"Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had, and dealing with fears you didn't know existed." -Linda Wooten

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ministry Happens in the Mundane

I started this blog a few years ago - with the hopes that God would use me to encourage weary working mamas like myself.

I planned and brainstormed to write about topics that I felt were relevant and that, honestly, would draw readers in.

I kept a notebook full of series ideas. I had grand plans. And then I failed.

I would write - and plan - and write - and plan...and then I'd stop for a month or so.

And then the cycle would start over. I wanted people to come to my blog and leave changed. I wanted to make a difference. I, I, I.

I knew (and still know) that God has called me to this type of ministry. But when I failed on my blogging venture - I felt like my ministry was over. I mean - there isn't much ministering going on if I'm not writing something for people to be ministered by, right?!


There was - there is ministry going on. It's happening every morning as I make breakfast for my littles, as I tie shoes, pack backpacks and brush blond ringlets into ponytails.

Ministry happens when I choose to be gentle instead of yelling - and when I apologize for the times that I do yell. 

It's ministering when I put hot food on the table every evening - even when my body aches from a full day of work - when I greet my husband with a kiss, when we kneel to say bedtime prayers, when I clean up kids who get sick in the middle of the night and didn't quite make it to the bathroom.

Ministry happens in the mundane. 

Motherhood IS ministry. Working to be a Godly wife IS ministry. Being a good friend, offering a helping hand to someone in need - all those little things that we do every day are really making a HUGE impact for the kingdom.

No - I don't get 100 'likes' when I put a band-aid on a boo-boo. I don't get 'shares' when I offer someone my shopping cart in the grocery store. No one notices when I tuck that little note saying 'Mommy loves you' into the lunch box - but God sees. The heart of the recipient of those small acts of grace knows. 

I know - mama, I know - that these little mundane tasks that we do everyday can be exhausting - are often done in vain - and more often taken for granted.

Understand that what you do matters - you don't have to be Ann Voskamp or Lysa TerKeurst to have ministry. Don't feel like what you do for the kingdom is insignificant because your name isn't on a book or on the itinerary at a national conference. 

You are raising up arrows. 

"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. 
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." 
Psalm 127:3-5

Friday, February 20, 2015

When It All Goes Wrong...

It has been one of those days - the kind where you just want to shut yourself up in a room - cut the lights out and make the world disappear for a little while.

We were running late (as usual) - the girls were fighting, tattling and just driving me up the wall. I responded with yelling and threatening and complete chaos ensued. I rushed them to the car, I rushed them to put their seat belts on, I rushed them to school, I rushed them out of the car and the I rushed myself to work.

I unlocked my office door - thankful that I was, at least, the first one there - dropped my stuff beside my desk and started my morning.

Checked my email

Checked my to-do list

Checked my calendar

Checked my attitude...

Checked my phone

And all of these posts regarding Lent filled my Instagram feed. I sat there - feeling like a total failure! 

Here we are 40+ days out from the recognized crucifixion of our Savior and I am drowning in the mundane, every day, 'makes no eternal difference' madness.

I am side tracked, unfocused and missing the mark.

My priorities are totally out of order. For a minute I felt sorry for myself...and then I remembered...

We have brothers and sisters in Christ giving their lives up for Him - facing persecution every day - and living for Him despite the risk - and here we are...HERE I AM in America -

with freedom...

And we're restless, we're bitter, we're angry, we're rushing...why?

Because my jeans are snug and I've gain ANOTHER pound. Because the kids pick at their breakfast and at one another and I'm late for work. Because it's 5 degrees outside today and its inconvenient for me...and the list goes on...

Friends - I confess - my priorities are SO out of order. God often ends up at the bottom of my list - I put everything else, everyone else, first - I get frustrated, and upset and cry and at the end of my day I go crawling to Him, complaining about the mess I'm making of my life - when what I really need to do is start off my day in WORSHIP of the one true King.

Thanking Him for hanging on that cross and taking on My sin...

Thanking Him for conquering death...

Thanking Him for returning on that 3rd day - proving He is the one true Messiah - and offering us redemption for our ridiculous ways.

I am convicted and shamed with tears running down my face as these fingers desperately hunt for the keys on this keyboard.

I am feel like a farce - I write blog posts hoping to encourage you as a mom - today I want to encourage you as a child of God.

