My Favorite Things

It has been a crazy transition back to Lebanon. This post is going to very quickly and visually show you our lives, and I am going to share a few of my favorite things right now that are helping us master our lives!

This post does contain affiliate links, which will make it super fun if you purchase any of the things through this page because I will get a percentage with no extra cost to you!

We came back to Lebanon and found out that Kyrie Rebekah is allergic to sesame seeds.

However, after removing sesame seeds from her diet, she was still having tummy trouble. So, we took her to the doctor and they recommended getting blood and stool tests. Stress and sadness began to enter our lives, until I went to church on Sunday and a woman was talking to me about her newfound allergy, and says to me, “Make sure she doesn’t have any tahini. That’s sesame seed paste.”

Tahini!

The light bulbs started going on in my brain! Hummus is made with chickpeas and tahini, and in my desire to keep Kyrie eating, I had bought her a tub of hummus. No, I am not going to put an affiliate link for hummus here because there is no way it would taste as good as hummus from the Middle East. If you want good hummus, you will just have to visit us!

With that discovery, Kyrie has been fine, and all is well. Full health has returned to her, and she no longer feels sick.

Praise the Lord!

What are my favorite things to get through this time of stress?

My daily devotional which I have been reading all year, and think is amazing!

The devotional I have been using all year is the Moravian Daily Text for 2017. I mentioned this in a previous post sharing how my desire to Belong in my own skin has included searching into my heritage of being Moravian. Moravians were the founders of 24/7 prayer, and forged the way in so many missions movements. Each day has a verse from the Old Testament and New Testament along with a selection from a hymn for each verse. The text for the day ends with a prayer. It is encouraging to know there are so many others reading that same text and praying that prayer along with me every single day. I am so encouraged, and strive to do as Bonhoeffer asked his seminary students at Finkenwalde, to refuse to rise from the reading until my heart has shifted toward God.

Bath & Body Works, Signature Collection Body Lotion, Dark Kiss, 8 Ounce I love having a lotion that can make me feel calm and beautiful. This lotion is my favorite in the whole world! If you click through to buy you will make it even more my favorite because I will make a small amount of money and also will know that someone will be feeling as good as I feel when I use this lotion. Do yourself a favor and get some Dark Kiss, it is amazing!

This next fun item, I have never seen in America, and I am so excited to share it because all of my friends back home can have a taste of Lebanon in America because of Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial“>Amazon!

Lion Bars are our go to grocery store treat. When we take the kids shopping we all get one small treat for getting through the ordeal. If you haven’t taken our grocery store challenge to learn how to shop like you live in Lebanon, go put it on your calendar now. And if you just want a candy we commonly eat, go ahead and try Lion Bars.

Finally, I will end with a treat that we have never seen here until now. Tension Tamer is my all time favorite tea from Celestial Seasonings. When Louis and I went on the tour through the Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, the tour guide tried to stump the group by asking, “Which tea has hops?” I knew right away, and also the other strange ingredients that make up my favorite tea. If you haven’t had this amazing, unique blend, try it today. It truly does tame my tension.

Thus ends my post meant to bring a smile to your face, reassurance that we are all alive and well, and give you a taste for our lives here figuratively as well as literally.

And one final word about Amazon. I love Amazon. Being able to ship things to our families and friends for birthdays and holidays with no shipping costs because of Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial“>Amazon Prime has been a lifesaver for us. Now the video and book services have made it even a better deal. So, yes, if you get Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial“>Prime or any of these other fun items from this funny post, I will make a tiny bit, but also it is so worth it.

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

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Best Books for Seasons of Overwhelm

Repost: This past week I sent out a prayer letter to all of our prayer challenge team to pray this week because I am feeling extremely overwhelmed. There is no time to sit down and write a wonderful blog post about it, but I will soon. Until then I thought it would be useful to others to have access to the resources I return to over and over when I am overwhelmed. I dug up this old blog post for myself, and figured I would repost it for you. Yes, the links are associate links with Amazon. It will cost you nothing to click through. If you do decide to purchase anything I will get a small percentage of that money with no extra cost to you.

The Golden Rule

I have often struggled with the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), thinking that it would be insulting to my neighbor if I was to love her as I love myself. I have always thought negatively about myself, even in elementary school, believing I was far bigger than others, hairier, louder, and something was wrong with me. The last few years have truly turned me around, and now I truly do see that I must learn to love myself in order to love those around me. God has commanded that I love my neighbor as myself and I would very much like to love on my neighbor, which means I must elevate the love I have for myself. I must stop denying God in His outspoken love for me. I must heal and learn to belong in my skin if I am to love others properly.

