This is your year to stop being afraid. Join me.
I love Pinterest. I love pinning all the quotes, and art, and crafts, and recipes, and decor....all things I may never, ever DO anything with! But no matter, I just find it relaxing to crawl into bed with my iPad and pin away.
Except for last night.
Last night, my Pinterest feed was full of fun activities for kids. I don’t know why it was, except that I like to pin kids’ craft ideas occasionally, and maybe I follow some homeschoolers and crafters or something. Anyway, lots of the pins were about clever ways to teach values and character virtues. How to teach scripture memorization. Fun activities with a spiritual purpose. Crafts that teach kindness. Flash cards that teach empathy. Printables for every season. Cupcakes to die for. Room decor that looked amazing. On and on. Oh, the things were so cute, and so beautifully photographed!
Suddenly, I felt bad.
I felt regretful.
I felt guilty.
I felt sad.
I realized I’d been a horrible mom.
I realized that I didn’t do any fun OR clever things with my kids when they were little! We didn’t make donkey stamps with our hands to symbolize the Easter Donkey. We didn’t make finger puppets for Jesus and His disciples. We didn’t make Virtuous Character flash cards. We didn’t make our own snow-globes. Let’s not even talk about the adorable birthday parties we didn’t have. And room decor? We painted the walls, bought a comforter at Target, and called it done.
What was I thinking??
Oh, we read bedtime stories. We had devotions (sadly, somewhat inconsistently). We had a craft table with paper, markers and glue. We made forts. I made them play outside. We had lots and lots of fun. But to think I sent these kids off into the world without proper Bible memorization! To think that I shortchanged them by not making clever crafts and decorating their rooms! To think I packed their lunches in brown bags and ziplocks, when I could have made darling shapes out of the whole wheat bread and the organic vegetables.
I don’t know how my kids survived.
All I know is that I did the best I could with what I had.
We lived on a tight budget, and many of those years we didn’t have a whole lot. I was short on patience and energy. I had one book on parenting, and a bunch of Adventures in Odyssey cassette tapes for the kids when they got restless. We tie-dyed T-shirts once. We made popcorn and milkshakes and watched Disney movies on a blanket regularly. Big whoop. Seems so lame now.
But I loved those kids, and they knew it. They still know it.
For me, the sun rises and sets on them, and they are the best gifts I could have imagined. They are all grown up now, and somehow, we managed to make it without many Pinterest-worthy experiences. I didn’t do amazing crafts with them, but I believed in them, and their abilities to take on the world. I didn’t make organic dinners (unless rotisserie chicken counts?), but I tried to have most of the food groups represented, at least on a weekly basis. We didn’t travel much, but hey, we sure watched a lot of PBS. I tried to instill them with wonder about God, and the universe He created. I hoped that they’d see my faith as real - something to embrace for themselves. Our home would never have graced the cover of a magazine, but it was where everybody belonged.
As the kids grew, I memorized their faces and kissed their cheeks when they were sleeping. (Of course, also when they were awake. They loved it.) But there’s something about those eyelashes and messy bedheads and rosy cheeks by the glow of a nightlight. It begs for kissing. I dreamed that they would grow up and always know what it is to be loved.
To be loved. Forever. And ever, and ever.
I didn’t always do the best job, and now I see where I went wrong, with the crafts and all.
I’m glad my kids survived their Pinterest-free childhoods long enough for me to realize I’ll get a second chance with my grandkids.
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Hey, want to hear me "in person," without ever having to get out of your bathrobe and slippers today? You can tune in to the Mud Stories Podcast RIGHT NOW, and hear my interview with Jacque Watkins.
Jacque and I met "randomly" a couple of years ago at the Declare Conference in Dallas, and something about her just grabbed my heart. She is one of those people who is genuinely interested in everyone she meets, which is quite possibly the reason she is so magnetic. I loved our conversation about parenting, and waiting on a dream, and going through difficult times.
In this interview, I joked with her and said my Mud Story is more like a "Muddle Story." I have often felt that I've muddled through motherhood, and figuring things out, and getting my act together. I haven't always had clear direction and sparkly goals. It's taken me until age 51 to sort of "get" who I am and what I'm supposed to do. I love knowing that God has been there the whole time, gently leading me even when I couldn't see my own way.
Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy tuning in to our conversation today! Pop back over here and let me know your thoughts!. :)
P.S. You should subscribe to Jacque's whole podcast! She has an awesome lineup of guests, all of who share their Mud (or, ahem, Muddle) Stories. I love listening when I'm making dinner or cleaning the kitchen!
Are you a podcast listener? When do you listen, and what are your favorite podcasts? I'm now addicted to them!
