Saturday, April 21, 2018

Hubbie's Turn for a Daytrip

I missed FMF yesterday - Hubbie and I took a day trip! - but still wanted to join the group, so this is Five Minute Friday.  On Saturday.  And, admittedly, a quirky twist on this week's prompt:  turn.  Just a bit of encouragement and a quick recap of our day.

GO - After more than thirty years of marriage, my husband and I are at that stage where we not only know each other - well - but we also anticipate each other (as in, finish one another's sentences) and simply have a routine that regulates our days.  It may sound like "a rut" but it is not.  It is a foundation that beats a steady rhythm to our little world.  Whatever a day may hold - that might vary - but knowing our little bit of "ordinary" and "every day" is something I depend on and appreciate even more as each year goes by.

We enjoy day trips.  A chance to get away - but then, come home, and sleep in our own bed at night!  Priceless.  Most of our days out involve looking for the latest "treasure" in an off the beaten path secondhand store. Or wandering through a small town - looking for the local restaurant with the cutest outdoor patio where we can enjoy lunch.  I love treasure hunting and I really enjoy dining, al fresco, and Hubbie is my good sport - along for the fun!  Rarely do our trips revolve around history.  Sad, but true.  But yesterday was his turn.  His turn to spend the entire day doing what he really enjoys.  We spent the day in Gettysburg - about two hours from home.   We did the entire auto tour which was really quite interesting.  I learned a lot - from the narration, from hearing other tour guides in the area and simply from standing on the spots of history. I know that Hubbie thoroughly enjoyed it.

Honestly, our first plan was to go to one of our favorite spots - for more browsing and eating:)  But I'm glad it was "his turn" .... for his interests to set the agenda.  I spent far too many years in the early part of our marriage trying to ensure "I got my turn" all the time.  Protecting my interests.  So thankful for these years - where God has faithfully pruned me, taught me and matured me - that I can better enjoy marriage as He intended.

Just for fun.. check here for a (much older) post about my Hubbie and a photo of us - from those very first days!  Oh my.

And, one more "just for fun."  I came across these treats in the gift shop at the visitor's center.  I know that chocolate can cover just about anything these days...but, I was still surprised to find these potato chips with the pretzels and graham crackers!!?!  Do you like chocolate on your chips??:)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Be Ye Holy - Does It Apply to Me?

Before Moses came to the children of Israel, they had so long been living in bondage in Egypt that their way of life, even as slaves, seemed the norm.  At the very least, what they could expect for a lifetime.  But God had other plans.  He wanted something different for His people.  His "other plans" were different or distinct from all they had known.

Fast forward to their new lives in the Promised Land and the children began comparing themselves to the people around them.  Not surprisingly, comparison led to discontent and the people began to demand a king.  There were warnings that this was not a good idea - God's plan has always been the best plan - "nevertheless the people refused to obey...and they said, Nay; but we will have a king..." (I Samuel 8:19)  They wanted to blend in.  To be anything but different or distinct.  And the cost was high.

The first definition of "other" is:  a person (or thing) that is different or distinct from one already known.  Distinction has always been God's desire for His children.  And, holiness is the way to distinction for believers today.  Unfortunately, it seems many shy away from the pursuit of holiness or even the desire to be distinct.  Not only is holiness often viewed as arrogant - even prejudice - but many are embracing the idea that believers need to purposefully blend in. This is as dangerous as the Israelites insisting on their own way.

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord...."  (II Corinthians 6:17a)

Can we be holy and still be loving?  Holy while putting others before ourselves and seeking to serve?  Yes, of course.  We can - and we must.  The two go hand in hand.

STOP.  These are my thoughts on the FMF prompt for today:  other. adjective used to describe God's children.  Distinct and different.  Written with all humility and as a challenge. To me.
 A desire to be holy is a choice each day - and not always an easy choice.  But, easy is not often the best choice and challenge should not be used as an excuse.  If so, the Israelites would, no doubt, have remained slaves in Egypt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Making Candles

Happy Tuesday!  I think spring is here.  And, this time, I think I really mean it!  Such a beautiful
day!!  The passing of winter is so good for me - in many, many ways....and just one example of its positive effect is the increase in my creativity.  I'm not actually that creative but I do have a creative side (I think we all do!) where I like to express myself.  I (too) often find myself envying others' creativity - whether it is found in a bountiful garden or manicured yard (like my dad) or in the kitchen while baking or creating wonderful, homecooked meals (just like my mother)....or maybe in the craft room, the art studio, through a photographer's lens or even in beautifully wrapped gifts.  My creativity may not impress anyone, or ever win a prize, but it feels good to me and I am learning to embrace what I enjoy doing - simply for the pleasure of it.

Yesterday, I tried candle making.  For sure, I started out simply.  Of course, I found my "inspiration" online - you might be inspired yourself with this blog - Farmhouse on Boone -  by Lisa.  She also has a YouTube channel which I really enjoy.  She had the easiest step by step instructions for making beeswax candles.  And she made one in a crock - which I thought was cute.

I found my crock at a favorite consignment store and bought the wax, as well as the wicks, from Lisa's links on Amazon.  The whole process was not quite as easy as she made it look but it was fun and I was happy with the end product.  I definitely need another try or two - but I'm okay with that.  The creating was as nice as the cozy flicker later in the evening!

I have also been learning to crochet!  Also something that looks much easier than when you are actually working at it.  If I am ever able to complete a project...I will share that creativity another time. What have you tried creating lately?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Release Before Embrace

Embrace.  If you are visiting from Five Minute Friday, not to worry.  I do not have the wrong prompt.  I will get to release.  I always find it interesting, when the Lord is trying to teach or correct me, or perhaps simply wanting to encourage me, that the same words, phrases, and themes seem to reoccur everywhere.  And that is how "embrace" has been for me lately.  So many things I have seen, read, heard and have been impressed on my heart all involve embracing.  And, very often, you cannot embrace something until you release something else.  Release before embrace.

GO.  We have all seen the iconic picture of a child on the edge of a swimming pool with a parent in the water - arms outstretched and waiting for the child to jump.  He wants to be in the water.  Wants to enjoy the fun and even trusts his father....but the letting go can be so hard!  Although the analogy is not a perfect one, I often see myself in the child unable to jump.  Missing the joy that could be his if he would just let go of the edge.