The Permission Slip

Today I give myself permission to take better care of myself. I will learn to believe that I am enough, that I have worth, and that I am valuable. Every day I will attempt to say no to something in order to take time for caring for myself. When I sit down with chores and tasks and schedules, I will make sure to add things I enjoy like writing and reading and exercise. I will continue to get to know myself, my potential, my dreams, and my goals for the future. I will continue to walk toward God and learn His Will. In all of these steps, in prayer and meditation, and in practicing kindness toward myself, I will truly Belong. My happiness will be a positive light in the lives of my family and friends and all around me, making it worth the journey.

The Fringe Hours

I will receive a small bit of the money if you click through the links on this page to purchase these books from Amazon, with no extra cost to you. How awesome is that?

I am currently reading the book, The Fringe Hours, by Jessica Turner. Throughout the book there are various writing prompts, so I decided to share this response to one of them. In my quest to learn to love myself this year I knew that books would hold many a key to unlocking the doors and windows in myself. This book has indeed begun to do just that with only a quarter of it read. I am taking my time as I read through it so that the truths of God’s love for me, and my need to love myself in order to pass that love onward, can seep into me. I love reading books with meaning just as much as I love reading books to escape. However, to read a book that will change my life takes many more days than cozy mysteries and adventure novels. Once I finish a book that takes me on a journey through myself, changes a habit or attitude of mine, it is very challenging to share that personal testimony with others. Therefore, many of the most important books get no more than a mere recommendation in passing from me, if that. This is why I thought recommending this book at the beginning of that journey would be successful.

Help Yourself to More Reading

Let me recommend some more books that have been instrumental in my life over the past year or so. I thought I would include links to past reviews that relate to this category as well, so below the new reviews I have included pictures of previous books which you can click on to find my review of that book.

The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. was a game changer for me. Finding out there is a whole community of fellow “barometers” (someone who can sense others’ emotions, and is vastly affected by the mood of a room) as my mom always called me, was thrilling! This book taught me so many things about myself that I have now been able to accept rather than work to change. I recommend it for anyone struggling as I was to live in a sandpaper world.

Rachel Wojo’s
One More Step was instrumental in my moving into this season with joy. I was concerned for the year of waiting for Kyrie to get surgery that only in her healing would I find peace and joy. I learned through all of these books, and it was cemented through this book, that I can find joy in the pain, I can begin to heal even before I can find any solutions. I finished this book sitting in Cyprus watching these birds, and that image is one I return to over and over when I am feeling low. I was able to sit in my pain and feel God’s Presence and hear his voice promising a future. Like Abraham I was able to take one more step each day, to rise early, to obey, without any confirmation of the promise. This book was the one at the beginning of this season of Abraham I feel that I am currently in, so it sits in my memory as a huge book in my year. This book required a contract between myself and God, and I return to that piece of paper almost every other week to remember the promises, and to seek one more step of obedience to God. If you are in the in between of seasons, a time of struggle or transition or trial, this is the book for you. If you are feeling weaker and weaker instead of stronger, read this book before you give in to the exhaustion.

I cried every chapter of Undone. This beautiful memoir by Michele Cushatt softened my heart in so many ways. It gave me the courage to keep going through the trials of waiting for Kyrie’s surgery and watching her in pain all the time. Truly, it was life altering to join with Michele in her story through her beautiful writing.

All of Sarah Young’s devotionals have been wonderful for me to grab for a quiet time of prayer and meditation. I so appreciate her gentle way with words and the practice of taking a verse and treating it as straight from the mouth of God as well as something to respond to. She truly makes it safe and easy to be in conversation with God, to pray always as we are called to do. Dear Jesus is one of my favorites because it starts with the place of vulnerability which I really needed the past two years.

This is only the beginning of the original post because I only included the books that I think would aid me in this time of being overwhelmed.  There are plenty of other books that have helped me, and as I work through this season, hopefully I will be able to start sharing some more awesome books I have been reading. Please share any books that have helped you in seasons of overwhelm. And thank you for purchasing through my links, this is my first Amazon Associate post, and I appreciate the support.

Do This One Thing To Get Rid of Digital Distraction in Your Life

In The Beginning

This blog was started because a nurse thought that I wouldn’t be able to read as a mom. Since that day my son was born until now I have been constantly reminded that we can accomplish something when we really put our minds and energies towards that one thing.

In an ongoing series about the Spiritual Life of Christians I shared about our Ideal, Paragon, and Focus. As we focus on goal setting we can often choose things that sound good, but aren’t things we ever intend on doing.

However, I meant to read because it gives me life. I enjoy it, find purpose in it, and it is a huge benefit to me.

How Do You Read So Much?

