Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Birthday Month Celebration Week 2

I’m continuing my month-long birthday celebration, and it feels great! Self-care is so often neglected, but I’m determined to continue creating time each day to celebrate me and the things that bring me joy.

Here’s how I celebrated this week.

Day 3: We have bananas, ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate sauce in the house, so I made a sundae! And I savored every bite! To cut the sweetness (I’ve made an active choice to limit sweets this summer), I fixed a cup of black coffee and savored it, too. Delicious!

Day 4: I tossed a pair or ratty pajama shorts into the trash can today. The elastic is stretched and exposed, and there are holes where there should not be holes! 😉 I hate spending money on new clothes, but today I gave myself permission to toss this item of clothing and add “new pair of shorts” to my shopping list. It feels good to give myself permission to wear clothing that looks good and brings me joy. Oh – I also drove to the library and pharmacy alone! How sweet it was to enjoy silence in the car on my drive into town and to choose the radio station I wanted on the drive home!

Day 5: Fresh peaches for lunch! My favorite fruit! 🙂  And hubby and I shared a pleasant afternoon chatting as we watched TV. I’m grateful for these moments!

peaches

Day 6: I gave myself permission to take the entire day off work! It felt so refreshing and empowering not to power up my laptop!

Day 7: My daughter gave me the first four presents of my birthday month! They’re each folded neatly and wrapped in aluminum foil and newspaper (one layer for day 1, two layers for day 2, etc.). How fun!

irene's birthday gifts to me august

I also returned a library book today before it was due. Library fines are tax-deductible, but I always appreciate when I remember to be responsible and don’t have to pay a fine. 🙂

Day 8: While waiting for my daughter today, I read a book instead of playing on my phone. That permission to relax and do something I like made me feel content.

Day 9: While sipping my morning coffee, I heard a bird chirping. I paused a minute to listen to the song and realized how much joy I felt from this simple act. Sometimes, treats surprise me with their simple yet profound impact!

I also enjoyed lunch at Red Robin with a friend. And because of a gift card and my free birthday burger, our meal cost only $5.12!

Day 10: This morning, I tried to work on an assignment, but my brain just wasn’t working. I finally decided to wash dishes – I always feel better when my sink is clean! I then prepared a cup of cinnamon coffee, savored a small scoop of chocolate ice cream and listened to the Parachute Band on YouTube. That 20-minute treat brightened my mood, helped me relax and made me smile!

 

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Happy Birthday Month To Me!

My birthday is not until the end of the month, but I celebrate every day in August because why not!?!? 🙂
A few years ago, I decided that life is too short not to celebrate me, so as part of my self-care, I throw myself a mini party every day in August! So far, I’ve:
Day 1: Treated myself to two small scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I prefer Moose Tracks or Turkey Hill’s Double Dunker, but this is the only flavor in our freezer right now. And I let it sit out a bit so it was melted around the edges just the way I like it. Yum!
Day 2: Met a friend at the Target Starbucks and enjoyed a coffee with cinnamon and vanilla sprinkles and a much-needed talk!
Stay tuned for more birthday adventures! 🙂
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What are your favorite ways to celebrate your birthday?
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Currently Playing: 8 Songs About Freedom

It’s July 4th, the day we celebrate our country’s independence. Happy birthday America!

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Later today, I’ll finish my current book, “Shadow Patriots” about the Revolutionary War, but for now I’m spending the morning with my coffee and my hubby. Since he’s enjoying a rare day off, I let him pick what we do this morning, and he chose to watch country music videos.

Normally, I do not enjoy this music genre. I’m more of an old-school country music fan (Johnny Cash, George Jones, Patsy Cline), and I adore praise and worship music. But some of the songs we’ve listened to today reminded me about the freedom I enjoy.

It is a privilege to live in the United States. It’s also a privilege to follow Jesus. Here are the songs about freedom that are on my playlist today.

Chain Breaker by Zach Williams

My Chains are Gone by Chris Tomlin

God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood

Firework by Katy Perry

Where the Stars & Stripes & Eagles Flies by Aaron Tippin

Freedom Reigns by Jesus Culture

I Am Free by Newsboys

Freedom Song by Mandisa

be free CV Freedom Churches

What songs are you listening to as we celebrate our freedom?

