Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ending 2015 and Reflecting with Thankfulness



This morning my husband and I had a very pleasant morning, one of the most pleasant mornings I have had in a while. We arose at a good hour to venture out for some errands, a quick trip to the grocery store, and a stop at a, new-to-us, local doughnut shop so we could bring home some sweet treasures for our sleepy household. I was happy to be with my husband and feel at peace. We weren’t feeling rushed. The roads and stores were still quite empty. And best of all, we were together.

When we came home, our crew was still asleep, so we settled on the couch together for a morning rest. As I sat there thinking about the end of 2015, I felt so thankful… so thankful to the Lord for what I have in life…
  • My family and friends, all of the people in my life who love and support me. 
  • My husband who is my best friend and beloved partner in life.
  • My children who fill my life with purpose and joy.
  • My church family that encourages and upholds me.
  • My house, a place I can call home, a place my family and I have cultivated and cherished.
  • The privilege to homeschool my children and be with them every day.
  • For this blog, a place for me to write and influence others and for my readers who make it worthwhile.
And the list goes on…

Sometimes life feels hard. Even the other day my husband mentioned how immensely blessed we are yet how difficult life can be! Unfortunately, that is the case this side of heaven. Life will always have its challenges and continual struggles. However, there is always much to be thankful for.

As you end this year and start a new one, I pray that you are able to have some time to reflect. I pray you are able to stop life for a moment and just think about all of the ways you are blessed.


May we enter 2016 with gratitude
and may it fuel us in the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Where is Your Focus This Week? Let Go of Perfection, Expectation, & Comparison and Celebrate!


The other day I posted the above picture to my personal social media. I loved it. My dog was still. The house was cozy. My tree was lit up and showing forth its splendor of red and gold. Everything seemed wonderful, until someone pointed out the bottom of my tree. Yes, if you didn’t see it before, you see it now… the bottom of my tree is not decorated!

When I realized that, I immediately thought of quickly grasping my photo from the realms of public notice and keeping it only for my own eyes. I felt embarrassed. I thought of some of my friends and their trees and knew that the bottom of their trees would never look so bare! I hate to admit that I even looked up one of my friend’s trees on Facebook, and sure enough, her tree was full – to the hilt!
Nonetheless, I did not remove my picture from Instagram and Facebook. There were some who loved the picture as well.


They weren’t focusing on the lack in the picture,
but the beauty.

They weren’t comparing my picture
or my tree to anyone else’s.
They enjoyed the scene for what it was.

This week, as you are finishing your preparations for Christmas, let go of some of the ideas of perfection, expectation and comparisons you have in your head.

Everyone’s situation is different. Don’t compare your tree, your gift-giving (or receiving),  or your celebrations to the gal next door.

Focus on the Lord and His goodness
and live this week with joy!

Celebrate the Lord and His birth.
Celebrate the gift of Jesus and all of the good gifts He has given and continues to give us.


Merry Christmas!

... and when you feel discouraged,
just remember the bottom of my tree. ~wink~

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chocolate Crinkles


If you are still looking to bake some delicious Christmas (or whenever!)cookies, try these Chocolate Crinkles. I have blogged about these before, but did not lay out the recipe for you, so I’m doing that now.

The main thing you have to remember when you make these is that the dough has to sit for a few hours before you make the cookie balls. Otherwise, they are fairly simple and very tasty!

Chocolate Crinkles
Original recipe found here
Printable Version

1/2 cup veg. oil (I use coconut oil)
4 – 1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (I use a double boiler)
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar.

Blend in one egg at a time until well-mixed. Then add vanilla.

Stir flour, baking powder, and salt into oil mixture.

Chill for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Drop by teaspoonful (a melon scooper works well) into the powdered sugar.

Roll and cover in sugar. Shape into balls and place on a greased baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. 

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Be Others-Focused This Christmas Season


Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…

Philippians 2:3-5

As I consider Christmas, the manger scene, and the blessing of Jesus, I am reminded of God’s gift to us. I am reminded that Jesus came to earth as a human, as a baby. He emptied and humbled Himself because He was looking out for the interests of others. He was looking out for the interest of humankind. He came to seek and to save that which was lost, to redeem mankind, and to remind it of its great purpose in God.

When Jesus was on the earth, His ministry was full of healing and love. He sought to touch the hearts of men and provide hope for them. His desire was for all to know the Father God. He acted out of true love and thought about others’ needs continually.

During this Christmas season, let us remember to do things in line with the true Christmas spirit, in line with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, giving of ourselves for the sake of others.

