Lent (not lint)

Happy Sunday!  I can’t believe how fast the weekend goes!  I also can’t believe how fast the year goes!  It seems like it was just January 1.  We are quickly approaching the Lenten season, and you may be wondering what in the world I’m talking about.  I grew up in a Methodist church and do no really remember learning a great deal about the church year.  Since switching over and being confirmed in the Episcopal denomination in my late 20s, I’ve learned a lot!  Now, I think of it as time to prepare for Easter which is sort-of similar to Advent as a time to prepare for Christmas.  Here’s the Episcopal Church’s definition…

Early Christians observed “a season of penitence and fasting” in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning “spring,” the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (BCP, p. 265).  

I have many a false start with Lent.  There was the no-chocolate year that fell by the wayside with a Valentine’s Day gift extravaganza from my students.  Then, there was the season of no-social media which I did last longer with.  I have yet to make it to an Ash Wednesday service or even the “ashes-to-go” option.  Well, no more!  I’m making a commitment to Lent 2018.  I really want to give Lent/Easter the same focus that I tend to easily give Advent/Christmas.  Here’s my Lent plan!

  1. Give up dessert. – Now, this sounds like it might be too close to a New Year’s Resolution to be considered somehow connected to the observance of Lent.  HOWEVER, I tend to use my time in the evenings to bake.  I like desserts, and baking is something I do for fun and for stress-relief.  BUT I feel like eliminating desserts would allow for more time (and less excuse-making) in the evenings to read my Bible or some other inspiring book or perhaps journal.  Also, I would be turning to God and His word versus turning to a sack of flour.  Probably a better choice, don’t you think???  With Lent, Sundays are not factored in, so I’ll plan to enjoy a dessert on Sundays only.  I also counting cereal, toast with jelly, etc. as dessert.  The only exception is fruit for Monday through Saturday.  I am very hopeful that this will open up more time and opportunities for a strong friendship with Him. ***The teacher in me is going to make a sticker chart and give myself a fun sticker for each day completed.  🙂 ***
  2. Daily devotional time – I’m sometimes pretty good about this, but it is definitely not a daily habit.  I want to spend some time each day reading the Bible and writing in my journal.  When I write in my journal, I’m writing a letter to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.  I like to be very open, no fancy language, and casual – like I’m having a discussion with Him sitting right there beside me.  I check in with my other family members daily, so it only makes sense to check in with my Creator.  Holden and I have also been doing a little devotional geared for boys (probably more mid-upper elementary), and I hope to continue that as well.  I’m not making it part of my Lent plan since I’m trying to focus on myself for this.  We also do Resurrection Eggs as it gets closer to Easter, and those are fantastic!
  3. Do Lent:  Pray, Fast, Give with Holden and Helen – I printed this great idea out for Sunday school kids and also did one for my own kids.  Basically, you pull a strip a day for Lent and follow the directions on the strip.  Some of the “Pray” strips are specifically focused on prayers found in the Catholic Church.  However, you could just make up a few of your own or make up your own prayers when pulling one of those out.  Get the printable here!
  4. Ashes-To-Go – Unfortunately, my schedule is not going to allow an Ash Wednesday service.  However, it looks like we are going to make it to the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Party!  My son is WAY too excited about the list of possible toppings!  I told Holden about the whole idea of ashes and what it symbolizes, and our plan is to go get our ashes-to-go after school.  First-timers!

So that’s it!  I am making a commitment to make this a priority this year.  Prayers appreciated for strength and fortitude to see it through!  I’m thinking it will be totally worth it.

Do you give up anything for Lent?

Did your family emphasize Lent when you were a kid?

Thanks for reading!

Natalie

Quitting and Contentment

Hi there!  Goodness, it has been a long time since I wrote anything on this little old blog (August 2017 to be exact!).  To say that I’ve been “up in the air” about many things is putting it mildly!  I’ve been asking myself do I switch to a new church (or not), switch career fields (or not), do I complete coursework to switch jobs within the field of education (or not), do I run a marathon (or not), etc., etc.

I hate to feel like I’m just bumping along without an goal.  I love to take action when I’ve identified a problem.  I also confess to wanting lots of human opinions either from loved ones or the infamous Google search.  These tendencies present a problem when I put ultimatums on myself and timelines and expectations.  Then, the fixing of one “problem” results in lots of internal problems for me.

I guess you could say that my motto for 2018 is just quit. We are only 18 days in, and I’ve already doing a pretty good job.

