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God is teaching me that we can’t assume His plan. I think many times we see God’s plan through our own eyes. We assume perfect to us is perfect to Him. However, I am discovering perfect to us and perfect to Him can look quite different. I know my plan to redeem humanity would not have looked like His. I would not have given up my only son for all of humanity. I am not sure I would have given up my family to save others. I believe I would be too selfish for that. I would have come up with a different plan…maybe like take a deep breath and blow out all the sins of the world. Or I might have simply waved my powerful hands and declared “sin be gone.” But God’s plan looked completely different and guess what, His plan was and still is perfect. I am so thankful that His plan looked different than mine. He is wiser than I am. His understanding of our needs is greater than mine. He sees the days, weeks, months and years ahead, while my sight is limited. My sight can barely mark out my day.

What could possibly happen when we set our heart and mind on our plans?  We can start to question God when it doesn’t look as we have envisioned. We might become bitter and saddened when things don’t go how we assume. We stall ourselves in the waiting until “perfect” comes around. We miss out on opportunities because we are so focused on seeing our plan accomplished. Our days become filled with frustration as we get caught up in the plan, instead of the ultimate Planner.

I know for me I have envisioned what the days ahead look like. As my family has stepped out in faith to move and start a church, my plan was that as the step happened, the house would sell, the resources would line up and so forth, but right now things look a little different. We could sit here and easily question the step of faith we have taken. We could easily decide to wait until our defined perfect rolls around. But instead, we are choosing to submit our plan to Him. We trust His plan is perfect. His timing is perfect and He can be trusted for He knows whats in the store in the days ahead. So, today I am taking time to remind myself that my perfect and his perfect might look a little different…okay, maybe a lot different. Instead of my perfect, I desire His perfect.

Ps. 18:30 “As for God, His way is perfect.”

It does not get any clearer than that. I pray that I am always reminded to seek His way and His plan. I pray that I stay humble and trust His ways our greater than mine. He sees what we need. He sees our hearts desires. He sees the days ahead. He knows what is best for His children. And He can be trusted.

So today I encourage you to submit your plan to His perfect. Take all that you hope and desire and give it God. Seek Him and His ways. Remember His ways our greater than ours. His way is perfect and most of the time looks a little different than our perfect.

I also encourage you to read His word and discover how His ways and His timing in His plan look different than we would assume.




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PACE: the speed at which someone or something moves; speed; tempo; rhythm

I recently joined a women’s workout group that was described as walking and jogging intervals and other interval training. I enjoy intervals so I knew I would enjoy this group. I was also excited to get to meet new friends and exercise a bit as well. The group was so popular that it was soon split in two groups, one group focused on walking and the other focused on running. I’m not a runner, but I knew walking would be an easy way out for me, so I stepped into the running group. As we were heading out, the leader said, “So I was thinking that we would start the Couch25k (C25K) app and complete a 5k at the end of the semester.” As I overheard her say these words, I began to argue with myself and excuses to leave the group ran rampant in my head. But despite my excuses, I stayed. The first couple of weeks of following the app weren’t as hard as I thought. I actually puffed up with a little confidence in my running ability. But then week 4 of the app came and I was dying. Now to be honest my longest run on this day was only five minutes. I know what you are thinking, “Jen, you couldn’t handle five minutes?” But I’ll just admit it…I couldn’t. I’ve never been a runner per se and I could feel my lungs caving in at 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I left that day feeling pretty defeated. I consider myself pretty healthy working out 3 times a week or more and eating healthy the majority of the time, but on this day I questioned it all. I walked away thinking I was completely out of shape and more excuses of why I should quit surfaced again.

