Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Seven Things I Learned in March

I love this time of the year! March was full of basketball and transition from winter to spring, mostly. Dirt has been tracked in the house because the kids have been spending more time outside. That also means more showers are required! The days are longer, which I love for the evenings. Although we've all struggled to get up in the dark mornings since the time change at the beginning of the month.

Without further ado, here are some snapshots of my month, at least the parts that didn't involve watching basketball ... 

1. NEEDTOBREATHE is releasing a live album from the show I was at in September 2014! It was such a fun night and I'm so excited to have it to listen to over and over again. You'll want it too!

2. Third Day worship music is my favorite. I love the new stuff.

3. I'm not a fan of mopey, rebellious Rory Gilmore. Like the one at the beginning of season six. Thankfully, I'm past that now.

4. In the middle of wintry temps, just before a snow storm, a 65-degree day is possible. Like a reminder that spring is coming. We involved ice cream. In Murray, we have an old-fashioned, walk-up Dairy Queen that really does make ice cream taste better.

Then later in the month, I had the air conditioning on one day and the heat on the next. We've worn flip flops and down vests in one week. Ah, Kentucky weather ... 

5. Pizza quesadillas are delicious. "Dashing Dish" inspired me. You'll just need tortillas, pizza sauce, cheese, and any other toppings. So far we've used bacon and pepperoni, but the possibilities are endless.

6. We (almost) sold our lake house. I don't like that circumstances beyond our control dictated that we needed to, but I'm glad we have the sale under contract and we can move on. Maybe to another place on the lake one day. I still manage another vacation rental property at Kentucky Lake that someone else owns.

7. Choosing joy is always good for my soul. Yeah, not new, I know. But here we are, three months into the new year, and God is still using my counting joys for the good.

167. Ben working on learning to ride his bike. 168. America Adopts Daniel party and celebrating with friends. 169. Jaclyn's birthday lunch & trivia night in the same day - more celebrations! 170. Long lunch at Tumbleweed between church & business meeting while UK wins 34th game. ... 173. Being able to help Sarah with kids while Susannah was born. ... 175. Getting hair colored, highlighted, and cut. 176. Walking outside, finally. ... 181. Purging/organizing kids' clothes. 182. Cate and Ben playing with neighbor kids. 183. Ben meeting Murray State's Cam Payne.

How was your March? Learn anything fun or interesting?

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky. Read previous Things I Learned posts: {From 2013} June. July. August. September. October. November. {From 2014} January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August. September. October. November. December. {From 2015} January. February.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox.

Amazon affiliate links included. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter is for Dreamers

I know the Easter story. I try to comprehend the significance of Jesus' resurrection. But I've never thought about how Matthew 28:1-10 also has much to say about dreaming.

Two Marys were at the tomb, but they weren't there expecting a miracle. They went there because of obligation and tradition. Somebody needed to put oils on the deceased's body to prepare it for burial.

But God surprised them. A stone was moved not because Jesus needed it to exit the tomb but so these women could see inside. They witnessed the miracle.

"The women left the tomb quickly. They were afraid, but they were also very happy. They ran to tell Jesus’ followers what had happened" (Matt. 28:8). Of course, dreaming is scary, but it's also joy-filled beyond our imagination. And that makes us want to proclaim the good news – The Good News, especially – to others.

Jesus told the women they didn't need to be afraid. And he told them to go. "Then Jesus said to them, 'Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my followers to go on to Galilee, and they will see me there'" (Matt. 28:10).

Sometimes when we dream action is required. {Tweet that.}

Making the phone call. Sending the letter. Accepting the job. Booking the trip. Serving in another country or on your street. All of that can be scary, but God may have a surprise waiting when you least expect it.

Join me at God-sized Dreams today to read more about why Easter is for dreamers.

I'm linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering, where encouragement happens. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Dwell on God

I think about food often. Lately, I’ve been thinking about food in a different way.

I realize I need to make some better eating habits. As I’ve been reading and researching, talking to friends, and thinking about this, I realized I do a decent job with dinner plans, but breakfast and lunch get me because I am not intentional about what I’m going to eat those times of the day.

I’ve been reminded I eat too much sugar and don’t drink enough water. And I choose food according to my mood.

Sure, I can – and will – make new choices in this area of my life, but I have to remember my eating habits will never be perfect. And they don’t have to be for me to dive in and try. I have to start somewhere.

