churches present “happy” experiences-upbeat music, bright lights, flashy screen shots, indoor playgrounds, more programs and activities than we can possibly fit into our schedules …  Yet, in other parts of the world, life is hard, food is lacking, no church buildings exist.  Who really lives the better life?

I find myself in that season of life facing the care and encouragement of aging parents, while raising teen daughters, working, and seeking to be active in my church and community.  Repeatedly though, the reality of  it all strikes and I am reminded WE CAN NOT do it all.  In deed, there are seasons of life, and in each season we have time for only what is BEST during that season.  We CAN NOT live all of life in one season.  I am also reminded my faith walk is enhanced and strengthened mostly in the hard times, the bad times, the difficult times.

This week one of our parents lays in ICU, something that has become an annual if not bi-annual experience.  Life hangs in the balance and all that we had planned, gets pushed to the side.  Family rallies, prayers become fervent and constant.  We seek to plan, and yet what is to come is out of our control.  Each time we have walked this path, my girls’ have questioned.  They too have grasped that all too often the only thing we can cling to is our faith, our relationship with the one true God.  They too have begun to understand that all too often we do not know how to pray, or what to pray, yet Christ, our intercessor speaks on our behalf.  I am reminded once again, that broken hearts enable us to more fully know our Lord.  There is no self-sufficiency when living with a broken heart.  There is no earthly cure for a broken heart.  Once again, the upside down nature of God’s ways points us to all that we must hold firm to.  His Son, broken, hanging on the cross met all our needs in death.  He claimed the victory, that we too might have victory.  In our brokenness we are raised up, filled up, made strong.  Not by our might, but by His.  We are instructed to “be glad in all things, giving thanks…”  It seems impossible.  It seems especially impossible during the bad times.  Yet, when our lives are shifted, our hearts struck, it suddenly makes sense.

Life is a bittersweet journey.  Yet, in Him, we find peace and strength.  In looking back we can give thanks for the trials and tribulations.  Hopefully I am learning and teaching my girls that in the midst we can also give thanks-not for the hardship, but for His presence, His grace, His sufficiency.  I would not fully know Him were it not for the difficult times.  They draw me to Him and in my weakness I seek Him more, only to find Him and come to know Him more fully.

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May the generation behind me know the meaning of the cross.  May they stand in its shadow, clinging to all that it represents.  May I and all who stand with me in this season of parenting live our lives faithfully at the foot of the cross, reminding those behind us of its presence and its power.  I love this daily representation in my brother’s home.