Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Who Do You Want to BE In 2015?

Who Do You Want to BE in the New Year - The Cozy Nook

The time is ticking away. It’s hard to believe that the year 2014 is coming to a close very soon.

You can read a good load of articles and posts about making resolutions, goals, and vision for the New Year…. creating key words to fuel you into making some changes and striving for better.

It can be quite easy to think about what we want to do in the new year. At a simple level, we begin to think about what we want to accomplish, and the list begins.

  • However, as we proceed into the year 2015,
    I would like for you to consider who
    you want to BE in the next year.

How do you want to change?
How do you NEED to change?

Life is definitely about doing. Our actions and words and activities define us, but if we remember correctly, all of those actions and words and activities stem from who we are as people.

We say things because they are in our hearts to say them.
We do things because we are driven, interested, or tempted to do them.
We participate in activities because we like and choose to do them.

Everything we do starts with everything we are.

If we want to have noble goals and noble change in our lives, we must think about how we want to change as people.

Do you need to be:

  • More focused
  • More organized
  • More patient
  • More thoughtful
  • More kind
  • More loving
  • More consumed with loving and pleasing Jesus
  • More humble
  • More willing to give
  • Less anxious
  • Less consumed with the internet
  • Less bitter
  • Less affected by your past
  • Less angry
  • Less negative
  • Less selfish

Who do you need to strive to BE in the year 2015?

As the year 2015 starts, my heart’s cry is that God will make me to be more of the person I need to be, that all of my goals and good-intended projects will flow from a pure heart and surrendered soul.

Happy New Year! I wish you many blessings!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Cozy Nook–A Year in Review

A Year in Review

Thank you for being a part of my blog this year -- for reading, commenting, liking, and sharing my work. Without you, readers, this blog would be pretty lifeless, so I thank you!

I can not possibly review the past year of my blog without remembering the series I did in October: 31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed.

31 days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 500

The series was a challenge to me, to not only write every day for the month of October, but also to become less stressed and more refreshed! I pray it was a blessing to you!

More highlights of 2014:

Faith/Personal Growth





I hope you were truly encouraged
by something I posted this year.

Do you have a favorite post from the year?
What posts encourage you the most?
Is there a topic you would like for me to address in the New Year?

I’d love to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!


From our family to yours,
we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!

Luke 2:14

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Runsas - The Cozy Nook

Runsas can be a delightful dish to have during the holidays. It takes a bit of effort to make the dough and filling, so it is a nice meal to have for special occasions.

The lightly sweet dough and comforting filling of ground beef, cabbage, and cheese pleases the taste buds and soothes hungry bellies.

These are absolutely delicious! Enjoy!

Recipe found here on Food.com
Printable Version

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons melted
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 small head cabbage, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 slices cheese: Cheddar or American


  1. For the dough: Lightly grease large bowl with cooking spray. Mix water, sweetened condensed milk, oil, sugar, and egg in large measuring cup. Mix flour, yeast, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With mixer on low, add water mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until shiny and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn dough out onto heavily floured work surface, shape into ball, and place in greased bowl. (To make dough by hand: Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, make well in center of dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, and mix with wooden spoon until shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto heavily floured work surface and knead until shiny and smooth, about 10 minutes.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  2. For the filling: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes, breaking up any large clumps. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to paper towel-lined plate.

  3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add cabbage and toss until just beginning to wilt, 2 to 4 minutes. Return beef to pan and season with salt and pepper.

  4. To assemble and bake: Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Working on lightly floured work surface, roll each piece of dough into 7-inch circle. Place one dough round in deep cereal bowl and top with one slice of cheese. Spoon 3/4 cup filling over cheese and pinch edges of dough together to form bun. Transfer bun, seam side down, to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, cheese, and filling, placing 4 buns on each baking sheet. Cover buns with plastic wrap and let rise until puffed, about 20 minutes.

  5. Bake buns until golden brown, about 20 minutes, switching and rotating position of baking sheets halfway through baking time. Brush buns with melted butter and serve.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Some Ideas for Planning Christmas Food

Planning Christmas Food - The Cozy Nook

Some people have their Christmas menus already planned. Maybe they have a menu they use year after year or maybe they have pinned and researched and planned and are ready to go!

If you are still planning your Christmas food, here are some ideas to help you get your menu set in stone.

Traditional Meal
Many people will serve the “traditional” holiday meal – meat, gravy, veggies, bread, and other sides. Sometimes a Christmas meal can easily duplicate a Thanksgiving meal with a little bit of a twist. Consider switching out some dishes to have more variety. Switch the meat from turkey to roasted chicken, ham, or roast beef. Change some of the vegetables or prepare them differently. Shake things up a bit!

