Recharging Day By Day: Finding Time for God

Lately I have become very aware of the need most of us, as women, have to enjoy just a few minutes alone.  With the entrance of our third child, my time for myself is often lost.  If I’m not making meals or cleaning up from them, I’m feeding the baby (and every so often I find time to write!).  And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  But I believe that it is important for women to recharge and have a time of quiet in their lives.   Recharging is extremely imporant.   We are really good at multi-tasking and our brains are constantly moving.  Because of this, burn-out can happen very quickly.

Burn-out happens even quicker when you add in a lack of sleep.   This can come in various forms but the outcome is always the same.  A nursing child, worry over finances or day-to-day circumstances – these things can rob of us a good night’s sleep and the joy that we should be experiencing in the Lord.  Recharging seems an impossible thing to attain.   But it’s not.

I’ve found that making time to be in God’s word is so important to me keeping my sanity.  Enjoying just a few minutes of quiet each day has given me time to think about my role as a wife and as a mother, and allows me to quiet my heart so that my emotional state has time to recharge.  I’ve learned to cut down on outside commitments (somewhat) so that I can focus on the work the Lord has given me to do.   I’m not perfect.  I still have a long way to go, but here are some tools that I have used and am using to encourage myself in the area of recharging.
Recharging Day by Day:  QuietWorkings.com

Last year, I was given a copy of A Heart Devoted by Patti Albert.  I really loved using this devotional book all year long because there were a few different ways I could use it, instead of following a single plan for the whole year.  The author states on the inside cover that the book is not meant to be a substitute for your daily Bible reading but includes schedules and encouragement to “whet your appetite for a daily walk with God.”

Each page includes a short devotional by a pastor’s or evangelist’s wife, a Scripture verse for the day, a song, a thought for the day, a Bible reading plan (for reading through the Bible in a year), and three sections for writing that allow you to apply that day’s devotional, write out prayer requests, and add any notes you want to.

Each day I could choose to read the devotional or leave it, read the Bible reading plan or use my own, memorize a verse, meditate on a hymn/song, and use the lined sections for my own personal thoughts and prayers.   It kept it from getting boring (as some reading plans often can), and I liked the option of using it as a journal of sorts.

Unfortunately, this particular devotional is no longer in print and out of stock on the one website I found it.  There is also a second book called A Heart Refreshed that also appears to be out of print.  So if you can find one in a bookstore or know someone who has one you’ll be set!

For ChristmThe Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective - Recharging Day By Dayas this year I asked my husband to get me two separate books.  The Recharging Day By Dayfirst is called, The Excellent Wife by Martha Pierce.   The second is called The Excellent Wife Day by Day by Karen Eiler.

The Excellent Wife is a Bible study that takes you through the Biblical role of women in marriage.  It also has a study guide that goes along with the book.  From what I am reading, I understand that it is meant to be used as a small group ladies’ study, not necessarily one-on-one.  But it does work as a stand-alone book  To say I am enjoying it would be hard to say.  It is very convicting and I have already found a number of ways that I, as a wife, need to work on my marriage and my commitment to the Lord.

The Excellent Wife Day By Day is a 5-day-a-week devotional that includes a short devotional section that coincides with Martha Pierce’s book, an Application section with bullet points that encourage you to put into action what you are learning (which often includes writing in a separate journal/note book that you provide), a section of verses (not KJV but easy to look up), and a verse to memorize for the week. This book covers 52 weeks (a year), but again, is only 5 days a week, giving 2 days to meditate and think on the things you’ve learned that week.  One thing I that I like about this particular book is that the verse you memorize is one a week, not one a day.  It gives you time to actually do what Psalm 119:11 says and hide God’s word in your heart.

As I haven’t finished either book I can’t, at this point, speak to the heart of them, but at this point I have been very encouraged and have seen nothing that concerns me.   I look forward to finishing the first one and using the second throughout the year.

