New Year, New Thoughts

Oh Christmas food, Oh Christmas food, my waistline will not miss you…
The holiday season is such a special time to treasure family and the precious gift of God incarnate but after 3 weeks of heavy food and excessive social activities I am ready to thank God for His many gifts in other ways. Taking time to have new thoughts about old times and the new year is something I especially treasure after all the holiday chaos. Resolutions aren’t something that make the list of New Year’s thoughts however, because they tend to fizzle so quickly. Planning to improve things is different than resolutions because you make time to examine your heart and mind about problems and strengths present, and then specifically work to accomplish spiritual and mental growth in those areas as opposed to just listing things you want to be better at. Resolutions are merely good intentions whereas planning is specific and tangible. Give it a whirl and see how it works for you!

A Bible and journal are my truest friends and greatest allies in life’s journey

Here are a few of my favorite avenues for thinking through the old year:

  1. Remembering God’s faithfulness in the hard times
  2. Seeing God’s goodness in the easy times
  3. Evaluating weaknesses of the past year, spiritually, physically, and in relationships with others
  4. Evaluating strengths of the past year in those same areas
  5. Thinking through how life has changed and processing a year of events
True wisdom is something God has put on my heart to pursue this upcoming year

And favorite ways for looking into the new year:

  1. Planning how to improve spiritual growth and fellowship with the body of Christ and in our home – like going through a Spiritual Health Check
  2. Looking for more ways to be grateful for the abundance of blessings
  3. Planning ways to be better steward of resources (like health and time)
  4. Anticipating challenges the new year will present and preparing accordingly ( board exam anyone?)
  5. Setting the precedent for a year that focuses on glorifying God and triumphing by grace over things in my control instead of the burned-out and frustrated attitude I usually have going in to Christmas break.

A journal, piece of scratch paper, or word doc is an easy way to track your thoughts too. Choosing to take some of the topics for Family discussion is an easy way to encourage your loved ones to evaluate their own lives too. I hope you and your family have many things to celebrate from this last year and have many more blessings in the upcoming one.

2019 is coming in with a bang!

Everyone always has different ways they like to celebrate another year on this crazy planet and to anticipate a new year. What are your’s? 🙂

Christmas Decorating Party – You Need One Too!

Warm chocolate chip cookies, milk in a frosty glass, classic holiday music, and a tub of Christmas decorations. Sounds like a party!
Since being married 3 years ago, we have had an annual Christmas decorating party where we dig out the red tub, string up lights, and write out our Christmas cards.  We dance in the kitchen to the Christmas music I’ve dug out for the first time in the season while wishing we hadn’t eaten so many cookies and there are candles everywhere. Today I thought I would share a few traditions we have made together for our Christmas decorating party to make the holidays more meaningful and mindful. Enjoy!

Red glitter cards to share the love of God this season are a staple

The Food
This year we made chocolate chip cookies, most years there is at least hot cocoa involved too. I was smart and only baked half of the dough that was made up, but we still managed to polish off the entire plate that was made (Hey, don’t judge I’m headed to work out today). Taking time to make the cookie dough from scratch and smelling them while they turn golden brown are my favorite parts of holiday baking.

The Cards
We take time every year to write cards to family and friends. We love getting to put holiday wishes, a note that we’re praying for them, or letting them know how much we have appreciated having them in our lives this past year. Having a specific time set aside to get these done is helpful, and knocking the list out together makes it a cinch. It’s the thoughts in the cards that count and not what you paid for them, so I’ll share my little secret that I also always buy my cards on after-Christmas sales and store them in the red tub for next year.

Candlelight makes everything more festive!

The Music
We listen to the Pandora station for Trans Siberian Orchestra with all of their classical renditions of carols and songs. We both like the older classic songs and instrumental versions for our wild party. A little Lindsey Stirling in the mix makes for a pretty dreamy atmosphere. Check out the station shown in the picture  by clicking here.

