Saturday, January 14, 2012

Today I cried in the middle of Subway.

I had been feeling "down" for a while now, not quite sure why.  The kids were driving me extra crazy, I couldn't seem to do anything right, and in spite of diligently counting points, the scale just wasn't cooperating.  More than that, I felt invisible, unappreciated, and unsuccessful.

For some reason, in the middle of Subway I realized the problem.

My love language is Words of Affirmation (with physical touch coming in a close second).  I absolutely thrive on words of encouragement and appreciation.  In fact, I realized while blubbering in the Subway bathroom that many of my decisions have been based on something someone other than my parents said to me.  (Mom and Dad give me encouragement all the time, and I'm extremely grateful for it, but there's just something about hearing it from someone who doesn't "have to" love you.  Know what I mean?)  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It's how God has wired me, and I believe He has used this to lead me.

Statement: "You're a great writer.  You really should start a blog."
Result: trying to resurrect this blog.

Statement: "You should teach college math."
Result: went to Georgia Tech for an MS instead of staying at Auburn for an M.Ed.

Statement: "You've got great legs."
Result: walking down the aisle in a white dress and saying "I do."  :)  (OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but he did say it, it did change my life, and it's why you won't see me wearing pants to church unless there's a foot of snow on the ground.)

I do a lot of invisible jobs these days, and they are sorely lacking in words of affirmation.  Home school teacher - no verbal affirmation except when we are doing something really fun.  Mama - mostly I hear whining and arguing and complaining about anything healthier than a corn dog.  Online teacher - I do get occasional positive feedback here, and it makes my day when it happens, but mostly it's just questions.  Blogger - I have a grand total of 12 followers, and three of those are my mother, my sister, and me.

If you don't speak this love language, this whole post will probably just sound needy, silly, whiny, or even snobby.  Why should I need to hear someone say that I'm doing a good job?  Because it's like the air that I breathe.  Without it, I start feeling completely empty and defeated.  Others of you feel this way about spending time with someone or getting regular hugs.  Others feel most loved when someone does some act of service.  Still others of you feel most loved when someone gives you a gift.

My husband is actually very well suited to meet this need of mine because he gives awesome pep talks.  He is the reason I survived grad school.  He gave the most wonderful rehearsal dinner speech I have ever heard - it was two sentences I think, but it was exactly the right thing to say.  But he realized today that he had forgotten this about me.  We have gotten so busy being parents that we haven't been spending as much time together as we should.  As a result, neither of us is feeling particularly loved.

I'm so thankful that the Lord speaks this love language, too.  I asked Him for some words of affirmation today, and this is what He brought to mind:

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.  Psalm 139:14  He likes how I look!

He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.  Song of Solomon 2:4  He loves me!

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.  Proverbs 31:30  He created me with this need for acknowledgment, and He has promised its fulfillment when I seek to honor Him.

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Matthew 10: 30  He notices me!  I am not invisible to Him.

By the way, he speaks every love language.  Just ask Him to speak to you in your language and see what happens.  He wants to show you how much you are loved.

I know without a doubt that there are some needs in our hearts that can only be met by the Lord, and it is painful for all involved when we try to get those needs met in other ways.  However, I do believe that the Lord does expect husbands and wives (and friends and family) to understand and seek to meet those needs that we ARE designed to meet.  Are you feeling unloved by your husband?  Does he know that?  Does he know what he might could change?  Is your husband feeling unloved by you, even though you may be doing or saying everything that says love to you?  Make sure you're speaking his language.

Not sure what I'm talking about?  Check out this book.

I just bought The 5 Love Languages for Children.  I want to make sure I speak their language, too.  Naturally, I give them words of affirmation all the time, but is that what speaks love to them?  I need to know this.

So today, I cried in the middle of Subway.  And it's one of the best things I've done in quite a while.

