Monthly Archives: July 2012

And Now I’m NOT Moving

I’m amazed by God. For real! He is SO good, and His plans are so much bigger than mine.

I posted yesterday that I was moving to a new, free blog site. I had the process halfway complete. It was a done deal. I was not turning back. Then I got a message from someone asking if I would consider letting them come alongside me and sponsor my blog hosting for a year.

I was immediately touched by this generous offer, but the next thought that entered my head was that I couldn’t possibly ask someone to do this.

Conflicting thought processes began battling in my mind.

I’m not a big-name blogger. I’ve grown to love being a small blogger, but I don’t have anything to offer that can’t be offered from a free location.

I have been sporadic in posting recently, and I was honestly starting to feel a bit lost in my purpose and drive to write.

However…

In the days leading up to the deadline to renew my domain and hosting, I prayed that God would make it clear to me how He wanted me to proceed. I didn’t feel that either option was wrong, but in the end, I asked yet again for Him to provide in a way that was unquestionably His working if He wanted me to keep going in the same route I started.

So I sat there yesterday reading the email from this donor, realizing that He had done it again. (Just in case you didn’t hear how He worked in a miraculous way last year, you can read about it here.) Yet again, God had provided a way that was miraculously opposite the plan that I thought would work best. His plan far exceeds mine and doesn’t allow me to check out even a little bit.

The knowledge that He actually used another individual to say, “I believe in you enough to make a financial sacrifice to continue God’s work” has lit a fire in me that drives me away from what could have been a path that would allow me to be able to quietly slip into being an average girl again with no real reason to push myself out of my comfort zone.

You see, I’ve learned that accepting average is the first step down the cliff into the pit of mediocrity. I don’t want to dwell there, for God has plans to use me beyond my natural capabilities.

Is having a self-hosted blog and domain name the only way to bring glory to God? Absolutely not! I know so many of the women whose hearts I’ve grown to love through blogging don’t follow this path. I’ve come to understand that no matter how much the “experts” say that owning a website is the only way to become somebody in this gigantic blogosphere, it’s not the web address that makes it a success. Rather, it’s following God’s specific plan for each of us, being willing to listen to His leading even when it requires scaling back or pushing through scenarios that make us feel inadequate.

God has used this blog to change me. While these circumstances may seem insignificant to many, and the readers are few compared to big bloggers, His name is being glorified and my faith is being grown. I trust Him more in all areas of my life because of the ways I’ve seen Him move and provide in this place.

All glory to Him for inspiring me to find the balance of exceptionally average! I may be ordinary, but because of Him, I can be used in extraordinary ways.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

This Blog is Moving! Update: Except not really anymore

Due to God providing in a miraculous way, I will now be keeping Exceptionally Average right here in this location. You can read on if you want to see the background, but it’s not the whole story anymore. You can read the rest of the story that explains why I’m not moving locations here. To God be the glory!

Hey Friends!

A year ago, I really felt God leading me to start this blog. I’m really grateful He did, even if I fought Him every step of the way. One of the excuses I gave Him as to why I couldn’t do it was the fact that I didn’t know how to blog – at least not the way that bloggers are supposed to. Consequently, He dropped a free beginning bloggers’ course in my lap and it came with a free year of web hosting. From there on, I couldn’t deny that He was telling me to stop with the excuses and get to work.

When I signed up for my free year of web hosting, I decided that I would take it year by year. Well, even though I didn’t officially “launch” my blog until September, I started the process of getting everything set up at the end of July, so my first year is up. I’ve been praying about how to proceed for several weeks now.

My priorities look different right now with another baby on the way and my husband’s job schedule changing. The medical bills are starting to all come in from my hand injury, surgery, and therapy, and spending money on another year of hosting a blog is just not something that I feel is a wise use of our money at this time. But I don’t want to quit altogether. This blog is my act of worship and obedience to God, and I want to continue to follow Him through each changing season of my life.

So after much prayer and talking to my husband, I’ve decided to continue on in a free location. You can now follow my pondering and meandering through life at the following address: http://exceptionallyavg.blogspot.com

It’s pretty much the same as before except it now includes a “blogspot” in the middle. I’ve moved the posts from the last year over there already, and I will be tweaking it, making it cuter and more user friendly, and all of that other blogging kind of stuff over the next few days. Please pardon my progress as the new location is definitely in construction mode!

God bless you all for your kind words of encouragement along the way thus far. Another reason I don’t want to stop is the connection with some friends I would have never had otherwise as well as deeper connections with friends I already had.

See you over at the new site!

Peanut Butter Playdough Recipe

Since finding the recipe for peanut butter playdough last year, I’ve whipped up more than one batch. This is a fun, simple, and extra-sweet yet still edible activity that a child of any age would love. I will again be using a post I did on my family blog last year because I’m lazy such a good manager of time I don’t want to recreate what was already created. I found the recipe here.

This activity again met my two main requirements: cheap, easy, and inexpensive plus all of the ingredients were in my cupboards. To make enough for 2-3 kids, you will need:

1 c. peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. honey

I was originally going to halve this recipe, but then I decided I’d go ahead and make a whole batch so we could play with it again. If you’re just making this for one child, halving the recipe will still give you more than enough. While you can refrigerate and use again the next day, it is not as pliable and fun to play with after getting cold.

