Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stay Hydrated.

Being thirsty ..have you experienced that feeling? How about really thirsty?  I have.

I love water. Its my favorite thing to drink ..I would even chose an unlimited supply of water over coffee, which is saying something, because I also LOVE coffee :)

Whenever I am inspired to really focus on my health, my first move towards my goal is to work on a habit of drinking water. Water is essential to the proper function of my body, mind and even spirit. Right now, I am feel especially inspired to being healthy and so I am working on that very habit. A couple of things I have noticed...

* The more water I drink, the more thirsty I am.
* I feel much better when I have gotten the water I need.
* In order to be truly hydrated, I cannot "binge" drink ..I have to do it a little at a time
* I need water
* I didnt realize how dehydrated I was, until I started drinking

Reading this morning, I am reminded about how often God uses water and thirst to describe both our need for him, and his provision for us. He not only gives us good things to take in (like a steak, or a butterfinger :) he provides for us water ... the only thing in all the world that none of us can live totally without.

The things I noted about physical water I can say of God and His water... "

*I more of His Spirit I drink, the more thirsty for him I am ...I have noted this before, and feel even stronger than before that it is true
* I feel much better when I have drunk of His Spirit, and allowed Him to hydrate my soul ..mentally, spiritually, and even physically
* In order to be fully hydrated in my spirit, I cannot just take Him in once a week, or even once a day. I have to constantly sip on His spirit ...making him part of every thought, action and purpose of the day
* I am more aware than ever that I need Him and His Spirit ...I am learning how weak I really am!
* I am often unaware of how much I am lacking being filled up with Him, until I start feeding my spirit what it needs ...suddenly, I find out how dehydrated my spirit is, how I have deprived myself

Scripture is rich with imagery like this ..."..those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling stream within them, giving them eternal life." John 4:13

"The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring." Isa 58:10

"..for you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see." Psalms 36:9

Are you thristy? Do you need to fill up with Him today? 
I do too :) 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just Be ..on purpose

I had a post in mind today, but I honestly wasnt feelin' it.  Our morning started off a bit crazy, and I was having a hard time focusing my mind in the direction I wanted it to go.

But ...I am doing a study by Casandra Martin, called A Light in the Darkness. God used it this morning to remind me of something important that really applied to several things on my "stress list" this morning.

Like I have already mentioned this week ...this idea of "just being" is on my mind and heart lately. I smiled when today's lesson of the study was focused on Psalms 46: 10 ...."be still, and know that I am God."

{I love how God does that ...sets the same verses in front of you from many different places all at once!}

One of the things on my heart and mind lately has been how chaotic our evenings are around here. Our daddy is working and going to school full time right now (yes, he IS super dad!) which means that we spend most days and every evening just the four of us (me and the three boys).  It never, ever fails that our evenings start picking up in noise level and frustration about 4pm and doesnt stop until 9pm when they are all bedded down for the night and I finally get to breath a quiet breath.

Most nights, I end up putting my kids to bed feeling worn out and often defeated, frustrated that we often finish great days with a feeling of irritation and exhaustion. And its not just me children feel it too! Aside from their increased energy level, my 6 year old commented the other day how it was sad he didnt have a "good day."  Talking about it, I realized that the reasons he felt that way were largely things that had happened in the last couple hours of the day.

God spoke to me this morning, when I had this mind ...what do I do about this problem?

It struck me how purposeful we need to be in that "just being."    Its not just about taking a deep breath, and praying a sense of quiet (which, of course is a great way to get that in the middle of the chaos) but its also about creating moments of quiet, rest and stillness.

I felt like God was clearly reminding me that I need to BE still, CREATE quiet, just be ...on PURPOSE.

Stillness is not passive ...not in our day and time, and not in this house.  Quiet is not a default setting for these boys, or me for that matter. True rest does not come naturally...which is kinna ironic.

So, my plan for the midst of our crazy hours is to purposefully create an alone time for everyone included.  I am praying that it will derail our crazy train for a bit, enough to help us end our evenings peacefully :)

What will you do to just be ..on

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tips On Tuesday: Keep Your Receipts

Since NOT following this tip has caused a significant degree of stress in my house TWICE over the last couple of months, I thought I would pass on this tidbit!

In the past few weeks, I have been desperate to locate a number of receipts for purchases that we have made over the last couple of years. Interestingly, it is for two totally different reasons and yet having receipts would resolve both problems and have saved us a significant amount of money in both cases.

I actually have a TON of receipts from the past few years, the key is 1) keeping the right ones and 2) keeping those where I can find them, and where they are grouped with other pertinent information.

