How Do You Win on a Monday Like That?

I believe we choose our response to our circumstances. Even in the midst of grief or frustration, we can act in a way consistent with our beliefs instead of our emotions.

I also believe it is easier to live that out some days than others.

Days when you forget the access card you need to do almost anything at work.
Days when you have a backlog of work because you were on vacation.
Days when the negative seems that much worse because you were on vacation.
Days when the power flashes and your computer loses the work you had open.
Days when the software systems glitch and no one is able to fix it.
Days when your coworker says you look like you’re on the verge of tears.
Days when the doctor’s office submits erroneous info to the insurance company.
Days when your child finishes practice early and tells you just as you park at home.
Rainy days. Snowy days.

How do you win on a Monday like that? How do you choose joy then?

I write because I need to be reminded. I didn’t get it right today. So far, I didn’t win. I mean, if it’s between myself and Monday, there’s no contest.

The thing is, my joy doesn’t come from Monday even on a good day. My joy comes from God. What He has given me beyond this day-t0-day life. He’s given me eternal life. Peace

It’s a peace I can feel, an emotion I can choose, when I tell my mind to go there. Ignore Monday. Remember and count the blessings.

Days when my husband understands the barrage of demands against me.
Days when my daughter is healthy enough to run on a track team.
Days when my car starts every time I turn the key.
Days when the power is on, the water is running, and the home is warm.

Days when the friend calls to say she’s expecting or her daughter is a national champion or she’s pursuing a new dream to teach in her field or regaining her health after years of struggling with her weight.

So I put myself in time out. I remember the verses engraved on my heart.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The Spirit has given this to me. It’s done. Even if it takes me all day to remember, this is how I win on a Monday.

Refocus. Choose joy. It’s hard, but it really doesn’t get any simpler.

Life Simplified at SkipperClan.com

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Somethin’ is Better than Nuthin’

It’s been 49 days since I shared a blog post in this space. It isn’t because I haven’t had a lot to say. It isn’t because I don’t want to share. The reality is that harmony I’ve been seeking has meant a lot of hours working and downtime spent with family.

But tonight I read this post from Jon Acuff and I realized that somethin’ is better than nuthin!

I am in the middle of one of the most exciting times of my life. After twenty years of military living, SkipperClan is weeks away from retirement.

After several years (and locations) of building my business, I am finishing the work to debut as a Director.

Having raised two children, our youngest is about to graduate high school.

This is a crazy, busy, fulfilling, joyful life we live – I have to take the time to celebrate it with you here. So if the posts you see here lack photos, seem to be posted on random days and times, and vary from three sentences to three pages – bear with me. I’d rather write somethin! And really, isn’t that the whole point of Life: Simplified?

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Finding Harmony, Forgetting Balance

Sometimes when you share your words with others, God uses them to work things out in your own life. Just as I shared last week, I have been prioritizing my time to use it until the hours are I am spent.

God first.
Family second.
Career third.

The balance we are looking for isn’t really going to happen, a speaker I heard this weekend said harmony is a better word. I couldn’t agree more. My priorities do not change, but on a daily or weekly basis, the places I spend my time will.

So last week I attended a fabulous conference in New Orleans for my business. It’s designed to motivate and help me move forward into a position of Leadership. My spirit was filled by the women living faith-filled lives who poured their belief into my heart. Four solid days where it looked to the outside world that my priorities were taken over by career.

Amanda Brown at Mary Kay

 

Mulates New Orleans at SkipperClan

On the way home, our extended family gathered for a couple of days centered around my niece’s gymnastics meet. We are all extremely proud of her and the hard work she dedicates to her sport. After living so far away for years, it was truly enjoyable to focus on being with family for such an event. I get to see the college kid on these trips too, which is great for a Mama’s heart. A couple more days where balance looked like it had gone out the window and all my time was spent on family.

GymnastAtSkipperClan

 

SkipperClanJrCollege

Woven throughout the last week, I deepened my friendship with someone and we have committed to being prayer partners. In fact, we stopped right there in the middle of a Starbucks Convention Center location to ask God to make us obedient to Him and a blessing to others. Leaders taught me how they manage their lives and businesses by the framework Scripture provides. I read on my own a little more from James who reminded me of the power of our speech. Sprinkled throughout each day, it may have looked as though I hadn’t made my faith a priority.