Finger Foods
When we go to my in-law’s house, we always have finger foods – appetizers, veggies, fruits, Christmas cookies, desserts… Anything you can eat easily with your fingers! This is a great way to serve food for Christmas, especially if you will be opening gifts for a good amount of time. This type of menu allows you to forego the hassle of setting a large place setting for dinner and creates a nice, relaxed atmosphere where people can unwrap gifts and enjoy each other’s company. I love it! Cranberry Salsa is very festive and fun!

Something Fun, Like Personal Pizzas or Fondue
For our own family celebration with my hubby and kids, I am thinking about doing personal pizzas for one of the meals. This type of meal gets everyone involved, and you can provide a myriad of toppings from which everyone can choose!

Special Foods that Take Longer to Prepare and/or You Don’t Eat Often
For holidays it can be nice to serve meals that you don’t get around to making often in your home because they take longer or cost more. Runsas (which I hope to post later this week), Chicken Italian (breaded chicken with a wine sauce, covered with cheese), Chicken Piccata, Chicken with Cream (fairly easy and festive looking), and Crescent Roll Pizza Ring are some good examples.

Plan a Theme Dinner
You could always plan a theme dinner: Italian, Mexican, Soups and Breads, Middle Eastern. It’s fun to be different.

There are a lot of options for Christmas food. Whatever you do, make sure you plan something you will enjoy and don’t overdo it.

The important part is to enjoy the people around you, count your blessings, and celebrate Jesus!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Appreciate the Simplicity of the Season

Appreciate the Simplicity of the Season - The Cozy Nook

“Sleighbells ring. Are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening.
A beautiful sight.
We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.”

Are you listening?

Are you looking?

Are you finding the simplicity of the season?

Amidst the hustle and bustle, packed calendars, and long lists, therein lie simple treasures for us to find.

Quiet evenings.
Giving hearts.
Glowing candles.
Fulfilling fellowship.
Hot beverages.
Warm treats.
Festive lights.
Cozy homes.
Crackling fires.
Fuzzy blankets.
Joyful music.
Solitary moments.
Faithful love.
Committed family.
Special friends.

It’s all there. Waiting for us. We just have to partake.

We have to slow down
and appreciate the simplicity around us,
the simple things in life that make life special!

Just the other night, after my children went to bed, I did just that…

After a long, hard day, I made myself a delicious, homemade mocha latte, nestled myself in my dim living room, lit solely by the luminous, adorned tree, curled up on the couch with my laptop, and blogged. I enjoyed the peace and quiet of my home, the dark night, the blessed warmth of my surroundings and just took it all in.

Are you “taking it all in”?

Are you able to enjoy your moments this season?

I pray you can calm your soul, focus your mind, and experience the simple joys of the season.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Life is a Bed of Roses

Life is a Bed of Roses - The Cozy Nook

I love roses. I really do.

Bring me a few, deep red roses and some dark chocolate, and you’ve pretty much stolen my heart. ~wink~

I think roses are one of the most beautiful flowers. They are delicate, velvety, smooth, rich, and intricately woven… sometimes they are absolutely breathtaking, in my humble opinion.

However, roses have a very unique feature – thorns. Ouch! Get your finger on one of those lovelies, and you have momentarily forgotten about the beauty you just adored.

Life is just like those roses. Life is full of so much beauty, so much good, so much blessing, yet it is also covered with a smattering of thorns – trials, heartaches, grief, pain, sin, and all sorts of disappointments.

The key to living a full, joyful life is for us to focus on the roses and their beauty rather than the thorns.

Life will always be a mixed bag – containing wonderful goodness and yucky messes. We can choose to focus on the goodness or abide in the messes.

If you are honest with yourself about your life, I am sure you can see that you are truly blessed. We have bounty galore, but oftentimes the difficulty of life snuffs out the remembrance and appreciation of that bounty, and our minds and hearts get stuck in the pit.

Will you choose beauty with me?

Will you choose thankfulness with me?

Will you choose joy with me?

It’s going to be work – a continual choice.

  • We’re going to have to set our minds on good things, think positively, and hope for the best.
  • We’re going to have to choose to leave the past behind, live the moment, and look forward to the future.
  • We’re going to have to make some effort, not be lazy, and live life proactively!

Are you with me?

If you forget how good of a life you have, read this post I wrote a few years ago and start lovin’ your good life.

May the Lord richly bless you with the abundant grace to live life wholeheartedly, not giving in or giving up, cherishing the great beauty in your life.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Throw-It-Together Vegetable Soup

Throw-It-Together Vegetable Soup - The Cozy Nook

This recipe was originally created by me a few weeks ago, out of necessity, when I was running low on groceries. I had roasted a chicken and decided to use the carcass to make a broth and turn it into soup.

My family enjoyed it, and I took some to a friend also, who had been sick. She and her daughter had it for lunch and both of them enjoyed it as well. Not too shabby. ~wink~

This would be a great soup to make after you host a gathering over the holidays and have a turkey or chicken carcass to use up.

