5 Ways to Take a Break Every Day (Even on the Busiest Days!)

Recently, I was asked what I do in my downtime to relax. I met the question with unintentional laughter. “What downtime?!” Juggling Junior’s therapy appointments almost daily along with the typical household duties didn’t leave me much time for any kind of break. But, later I thought about it. Everyone needs a break. Recognizing that even if that break is only for five minutes, I then set out to try and steal moments from every day to recharge. Here are a few ideas for carving out little breaks, even on the busiest of days.

1. Start the Day off Right
-I’m not a morning person. At all. In fact, Stinker is usually the one who wakes me up in the mornings. Despite not waking up before my kids every day, I start every morning reading a short devotional and praying for wisdom and guidance through the day. It starts the day off right, and reminds me that God is with me no matter what we encounter throughout the day.

2. In the Car
-We’re often going somewhere. Appointments, soccer practice, the grocery store…somewhere. I often talk to the kids, or listen to a kid’s music CD, but there are times when I ask Stinker to be quiet for 5 minutes and let her color, and I’ll turn on a sermon or my favorite encouraging CD. I turn the volume way up, and pretend I’m alone. Somehow, these quiet few moments give me a little boost to get through the rest of the day.

3. Outside
-One of my favorite places to take a mini-break during the day is outside. There’s something so relaxing about the warm sun, the birds calling, and the fresh air. Sometimes while the kids are safely inside playing, I’ll step outside for a moment, take some deep breaths, say a quick prayer, notice the beauty of the nature around me, and head back in. When we have more time, I love taking the kids for a walk. Exercise seems to help perspective, and give me more energy to tackle the rest of the day.

4. Deep Breaths
-Several times during the day, I make it an effort to stretch and take deep breaths (in through your nose, hold for 5 seconds, out slowly through your mouth). This mini-break helps me to re-focus.

5. Hobby Time 
-Having young children is exhausting, and doesn’t leave you for much time to pursue other hobbies. I really used to enjoy reading, but have found that the opportunities to read have been few and far between. But, through a conscious effort, I’ve been trying to carve out time every day to read. Sometimes I turn on a show for the children and head into the next room to read. These 10 or 15 minutes do so much for my attitude, and as a result I’m more patient as a mom and more efficient as a homemaker.

What is your favorite way to take a “little break” during a busy day? I’d love to hear your suggestions as well!

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Book Review: Damascus Countdown

Waaaay back in ancient history (the year 2000 to be exact), I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Israel. It is an amazing country wrapped in more history than we in the US could ever fathom. I strolled along the same dusty paths walked by Jesus. I gazed at ruins in the city of Jericho, stones that Joshua’s men could very well have touched.

I hope to return to the Holy Land someday, but in the meantime I’ve enjoyed reading books that involve Israel and imagine myself there. So, I was very excited to have the chance to read Joel C. Rosenberg’s latest thriller Damascus Countdown, the third book in the Twelfth Imam series. 

You know those books you start and can’t seem to stop reading, even when it’s late and you really should be sleeping because the baby will be up in 4 hours, and you keep promising yourself “just one more chapter”, and fall asleep drooling into the book because you never put it down? That’s how this book was for me. It was like the Left Behind series meets Tom Clancy.

The main character, David Shirazi, is a CIA plant in Iran and his team’s mission is to find two nuclear warheads missing from the Iranian arsenal after Israel strikes Iran in a preemptive attack. Intelligence shows that the Iranians are going to launch both warheads at Israel, and it is up to David and his team to stop them. David is a likeable character who has recently become a Christian, and there are many references to Biblical prophecy that have already come true, as well as what prophecies have yet to be fulfilled before the second coming of Christ. The tale follows David and his team, as well as the entourage of the Twelfth Imam, the Islamic messiah who is hellbent on destroying the Jewish nation. Several other characters, such as David’s childhood-friend/girl-next-door/potential-love-interest Marseille Harper and blind Islamic teacher turned Christian Dr. Birjandi play sizable roles.

