Sleep, Sweet Babies, Sleep

It’s nearly proverbial, you know. That resistance to sleep that is wholly ingrained in the youngest of people, the ones who always need that nap the most. My gentle reminders for a short restful nap are met with shrieks, and tears, and running, and bargaining, and just about any other tactic or obstacle that my busy toddlers can create to delay the inevitable nap. A little rest. Just rest. It must be ingrained in the mind of a toddler to fend off sleep with the fury of an angry rooster. Some days it seems easier to skip the afternoon siesta, but in reality, it isn’t. Rest, naps, and sweet slumber are critical to the emotional well-being of my toddlers. And of course, to their mom.

But in all honesty, I am no better. At 10:30 pm my fitbit reminds me that it is time to unwind for bed. And yet, at 10:30 pm I am still going strong. Finishing a load of laundry, folding a few towels, setting out the outfits for the following day. Clearing the days clutter so that I can start fresh in the morning. Jotting down thoughts for one more blog, one more article, another piece of music, then scrambling to pay a bill, tuck in the baby chicks for the night, and turning off all the lights. It’s more than an hour later that I finally crash, and yet my mind keeps racing as I try to get my body to sleep. When we are too busy to rest, we are simply too busy.

There is a hush that falls across the homestead in the middle of the day. Funny how it coincides with my own wee ones nap times. The activity in the chicken yard comes to a halt, and I see little groups of hens, snuggled up beneath the goat shed, or huddled under the belly of the van. The goats cease their playful antics, and cuddle up in a mash of straw and bits of left over hay. The silkie chicks pile up in the corner where the sunlight plays across their pen, a heap of fuzz and feathers being warmed in the sun.  My elderly kitty leaves her post on the bed, only to find just the right spot where she can snooze away the afternoon, relaxed in the sun. How is it that these animals know better than I? I, who try to cram every last bit of work and hustle into the hour and a half that my little ones are tucked away in their rooms, racing to accomplish just one more task, while the rest of the world that is my little homestead peacefully rests? The soft chirping of the brand new buff orpingtons tucked beneath their Ecoglow is soothing as I struggle to finish up one more thing before my gaggle of toddlers is jumping for joy to climb out of their beds again.

We are all in dire need of rest. We are all in desperate need of a break from the busy lives of parenthood, where the chauffering of children to their activities is draining on parent and child alike. We are in need of a break from the hectic rhythms of the work day, to slow our pace, and spend time together. We are in need of a break from the onslaught of information that we constantly crave, the status updates, the tweets, and the wealth of Google’s knowledge at our fingertips. We need to let our bodies, our minds, and our souls, find their rest.

I know what it is I need.

I need to still my body from the work, close my eyes, and allow my body it’s sweet slumber so I have the strength to face another task, another day.

I need to still my mind, to shut down the tech, to breathe in the fresh air of the country and breathe out all the cares of my day, and just be, alive, and refreshed, in the sunshine of the day or the stillness of the evening.

And I need to still my soul, to place it’s care into the hands of the ever-loving Jesus, to accept His rest, and allow myself to receive His peace. But I won’t find it if I’m running, I won’t hear the quiet of His voice if I am scrolling and surfing and tuning the world out with my iPad or my phone. If I truly want to find His rest, I need to make some time to be at rest.

It’s hard to shut it down. It’s hard to disconnect from the technology that I enjoy. It’s hard to refrain from googling the answer to every question my children pose. It’s hard to cut myself off form the workload, and lay my weary body down to sleep. But I am no longer a toddler who does not understand the things his little body needs.

I know my little ones need their slumber, so I’ll do the work of calming their little bodies down for sleep, no matter what antics they throw my way in order to thwart their own rest. And if I am going to care for myself so that I can be strong, and kind, and joyful, and accomplished, I need to stop the antics, and cease thwarting my own desperately needed rest.

Turn if off and shut it down. Close it up and pull the plug. Turn off the lights. It’s time to sleep. Sleep, sweet babies. Sleep, sweet mama. Just sleep.

 

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Rushing Spring

I was ready. Ready to get my hands and feet in the soft warm dirt. Ready to get my spade, and my worm castings, and my birthday garden gloves, and sprinkle all those tiny, delicate seeds across the soil in my crop garden. I was ready to dig and double dig, ready to plan and prep my new kitchen garden off the back porch. And I was ready to put the young pullets out in the chicken tractor, so they could fertilize and dig up a space for the pumpkin patch. I was so ready. It was only February, but the unusually warm sunny days meant we were hitting the playground in a T-shirt and basking in the sun. It was still winter, but the sun’s rays were already starting to tan my pale dry skin. The sun was good for my mood and the play time was good for my little ones, but I knew in my heart,  I was just rushing spring.

