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Giveaways, Organization, Relevant '10

31 Days!!!

I am so excited to be able to share something with you all today…it comes from my dear friend Sarah Mae, who many of you know as one of the founders of the Relevant conference. I was blessed to be a part of it last year and got to connect with her, and let me say, she is a TREASURE. She is a fabulous writer, organizer, woman of the Lord…the list goes on.

Her most recent project is this:

First of all, doesn’t that cover just make you want to buy it???? I’m a sucker for a great cover 🙂 Luckily for us, the goodness goes way past the image and walks the readers through a way to move toward a clean home in 31 days. Each day is totally manageable and there are fabulous suggestions all throughout. I am going to be giving away five copies of this book, which can be given as a nook, kindle, or PDF (you can choose! just click on any of those links and they will take you to the correct place to purchase).

Sarah has also added a “more do-able” Martha section to the book which can be found here.

It has consistently been on the Christian Living top 10 on Amazon, and is NUMBER ONE on the home cleaning chart!!! So, go ahead and purchase one (five bucks! that’s a steal!!!) and if you are one of the five who wins, your money will be refunded.

To learn more about the fantasical Sarah Me, click over to her website for this book and spend some time in her (neat) place 🙂

Your comments on this post will be entered in a contest to win one of the five I am giving away, so GO FOR IT!!!!!

Household, Organization

Organization? Not my strong suit…

I have been trying so hard to get my life to feel a little more organized. At other times I haven’t felt as much need, but with a house full of kids and all the other curve balls life keeps throwing us, I feel like we need some better systems. I have bought a couple simple things, like a mail organizer thing where I can put all our mail so it doesn’t take over the counters, and an updated calendar that has all of our different stuff on it. I have been on a mean cleaning streak and am so aware of my shortcomings in this area. I feel like we are all making progress though, and it’s bringing a different calm to our days. Well, most days anyway.

We are also trying to do a little bit of a food overhaul. I have started to see how tied (I know, you’re all like…really, Ang? Just now figuring this out?) my kids behavior is to what food they are eating. Kate in particular. She has had a few REALLY hard weeks and I finally broke down one night and told Todd I was going to lose my mind if we didn’t figure out a way to make it easier. So, I pulled sugar out of her diet (for the most part…she still gets treats every now and then but we are much more conscientious of it). We are giving her snacks every hour and a half to keep her blood sugar up and we are making sure she is getting a lot of protein. I don’t want to speak too soon but I will say that we have seen a HUGE difference in her behavior. Her impulse control is better and she seems to be happier. She gets so frustrated when she has a tantrum, and she always realizes later that it was a bad choice and will come and apologize about it, but this seems to help on the front end. I have also had to be a whole lot more intentional about seeing the signs that she is starting to get out of control and I have learned to pull her aside and redirect without letting it get so far that she can’t pull herself out of it.

She is not an easy child to parent, but she is incredible. Every night I just pray I will know how to love her without breaking her will and her heart while I try to help shape her into a Godly woman.

It can be so, so hard. If you think to pray for my patience, it would be much appreciated 🙂

I wanted to share this with you all because there are a couple of simple things I have started doing around the house that have really impacted us. One thing I am TERRIBLE at is meal planning (and grocery shopping, and cooking. But I am the most devoted fan of the Food Network ever. Irony is my BFF). I think I love cooking shows because it’s all so organized and all the stuff is prepared and pretty. This is a little silly but I decided I was going to start a new meal system so that I would be better about cooking. Don’t laugh at me, because you might like it for yourself!!!!

First, I make a list of what I am going to make that week, and then if they are recipe cards from magazines  or printed from the internet, I make a little index card. The front has a picture of the recipe on it and the back has all the directions. Want a picture? Good. Because I am about to go all Pioneer Woman on you.

So, then I get all the ingredients (except for the dry stuff, which I set aside in the pantry together and pre-measure if it makes sense) and put them in a tub like this with the cute little picture on the front. I can fit four across the fridge shelf. I even chop stuff beforehand if it makes sense to do it.

 Then, when it’s about time for dinner, I just pull out the bin and go to town.