Several people have contacted me recently, to ask about my tutorial for painting a kitchen countertop. I've updated an older post here to include the steps we used to create a faux granite look that has held up well for over THREE YEARS. We did this project just before our daughter's wedding...something about knowing 250 guests would be at my house motivated us to spruce the place up. And because we were spending money on the wedding, we were limited in what we could spend on the counters.
This project only cost about $40.00!
You can find the steps here: painted countertops
Before: 1970's Faux Wood Laminate
Happy Friday, y'all! Little story for you:
Once, when I was wandering aimlessly through Blockbuster (a brick and mortar store which rented movies, for those of you who are unfamiliar), my purse began to fart.
That's right. It farted.
Again and again. Loud, juicy sounds of extruded gas.
I looked down at the bloated bag hanging from my shoulder, and strangely, I knew immediately what had caused its flatulence.
One aisle over, doubled over in laughter, was my son (age 14 at the time). Of course. In his hand was a small remote with a button for activating a little portable machine which he had recently acquired at the church garage sale.
A remote-controlled Fart Machine.
Which he'd secretly placed in my purse.
"It's going off by itself! I swear!" he said through his laughter. "Look!" He held out his palm and the fart sounds just kept on rolling from my purse without his thumb touching the button.
I couldn't help it....I started laughing with him and we had to hang on to the DVD racks to keep from falling over. With each new "phhhhhhht" we tried to suppress our giggles, which only made it funnier. We exited Blockbuster without a movie, and I might add, without a shred of dignity.
My purse lost a bit of weight when I took the guilty machine out. And I wondered how on earth I hadn't noticed the extra tonnage over my shoulder as I'd wandered through the store. Maybe I was so engrossed in finding something suitably entertaining, I didn't even realize I was walking around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
It got me to thinking about other things in life that weigh me down, without my even realizing it. I've often been so busy with solving day-to-day problems that I don't notice my furrowed brow, or my deep sighs, or my heavy feet.
But underneath the busyness, there's a weight of worry, or a load of regret, or a burden of fear. And I've gotten so used to carrying it all around that I almost don't feel it any more. It's usually not until someone (or something) makes me laugh, that I suddenly realize the heaviness I've been under, and in that moment....I can let it go.
Laughter is good medicine.
Scientific Studies show that laughter is one of the best things going for keeping you healthy, both physically and mentally. Laughter releases stress-reducing endorphins, relaxes your muscles, lowers your blood pressure, and improves your immune system. It improves your mood, your personal interactions, and your outlook. It can even relieve pain! A good belly laugh might be just what the doctor ordered.
Are you feeling weighed down today? Give yourself a break and find something to laugh about. Phone a dear friend, rent a funny movie, watch cat videos on Youtube....be intentional about finding something joyful to savor. Let those burdens go. Take a deep breath and enjoy a lighthearted moment.
You might even put a fart machine in someone's purse. Just a suggestion.
What makes you laugh? Do you have a story about how laughter helped you cope with something difficult? Or do you have a favorite Youtube video that always makes you feel happy? Feel free to share!
Hey, its FRIDAY!!! Let's have some fun!
My accidental career as an artist started with a tole painting class at a local craft store, almost twenty years ago.
I was desperate to find something (besides taking care of children and doing laundry) to fill a creative void, and I thought that getting out of the house to take a two-hour class might be just the ticket. I could not have imagined that the "ticket" would take me so far...to painting in multi-million dollar mansions, corporate offices, restaurants and television studios! I still have that first tile trivet I painted in class – I keep it in my kitchen so I'm reminded of the amazing journey I've been on since then.
That one class opened up a whole new world of creativity and DIY'ing for me...and most importantly, I discovered the joy of MAKING THINGS. Along the way I've become convinced that people – all people – are simply wired to create. Even those who think they don't have a creative bone in their body.
Something almost magical happens when you paint, or sew, or build, or knit, or wield a hot glue gun. Or when you rearrange decor, or take photographs, or plant flowers. I believe our subconscious mind goes to another level that allows us to relax, de-stress, and even solve problems. After more than fifteen years as a professional artist, I've had a lot of time to prove this theory. :)
So let me ask you:
Do you love to create?
Do you wish you could find something that could spark your imagination?
Do you wish you knew what kind of project to start next?
Or maybe you have a project in mind, but don't know how to go about doing it?
I'm so excited to share an amazing offer with you!
I rarely "do" sales or promotions on my blog. It's just not my style. But I'm making an exception for this, because of how pivotal creativity has been in my life. And I think, maybe you're ready for some kind of "spark" to come into your life, too!