Even so, as I consider what’s best for me, I want to dwell on God more than I dwell on food.

I’m a perfectionist my nature, but God is teaching me {yes, still …} about how life doesn’t have to be about holding on too tightly and wanting to control every detail around me. Yes, this person and that person contributed to my perfection. Yes, certain seasons make me hold on tighter.

But I want to see beyond the past. Everyone who has influenced me in a good and bad ways are imperfect and typically doing the best they can.

“Perfect love can be hard to understand and embrace because we don’t experience it from each other this side of heaven. Even those closest to us can hurt us or let us down sometimes. When we understand the different ways God perfectly love us like no human can, our hearts can finally be healed and free.”

I’ve gotten myself in a rut by dwelling on what he didn’t do or what she did. I want to dwell on God. {Tweet that.}

I need my planner near me so I don’t forget things. I write down appointments and meetings. I jot down birthdays and friends’ surgeries. I make notes to myself about who I need to call and what I need to buy.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But when I look at the calendar and waste too much energy thinking about a day three weeks away, I’m just borrowing trouble.

Sure, plans are fine. They’re even good because they help me be intentional with people I love. But I can’t let what’s not even happened – and may not happen – change my mood today.

Sometimes I dwell on future plans so much I miss the present. I want to dwell on what God has for me right now and know he’s going to be with me tomorrow too. {Tweet that.}

Spring is here. The weather invites me outside. The sunshine warms my soul. In some ways, winter seemed long, but spring makes me forget about that.

I’m in a season of spring with God too. I see him taking my ordinary life – my marriage, motherhood, meal plans, my calendar – and doing a new thing through it. I don’t want to miss it. I want to be part of this new season for my soul. I want to dwell on God.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Whatever Wanda :: A Review & Giveaway

I’ve been known to tell my kids they need to adjust their attitudes. And I’ve heard God tell me the same thing about my own grumpiness. In the pages of a children’s book, my daughter and I found encouragement to adjust our attitudes.

Wanda doesn’t want to go with her family to the Rubber Duck Days festival and brings her grumpy attitude with her! I know I’ve been much like Whatever Wanda and I’ve seen my kids to do the same.

But Wanda learns a valuable lesson: “Sometimes you have to believe something will be great before it actually is. Being positive is a choice that makes everything better, not to mention, a whole lot more fun!” And it’s one God been teaching around here too!

My 7-year-old daughter, Cate, even said that lesson is why she loves the book :: Before she learns that lesson, to everything about the Rubber Duck Days festival she says, “Whatever.” Waddles asks her, “Do you want to join your friends?” Wanda says, “I didn’t play. I didn’t think it was fun.” Then Waddles says the lesson: She should change her attitude. I hope this lesson will come in handy. That’s why I like “Whatever Wanda.”

And that’s why this momma likes “Whatever Wanda” too. It’s a lesson my girl and I both need.

This is the third in Christy Ziglar’s Shine Bright Kids series. And we’ve loved all of them. In fact, when “Whatever Wanda!” came in the mail recently, my 7-year-old daughter gathered the other two and read them together, pointing out to her 5-year-old brother how Wanda, Marvin, and Willow all make appearances in each other’s stories.

{Read our previous reviews :: “Can’t-Wait Willow” and “Must-Have Marvin.”}

ABOUT THE BOOK :: “Whatever Wanda!” is a 32-page, hardback picture book. Officially, it’s recommend for kids 4-8 years old. This book is part of the Shine Bright Kids series, which provides children and their families with the tools to teach the importance of making good choices. The series explores such topics as using good judgment, taking responsibility, having a positive attitude, and demonstrating perseverance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Christy Ziglar is a financial planner, mother of twins, and the niece of legendary motivator and optimist Zig Ziglar. She and her family live in Atlanta, Georgia.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR  :: Paige Billin-Frye lives with her husband in Washington, D.C., where she gardens and grows food in her city yard. She has illustrated numerous children’s books and works in a studio over a neighborhood hardware store. Coincidentally, Paige has amassed a collection of rubber duckies of all sizes across the years.

