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Monday Musings

It’s Monday. And I am feeling a bit Garfield-like about today.

Garfield Monday

Not that anything bad has happened. I am just tired. And getting sick. And blah.

So instead of drowning in “I hate Monday” madness, I thought I would share a few random things that are going through my head today.

  • The laughter of my children is the most amazing sound in the entire world. And I was privileged to hear lots of it this weekend.
  • If you like fun apps, you need to download Relay. My friends and I have been sending funny gif messages back and forth since we discovered it and I may have spent too much time yesterday looking for funny ones to add to my collection for future messages.
  • If you like books about strong women paired with fantasy, you need to read Pennyroyal Academy. I just started it a few days ago and haven’t had a ton of time to read, but I am loving it and can’t wait for Anne to read it, too. Nothing like squelching the idea that princesses have to be of a royal bloodline and are just pretty faces with the fact that princesses are warriors for their kingdoms, just like knights.
  • When the weather turns cold, the depression sure comes on fast for me. I have had to fight to get my workouts in this past week, and I have not done very well with eating right, either. Here’s to a new day of doing what I know helps to keep the depression under control – exercise and eating right!
  • Singing at the top of my voice to some of my favorite music is one of my favorite things to do, ever. Thank you Trisha Yearwood for music that fills my soul!
  • A good cup of tea makes me smile this time of year when the cold is starting to seep into my bones. These are my three favorite varieties: Trader Joe’s Decaf Irish Breakfast Blend, Good Earth Decaf Sweet & Spicy, and Stash Decaf Chai Spice.
  • I have been working on a crochet project just because it is a pattern I have always wanted to try, but I have been looking for a new gift project and this week I was blessed with not only a person on my heart for whom to do a project, but the perfect project placed right into my hands. I found the perfect yarn yesterday and am looking forward to beginning on the project on Thursday. So excited to be able to bless someone!!
  • For the last few years, my family has done various forms of daily Thanksgiving. We have had a wall of Thanksgiving where we added post-it notes every day. We have had posters on each of our doors that we wrote reasons we were thankful for each other. This year, life has been a bit chaotic and I haven’t gotten anything organized to do daily, so I am thinking about other ideas. Right now, I am thinking of making family “Thanksgiving” trees on Thanksgiving day with all of our family that will be together. How are you practicing Thanksgiving with your family this month?

I warned you that this would be a random post! But just putting these things down in print has helped me move past my initial Garfield-esque response to Monday. If you are having a case of the Mondays, perhaps you should make a list, too!!

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Inspiration

Parenting is hard. It is constant work. You can’t let it slide. You can’t assume it is happening. You have to work to be on your toes and aware of what is happening with your kids.

And we all fall short of that ideal. Often.

Some days we are lucky if we get them out of bed and off to school, never mind making sure homework is done, they have had a healthy breakfast and they remembered to brush their teeth.

But the purpose in me blogging for 31 Days this month isn’t to make it seem like I have it all together when it comes to parenting. It isn’t that I have all the answers. It isn’t that I think I am doing a fabulous job in every possible area. It is really that I want to share my experiences and hopefully inspire someone to take that extra step, put in that extra work, and in the process, that I will also be inspired to be better and do better.

This is how it is in every area of my life that I put out there on my blog.

I talk about depression in hopes that someone else can get the help that they need.

I talk about health and fitness so others can find encouragement to get healthy.

I talk about giving to others, so that someone might be inspired to give of themselves.

I talk about music because of its ability to lift us up and move us forward.

I talk about faith because it is the ultimate inspiration in my life.

I truly want to inspire YOU to be the best YOU, the one created and loved by God.

Put in the work, be inspired by others, and be the best parent you can possibly be to the children that God has given to you.

You can do it. I believe in you.

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During the time that I have been down, I have tried to keep busy as I can. One of the ways that I do that is by making things.

I love to knit and crochet, and if you have read my blog for very long you know that my vision is to make knitted/crocheted gifts that have been saturated in prayer and then given to those for which I have prayed. In order to fund this gift-giving ministry, I make some projects to sell. Each item that I knit/crochet is done with quality materials, workmanship, and prayer. It is my hope that the recipient is not only comforted as they snuggle up with an afghan or cover up with a shawl, but their lives are also touched by prayer.

This week I realized that I should “beef up” what I offer for sale in my Etsy shop so I started practicing on some different types of items. Typically I have just listed afghans there, but I decided to try some different scarves and hats this week as well.

