Blessings this Week: 02.27.2015

A sunny weekend, big windows, and the stuff of life. 


Coffee brewing smell


Getting to meet a new little baby & addition to the Camp Family! 


Blessings this Week: 02.20.2015

This weekend was Camp's marriage retreat- it was so much fun! Such a blessing to be surrounded by couples focusing on strengthening their marriages! 


Both Trevor and I came down with colds this week, so we spent a lot of time here..

I know that I'm grateful for sick days, a great job, and Netflix. Oh, and tissues. And tea. And my humidifier. 


This week, we spent a lot of time in the company of this guy...

He doesn't bring us tea, but his unapproving stares are just so warm and fuzzy. 


Sniffles aside, I got a lot done on the blog this week... 

A new header... which of course you can see at the top of the page.


If you hover your mouse over a picture, my custom Pin-It button pops up! Cooool.

 I have so much fun learning new bloggy tricks, and I get really excited when I can figure out how to do the more complicated stuff. It's a fun challenge!

I won't stop you from "Oooh-ing and ahhh-ing" about those changes... Right. 

And in case you missed it... 

New posts this week:

Pure Joy: or Dentists, Martyrs, Lent and Sacrifice

"Often we don't see the light at the end of the tunnel when we're facing trials and hard times. Sometimes I know that I've felt like if only I knew the purpose, if only I knew why... I'd be able to handle hard times better. I want to know the outcome- I want to know that going through this struggle won't be in vain."

Since I've started to strive to keep my home reasonably clean (reasonably. Not perfectly. Big difference), I've found that I use a lot more cleaning spray. And honestly, I don't like being exposed to all those chemicals all the time, and it gets really expensive! My cheap, all-natural daily cleaning spray was featured on Nourishing Joy this week! Very exciting! 


Keeping the Peace: My All Natural, All Purpose Daily Cleaner

I've found that one of the best ways for me to keep the peace in my home is to maintain a regular cleaning schedule, including a daily wipe down of my kitchen and bathrooms.

But you know what? 

Cleaning everyday? It uses a lot of cleaning product! 

I have a solution for that problem (pun intended.)

To see what I use, please visit Nourishing Joy ---->


Pure Joy: or Dentists, Martyrs, Lent and Sacrifice

I went to the dentist this month.


I really really dislike going to the dentist.

I have a great dentist, and the hygienists are awesome, too (and fast), and that really helps... but still. Ugh. Between the spit and the gloves in the mouth and the sharp, pointy tools and feeling like I never know when to swallow, I find myself getting tense. I always leave with a headache and stiff neck when I'm done.

But I do it. I go. I sit, I open my mouth.

It's uncomfortable and even sometimes a little painful (stupid pokey sharp things), but I do it.

I do it because I know that in the end, it's worth it- spending an hour at the dentist now will hopefully prevent bigger issues later. I trust these well-educated folks scraping at my teeth, and I know they have my best interest in mind. Going through this uncomfortable time now will keep my teeth healthy for a good long time. It's all about the light at the end of that tunnel.


Blessings this Week: 02.13.2015

Whew, what a week! 

Spent some time outside this weekend- walking on the frozen lake


A relaxing Saturday with time to cut quilt squares


Lots of registration forms coming in this week at work- reminding me that what looks like this....

... will look like this...

before I know it. 


The several-dozen turkeys that remind me that "nature" is never far outside my door... in this case, my office door. In front of which, they pooed.


Getting ready for a retreat this weekend, and fun craft projects for the guests


Happy weekend!


Why I Won't Be Seeing "50 Shades of Grey"

Disclaimer: This is just a quick post about a "hot topic"- not usually what I write about, but I thought it needed to be said. Of course, I'm not the only one saying it. If you'd like to read more about why this movie isn't a good choice, I've linked several articles to the end of this post.

Edited to Add: I won't be seeing "Magic Mike 2" or whatever it's called, either.

As Valentine's weekend approaches, my social media sites are buzzing not about pink or red, but about Grey- specifically about the movie coming out over the weekend- "50 Shades of Grey." 

