Turn, turn, turn- Five Minute Fridays

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)…

This old song by “The Byrds” popped into my head immediately with this week’s prompt. I started thinking about the concept of seasons, both in the weather and in life. Right now here in Middle Tennessee we are experiencing a cooler than usual spring, as I’m sure many others are, as well. But the seasons definitely are changing. The leaves are opening on the trees. The wildflowers are blooming in the fields and woods. The birds are nesting and singing sweetly each morning. It is a hopeful time.

Thankfully, the seasons seem to be changing a bit in our family life as well. After a long, difficult transition period over the last couple of years, we are coming into a spring of sorts. My children are older and more able to help me and help themselves around the house. We are in a good rhythm in our homeschool days. My husband and I have been exercising and keeping each other accountable to get back to taking care of our health. Our finances have stabilized thanks to more part time work and generous gifts from friends and family. And our house is under contract again, and there is hope that we will actually get to close the sale this time around! I am reading some excellent books and doing some deep thinking, forming newer and healthier thinking habits. We are putting down roots here in TN, and it feels like growth is happening. Change is coming, and it feels good!


This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here.

Intro to Homemaking for Real People: Homemaking Series, Part 1

Do you ever look at images on Pinterest or Instagram and ask yourself, “Does she ever do anything besides clean or cook and take pictures of the results?” Or maybe you are more tempted to ask, “Why can’t my house ever look that picture-perfect?” Either way, going down that rabbit hole of comparison is a dangerous path to take, isn’t it? We have to remember that those little pictures are not the whole package. We can only see a small piece of someone else’s life, and what we see may or may not reflect real life.

Why write about homemaking for real people?

The fact is, we are real people with real life situations and real busy schedules. As a result, sometimes our houses are going to be a REAL mess! And that’s okay. We can, however, aim to take control of the mess and find some order and beauty in the ordinary. Over the last 14 years of marriage, and even more so the last 7 years of motherhood, I have been finding ways to make homemaking a priority without sacrificing relationships. After years of swinging from perfectionism to sloth, I am finally able to keep our house in a tolerable state of cleanliness, to have a manageable schedule in most seasons, and to keep healthful food on the table and in the pantry. Thus, the inspiration for this blog series!

What is homemaking for real people?

Homemaking for real people is all about having grace while also getting things done. It is about doing what you can, when you can, to keep a balanced household without killing yourself. This series is for anyone who has a home, whether you are married, single, have kids in the home or not. I will talk a lot about routines and systems we have in place currently, which means they include my husband and our kids. These are things I wish I would have learned how to do a lot earlier on in life so that good habits had been in place before I became a mom. I will also weave in little bits of wisdom regarding our attitudes toward homemaking and having grace with ourselves and those who share our homes.

Topics I will cover in this series are as follows:

  • Good Enough Housekeeping Routines
  • Daily “Quick Win” Tasks
  • Keeping the Laundry Monster at Bay
  • The Reluctant Cook’s Guide to Meal Planning

Every Monday for the next month, I will be sharing a new post from the list. I would love to hear from you as we go through this series. If you struggle with a specific area of homemaking I didn’t mention above, we could tackle that topic, too. Just leave me a comment here or on my Facebook page. If you have an extra tip to add, please share that with us, too! We can all learn from each other. Join me back here next Monday, and let’s embrace this concept of homemaking for real people together, one real day at a time.

Rhythms and Routines #fiveminutefriday

rhythms and routines

I could go in so many different directions with this week’s “routine” prompt! (Which means I should probably think about doing some posts on related topics!) But I think I’ll stick with why I love rhythms and routines as a non-type A personality and as a mom of young children.

I used to try to create a schedule with times to do specific things during my days. This never, ever, ever, ever worked for me! I could not stick to a schedule for more than one day, if I could even get through that first day at all! So I thought I was just not a person who could organize my days. But then if I just went through days without any direction at all, I felt very disorganized and lost.

Enter: Rhythms and Routines!

For me a routine is more like a rhythm that helps provide a general structure to my days without being rigid or scheduled. I know that I need to do some things during certain parts of my day, but not at specific set times. A routine gives me grace to switch things up if I need to in order to accommodate our ever-changing schedule. But it still gives some direction as to the general outline of each day and keeps things somewhat predictable, both for me and my kids.