Throw-It-Together Vegetable Soup
printable version

Broth from roasted (or raw) chicken:
chicken carcass, water, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaf, salt, pepper

3/4 box of macaroni
1 cup of broccoli, chop florets into small chunks
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery, chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen corn

salt, pepper
1 1/2 t basil
1 1/2 t parsley

First make your broth.

Place the broth ingredients in a large pot:
onion, peeled, and cut in quarters
garlic, 2 cloves, crushed
celery, cut in large chunks
carrot, cut in large chunks
1 bay leaf
1 t salt
several peppercorns or ~1/2 t pepper

Cover with water until the pot is mostly full.

Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple hours.

Strain the broth.

Put the rest of the ingredients (pasta, vegetables of your choice, and spices) into the strained broth in the pot and cook for another half hour.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

LET the Peace of God Rule in Your Heart

Let the Peace of God Rule in Your Heart - The Cozy Nook

Do you desire more peace in your life?

Do you even have the faith that it is available to you?

It is! The peace of God waits for us. It is like the image given in the book of Revelation of Jesus standing at our heart’s door, waiting for us to open.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him,
and he with me.
Rev. 3:20

God’s desire is for us to be at peace, to have peace, and to live with peace, and it is OUR CHOICE whether we have peace in our hearts.

The Bible says:

LET the peace of God rule in your hearts…
Col. 3:20

Take notice of that initial word – LET.

We are the ones who allow the peace of God to permeate our lives.

“LET” means to allow, give permission to, grant, approve…

We decide if our hearts are at peace or not. We are the ones who can make that choice for the holy peace of God to RULE in our hearts, not just reside, but RULE.

In the midst of life’s troubles, trials, and disappointments, may we choose to allow the peace of God to have authority over everything else in life, and may we live in peace!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving - The Cozy Nook

No matter where you go, what you do, or whom you are with, I pray you have a blessed day, filled with peace and joy.

We have so much for which we should be thankful!

May our hearts be filled with gratitude today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lead Me to the Rock That is Higher Than I

Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I - The Cozy Nook

From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 61:2

Life demands from us.

Oftentimes, life demands more than we think we can give or handle.

When our hearts and minds and souls
are overwhelmed,
may God lead us to Him!

May we be led to the One who is

higher, wiser, stronger, bigger, holier, and better than we are.

We are finite.
We are small.
We are weak.
We are sinners.

BUT GOD, our GOD, is able to help us.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hope Comes from God

Hope Comes from God - The Cozy Nook

Hope. It anchors our souls. It is what holds us steady. It’s what keeps us from falling into complete discouragement at times.

When we are feeling down and out, we need hope. We need something to shine that light at the end of the tunnel. Hope gives us strength to carry on and look towards better and brighter things.

However, when circumstances in life are gloomy, it seems hard to have hope. We look at our circumstances and think, “How in the world can this change? How will this get any better?” Then we sink down into our little holes and hide from life.

The reason we lose hope is because we are looking at our circumstances. Think about it. Do dismal situations and desperate scenarios bring hope? No. They don’t.

It’s hard to find light
when you are looking at darkness.

When we stare our problems in the face, wishing to find hope, we may actually lose hope. We will continue to get more and more discouraged as we see the heartache, the trial, and the insufficiencies.

Hope is not found in our circumstances.
Hope is found in God.

God is the Giver of hope, not our circumstances.

God is the One who has the ability to change our circumstances.

God is the One who loves us and desires good things for us.

God is the One who wants us to trust Him and rest in Him.

God is the One who has all wisdom and knowledge and power for our situation.

God is the One who is working in us to will and to do His good pleasure.

God does not change.

Our circumstances will continue to bring unexpected bumps into our lives, but God is the constant in our lives. He is always there, always ready to help carry our burdens, hear our prayers, and help us, if we would just let Him.

Do you need hope today?

Don’t look to your circumstances.
Look to God!

For in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.

Psalm 38:15

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dear Homemaker, You Are Valued

Dear Homemaker, You Are Valued - The Cozy Nook

Dear Homemaker,

Please read this slowly:

You. Are. Valued.

What you do has value.

The words you speak have value.

Your sphere of work has value.

The people you are raising have value.

Where you live, breathe, dream, labor, toil, and rest has value.

Your act of sacrifice has value.

Your labors of love have value.

Your love for your husband has value.

Your concern for your children has value.

The people you invite into your home have value.

Your organization has value.

Your cleanliness has value.

Your meal-making has value.

Your errand-running has value.

Your transportation services have value.

Your medical services have value.

Everything you are and
everything you do has value.

God created you with value!

Don’t let this world and its voices tell you otherwise.

Don’t let the struggles of your day drag you down into the pit.

Remember that you are in the
most valuable place with
the most valuable people
on the face of this earth.

You have the privilege of serving in an arena God established as sacred and holy from the beginning – the home.