Damascus Countdown has many action scenes, a lot of Biblical reference, scenes of political tension, some emotional scenes and it was eloquently written as such that I could imagine the faces and personalities of each character in each scene. It was riveting and I was actually kind of sad when I finished which, in my opinion, is the sign of a good book.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Damascus Countdown from Tyndale publishers. All opinions and comments regarding the book are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: Unglued Devotional

I had the opportunity to read the Unglued Devotional: 60 Days of Imperfect Progress, the companion to Lysa TerKeurst’s book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. Both the book and the devotional are aimed towards helping women conquer the negative emotions that sometimes pop up, and rather use our emotions to encourage, uplift, and show compassion.

Lysa is a talented story teller (if you’ve ever heard her speak, she has this fabulous Southern accent that really makes you want to listen!), and her stories are very relateable. Each day during this 60 day journey, the devotional presents a verse, a thought of the day, introduces a relevant story about emotions and not allowing them to get the best of us, and finishes with a prayer towards fulfilling the goal of the day. I really enjoyed this devotional, and it gave me a lot of points to consider, and small goals to work towards. The book is even subtitled: “60 Days of Imperfect Progress”, which took a lot of the pressure off. I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to have a heart that is willing to change my habits.

One of my favorite devotions was regarding something I’ve written a few blog posts about, and have been trying to cultivate daily in my own life: an Attitude of Gratitude. My favorite line really spoke volumes about the source of true joy. When we praise God, despite what our emotions or circumstances dictate, we “stop being blind to all that’s right and see so many more reasons to praise God. And when my heart is full of praise, my emotions aren’t nearly as prone to coming unglued” (TerKeurst 100).

Lysa’s book is full of Biblically sound advice, and was a very enjoyable read. I enjoyed the stories, and realized that some progress is better than no progress in controlling our emotions. My kids still know how to push those buttons, but now I have some tools and encouragement to help me overcome my first reaction of letting that temper show. 

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Unglued: Devotional from Zondervan publishers via BookSneeze. All opinions and comments regarding the book are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.

5 Best Yard Sale Tips

Now that Christmas is over and the reality of “Where am I going to put that?!” sets in, you may be tempted to start thinking Yard Sale! It’s probably too cold in some parts of the country to actually have a yard sale in January, but it’s never too early to start prepping for a yard sale. (I’m not naive, I’m just from Southern California where you can go surfing in January, so yard sales are not that uncommon this time of year.)

We had our most successful yard sale yet several months ago, and I have several tips to help make your sale easy, productive, and fun!

1. Start Early
-As soon as I see something that we’re going to include in our next sale, I put it in a bin in the garage. That way I know exactly how much stuff I have to sell. This keeps me from scrambling around the day before to find more stuff.
-This also applies to the weeks before your scheduled yard sale. I like to price and sort 2-3 weeks before the sale so I don’t get burned out the day before.

2. Get Organized
-Price everything. If something isn’t priced or says “best offer,” people will be less likely to inquire about an item. This also allows you to confirm the price for those not-so-honest shoppers. It’s more time consuming, but it will save you confusion and grief the day of the sale.

3. Grab Some Neighbors
-If you can, try to corral some neighbors into having their own yard sale. A multi-home or neighborhood sale really drives in the traffic! If you market a neighborhood sale on Craigslist or in the paper, you will get many more customers than if you only have a one home sale.

4. Be Realistic
-Just because you had a special bond with your old Teddy Ruxpin or sentimental value because your husband’s late grandmother gave you that bowl, your customers aren’t going to share that sentimental value. Price something realistically, not what it’s worth to you. If you aren’t willing to part with something at a reasonable price, you’ll probably regret getting rid of it anyway.

5. Sell Something Delicious
-Many states have restrictions for selling homemade goodies, so we sold Costco muffins, Costco cookies, and water at our last yard sale. My daughter stood in front of our house and sold these items (some people came just to buy from the cute little girl) and made a profit of $40 once we took out the cost of supplies!
*A tip on this one…have an adult handle the money and teach your child to pick things up using tongs and not their hands. No one wants food that’s been manhandled, then touched with the same hands that have been touching money!

What are your favorite Yard Sale tips?? Please share!

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