I, too, am guilty of putting husband, child, job and ministry first - when Jesus is the ONLY one who should hold first place in my heart.

So, during this Lenten season - I will spend more time at the foot of the cross. I will spend more time today - and each day hereafter - seeking His face first!

Will you move your focus to Him with me? Have you become distracted? What changes will you make in your life to seek God first?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Crock Pot Potato Soup

 This potato soup is so EASY and everyone in my family 
(even my super picky Lillian) loves it!!

1 30 oz. bag of frozen, diced hash browns
1 32 oz. box of chicken broth
1 10 oz. can of cream of chicken soup
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (do NOT use fat free)
Bacon bits
1 package of dried Ranch dressing mix
Shredded cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper to taste


  • Add frozen hash browns to a crock pot sprayed with non-stick cooking spray
  • Add in chicken broth, cream of chicken soup and small handful of bacon bits
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours
  • An hour before serving - add in cream cheese (cut into small cubes) and the packet of dry Ranch dressing mix
  • Mix a few times, while cooking, to get the cream cheese mixed in well
  • Top with cheddar cheese and bacon bits (to taste) when ready to serve!!
I like to serve this soup with salad and Pillsbury honey crescent rolls!

Winter Finally Arrived in the South

I apologize for my absence this week!! I've been feeling a bit under the weather for the past for days - and then, over night, an ice storm hit our area.

We spent today outside playing and sledding - so I have not gotten around to posting yet this week!!

I will be back this afternoon with our Tasty Tuesday recipe!! Believe me - it is worth the wait :)

Wednesday - I will post the next entry in the 'Managing Mama' series (that usually goes up on Mondays) and hope to get back into my somewhat normal blogging routine.

How is the weather in your area? I would love to actually see some snow before spring hits - but if the snow isn't going to come, bring on the warmer weather!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Wal-Mart Savings Catcher

We all like to save money!! And I know if you are a savvy mama like me - you are always on the lookout for new ways to save - well look no further!!

Ya'll - this little app makes me so happy!!

I don't shop at Wal-Mart that often. In fact - I've only loaded 10 receipts onto this app since September 2014 - but...

I got back $23.60. In fact - just this week I earned $0.76 on a receipt I uploaded back in December. The Savings Catcher retro-ed back (without me having to do anything) and found even more money to give me!!

What To Do:

*Go to your phone's app store and find and download the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher app (IT'S FREE!!!)

*Shop at Wal-Mart :)

*After your purchase - open the app on your phone and scan in the receipt.

*After 3-4 days - your prices will be matched. If the app finds ANY advertised price at another store - you get money back!!

*You can let your amounts accumulate - and when you're ready, just press "get it back" on the 'Your Rewards Dollar' screen.

*You will be emailed an eGift card that can be used at check-out like a gift card.

It's that easy!! If you EVER shop at Wal-Mart, this.is.a.must.have!!!

Do you use this app? What's the most money you've gotten back?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What Is the Focus of Your Family?

The modern family – what exactly does that mean? (I wasn't around – but according to my grandparents) the family unit looked much different 60 years ago.

A lot has changed over the past several decades. We've seen the divorce rate climb, more and more children are being raised in blended families, by only one parent or by parents of the same sex. We've seen the power struggle between the father and the mother. We have fathers who refuse to lead and mothers who refuse to nurture. But more than anything – we have seen the central focus of the family move from God, to the child.

I am a “millennial” – so really, I am ignorant to what a God centered family would look like. My parents didn't come to know Christ until I was a pre-teen so the central focus of our home was NOT Jesus. I was the common goal – the only child – their central focus. (Thankfully I didn't grow up to be a spoiled rotten adult – no really!! I didn't!)

To be honest – this is a struggle for me – for my family. Society tells us that the child is what’s MOST important. Every decision made, every action taken must be in the interest of what’s best for the child…how can we really disagree with that??

Let’s be honest here – I want what’s best for my two daughters. I want to give them every advantage I can in this life – it’s a tough world out there.

And what’s the best thing we can give them? What one, single, solitary gift can we give them that will provide them with the ONLY advantage they could ever need…


If you are like me – you have felt the pressure to get your child involved. (after all – idle hands are the devil’s workshop, right???)

