Our New Adventure

Several years ago, I got a vague phone call from a nervous sounding neighbor who invited me to some party to meet some businessperson about something. I couldn’t make the date so I went to the next thing he invited me to, and soon found myself joining a multi-level marketing company. I learned a lot, loved the books and speeches, spent a lot of money, and decided that I was lousy at selling and eventually fizzled out. I decided that I had learned my lesson, but had always wondered because being the spiritual person that I try to be I had felt like God approved of my choice to join. I have had many spiritual experiences with God guiding me to do things and they had always seemed to work out for the best, so now, I wondered why I had felt inspired to join. After a while, the only thing I could figure was that it had been for my own personal growth.

A year or two later my wife joined a different group that sold jewelry and she continues to have modest success with that.

Then a trusted friend of my wife invited her to a party for a skin care product. I rolled my eyes and she said there was no way she was going to start another one of “those things”, but she wanted to support her friend. She went and was the only one who went. She came home and told me about it and said she was not going to join but she was glad that she had supported her friend.

But then an interesting thing began to happen. She began to feel something inside of her telling her she was supposed to do it. It wasn’t a desire for money and she definitely didn’t have any extra “free time” (she is currently working three jobs). But it became clearer and clearer over the next week that God wanted her to do this. There were lots of tears and even some anger but eventually she decided to try Nerium and see what it did.

After a few days, we were impressed that it was actually improving her skin (she has always hated her skin). So we started looking into the company’s structure and were pleased to see that many of the things we hadn’t liked in previous companies had been remedied at this one. Also, Sharee really liked the people she would be working with at the company. They were genuine and she knew their stories. But the big motivator was that she felt deep down that it was what she was supposed to do.

An Example of Real Results

The next few days were difficult as we anticipated disapproval from family and friends. No one would understand why we would start something like this when we were already so overwhelmed and tired. But that is exactly why we would start something like this.

Once I realized that Sharee was serious and could tell that she was determined (there is no stopping her at that point) I decided to try the skin cream—and even shaved my beard to do it). I also decided that I could write about our experiences in this new adventure—a quest for balance, freedom, and time.

Yes, some people may think we are weird because we do what appears to be irrational (and we even dare say that God told us to), but so far we have been amazed by the love and support we have felt from everyone. Life is tough, raising a family is not easy, starting a business is a lot of work. But would we change it? Should we just give up on our dreams and resign ourselves to sitting in front of the TV every night to try to dull the pain? It sounds tempting, but life is about change—and ours is about to.

More to come…

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Prayer… Try Again

Woman crying and prayingMy baby girl was due any day and I still couldn’t see how I was going to be a stay at home mom again. I had felt the Lord telling me it was time to have another baby, he wouldn’t have me have a baby just to put her in day care to be raised by another person I kept telling myself. I prayed every day that he would open a way that I could quit my job. My husband would be able to provide or our business would bring in enough money.

My sweet, innocent little girl entered the world with a pair of lungs that never seemed to wear out. She screamed and screamed each day and long into the night. I was exhausted and desperate for a miracle. How could I possibly go back to work? I woke one morning with the thought that I would have to work. I cried quietly against my pillow. The Lords love filling the room, but my heart still breaking. Why wouldn’t he answer this prayer? I shared this experience with my husband and he said maybe you’re just going to teach your fitness classes, you love them. Which was very true and I did plan on continuing to teach, but deep down I felt like it was more than that.

I returned to work with a very heavy heart, but with time I stopped asking that I could be a stay at home mom, but that If I couldn’t be home with my baby girl and my three other children he would at least bless me to find work that I loved and that I could make a difference in people’s lives.

Fast forward….my baby girl is now 8 months old and I just realized that prayer was answered. I work three part-time jobs and I’m exhausted, but it is a deep down feel good exhaustion. I teach multiple fitness classes (which include many elderly individuals) and I see them getting stronger, improving their range of motion, and living healthier lives. I also get a great work out with them. I get to plan activities for seniors who live in assisted living. I spend time hearing about the great lives they have lived as I file their nails or put lotion on their hands. We play games, watch movies, and eat yummy treats. I’m blessed to spend their last days with them and I have grown to love them dearly. I also spend time helping individuals who have landed on hard times get food and find ways to become self-reliant again.