Trans Siberian Orchestra and Lindsey Stirling are our favorite Christmas artists

Limiting the decorations
This one sounds a little weird for having a party. Trust me though, it’s much more fun. The house rule is it all has to fit back into the 20 gallon red tub at the end of the December. (We don’t presently have a Christmas tree – if we get one in the future it would be an exception.) No one wants to have to make numerous trips to the storage room and lug endless boxes from the attic. If you have ever been to a garage sale or thrift store you know the people I am talking about who have an extreme excess of Christmas decor. Tyler and I both said we never wanted that for our family. Being beautiful doesn’t have to mean being extravagant. Try it out! How can you streamline your decor? You might even find you are happier with less clutter during this holiday season.

Taking a moment in the middle of the busy season to spend an evening with family and decorate our home has grown to be a tradition we both look forward to immensely each year.

What Pre-Christmas traditions do you have? 🙂 Would love to hear in the comments.

Oblivion is Bliss – Oklahoma Kids and Child Abuse

Oblivion is bliss. Wait I thought the saying was “ignorance is bliss”? Well it might be, but today I’m talking about the kindergartner sitting in their classroom filled with bright colors and happy faces who is totally zoned out. Little Tommy is zoned out to the point he doesn’t hear the teacher calling his name or see Little Sophia reaching over to share her markers. He doesn’t feel anything. He chose to not feel anything because it was better than feeling the welt on his head where daddy threw a beer can at him that morning and remembering the yelling fight between his parents. Being oblivious was better than feeling the gnawing pain in his stomach because he wasn’t given dinner or breakfast because mommy was “busy”.

But Little Tommy is a rare happenstance right? Only drug addicts or alcoholics abuse their kids right? Unfortunately no, abuse happens in many families. Today in lecture we talked about some of the psychiatric disorder kids suffer from after suffering abuse. I was a little taken back myself. Oklahoma ranks #8 in the nation for abused children. In 2015 there were 31 deaths due to abuse and just over 55,000 investigations of reported abuse. These numbers are huge! And they have so many far reaching implications for everyone in the family, community, and state. These kiddos don’t grow up to be better versions of their parents, in fact there were over 9,000 arrests of kids under the age of 18 in the state in 2016. If they make it to adulthood without being criminals, they are much more likely to struggle with developing meaningful relationships (teen pregnancy anyone?), depression, heart disease, and a host of other problems occurring from extreme chronic stress and trauma. It shouldn’t surprise us that Oklahoma is #2 in the nation for heart disease; many of these cases stem from people suffering immensely in their childhoods. These statistics should break our hearts and cause us to question, where did we go so wrong?

Words hurt just like objects and can destroy a mind and body

Why
Neglect was listed as the largest category of abuse in recent studies in Oklahoma with the largest category being kids 3 and under. Choosing not to feed kids, keep them appropriately dressed, not showing affection, and other forms of neglect are sooo preventable! Why is this an issue? The answer may surprise you. There is so little of the Gospel and the hope the gospel provides. No hope means more drug and alcohol abuse so kids get forgotten. No truth means we have no reason to care for others besides ourselves. No gospel means we don’t understand love and what it means to be affectionate to our kids. No accountability means we forget to develop patience with the little buggars when they are on our nerves and don’t put their needs above ours. Oklahoma needs an ocean of truth and hope that only the gospel of Christ will provide.

What You Can Do
For starts, go home and hug your kids. Tell them you love them. Teach them the gospel. Show them by example how to share the gospel with others. Then choose to step out of oblivion yourself, interact with your community, advocate for kids who are suffering, encourage parents who are struggling, be the parent you know your kids need.
If you struggle with addiction, intimate partner violence, or just with anger towards your kids, know that it is okay to not be perfect. Kids don’t need perfect, they need a parent who recognizes when to get help. Counselors aren’t just for crazy people, medications can be helpful, and being honest with those around you can inspire others to seek help too. Choose to be different and let’s make Oklahoma different. If you’re up for the challenge you can prayerfully consider adopting a kiddo who has a challenging home situation and help them join the 2400+ Oklahoma kids adopted every year. There are so many ways we can all seek improvement. Seek out how God can use you to make a difference.