Besides that, I am working on writing out Scripture this year.  I’ve always been impressed with the idea of rewriting Scripture to write it on my heart.  As a teacher I recognize that there are benefits in learning when you include all aspects of hearing, reading, writing, and saying.  It sticks in your heart just a little bit more every time you add in one of those concepts.  I want to know as much of the Bible as I can so that I can know as much of my God as I possibly can.  It’s a never-ending goal.  There’s always more to learn in this case.

And I do have a Bible reading plan that I am following.  It is not a “through the Bible in a year” plan, but goes through just a few books, allowing you time to meditate on just a few verses (10 – 20 verses usually) at a time.  I’ve done the Bible in a year, and in 90 days (which was intense but amazing).  I’m hoping that a slightly slower pace this year will allow me to focus on some other things (like adding the above books to my quiet time).  This will also slow down my quiet time – so even if I don’t have a ton of time, I won’t feel as rushed to get through a certain number of passages, allowing for that quiet feeling and recharging.

I would love to hear what books you are hoping to read this year and what you like to do in your Bible time.   What do you do to help yourself get to know the Lord better?  Are you taking that time to recharge?

 

These Are a Few…

One of my absolute favorite authors, Chautona Havig, blogged yesterday morning about a writing challenge that she was joining in on and I decided to check it out.    I thought it was a really neat idea and thought I’d try and use it.  One of my goals this year is to try and blog at least once a week.  So, if I need inspiration I can use one of the prompts off the 52-week writing challenge from the MFRW blog.  I will say, this blog is mainly for authors (and I don’t really consider myself one since the only thing I’ve currently “authored” is this blog.  However, I love to write.  So while I did not actually sign up for this challenge over on the website (*I cannot fully endorse everything on it but want to give credit where credit is due for these blog prompts) I do plan on using some of the prompts to fill in when I need some inspiration.  Not because I want to blog just for the sake of blogging, but because I do appreciate all the readers who keep coming back to my blog looking for new content and I want to give that to them.  I don’t plan on needing to use one every week (in fact, I already have some book reviews planned) but I’m excited for the help in brainstorming.

This last week’s prompt was “A Few of My Favorite Things”

This phrase always makes me think of Julie Andrews singing while holding on to the ugliest set of curtains ever in The Sound of Music.  Which seriously, is one of my all-time favorite movies.  I love movies based on fact.  I just watched one called Sully about the pilot that landed the plane on the Hudson River.  So riveting.  Very dramatic!   Favorite Things - Family

My family is also one of my favorite “things” (hmm, that sounds wrong, people aren’t things…oh well, the idea is there).  I have a new family photo hanging around somewhere, on someone else’s phone, and I need to get that.  I will definitely share it when I do.  We adore the newest addition to our family.  Little Guy has this cute little onesie that says “Mommy’s Favorite”.  I haven’t told the other two Littles what it says, hehe.

Books are my favorite things.  I don’t have a favorite.  I love all books.  I could collect books.  I’ve decided to get rid of books this year because a book collection can outgrow your house, and that is never a good thing.  But I really like books.  School books, novels, Bible-based, etc…  A Kindle just doesn’t do a real book justice.  Sadly, all of Chautona Havig’s books that I own are on Kindle.  Although, maybe that’s a good thing, since I own most of them (Kindle books take up no space – except on my Kindle).

Tea.  You can’t read a good book without a good cup of tea.  I have to admit though, that my favorite kind of tea is the kind already in bags.  Although I love the idea of loose tea, it just annoys me.  Just sayin’ – or maybe I’m just lazy…sigh.

Cozy slippers/socks.  My feet are always cold.  We’re talking, middle of summer, hottest day of the year, my feet will be cold at some point during the day.  Yes, I know it’s related to low iron (which I do have an issue with ).   So fuzzy socks are my best friend.  And an amazing pair of slippers ranks right up there with them.  But I really do love the socks.  It’s the one thing on my Christmas wish list every year.