For me, I have had a difficult time not only adjusting to but also truly embracing this phase of life that I am in.  There are, no doubt, several reasons for this - more than a five-minute post allows - but God has been challenging me.  He wants me to more than content with (or resigned to) this time but to fully embrace it.  To do all, be all, and enjoy all that He has in store for right now.  Not holding on so tightly to days, times and stages of life that were comfortable for me.  That were a great joy to me and where my identity was well defined.  I need to release my grip.  When I do, I do not lose my past any more than I lose my identity but I am able to embrace all that God has for me now.

I can trust my Heavenly father.  I can let go and I can be confident that great joy awaits once I do!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Because He Lives

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.  Two days later, I am carrying thoughts of the wonder of the resurrection with me.  The cross.  The empty tomb.  The depth of all that means for a Christian. The defeat of sin and death.  Eternal life and the promise of reunion with those that we love and are missing.  And....having a living Lord to serve and to worship.  Who desires fellowship with even me!  All that Easter did and continues to do for us - truly, it is more than we comprehend!

For me, because of Easter, grief need not overwhelm me.  Past sins and regrets do not define me.  As the hymn goes, "and life is worth the living....because He lives."  That is the thought behind the name of this blog.  I am able to trade my "ashes" for a life that is worth living - and that glorifies God - because of Christ's death on the cross....and His resurrection.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.  Isaiah 61:3

Haiku poetry has a certain number of syllables and, traditionally, is written about nature and the natural world.  I like it because it forces you to choose purposeful words to express a thought simply and purposefully.  With thoughts of God's faithfulness, the hope of Heaven because of Easter, and, as well, my reason for blogging.... this is my attempt at haiku today.

Beauty for Ashes
Hope, Joy and Purpose Each Day
All Mine By the Cross

Friday, March 30, 2018

Little Letters to Remember March

If you love words and language, and you simply enjoy writing...well, blogging is not only a natural "fit" but quickly becomes a passion.  So, when your computer is gone and you are unable to blog, or write or simply feels the keys under your fingers, it is a sad thing for sure.  And that was me last week.  Sad - and missing my time to blog.  But....all is well.  My computer is being cooperative and not a thing was lost! Just in time to look back at March - the very fickle month of March - in "letter style!"

Dear March - yes, I will start with you.  You tend to drive me crazy.  Yes, you came in like a lion!  The winds were fierce this year and we had one of the strongest wind storms that I remember in quite awhile.  So many homes damaged, folks impacted by power outages that lasted for days, and downed trees, in varying stages of being removed, can be found everywhere.  March, you give us hints of spring and then, just days later, bring us our only measurable snowfall of the year.  But, you do seem to be going out like a lamb!  With the windows open and the curtains blowing, how quickly we forget those nastier days earlier this month!

Dear daffodils and forsythia - I love you!  Your pops of yellow - faithfully pushing through even the snow - not only confirm that a new season is, indeed, coming but also remind me of God's faithfulness, bring wonderful memories of my garden-loving dad to mind and, quite simply, just make my heart happy!!

Dear Tribute friends - It seems the plans for my weeks are beginning to revolve around my volunteer time at the Tribute.  Oh, I look forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays.  All of you make me laugh (every week!!), have so sharpened my UNO skills, and you have helped me refocus and appreciate the slower pace and simpler things of life.  You are special friends, indeed!

Dear back surgeon - the one who operated on our good friend, Tom - one half of our best "double date buddies!"  Thanks for fixing him up!  I really am grateful for skilled surgeons and good medical care.  Now, let's get rid of that walker, my friend.  We have places to go, things to do, antiques to buy and new restaurants to discover!

Dear will power - hang in there!  Easter season is in full force.  You have helped me avoid many Cadbury egg displays but peanut butter eggs, coconut anything and (the oh- so tempting) dark chocolate bunnies seem to be everywhere!  Don't fail me now....but you have your work cut out for you!

Dear crochet pros - you know who you are.  Your fingers flying.  Yarn effortlessly moving back and forth...creating the prettiest shawls and afghans.  You impress me.  You even inspire me but you also intimidate me.  A very sweet friend began teaching me to crochet this month.  I really want to work well with my hands - be productive during the quiet hours of the evening - but it does not come naturally for me.  Will I ever have a project so pretty?Goodness, will I ever get to the end of a project??  Thanks for all the encouragement this month!

Dear brother of mine - you are another one that never fails to impress. Honestly?  you rode a bike 100 miles in three days in the Southeast Asian humidity.  How can we be related??   I am so grateful for our time together this month....the chance to hear about your trip to Viet Nam.  To learn more about your fundraising and your heart to help.  I love your passion - and can you please teach me how to take such beautiful pictures!?

Dear Thai food - you were "an experiment" in my kitchen this month and you did not disappoint!  Oh my.  You just might be my new obsession.

Dear Spring - come on in...and stay awhile! A good, long while!!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Blessing of the Ordinary

Routine.  Otherwise, often thought of as "the ordinary."  The typical, the normal, or the day-to-day. 
Even the definition sounds a bit...well, boring.  I think we are becoming accustomed to think of the day-to-day or the ordinary as boring and undesirable.  Everything pushes us to examine, and re-examine, our ordinary - our routine - in order to tweak it, improve it or, truth be told, make it more like someone else's normal.  There is so much pressure not "to settle" - certainly not to be content.

Contentment seems to be a constant battle for me.  Apparently, for many.  But I know, for me, there always seems to be a need for the reminder to be content.  Content with not only the things I have, but also the stage of life I am in and where God has me right now.  I stay so focused on what might be ahead, and that whatever happens today is simply preparing me for tomorrow....that I miss the joy of today!!

My mother's love language was food. The planning, the preparing, even the shopping for food. (Yes, that explains a lot!)  Whenever we were coming for a visit, she would begin, weeks in advance, making menus - for all three meals of the day.  She included everyone's favorites and some new treats, as well.  By the way, she was an amazing cook!  Every evening ended with a wonderful meal with everyone too far past full; however, before anyone could even leave the table, Mom would say something like, "sooo, for breakfast tomorrow...."  Oh my.

I know, she was totally in her element!  And, I so miss her meals.  But isn't that the perfect picture of how we miss the joy right in front of us??   We miss all the beauty and blessings - no matter how small or routine - that are in today.  This moment.  I read this quote in a devotional today (another gentle reminder...)