  1.  Registered for Yuengling Shamrock Marathon – I switched over to the 8K.
  2. Registered, Paid, and Began classes at Old Dominion and Tidewater Community College – I dropped those classes after the first week.  Sadly, this was after I put about 7 hours work into them.
  3. Tentatively planned two vacations – I abandoned both ideas as one was too far of a car ride for our car-challenged children and the other was not the Mr.’s idea of a vacation.  I do see his point as it was a trip to the beach, and we LIVE in Virginia Beach.  😉
  4. Heck, I was already ahead of myself and gave up on this blog back in August!

I think quitting can have such negativity associated with it.  However, I know as a teacher I go over with students when to abandon a book.  How often do we as adults take inventory of our lives (friends, family, profession, spirituality, hobbies) and decide what really needs to be abandoned?  Is there a friend who really isn’t a friend and has become a drain on your emotions?  Is there a family member who requires a little more distance from your everyday thoughts and your heat?  Perhaps, you need to change your job in some way or maybe an attitude/way you do thing adjustment is necessary.  Are you stagnant spiritually?  When’s the last time you truly felt your soul was evolving even in some small way?  Hobbies?  Do you have none or quite too many?  Are you really doing something that is special to you?

It’s no secret that I love to purge/organize/drop-off at the thrift store.  I love the feeling that you have after really clearing out some space in a home.  It feels like I can breathe easier and see with so much more clarity what remains.  I think it’s easier to identify where “clutter” is when it’s tangible and has a sort-of “in your face”-ness to it.

I believe that 2018 for me will be a year of changes but also (*hopefully*) a year of contentment.  I’m quite tired of striving.  There’s that saying – “There’s always room for improvement.”  I do love a good self-help book and the sense of accomplishment from meeting a goal.  I’ve done a lot of that.  I think really for me to grow as a person it might…just maybe…be more important for me to let contentment grow this year.

Can I just be content with my personality?  my skills?  my weaknesses?  my accomplishments?  my failures?  I feels like the quest for the Holy Grail!  I guess I’ll have to find my best Indiana Jones’ hat and try!

Do you set resolutions or goals only in January?  or maybe not at all?

Have a great day and year!  🙂

Weekends v. Weekdays

We are in the thick of the “weekdays” right now on this Wednesday morning.  It feels like it has been raining for 100 years, but it has really been only a full day of rain.  I woke up once for Helen and once for Holden last night.   Both times it sounded just like someone had turned a faucet on over our house!  Don’t you just hate the rain?!?!  It’s kind of cozy if you can stay home when it’s going on.  Unfortunately, that’s not what we were up to yesterday.  I have about a 30 minute drive to work in typical traffic.  Yesterday’s rain extended that quite a bit.  I just hate being late to work!  I have a hard time keeping the day going in a positive way when that happens.  Which brings me to what’s on my mind…weekends v. weekdays!

This past weekend was Holden’s first soccer game.  He loved it, and we loved watching him!  It was pretty warm with temps in the mid 80s.  The team split into two small teams, so the kids could play the whole time with no subbing.

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P.S. Boys 6 and under soccer is when things start to get a little more serious and a little more competitive!

Besides soccer, we got to attend a baptism of our old friends’ baby boy.  The Mr. was the godfather.  Doesn’t he look handsome?!  Baby and Godfather!14355539_1462250590457984_1420083822664243896_n.jpg

It was a beautiful service with lots of delicious food afterwards.  We also had a visit from Holden and Helen’s Meme and C-Pa.  This delayed nap time, so Holden was quite pleased! It was such a nice (and busy!) weekend.  I confess that Monday was not my favorite, and Tuesday was really not my favorite.  I’ve been really not feeling the work scene lately, and it’s been very noticeable.  Not to mention I’ve been pretty vocal about it!  Don’t ask me how I feel unless you REALLY want to know.

I know when I have times like this the most important thing I can do is to pray more.  Well, (sadly) I feel like I tend to pray less.  This morning I finally got myself together and spent a little time reading.  I came across this verse in Hosea 7 (verse 14).

They lie there sleepless with anxiety, but won’t ask my help.  

Instead, they worship heathen gods asking them for crops and for prosperity.

So true in my case!  I have chosen to fret and worry and obsess and just WALLOW about in my despair over working outside the home (let’s be real…there’s work inside the home too!).  Right now it seems to be my portion.  Although people say you can always change your course, I don’t feel that’s anything I can do now.  I’ve got to figure out how to make this work AND somehow enjoy it aka not be super miserable everyday.  A key part that I’ve been missing is PRAYER.  I totally have been skipping this in my life right now for worry, crying, whining, anger, and just general despair.

 So…I’m going to try to do better.  Does this seem like it’s the theme of your days?  I feel like it happens to be mine.  I am thankful for new days and fresh starts.  Even if today I may float away on the way to work.  It’s STILL raining!