Some of my online friends have assembled something called, The Ultimate DIY Bundle! It’s your instant go-to library for a whole range of carefully curated DIY and crafting eBooks and eCourses. There are projects that the whole family can get involved in – from pet photography and home decor to chalk pastels and sewing.
So, let me tell you all about it:
For the crazy low price of just $34.95, you get access to a carefully curated library 76 eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading DIY and crafting bloggers – enabling you to pick a project and jump straight into it with confidence. It’s the perfect tool to skip the information overload and throw yourself straight into a new activity.
Hurry though! The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am EST on Wednesday, January 21 until 11.59pm EST on Monday, January 26.
What I love about this is that you can buy it with complete confidence, because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee. That means you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund.
Not only that, but The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with 4 awesome bonuses, worth over $118. That’s 3x the price of the bundle alone! These include…
So, don’t miss your chance to grab The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and get 76 incredible eBooks and eCourses for just $34.95. All you need to do is take action by midnight on Monday, January 26!
This amazing deal ends in just…
Where might your creativity take you?
Say, have you given up on your New Year's housekeeping goals yet? I think I heard a weak "yes" from the back of the room. I won't ask for a show of hands.
I spent some time compiling my housekeeping posts into one, easy-to-use PDF for you download today. It takes you through a few exercises that help you assess where your time is being spent (uh, work, kids and laundry, right?) and which home management tasks are most important to you.
I mean, there is no reason to mop the floor every Wednesday if there are other, more pressing things to do. I suggest breaking up the work in the PDF into three different days...that way you won't feel overwhelmed, and you can also reward yourself three times for doing it!
Having a bit of structure to your efforts means that you can allow yourself time to pursue personal goals, live generously, and love freely. You don't have to feel chained to an overbearing system. Simply walk through the easy steps to figure out what works best for you...and voila. You've got it!
You can download the full PDF here - for free!
Question: What tasks are the hardest for you to do regularly?
Y'all, I'm finally taking my Christmas tree and all the decorations down today. Aren't you proud of me??
I think this is the latest I've ever left them up, but really, until about a week ago, I was still enjoying it all. Not wanting to rush into anything, I thought maybe another week could go by and then I'd be good and ready.
Yup, I'm ready. Oh, so ready.
You know what a mess it's gonna be today. Something tells me that I'll feel entirely overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude by the end.
If you're overwhelmed by the mess in your house, let me share three simple tasks that will transform you into a goddess of victory. Let's do them together.
1. Make the beds.
So simple, so overlooked. But really, get those covers pulled up and those pillows arranged prettily, and you'll feel supercharged. Or at least less awful.
You're on your way!
2. Pick up what's on the floor.
Honestly, it's the floor clutter that makes a room look and feel beyond repair. Take a few minutes and scoop up the debris in the living areas and bedrooms. If you are dealing with toys, chunk things into baskets....one for every single room of the house, I'm not kidding. Doesn't it feel AWESOME to see the floor?
Make a carpet angel, just for fun.
3. Clear the kitchen counters.
Even if that means you take your arm and just pull it across the surface and gather the dishes like a giant bulldozer. Even if everything ends up in the sink. Clear those counters and wipe them down.
Now, of course you can let your cleaning frenzy get out of control and actually DO the dishes, but we aren't talking about FOUR tasks here, are we? Nope, just three. Three little tasks that will make a world of difference.
Be sure you stop to enjoy your handiwork. Have a cup of tea and eat a cookie. Congratulate yourself for twenty minutes of relatively easy (albeit focused) work.
PS I decided to put my housekeeping "organizational" posts into one, downloadable PDF...and I'll have it for you on Monday.
Tell me: are you three for three today? How does it feel to accomplish it?
"Boy, we sure eat a whole lot better when Grayson is home," my husband winked at me as he dished up a serving of tender pot roast, mashed potatoes, carrots and gravy. He balanced a piece of french bread on top and headed to the table with his plate. Grayson's plate was already piled high with enough food to keep him going for at least a couple of hours, before he'd return to the kitchen for a second full meal.
I laughed, oh hahaha, but it was a fake laugh. It's true. Now that our crew has dwindled from five, to four, to three, and now two, it's hard for me to get motivated to cook.
Like, at all.
I'm not proud of the turn my menu-planning has taken. After 28 years of fixing food for ravenous people, I'm tired. I've taken about a two year break from any serious meal planning. What can I say? I love cereal for dinner.
But food - good food - is important. Not just for filling hungry bellies around the table, but (if I may be so poetic) for soothing tired souls.
The smell of something delicious simmering on the stove makes a powerful memory of home, and gives families a sense that all is right in their world.
