It’s Fall Y’all!

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What a fabulous summer!  Summer rolled in like the tide.  Its ebbs and flows played a beautiful rhythm.  In fact, this summer led us to places, in ways, we didn’t plan or predict.

I enjoy summer.  It gives me a much needed mental break from the everyday, nonstop hustle of the school year.  Being a homeschool mom certainly has its own challenges as well as joys.  I enjoy the relaxed, easy going, lazier days of summertime.  I’m just always happy to see summer rolling up!

Now, we are sitting at the door of a new school year.  New books, new folders, pens and paper.  A refreshed and renewed attitude.  Students are actually ready to take on the adventure of the new school year.  We attend a homeschool co-op, so everyone is excited to see old friends and make new ones.  It promises to be a great school year.

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As fall is right here at our front door, I can’t help but think of new beginnings.  Where summer chills me out and rigid schedules and patterns relax, the onset of fall calls for renewed energy and the starting of new disciplines.

One of the disciplines that took a hit was my regular time of personal devotion and spiritual reflection.  It was too easy to wake up, roll over and check out social media or the morning news.  What I began to notice was the negativity that awaits you each morning!  Not the shot of grace and hope you actually need to help you start the day effectively.  Whew!  Habits can be hard to break!

I have the dearest of friends who has impacted me.  I have great respect and admiration for her for so many reasons.   One reason being, she has taken an indefinite break from Facebook because she saw the negative impact it had on her parenting and her relating to her kids. Her life had become an interruption to the steady stream of Facebook.  She did what she knew she needed to do.  She is a good and wise momma.

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I find myself longing for a mind break.  I realize the constant stream of social media is exhausting me.  I end up being unable to even slow down mentally.  Any free moment is spent scrolling and perusing and comparing and tuning out the world around me.  The constant onslaught of information makes it really difficult to adequately and appropriately process the world.

Anyway, I see moments of these distractions becoming far too central to my time.

I’m not ready to shut it all off completely.  However, I do need to bring it back to its proper place.  So, the fall is a great time to adjust course.  I have a few apps I will be using to aid me in my spiritual devotion. I highly recommend them for your own daily encouragement.

The first one is “She Reads Truth”.   Besides being inspirational, this app is beautiful!  Here is the link for you to check it out.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/she-reads-truth-bible-+-devotional/id892128363?mt=8

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The second one is “First 5” by Proverbs 31 Ministries.  This program has additional resources you can purchase to go along with the study on the app.  This one is pretty cool!  You can use this app as an alarm; it will wake you with the new devotional for the day.  Here is the link:

http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/make-your-first-5-count/

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The third one I use occasionally is “Jesus Calling.”  I have used this in book form, but use the app more frequently as of late.  Here is the link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/jesus-calling/id607521654?mt=11

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A fourth resource I am going to use for devotional time with the kids is  https://instagram.com/100dayswithjesus/.  This is a study focusing on the 100 names of God.  It isn’t geared just to children, but they do have a portion that can help relate it to children.  I am excited for this!

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It seems to help me to have these devotionals to turn to each day.  I am all for whatever can challenge and meet me where I am.  Different seasons call for different resources.  During this renewed season, I am also purposing to pray for my kids more.  This is not a safe world; what greater thing can a mother do than pray for her children?   At this moment I am praying for wisdom, protection and favor with God and man.

I am excited for this fresh fall season.  It’s time to reign in my crew and provide more structure and order to our days.  The lazy days of summer are much needed, but now it’s time for the focus that fall brings.

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What are you looking forward to about this new season?  What resources do you utilize to guide your meditation and reflection?  I would love to hear what inspires you and draws your closer to God.  I think it is exciting to see the way different personalities connect with God.  We don’t all do it the same way.  And isn’t that great?   What disciplines work well for you?  I want to hear about it!

I would love to have you join me on this journey of hope and grace!  Sign up with your email address to receive a weekly blog post delivered straight to your inbox.  Here’s to grace and hope and future days!

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Oh! Say Can You See?

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I think I have gypsy blood.

I always love a good road trip.  I have to admit, living in Virginia makes it possible to have some grand road trips!  What better time to head out than the Fourth of July.  So much history and beauty surrounds us, right here in America.  Living near the historical triangle and all points north and up the east coast, we have more opportunities to see and do epically cool stuff than we have time for.