As I cook, I use the little plastic tub for all the trash so it stays nice and neat. You know, like on T.V.

I’m just throwing these in because I’m pretending to be Ree.


Annnnnnnd, VOILA! I did it in about half the time it would normally take me because it was all waiting and the clean up was a breeze.

And bonus, everyone said it was delicious. This is huge.

So, it’s a little thing but the bin system (I haven’t made up a fancy name yet…) is working out wonderfully for me. I even called Todd the other day to ask him to get started on dinner and told him to just grab it out of the fridge and follow the directions. He called me back 15 minutes later and told me he thought I was a genius. So, you can make great food and be called a genius.

I’m like three sentences away from an infomercial here, friends.

But, before I sign off, I have one more “organizational thing I love” to mention (that name is copyrighted, so please give me credit if you choose to share these nuggets of wisdom).

I was on Jess’s (Jess’? I hate the apostrophe after an s. It stresses me out).

I was on Jessica’s (better) blog (she just updated it and you have to hope over and see how great it looks!) and read about this incredible (FREE!) program you can download. I’m just saying it has changed my life. You will LOVE this if you have kids old enough to get the hang of it. Basically you spend a few minutes setting up a list of their mandatory/optional chores and you assign a point value to each. They get their own little log-in and they can go in and check the boxes when they have completed the task. Once they have enough points, they can purchase things (it is linked to Amazon and they pick what they want beforehand so it is sitting in their “shop” until they have enough to buy it). You can also do any kind of reward you want if you don’t want to do the Amazon thing. They can also “save” money or “share” it and you set up whatever charity you want to link it to, and then it sends you an email when the child has donated points. You can send your kids little notes of encouragement and they can write back…it is precious. My children are SUPER motivated, and my house looks phenomenal. They are jumping at the chance to help with stuff because it’s so fun for them…LLLLOOOOVVVEEE this little tool. For the record, I am not being compensated to stalk this company. I just stalk by free will.

So, I hope these little tidbits are helpful, and I would LOVE to hear any tips you want to share for how you keep your lives organized and running smoothly….anyone? Please?


Book Recommendation, Faith, Organization


*I started to post this last night and then thought I might add some photos so I took it right down, but I guess it still came up in google reader…oops! Here it is (again!) and this time you can leave comments… Sorry!!!*

I have gotten so many emails over the years that have asked me about how I study my Bible, and I have not done a great job about writing about it. I love a new year because there’s something so refreshing about a proverbial do-over, so I was thinking this would be a good time to share a couple things that have helped me over the years.

I have been a Christian for exactly ten years (as of yesterday :)). When I first started reading the Bible I was stressed out because I’m an academic by nature and I couldn’t figure out how to cram it all in in an efficient way. Seriously. I know that sounds pitiful but I nearly gave up on reading because it seemed so overwhelming. One day I swallowed my pride, walked into a local bookstore, and bought myself a children’s Bible. That turned out to be one of the smartest things I ever did because it made it digestible in a way that the big-girl Bible’s didn’t. It helped me understand the chronology of the Bible, as well as the key people and places along the way.

And also?

Cute pictures.

Honest to goodness I really recommend starting here if you have never read the Bible before, and just take it at a slow pace until you get your bearings a little.

After awhile I started to graduate to the tissue-paper Bible and I went to the store again to get one. For the record, this can also be an overwhelming process, as there are approximately 1,200,346,568 or so versions and they all look good. Everyone has a different opinion about this but I tend to like to read from the ESV version but memorize from the NIV version. Don’t laugh at me, but I’m kind of quirky about the way the Bible feels in my hands…I’m not a huge fan of the magnet-over-the-top kind because it feels all uneven when I’m reading.

I’m a fan of leather as far as the cover goes because they’re really durable. My all time favorite Bible is the Hebrew Greek Key Word Study Bible in the NIV version, because it makes it super easy to look in the back and find the original Hebrew or Greek (which often really changes the way you understand the passage). I also love to be able to see where else these words show up so I can compare them. In addition, it is fat and brings instant credibility if you are at Starbucks studying. For extra points, feel free to nod incessantly and whisper something about Aramaic. Or say “Pentateuch.” People never see that coming.