I had to make a choice: quit or show up the next week. With some encouragement from my family and the other women in the group, I stayed. I started following the C25K app at home to train my body for the group running days. When I arrived at group the following week and we started our run, our leader said something to me that stuck with me and has not left. We had just begun an 8-minute run and she looked at me and said, “Her pace isn’t your pace. You have to find your pace.” She went on to tell me that my friend, whom I was running with, runs 8-minutes per mile. My friend also ran track in college and clearly has had way more training than I in the running department. My leader continued to encourage me to find my pace and that once I found my pace, completing my runs would become easier. And she was completely right; it was easier. That day I walked away completing the entire run.

HER PACE ISN’T YOUR PACE…I was trying to keep a pace that I was not physically able to keep. I was wearing my body out by striving to stay at a pace that was not mine. (Did you know that there are pace charts for running based on age, weight, height and distance?) Once I found my pace, I not only completed the runs, but there was so much peace in it. I actually enjoyed the run once I discovered my pace. As I thought about this more and more I realized that finding our pace isn’t just important when running, but also important in every day life. Her pace, whether that’s a friend, someone you work with, a family member, or a simple acquaintance, is not your pace. Sometimes I can find myself trying to keep the pace of others thinking if I can keep up with their pace, I am accomplishing more. Sometimes I find myself adding to my day to make my pace seem more attractable to others. But the reality is trying to run the pace or rhythm of someone else’s life leaves me feeling defeated and tired. When I’m upping my tempo to impress those I around me, I’m again left worn out. It is also very hard to finish the race, goal or path before us when we are not living in the correct pace. The desire to quit creeps in more and more when we set our lives in an unhealthy rhythm.

So how do you discover your pace? Here are a few questions that are leading me to discover my pace.

  1. First I must ask myself daily, “God, what is the pace you have called me to today and in this season of my life?”
  2. Do I have peace in my pace? When you discover your pace, I believe there is an unexplainable peace that is found.
  3. Are my days constantly leaving me rushed, tired and overwhelmed? This is usually a sign that I need to change my pace.
  4. What is currently on my plate? Sometimes I add so much responsibility to my plate that I can barely run the path of my days. Is their something on your plate that needs to be removed? There may even be something that needs to be added. It is possible that you finish your days speedily but not fulfilling. You don’t want to add the very thing God is asking of you out of fear that your pace will have to change. But know this…it is better to have a changed pace doing what God has called you to do than a fast pace unfulfilled.
  5. Do I simply enjoy my days? Does my pace let me enjoy my family, friends and things God has placed in my life?

Now I know the pace set now may not be the pace I have in a coming season. Pace can change as we face circumstances, transitions, valleys and mountains. Think about this in the natural…it is easier to run a faster pace on level ground than to run a fast pace up a mountain. This is also true in our lives. I believe we need to evaluate the pace of our days to discover if God desires us to slow it down or speed it up. As you approach news seasons and circumstances, refer back to the questions above to help you discern your pace. And in all seasons, circumstances, and days of life I hope you do not live in a pace that doesn’t belong to you. Discover your own pace and remind yourself that her pace is not your pace.

My prayer is that you would take time in the next few days to evaluate your pace.

My prayer is that you no longer live in the stress of someone else’s pace.

My prayer is that you would discover a pace that brings peace and fulfillment. A pace that brings you freedom to fully live in the path set before you.


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All About Avocados

The green fruit…AVOCADOS. If you asked me a few months ago if I liked avocados I would have immediately told you that I hated them. I would most definitely have given you a yucky, disgusted face and explained that all they were to me was green mush. My friends loved them and were always telling me how healthy they were and so forth. But in my mind, avocados and I would never be friends. We were just not meant to be…at least that is what I had assumed.

See avocados and I had only a few encounters with its oh so famous dish, guacamole. I tried and tried to like this dip, but I could never find myself to like it. Then one day I was looking up a healthy frosting for some brownies and the one I found was made with avocados. I was thinking, “there is no way the green mush is going to make a good dessert,” but boy was I wrong. I whipped up this yummy chocolate frosting using avocados. Yes, I know; I cannot believe it either. This then lead me to wonder what other yummy things I had been missing because of my avocado ban.

