Saturday, December 29, 2012

Don't Believe The Lies That You Tell Yourself

My parents tell me that I was a happy child in the beginning. Apparently as a toddler I was friendly and outgoing.  But somehow, sometime before my memories begin, I was infiltrated with a damaging lie.  Sometime in my formative years the idea that I wasn't good enough began to seep into my heart. 

I was shy, I was empathetic and I was chubby - a dangerous combination in a public school where kids acted up, teased, and took down the 'little guy' so they could ease their own ache a little.  I don't know if the lies started with them, with the devil or with myself - but I believed them.  I believed that I was ugly.  I believed that I was weird.  And worst of all, I believed that I was unlovable. 

Of course I knew that my family loved me - but they had to, right?  I had a few friends, but frankly they often weren't much nicer to me than my enemies.  And the more I believed I wasn't worthy of friendship, the fewer friends I had. 

Eventually, we moved to a new state and started a new school (private all-girls' school).  Even though I met new friends and got involved in activities, I still felt lonely, still felt like a freak.  I felt fat and ugly and awkward and couldn't bear to look a boy in the eyes.  I tried to blend in with the walls, because disappearing was so much less painful than risking rejection.  I thought of myself as someone with few real friends, who would always be a loser.

Even when I starved myself down to 95 pounds, I still felt ugly, still felt like a freak.  I still didn't believe I was worthy of friendship or real love.  I always assumed that I'd end up with whatever guy would deign to be with me, who probably wouldn't treat me well because, fankly, he'd be settling.

And then I grew up.  I met this guy who treats me like a princess and doesn't feel like he's settling at all.  He helped a lot to open my eyes to the truth. 

And, oddly enough, I had my biggest revelation while digging through my boxes of old photos.  Not only was I not nearly as fat or awkward looking as I'd thought, but I wasn't unpopular, either.  I found photos of parties I hosted where 20+ people showed up.  I found photo on photo of myself posing in groups of smiling girls, all of whom I considered to be good friends.  I recently had a boy I knew a long time ago tell me "oh, yeah, I always thought you were pretty, I just didn't ask you out because we were into different stuff."  Wow - boys noticed me?  I had real friends?  I wasn't a freak? 

Everything I've believed for the last 25 years has been a lie!

And worst of all, I was the one lying to myself.  Excluding a few (probably not atypical) instances in jr. high, no one else has ever told me I was fat, ugly, or weird.  In retrospect, the boys who picked on me were, essentially, dipping my pigtails in the inkwell - they were flirting.  The only reason I didn't feel like a part of the group was because I chose to withdraw. 

And most importantly, I allowed these lies to fester because I didn't believe the greatest truth of all.  God loves me.  HE made me worthy.   Nothing I do or don't do can change that truth.  Nothing someone says, nothing I say to myself will ever change the fact that my worth comes from God.  HE will always love me no matter what. 

Sometimes the lies come back.  Sometimes I still feel like I'm worthless.  But those are the moment I decide to change my focus.  I stop thinking about how I feel and start thinking about what I can do.  It's hard to feel like a loser when you're doing something good for someone else. 

So the next time you feel down on yourself, ask yourself this - are my feelings true? or are they just lies I'm telling myself?  So often our self-perception is SO inaccurate.  We don't know exactly how the world sees us because it doesn't tell us.  But we know how God feels about us because HE told us - HE showed us. 

Don't believe the lies.  Believe the truth.  You are worthy, you are loved.  You are good enough!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

DIY Holiday Poppers and New Years Goals

Well, December 21 has come and gone and it looks like we're going to live to see a new year after all! 

New Years eve is one of my very favorite holidays. Not only is it the one time of the year that we get to visit with old college friends, but it's a time to celebrate a fresh start and new beginnings.  It's time to set some healthy goals, forgive some old wounds (even those self-inflicted) and reinvigorate important relationships.  

And while our NYE celebration tends to be pretty low key (Railroad Tycoon and Wii anyone?), I still love to make a celebration special.  Some day I'll host a soiree where I can finally wear that perfect party dress.  But this year, I'll settle for a little DIY crafting.

Our kids spend the holiday with Grandma while we're off with our friends - but I didn't want them to feel forgotten.  So I dug into my pile of empty toilet-paper tubes (I love upcycled crafts) and threw together some festive party poppers for my kids to open on the big night.  I want them to know that even if we're not together to ring in 2013, Mommy is still thinking of them.  Here's how to do it.