Hope comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Be more than a statistic, be a parent.

Below are additional resources and statistics:

How to Report Child Abuse 

American Society for The Positive Care of Children

Oklahoma Plan for Childhood Abuse Prevention

 

Holiday Health Check. How Are You Spiritually?

Wait! Stop Winter! You’re running over fall. Be nice and wait your turn! Goodness, 4 inches of snow and a week of frigid temperatures does not look like a typical early Oklahoma November. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday but it is being run over by Christmas with this weather. I just can’t keep a Thanksgiving mindset when I run to the store and they’re playing Christmas carols while it’s snowing outside! But I am trying to be grateful, the snow is pretty and God controls the weather too. Anyway, Thanksgiving is still coming and Christmas right behind it, providing the perfect season for a little soul searching. How is your spiritual health?

Our backyard, this view was gorgeous that morning

Priorities: How are you prioritizing God in your life? Are you investing in your daily spiritual walk? Maybe think about picking up a new podcast this week. Below are links to two, the first is a 5 minute once weekly podcast and the second is a longer podcast. I absolutely love the 5 Minutes in Church History one, it’s time efficient, thorough, and entertaining. The second one is totally worth your time with sound, deep, biblical teaching that will keep you grounded in your faith.

5 Minutes in Church History – Stephen Nichols

Grace to You Podcast – John McArthur

How about time in Scripture? You don’t have to wait till New Years to try to pick up a new habit of daily reading or to renew your former habit. We miss out on so many blessings when we don’t have His words on our heart daily. Engaging an accountability partner is a great idea to help each other out too.

Attitude. This one is a hard one for me. Remembering to be a thankful person who trusts God for what’s next can be a challenge; but if we trust Him to redeem us by His love and grace we have to trust Him with the rest of our lives too. We can’t be complaining, gossiping, irritable, people. We are called to be joyful, encouraging, patient followers of Christ. Does your attitude reflect your newness of life?

Compassion. Holidays are easy times to think of others but right here on the edge of the holiday season and following the season to the rest of the year, we have the privilege of  being the heart and hands of Christ to a church and world filled with hurting people. Visit a home-bound member of your church. Volunteer around your community. Watch the kids of a young couple at your church free of charge because they just need a break. Send a card to a person who recently experienced crippling loss. Buy coffee for a young person (not too young lol) and ask them about life. Experience the joys of having an overflowing heart when you choose to love the people around you.

Faith. Can you defend yours? What exactly do you believe? If you came across a high school friend on the street could you share your testimony with them? These are tough questions and the answers require a lot of diligent study, thought, effort, and prayer. It’s the 21st century, Christianity is still under constant bombardment from all sides. As a soldier of Christ we have to put on the full armor of God and be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks.

Many Christians today are considered “nominal” meaning they show up on Sundays and Wednesdays (sometimes), live to check boxes that earn them points toward heaven, only live pure lives in church service, or overbook their lives so that church and the things of God are just an afterthought. Are you a nominal Christian? Or are you a passionate follower of Christ, your Savior,  who takes joy in pursuing righteousness, and live a life that beams the light of truth to those around you?  Take this spiritual health check seriously and let’s be accurate reflections of the church we are called to be. 🙂
If you have a family the infographic below has some fun ideas:

What are ways you stay accountable for your spiritual health? 🙂

Other Tips:

  • This is not an exhaustive list
  • This is not a “to-do” list
  • This can be a fun exercise, especially with a spouse, friend, or family

Mental Break to Forage Mushrooms

It just wasn’t happening. The air was crisp. It had just rained a few days earlier. It had been a grueling week. And the studying was just a no-go on Saturday. It was time for a mental break.  So I went mushroom foraging with the hubby instead and was much happier for it. 🙂

Richly colored foliage – my favorite season

I happily took my mental break outside during my favorite season pursuing one of my favorite hobbies with my favorite person. (To be very clear for the curious minds out there, these are NOT psychadellics that we were hunting.)

