Five Minute Friday – With

Joining the linkup over at Five Minute Friday this week. It is the last one of 2018. I am hoping to participate a little more regularly in 2019.

“With”. It is a small word that has big meaning. This has been a rough couple of months in our little corner of the world. I live in Chico CA, next to Paradise and near Concow, where the Camp Fire ravaged a majority of those cities. We are now six weeks out from the fire starting, about two weeks out from its end and the impacts are being felt all over. Our smallish city (90,000 in a rather spread out area) has taken on a new population of fire victims that number in the 10s of 1000s. We have FEMA centers and insurance tents and a Red Cross Shelter at our fairgrounds that has a bunch of RVs and trailers that people are now calling “home”. When the fire first happened, people in Chico were welcoming and giving and patient. But, as time has worn on, that spirit has been dampened a bit. As our roads have gotten more crowded and lines have gotten longer and patience has worn thin and the holiday stress has taken over, people may be “for” the Camp Fire victims (they don’t wish them harm by any means), but they aren’t as much “with” the Camp Fire victims. They don’t want to suffer along WITH them. This idea of being “for” people or causes is strong in our society, but it becomes a little more unique to find people who are willing to be WITH those people or causes. We feel comfortable sending along our donations. We feel good about volunteering here and there to help out. But, when it comes to actually sitting or standing WITH the people who need help, it becomes harder. We are busy. We have our own stuff going on. We want our own space.

So, now the true test of our community begins. As we move forward and need to decide where to put FEMA trailers (we’ve already rejected them being put in an area near me because the “community” doesn’t want more traffic and there are limited “services” like stores and such – this, I think, is true of anywhere in our city now), will we be WITH those who need homes or we will view them as separate from us, where it is US vs. THEM and who should be valued more (or equally)? I think we will be asking these questions for many, many months to come. I hope that we will remember that we are all one community and we are here WITH them, dealing with this disaster of an unprecedented level. But, we may just decide we are FOR them instead and will look for ways to help that do not impact us in a way that means sacrifice and discomfort.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Countdown to Christmas 2018

One week is all there is left before Christmas 2018.  We don’t have a tree.  Our Elf on the Shelf has only moved a few times.  I’m not feeling terribly festive or joyful.  I’m not sure why.  It just hasn’t seemed like much of a holiday season this year.  We live in the community next to Paradise, CA where the Camp Fire ravaged an entire city.  I can’t say that it has personally impacted me much physically, but mentally, I’m just not feeling like celebrating much this year.  Every time I am out and about, I hear stories.  My Facebook feed is filled with friends digging through ashes at their former homes, looking for a few remnants to take to their new “homes” (many are still in hotels or trailers or sleeping on couches).  And although there are many stories of resilience and selfless giving and joyful reunions with animals, there is still an entire community that no longer exists in our midst.  

I feel the excesses of our lives so much more acutely this year.  I see the piles of things that barely get touched other than to move them from one location to another.  I feel guilty for having so much while others have nothing.  I feel even guiltier for not caring for what we have in a way that allows us to give to others.  But, most of all, I am overwhelmed.  I am overwhelmed with things to do, things to clean, things to organize, papers to grade, clothes to wash, more papers to grade, classes to prep.  And yet, none of it seems to be important anymore.  I mean, sure I want to go see lights and give my daughter a joyful Christmas, but then I think, what brings joy?  Presents?  Decorating?  Lights?  I feel like I’m jaded and I’ve jaded her.  I feel like I’m at the beginning of a Hallmark Christmas Movie, but there is no progression to the spirit of Christmas coming and rescuing us.  And the worst thing is that I don’t even know why I feel this way.  

So, the question is how do I focus on making this last week before Christmas be one of joy and celebration instead of just plodding along, getting things done (sort of) and feeling blah?  I think a Christmas Countdown Bucket List is in order!  So, here is my seven days to Christmas Countdown list:

  • Get a tree!  Even a small tree that we can put some decorations on and enjoy the lights twinkling will be better than what we have now.  So, that is the first order of business.  We have a permit to go cut one down, but it sounds daunting and difficult, so getting small one as a temporary solution should help.
  • Christmas Concert! My daughter is performing in the Winter Choir Concert at her school tomorrow.  So, we’ll make an evening of it.  
  • Christmas Caroling!  We will be caroling at a couple of nursing homes with my Girl Scout troop on Wednesday afternoon/evening.  
  • Mall shopping! I think one of the things I struggle with/miss is shopping during the season.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but I used to love going to the mall and seeing all the festive decorations and kids lined up to see Santa Claus.  I shop mostly online now and it is just not the same feeling to get a box on your front porch as it is to carry bags around the mall.  So, I think I’ll plan to visit the mall with my DD on Friday.  We’ll make a trip out of it – lunch and some treats are in order!
  • Christmas movie marathon! I had given up my Sling TV subscription just before Thanksgiving because it was all Christmas movies and I missed Murder She Wrote.  But, I think for this last week before Christmas, I will renew the subscription and put on the cheesy Hallmark Christmas Movies!  Glory to the predictable storylines and sentimental endings!  
  • Make Christmas cookies! I am not a baker, but I do love making some simple cookies and giving them to people.  So, I will plan to do that this week as well.  I think I will make some on Wednesday while my DD is at school and save one recipe to make with her before or after caroling that day.
  • Go see Christmas lights and get hot chocolate! Our local paper just put out its annual Christmas lights map this weekend, so we will take that and go see some lights and get some hot chocolate and listen to Christmas music!

There you have it!  Seven things to do during the last seven days before Christmas to try to get into the Christmas spirit.  Here’s hoping it works!  

What are you doing to get countdown to Christmas?  Is anything missing off of my list?


Let’s get real for a moment

I was just going through my tens of thousands of emails (don’t mind my inability to throw things out, including email) and I realized that I subscribe to email lists thinking that I’m a different person than I am and then those emails come to taunt me with guilt and shame.  For example, I just had to delete an email from Whole New Mom, which I am sure is made up of lovely people, but whose list of recipes focused on Paleo and gluten-free and real food was just making me feel like my Wingstop dinner was a crime against humanity.  So, I unsubscribed.  Another email was telling me all the ways I should be marketing my blog to grow my followers.  And although I would love to grow my followers, I know that I don’t have the time right now to produce a giveaway that will be a bonus for my affiliate selling (which I don’t really do at this moment) and I didn’t have time to attend the webinar being offered.  I felt like a failed blogger.  So, I unsubscribed.  

I just want to be real with all those who are reading this.  I am overwhelmed and underproductive.  I would love to give you free gifts and sell you things that you would find useful, but right now, I can barely get a post written here and there that has a photo to go along with it.  I have a goal to eat at home more, but for that to be realistic, there has to be a lot of cans and boxes and jars involved.  I’m sorry that I can’t feed my child whole foods from the plant, but if I try to restrict myself to that, I will fail and end up in a McDonald’s drive thru before the week is over.  So, I’m being real.  I think we should all be real with each other.  If you have the time and energy to make only whole food meals and do giveaways with your affiliate sales, more power to you.  Literally, you have more power than I do on the internet.  But, if you are just out there, getting by day to day, looking for small wins, or just to avoid the huge losses, I’m right there with you.  

This week, I would like to focus on giving everyone out there, including myself, a bit of grace.  Let’s model God and forgive ourselves for our shortcomings.  Let’s stop looking at how we can be “better” at things and start celebrating how we’re already doing well.  Did your child have a meal today that involved a fruit or a vegetable?  Win!  Did you post something on your blog or call a friend or family member to say hi?  Win!  Did you do a load of laundry and actually get it put away before the day was over?  Win!  Did you feed your animals?  Win!  We are all doing things to help our households, ourselves and our neighbors here and there.  So, let’s celebrate those small victories!  

Motivational Mondays, Uncategorized

Do we NEED a following?

Long ago, in a place far away, Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage.”  Little did he know how much truth would be found in that statement in the age of YouTube and Instagram stories.  A little over a year ago, Jon Acuff wrote a post, “The old rules don’t apply” and the following paragraph really struck me:

When my grandfather was my age, he couldn’t build an audience easily. What would he have done? Run for local government? Try to get a radio show? Write for the city paper? He couldn’t reach a million people with a tweet. He couldn’t live broadcast from his own house with his own phone. He couldn’t sell something on Amazon.

The conclusion of the article is that now we CAN build an audience easily.  We don’t have to run for local government.  We don’t have to get a radio show at a radio station.  We don’t have to write for the city paper.  We CAN reach a million people with a tweet.  We CAN broadcast from our home on our phone.  We CAN sell things on Amazon without ever actually seeing or touching those things.

