Monday, November 30, 2009

Overwhelmed by Your To-Do List?

Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed by your to-do list?

I sure do! If fact, more times than I'd like to admit. I've already sensed that today would be one of those overwhelming days.

Our family was out of town last week visiting my brother and his family for the Thanksgiving holiday. We had such an incredible time and what made it so special was that we just "hung out" the entire time. Our boys were completely content playing with their cousins. They had no interest in going to local attractions or doing any sight-seeing. I know... amazing, isn't it?

We returned home over the weekend and this morning reality slapped us all in the face at 5:45 am when it was time to get everyone ready for school and work. After Brody & Carson hopped on their buses, I snuggled up with a delicious cup of hazelnut coffee and my bible to have some quiet time. With so much on my plate today, I knew the best place to start was with Jesus.

I've been studying about prayer lately so I took some extra time to pray specifically through some situations that had been bothering me. When I was finished, I felt so encouraged and rejuvenated.

I grabbed a notepad and began jotting down my "to-do" list. One page turned into two pages and then three. With each turn of the notepad sheet, my encouragement turned to discouragement. I had so many items on my "to-do" list that I had to create subsections!

All that rejuvenation which held me only moments ago quickly disintegrated and I was left with a complete sense of frustration and wondering what on earth I should do first.

Am I the only woman on planet earth who can get so easily distracted and frazzled by a little piece of paper with line items on it?

Honestly, what would really happen if I didn't complete my to-do list. Well, for starters, the bills wouldn't get paid, the laundry wouldn't get done, and we'd have no food in the house.

Are you wondering what I did with that to-do list? Well, I wanted to burn it, crawl back into bed, and sleep for two more hours. Instead, I mentally handed my to-do list over to God. Since I've been studying prayer lately, I thought maybe God would help me out with my dilemma.

I told Him the things I felt were a priority for today but asked Him to show me what daily assignments He had chosen for me instead.

One by one, I went down the list and as I did, I realized something. Some of these things really
didn't need to be done today. In fact, they could wait until tomorrow or even the end of this week. I also noticed that some of these items could be delegated to other family members.

The most amazing thing was that God actually added some items to my to-do list. One was to send an encouraging email to a friend whose father just had open heart surgery last week. Another was to call my mom and wish her a "Happy Birthday" ... I COMPLETELY forgot it was her birthday today! I'm so glad Jesus reminded me. Another addition to my list was to tell my husband three things that I love about him and let him know how much I appreciate all that he does for our family.

Wow! God had given me three new assignments and I hadn't even had breakfast yet.

So what has this little exercise accomplished for me this morning?

For starters, I no longer am discouraged. If fact, that overwhelming feeling has been replaced with joy and a wonderful sense of peace. Also, my list has been condensed in a way that is realistic for my day. But most importantly I made a conscious decision to take my concerns to God right away instead of trying to figure things out on my own. He responded to my plea for help by showing me what's really important and what matters to Him today.

Do you have a long "to-do" list right now?

If so, I'd like to challenge you to take that list to God. Prayerfully ask Him to show you what items on that list needs to be accomplished today. I bet He'll prompt you to scratch off some things and delegate others to family members. He may even add some other daily assignments that you didn't even think about.

Oh, I sure hope He does! If so, please let me know. I'd love to hear how He's working in your life today.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful

Our family made a last minute decision to visit my brother and his family in Florida for Thanksgiving this year. I'm so glad we decided to throw our cares to the wind and do something totally spontaneous for a change.

My brother has a condo right on the beach that happened to be available this week. I've never packed three suitcases so fast in all my life. After a ten hour drive filled with movies, lots of reading, and only two pit stops we arrived safely with smiles our faces. My husband has a tendency to drive with a heavy foot so the fact that we made it to Florida accident-free is something to be thankful about.

Speaking of thankfulness, I just wanted to say "Happy Thanksgiving" to all of you!

As I sit at my laptop, I can't help but be distracted by the view out my window. I'm completely captivated by the beautiful white sand, crystal blue sky, emerald green water and those gorgeous pounding waves. There's a light breeze allowing the palm trees to dance and the only words that comes to my mind at this very moment is "I am so thankful".

Although this year had been tough... I mean REALLY tough for our family when it comes to finances, I can't help but reflect on how many wonderful moments we've had and how blessed we really are.

Today our family will celebrate Thanksgiving with extended family for the first time in five years. My nieces and nephews have grown so much since the last time we've seen them. I'm really looking forward to seeing my uncle and his new bride now that they've moved to Florida from Munich, Germany.

I hope that you have the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family today. Whether that's extended family, church family, adopted family or friends that have become your family.

Many blessings and prayers to all of you this Thanksgiving season!

With much love,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chocolate Chip Waffles and a Downey Dryer Sheet

My alarm went off at 5:50 am this morning. This is my normal wake up time during the week which is why I love weekends so much.

Here's the deal. I don't climb out of bed until 6:00 am but having those extra ten minutes is a real luxury to me. I use that time to enjoy the warmth of my cozy soft blankets, the sound of complete stillness in my home and a quiet conversation with God.