"Perhaps living inside a regular day in which nothing of earth-moving significance happens is at the heart of all that is truly meaningful and extraordinary.   The glory of life is found quite simply in the ordinary moments."  - Carol Burton McLeod

What a wonderful thought to ponder all day....this regular day.  I want to look for, and then savor, all that is ordinary and routine today.  It can't simply be a thought on my coffee mug - blessed.   Yes, I am blessed.  And I want to be content with - and fully enjoy - all the blessings of this day!

These were my thoughts on totday's FMF prompt:  routine.  I went a tad longer but really wanted to include the memory of my mother.  She loved us well - with every meal, every dish and every labor of love from her kitchen.  I miss her.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Butterfinger Cake

Happy Spring.  Yes, it is sleeting and the forecast is for snow all afternoon and tomorrow but it is spring:)  And the calendar makes official!  Goodness, March is fickle and spring even more so but I am enjoying my bunnies (did you see a few of them on my Instagram?) and thinking towards Easter.  I am still working on my Easter menu.  I am planning to have a brunch but am always looking for something just a little bit new.  Any suggestions?

I am taking dinner to a friend this evening - including one of my "go-to" desserts.  Butterfinger cake.  It is always sure to please.  When I came in from the grocery store yesterday, my son immediately saw dessert in his future.  Sorry - but it did inspire me to make one for Easter.  I tend to think of coconut cake for Easter but my family would all love Butterfingers over coconut any day!

This recipe is so simple but I thought I would share today - perhaps it will inspire you.  Or remind you of a family favorite that you haven't made in a while that would bring a smile to your family!

1 box Cake Mix – I used German Chocolate...could also use Devil’s Food.
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 - 11.5-ounce jar caramel ice cream topping
1 - 8-ounce container Cool Whip
2 -  Butterfingers candy bars, crushed


  1. Bake cake according to instructions on the package.  Cool.
  2. Poke holes in the cake about an inch apart with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Pour condensed milk over cake, making sure to fill holes.
  4. Do the same with he caramel topping.
  5. Cover the cake with the Cool Whip.
  6. Sprinkle with the crushed candy bars.  (the photo above has only one candy bar - I
          will add some more just before delivering it this evening.)

Refrigerate for one hour and be sure to store in the fridge!  Enjoy!:)

Friday, March 16, 2018

He Provided a Way for Me

If you see me on Instagram, you know this week has been one of computer woes.  Woes of the most aggravating kind.  Still have not been able to resolve the problem - as in, have not been able to even unlock the computer:( but I did not want to miss FMF.  The prompts cause me to think, to ponder and to meditate on truths and, just as much, I am always blessed by the other posts.  I encourage you to spend some time in the links.

Obviously, I am "borrowing" a computer which means I just might stick with the five minutes for today's prompt:  PROVIDE    With Easter on our hearts and minds, no doubt, there will be several posts with similar thoughts, but that is okay.  It bears repeating.  Again, and again.

GO - From the very beginning, God's desire was to fellowship with us.  To be with us and to commune with us.  However, sin separated us.  Sin brought consequences.  But God provided a way.  A way to have sin forgiven and a way of escape.

When God's children were suffering in Egypt, He heard their cries.  Exodus 3:7-8 "And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people...and have heard their cry....for I know their sorrows.  And I am come down to deliver them...."  He knew their hopelessness.  He used plaques to prove His great power and when Pharaoh still refused to let them go, He sent the death angel, proving His sovereignty.  Even then, He provided an escape. 

That escape for the God's children then is the same as it is today - a sacrifice.  The shedding of blood by a spotless lamb.  "....and when I see the blood, I will pass over you..."  Exodus 12:13   God has always offered mercy and a way of forgiveness. 

STOP - I am so grateful for His death, burial and resurrection.  Because of His sacrifice, I have forgiveness and reconciliation!  That is real joy Easter provides!!

Friday, March 9, 2018

I'm So Tired - What Might It Mean?

I begin most of my mornings leisurely enjoying a cup of coffee with my husband before heading
upstairs for my devotions.  It is one of the small pleasures of this phase of life - for which I am grateful and that I am enjoying.  But until just several months ago, I was working and, before 8:00, I would interact with staff, parents, students of all ages and several service providers.  I greeted people with, "Good morning!  How are you?"....and so, so often the standard answer was, "Tired."

But you've just started....haven't even been out of bed that long!?  Why does it seem everyone is always tired?  I know there are plenty of answers to that question - situations, circumstances, etc. that leave us tired.  Even when we get out of bed. The answers could probably be discussed in a blog post for hours - but this is Five Minute Friday, so these are just a couple of my thoughts.

GO -

I believe that for many being tired is synonymous with being busy.  And being busy is a badge worn with honor these days.  So, if we are tired, we must be busy and, in some way, that must mean, we are productive, hard-working people.  Exhaustion proves it.  But, could it be a constant state of tiredness is a symptom of poor planning, misplaced priorities, or little to no self-care...perhaps a jumble of all three?

No doubt, there are days when we are the "slave" to our schedule rather than the reverse.  Emergencies happen, but these days should be the exception and not the rule. Even when best-arranged priorities seem thrown off balance, there can (and should) be adequate time for rest and for sleep.  Sleep is as necessary as eating and bathing and as crucial as our time spent in prayer and Bible reading.  Plan for it all.  Here are three reasons why I think it is important.

One - God expects it.  We are His temple. The dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  Many directions and principles are given for taking care of the temple.  Lack of sleep not only runs us down but negatively affects our bodies - this temple.

Two - Jesus was our example.  He slept.  After long days full of ministering, He slept.  Even during storms, when the needs of others seemed paramount, He slept.  I know there are many applications in that account but certainly, if Jesus chose to sleep before serving, meeting needs and teaching His disciples, there is a lesson there as well.

Three - There are promises to those who will put their cares away, give their worries to Him and will lay down to sleep.  Christ offers sweet sleep.  And, no doubt, renewed energy to handle the tasks for the new day ahead.


Yes.  There are moms of newborns and little ones.  Caregivers - to spouses, aging parents, special need children, and many others.  There are single moms working full-time and then putting themselves through school in the hours leftover.  Some suffer chronic illness or other physical ailments.  All that deprive them of necessary sleep.  I can attest to many of these situations myself.  And I believe in these times, God can take our little sleep and give us the strength that we need.  I pray that He does.  However, for most of us who regularly hear ourselves saying, "I'm so tired," it just might be a red-flag that we are not sleeping as we should.  Just a thought.