We send them to the best preschools, we put them into sports, we sign them up for music lessons, karate lessons, art class and AWANA. We read to them, take them to the library, do crafts at home, have family game night. We speak life into them, we encourage and motivate them. We have them do Bible study and memorize Bible verses. We teach them manners and how to save money. We sacrifice date night for family fun night – Saturday mornings are full of soccer practice, ballet practice and basketball games. Travel sports consume our schedule all for what…

To give them an advantage?

To prepare them for the real world?

To make them better? More skilled?

While all of these things (even the ones directly pointing them to Christ) may be good – what is the eternal value here?

Whose approval are we seeking? Are we trying to please our children or please our Heavenly Father?

When we fill every second, every spare hour of our schedule with activity we leave little room for relationship.

Relationship between mom and dad.

Relationship between parent and child.

Relationship between Savior and self.

We are creating adults who will never know what it means to be STILL - adults who are pre-programmed to live overwhelmed and overstretched.

What we need to do is take the focus off of the child and put the focus back on Christ.

We need less soccer and more songs of worship. Less TV and more family Bible study.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

We need more discipleship and less distraction.

We as parents should be seeking God FIRST! Our children need to see us on our knees, in our Bibles, giving in offering. (Believe me, I am preaching to myself here!!!)

We can cheer them on, on the sidelines of the soccer field – and still pour into them, Godly wisdom.

We need to teach them humility, sacrifice and kindness. That’s a hard lesson to learn when every part of their day is spent being catered to.

They do not NEED every new toy, to play every single sport, to have every second of their day spent doing something!!

If we’re being honest here – that’s a lesson most of us adults need to learn. We focus on work, that next promotion, the new home project, our next committee meeting – but we can’t take 30 minutes every morning to meet with our Savior – we fall asleep during bed time prayers – the Bible on the shelf collects more dust each day.

We have lost our focus…

I encourage you today – look for areas in your life – where you can make improvement. Make Bible study and prayer time in your own life a priority. Come alongside your kids every evening and meet the Father with one another. Sure – teach them free throws, field goals and front hand springs – and teach them the 10 commandments, what it means to love others, and how to meet Jesus.

And just in case some of you find yourself in this position – seek what God wants for your child rather than what YOU want for your child.

Is your home child focused or Christ focused? How do you keep your priorities in order? Any suggestions for the rest of us trying to shift the focus in our homes?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Mama's Meatloaf

recipe found at www.comfyinthekitchen.com

3/4 c. ketchup
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. mustard

1.5 lbs. ground beef
1.5 c. plain bread crumbs
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. prepared glaze
1 egg
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine all of glaze ingredients and set aside
3. Combine meatloaf ingredients and 1/3 c. of prepared glaze

4. Shape in a loaf pan (or an 8x8 casserole dish will suffice) & bake for 1 hour
5. Pouf off fat & cover with remaining glaze and bake for an additional 15 minutes

I like to serve meatloaf with mashed potatoes and the Candied Carrots featured in January 20th's Tasty Tuesday or sweet peas and a roll.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Taking Back Today

So...I have been absent over the past few weeks. A 'small' weekend DIY project extended into a 2.5 week nightmare that had us shuttling back and forth from our house to my parents house everyday. IT.HAS.BEEN.CHAOS!

We have survived off of take out daily and haven't been in our normal routine AT ALL. You can imagine what this does to the kiddos - let's just say, their behavior has been less than stellar.

And mine...well I am ashamed to admit that my attitude has taken a turn for the worst as well. This mama needs routine! I grocery shopped for the first time in 3 weeks last night (grocery shopping is MY Achilles heel!) and truth be told - I felt liberated. I could have done a cartwheel right down the frozen foods aisle! I will NOT complain about grocery shopping again - nothing feels more routine that grocery shopping - and for once, I WAS LOVING IT.

So finally - FINALLY! - we are back in our home. All of 4 of us Collins folk all under one roof. I am taking back today! Things are still in disaray - but the piles are getting smaller and day by day less tools, paint cans and screwdrivers are taking up my counters. I am hoping that by the end of this upcoming weekend - we will be back to NORMAL! 

(One can dream, right?!)

It has been a month of trials for us. From injuries, sickness, doctor visits, overnight stays for medical testing, unexpected home repairs, you name it...it has not been easy. I feel foolish for being so disheartened with all that has gone on - because even with our trials - we are far better off than a lot of people. I feel foolish for complaining when in truth, we are all healthy (for the most part), we have a roof over our head every night, food in our tummies everyday, and we have each other. We are rich in blessing and the enemy does all he can to distract us from that truth. 