It is funny to me when people ask me this because reading is such a part of my life, and I love to do it. To me the answer is, “Of course I can find the time to read!”

I have a dear friend who reads far more than I do. As I look at the two of us, natural readers, reading a part of our DNA, I know that it is because we make it a priority. If you hear me say that and think you want reading to be a priority, but you still don’t check a book out from the library, it is possible you are merely trying to compare yourself to me or other readers you admire.

If I compared myself to my friend it would seem like I am not a reader after all. However, I am not reading for her, or for you, but for myself and to better my relationship with God.

Why Do You Read So Much?

Reading quiets down my soul and mind and gives me a place to vent internally, in notes, and in prayer; a way to escape; a place to say I don’t know and seek help; and a place to process all that is going on in life. For many people that isn’t their experience reading. I don’t want to tell you what experience you should have reading, or even to tell you to read.

We live in a time of social media and technology running huge chunks of our lives.

I was listening to a webinar today about multitasking and was so proud of myself for not being the person he was describing.

As I said before, this is natural for me, so my experience is not going to be your experience. Most likely if you are following my blog you have some level of technology access, so on some level there is some point at which you are distracted.

I am easily waylaid from my projects by multitasking. I used to think I was so amazing because I could “multitask”. Now I know that what I perceived as multitasking was really and truly getting high on adrenaline.

I Don’t Multitask

That is my secret ingredient for successful days. It is my secret ingredient for being able to read or cross stitch or homeschool or clean.

Now truly, there are distractions, there are alarms, and I am a mom.

But when I decide that we are going to homeschool, I don’t try to pick up a book while David works. I prep for the next activity, or I turn on their homeschool songs so we can sing and work. I stay on topic.

If I decide to read, I choose to do it when everyone else is also doing a quiet activity. I have trained my kids to have quiet times in their rooms, and I read during those times. I read during naps. I read while waiting for the bus. I read while Louis works on the computer after the kids go to bed.

If I decide to clean, I split my task in two. 1. Chores the kids can help with. These are chores that will require my oversight, so I can’t go dig in on a task I need to focus on while hoping they work. During cleaning times they have to stop playing and tidy up, wipe up spots, etc. 2. I put the kids in their rooms to play while I work on dishes or deep cleaning.

For me it is easy to focus with single mindedness, so this strategy works well to get me accomplishing what I want and need to do throughout the day.

Please Sign This Permission Slip

The Golden Rule

I have often struggled with the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), thinking that it would be insulting to my neighbor if I was to love her as I love myself. I have always thought negatively about myself, even in elementary school, believing I was far bigger than others, hairier, louder, and something was wrong with me. The last few years have truly turned me around, and now I truly do see that I must learn to love myself in order to love those around me. God has commanded that I love my neighbor as myself and I would very much like to love on my neighbor, which means I must elevate the love I have for myself. I must stop denying God in His outspoken love for me. I must heal and learn to belong in my skin if I am to love others properly.

The Permission Slip

Today I give myself permission to take better care of myself. I will learn to believe that I am enough, that I have worth, and that I am valuable. Every day I will attempt to say no to something in order to take time for caring for myself. When I sit down with chores and tasks and schedules, I will make sure to add things I enjoy like writing and reading and exercise. I will continue to get to know myself, my potential, my dreams, and my goals for the future. I will continue to walk toward God and learn His Will. In all of these steps, in prayer and meditation, and in practicing kindness toward myself, I will truly Belong. My happiness will be a positive light in the lives of my family and friends and all around me, making it worth the journey.

The Fringe Hours

I am currently reading the book, The Fringe Hours, by Jessica Turner. Throughout the book there are various writing prompts, so I decided to share this response to one of them. In my quest to learn to love myself this year I knew that books would hold many a key to unlocking the doors and windows in myself. This book has indeed begun to do just that with only a quarter of it read. I am taking my time as I read through it so that the truths of God’s love for me, and my need to love myself in order to pass that love onward, can seep into me. I love reading books with meaning just as much as I love reading books to escape. However, to read a book that will change my life takes many more days than cozy mysteries and adventure novels. Once I finish a book that takes me on a journey through myself, changes a habit or attitude of mine, it is very challenging to share that personal testimony with others. Therefore, many of the most important books get no more than a mere recommendation in passing from me, if that. This is why I thought recommending this book at the beginning of that journey would be successful.

Help Yourself to More Reading

Let me recommend some more books that have been instrumental in my life over the past year or so. I thought I would include links to past reviews that relate to this category as well, so below the new reviews I have included pictures of previous books which you can click on to find my review of that book. CLICK HERE to see my previous post of books that have helped me move from survival mode to thriving.