GIVEAWAY :: One of you will win a copy of “Whatever Wanda!” by using the Rafflecopter widget below. This is for U.S. and Canadian residents only. A winner will be randomly selected on Monday, March 30.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks to FlyBy Promotions/Propeller Consulting LLC for both the copy of "Whatever Wanda!" my family got to review and the copy one of you will win. The opinions here are my own. If you have won a prize from FlyBy/Propeller in the last 30 days or have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Blessing of the Bus

Unlike my own childhood that involved riding a bus to public school, my kids attend a small, classical, Christian school. Since August 2012, I’ve been shuttling kids – and the ones in our various carpools – to and from school. It’s 12 miles from my house to school plus a few extra miles for carpool duties, so round trip ends up taking me about 45 minutes.

Last year and this year, the carpool has also involved preschool pickups on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. So that’s a morning drop off, mid-day pickup, and afternoon pickup. I’m grateful I’ve been able to share all the back-and-forth with my sister-in-law, Angela, whose kids also attend New Covenant Christian Academy.

I consider transporting my kids to a school that is ideal for our family to be part of my momma responsibilities. I haven’t complained about the commute – and all the round trips – because I want Ben and Cate to be educated in a way that incorporates God into all the subjects as the foundation of all truth and knowledge.

Even so, when I heard the rumblings of a bus service getting started, I rejoiced. Another sweet surprise was hearing the bus service would officially start at the beginning of March.

I’ve talked {here} my in-laws being in vehicle businesses. Well, specifically, my mother-in-law is in the bus business. She contracts with the federal government to transport children on multiple military bases to their schools. And my brother-in-law, Charles, who is married to Angela, happens to work for her.

They wanted this bus service to be a labor of love to our small school community. I knew the bus service would be a good thing, but I had no idea how much it would bless me.

One recent morning, I realized I had started laundry, swept the kitchen floor, and unloaded and loaded the dishwasher before 8 a.m. In other words, I had finished most the chores I intended to accomplish that day before I would have been back from dropping off the kids at school.

The bus service gives me 45 more minutes in the morning and almost that in the afternoons. Now with the carpool that existed before the bus service, I didn’t do every afternoon pick up, but I did drive four of the five weekday mornings.

And, of course, my kids love riding the bus with some of their school friends.

An entrepreneur to the core, Greg has often told me, “Your time is worth something.” And by “your” he sometimes means his and sometimes he’s referring to mine. Either way – the philosophy of time being valuable is true.

And value doesn’t always mean money.

Sometimes value comes as the opportunity to have more time. {Tweet that.}

That’s been the blessing of the bus.

And the cherry on the top? Some mornings, Greg takes our kids – or kid, if it’s Tuesday or Thursday, when preschool isn’t in session – to the bus. That means some days recently I haven’t had to leave my house at a certain time. What a blessing!

How have you been blessed by someone else lately? Have you found extra time in your days?

I'm linking this post with Jessica Turner's Fringe Friday because the blessing of the bus has created more fringe hours in my day. Some times that means more time to work around the house, but other days that means meeting a friend for breakfast or doing something else to care for my soul. {Read more about #FringeHours here or get "The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You."}

I'm also linking with (in)courage's #FringeHours post

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I wanted to marry a mechanic

Long ago, I wanted to marry a guy who could change my vehicle’s oil in the driveway and deal with car problems. This was when I drove a 1987 Ford Mustang that overheated more than once. It’s when I wanted someone else to keep up with when the oil needed to be changed and tires rotated.

Really, it’s just such a weak area of mine that I wanted someone to come alongside me.

Turns out, my husband of 12 years doesn’t know much about vehicles either. I sold the Mustang when I was still in college, but brought the subsequent 1996 Geo Prism into our marriage. I loved that little car, but years later replaced it with a Oldsmobile Alero from a more recent decade. I’ve loved minivans ever since.

The auto problems haven’t stopped, but, really, do they ever? Yet I married into a family that is willing to help. I’ve managed to get the oil changed at the proper time and usually tend to other maintenance issues as required. I have multiple in-laws who are car dealers and have service departments readily available. I’ve borrowed vehicles to drive when I needed to and bought more than one minivan from people who share my last name.

And guess what? My husband has come alongside me in so many things that actually matter. Many of those things don’t have anything to do with transportation or vehicle maintenance, although I do assume he’ll drive every time we get in the minivan together.