I understand God has us go through some things to stretch us, teach us, help us build our character. He has certainly been teaching me a lesson in patience and faith these past few weeks - unfortunately, I haven't been the most willing student. I have grumbled, I have cried, I have whined, I have complained - been mad, bitter, inpatient and discontent. But I am reminded that His ways are higher than mine - and His thoughts are too - He knows better than I do.

My job is to trust Him and hang on to the ride we call life!

How have you been? I have missed blogging!! I hope to back into my normal routine next week! Until then...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

There's No Use Crying (or yelling) Over Spilled Milk

*I know it isn't Thursday - but here is a 'throwback' post from October 2012

We woke up this morning to a pretty terrible thunderstorm, in the middle of October - are you kidding me!? I am NOT, nor will I EVER be a fan of storms - and I guess that fear has kind of rolled over into both of my daughters.

Nevaeh sat down at the dining room table for breakfast, 5 minutes later I saw her sitting in the living room, eating her waffle so she "wasn't too close to the windows."

Okay - so this parlayed fear isn't something I am proud of - but I'm working on it.

A few bolts of lightning hit a little too close to home so we shut off the TV and Nevaeh and Lillian spend the remainder of the morning right on my heels, following me through the house, as if they are actually outrunning the storm...then the milk spilled.

Nevaeh was carrying her plate around the house - with her cup of milk on top of the plate. I barely got "please be careful with your milk" out of my mouth, and you guessed it, milk everywhere; all down her school clothes and all over my clean tile. And I snapped!! There she was, a chocolate milk mess - with fear in her eyes as another rumble of thunder sounded.

All she was trying to do was stay close to me to help squander the fear of the storm raging outside our home - when I started raging one inside. 

I saw the defeat in her eyes. I felt terrible. She changed clothes, I cleaned the mess, and we went on about our morning.

We always say our prayers in the car as we're driving to school and daycare - and after prayer this morning, I felt convicted. I stole a little bit of my daughter's joy this morning - all because cleaning up that mess was inconvenient for me. So, I swallowed my pride, looked my 5 year old little big girl in the eyes and said "I'm sorry Nevaeh, I shouldn't have gotten upset with you for spilling the milk. It was an accident and accidents are okay. I'm sorry I yelled at you." And just as any child would, she forgave me and that bright smile reappeared. 

Sometimes I find myself flying through my life - so caught up in the responsibilities of my career and keeping my home in order that I forget how precious my moments are with my two little blessings. Every mistake is a lesson. This morning, over spilled milk, I could have reassured Nevaeh that "It's okay. It's an accident, we can fix this." I could have had some patience and understanding, knowing that she was already a little anxious with the thunder and lightning. But I didn't. I forgot about the importance of the moment and reacted in a terrible way. I wish I could take it back and would have used that moment differently. But all I could do was apologize and try harder next time.

Kids grow up too fast.

One minute it's all nursing and lullabies then the next thing you know it's shuttling from one practice or event to another, homework, bath time, and then...graduation. 

I am reserving to slow down a little bit and enjoy this time with my kids. To play, get outside and run around - to show grace. I just want to soak up their childhood, because all too soon it will be gone and I will be left with a lot of "I wish I would've done this instead". Hopefully, I will learn to appreciate the little moments more - even if it includes spilled milk.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - Candied Carrots

***I promise to work on my picture quality :)
Our family loves these carrots. They are super easy and taste SOOO good! They make the perfect side dish. I like to serve these with pot roast, mashed potatoes & green beans. The kiddos love these!!
1 pound baby cut carrots
2 tablespoons of diced butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
*additional brown sugar and white sugar to season to taste
1. Place carrots in a pot of salted water and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a high simmer (I do medium-high, your stove may be better behaved than mine!) Cook 20 - 30 minutes. Do not let the carrots get mushy.
2. Drain the carrots.
3. Reduce heat to its lowest setting and return the carrots to the pan. Stir in butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper.
 *We like our carrots sweet - so I also add a few pinches of regular sugar here and a few more pinches of brown sugar.
4. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes - until sugar is bubbly. Serve!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

From Chaos to Cozy

Keeping the house clean and in order is a challenge for many of us ladies!! I am a total perfectionist - and well, perfectionism and children just can't live in the same house with one another. This will be one of those areas where you MUST give yourself grace.