The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. was a game changer for me. Finding out there is a whole community of fellow “barometers” (someone who can sense others’ emotions, and is vastly affected by the mood of a room) as my mom always called me, was thrilling! This book taught me so many things about myself that I have now been able to accept rather than work to change. I recommend it for anyone struggling as I was to live in a sandpaper world.

Rachel Wojo’s
One More Step was instrumental in my moving into this season with joy. I was concerned for the year of waiting for Kyrie to get surgery that only in her healing would I find peace and joy. I learned through all of these books, and it was cemented through this book, that I can find joy in the pain, I can begin to heal even before I can find any solutions. I finished this book sitting in Cyprus watching these birds, and that image is one I return to over and over when I am feeling low. I was able to sit in my pain and feel God’s Presence and hear his voice promising a future. Like Abraham I was able to take one more step each day, to rise early, to obey, without any confirmation of the promise. This book was the one at the beginning of this season of Abraham I feel that I am currently in, so it sits in my memory as a huge book in my year. This book required a contract between myself and God, and I return to that piece of paper almost every other week to remember the promises, and to seek one more step of obedience to God. If you are in the in between of seasons, a time of struggle or transition or trial, this is the book for you. If you are feeling weaker and weaker instead of stronger, read this book before you give in to the exhaustion.

I cried every chapter of Undone. This beautiful memoir by Michele Cushatt softened my heart in so many ways. It gave me the courage to keep going through the trials of waiting for Kyrie’s surgery and watching her in pain all the time. Truly, it was life altering to join with Michele in her story through her beautiful writing.

All of Sarah Young’s devotionals have been wonderful for me to grab for a quiet time of prayer and meditation. I so appreciate her gentle way with words and the practice of taking a verse and treating it as straight from the mouth of God as well as something to respond to. She truly makes it safe and easy to be in conversation with God, to pray always as we are called to do. Dear Jesus is one of my favorites because it starts with the place of vulnerability which I really needed the past two years.

Louis recommended God in the Flesh to me under the category of my reading challenge “Read a Book That Someone Tells You Changed His Life” Louis said this book changed his life, and I took months to even start it. It was one of the few books we physically brought to Lebanon, so I had access to it, but I was scared I wouldn’t get the same things out of it which Louis had. Wow, was this book powerful. The simple way with words that Don Everts has makes the Truths of Jesus unavoidable and I had so much faith growing during the time I took to read this book. The book was instrumental in realizing that fundamentals of Christianity can always be deepened and strengthened.


Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell CLICK HERE for review         
This Momentary Marriage, by John Piper CLICK HERE for review        
When the Darkness Will Not Lift, by John Piper CLICK HERE for review        
21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, by Crystal Paine CLICK HERE for review        
How To Keep A Spiritual Journal, by Ron Klug CLICK HERE for review

What I Wish You Knew About Me

EDIT: In linking back to this page, I have added affiliate links. If you click through an affiliate link and choose to buy something I will receive a small percentage at no additional cost to you. 

Who Am I?

I am in a year of seeking to Belong. I want to belong in my own skin, I want to feel like I belong in Lebanon, I want to belong in my community. It may surprise some of you to know that I do not feel comfortable most of the time anywhere. I am a highly sensitive person, and noise, smell, and the general environment around me throw me off very quickly. I have been working very hard to modify sensory input for myself over the past two years as I have learned more about myself. I have learned that I cannot change these aspects of myself, and I am striving this year to find the beauty in the way God has created me rather than always praying I could be fixed.

This year I am in the process of taking out old dreams and dusting them off to see if God intended for them to be put away. Rather than live in regret, I am taking the time to unpack myself, get to know myself, and hopefully fall in love with myself.

moravian

Getting To Know Me

This past year I read a set of books on the History of the Moravian Church. My paternal family is Moravian, and growing up we were a part of the Christmas Love Feasts and whenever I was asked what denomination I was I would reply Moravian. Saying “nothing” sounded lame, and while I didn’t really know what it meant to be Moravian, I felt that it made me a part of something bigger to say Moravian. To claim a nondenominational church was to be a part of something much smaller. In my reading this set of books, I was thrilled to find so much commonality between my life and their history. Moravians are the founders of the 24/7 prayer movement, first missionaries to many areas of the world, and not bound by building their own churches, but rather intent on unity among denominations. These are all values I share. One of the pieces of the history that struck me was the Moravians created a textbook that was sent out to all Moravians which contained verses for daily meditation. This was a boon to the missionaries who could find comfort in the knowledge that they were reading the very same verses as their brethren in every other part of the world.