DIY Holiday Poppers
(also known as party crackers)

 empty toilet paper tubes
wrapping paper scraps (at least a few inches longer than the tubes)
candy or trinkets
ribbon or string

1.  Cut paper scraps so they just wrap around the toilet paper tubes and extend 2" beyond each end.  Tape in place.
2.  Fill tubes with candy or small toys.
3. Tie string around each end of the tube.  
4.  On the big night, untie string or pull on paper until the ends tear off.  


1. For a more 'grown-up' look, use leftover scrapbook paper in coordinating colors.  Cut one pattern as above, then fashion a sleeve the exact length of the tube and wrap around the outside.  
2.  Decorate with butcher paper, twine and custom stamps.
3. Use fabric scraps and monogram a paper sleeve.
4. For a "girls' night" fill with mini polish bottles, chocolates and jewelry.  
5. Consider including a small fortune or blessing for the new year inside each popper.  
6.  Up the stakes and create a "grand prize" popper for one lucky recipient. 

The possibilities are endless!!  

After all the celebrating is done, I like to write down my list of goals for the new year.  For 2013 I plan to work toward the following:

1. Get into the best shape of my life.  No more eating disorders (super skinny but unhealthy isn't attractive), no more junk food binges.  I plan to make healthy meals (and not cheat on my new food-sensitivity diet) and get my tush to the gym.  I'm hoping to start dancing again and I am definitely going to work on building muscle.  Who cares what the scale says, I want sexy abs!

2. Spend less money.  There are so many worthy things we want to put our money towards in the near future (private school for the kids, animals for the farm, charitable causes) but somehow it seems like money just vanishes from the bank account.  I'm going to make a very concerted effort to keep tabs on spending and to save save save.  I'll be canceling the subscription boxes, finding ways to DIY any decorating or household wants, swapping for 'new' clothes instead of hitting the stores, learning how to stretch my grocery dollars - and reading every 'frugal' blog I can find (this one is a great start).

3. Get organized and STAY organized.  I am so tired of living in chaos.  I'm tired of toys all over the floor, of overflowing shelves, of helter-skelter kitchen drawers.  In a few weeks we'll be moving to a new house and I'm looking it at a chance to start over.  If I can't find a logical, attractive place for something, it doesn't come in the house.  The new playroom will be organized top to bottom (no more messy bedrooms or toys in the living room).  The office nook will be both immaculate and easy to use (no more bills piling up on the table).  The kitchen will be tidy and logical (no more hunting for the spatulas).  If you haven't read The House That Cleans Itself, I recommend you do it now.  It has revolutionized the way I think about cleaning and organizing and I cannot wait to put that system to work for me.  I'm pretty good about cleaning binges - getting everything lovely and clean for a big event - but inevitably it all deteriorates again in a few days.  This time we'll find a cleaning routine we can stick to, and set up the house so that staying neat is a nobrainer. 

4. Spend more quality time with the kids.  I spend a lot of time with my kids.  I'm with them from the moment I wake up, till the moment they go to bed most days.  But the realization that they'll soon be headed to all day school has thoroughly freaked me out.  It made me stop to take a good hard look at how I use the time I have with my kids right now and I don't like it.  Sure, I'm with them physically - we're always in the same room, sometimes even in the same chair.  But I'm a little ashamed to admit how infrequently I'm really, truly engaged with the kids.  It's more "they play while I cook/clean/finish my book/check my email/get distracted" than "we play/cook/clean/read together."  Which means that they don't get quality Mommy time, and I'm robbing them of important life lessons (learning to cook, learning to clean, learning to read).  It's my goal, once we're moved and organized, to stop 'doing near' and start 'doing with.'  Sure it'll take longer, but they can help me fold that laundry, stir that soup, read the easy words in that book.  I want to have a daily craft that I do with them, not leave them to do while I'm off doing xyz.  Pretty soon I'll be sitting at home wishing they were there to mop the floors and chop the peppers with me while they're off at school.  I'll be wishing they were snuggling in my lap with a book while they're off playing with school friends.  I want to make the most of these moments instead of letting them slip by unnoticed. 

So - those are my new years goals.  Leave me a comment and let me know what's on your list - I really love to hear what other people are hoping and planning for their fresh start!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

$100 Walmart Card Giveaway

$100 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway

Have the holidays made a dent in your budget?  Would you like to recover some of that cash?  Well thanks to Tip Hero, we're offering one lucky person the chance to win a $100 Walmart gift card to start 2013 off right.

This giveaway will run for 2 weeks and end on January 2, 2013 at 11:59pm US Eastern time. Open to United States & Canada, 18+

Enter for your chance to win this helpful prize by filling out the PromoSimple entry form below. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Toilet Paper Tube Trees

With five people in our home, we go through a lot of toilet paper. And while it drives my husband crazy, I tend to hoard empty toilet paper tubes.  Why?  Because they are so handy for crafting!!  We've used them for everything from safari binoculars to beads for stringing (on huge necklaces). 