And that’s another thing about having a routine… My kids know generally what to expect of each day. They aren’t left guessing about everything because that would leave them feeling uneasy, too.

Rhythms and routines keep us sane and stable while giving us room to be flexible. So if you don’t work well with a schedule, but you know you need structure, give a routine a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

Taking the Next Step

Taking the Next Step

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn that sends us reeling, wondering how to take the next step. That’s what happened last week when we found out our house sale was not going to happen. After all the planning we had set in motion, we found ourselves back at square one, not sure what to do next. For several days I felt like I was just wandering aimlessly around the house, in a total fog. Yes, I was doing the necessary things to keep the household running, but beyond that, I had no sense of direction.

What can we do when life throws us a curve ball like that? Yes, we pray. We dig into God’s Word. We keep trusting Him. Those spiritual practices must be our anchors. We draw closer to God in the hard times than the easy ones, certainly. But what do we do practically to keep moving forward in the day to day? How do we come out of that fog and regain a sense of direction?

For me, I think I need to go back to the goals I made at the beginning of the year. I need to remember the fundamental vision I have for my relationships, my work, and my personal well-being. My situation may change, but the basic desires of my heart are the same. I want to grow in and through trials, and I need to remember that good growth happens slowly, one tiny step at a time. Even though I can’t see very far down the road, I can see far enough to take the next small step, to do the next right thing.

Drink an extra glass of water.

Do a load of laundry.

Read a book or two to my daughter.

Play a board game with my son.

Make extra time for my husband in the evening.

Set up some time out with a friend next week.

Create that new webpage I’ve been planning.

Finish that spiritual growth book I’ve been reading.

These are relatively small things. But they add up to growth. They get me moving in the right direction toward my goals. I have to keep just putting one foot in front of the other, trusting God to lay the path to bigger things before me while being faithful in the small ones.

What do you do when life throws you for a loop? How do you take the next step forward in faith? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I try to reply to every one!

Bathroom Dream Board

Today I was supposed to be able to come here and announce that we had closed on our house in Illinois and also closed that chapter of our lives. In a strange and sudden turn of events, however, that sale completely fell through in less than 24 before we were supposed to close. This means that we also have lost the contract on the house here in Tennessee that we were going to buy. It also means that we have to put the old house back on the market AGAIN and wait for someone who can actually follow through and buy it! To say we are disappointed and confused would be an understatement. It has been a rough day, let me tell ya!

But we are trusting God to take care of us in spite of some financial complications due to this development. And we believe that He has a purpose even in the hard things. So, we will move on and see what He does! Last week I shared some of my inspiration as I was planning the updates on the kitchen and dining area in the would-have-been new house. I had planned to tell you all about the bathroom re-do today. When we got the bad news, I thought at first I would just delete this whole post. But then I decided to go ahead and share my inspiration photos anyway. After all, we won’t be in a rental forever, and I am sure we will have to do some updates whenever and wherever we do buy! I still love these looks, and I still think it is fun to make plans and dream, even if you don’t have a definite end goal in sight. So…without further ado…

Here are a few photos of the looks I like for the bathrooms. Some of these are inspirations for color scheme, others for elements like storage and decor. If you want to see more of my inspiration and the other boards I have for other rooms in our “someday” house, check out my Pinterest boards!

Blesser House Modern Farmhouse Bathroom Makeover
Best Paint Colors for Small Space Decorating
Small Master Bathroom Decor on a Budget
A Builder Grade Bathroom Transformation
Master Bathroom After from 320 Sycamore
Bower Power Blog Office Bathroom Reveal

Kitchen and Dining Dreams and Inspiration

Last week we signed a contract on a house here in Middle Tennessee. We had been looking and researching for a little while, but we weren’t really quite planning to buy so soon. However, the right house in the right location came up, and the price was right, too! So we jumped at the opportunity, and now we are waiting on all the inspections and such, hoping to close sometime before the end of March!