The first species we came across was one I had not seen before and it looks like a corral growing out of the ground. It was the neatest looking thing! Just look at the picture! Someone took a sample of the Great Barrier Reef and planted it in my backyard woods and it grew!

Baby Corral Mushroom

Yes, I look ridiculously excited. No, I am not wearing makeup. Yes, this is a huge specimen.

After researching we were amused to find it is in fact a corral mushroom (Ramaria formosa). Roasted in the oven with a little garlic oil on top it made for quite the addition to dinner. We additionally found some Wood Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) mushrooms. If you have ever had Hot and Sour soup at a Chinese restaurant and noticed the thin dark strips that have a mushroom-y texture you have had wood ears. They are delicious in soups and stir fry. I packed them along for lunch at school today to add to my ramen because I am out of time for gourmet cooking as this ridiculous neuro final approaches.

First part of the harvest. Corral mushrooms with Wood Ears

Later in the day we also went to a nearby lake and found some Ringless Honey Mushrooms (Armillaria tabescens). Those are on the menu to have tonight with caramelized onion dip. I absolutely love the clumping formation they have!

Ringless Honey Mushrooms – So beautiful!

My husband has decided I will not be a crazy cat lady when I am old – it will be the crazy shroom lady. But seriously, there are so many different kinds! Next time you take a walk just notice how many different kinds of fungi you come across. They are all so different and spectacular. It reminds me every time to thank God for his incredible creation. Only a God with infinite creative power would make nature’s garbage clean up service beautiful and dynamic. Mushrooms literally exist to help decompose wood so we can grow new trees and plants and yet they come in myriads of morphologies, textures, colors, sizes, and flavors.

Mushroom hunting dates are the best.

Be passionate about details in life, it’s so much more satisfying. That’s all I can say when it comes to mushrooms anyway.

Check out the links on the species names above for more details on what we found, and this post on a different experience with foraged mushrooms.

Not edible, but super cool.

Have a favorite memory of mushroom hunting as a kid of do you forage now? 🙂

Church, Family for the Soul

Family. A group of people tied by blood or friendship in un-explainable ways. A group of people committed to loving each other, supporting each other, helping each other, and serving each other. Most of the time somewhat dysfunctional and yet an entity we all treasure. This time of year we end up thinking a lot about our families as the holidays approach  and the leaves turn. I think that is part of what makes the season so special.

Purple flowers lined the edge of the yard

But blood is not the only thing that makes a family. A family is so much more than that. Anyone who belongs to a church with a tight knit community knows precisely what I am talking about. A church is family for your soul. Today I wanted to share an experience with church family as I watched them surround a member in need with arms of love and compassion. It was absolutely beautiful.  I have omitted names out of respect for the family but have shown pictures from around their beautiful home. And yes, the toad is adorable.

This past summer was when the news came. His cancer had come back. Melanoma, his dark nemesis was there again and this time for his life. It affected everyone in our small congregation deeply. He wasn’t very old but had rich legacy of a loving wife of over 40 years and a large family filled with kids and grand-kids.

Toad we found while cleaning up the place. Isn’t he cute!

Shortly before he passed he wanted to make sure his wife was well cared for, and they decided to move closer to town. The church family immediately responded with overwhelming support to help  the move. There were donuts, laughs, hugs, and lots of packing tape rolls involved. Consensus said the chocolate glazed donuts were the best that day. It was some of the deepest fellowship the church had experienced. There just aren’t words for some things.

After his passing, there arose a need to finish cleaning up their yard before preparing the house to sell. Again the church rallied around the family and brought an arsenal of weed eaters, mowers, and willing hands. The pastor was out there (he is in his 70s) the youth were out there, and church members of all ages in between were there. There for her, there for the family, there to be family. It was awesome! And inspiring! So much joy everywhere and willingness to work.

Picturesque view from the edge of their house

There may or may not have been pizza and hay bale rolling afterwards…

So often in today’s busy world we miss out on the incredible experiences of being the hands and feet of the body of Christ that serves one another. So often we forget to take care of the widows in our churches. But every so often, grace abounds and we get a few things right and function as the family God intended for believers. Those moments are priceless, and it was a tremendous honor and privilege to be a part of this family’s story as it unfolded. His wife and immediate family have a hard road ahead filled with grief and a sense of loss, yet they can also celebrate with their church family surrounding them that he graduated from the pain and suffering he had here to a perfect existence in the presence of God.

