My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

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My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

Was I always a little flaky? I don’t know. For years, I could get away with being very loosy-goosy with my planning because I was a stay-at-home mom of preschoolers. We moved all the time too, so by the time people developed expectations of me, we were off and away to the next town.

Over the years, I have slipped into a routine of planning as little as I can get away with planning. I’ll procrastinate decisions until they are made for me. Yep. Guilty of that. Sometimes I get this fear of commitment. If I sign up for things, I’m going to have to figure out how to actually accomplish those things with toddlers in tow.

And I never knew when my husband would be here or not be here, so making plans felt like shooting darts– real darts–in a room full of people, blindfolded.

No thanks.

So friends, that is how I became the version of April you have today.

April, are you going to the yada yada yada meeting?

**Total deer in the headlights**

Ummmm. Uhhhhhh.  Umm, yeah, you know, I might…

(Inside my head I’m thinking……IF all 4 kids are well, IF Alan is in town, IF I have energy left that day…..IF I am not supposed to actually be at Dan’s tee-ball game or some Army function that I can’t remember the exact dates for…..If, If, If…..)

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

I love to rock me some babies. Go away, world, until I finish this.

 

Actually, for the past 11 years those were all perfectly good reasons to be flaky, indecisive, unprepared, uncommitted, and unsure. Did I shut the world out a little bit? Yes, yes, I definitely did.

In fact, I had to google the word “twerking” not too long ago. I’m so out of touch with pop culture, and I kept hearing that word. All I can say to that one is ew, girl! Ew. Somebody get that poor girl a sweater and some capri pants.

But things keep popping up on our calendars, and I’ve re-entered the world of work with my blog. I actually HAVE to FORCE myself to plan and be less free-spirited, more grown-up like.

You people who have a plan amaze me, and I mean that in a good way. You totally have my respect.

You know when you are going on vacation. You’ve actually committed to specific dates, and you probably even know how you are gong to pay for that.

You have a budget.

You know when people’s birthdays are, and you plan for that accordingly.

You keep some sort of planner or calendar.

 My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan
About that….Y’all! I have purchased TWO different “planners” this year. They are both mostly blank. I have a calendar hanging in my kitchen too, which makes 3 planners, really. All I’ve written on that one is what the kids are doing for lunch and when their dentist appointments are.

I even downloaded an editorial calendar plug-in to try and start planning my blog posts. (It’s actually extremely helpful, fellow bloggers, check it out. It’s called “editorial calendar.”)

Only I’m so anti-structured in my thinking, I can rarely bring myself to write about what I’m ‘scheduled’ to write about.

I also have 2 different e-books I’ve written half of, and now they are just sitting on my hard-drive taking up space. My hard drive is so full, my computer has actually stopped letting me download or upload new things.

And suddenly I find myself wanting to change.

See, I bought all those planners. That’s the first step. I WANT to do the right thing and be all responsible again. I always was one-half responsible and one-half not at all, even back in high school and college. I used to make myself plans and stick to them, sort of. Well, I used to make plans. Maybe I never did really stick to them. I almost always turn in everything on time, actually, but I live in fear of signing up for extra things.

So I decided to pray about this today.

And this was my answer:  If you can plan out each day by making a list and crossing things off, then you can apply that same strategy to weeks. Then apply it to months. Then do that for years. Do it at the start of each week, each month, and each year, just like you are doing now for days.

Huh. Brilliant. Maybe even doable?

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

My planning tends to never go past the day that I’m on. This is the typical extent of my planning.

 

What I do now for each day is this. After I have safely delivered all of my children to school, I come home and have a little time for Bible study and prayer. You have to pour inspiration in to yourself if you expect to pour any out, right?

I close with prayer, and I ask God to help me make my to-do list for that day. I write the list out on the wipe-off board in the kitchen. Then I mentally prioritize the things that HAVE to get done.

That’s why I usually cook supper in the morning, by 12:00, because I know everyone HAS to eat, and I don’t want that task hanging over my head. Also, I have no energy left at 5:00pm.

I see no reason why this method for planning each day could not be applied to my weeks, months, and years, with one of the 3 planners I’ve purchased laying open on my lap.

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

And don’t even say that I should use my phone as my planner. I can’t do it. This falls under scatter-brained people problems. The minute I open my phone to use the calendar or some other useful, productive app, I immediately forget what I was doing and end up reading Instagram or my email or something.

So watch out, world! I now have a plan for how to plan!!!! Who knows? Maybe next week I will make a budget, a meal plan, or catch up on my 2,809 emails…….nahhhhh…

Please share your best planning tips in the comment section! We would love to hear more ideas! Thanks, y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe it?