Just as swiftly as the warmth enveloped our homestead, it left again, making the chilly feel chillier and the wind whipping right down to our very bones. Good thing I handn’t started my sweet little seeds or dug a new bed for the sunchokes. I wanted spring badly, but I had to wait it out. You can’t rush spring. Who would have thought that after the sunny reprieve we would see a massive snowstorm at the cusp of spring. Thankfully not the crippling blizzard that was predicted, but just enough to disrupt work and school and business and to give us all a chance to rest and play and drink hot cocoa while we dried our sopping wet mittens.

Isn’t that just like God?

With all of our technology, and our brilliant minds, and years of record keeping of snowfalls and weather patterns, God never fails to surprise. Perhaps he chuckles at us, dancing and twirling in the warm of the sun in the middle of winter, and gets giddy when we are calmed and stilled by a heavy blanket of snow. Isn’t that just like God?

The One who knows we need a reprieve from the bitter cold and the cloudy skies and brings warmth.

The One who knows we need a few days to just stand still and to spend with our little ones because they are growing up way too fast in a world that never slows down.

The One who reminds us that He is God and He is not bound by our brilliant minds and our brilliant works and our brilliant technologies.

Isn’t it just like God, to be the One whose inherent brilliance outshines our greatest everythings?

And isn’t it just like God to remind us to love the season we’re in. To live fully in the now, not lost in the past or pining for the next thing. To tease out all the good and take in all the beauty and reflect on all that He has done for us in this season He has given us.  Isn’t like God to remind me that I won’t enjoy my winter if I’m already rushing spring?

Praise to the One who rules the spring and the winter and warmth and the snow and Who speaks life and love into each and every one of our days.

 

This is the day that the Lord has made.
    Let us rejoice and be glad today!

Psalm 118:24, NCV

Time, It Just Fritters

10553352_10209254358936519_585900500698437605_nSunrise and sunset, the dawning and the drawing to a close. The beginning and the ending. The new and the old.

Sunrise, finds me wading through the garden mud, coffee cup in one hand, hose in the other, weeding, watering, picking, pruning. Planting and praying. Ready for the dawning of the fresh new day, full of possibility and potential. Ready for growth. Poised for hope. Pleading for His Grace, with mistakes looming on the horizon, not yet made. Awaiting my moment.

“Lord, walk with me. Like you walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. In the cool of the day.”

“Help me, Lord, keep in step with You.”

“Give me grace, today, Lord; I have many mistakes that I will make.”

“Have mercy on me” I breathe. “Thank You, Lord, for fresh new mercies. I need them. ”

Sunset finds me in much the same way. Playing hide and seek with zucchini and peppers and quickly pinking tomatoes for breakfast while hubby gathers up some eggs. There is comfort in the nightly rhythm, roosters and hens putting themselves to bed. The silent flight of the Great Horned Owl, perching overhead, and swooping away. The hush of night sweeping over the homestead, as children and animals softly drift to sleep. There is peace and there is Presence. Yes, He is present in our rhythms and routines, making sacred the chores and making holy, the dirty work.

“Forgive me, Lord, for not keeping pace with You. For running ahead, and lagging behind. For not wholly trusting in You.”

“Give me strength to finish this day well.”

“Help me, Lord, have a better day tomorrow.”

“Fill me, Lord. Fill me.”

The in-between is a flurry and a scurry of activities, appointments, cooking, and cleaning, working, writing, and frittering. Oh, the frittering of time. It escapes me, those precious seconds, worth more than diamonds and rubies and gold. They seem to get lost in the shuffle, wasted on Facebook and Craigslist and somehow, it seems, nothing at all. In a flash, they are gone and I am left wondering where did those precious fleeting frittering moments go?

“Forgive me, Lord, for wasting this precious gift.”13872841_10210409340250330_3303950512900869043_n

Time is a gift that we can never get back. Money comes in and goes, and things can be replaced and repaired, or even done without, and even health can be restored but time, time never returns. Once it has passed, it is behind and only the present exists. I hate that I let it get away. I despise my frittering of that which is so fleeting.

“Help me, Lord, to fully live in this moment. Perfectly in step with You. Resting in Your Love, working in Your Grace, expectant because of Your Hope, and fully alive and fully present. I want to live fully, in Your Presence. I want to live this moment.”