In a biography I read this past year of Bonhoeffer I found, much to my delight, that Bonhoeffer also discovered these textbooks and he required all the students at his secret seminary Finkenwalde to practice meditation with them. As I set goals for myself to get to know myself, to be more intentional, to learn to pray as an intercessor again, I realized there were many aspects of what I wanted that did not have a measurable aspect or restriction of time. These are habits I want to grow in for the rest of my life. So, I bought myself that textbook, it is still published every year with verses from the heart of the Moravian Church, Herrnhut in Germany. They are called Moravian Daily Texts, and I would love to share this tradition with you. I am loving it.

I am following Bonhoeffer’s plan of meditation using the Daily Texts as my verses each day as he did. I do make a small amount of money if you purchase it by clicking through at no additional cost to you.

P.S. The amazing Bonhoeffer biography was called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas. You should definitely read it.

I Love Running

The second part of myself I am dusting off is running. I am a runner. I run from conflict and I ran in track in junior high. Last week I was waiting with Davy for the bus and was so cold I started to jog in place. It felt so nice, that when the bus pulled away with Davy inside, I decided to run home. So, I ran up our driveway and then up the stairs. I was exhilarated and happy, smiling, and ready to laugh out loud. Immediately I researched the couch to 5k plan and added it to my workout plan, which was to begin the very next day. I will be sharing more about this in the coming weeks as I establish it as a habit, and please feel free to join me as I work through the 9 weeks.

I am planning on running in a 5k in Tucson in September.

Lifelong Learner

There is always more to learn about our kids, friends, spouses, and selves. I am on a journey to do just that, and learn where I belong in it all. It is shaping up to be a great year.

 

Outliers: A Book Review

This is Day 8 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge! Yesterday Louis and I went out to a hockey game and I completely forgot about it, so I didn’t get a chance to write. I am learning through this challenge about writing during times of great flex. I feel most relaxed to write well at night, but I need to prepare ahead of time to make the time to write late at night.

 

Outliers

 

 


This book is such a good book. When it first came out I was so excited to read it, but forced myself to wait until the month I had it in our budget to purchase a book online. I LOVED the book. The whole purpose is to look at success and to take apart the ideas that we hold to of there being these excellent people who come from nothing and have no help along the way. The book is excellent and worth reading, and in this short post I won’t be able to do it justice. For me it was wonderful to look at the different aspects of making excellence in the multiple case studies he shares about. The writing style is so easy to read and makes the statistics understandable while not sacrificing the numbers and purpse of data.

Greatness

I truly believe Louis, my husband, is meant to be great. So, for me reading this book was also helpful in looking at his life and how to support him. One of the main points the book makes about greatness is that it takes about 10,000 hours of real practice to become an expert at something. I began to think about what Louis spends hours and hours doing. Theological application is one that came to mind. Even before he became a Christian, my husband was thinking through those ethical dilemnas and working out religious problems. People is another one of Louis’ expertises. He has spent years studying the people around him. Malcolm Gladwell explains that to hit that 10,000 hours takes about 10 years, which is how Louis can be so good at these things at a young age.

Highly Recommended

As I said I can’t explain it all in this short post, but you should read the book for sure because it was an excellent and important book. As I am moving into the New Year and making goals and plans, I want to become a better me. I have great aspirations for creating a life for myself of independence and purpose. I want to move forward with focus and intentionality. I want to belong in my own skin. I want to love myself and learn to be happy. As I read Outliers I also spent time thinking about my own expertise. I have spent at least 10,000 hours reading. I was thinking about this and getting down on myself for not being better at English. But it occurred to me, that like the post earlier about never throwing out an idea, I have a vast web of connections through reading. I have learned about people, the way people think, and now use those ideas in my own writing.

I was able to look at a lot of things analytically through this book. The book taught me to read between the lines in any story of someone rising to greatness in order to see the help actually received along the way. No one can do it on their own. We all need community as well as passion. So exciting to think about.

This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence

Skinnied Sunday

As you have seen, I am working through my very own FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. The only way to get the prompts so you can join is to CLICK HERE!

Sunday is a Skinnied down version of the Challenge, so today I am going to link to some past posts that you may be interested in.

The first post I am linking to is my review of an excellent prayer journal book I read this past year. If you are following the Challenge, or if you are inspired by my own following to start a spiritual journal, read my review of How To Keep A Spiritual Journal.

Secondly, as the New Year comes up and you begin making resolutions, make Bible reading one of those resolutions. CLICK HERE for my own How To Make Your Own Bible Reading Plan.

Finally, let me take you over to my page of resources for creating New Years Resolutions or just lifestyle goals. CLICK HERE to get access to these FREE Resources.