For those of you who love Beth Moore the way I do (let’s take a moment, shall we? Ahh, better now.) you will be happy to know that she endorses this particular Bible and that her daughters read it. Incidentally, Melissa is pretty much the smartest person I have ever met in real life and I’m pretty sure she read the Bible in English just to humor us peons in India.  At one point she said something about a present-participle something or other in Greek and I stared at the wall because I’m a writer and I’m not convinced I know what that is in English. But I nodded and scrunched my face up like I was considering the implications, which is key.

I must say I am a huge fan of The One Year Chronological Bible (NIV) because it goes, well, chronologically.

This post may have been a bad idea.

Anyway, it is really great because you can see how things really happened and not necessarily in the order of the Bible. For example, if there is a story in more than one Gospel, they will appear together instead of by book. It has really helped me understand who was a contemporary of whom and it really changes the story when you see it laid out like that.

I want to tell you about some books that I love, but I really want to emphasize that these are not a substitute for Scripture. You have to be in the Word, first and foremost. The rest of it helps bring clarity and encourage you to keep pressing on, but the life-giving power God’s Word has is incomparable.

Here are some really quick tips that have helped me when I read Scripture:
1. Always pray before you begin to read, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you go and bring the
    Word to life in a way that inspires you to live it out. I promise He will do it!!!

2. Have a pen or highlighter and something to write on in the event that you see something you want to
    process a little more later. I have a couple different journals for different things but one I like to use I
    just created myself. I took a cheap-o notebook from Target and stuck homemade tabs throughout it for
    different books of the Bible. That way when I am reading Genesis, I just take notes on that book and
    it’s great for recording things you might not always remember, like lineage etc. I mostly use this one
    for facts and I have another journal for thoughts, prayers, anything that jumps out at me.

3. I like to have some other books handy in case I want to look up a reference for more information. It’s
    great to have a Bible dictionary, Hebrew or Greek dictionary, and any other aids that help, such as
    maps, timelines etc.

4. I try to pick a time when I don’t think I will be disturbed (moms, I hear you laughing and I realize how
    ridiculous this sounds!!!) such as morning or while the girls are in gymnastics class etc. I think there is
    a lot to be said for starting off your day with a quiet time, and to the end that this is possible I highly
    recommend it.

5. I like to have candles, chocolates, and a personal masseuse on hand when I dig in. I think that’s in the
   Bible somewhere.

6. I have to be disciplined about not reading the Bible with an agenda. It is so easy for me to slip into
    academic mode and try to analyze what I’m reading, and it takes a good amount of self-restraint for me
    to simply let the Word of God speak to me. There is a great book called Experiencing the Depths of 
    Jesus Christ that ministered to me as I learned how to truly meditate on the Word. It gave me peace to
    stop thinking about reading Scripture like it was a goal to get through it. I love the peace that comes
    from choosing a short verse and just letting myself read it over and over, processing the way the Lord
    illuminates it for me when I do.

If you are interested in reading a book that will give you the basics about the Bible, there are two I highly recommend and I’m sure I have talked about them on my blog before because for all my years of searching they are still two of my favorites. The first is more basic and is called The Bare Bones Bible Handbook and the second is What the Bible is All About (so good). They both go on sale several times a year at Lifeway, and I have seen them each as cheap as $5.

Brace yourself, because I’m about to drop some profound advice.

The most important thing about reading your Bible is actually opening it up and doing it.

I’m fantastic about making plans and having the best of intentions, but the power isn’t released in the wanting to do it. God says His Word will not return to Him void, and I can testify that it has been true for me. God never fails to meet me there, but I have to show up myself.

I know this is all kind of basic information but I wanted to share something in the hopes that if you all have other questions I can go from there. My passion is making the Bible feel accessible to people who feel intimidated by it, and I would love to answer anything I can to encourage you to experience it for yourself.

Please feel free to comment here with any suggestions, questions, or comments and I’ll do my best to answer them! I’m so excited to here from those of you who have book recommendations, advice, or methods that have been helpful to you.

See you soon!!! (Now go read :))