 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows:
 for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Psalm 127:2

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Joy in Any Season

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."  John 10:10b

I have included this verse several times in my posts.  I quote it often.  Yes, it is one of my be sure.  All Christ did and all He does is so we might live the abundant life....and that "our joy might be full." (John 15:11b)  An abundant life is full of joy. 

Then, why oh why do I (too) often feel joyless?  No doubt there are many answers to that question, and blog posts that could be written for months to unravel the answer.  I have been reading about, studying, and meditating on joy in my morning devotions.  My joy often seems especially lacking during the winter months... and  I know that seasonal depression is a real thing.  I struggle. But I also know these verses are true in any season. Winter.  Summer.  Busy seasons.  Long, quiet days.

There are no simple answers.  No one size fits all solution.  But I do know, as Christians, we face the same enemy.  Satan.  And He desperately wants to rob us of all joy.  He would love to steal our eternity - our home in Heaven.  But he cannot, so he will stop at nothing to ruin our joy until we get there.  So often, we think our enemy is "out for" our marriages, our children, our homes, finances or health.  And, yes, he would love to see them ruined.  But, truthfully, he wants to work through our homes, our health and relationships in order to steal our joy.

Another verse I have been using often is Nehemiah 8:10b...."neither be ye sorry (grieved, depressed); for the joy of the LORD is your strength."  I am able to fight against the devil.  Of course, there can be times and situations where counseling or medical help is needed.  It might be we simply need to reach out and invite someone to support us along the way.  Many times, being still with our savior - sharing our heart and then listening for His voice -  is what we need to pull back the shadows.  Whatever it takes, we have the strength we need.  Strength to dismiss the enemy.  Strength to keep fighting for the joy that He has promised.

Spring is coming - just as it always does.  Just as God faithfully brings the seasons...He is faithful to meet us where we are.  To supply our need and to strengthen us.  And to restore our joy - and not just any joy....but abundant joy!!

Thanking the Lord for His rich mercies:

"They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness."  Lamentation 3:23

Friday, March 2, 2018

No Regrets

Today's FMF prompt is Regret.  Since I  first read the prompt, I have been mulling over regrets.  My own personal ones - we all have them.  And what my response to those regrets should be - and can be because I am a Christian.  I did not sit down to write earlier today and then took the hour or so to watch the LiveStream of Billy Graham's funeral (technology really can be wonderful!) and I am later than usual joining the link-up.  But, that's okay.  The Graham service was so encouraging.  Funerals always cause a time of reflection and self-evaluation.  What type of legacy am I creating?  It's very sobering.  And my thoughts from the morning went in a totally different direction.

Somewhere among those sobering thoughts, I was reminded of the story of William Borden.  A life defined by the words:  No Reserve.  No Retreat. and No Regrets.  I think I will save some of my earlier thoughts and simply post a glimpse of Borden's story.  It is inspiring.  Just as Billy Graham's story was this morning.  Just as hundreds of others who have chosen to live wholeheartedly for their Savior - and did so without regret.  If you haven't heard this story, I encourage you to read more of it when you can.  It will be a blessing.

Perhaps you have heard of Borden’s milk or Borden's cheese.  In the late 1800’s, the Borden family was one of the wealthiest families ever in the United States.  And it was into this family that William Borden was born- and was groomed and educated to take over the family business.  He was to be a millionaire in an era when there were very, very few millionaires.

When he was just a young boy, William’s mother became a Christian and she began taking William to church.  After hearing Dr. R.A. Torrey preach, William made the decision to accept Christ and follow Him.  That decision changed his whole life. He began praying and studying his Bible and seeking to know God’s plan for his life. While studying at Yale, he attended a missions conference and heard one speaker make an appeal for workers to reach the most unreachable people on the planet – Muslims in China.  The missionary said, "Of course it will cost life. It is not an expedition of ease… nor a picnic excursion to which we are called…"   William Borden knew this was what God wanted him to do.  In a notebook, he wrote "In every man's heart there is a throne and a cross… If Christ is on the throne self is on the cross… If Jesus is on the throne you will go where He wants you to go…"

After school, he went to Egypt to practice the Arabic language before going to the field.  While in Egypt, he contracted meningitis and died at the age of 25 before ever getting to China.  After his death, three phrases were found written in his Bible - ones that characterized his life:

No Reserve – written after he renounced his fortune in order to became a missionary

No Retreat – written a time later and shortly after his father told him he would never be welcome to work in the family company again, and

No Regrets – written shortly before he died in Egypt.

A life lived with Christ on the throne and saying yes to follow Him will be a life without regrets.  My life of following Christ may not take me to far off lands.  It probably will not have me disinherited or even distanced from those I love.  Everyone's path is different but everyone has the opportunity to follow God - without regrets.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Flu, Hints of Spring and A Lesson Learned

Colonial Williamsburg
Time to look back at February.  This shortest month of the year has been "long" for me.  I think the flu is to blame.  The month started off with our being able to visit with our family from Florida.  They were traveling for a school field trip and we met up with them.  It has been over five years since our last visit, so it was especially nice to be together again.  I started feeling "less than my best" while I was away.  Then the flu officially "hit" when I got home. 

A new Bible study started at church.  I said "yes" to an opportunity where I would normally say "no" - trying to stretch myself! - and I also saw God open a wonderful door for me.  I hope to share more about that later.  And, in the meantime, I got rid of the flu.....only to have it return.  Twice.  Goodness.

I am looking forward to a fresh month - and, hopefully, spring.  I was downtown (that's DC around here) today - and the forsythia is already blooming!  Nothing speaks spring - and joy! - to my heart like the first yellow blooms of the season.  The predictable routine of nature is a smile to my soul and a perfect picture of God's faithfulness.

One lesson learned this month.  A week or so ago, the FMF prompt was "Why."  I was not able to post that Friday (um...the flu??!) but I pondered that thought and prayed over it several times.  For most of my life, I never asked God, "why?"  About anything.  I always thought it was arrogant and, in some way, even offensive to an always sovereign God.  I've been told as much, as well, along the way.  Who am I to question God?

And, while I would never suggest shaking a fist and demanding God explain Himself to me...I do not believe my Heavenly father is offended when my feeble heart just cannot make sense of things.  When my heart is crushed and broken.  When my dream is shattered.  When circumstances appear senseless, useless or all hope seems to be lost.  When I humble myself before Him and wonder "why?"....He is a loving Heavenly father that knows my heart and longs to comfort, help and heal.