I am truly blessed to be able to serve so many incredible individuals and to be paid for it. I was recently reading a book that touched on finding a job you love. What really stuck out to me was when it said if someone offered you 4 million dollars to leave your job would you take the money and run or would you have to think about it? I’ve reached that point. It would be hard to walk away from what I do. My work energizes me. I often come home from work just full of energy and excitement.

It’s not my perfect life and I miss many things about being home more with my kids, but I’m grateful the Lord answered my revised prayer.

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30 FUN things to do BEFORE your Disney trip

Disney movies to familiarize everyone with the characters from the rides. (Does your child know who Peter Pan is? What about Mr. Toad?)

3. Shop for Disney merchandise online or at a Disney outlet store (It is better than buying on impulse in the park)

4. Make a presentation to your family/group about the hotel you will be staying at with pictures and info found online.

5. If driving, learn about some unique or historical sites you will see along the way.

6. Have a discussion about expectations. To some people Disney means running from ride to ride, others want to watch every show & parade, some just want to photograph their kids having a good time. Will you divide up and meet back at a certain time or will everyone stay together?

7. Research Disney tips and tricks. There are loads of websites and books teaching everything from avoiding long lines to the best vantage points to watch the shows.

8. Learn where grocery stores, restaurants, etc. are located near where you will be staying.

9. Make a jar for your kids to put their money in to save for the trip. (Great opportunity to teach about being wise with money.)

10. Plan music for the trip.

11. Make Mickey Mouse shaped goodies for the trip.

12. Get addresses of friends and family that you can send post cards or emails to.

13. Will the kids be wearing Disney costumes?

14. Print off maps from your house to Disney and from Disney to any other places you may go (store, beach, relative, etc.)

15. Look at old pictures or videos from previous Disney trips.

16. Read a book or listen to a podcast about Disney Imagineers and ride design.

17. Check out Disney restaurant menus online at Disneyland or Walt Disney World to decide where (and if) you want to eat in the parks.

18. Watch a favorite ride on Youtube (Don’t do this for rides you haven’t been on yet)

19. Make a packing list

20. Go to a dollar store and get glow bracelets and fun travel toys

21. Buy new pajamas/clothes for the occasion

22. Plan a day away from Disney (beach, shopping, site-seeing, etc.)

23. Have a dress up night where everyone dresses as their favorite Disney character

24. Look at disney’s schedule of events (available about 6 weeks in advance) and find out what shows, parades, and special events are available.

25. Make and decorate autograph books for Mickey and other costumed characters to sign

26. Pull out the cameras and clear off the old pictures/videos and make room for new ones.

27. Get movies for the drive

28. Will you use planning software to create a custom ride plan or just see what you feel like doing next while you are in the park?

29. Pack a “grab bag” with one toy to be pulled out every hour (or 30 minutes) of the drive/flight.

30. Order the Free Disney Vacation Planning DVD to be delivered to your house.

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Life Changing Books

I love books. I like to mark them up as I read them, and reread them, and arrange them and rearrange them on my bookshelves. I have a lot of books but there is a handful that I can honestly say have changed my life. I will never forget the time that I saw one of these “life changing” books in a bookstore that was marked way down—like 40% off. I had to buy it. It was such an amazing, powerful book that had made such a difference in my life. I bought it figuring I would give it to someone someday, but I didn’t have anyone in mind. As I drove home I passed my local library. The thought hit me very strongly that I should donate it to the library so that other people could benefit from this wonderful book.

I stopped and (feeling rather irrational) gave my brand new purchase to the library. (I almost didn’t let go as I handed it to them.) They thanked me and I went on my way. It was fun to check for it whenever I returned to the library. I liked seeing it there on the shelf, but honestly, I preferred not finding it because that meant that someone had checked it out and was enjoying it. I have no idea how many people have read my book, I don’t even live in that town any more. But I still think about it.

Whenever I think about books that have influenced my life—and I think about it often—I inevitably recall this experience. If money wasn’t so extremely tight, I would love to buy copies of all of the exceptional books on my “life changing books” list for our local library and maybe even for some not so local libraries. In my mind, it is an easy way to make an impact on the world around you and hopefully change some lives.