I haven't read the book; I won't read the book. And I won't be seeing the movie. 

Some may argue that I can't really be writing about it- because I don't know. I haven't read it. How can I bash it unless I've read it? 

Well, I've certainly heard enough about it to know the basic premise.

I've also heard that cutting off your own arm with a spoon is painful... but I don't think I need to experience that firsthand in order to say that I wouldn't recommend it. 

And I'm not here to bash anything, really. There's a lot out there about this movie, about abuse and alternative sexual lifestyles and all kinds of things. About how feminists love it, about how feminists hate it. I'm not really going to get into any of that. I'm barely scratching the surface with this post, and I know it. I just want to explain why I won't be seeing it. Why I think that it's not right for me to see it. 

We know that porn affects men. Lots of studies have shown that it's a fact- the brain of a man who watches pornography is affected by it, and his relationships suffer. Pornography is seen as a major problem in most circles of Bible-believing, Christian men. 

But it's not a problem when women do the same thing? 

Here's the thing. As a (married, Christian) woman, I believe that sex is sacred. It's between me and my husband- just the two of us- as a gift from God that brings us together. I don't want my husband to cheapen our connection by watching or looking at porn. It's one way that he honors me and our marriage- by practicing self control and keeping his mind pure. 

I think a lot of Christian women are of the same mindset, there. I know that if I found my husband using pornography, I'd be hurt and feel disrespected. 

And yet. 

And yet many Christian women think that there isn't anything wrong with seeing this movie, with reading this book, to the point where we're posting things on our Facebook walls, making plans with friends to get to the theater right when it comes out, laughing and making jokes. 



How is that any different from our husbands watching pornography? We're degrading our marriage beds, cheapening our sex lives with our husbands, not to mention lapsing severely in the realm of self-control (and wisdom! Where's the wisdom?). 

I choose to honor my husband by keeping our sexual life sacred. I choose to respect him by keeping my mind (and body) pure- not because I'm a boring stick-in-the-mud, not because I'm a prude, not because I'm forced to do so because of an oppressive patriarchal society- but because I love him, and because I expect the same respect and honor from him. 

Honestly, it's difficult enough to protect the holiness of our union as it is- between the movies and the magazine ads and TV shows (why do they always have sex before marriage?!?!?) and simple, sinful human nature. Why go looking for trouble? Why would I place temptations to violate my purity (mental or physical) right in front of me? 

I want to honor God, and honor my husband, in everything I do. I screw up at that, every single day- (thank God for grace and forgiveness)- but this one is a really easy decision for me. There are lots of decisions that are complicated, and sometimes I make the wrong one.

But this decision? It's pretty black and white (pun intended).

Other articles about "50 Shades"
(Please note- some of these articles do contain graphic descriptions of the movie and situations the movie portrays- I've noted these with a star.)

*The Dangers of 50 Shades of Grey (this is on a secular, non-Christian site)

Women Reading 50 Shades of Grey More likely to have Abusive Partners (also on a secular site- has an embedded video link with the trailer for the movie)

Uncovering the Lies in "50 Shades of Grey"

You Need More Reasons Not to Watch 50 Shades? Fine. Here they Are. (a little snarky in tone, but makes good points.)

*50 Things You Should Know about 50 Shades of Grey

And About Magic Mike:

Magic Mike and Women's Libidos-- actually about the first movie, but you get the idea


Keeping the Peace: My Reasonably Clean Home

I was fourteen when I first read the book.

I was babysitting. The kids were asleep for naps, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out the remote control, so I snooped through the family's bookshelf. And found a book by someone who called herself "FlyLady."

I read the first three chapters and, inspired and still bored, shined the family's sink before the kids woke up.

Keeping the peace is all about daily routines that keep life sane

Ten years later, I had a little home of my own and found myself drowning under laundry and dreading sweeping the floors again. I just didn't know where to start. I found cleaning lists on the internet, and stuck with each for about two weeks until I got bored or burned out or too busy.