“Lord, thank You for this moment.”

This is my moment.  This is a gift.

Grace for the grind

IMG_6513We are creatures of habit, are we not? Easily falling into the routines and rhythms that make up out lives, yet as the wonder in the rhythmic repetition wears thin, we fill with disdain, or boredom, or scrolling smart phones, lost in the humdrum of the daily grind. I felt that way, that Saturday when I loaded 170 pounds of chicken feed into the back of the beatup minivan, with 2 kiddos chattering along beside. Just another chore, to feed the hens. But happy hens make tasty eggs, I think, so feed them well and feed them often.

We bantered our way up the drive, and the children dashed off to join the others in a rousing game of whatever it was they were playing in that moment. And I might have missed that moment, thinking about the humdrum of the day and the chores to be done, the cooking and the cleaning and the digging and the mowing, as I dragged and hoisted and fumbled with 50 pound feed bags. Moments are so easily missed amidst the rhythm of life.

But something caught my eye, and it made the moment sparkle, just a bit of gleaming in that sun. It seems the flock had their eyes on that van, and their eyes on that food, and they think with their tummies, and their little legs came running just as fast as tiny chicken legs can go. And suddenly, the sound of laughter coming from mIMG_6501yself as I watched the stampede of chickens coming down that hill at the very sight of a simple yellow bag of feed. Around the coop, and down the hill, and over the driveway and around the van, with a cockadoodledooing and squawking and bawking and with those little legs just scurrying as fast as can be. The flock knows my voice. Their little legs run and they come for the treats and they come for the feed. They’re just chickens, but they know what they want and they know what they need and they know they should run to good food and get fed and I laughed all the way from the deepest part of my guts as I watched all those chickens run and run fast.  And as I laughed with my chickens who run so intentionally straight, I woke up to the day and I smelled the sweet scent of the wild honeysuckle in the wind, and I felt the warm sun, and heard the laughter of kids. And this was a moment that I could so easily have missed. breathe

But there, right there, in that 50 pound bag was a grace from our God who made each moment for us to breathe in and breathe out and enjoy and not miss. But we stare at our phones and we stare at our screens and we stare at the things that are inside of our heads and we forget to look up, and we forget to look out, and we forget to breathe in the scents and breathe out. And we forget to watch for the giggling kids and the flitting of birds, and all those scurrying hens and we forget what the sound of our own laughter is like when we trade in the giggle and scurrying hens for the scrolling of stuff in the sweaty palms of our hands.

But what do we do? Can you picture the church, like a stampede of hens? RuIMG_6509nning straight, fast, and strong to the food of the Word and the arms of the Lord?  Can you take in this moment, with the fresh air and the squawks and the playing of children and just praise the Lord for the gifts that He gave and the moment He made and the Word and the love and the so many things? Things that we’ll miss in the humdrum of chores and the rhythm of life if we don’t look around and we don’t let ourselves laugh from the deepest part of guts. Breathe it in, breathe it out, and look for the gleam of this life, of this moment, God’s in it, God made it, you can’t get it back, don’t waste even a second.

ISO: New Mercy. Wore out the old one

IMG_1083Some days. There are just some days, some weeks, some months.   You know the ones. Where everything is just hard and even the simple stuff doesn’t come out so easy any more you’re just plain tired of the hardness of it all. When you need a little bit of slack but there isn’t any slack to be had and you thank your lucky stars that you don’t actually believe in karma because you think you must have done something pretty terrible to deserve all of this frustration and all of this hardness and all of this stuff.

And maybe it’s nothing really terrible but lots of little things that add up to one great big thing, like when the cat throws up on your freshly cleaned bed and the crumbs get spilled and stomped and spread in the freshly cleaned carpet. And maybe you step on a Lego and you drop the eggs that were going to be dinner and you’re just too tired to think of something else and now your patience is gone and the kids are in need of quite a bit of it and you just want the day to be done but there’s a long way to go and it’s just hard and you’re just that tired of it all.

And Facebook tells you you’re not good enough and you just don’t have enough andmercies you don’t do enough. You didn’t do the things with your kids or buy them that toy or go to that place that a good parent would and your house isn’t fancy it’s just a home with a roof and the yard isn’t mowed because the mower is old and the garden’s not done and the weeds are growing strong and fast and big where the vegetables should be and you feel like you’re less because you just didn’t and can’t and sometimes, you just won’t. And the worst is the guilt because you snapped at your kids and you snapped over the bills and you just know you’re supposed to be thankful and grateful for this blessed life that you have but none of it feels so blessed in this moment. And you want to crawl in your bed and pull the covers up high but you can’t because of the cat and the throw-up and so you just want to throw in the towel on this day and it’s not even noon and you’re already done.