How do you experience family and participate in being family in your church or community?

Does Your Mind Need To Be Back In Your Body?

Body. Mind. Spirit.

Daily in my training I am reminded how these three entities and everything in our bodies is connected. Literally everything. This past weekend I attended a yoga workshop encouraging women to love their bodies and a training session the next day on therapies for facial bones, postural evaluations, and some esoteric topics of the minute movements of intracranial structures that affect the entire body’s function…. wheww, that was a mouthful. Anyway, why did I go? Because everything is connected! And because I felt totally amazing afterwards, it had been a stressful week and I needed to slow down and refocus.

OMM Lab – Where we train to help people put their minds back in their bodies

After the weekend I had a few thoughts about points brought up from people of very different backgrounds that all revolved around putting your mind back in your body.

First I should clarify what I mean by the above statement. Putting your mind back in your body is not the result of a paranormal reality that everyone is having an out of body experience and needs to do the Voodoo to put it back. Not at all. Putting your mind back in your body means being aware of how your body works, its level of health, and its purpose in life.

The Struggle
Society as a whole struggles to know their own body and where their mind belongs in relation to it. As a Christian I find this appalling. We worship ourselves as society. We adore how we look, we are obsessed with what others think of us, we spend hours on self-gratification, self-fulfillment, and self-indulgence. It sounds a little odd on that you can be totally obsessed with yourself and still not have your mind in your body at all, but it is a problem as ubiquitous as obesity or Alzheimer’s.

We have to be still, know that He is God

Why is This an Issue?
Next time you go out to eat notice how engaged you are with whoever you are with. Notice how engaged the people are around you. Not very engaged? It is too easy to live for distraction from anything besides the present. But not living in the present costs us in our relationship as well as our own health. (Check out my previous posts on spending more time with family  or taking time to see baby rabbits for practical ways to live in the present). When we feel discouraged or depressed we reach for our phones and devices. When we feel hungry, or bored, or anything else we reach for food. When we feel pain we reach for meds or something to just take it away and seldom deal with the cause. We have high blood pressure chronically and make no lifestyle changes. Why? Because to fight any of these, to live intentionally and to live in the present we have to remember God connected our minds to our bodies and sometimes we have to take inventory! What are the consequences? Mind out of body problems, like not being able to tell when things go wrong, growing mindless altogether as in the cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and succumbing to chronic pain and mental illness.

The Sides
As I observed the various perspectives this weekend as well as previous experiences on putting your mind back in your body I noticed two camps. Eastern cultures regularly use healthy behaviors blended with mysticism to create a religion (that later dropped most of the religious aspects and it back to whole person health i.e. yoga and similar arts). Exercise classes like Yoga have taken the world by storm and for a very good reason – they are great at putting the mind back in the body. The second camp is Christianity which among many church circles avoids looking inward and many times forget their body and soul are connected at all. In fact many Christians view Yoga and mind practices as pagan or Satanic. Some Christians view regular prayer as a way to reset the body and I am inclined to agree that although this is not the purpose of prayer it is an undervalued benefit. It shouldn’t really be a surprise that refocusing our soul on God helps put our mind back in a proper place inside our body; remember, everything is connected.

Putting our minds back in our bodies is crucial for our health

The Analysis
The sad part is that one camp offers profound health benefits while denying God any of His creative glory for designing such unique, infinitely complex, and incredible organisms. God made us so incredible we have mechanisms to help us heal. The other camp is drowning in obesity and stiff religiosity. They can be seen reaching for another donut and vehemently stating God thinks it’s sin to sit with your legs crossed thinking about your breathing. Not exactly a pretty picture of being good stewards of our dynamic bodies. And a few people do get it right, that health is something to be taken care of, God is a God to be glorified, and we are people that have lives to live!

