Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My New Friend Emerson

I'd like you to meet my new friend, Emerson:

Emerson is a tv that was manufactured the exact same year I was: 1987.  His birthday is actually July, so he is about a half a year younger than me.  I got him for free at our youth garage sale this past weekend because nobody else wanted him, including Goodwill.

Contrary to what the above old-fashioned-looking-on-purpose-for-effect pictures might indicate about Emerson's pigmentation abilities, he does indeed produce color.   I gave him a home in my craft room, along with a DVD/VHS player that we had to hunt down at a pawn shop to find one with a coax cable connector, so it would work with Emerson's outdated hardware. 

As of right now, Emerson's sole job is to play DVDs that I can passively watch while putzing around in my craft room. I might attempt to hook up cable, since previous owners of our house pulled cables to every single room in the house.  But for now, I'll let him warm up to his new home with just DVD duty.  

I figured he should be christened by my favorite movie of all time...

Mmmhmm yep.  I think we are a match made in tv heaven.  Welcome to our home, Emerson.


Monday, January 30, 2012

The Lost Art of Thank You Notes

I recently started thinking about writing a post about thank you notes and Mollie must have read my mind or something because literally one or two days later she posted a blog about the same thing...  This is the second time this has happened!   A few months ago I started working on a post about using Google Calendars (it's still in my drafts list...fail) and shortly thereafter Mollie posted about the same thing.  Weird.  Maybe we are the same person

But anyway!  Thank you notes...

Do you write them?  Do you think they are a lost art?  Old fashioned?  I'm a big fan of sending thank you notes.  I use the United States Postal Service, with a stamp and everything.  I think I send them because the habit was ingrained into me as a kid.  We sent thank you notes for birthday presents, Christmas presents, graduation presents...  Even when we were really young and Mom wrote them except for our kiddy scrawled name, boy did we write thank you notes.  I still think this is a good habit to have.   I have all kinds of thank you note cards and send them regularly.  I'm even in charge of sending thank you notes to the good folks at our church who provide supper for our kids on Wednesdays.  (Although sometimes I forget...fail)   It's an easy gesture of thanks and appreciation that can sure brighten someone's day and make them feel valued. 

What do you think of thank you notes?  I'm a fan. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

You Can Do It Babe

Do you have the habit of encouragement in your marriage?  Does your spouse encourage you?  Do you encourage your spouse?

I have recently been bumping my weekday alarm clock time earlier and earlier and getting to work earlier so I can gradually prepare for super early tax season mornings and not jump from arriving at 8:00 am to arriving at 6:30 am overnight.  That would be a yikes.   One morning last week, when my alarm clock was set to a mere 6:30, it went off and I sat up to begin my morning ritual of squinting at my bright phone to check weather, blogs I follow, emails and facebook to wake up.   Trent stirred a bit. 

"You can do it babe," he said.   

I paused for a second as I had flashbacks to past tax season early mornings and past early mornings when I studied for the CPA exam before work.  Almost without fail, they went like this:  alarm clock sounded, I sat up and looked at my phone, Trent stirred and told me "You can do it babe", I'd respond with "Thanks" or "Yep" or "I don't know 'bout that" or simply "Hmmph" and proceed to get up and study or get ready for work while he slumbered a bit longer.  That's our general routine for mornings when I have to meet the day before the day is even awake...

Last week when he said that to me, I responded more with "uh...ok, thanks, but it's not that early..."  I kept thinking about it though as I got up and got in the shower.   Trent is SO good at encouraging me when I need it and even sometimes when I don't particularly need it.   It's usually nothing elaborate and is most often just that simple phrase:  You can do it babe.   It makes me think "yes, you are right, I can do it."  

I am so blessed to have a spouse who regularly encourages me.  I do my best to return this expression of support and encouragement to him when he needs it, whether in words or deeds or a surprise cup of starbucks coffee...  To have this habit as a couple, I think you have to be in tune with each other and know what each other is going through and needs encouragement for.  Even the little stuff.