Through our decorating and baking and gift-buying and celebrating, may we keep the focus off ourselves and seek to please God first and foremost and also to touch the hearts of men, bringing light and hope with a sprinkle of peace and joy!

For some people the Christmas season proves to be difficult as they juggle heartache over lost loved ones, ruined relationships, empty bank accounts, and more. May we remember those who struggle and seek to bless them in a special way this season.

Small gestures go a long way,
and a little bit of kindness brings gladness.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Prayer is Never a Waste

Prayer is Never a Waste - The Cozy Nook

Have you ever prayed for something or someone and felt like your prayers fell dead?

Perhaps your prayers felt like they were never answered.
Perhaps you saw little to no change in the circumstance or person.
Perhaps you felt discouraged to pray again.
Perhaps you felt like your prayers were just a waste of time and energy.

When we think about prayer, we can’t just think about it as if it were a financial transaction. I spend = I get. I pray = I receive … and now!

Prayer is much more than that. Prayer is the means God established for us to commune and connect with Him.

Prayer is never a waste.

It chases the heart of God, changes the hearts of men, and challenges our priorities.

  • Prayer chases the heart of God.

When we pray, we pursue God’s purposes. We humble ourselves and say, “God, here we are. God, please move in this situation. God, have Your way.” The act of prayer puts running shoes on our feet and sets us into action with God’s heart. Praying people chase the heart of God!

  • Prayer changes the hearts of men.

Sometimes we pray because we want to see other people’s hearts changed, and that is good and proper, lining up with God’s desires. However, in the process, our own hearts are changed as well. Prayer changes the hearts of those who are prayed for, in addition to the hearts of those who pray. Even though it may take a while for us to see someone else’s heart change, our own hearts can be conformed and transformed in an instant when we avail ourselves to prayer. All the more, our hearts are changed long term as he fashions us into His image.

  • Prayer challenges our priorities.

Life is full and busy, and it can be easy to get caught up with the activity of life, leaving the precious gift of prayer in the background. Choosing to pray tells the rest of our lives that God and His kingdom are important.

But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

Prayer helps us to keep our priorities straight, seeking first God and His will for our lives. Prayer helps us to embrace the things in our lives that are good and meaningful and get rid of the fluff that exists.

If you have felt discouraged about your prayer life,
lay your discouragement aside and pursue God.

Chase his heart. Be changed. Be challenged.

Prayer is never a waste.

It chases the heart of God, changes the hearts of men, and challenges our priorities.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Living Through Difficult Times: Remembering God Has a Plan and a Purpose!

The Cozy Nook - God Has a Plan and a Purpose

I was dragging a bit today. My mind was mulling over the past month’s difficulties and feeling a bit discouraged…

  • My pastor’s wife passed away.
  • A loved one was in the hospital.
  • I came down with pneumonia and am still fighting it.
  • Due to the pneumonia, I missed traveling out of state with my family to watch my son play in a national homeschool soccer tournament.
  • My father-in-law was rushed to the hospital yesterday, just as we were preparing to celebrate a wedding, and is now in critical condition.

I feel a bit worn out – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I was trying to rest and regroup, as I usually do on Sundays, and needed to tackle the bills. As I stepped into my role of responsibility, a thought came to me:

God has a plan and a purpose for you right now, and that is what you need to focus on.

It’s so true! In the midst of all of life’s icky, sticky messes, God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, and that is what we need to cling to.

“For I know the thoughts (plans) that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

We have to remember that GOD has plans for us. He always does. No matter what life looks like and what is going on around us, GOD has a plan for us, and it is His plan that will prevail and weave through the fabric of life.

God has a plan. He is not surprised by the mishaps and bumps in the road. He is prepared. He knows just how to help us. He is able to strengthen us. He desires to carry us and fill our hearts will peace and fullness of joy.

Not only does he have a plan for our lives, actively working with us and through us in all circumstances, He has a purpose for everything.

“And we know all things work together for good to those who love God.”
Romans 8:28

God has a purpose for ALL THINGS. He is working it all for good.

We only see a slice of the cake, a piece of the puzzle, but God… He sees it all! He sees the whole picture, and He creates His masterpiece with every little bit, with a perfect purpose in mind!

When life is difficult, we have to get our minds off of the natural and dig deep into our souls, reminding us of these precious truths.

God has a plan and a purpose!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Parenthood: Standing in the Gap with Grace for Your Children

Standing in the Gap with Grace for Your Children - The Cozy Nook

Many times we have expectations for our children. Many times our children fall short. They are human after all, just like us.

