Peace in the Midst of Chaos

Advent Family Worship

It’s not even December as I write this, but our holiday season has taken off like a rocket ship launched into outer space. This week alone, we have daily wrestling practice, soccer practice, two wrestling matches, two basketball (cheer) games, cheer practice, dance class, youth group, band practice, all-day band event at school, and a soccer game. That doesn’t even include dental appointments that I had to cancel because who has time for oral hygiene and dental care?

Chaos. How, why are our lives so crazy? How in the world do we even enjoy Christmas?

We did get our decorations up this weekend, which was a fun family activity, plus I have a slew of cheesy Christmas Hallmark movies on the DVR recorded from the free cable on Thanksgiving weekend. Those things do help bring a sense of calming to an otherwise insane week at our house. (Of course, who has time to watch movies? Maybe I’ll get through them before Easter.)

The other thing we aim to do is light our Advent wreath and have a brief time of family worship most nights of the week. I’ve also subscribed to receive a daily Advent prayer from one of my church’s pastors. You can sign up, too, if you like. Click here.

It’s hard to stay on track and out of the insanity this time of year. It is super-hard — not gonna lie. But it is our goal.

This coming Sunday is the second Sunday of Advent. On this Sunday, we will focus on the Angels’ announcement of Jesus’ birth and will light the Candle of Peace. Here’s an example of a brief time of family worship you can share with your family:

Second Sunday of Advent: The Angels

Gather around the Advent wreath. Explain that the term “host” in verse 13 is a military term, referring to an army of sorts. Verse 13 describes the announcement as being delivered by a “heavenly host.” Discuss for a moment what images come to mind when we think of the military or army. Next, ask the family to talk about the significance that an “army” would deliver news of peace and joy.

Why does the Angels’ announcement give us peace?

Advent Sunday #2: Candle of Peace
Read Luke 2:8-13 and light the first and second purple candles: “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”(Luke 2:10-11 ESV)

excerpt from A Different Christmas This Year

Want more ideas for celebrating Advent and Christmas with your family? Download my free eBook, A Different Christmas This Year.

What are your best tips for a stress-free, Christ-focused Christmas?

I’m Starving. Are You? Seeking Simplicity in a Culture of Excess

Seeking Simplicity in a Culture of Excess

My heart is screaming for simplicity.

The other night my daughter whined at me, “Mom, why didn’t you buy the ‘Cheer Mom’ t-shirt? It’s so cute!”

I rolled my eyes and said, “Because if I were to buy every t-shirt offered, we’d have taken out a second mortgage by now!”

Really — there’s a t-shirt (or three) for every activity, event, club, competition, team, and game at my kids’ school. Not to mention tumblers, socks, lanyards, and hoodies.

Choice fatigue is everywhere, and I am so sick of it.

It’s one reason why I love shopping at Aldi. For most items, there’s one brand and a size or two. Period. Decision made.

Our culture is cannibalizing itself on excess in just about every sphere. Hundreds of TV channels, blogs, and social media sites scream to inundate us with connection and entertainment.

If our kids want to dance or play a sport, they need not limit themselves to a couple of hours a week. No – they can, literally, devote more time (and money) to their extracurricular life than some folks give college studies, part-time jobs, and marriages.

Our culture is a sea of excess. The mentality is that if “a little” is good, then “a lot” must be great!

But I think this is a dangerous lie that is detrimental to us in many ways.

  • We have insatiable appetites. When we are fed on less-than-satisfying fare, we remain hungry. Munching on popcorn and cotton candy is oh-so-delicious for a time but ultimately leads to a greater depletion and more hunger. Then when we survey all the beautiful offerings at the carnival stand, we are fooled into thinking that this or that shiny treat will satisfy. All of the attractive choices and options in our culture only make us more needy, less fulfilled, and take us farther away from true satiation.
  • We are distracted to the point of paralysis. All of these choices make me lazy and motionless. When I have so many seemingly “worthy” options for spending my money, my free time, and my energy, I often choose a convenient distraction or get lost in a mindless activity that deceptively promises to fill me up. In my life, this distraction is the ultimate disrupter to an abundant life lived with and for Christ, which means the Enemy is all too pleased. Distraction keeps me from doing the things of God, including worship and service.
  • Just because we can doesn’t mean we should — or that it’s good for us. Our choice culture — which includes 8 different brands and styles of toilet paper or 10 different combo meals that can be ordered “your way” in any size you’d like — perpetuates a destructive lie. We believe that we are living full and abundant lives, but the cycle of discard/upgrade/customize is actually a wicked mirage. It’s a never-ending give and take that bankrupts its victims in every way.

Have you experienced this? Are you weary of simply making decisions? Are you tired of trying to juggle everything? Are you sick of buying junk to contain your junk?

I know I feel suffocated. I want simplicity.

Our family feels a little bit “stuck” right now. We feel the tug of the world to join in the craziness — to buy into the delusions that “things” and activities are the keys to fulfillment.

Yet we know better.

Where is true fulfillment? Who ultimately satisfies? Who became nothing so that we can — TRULY — have everything?

The answer is in Christ. When we die to self, and seek him, we find rest, peace, joy, and contentment.

In him, we are empowered to boldly scream at the bondage of excess, “You lie to me and will not have control over me anymore.”

That’s far more satisfying than anything a super-sized meal deal can offer.

Favorite Summertime Essential Oils

favorite summertime essential oils

There’s not one season that I’d want to face without essential oils. But I especially can’t imagine summer oil-less!

I’ve come up with seven reasons why I especially love my essential oils during the summer months.