Do you have this habit of encouragement in your marriage?  If you aren't married, do you encourage your other family members, friends, whoever you live this life with?  Give it a try.  Even if it's just the small sentiment of "You can do it."  Or you could try out my Mom's version: "Go, fight, win!" (Cheerleader moves optional.  But they sure add to the positive effect...at least when my Mom does them...)

Try it out.  Encourage someone you love.  Then make it a habit.

P.S. This is my 150th post.  Cool.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sister Time

My baby sister, Abby, came to visit me this past weekend.  Well, I actually went and got her in San Marcos where her team won a basketball game, and brought her back to Waco with me.  She can't drive yet...  We have been trying to get her to Waco for a weekend since last October and we finally did it!  I was so, so excited that she was coming.  I really miss my family and a dose of family time from any of the various members does me a whole lot of good.

We ate breakfast at Cafe Cappuccino, where Abby was very amused by their crooked fountain.

We went to the mall. Duh.

We picked up my wedding ring from the jeweler. It's all tightened and safe now and sooooo shiny. I'm glad to have it back.

We looked through old pictures.

I told her David Crowder lives here and she freaked out.  Then I drove her past his house and she freaked out a whole lot more!

I bought my first pair of skinny jeans.  Then I promptly texted Sarah to inform her.  She said we are now officially sisters...  They work quite nicely with my brown boots.  

I gave Abs a personal tour of Baylor...

...to continue my brainwashing to get her to come to school here.

Then we went to the Lady Bears basketball game.

She was very impressed!  They were great and won by a long shot.

And Abby wore her brand new Heritage letter jacket eeeeeeeverywhere we went. :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Big Two Five

Go shortay, it's ya birthday, we're gonna party like it's ya birthday...

Actually my birthday was a week and a half ago but I got too caught up in busy life to blog about it.   I am now 25.  A whole quarter of a century, as many people reminded me.  A few people joked "So you're, what? 21?" But I told them I'm not old enough to need you to make me feel younger than I am.  I'm super ok being 25.

I did reflect back on my year as a 24 year old a bit. Compared to the previous several years, it didn't contain any huge milestones...

20: finished bachelor's degree
21: got married and finished master's degree
22: bought our house
23: passed the CPA exam
24: uh...lived life?

Just because it didn't have any ginormo events or notable rites of passage doesn't mean it wasn't a good year!   At the beginning of age 24 I joked that we should probably have a baby during that year to keep up my trend but, um, yeah, haha, NO.

So I'm 25 now.  A quarter of a century old.  I thought really hard about doing some kind of blog series or challenge or something like "The QC Challenge" or "The 25 List" like Angela's 29 List.  But I came up with nothing. And that's ok.  I've got enough to blog about (in fact, I have about 10 drafts of posts in process right now).

For my birthday, I received a bunch of squealing hugs at church from our youth (including some of the boys), was treated to lunch by one of the sweet ladies in our church, and headed to Georgetown later to meet my parents, brother and Abby for an early dinner, halfway-ish between Waco and Fredericksburg.  We ate at The Monument Cafe in Georgetown and it was very, very good and a nice old fashioned diner.  Mom even brought the red plate for me!

A family tradition. You get the red plate on your birthday, test day,
piano recital day, or any day at all that marks some kind of success.
Mom gave me my own red plate as a wedding present!

The love of my life gave me a wheely stool for my craft room that I have been eyeing. The comical part is that it is from Sears and is Craftsman brand. 

I'm thinking of using Sharpie to scratch out Man and write Craftswoman...we'll see.  I wanted a stool with no back on it so I could plop down on it from any angle as I bop around my craft room and one that had wheels so I can scoot around between craft desk, card table and ironing board.  Go ahead and giggle.  I have several times.

He also got me a wonderful wall hanging with a lot of adorable phrases.  Kind of reminds me of our story on canvas that Steph made for us.

