The Storm…

The title felt fitting;) The storms aren’t actually hitting yet. There is rain in the forecast, but that’s about it thus far. My life has become quite introspective the last few days. Things that typically aggravate the crud out of me are rolling off my back and the things that I should be chill about are aggravating me…thus a nice glass of red wine greets me at night…oh, that the red wine would make the problems dissipate…

Wine does not make problems go away.

So, my human self is having to deal with the issues and let’s be honest. That’s really how it should be.

Anytime I decide to make a change for the better I am caught up in a struggle of some sort. I have always viewed these struggles as a distraction from what God really wants me to do. Sadly, a lot of times these struggles are self-induced. Laziness hits me and when I know I should stay up just a little later to get things done (or perhaps do those specific things earlier in the evening!) and my brain says…”oh, it’s okay, you’ll get to it tomorrow!” and tomorrow comes…and a week later the items remain undone.

Ugh.

So – 2016 – the year of better-ness! The year of doing things I say I’m going to do – and following through! I can do it – I mean, I wrote a freaking screenplay – I can actually see things through – actually finish them:)

So in the midst of all this change and trying to move through these emotions, I found this book: Living with Less So Your Family has More by Jill and Mark Savage. The intro to Chapter 1 had me hooked and spoke to my heart. I am really excited to see the wisdom they will impart. If you’re trying to figure out ways to improve your day to day living, to improve your family life and really take 2016 by storm – check out this book – and let me know your thoughts!

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The Calm before the Storm

IMG_0683Christmas has come and gone. Per my 8 year old – “This was the BEST Christmas EVER!” Kellen (5) completely disagreed and thought it was the WORST Christmas ever…because it wasn’t snowing. I hated to tell him to get used to it – we live in Georgia kid. Regardless of the warm weather, I am inclined to agree with Lincoln. As crazy as it was (and in a family as large as mine there is always chaos!), it was filled with so many joyful moments. My boys were able to play with their cousins that were visiting from Virginia. They picked up right where they left off.

The adults had a lot of champs which I’ve saved up for moments like these. We downed a bottle of Clicquot Rose faster than I would’ve liked (because who doesn’t want to keep drinking Clicquot?!) and then followed it up with some Luc Belaire…My mom had some Whispering Angel on hand too (finally – some EDI brands in the house!) and let’s just say we had a good time…Dinner was the traditional Chicken Kiev with Christmas Crackers🙂

We went bowling the day after Christmas and Kellen told me later, “I hate bowling.” Shocking – he won the game with a little help from an adorable dinosaur ball slide. I asked why and his response, “I didn’t get to do more bowling!” I cracked up.

Lincoln introduced his cousin to laser tag and while their team lost, they had a lot of fun tracking down the “enemy”. It ended up being a team of kids (all about the same age) and two adults. Lincoln can not wait to go back! Something tells me we may be doing some type of birthday celebration there – thank goodness we have some time to save up;)

Looking back I have few pictures from this weekend, but it’s because I chose not to feel guilty about capturing every moment. My phone was dead a lot of the weekend or had a child playing a game on it (thus the phone being dead)…so while I did limit playtime on the phone, I also wasn’t in a major hurry to recharge it. When things calmed down I did some meal planning and today was able to execute it.

I’m feeling pretty pumped about the New Year – excited about the new things going on at Empire and with Beachbody! I’m pretty sure 2016 will be a year to remember…and it hasn’t even begun yet:)

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Meal Plan: 12/28/15 – 1/2/16

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Our New Year’s resolution (ok, mine) is to be consistent about cooking meals that our whole family can sit down and eat together AND to waste less food that I’ve purchased. We’ll see how well we do…I admit that I am more of a recipe-follower vs a creator of my own recipe person.