The house is structurally in great condition, but the paint colors and carpet are sorely in need of an update. So my husband and I have been thinking and planning what we want to do to make the house really feel like home. Of course, Pinterest has been a big source of inspiration. And it has helped me organize my ideas room by room. I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite looks here on the blog, and maybe I’ll be able to do a before/after post or two when we actually get in the house, too!

The biggest challenge we are going to have is the kitchen and dining area. The walls are currently a bright orange color, and the cabinets are in need of a paint job, as well. We decided that we are going to paint the cabinets white. The appliances are black, and the existing countertops are a nice dark color. We are planning to go with a light gray on the walls, and I think it’s going to look really great.

My kitchen inspiration:


Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover

Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover

<a href="https://www.housebyhoff.com/2016/07/my-finished-kitchen/" rel="noopener" target="_blank"></a>

House by Hoff Modern Farmhouse Kitchen

Nest for Less Cabinet Makeover Reveal

Nest for Less Cabinet Makeover Reveal

The dining area is open to the kitchen (and the living room), so it will have the same color scheme. The big challenge we have had there is deciding what style of table and chairs we want to get. For the whole 13 years of our marriage, my husband and I have been using free dining table and chairs, mismatched and outdated as they are. It’s been a blessing to have these things, but they are literally on their last legs now and need to be replaced. I think we have settled on a somewhat farmhouse style table and chair set with a wood top and white or whitewashed legs. There is not room in the dining area for any other furniture because it’s a small high traffic area. But I do hope to get a nice big statement piece or create a gallery wall on the large wall opposite the kitchen. There is a lot of light in the dining room because it opens onto the patio via double doors, so I may put some sun-loving houseplants in the corner, too.

My dining area inspiration:


Photo by @bloomingdiyer on Instagram

Photo by @bloomingdiyer on Instagram

Photo by @shegaveitago on Instagram

Photo by @shegaveitago on Instagram

Photo by @bluebarnandcottage on Instagram

Photo by @bluebarnandcottage on Instagram

20 Rustic Home Designs from Good News Architecture

20 Rustic Home Designs from Good News Architecture

So there you have it…some of my favorite photos of kitchen and dining areas that are inspiring me right now! If you enjoyed these, feel free to follow me over on Pinterest where I have more pins and boards dedicated to rooms in our new house.

Time for a little update

Wow, I really didn’t mean to take an almost 2-week long blogging break! Life around here has been a bit busier than normal, and I have had a lot going on in my head, too. I just could not seem to get my thoughts in order enough to even consider writing anything until tonight. It’s been a while since I just sat down and wrote a chatty post about what our family has been up to lately. So I thought I’d do that now. I hope you don’t mind!

House Updates:

In answer to many, many months of prayers, we finally have a buyer for our Illinois house! We will be closing that sale in 2 weeks or less, hallelujah! We are so ready to have that burden off our minds. We pray the house will be a blessing to the new family as it was for us as long as we lived there!

The really crazy house news, however, is that just a couple of week after we close on our Illinois house, we will be finalizing the purchase of a new home here in Tennessee! We were not originally planning on buying a house here quite this fast, but the right house in the right location for the right price came across our path. We will be downsizing a bit, so we plan to unload a few more boxes and pieces of furniture we haven’t used since moving to Tennessee. And we will be painting the whole house and replacing all the carpet before we move in, so…um…there may be more unintentional long blogging breaks coming up in the next few months!

Job Updates:

I am not sure if I’ve mentioned it before here or not, but I started working childcare one morning a week. We’ve been attending a large church in the area for several months, and I found out they needed more workers for their weekday morning Bible studies. It has been nice to have a little paycheck, and the kids are able to come with me and play with friends while I work.

Again, the bigger news is that my husband will be starting a part-time music pastor position in the next few weeks. We visited and led worship at the church this past Sunday and enjoyed meeting the congregation. It is a small church that was started just 7 years ago as a church plant, and the people seem to genuinely care for one another and to be seeking to grow together in Christ. I look forward to growing along with them for however long God has us there to serve!

