Thursday, March 31, 2011


I actually found time - and clear space - last week to do a little crafting and creating! It was great - very satisfying and nurturing. I really need to carve out more time for creating in my week.

I have a journal of prayer priorities for the year. I complete it every year around the start of school. But the journal is big and hard to carry around, so I end up putting a lot of time in the creation of my prayer list, but less time actually praying for the things I want to pray about. So I decided to make these prayer cards. They cover the simplest, most basic things I want to pray about, and the people I am most often praying for. The cards are simple and portable and should be useful year after year.

While I was crafting, I opened up my new space monkey kit to look at all the new treasures. My son had just transferred his iPod shuffle to a new box that would better hold his headphones and such. But the little box it came in was too cute to throw out. So I modge-podged it into a cute little treasure box my son can put on his dresser.

I forget how content I feel when I am creating something.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More scrapbook inspiration

How cute is this? 

A week ago I stopped by the scrapbook store, intending to buy some paper for my "scrapbook squares" pages. But I left the folder at home that told me what colors I needs, so I wandered around the store instead.

There was an entire display dedicated to this new line

I fell in love. I would walk away and be immediately drawn back. I couldn't decide which papers I liked best. These might actually prompt me to MAKE something!

Of course, I had to pick this up as well. Definitely have a few things we can put with pages like these!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Scrapbook Squares

I used to scrapbook obsessively (If you've been reading along the last week or so, this will not surprise you!). Then I learned that every photo, every moment does not require a two-page spread.

This was a great relief to me. The downside to that revelation, though, is that I felt so relieved that I just stopped scrapbooking all together. I still bought the supplies that "spoke" to me ("Oh, that paper would work well with our basket ball pictures") and I printed the pictures. But they have just been piling up for "some day."

"Some day" has still not arrived. But I have started making these pages for the time being.

The more I look at these, the more I like them. Simple. Shows change over time, or the faces of a family. No stories, which is an important piece, but it is a start. Interesting how much you can capture in a square inch.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who Do I Trust?

We're trying to improve our health and our diet. Unfortunately, that seems easier said than done.

So much of the information I find in books and online conflicts with other books and materials online. Who is a busy mom to believe?

The US government has materials here and here. But what influence do lobbying groups have on those recommendations?

We try to incorporate more fruits and veggies, but where do organics fit in? Where are nearby Farmer's Markets to get fresh, local produce?

I've found two sources I like so far for information. Their accurracy and helpfulness remain to be seen but they seem reliable and well supported. They are Nutrition Diva and Kitchen Stewardship. Check them out - what do you think? Do you have other sources you trust?

I think my biggest discovery so far is that I can change just one thing right now and then I can change something else in a couple weeks or a month. I don't have to change everything today - if I try, I will make myself crazy. So, for now, we are adding more vegetables and fruits. We'll see what will come next.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I chose to give up personal book buying for Lent.

Sound crazy? It's not.

What's crazy is the fact that I usually have 20 to 40 books checked out from the library at any one time (non-fiction for research, children's books for club and blogging, adult fiction for fun and blogging).

What's crazy is the fact that I have about 20 books on my e-reader (many were free) that I haven't read yet.

What's crazy is that I have a five-shelf book case full of my TBR books (to be read).

What's crazy is my advance reader copies (from publishers for review) form another book pile in my bedroom.

Hello, my name is Jaymie and I am a book-a-holic.

I've noticed lately - well, for awhile - a compulsion. I accumulate things, books being one of them. It's pretty bad. I'll start reading a non-fiction book from the library, then really like it so I decide to buy it. Then I put it on a shelf rather than finish it because the urgency of the library return date is gone. That book isn't going anywhere. I'll finish it later. Later doesn't come. There are too many books coming out all the time - too many new stories or new pieces of information waiting to be discovered!

This is a pattern I see in other places, too. It bothers me. So, I decided to let the discipline of Lent help me curb a bad habit. I am hopeful that this time will give me some insight into WHY I do this.

So far, I am coping all right. I've visited several book stores (they are my happy place) and limited myself to magazines. I take pictures with my cell phone of books I'd like to read later and make a list for some future trip to the library. I recognize that book stores inspire me. They are places filled with hope and potential - stories to enjoy and share, lessons and skills to learn. I wouldn't want to give up book stores themselves, but I'll set aside the accumulating while I seek reasons for the compulsion behind it.

What did you give up for Lent? Or did you add a new practice? How is that going?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

15 minutes = eternity

Fifteen minutes. An episode of Phineas and Ferb. A run out to pick up pizza. A reasonable wait at the doctor's office. I never thought of fifteen minutes as a big deal until Lent started this year.