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Santa Knows

This holiday season I got the opportunity to don the red hat and beard and play Santa himself at our local rec center pool. Instead of the usual fuzzy warm suit, I got to wear swimming trunks and a Hawaiian shirt along with a padded belly and sit out on the play feature where the kids go to use the slide and water cannons. I had lots of fun listening to the kids tell me what they wanted for Christmas (and some tattling on their siblings). After they finished visiting with Santa we would pose for a photo and then the kids could slide down the slide into the water.

After about an hour of this, I noticed a kid enter the pool area that I knew from volunteering in the first grade of our local elementary school. The first grader (whom I will call David) was with his family, which I’ve never met. After a few minutes David made his way over to see Santa. As he approached, I decided to have some fun with him. In my best Santa voice I greeted him by name. “Well, hello David.”

He stopped in his tracks.

“How do you know my name?”

“I’m Santa Claus,” I replied knowingly.

After a minute of shock he was able to turn and run to his mother who was busy somewhere else in the pool. A few minutes later he returned but stood a ways off. When I acknowledged him, he asked, “Do you know my brother’s name?”

I could tell that this was the clincher. He had talked to his mother and she had told him to ask this and that this would prove once and for all if Santa really knew everything about him like the song said. I had no idea if he even had a brother so I came up with a plan.

“Which one?” I asked.

“Mark.” He clarified

“Yes, I do,” I said dramatically. “His name is… Mark.”

His mouth dropped open and his eyes got really wide. He ran off and never returned to tell me what he wanted for Christmas. I guess it didn’t matter, because now he knew that Santa knows how naughty he had been.

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The Secret to a Good Marriage

An older couple came in to my work the other day. They were commenting on how beautiful the area was and what a nice day it had been as they walked in. I began helping them and engaged them in some small talk as I often do. I wasn’t expecting to get much out of the conversation—just the usual “Where are you from?”, “What brings you here?”, etc. But what I ended up getting was truly a gift and an eye opener to how life could and should be.

They seemed so happy about everything and I found out that they were celebrating their anniversary—52 years. A girl that I work with asked the natural question “What is your secret to a good marriage?” The woman quickly responded “Marry an artist!”. The husband blushed, but smiled. We peppered them with more questions and every answer revealed more of a genuine love of life. Eventually, we asked how they met, and they were happy to tell their story.

It had been at a dance—a common thing in that era. They had met, danced, and fallen in love. And apparently, they had been dancing together ever since. Then the most amazing thing happened. Spontaneously, right there in the store, they started dancing for us! They didn’t care about being embarrassed or what anyone else thought. Their love for each other and for life itself was too strong for that. It was pure magic.

When they left the store, we who had seen it were all in awe. We couldn’t stop smiling, laughing, and talking about the wonder of that serendipitous moment. The pure joy of life lingered in the room for a while. I’m sure if someone had walked in from the outside world right then they would have felt like smiling—or even dancing—and not known why. I imagined this happy couple walking down the street together, repeating their story to other lucky people and leaving a bit of hope and joy everywhere their feet took them.

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What about the Children?

I have three beautiful children, who no matter what many think, still need me. I’ve been blessed to be home with my children most of their lives. I’ve had side jobs, but nothing that really kept me away—until now. Between running our family owned businesses and our hourly jobs my husband and I are time poor. How do you juggle work and family? You need to provide your children with clothing, food, and shelter— as well as your time and love. What do you do when a child is sick, they need you, but if you stay home from work you may not have enough money to pay your rent? What if your child is just having a hard time and needs some extra time and love? How do you make sure they are being taken care of temporally as well as spiritually/mentally?

This is a new situation for me, but I don’t believe I’m alone. I’ve come up with a few ideas, I’d like to share:

1. Kids need you! Can you cut any expenses out that would allow you to spend more time with them?

2. Make it a family affair. It’s not easy and it takes patience, but get your children involved. Let them know they are needed! My son helps his Dad with the projector and lights at the theater. He feels so good knowing he can do those things.

3. Don’t settle! How are you going to get beyond this. What would it take to increase your hourly wage(more education, improved resume, more experience, etc)? Could you change jobs? Could you make some passive income? Can you get rid of some debt, so you don’t need as much money each month?