My kids get them because they are practice items and not up to the quality I want to sell.  Here are a few of the things I have made this week:

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I am planning to make some more of these types of items to put in the shop so that I can fund the gift-giving portion of my ministry. I will also do custom work, so if you are looking for a handmade gift for someone, or just something for yourself, feel free to ask!

If nothing else, doing something new this week has helped me keep my mind off of how I feel and onto something new and good!

Feel free to share this post with others and spread the word about this ministry that the Lord has me doing!

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If you read my blog regularly, you know that I struggle with depression and the last couple of months have been rough in that area. Add to that an injury that keeps me from running much and a winter that won’t end and let’s just say some days it is a miracle that I even get out of bed. The idea of conquering anything these days is daunting at best, and I find myself looking for ways to push through. That takes many forms but here are some of the things that are getting me through these days.

  • As I took my medicine out of my daily pill container today, I noticed that tomorrow is Thursday which is the last day of the work week for me this week.
  • My birthday was Sunday and here are some of the amazing things that made me happy:
    My daughter, Anne, got her round-off back handspring that she had been working so hard to get;
    My friend, Kim, had me over and made me Rum Chata cupcakes;
    My friend, Crystal, made me my dream cake for my birthday;
    My friend, Brittney, kidnapped my kids, took them for a photo shoot, and showed up at my house with a little mini-album of pictures of my super-adorable kids;
    My husband, Mike, spent the day with me on Friday, took me to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, allowed me to wander through Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to my heart’s content, and even hung out in True Runner with me as I tried some new running shoes out;
    I got hugs from some of my favorite church kiddos on Sunday;
    We got almost a foot of snow on my birthday, which does not make me happy, but it did make my kids happy, so that makes me happy.
  • I finished another crochet project to give to a very special person who is going through a rough time right now.
  • I started another crochet project that I am excited about.
  • I have a knit project in the wings – just have to go pick out some yarn – to give to the winner of last week’s giveaway.
  • I get to celebrate a special birthday with some good friends on Friday.
  • The sun is shining through my window.
  • And there are always the snuggles from kiddies and kitties that make me smile and feel comforted.

I’m sure there are more things, but this is just a smattering of the pieces of my life that keep me going despite the fact that I would much rather curl up on my couch all day every day right now.

If you find yourself struggling in any way, I encourage you to look for the little things that bring you joy and focus on them. It does make a difference.

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Recently I told you about some gifts that I have been making and giving. It is just one of the things that I feel like the Lord can use me to do for His glory.

After finishing a number of things for others, I made a couple of items for myself. I pin various patterns on Pinterest all the time, but there are always a few things that catch my eye. One was a cowl scarf and another was a poncho and matching hat.

Earlier this week, I wore the poncho and hat and loved it. It was warm and fun and it made me happy all day. As I picked up my son from his hip-hop class, a friend from church saw me and commented (as many others had that day) about how much she liked it. I politely said thanks and went on with my day.

Then the next day, as I sat in our staff meeting where our discussion centered around the kind of church we want to be (one that brings glory to God), I felt the Lord impress on my heart that I was to give away that poncho and hat to the woman I saw at the dance studio. My immediate response was one of obedience. (Although I do have to say there was a twinge of disappointment that something I had made for myself wasn’t for me after all.) I went home, got it, and left it for her at her home.

Later in the evening, I got a message from her about how blessed she was by the gift waiting for her when she got home from a long day of doctor visits.

And all I could think was, “Thank You, Lord, for letting me be a part of your blessing for her.”

In that vein, I was thinking about you, my readers, this morning and the fact that there are people in your lives that need to be blessed in some way as well. So, I decided that today I will do a giveaway. Leave a comment on my blog page (not on Facebook or Twitter) about someone in your life who needs a blessing. Next Wednesday, I will randomly select one person and will make something for you to give to the person you told me about. As we all read the comments, we can also be praying for the various people listed. And that will be a blessing for all of them!

What are you waiting for? Get commenting!

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In Friday’s blog I shared that February was a rough month. And it was. I’m still working on how to make March better. But one thing that helped me through February was some projects that I worked on and completed.