How do we know the Bible is reliable?

How do we know the Bible is reliable?

 

 

If someone asked you why you believe the Bible, would you know what to tell them?? This is important, y’all. Faith is paramount, but people need some reasons behind that faith. These days most people are not educated about the Bible.

I’m going to do the best I can to re-tell the excellent illustration that Pastor Craig Bowers used to show just how reliable the Bible is.

How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe it?

Jar illustration: This shows how many separate ancient manuscripts exist of the Bible as opposed to the works of Julius Caesar, Plato, or Aristotle. And yet, which one do naysayers question?

Do you see those first few jars on the left? Those represent how many ancient writings we have found from Julius Caesar, Plato, or Aristotle. We have 10 remaining copies of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. That’s the 1st jar.

Plato had a handful of letters that remained. That’s the 2nd jar.

Aristotle has 49 copies remaining, and the oldest one of those was copied 1400 years after Aristotle died. 

Does anyone question these tiny jars of writings? No.

You see the 1 jar to the left of the Bible that is full of packing peanuts? That one represents Homer’s works. Most of these were recorded ages after Homer was long gone. But no one questions the validity of these documents. These are great stories. No problem.

Do you see those stacks and stacks of Sam’s size jars of packing peanuts to the right of the Bible?? Those represent how many ancient copies have been found of the Bible, in miraculous agreement with each other. There are over 24,000 copies. Over 24,000!!!

Over 5,000 ancient “Greek manuscripts from the New Testament alone still exist today.” (source 2, page 18)

The Dead Sea Scrolls were written between 200 BC and 68 AD and are the same as the manuscripts we have today.

By 200 AD, the Bible was already translated into 7 different languages.

By 500 AD–13 languages

By 900–17 languages

By 1400–28 languages

And remember, this is all long before the invention of the printing press in 1440.

How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe it?

The Bible itself was written by eye-witness accounts, eye-witness accounts who had other witnesses to hold them accountable for telling the truth.

This was so real to these apostles that 10 out of 12 of them died a martyr’s death for this cause. What were they killed for? Simply for preaching the gospel. Jesus saves. Trust in Jesus. They never hurt a soul. In fact, they healed many people.

The Bible doesn’t have a leg to stand on, it has at least 24,000 legs to stand on. The evidence is overwhelming. 

And that’s not all!! There are countless other writings and archaeological finds from antiquity that support the stories in the Bible. There are stories of the flood, stories of the Exodus, and the list goes on and on.

People don’t disbelieve the Bible because the evidence isn’t there. The evidence is everywhere. People disbelieve because either they are ignorant or because their hearts are hardened to the truth.

As believers, it is also our responsibility to know WHY we believe. I hope you found reassurance in these facts today.

13This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’ 14In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.…    Matthew 13:13-14

For God so loved the world he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

 

Sources:

1.) Sermon notes from Craig Bowers, Jan. 15, 2017. You can follow him on this recently launched YouTube channel.

2.) Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Time Lines, 2015, pages 10-11, 48-49

3.) 25 Fascinating Facts About the Dead Sea Scrolls 

4.) The Holy Bible, NIV

5.) The Holy Bible, KJV

 

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The Book–I had an exciting break through!

 

These women + Pam and sometimes Tegan, Amy,  and Katie. These women are how I got through Operation Iraqi Freedom I, 2003.

These women + Pam and sometimes Sally, Suzy, Tegan, Amy, and Katie. These women are how I got through Operation Iraqi Freedom I, 2003-2004. We were the real “Army Wives,” long before cable had that t.v. show. And I know so many spouses just like us, all over the world, across all branches of service. We have this unique life, which is both good and bad, and our stories are worth hearing.

I don’t know if you remember, but before I gave birth to JD, I was writing a book. Yes, that was over three years ago now. I haven’t touched it that whole time.

I can’t write that particular book anymore. It’s not the book I want to write at this time.

Each morning I open my inbox in hope of seeing a blog job offer that I will want to take on. This week I had opportunities to review a security system, a bidet, and coconut oil that costs $20 a jar…..when you can buy it for $8 a jar at any grocery store, yes, even organic. I was a little less than enthused. I passed on those.

(####As a blogger, it is my promise to you, my reader, to only review products I’m excited about or truly believe in.####)

I’m still happy blogging, and I’m constantly trying to learn how to be better at it and grow my audience. But for the past two years, I kept thinking about the book. (The first year I had JD the book wasn’t even on the radar. I was just happy to accomplish teeth brushing.)