The first situation where I needed to find several receipts was when our garage was broken into. Several of my husbands power tools were stolen, and then found at the pawn shops very near our house (how is that for brilliant?!).  The problem was, that despite the fact that we could actually put our hands on OUR tools, because could not locate a receipt AND having a serial number off the tool ..we could not prove that they were ours.  So, we have watched all our tools disappear from the shelves, knowing that someone benefitted from our lack of organization!

To fix this, I would suggest two things for when you buy anything in your home that has a higher price value, that you would want/need to replace if stolen or lost....1) staple the receipt to the booklet that comes with the item.  It is easier to keep up with a booklet (I keep all my booklets/instruction books/etc in a file folder in my file cabinet) than a receipt, and that way it all together.  2) immediately write the serial number on the receipt and/or booklet...even with the receipt, we could not have gotten that stuff back if we didnt have that identifying number also.

Any home owners insurance company would suggest this as well. In the even that your things are stolen, you will be able to get them back (if they are found) or have them replaced for insurance purposes MUCH easier. 

I have found that it doesnt take but a few minutes to go through the house and inventory my tv's, computers, large power tools, appliances, etc.  I may not have the receipts for those, but having that number will help if needed.

The second reason we needed that all-important receipt, makes me feel like an idiot. I apparently hadnt learned as of 2 years ago the importance of the receipt for the validity of a warranty. We have a tv that we have purchased about 2 years ago, along with the extended warranty the store offered (I know, another lesson learned). Now that the tv has broken, and we need to use that extended warranty ...that $150 purchase is null and void because we didnt keep/attach the receipt for its purchase.  That was a $150 piece of paper!

It also true of manufacture's warranties ...a receipt is necessary to claim.

Again, attaching the receipt to the booklet would have solved this one.

A little organization now, can save a lot of headaches later!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Less Stressed Dinner: Crockpot Ham

A friend shared this great tip with me recently and I have used it TWICE since then ..great tip for a family who LOVES ham and mashed potatoes!

It has gone on sale recently for us, so I had to pick up several of them to make sure we had a great supply for the next few months. Only problem, you usually have to think about cooking it 1.5-2 hours in the oven.  I dunno, for some reason adding foil just adds stress to the whole process for me :)

BUT...I LOVE the less stress version of cooking a ham because I can put it in the pot first thing in the morning or late afternoon on high, and avoid trying to manage something in the oven for a couple of hours at the peak hours of our craziness. My friend puts sprinkles the bottom of her crock pot with brown sugar and then places her ham, bone side down in the pot ..that is all.

After about 4 hours it is awesome, hot, falling apart of oh, so yummy!

Now, because we love it and I got a good deal on the price we have been making some large hams lately.  To avoid the same meal over and over again, I have used this way yummy ham in a few different ways ...

Ham and Cheese Chowder
Chopped or shredded ham, about 2 cups
2 cups of milk
Cream of Chicken Soup, 1 can
4 medium potatoes, cubed
celery, some, sliced
onion, some chopped
corn, 15oz can
garlic powder
8 oz of cubed velveeta cheese

I just heated up the milk/soup, added the potatoes, onions, and celery. Cook until potatoes are tender, add corn, ham and cheese. Season to taste with garlic powder, kosher salt or whatever you have in the pantry. 

Also, I grew up on beans and rice. Nothing makes a pot of (super cheap) pinto beans yummier than a leftover ham bone! I always take this into account when I am slicing up my ham, making sure to leave a good amount of ham stuck to the bone. I usually put this in a ziplock and save for later when we arent "hammed" out :)

To make a pot of ...

Beans and Ham
1lb dry pinto beans
1 ham bone with some meat
Some shakes of cumin, garlic and kosher salt

Again, I use the crock pot! I put the beans in the crock pot, cover with water til the beans are covered about an inch or so. Soak beans for about an hour (if you have time, if not no worries).  Add ham bone right in the middle of the beans, it can even be still frozen. Turn crock pot on low for the day, or high for 4 or so hours.  We usually serve over rice for a yummy and super filling dinner!

What else do you do with your leftover ham? ...we also love ham sandwiches ...yum!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Be.

I find myself having to be reminded on a constant basis to slow down.

My default settings require of me that I am in constant motion, if not physically I am mentally running a marathon. My mind never stops, my thoughts always are processing and pondering. My heart is always mulling and considering, evaluating and planning.

This morning, as I listen to the music and consider the beautiful words I found this morning on A Holy Experience ..I am reminded by the stillness this morning to just be.