What I discovered was that it wasn’t that I did not like avocados, but I had not liked them prepared the ways I traditionally had them before. Now avocados are something I look to use almost every week. I use them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. There are so many ways I have found to add them to recipes and I hope to expand your view on this wonderful green fruit. See some recipes I love below.

  • Avocado toast
    • There are a million different creations for this, but my favorite is simply mashed avocado on top of toasted bread with a poached egg on top. Check out this easy recipe at Pinch of Yum.
  • Scrambled eggs with avocados
    • Simply scramble your eggs and add chops or slivers of avocados to them. It creates a creamy texture and adds a few more healthy benefits to your morning.
  • Smoothies
    • When making your smoothie add a 1-2 slices of avocados. You will never even know they are in there. This is also an easy way for your kids to eat something healthy for breakfast. Note: Too much avocado will change the flavor and texture so I would encourage you, especially avocado beginners, to start with less.
  • Brownies
    • This week I made avocado brownies from The Healthy Maven. I really liked them as they weren’t too sweet and the texture was great. My kids, however, thought they needed to be sweeter of course. I am looking to try another recipe I discovered from Frugal Mom Eh to see if I can win them over and since she uses chocolate versus cocoa powder, I am thinking the sweet factor will be there. I’m pretty positive winning them over will not be too hard.
  • Chocolate Frosting
    • Have you ever read the ingredients on the package of the store bought frosting? I have and therefore decided to whip up my own, which is when I discovered an avocado frosting from Veggie Primer. Now I will admit this does not taste like a store bought frosting, but it is still delicious. It is silky and smooth. It passed the yummy test with my husband, kids, and friends.

What are some non-traditional ways you have found to incorporate avocados? If you don’t have any, I would love for you to try some of the recipes above or venture out with your next creation and add some avocados. What I have discovered is that there are endless ways to add them to dishes you already prepare. So I guess I should say that avocados and I have become friends and that the ban has been lifted.

Check out some of the health benefits of this green fruit at Authority Nutrition.





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Back to Blogging

Back to school for the kids and back to blogging for me. This summer went by extremely fast. We went from nothing planned to a summer full of events, camps, travel and more. Even though it went fast, we had a great time and shared some amazing memories. One of them was going to a beautiful lake for vacation. The beach is our usual vacation spot, but this year we went with something different and were so glad we did. As I kid, I went to the lake every summer with my family and grandparents, so I was excited to experience the same thing with my husband and kids. The boys had so many “firsts” on this trip. I loved sitting back and watching them leap into the lake, hold on tight while riding the tube and scream “faster” on the jet skis. We also were able to travel to California and Louisiana to visit friends and family. We savor every chance we get to see them. (Check out some snaps of our adventurous summer below)

And now we are back to getting on schedules with school, sports, work, groups, etc. This is always a fun transition…said no one ever! Liam is starting first grade and playing flag football and Nixon is starting Pre-K and playing baseball. We are excited to see how they continue to grow and learn. I also absolutely love watching them play sports and yes, I am sometimes the mom who is obnoxiously screaming from the stands for their kids. With all that the rest of the year holds, I am excited to share some new stuff on the blog. I have some new recipes I’ve tried out, parenting tools I have found and some things I am learning about in life. So happy “Back to School” and “Back to Blogging” everyone. I am looking forward to connecting again next week….And just a hint I might be sharing a little something about avocados.

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“Shout Out to All the MOMs!!!” by Heather Cromer

A few weeks ago my good friend, Heather Cromer, shared such an encouraging word to a group of moms and I could not pass up the opportunity to share with you. Heather is an amazing mom of two boys, 4 and almost 2 years old. She mothers with such a beautiful heart. She is the mom who has gone and will go to the ends of the earth for her children. I have watched first hand. I hope her advice and reminders below encourage you as much as they encouraged me.