So as much as I wanted to share, blogging didn’t fit this last week. The weekend projects went undone and my laundry isn’t finished. There is paperwork waiting for me and we had breakfast for dinner.

But my heart is full of contentment and I was exactly where I was meant to be each day. Harmony. This is a big part of what the Life: Simplified Project is all about: making my choices match my goals for life. How was your week?

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Help! I Need Somebody…

If there is one thing I have learned in twenty years of marriage, eighteen years of parenting, and one year of working two careers, it’s this:

I cannot do it all.

Help I need somebody

We live in a culture where military families are not the only ones who live long distances from their extended family members. We are rarely surrounded by the support systems our grandparents had when raising their own families. On top of that, more and more families find they simply cannot meet their financial demands on a single income. {There is plenty of room for discussion about whether that is always a result of income or spending, but let’s save that for another post}. Despite the shift in culture, there seems to be a complex in America that we are only a good wife/mom/employee if we do it all. Home management, financial management, career, parenting, marriage, shopping, friendships…

The clock does not magically extend to 25 hours per day because we try to stay up an extra hour to get one more thing done. The kids keep growing whether or not we have time to bargain shop for new clothes. Our marriages cannot flourish if we become roommates instead of lovers.

I don’t know what your situation is, I just know my own. I know there are at least 100 different tasks and priorities I can be given in a single day. I’m known for exaggeration but that statement is quite literal, don’t challenge me to list it all because I promise I could. I could attempt, feebly, to tackle all of those demands. Even if I managed to squeak them out, I would certainly not do them all with excellence.

The 24 hours won’t change, only how I spend them.

Spending truly is the right word. Everything we do costs us some of those precious 24 hours each day. We choose more wisely when we budget that time in advance. Imagine spending every hour, on paper, before the month begins. {Yep, I went all Dave Ramsey on you there} 

Seriously though, what if we decided the day before or the week before, what was most important to us and our spouse? What if we chose, at least most of the time, how to meet our days with our priorities?

I believe most of us can manage the planning, it’s the execution that leaves us stumbling.

Dave Ramsey has some great advice for us. Yes, he said it in relation to money, but I think the same is true for our time. In planning an irregular income, Ramsey recommends that you list the expenses you have in priority of payment. So food, shelter, utilities, transportation, and so on. Once you run out of money, anything that falls below that line in your list doesn’t get paid that month. We can do this with our time.

That list of 100 things is likely going to see 6-8 completed on a given day. But I have another option, I can buy someone else’s time! {Hint, you can too!} Maybe you need to let go of pre-conceived notions and hire someone to clean the house once a month. Perhaps you are spending time on tasks for your business which, while necessary, can be accomplished by a teenager or college student while you hold appointments to increase revenue.

Or maybe you just need to have a heart-to-heart with your spouse and ask how he thinks you can change the responsibilities in your home. {Maybe he doesn’t care if the socks are folded and put away, as long as they are clean in a basket!} Maybe you can swap with another mom: one day having a playgroup time at her house where you help her catch up on laundry followed the next week at your home.

Be creative, be determined, but be flexible. Maybe the solution to that overwhelming feeling is to just. get. help. I will be doing just that over the next month. My goal is to stay on track with our financial goals while spending the few hours I have each day for my family with energy and intention. My business is growing so I’m getting some help for the office tasks. Part of my Life: Simplified focus for 2014 will involve hiring out jobs that do not need to be done by me personally.

What are you doing so far to stay on track with your own 2014 goals?

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Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine {Review}

For nearly a year, I’ve tried to find a way to manage all the responsibilities I previously shouldered while adding a full time job to my already-packed schedule. I kept thinking if I found the right schedule, the right checklist, or the right strategies, then I’d convince my family to take on some of the tasks so I could achieve the life balance I’d enjoyed when I worked exclusively from home.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

As I recently mentioned, I dropped blogging and several other things this fall because I simply could not do it all. Some of the other things I dropped were technically not required for my immediate survival, but are necessary to keep me physically and mentally healthy in the long term.

Before adding my full time job, I already had a business from home, two kids graduating high school a year apart, and my active duty husband’s schedule taking priority. The house was getting cleaned even less than before, financial planning was falling between the cracks, and we began eating out a lot more than before. Frustrating! What’s the point of adding an additional income if we weren’t managing it well?

Then I received the email notifying me I would be able to preview Crystal Paine’s next book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.