He’s given me so much grace as I’ve spent years working through perfectionism that was so tied up in my childhood. He’s loved me when I’ve been hard to love. He’s supported my dreams and let me in his. He’s shown me what healthy, Biblical leadership looks like in a home as we raise our two kids together and manage to take some risks along the way.

In more than a dozen years or marriage, he’s shown up alongside me again and again.

Good thing I let go of wanting to marry a mechanic. Turns out vehicle issues weren’t my only weaknesses that have been made stronger with companionship.

Tell me about your first car and what trait was/is at the top of your list. Share in the comments below or join the discussion on Facebook

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Celebrating In Community

I talk about plans and community around here quite a bit, so I thought today I’d let you share in one of our latest celebrations.

Our girls were babies when we became friends. We can’t remember exactly, but Cate wasn’t walking, so she wasn’t much more than a year, if that. Surely we aren’t the only parents who keep time by their kids’ milestones. 

Since then the Gachokas have been part of one of small groups from church that has since dissolved for reasons that had nothing to do with friendship, sat around the table with us for Thanksgiving dinner and many other meals, and more recently piled into our minivan for road trips to Racer games. Daniel and Greg have gone hunting together and coach our girls’ soccer team together.

When Daniel told us he was studying to take the U.S. citizenship test, I knew this would be an occasion worth celebrating. I mentioned a party and Daniel quipped, “Like the adoption party you had for your kids.”

Hence, the America Adopts Daniel Party!

I’m not sure I can express how much fun I had planning this one. Starting with the invitations …

… and continuing with the menu, playlist, and game.

Not everyone who had planned to come was actually able to, so we had lots of leftovers. We ate burgers, pasta salad, and homemade mac and cheese the next day. We had hot dogs for another meal.

But the leftovers were more than food. The leftover laughter and friendship also filled my camera roll and will be part of our stories.

The dishes piled high and the crumbs covered many floors and counters, but I didn’t mind because the night was fun. This party was a plan that I’m glad happened. This party celebrated one guy’s milestone, but it encompassed a shared history and friendships that are built over time. And that's the beauty of community.

I'm linking this up with Jessica Turner's Fringe Friday because planning parties is one thing I love to do with my time. Celebrating in community helps care for my soul. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five Minute Friday :: Plan

I'm joining the Five Minute Friday crew that all writes on the same word prompt. This week :: PLAN. Five minutes. Just write. And then link up at Kate Motaung's place. Come join us.

I like making plans. Yes, I know God sometimes has another – better! – plan. But I make plans because quality time is my love language. (Okay, ONE of my love languages …)

Lately we’ve had a lot of weekend plans. We hosted my mother-in-law’s birthday party. We went to Nashville for the Ohio Valley Conference tournaments. (Our favorite Murray State #RacersDeserveABid. But that’s another story.)

This weekend we’re celebrating our friend Daniel’s citizenship with an America Adopt Daniel party. And tomorrow is my best friend’s birthday so there’s a girl’s lunch and our chance to defend our trivia title.

We’ve had meetings about our upcoming Guatemala mission trip. I have a couple opportunities to share our adoption story on the calendar. And I have plans to visit my sister and her family in June, not long after she visits us.

Sure, some of these plans may change and they all certainly won’t go as planned. (I mean, really, my Racers didn’t win and are waiting to see if they can get an at-large bid which is unheard of in this mid-major league.)

But when we invite people over and plan celebrations, we are saying, “I love you. I want to do life with you.” {Tweet that.}

And I think those invitations – those plans – make God proud that we’re living beyond ourselves and learning to trust him with the journey. Now, I need to go prep some food for tonight.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: Keep On Singing

You know that song “10,000 Reasons”? I love it, but one part gets me every time:

“Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
let me be singing when the evening comes.”

That line gets me because most evenings I’m not singing. Really, most evenings I’m done trying to hold myself together. And plenty of evenings I’ve already crumbled.

When the evening comes, I’ve refereed sibling arguments while cooking dinner. I’ve been disappointed by people I love dearly. I’ve answered the same questions multiple times. I’ve been frustrated with those hard-to-love people in my life. I’ve been challenged and encouraged and failed in a matter of minutes.

But whatever may pass, whatever lies before me, God wants me to be singing. {Tweet that.}

I’m not patient, naturally. But I know that’s what God is working on in my life. He wants me to see people as he sees them. He wants me to remember my kids are watching me. He wants me to know him more so I can be more like him.