To be at peace.

To be calm.

To be still.

To value quiet, and encourage rest.

I have much to do today, as every day simply because I have three little ones, a husband, a home and responsibilities to fulfill.

In that, I will still rest spirit at peace, knowing that all things are passing and my only job is to do what I have to do with a sense of purpose to bring Him glory ..that is all.

It is not easy for me, because the world tells me I have to rush, produce, be busy. Of course, there are things to do ...but my prayer is that today you and I can find that rest amidst the chaos of our wonderful lives...

"Be still, and know that I am God."
Psalms 46.10

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tips On Tuesday: Shiny Sink

I am being a tip-stealer lately, but I figure that just because it isnt my original idea doesnt mean its not a great idea! :)

In effort to get control of my house a bit better I am using alot of Flylady's ideas (like Hot Spots) more of them I have been using and have used is the "Shiny Sink" concept.

Flylady claims that by keeping your sink "shiny" you can keep a better control of your whole house ..I have to admit from experience, that it works!

She uses this as one of the first "baby steps" in her plan to decluttering your home and mind. It seems a simple thing, and it is. By keeping your sink always empty, cleaned out, sparkling and dry you are somehow motivated to keep the rest of the room clean; and in so doing, propelling yourself past the kitchen to the rest of the house.

I realize I am easily inspired, but it does work this way for me.
I have found that when I focus on keeping my sink shining, I keep the rest of the kitchen in order as well. Claiming this small victory really helps motivate me to the rest of the small victories I desire to claim as well.

Keeping my sink shiny means that I (and my family) either put the dishes directly in the dishwasher, or set dishes on the counter rather than in the sink. For some reason, it bothers me more to have the dishes on the counter and I am more motivated to get the dishwasher emptied and refilled.

I have found that her assertion that a made bed in the master bedroom works the same way, also works well for me. She says that a made bed is like a "shiny sink" for the bedroom. I agree - because somehow a made bed in the midst of clothes and other clutter just isnt as pretty :)

On the bad days when there is only mass choas as far as the eye can see it helps to see one  (or two if I get the bed made) spot that is decluttered and pretty :)

Its a small thing, but it makes a big difference for us :)

Monday, January 17, 2011


Its one of those weeks, and weekends when my stress level seems certainly more connected to my hormones, emotional state and physical state than actual stress ...

Can you relate?

Its one of those times when it feels like EVERYTHING is stressful matter how small? ..where everything seems bigger than it is, and "stress-inducing" is a relative term? when it seems the world is out to get you and you are certain that everyone around you is on the conspiracy?

Yup, today I can relate.

I know that there are reasons, one of which is that we saw the 5th anniversary of my brothers death pass this weekend, which is a significant emotional strain for me and my family.  That put me in the frame of mind that allowed me to get my feelings hurt, my nerves on edge and my spirit weary.

Today, all that seems greater because I was up much of the night with a crying baby ..which threw off my awesome plan to beat the kids up so could get my head together better. I missed my quiet time with God (I know what you are thinking ..then what you are you doing blogging? ..good point.)  and didnt get planned for school this week, the house is cluttered... Blech

I know I will be fine here in a day or two ...but my point is (in case you were wondering :) is that my default settings cannot be relied on today!

My defaults are quite clear I am afraid ...yuck, yuck and more yuck.

I share this with you ..people who may not know me at all, because I know we are all here at times. Life is that way, and some days are harder than others. We dont live on a island where perfect plans results in perfectly executed days, or where all things are equal all the time. Our resources are dynamic, our fuel levels are variable, our default settings stronger one day than on another.

These days are the ones where we need to be filled with the Spirit the most allow His power to overwhelm those powerful desires to give in to the yuck of our minds, hearts and spirits.

Pray for me today ...I am going to be just fine, just gotta ride this wave ...but I will also pray for who are in the same boat as me...

"May the God of Hope fill you with Joy and Peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit"
Romans 15:13

Monday, January 10, 2011

Less Stressed Dinner: Green Bean and Chicken Casserole

I mentioned last week that I have TWO standby casseroles ...this is one is another one that my family LOVES. Its a little more involved than the Creamy Chicken Casserole, but not much.

Its another one that has variables that make it easy to have the ingredients at hand. 