Homemaker, never forget:

You. Are. Valued.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

BBQ Chicken Chili

BBQ Chicken Chili - The Cozy Nook

Well, after all of that talk about stress, I’m hungry! ~wink~
It’s time for a good, Fall recipe!

I love chili. I have a few good recipes I like to use:

White Chicken Chili
Heather’s Chili
Chicken Chili

And now… BBQ Chicken Chili!

My husband loves BBQ sauce, and he loves chili, so I figured he would LOVE this chili. Yep, he does!

My favorite BBQ sauce right now is Stubbs Signature BBQ Sauce. I buy it at Costco.

If you are worried your children won’t like the BBQ side to this chili, you can set aside a portion of chili before you add the BBQ sauce. Then just add a smaller amount of BBQ sauce to your chili pot.

BBQ Chicken Chili
Original Recipe found here
Printable Version

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion (or cooking onion), diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons smoked (or regular) paprika
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
12 oz cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded
12-oz jar roasted red peppers in water, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cups (1 15 oz. can) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups (1 15 oz. can) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken broth
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
Cheddar cheese, for topping
Cilantro, for topping

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil, onion, jalapeño, and garlic.  Sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the paprika, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes.  Stir and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the chicken, red peppers, beans, chicken broth, tomatoes, and BBQ sauce. Stir.

Cover the pot. Lower the heat to medium low, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir a couple times during the cooking duration, if desired.

Ladle the chili into bowls and top with cheddar cheese and cilantro.


Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 31: Live by Faith, Not Fear

Live By Faith, Not Fear - The Cozy Nook

Well, I made it! It’s the last day of the “31 Days” writing challenge. I appreciate everyone who supported me this month – through your “likes”, your comments, your shares, and your encouraging words. Thank you!

This was a journey of becoming less stressed, and I hope you were able to do that! Fortunately, my continual writing didn’t stress me out too much. ~wink~

To end this series, I am going to address something very integral and foundational in our lives, something that forces us to address the very core of our beings and decide whether we will choose to live by faith or by fear…

This summer I was presented with various situations where I was experiencing a lot of stress.

In one situation I was looking for a volunteer teacher to help with our girls’ classes at church. I had asked eight women before I got a “yes” and in the process had another position open up. That process drained me, and I allowed it to cause stress in my heart. I was living by fear, not faith. I was worried that I wouldn’t find anyone to fill the spots. I was worried that I would have to shut down the program. I was worried about a lot of things. My mind and emotions went a bit crazy.

Rather than trusting that God would
take care of things, no matter what,
I was focusing on all of the if’s, and’s, or but’s.

In another situation I was presented with some challenges with my health. I was experiencing a lot of physical symptoms and forced myself to get a check-up. My new cardiologist wanted me to get a stress echo test. I didn’t feel good before I got there. I was unable to finish the test because I nearly passed out and my heart rate skyrocketed.

Both at the stress echo test and my follow-up visit with the cardiologist (and in-between), I felt a lot of anxiety. I felt inadequate, weak, unsure of the present and the future, and taxed.

Once again fear filled my heart.

God prompted me one day about these and other situations in my life and caused me to realize how much I was living by fear rather than faith. I had a choice to make.

Was I going to let fear rule my heart or FAITH?

When we are confronted with stressful situations in our lives, we choose how we will respond. We can respond with uncertainty and emotionalism or we can respond by turning to God and trusting that He is control of our lives.

Are you living by fear or faith?

Only you can make the choice.

This choice is very crucial because it really affects our attitude towards dealing with stress in general.

If we live by fear, we will be paralyzed and hesitant to push forward and make the changes we need to make.

If we live by faith,
our actions are fueled by confidence and hope.

I pray you will choose to live by faith. I pray that you will ask God to help you with the stress that you carry and ask Him to give you the strength to alter how your life is going.

As you continue your journey in this fallen world, I pray that you will do whatever it takes to fight against stress in your life. It robs us of abundant life!

May the Lord richly bless you!

Take Action: Surrender your anxiety to God. Ask Him to help you. Drive out the fear that resides in your heart by stirring up your faith in the living God!

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 30: Prayer and Praise

Prayer and Praise - The Cozy Nook 

Prayer and Praise are two of our most important weapons against stress,
yet two of the most neglected.

If you’re honest with yourself, you will probably admit to that – at least most of us can. When it comes to dealing with stress, we might think about getting away from it all, getting some peace and quiet, and being able to do something that is enjoyable. It is easy to *think* about praying and submitting situations to God. It is easy to *think* we should be praising God in the midst of trouble. However, it is hard to put these two into action sometimes.

If we can learn to turn to these wonderful
tools that God gave us,
we will experience much more peace and joy.

The book of Philippians gives us an awesome promise!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6

According to this verse, we ought not to be stressed about anything. Instead, we ought to offer our anxieties up to God, leave them there, and have the sweet peace of God guard our hearts and minds.