You need a plan if you are going to keep your stuff together - trust me, I have learned this lesson the hard way. If you wing it, it won't happen and you will find yourself flying into a tizzy every time someone comes over.

Early in my marriage - the Flylady saved my life - or, at least my sanity. Although I don't adhere to all of her practices now - I took what I learned from her and adapted it to work for our family. 

Here's what works for us...

I do a few things everyday - to keep the chaos under control. 

*Make the bed
I do this as soon as I get out of bed in the morning. The girls make their own beds as well.

*Wash, dry, fold and put away one load of laundry
I do at least one load of laundry a day. Lately, I have been getting up early enough in the morning to wash and dry a load before work. That evening when I get home from work - while dinner is on the stove or in the oven, I fold that one load. The kids put away their own clothes after I have folded them.

*Load and/or unload the dishwasher
I try to keep the sink free of dirty dishes. It just instantly makes the kitchen look better if the sink is clean. 

*Empty Trash
This may not need to be done everyday. Seems like our family generates enough trash for two families!!

*15 minute pickup 
While dinner is cooking or after dinner is over - I like to spend just a few minutes tidying up. I check homework, sign the girls' planners, put away shoes, coats, mail, random lying objects, etc. 

*Swish & Swipe the bathroom (I got this from the Flylady)
Every evening before I take my own shower, I wipe our sink down, wipe down our toilet, give it a good swish, and wipe down our shower. I keep Clorox wipes and a Magic Eraser (they really are magical!) under the sink in our bathroom. Trust me - when someone wakes up at 2am with a stomach virus and they spend 2 hours hugging the toilet, they will be glad its clean!!

*Sanitize kitchen counters
Because I'm a complete germ-a-phobe and have a love/hate relationship with preparing meat - I sanitize my kitchen counters at least a dozen times a day (it seems)

As soon as you get into the habit of doing these things, it just becomes a part of your day. These things really don't take that much time - and in my own experience - really cut down on the madness in our home.

I had read several blogs (Women Living Well and Time Warp Wife) that suggest breaking down the housework over the course of a week. For example: Monday's you clean bathrooms, Tuesday you sweep and mop, Wednesday you dust...etc.

That may work great for you - if so, I recommend checking out both of the two blogs listed above and checkout their housekeeping schedules.

I do a "weekly home blessing" (from the Flylady) on Thursday of each week. Because I keep our home fairly clean through the week - with each of my daily tasks - I can complete my "home blessing" in 1-2 hours. This may take longer or less time depending on the size of your home (and your mess). 

Weekly Home Blessing
Dust and polish all furniture
Sweet & Mop all hardwood and tile floors
Vacuum the carpet in the bedrooms
Clean the bathroom
Windex all mirrors
Swiffer dust the blinds, pictures and artwork on the walls
Febreeze curtains and closets
Clean the kitchen counters

I'd like to add - that my husband and I tend to be neat freaks anyway. We just naturally keeps things tidied up (for the most part) and our girls do a good job (with a little prodding) at keeping their bedroom and playroom tidied up. I know some people don't have this tendency - and this area may be a challenge for you. I encourage you to give it a try. Remember, purpose is greater than perfection!! You will NOT, I repeat, will NOT have a perfectly clean home with children in the house. And you shouldn't spend more time cleaning messes than playing with the kiddos. 

I hope this helps - or at least gives you a good starting point to get your own house under control. Once it becomes a habit, these things run along smoothly.

And yes - I have weeks when I get in a funk and don't adhere to my routine well - but I regret it every.single.time. Playing catch up is no fun, so I feel the extra effort each day really makes a big difference.

Be sure to check out the links through this post for other great ideas!!

How do you keep the chaos away? Are you a planner or a "wing it" kinda gal? Do you do a little each day or one day of cleaning?