4. Ask for Help. It’s okay to ask for and accept help. We all need it at some time.

5. Turn to God for guidance and the strength to carry on.

I have never worked so hard in my life and saw so little in return, but I have hope of a greater future. The Lord is sustaining and guiding me. I take it a moment at a time and pray to know what is most important. At that moment it may be to hold my child close or it may be to email a potential client.

What are you doing to find or keep your life in balance? How do you meet your children’s temporal as well as mental/spiritual needs?

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Italian Pepperoni-Cheese Puffs

cheese puffsThis is the perfect after school snack! This recipe was inspired by a  Better Homes and Gardens booklet I found.

1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
3/4 cup (3oz) finely chopped pepperoni (I only had half the amount on hand and thought it still turned out great)
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (I used an Italian blend of cheeses)
2 Tbsp. parsley
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
Pizza sauce for dipping (optional)

1. Preheat over to 450 F. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets; set aside. In a large saucepan combine water and shortening. Bring to boiling. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes.

2. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition. Stir in pepperoni, cheese, parsley, garlic powder, and black pepper.

3. Drop rounded teaspoons of dough 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Position the 2 baking sheets on separate oven racks. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until firm and golden brown, switching oven racks halfway through baking. Transfer to wire rack. Repeat, as needed, for remaining dough. Serve warm. If desired, serve with pizza sauce. Makes about 40 puffs. Enjoy!

Check out other inspiring recipes at:
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Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

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Happiness-Part 3 (Family Room)

Happiness HouseFamily is a major part of your happiness and the family room is where you spend time with them. Those whom you love the most (and who probably drive you crazy at times), are the same individuals you can walk around in your pj’s without your teeth brushed, no make up and crazy hair. You love these people no matter what and they love you. You have your fights, but when it comes right down to it you are there for each other.

Often in the family room you revert back to childish behaviors, not always appropriate or productive to building adult relationships. This can especially cause a problem when one person is ready to grow up and the other is not. When faced with reality you may need your grown-up sibling by your side or maybe you don’t want to feel like a child around your parents anymore. Some patterns will keep repeating themselves. The key is to recognize them and change.  Keeping in mind you can’t change another individual, only yourself. In the book The Nine Rooms of Happiness they use a formula to demonstrate this: A+B=C (A is you, B is the other individual, C is your relationship) Change yourself (A) and that will change the relationship (C).

One of the good things about family (I think) is that they can be brutally honest. My son, who is only 5 years old, already tells me—at least once a week—to go change my clothes because they don’t look good. He is the fashion police for our home. (The problem is: how much fashion sense can a child who wants to wear pajamas all day really have?)

As we get feedback (referred to as “pinging” in the book) from family we learn how to measure ourselves. We learn what is true and false and who we can trust—what feedback to listen to and what to ignore. Limits are essential and need to be placed on relationships. Sometimes limits or boundaries are needed to keep yourself safe.

The following quote pretty well sums up what you are trying to do in the family room to make yourself happy:

“In the family room, the people there know you the best; which means they know where you’ve come from, but they may not always know where you want to go (or even who you are today). They continue to see you as the “kid sister” or “daughter,” which will always be true, but it’s only part of the picture. You need to let them see you grow and evolve, but that doesn’t mean leaving them behind. You can still be part of the family in a new way, one that reflects your contemporary self. And happier too.”

The Nine Rooms of Happiness: Loving Yourself, Finding Your Purpose, and Getting Over Life's Little Imperfections (Hardcover)

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Philadelphia Sugar Cookies

sugar cookiesSugar cookies have always seemed so bland to me unless you added lots of frosting. My mind was changed when eating a friends cookies a couple years ago. I immediately got a copy of her recipe and have been using it ever since. I was excited to pull out the recipe to make for the boys Valentine parties at school this week. My oldest came home and declared they were a success!

Philadelphia Sugar Cookies
1 pkg (8oz) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat cream cheese, sugar, butter, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add flour and baking soda; mix well. Refrigerate one hour. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness on lightly floured surface. Cut cookies and place 2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 325 F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 min before placing cookies on wire rack. Cool completely and frost.

I doubled this and it made about 55 cookies. I’m not sure how much dough was eaten in the process of making them :)

Check out other inspiring recipes at:
Tasty Tuesday

Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

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