Monday, March 23, 2009

My Morning Routine

Tammy over at is now hosting the "Making Your Home a Haven" series that I have loved for so long over at the Biblical Womanhood blog. So in keeping with the Monday challenge, I have included my morning routine below. This was a good reminder, especially since I have been struggling a lot more with getting up and getting things done right away before heading off to work.

Morning Routine:
1. Get up, prayer, shower, get dressed
2. Empty dishwasher and eat breakfast
3. Finish getting ready and pack lunch
4. Make Bed & Time with the Lord (Bible reading)
5. Put out Hotspots for 2 minutes ala FlyLady

And that's my morning routine. My weekend morning routine is a little more complex, but that's the gist of it for most mornings.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Staying Balanced in Extreme Busyness

All right, so the title is a bit misleading. Am I managing to stay balanced in the midst of exhausting busyness? Absolutely not in my opinion. Lately I've been feeling like I am hovering on the side of a cliff. On one side, the stable land side, is a balanced, God-centered life. The other side, the huge canyon, is a crazy, want-to-pull-out-my hair and scream-at-the-top-of-my-lungs, completely-losing-it life. Hehe, ok, maybe that was a bit dramatic, but you get the gist of it. But I've had a number of people ask me in the past week to post/give advice about how to stay balanced. So take this post, or leave it. But know that what is shared below is coming from someone who definitely doesn't have it all figured out yet and has so much room for growth. And Lord willing, He'll keep giving me day after day to walk with Him and learn how to glorify Him in the midst of my busyness.

So first of all, and especially to my dear teacher friends, is my walk with the Lord. Can we possibly do everything that is on our plates every single day? No. But I can commit to getting up a few minutes earlier than I normally would and begin my day in prayer and commit my long to-do list to the Lord and ask Him to give me His priorities for my day. Now when I ask Him for His priorities for my day, does that necessarily mean that my grading will always be caught up? Absolutely not. Does it mean that my apartment is tidy every single day? Nope. Does that mean my dear husband is enjoying three-course meals every night? Nope again. Sometimes God shows me that following up with a student is more important for my after school time than grading that big pile of papers the day they were turned in. Other days it means not cleaning my apartment as perfectly as I want to spend more concentrated time alone with Him, digging into His Word. And other days, it means giving up exercise time to prepare and have that nice three course meal and quality time with Ciaran. So again #1 for me is place God first no matter what. Spend time in prayer, get His priorities and spend time in His Word. All my strength comes from my Creator and no where else.

The close second for me is making Ciaran my #2 priority. After being a child of God, my most important calling is being Ciaran's wife. I find by taking a few minutes to see how I can help him in his work for the day or if there is anything he wants/needs, I am so much more peaceful. There's something about following the Lord's directives that sets my day aright. More often times than not, Ciaran doesn't have anything for me, but when he does, I derive so much joy from serving him and being my husband's helper.

Another thing for me is exercise. I'm prone to extreme fatigue. My optimal night's sleep is somewhere between 9 and 11 hours. Obviously getting that much sleep is rarely an option, so hence the need for exercise. Here's my workout regimen and some DVD's that help assist that.

Cardio: Minimum 3 times a week
To get my cardio in this winter and early spring, I have been using:
-Leslie Sansone Walk At Home 5 Mile Fat Burning Walk
-Cathe Friedrich's Basic Step + Body Fusion (I can just opt to do the cardio portions, or if it is a strength training day, I can do the weights, abs or lower body work)
-Karen Voight's Ultimate Circuit Training (actually has a cardio only option on the DVD menu)
-Keli Robert's The Ultimate Step Workout

Strength Training (minimum 2 times a week, trying to work up to about every other day)
-Tamilee Webb's I Want That Body
-Cathe Friedrich's Basic Step + Body Fusion
-Karen Voight's Ultimate Circuit Training
-Cathe Friedrich's All Step (I only use this for the shoulder work segment toward the end--it's amazing)

Stretching, Pilates, Etc. (At least 3 times a week)
-Cathe Friedrich's Total Body Stretching
-Tamilee Webb's Total Stretch for Beginners
-Windsor Pilates
-A.M. & P.M. Stretch
-Windsor Pilates Back Workout

And that's pretty much what I'm doing. I occasionally switch in stability ball, medicine ball or kettlebell workouts for strength training if I'm bored or I pull out one of my five other step aerobics tapes that are really old. But those listed above are pretty much my go-to workout DVD's that are keeping me motivated at present. I'm still not in the shape I want to be in because my workouts have to be so short, but they are helping fight my fatigue.

And as for keeping my apartment fairly decent and presentable and laundry clean, well I've been using the FlyLady system of cleaning since last March and I have to tell you... this has been a Godsend since getting married and working a job with such long hours!!! I've also adapted it to my classroom and it has made such a difference.

And as for cooking, well I simply just force myself to sit down and make a menu plan every week, then I grocery shop with Ciaran with that menu in mind. After grocery shoppinjg, I post said menu plan to our fridge. And every night before I go to bed, I check what's on the menu for the next day, pull out the necessary meat from the freezer (if applicable), prechop or prepare anything that can be done ahead of time and it seems to make meal preparation a little simpler when I get home completely exhausted from work. But once again, poor Ciaran is getting his fair share of freezer meals and take-out this year. I aim to prepare four solid meals a week, sometimes I do more, sometime less, depending on both of our schedules. Ciaran also is a great cook and jumps in on some of the days when I'm drowning in papers or just need a break. (My two current favorites that he makes are salmon and beef enchiladas...and we just bought a gas grill that should arrive a week from tomorrow, so I'll get to enjoy his amazing grilling soon--I've missed that since we've moved down here).