Homeschool Updates:

Homeschooling is going along well, in spite of our usual morning schedule being interrupted at least once a week. I don’t enjoy doing school in the afternoon, but it does work on those days when we have to be out of the house in the morning. My son is reading so voraciously in our free time that I am having to be very resourceful in coming up with age-appropriate, quality books to check out from the library. Thank goodness for the AmblesideOnline Advisory lists of family favorites that are not part of the AO curriculum. I simply do not have time to read everything before my son does, so I have to find people I trust to give me good book recommendations!

Random Updates:

It’s spring consignment sale season here already. The timing is actually pretty good since I need to get rid of some more stuff before we move! This week I have been pulling boxes out of the basement and washing, ironing, and tagging the kids’ clothes from last spring. I also am going through old toys and books and DVDs to see what else we might be able to sell. Next I need to work on my kids’ spring capsule wardrobe list so I know what to look for when I do my own shopping!

And the best thing about having all this time sitting tagging items for sale? I get to sit and watch the Winter Olympics and not feel at all guilty that I’m wasting time!

Now that I’ve shared all my news, I would love to hear what’s new with you! Leave me a comment and let me know how 2018 has been treating you!

Simplify Your Focus: Five Minute Fridays

This time of year there seems to be a plethora of self-improvement choices around the internet (and elsewhere). We are bombarded with choices for courses to take, books to read, or programs to join in order to better ourselves in some way or another. Some of that is good. It is helpful for us to have training and accountability in pursuing our goals. At the same time, though, sometimes all this amounts to is more noise, more comparison, more ways to feel like we aren’t good enough or aren’t doing enough.

A few weeks ago, this was how I was feeling—as if all the noise from social media, books, blogs and podcasts was just cluttering my brain and heart to the point that I couldn’t focus on anything. It dawned on me that I needed to simplify my focus. After all, I can only do one thing really well at a time. I needed to quiet all the noise so I could focus on what was really necessary and important. And it helped, as it always does, to clear my head and pray and take a break from scrolling the internet.

As I was thinking back over my goals for 2018, I noticed a common theme, especially in terms of my “whys” for setting those particular goals.  I could boil it all down to two questions: what will help me better serve my family, and what will help me better glorify God? I may have many different goals and ideas for how to accomplish them, but if I really simplify my focus to those two things, God and my family, I will always be headed in the right direction.

This post is part of Five Minute Fridays. To read my other FMF posts, click here, or on the tag #fiveminutefriday at the bottom of the page. 

Professional Growth

Here it is! My last post in my Goals for Growth series: Professional Growth! If you missed Part 1 on Relationships, or Part 2 on Personal Growth, feel free to click back and read those posts! Also, if you want to know why I picked “Growth” as my word for 2018, you can find out more here. This last post in the series is all about the growth goals I have for various aspects of my blogging and business in 2018. Let’s get started!

Professional Goals for Growth:

I think I need to preface all these goals by saying that the whole reason I even have “professional goals” this year is because I want to contribute financially to our family income. Because our current situation with having a house (still) on the market in another state and having a cost of living that is at or above our current income, I need to do what I can to supplement my husband’s paycheck. Even if I only make enough to buy my son’s school books and the kids’ clothes, or just enough to pay for groceries each month, every bit counts. I want to help get us closer to financial freedom. So, in addition to the reasons I have noted below, gaining financial freedom is a big “why” behind having these goals in the first place.

1. Blogging Goals:

In 2018 I would like to see my regular views and readership stats double, as well as double the number of subscribers to my email list. Since I have only been blogging here for about 6 months, my audience is still pretty small. Up to this point, I have not been able to put a lot of money or time into promoting my blog or networking. But my vision for this site has always been that it would become more than just a place for me to write and send my random thoughts out into the ethernet. My ideal would be that this site would become a community for like-minded women to exchange ideas, to encourage one another, and to have conversation about things that really matter. And if I don’t have readers, especially ones who come back regularly and leave comments, then I am just talking to myself…and that is not much of a conversation! One of my action steps for working toward increasing my blog followers is networking with fellow bloggers in a couple of Facebook groups to which I already belong.