**Next week we will talk to-do lists and getting the kiddos involved!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Give Yourself Grace

Grace...it's something we talk about. It's something we encourage others to show to one another or even give themselves. We tell sinners that we are saved by God's grace and they can be too. Grace...it can often be something that is easier to give, than receive.
I know that I am so unworthy of God's grace on my life. Jesus laid down his life and took on my sin - and there is nothing I can do that will ever repay that debt. And that is where grace comes in. No, there isn't ANYTHING I can do to earn it - God freely gives it.
And as mamas, wives, friends, employees, etc. - it's something we have to learn to give ourselves.
You will not be the perfect mom, you can't be super woman, you will fail your husband and your children. All of these are inevitable. However, we as women hold ourselves to such a high standard - we strive for absolute perfection! Trust me, I am preaching to the choir, I know. If for no one else, this post is totally for me...about me.
There will never be enough hours in the day to get it all done. Season after season will pass when you don't do everything you set out to do. And that's ok. Time goes on...
But instead of giving ourselves the grace we often pour out on others - we feel guilty. We live with regret. That monologue of "could have" "should have" is constantly playing the background.
Give yourself grace mama.
The whole reason I started this blog was because I have been in that place. My to-do list was a mile long, I went over and beyond to meet the needs of those around me. And honestly, I wasn't doing it all to the glory of God - it was often to the glory of Michelle. I liked that satisfaction of doing it all or at least seeming to be doing it all. I wanted to be super woman - when really...all I was, was a worn out woman.
And that worn out woman would eventually have enough. My priorities were so skewed. Weariness sets in and gentleness and kindness disappears. We become consumed with the project at hand and forget about the purpose behind it.
You're right. You can't do it all. Your house will get messy. You and husband will argue. You will yell at the kids. You will lose patience. You will be unkind. You will become distracted. You will be selfish. You will be envious of other mamas that seem to have it all together.
You will put on a few too many pounds. You won't cook every night of the week. You will be unorganized. You will lose stuff. (yes, even your mind!) You too will become worn out. You will lose hope. But don't lose sight of this...
God's word says...
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.   - 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Mama...God's grace is sufficient for you. When you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and are on the verge of giving up...go to grace.
Yes, God has called us to this wonderful ministry of motherhood. You, friend, are blessed beyond measure. But you can NOT do this on your own. Understand that your parenting, your marriage, your home is your ministry. Do it to the glory of God - and God will sustain you.
Let yourself off the hook. You are human, you will fail and that's ok.
This weekend - don't be so consumed with the to-do's that you forget how to be mama. Remember - earlier this week we talked about purpose being greater than perfection. That is true in ALL areas of your life. 
Have some grace for mama today!!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Fun Friday???

Yeah...so this is what I came home to yesterday...
You know that old saying..."when it rains, it pours"...well - the flood gates have opened at the Collins house.
Of course, this is perfect timing (note sarcasm). My husband and I just started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. What little we had saved is now going into a new bathroom. Did I mention that the bathroom floor literally fell through??? Yes, this is not an intentional remodel. This is a MUST, unless we want to start taking baths in the kitchen sink and using the neighbors' 'facilities'. This is a less than ideal situation.
I should have known better than to ask God to help me with my patience, to help me with my gentleness and attitude - because ladies, this is on.my.last.nerve.
So yeah - this is a HUGE lesson in patience, and gentleness and understanding. Whoever said God doesn't answer prayers has not met my God - and it seems He also has a sense of humor :)
But ya'll, I am blessed with a handsome man that is handy. Where I see this as an inconvenience, he sees this as an adventure. This is one of those times when my weakness are his strengths! Boy did God know what he was doing when he put the two of us together!! And I'm so glad He saw it fit for me to be his wife.
This is one of those times where complaints and laments come easy - but praise and appreciation is what needs to be proclaimed.
I get it...I really do. Thanks for the reminder God. Sometimes He has to let us go through a little inconvenience to truly appreciate what He has blessed us with.
Today I am thankful for the one, tiny little bathroom all of 4 of us share. I am thankful for a husband who works hard for his family. I am thankful for two little girls who haven't even breathed a sign of complaint about this whole mess of a situation...and I'm thankful my parents just live right down the road from us...and have been such a HUGE help during this whole ordeal!!
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!! How is God stretching you this week? Have you seen the blessing in the mess?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Less of Me - More of Him

I have a tendency to over-complicate things - to over analyze, the smallest, tiniest details. (My husband is screaming "Amen" somewhere, over that comment!). For the past few months I have struggled with my ministry, with my walk with God. Often times questioning the very voice of God - "I'm not worthy", "I don't have enough biblical knowledge", "Why me?"! I have spent more time in prayer and in God's word for the past 6 months, and somehow, still feel extremely disconnected from Him - from my life line.