Any parent of a toddler knows "the game" of why!  A question is asked, the answer is given, only to responded to with why?  And the whys continue - until the adult finally says something similar to "just because."  No need for further explanation.  And the child confidently accepts whatever great mystery of moment - simply because they trust.  In the same way, God may reveal some of the answers.  Other times, He gently answers with a "just because" but I can trust Him with confidence just as my toddler did.  That truth brought me comfort this month.  I am not a weak person or a faithless Christian when I feel overwhelmed.  I am human.  And my Heavenly Father knows me. Knows my heart.  He patiently loves me and I can trust Him.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Mom's Influence

If I heard my mom say them once, I heard it, at least, 100 times......

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or (her favorite)

Pretty is as pretty does

They may have been her motto.  Or, perhaps, a motto she hoped for me.  It was her repeated attempt to shift my focus from the external - and all that I so often found lacking - to the internal.  And, yes...Mom was right.  And, yes, with each passing year, I become more and more my mother.  But it has been a slow learn, to be sure, and even in this phase of life.....this distorted focus can trip me up.  Rob my joy - making me feel "less than," unqualified and defeated.

Godly character is beautiful.  It outdoes any lipstick, cute hair-cut or the "perfect" figure.  I like all the pretty things and try to look my best. Totally not against cute hair-cuts or make-up.  But character shines past all of it.  It pleases the heart of my savior and it is noticed by others.  "Hmm - something about her.  She is just so pretty."   All of us have seen it before.  The radiance of godly character.  That is "pretty is as pretty does." I want to remember Mom's words.  And her character.  She was beautiful.  (STOP)

Today's FMF prompt - beautiful.  Character can, and should, be beautiful.  So are manners.  And everyday acts of love.  Unselfishness.  And family.  When I was sick, I was reminded of all of this.  This haven I call home is a beautiful blessing.  When so very much around us is not only ugly but just plain evil, we can miss the beauty that is around us.  There were so many ways to look at this week's prompt!  I look forward to seeing what the others have to say.  You, too, can check it out here.  Have a beautiful weekend:)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Grateful in the Weary Days

Another Friday gone and another FMF missed.  Disappointing.  I enjoy the challenge of the FMF prompts and I enjoy the community of FMF.  I really enjoy blogging, actually, and do not like to miss posting.  But life.  Or, life with the flu.  This struggle with the flu has been going on for almost two weeks.  But, today is a new day.  A fresh day and a beautiful one, too!  Before this day gets away from me, just a quick post to remember the blessings that were mine - even when I felt tired, ill, weary and, at times, discouraged.

In the order of total randomness (that is my mind), I am thankful for:

- a very faithful, and very patient partner in this life.  The past days have been quiet, mundane, cough infested and slow.  How comforting it is to have him willingly ride out these long days close by.  And thanks for all the grilled cheese.  Comfort food at its finest.

- essential oils...but for my OTC remedies as well.  All of it has its place and helps in some way.

- snow on Saturday.  If you are going to be snuggled under an afghan on the couch, snow outside is pretty much the perfect weather.  The cozy of it all just helps calm your sick-weary soul!

- and, now, three days is 78 degrees!  Go figure.  But perfect for throwing open all the windows and airing this house out!!  Blissful!

- this phase of life.  I'm constantly being reminded of the joys it included.  This is the first time being sick without of the pressure of missing work, keeping up with the children, etc. etc.  I could literally rest all day without worry.  This is a blessing not to take lightly.

- extra time for Bible memory.  Feeling my worst was not the time for in-depth Bible study or even extra reading.  Not like I imagine it would be if "I had a day to lay on the couch."  Or seven.  But going over verses to commit to memory....that I could do.  And, I did.

- insurance

- healing.  After you have had cancer, you go through a time when every sneeze can rattle your nerves and make you wonder if the cancer has returned.  I know that dread.  But I think that God has (lovingly and patiently) brought me through that season.   It was very evident to me these last couple weeks and, for that, I want to thank Him.  Also, even on the days when I felt the lousiest, I knew I only had the flu and the flu would go away.  Eventually.  I am reminded that God did heal me - and I praise Him - and I know many who do deal with long-term illness.  Every day.  Often, without end in sight.  I pray for each of them.

Not to end this post on a dreary note.  Much more of praise to the Lord for His mercies new every morning.  Now....outside to soak in all the Vitamin D possible.  There could be a blizzard by Friday!??!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Backbone of Privilege

My brother had been driving less than a year when my father allowed him to use the car one evening.  I think he was going to a high school football game (the details are fuzzy as it was quite a while ago!) and he was going to drive some friends home afterward.  While trying to adjust the radio dial (like I said, quite a while ago....), he forgot about the road.  And drove straight into a ditch. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
The damage to the car was much less than it could have been.  But the extent of the
consequences does not diminish the lesson.

 My brother had been given a privilege - but he forgot the responsibility.  Privilege always comes with responsibility.

Privilege - a special right or favor given.  Privilege can come on a large scale... how we identify ourselves.  It may come from a smaller group....maybe in your workplace or your ministry.  Privilege is also very personal - specific to each of us individually.  As a Christian, we are blessed beyond measured and enjoy special favor from a Heavenly Father that loves us more than we can comprehend.  No matter the type of privilege or "special favor" we enjoy, each one comes with responsibility.

For instance, I feel privileged to be an American....and I have the responsibility to be a good citizen.  I am also privileged to serve in the women's ministry at my church...and I have responsibilities associated with it.  There are responsibilities because I am privileged to be a wife, a mother, a friend, etc.  How easy it is to confuse our privileges with our rights.  Just as a naive teenage driver assumes he has a right to drive simply because he has a license, it is immature for any of us to assume our blessings are rights.

Two quick thoughts for maintaining perspective:

1 - Focus on the responsibility....not the privilege.  If we are diligent to serve wherever we can -  and whomever we can - our privileges become a gift, and not a right.  The joy is also found in the responsibility and not simply the privilege.  Privileges can always come to an end. (I'm pretty sure my brother found that out soon after my father's car was pulled from the ditch.)  Finding the joy in the responsibility helps us not to take blessings for granted.

2 - Gratitude.  Purposefully taking note of and then giving thanks for our blessings is one of the easiest ways to prevent them from becoming our rights.  The shift in our mental focus might be slight but deliberately voicing (and showing) appreciation for the privileges that are ours really does make all the difference.