What a blessing her words have been to my heart, and what perfect timing God has used to put them in front of me during this season.

This book is not pie-in-the-sky advice from someone who doesn’t know what you’re going through. Crystal writes about the challenges she faced, the conversations she had with her husband in the process, and the real-life strategies that helped her overcome chaos.

Despite being blessed with phenomenal mentors and a natural bent towards goal planning, I found myself in the middle of a season where my skills didn’t seem to be enough to make a difference for our family. Crystal’s story seemed to unfold like mine. Many times, she knew what to do, but she wasn’t always implementing it. I felt as though Crystal had taken me back through time to walk alongside the critical points of her journey to see how she went from overwhelmed to abundant living.

You may think the book would have little to offer if you regularly read her blog Money Saving Mom. I believe it is full of additional wisdom.

The best part is you don’t even have to take my word for it though! When you visit her site, you can sign up for a free 7 day Challenge for excerpts from the book with a challenge for each day to implement what you’ve learned.

Two of the topics that impacted me the most discussed discipline and what to do when you feel like a failure. The one that I think will have the biggest impact for any woman is the first one: Stop Trying to Do It All. {Hint, it involves the word no.}

I loved this book so much, that I pre-ordered my own copy, even though I had the free copy of the pre-release. I believe this book is full of so much practical knowledge, I will be referring back to it for quite some time before I feel I have implemented everything I can. I also believe this book will also be a valuable tool in mentoring women.

When you preorder the book before January 20th, you can get over $125 in free bonuses from Crystal. {I believe the book is worth more than all of the bonuses combined.} You can follow my own journey towards a Life: Simplified throughout the year and those of my fellow Project bloggers on our Pinterest board.

Yes, I received a free advance copy to review but all opinions are my own. As I mentioned, I loved it so much I’ve already pre-ordered a hard copy!

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A Very Pinteresting Weekend: Week 1 Results

A Very Pinteresting Weekend - Week 2 at SkipperClan

Each Friday, I will share with you which task, project, or dish from Pinterest I plan to complete over the weekend. The following week I’ll share my success or failure and lay out my plan for the upcoming weekend.

Last weekend I shared the checklist I’ll be using to complete projects throughout the year. The first one was fairly straightforward: clean the living room curtains.

I love our curtains! I fell in love with them at Bed, Bath and Beyond several years ago when we lived in Pennsylvania. I used them as inspiration when we remodeled our family room. I saved up coupons and cash and got two complete sets because that room had a set of sliding doors and a large set of windows. I’ve been able to use them at both of our follow on houses (something rare and wonderful in this military lifestyle). They currently reside as a set around our dining room windows and just on the outside of our two smaller living room windows. I took them down last weekend with the best of intentions to wash, dry and rehang them in a day.

Then I remembered, they are dry clean only. That did not fit my one-day schedule.

So, I did what any girl looking to live a Life: Simplified would do, I worked with what I had. What I had was a dryer with lots of options. I placed one set in the dryer at a time, left the fabric softener bar inside the drum, and ran them for 30 minutes on the no-heat setting.

Now I have fresh curtains hanging in my home and the first little check mark in the box!

I wondered honestly if I’d really made any improvement using this process until I saw the results on the lint filter (have I mentioned we have dogs?!)

A Very Pinteresting Weekend Results Week 1Needless to say, I’m happy to know all that mess is not hanging around our home anymore. The next project on the list is simply to clean the living room baseboards. Knowing my daughter and I can tackle that in a few minutes, I’ll be adding the third task to this weekend as well: Clean out and organize desk drawers.

Ugh. Am I the only one that still deals with this much paper? I was inspired by Andrea’s recent post on how she purged her family and business papers down to two drawers. Since we already implement a few of her strategies, I’ll be using her suggestions to complete the purge of my own desk drawers. Check back next Friday for the before and after photos.

Looking for more Life: Simplified posts? Click the tab on the top of the screen, sign up for email updates, or check out our Pinterest board! Are you drowning in paper clutter as you start getting things together for tax season?

 

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Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

I’m no Julia Child. I could barely heat up instant dinners when we were newlyweds.

But this week I successfully made cream of chicken soup, from scratch, without just copying a recipe. People, this is a big stinkin’ deal!