We want them to be able to do certain things and achieve certain goals, and sometimes it is easy to focus on what isn’t getting done rather than what is getting done.

In the end, we have to accept where our children are in life and make up for their lack with the strength, wisdom, love, and knowledge we have.
That, my friends, is parenthood.

God the Father is a great example of this. All He asks is that we do our best, that we follow Him the best that we can, that we love Him the best that we can, and He makes up for the rest. He asks us to trust, rest, and lean on Him.

He fills in the gaps of our lives with His grace and mercy and helps us succeed in life.

That is what we must do for our children.

I realize how much I need the Lord to fill my life with His grace. I realize how much I lack and need Him to carry me. In the same way, I want to support my children.

They may take longer to grow into certain habits that I desire for them, and I want to have the endurance to walk alongside of them patiently -- teaching, training, and loving them into maturity.

They may be weak in some areas where I wish they were strong. I pray I may be strong for them, supporting them and loving them as God fashions them and shapes their weaknesses into strengths.

They may need extra assistance and extra tender loving care. I hope that I will be a gracious and generous mother, giving from a heart of abundance.

The true nature of good parenthood is to give. It is the heart of a good parent to give fully to her children so they may benefit and grow up well.

May God give us the power and strength to fill our children’s lives with His grace and mercy, just as He so lovingly does for us.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Losing a Loved One: When Life Becomes More Meaningful and Trivial Altogether

When Life Becomes More Meaningful and Trivial Altogether - The Cozy Nook

Almost two weeks ago our church lost a very special woman. Our pastor’s wife passed away in her sleep. It was a shock to all of us. There were no apparent underlying health issues or warnings, and everything seemed fine from the outside.

Her death has been very hard for all of us. My husband and I have not only been dealing with our own grief, but we carry the grief of our pastor and his family and the grief of our church. It’s a lot to bear.

Since her passing, though, life has started to feel more meaningful and more trivial altogether. Sobering events like these often cause us to stop and think about life - what it really means, what our lives entail, and how we can live better.

I am reminded of the beauty of life and how precious time is, understanding that life is fragile, and we never know when God will call us home.

I am appreciating my family afresh. I feel blessed that I am married to a good man and have four, wonderful children. I am holding my children a bit closer and trying to make time and room for them in my day. The other day I held off going into the grocery store with my five year old for a few minutes so she could tell me a story that she made up about her mom and dad, her love for us, and how she will explore the world and its sea creatures when she is older. ~smile~

I am appreciating my church afresh. It has been amazing to watch our church come together as the Body of Christ. The outpouring of love from people’s hearts and hands has been absolutely wonderful. I feel so thankful to be a part of this extended family.

I am challenged to live better. My pastor’s wife was an amazing woman. She left a godly legacy behind her. She was a worshipful, tender, compassionate, respectful, classy, family-loving woman. As said at her funeral, there were no regrets here. She lived a great life and gave it her all. I desire to do the same.

I desire to keep things in proper perspective, allowing more things to become trivial. The day I found out about my pastor’s wife death was also the day when my five year old threw up in the car, and my dog got skunked! I was feeling a bit annoyed by these inconveniences when I felt sobered… Something much greater had happened that day. We had lost a precious woman, and hearts were left hurting tremendously. Lord, help me to live my life with better perspective and to bear up under the weights and pressures of life!

The daily grind keeps all of us busy, but may we never forget the importance of life – the gift that it is and the value of the people
and experiences around us.

May we also never forget how trivial
some things really are or should be.

Help us, Lord, to keep things in proper perspective.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Give Yourself Grace When You Can’t Do Everything

Give Yourself Grace  - The Cozy Nook

For many years I have tried to do everything – be at every kid’s activity, grace every social event, participate in every church function, attend every meeting, and fulfill every responsibility that comes my way.

Reality has set in, and I realize I just can’t do it all.

This is the first fall in a few years where we have had three kids in soccer, plus one in ballet three times a week. The soccer, alone, presents conflicting schedules, and I haven’t been to one of my 10-year-old’s soccer games yet. Since my husband coaches his team, it is just inevitable that he is the one to take my son, so we split when we need to, which is often.

It is easy for my mom-heart to feel bad, to feel guilty for not being able to go to my son’s games. Nonetheless, I am learning to let things go. It doesn’t help me nor my family if I carry guilt. I can still be a great mom and support him by telling that I am sorry that I can’t attend his game but I wish him well and want to hear all about his game when it’s over!