The Conclusion
Saying we are designed to never experience suffering is wrong and so is refusing to do anything on our parts to minimize it. Saying we cannot acknowledge God as ultimate Creator, Sustainer, and Healer is wrong, and so is saying He has not given us mechanisms for self repair (hello, we do not go to the ER every time we get a paper cut). So roll out your yoga mat, stretch, check your mental and spiritual health! Go outside and be amazed by the beauty of God’s creation while you exercise, spend time in prayer, and get your mind back in your body.

What are your thoughts on health and living intentionally? 🙂

 

 

 

Cancer, A Patient, and Me

Her name was Katy. A real person with a real story. Katy had recently suffered a car accident and was taken in for routine imaging after the accident. And that’s when they found it. A small lump with huge implications –  breast cancer. It was just a 2 cm firm but movable nodule in her right upper breast, and yet her whole life plans for the next several months will drastically change. I wish I could tell you her real name but for now I will just share her story and what she and her cancer taught me about advocacy, awareness, and attitude.

Breast Cancer Awareness

I met Katy while working at an under-served clinic here in Sand Springs this past Monday. She was coming in for a check up for other medications but the physician had recently learned of her diagnosis. Her attitude and testimony during our short visit had far reaching impacts on those of us working with her.  I hope more people who suffer terrible things have outlooks like Katy does.

Advocate
When asked if she would mind an exam by the medical students working, she immediately and eagerly agreed. I have to say I was a little taken back with how eager she was for the 4 students and attending physicians to perform a full upper body palpatory exam. But she was excited. Why? Her answer was “I never knew what to really look for, what they tell you is different from what I feel. I want you to feel so you can help others.” Her selflessness with her privacy and body was amazing.

Attitude
The stage was early and we did not yet suspect major complications but she was still facing expensive treatment, losing her beautiful hair, the physical trauma of the harsh chemo drugs on her body, possible mastectomy, and so many other hardships. And yet she seemed positive throughout our encounter. She oozed gratitude that she had been able to find it soon and have an MRI that would show it because otherwise she never would have known. She gave God the credit saying she knew everything happened for a reason.  Courage like Katy’s is priceless and rare in the face of such daunting circumstances.

Awareness
Katy taught me that even people told what to expect sometimes don’t know what to look for with cancer. Many people know it exists, there are plenty of campaigns for people knowing of the presence of breast cancer. We need more people who go for routine breast exams and then later the appropriate mammograms. Be proactive about your health ladies! We also need to be a community that cultivates a love for the victims, survivors, and families of ones whom cancer took. We need to invest in better research for better cures. We need to pray for those affected, the patients and their families. And we need to be so very thankful for each and every day we still have to breath.

Community for Breast Cancer Patients

I don’t know if I will ever see Katy again. We had the opportunity to pray with her before she left. And I can honestly say she has been in my prayers since. I pray she has effective treatment, and remission for the rest of her life and that she is richly blessed for the knowledge she has passed on to the medical community.

So how can you get involved for Breast Cancer Awareness month? Glad you asked! Everyone needs to check this symptoms guide  from the National Breast Cancer Foundation for the ladies in their lives.  If you are a med student, doctor or nurse be sure to check out these stethoscope charms. Super cute and a fun way to bring more awareness. And last, but certainly not least, if you are into Mary Kay a friend of mine is giving discounts to raise awareness this month. Looking good, saving money, and supporting a community that loves cancer patients is always a good idea.

Have you or a loved one faced breast cancer? Feel free to share in the comments!

Be Still And Wonder

Medical School is an adventure, an exciting, brutal,  tearful,  exhilarating adventure.  It’s comprehensive education of our minds, bodies, and spirits; I suppose just like many other fields with intense training. And yet in this experience I find it hard to refocus so often. It is hard to remember who put me here (my Creator), and to take time to appreciate His creation outside of school.
But. The other day I was cooking dinner and heard something outside on the sidewalk. It was a high pitched distress squeal. Tyler runs outside to find our puppies tormenting two baby cottontail bunnies.