I heeded the advice of the blogger who originally posted this recipe and mixed this up in my mixer. I dumped in the ingredients then let Dash turn on the mixer and watch it do its thing.

Next it was time for a taste test.

Super rich and a little heavy on the honey flavor, but not bad. I definitely ate more of it than I should have.

Dash had a blast squishing this stuff! It was a really nice texture. 

As long as there are no peanut allergies in your house, this activity is perfect for kids! Oh, who am I kidding? I love the entire process, too. There’s something fun about being able to eat playdough.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Beating the Heat with Goop

I have kind of avoided looking at the forecast for a few days, and when I finally got around to doing it this morning, I was greeted with a whole bunch of triple-digit temps glaring at me. That’s when I know it’s time to pull out some of our trusted projects from the past to make the time inside on these hot afternoons pass more quickly.

On today’s agenda? We’re going to do a science experiment by making goop – that fascinating substance that is both a liquid and a solid at the same time. I’ve adapted this post from one I did last summer on my family blog. After having a couple of “awww…look how much my baby has grown!” moments when I skimmed over what I wrote and took pictures of last year, I decided to just use the same post instead of re-inventing the wheel.

I have two requirements when I come up with our special little projects for days such as today: 1) Something fun, easy, and inexpensive to whip up and 2) something for which I have all of the ingredients on hand.

I remember making goop with some little boys I babysat when I was in college, so I went online and found an easy recipe.

Here’s what you need if you decide to try it yourself.

1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
A mixing bowl
Spoon
A surface you don’t mind getting messy. (This stuff is messy, but it cleans up easily.)

Mix and then get creative with your concoction.
He didn’t believe me when I told him it wouldn’t taste good until he tried it himself.

I never cease to be fascinated by goop. How does it manage to have so many conflicting qualities to it?

I attempted to get a picture of the two of us with our goop-covered hands by setting the timer on my camera. This is the comical result when you throw
in all of the messy factors of playing with goop with a toddler who could care less about posing for a picture and a mom who doesn’t know when the camera is for sure taking the picture.

We will definitely do this again! I was not really looking forward to the clean-up, but it actually came up quickly and without a lot of effort. He even managed to sling some onto the carpet, which I was seriously dreading to clean up, but it came up easily with a damp wash cloth.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Shadows in the Night

Photo Credit

I guess it was my first pregnancy-induced nightmare. I woke up at 4:15 this morning wiping tears from my eyes, willing the tension to ease from my muscles. It was not a dream where anyone was in danger, but it was filled with conflict unlike I’ve personally experienced, and I could not go back to sleep no matter how hard I tried.

I got close around 5:30, but then I heard my son crying out for me with panic in his tone as well. I jumped out of bed and snuggled him in the rocking chair. As I wrapped his favorite blanket around him and sang some of his favorite songs and prayed over him, I could sympathize with the irrational fears he seemed to be working to overcome since I’d just been there an hour before.

He kept pointing to a shadow on the wall, so I carried him over and showed him it was nothing to be afraid of. He mostly believed me, but it was after I turned on the light to reveal that it was nothing abnormal that I felt his body relax completely against mine as he requested we sing another song.

He snuggled back in his bed a few minutes later, and I tip-toed back to mine in hopes that we could both find rest now. I knew by the time staring at me from the clock that my husband’s alarm would go off in just a few minutes and my chances of finding rest were slim at this point, but I tried anyway.

My attempts were futile, and thirty minutes later, I succumbed to the fact that it was in my best interest to just get up for the day. I moved slowly, envisioning a very cranky version of myself in 12 hours. I dwelt in that shadow for several minutes before diving into my Bible study. As I read today’s assignment, I was not moved to peace. In fact, I found myself staring another shadow in the face – one from a past relationship that left me deeply wounded.

Finally, I asked God to shed some light on this issue that was burdening my heart and leaving me feeling more exhausted on an already tiring start to the morning. I felt Him prompt me to talk it out with Him, so I did. I laid it all out as if I were sitting across the table from a friend, and this crazy thing happened after I rambled on for 10 minutes or so.

I felt my body relax. God shined the light on the shadows of my doubt and insecurities, and He helped me see that I really could move on. I could accept that sometimes you just have to look away from shadows of the past and focus on the peace that the light brings.

I’ve been feeling a lot of shadows trying to overtake the parts of my life that should be filled with light lately. Doubt, worry, the past, the future, exhaustion – they’re not welcome in the corners of my heart that Jesus has already paid for. I’m finding peace in that light this morning as my sleepy head continues to process God’s profound way of speaking to me through bad dreams and shadows.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” ~1 John 4:18

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” ~Psalm 119:105

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Discipline

Photo Credit

I’m throwing out a disclaimer here. I’m still processing a bit near the beginning of this post, but I believe I resolve the issue as the post concludes, so hear me out before you think I’ve just given up. I think it’s important for anyone NOT in my head to have an idea of where I’m coming from in order to understand the lesson I’m learning.