 

Photo courtesy CV Freedom Churches
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Dish Duty Comedy

So our dishwasher broke the other month.

I thought it simply needed a good cleaning, so I took out the wracks, got on my hands and knees, and scrubbed out as much grime as I could reach. Then I turned it onto the clean cycle.

No dice.

Instead of getting clean, smoke came flying out of the machine.

Guess what that means? Yup, I’m washing dishes by hand!

Normally, I make dinner and listen to NPR, call and chat with a friend or my sister, or turn on my YouTube playlist while I wash the dishes. But last week, I decided to do something different.

I listened to Chondra Pierce.

Oh.My.Word! She’s hilarious!

I laughed so hard and almost burned a few dinners while listening to her. And instead of grumbling while washing the evidence that my family is well fed, I laughed and left the kitchen feeling joyful, energized and ready to be present with my family.

So tell me. What other comedians/comediennes should I add to my dish duty playlist?

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When Your Child Hurts

My daughter loves our local community theater group. It’s designed for kids from grades four to 12, and everyone, no matter how well they sing and dance, gets a part.

For the past two years, my daughter played a part in the chorus. She sings, dances and in general has fun on stage. This year, she was hoping for a speaking part and even joined the school chorus so she could become a better singer.

Since November, she’s talked about rehearsing for the audition, which involves singing a short song and sharing a monologue. Unfortunately, auditions yesterday did not go well.

Today, she found out that she’s a villager once again.

As soon as she discovered her role, her face fell. I saw the disappointment on her face, and she quickly excused herself to go to bed.

Before she retreated to her room, I hugged her goodnight and told her she’ll make an amazing villager. I felt her body tense and heard her softly start to cry. My heart broke as I held her.

What could I say to ease her pain?

disappointment

I silently prayed and then told my precious child that I am proud of her for auditioning – it’s a big deal to stand in front of three adults in a small room and sing and talk! I also told her that I’m excited to watch her and hope she can find joy in her role. Since she’s a villager, she’ll be in at least half of the scenes, and some of her friends are also villagers.

I’m not sure my words did much to make my darling feel better, but I pray she remembers her value. It’s not determined by the role she wins in a play! And I pray she continues to put her all into rehearsals and enjoy this year’s theater season.

I also pray that she turns to God for comfort. I can hold and encourage her, but I can’t heal the pain she feels. Only God can do that.

What about you? How do you comfort your kids when they hurt?

Prayer: “Father, please hold my child tonight. She’s hurting, and I’m hurting for her. I ask you to hold her close and remind her of your incredible love for her. Also, may she remember her worth. Thank you for entrusting her to me and for being her Father, and thank you for giving me wisdom!”

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Honesty Sets You Free

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As part of our family’s adventure in wellness, I attend a Celebrate Recovery 12-Step study. A small group of ladies meet weekly to discuss the steps, pray and find freedom from various hurts, habits and hangups.

One thing I notice as I work through the study is that recovery depends on honesty. After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem. To even work through the 12 steps, we must let go of denial and be honest!

But honesty is hard. It’s much easier to say that everything’s fine and cover up the shame, guilt, heartache and trauma in our lives. I know – I’ve done it for years!

And that’s why the devotional I read today (“When You Just Can’t Bring Cheerful”) resonated with me. We don’t have to be cheerful all the time and cover up what’s really going on in our hearts and lives. In fact, we find true healing only when we are honest, open and authentic. Think about it – God knows our hearts. We’re only lying to ourselves and hindering His healing work when we try to hide from Him.

I take comfort in the fact that even though honesty is challenging, painful, embarrassing and scary, it’s also the source of true freedom. I pray we can be honest with ourselves, Jesus and others today. May we take time to be authentic and real with our Father today.

Today’s prayer: “Thank You, God, for loving us, even the ugly parts, and for gently drawing us to Yourself as You give us freedom and joy! Give us courage to be real with You and trust Your gentleness, mercy and grace.”