It occurred to me today - or may I just actually slowed down enough to really LISTEN to what God was saying - either way, I am missing it. The big picture - I'm paying so much attention to the details, the minute background pieces, I am missing the big picture in its entirety. And I feel it, that faint, then stronger tug on my heart strings. That tugging that says, "Lay it down, be quite, sit still and listen."

I have spent time checking things off of my To-Do list - feeling that satisfaction that I did get everything done at the end of the day, but never really accomplishing much, at least not in the eternal sense. 


Devotion time...check

Household duties...check

And the list goes.on.and.on.

But I don't feel full, yes, somewhat content that my list is done - but never really "FULL"...

I am missing Him.

I have spent so much time and energy trying to the best wife, mother, friend and ME that I can be - when all I really long for is the best I can be in Him. I pray the words - fast, I read the Word, turn the page, but it never takes root. It stays on the surface for a moment but never plants into my soul. I'm starving - I'm starving for Him. I have ritual - but no relationship.

So...in an effort to uncomplicate my life, to get my fill - I am sitting still. I am praying in the quiet times, listening with my heart. Waiting for His voice. Reading His words, drinking in His spirit, letting it resonate within me.

Yes - I need less of me, less of this STUFF and more of Him.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Michelle's Meaty Chili

I adapted this recipe from another recipe I found online. (Not certain of source). Over the years I have made my own tweaks – and we love it. The kids love chili night; and, best of all, it makes fantastic left-overs.
*please excuse my poor quality photography

Michelle’s Meaty Chili

2 lb. ground beef (I use the 97% fat free) *I have also used turkey. It tastes great also
½ onion, diced
1 jar dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar tomato sauce
1 16 oz. jar of salsa (the salsa pictured came from Aldi – and is the best!)
1 packet chili seasoning (we use mild, you can go as hot as you like)
Few dashes of salt and pepper
*If you feel this is too dry, try adding extra tomato sauce or salsa

To garnish:
Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Tortilla strips

Brown meat and onions over medium-high heat til cooked through

Drain grease from meat and return to stove top

Add in tomato sauce, salsa, drained and rinsed kidney beans, chili seasoning and a few dashes of salt and pepper.

Give it a good stirring – and bring back to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to medium-low or low and simmer for at least one hour.
Garnish & serve. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Homemaking: Purpose > Perfection (Managing Mama)

When it comes to homemaking, purpose is greater than perfection.

Often, wives fall into 1 of 2 categories when it comes to their take on homemaking - either it's a priority or it isn't a priority. Regardless of where you fall in this debate - I hope, today, I can help you find some joy in seeing that YOU can be a blessing to your family by cleaning toilets, washing dishes and folding laundry. And, if you do it with the right attitude - to bring glory to God through serving your family - you too will be blessed.

I understand those who say that homemaking should not be a priority. I get it - especially if you have little ones at home. It feels nearly impossible to keep the house in order. My children are only 2.5 years apart - so I lived those times, with a newborn and a toddler, then a toddler and preschooler, now 2, grade school girlies. There is never a time when everything is done, and perfect, simultaneously. There's always another dish to load in the dishwasher, more laundry that keeps piling up, dust settles just as soon as its wiped away, smudges come almost instantly onto polished furnished - and the windows...forget about it.

If you are one of these moms/wives/women...please release the guilt of not being able to get it all done. There are seasons in life when, well, things will be messy. When you are up nursing a newborn every 2 hours - you need to use your downtime (what little there is) to rest and nourish yourself. There will come a time (yes, I promise, it is coming) when there will be more hours in your day to be "productive". 

But I have to stop here and say I absolutely do not agree with the women who say homemaking should not be a priority. I read a blog post recently that was almost admonishing to women who keep a clean home - like we're all sacrificing time with our children to do a few chores around the house. Through the years I have developed my own schedule and have learned to manage time properly enough so I am not sacrificing time with my kids to clean my house. (And I work a full-time job outside of the home.)

I look at my home like this - God has blessed me with a home to share with my family. I have a responsibility to be a good steward of that blessing. I know that isn't a popular opinion - but it's the truth. The Bible speaks against idleness and sloth - if you have time to watch hours of TV - you have time to clean your home. Homemaking should be a priority - it shouldn't be your top priority - but it is important. 

Sweet friend, you are missing out on an incredible opportunity to serve and be a blessing to your family.