And it’s ok.

IMG_0926It’s ok if you feel like the mercy ran out and the patience ran out and the peace ran out and the everything else that you’re supposed to do and supposed to be is gone for the moment. It’s just a moment. And you don’t need to feel guilt and you don’t need to feel bad and you don’t need to worry about not being enough. And Facebook is wrong, flat dead wrong because God is enough and His love is enough and everyday there is mercy, new mercy, and it’s all just enough. God’s love is enough and that means you’re enough and you’ve done enough and you will be enough. So just hit the pause for a sec and take one big deep breath and let it all out and remember that mercy, God’s mercy is enough and it never runs out and it’s new every day and you don’t have to fight to get it or have it. He gives it to you with all of His love and that makes you enough for today. He’s enough.

Lamentations 3:22-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.

 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

10 Tips for surviving sleepless nights and tired days

IMG_1655Sleep. I love sleep. And I know I need more, consistent nights of sleep. Even my dear sweet Dad lectured me the other day on the amount of sleep I get, but I’m pretty sure I learned my sleep habits from him! I guess you’re never too old to hear the wisdom of your parents, and he is right – we all need to sleep. Studies have shown how poorly people perform on tests, decision making, and driving when they are sleep deprived. In fact, driving on little sleep can be just as dangerous as drunk driving because sleep helps us make the right choices, think quickly, and react appropriately. But if you’re a parent, a student, or you work nights, you are probably going to suffer more than a couple of sleepless nights. Worries, busyness, and sick and teething babies, toddler nightmares, and thirsty little throats are great interruptions to our sleep. And it happens… so how do we function on little sleep? Here’s a few tricks I’ve learned from 6 kids, 3 years of seminary, and far too many sleepless nights…

10. Drink a little extra coffee.  I mean, a little. It’s ok to indulge in a little extra caffeine to keep you going, but too much coffee will give you the jitters and upset your stomach. Plus, it’ll keep you awake that night.

9. Drink water. Our body functions slow down while we are sleeping, so we need less water and calories. However, when we don’t sleep enough, we’ll be using up those resources more quickly without giving our bodies a chance to recharge. Add that to the diuretic effects of coffee, and we are quickly dehydrated. Make sure you keep a glass of water handy and drink up!

8. Eat well. Sleep helps us regulate the hormones that tell us we’re hungry. When we don’t sleep enough, our bodies get confused and we think we are REALLY hungry, when we’re probably just thirsty and tired. But when we’re tired, we are more likely to make poor food choices, and this is a time when we need extra nutrition to help us cope with too little sleep. So eat healthy – and if you’re extra hungry, it’s ok, just make sure you’re noshing on the good stuff – apples, carrots, lean protein, and any kind of fruit and vegetable will give you vitamins and minerals without destroying your diet.

7. Watch out for your emotions. When we’re tired, we’re much more emotional. When you feel yourself getting agitated or weepy, take a big breath and relax before you react. If you feel like you’re flying off the handle, it’s probably just the tiredness talking. Make an extra effort to let it go! And give yourself some grace for a bad mood. This day will pass and you will be ok!

6. Turn the lights on. When you start feeling sleepy, turn up the lights. Brighter lights will help you stay more alert.

5. Take a quick walk. If you have to get some work done and feel yourself dozing off, take a brisk walk to the water cooler, bathroom, or jog around your living room to get your heart rate up and rejuvenate quickly.

4. Get a little sun. Fresh air and sunshine helps your mood and your energy level. A quick burst of sunlight will give you a little extra Vitamin D and it will help you sleep better that night.

3. Skip the workout if you’re really exhausted. If you’re just a little tired, that workout might help you have more energy for your day. But if you are exhausted to the point that your muscles ache, you might want to give it a break and spend that time taking a snooze.

2. Reward yourself. Give yourself something good to look forward to at the end of the day. Maybe a small delicious treat, take out so you don’t have to cook, a little time to relax by the fire, or a favorite tv show you’ve been wanting to watch. Giving yourself a nice reward will make your day go faster and better.