Breakfast (will be the same everyday):
Kids: cereal/milk
Adults: Superfood, nutrient-dense shake

Lunch:
Kids:
Peanut Butter Sandwich
Apple
Fruit Leather (*homemade)
Drink: Water

Adults:
Mediterranean Tuna Salad with Greek-Style Pita Chips

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*Update – My first attempt went well. Assembling was super easy, pretty much chop and toss. My pita pieces were super thin so some were super browned, but nothing burned. Next time I’ll watch them a little bit more closely. I used this Greek seasoning. I liked it, but Kellen (5), thought it was a bit spicy (there’s some heat on the finish)…it was the only available at my grocer. I’ll continue to use it for Tim and I, but for the kids I’ll keep looking.

Couscous Chicken Salad

Dinner
Chicken with Tomato, Basil & Feta, Orzo with Pine Nuts
Chicken with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce, Mashed Potatoes

Merry Christmas!

3AM

This Christmas started at 3AM. I awoke to hearing the excitement of 2 little boys who discovered that Santa had indeed stopped at our house. 3AM is early…and reminds me why we need a house with stairs. As a kid, we were not allowed downstairs until my parents authorized it…strong word, but its the truth. So at 3AM we had some tears because we had to send them back to bed…but not before I realized that Lincoln was already WEARING one of his gifts that Santa left him! I LOVED it…and so back to bed they went…of course I didn’t go back to sleep so now I’m writing:)

This Christmas I went into the season with the goal to really MAKE the season. I wanted to focus on the good in the season, what Christ is really about – a baby coming as a gift from God to rescue the world. I wanted to tune out the negativity (is that possible?) and focus on the good things. Then we had the terror attack (I’m a sucker for some CNN) and I could see things headed to where they were last year…the bummer of living in a world that is sinful and selfish. The fear of having my children growing up with the wrong priorities…the fears of choosing job over family or…the list of fears can go on…

This Christmas

This Christmas is different. Christmas Eve started out rough – a power outage at the office (and yes I work Christmas Eve – it’s the liquor industry people;) someone needs to stock and REstock those shelves!) had me in a semi-ability to work. My computer kept turning itself off and on…and then it just quit completely. I gathered my team (and some additional co-workers ready to get something done while we waited) and we had a fabulous brainstorming session. It was fun to talk and laugh and brainstorm ways to make 2016 and 2017 better than 2015. We had some great ideas!

Christmas Eve service arrived and the boys joined us in service. It was crazy. Kellen got a new Bible while he was at my in-laws and he and Lincoln both brought their Bibles to service. Fun fact: Kellen can only read sight words. So each time scripture would pop up on the screen I had Kellen trying to follow along (and when the pastor would start explanations, Kellen would ask where he was, because obviously the pastor was continuing the scripture…so his finger would continue along the page while he would whisper “where is he now?”. Then next to me I had Lincoln, who would slap his Bible each time he got lost OR each time his Bible’s version didn’t match the version on the screen. I’m sure there were several folks who were asking themselves, “What is wrong with that family?! Can’t they keep their kids quiet?!” However, I choose to be stoked that my kids were attempting to follow along:)

At the very end of the service our pastor talked about giving your life to Christ. When I was younger we called it “asking Jesus into your heart”. The words seem cheesy and I think it’s because it doesn’t encompass all that it means…the relationship with Christ, the want to follow someone who gave up His life so that you could have eternity with Him. I have realized that it’s hard to put into words because it is about the environment, the person…and Lincoln asked me about it tonight. It started with the pastor mentioning a gift (hello – gifts are cool) and ended with me taking Lincoln out to talk to Tim who had pulled Kellen out because he was whispering a little too loudly, too often…and he might have whisper-yelled Lincoln at one point for messing with his Bible…maybe. Anyways, I talked to Lincoln and then traded out boys with Tim so they could finish the conversation…Tim told him he could always remember tonight as the night that he gave his life to Christ – whether he’d already felt like he’d done it or not – and Lincoln said, “Next year will be my anniversary!” My heart is SO FULL.

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Santa’s Coming! Santa’s Coming!

