Monday, June 29, 2015

Are You Ready to Look to the Hills with Me?

I Will Lift My Eyes to the Hills - The Cozy Nook

Lately I have felt pretty disoriented and discouraged. There is a lot going on in my life that brings me down, if I let it. The fight is real. I have to work hard to keep my mind thinking on good things and focused on what I should be doing.

Today I deleted the Facebook App from my phone… again. I have turned to it too many times to fill in the gaps of the day – those times when I am switching from one activity to the next… those times when my emotions are feeling a bit raw and somehow think that a visit to FB will remedy it (and I am soon to be disappointed)… those times when I just want to escape reality for a moment and keep in touch with the people in my life.

So, the Facebook App is gone from my phone again, for a season, until I can get my habits under control, because frankly, it does very little good for my days and well-being.

As I’ve ridden through another emotional day today, faced with various dramas, I also started thinking, “I need a mentor”. Don’t we, all, love mentors?! I’ve written about it. I believe in it. It’s one reason I have this blog – with the hopes that I can mentor and encourage women.

However, this thought of mine to pursue a mentor got me off on another rabbit trail… “I’ll just do a quick search for a life coach. That’s what I need.” $600 for six sessions. Hmm…I can’t really do that right now. There are too many other things vying for our monies.

In the middle of this big distraction, I felt a tug.

I will lift my eyes to the hills--
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

Forgive me, Lord.

It’s You that I need.
It’s You whom I need to direct my steps.
It’s You whom I need to guide me and help me order my life right now.

I’m not saying that we don’t need mentors or other natural helps in our lives, but how many times do we turn to natural solutions and look for earthly things to fill us when God is calling to our hearts, “Come to me.”

Are you ready to look to the hills with me?

This week when you are down and out, discouraged, and feeling like you need a good fill of wisdom and grace, look to the Lord!

Let’s do it together!

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Don’t Compare. Just Live the Life God Has for You.

Don't Compare - The Cozy Nook

It sure is easy to compare ourselves to other people these days; isn’t it?

With a barrage of amazing stories and images on social media, picture-perfect homes and people in books and magazines, and a gallery of decisions put before us every day, we are faced with a myriad of options to which we can compare ourselves.

My advice to you:

Don’t do it!

Will temptation come?
Yep!

Will people appear to have a better life than you?
Yep!

And when these temptations come, we need to set them aside and throw them out, like a moldy piece of fruit, and fill our minds with the purposes that God has for us!

Don’t compare your personality.
Don’t compare your husband.
Don’t compare your children.
Don’t compare your ministry.
Don’t compare how you school your children.
Don’t compare your looks.
Don’t compare your abilities and gifts.
Don’t compare your friends.
Don’t compare how you use your time.
Don’t compare how you spend your money.
Don’t compare your vacation…

Just stop!

Do you know what comparison does?

It robs.

Let me say that again:

Comparison robs!

Comparison steals our joy and prevents us from focusing on the good lives God has given us,
what He has called us to do,
and what His purpose is for us right now.

Have you been busy comparing yourself to other people?

It’s a big waste of time.

Instead, with God’s grace, let’s focus on what God has for us in our lives and run the race that is set before us!

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us”
Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Have You Planned Your Summer Yet?

Have You Planned Your Summer - The Cozy Nook

Each year summer seems to fly by so quickly. It arrives, and I’m already thinking about what is filling the calendar for the next few months. Finishing school, prepping for next year’s school, VBS, string camp, soccer tryouts, soccer practice, grad parties, weddings, church camp, etc.!

A third of June has already passed, and I realized that I better get my summer ideas down on paper so they become realities rather than just dreams.

Have you planned your summer yet?

Think about the following:

  • Which projects would you like to tackle? Cleaning a closet? Improving your landscape?
  • Whom would you like to see more often?
  • Which places would you like to visit? Local attractions? Parks? Beaches? Campgrounds? Other states?
  • What activities would you like to do? Biking? Canoeing? Running? Swimming?

Just today my mind was swirling with some ideas:

  • Go canoeing.
  • Plan a picnic.
  • Ride our bikes to the local ice cream store.
  • Visit one of the Great Lakes.
  • Go geocaching.
  • Plan times for my kids’ friends to come over.
  • Have friends over for an ice cream social.

And that’s just the fun stuff!

The possibilities are endless, but time isn’t!

Get busy thinking about what you would like to do this summer and make a plan!

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When Life is Less Than Glorious

When Life is Less Than Glorious - The Cozy Nook

I woke up this morning with an achy body and a slow mind.

“Ugh. Is it really time to start the day?”

That’s how I felt. There was no anxiousness or excitement to get my day going.

I pushed myself through my morning responsibilities and routines and prodded the kids multiple times to get out of bed.

Soon after they awoke, my role as the pony motor and task master set in.

“Do this.
Do that.
Stop doing this.
Stop doing that.”

Fighting a good dose of attitudes and laziness, I was slowly making progress in my home when the announcement came:

“The toiled is plugged and is about to overflow….”

“Oh, great!” …. Just what I needed.

As I plunged my life away with no success, my thoughts spiraled downward. I came to the conclusion:

Life is less than glorious.

Sure, there are times when life feels absolutely wonderful, but there are a lot of times when life feels hard and lacks glory.

It is during these often, earthly moments of life that a choice is put before us. Will we choose life or death?

When life is less than glorious, we must make the choice to persevere, do what’s right, be thankful, think positively, trust God, and be joyful.

Does your life feel less than glorious?

Don’t let it get the best of you.
Instead make the best of it.