Recently our church had a work day. We really try to attend every church function we can. However that morning my 10 year old son had a soccer game, and my older son had a game in the early afternoon about an hour away from our home. I could have pushed myself and added a good amount of stress to our morning so some of us could go for a short while. Instead I chose the simpler route. We ended up not going to our church work day, and it added a little more peace to the flow of our day.

I used to think it was good to push myself continually, to never say no, to never let anyone down, to never miss out on anything, but I am realizing that is not always best nor wise.

When my body started to show signs of wear from continual stress, I realized I just couldn’t keep the same pace. I have to be more prudent with my time, my choices, and where I spend my energies.

It’s not our responsibility to do everything and be everywhere. It’s our responsibility to do well and be all that we can be, and sometimes that means we actually miss out on some things so life can be simpler, fuller, calmer, and better.

Are you pushing yourself too much?
Are you carrying unnecessary guilt?

Give yourself grace.
You can’t do everything and aren’t meant to do so!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vegetable Jambalaya

Vegetable Jambalaya - The Cozy Nook

Recently I have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my weekly plan, hoping this will help my grocery budget.

We tried this spicy jambalaya last week, and it was a hit!

If your family likes spicy food, they should enjoy this. If you want to try making it without as much zing, I would try using maybe 1/4 of a jalapeno and just a dash of cayenne pepper.

Vegetable Jambalaya
Recipe found at “The Kitchn”

Serves 6

Note: I actually used about 1 1/2 cups of brown rice and added 1 to 2 cups more broth to be certain to have enough portions for our family.

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 small green chili pepper, like a jalapeno, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
3/4 cup long-grain rice (I used brown)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, until they become translucent but not brown.

Add the garlic, chili pepper, tomatoes, bay leaves, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for a minute, until the tomatoes release some of their juice.

Add the rice and slowly pour in the broth. Lower the heat to medium and  cook until the rice absorbs all the liquid, between 20 and 45 minutes, depending on whether you use brown rice.

Taste and adjust the salt, and pepper, and any other spices.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Novel From Christian Author Jason McIntire - "Flight School: One Summer, Many Choices"

Flight School Cover

 

If you've read The Sparrow Found A House by Jason McIntire (Elisha Press, 2013), you'll already know his style: Real-life situations addressed with equal parts humor and biblical wisdom. It's a combination reviewers find powerful. They've used the words intriguing, believable, captivating, and unique - among many others - to describe his writing. The Sparrow Found A House (which is available as a free Kindle download from Elisha Press) was also endorsed by Exodus Mandate, the prominent homeschooling action group. It tells the story of the Rivera-Sparrows, a newly-blended and newly-homeschooling family facing opposition from without and within.

Today Elisha Press is announcing the release of a sequel to The Sparrow Found A House - and to celebrate, they're giving away signed copies to four randomly-selected winners. You can enter the giveaway here, or go ahead and order the book on Amazon. It's $2.99 for the Kindle version, or $9.99 for the 256-page print edition.

Flight School follows the Rivera kids as they meet new friends, explore careers, and encounter the challenges and choices that come with adult life. As a homeschool graduate himself, Jason knows the things that matter most to homeschoolers, and how to write about those things in a way that will edify, resonate, and entertain.

"If you like Flight School," Jason says, "thank God. If you don't like it, blame me."

Enter the giveaway, or buy a copy now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Gaining Peace: Submitting to Life, Just As It Is

Gaining Peace Submitting to Life, Just As It Is

No matter who you are, it is easy to struggle with the frustration gap – the gap between your expectations/hopes of life and the reality of life.

I have a good life. Really, I have a great life, and chances are, you probably do too. However, sometimes we have great expectations, and we start to realize that the truth of our lives doesn’t quite meet those expectations.

I would like to see my husband more and spend more time with him. Currently his job is consuming him, and it seems hard to schedule time together. On top of that, we’ve got a busy schedule with our kids’ activities, especially through the next couple months, so we will be hit-and-miss much more often than I would like. I have to accept this, with peace, and still have a good attitude. It is easy for me to let my emotions run and feel distant from my husband.

Last year I felt I started a new season of motherhood. My oldest started high school, and my kids are older and involved with more things: more activities, more interests, more social engagements, more opportunities for education and work… Everything just seems to be higher volume with older kids: more money, more time, more food… Wowsa! Last school year was the first year when I was out of the house nearly every day of the week, and it made me feel unsettled. My desires and tendencies make me want to be at home more, but life requires me to be out more. I have to adjust. I have to learn new habits and create new systems. I have to submit to this new way of life and go with the flow.