McDonald's just can't do that for you.
Tom's teasing comment stung just a little, because I know I can do better. Just because there are only two of us doesn't mean I should throw organization out the window. I mean, when you can't remember the last vegetable you ate, you know you should make some changes, right? Our tired souls need some soothing.
But have you ever tried making a menu plan? They're so pretty, and so involved. Ugh. That's why I always used to fail - I can't color code meals, people! C'mon, man.
It's time to pull out my best ever, tried and true, super easy, no fail menu-planning guide.
If you've been around Home Sanctuary awhile, you'll recognize the instructions here. They work because they are SIMPLE, and that's why I've mentioned them over and over again.
What would you do if I told you that you could EASILY come up with a whole month's worth of dinner plans without burning up any of your precious brain cells?
Today, we will do it together and by the time we're done, you will be congratulating yourself for being so very clever. Grab a cup of coffee, or some sweet nectar of your choice, and let's have some fun.
Let's Plan a Monthly Menu!
1. First, take out a couple of pieces of paper. So far so good, friend.
2. Next, start writing down BROAD CATEGORIES (themes) of meals - all you really need is 7:
3. Now, see if you can come up with at least 4 individual meals within each category. Por ejemplo:
Ethnic: Tacos, Spaghetti, Pizza, Enchiladas, chicken stir-fry
Breakfast for Dinner: Waffles, Pancakes, Breakfast Casserole, Bacon and Eggs
This is getting really cool because, if you just take the above categories, with 4 items each, you already have enough meals to cover almost two months!! You're off to a great start.
4. Now, here's how to start plugging the meals into your family calendar. Take (or make) a blank calendar page - you can use this little worksheet:
A. First, you'll take a look at standing obligations that affect your family dinner: piano lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Soccer on Fridays. Volunteer at the Homeless Shelter on Wednesdays. Etc. Write them into the top row.
B. Next, working across the second row of the calendar, begin assigning meal categories, or themes, to days of the week. For example, If you are home all together on Monday nights, that would be a perfect night for a Sit Down Meal on Real Plates. Write that category above Mondays.
On Piano nights, I used to assign Crock Pot Night and Sandwich Night - both are quick and easy with little clean-up required.
On Sport Practice night, I might assign Drive Through (Oh. Yes.) It makes me feel better to plan this into my menu than to feel like a loser because I can't do any better than this.
Saturday nights might be a perfect Breakfast for Dinner night. My family would love it if I made waffles EVERY Saturday night, so no creativity is even required!
C. Once you have a category for each day of the week, you will then work your way DOWN the calendar. Take your four individual dinners and throw them under each theme. So if Mondays are your Sit Down meals, you take your Baked Chicken and Rice, your Beef and Cabbage Rolls etc. and plug them into the individual Mondays. Right now you are simply penciling in your ideas, so you don't have to be too picky until the next step.
D. Once you have a meal penciled in per day, you can start to refine and perfect your masterpiece. If I see that on the first Wednesday I am grilling chicken, I could grill up some EXTRA chicken for Thursday's Chicken Enchiladas. So I start moving the meals around into an order that makes the most sense. A huge pot roast on Sunday might make great BBQ sandwiches on Sandwich Night, so I'll put those two meals into the same week.
Note: If your family has several favorites, don't be afraid to repeat them often. Spaghetti? A weekly favorite. Waffles? Done. The idea that you have to magically come up with 30 different things each month is completely unnecessary. And you don't have to stick to your plan like a religious zealot.
A menu plan gives you options and TIME, because you'll have general ideas right at your fingertips.
How many meals can you come up with? Can you think of some interesting categories? Why not share your ideas and recipes! Leave a comment and/or link to your menu ideas so we can all be inspired!
In recent years, I've found myself searching Pinterest and Google for fashion help (because it's usually some crisis: I need an outfit TOMORROW), and become discouraged by the fact that I just can't wear most of what I see. I've refined my searches to include "Over 40" in the query, and it seems to help weed out the leggings/stilettos/crop tops that are horribly wrong for me (and technically everyone else, but I'm not judging.)
When you're an As-Needed Shopper (as opposed to a I-Shop-for-Pleasure Shopper) like I am, it's important to have some wardrobe staples that fit a variety of events. Hey, I can't be running to the mall all the time. I need a few things that can be dressed up or down, and pared with other items for an always-appropriate look.
So I'm going to periodically share my finds/solutions with you. I've got some go-to clothes that never fail to look great...with minimal effort.
I've come to rely on my three chambray shirts to fill this role. Allow me to introduce you to them.