Green Bean and Chicken Casserole

2 cups of shredded chicken 
{breasts or leftover whatever is great}
Uncle Ben's Rice Mix - prepared
{I use the chicken and wild, or the chicken and mushroom usually}
1 can of cream of mushroom or chicken soup
{either is great)
1 cup of mayo OR sour cream
{I can tell the difference, honestly}
2 cans french style green beans
1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Italian bread crumbs
(or crushed ritz, corn flakes..whatever)
Parmesan cheese ..if you have it

Mix the chicken, rice, soup, mayo, green beans and cheese in a 9x13 casserole dish. 
Top with bread crumbs (I just lightly sprinkle them over the top) and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place in oven, 350 degrees until bubbly and cheese is melted.

This one is great left over too!

Hope this makes for a Less Stressed dinner for you sometime soon!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

a prayer

My mom shared this ancient prayer on her blog not too long ago ...its is appropriate for her and my dad because they are making radical movements towards a new life in Singapore! 

Regardless of where you spend your days and minutes, at home with little ones or ministering our brothers and sisters in another country ...may this prayers belong to each one of us.

Jesus, I am a humble, lowly servant.
Take me; all of me.
Adding anything, take anything away; 
at any cost, with any price, 
Make me yours completely ...wholly.
May I not be remembered for the way I wear my hair,
for the shape of my face, or for the people I know,
or for the friends and crowds I have addressed. 
May be known for loving you, 
for carrying a dream,
For building bridges to the hurt, to the broken,
and to the lost in the world.
Make me what you would be
if you lived in person where I do.
Make everything accomplished through my simple life 
bring honor and glory to you.
Take my human flaws and failures, 
and use them to remind those who know me
That only YOU are God, and I will always be {me}


Wednesday, January 5, 2011


During this time when so many of us are ready hit the ground running making ourselves better moms, wives and women, I think its a good time to really question what our motivations are for doing that.

Motivation has a TON to do with how we will suceed those goals, and if we should even adjust some of them!

When making your new years resolutions this year, ask yourself why? will help determine how you are going to use your resources to get there.

We are called to "do everything as working for the Lord, and not for man" Colossians 3:   ...if we are truly doing that, then we just changed how we distribute a good portion of our mental, emotional, time-focused and physical resources.

Why are you trying to lose weight? fit into a cultural norm that says we need to be this BMI to be "healthy"? Or so that you can take better care of your physical resources?  ...on one hand you may use misuse resources God gave you to overly focus on your body, on the other you may find every area of your life more balanced and God glorifying.

The difference in motivation may be the difference of 20 pounds ...because I could probably get down to a perfect little 135 ..but I would have to focus 100% on that area of my life. But, I may learn to be content with (ahem...) a higher number, so that I can give only its due in that area ..making sure I am giving what God needs to be in every area of my life.

The difference in motivation may be a spotless house, and one that is organized enough for my family to function well. The difference my also be being happy with just enough, rather than more than I need in the way of new clothes or new stuff. 

Does that make sense?

Only when we couple our resources with the right motivations, can we trust that we will be appropriating our resources the way we need to be.

HOW do we do may ask? ..I am glad you did :)

To answer that, we have to look at anothers' motivation.

Lets take a look at John 16 ...During the last evening of discussion of Jesus and his disciples Jesus assures and comforts his friends by saying, "...I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you. But, If I go I will send Him to you." 16:7

Without Christ's death, the Holy Spirit could not come ..but why do we need that? 

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I love with you, my peace I give you."  15:16   and again in 16:13"..when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes he will guide you into all truth."  

What does that mean for us, and what we do with our days? ..."His divine power {His Spirit in us} has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world, caused by evil desires." 2 Peter 1:3-4
 His motivation ...Ephesians chapter 1, vs 4ff ..."for He chose us in Him before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will."

I am so amazed that the Spirit in me knows all of God ...that same Spirit guides me in Truth. The Truth guides us to bring pleasure to God!  ...and I have everything in me to do that already!
This year, as I plan my goals and hopes for myself I desire {as I am sure you do} to bring pleasure and glory to God! I can only do that by allowing the Spirit in my to guide my motivations, my use of resources, my plans and my days.

That may mean my BMI is higher than the Wii Fit is happy with ..but I am okay with that :)

{Welcome ifellowshippers ..I am blessed by your being here!}

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tips on Tuesday: Hot Spots

I have mentioned before that I really like to use many of Flylady's ideas for destressing my home.  One of her ideas that I have used for years is the idea of Hot Spots.

Hot Spots are those places in your home that are often the starting point of your house being taken over by the clutter. They are also the spots, if they are kept under control, that are the starting point for getting control regained.