“You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find …”

My husband and I had a hard conversation this weekend. It was one of those that started with one frustration I was having and overflowed into other related struggles. The conversation ended with him encouraging me to have a different perspective.

Y’all, adjusting my perspective is hard. And, really, I was at a loss of how to even begin. And then just two nights later during our small group, a wise friend said, “When we change what we think, we can change how we act.”

God answered the question I’d been holding onto. He reminded me he’s working here – beginning in my soul and overflowing into my home and my relationships.

The following night – three nights from when Greg and I stayed up too late discussing some hard parts of life – my daughter wandered out of bed a couple hours after we had tucked her in. “Is Jesus coming back tomorrow?” she asked us sincerely.

The three of us talked about how the Bible tells us we don’t know when Jesus is coming back but he is one day. We talked about how God tells us not to worry about tomorrow because he’s already there.

“He knows my whole life, doesn’t he?” Cate asked.

“Yes, and we’re so glad he knew you would be our daughter,” Greg told her.

We talked some about salvation and baptism and what being a Christian looks like. We talked about how we can’t do anything other than believe to become a Christian, but that when we do decide to follow Jesus there is a responsibility to love and serve others.

When Cate walked back upstairs, I could tell she was more at peace than when she came down 10 minutes earlier. Greg and I were reminded that despite our imperfections, God is working here in our family.

That hard conversation with my husband. The unsolicited advice from my friend. The unexpected conversation with my daughter. Those are reasons to keep on singing.

I add them to my #choosingJOY list on my phone and glance at others :: 148. Listening to music with Greg while driving home with the kids sleeping. 149. Kids’ excitement over passports. 150. Sky High Sports. 151. Songs and sermons that convict and encourage at the same time. 152. Doughnuts. 153. All four of us falling back asleep in our bed on Sunday morning. 154. Seeing God bring people and visions together.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name”

I'm also linking up with Lyli Dunbar's Thought-Provoking Thursday

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, March 9, 2015


Look at the starters' cheering for the walk-on teammate. Yep. THAT is why I love this team. // Photo by Tab Brockman.

I didn’t expect to love this basketball team like I do.

Sure, I’m a Racers fan. We go to nearly every home game and some away games. My second-grade girl likes that her school colors are the same navy and gold that represent Murray State University. I think she’ll forever remember Donte Poole was #11. My kids learned how to spell R-A-C-E-R-S before a lot of other words. {And, really, my kids just make cute fans. See? Heres Ben. And Cate. And with Dunker.}

Yes, we’re just talking about sports here. But we like to go to the games together. Greg and I like to support our alma mater this way. I’ve learned a university has a different presence in a small town.

In 2011-12, my two favorite basketball teams had incredible seasons. I’ve been a University of Kentucky fan my whole life. I was born and raised to cheer for the Wildcats. But in 2011-12, I realized investing time to watching a small-town team is different than following a big-name team on TV. {Read more about that here and here and here.}

And, again this year, on the same day Kentucky finished the regular season 31-0, I was mourning the Racers first loss in 26 games. Yes, what Kentucky did was AH-MAZING. Yes, I’m cheering for the Wildcats to win the whole NCAA Tournament.

BUT I wanted my Racers to beat Belmont. I wanted my Racers to get the automatic bid to The Big Dance from our one-bid, mid-major conference. Only one time has the Ohio Valley Conference had two teams in the NCAA Tournament – and that year the conference commissioner was on the selection committee and moving on to the mightier Big Ten.

The Racers had 25 straight wins this season – the nation’s second-longest win streak behind perfect Kentucky – and an undefeated conference season. (It’s only the fifth time ever an OVC team has had a perfect conference regular season.) They were ranked #25 in the AP poll and #24 in the coaches’ poll the week before the OVC Tournament. Scouts come to watch Cam Payne, the sophomore star guard, more than once.

Of course, I’m still hoping “Murray State” shows up on CBS’ Selection Sunday bracket. I love the stories of sports – and this is a good story. There’s a #RacersDeserveABid social media campaign happening because people love this team. {Tweet that.}

We love Coach Prohm and how he leads this team. Yes, he teaches them basketball strategies, but he also teaches them about being men who lead their families and communities well. This is a team that prays together and the players talk about faith in their post-game interviews and on Twitter. {And speaking of Twitter, be sure to read Justin Seymour’s defense of why #RacersDeserveABid.} These guys smile when they play – even in close games. This is a team that cheers for each other in a way I’ve never witnessed.