So here's to another year of life!  I hope the next quarter century is as exciting as the first.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Favorite Scripture

Has anyone ever asked you what your favorite scripture is?  Did you have an answer?  That is a tough question to answer, given that there are four bazillion scriptures to choose from in the Bible.

I have a favorite.  It's probably not a very typical favorite scripture because it doesn't give a charge to action, doesn't offer solace from suffering, doesn't praise the awesome power of God's name.   It is a blessing.

Growing up, while I lived at home, my Dad would shower us kids in prayer, especially at night when we were going to bed.  His prayers would very often end with what is now my favorite scripture.   When we were setting off for school, or for anything really, he would often speak this blessing over us.  Even today, though I don't see him as much since we live apart, he still sometimes says this scripture to me.

It is Numbers 6:24-26.

I do not know from what version Dad memorized it, so here it is in the Tony Sauer Version, which is now hidden in my own heart and mind:

May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you
And give you peace.

It is a little gem of a scripture placed amid a bunch of info about the Israelites, Kohathites, Gershonites and Levites.  (My spell checker just blew a gasket)   Blah blah sacrifices blah blah tabernacle blah blah Sinai blah blah manna from heaven blah blah...oh look, a lovely, special blessing buried in all that!  (Those are not derogatory blah blahs. I know all those scriptures are important too.)  Most people's favorite scriptures probably come from triumphant Psalms or wise sayings of Jesus, but mine is an obscure little blessing from the Pentateuch. 

This scripture has become very, very special to me and even now brings tears to my eyes as I remember all the times it has been spoken over me.  I love my Dad.  I love that he prayed for us and still does.  

What is your favorite scripture?  Do you have one?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

When Our Kids Hurt

It's a Saturday morning and I'm supposed to be sleeping in, but no, I've been awake since 6:30.  Finally I just decided to get up.  My sister Abby is here for the weekend and I think my overflowing excitement was keeping me awake.  Now if SHE would just wake up so we can get this party started!  Just kidding.  Keep sleeping Abs.

Anyway, on to this morning's post...

Trent and I obviously have a ton of fun in this youth ministry gig and get a lot of fulfillment from it.  That's kind of a duh.  Our kids are great and we are loving tagging along on some of their life adventures, eating a lot of pizza and getting a lot of laughs...

Youth ministry is a lot of FUN.  But what about the times when it's not so fun, when one or some of our kids are hurting, when we have to switch from big-kid adults having fun and learning with them to f'real adult ministers trying to help them through a tough time?  Honestly, it's really hard.  I know I had a pretty sheltered childhood and teenage years but I also know things have changed a lot for teenagers over time.  Some of the things our kids go through or witness, I just can't even imagine having to deal with or stand up against... 

...drama, ridicule, threats, fights, death of a friend, depression, cutting, relationships, death of a family member, running away, drugs, alcohol, sex, trends, changing schools, family in the hospital, comparison to siblings, moving away, parents, lack of parents, betrayal...

Frankly, it's nuts.  And it kind of overwhelms me at times.  The cliché phrase "what is this world coming to?" pops into my head a LOT.  Other than a few of the more mild items in that list above, I didn't have to deal with this type of stuff when I was a teenager.  I know I had a pretty calm childhood in a little town, but still. All I have available to pull from is my own experience and honestly I have times when I don't know how to relate to or minister to a youth who is dealing with some of this crazy stuff.  I want to FIX IT and make everything magically better and...I don't know how.  The thing is, that's not really possible.  These things can't go away with the snap of anyone's fingers. 

I stress about this sometimes.  (Me, stressing?  Never...)  Am I being an effective minister to them?  How do I even approach this? Are they getting anything from what I say?  Are they thinking "Oh, Anna is just a sheltered goody-two-shoes with a fairy tale life and marriage who has never really had to deal with hurt like this"?  As usual when I stress out, Trent and I talk about it and he gives me a good pep talk. 