2. Virtual Assistant Goals:

In 2018 I want to add 1-2 new clients for whom I provide virtual assistant services. I started working as podcast manager for MacKenzie Monroe of Cultivating the Lovely this past fall, and I loved it so much, I decided to launch my own virtual assistant business. I am hoping to add one more podcast or project manager position to my repertoire. I would also love to do some editing/proofreading for other writers. I know some people really need technical help with maintaining their WordPress websites, and I have some knowledge I can share in that area as well. One action step I am taking to move forward with this goal is to compile a list of people I can approach to offer my services, sort of doing the online version of “cold calling.”

3. Young Living Distributor Goals:

I am hesitant to put this out there because of all my professional goals this is the one I have been most hesitant to pursue. However, I am seriously considering building a Young Living team under me in the coming year. I have been regularly using YL essential oils in our home for years, and I do believe in the power of these natural substances to promote health. I do not, however, desire to be a salesperson. (I’ve been there, done that! It’s not my gifting!) I also don’t want to be another one of those people you have to unfollow on social media because they are always marketing and nothing else. What I do want is to help educate people on safe, effective options to OTC medications. I also want to help people find natural alternatives to toxic skincare and household products. So, if you start seeing some more posts around here about DIY natural body lotion or household cleaners using essential oils, you’ll know why!

Ok, I did not expect this, but it feels a little scary putting my business goals here for all the world to see in black and white. Some of these goals feel really big and unattainable to me, quite honestly. I guess publishing this also makes it all seem more real, and now I am accountable to you all to follow through and attack this stuff! So, help me not feel so alone here. What is one scary big goal you have for this year that you are a bit afraid to put out there? Let’s cheer each other on!

My Goals for GROWTH in 2018, Part 2: Personal Growth

Welcome to the second post in my Goals for Growth series! Last week, I wrote about my goals for developing stronger relationships. Today, I want to share my 2018 goals for personal growth.

Physical Growth:

In the area of my physical health my overall goal is to get in better shape so that I can have more energy and strength so that I can better serve my family now and in the long term. Since my pregnancy with my daughter three years ago, I have had very little energy and strength. I have largely neglected my physical health, at least in terms of getting the exercise and intentional movement I need on a daily basis. I am not a highly athletic person naturally, anyway, and since it has been a long time since I have asked my body to move in many different ways, I am intentionally starting small and being very gentle with myself. My action steps to achieve this goal are as follows: complete the Foundational 5+ course from Fit2B, exercise at least 30 minutes 3-4 times a week (also using routines from Fit2B), and go outside for 30 minutes every day for fresh air and sunshine.

My second goal is the area of physical health is to break my addiction to sugar. I have struggled with craving sweets for a long time, even though I know that sugar depletes my immune system and causes blood sugar spikes and drops that contribute to bad mood swings. My first line of attack in this sugar addiction battle is going to be following the 40 Day Sugar Fast hosted by Wendy Speake, starting January 8th.

Spiritual Growth:

Tied closely to my physical health battles, my spiritual health is going to be of paramount importance to the rest of my growth. Recently I have realized that the scripts that run through my head are normally pretty negative. This negativity spills out into every other area of my life. My goal in 2018 is to exchange those negative thoughts with the truth of Scripture. This will increase my joy and gratitude and decrease my anxiety and discontent. My action steps to accomplish this goal include waking early each morning to spend time alone studying the Word and praying before the rest of my family gets up. I will also be writing down at least 3 things I am grateful for each day.

Educational Growth:

My goals in this area are not really new but more of a continuation of what I am already doing. My goals for my personal education in 2018 are to continue bettering myself through wide reading and learning new skills. I want to always be learning and growing my understanding of the world, of God and of other people. I never want to stagnate and stop using my mind or lose my sense of wonder at the marvels of creation. As I mentioned in my last Reading Report of 2017, I am joining the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge. Of course, I also have other books that I want to read that are not on that list, and I am hoping to complete at least 30 titles this year. As for learning new skills, I am planning to study some basic drawing and watercolor techniques. I want to practice at least once a week, as well as using what I learn in my nature journal entries each week.

I will be back in a few days with the last post in my goals series, all about my professional goals for 2018. In the meantime, tell me about your personal growth goals for this coming year. What are you going to be doing to improve your spiritual, physical and mental health?