Somehow I was still falling behind, and the guilt started creeping in. I wasn't working full time, didn't have kids, lived in a tiny little house, and still felt like I was failing at the whole "keeping house" thing. (How is it possible for two people to have so much laundry!?!)

And then we moved to a bigger house, I started working full time, and things got even crazier. I needed a schedule. A plan. Something I could stick with and not get overwhelmed or frustrated.

Nothing seemed to fit. And overwhelmed and frustrated (and inconsistent and crabby) I was.

Then I started reading pieces by Auntie Leila about having a home that's beautiful and functional, about keeping a home reasonably clean- and her voice soothed all those rough, guilty spots and I felt like she understood. I wanted to feel peace about my home.

Auntie Leila mentioned, in one of her posts, that she'd adapted some FlyLady tips into her cleaning routines... and somehow, I had come full circle and stumbled back to the FlyLady person.

With a daily routine to keep your home clean, it's easier to stay on track without overwhelming yourself with cleaning tasks

I'll be perfectly and almost brutally honest.

I did not set out to be a FlyLady fan. For one thing, her website is all... purple. Too much. She uses cutesy terms- 27 Fling Boogie, Swish & Swipe. And she calls her fans "FlyBabies." Ugh. The last thing I wanted to be called was a "FlyBaby."

But, overlooking those things, I figured, hey. Nothing had else worked so far, so why not give it a shot?

I'm several months in, now.

And that woman can call me whatever she wants. I'm hooked.

If you're not familiar with the whole FlyLady thing, here's the basic premise. By incorporating cleaning in our daily routines, reducing the amount of junk we've got around our homes, and avoiding the desire to be perfectionists, we can have both a cleaner home and a more peaceful mindset.

Daily Routines

This was probably the most important part of this whole thing for me. By making small cleaning tasks part of my daily routines, I've been able to just get stuff done without really thinking about it.

Being intentional about what my routines look like means that I've been able to do the things I've always wanted to do- like having breakfast every day, and reading my Bible in the morning- because now they're part of the routine.

I've made some adjustments from the "FlyLady" way of doing things- like wiping down bathroom counters and toilets right when I get home from work instead of doing it in the morning (yes... everyday. Check out my cheap, all-natural cleaner here).

It just works better for me.

But some of the simple things- making sure my sink is clean, setting out clothes the night before- those common sense things that seem almost too easy- I'm surprised how much they've helped.

Just Do It

I am a fantastic procrastinator when it comes to household tasks. I know I should mop the kitchen floor, but I just... I don't have time right now.

And that's where another pillar of the FlyLady plan comes into play- time limits. If I can't get it done in ten minutes, well, at least I got some of it done.

I can commit to ten minutes.

But the thing is- I realized that sweeping and mopping my little kitchen floor doesn't take ten minutes. So I wipe down counter tops, too. And the dried on crud on the top of the stove. And I still have two minutes? I can load the dishwasher in two minutes, no problem.

I was spending time avoiding those tasks because I thought I didn't have time. But I did have time. And instead of feeling dragged down when I see the pasta sauce that's dried to the stove top, it's taken care of. Done.

The Snowball Effect

The first few days of this new plan were a little... tough. FlyLady recommends baby steps- just start with one small change of routine, then add to it day by day, until you've got a good handle on things.

But I'm impatient. I like immediate results. Baby steps were hard for me.

I did it, though. And they work. Small changes make a big difference.

It's hard to clean a bathroom counter every day when it's piled high with stuff. So now I'm much more conscious about it- I put away my hairbrush right away, because I can do it now or I can do it later. I might as well wash that pan right now- or I'll be doing it before I go to bed tonight.

And Finally...

There was a surprise benefit to this whole thing.

The feeling. 

One of the reasons I was such a procrastinator when it came to housekeeping was that I just didn't really enjoy it. It wasn't fun. But when I started to actually do the work, the finished product became a bit addicting. It made me happy to see a clean counter top when I walk into the kitchen. I was happy when I  got all the laundry put away. It just felt... good.

And so, instead of putting things off, I thought about how good it would feel to have it done, to have another peaceful place in my home.

I'm hooked on that feeling.