I kept thinking, “Maybe once the move is done, I’ll work on my book again.”

And sometimes I mention it, and people ask me, “What is your book about?”

“Ummmmmm..uhhhh…” Cue the crickets….

“I don’t actually know what I’m going to write a book about, but for some reason, I’d really like to write one.” I actually feel this pressure to do it. I can’t explain it.

Then three nights ago, I had just gotten out of the shower, and BAM! It hit me! I knew what to write about.

Don’t you get your best ideas while showering? I mean I do, normally, unless there is a toddler beating on the shower door whispering, “Mom, get out. Mom get out.”

Sometimes JD just whispers. It’s cute, not creepy though. Well, sometimes it’s creepy.

Sorry. I’m rambling. So what am I going to write about?

I think it’s time for me to tell my war stories and how God and some wonderful friends brought us through them.

It’s been 15 years now since Sept. 11. It was the war of my generation. And it’s still a gigantic problem. I was 20 back then, and I sent my husband overseas to take part in the War on Terrorism three times already, as did many of my friends. We’ve spent a cumulative total of three plus years of our marriage apart. 

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’03 or ’04, with my sister military spouses

There are so many stories to tell! Some hilarious, like times spent with my 4 best friends back in Texas in ’03, before any of us had children. Some sad, like when Caleb ran to a random dude instead of Alan at Alan’s 2010 home-coming. Some heartbreaking, as when we lost friends and bosses as casualties to the war.

It’s been so long now that people are beginning to forget. I’ve actually had someone ask me why I should get a military discount. And Congress is constantly threatening our benefits. Then there was that whole VA healthcare debacle.

So many things happened. And while you often hear of books about “letters from war”, you seldom hear about letters TO war. Well, who wants to read about that? There’s no shooting or convoy attacks in letters from home, right? Well, there are our reactions to them. Then there are the hilarious and sometimes gut-wrenching adventures that an Army wife takes on with her family while she’s left behind.

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My sweet military kids during their first deployment experience. At this point,in 2010, Alan had returned from a 15 month tour. Caleb was still calling MY dad “Dad.”

Things like walking your son through EEGs and MRIs because he’s suddenly having seizures and trying to explain it all to your husband in Iraq, while your son’s pre-school teacher calls your son their “little class mascot” as they support him through his medical trials.

Things like getting over-the-moon-I-just-won-the-lottery kind of excited watching the train traveling back into town, loaded down with tanks and Humvees, and wondering what day that they will send your husband too, but knowing that they are finally, after the longest year ever, actually going to come home!!!

And oh, sharing deployment with four close friends who saved each other’s lives that year. Okay. Not literally, but we’ve seen how stress can kill a person, so maybe literally! Yes, definitely literally. Yes, we saved each other’s lives.

I had no idea what I was getting into, but I couldn't wait to start!

I had no idea what I was getting into, but I couldn’t wait to start!

There are so many things I want to tell. Military wives, I know you have stories just like mine and worse and better and then some. I’d love to hear your tales. Maybe after I tell my story I can tell yours too. Hopefully, by telling mine, I will also be telling a lot of yours too. But it’s beautiful how each one us has a slightly different story to tell.

Okay. JD is here, and his nap is apparently over, and he needs me to put his pants back on him, so I’m outta here. Tell me what you think about my book idea. Don’t worry. I’ll change the names, and I’ve already gotten Alan’s buy-in.

We wish you all a fabulous Labor Day weekend!

 

 

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Why Cope When You Can Conquer?

I’ve been reading this book. It looks like this:

Why Cope When You Can Conquer?

 It’s an encouraging book. It asks an annoyingly high volume of questions. I never did enjoy answering questions. See, it’s a Bible study guide, but it’s not one of these where you have to watch a video or attend a class to go with it. You can totally just read the guide on your own. (But I did warn you about the questions.)

Don’t worry. The book is still worth it. You can’t read it without learning and growing in your faith. There’s this one particular story that struck a chord with me this week. It’s in Lesson 6: Where to Run in Trouble.

The author, Juanita Purcell, asked this: “When did the Israelites discover they had been delivered from Sennacherib’s invasion?” Read 2Kings 19:35

It was the morning. 

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Purcell said this, and she’s referring to a time when Senacherrib of Assyria was attacking Jerusalem in the 700sBC, “As the enemies gathered against the city of God, the nations were in an uproar. Yet the Angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night. This miraculous event was no big deal to God. He doesn’t even tell us how it happened. Is anything too hard for the Lord?”  (source 1, page 62)

So I had to dig into my Bible, into 2 Kings chapters 19 and 20 to remind myself what exactly was going on here.