Disclaimer: This post may be linked up to one or more of the following blog parties.  Check them out! Monday: Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie, Wednesday: Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family, Friday: 5 Minute Friday at The Gypsy Mama, Company Girl Coffee at Home Sanctuary
Other days: A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Weekend Links

One of my favorite things on other blogs is when they post links to interesting articles they have found during the week.  On the hope that you might enjoy the same thing, here are some of my favorites from this week.
This one is showing up everywhere, but I just love it.  It really speaks to me in my current stage of motherhood.
Note: if the link isn't working, copy this into your browser

I SOOOO want to do this!  Anybody with me?  It doesn't have to be a birthday party.

Gorgeous!  My pantry isn't at all like this, but it's beautiful inspiration anyway.

“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Provençale Chicken Supper

This really hits the spot on a cold winter's night.  Plus, since it cooks most of the day in the crock pot, it's super-easy, too!  I think the next time I make this, I'll bake some cornbread to go with it.  Yum-O!

Provençale Chicken Supper
4 servings
WW Plus Points: 7 per serving (!!)

4 (6-ounce) skinned, bone-in chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 cup diced yellow bell pepper (I used green since it is much less expensive.)
1 (16-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can pasta-style chunky tomatoes, undrained (I couldn't find these so I used Italian style.)

Place chicken in crock pot; sprinkle with dried basil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.  Combine remaining salt, remaining pepper, bell pepper, beans, and tomatoes in a bowl; stir well.  Spoon over the chicken.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour.  Reduce to LOW and cook 5 hours (or more).

This recipe came from the Southern Living Ultimate Quick & Easy Cookbook.

My Favorite Apps - Part 1

image from

Those of you who are my Facebook friends know of the consternation I went through over choosing a tablet.  I finally bought a 1st generation iPad from someone on craigslist, and I have no regrets.  I love it!  And my kids and husband do, too.

I love finding lists of recommended apps, so I'm hoping you do, too.  Today, I'm going to start with the ones I use myself.

These are in no particular order except for this one: AppShopper.  Using this app can potentially save a person quite a bit of money over time.  I put in a Wish List of apps, and then it notifies me when the price changes on the app.  Also, within AppShopper, you can see the price history of a particular app.  So for example, if I see that the price has been $1.99 for the past two years, I know it's probably not going to change anytime soon.  On the other hand, if I see that it drops down to $0.99 every couple of months (or better yet, FREE!), then I know it will be best to wait it out.  Genius!  There are several similar apps out there that may also be wonderful, but this is the one I use and love.

Commercial over.

Here are the obvious ones that I love (all FREE!):
Pandora (Christmas music whenever the mood strikes?  80s music all the time?  Yes, please.)
Facebook (although I still primarily use my desktop)
Netflix (app is free but requires a Netflix subscription)
Kindle (I can now check out library books for Kindle.  Plus there is now a Send to Kindle app for desktops for sending pdfs (e-books, anyone?) straight to my Kindle.)
Weight Watchers Mobile and WW Kitchen (apps are free, but you will need WW e-tools to use any part except the included recipes)
Notes (I have used this for packing lists, prayer lists, and I'm reading off of it now as I type out this list. :) )

Less obvious ones (most also free):
GoTasks (This syncs directly to my Google tasks list on my desktop.  I love that I can make lots of different lists - color-coded - that can be viewed separately or all at once.)
FreeBooks (HUGE selection of books, especially classics.)
1000Gifts (This app created by Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience is a gratitude journal.)
Weather + (I'm a weather junkie.  We bought the full version to add lots of cities from around the world.  It helps to make some of the faraway places we have studied in geography feel more "real.")
Pulse feed reader (It won't show all of the blogs I follow, but that's kind of a good thing.  It helps me to focus on the ones I most care about.  Please add mine.  hehehe)
ShowMe (Awesome for teaching.  I have already used it this term in helping some of my online students.  It allows me to "write" on a whiteboard, record the writing as well as my voice, and then creates a link I can send to the student.  Wonderful!)

Games I'm now addicted to:
Bumpling (I have the free version now but will probably break down and get the full version soon.)
7 Words

I have downloaded many more apps, but some I haven't really used much or at all.  I'll be sure to post more if I discover some really great ones.
Later, I'll be posting my favorites for the kiddos.  What are your favorite apps?  Please share!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Goal Giggin'!