My kids have “done” the DC tourist thing for the last 7 years quite faithfully.  So, they are a little tired of the museums.  Monuments and the White House are always cool.  But, in a quest to find more chill sights, we relaxed and explored our way through this weekend.

Our first stop was our favorite local DC restaurant—Tortilla Coast.  It is situated near-ish to the Capital. We usually stop there for lunch when we first hit town.  Such amazing Tex-Mex.  Nothing really beats it for two thumbs up!  We couldn’t help ourselves and stopped by The Supreme Court and The Library of Congress buildings.  Thought we would just say hello!  They are just up the street from Tortilla Coast.

Tortilla Coast - June 13, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO)

Tortilla Coast – June 13, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO)

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The US Supreme Court building

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The Library of Congress building

This time around we opted to stay outside DC and at the National Harbor.  This was a great choice for us.  Being we aren’t the “rough it” type, and I have never met a tent I liked, the hotel had the requisite pool and jacuzzi and plenty of room to roam and relax.  We had a great view of the Potomac and plenty of restaurants and shops to choose from.  We even stopped for ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.

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National Harbor

It was nice to sleep in and move at a leisurely pace.  We did some swimming and reading and chilling in the jacuzzi.  We rented bikes in Georgetown and road the Crescent Trail.  We are finally at the age with the kids where we can all ride safely and at the same pace.  This was a definite do-again for us!  We would like to take advantage of some trails closer to home—where we don’t have to rent bikes, but use our own.  It is always fun to experience something together as a family and realize we all would like to do it again.  The trail gave us opportunity to take some fun photos and enjoy the natural beauty of the Potomac.  We biked six miles and returned just in time to avoid the downpour that held off for us!

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Crescent Trail, DC

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Crescent Trail rest stop

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Sunday morning, after sleeping in, we had our Starbucks and loaded up.  We saved Annapolis for the end of the trip….some of the best for last!  What a beautiful old city!  Historic Annapolis is a gem.  I am in love with historic towns and their uneven, imperfect streets and houses.  This was a first for us and we  loved this place.  And, what greater time to visit such a place than the Fourth of July weekend.  Flags and bunting waved proudly from front porches and street lights.  We experienced First Sunday, which is a local arts festival held on the first Sunday of each month during the summer and into the fall—live music and artisans lined the old brick paved street.  Note to self:  it isn’t a Farmers Market.  I was kindly disabused of that notion by one artsy artist.

Anyway, we ate lunch….the children dined on hamburgers from each restaurant this weekend, except for the italian meal…they had pizza!  For a local feel, we ate at the Rams Head Tavern.  Very nice people; great food!

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Lunch stop in Annapolis (TripAdvisor, photo cred)

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Stroll through Annapolis

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I’m a sucker for historic homes, so my Honey found one for us to tour.  Apparently, several signers of the Declaration of Independence called Annapolis home.  We visited The William Paca House and Gardens and enjoyed the walk around the neighborhoods.  The stories these old brick paved streets and generations-old trees have witnessed and could tell!  The families and their stories fill these homes.  I am in love with Annapolis; it deserves another trip.  I think I will!

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Photo cred: Joshua McKerrow, The Capital Gazette

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The William Paca House and Gardens

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Some natural beauty, The William Paca House and Gardens

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Governor’s Mansion, Annapolis

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Life is made up of moments.  We live far from family and so we make moments with our little family.  I looked on Facebook and Instagram and saw the family get-togethers and the fun memories being made.   Make the memories and have the experiences!  And, they don’t have to be Pinterest worthy to be amazing!!  People seem to be happier with experiences more than stuff.  Take time to create that timeless bond with those you love.  One of our favorite ways is through road-tripping.  And honestly, you don’t have to go far or blow wads of money to make it happen.  Find what works for your family.

My two youngest kiddos have discovered a love for photography.  That was a fun addition to this trip.  These pictures (except for the pics of the restaurants and William Paca house) were taken by them.  It made for a fun, new way of discovering the world (aside from the squabbling over the camera!!).

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We were missing our oldest this time around.  I guess those days are coming.  I’m not feeling like I’m very good at sharing, but I will keep working on it.  Thank goodness for Face Time, because Mommas don’t like having any of their loves out of pocket!  But, I know, the memories we have made over the years will hold him tight.  Here’s to the next road trip and gypsy blood–I’m already plotting one!

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Green, Green Grass

 

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I can feel it coming!  Can you?