The thing is, I can't fix any of these things immediately and I don't think the youth are expecting me/us to.  But there are a few things I can do.  I can listen intently. I can share my thoughts or suggestions, as sparse as they may be. I can let them know that I love them. I can pray for them.  I can check in with them to see how they are doing. I can give hugs.   I think that type of stuff right there is the stuff of ministry.  Ministers aren't necessarily fixers.  They are helpers.  And I'm committed to doing the best I can to help our youth through this scary world. 

P.S. Right now when I preview this post, it made the font size smaller for the last half of it.  I don't know why and I don't want to mess with it this early in the morning.  Maybe it will go away...

Friday, January 20, 2012

If It Were Not For The Pictures...

You know, I would post a lot more often if it were not for the pictures.  Sit down, type, post, bam. Done. But I've got a backlog of about 5 post drafts right now that are really just waiting for me to insert appropriate pictures that I already have, or take needed pictures so I can then include them.    It turns "sit down, type, post, bam. Done." into "take pictures, sit down, upload pictures, edit pictures, insert pictures into post, rearrange pictures within post, write, post, bam. Done."  That's a little bit longer process.  

But I do it for YOOOU because, wouldn't you agree, blog posts are so much better when they have pictures?  Even if it's a googled clip art image and not an original photo?  I think so.  

Stay tuned for some picture filled posts soon. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Flashback to Highschool - Bethany's Punk Party

Flashback time!   Bethany, one of my highschool classmates at Heritage, always had THE BEST birthday parties.  Ok, well the two I attended for the two years of highschool I had with her were pretty swell.  Our junior year, she threw a punk party and turned their house into "Club Bane."  Costumes required.

Lil Anna Pie dress up as a punk?  I had no idea what to do.  So I ended up buying a lot of random black stuff from various cheapo places.  Mesh soccer goalie jersey and skort (that deceptively looked like a mini skirt all the way around!) from Burkes Outlet, red cami I already had, black boots from Goodwill that I stuck pink sparkly laces in (that's punk, right?), fish net stockings I had to buy (gasp), a chain around my waist from somewhere (also punk, right? I was clueless...), and the original black shoe strings from the boots as bracelet and necklace.  I painted my nails black, stuck on a fake tattoo, put on a crap ton of dark eye makeup and lipstick, fixed my hair super cool and spiky and...ta-da.  From Anna Pie to Anna Punk.

Mom wanted to take pictures as if I was going to prom.  The only reason Dad let me leave the house looking like that was because I was attending the party of his law partner's daughter at their house where he knew I'd be safe...  Yipes!  Trent is terrified by these pictures, by the way.

Bethany's dad was dressed the part of bouncer and stood at the door demanding invitations be shown for entrance to the party, wearing sunglasses even though it was dark outside.  I flicked my invitation at him in punk fashion (or at least what I thought a punk would do?) and he announced I could go in.  Then he broke character, turned into kind Mr. B instead of mean bouncer dude and laughed as I went inside.  The party was a blast.  I added some temporary green streaks to my hair while there.

I couldn't unearth very many pictures from the party, but here is Bethany, the birthday girl, and Josh.

And here is Dustin looking mighty scary!

Some people went all out on their outfits.  Others threw on a loose necktie or fake nose ring and called it a night.  My punk outfit proved its apparent success and authenticity later that year when I resurrected it as a Halloween costume to attend my friend Hershel's garage band concert in the town next door.   I really almost didn't get out of the house that time...  Hershel's friends actually were punks...and totally thought I was one.  Maybe I really do have a streak of punk in me.  Or not...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First World Problem

So, y'all know my sister, Katy... 

She's the adventurous one.   Here's proof:

Katy is our world traveler.  She is wrapping up her International Studies and Spanish majors at Trinity U this semester and has spent a lot of her time abroad during college.  9 months in Chile before even starting college.  Three months in Spain.  Four months in the Dominican Republic.  Five months in Brazil.  You get the picture.  She has been a student, teacher, helper, daughter, sister and cousin to her host families, been a lot of places and seen a lot of things, including some pretty bad poverty.  Back in the States, we started hearing her use a semi-joking but mostly serious phrase on occasion in response to certain things she'd hear us or others say.  The phrase is "First World Problem."   Examples:

"Ugh, my phone isn't getting good 3G signal right now."
"...first world problem."