That sounds great; doesn’t it?

It does sound great, but like I said, we must practice it to experience it… praying, submitting, giving thanks, and allowing God to permeate our beings so we might live lives of peace.

Are you praying? Are you praising?

Let’s make it our goal to FILL
our days with prayer and praise.

When anxiety and worry come, let’s take out our weapons and use them. Let’s pray. Let’s sing. Let’s praise God. Let’s change our perspective and think about the God who loves us tremendously and desires GOOD things for us.

Take Action: When stress comes, try not to focus on your stress. Place your focus on God and put it into action through prayer and praise.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 29: Make Time for Friendship and Fellowship

Friendship and Fellowship - The Cozy Nook

Friendship and fellowship are integral parts of our lives, parts of our lives that need to be kept well-maintained.

If we want to battle stress,
we need the support of others.

We need friends to come alongside of us and run this race called “life” with us. Life is tough! We need encouragement, advice, wisdom, love, and strength from others to keep us going strong!

Friendships are the glue of life. God intends us to live life with other people. We are meant to live in community. When we feel alone or weak, life feels a lot more stressful. It isn’t fun to feel destitute.

Friendships encourage our hearts
and help lift our loads.

Not only do our friendships help us to feel supported, they also provide an avenue where we can bless others. When we look outside ourselves and pour into other people’s lives, we are blessed. We are living with a greater purpose, outside of our own lives. Blessings others feels good!

The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.

Proverbs 11:25

We live in a dark world. I am continually grieved by all that happens on the earth and the way our society is going. Hearing the news, reading articles, and seeing others’ struggles can be very disheartening.

In order to flourish we must pursue fellowship!

We must be an active part of a community that shares the same sacred values we do. Spending time with people who love God and His ways encourages our hearts as we continue to press forward in a very imperfect world that awaits redemption!

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 11:24-25

Sometimes when we are stressed, it is easy to draw back and become a bit more focused on ourselves. However, that is really the opposite of what we need. Isolating ourselves will only increase our stress, as we substantiate our feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and disappointment.

Take Action: Make some time for friendship and fellowship this week! If no one is initiating with you, be the initiator! Ask a friend out for coffee. Invite a family over for fellowship. Call someone. Do something that will strengthen your ties with people.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 28: Spend Less, Stay Within Your Budget

Spend Less, Stay Within Your Budget - The Cozy Nook

It’s never fun to be in debt.
It’s never fun to feel like your spending is out of control.
It’s never fun to feel the weight of bad choices.

Our financial decisions affect our peace a lot. When we are struggling financially it wears on us. In life there are a lot of financial demands, but we can do our best to stay within our means. In the end we will feel less stressed.

Staying out of debt on a regular basis
promotes mental and emotional peace.

Daily we make choices that can make or break the bank. It may feel good when we are spending the money, but buyer’s remorse sometimes settles in all too quickly, and we realize the effect of our actions.

Living in the black ink helps us feel secure and more in control. We feel we are able to handle life because we have a reserve.

We need God’s grace and wisdom to help us make choices each day that will carry us from paycheck to paycheck with more finesse.

Spending less and staying within your budget really boils down to the various financial decisions,
big and small, you make each day.

What can you do to help your financial situation, baby step by baby step, that will provide you with more peace?

Take Action: Be conscious of the financial decisions you are making today. Remember that your ultimate goal is to live more financially secure so you can be less stressed and more refreshed!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 27: Plan Meals

Plan Meals - The Cozy Nook

It’s 3:00 p.m—What are you making for dinner?

It’s grocery shopping day—Do you know what food you will be serving for the next week?

It’s a full and busy day today—What are you feeding your family?

For me, unplanned meals = STRESS.

I can not adequately plan for the needs of my household without thinking, in advance, about the food I will prepare for my family.

Planning meals helps us avoid unnecessary stress as we are able to buy the food we need and keep better focus during the day without feeling the last-minute stress of, “What am I going to feed my family?”

If you feel stressed when you go grocery shopping and stressed as you try to provide meals for your family, I would highly suggest you try planning your meals. I believe you will see it is of great value!

I always plan a week’s meals before I go grocery shopping. I look at what I have on hand already, browse the sales flyer at the store, and also consider what the family is interested in eating. Planning the week’s meals helps me make sure I have everything on hand when I am ready to cook and try to avoid extra shopping trips throughout the week.

I also try to plan the day’s meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) either the night before or in the morning and write them on our whiteboard. This way the family knows what I will be serving for the day and prevents the kids from adding extra stress by asking me (several times a day!), “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

I really don’t think you can go wrong by planning meals. It provides a little more
order to our very full lives!

Take Action: Before you go grocery shopping this week, try to plan your meals in advance. If you aren’t used to planning a day’s meals in advance, try it, and try to post it somewhere where everyone can see!

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 26: Create Routines.