1.Take a nap! Never underestimate the power of a cat nap to help you feel refreshed. I like to drink a cup of coffee and set a 20 minute alarm right before I lay down. If I’m really tired, I’ll be fast asleep before the coffee kicks in. The alarm will wake me up just as the caffeine starts to work and I can better face the rest of my day.

What are your tricks for surviving too short nights?

20 excuses we tell God

IMG_7380God called Moses to a very special task. A grand adventure, the moment of a lifetime, an incredible opportunity, to leadership, to the desert, to the Promised Land. God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, where they were being mistreated, to the Promised Land, where they could grow and thrive. I can only wonder what it would have been like, to stand there, in front of that burning bush, feeling the heat of the flame and the heat of his own shame as Moses gave God reasons excuses as to why he couldn’t do the task that was set before him. Moses, who came to be known as God’s friend, who broke the tablet containing the 10 commandments, whose face shone with the glory of God, who did incredible miracles, that Moses was called by God and then argued with God when he said:

I can’t do it because I am a nobody.

I can’t do it, because I don’t know what to say.

I can’t do it, because I don’t think they’ll believe me.

I can’t do it, because I’m not a good speaker.

Do you know what happened next? God got mad! Because Moses asked God to send someone else to complete the work that was set out for him. How many times have we argue, not me, God, send someone else? Clearly, God was not surprised by all these reasons excuses and met each one with a plan of action (You can read it for yourself in Exodus chapters 3 and 4). God even had Aaron, his brother, already on the road to meet him in the desert and be the spokesperson for Moses. Seems to me that Moses, one of my favorite Bible heroes, ran out of reasons excuses for why he couldn’t do the work God told him to do. So off he went, on the grandest adventure of his life, side by side with his brother, and doing miraculous works all along the way.

And then there’s me. And then there’s you. And there is a grand adventure waiting for us, too. So think about it for a IMG_1528moment, just what exactly is it that you are called to do? I bet you already know exactly what that is.

Did God give you a dream? A passion? Or a purpose? What are you doing with that dream? Are you going all in and following what God has asked of you or are you just letting it all simmer on the inside, leaving you feeling empty, unfulfilled, annoyed, bored, and wasted?  You want to make a difference, you want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, you want to change the world, or just do something anything to make this dull heartache stop, but you can’t seem to move it along. You are stuck. Stuck in the pain, stuck in the misery, stuck feeling like you’ll never do anything worthwhile or anything will ever change and you just don’t like yourself or your life because you are not where you think should be. It doesn’t feel good to be so stuck in our spaces and stuck in our selves and stuck on our selves and you can feel the heat of your own shame hotter than that burning bush, can’t you? It doesn’t feel good when we aren’t pursuing the path that God has set us on.

Life has a way of never going like we think it should.

Life has a way of making us end up where we never thought we would.

But life can be fulfilling or you can leave your calling unfilled.  I can let those giant reasons excuses that get in my way stop me, stall me, hit the pause button on my life and stand by while life unfolds however it goes and limp along life with a vague dissatisfaction or I can hurdle those obstacles, slay those misery-inducing giants, and power ahead, fueled by purpose and God’s power no matter what circumstances come my way. Which will it be? I’m sure that I, and I’m sure that you, have used those very same reasons excuses Moses used. Who am I to do this? I’m a nobody. Who am I to tell people about You, God? I don’t know what to say. Who am I to tell anyone anything? They’re not going to believe me. Who am I? I’m not good at this, God, send someone else…..

Here, 20 more reasons excuses that stall us and stop us from being everything we should or could or would or even want and hope to be. 20 more reasons excuses that stop us from taking off on that grand adventure that God has called us to. Which one of these giants will you slay today? Which one are you letting define you or defeat you? What plan of action will God give you for each one, until there are no more to get in your way?