A few years back - I was feeling the overwhelming burden of keeping our house tidy, cooking meals, etc. while being a full-time mom to our sweet daughters. I found The Flylady - and while I do not currently fully adhere to her principles - she helped me get my act together. There are still a few tips of hers I put to use that help me keep the house out of C.H.A.O.S (can't have anyone over syndrome - the Flylady's term, NOT mine!) 

As your children get older - give them chores of their own to do. This WILL help you tremendously, and they will enjoy it (at a young age they actually LIKE helping out - I'm sure that will fade fast, capitalize on it while you can!!) Obviously these small jobs should be age appropriate. For example - my 5 year old feeds our dog, makes her bed, helps her sister keep the playroom tidy, loads her clothes in the washer and puts them away after I fold them. She doesn't do these things every day - just as needed through the week. My 8 year old does all the same things except she also helps with loading the dishwasher and emptying the trash. The MyChore Chart app is super - the kids love it!! I highly recommend checking it out. It's available for both iPhone and iPad.

And thankfully - while I carry the biggest brunt of the housekeeping responsibilities - my husband is a big help as well. I don't expect him to help out all that much because I do absolutely NOTHING to help him in the yard, etc. I've never learned how to mow grass, weed or plant flowers, etc. That is his domain (he likes it that way) and the home is mine. 

Monday's - here at Grace for Mama - we will focus on ways to make homemaking an easier task to accomplish in our new "Managing Mama" series. It will take some time for you to develop a good routine that works for your family - and it may take some time to get your attitude about the whole thing in check - but remember, purpose is greater than perfection. No one expects your home to be immaculate - and you shouldn't put that kind of pressure on yourself anyway!! But if you purpose to see housekeeping as a "home blessing" and do it to the glory of God - it may just become something you enjoy!!

**Next week we will discuss developing a cleaning routine

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fun Friday - 5 of My Favorite Things (Right Now!)

Happy Friday ladies!! Now that I plan to get back into the habit of blogging on a regular basis - I thought I would reserve Fridays as our "Fun Day". (Not that the other days here at Grace For Mama aren't fun!!) 

Today I want to share with you a few of my favorite things - right now. I love all of these things and think you just may too!!

Let's start off with vanity, shall we? ;)

1. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Foundation & Concealer
I can not rave enough, about these products. I haven't worn foundation for years. Since I had children and entered my 30s, my skin has changed dramatically!! This foundation is light, but provides great coverage. It smooths out my skin, covers my red blotches, all without looking caked (is that a word?) on. I love, love, love this!!

2. Bath & Body Works Holiday Collection
Ahh, yes! These are the PERFECT gift to exchange with friends and co-workers. Who doesn't love Bath & Body Works? I love all 3 of these scents but the Winter Candy Apple is my absolute FAVORITE!!

3. Chalene Johnson's 30 Day PUSH Challenge
Many of you may know Chalene Johnson from fitness programs like Turbo Fire, Chalene Extreme or PiYo. But she is also an awesome!! motivational speaker/personal development expert/life coach and the New York Time's Best Selling Author of 'PUSH'. You can check out her podcast, The Chalene Show or join in on the FREE 30 Day PUSH Challenge here.

The PUSH challenge is essentially a 30 day FREE course to goal mastery. I start out the beginning of every year doing her challenge. She helps you create and maintain a to-do list that you can ACTUALLY manage and she helps you create goals and realize the potential within yourself to reach these crazy cool goals. I love her!! She also is very vocal about putting faith and family first!!

4. Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University 
My husband and I bought Dave's 'Total Money Makeover' a few years back - and never opened it. This year we embarked on the Financial Peace University journey and we are finding it VERY helpful. His concept just makes sense and we love his 'don't hold anything back' attitude. If your church or place of employment is offering this course - TAKE IT!! It will change your life.

5. Good Morning Girls Bible Studies
Last, but certainly not least, Good Morning Girls!! I have been doing Good Morning Girls Bible Studies for a few years now. I love the accountability. Courtney offers great, FREE, resources on her website to accompany the studies. If you are looking for accountability to get into the word of God, look no further. Right now we are reading through the entire Bible, one chapter a day. I highly encourage you check out the website and jump in :)

Do you have any faves you think we would like? Share below!!

***Disclaimer: I am in NO way receiving compensation or any other benefit from promoting these items, except the hope that they bring you the same joy they bring me!!

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