Create Routines - The Cozy Nook

Routines make a world of difference in our lives. Without them, life can be haphazard as we forge our way throughout the day without focus and a plan for our vision.

Spending time on creating and tweaking your daily routines is well worth your time and energy!

You can avoid the stress of living “by the seat of your pants” by using routines to guide you through more peace and productivity.

As I have mentioned before,

Routines are special.
They provide stability and focus – a spine for the day.

Routines are as simple as wake time, meal times, and bed times. These things happen every day around the same time. When we know what to expect, we know how to act and aren’t caught off guard.

You can plan routines according to:

  • the time of the day: morning, afternoon, evening, hourly…
  • tasks: chores, projects, hotspot cleanup…
  • major responsibilities: homeschooling, church service, work…

Think about things you do repetitively,
throughout the day or week,
and flesh out routines for them.

“You save time and energy and reduce stress by skipping the mental to-ing and fro-ing of making a decision, and slide directly into getting the task done. Instead of creating each day from scratch, routines create a framework of small decisions you no longer have to make—so you have more time to devote to things that matter.”
Source: Better Health Mag.

Recently I posted about my morning and evening routines and also my general homeschool routine. I hope you find them helpful.

Take action: Work on creating or tweaking one routine this week. Think of where you need help the most.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 25: Live Life with Margin

Live Life with Margin - The Cozy Nook

Richard A. Swenson, M.D. wrote a book about Margin, entitled just that, Margin. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. I read it years ago, and frankly I think it’s time for me to read it again.

The back cover says this:

Overload is not having time to finish the book you are reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is the disease of our time. Margin is the cure. Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations.

Can you relate? Do you find yourself living in the “overload” category or in the “margin” category?

If you are stressed, there’s a good chance you find yourself lining up with “overload”. You’re fatigued, rushed, anxious, and depleted. That’s not how we should be living our lives!

We need to live with more margin.

We need room to breathe!

Heidi St. John talks about “white space” in her books, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight and The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance.

She defines it as, “a few days in a row of unscheduled time” and says, “If you don’t have at least two days in a row of white space every week, it’s time to make some changes”.

I don’t know about you, but when I read that I think, “Wow, that sounds more like vacation!”

It’s extremely hard for me to have even one day of white space, where I don’t have anything scheduled. Let’s face the facts... For us, Monday through Friday equals homeschooling plus other activities. Saturday is a day of work and sometimes social opportunity, and Sunday is the Lord’s day, when we are at church half the day.

I do admire Heidi St. John’s vision, though, and think she’s onto something good. We DO need white space in our lives - time when we can just be and live somewhat casually and peacefully, even if we are working during that time.

White space helps us appreciate the blessings of life and helps us undo the fight or flight,
rush-around, fast pace of living.

Do you have margin in your life?
Are you filling up every moment with tasks and scheduled activities?
Do you have time just to breathe and enjoy your family?
Do you have time to do something spontaneously with your kids, just for fun?
Are you rushing here and there with little to give?

May God help us create better margin for our lives!

Take Action: Evaluate your life and see what you can do to create more margin. Can you cross something off your “To Do” list for today or for the week?

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Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 24: Take a Break!

Take a Break - The Cozy Nook

Sometimes when we are feeling stressed, we need to take a time-out.

We need to walk away from the current circumstances and needs
and focus on rejuvenation.

When we are feeling maxed, as if the next straw on our backs will cause us to crumble, it is time for a break. Really, it is best to take a break BEFORE we feel so weak and vulnerable.

It is important to have regular breaks throughout your day that will help you regain
focus and energy.

At times your break may be part of your normal routine and at other times you may just need to take an unplanned break so you can get through the day.

When you take a break, make sure you do something that helps you feel stronger and more at peace.

You can use your break for productivity or you can use it for rest. I suggest going to another room, away from people, and creating a quiet atmosphere.

Some ideas:

  • Read a book or your Bible
  • Take a nap
  • Exercise
  • Do some deep breathing
  • Spend time on your hobby
  • Pray
  • Go for a walk outside

I have a break time every day, in the afternoon. My life pretty much depends upon it! I direct my household, and then I take my break. I need a break from the constant needs and a good dose of peace and quiet! As I write this post, I am taking a break… in my room with my door shut, a homemade mocha latte, and some wonderful peace. Love it!

Breaks are a simple way to help manage stress!

Make sure you are taking enough of them.

Take Action: If you are feeling stressed today, take a break. If you aren’t used to taking breaks, take one anyway. It will feel good.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 23: Guard Your Heart

Guard Your Heart - The Cozy Nook

Recently in science, my children and I were talking about stomata. Stomata are pores on leaves that allow carbon dioxide to go in, and oxygen to go out, aiding in the process of photosynthesis.

Do you know what helps these stomata open and close?  Guard cells.