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup at SkipperClan

It started innocently enough, I wanted to try Crystal’s Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole Recipe before I made it in bulk. I already had cooked chicken so I thought it would be easy. Then I realized, the recipe called for cream of chicken and mushroom soups which I don’t normally buy. Even here in the Deep South it is f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g outside this week and I was not going to the store for one ingredient.

I did a search on Pinterest and found this Easy Cream of Chicken Soup recipe. Of course, I didn’t have all the ingredients for that recipe either. What I did have was a few random ingredients from holiday recipes. So I took a deep breath, evaluated my fridge ingredients, and got to cooking. You will need the following…

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup Ingredients at SkipperClan

Ingredients for Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup:

  • 6 ounces butter
  • 3 T all purpose flour (I like unbleached, organic)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (I try to keep 2 cup portions in the freezer)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded chicken
  • pepper to taste

First, I heated the butter in my trusty cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Next, I whisked in about three tablespoons of flour. I followed that with about 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup of buttermilk, and 2 ounces cream cheese until whisked smooth. Finally, I added about a cup of shredded chicken. Once it was all brought to a boil, I sprinkled in some pepper and turned it down to simmer for about ten minutes.

While that deliciousness was simmering, I cooked the rice and steamed the broccoli. In the last few minutes of cook time, I added another cup of shredded chicken to the cream of chicken soup since it was going directly into our dish for the night. If you were adding it to another recipe, I’d keep the chicken to the original 1 cup portion. This is what I used to modify Crystal’s bulk cooking recipe to serve for dinner immediately:

  • 2 cups steamed broccoli cuts (steamed)
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/2 the cream of chicken from above
  • 3/4 cups shredded cheese

Mix it all together and add a dash of salt to taste before you enjoy this delicious meal. I would have shared a photo of the final dish but we ate it before I had a chance!

I want to say thank you to my fellow Life: Simplified blogger Christin for inspiring me to find one more kitchen staple to make from scratch. You can see her 5 Processed Foods Easily Simplified by following her blog or checking out our Life: Simplified Project Pinterest Board.

Life Simplified at SkipperClan.com

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New Year Goals for Thoughtful Living

Every year I choose one word.

And that in itself is kind of revolutionary if you think about it.

In this world of facebook and texting and hundreds of channels…that we would even try to focus in on one word shows how much noise we have to filter out to even think clearly.

thoughtful my one word at SkipperClan

The word was placed on my heart when I was struck recently by the importance these verses convey:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:1-3

I can be a miracle worker, wise as Solomon, or sacrifice my life…but they are worthless without love.

Thoughtful means doing or making something after careful consideration. Thoughtful means making choices after considering the well being of others. Love.

In 2014, I choose to live with the love Corinthians describes, considering others and acting after careful consideration. Consideration for what God has done for me and in my life. Consideration for how He may use me in the lives of others. Thoughtful, so I can live life: simplified.

When I use that word as a filter for the long term goals I drafted two years ago with Tsh‘s great set of questions, my 2014 goal list almost writes itself. Some of them have moved from the 2013 list because they are worthy of repetition. Some have moved from the 2013 list because I simply changed the date on dreams I’ve yet to see completed.

12 Goals for 2013: Thoughtful

  1. Find a new church
  2. Read through the Bible using this plan
  3. Send items monthly to our sponsored child
  4. Achieve specific career position {details for my inner circle}
  5. Increase Income {target set for this goal}
  6. Payoff 3 Debts
  7. Take a family trip {just the four of us}
  8. Reach goal weight
  9. Complete 3 family albums
  10. Read my list of 36 books
  11. Blog weekly about the Life: Simplified Project
  12. Complete a certification goal with SkipperClan

Some of these are more vague in their format here than they are on my personal list. Part of this is because they are either very personal (see 4&5) or they are controversial (12). I have a feeling I’ll be sharing more as I make progress on these goals through the year.

I hope that you will find a word, a verse, a moment to hear the still, small voice of God so that December 31, 2014 finds your relationship with God closer than ever.

If you’re looking for My One Word for 2012 or 2013, you found them. If you’d like an online guide to setting your priorities and long term goals, I recommend Michael Hyatt’s Creating Your Personal Life Plan. If you simply need a free printable for writing out your goals, try this one.

If you want to read more about my goal setting, just click over to this post.

 

Life Simplified at SkipperClan.com

If you’ve set some goals for 2014, or started working towards Life: Simplified – link up with us! We are praying for you.