This time, we're making holiday trees!!  Here's how we did it.

1) Corral a bunch of empty toilet paper tubes.

2) Paint the inside of all the tubes green (we skipped this step and it doesn't look nearly as nice).

3) Decorate the outsides in various manners - coat them in mod podge and glitter, decoupage on green tissue paper or wrapping paper.  Or if you're in a big hurry, just coat them in green paint and get on with it.

4) Let all tubes dry thoroughly.

5) If any tubes have gotten squashed, roll them gently until they round out again.

6) This is the part that made my liberal-arts brain hurt a little - stack tubes in rows, adding 1 tube to each row until you run out.  I had to divide my stack between 3 kids, so doing the math made me a little dizzy.

7) Hot glue the bottom row together.

8) Attach next row by hot gluing tubes both to the row below and to each other.

9) Embellish! (Add stickers, glue on tiny ornaments, cover the ends with colored tissue paper - what ever your imagination dictates). 

We left our trees fairly plain and they sit on each child's night-stand guarded by his brand new nutcracker. 

If your trees will be getting a lot of use, or if you used a bunch of glitter, consider giving each a coat of spray-on acrylic sealant. 

Happy holidays everyone!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stuff I Love: Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving

Christmas time is a season of great excitement in our household (if you can't tell by the expression on my boys in their Christmas sweaters).  But at this particular stage in their lives, Christmas is also a season of confusion.  We are struggling hard this year with finding a balance between the spiritual and the cultural sides of Christmas.  We want the kids to be able to revel in a little of the material side of the holiday (Santa, presents, treats) while still teaching them plenty about the true meaning of the season (baby Jesus, generosity and togetherness).

Our kids have never believed in Santa, perse.  We've always said such things as "he's a fun character, why don't we read more books about him?" or "there's another man in a Santa costume, would you like to talk to him?"   Meanwhile we try to pepper their days with scripture (during our Advent reading each night) and talk about Jesus (while we put up the nativity).  But somehow, we've never been able to make a smooth transition between the two concepts. 

Then one night, while we were visiting Grandma, we happened upon the Veggie Tales video St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving.  My kids are big Veggie Tales fans and they were glued to this film.  It's a little bit history and a little bit silliness, but they (and we) seemed to take away from it a new understanding of how one family can celebrate both Santa and the love of Christ without an ounce of hypocrisy. 

As you'll see from the numerous reviews, this Veggie Tales version isn't terribly accurate from a historical perspective.  But it's a great tool for opening the door to further research into and discussions about the real person of St. Nicholas.  And, by blending some culturally relevant Christmas symbols with the religiously significant story of giving both of wealth and compassion, this film allows children to see typical holiday themes in a whole new light.  Suddenly stockings and presents and even the Jolly 'Ol Elf himself become a representation of generosity instead of greed. 

Now, when our kids ask questions about the origin of Santa we no longer feel that we have to choose between lying or crushing their imaginations.  We can tell them "well, let's think about what we learned in that Veggie Tales film - can you tell us what's significant about St. Nick?"  And they do!

So if you've been struggling with a similar household dilema, or even if you're just big fans of Bob and Larry and those great silly songs, you should definitely check out St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Grain-Free Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

You've all heard my spiel about food sensitivities.  I was miserable, I turned out to be sensitive to a boatload of foods, I eliminated those foods, and now I feel better.

But the better I feel, the more I notice when certain foods make me feel uncomfortable.  And I've come to the conclusion that, in general, I need to avoid eating grains.  All grains.  No wheat, no corn, no rice, none of them.  So now I'm pursuing a way to give up these foods without living on fruits and veggies alone.  I like to bake and bake I will, even if it means getting a little creative.

So, here is my adaptation of a favorite cookie recipe.  Please, only attempt these cookies in bar form, OR use shortening instead of the coconut oil.  If you make drop cookies as is, they will run all over your oven and start a fire (I kid you not).

Grain-Free, Dairy Free Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

1/2 cup coconut oil, chilled
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
pinch lemon zest
1/2 cup potato starch
3/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 tsp  baking soda
1/3 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, beat coconut oil and sugar until smooth.  Add egg and mix well.  Add remaining ingredients except lemon juice and mix until lumps are gone.  Slowly stir in lemon juice.

Pour into greased 8x8 square pan.  Sprinkle top with additional sugar.  Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick tests done.
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