Like you, I am so very privileged and blessed more than I could ever deserve.  I just want to thank the Lord, publicly here on my blog, for all His richness to me.  We have an enemy that wants to rob the joy and wants to derail us mentally, emotionally and any other way he can.  But with gratitude and the proper focus, we will not simply enjoy....but abundantly enjoy all He has given and done for us!!

John 10:10 ".....that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

Friday, February 9, 2018

An Easy Valentine Treat

A bit of a different Friday here.  No Five Minute Friday (I am actually out of town and not able to join the fun once the prompt is announced).  But I did want to share a quick look at something I put together this week.  I totally cannot take credit for this - but found the inspiration on YouTube.  Patty, at Life on Lemon Lane, has the sweetest content and is super creative and talented.  Me.  Not so much.  However, many of her projects of super easy and even for someone with minimal craft talents.

All of the materials were from the dollar store and the whole project took about thirty minutes to put together.  We are having a Ladies Night Out next week at church and I put these together for the prizes after the game.  They would also be great for those you work alongside in the ministry, neighbors, friends or simply random gifts of niceness!  The complete instructions and video can be found on Patty's blog.  She will inspire you :)

Inside my mugs, I put a hot cocoa packet, some Milano cookies and a few chocolates.

And....all ready to go! 
Have a "sweet" weekend! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Two Ways To Love Our Family - No Chocolate Needed

Mention Valentine's Day and you will get a variety of responses.  Some love it.  Others tolerate it while others think it is silly, a waste of money or just dumb.  Whatever the opinion, it seems feelings about February 14th are very strong indeed.  Whether you enjoy chocolates, cute cards or heart-shaped anything, love seems to be in the air during February....or, at least, the idea of it.  As Christians, we are supposed to love - everyone from our neighbors to our enemies - and to show love in order to reflect Christ's love for us.  With that idea (and, yes with Valentine's Day as well) on my mind, I have been considering my display of love for those I love the most - my family.  Sometimes we can be guilty of so consciously working to love our neighbors and the world around us, that those closest to us almost seem overlooked.  Or even forgotten.

Here are two ideas for loving the ones you call family - that do not even require a valentine! 

1.  Give Them Your Best - Not Your Leftovers

How often do we "hit the ground running" in the morning - with our energy, thoughts and focus on everything, and everyone, else other than those we love?   We go and give of ourselves to others all day and then return home "done" - depleted and drained.  Our spouses...our children...our family - they get whatever might be leftover at the end of the day.  Leftover energy.  Leftover sweet attitude.  Leftover effort.  This can happen whether you leave the house or hustle at home all day.

When my children were young, this scenario played out at our house more than just a couple times.  I would be tired or aggravated and everyone knew it from my poor attitude.  Until the phone would ring.  I would pick up the phone (which was attached to the wall, by the way!) and answer with, simply, the sweetest hello.  My children jokingly called it my "telephone voice".....but it wasn't funny.  Why could I muster up kindness, even patience, for a telemarketer but not for my children?

Yes, our homes are a haven where we can relax - even decompress - but not at the expense of loving our family.   I want to serve my husband - be my best and give my best - and then, with the time and energy left, seek to show love to others.

2.  Appreciate Their Differences

If you met my brother and me, it would not be hard to see we are related.  We share enough physical traits, to be sure.  There are other similarities as well. (We both hate raw tomatoes and we sneeze after just about every meal.  Go figure.)  But there are also plenty of differences.  We have different thoughts and opinions on everything from finances to raising children to favorite restaurants.  We certainly have different worldviews and, ahem, political opinions.  In many ways, "different as night and day" suits us perfectly.  I can say similar things about my own three children. Or about my cousins.  Or even sets of grandparents.  Each member is unique but the one common thread of being related - we are family.

Instead of allowing differences to distance you or to cause tension - even constant friction - how much better to appreciate what makes each member of the family special.  The hobbies you could never imagine trying, and certainly not enjoying, make for great stories.  The opinions so opposite of yours can challenge, even strengthen, your own but might also help you understand differing viewpoints.

When my son died, all of us grieved.  Obviously.  But we each grieved differently.  Uniquely.  Those differences have been, at times, challenging but also have been helpful.  No matter the differences, though, we have all greived together.  As a family.  Some differences are not quite as complicated.  This past Thanksgiving, I finally began to embrace all of our (very) different eating styles and tastes.  There were plenty of times, I allowed the differences to irritate and even dampen an entire special event.  Appreciating individuality made a huge impact.  It also expressed love.

I don't anticipate a day of chocolate hearts or pink roses next week - but I do hope to show my family how very much I love them.  Donuts with sprinkles would only help.  Right?!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Being Agreeable When I Disagree

Agree to disagree used to be helpful.  Congenial, even.  Not simply acknowledging a difference of opinions but it came with the idea of "putting aside" those differences for the sake of unity.  For peaceful living.  What seems to motivate many (individuals, groups, whole camps) today is truly disagreeing.  Even if there's common ground to be found, it is the disagreeing points that become the focus, the agenda and, often, where many find their identity. 

It can be draining.  For the non-confrontational ones, it can make you want to retreat and hibernate inside....much the same way these howling winter winds do!  What is a Christian to do?  Two (very quick) thoughts.

Ephesians 4:3   "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."   Where we are able...we need to be the influence for peace.  This atmosphere of constant division and disagreement - for the sake of argument - should not permeate our church, our Bible study, our fellowship groups and certainly not into our homes.  We can share different opinions and still love another.  We can get along and celebrate - focus on - common goals.  Especially in our homes, we often have the greatest influence to set the tone and mood.  Let's create calm retreats from the bickering world around us!

Matthew 5:16a   "Let your light so shine before men..."  There are plenty of places where we have much less influence.  Nevertheless, we are called upon to be a reflection of Christ - to offer peace, love for others, patience and forbearance (even with those with whom we do not agree).  It is not always easy but we are to do our part to make a difference.  Ask God to help you shine before all those you interact with each day...and then recharge in the safe haven at home each evening!

These were my quick (five-minute) thoughts this morning on the prompt:  Agree.  Join the others at Five Minute Friday....and have a peace-filled weekend.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Confession and A Realization

With another month just about over, I like to look back at the last few weeks and take note of the exciting events, lessons learned and anything else that might need remembering.  As I grabbed my pretty, new 2018 planner, I realized a couple things.  But first....