"We have been eating out too much lately."
"...first world problem."

"I have been on a search for some casual brown boots for a while and haven't found the right ones yet."
"...first world problem."   

The US is a first world country, verses second and third world countries.  We are so blessed in the US, compared to some places like Haiti and Uganda, where people are just trying to make it day to day.   Katy has seen some of these types of places and even lived in them to a degree.   I don't blame her for coming back to the US and marveling at the things we worry and complain about. 

Trent and I have adopted her phrase.   We kind of use it as a comical check in our spirit about what we are wanting, worrying about or considering a problem.  Just the other night, Trent said "Next time we buy a mattress, maybe we can get one of those that sits up."   Pause.  "Eh, first world problem..."   Embedded in that phrase is much more than just those three words.  It means "Hmm, nevermind, I am blessed to have a cell phone at all, who cares if I'm not getting signal right now to check my silly facebook."   Or "Wow, eating out too much is a problem to us, when some people out there don't know where their next meal is going to come from."   Or "We already own a $1300 mattress...we don't need to be thinking about buying another one.  There are people in this world who are sleeping on a dirt floor right now."  

Think about this phrase the next time you find yourself wanting, worrying, or complaining.   Is it a legitimate concern that needs addressed?  Or are you just being a first world wimp? 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

And We Were Swingin'

Trent and I got married on 5.18.08 and moved into our first little married apartment on Ivy Ave.  A few weeks later, a long, thin box showed up on our porch with no indication whatsoever about who it came from.  It was a porch swing.  We were kind of confused and let it sit on our porch for a while, wondering if it was even supposed to be for us.  But our name and address were right there on the box.   After some investigation, we discovered that it was a wedding gift from a group of our friends, including Steph and Rach.  We didn't hang it up at our little apartment, partly because there wasn't much room on our little porch and also because we weren't sure if we should screw giant bolts into the porch beams since we were renting.  So the box lived on our porch for a bit, then it lived inside, leaned up against the tv, then it lived under our sofa, then it got moved to our house and lived in Trent's shed.

One of my criteria before and during house hunting was that we have a porch to hang up our porch swing.  Well...fail.  Our back porch roof is more like a lean-to made of tin and two by fours and its chances of being strong enough to hold a swing are slim.  Our front porch is just big enough for the door and our side porch has no roof over it.   What to do?   Well...the box continued to live in the shed from move-in during April of 09 until now.   Last September, Trent began to build me a gift for our 6th anniversary of togetherness on September 30th.   I was not allowed to go in the shed.  Well, that gift got set aside as we embarked on our homemade Christmas adventure.  During said adventure, I was out in the shed a lot seeing what Trent was working on, checking on stuff, etc.  Needless to say, I saw the large and unmistakable beams leaning up against a wall in the shed and figured out what it was...

This morning, Trent went out to the shed to put some finishing touches on it then came inside and told me to put some warm clothes on and come see.  I was still in pajamas and too excited so really I just put on my fuzzy boots and my coat.  


"Happy anniversary of togetherness slash birthday gift!"

Then came the realization that we somehow had to get the giant thing out of the shed, around the house and to the side porch, where we had decided it will live.  We took the swing down and it wasn't too hard to move the frame.  Success!   Now I can be swingin' while Trent is grillin'.

The frame really is level.  The porch is not...
The swing is raw oak so we'll seal it and we are going to put deck stain on the frame to make it a darker woodgrain color.  We thought of painting it white but you can't paint treated wood supposedly.  Won't stick.   But decks are made out of treated wood so deck stain should work great.  If we can find it in a container less than 5 gallons...

Bonus: The whole time we were moving it and setting it up, Trent was singing "Oh Anna she's as purty as the angels when they sing, I can't believe I'm out here on our side porch in the swing. And we were swangin..." 