SantaKellenThe boys are at my in-laws until Christmas Eve. I have to admit, I was bummed when I realized that the boys would be gone right up until Christmas Eve. Tim thought I was crazy;) Truly though, with Christmas being my favorite holiday, the idea that the boys would not be with me up until the very moment of Christmas had me a bit sad. The laughter and the craziness makes me feel right at home – considering that’s how I grew up – a big family brings lots of noise and fun so this quiet time before the big day is something new.

While the rain is slowly starting to fall on this side of Georgia, I’m reflecting on how I want 2016 to be…The post yesterday shared some of my expectations of what 2016 can hold…More focus on those in need and less focus on the materialistic items – both for myself and my family.

Today I went to the bookstore and found myself perusing the social issues section. I love reading about others who have inspired and met challenges around the world from inner-city high schools to 3rd world countries. I found the companion to 3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson which I’m excited to begin reading as well as a few others that I’ll be mentioning in the coming weeks. I’m so grateful for the life God has given me and I want so much to be able to share my journey with others. It hasn’t been easy – the last few years since Tim left full time ministry has been difficult. We have both been learning to face the new reality and while I’m confident that God moved us from our former church, it does not make it any less painful. It’s been slow going, finding our footing. I found that I took just as much ownership in Tim’s former position as he did and while my identity was not his job – a portion of it was that job…that calling. So to find us both navigating the corporate world has been both fun and frustrating. I haven’t talked about that journey except with a few close friends. It’s similar to my journey at work and dreams of the future. Some are hard to vocalize because in stating what you want might make people question the path that you are on…I’m hoping in 2016 I’ll be able to share more of what we’ve learned, what I’ve learned. We haven’t navigated everything perfectly, but we’re not perfect people.

It sounds crazy, but a few years ago I am very confident God provided me with a vision of our future as I drove down I-285. It was the second time in 2 years I had felt God audibly speak to me. I debated whether the vision was exactly what the future would be or whether it was just a vision of what opportunity lay ahead. I’m still not sure, but I hold onto it and I believe that 2016 is the year I will begin to see it unfold.

I have to admit – I’m pretty excited!

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2016

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It’s hard to believe that it’s 2016 in 2 weeks. My brain is on overload…not just because Christmas is Friday, but also because the end of 2015 means I take a hard look at the year – and while it held so much good…it also held a lot of defeat…goals not met, frustration at school, home and work, too many medical issues…the list could go on and on. It’s an overwhelming feeling when you want to head one direction, but you can’t – for whatever reason.

And yet…2016 is filled with hope – New Goals – regardless of whether they’re the same as goals for the last 10 years…or perhaps brand new goals. I’ve been contemplating our family’s direction…what our purpose is. Freaking out a good portion of my family, I’ve given a lot of thought in the last few weeks on what it would look like to live in another country – possibly a third world country – with the boys. Tim has a heart for Haiti and I’m in love with Burkina and the folks I have met there. How would my boys grow up different? How would their outlook and world view turnout if they were in another environment other than an American one? I LOVE the states and my life here…our life here…but I keep feeling like we’re meant for more…

Alas, we have a LOT to accomplish before any of the above can even begin to be considered…communication is the #1 issue we’ve dealt with this year. One I fail at miserably everyday – at work and at home. So it’s top of mind as I head into the new year. Budgets are another thing on the list. We did not do well on the budget front this year which led to increased stress – not fun! So that’s big on the list. We’ve done it and done it well in the past so I know we can knock somethings out if we kick it into high gear…

Last, but definitely, not least, is health. Part of the deal with the health issues this past year was from injuries that kept us from being able to work out…and from craziness that led to unhealthy food habits. I’ve already started a list for meals in 2016 and while it KILLS me to cook the SAME THING over and over again – I’m working on a meal plan that’s good for the wallet and good for the belly:) I’ve been utilizing my 21 day fix cookbook because it allows me to see the portion controls…and we’ll be doing our nutrient dense shakes everyday – because it easily ensures we’re getting good nutrition – and because the kids think it’s dessert…

So here’s to 2016 – a year of hope & change – for the positive!

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