I’m kind of at a crossroads in writing. It’s been two months since I was given a non-optional break. One crazy circumstance after another kept coming up when I would determine I would get back on the horse and start making writing a part of my daily life again.

And now here I am, capable of writing, yet not sure that I’m wanting to make this kind of commitment again. Finding the time has always been a challenge, and as I prepare myself mentally for our sweet baby coming in January, I know that it’s only going to become a greater challenge.

It’s been almost a year since I set up my web domain and all of that stuff that left me constantly frustrated, and as I consider the costs of going through all of that again, both financially and mentally, I feel icky and not at all like dealing with any of it.

Then there’s my whole conflicting issue with being a big part of the social media part of blogging. I understand its value, yet I see how it just sucks time that would be much better spent on my family and home. I haven’t missed Twitter one bit in my absence from it, and I’d be just as happy if I canceled the account as if I continued it.

I admitted a couple of weeks ago that I was processing, and while these have only been a small portion of the thoughts I’ve been sifting through and evaluating, they’re there every time I choose to not sit down at the computer to write or blog.

I have chosen different methods to deal with said issues:

1. Ignore them by filling the time with something else. Frankly, a lot of the time has been filled with sleep instead. I am growing a baby, after all, and this calls for earlier bed times, and I choose sleep without any shame. Other times, I choose meaningless Internet surfing or TV watching.

2. Stop avoiding the issue and pray for God’s plans to be made clear.

I’ve fluctuated on these methods, and I am aware that the second answer is the way more spiritual-sounding one that should constantly be my choice. But it hasn’t been every day.

As I found myself coming back to the second option this week, I started to hear some answers.

Following God is not all about feelings.

I have some pretty good excuses for stepping back from writing, and they all feel justified. But He’s called me to follow Him, not my feelings. These extra hormones will undoubtedly lead me astray and cause some serious damage along the way, but my God? He will always make my path straight. Don’t believe me? He said so Himself.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.”
~Proverbs 3:5-6

So I’m doing the one thing I’ve learned from this almost-year-long venture to be a writer. Keep pushing past the feelings and follow God. I have no idea how this path will twist or when it will end, but it’s one thing that I’ve felt God continually push me to do. Yes, breaks are necessary along the way, but every vacation must come to an end, and it’s time for me to choose discipline over the easy road of settling for an “average” life.

The Bible study I’m currently going through brought to light a verse that I so desperately need right now.

“But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;” ~1 Timothy 4:7

So that is what I’m praying. For discipline to pursue God when I’d rather do what makes more logical sense in my head. To work hard when it would be much more enjoyable to sit around.

Thank you so, so much, faithful friends who have hung with me through this unique season of my life. I appreciate the commitment you’ve made to encourage me by reading when you could be doing so many other things as well as not giving up on me when I produced nothing at all for you to read! You are sources of joy in my life!

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

Beating the Heat with Small Children: Bring the City Inside

Let’s be real here. It’s hot. Pretty much everywhere in the USA. My part of the USA also has a lot of humidity, so it feels extra hot!

Let’s be real again. Extreme heat can drive energetic little people crazy because they can’t run off their energy in the usual manner. That’s when it becomes necessary for us moms to get creative and plan activities besides the usual daily ones.

My three year old does a million times better on the days I have something new for him to try than on the days we just suffer through the hours inside together. So I’m going to share a few things that have been fun for us in hopes that another mom of an energetic little one will be inspired to find ways to more than just “survive” these brutally hot conditions with their squirming youngsters.

I didn’t come up with all of these ideas on my own. You may have seen a few of them floating around on Pinterest, and some of them came from friends of mine who are just amazingly creative.

Last week’s big success occurred when I transformed our dining/living area into a city for my son’s cars and trains. Here are the supplies you need:

  • Painter’s tape or masking tape
  • Old boxes for buildings
  • Optional – Street signs (Dash just received the Stop sign & RxR sign for his birthday last month, but if you don’t have these, you could easily make them by taping the design onto the floor or using some old cardboard or card stock to draw them.)

To say he was elated when he first ran in the room was an understatement. Every picture I took of Dash playing is blurry because he was constantly driving his trucks and trains to their proper locations.

I was hoping for an hour’s worth of entertainment, but he played with his streets and railroad tracks pretty much the entire day. I even left the tape on the floor for a couple of days, and he still excitedly “drove around town” each day.

You can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. I’ve done more simple railroad tracks with tape in the past, and he always enjoys them as well, but this day called for something more elaborate. I gladly gave up the normal state of my living area for a couple of days of extra happiness for my little guy.

For you moms of girls out there, you could use this same concept to “build a house” for your daughter to play in. Just frame out the house and the rooms and let her be the queen of her little roost for a day.

I’ll share some more ideas next week. In the mean time, I would greatly appreciate any ideas that you have tried with your kiddos as well that have been successes. We moms are all in this battle against the hot weather together, and the more ideas, no matter how simple they seem, the better. I personally prefer the simple ideas that I have supplies for already and can throw together in a few minutes. I kind of get stuck sometimes trying to come up with new ways to use what resources we already have on hand to make days that could be miserable fun instead.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.