  1. IMG_1523I don’t feel like it. We sabotage our efforts when we let feelings control our actions. Most of the time we won’t ‘feel like’ doing the hard stuff, the dirty stuff, the boring stuff… but if we put it off until we feel like it, it won’t get done. So just do it.
  2. I’ll do it later. Procrastination puts it off until later – but if it needs done, it needs done so get it out of the way. The longer you wait, the harder it is, the worse it gets, and the less likely you are to get it done. Just do it.
  3. I’m too tired. Tired, or bored, or just lazy? Take a nap and get to work.
  4. I’m too busy. Maybe it’s time to say no to lesser (but still good) things and focus on the better things. There are so many many things I love to do, but I just don’t have time for all of it. We get to and we have to choose or the things will choose us, keep us busy, and keep us from the best things.
  5. I have to check my email. Sure, but please, only once or twice a day. Any more than that is just obsessing.
  6. I have to see what’s happening on Facebook. Really? You do? Facebook is known to cause depression and polarization. Just close it and move on. Yup, close it. And Twitter, and Snapchat, and Instagram, and….
  7. I forgot. You really actually forgot, or you didn’t plan to remember?
  8. I didn’t know. 
  9. It’s not my problem. Make it your problem and take care of it so it doesn’t trip you up. Or find someone who will take care of that problem.
  10. I don’t care. Apathy is the hardest to cure… what is the thing you are most passionate about?
  11. I can’t afford it. You really can’t afford? Or you need to restructure your budget so you can afford the things that are most important?
  12. I’m too afraid. Don’t let fear be the defining factor in your life. Do it anyway…. because God tells us over and over and over, Do not be afraid.
  13. It’s not my choice. Sometimes, we have to work withing circumstances we didn’t create. It stinks, but are you going to let someone else’s choice define your life?
  14. It’s not my style. So? Trends change and quickly. Besides, anything out of style today will be back in 20 years… 
  15. I don’t like who is in charge. It’s hard when you don’t respect or like the person in authority…. but God puts people in positions of authority, so it’s our job to just roll with it.
  16. I’m better than that. Maybe, but everyone has to start somewhere. And we are always called to serve others before ourselves, even if it isn’t pretty or glamours.
  17. It’s not a priority right now. Does it need to be?
  18. I need to pray. Yes, you do. We always need to pray, all the time. But using prayer as an excuse not to act on what we know we need to do? How is that helpful?
  19. I’m waiting on God. Yes, you do need to wait on God and so do I. But waiting can never replace obedience to what God has called us to do.
  20. I have kids. Don’t use your kids as your excuse, but as a reason to make this world better. Of course we need good boundaries and balance, so our children don’t suffer as a result of our passion, but if God has set you on a path, and you have kids, He’ll give you a way to make it work.

IMG_2507Don’t let reasons excuses keep you from the Promised Land. Don’t let reasons excuses keep you from the path that God has set before you. God is not surprised, He’s already got a plan to help you soar over these hurdles. Maybe He’ll send you an Aaron, or a staff that turns into a snake, or who knows? Give all those reasons excuses to God and pack your bags for the grandest adventure of your life.

 

6 Easy healthy foods for the busiest days

Fresh fruit for juggling a busy scheduleI love food. I really really love food. I love eating as much as I need breathing. Ok, maybe I love food even more than breathing. And my food passion turns to serious food desperation on those crazy days that I don’t really have time to cook (that’s pretty much everyday). It’s all about the food.  And I love snacking just as much as I love eating but if I am going to stick to my 80% Paelo lifestyle, I need to make good choices even on crazy days. So I’m working on a list of ‘standard snack fare’ that I keep in my kitchen at all times. It’s gotta be healthy and Paleo friendly because otherwise, I’ll be chowing down on my kiddos’ pretzels and goldfish crackers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pretty much everything else that they leave behind. I’d much rather feed their leftovers to the chickens and eat something healthier! And it’s got to be a robust kind of a snack or I’ll eat way too many. After all, I like food. I love food. I NEED food. But I don’t need it making me sluggish or hanging around on my thighs…. So here are my favorite go to snacks and mini meals to keep me fueled up and feeling full when life is out of control. And let’s face it, when is life ever not out of control?

1. Banana with a couple tablespoons of almond butter and a few crumbles of homemade Paleo chocolate.

2. A couple of cuties. Call them Cuties, or Halos, or whatever – but a couple of fresh mandarin oranges are a great way to satisfy the sweet tooth, get your vitamin C, and have a nice healthy snack in its own convenient packaging.

3. Faux apple pie. This is delicious when you’re craving something warm and sweet! Cut up an apple any old way you like – I prefer bite size pieces, but slices are good too. Dump them in a bowl with a little bit of coconut oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon (I love cinnamon). Microwave for about a minute, then drizzle with honey (Raw Manuka honey is awesome). It’s like apple pie without the carbs. The coconut oil gives satiety so it’s a great bedtime snack to replace your sugary, sweet dessert.

image4. Eggs. For years, eggs were the ‘bad guys’ of cholesterol, but new studies are showing otherwise. Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition and protein, easy to cook, and versatile. Keep some hard boiled eggs in the fridge for when you need a quick protein fix.