A confession:  last year, my "planner" was a simple wallet-style calendar.  The one in a plastic cover from Hallmark.  Or the drug store.  Cute design but super simple.  This year, I went for the big, multi-page and multi-sectioned one that looks like a mini three-ring binder.  There is still one more day in January, so technically I have not even used it an entire month...but I already miss my simple, yet oh so easy to use day planner.

In order to look back over the month, I've had to flip back through all the pages.  Not my preferred style.  My new planner does have a whole month at a glance page, which I could use, but then what is the point of all these extra pages?  I am sure many (many!) ladies love their jumbo planners and that many are much more organized and even productive because they use them.  Truth be told, that is exactly why I have one.  I thought all the smart people - and surely all the productive ones - used these planners.  YouTube and the internet convinced me.  I seem to fall into the murky trap of internet comparison way too easily these days.  I should have learned by now.  But the blog posts, videos, and Instagram photos are so convincing!

Don't get more wrong.  I enjoy the posts, the pictures and all the ideas.  But they simply need to be food for thought.  Note to self:  That amazing color of green on someone else' wall simply will not transform my dining room.  Ever.  I will never look "cute" in a big blanket scarf regardless of how many girls make it look super easy - and adorable.  I do not need to declutter every inch of my home, pare my wardrobe down to three items or create my home to reflect any other current trend no matter how popular it might be on the internet.  I can use these ideas to spark my own creativity or even to improve routines, etc. but they don't dictate my choices and decisions.  Or, at least, they shouldn't.  Truly - just a note to myself.

A Realization:  as I looked back over the events of January, I have not one, not two but three marked through with "CANCELLED" on them.  And all three were essentially due to lack of interest.  Two were volunteer opportunities ("field trips") and one was a ladies event.  Apparently, I am not the only one finding winter challenging and a reason to stay home.  My home is cozy.  The fireplace crackles making me warm and snuggly.  It is also filled with plenty of my favorite things...and enough to keep me busy for weeks.  I could stay inside until April....or, at least, until the wind stops howling and any standing water unfreezes!  This yearning to hibernate is something I definitely have to fight and I'm beginning to think, I'm not alone.  There were so many interesting things on the calendar for January - I was actually looking forward to bundling up and heading out:)  But, they were cancelled.  Hopefully, we will try again in the weeks ahead.

There were a few things of note this month:  After months (and months!) of procrastination, angst and other troubling factors, I finally scheduled and completed some oral surgery I needed.  I only include this in a post because God used a good friend to encourage me to move forward.  She listened to my concerns (and my whining) but she didn't settle there.  She pointed out my excuses, helped me plan a resolution and then, gently, held me accountable.  That is a picture of a true friend.  I thank God for the many ways He has used her in my life.  By the way, next week she is teaching this "old dog a new trick" and that should be interesting!!

A new Bible study began at our church.  For many reasons, this is an answer to prayer.  I am looking forward to seeing how God will bless through this.  We will be using the book, Adorned, by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth.  Have any of you read it?

As gray and wintery as this month has been, God has been working in extra special and personal ways for me.  He is leading, directing and opening doors.  I know there will be much to share about in the months ahead but I, as I remember January, I want to praise Him for all He has done - and is doing!!  Even January is blessed - which is a treat for my summer-craving soul!!

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Results of Surrender

When my children were just little ones, I rocked them to sleep.  Every day.   Did it spoil them?  Did it contribute to them being "poor" sleepers?  I don't know.  But I wouldn't trade those quiet moments of cradling my sleepy babes for anything.  Cuddled under my chin and drooped against my chest, their sweet baby aroma actually putting me asleep!  However contented they might be, they always fought against sleep.  It would take several minutes of rocking before they'd actually surrender - quit resisting - and their little bodies would fully relax against me.

Isn't that exactly what the Heavenly Father wants from each of His children?  We can stop struggling - stop striving for our own way and our own desires, and always trying to work things according to our own agenda.  Oh the sweetness of simply leaning on Him.  We can trust Him and enjoy the peace, the rest and true contentment that comes from surrender.

These are my thoughts this week on the FMF prompt:  surrender.  Short and sweet - but, oh my, how those memories of precious days with my babies have been sweet to my soul!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Three Ways I am Challenging my Comfort Zone

The weather has gone from artic to spring-like....seemingly, overnight!  Last night's rain not only washed the road salt and reminders of last week's winter away but also left the air so fresh this morning!  It makes you want to grab a bike and let the wind blow through your hair.  Well, sorta.  Maybe a nice walk will be just the thing!  Bike-riding is not exactly in my comfort zone these days.

Then again, perhaps it is time to push out of my comfort zone....just as I discussed in last week's FMF post.  Intentional living is, apparently, quite the buzz word lately.  Maybe I was just more attuned to everyone's thoughts on the subject.  Either way, it seems everyone wants to live with intention - including me.  And, for me, that means examining the status quo for habits and attitudes that keep me "too comfortable" and making choices and decisions which can stretch me, help me grow and allow me to abound more and more in God's plan for me.

This not only takes self-examination but asking the Lord's help as well.  Asking Him to reveal things that need to change or that keep me stuck.  It might be something simple or could involve a major shift but He will enable me if I sincerely seek His help.  That said, here are three ways I believe He is helping me stretch my comfort zone.

Strengthening my prayer life.  My devotional time is a habit.  It is as much a part of my morning routine as showering or eating oatmeal.  I read my Bible.  I work on Bible study.  I meditate on, and keep plugging away at memorizing, scripture.  However, my prayer time is weak.  It often feels robotic.  And empty.  I am so easily mentally distracted!!  I want a powerful prayer life.  I need a powerful prayer life.  I am trying different ways to help with this.  I don't have the exact answer yet but I know God will bless my effort and, so, I will be persistent.

Creating boundaries.  If I'm honest, I already know several weak spots - even before I ask in prayer.  I know areas in my life, even times in my day, where I am lazy....physically and spiritually.  They are not necessarily sinful but if I stay in these spots too long, I quickly lose all motivation to challenge my comfort zone.  I even know the friends who will validate my choice for zero change.  I have to set boundaries.  Limit my time.  Monitor my activities (mindless scrolling through the phone, anyone?).  This is a challenge but I truly believe God will honor my effort.