We sit in the second row across the court from the Murray State bench at all the home games. And sometimes I watch the guys not playing more than the ones who are dribbling and shooting.

I remember when Payne was on the bench and someone else hit a big shot. He was the first one up on his feet cheering for his teammate. The walk-on player who doesn’t see any action until the Racers have a more-than-comfortable lead cheers when the scholarship players make shots and dunks and steals and defensive stands. And when that walk-on player hit a 3 earlier this season? The bench went nuts. {See the picture at the beginning of this post? Yeah, that moment epitomizes this team.}

So, yes, I think this team deserves a NCAA Tournament bid. Yes, I realize sometimes we don’t always get what we want out of life. Sometimes other people get lucky – you know, like banked in 3-pointers. Sometimes the story doesn’t go like we expect. But I do like stories where the good guys overcome adversity – which these guys did, if you remember that Thanksgiving tournament in Nashville – and end up winning.

Winning the game is awesome. But winning in life is even better. Let’s give these guys a chance to write more of this story.

But if Murray State doesn’t get invited to the big dance, the story isn’t over. I would take a home NIT game. We learned last year these “other” tournaments can be fun too.

And, hey, go Racers! We love you regardless of how this chapter ends.

Here are some other Racer-related stories this week I've loved. And they're written by actual sports writers ... 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

You've Loved No Matter What

Holley Gerth shared about the message of her new book about a year ago as I sat at a table with her some other God-sized dreamers. I remember nodding in agreement that this message needed to be shared. I knew then and still know that laying down perfection at the cross is a necessary message because it’s one my soul needs.

As I invited other women to join me for an online book study of “You’re Loved No Matter What,” I realized I wasn’t alone in needing this message. Starting March 16, we’ll discuss a chapter a week. I’m excited to see what God does among this group.

Like her previous books, Holley writes as if she’s sitting at the table with you. She’s kind and welcoming while she speaks truth into women’s lives. She recognizes the hard stuff and encourages us to keep going.

The subtitle of this book – “Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect” – captures the essence of what I’ve been longing to learn. For a long time, God has been trying to show me there is a better way than perfectionism and impossible expectations. Learning this is a process, but I’m finally seeing some light. And I’m grateful for Holley’s words to encourage me to trade guilt for grace.

I want to embrace the challenge that Holley issued in the book’s introduction:

“For now it’s time to lay down those unrealistic expectations that exhaust you. It's time to embrace who you are – even the messy parts. It's time to start living fully instead of just trying not to fail.”

Yes, let’s do this.

ABOUT THE BOOK :: Published by Revell. March 2015. Paperback. 224 pages. Learn more at Holley Gerth’s website. Buy on Amazon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Holley Gerth is a bestselling writer, certified life coach, and speaker. She loves connecting with the hearts of women through her popular blog and books like “You're Already Amazing,” “You're Made for a God-Sized Dream,” and “You're Going to Be Okay.” She's also cofounder of the popular website (in)courage and a partner with DaySpring. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

I received a free copy of “You’re Loved No Matter What” to review from Revell Reads. These opinions and experiences are my own. I'm linking up this post with the weekly Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Friday, March 6, 2015

Gather the Memories :: Reflections of a Snow Day

I'm joining the #FiveMinuteFriday community today. Kate Motaung gives a prompt and people write for five minutes. Just five minutes. 

This week :: GATHER 

Somehow we are still excited about the snow. Even after the last snow a few weeks ago hung around for 12 days and closed school for a week, we still were excited when we woke up Thursday morning to nearly a foot of snow.

A foot.

We live in Kentucky, where I'm happy to say winters are usually mild. Even with 95 degrees and all the humidity possible, I'm a summer girl at heart.

But I've loved these snow days. I almost feel bad about generally thinking I don't like snow. I may not love it. And I'm certainly not driving in it. Yet the snow has been beautiful and forced us to slow down.

We gathered. We gathered with each other. We gathered memories.

My girl has gotten some much-needed sleep after some trouble falling asleep in recent nights.

My kids explored outside. They laughed and jumped and went sledding with neighbors and played. Inside, there were LEGOs and Mario Kart.