I don't feel guilty anymore, either. I know that if I don't get the vacuuming done today, I'll get to it next week... or maybe even tomorrow if I get done with something early. Because there's a plan. And not only is there a plan, but I'm motivated to stick with it.

Do you use a cleaning schedule or routine? What's helped you to keep the peace in your home? 


Blessings this Week: 02.06.2015

Oh, so many blessings this week! 


A great conversation about God and money at church on Sunday



Lots of registration forms coming in for the summer time


Snow! All the snow! 
(are you sick of it, yet? Because my camera is so full of snow pictures, I just don't even...)



The turkeys, who, even when they're not around, still announce their presence by leaving me little "gifts" on the welcome mat. Thanks, turkeys. I'm glad for the laughter you give me. As long as I don't step in your poo.




 Happy Friday!


Comparison and Contentment

The saying goes, "Comparison is the thief of contentment." And oh, how it's true. But where does that comparison come from, anyway?

I'm always looking for the next thing.

Back when I was a single gal, I compared myself to the women in relationships. How come she found someone, and I didn't, yet? What was so wrong with me? My dress size, my nose, my personality?

(Of course, that led to a host of problems, including trying to be someone I'm not.)

A little further down the road, I was dating a guy. A great guy. And I had a healthy, good relationship- just as I always wanted. But instead of being filled with joy, instead of being content, I looked at the engaged couples. Tried to measure up to the girl who had that fabulous title- "fiancee"- and that sparkly ring.

When I was engaged? I compared myself to the married women. And now that I'm married? I'm fighting the battle against comparison to those who are blessed to be moms.

Where I am is never enough. 

Comparison stretches over so much of our lives- from hair to houses, from jobs to jam-making... there's always someone who is doing something, being something, living something that makes you a little jealous.

We point to things that rob us of joy- the mom who threw the elaborate party for her five-year-old, the couple with the impeccably perfect wedding pictures, Pinterest- and we blame them for the discontent in our lives.

"I should stop looking at Facebook," we say. "If it weren't for Pinterest..."

 If it weren't for Pinterest, then what?

We'd still find ways to measure ourselves against the people around us.

It's what we do.

And that comparison... it can drive us to believe that if we just did more, if we gave more, cared more, worked out more, if we had more, we'd be better.

Of course, just like so many conflicts, the trouble with comparison is that it lies in our own hearts. It won't go away when we've done all those things, lost all that weight, volunteered all those hours.

Comparison is about our hearts, not our behavior.

stream through pine trees

A healthy dose of comparison can be a good thing- it helps drive us forward, helps us keep moving, improving. Progressing.

It's when we start to rely too much on our views of the lives of other people that we have issues. Comparison can make us feel as though our lives aren't enough just the way they are. 

As Ann Voskamp points out in her book:

"Life change comes when we receive life with thanks, and ask for nothing to change."


That means that instead of looking forward three years, instead of looking to that time when we'll finally be married, finally be a mom, finally lose the weight, finally get the promotion... instead of looking always ever forward, we focus on this moment. On the joys now. The blessings now.

It doesn't do us any good to compare ourselves with other people. They're not living our lives. And most of the time, we only see the highlight reel, anyways.

When we're focused on the blessings in our own lives, when we respond to life with an attitude of thanksgiving, we find joy in where we are. Right now. In the life we're living now. In who we are now.

I went to a women's retreat a while back, and Jennifer Dukes Lee was the speaker. One thing she said really stuck out to me- "

God is saying to you, 'I didn't ask you to be her. I asked you to be you.'"

I think I need to remind myself of that continually.

Because sometimes, I look at myself and think, "But.... are you sure, God? You really want me to be me?"

And more so, I need to remind myself that this is true about my relationships, too-

God says, "I didn't ask you to have a life like hers. Your path is different, and that's okay."

God's plan is the right plan, and He knows what He's doing. It's not my job to figure out exactly how my future is supposed to go (although that's hard for me to step away from!).

I am to trust, to find contentment and joy, and to believe that God's plan is best for me. Even if it looks different from her plan.