Well, that's enough commentary on the attempt to stay balanced and semi-sane in the midst of busyness, hopefully I'll be able to post more later this week. I hope everyone is enjoying this gorgeous Sabbath.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Andy Stanley Revisited

Hehe, all right, I know that title alone may have pulled a few Midland Free people (from the old days, i.e. 2005 or so) to this blog. Andy Stanley isn't really a name I have come across lately. But there was a time in the past, that I heard the name mentioned frequently...hehe, almost ad nauseaum. :-) I'm not a big fan, never have been really so you can imagine my interest when a blog I frequent had a post entitled "Good, Bad, and Ugly--Andy Stanley on Preaching." Well of course, I had to click right over and see what the post was about. I invite you to do the same if you are so inclined. The pastor who authors the blog (The Dead Theologians Society) brought up a few points that have concerned me for quite a few years. Yes, Andy Stanley has a noble passion to see pastors as effective communicators, but often I find he does so at the expense of the Truth. Make sure you check out the post. Hehe, did you catch the name of the blog? The title alone makes it worth visiting. You all know how much I love my dead theologians. :-) Which, by the way, I still enjoy--I'm gobbling up Jonathan Edwards' The Religious Affections again. ;-) And the blogger is a pastor of a little church over in Bay City, just an FYI.

Also, if you check out the blog mentioned above, make sure you click on the Recommendations tab before you leave. I love his book recommendations--they are most helpful!

Worn Out

Whew, people weren't kidding when they said that March is one of the most difficult months to teach. I am WORN OUT! I still love my job, but man do I need a break. The kids are squirrely, I'm exhausted and you combine those two ingredients and you have a recipe for frustrating days in the classroom. I'm drowning in papers to grade once again and I just want to sleep. But nine more school days and it will be spring break. Goodness, it can't get here soon enough. I am so worn out I actually opted to stay home tonight instead of going to watch Ciaran play soccer. Now you know I'm exhausted when I opt out of watching my amazing husband play soccer. :-) Speaking of my dear husband--we celebrated our six month wedding anniversary on Thursday!! Can you believe it?! Time really does fly when you're having fun.

And as for my exhaustion from work, Nicole and I attempted to remedy that last night after dinner. I got this new workout DVD, it's a five mile walking DVD (12 minute miles). I am so out of shape, I was huffing and puffing after two miles. Then we did some ab work and we both were so sore today by 4th block. Praise God though for encouraging friends to keep me motivated to work out and choose healthy activities to help remedy my exhaustion.

In other news, my mom is really quite sick right now, so please keep her in your prayers. I am so grateful for family and dear Christian brothers and sisters who step in and have been caring for my mom, especially when I am two and a half hours away from her. Thank you all of you--you have been such an answer to prayer!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Ah, I've been remiss in not mentioning any football news here. Unfortunately the demands of my job have kept me from fully indulging in a lot of Chelsea action. But I am looking forward to Champions League quarterfinals. I love Champions League so much and both Man. U. and Chelsea are heading into quarterfinals. I'm hoping our two teams don't end up having to play each other before we can both make it to the finals. I really would like a Man. U v. Chelsea Champions League Final. Well, here's hoping. All right, that's about it for football thoughts tonight. Back to grading papers I go.

Currently Reading

I just got a new book today. It's James R White's The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal to Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free. Oh my goodness, I've only read a few pages and it's already impossible to put down. Since I've been attending an Arminian church for almost six months now, it is so refreshing to go back to the Bible and be reminded of "God's sovereignty and the perfection of the work of Christ" (13) and read and pick apart the "thoroughly biblical theology of man's deadness in sin and God's kingly freedom" (14). If you're looking for a book to take you back to God's Word and counters Geisler's confusing and disturbing Chosen But Free, then this is the book for you. This book came highly recommended by a good family friend and her pastor and even though I only just began reading it simply is too good to put down.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hitting My Stride?!

I've been meaning to post something about teaching for quite a few weeks now, and something always arises to prevent it. But tonight, I decided to set a timer for fifteen minutes and blog for just a little bit. For those of you who had to listen to me complain first semester about all my struggles with teaching, I wish you were here now. I am LOVING teaching. I don't know what changed or really when it changed, but sometime around the end of February I found myself smiling at the end of the day as I surveyed the piles of student work or my desk piled with research for my lesson plans. I found myself relishing the time in the classroom and having a reputation for being crazy and passionate about English Language Arts. And all I can do is praise God for helping me transform my time in the classroom into a form of worship of Him. Because I think that was the root cause of the change. It's so hard to put into words, but take yesterday for example. I looked around at my thirty-four students in my fourth block and I just felt as if I was going to burst with joy. Here I was, coaxing reluctant and sleepy fourteen through eighteen-year-old students to get excited about Arthur Miller's The Crucible and I was acting out stuff all dramatically and I realized....oh my goodness, I think I am finally hitting my stride as a teacher. The kids were smiling and actually looking at their text and I don't know, it was a cool moment for me. And I've been having moments like this almost every other day for the past couple weeks. Praise God, work isn't something I dread any longer!!! While Ciaran and I were on our way to the grocery store last night, I shared some of this with him and he was actually pretty surprised because he said it wasn't really until his second year of teaching that he really started to experience some of the things I described to him. And you know what, I really have to attribute this to the Lord. I was praying so hard about this all of January and in one of my times alone with Him, He reminded me that all work needs to be done for His glory and so I prayed that He would help transform my heart so my work would become a form of worship. And now, almost two months later, I'm starting to feel this a little. Praise God! All right, my time is up to write, I hope these jumbled thoughts make a bit of sense. If not, maybe I'll be able to carve a little bit of time out of my schedule tomorrow to post some more.