The kids drank hot chocolate and we lunched on our new favorite pizza quesadillas.

I scrapbooked and watched more "Gilmore Girls." I tended to some lake house management business. I texted with some friends and talked to my mom.

My husband shoveled our driveway so we could be Nashville bound to watch our Murray State Racers later today. He worked some and played some.

God's been reminding me he's the artist, creating the snow-laden views and orchestrating the moments that make up life. He's encouraging me to choose joy as I gather these memories. {Tweet that.}

After I wrote this post, my TimeHop app showed me a post from last year, on this exact day. It's the same sentiment. Rather than think about the redundancy, I'm choosing to see how God truly orchestrates time and cares for our souls. 

Other snow-day related posts :: How Snow Days Free UsMake Memories Now. Family Game Nights for the Win

I'm linking up with Kate Motaung and the #FMF crew. When I was laying on the couch last night scrolling through Twitter and saw the "Gather" prompt, I knew I had to write because it's one of my favorite words. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Game Nights for the Win!

{This is an updated version of an earlier post.}

Movies. Books. Snow cream. And board games. These are fixtures of a snow day. I really should say snow days. Plural. Because we've had several the past few weeks. With nearly a foot of snow on the ground right now, I anticipate we'll break out some games later today. Probably after the kids go sledding.

Games go through phases around here, especially as the kids grow into games they can play. {Unless, of course, you're talking about Settlers of Catan, which has remained a fixture among our best adult friends since February 2007 when our obsession began.}

Here are some of the games my second-grade girl loves ::

  • Bananagrams :: Cate is still learning about the speed element of this game, but she likes finding words to use. Right now we play this together. It's a boys versus girls thing around here. Of course, that means Greg is just making sure Ben doesn't swipe any of his letter tiles in the quick pace of making words in crossword fashion.
  • Skip-Bo :: We love card games! This one is about numerically ordering cards while trying to get rid of all your own stockpile. 
  • Catan Junior :: I already told you about the adult addiction to this game. Good thing there is a kid version too. Like the original, it's about expansion and strategy. 
  • Phase 10 :: Hooray for another card game in our rotation!
  • Apples to Apples :: There are kid versions of this game, but sometimes Cate will join in this regular edition. She doesn't get all the noun cards matched with adjectives, but she gets the concept and enjoys it anyway. Plus the explaining makes for some good history and life lessons!
  • Game of Things :: This is on my favorite party games. People make up answers to prompts and before long everyone is laughing. It's fun now that Cate and her friends are old enough to play too. They're actually pretty good at it!

And these are ones my preschool boy can play :: 

  • Uno :: Ben likes this one, when he's willing to sit still long enough. It's good for numbers, colors and matching. Thanks to Diego and Dora, they both have long had the "Uno!" part down. 
  • Blokus :: The board reminds me of Tetris, but here your own pieces can only touch corners. Plus there is a competitive element of blocking your opponents. Sometimes when the kids are sleeping Greg and I like to break out this one. Shhh. 
  • Sequence for Kids :: This is my favorite preschool game. It's easy enough they get it, but it also involves some strategy. {No offense Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders!} The goal is to get four of your own markers in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal row as your draw cards that match animals pictures on the board.
  • The Best of Charades for Kids :: I'm not a fan of charades generally, but I like that my preschooler who doesn't know how to read can still act out words based on the pictures on the cards. Each card has one picture and two words that can each be performed. Ben is especially good at animals and sports. 
  • Hedbanz :: Once I can get beyond the intentional misspelling, this is a good game. It's like 20 Questions for trying to guess what picture is on your head. 
  • Sorry! :: This one always produces the insincere "SORRY!" but it's a good lesson for kids to learn to be good sports when games don't go their way.

Does your family play games? What are your favorites?

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Three Word Wednesday :: And follow me

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
{Mark 8:34-36}

These verses came up in both church and small group on Sunday in separate lessons. They’re verses I’ve read before. But I’ve been thinking about them again the past few days.

Christians wear crosses around their necks. I’ve heard some say, “Well, that’s just my cross to bear.” But, really, as I’ve been thinking about how a cross symbolizes death.

Jesus wasn’t the only one who died on a brutal death hanging from a cross. But he was the only one who died that way, was buried, and then rose again.