Big surprise. Hezekiah was king. He’s my favorite king of Judah. This was the kingdom of Judah, not Israel. Israel did indeed fall to Assyria, but Judah (the southern kingdom) didn’t really. (They fell to Babylon later on, after Hezekiah.) This was because of leadership. They had Hezekiah, and Hezekiah had God.

This is what Hezekiah did when he found out that Assyria was coming for him. He prayed:

“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it….” (2 Kings 19:14)

Yep. He got a threat letter.

“Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord.”  2 Kings 19:14-15

It goes on to describe his prayer. But I mean, basically, “God, save us from these horrible people!!” I just love how the Bible tells us that Hezekiah spread the letter out before the Lord. He was a man who took his prayers seriously, so God took Hezekiah’s prayers seriously. King Hezekiah had great faith.

My take away here: “Trust in the Lord. He will solve your problems in your sleep.”

Oh, and you might be wondering how the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 soldiers while the  armies were sleeping. Historians speculate that it was a plague of mice, an outbreak of the Bubonic plague. *oooo eebidy jeebidies*

I don’t know what problems you might be facing today, but God will lead you to the answers that you NEED, if you ask him to. Have faith and trust in the Lord, and he will not let you down. He is trustworthy. I tried so many things this past year to figure out my health problems, and eventually I was actually able to overcome my chronic joint pain by simply dropping gluten from my diet. That was not a conclusion I ever suspected, but God answered my prayers through the advice of my doctors and my friends. Praise God!

why cope when you can conquer

Carmel Valley, photo by Janet

So have no fear. Trust in the Lord. He will solve your problems in your sleep.

sources:

1. Why Cope When You Can Conquer? by Juanita Purcell, published by RBP Women’s Studies, 1999

2. 2 Kings 19 and 20, The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan 

3. Wikipedia, Hezekiah

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“She had come at last to the bend in the road.”–L.M. Montgomery

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Our church is cleaning out its library. Each Sunday the library-powers-that-be spread out about 50 books all over four tables, and anyone can come in and pick out which books they’d like to take home. They are all free.

We have a large library of our own, here at April’s School for Little Men, so I have not been too tempted.

Until today.

What do you think I found today? FOUR books from the Anne of Green Gables series. Good ol’ paperbacks!!

I took a deep breath the moment I saw them. I have misplaced my copies. I haven’t seen them in two years, at least. And there on that “free books” table sat series numbers 2,3,4, and 7! I picked one up. I thought about it.

I put it back down. “No,” I thought, “Some teen or tween girl may read them for the first time if I leave them here and enjoy them as much as I did. I won’t take them.”

And I went on in to church.

I came out an hour later, and you know I had to check. There they sat. All four books, all alone, all for free. I swiped them all up in my arms before anyone could challenge me and dashed off to the nursery to pick up J.D.

Once home, I fed the boys as quickly as I could. Then I snuck off to my room and skimmed the pages. I came across a couple of touching quotes, towards the end of Anne of Avonlea. Anne has completed two years of teaching in Avonlea, putting her college dreams on hold, as she feels it’s her duty to stay and take care of Marilla. Then suddenly, things change, and Anne learns that she may return to college in the fall.

I am further along in my life’s journey than Anne, who is 18 at this point, but how I can relate to these book quotes! We are indeed coming to the bend in the road. We’ve spent our time researching schools, travel plans, and neighborhoods. There are eight weeks left in the school year, and in only 3 months we will be Southerners again.

Each day the picture becomes clearer.

“Joy and regret struggled together in her heart. She had come at last..to the bend in the road.”   –Anne of Avonlea, chapter 26.

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When we moved in, JD was barely one, and not walking yet.

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kayaking in the bay

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A more supportive group of homeschool moms than I ever dreamed possible! (Thank you, Lord!!)

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sweet friends

 

“I’ve put out a lot of little roots these two years,” Anne told the moon, “and when I’m pulled up they’re going to hurt a great deal. But it’s best to go, I think, and as Marilla says, there’s no good reason why I shouldn’t. I must get out all my ambitions and dust them.” —Anne of Avonlea, chapter 26

Moving is always bittersweet, and we will miss all of our new friends. But this move is more sweet than bitter. This time we are going home.

I will always have hope. I hope you do too.

This verse has been my theme song as I’ve struggled with the new heart medicines and decisions about the future. Yes, indeed. I will always have hope. I hope you do too.

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