A friend challenged people to add something God-honoring to their lives this year, rather than (or in addition to) giving something up. She said, "I invite you to take 15 minutes each of the next 40 days of Lent and find a quiet space, turn off your phone and other electronics, and sit in silence with God."

The 15 minutes part is fine.
The quiet space without distractions works, too.
It's the "sit in silence" part that is causing some distress.

My brain is never silent. In my attempts over the last week or so, I have had to shush
  • songs (I watched Les Mis recently and the songs won't leave me be)
  • blog ideas (I try to just jot them down to get them out of my head)
  • whole blog posts
  • lists of things I keep forgetting to do
  • clock watching
  • wondering how other people are managing with this "silence."
  • wondering just how weird my brain is because this is so hard
  • more clock watching
  • conversations I've had or need to have
  • lessons for writing club
  • even more clock watching
  • the schedule for the rest of the day or week

My mind refuses to be still. I've tried writing scripture verses to give me something to focus on, but my brain still wanders off. I am hopeful that this discipline will pay some sort of dividend by Easter. For now, I feel great relief when the 15 minutes are finally done and my brain can rev at full speed without guilt!

Speaking of Lent, my church has been posting Lenten meditations for the season. If you check today, you can see my post for Friday the 18th.

Friday, March 18, 2011


My church is posting Lenten meditations on their website, one week at a time. My meditation is listed for today. Would love you to check it out and let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mixed Feelings

I live in the Midwest, and for weeks now we have been hearing about public servants leaving their state in order to slow down the legislative process because of bills the majority party is pushing through.

When I first started hearing the news, I thought the commentary from my facebook friends was interesting. Those with a conservative perspective rumbled right away - "Do your jobs!" "Get back to work." "I'm tired of snow and Democrats." Behind those statements was the fear and/or frustration that the projects they supported would not get approved. Completely understandable.

I guess my less-conservative friends aren't so vocal. I didn't hear as much commentary in support of those who walked out, despite the number of teachers in my social-media circle. But in those early days, I supported those legislators, at least in principle. I believe they were doing what they were hired to do. They represented certain interests in their states and they did that they only way they could in a Republican controlled environment. They left.

I know - few other people can just walk out on their jobs because they don't like the way things are going. But they did get people talking - they did represent their constituents - they did raise awareness.

But I think that moment has passed - awhile ago. The point was made, the attention was garnered. It's time to move on. My support for their principles has been replaced by annoyance. The other side is digging in their heels. They refuse to let the business of the state be held hostage. It's time to get back to work, accept the things you cannot change, and move forward on the things you can.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A few weeks ago I posted about trying out some new learning opportunities. I took the plunge and signed up for the Personal Essays class I mentioned and it started last week. 

My first set of class materials showed up on Wednesday. I had been checking my email all day waiting for it, so eager to get started. I read through things, read about my classmates. It was all good. 

Thursday I started on my homework. The discussion questions were simple enough. But then I had to start two essays. Seemed like no big deal... But it was. I didn't know what to write about, couldn't get anything started that I liked. It was a miserable feeling - the start of panic.

Friday I went to one of my favorite writing spots, spent some time just relaxing, getting some other thoughts on paper and then BOOM - I had intro paragraphs for 4 potential essays. Ahhh. I could feel the panic ebb away.

We were out of town for the weekend, so Monday night was my first chance to go back through those fabulous introductions and narrow them down to two for my homework due tonight.

After a few days, they are not so fabulous. I'm afraid they are too-much "navel gazing" and not enough universality. A good essay is one people can connect with, even if they haven't had the exact same experience. The panic is back, and rising. 

Writing is getting harder. I wonder if I am trying too hard - or not hard enough.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I am trying to decide if I believe in signs.

I am a planner by nature. I am usually thinking 6 steps ahead of the one I am on. I am afraid of missing something because I wasn't paying attention or planning ahead. I am in a job that is paid by a grant that will come to an end some time this year. I am already thinking about what might happen next and how to make a wise transition for myself and my family whenever that happens. A week ago, I was contemplating my options and whether I should start making plans now. Yeah, in March. As I said, I like to think ahead.

Then another option seemed to present itself and I thought, "Wow, I'm glad I didn't get ahead of myself. This other opportunity could be a great fit." Then, that opportunity was whisked away. Is that a sign? Does that mean I should move forward on a plan now? Does it mean I should wait because another opportunity could arise?