Stop overthinking.  This will be an "in it for the long haul" challenge.  Over-thinking is a part of who I am.  I can look at a triangle from fifteen different angles - surely, three sides are enough!  I will never be accused of being impulsive - nor do I want to be.  However, I am certain I have missed more than just a few opportunities (to be blessed and to be a blessing) where God opened doors but I simply could not stop trying to process every detail of the door.  Note to self, the blessing was inside the "open door" and was not the door itself!

I am going to say yes more.  Yes to new things.  Yes to things outside my comfort zone.  Yes even when I feel unqualified or intimidated.  I have already said yes to God several times in the last couple weeks - and I see Him working.  It's pretty exciting actually!  This Christian walk truly can be defined as "abounding more and more" and my comfort zone is not where I want to settle.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Danger of My Comfort Zone

I like cozy.  I like comfortable.  I have to admit...I like my comfort zone.  Comfort zone: a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.  Even the definition sounds nice.  At ease, without stress.  Isn't that often our goal?  Not only to create a comfort zone but to stay close to it.  The busier our lives become and, ahem, the older we become, our comfort zone (whether loosely or clearly defined) becomes even more important.  If you are like me, a comfort zone is framed by routine and familiarity keeps in defined.

And while there is certainly nothing wrong with routine or even activities and relationships that allow us to "feel safe and at ease," our comfort zones can easily become stagnant and can cause us to become complacent, or satisfied with the status quo.  This cannot be the goal for a Christian.  God's word is often encouraging each of us - exhorting us - to move forward.  To consistently be making spiritual progress.

Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
I Thessalonians 4:1

If we are to abound more and grow spiritually and, ultimately, to become more like our Heavenly father....we have to live intentionally.  Making purposeful choices - choosing what is best and denying ourselves whatever might be keeping us too settled in our comfort zone.  Being intentional is key to abounding more and more.

Its Five Minute Friday and, yes, the prompt is intentional.  As most often is the case, five minutes are up.  However, knowing I want my life to be abounding - to be moving forward - in the Lord, and for the Lord, begs the question of how?  What intentional choices can I make to help me do just that?  I plan to look at that question, and some answers, more in my Tuesday post.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tortilla Soup, Actually

This blog is in no way a food blog.  It really is not even a good place to look for recipes.  I know my strengths - and my weaknesses and I am not a great cook.  However, I can follow directions and easy to follow recipes are my friend.  So is Pinterest.  I love to look through recipes (a genetic thing from my mom, I believe) and I enjoy trying new ones...and so, I pin.  And pin a lot.  There are so many pins, and so many different boards on my Pinterest, it is beginning to feel like clutter - and clutter drains all my joy.  I am trying to actually make the recipes that I have "neatly" filed away on my boards - and then keep the winners and, well, delete the losers.  But organizing my virtual file cabinet is another post altogether.  This post is for sharing a delicious recipe I have made repeatedly in just the last few weeks. 

Yesterday, we had a Sunday school class fellowship - a soup and subs type of afternoon.  Perfect for a winter day.  And, I brought this soup. (I'm pretty sure I referred to this as Enchilada Soup all afternoon - but it is technically called Tortilla Soup.  Potatoe. Potato.  Let's just call it yummy!)   I tend to think that the longer an ingredient list, the tastier a recipe will be, but this soup has a rather short ingredient list (yeah!) but it is very tasty.  The directions also include steps to make this a freezer meal.  This soup would be perfect to have on hand for snow days (we might just have one tomorrow!) or whenever you might need to take a meal.

The website link is here.  You can also find it on my Pinterest boards - both Soup's On and, the brand-new and waiting to be filled board, Recipes: Tested, Tried and Tasty!!  My Pinterest is linked on the sidebar.  There are plenty of soups just waiting to be tried and tasted.  I think there might be plenty of winter days, as well, ahead in order to try them all!  Sigh.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Two Ways to Better Enjoy Today

It's Friday.  I love Kate's description of Five Minute Friday....

We take a deep breath and bravely post our five-minute scribblings for others to read.
It’s really not about the quality — it’s about showing up. It’s about sitting down, setting the timer, and doing the work. It’s about the discipline and the practice of letting the words flow. It’s about releasing fears and embracing imperfection. And we do it together.
For me, it is definitely about embracing imperfection and simply doing the writing.  I am an over-thinker.  I over analyze and over-critique.  It's actually one reason I am late "showing up" this week.  After I read the prompt - SIMPLIFY - there were so many ways I wanted to apply this to my life and ways to approach this post.  I was completely over-thinking it.  Totally counter-productive to Five Minute Friday.  So,without further ado...some of my rambling thoughts on SIMPLIFY.
GO - To simplify is to clarify.  To make plain or easy to understand. And, for me, easier to appreciate.  In order to best appreciate and enjoy this life I have been blessed with is to keep it uncomplicated.  Often it is my own thoughts, and thought processes, that way over complicate life for me.  That snare of over-thinking and, especially, over-critiquing traps me way more often than I care to admit.
One way to avoid this is "to live in the moment" - which is not to be confused with "live for the moment" or an "eat, drink and live for today" mentality that I think is contrary to Bible teaching.  To live in the moment, I believe, requires two things.  Forgetting the past and refusing to constantly look toward and wait for the future.
The days gone past have their share of regret, disappointments (even shame) but, as well, hard to forget victories, hopes fulfilled and a multitude of sweet moments.  If I use the past as a lens to view today's choices and activities, I not only miss opportunities but, undoubtedly, miss many of the joys that could be mine right now.  Simplifying, for me, includes letting go of the past.  Yes, I enjoy the memories but I am not living in the memory but living today in order to create even more memories.
On the other side, comparing today's moments with my perception of tomorrow can also rob me of today's blessings.  It may be something as simple as the weather.  The temperatures today were unseasonably warm and extra delightful after our bitter cold snap.  I heard a statement similar to "it is so beautiful today....what a bummer that it is going to be lousy again tomorrow!" more than a few times today.  I may have even thought it myself:(  Why not simply enjoy today?!  
Similarly, I often fail to enjoy the beauty of the day, the time, the phase I am currently living because I am convinced tomorrow will be the better time to pursue a dream, make a bold choice or any number of things.  I am way too guilty of this.  Simplifying - or removing all the extra that over-complicates and squeezes out the joy - also includes a proper focus on tomorrow.  I want to savor all that today offers.
STOP - I must say that this post was not written in just five minutes.  I was just beginning to write when my husband invited me to enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch.  Something we usually do in the warmer months.  What a treat!  Pausing to stop and enjoy a simple pleasure of today was the perfect "note to self" for living in the moment!