“Plants 'sweat' through openings in their leaves, but what controls these openings? Guard cells are small but important cells in leaves that help plants maintain optimal health.”
Source: Education Portal

The guard cells open and close the stomata, allowing the right substances to go in and out.

In our lives, we are in charge of our “guard cells”. We are the only ones who can monitor what is going in and out of our hearts.

When negative influences and experiences go in, we gain stress.
When bad emotions and words come out, we also inherit stress.

It is imperative for us to guard our hearts, to watch over the flow, so we can prevent adding
more stress to our lives.

I have talked about the importance of thinking positively and saying good things. Both of these things are things we can control – our thoughts and our words. We need to work hard to stay focused on life-giving thoughts and speak words of edification.

In addition to these things, we should be careful as to what information enters our minds each day, what news finds a way to the depths of our souls, what relationships we build, what images we see, what words we hear, etc.

Life is full of bad and good seeds,
waiting to find a place to settle and grow.

We can make choices that will help our days be filled with a greater amount of peace.

Take Action: Be mindful of guarding your heart today. Try to maintain a flow of goodness through your heart.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 22: Seek a Mentor

Seek a Mentor - The Cozy Nook

Last year I wrote a post about “The Blessing of a Mentor”. In that post, I talked about the great value of having a mentor in your life. If you’d like to read more about the beneficial qualities of mentorship, I recommend you read my post.

During times of great stress, it can be highly beneficial to have a mentor in your life.

Years ago I was going through an especially hard time in my life. I just couldn’t seem to gain victory, good perspective, or peace in my life overall. I sought some women who could mentor me, and it helped me. I needed outside support, from women who have walked the road before me. I needed wisdom, friendship, and guidance.

What is a mentor exactly?

A mentor is sort of like a counselor in friendship form. A mentor is someone who will listen to you and give you the tools you need to move forward.

A mentor is usually someone you know and trust, someone whose life and character you respect.

Talking with a mentor helps relieve some of the stress in life, as you not only share your heart but also gain comfort and direction.

Take action: If you are feeling stressed in life, think about finding a mentor. Ask someone to meet you for coffee, talk at church, etc. You may consider revealing your intention of desiring a mentor and needing counsel and support.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 21: Treasure Your Marriage

Treasure Your Marriage - The Cozy Nook

In my last post I talked about the importance of maintaining a good home environment. One HUGE component to think about is the quality of your marriage.

When marriages falter,
there is a great amount of stress.

The marriage is the foundational relationship of a home. All goodness stems from it as the husband and wife work together, as a team, to build a home and legacy.

God created the marriage relationship
to be a source of joy,
the source of the most intimate
companionship on earth.

Troubles will come. Differences will occur. However, we must FIGHT for our marriages!

I oftentimes don’t know where I would be without my husband. He is my confidant, my best friend, my provider, my protector, my stabilizer, my companion, and my love. When difficult times come, I need him. I need his strength. I need his perspective. I need his friendship.

When we don’t work hard to preserve the intimate bond of marriage, we will experience great stress and hardship in life.

Yes, having a good marriage takes much hard work! Perhaps that seems like a daunting task in and of itself. However, the contrary option – a distant, separated, or divorced marriage – will cause much more difficulty and heartache for ourselves and our children, as we undo the sacred bond that God has created to be life-giving.

The marriage relationship is to be
one of the most rewarding relationships
on the face of this earth.

With something so precious, so valuable, and so fragile, we ought to be very protective.

Take Action: Is there stress in your life due to your marriage? Don’t look at your husband. Don’t look at the past. Look at yourself. What can YOU do to help? What can YOU do to make your marriage better? What can YOU do to show your love for your husband today?

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Monday, October 20, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 20: Maintain a Good Home Environment

Maintain a Good Home Environment - The Cozy Nook

Home is to be a place of rest, rejuvenation, love, security, and much more. When our homes are not in order, we definitely feel the weight of it.

For those of us who work in our homes continually, it is crucial for us to keep our workplace a place of peace.

Keeping order at home is not always easy. The home environment can easily sway towards disorder with people living in it. People are imperfect after all. We can create difficulty in relationships and leave traces of living around the house.

Maintaining a good home environment
is essential to keeping stress at bay.

Maintaining a good home environment is crucial on two fronts:

  1. Relationships
  2. Cleanliness, Order, and Comfort

When our relationships at home are tense, life doesn’t feel very good. It’s important for us to do our best to keep peace in our home. We need God’s help! Evaluate what you can do to improve the relationships in your home.

Be kind.
Be humble.

Also, do your best to keep your home clean, orderly, and comfortable. Remember, we are not striving for perfection, but order! You DO live in your home, so there will be evidence of that. However, we want to do our best to keep our homes in good shape.

A cluttered, disorganized home
causes stress!
A clean, orderly home
brings peace!

Take Action: Think about areas of your home that are stressing you. What can you do to bring more peace and order?