Baby bunnies the 1st day we found them

They were promptly scooped up, named, bedded in a kitchen towel, and being looked at as prospective pets in 6 minutes flat. I was a little surprised at how quickly they had come into the house. After some research we learned that they were so intricately designed that fewer than 10% survive if reared by humans at this age (their eyes were not yet open).  Hmm, problems problems. After some brainstorming we decided to leave them in the nest at night where the mom typically visits twice briefly to feed them and then we would take in during the day while the dogs ran around. So far so good on that! They are growing!

And of course we had to take them to school because all medical students love therapy pets after tough exams. And every smile and excited gasp that we heard reminded me again; creation is so beautiful and it’s Creator so deserving of wonder. Sometimes in the slough of power points, drudgeries of school, and other responsibilities it is easy to stop and wonder at a living, dynamic, and complicated organism. It’s crazy y’all!

Blake thinks it’s crazy too!

Curling up with the little furballs as the weather is cooling, the foliage turning more gold, and watching as everything outside seeming to slow down just a little even when school is only speeding up was a blessing this week.

Mackenzie voted to have therapy bunnies

Progress reports to come so stay tuned in! Oh, and there might be an introduction to Willow and Espresso the puppers coming soon too.

This is a picture from Wednesday – a little bigger than the first picture!

3 days after we got them. Soo big already!

Enjoy the pictures here and comment with how you make time to stop and wonder at the beauty of creation around you as you pursue your life and responsibilities!

“Be still, and know that I am God”
Psalm 46:10a

3 Steps to More Family Time

Howdy! Thanks for coming back. Monday came in full swing yesterday, my 1st  neuroanatomy exam is over, had my wisdom teeth out and while writing most of this yesterday I was waiting to drive over to the clinic and the student lounge smells insanely good with box after box of hot, greasy, free pizza. And my stomach was growling for it but I coudn’t eat till after surgery… Patience soul, patience. Missing out on free pizza is still good for the waistline I tell myself. But hey, God is good and I don’t have to study tonight.
Yesterday wasn’t that much crazier than any Monday for most of you (or Tuesday, let’s be real)  and we still have the ever present time management and work/family balance struggles. You may have read my post about why we should prioritize our families and as promised in the post, here are a few practical applications of that devoted time. So maybe your time management won’t be perfect, and your balance won’t be in the shape of a zen yoga master after reading this but I hope you find it practical and helpful. 🙂

Schedule it
If you don’t schedule time for the gym or your daily quiet time it isn’t going to happen. If you don’t plan your meals ahead of time you will be making 6 trips to the grocery store this week. If you forgot to schedule that wisdom tooth appointment you will forget about it (thankfully I scheduled this one!). Some people do not like routines or to do lists, efficiency eventually convinces us to use them though. Family time is much more than a to-do list so make sure that scheduling fun time doesn’t stress you out – that would defeat the purpose. My husband and I schedule a date night at least once a week just to spend time together and not worrying about life’s responsibilities.

Keep it reasonable
Calling a family member every day is not sustainable. Neither is spending 4 hours with a spouse and kids after cooking dinner and cleaning the kitchen 7 days a week. Figure out what is reasonable for you and your family is the first step. Spouses are an ultimate priority; they need time every day. Same goes for kids right after the spouse. Extended family beyond that needs to be scheduled in a way that no involved party gets burned out and your spouse and kids don’t miss out on time with you. Kids grow up and leave home, spouses age, and work never ends so make sure you don’t miss out on the best things in life while they last.

Plan to Have Fun
Making time happen is much easier if you have a go-to. New or unexplored park opening in your town? Head there after dinner to check it out this week with your family. No need to wait until the weekend. Find a new recipe on Pinterest (or here) like mushroom couscous? Have a date night at home cooking with your spouse. This is one of Tyler’s and my favorite ways to spend time together. Going to hang out with extended family? Make it a game night; my favorite game with groups is Apples to Apples. We always end up in stitches.

Comment below with your favorite way to spend time with family even with a crazy life! And feel free to share with your friends.