I also have had a good amount of health issues over the past year. I know I haven’t written about this too much here on my blog, but I have basically been dealing with adrenal fatigue. I feel like it is a long journey, but I have had to accept some limitations and also work on building myself up. Sometimes this seems impossible with all that life requires of me, but I do my best. Again, I have to submit. I have to accept these challenges and do my best to tackle them with grace.

Nearly every area of my life has felt difficult or transitional over the past year, and I have had to make changes, accept some things, and let some things go.

However, in all of these things, I am learning this big lesson:

How to submit to life and accept it just as it is.

When we can accept the way our lives are, we can be content.
When we can accept the way our lives are, we can be thankful.
When we can accept the way our lives are, we can be joyful.

Good emotions and positive thoughts about our lives come when we see the good in our lives. If we are always focusing on the bad and what is lacking, we will never feel our lives are good enough.

Through all of life’s imperfections, frustrations, and challenges, may we learn to submit to life, just as it is.

Then we will find peace.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Moms, You are NOT a Failure

Moms, You Are Not a Failure - The Cozy Nook

Over the past week I have spoken with three moms in three different stages of life.

One mom is parenting all adult children. We talked about life, and she told me that she is failing, failing at parenting her adult daughter. She struggles to find balance, wisdom, and grace.

Another mom is parenting a handful of children, and her oldest is just entering adulthood. She, too, feels like she is failing. She feels a bit uncertain as she enters this new phase and sees how much she needs the Lord’s grace.

A third mom is the mom of two, young children. Her children challenge her continually and provide ample opportunity for training. It exhausts and consumes her at times. She plods on with determination, even though it can be very discouraging.

All three of these women are women I respect and admire, women who have given and are giving their lives for their families’ sakes and have the vision of raising up godly children.

Truth be told, none of these women are failing.

Their emotions and circumstances with their children may try to tell them that they are failing, but I know they are not.

These women are trying hard, loving hard, praying hard, and serving hard. They are giving motherhood all they’ve got, yet they find themselves failing.

I, myself, can relate. Each day is full of struggles. Motherhood makes me feel so out of control at times. It is difficult, full of challenges and change, and unpredictable.

Motherhood isn’t like any other project. We can’t just put the item on our “To Do” lists and check it off when it is completed.

There is constant change, constant need, and constant imperfection.

These variables make us feel weak and discouraged.
They resonate to us that we are failures, but we are not failures!

Moms, if you are trying hard to raise and love your children, you are not a failure!

Don’t judge your life by the imperfections and weaknesses you run into on a daily basis.

Judge your life by:

  • what you ARE trying to accomplish, not what fails
  • what your vision is for your family, what you are striving towards
  • what you HAVE DONE and ARE doing successfully
  • the positive fruit you see in your children’s lives and in your own heart

When the voices of the lack of life shout at you, shout back at them and say, “I am not a failure!”

Do your best. Let God do the rest.
Focus on the good fruit. Let go of the failure.
Accept imperfection. Strive towards nobility.

Moms, you are not a failure!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Life’s Imperfection: An Opportunity for Grace

Life's Imperfection An Opportunity for Grace - The Cozy Nook 

Sometimes life comes packaged in the form of order. 

  • A clean sink.
  • Well-behaved children.
  • A well-maintained house and yard.
  • Finished projects

These are beautiful things, and I love when life feels orderly.

But what happens when we start to see the cracks and crevices? 

  • Dishes in the sink.
  • Misbehaving children.
  • Laundry baskets and weeds.
  • Unfinished projects

Life can suddenly feel like it is out of order, that is chaotic and lacking.

That's where grace comes in.

When we are able to look at the imperfections of our lives and be at peace, there we find grace.

Grace allows us to be at peace when everything isn't perfect.

Grace enables us to know that we are still doing good and great things if we are not matching up to perfection.

Grace helps us to be content with our shortcomings and life's lack and be thankful with joy.

Grace strengthens us and fills in the empty cracks and crevices of life.

Are you noticing the undone in your life?

Allow grace to fill the gap. 

Allow yourself to be at peace with working hard each day and living the best you can, even though it may fall way short of perfect.

That's grace, my friends, beautiful grace.

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!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Are You Feeling Alone? Exhausted? Empty? He Sees You.

Remember He Sees You - The Cozy Nook

The other night I sat at my kitchen table. And cried.

I felt alone. I felt misunderstood. I felt mistreated.

No one saw me... no one, except God.

I sat there, feeling so alone.

As I cried, my heart yearned for God, 

"God, You see me. Help me".

