Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Seven Things I Learned in March

I love this time of the year! March was full of basketball and transition from winter to spring, mostly. Dirt has been tracked in the house because the kids have been spending more time outside. That also means more showers are required! The days are longer, which I love for the evenings. Although we've all struggled to get up in the dark mornings since the time change at the beginning of the month.

Without further ado, here are some snapshots of my month, at least the parts that didn't involve watching basketball ... 

1. NEEDTOBREATHE is releasing a live album from the show I was at in September 2014! It was such a fun night and I'm so excited to have it to listen to over and over again. You'll want it too!

2. Third Day worship music is my favorite. I love the new stuff.

3. I'm not a fan of mopey, rebellious Rory Gilmore. Like the one at the beginning of season six. Thankfully, I'm past that now.

4. In the middle of wintry temps, just before a snow storm, a 65-degree day is possible. Like a reminder that spring is coming. We involved ice cream. In Murray, we have an old-fashioned, walk-up Dairy Queen that really does make ice cream taste better.

Then later in the month, I had the air conditioning on one day and the heat on the next. We've worn flip flops and down vests in one week. Ah, Kentucky weather ... 

5. Pizza quesadillas are delicious. "Dashing Dish" inspired me. You'll just need tortillas, pizza sauce, cheese, and any other toppings. So far we've used bacon and pepperoni, but the possibilities are endless.

6. We (almost) sold our lake house. I don't like that circumstances beyond our control dictated that we needed to, but I'm glad we have the sale under contract and we can move on. Maybe to another place on the lake one day. I still manage another vacation rental property at Kentucky Lake that someone else owns.

7. Choosing joy is always good for my soul. Yeah, not new, I know. But here we are, three months into the new year, and God is still using my counting joys for the good.

167. Ben working on learning to ride his bike. 168. America Adopts Daniel party and celebrating with friends. 169. Jaclyn's birthday lunch & trivia night in the same day - more celebrations! 170. Long lunch at Tumbleweed between church & business meeting while UK wins 34th game. ... 173. Being able to help Sarah with kids while Susannah was born. ... 175. Getting hair colored, highlighted, and cut. 176. Walking outside, finally. ... 181. Purging/organizing kids' clothes. 182. Cate and Ben playing with neighbor kids. 183. Ben meeting Murray State's Cam Payne.

How was your March? Learn anything fun or interesting?

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky. Read previous Things I Learned posts: {From 2013} June. July. August. September. October. November. {From 2014} January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August. September. October. November. December. {From 2015} January. February.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox.

Amazon affiliate links included. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter is for Dreamers

I know the Easter story. I try to comprehend the significance of Jesus' resurrection. But I've never thought about how Matthew 28:1-10 also has much to say about dreaming.

Two Marys were at the tomb, but they weren't there expecting a miracle. They went there because of obligation and tradition. Somebody needed to put oils on the deceased's body to prepare it for burial.

But God surprised them. A stone was moved not because Jesus needed it to exit the tomb but so these women could see inside. They witnessed the miracle.

"The women left the tomb quickly. They were afraid, but they were also very happy. They ran to tell Jesus’ followers what had happened" (Matt. 28:8). Of course, dreaming is scary, but it's also joy-filled beyond our imagination. And that makes us want to proclaim the good news – The Good News, especially – to others.

Jesus told the women they didn't need to be afraid. And he told them to go. "Then Jesus said to them, 'Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my followers to go on to Galilee, and they will see me there'" (Matt. 28:10).

Sometimes when we dream action is required. {Tweet that.}

Making the phone call. Sending the letter. Accepting the job. Booking the trip. Serving in another country or on your street. All of that can be scary, but God may have a surprise waiting when you least expect it.

Join me at God-sized Dreams today to read more about why Easter is for dreamers.

I'm linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering, where encouragement happens. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Dwell on God

I think about food often. Lately, I’ve been thinking about food in a different way.

I realize I need to make some better eating habits. As I’ve been reading and researching, talking to friends, and thinking about this, I realized I do a decent job with dinner plans, but breakfast and lunch get me because I am not intentional about what I’m going to eat those times of the day.

I’ve been reminded I eat too much sugar and don’t drink enough water. And I choose food according to my mood.

Sure, I can – and will – make new choices in this area of my life, but I have to remember my eating habits will never be perfect. And they don’t have to be for me to dive in and try. I have to start somewhere.

Even so, as I consider what’s best for me, I want to dwell on God more than I dwell on food.

I’m a perfectionist my nature, but God is teaching me {yes, still …} about how life doesn’t have to be about holding on too tightly and wanting to control every detail around me. Yes, this person and that person contributed to my perfection. Yes, certain seasons make me hold on tighter.

But I want to see beyond the past. Everyone who has influenced me in a good and bad ways are imperfect and typically doing the best they can.

“Perfect love can be hard to understand and embrace because we don’t experience it from each other this side of heaven. Even those closest to us can hurt us or let us down sometimes. When we understand the different ways God perfectly love us like no human can, our hearts can finally be healed and free.”