5.  Smoothies. Smoothies are filling and delicious, but just watch because the calorie count adds up fast. Frozen bananas, a few ice cubes, almond butter, maybe a little protein powder or a scoop of cocoa powder and a little honey. Toss it in your blender and your good to go.

6. Fresh juice. If you have a juicer, you can throw in 3 apples and 2 cucumbers for a great juice to take on the run. They are super nutritious, helps remove any water retention, and will give you energy. Need juicer? Try this one. It’s easy to use and I love mine. Bonus – the chickens love the leftover juice pulp! If you don’t have chickens just use it to create your own compost pile and the waste becomes fertilizer to grow more veggies!

It’s so easy to reach for carbs – crackers, croissants, or pop tarts, make such easy and neat packages, but the sluggishness that comes on after makes the convenience of carbs so not worth it. Instead, keep an extra supply of fresh fruits and veggies on hand: bananas, berries, apples, carrots, celery…. Fresh seasonal produce is almost always cheaper pound for pound than processed foods and gives you much more energy, satiety, and vitamins.

What are you favorite healthy snacks and meals for when you’re super busy?

 

That one thing to find God when you’re too busy

Devotional time. Epic fail #532.

Foiled again. I have such plans to be such a super Christian. To read my Bible through and through every three months. To pray – really pray – fervently pray – on my knees, all alone, with Scripture, and a list, and incense, and intercession, and kick the devil and his sickness and his sin to the curb kind of pray. But I am busy and I am tired and I am weary from the stresses of this world and I have too much work and too few hours in these really long days and I just don’t know how I can be a super Christian without super praying and super Bible reading when somehow I just can’t seem to get off by myself, to be alone, so I can listen to God and learn to know and love His voice. I can’t seem to bring myself to open my Bible and read. Anything. Any of it. Any where. And I really can’t seem to bring myself to pray when I am this broken and tired and all I want to do is close my eyes and not pray but sleep instead and then I am overcome by the deepest of guilt because I know that I should be so excited about God that I just don’t need sleep because I am so filled up with Him and His Word. And so my super plans are a super fail and I am pretty sure that God hasn’t really called me to be a super Christian anyway. And I still feel the guilt and I still feel a little less lovable because I am not who or what or why or where I want to be.IMG_4025

I’m pretty sure that God has called me to Himself. And I’m pretty sure that God wants my heart more than anything else. And I am really sure that becoming some pious super-Christian won’t make God love me any more or less, any deeper or wider, any closer or farther. And I am really sure that God is not surprised that I am busy and tired and weary and struggling to pray and read my Bible because He knows this earthly life from the inside and the out. First He made it, in love and in care and in fastidious design, and then He stepped right out of heaven and He lived it so He would know how much it hurts to be busy and how much more we need Him when we’re busy and how hard it is to pray when we are tired and how much more we need to pray when we are tired. And the best part about it is that He gets it- He really really gets it – not like the oncologist understands other people’s cancer but like the patient who is on the other side of chemotherapy with scares and the scars to prove it. He has lived it, the tired and the busy and the weary and the aching longing need to find rest in His heavenly Father.

And there is no simple answer to the tired and the busy and their is no quick fix for the weary and the stress and there is no magic formula to eradicate that guilt. There is only moving forward. There is only a tiny step, or sideways hop, and an itty bitty crawl or scoot or limp or leap – however you can move forward to reach for God, however fast, or slow, or how great the effort to move so small, we make the move towards Him and He will bridge the gap, He already has bridged the gap and He will always bridge the gap because He has promised us that it is so. He has promised us that He will reward those who have faith to who seek Him in earnest. It doesn’t matter the distance, or the weakness, or the gap; it only matters the ‘earnest’ and the faith.

IMG_0696It doesn’t matter the alone-ness of your seeking.

It doesn’t matter the quantity of your seeking.

It doesn’t matter the eloquence or the alertness or the knowledgeable-ness, or the Super Christian-ness of your seeking.

Only the faith and the seeking is of consequence; the rest will be bridged by the one who has lived it and come out the other side, the distance covered by the one with the scars of sacrifice, the guilt absolved by the author, perfecter, rewarder of our faith.  Don’t give up when you are tired and weary and stressed and run down and scared and alone or wishing you were alone and don’t give up when this is epic fail #5 million 32 because the gap has been bridged and you need only do the seeking. So say the sleepy jumbled up prayers with a desperate heart and a faith that knows that God hears and understands and answers every prayer no matter how messy, no matter how sleepy. Read the jotted down Bible verse on the crumpled up sticky note until it sticks in your head and sticks in your soul and sticks for sure in your every action no matter how short that verse or long. That word, or phrase, or verse, or chapter scribbled on the sticky or tweeted or sung – those are God’s Words and there is no limit to their power or their breadth or their scope so long as they stick, so long as you are seeking.