I. Love. Him.  

Silent 15

Trent is doing a series in youth group right now about worship: the different parts of it, what it means to different people, individual and corporate worship, etc.  As part of this each week, he has everybody do a "Silent 15", which is where we kind of spread out so we don't have people right around us to distract us and just have 15 minutes of silence.  It can be prayer, time to think, time to thank, but overall it is a small chunk of time with the sole purpose of individually and intentionally worshiping God in silence.  

Some of the youth totally embraced it.  They found their spot, made the time their own.  Some probably just used the time to poke around on their cell phone (which I forgot to take up and put in the Cell Cell beforehand).  Who knows if they really prayed, if they just sat there, if they were totally bored and hated it and were just waiting for Trent to quietly tell everyone to gather back together. 

Me?  I loved it.  But it was hard. I found it rather difficult to truly focus on God and prayer for that amount of time and not let my mind wander to the groceries we had to go get after youth group and what I had to tackle at work the next day. 

How often do you allow a whole 15 minutes just to sit and pray, reflect and silently worship?  If you're like me, it's not very often.  A lot of us probably pray while we're driving, pray while we're doing chores, etc., and that's awesome.  But what about time when you are doing nothing but pray?  I'll be the first one to say that that doesn't happen much for me.  With my life travelling at the speed of light it seems, downtime is rare, and when I have it, my first thought is to spend it with my husband or catching up on chores.   Prayer is sadly not what comes to my mind first.

Consider taking a Silent 15 for yourself sometime and see how it goes.  "But I don't have time!"  Really?  It's only 15 minutes...   "Speak for yourself, Anna."  Ok, you're right, busted.  I'm the worst at this, believing that I have no spare time anywhere for things like this.  But I'm learning to find the time, make the time, or realize it has actually been there all along, I just get so caught up in "I am so busy. What's next? Busy busy busy" that sometimes I miss the times when I don't actually have to feel busy.  

Try a Silent 15.  Let me know what you think.  

Saturday, January 7, 2012

How Is Your Soul Today?

How is your soul today?

I am trying really hard to put mine in a state of rest and peace, in anticipation of...drum roll please...tax season.  Yep, in a few short weeks I will be cranking up my hours at the office for my fifth (wow!) tax season.  In these weeks prior to that, I'm hoping to keep the craziness level to a minimum if possible.  I got home yesterday from three days of CPE in Dallas, during which I caught a cold (no fun).  Next weekend Trent and I are going to Houston on Saturday for a friend's wedding.  The following weekend I am going to attempt for about the fourth time to get my baby sister to Waco to hang out with me.  The weekend after that is the youth garage sale...  So maybe I'll try my best to keep the craziness level down in the weekdays in between...

Today, however, has been quite delightful, I must say, despite my leftover sniffles and a hint of a cough.  Trent has been in Athens all day for various meetings at the church camp.  :-(  So I have been a bum, on purpose.

Today I:

Wore sweatpants all day.

Sat at Starbucks for two hours writing a letter to my Grandma, emailing a friend, blogging, and researching airplane ticket prices for a possible travel endeavor to be named later.

Went shopping at the mall by myself, which I like to do on occasion, to eliminate the worry of whether a companion is bored or wanting to move on to the next store.

Only spent giftcards from Christmas, not real money.

Bought some nice bubble bath and a purse.

Took my wedding ring to get it cleaned and checked, but the lady said it needed to be sent off to tighten the prongs on the side diamonds and I'll have it back by the 24th.  Sad!  But better safe than sorry. I guess I'll wear my mission trip ring as a backup until I get my real one back...

Took a nap.

Took a bubble bath and read my book in the tub.  My new bubble bath smells goood.

Did some Bible study.

Talked to my hubby who says he is almost home!

Evening plans include dinner and board/card games with some friends.  Overall, a very restful day and one that I needed.  I'm hoping Trent and I can have a repeat of it together tomorrow afternoon.  Do you think there is any merit to the idea of storing up rest in anticipation of a busy time when rest will be scarce?  If not, I'm going to use it anyway as an excuse to have a calm January however possible.