Growing up, I heard my Dad talk about how much fun he used to have going frog giggin.'  (Is that what it's actually called?  Does anyone West of the Mississippi or North of Nashville know what I'm talking about?)  Apparently, it's done at night and involves spearing frogs which are later fried and eaten (or at least their legs).

So what does that have to do with goals?

Earlier this week, I shared about my goals for 2012 and how I developed them.  Well, after completing that list, I began reading this book:

I'm still reading through the book, but it has already done so much to change how I approach my daily tasks.  The main premise is this: focus on those tasks that have the greatest potential positive or negative consequences and do those things before moving on to the less consequential tasks.  With this in mind, each night I go through my list of goals and choose one task that, if done the following day, will move me closer to reaching that goal.  I do this for most, if not all, of my 2012 goals.
For example, one of my goals is to have a more welcoming home, with a particular focus area being "Develop a reasonable home-keeping schedule."  So for the past week, I have had on my task list (or Frog List) "laundry, kitchen counters and sink, bathrooms."  Since my goal is to add just a very few tasks at a time, I'll stick with that list for at least another week before adding more.

Another focus area under Personal Growth is to make more friends, so this week "sign up for homeschool co-op group" was on the list, and I mailed the registration form on Friday.

This sort of thing probably comes naturally to lots of people, but not to me.  It's amazing how much more focused I feel.  I'm beginning to believe I might actually achieve those goals this year!

So that's what works for me!  If you want to get lots of great tips on many different topics, check out today's Works For Me Wednesday here.

Let's gig some goals!  Maybe we could coin a new(ish) phrase: "Gig 'Er Done!"  Ha!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 Goals: The Guilt-Free Edition

So since every blogger and her mother (ahem) has been posting things about the new year, I thought I would do the same.  I started with these wonderful worksheets that break each goal down into focus areas, and then each focus area is broken down into smaller goals.  Yay for manageable pieces!

Yes, I want to grow closer to the Lord and to David in the coming year, but in this list, I chose to focus on more concrete, measurable areas of my life.  So here are my goals (in no particular order except how I thought of them):

Prority 1: Have a more welcoming home.
Focus areas: develop a reasonable home-keeping schedule, declutter problem areas, invite friends over more often.

Priority 2: Improve my health and well-being.
Focus areas: lose xx pounds (NOT sharing the actual number at this point!), exercise regularly, go to bed and get out of bed earlier.

Priority 3: Continue to improve in home schooling.
Focus areas: Plan further in advance, get Megan more involved, choose curriculum for next year.

Priority 4: Kaplan (where I teach online)
Focus areas: Be more focused so it doesn't take up so much of my time, improve on student outreach, develop weekly discussion board posts for common courses, clean out email inbox.

Priority 5: Personal growth
Focus areas: Read more, make more friends, blog regularly, pursue an interest.

Now this post was titled The Guilt Free Edition for a reason.  I live under the burden of a lot of false guilt.  Most of it self-imposed, some put there by other people.  I feel guilty for not measuring up to some ideal standard.  I feel guilty for trying to do too much, and then I feel guilty for not doing enough.  And then I feel guilty for feeling guilty.  In fact, I feel so much false guilt that I'm not always able to discern Holy Spirit conviction in the midst of all these other thoughts.  When I sin, I want to be convicted of that.  But Romans 8:1 promises that there is "now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  That means those voices of shame are not His!  This year I want to quiet those other voices.

So I refuse to feel guilty if I don't achieve all of these goals.  I believe they are worthy goals, and I believe that even coming close to achieving them would be a wonderful thing.  So each day I will attempt to strive forward toward them but not become bogged down with guilt if some days I just don't get things crossed off of the list.

Here's how I'm working on these each day, little by little.  (And yes, already there have been days when some things didn't get marked off.  But that's OK.)

So what are your goals?  How do you quiet those voices of false guilt and condemnation?

I'm linking up to a blog hop here.  Check out the other great posts!

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