Organiztion.  My house is not the most organized, so those of you who have seen my house may be wondering if I’ve gone a little crazy.  But I seriously do love organization.  If I could have the shelving and filing cabinets to do everything I’d love to do, my house would be spotless.  But I don’t.  And so stuff sits around because it has nowhere to go…and it drives me crazy!!!  I move things around and try to reorganize about once a month.  I just moved the garbage can in the kitchen to the opposite side of the island because my son’s desk fit better where the garbage was sitting than it did in its old spot near the front door.  But now we’re all slightly irritated trying to throw garbage in my son’s desk, hah (but it does really work better there – it’s staying! We’ll get used to it eventually).

These are just a few of my favorite things.  What are some of your favorite things?   Head on over to my Facebook page and leave me a comment.  I love to hear from you all!

Frockbox Reveal!

I have been jealously watching some of the American bloggers I follow talk about Stitch Fix for a few years now and wishing we had something similar in Canada.  I hate clothes shopping.  So much so, that my idea of going shopping is heading to Value Village and buying whatever I can find that actually fits me.  Even that is a frustrating thing.  My husband even comments on how I can take 20 items into the changing room and come out with one that I “like”.  I cannot even fathom going into a mall and spending hours there going into 10 different stores and trying on one or two items just to come home with nothing.  That’s my reality.

The added problem with Value Village clothing is that they are already worn.  So I might get home and realize that, ugh, there’s a tear on the item somewhere, or a stain.  And the items don’t last very long because they’re already showing signs of wear.  I knew this wasn’t a good option to continue on with if I was going to have a closet of clothes that I liked, that fit, and that were good quality (that would last longer than one season).

After I had the baby in November, I went back through my clothes and started to get rid of everything that I didn’t love.  I had t-shirts that I had remade from my husband’s, I had homemade skirts not hemmed, dresses that ended at a weird place, etc.  I just needed to make over my closet and I decided, having a baby, was a good time to do that!  Why go back to all those things I didn’t like?

One day I was on the computer and checking out subscription boxes.  A couple friends of mine had dived into the world of them and I was intrigued and curious as to whether it would be beneficial (and budget-friendly) to treat myself every once in a while to something like that.  When what to my wondering eye did appear!  FrockBox!

I spent an hour or so (I’ll admit to the time-waster, but a baby that takes an hour to drink a bottle kind of allows for that) reading reviews on this new, monthly, clothing subscription.  To be honest, the reviews weren’t all that great.  BUT, as far as I can tell, the company only started in September, so it’s fairly new.  And some of the reviews kind of made me laugh, because, someone who has never met you can’t get your box of clothes right every time!   And the whole point of being able to try on clothes and send them back is because there are going to be things that don’t fit, etc.  That’s the beauty of the box.

What FrockBox Is:

FrockBox is a monthly clothing subscription company.  They have 3 separate options for boxes.  You can do a Favorite 5, a whole Outfit, or Jewelry.

Favorite 5:  With this option, you fill out a style profile, pay a $25 styling fee, and they send you 5 items of clothing.   You have 3-5 days to try them on, decide what you like/don’t like, and mail back what you don’t want.  If you don’t get them back in the mail by the date specified you are billed for all the items.  If you keep one item, the styling fee is deducted from the cost of it.  Most of the items cost between $35 and $70  (normal price if you hit the mall).  If you keep all 5 items you get an added discount.   In your style profile you can ask for certain items of clothing to be left out of your box.  So if you don’t want pants or jackets or jewelry – you check those off.  Then there’s a box where you can write a note to your stylist.  I wrote that I liked dresses to be knee-length, shirts to be somewhat high on the neckline, and no tight clothing.   I actually think they did pretty good with what they sent.

Outfit:  With this option, you pay a set fee and they send you 3 items (1-2 pieces of clothing that will comprise an outfit and an accessory unless you decline the jewelry).

Jewelry:  With this, you will also pay a set fee and receive one accessory each month.

I chose to try out the FrockBox Favorites.  I figured if I didn’t like anything I was only out $25 (kind of a birthday gift to myself).

frockbox-collage

Here are the five pieces I received.