Have a great hump day.

Natalie

 

Thoughts on Thursday

Happy Thursday!  It’s been a pretty great week!  Little Miss H is smiling with more frequency and definitely giving up lots of half smiles.  Roscoe P. got his senior (yes, he’s now a senior but not getting any senior discounts at the vet!) wellness check.  The best thing I can say about that is that no one was harmed in his examination.  Also, the week has not been a total rain-out.  Who am I kidding?  Any four day week is probably a good one!

Sadly, I have to report some bad news.  Luvs diapers stink!  We are now the proud owners of an Amazon Prime membership.  I thought “Great!  Let’s order diapers!”  They are very noisy due to material, and they are scented.  I HATE scents!  The smell of baby powder (which is what they smell like) reminds me of a time that I used way too much baby powder as a child and nearly made myself ill!  Looks like I am off to Sam’s Club again for diapers!

Since I’m home on maternity leave (which is officially over in a week as Big H will be out of his M-F preschool), I have a bit more free time when the Little H naps.  I’ve been trying to return to my daily devotional time.  So far, I’m doing pretty good!  I think the best thing is to be flexible with when it actually happens.  This is also true for work-outs, but I digress.

I like to flip through my Bible and read random selections.  Now, I prefer the New Testament.  I mean, who doesn’t?  However, I try to show some love to the Old Testament sometimes.  I happened to flip to Ezekiel and read chapter 34.  It was talking about a bad shepherd v. a good shepherd.  It talked about how the good shepherd lovingly tends the sheep and does not rule with force or cruelty.  This passage reminded me of my children.  If I do not tend them, they become prey to any “animal” that comes along.  It also says that the good shepherd will give the best food, rest, and peace to his sheep.  Now, the good shepherd spoken of in this passage is God.  I realize that I can’t be the perfect parent/do everything for my children to make them have these perfect existences.  However, I do feel sure that God holds me responsible for my “flock.”  As I was telling Holden last night, I have to correct him and teach him how to behave.  I have to be an example of whatever I want him to do.  The Mr. and I are their first teachers, their first coaches (you should know how much sweat and tears have gone into H’s first soccer season), first confidant, first of many things.  It’s my job.  God gave me these two precious little people, and I only have them for a few years.  I’m so thankful for the job.  Even when Big H asks ten million questions in 2 minutes and Little H has been crying for an obscene amount of time about NOTHING, I am thankful for them.  It would be completely fine though for everyone to take a moment of silence every once in a while.  🙂

Ezekiel – Chapter 34

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

from Bible Gateway

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Cute little sheep, aren’t they?  I’m quite sure they smell better too.

Natalie

What motivates you?

Thank goodness the sun is out today!  I was all excited yesterday when I “thought” the weather report was calling for some sunshine.  Well, I was mistaken.  We did have just a peek of sun around lunch time.

Little H, Roscoe, and I even got a walk in today!  I used the Baby Bjorn to carry her, but I’m really excited to try out the Ergo with the infant insert.  We didn’t have the Ergo until Holden was much older, and I’m having a hard time figuring out just how to use it in the front body mode.  I’m thinking it needs to be a two man/parent job the first few times, so I’m stuck waiting for some time when the Mr. is home.

Speaking of the Mr., he’s currently off the OBX coast somewhere fishing.  I’m not super jealous at all.  I am not a fisher-woman.  I wouldn’t mind sitting on a beach with a new book right now, but Little H is playing nice with me today.  We’re having a decent amount of fun.  🙂  Since the Mr. is gone, we had to all load up and do preschool drop-off this morning.  That happened a little later than usual due to Miss Helen’s nap time.  I knew today would be a little hectic with the Mr. not reporting back for dad duty until 8-ish the evening (he left at like 2AM – somehow we were not up at the same time!).  I made a plan and a priority to get some exercise in before taking H to preschool.  I decided LAST NIGHT what I was going to do.  4 miles on the treadmill and some light stretching – I think it’s so important to make a plan!  Then again, I’m a big time planner.  It doesn’t just stop with work-outs.  I was asking Holden to help me plan out our summer fun stuff over breakfast.  His request was the zoo and Colonial Williamsburg.