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 19: Live YOUR Life

Live Your Life - The Cozy Nook

Recently I wrote about Five Good Reasons You May Be Spending More on Groceries. One reason I wrote that is because I, myself, tend to spend a good chunk of money on groceries and sometimes would feel as small as a pea when I read the testimonies of low grocery bills. I felt like a failure.

Stress comes when we lose focus
of living OUR OWN lives.

Instead, I am coming to grips with how we live our lives when it comes to groceries (never giving up on improvement), and can read those articles with more peace.

It is great to read articles and glean from people. We need continual encouragement and wisdom to live good lives. However, it is not good for us to compare and feel like we aren’t measuring up if we are not living exactly like the Jones Family.

God has given you a life of blessings.
Live it!

Eat the foods God has given you to eat – the foods that work well with your budget and your health conditions.

Be a team player and best friend to YOUR husband. Don’t worry about how other couples are making things work. Talk with your husband. Problem solve. Create vision. Move forward.

Love the children God has given you. Don’t compare your children with other people’s children. Every child is different, and every child is a gift!

Serve in the ministries where God has called you.

Use the talents God has given you.

And the list goes on…

Don’t try to live someone else’s life.
Stop comparing yourself to Jane.

Focus on living YOUR life!

“aspire … to mind YOUR OWN business,
and to work with YOUR OWN hands”

1 Thessalonians 4:11

Take Action: Try hard to stay mentally focused on your own life. Be thankful for the blessings God has given you.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 18: Lead a Quieter Life

Lead a Quieter Life - The Cozy Nook

“that you also aspire to lead a quiet life”
1 Thessalonians 4:11

Life sure is noisy these days!

Smart phones.
The internet.
The news.
Social media.

Our days are flooded with noise,
and without a good amount of quiet,
we will surely feel stressed!

We are bombarded with information and news daily! We are the ones who choose how much of that we will hear and how much will affect us.

Even if it is good, too much information can be overwhelming. It is hard to remain focused when our minds and emotions are spinning.

On the other hand, if it is bad news, it makes the situation all the more stressful. Bad news not only provides more data for our brains to compute; it also opens the avenue for heartache and disappointment which also causes stress!

How can you live quieter days?

Is the news stressing you?
Ebola, ISIS, storms and tragedies galore! It really can be too much for the human heart; can’t it? Sometimes I wonder if we really are meant to know about everything that is going on in the world. Sure, it’s good to be aware of things, but living your life with a continual awareness of the grand spectrum can be overwhelming!

Is social media discouraging you?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I like the ability to connect with people, but I don’t always like pictures, news, and articles being flung at me… of which I really had no choice.

Are you reading too many articles and pinning too many ideas and not giving enough time just to LIVE your life?

Think about what stresses you
and how you can quiet your days.

Some suggestions:

  • Hide your phone for portions of the day
  • Schedule times for checking social media and blogs
  • Create an allotted time for internet time
  • Read and focus on articles that encourage you
  • Take a break from social media for a season

A friend shared this verse with me recently. It has always been one of my favorites:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
Isaiah 40:15

In returning to God.
In resting.
In quietness.
Therein lies our strength!

Take action: Try to live a quieter day today. Shut out some of the unnecessary, extra, or disheartening noise in your life.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 17: Let Go of What You Can’t Control

Let Go of What You Can't Control - The Cozy Nook

Sometimes we become stressed by things that bother us, things we can not control. We worry and fret and stew, all for naught.

Are there things in your life that you think about frequently that you really have no control over?

We must let go of the things we can not control,
lest they consume us.

Unfortunately, on this side of heaven,
Bad things will happen in the world.
People will hurt us.
Things will break.
Circumstances will disappoint us.
Good and evil will continue to contend against each other.

The only thing we really can control is how WE live.

When we consume ourselves with anything other than that, we open the door for stress to enter. Busying our minds thinking about things we can’t control really is a waste of our time and energy.

Let’s focus on the things we CAN influence
and where we CAN make a difference!

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Reinhold Niebuhr

Take Action: Do your best to focus your energies on what you CAN control today. Live the best you can and let God do the rest.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 Days of Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 16: Let’s Review

31 days Less Stressed, More Refreshed 500

I don’t know about you, but I get a bit overwhelmed when a lot of information is thrown at me, and here I am throwing a lot of information at you! I realize that tackling stress in 31 days isn’t really as easy as it sounds. Sure, it may be easy to write about it in 31 days, but to change habits… That’s another story.

I’m halfway through the series now, and I thought it would be good just to take the time to review the list of topics I have covered so far.

Your challenge is to find ONE on the list that you really want to improve, and make a plan of action.

For the second half of the series, I will be covering topics relating to contentment, relationships, time, money, and walking with God. I hope the rest of the series will encourage you to continue in your journey to live a less stressed and more refreshed life.

I’d love to hear from you if something from this series has blessed you!