After pondering "signs" for awhile, I think you can only know in retrospect if something was a sign. I think it is prudent to wait, still thinking ahead but not acting, seeking wisdom but not being hasty. I will keep one eye peeled for "signs" or opportunities, but keep the other on the step I am on, on the here and now.

What do you think? Do you believe in signs?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

BONUS BLOG: Perfect Timing

Just as I was planning my blog entry about Proverbs 31 Ministries, I discovered they are hosting a "contest" of sorts.

Proverbs 31 hosts a conference in July called She Speaks. There are conference tracks for public speaking, writing, and leadership. The folks at Proverbs 31 are offering two scholarships for the conference. You can go here for more information about the scholarships.

When I saw the scholarship announcement, I thought it was too good to be true. In my research on the ministry, I had looked at the She Speaks site and read about the sessions offered. I'm not sure which track sounds more interesting to me. The Storytelling pre-conference workshop sounds awesome! Some of the writing conferences are similar to other classes that I have taken, so I thought I might try some speaking sessions if I would be lucky enough to attend. I am getting to know the names of some of the devotional writers for Proverbs 31. The idea of meeting some of them would be exciting, too.

But I knew we couldn't afford it. I work under a grant that will end some time this year. We have household expenses, school tuition and other obligations waiting for some attention. So, I closed my browser with a sigh and focused instead on all the things I can gain from the site and the ministry staff from home (It's No Secret Bible Study, Made to Crave daily posts, daily devotions, etc.)

But now I have a chance to go - and you can, too! If you have a blog , and you can work quickly, you can apply for the scholarship (yes, I know that means you'll be "competing" with me to go, but there are going to be SCADS of people applying. I trust that the right folks will be chosen. So, take a chance with me!). Actually, if you don't have a blog, they have an option for you, too. Go here for details - but hurry! The deadline is tomorrow, Friday March 11th.

Good luck!

Proverbs 31

I have recently become interested in a group called Proverbs 31 Ministries. A friend posted one of their daily devotions on Facebook and I was hooked. I now get their devotions emailed to me every day. I have checked out the blogs of many of their staff. I have looked at their writing and speaking resources and ministries. I have signed up for an online Bible study.

If you are looking for resources to go deeper in your faith or for encouragement, check out Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Narrow but Deep

I recently described my husband's interests as "narrow but deep." He loves the NFL. That's really the only "hobby" he enjoys. He listens to football podcasts, faithfully visits ProFootballTalk, watches NFL network (thus our ridiculously high cable bill every month), reads fantasy football magazines, watches the combine and draft, and tweets about football.

My interests, on the other hand, are broad. I often can't decide if I want to read a book, cross stitch, blog, read my Nook, read other blogs, make cards, mess with photographs, write, do logic puzzles, or read a magazine (usually about books or writing or cross stitch or other crafts). In some ways, I love having so many interests. I can take time off from one thing in order to enjoy something else. I am rarely "bored." In fact, sometimes I feel like I have too many choices and I can't decide what I want to do with my finite about of free time.

What about you? What are your interests, passions or hobbies? Are your interests broad, like mine, or narrow and deep like my husband's?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Personal Mission Statement

I have posted before about my quest for a personal mission statement. It started when I said yes to something I didn't completely understand and found myself trapped by a commitment I shouldn't have made.

I have read Michael Hyatt's blog entry about a Life Plan. I have read Laurie Beth Jones' book called  The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life and used some of the tools on her website. I was still struggling with a mission statement that worked. I knew it had to reflect who I am today, but also leave room for the future. It had to work in general terms where the specifics could flow with the different seasons of life. I was set on verbs like "create," "inspire," and "nurture" but I couldn't get anything else to work. So I set it aside.

This winter I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my writing students this spring. My project idea for last fall did not go over well with my students and I was feeling like I did when I was trapped in the commitment I mentioned above - floundering with the best of intentions but poor execution.

So I took a few days and crafted a mission statement for Writing Club: The purpose of Creative Writing Club at [School] is to encourage self-expression and foster a love of stories and story-telling. I'm not running an English class - they have regular teachers for that. I want a place where students can write what is in their hearts and minds, regardless of form. It also works with the books I try to share with students as examples (and to introduce them to new material they might like).

Wow. It felt great! I felt like I could use that as the core for my future planning and promotion - as well a starting point for myself.

And now I have a personal mission statement - well, at least a draft. I'm about 85% sure this is a good reflection of who God has created me to be. Here it is:

I am called and equipped to 
  • inspire others to self-discovery
  • encourage in others self-expression
  • foster in others a love of stories and story-telling.

I'd love to know what you think, or hear about your own efforts toward building a personal mission statement!