Dear Sister Friends,

The past 2 years I have found myself in one of the most authentic, hilarious, life-giving small groups of women. I think I love it so much because I see the body of Christ active in it. As a group, we celebrate when one of us has something to celebrate. When one is grieving, we all mourn AND PRAY together. During this season of raising littles, there have been so many times I just needed someone to remind me that I, my unique self with desires and dreams of my own, was still in there. I needed the reminder that I was more than just a mom. That I was more than just a food-preparing, laundry-folding, diaper-changing robot with no actual thoughts or feelings. These moms do that for me. When I got together with them a few weeks ago, God gave me some encouraging thoughts to share and I pray they encourage you as well.

DISCLAIMER: For the following thoughts to make sense, You should go read 1 Corinthians 12:12-28.

– COMPARISON is SUCH A KILL JOY. I am so thankful to be in this particular time and surrounded by a group of women who seem to be understanding that we are not in competition with each other. In fact, we actually help to complete each other. We are after all each different parts of the body! God is all about unity & honors it. We need each other!

– I want to bring to your attention the fact that there are internal organs in your physical body that will literally never see the light of day BUT without them, we DIE. In the same way, there are some behind the scenes roles in the body of Christ that may never be recognized or abundantly appreciated but without them the body of Christ does not function as it should. I know sometimes as a stay-at-home mom with a son with special needs, I have thought, “I may never see the light of day”. However, the work I am doing is SO valuable. So is YOUR work. I want to encourage you if you are feeling like an “unseen part” THE BODY CANNOT FUNCTION WITHOUT YOU. I SEE YOU. GOD SEES YOU.

– Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first. You are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life” – Anna Quindlen

– From For the Love by Jen Hatmaker:  “A worthy life involves loving as loved folks do, sharing the ridiculous mercy God spoiled us with first. It means restoring people, in ordinary conversations and regular encounters. A worthy life means showing up when showing up is the only thing to do. To Mama at home with a bunch of littles, you can live a life worthy right now. Your calling is today. God makes you worthy as you desire goodness for your children, meeting needs and nurturing little souls. No future calling is any more important than your current stationYou have access to the kingdom now: the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That is every Christians calling and the gospel is perfectly demonstrated through the daily labor of parenting.” (Can I get an amen!!!)

– Faithfulness is not easy, but it is simple. You are already able, already positioned, already valuable in your normal life on your normal street next to your normal neighbors in your normal work.

Jen Hatmaker in For the Love described my heart’s desire for you so perfectly. I encourage you to read this out loud and replace the “you” with “I”. Declare this truth over your life.

“You are smart and capable, strong and wise. You are an overcomer, a prized member of the body of Christ. You have so much to offer. You can gather your girlfriend tribe and raise kids together, providing the happiest childhood they ever complained about. You can crack open your bible and preach good news to the poor. You can model faithful friendship around your table, and you can stretch your hand across oceans to mamas everywhere. You can do small work. You can do big work. You are so able in Jesus, so beloved, so permitted. You have a role. Your place is secure. You have authority to use your home as a sanctuary, your hands as tools of healing, your voice as an instrument of hope, your gifts as channels of incredible power.”

I want to continue to spur you on to pursue your dreams and encourage you as you complete your everyday duties. I want to continue to be this sisterhood of fierce women who complete each other as we are pieces of the body of the Christ. Thank you for choosing to lift each other up rather than tear down. Thank you for doing hard things in invisible trenches. I am so inspired by you!