You may or may not know that I love to knit and crochet projects for others who need prayer and encouragement. (You can read more about that here.) In the last few weeks, I was able to complete a few projects to give to people. One person I don’t know at all, I heard about her situation from a friend. Another person I am just acquainted with, but am good friends with one of her friends. A third person I know a little more, but it’s not like we’re terribly close. What ties all of these people together is this: when I heard about the situation that each one of them is facing, my heart went out to them and I was prompted to do something to show them that God loves them and is taking care of them, and as a way to physically show them that care, I made an item for each of them. As I made each item I prayed. As I finished the item and got it ready for them, I wrote them a note about how I specifically prayed for each of them. And then I handed the items off to someone else to deliver.

You see, it’s not about being recognized for what I have done, it’s simply about being obedient. I don’t need a thank you. I don’t need acknowledgement. I just need them to know that someone is thinking and praying for them, lifting them to the Lord as they go through a rough time.

The process of doing something for others, even when I am struggling through each day, helps me to take the  focus off myself and put it where it belongs – on loving the Lord and loving my neighbor.

It reminds me of this song, one of my favorite Fundamental Elements songs, that they just happened to play at their reunion show on Friday night. We all need to remember that we are not alone.

(verse 1)
Sister, I’ve been hearing things
That you’ve been going through
For such a long time
You wonder if you’re ever gonna see the clouds part
See the sunshineWoah I want you to know
That I’ve been praying for your soul, child
Hoping you see He’s never gonna leave
No matter what you’re feeling now

(chorus)
Cause when the rain starts to fall
And I know it surely will
And when the pain becomes all that you can feel
Just get down on your knees and pray
I know you’re gonna find your way
But you’ve gotta know
You’ve gotta know you’re not alone

(verse 2)
Brother, I’ve been noticing
The way you walk around
With your head down
Thinking that nobody even knows your name
That you don’t even matter now

Woah I want you to know
That I’ve been praying for your soul, child
Hoping you fight to make it through the night
And morning comes early now

(bridge)
I know you’re tired of hearing
Everything is cool, that you’ll be alright
Cause you just wanna know
That somebody’s here with you to be at your side
And when words can’t mend a heart breaking up
When the sun won’t shine, and you’ve had enough
And when hope just fades away
You can always count on me

(ending)
And when words can’t fix it
You can count on me
Oh, when all hope is gone
You can count on me
Oh, when the sun won’t shine
You can count on me
Oh, you’re not alone
Oh, you’re not alone
Just get down on your knees and pray
You can count on me
Oh, I know you’re gonna find your way
You can count on me
You can count on me
Oh, you’re not alone

When all hope is gone
You can count on me
When everybody leaves you
You can count on me
I’ll be right here for you
You can count on me
Oh, you’re not alone
Oh, you’re not alone

credits

from This Moment – EP, released 18 May 2010
Produced by Stephen LeiwekeRuss Mohr: vocals, bgvs, snaps, percussion
Luke DeJaynes: drums
Mark DeJaynes: bass, bgvs
Dustin Burggraaf: keyboards, bgvs
Joe McGill: guitars, bgvs
Stephen Leiweke: guitars, snaps, percussion

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In the last couple of weeks, I keep coming back to these scriptures over and over:

  • Philippians 4:13 – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
  • Matthew 19:26 – Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

These are the things that went through my head during the Goofy race. I have been teaching these ideas in Kids Church. I have had to lean on them as I am trying to be obedient to do hard things. I am using these ideas with my kids constantly – even last night as Anne was struggling in tumbling and using the words, “I can’t,” I was reminding her that with the strength of Christ, she can.

Why is it that our first response to something hard is that it is impossible? Why is it that we immediately look at the situation and at ourselves and say, “I can’t do this?”

Why is it so hard for us to acknowledge that we can’t do things on our own, much less ask for help?

Is it pride? Is it fear of being vulnerable? Is it arrogance?

When those tough things are standing in front of us, our first response should be, “Lord, you are strong when I am weak.  I cannot do this on my own. Please help me. I know with your help I can accomplish even that which seems impossible to me.” Our second response should be to give our best so that God can then use it for His glory.

This is the clip that I showed in Kids Church this week. I love it. If you haven’t watched this movie, I highly recommend it. It is a great example of how God can use those who look weak in the eyes of the world and make them strong.

I encourage you to lean on Christ and His strength today as you face the giants in your way.

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Have you ever seen one of those guys at a circus that spins plates on a stick? He starts with one and continues to add plates spinning and tries to keep them all going and not let any of them fall to the ground. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, visit YouTube and look up plate spinning. You’ll find lots of videos to give you an idea.)