Go-To Shirt #1:
I bought this one at Kohl's several years ago. I love it because I can belt it for a pulled together look, or wear it sans-belt for a more casual, tunic-type top.
It's long enough to cover my bum, so I could technically wear it with leggings, but truthfully, I always chicken out on those. Skinny jeans and boots work great.
Go-To Shirt #2:
I'm not quite sure where I found this shirt a few years back. It is just long enough to tuck in, but I usually leave it out. Over a tank or camisole, I love the way the top stitching and snap buttons give it a western look. This shirt looks great with boot-cut jeans and a pair of cowboy boots.
I loved this one enough to wear it for my "official" head-shot.
I tried to figure out where I got this shirt, but came up blank. However, you can find a similar one here for a great price:
Go-To Shirt #3:
My last chambray shirt was found at Target, when I was Christmas shopping for other people. (Merry Christmas to me!) I'm always on the lookout for shirts that are long enough to cover my backside (strangely hard to find!), and this one does the job nicely.
Babies look TERRIFIC against this shirt. Really makes their cuteness pop!
I noticed that Target online was out of this shirt, but here is one that is similar on Amazon:
Conclusion: The chambray shirt looks just as good with pearls and a skirt as it does with jeans and cowboy boots. It's flattering on just about every body type, and feels timeless and classic. Even if you don't have to include "Over 40" in your online search, soft denim is always a "win" in my book.
I've found you can even nap in them, and then head right on out to a business lunch. I mean, just in case you needed to.
How about you? Do you have a go-to shirt or outfit? What works best for your lifestyle and figure?
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I still remember the day it happened. It was the day I'd dreaded since the day my son was born. It didn't occur at high school graduation, or when he went off to college, but it arrived much earlier than I could have imagined.
It was the day I had to start letting go.
I was driving him to school - sixth grade - and I reached for his hand like I always did. I loved those morning minutes together, listening to the radio or talking about school, or hockey or airplanes. And mostly, we held hands across the console.
But this particular morning, he moved his hand just as our fingers touched. He looked out the window as if nothing was amiss, but I knew in that moment that something had changed. We'd turned a corner.
I pretended I didn't notice, probably pretended I was brushing a crumb away, but my heart did that kind of weird stretching/melting/breaking thing that happens when you're sad, happy, proud and bewildered - all at the same time.
You'd think I'd have been prepared for this. My daughters, who are several years older than him, had already transitioned from kids to young women, and we'd already experienced the bumps, bruises, and triumphs along the road to their adulthood.
But this was my baby. It felt like the end of an era...and in some ways it was the first tiny step toward it.
I wish there was a roadmap.
I wish there was an exact GPS that tells you what to expect and how to respond to the changes that growing up brings. I wish I could say that I parented well, that I led with confidence and that I made all the right moves. The truth is, I blundered my way through my kids' adolescence. I embarrassed them with awkward comments, often used guilt to motivate them, and balked at each new step toward independence. I wasn't real smooth. I cringe at some of the memories, and wish I could take them back. But somehow, we all moved forward together and made it through. We learned as we went.
Learning to let go is an art.
And like any art, it must be practiced diligently to become good at it. Studying under the masters, the people who have gone before, is the best way to begin. You study their techniques, you watch them work, you see the beauty that can happen on a canvas. You're inspired, but nervous.
And then, you must pick up the brush, so to speak, and start painting. Your first strokes will be clumsy and amateurish. The piece will lack color and depth. You think it is garbage. Hopeless.
But you keep working at it.
Eventually, with more study, more repetition, more brush strokes, and a lot of starting over, you begin to get the hang of it. You start seeing that it looks best when you leave the lessons behind and start painting from the soul. It doesn't mean it gets easier, or hurts less, but it does mean that something beautiful is being created.
You pretend you weren't actually reaching out to hold your sixth grade boy's hand. Psh, what? Just gettin' that crumb. And maybe the next time it happens you just grab his hand anyway, and then lay a big old smacker on it. He groans and wipes it off, but you don't care.
Because there's no roadmap, remember?
And true art follows the heart. It takes the careful, learned brushstrokes and mixes them with a riot of color and throws it all on a canvas. You take all the "rules" and then you parent from your heart. You mess up, and then you do something right. You mess up again. You fall on your knees at night and ask God for wisdom, and then you get up and do it all over again the next day.
Believe in the masterpiece. Believe in the Master who is teaching you. Even if there is a mess on your canvas today, don't give up.
Because the art isn't finished.
Phil. 1:6 says, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion."
Question of the Day: What is one lesson you are learning as you create this "art of letting go?" I'd love for you to share!
PS. Here is another post on letting go: The "way back" seat.