Much Love & Respect,

Heather Cromer

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Oh Lovely Sight Words

Sight words….they are every kids worst nightmare and every homeschool moms least favorite to teach…at least for me it is. Our six year old is a problem solver and thinker, so sitting down to recite and memorize sight words is agonizing to him. I can hear him as I write this blog say, “Awe mom, please don’t make me do sight words again.” And I get it, they never end. Sight words keep showing up every day of the month….in, out, her, his, had, has, her, his, our, they, their, who, when, where, say, said, and the list goes on and on and on and on.

sight words 1

Since they aren’t the favorite thing to do at our house, I decided a few weeks ago to switch it up a bit. I simply hid the words around the house and told my son that if he found them all and was able to read all but two of them he could have a sweet treat. At that moment something shifted…all of the sudden he was moving quickly through the house and when discovering a word, he almost immediately read it. As I watched him, I thought to myself, “This could not be the same boy who fights me at the desk to read just one word. This could not be the same boy who at the hearing of the words “sight words”, lays his head on the table.” But it was. Before I knew it, he had not only found all the words, but read them aloud as well. See he was in his element. He had solved the problem and was rewarded for doing so. I knew after this I needed to find some more creative ways to work on our “oh so lovely” sight words.

Here are a few activities to help create an exciting way to learn sight words:

  1. Sight word Go Fish – write each site word twice on individual index cards, shuffle and play
  2. Sight word Hop Scotch – as you jump from word to word, recite the word.
  3. Sight word Bingo
  4. Sight word Seek and Find – this can be as simple as writing a bunch of words on a sheet and have them highlight or circle their current sight words or grab a book and see how many points they can get for finding sight words in the book.
  5. Sight Word Search and Find – write many words, pictures, stickers, etc. on a piece of paper and have your child highlight the sight words.

You can find many more activities at Childhood 101 and by googling or searching Pinterest for sight word activities. With activities like these, I believe both you and your child will find sight words a little more lovely. If you have any ideas to share, please do so as we are always looking for creative ways to learn.

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Open Hands

We have a phrase in our house…”We live open handed.” We say this phrase to remind ourselves that we desire as a family to live generously. We don’t want a life of white knuckles holding onto our stuff, selfish and greedy. When our kids are in the midst of fighting over their toys, we always remind them…”Open hands. The Laird’s live with open hands.” Our children have heard the phrase so much that we can simply look at them, open our hands and they know exactly what we are communicating. And it is not just a phrase for teaching our kids, my husband and I have to remind ourselves of this very phrase as well for there are days we don’t want to give up our things, time, and money. This phrase might be simple, but it is such a great reminder for our family to be willing and ready to release anything the Lord asks of us.

This phrase had always been singular focused on the opportunity to give and release, but one day God shifted it to be more. A few weeks ago I was sitting across from my oldest son, Liam, at lunch. I cannot recall the very conversation, but as we talked I was about to remind him of how and why we live open handed. As I was about to give my familiar speech, I felt the Lord tell me this…”Jennifer, you don’t live open handed to only give, but I want you to live open handed to receive.” As soon as I heard this I was quickly telling Liam. I explained to him that there was more to just living open handed to give, but the Lord wants us to live open handed ready to receive.

How could I have missed that? Open handed is way more than giving, but I think it is naturally how we think sometimes as Christians. We think we honor God only when we are giving something up. We become some focused on living a life of sacrifice that we can easily lose sight that our God is a giving God who desires for us to receive. Sacrifice and giving is definitely a part of our Christian lives, but I believe God wants us also to see how much we honor Him as we receive as well.

God desires for us to receive wisdom, blessings, revelation, love and much more. He wants us to receive from our friends and family when they offer help. He wants us to receive rest when we have lived in a week of being non-stop on the go. He wants us to receive the complement and encouraging word from our friend and spouse. And the ultimate gift He would have us receive is salvation. See God released His son and gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to receive grace, righteousness, and an abundant life. Who would not want to receive such a beautiful gift?

James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

White knuckles can keep us from not only living in a posture of generosity, but also a life where we miss out on the opportunity to receive. For me giving is usually what comes easier than receiving. I am guilty of staying focused on releasing and missing out on opportunities to receive. Therefore, I know this word was not just a word for my family or for you, but it was directed to me as well. Living open handed is two-fold…to live a life that is ready to release and receive. Our phrase may be the same, but it has a bit more to it now and I am so grateful it does….”Open hands. The Laird’s live with open hands.”

Open Hands