According to Flylady, Hot Spots are  an area, when left unattended will gradually take over. My favorite analogy is of a hot spot in a forest fire, if left alone, it will eventually get out of hand and burn up the whole forest. This is what happens in our homes. If left unattended, the hot spot will grow and take over the whole room as well as making the house look awful. When you walk into a room, this is the first thing you see.

Flylady encourages you to identify those areas, and purposefully plan on several points in the day where give attention to them.  Her email reminders throughout the day prompt you to take care of those Hot Spots.

Your Hot Spots may look like this ...

{yikes..I am embarrassed to show this one!}

Or this...
Or this....

For me, taking time to pay close attention to these areas specifically, I can keep an general feeling of control over my clutter. They are also a great starting point when you are in that "where do I even start?!" mode. I am there often, so I speak from experience :)

One other thing that I do for myself, is to "yay me!" with a candle in that spot. Because, lets be honest..really, I may be the only person who even noticed that spot has stayed decluttered all day :) I like to "celebrate" my accomplishment with a tea light or a scented candle, which also helps me keep that spot decluttered for the rest of the day. 

What are YOUR Hot Spots?  Mine are the island in the kitchen (clearly), my entry way table, my kitchen table, my end tables in the living room and my dresser in my bedroom....

Monday, January 3, 2011

Less Stressed Dinner: Creamy Chicken Casserole

Having dinner taken care of is a HUGE weight off on any given day ...yes?

I am all about {Less Stressed} Dinners ...because they are planned in advance, made from staple items I typically keep around and (if its a good one) I can kill more than one bird with one stone.

I have two go-to extremely versatile recipes that fit all those qualifications ..they are actually kinna similar, but both easy peasy and totally adaptable for what you may have in the house.

The first one I stole and adapted from my friend, Kim. Hers was a simple creamy chicken casserole. I adapted it a bit and added a veggie to make it a one-dish supper, leaving adding another vegetable or bread totally optional (at least in my book).

Its also a favorite because just about every ingredient is part of the sales cycle at my local grocery stores. I can get most of these things on sale somewhere just about every week, or I can stock up on it for later.

It also makes a great make-ahead, make-alot, take-to-someone meal. ...So without further adieu...

{Creamy Chicken Casserole Dinner}

4 Chicken Breasts, cooked and shredded
{or chicken from a whole chicken, or leftovers from a rotissourie chicken, etc)
1 can of cream of "something" soup
{I have used cream of chicken, celery or mushroom ..whatever I have}
8 oz sour cream
8-15 oz of a veggie ..canned or frozen
{I use french style green beans, corn, or mixed veggies}
1.5 rolls of Ritz crackers, crushed
{I really like the veggie flavored ones!}
1 stick of melted margarine

I just throw my shredded chicken in a 9x13 casserole dish; mix in the soup, sour cream and veggies. Then, I crush the Ritz crackers, pour them into the melted butter, mix until all the crumbs are coated well with butter. Then, place the buttered crumbs on the top of the chicken mixture.  Pop in the oven for about 350 degrees, until the top is crunchy and the middle is bubbly. 

Since stealing this from Kim, it has become a Steed family favorite ..hope you can use it to make a Less Stressed Dinner soon!

Happy {Less Stressed} New Year!

I LOVE the New Year!

 {this was taken in Nashville, Tennessee where me and my family spent a white Christmas!}

I know it has a remarkable amount to do with my type "a" personality, but I love the newness of it. I love the vast openness of 12 unadulterated months of the year stretching before me. It holds so much potential..dont you think?

I have to stop myself from going overboard with "newness" though - I tend to want to scrap everything that is frustrating (my routines, my clutter, my systems) or not working well. I trend on the side of "get rid of everything and start over again!"  ..but this year I have determined to do no such thing.

I had a good year last year. I feel I grew in ways that I feel blessed and want to grow on those, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. I feel like I got some momentum and just want to carry that through to 2011 and keep a good thing going.

As a christian woman and/or wife/mom, you probably have similar goals as me - better care of my house, and my body, and to move towards a better relationship with God.

Those three things are really encompassing of several new and old (needing freshened up) habits, and will no doubt be the same ones I desire for next year :) ..but they are no less a great start.

With these thoughts in mind I have been mentally planning some things for LPLS in 2011 - posts reflecting my own desire to live peacefully with less stress in the areas of my life that I dwell the most. I hope to use this place a grounding place for my own challenges and efforts, and hope you will join me in that quest to being more what God wants me to be!

Lets get started ..its going to be a great year!

What great things are you feeling hopeful for in 2011?! I cant wait to hear!
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