That's about all I could express.

In the midst of my pain and my emptiness, I cried healing tears and uttered a prayer that comforted my soul.

He sees me. He can help me!

Are you feeling alone? Exhausted? Empty?

He sees you. He can help you!

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.

Psalm 34:15

Monday, April 13, 2015

Deep Clean Your Dishwasher, Drain, and Sink

Deep Clean Your Dishwasher, Drain, and Sink - The Cozy Nook

Recently I have had a funky smell coming from my sink/dishwasher area. I thought it was in the garbage disposal, but I also noticed it when I opened the dishwasher (after a cleaning cycle!). YUCK!

Time to do a deep cleaning!

I was simply going to tackle the dishwasher, but when I got some good info from TidyMom.net about how to clean my dishwasher and more, I decided to take it further!

I cleaned my dishwasher, drain, and sink, all at once and here’s how:

Dishwasher:

  • Fill a sink halfway with hot water and add a cup of vinegar. Use this water as your cleaning solution.
  • Scrub all removable parts.
  • Wipe down the entire inside.
  • After you clean the drain and sink, pour a layer of vinegar (about 1 cup) into the bottom of the dishwasher and do a quick, rinse cycle. The dishwasher will smell like vinegar when you are done, but that smell will go away after the first wash cycle you do.

Drain:

  • Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain and cover immediately. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, while you are cleaning the sink.
  • After it sits, you can run hot water down the drain for a couple minutes to do a good flush.

Sink:

  • Drain the water you used to clean the dishwasher.
  • Start filling the sink with hot water. While it is filling, pour in a layer of vinegar and a layer of baking soda and essential oil if you wish (I used lemon). Use a wet rag to wipe down the sink basin and surrounding areas with the water in the sink.
  • Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Drain the water. Wipe, rinse, and dry.

Voila!

Clean Sink - The Cozy Nook

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sweet Potato Enchilada Skillet Casserole

Sweet Potato Enchilada Skillet Casserole - The Cozy Nook

I have to say, “This is delicious.”

Vegetarian. Full of flavor. Packed with nutrition.

Oh, and topped with cheese of course!

The original recipe, from “This Gal Cooks”, asked for some specialty items that I decided to work around, and my final product was still scrumptious!

I hope you try it!

Sweet Potato Enchilada Skillet Casserole
Original Recipe
Printable Version

1 cup white rice
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 red pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, cored and diced
1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 4 oz. can of diced green chilies
1/2 c frozen corn
1 14.5 oz can Petite cut tomatoes with chipotle chilies (not drained)
2 10 oz. cans of red enchilada sauce (or ~2 cups homemade, can use half red and half green)
1/4 cup water
2 oz. cream cheese
1 cup colby jack or Mexican cheese, shredded
1/2 T olive oil
cilantro, for garnish

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sweet potato. Saute for 5 minutes.

Add the zucchini and red pepper and saute for a few more minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the rice. Cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add the enchilada sauce, water, tomatoes, green chilies, black beans, and corn. Mix well and bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.

Once the rice is done cooking, stir in the cream cheese.

Top with the shredded cheese and turn on your broiler. Broil until the cheese is bubbly.

Garnish with cilantro.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Few Ways to Spruce Up Your Family Bible Time

Spruce Up Your Family Bible Time - The Cozy Nook

There are a lot of ways you can study the Bible and talk about the Bible with your family.

You can:

  • Focus on a particular book of the Bible
  • Concentrate on a particular theme
  • Memorize Scriptures
  • Share what you are reading in your own, personal devotions

No matter how you study:

  • Don’t always be the leader. Ask your children to talk about something they learned by reading their Bible or at church.

Recently I have started doing a couple activities with my children during our morning worship times that help us grow in our knowledge of the Bible and make it fun too.

  • Bible Quiz – Ask each other questions about the Bible:
    • Where is Amos located?
    • Whom did Jesus raise from the dead?
    • What does Romans 12:1 say?
  • Fill-in-the-Blank Verses
    • “I can do all things through Christ who __________ me.” (Phil. 4:13)
    • “But the ________ of the _________ is love, joy, peace…” (Gal. 5:22)

How do you study the Bible with your family?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

There’s Hope for You in the Empty Tomb. He is Risen!

There is Hope - He is Risen! - The Cozy Nook

About 2,000 years ago a man was born, not just a man, but the Son of God. He came from heaven to give Himself up for us, for our sin, that we might be cleansed and redeemed.

Although Jesus’ mission was a glorious one, He had to endure much difficulty and suffering to accomplish it.