I’ve gotten myself in a rut by dwelling on what he didn’t do or what she did. I want to dwell on God. {Tweet that.}

I need my planner near me so I don’t forget things. I write down appointments and meetings. I jot down birthdays and friends’ surgeries. I make notes to myself about who I need to call and what I need to buy.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But when I look at the calendar and waste too much energy thinking about a day three weeks away, I’m just borrowing trouble.

Sure, plans are fine. They’re even good because they help me be intentional with people I love. But I can’t let what’s not even happened – and may not happen – change my mood today.

Sometimes I dwell on future plans so much I miss the present. I want to dwell on what God has for me right now and know he’s going to be with me tomorrow too. {Tweet that.}

Spring is here. The weather invites me outside. The sunshine warms my soul. In some ways, winter seemed long, but spring makes me forget about that.

I’m in a season of spring with God too. I see him taking my ordinary life – my marriage, motherhood, meal plans, my calendar – and doing a new thing through it. I don’t want to miss it. I want to be part of this new season for my soul. I want to dwell on God.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Whatever Wanda :: A Review & Giveaway

I’ve been known to tell my kids they need to adjust their attitudes. And I’ve heard God tell me the same thing about my own grumpiness. In the pages of a children’s book, my daughter and I found encouragement to adjust our attitudes.

Wanda doesn’t want to go with her family to the Rubber Duck Days festival and brings her grumpy attitude with her! I know I’ve been much like Whatever Wanda and I’ve seen my kids to do the same.

But Wanda learns a valuable lesson: “Sometimes you have to believe something will be great before it actually is. Being positive is a choice that makes everything better, not to mention, a whole lot more fun!” And it’s one God been teaching around here too!

My 7-year-old daughter, Cate, even said that lesson is why she loves the book :: Before she learns that lesson, to everything about the Rubber Duck Days festival she says, “Whatever.” Waddles asks her, “Do you want to join your friends?” Wanda says, “I didn’t play. I didn’t think it was fun.” Then Waddles says the lesson: She should change her attitude. I hope this lesson will come in handy. That’s why I like “Whatever Wanda.”

And that’s why this momma likes “Whatever Wanda” too. It’s a lesson my girl and I both need.

This is the third in Christy Ziglar’s Shine Bright Kids series. And we’ve loved all of them. In fact, when “Whatever Wanda!” came in the mail recently, my 7-year-old daughter gathered the other two and read them together, pointing out to her 5-year-old brother how Wanda, Marvin, and Willow all make appearances in each other’s stories.

{Read our previous reviews :: “Can’t-Wait Willow” and “Must-Have Marvin.”}

ABOUT THE BOOK :: “Whatever Wanda!” is a 32-page, hardback picture book. Officially, it’s recommend for kids 4-8 years old. This book is part of the Shine Bright Kids series, which provides children and their families with the tools to teach the importance of making good choices. The series explores such topics as using good judgment, taking responsibility, having a positive attitude, and demonstrating perseverance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Christy Ziglar is a financial planner, mother of twins, and the niece of legendary motivator and optimist Zig Ziglar. She and her family live in Atlanta, Georgia.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR  :: Paige Billin-Frye lives with her husband in Washington, D.C., where she gardens and grows food in her city yard. She has illustrated numerous children’s books and works in a studio over a neighborhood hardware store. Coincidentally, Paige has amassed a collection of rubber duckies of all sizes across the years.

GIVEAWAY :: One of you will win a copy of “Whatever Wanda!” by using the Rafflecopter widget below. This is for U.S. and Canadian residents only. A winner will be randomly selected on Monday, March 30.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks to FlyBy Promotions/Propeller Consulting LLC for both the copy of "Whatever Wanda!" my family got to review and the copy one of you will win. The opinions here are my own. If you have won a prize from FlyBy/Propeller in the last 30 days or have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Blessing of the Bus

Unlike my own childhood that involved riding a bus to public school, my kids attend a small, classical, Christian school. Since August 2012, I’ve been shuttling kids – and the ones in our various carpools – to and from school. It’s 12 miles from my house to school plus a few extra miles for carpool duties, so round trip ends up taking me about 45 minutes.

Last year and this year, the carpool has also involved preschool pickups on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. So that’s a morning drop off, mid-day pickup, and afternoon pickup. I’m grateful I’ve been able to share all the back-and-forth with my sister-in-law, Angela, whose kids also attend New Covenant Christian Academy.

I consider transporting my kids to a school that is ideal for our family to be part of my momma responsibilities. I haven’t complained about the commute – and all the round trips – because I want Ben and Cate to be educated in a way that incorporates God into all the subjects as the foundation of all truth and knowledge.

Even so, when I heard the rumblings of a bus service getting started, I rejoiced. Another sweet surprise was hearing the bus service would officially start at the beginning of March.

I’ve talked {here} my in-laws being in vehicle businesses. Well, specifically, my mother-in-law is in the bus business. She contracts with the federal government to transport children on multiple military bases to their schools. And my brother-in-law, Charles, who is married to Angela, happens to work for her.