And that thing you need most to find the God who gave all is not the perfect devotional time or the right amount ofimagereading or the effectiveness of your praying or the incense or mood or the anything else at all; that thing you need most to connect with the Creator who has already bridged the gap is that heart that you have, all broken and bruised and torn and tired and earnestly seeking and that faith that you can muster, no matter how small, to believe that He is bridging the gap. And you don’t have to believe me, the failed super Christian who is tired and weary and can’t get it right so long as you believe the one who already lived the life that is busy and tired and broken and bruised and who reaches for us from the other side, the new life, the guiltless life, the resurrected, perfected, and everlasting life. You cannot fail when He rewards you with Himself.

Believe. Seek. Earnestly.

 

6 things no matter the busy

IMG_0895 - CopyDon’t we seem to lose sight of what’s the most important when we’re too busy?  It’s just one day…. it’s just a few minutes… just, just a moment here or there… and in those few busy minutes we seem to lose track of precious years of the things that mean the most to us, the things that are the most critical to us, and the things that should be defining us. I don’t like myself when I am too busy; I don’t like what too busy and too tired and too stressed does to the person that is supposed to be me. Too busy means that I am not kind or creative or contemplative; I am not giving nor seeking to give. Too busy means I am too caught up in my own concerns to see how I can help someone else’s too busy, too. Too busy means that I am just getting by and not enjoying a single moment of the too busy so why bother with all of those things that make it what it is? What is the point of too busy if it isn’t positive and helpful and most importantly, focused on what is most important?

No matter how busy we are, there are things we cannot afford to skimp on; things we just must not let go of; things that need our attention and our affection and our absolute best self. No matter how busy we are we cannot afford to skimp on these 6 things. We cannot afford to lose sight of the most important; we cannot give up on, let go of, or let fall by the wayside the 6 things that we need the most when we are at our busiest.

Exercise. It helps keep you healthy. It creates mood boosting endorphins that counteract stress. It helps you stay younger, alert, and strong. It doesn’t have to be much, or fancy. Just a walk in the park or the yard or if necessary, at the mall.

Eating well. It keeps you healthier, it keeps bad food from weighing you down, making you sluggish, and tired, and sick, and miserable. It makes your body function the best that it can, and the busier we are the better we need our bodies to work.600817_4103356262744_1911529201_n

Sleep. I need my beauty sleep, and even more so, I need my attitude sleep. I need sleep to stay calm and I need sleep to stay strong and I need sleep to work harder, faster, and be more creative. I need sleep so my body can rest, recoup, and recover from stress and sickness. I need sleep to cope with the busy but somehow sleep is always the first to go when busy sets in.

Family. No one needs you more than your family, no one loves you more than your family, no one is probably more willing to let you get by than your family because no one is quite so forgiving as your family. No matter how busy busy gets, you can’t afford to skimp on cherubic faces and toothy grins and muddy hugs with holes in the knees. Nor can you skip on an aging parent’s wisdom or your crazy brother’s shot in the arm. They need you; they need you to need them; and need them, you do and if not today, you’ll need them tomorrow when the busy is hopefully gone.

God’s Word. More than bread. More than air. More than water. We need the Word of God to feed our souls so our souls can thrive under any pressure. We need God’s Word so we can draw close to God even when He seems far away because of the busy. We need God’s Word for its perspective, its strength, its soothing balm, its faith inducing, miracle inspiring, soul healing, life changing words that come straight from the heart and mouth of God and aimed directly at us.

IMG_0926Prayer. Prayer isn’t just a list of demands for a supernatural genie. Prayer is conversation with the Creator, the Maker, the Holy One, the Savior, our Friend. Prayer is when we unload our burdens, share our cares, solidify our hopes, discover our dreams, and become more like the Savior who gave up everything for us.

Six things. Just six. That you cannot forgo no matter how busy. 6 things that will control the busy. 6 things that will fulfill you like the busy never will. 6 things. I need these 6 things. I need these 6 things no matter how busy. I’m working on the six things and I’m working to get rid of the busy.  If you help me with the 6 things, I’ll help you with your 6 things.