  1. Swing Skirt
  2. Green blouse
  3. Brown draped cardi
  4. Colour-block dress
  5. 3/4 Sleeve dress

The only one that I wasn’t sure about upon first look was the skirt – but it ended up being one of the pieces I kept.   It has a lot of stretch in it, so even though the waist looks small on it, amazingly it fit.

The colour-block dress was the second one I wasn’t sure about, and I did send that back.  It was very tight and very short.  I could have worn it with jeans if it had fit better, but, boutique sizing is usually smaller and I didn’t really think about that when I plugged in my sizing on the website.

The 3/4 sleeve dress was so pretty but the waist was not a true empire waist (one of the things I had asked for) and it cut me in the wrong place.  It was also barely knee length and I don’t really go shorter so it might have been awkward – it went back.

The green blouse was pretty as well, but my mom belly needs some time to tighten up, so it went back.  It also had a really weird, long back to it.  I suppose it could have worked as a tunic.  I would have kept it if it had fit, but I thought I would note that awkward part of it.

The brown, draped cardigan was a piece I had been looking for, and I was ecstatic to get it.  Brown is my colour (I do really well with the earth tones) and I love how the draped cardigans sit.  I think they are very flattering.   I definitely kept that piece.

Overall, my experience with Frock Box was very positive and I’m looking forward to trying it again.  I won’t do it every month (as that’s a lot of money) but I think it will help me to fill my closet with pieces that are good quality and that fit and look nice – as I won’t spend money on pieces that don’t.

Frock Box has a lot of positives going for it.  I really enjoy not having to spend time out of my day going shopping for clothes (not my favorite past time – although I know a lot of women enjoy that).  I don’t have time to spend out, especially with a new baby.  If I don’t like something I can send a note back to my stylist telling her my reasons for sending an item back.  That way she can choose something more to my liking next time.   ALSO, I plan on emailing her a link to my pinterest clothing board (another option they allow), so she can see the kinds of outfits I like and what I would wear.  I’m hoping this company continues to grow (like it’s US counterpart).  If enough women start to use it it could potentially become a lasting company.

I would definitely recommend Frock Box.  If you do try it, leave a comment and let me know how your experience was.

*Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this review – I paid for the subscription box on my own.  All opinions regarding my experience and this company are completely my own.

Christmastime at the Cunninghams

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.  I can’t say it’s my absolute favorite but it’s close.  I love the decorations, the music, the visits with people you only see once a year, all of it.   I’m not as much into the presents (or maybe it’s the spending money thing).  But there’s just something so exciting about the advent of Christ.  It excites me.

Every year I work pretty hard at decorating my house.  I love having greenery and lights everywhere!   I don’t really consider it Christmas decorating, but more of “winter” decorating.  If I can use fake greenery it stays up till at least the end of January.  But, like I said, I don’t like spending money so when the fake greenery gets used in other areas, I have to get creative.

Some people would say creativity is my middle name, but I wouldn’t quite go that far.  I think Pinterest is, haha.  Last year, I had a number of dying fir trees in my back yard, so I stripped them of a few branches and made a garland for the deck outside, and pots of greenery for our church and our porch and entryway.

This year I didn’t have a fir tree around to strip so I was a little discouraged in that area.  Plus, I just had a baby (I don’t think I made an official blog announcement about that – I’ll share some pictures in another post), so I wasn’t up to braving the crowds to go looking for cheap fake stuff.   However, while leaving Walmart one day, I noticed a bin outside that had bunches of branches in it for $4.  I was so excited, but I was in the car already, so I thought I’d go back another day and get some.  By the time I made it back to Walmart a couple of weeks had passed and I was sure that bin would be empty.    What a blessing from the Lord to find enough branches in the bottom of a bin labeled “Clearance” to make the pots for church that I had been working on.  And they were $1 a bunch!  So I had 4 pots made for $3!!!   I wish I had pictures to share with you, but I keep forgetting to take some.  Maybe if I get pictures at some point I’ll post them on the Facebook page.    I added some decorations from Walmart and the Dollar Store and each pot cost me less than $10 to make but would be over $25 (at least) in the stores.  img_0233