Summertime Essential Oils

1. Lime essential oil is a favorite in all my summer recipes. I make margaritas, mojitos, guacamole, fresh salsa (with garden-fresh tomatoes and cilantro), limeade, and lime cake with my beloved lime oil. Yum!

2. Melaleuca essential oil helps your feet stay clear of any yuckies you may pick up at the swimming pool or in the communal showers at camp. I know; it’s gross to think about, but it’s not nearly as bad if you’ve got Melaleuca on hand. It’s also great for any scratches and owies.

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Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Can Your Family Afford to Eat Out?

Can Your Family afford to eat out | Tips for Healthy, Cheap Dining With Kids
Disclosure: I received a complimentary lunch at Zoe’s Kitchen in exchange for a review on social media. All opinions are my own.

Can your family afford to eat out? | Tips for Healthy, Cheap Dining With Kids

Can your family afford to eat out? For our family of five, dining out is super-expensive. Unfortunately, we have limited options within our budget that would qualify as “good food.” Even a fast food meal for us totals in the $30-$40 range. That’s why I was so excited to learn about Zoe’s Kitchen‘s new Mediterrean Family Meals.

For that same $30 – $40, our family can eat a much healthier and much fresher meal at Zoe’s. Plus there’s a LOT of food in a meal—hopefully enough for leftovers for lunch the next day.

[Read more…]

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Keep Your Home Based Business Going When Life Gets Crazy

home based businessLiving our lives to the fullest—that’s one reason why we’ve decided to have a home based business, right? Whether you’re freelancing and contracting with clients, representing a product in a direct sales company, or managing your own website selling goods or services, you appreciate the flexibility to do what needs to be done on your own schedule.

I consider it a blessing to be able to be home when my kids are home from school in the afternoons. I love having the flexibility of being able to rearrange my day to attend a mid-day honors program or help set up and decorate for my daughter’s band awards night.

I guess there’s always a flip side, though, right?

[Read more…]

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

5 Easy Steps to Start a Blog

5 Easy Steps to Start a Blog

I have been writing a blog since 2008 and I have worked as a blog editor/manager and ghost blogger since 2009. Every week or so, I have someone ask me about how to start a blog.

This is by no means an exhaustive explanation, but I offer you my best overall tips for how to start a blog:

1. First, decide where you see the blog going—will it be for hobby or for profit? Would you EVER want to make money on the blog? Even if you don’t think you’ll want to make money on the blog, I believe you should set up as if you did. Here’s why.

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Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

5 Secrets For Standardized Testing Success

5 secrets for standardized testing success

Yes, it’s here once again! Standardized testing time in Tennessee. You can hear the collective groans around the state this week as parents, teachers, and kids feel the pressure of test-taking.

How do you prepare your kids for doing their best when they face any kind of exam, presentation, or project? I have a few tried-and-true tools that I always pull out during standardized testing week and anytime that the kids need an extra “boost” to perform at optimal level.

[Read more…]

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Establish the Work of My Hands

establish the work of my handsI’ve been washing dishes by hand for several weeks now. Our dishwasher broke a few months ago, and it’s not repairable. We need a new one but have put off the purchase until we can find a great bargain and save up enough cash to buy one.

I don’t mind terribly dish washing by hand (don’t get me wrong,though; I’d love to have a working dishwasher again!) because I recognize there’s a real benefit in doing manual labor with your hands.

What is it about working with our hands that can be revelatory, inspirational, insightful, and, ultimately, healing?

[Read more…]

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

My Top 10 Parenting “Pearls”

Top Ten Parenting PearlsRecently, a friend asked me to share my top ten list of parenting “pearls”—you know, those ten phrases you’re saying over and over again; those most important things you’re always praying about or discussing with your spouse.

It was actually harder than I thought it would be. So much of parenting is intuitive and boiling down my “pearls” to a list of ten was helpful for me to see exactly where my parenting is currently. I definitely want to continue emphasizing those parenting areas where we’ve been.

But looking over the list also showed me a few areas where I want to address more intentionally, too.

[Read more…]

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Mom, May Is Coming! Are You Ready?

April is National Poetry Month. In honor of that, I thought I’d try writing a poem. Inspired by the chaotic whirlwind that is the end-of-the-year and a classic children’s poem, I wrote “‘Twas the Week Before May.” I dedicate this to busy mothers everywhere! 

'Twas the Week Before May

‘Twas the Week Before May

‘Twas the week before May, and all through the land
Not a mother was ready for all that was planned.

The schedules were filled with too much to do
As everyone wondered how they’d make it through.

The children were waiting for the year’s end–
Summer vacation they wanted to spend.

With Mom in the minivan, the kids strapped in back,
We braced for May 1 as we would for attack.

As the clock chimed twelve and April turned to May
We dove headlong into the chaotic fray:

Final tests! And projects! And banquets and games!
“Help me,” I cried, lest we go down in flames.

Picnics! Elections! Concerts! And prom!
“I could use some wine to get back my calm.”

Graduation! And board meetings so next year we won’t sweat!
“Tell me, is it Memorial Day yet?”

To the end of the month, to the week, to the day,
Now go away! Go away! Just. Go. Away.

And then in a twinkling, the calendar was clean
Like that! It was over—my month fueled by caffeine.

I sighed a relief and gave a pat on the back
I’d made it through another May Attack.

I spoke not a word, but instead smiled inside
Sanity intact, I swelled with pride.

But my moment was short as I realized, now sober:
I’ll be doing it again in October.


Do you know about Grammarly? It’s a super-cool service that I’ve just discovered. I’ll write a full review post on it in a few weeks; but go check it out now, especially if you need some extra writing and editing help with your kids’ papers, your own business-related correspondence, or even blog posts.

The #1 Writing Tool


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Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.