I guess the question I have is although we CAN do those things, SHOULD we?  Don’t get me wrong.  I am obviously typing this on a blog, trying to reach people and establish a following.  I love listening to podcasts.  I have a Twitter account.  And I have tried selling things on Amazon (failed miserably, but I tried).  But, our world has become so much about “likes” and “followers” and “vlogs” and “pods” that we often fail to give those who are actually going through life WITH us (not following us, but walking along side of us) enough time and attention and love.  I also fear that we have lost our ability to move through life quietly and contentedly.  And I fear that our society has now become more likely to reward those with large followings than those with large hearts or large minds.

What does it do to us when our values are more tied to how many strangers follow us and like us more than giving to others or making the world a better place.  It is hard to be a parent in these days.  It is hard to be a teacher in these days.  It is hard to be a human in these days.  Changing our focus towards the One we follow rather than how many followers we have will be helpful.  So, this week, I plan to do just that.  Stop focusing on posting things on Facebook to be liked.  Stop worrying about whether my blog is being read by many or only a few and focus more on the message I am sharing with others.  Stop looking backwards for followers and start looking up to follow the One who leads best.

Add heading


Dog holding a shoe.
Five Minute Friday, Uncategorized

Five Minute Friday – Loyal

I am once again joining in at Five Minute Friday this week.  I am glad to be sharing feelings and findings in a short five minute burst once again.  No pressure, just a word and my words that follow.  This week’s prompt is “loyal”.  Here we go…

Dog holding a shoe.

When I saw the word loyal, I immediately felt guilty.  Why?  Because I sometimes feel like I lack loyalty.  This photo of the dog with the shoe in it’s mouth captures perfectly my feelings on this subject.  I think I’m a very loyal person, but I come with a lot of flaws.  Just like a dog who loves you more than anything in the world, but eats your shoes (or toys, or door frames, or furniture – just as general examples) every chance they get, I love God and my family and friends, but I can sometimes be found doing the metaphorical equivalent to stealing and chewing on their shoes.  I always have a decent excuse.  I don’t have enough time.  I’m tired.  I have so many other commitments.  I have spent my energy on people at work or at my daughter’s school and can’t face using more energy.

All those excuses are real things.  I am tired.  I do have a busy schedule.  I do have too many commitments.  I do spend a lot of energy at work or volunteering at my daughter’s school.  But, in the end, I have only myself to blame.  I could go to church each and every week that I am home.  I have that much energy and it usually fits in my schedule.  Does it take energy for me to go to a place by myself where I don’t know many people?  For sure.  But, that energy is usually worth it.  I could go and see my sister much more often.  Does it require a drive and a half a day at least to do so?  Yes.  But, I spend half a day doing less important things.  I could spend more time taking care of my house and cooking for my family.  Am I tired?  Yes, but not so tired that I could not cook a meal or clean a room.

In the end, I make the choices I make.  I have to take responsibility and make the choices that are good for me, not easy for me.  I need to remind myself that I am loyal.  And although I am flawed, I can still remain loyal and I can do better.  I can make better decisions and lead a better life.


Okay – that was a little longer than five minutes, but it was a good flow.  I love Five Minute Fridays that go this easy.  What about you?  Will you write for five?


Stewardship, Uncategorized

Hard Resetting Life

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

School has begun for my daughter.  I start teaching on Monday and continue at my second school the following week.  Our schedules are already filling up.  I am beginning to feel a little stressed out already.  Although our house has gotten much cleaner over the past few days, it is still not where I want it to be.  Although I joined Terrafit at the beginning of the month, I have not been following it for the past two weeks.  Although I want to be eating more healthy, I am not.  Although I want to be walking the dogs each day, I am not.  There is so much in my life and although it seems like incrementally changing would be easiest, I feel like I can’t take the time to do that and even if I had the time, so much of it is related to the other that to make serious changes in one area, I need to change the other area.  So, I’ve decided my life needs a hard reset.