And let the God of peace rule in your hearts…
and be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Monday, May 18, 2015

Glimpses of His Goodness: Strength for Our Days

Glimpses of God's Goodness - The Cozy Nook

The month of May has been a whirlwind. For us, May is one of the busiest months of the year. Soccer practices and games. Violin, piano, and flute recitals. Ballet classes, rehearsals, and recitals. Mother’s Day, birthdays, our anniversary. The calendar is definitely packed.

Although I have been trying hard to live in the present moment and take one day at a time, I admit, life has felt more difficult.

In the midst of all of our busyness, we are still finishing school of course, and my mind is already gearing up for next year regarding curriculum, classes, and activities.

As you can also see, I have hardly been able to get to my blog lately. Life has got me going full speed, and the extra time I do have is usually spent regrouping or with my family or friends.

In the midst of the frenzy, sometimes life feels very difficult – juggling so many balls while also maintaining my home, training my children, keeping my marriage a priority, etc. The list goes on; doesn’t it?

A few days ago I was in bed, fighting illness. I had an interesting episode where I got really hot, my ears turned red, and I felt woozy. Then came the terrible headache! I spent a couple hours in bed. As I was trying to regain my health, my four year old daughter was very busy making me a craft. She drew a heart design on each paper, rolled it up and taped it. All of those beauties were for me. A sincere gift.

In the midst of my suffering a work was being done in my little girl’s heart, a work that reminded me that God is good and remembers us.

Fast forward to a couple days later when it was my wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, my husband was out of town that day, and I had to spend the day alone. I tried hard to be a good wife, to support him, and not to think about spending my anniversary alone. However, it proved to be difficult. I felt lonely and sad at times. Combine that with the struggles in my home that day, and I felt depleted. Nonetheless, there were bright spots in the day.

My four year old daughter again was busy at work and she made me these hearts.

Hearts

At the end of the night when I was feeling quite drained and defeated, my eleven year old daughter made a special trip downstairs, after we had already said our “Good night”, to give me a hug and said, “Good night, Mom. Happy Anniversary.”

That moment hit me. I felt loved. I felt remembered. I felt grace and strength.

Every day provides glimpses for us, glimpses of God’s goodness that help give our hearts the encouragement we need and help carry us through our days.

Our days may be long and hard. Discouragement may wait for us on every side. Pressures may mount up. But in the midst of it all, the goodness of God remains.

Today and tomorrow and the next day… as you are living your life, watch for the goodness of God to reveal itself in small ways. Remember the blessings of the little things in life and let them strengthen your heart!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Soft and Chewy Granola Bars

Soft and Chewy Granola Bars - The Cozy Nook

My 11 year old daughter made these recently, and they were yummy! All of us enjoyed them.

The recipe calls for mini chocolate chips, which we didn’t have on hand at the time, so she used regular chocolate chips. It was a tough decision.

I am posting the recipe here, but the web site, Inspired Taste, does a great job of explaining the recipe with much clarity and even has a video you can watch.

Soft and Chewy Granola Bars
Printable Version

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 T mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom and sides of an 8 or 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil. Oil the pan with oil or cooking spray.

Add oats and almonds to a small baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes. Stir and bake a few more minutes, until the almonds are lightly toasted. Transfer to large bowl.

Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.

Pour butter mixture into a bowl with the toasted oats and almonds. Mix well. Let cool for 5 minutes. Then add cranberries and 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips. Stir to combine.

Transfer oat mixture to lined pan and press mixture into the pan with damp fingers or a rubber spatula. Press hard, to be certain the bars are firmly in place and will stay together once they are cooled and cut.

Scatter remaining 2 T of chocolate chips over the pressed granola mixture and gently press them into the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Remove block of granola from the pan and peel off the foil. Cut into 12 bars.

Store bars in an airtight container for up to one week. For soft bars, keep at room temperature. For harder bars, store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

How to Live a Less Distracted Life

How to Live a Less Distracted Life - The Cozy Nook

First, let me state the obvious. In order to live a less distracted life, you must get rid of distractions.

Think of what distracts you.

Facebook?
Other projects and “to do” items?
Your phone and its features, in general?
Circumstances in life?
Lack of focus?

Write down what you think is keeping you from FOCUSING, and try to eliminate those hindrances.

  • Make rules for your screen time.
  • Plan a time for that other project.
  • Hide your phone for a while.
  • Write down things that are bothering you or need to be done.
  • Concentrate on the task at hand.

Second, segment your time.

Establish certain hours or segments of time for various things:

  • homeschooling
  • housework
  • family time
  • errands
  • social media

If you set apart times for tasks and activities, you can keep your primary purpose for the present moment in mind while you attempt to achieve your goal.

For me, I am refining my own system. I need to focus on homeschooling during the major part of the day time hours during the week, planning chores for break times, evenings or weekends. Otherwise, the needs of the house start to invade my homeschooling efforts and things start to feel overwhelming.

Social media has its way of creeping in throughout the day. If you set particular times of the day to check your social media, you can try to prevent losing valuable moments to the web of the internet.

Third, keep a “To Do” list.

My “To Do” list keeps me in check.

When you start thinking about something you need to do, you can write it down so you don’t forget, keep rehearsing, or feel immediately pressured to accomplish the task.

When you get distracted, you can look at your “To Do” list to remind yourself of the things you need and would like to achieve to help guide you.

Lastly, set your mind on productivity.

When you start to get distracted, reel your mind and day back in and tell yourself, “Wait… I want to be productive. Stop this activity and get to work.”

Living a less distracted life is not easy in this world, but it is important for the well-being of our days, our families, our homes, and ourselves.

It takes a constant, conscious effort
but it is well worth it!