After breakfast, I plugged in the treadmill and got started.  Did I really want to?  Yes and no.  I really wanted to write in my journal, put on grown-up clothes, start laundry, hang out with H, clean up the breakfast dishes (which I finally just did!)…you get the idea.  There are so many things as moms that we have to do/want to do.  It’s so hard to make your personal health (physical and mental) a priority.  I find this to be especially true when I let the dreaded G word enter the picture…guilt.  Guilt that I should be doing this, more like this…etc.  It’s so hard not to let our “to dos” overtake us.  I am plenty guilty of this.  Doing one thing at a time and writing a list of the top 5 things that need to get done that day are helpful, but what really needs to be done is letting go with the mind.  Being open to what God has for us in each day.  I know that I will be ready to take on the day (and His plans for it) better if I move in some physical way over the course of the day.

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7:51 pace (4 miles)

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Holden practicing his cutting while I’m running – Roscoe trying to join in

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I just can’t give up ridiculous rap music when running.  I’ve tried.  #fail

I hope you get to enjoy the sunshine today (and maybe even a run/exercise of some type)!

Natalie

A Meal and A Lofty Craft Ambition

It seems as if my school days are more fast and furious each day!  Although I complain about it sometimes a lot, I do like being busy.  There is a fine line between completely overwhelmed and just putting in good work on a work day.  Teaching English/reading skills all day is good in a way as the skills and lessons can overlap somewhat being I’m working with third and fourth graders now.  It just cracks me up that NO YEAR is remotely the same as the last, and I laugh at the thought of being able to reuse/recycle lesson plans!  So not happening!

Today’s chillier temps and a busy day meant it was a soup and bread kind of dinner for us.  My favorite soup recipe is this…

-1 pkg frozen mixed veggies

-1 medium onion, chopped

-1 32 oz. container of chicken broth

-2 cans navy beans, rinsed and drained

-2 tbsp.-ish of olive oil

-salt & pepper

-2 bay leaves

  1. Soften chopped onions in olive oil in large stock pot for approximately ten minutes over medium/high heat.  Be careful not to burn.  I do this often!
  2. Add all other ingredients.  Bring to a boil and let boil for about five minutes.
  3. Reduce heat or turn off completely with lid on for about 15-20 minutes or whatever!
  4. Server with warm bread and butter (preferable that you let someone else bake for you!  Thanks Kroger!)

Ta-da!  Everyone LOVED it!  H especially liked dipping his bread in his soup.  I am reminded at every meal how thankful I am that H is a super good eater.  This recipe gave us dinner and three containers of left-overs for lunches.  Enjoy!  🙂

Now, my craft isn’t that easy!  I’ve always admired these peace sign wreaths…especially at Christmas time.  I would love to have one and discovered one to buy.  However, it was sadly more than ten bucks (like 5 times that much!), and I’m cheap.  Here’s the one at CB2!

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Then, there’s this DIY one…

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It doesn’t look super complicated.  I think the most challenging part may be gathering up the twigs!  Fortunately, I’m pretty sure I can wander around my parents house and find some that would work.  Hmmm…DIY is not my thing.  What should I do?  Buy, make or just admire via the internet?  🙂

Speaking of other Pinteresty wants – Look at this neat one!  It’s a fingerprint sweethearts necklace.  I LOVE personalized jewelry that is super meaningful.  What could be more personal than something as unique as a fingerprint of your love?!?

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More cute jewelry!  I love all these cross bracelets!  Unfortunately, the one I like the best {the white one} is sold out right now.

Could this post be anymore random???  Yes, it could.  I know when I’m not feeling my best or when things are challenging at work the people (and doggie) at home get the rest of me, sometimes not the best of me.  I saw this good reminder recently and thought I would share.

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Click here to get the free printable!

It can be hard to remember in the craziness and demands of the day, but I know ultimately that my husband, my child, my family have to be my priority over students, fulfilling roles outside these walls, etc.  Each day is another chance and another challenge.  Hopefully, this list inspires you like it inspires me.

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Mantra Monday

Mantra – Statement or slogan repeated frequently

Just a few thoughts…

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All images from Pinterest

We had a busy weekend with a birthday party, new mattress buying, and a beach day with Granny.  Unfortunately, my car decided to be sick and went into the shop today.  It’s going to be okay…several hundred dollars later.  😦  The good news is I could borrow the Mr.’s truck and still get in a playdate with H’s friend (aka mommy talk time), AND I do have the money to pay for the fix.  Yay (mostly)!

Here are a few randoms from the last few days.  Happy Monday!

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Beets and Brussels – reminding me of Christmas colors!

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On a salty snack kick – BIG TIME!

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Turkey meatballs with homemade sauce thanks to all the tomatoes we’ve been gifted  🙂

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Is it weird that I wish I could climb the equipment at the park?

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Flashback to Fall 2009!  What babes we were!  Roscoe P. has a little less white hair but remains just as handsome and sweet.

Do you have any favorite slogans?

What are you up to in these “dog days” of summer?