But I was still a img_0230little discouraged that my house had no fresh greenery in it, until we got our Christmas tree.  This is the first year we’ve had a real tree since we’ve been married.  We’ve always lived in apartments or rentals and weren’t allowed to have real trees.  Don’t get me wrong, artificial trees have their place (especially since their trunk is perfectly straight and takes zero effort to get straight up and down in its stand) but I love having a real tree in my house and the scent of the pine every time I walk past just makes me happy.   We had to trim quite a bit, actually, off the bottom of the trunk and I was left with a number of beautiful branches!  Those branches are now sitting on my piano, in a container by my couch, and in mason jars for the table.  It smells amazing in here.  So for $30, I got the tree and all the trimmings for my house too!!!   I really feel like the Lord blessed me this year.

I did purchase a few decorations from the Dollar Store and Walmart – spending less than $50 on everything (keeping in mind these are things that I can store and reuse next year – I hate spending money).  I got two wreaths from Walmart for $3 each and put them in kitchen window, adding some Dollar Store icicles (part of a package and the other part of the package was used on the tree).  I used ribbon that I had in storage from previous years to add some bows, etc.  I got two tiny wreaths from the Dollar Store that went in the opposite window over the sink.  When Canadian Tire had their Christmas ornaments on sale, I RAN there (believe me, I wasn’t going to miss out) and got a 40 pack of bulbs for $10.  I didn’t have any for the tree so I knew I needed them, but I was able to use the smallest size to hang in the living room window (pinterest there), two bigger sizes for the tree itself, and the biggest size I glued onto sticks and poked into my Christmas pots at the church and at home.  And all of them will be able to be re-used next year!!!

 

For the tree, I have a lot of homemade ornaments and they’re my favorite.  My husband’s aunt gave us two snowmen for our wedding (she’s a crafter and does some pretty awesome stuff).  Every year they find a home somewhere else in my decorations but this year they made it onto the tree!  I have my homemade garland (that fits a whole lot better on my artificial tree, haha – I may need to get some more burlap next year and make it bigger), and we added salt clay ornaments this year that the Littles made for an activity in Little Man’s school work.  I also made a tree skirt out of some Christmas material and some felt (I gave you a sneak peak last week on Facebook).   I hot glued the felt in a ruffle around the edge, but honestly, it would have been a lot faster to sew it, hah.

christmas-tree-collage

My house is so Christmassy and it took very little effort or money.

I do have to add that outside I put my fake greenery on the deck and added a beautiful nativity sign that I got from a friend who creates them.  You should check out Spanish Crea8ions on Facebook and see all the beautiful work she does.  I’m hoping to add a peacock canvas to my living room wall sometime in the future.

Every year I do my best to create Christmas at the Cunninghams with little effort and money spent.  I don’t think the holidays should be about how much money we spend but about remembering why we are celebrating.  I am beyond excited to be having church on Christmas day this year!  I figure that’s what Christmas is all about and I want my kids to grow up knowing that.  It’s not about the presents under the tree but the Person the tree is pointing to.

I plan on writing another post between Christmas and New Years just to update everyone on what has happened in the last two months in our little house – but I wanted to say Merry Christmas to all my readers.

Do you have any other ways of bringing cheer to your house in the winter months without shelling out a ton of money?  I’d love to hear them!  And I hope to be chatting more with you all in the New Year.

 

 

One Pan Fall Casserole

I rarely share recipes on my blog, because, quite frankly, I hate to cook.  Like seriously hate to cook.  I have a couple friends that I joke around with sometimes about having our own little commune.   I would teach everybody’s children, one mom would do all the cooking, and the other would do all the cleaning, hah.  Seriously, that sounds more amazing to me than anything.