Yes, a cross symbolizes death. But Jesus’ cross symbolizes life. {Tweet that.}

And that death and resurrection is something we can experience – at least figuratively – when we follow Jesus. That’s what he tells us to do after we take up our cross.

Follow me, the Savior of the world tells me.

Follow me, the only perfect being says to you.

Follow me, Jesus says it and means it.

Two words. But sometimes it’s hard to follow Jesus when our natural tendencies and society pull us in the opposite direction. Following Jesus is a decision we have to make over and over again, despite the chaos and destruction around us.

When Kevin Qualls spoke and taught Sunday at our church, he said following Jesus means modeling our lives after his example. {Tweet that.}

{Kevin is one of the members of the speaking team at our elder-led church. I alluded to a different speaker in another post recently.}

Following Jesus by modeling our lives after his makes sense to me, although I’ve never thought about it like that. Jesus lived and walked and breathed and endured temptation and died here on his earth. He had conversations and conflicts. And he left us with real-life examples. He endured much for us.

The fact Jesus tells us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses before he tells us to follow him guarantees that modeling our lives after his isn’t going to come easily. We have to make a decision to think beyond ourselves and whatever circumstances are filling our lives. We’re going to have hard days and struggles, but we can learn from them. We’re going to have to remember how to get to the point of following Jesus.

Have you ever walked through a struggle with someone you love? Think about when you did, their situation wasn’t very far from your thoughts. That’s what Jesus wants in our relationship with him. He endured so much and that – his ministry, his death, and his resurrection – shouldn’t be far from our thoughts. As we remember, we’ll more in step with his ways as we follow him. 

And, hey, #ThreeWordWednesday friends, I have a fun giveaway happening on Facebook. Come join me there to enter to win an autographed copy of Holley Gerth's new book, "You're Loved No Matter What." 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."

Monday, March 2, 2015

On reading a cookbook from cover to cover

I like to find easy recipes that have familiar ingredients. I don’t want them to involve too many steps or be complicated in any way. If I like the recipe, I add it to my binder of recipes and make it over and over. I won’t tweak a recipe until I’ve made it at least once – usually more than once – because cooking doesn’t come naturally.

This is how I cook. We have family favorites. I know which ones I like to take to other people or make when people gather around our table.

And then one day in February, I read a cookbook – from cover to cover. “Dashing Dish: 100 Simple & Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating” by Katie Farrell came recommended by a friend and I’m so glad I impulsively ordered it from Amazon. I didn’t stop at just reading it. I wanted to make nearly everything in it and started a grocery list as soon as I closed the book.

Katie Farrell is the founder of Dashing Dish, a place to find healthy alternatives to the food you crave. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Some family favorites are now from the pages of “Dashing Dish.” {Tweet that.} And I’m going to share a couple with you:

Blueberry Pancake Muffins
1 ½ cups oats
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup low-sugar maple syrup
1/4 cup skim milk
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon maple (or vanilla) extract
1/2 cup sweetener that measures like sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh blueberries, divided (or ½ cup frozen blueberries, thawed and drained of juice)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with foil or silicone liners and spray with cooking spray. Combine the oats, applesauce, syrup, milk, egg whites, maple extract, sweetener, baking powder, baking soda, salt in blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and fold in ¾ cup blueberries.

Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups, filling each almost full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Halfway through baking, add the additional ¼ cup blueberries to the muffins. Remove the muffins from the pan immediately and allow to cool at room temperature on a cooling rack.

Yields 12 muffins
Nutritional Info Per Serving – 50 calories, 1 gram fat, 9 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams sugar, 2 grams protein

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, diced
1 (4-ounce) can diced jalapeno peppers (or diced green chilies for a milder version)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
2 (15-ounce) cans white beans
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
1 (15-ounce) can creamed corn
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt (or low-fat cream cheese)

Optional toppings – bacon and green onions

Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place chicken breasts on the bottom of the slow cooker. In a larger bowl stir together onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, beans, corn, creamed corn, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for 4 hours or on low heat for 8 hours. Remove the chicken breasts just before serving and shred it. Return the chicken back to the chili and add yogurt. Stir to combine.

Yields 8 servings (1 ½ cups each)
Nutritional Info Per Serving – 196 calories, 2 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, 21 grams protein

Do you have a favorite cookbook?

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."