A hard reset, also known as a factory reset or master reset, is the restoration of a device to the state it was in when it left the factory. All settings, applications and data added by the user are removed.  –Whatis.com

So, what does that mean to me?  Well, I’ve added a lot of data as the user of my life over the past five decades.  Not all of that data is good or useful.  I need a restoration to the state I was in when I left the factory.  When God sent me to this place, He had all the settings I needed, but I wandered off the path and started getting new applications and gathering data.  And as the saying goes, Garbage In, Garbage Out.  I’ve got a bit too much Garbage to deal with at this point, so it is just easier to restore to God’s settings.

So, what does that mean moving forward?  Well, first, it means living life with a sense of stewardship.  I was listening to an episode of the podcast Woven last week about stewardship.  It is part of a series and I haven’t finished listening to the series yet, but it made total sense to me.  God has given me all these great things.  A home, plenty of food, friends, my family, a great hometown, not one but two good jobs that I enjoy, access to technology, and so much more.  And I don’t take care of those things the way that I should.  Instead, I am constantly seeking more or better or seeing the lack or the mess.  I am tired of living life that way.  Instead, I want to recognize how blessed I am and not take that for granted, but instead steward those gifts from God to the best of my ability.

So, I’m hitting CTRL-ALT-DEL on my life keyboard and looking more deeply at what my factory settings were.  I’ll have to dig out the owner’s manual (Bible) and see what it has to say about starting over my system and keeping it healthy and happy this time.  Luckily, my factory producer is forgiving and full of grace, so I think He will make this hard reset a little easier.

What about you?  Are you keeping your system well-maintained or do you need to clean some data and applications out in order to steward a better life?  It is a question worth asking!

Terrafit, Uncategorized

Five Reasons I’m Trying Terrafit

If you have been reading this blog for long, you know that I struggle with commitments.  I often start things enthusiastically, only to totally give up on them a few days later.  My fitness and weight loss experience demonstrate this.  I’ve tried Jazzercise.  I went twice but just didn’t feel like it “fit” me.  I tried doing Weight Watchers but it was just all too overwhelming to keep track of the points and figure out the points when I didn’t have them, etc.  I tried to do Beachbody and the meal planning and colored containers was just too much.  I signed up for Flipping Fifty and didn’t even start it, perhaps because I am trying to dismiss my fifty-year landmark.  I have tried online fitness trackers, apps, etc.  Nothing works.  But, I’m not giving up.  I recently stumbled upon a mention of Terrafit on a blog and read up on it and here are five reasons I’m choosing to give it a try:

  1. I get points, but I don’t have to calculate them for every meal.  I love the idea of getting points for doing good (and deleting points for doing bad).  Weight Watchers was fun that way, but I got overwhelmed with having to do each meal, broken into its components to figure out the points.  This one allows me to just give myself points for eating healthy foods and take away points for eating not-so-healthy-foods.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  I get points for all sorts of things and they are easy to track.
  2. It uses Doterra Oils and products, but you don’t HAVE to buy them to participate.  I have fallen in love with Doterra Oils, but I don’t want to get a bunch of supplements, shakes, etc.  This program allows me to use some oils, but not necessarily do shakes, etc.  You CAN do them, but you don’t HAVE to do them.  It focuses more on eating and exercising than the products related.
  3. You can win money!  Yeah.  Weight Watchers never offered me that.  In each Terrafit challenge, there is a pot of money that is divided between coach and participants to recognize the top performers (point-wise).  It probably won’t end up being a ton of money, but I bought a whole year for $99 and that allows me to do unlimited challenges.  Usually, they are $25 each.  So, I need to do more than four in a year to get my money back.  I think I can do that.  And, there is the possibility of winning some money back.  It is like playing the lottery, but with healthy food and exercise instead of scratching.
  4. You get a coach.  I need accountability and help and a swift kick in the tush sometimes.  So, getting a personal coach sounds really good.
  5. You get to be on a team.  See #4.  I need all the help I can get!

So, there you have it.  I start my first challenge in two days.  I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life – hovering around 190, sometimes slightly under, sometimes slightly over.  That is a lot of weight on my frame.  I remember when I hit 160 in graduate school and thought I was heavy.  I haven’t grown in height since then, but I have 30 more pounds on me.  It isn’t surprising that I am tired most days, my feet hurt, my back often hurts and I just don’t feel like doing really strenuous exercise.

That has to change.  I want to be active with my daughter and my girl scouts.  I want to do fun things and go on adventures.  I want to feel good, be healthy and set a good example.  So, here goes nothing.  In six weeks, I hope to be lighter in both weight and mood.