Sometimes I feel like a plate spinner. I have so many things that are vying for my attention and I have about enough time and energy to give each of them a spin before another one is about to crash so I have to run off to make sure it doesn’t. And sometimes. Plates crash. They stop spinning and completely fall to the ground and shatter into thousands of pieces.

And what results is me, feeling like a failure.

I just can’t keep it all going. Diet. Exercise. Bills. Cleaning. Work. Parenting. Connecting with my husband. Plans for holidays. Cooking. Devotions. Reading. Knitting. Small Group. Budgeting (work and home). Friendships. Time commitments. Making sure everyone else gets what they need from me and vice versa. Drinking enough water. Laundry. Lists. Prayer. Grocery shopping. Sleep.

There are times when I am really on top of budgeting and bills, but I am eating terribly, sleeping in too late and never exercising. There are times that I am faithful with my Bible reading, but I am not investing enough time in my husband. Three are times that I am really good about connecting with my friends and giving to them, but my kids haven’t had a home-cooked meal in two weeks. And there are times when I am not doing any of it well.

And that’s where I am right now. I feel like plates are crashing around me. I am doing well with some things, but others have fallen or are about to fall. And then I start getting down on myself about it. And then more stuff falls. It becomes a downward spiral.

Until I stop it. Until I ask for help and give God control. Until I choose to pick up some of those plates. Until I give myself grace and ask for grace from others.

The reality is I really can’t do it all on my own. But I think I should be able to and that’s where I get into trouble. That’s when my attitude starts going south. That’s when I start feeling overwhelmed. But when I remember that 1) God is there and is ready to help – I just need to ask and 2) that I live in community and there are people – family, friends, etc. – that are more than willing to step in when they are aware there is a need, that’s when things get better.

If you are feeling this way today, I encourage you today to stop, take a deep breath, and ask for help – from God, from your friends, from your family. And accept their help and their grace. I know I need to.

What do you usually do when you are feeling overwhelmed with life?

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A couple of weeks ago, I presented you all with an idea that I am working out in my mind about how to mix my love of knitting with a desire to bless people through knitting and prayer, all while not breaking the bank. (Read more about that here.)

Well, today I started a store (http://www.etsy.com/shop/princesschrisy) where I hope to begin making that happen. There I have listed two of my afghans and two of my mom’s afghans (she has the same desire that I do) for sale. The prices are set to cover the cost of the materials plus something for our time. Anything we make will be used to purchase more supplies to make things that will bless others.

Will you help us get the word out? If you or someone you know like something you see, but would like it in different colors, let us know, we can probably work on a custom item for you. Thanks for your help and support!

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This week I have been thinking. And knitting. And praying. And in the midst of all this thinking, knitting, and praying, I have a plan that is formulating. Meaning it is in process, not yet fully formed but on the way.

A few years ago I learned to knit and discovered that I enjoy it and am pretty good at it. At first I made some small things, scarves, wash cloths, even a baby afghan, but lately I have moved up to full-size afghans and shawls. And I love watching a piece grow into what it was planned to be. And it is so fun to give people things that have been made especially for them.

In the midst of learning to knit, I ran across something called the Prayer Shawl Ministry. I have the books but haven’t fully read them, just skimmed thus far, and the idea is giving shawls that have been prayed over while being knitted or crocheted to people in need to show them that they are loved and prayed for. It could be for a variety of reasons, cancer, death in the family, infertility, you name it.

As I was praying the other day, I had two special people come to my mind for similar reasons, and as I laid in bed that night I felt compelled to make them each a specific item and pray for their specific issues as I make it. And then when the time came, I could give them the gift, along with some specific prayers that I had prayed for them.

I love this idea, but there is one small problem. Financially, this could become very difficult, so how can I continue to make nice things with good quality materials, just to give away, when our budget this year is extremely tight? And then it occurred to me that perhaps some of the things that I make could be sold, and the money made off of those items could be used to purchase the materials for the gifts.

That seems like it might be a good idea, but the big question for me right now is how to proceed with this. Am I supposed to move forward? Am I supposed to sell some things to make others? How and where can I sell them? And for how much?

All these questions and more are unanswered, but just because I don’t yet know the answer, doesn’t mean I am going to stop pursuing it. I’ll keep asking and listening for the answer. I’ll move ahead as the Lord leads. I know this idea isn’t just a fleeting one as I have been prompted to write this as my next blog post for nearly a week now. So here it is.

What do you think? Good idea? Have any suggestions for me?

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