Days are getting longer and spring rains are bringing life support for the flora and fauna.  The chill gives way to warm breezes.  And, if you live anywhere near here, a yellowy film covers every outdoor surface.

One of my favorite signs of the coming season, though, is the green grass and creative, ardent gardeners prepping their plot of earth for summer beauty.  Life bursts on the scene after the dead of winter.

Summer is a unique time for me. 

I look forward to it.  I think I still have a schoolgirl’s mindset.  After all, with homeschoolers in the house, I live to the special rhythm of the school year clock.

Days, weeks, months.  Semesters and curriculum.

Books completed and boxes checked off.

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And here we are.  We are not year-round homeschoolers.  I definitely need the summer break!  Summer break is mainly for me and my sanity!  I know my kids would rebel if I even thought about year-round schooling, though.

I need the leisurely mornings and unhurried schedules.  But as much as I love lazy days by the pool, I start to get antsy about a month in.  There is only so much laundry, straightening and organizing a soul can do before losing her mind!  I start to slowly morph into a discontented, unhappy woman.

I lose all perspective and basically, I get bored with my life! I don’t know how to cope with all the down time.  Crazy, I know.

So, I have made a plan for my summer.  I decided to be proactive this summer and save us all from my mid-life crisis.  I figure this is a great way to recharge my creative and intellectual self.   I am calling it the Creative Summer Immersive—CSI.  (Well, I just decided to call it that since I’m writing my blog post about it and it needs to sound official.)

In a nutshell, I am going to immerse myself in a summer of creativity that will stretch and grow me.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

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I’m rather pleased with myself.  Here is my plan:

  1.  Find 2-3 artistic/creative projects where I can learn a new artistic skill. (Probably going to hit up Pinterest.)
  2. Continue studying about and working on my writing. (I have a membership to a training/mentoring group I will continue working with.)
  3. Explore enrolling in a free online university class (MOOC) and learn something new and interesting. (Going to check out mooc-list.com.)
  4. Explore drawing techniques I want to learn. (I will probably purchase books on drawing flowers.)
  5. Read enriching and enjoyable novels and non-fiction.  (Of course, the library is one of my very favorite places.)

So, there you have it.  Not overly complicated or grueling.  But, it does allow me to grow and thrive.  Can’t really ask for much more that that!

Here’s the deal.  I am going to be full of grace towards myself.  If I don’t hit everyone of these goals, or maybe focus and become immersed in just one particular goal, then so be it.  My thoughts for this are to give myself a plan to work from.

If you don’t aim for something, you’ll hit it.  

Anyway, I’m sharing this with you for a simple reason.

Summer is a great time to explore and try something new.

I realize not everyone’s schedule reflects mine.  In fact, summertime may not really mean anything new or different for your world.  But, you can’t help but notice the new life and fresh growth all around you.  Nature shouts out the beauty of new creation.  It’s everywhere.

So, why not challenge yourself to try something new, learn a new hobby, or take up something you’ve always wanted to do.  Make this a summer of dedication to your well-being.  You never know what you just might find out about yourself.

Maybe your need isn’t even about creativity.

Maybe it is taking the time to broaden your world and practice a new service to others.

Maybe there is something innovative you can do for your neighborhood.  What does this look like for you?

Maybe you need to purposefully enlarge your circle of friends this summer.  Live it up!

Maybe there is some learning you have put off for another time.  Go do it!

Just imagine how much richer your life will be by the time summer is winding down.  Maybe, just maybe, it won’t be wasted.

 

We all want richer,

fuller

and

more meaningful lives in this world gone mad.

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What are you going to do with this one beautiful life you have been given?

For this, it doesn’t have to be super spiritual, mega-watted or compare to mine or any other’s summer.

You do you! 

Just set a goal and be intentional.

In other words, number your days.  Give meaning and purpose to each day.

 

   “So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

I am excited.  Perhaps it won’t all go as planned.  This is not a problem.  I am just excited to see what I can find out about myself.  Who’s gonna join me?

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Here’s your assignment for this week.  Start thinking about some new insights, hobbies or endeavors you might be interested in.

How do you want to grow in the three months of summer?  Write it down.

Research how to move forward towards these new projects.

Hit the ground running as soon as your schedule allows you to do so–if it is sooner that June, go for it!

I want to hear what you are planning.  I will give periodic updates on my summer adventure.  I want updates from you, too.  Let’s help each other.  Pull up a chair and let’s chat….comment below!