Jesus even said, “Father if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

Jesus was mocked, beaten, and crucified. Jesus died, and His body was laid in the grave.

Perhaps it looked like sin had defeated him.

However, three days later, He rose from the dead!

And now we find an empty tomb, a tomb that provides every person with tremendous hope.

No matter what situation you find yourself in today, there is hope.

No matter what your struggles are, there is hope.

No matter what has defined you, there is hope.

God’s desire is to give us hope.
That is the gospel message.

God has provided a way out of sin, and He doesn’t leave us nor forsake us.

God desires for us to live abundant and victorious lives.

God didn’t just save us, He has a plan for our lives – to live pure, peaceable, godly, wise, fulfilling, amazing lives here on this earth.

Do you need hope today? Look to the empty tomb.

He is risen!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Banana Split Dessert

Banana Split Dessert - The Cozy Nook

Every time I make this dessert I get raving reviews. Even this time when my dad asked me if I had made it and I said, “yes”, he had to ask my mom to double-check.

It’s so good and looks professional with all of its beautiful layers – graham cracker crust, sweetened and fluffed cream cheese, bananas, chocolate syrup, pineapple, whipped cream, pecans, and cherries. It’s decked out!

The original called for Cool Whip, but I always like to make homemade whipped cream. I am a bit of a purist in that way.

Banana Split Dessert
Printable Version

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
3 ripe bananas, sliced
~1/3 cup chocolate syrup (I don’t usually measure. I just drizzle.)
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice; drained
2 cups homemade whipped cream (or 1 16 oz. container Cool Whip, thawed)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 jar (6 oz.) maraschino cherries, drained and halved

In a 9 x 13 pan, stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter, and 3 T of the sugar. Press firmly into the bottom of the pan.

In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with the remaining sugar on medium speed until smooth. Spread evenly over the graham cracker layer. (This can be a bit tricky and take a little patience).

Spread banana slices on top of cream cheese layer.

Drizzle with 2 T chocolate syrup.

Spoon drained pineapple over bananas.

Spread whipped cream on top. (To make homemade whipped cream, whip 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream with 1 T of sugar until peaks are formed. Since there is a lot of sugar in other places in this recipe, I like the whipped cream to be less sweet).

Top with pecans and cherries.

Drizzle with remaining chocolate syrup.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Easter Dinner

Easter Dinner - The Cozy Nook

We had our Easter celebration early, this past weekend, due to extenuating circumstances.

I hosted a gathering with my family, and here is what we enjoyed:
*designates someone else brought the food

As you can see, I had a lot of assistance. My mom and sister brought a few dishes. My daughter (11 years old) made the fruit salad on her own, with a little bit of help from my 9 year old son.

Besides eating, we held our traditional events: a (boiled!) egg fight for everyone and an egg hunt for the kids. My mom puts little treasures - candy and money - inside plastic eggs. All of the kids have an assigned color, and they hunt feverishly for their prizes.

My daughter did ALL of the d├ęcor. She did such a lovely job. I was very pleased and impressed.

Easter Decor - The Cozy Nook

What are you serving/eating for Easter?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars - The Cozy Nook

The other day my teenage son found this recipe online and printed it.

For a couple days, I was being asked to make these bars.

I admit. I initially thought, “Can’t we just make our standby chocolate chip cookie recipe? How different can this be?”

Well, I gave in and made the recipe, and our dessert recipe collection is better for it.

These bars are truly scrumptious. They are soft, chewy, not overly sweet, and have just the right amount of peanut butter.

If you think you’ve tried enough chocolate chip recipes, just try one more. ~wink~

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
Original found here
Printable Version
*I actually doubled the following recipe and cooked it in a 9x13 pan

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1/3 heaping cup peanut butter
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 T vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + 2 T, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Put melted butter into a large mixing bowl.

Let cool slightly and then whisk in peanut butter, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Add flour and stir until just combined. Don’t overly mix.

Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.

Put batter into prepared pan. Smooth lightly and sprinkle with remaining 2 T of chocolate chips.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until done. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs, no batter.

Allow bars to cool in pan for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. (We only waited about 15 minutes. It’s hard to be patient for such things. ~wink~).

Bars will keep at room temperature, airtight, for up to one week or in the freezer for up to six months.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Do You Need Some Time “Off Duty”?

Do You Need Some Time Off Duty - The Cozy Nook

Recently I wrote about what to do if you are feeling overwhelmed.

When I sat down that day, to think about things, and strategize, I felt like something I really need in my life is more space…. more time… more room to breathe and just do something for myself, by myself.