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A Very Pinteresting Weekend: Where to Start for a Life: Simplified

Monday I shared with you our 2014 goal to bring some simplicity to our year. I’ve updated you on my goal progress from 2013 and shared a list of books I plan to read in 2014. Next week I’ll be sharing more about my 2014 goals {you know I have a list!}. For today, I want to share one of the ways I plan to use Pinterest as a tool in the Life: Simplified Project.

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I love Pinterest! Yes, it can be a complete time-drain if we allow it and we can definitely find ourselves comparing our lives to what seems “perfect.” However, I am a visual person who loves doing creative work…I just don’t always have the time to come up with the game plan. Pinterest allows me to tap into the creativity of others in almost every area of my life: home, time, meals, and more!

The first tool I want to share with you comes from The Country Chic Cottage. Angie has created a fabulous deep cleaning checklist with 52 tasks I should be able to complete in 30 minutes or less each week. In fact, I’ve already given myself the freedom to jump around on the list, complete several tasks at once, whatever works best…as long as I complete the list before the year is over.

I printed the checklist onto card stock and added it to my planner. {If you’ve already noticed that it doesn’t look like my Life Planner, you are a keen observer…I’ll be sharing more next week on how I’ll be using this new planner for 2014.}

Each Friday, I will share with you which task, project, or dish from Pinterest I plan to complete over the weekend. The following week I’ll share my success or failure and lay out my plan for the upcoming weekend.

So, if you are wondering where to start on a journey towards a Life: Simplified, maybe you’ve already pinned the idea to your own Pinterest boards. Let’s make this weekend Pinteresting. Leave a comment with your own Pinterest goal below, then come back Monday to see my 2014 goals.

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36 Books for 2014

“Not all readers are leaders,
but all leaders are readers.”
~ Harry S. Truman

36 Books for 2014

I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. Truly, some of my earliest childhood memories are of turning the pages to simple books as a preschooler. I remember not only being captivated by the story, but by the understanding that I could do it myself. I could comprehend the words, I could learn, I had accomplished something.

Over the last few years, I’ve found it harder and harder to find fiction I enjoy. I simply cannot stand to read novels full of foul language, no matter how captivating the story line. I get bored with almost any fiction that isn’t a mystery. Non-fiction draws me in the way most people are enveloped by a romantic story set in a distant land.

I want to read of real people who overcome the obstacles we imagine to be unbeatable. I want to know better ways to study God’s Word. I want to know the strategies others have used to run successful businesses.

There is a point where I can just keep taking all that information in though, with no implementation. The year I read 100 books, I felt some of that impact. I’d read countless great ideas but hardly implemented them. Last year, I scaled my reading list back to focus on implementation, but found many of the books were not helpful to my stage of life.

So for 2014, I’ve tried to swing the pendulum back a bit to a happy medium. I’ve actually increased my reading goal from last year but included several fiction items to help balance the list. Several have been recommended, many are already sitting in my home or Kindle account, and a few I will be re-reading.

If you would like to create a custom reading list of your own, I highly recommend using Crystal’s free printable. Fill it in and print it out, or simply print a blank copy and track the ones you actually read.

MoneySavingMomReadingListSo without further ado, my 2014 Reading List.

  1. The Mary Kay Way
  2. Rhinoceros Success
  3. Made to Crave
  4. Miracles Happen
  5. You’re Made for a God Sized Dream
  6. Love Does
  7. You Can Have It All
  8. How Full Is Your Bucket
  9. For Better or For Work
  10. Living a Rich Life
  11. Start: Punch Fear in the Face
  12. 48 Days to the Work You Love
  13. Make Your Dreams Come True
  14. The Apartment
  15. 101 Great American Poems
  16. The Bible In 90 Days (First 1/3 of the Books)
  17. If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat
  18. Unglued
  19. The Bible in 90 Days (Second 2/3 of the Books)
  20. The Book Thief
  21. Called to Lead
  22. The Bible in 90 Days (Final 1/3 of the Books)
  23. Fantastic Voyage
  24. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  25. Common Sense
  26. When Godly People Do Ungodly Things
  27. Refusal
  28. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  29. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
  30. Twelve Extraordinary Women
  31. Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Lives
  32. Safely Home
  33. The Go-Getter
  34. A Christmas Carol
  35. The Monk and the Merchant
  36. Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Enough

What are you most looking forward to reading this year?

 

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