Titus 3:4-5a, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (NIV)

Hosea 2:14, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her … and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart.” (AMPC)

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Who Are Your “Necessary People”?

In my inbox today, I found an interesting idea. Karen Ehman and her family surprised one of their family’s “necessary people” with a celebration.

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Her story made me consider the necessary people in my life. I would certainly include my spouse and kids, family and friends, but the list doesn’t stop there. Grocery store clerks, mail carriers, bank tellers, medical professionals, school teachers – they all are important.

So who are your necessary people? How will do you celebrate these important people? Let’s share ideas as we spread kindness and show others that we value them!

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When Momma’s Cranky

Hubby came home from work this morning and needed to borrow a few dollars for breakfast. I know he chooses to not carry a credit or debit card so that we can save money, and he doesn’t often ask for cash, but for some reason I felt cranky about his request today. He noticed, of course, and called me on it. I was able to apologize, but I also wondered what was going on.

Maybe my crankiness is because I:

  • Didn’t sleep well last night
  • Haven’t had enough coffee (I’m only on cup one, and it’s already cold.)
  • Feel irritated about a missing item I thought for sure was on my desk
  • Am angry with myself for misplacing the missing item
  • Feel anxious about the kiddos’ dentist appointments since I’m not sure how my son will respond or how the technician will react to him
  • Am choosing to be angry instead of gracious.

No matter why I was acting cranky, I can’t deny the tension between us and acknowledge that I am not being gracious and need (and want) to be!

So what will I do about it? How can I handle these cranky moments?

1.I realize that I’m the problem. I’m annoyed and am letting that control how I act.

2. I take the time I need to get myself centered. Prayer, some time alone and a date with a book or my noise cancelling headphones and praise and worship music should get me back on track.

3. I set priorities. What NEEDS to be done before the kids and I head to the dentist? Do i need to check social media, find the missing item or do dishes? No. Instead, breakfast, gathering my purse, teeth brushing, quiet time and a second cup of coffee take priority with my limited time this morning.

Ahh, that’s better! I can think clearly now and am feeling more relaxed. Okay, day, let’s go and be kind!

What do you do when you feel cranky? What helps you relax and unwind? I’d love to hear your tips!

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May the Fourth Be With You

May 4

Photo by:Fernando Bueno (Flickr)

Confession: I’ve never seen an entire Star Wars movie. (Hard to believe, right?! It’s on my bucket list for when I can really sit down and focus on it!) But May 4 always reminds me of power!

God’s Force lives in us!

I’m grateful for that power because in the last 24 hours, it has helped me forgive a nasty comment someone made about me, choose to overlook a sin committed toward me and respond with grace instead of anger toward one of my children.

Here’s a short list of some of my favorite Bible verses that talk about God’s power.

What will you do with the power that lives in you today?

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When You Feel Weak, You’re Strong

2-corinthians-12-9Motherhood wipes me out.

I often feel unqualified, unprepared and unequipped to do this job.

And then I read these verses from 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Go ahead, read that again. I know I needed to.

Paul’s saying that God gives grace despite our weaknesses. In fact, when we’re weak, God gives us power to endure everything that comes our way.

Think about it.

When we’re energized, recharged and rested, we feel capable of taking on the world.

But when we’re drained, worn down and exhausted, there’s no way we’re doing much of anything besides ordering takeout.

This parenting gig will beat you up faster than a round inside a boxing ring with Muhammed Ali. Trust me, this past year has been filled with drama, trauma and heartache for me and my family. Many times, I felt like quitting and was certain that I would not make it out of the day alive! Yet, according to these verses, I am at my most strongest when I am weak. Those moments certainly are the times when I cry out to God for strength, wisdom and help.

May we learn today to celebrate our weaknesses. Instead of trying to be super moms who complete the to-do list by 9 AM, create three healthy, gourmet meals every single day and always know exactly what to say to our hurting kids, may we accept our limitations and cling to God’s power!

He has what we need and will make us strong despite our weaknesses.

Will you let Him work through you today?

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