As a homeschooling mom, I have to admit that life can feel overwhelming at times. Continually pouring out. Continually giving. Continually on demand.

The requests placed upon my life during this season are great.

I spoke to my husband about trying to make a regular “time out” for me – not just the usual breathers I try to take during the day, but a more specific, scheduled time out, where I can have some time to regroup.

When I have time to myself,
I gain perspective.
I gain strength.
I  gain CLARITY.
I gain peace.

This week, I went to Panera – just me and my good ol’ laptop, and I did something I love. I blogged.

I had some time, just to myself.

I had time away from the hustle and bustle and chaos of home and was able to refresh a bit, and it was good!

If you are feeling overwhelmed with life,
maybe you need some time “off duty”.

Maybe you need some time, just for you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cheesy Broccoli and Beef Casserole

Cheesy Broccoli and Beef Casserole - The Cozy Nook

This casserole is pretty perfect.

Ground beef, mushrooms, and onions in a cream sauce.
Topped with broccoli and cheese.

Yes, please!

… and with a pot of rice on the side, you’ve got completion!

Cheesy Broccoli and Beef Casserole
Original found here
Printable Version

4 T butter
2 or 3 ribs celery, diced
6 T flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
salt and pepper

2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets and steamed
2 pounds of ground beef
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper
16 oz. sour cream
16 oz. shredded Colby Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Make cream of celery soup base: (Original found here).

Melt butter in saucepan on medium heat.

Saute celery until well-cooked.

Add flour to saucepan, stirring and heating until mixture is bubbly.

Remove from heat and add broth and milk, gradually, stirring until smooth.

Return to heat and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Make casserole:

In a skillet over medium heat, mix ground beef, mushrooms, and onion. Cook until beef is evenly browned; drain. Season with salt and pepper. Add cream of celery soup base and sour cream. Cook until heated through.

Transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Top with broccoli and cheese.

Bake about 1 hour, until casserole is bubbly and lightly browned.

Serve over rice, if desired.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What to Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

What to Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed - The Cozy Nook

I had one of those moments about a week ago. Everything seemed completely overwhelming. Everywhere I looked there was something to “fix”. I felt overwhelmed – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I thought of what my husband always tells me to do.

Make a List!

First, make a list of the things that are bothering you.

This helps ease your mind, and you don’t have to keep rehearsing your worries. Those trying thoughts now have a different place to reside, on the piece of paper, and you can take your time to work through them.

Second, think about the things you can’t change.

Let’s face it. There are some things you have to accept about life and there are some things you can actually change in your life. Discerning the difference allows you to address both areas: acceptance and action.

The Serenity Prayer offers us peace:

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.

Third, think of the things you can change and HOW you can change them.

How can you improve your situation? What can you do to make things better?

Last, make a list with some action items for improvement.

Now you have tangible ways to move forward and prevent feeling swamped in the future.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, take a break.

Find a quiet place, assess your situation,
and make a plan.

You’ll feel better!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Why I’m Giving Up My Morning Chore

Why I'm Giving Up My Morning Chore - The Cozy Nook

The morning chore.

It sounds like a good idea.

It was a good idea, and it did work. It helped me feel like the day was starting off on the right foot.

Now, however, it doesn’t feel like a good idea any more. When I wake up in the morning my main priorities are to prepare myself for the day, to get my husband out the door successfully, and to help my children have a successful start to their days.

Preparing myself for the day includes any of the following:

  • Devotions: Bible reading and prayer
  • Exercise
  • Email/computer check-in
  • Shower, dress, makeup, and hair
  • Going over my “To Do” list
  • Eating a good breakfast

Getting my family ready for the day includes:

  • Making sure my husband has a lunch
  • Preparing a coffee for my husband
  • Waking up the children (which can be a chore in and of itself)
  • Feeding the family breakfast
  • Leading a devotional time with my children
  • Keeping my children moving and on track

All of the above tasks keep me plenty busy the first couple hours of the day and trying to accomplish a morning chore has just been stressful. It lessens my momentum for a productive, homeschool day.

To be honest, I am still trying to iron out my chore system, but instead of having a morning chore, I am trying to use the latter parts of the day, especially the evenings, to focus on any necessary chores for the day. Going to bed with a clean house feels refreshing and welcomes the new day tomorrow morning.

Sometimes I DO have to turn a blind eye to things that aren’t done during the early part of the day. I just mark them down on my list for later and try to stay focused on homeschooling well and helping the kids get their work done.

What works well for you?

When do you do your chores?