How is your soul today?

Boot Shopping Blues Begone!

Remember a while back when I was suffering from boot shopping blues and had come home empty handed from a thorough hunt for casual brown boots?   Well my unofficial three year search for brown boots is officially over.  On the way to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl...

...Trent and I pulled into a shopping center in Georgetown to get some coffee and there happened to be a DSW there.  My sweet husband pointed out that I should pop in and see if there were any boots I liked.  Done and done.  He went next door to lay on $14,000 Temperpedic beds just for fun and I quickly texted him "Yesssssssss" from within DSW.   Seemed like within seconds he was coming in the DSW door and looking for me.  I wasn't hard to find in my gold Baylor Line jersey! 

I got the dark brown (middle) version of these:

And I loooooooove them.  They are super comfy for my footsies, my jeans fit inside them quite well and they are pretty much exactly what I was looking for.  Not to mention they were on the clearance shelf (score!).   Now I just need to find some inexpensive skinny jeans for the purpose of less voluminous and wrinkly boot stuffing.  I'm a little scared.  I've never owned skinny jeans in my life...but I have my skinny jean addicted sister's blessing.

Sarah says the tighter the better...I just want them to fit into my boots without wads of denim around my ankles...  This should be an adventure.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Resolution Update #4 - Make More Time For Things That Are Important To Me

My final New Year's Resolution update for 2011 is about finding time for things that are important to me, namely reading, journaling, keeping our house clean, and cooking more meals at home.  Honestly I don't think I have done super about these this past year, but I am still working on it and gradually learning some things about how to make these possible.

Regarding house cleaning, I do my best to implement my Just Do It strategy with the little things day to day so that the big stuff doesn't seem as overwhelming and ka-razy.   Also, now that we are hosting a weekly Bible study in our home, it kind of forces me/us to keep the house clean on a regular basis, therefore diminishing the "oh my gosh, the house is a complete wreck" days.

As for cooking...eh.  This is still a work in progress.  BUT, we have gotten our budgeting and finances on a much better track over the past few months and I try my best to go get groceries as soon as I get paid.  If we have groceries at home, we'll eat at home, partly because there is food there that we paid for and don't want to waste and also because then the money has already been spent on groceries, leaving less for eating out.  Get paid, get groceries, eat at home. Seems pretty simple but we are still working on it.  Some pay periods are perfect and others, not so much.  Oh well.

Ok, reading, journaling, and I'll throw in Bible study, even though that wasn't really part of my original resolution.  I have made myself a spot in our home office that is where I can sit down and focus on these things.  Here is my spot:

I can either sit at my desk, which my Grandma bought for me for my birthday years ago, or sit in the rocking chair in which my mama rocked me when I was a baby.   I've got my journal and my Bible:

I've got some Bible studies that I'm working through:

And as far as reading...oof.  I have so many books I want to read.  This is "my" shelf on our office bookshelf, the rest are full of Tom Clancy books and random textbooks that we weren't able to sell back.  The books to the right of the index card are ones I have read already and the ones to the left are ones I still have yet to read.  There are even some others on another shelf in our house that I want to read.  I'll get there somehow, someday.

I'm being pretty realistic about this ongoing effort, knowing that I'm busy and won't have a whole lot of regular time for this stuff.  But I think having a home base for these things (journaling and Bible study at least...I'll read wherever) is a good start.  Too bad I didn't set it up and figure this out till the end of the year!

For now, I'm in Dallas for the rest of this week for a CPE seminar for work.  Nice hotel room all to myself, free wi-fi, CPE during the day and relaxing/reading/journaling in the evenings, plus I get to see Steph and Tammy tomorrow for dinner!  I'm going to be reeeeally ready to head home by the end of the week, but for now this is a nice change of pace...

Um, yes that that is Big Bang Theory on tv...