They wanted this bus service to be a labor of love to our small school community. I knew the bus service would be a good thing, but I had no idea how much it would bless me.

One recent morning, I realized I had started laundry, swept the kitchen floor, and unloaded and loaded the dishwasher before 8 a.m. In other words, I had finished most the chores I intended to accomplish that day before I would have been back from dropping off the kids at school.

The bus service gives me 45 more minutes in the morning and almost that in the afternoons. Now with the carpool that existed before the bus service, I didn’t do every afternoon pick up, but I did drive four of the five weekday mornings.

And, of course, my kids love riding the bus with some of their school friends.

An entrepreneur to the core, Greg has often told me, “Your time is worth something.” And by “your” he sometimes means his and sometimes he’s referring to mine. Either way – the philosophy of time being valuable is true.

And value doesn’t always mean money.

Sometimes value comes as the opportunity to have more time. {Tweet that.}

That’s been the blessing of the bus.

And the cherry on the top? Some mornings, Greg takes our kids – or kid, if it’s Tuesday or Thursday, when preschool isn’t in session – to the bus. That means some days recently I haven’t had to leave my house at a certain time. What a blessing!

How have you been blessed by someone else lately? Have you found extra time in your days?

I'm linking this post with Jessica Turner's Fringe Friday because the blessing of the bus has created more fringe hours in my day. Some times that means more time to work around the house, but other days that means meeting a friend for breakfast or doing something else to care for my soul. {Read more about #FringeHours here or get "The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You."}

I'm also linking with (in)courage's #FringeHours post

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I wanted to marry a mechanic

Long ago, I wanted to marry a guy who could change my vehicle’s oil in the driveway and deal with car problems. This was when I drove a 1987 Ford Mustang that overheated more than once. It’s when I wanted someone else to keep up with when the oil needed to be changed and tires rotated.

Really, it’s just such a weak area of mine that I wanted someone to come alongside me.

Turns out, my husband of 12 years doesn’t know much about vehicles either. I sold the Mustang when I was still in college, but brought the subsequent 1996 Geo Prism into our marriage. I loved that little car, but years later replaced it with a Oldsmobile Alero from a more recent decade. I’ve loved minivans ever since.

The auto problems haven’t stopped, but, really, do they ever? Yet I married into a family that is willing to help. I’ve managed to get the oil changed at the proper time and usually tend to other maintenance issues as required. I have multiple in-laws who are car dealers and have service departments readily available. I’ve borrowed vehicles to drive when I needed to and bought more than one minivan from people who share my last name.

And guess what? My husband has come alongside me in so many things that actually matter. Many of those things don’t have anything to do with transportation or vehicle maintenance, although I do assume he’ll drive every time we get in the minivan together.

He’s given me so much grace as I’ve spent years working through perfectionism that was so tied up in my childhood. He’s loved me when I’ve been hard to love. He’s supported my dreams and let me in his. He’s shown me what healthy, Biblical leadership looks like in a home as we raise our two kids together and manage to take some risks along the way.

In more than a dozen years or marriage, he’s shown up alongside me again and again.

Good thing I let go of wanting to marry a mechanic. Turns out vehicle issues weren’t my only weaknesses that have been made stronger with companionship.

Tell me about your first car and what trait was/is at the top of your list. Share in the comments below or join the discussion on Facebook

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Celebrating In Community

I talk about plans and community around here quite a bit, so I thought today I’d let you share in one of our latest celebrations.

Our girls were babies when we became friends. We can’t remember exactly, but Cate wasn’t walking, so she wasn’t much more than a year, if that. Surely we aren’t the only parents who keep time by their kids’ milestones. 

Since then the Gachokas have been part of one of small groups from church that has since dissolved for reasons that had nothing to do with friendship, sat around the table with us for Thanksgiving dinner and many other meals, and more recently piled into our minivan for road trips to Racer games. Daniel and Greg have gone hunting together and coach our girls’ soccer team together.

When Daniel told us he was studying to take the U.S. citizenship test, I knew this would be an occasion worth celebrating. I mentioned a party and Daniel quipped, “Like the adoption party you had for your kids.”

Hence, the America Adopts Daniel Party!

I’m not sure I can express how much fun I had planning this one. Starting with the invitations …

… and continuing with the menu, playlist, and game.

Not everyone who had planned to come was actually able to, so we had lots of leftovers. We ate burgers, pasta salad, and homemade mac and cheese the next day. We had hot dogs for another meal.

But the leftovers were more than food. The leftover laughter and friendship also filled my camera roll and will be part of our stories.

The dishes piled high and the crumbs covered many floors and counters, but I didn’t mind because the night was fun. This party was a plan that I’m glad happened. This party celebrated one guy’s milestone, but it encompassed a shared history and friendships that are built over time. And that's the beauty of community.

I'm linking this up with Jessica Turner's Fringe Friday because planning parties is one thing I love to do with my time. Celebrating in community helps care for my soul. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."