First, I say good morning to Him. Then I thank Him for a safe and restful night of sleep. Before the grandfather clock in our foyer strikes 6:00 am, I mentally run through my to-do list for the day and ask Him what needs to be the priorities and what can wait until the next day.

This morning Carson (our youngest son) was up earlier than normal. It's because he fell asleep on our sofa, while reading last night, at 7:30 pm. We let him sleep there until 9:45 pm then carried him up to bed. He was obviously exhausted from our busy weekend and slept almost twelve hours long!

I fixed chocolate chip waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast. Yum, yum, yum. I know this won't win me the most balanced breakfast award but my boys love chocolate chip waffles so once a week we just go for it.

The waffles were a big hit and before Carson headed upstairs to brush his teeth, he asked "Mom, will you stick my shirt and jacket in the dryer?" He had a big ole smile plastered across his face and I knew exactly what he meant.

Carson didn't want me dry his shirt and jacket because they were damp. Or, because they were wrinkled. He wanted me to place them in the dryer so they would be warm and soft when he put them on.

Now that our weather is cooler and mornings greet us with lower temperatures, Carson has been asking me to warm up his jacket and shirt every morning. It's become our special little routine that puts a smile on his face every single time. As he slips on his Downey scented, warm, and soft shirt, he response with a resounding "aahhh, that feels SO good!". His reaction always puts a smile on my face too and I respond by wrapping my arms around him with a big bear hug.

As he bounced out the door and ran for bus stop this morning, I couldn't help but feel good inside. This morning I was seeing myself as a "good mom".

A mom that fixed her children chocolate chip waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast.

A mom that packed their lunch boxes and included a small pack of Skittles as an extra surprise.

A mom that got their backpacks and shoes together by the door so they wouldn't forget anything.

And yes, a mom that even put her son's clothes in the dryer so they would be warm when he put them on.

Do I do this every morning.... No, sirree (not sure about that spelling).

Often times, I'm pushing my boys out the door with a granola bar hanging out of their mouths, shoes in one hand and an open backpack (with it's contents spilling out) in the other.

Aahh, this morning was special and I'm relishing in the memories of it.

Come to think of it, I believe it's those small things that we do for our children that mean the most to them. Things that don't cost a lot of money or require much sacrifice. Just the simple things that say " I notice and I love you".

Maybe tomorrow I'll whip up some french toast (from the freezer, of course) and do it all over again.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Why Do Shells Stick to Hard Boiled Eggs?

This morning I was craving homemade chicken salad like you wouldn't believe.

Now, I want you to know that I rarely have cravings for food. Eating is more like a necessity than an enjoyment for me.

When our family lived in New Orleans I would often crave Cajun boiled shrimp, crab meat au gratin, or spicy jambalaya but once out of the Big Easy, food seemed to be much more bland, boring, and not worth craving. Not today though. Today, I wanted homemade chicken salad like no body's business.

While I waited for my boiled eggs to cool, I decided to chop up the chicken, celery and mixed it all together with some Hellman's light mayo and herb seasonings. I couldn't wait to enjoy my little creation!

My excitement slowly turned to frustration when I began to peel the hard boiled eggs. Some of the shells came off so easily and without a fight but others hung on for dear life as if they were holding onto a life preserver in the middle of a raging storm. When I was finally done peeling all the eggs, half of them looked perfect and the other half appeared to have just be a fight with a chicken... and the chicken won.

For years I have struggled with successfully boiling eggs ( pretty lame, huh?). Am I the only person who can't keep shells from sticking? With all the difficult tasks that a woman faces in her daily routine, are boiled eggs going to defeat her? I decided to settle this dilemma once and for all! What did I do? I googled, of course and here's what I found out.

Tips on cooking boiled eggs:

1. Place eggs in very cold water

Well, I messed up from the get-go. I always use hot water because I want the eggs to hurry up and boil really fast. I figured hot water comes to a boil a lot quicker than cold water, right?

2. Cover the pot and wait for water to come to a boil.

O.k., second mistake. I never put a lid on my pot. No wonder why my eggs come out so lousy. I'm doing this totally wrong!

3. Once eggs come to a boil, remove from heat and let sit for 10-12 minutes.

Alright, now I feel like a complete idiot. I would never think to remove them from the heat once they start boiling. Isn't that when they just begin to cook? I normally boil the heck out of them for 10-12 minutes. Poor little things. Now I'm wondering why they haven't turned to rubber all these years.

4. Empty the water out and replace with fresh water and ice cubes. This is called giving your eggs an ice bath.

Nope, I don't do this either. I normally just drain the water and let them cool. An ice bath sound sounds kind of fun though.

Well, thanks to the Internet, I now know how to boil and peel eggs perfectly. Hopefully, you do too after reading my post. If you have any other helpful tips for me about boiling eggs, I'd love to hear them. Actually, if you have any other helpful hints about anything related to cooking, I'd love to hear them. I'm not the best when it comes to culinary craftiness.

Before I sign off, I'm leaving you with a really awesome way to peel eggs. I'm going to try this one out next time. Check it out.