HOWEVER

Cooking is a necessity when you’re a wife/mom and sometimes you hit the jackpot.   Now, one friend who tasted this recipe ended up adding some of her own dressing to it to spice it up – but I liked it totally as is.   I had seen a similar recipe on Pinterest but since I rarely follow a recipe to a T (read: never have the same ingredients so I substitute what I think will work) this really became my own recipe.  I drive people crazy when I tell them “I found this amazing recipe but I didn’t have this so I used this, and I didn’t have this, so I used this,…” You get the idea.  And I rarely have all the ingredients for something because I’m a terrible cook and never buy things that cooks/chefs would have normally have on hand.

I love the idea of one pan for making a meal (although, I have to admit, I boiled my chicken first, so that would make two pans/pots) as I also hate doing dishes, hah.  I found aluminum throw-away pans at Costco for super cheap (cheaper than the dollar store) and they’re great for making meals in, especially if you double the recipe and put half in the freezer.    And this can be a super cheap recipe if you use vegetables that are on sale (or on the clearance rack at your grocery store).

I made one for our meal and one for the freezer the night I made this.  And it made enough for about 6 servings (for those with somewhat large families).   My kids eat very little at supper but my husband took a good portion for his lunch and I shared another container with a friend and her husband for lunch…so it stretched pretty far.

One Pan Fall Casserole

Ingredients:

4-6 Chicken breasts (thawed; or boiled if frozen)

1-2 large sweet potatoes OR 4-6 medium white potatoes – the more potatoes you add the larger the cassarole will be

2 small peppers (or 1 large)

2 carrots, chopped in circles

1 onion

1/2 squash (I actually used 1/4 of a squash in each pan I made as I only had half a squash in my fridge – it was plenty)

3 small apples (or as much as you want for added sweetness)

!/2 cup of cranberries (option for added sweetness)

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup oil

Apple cider vinegar

Uncooked bacon

 

Directions:

  1. Boil chicken in water with 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar (gives the chicken a nice flavour) for about 10 minutes.   Combine 2 TBSP of oil with a splash or two of apple cider vinegar, the Italian seasoning, and garlic.  Place chicken in a plastic bag and pour oil mixture over chicken, rubbing it in.   Let sit while you do the rest.
  2. Chop veggies and place in a pan.   I have written in the vegetables that I used because those are what I had in my fridge, but you could sub in any veggies that are in season in your area (ie, green beans, peas, corn, brussel sprouts, etc).    Add the apples, diced, with skin on (or you can choose to peel but it’s a little more work and who needs that?)
  3. Pour remaining oil over vegetables and stir to coat (this is so the veggies don’t stick and burn while they are roasting).
  4. Place chicken breasts on top of vegetables (alternatively, you could cut the chicken into cubes and mix right into the casserole if you only have so much chicken to work with – this can make it stretch farther).
  5. Sprinkle with uncooked, chopped bacon
  6. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes (or until vegetables/potatoes are soft when poked with a fork).

 

If you didn’t want to make a huge pan of this, I could also see it over rice – also making it stretch farther.  Or if you made a big pan, you could serve up to 10 people with this casserole by putting rice under it.   I’m all about stretching a meal.   My rule of thumb is to keep my meat servings to about $5 per meal, which I know doesn’t sound like much.  Sometimes it’s more but not very often.  When I make a roast (costs about $10-$13 at the local meat store we buy from) we always have some for lunches the next day.  I serve a family of 4 (two of whom are children who don’t eat much).   When the kids are older and eating more I will, obviously, have to adjust this number accordingly.

I did make this in two pans and put one in my freezer.  I kept the chicken off and will do that part of it when I pull the pan out of the freezer.  I’m a freak about meat and food poisoning so I didn’t like the idea of half cooking the chicken and then re-freezing (which is a huge no-no in my house).   I suppose you could cook this in its entirety and then freeze but, since I made this on a church night, I didn’t have time to cook the second one before we had to leave.

The only thing I regret is not taking a picture.  So I’ll update this post next time I make it and post a picture of the meal.  Or you can do a search for similar meals on google and see what they “look” like.

My husband loved this meal and even my kids gave it a thumbs up (which is huge in my house).   If you try it, let me know what you think, or if you would tweak anything. =)

 

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