Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

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7 Routines to Help Tame Chaos

7 Routines to Help Tame ChaosMost afternoons when 5 o’clock comes, I don’t know what to do next. Do I start on dinner, vacuum the living room, check on my kids, or check e-mail? The other day when I got home from a meeting at 5, my daughter met me at the door.

“Mom, did you remember to get contact lens solution?”

Of course I hadn’t. Camille had told me days earlier that she needed it, but I’m just not that organized. I turned around and headed back out the door. Dinner would probably be late again.

Does your life zip out of control as easily as mine? Work, social engagements, and relationships fill our days. If you’re married, it’s easy to leave your soul mate on the back burner while you get stuff done. If you’re a mom, you probably wear many different hats: CEO, drill sergeant, cheer leader, cook, chauffeur, story reader, and teeth inspector. Some days it feels like chaos rules while we move forward as best we can.

 A few daily routines help me tame the chaos.

Although the word “routine” might make free spirits cringe, I find routines life-giving. They bring a sense of order, calm, and reassurance to our busy lives. Well-established routines enable me to do certain things on auto-pilot, so I’m free to focus more attention on what’s important.

bring order

1. Start Your Day the Night Before

This is one habit I’m learning from my husband. Each night, he sets the table for breakfast and looks at the following day’s schedule. I’m trying to lay out my clothes and get the coffee maker ready before bed. A simple evening ritual of two or three steps gives you a jump-start on the following day.

2. Morning Time with God

Spending a few minutes reading my Bible and praying over my activities brings peace and order to my morning. Usually I jot down a verse, which fuels my faith for the day ahead.

3. Plan Your Day

Making a to-do list keeps me on track with what I have to do. Most mornings, I review yesterday’s list and move important things I left undone to today’s list. I cross my fingers and put the hardest tasks at the top of the list, hoping I’ll tackle them first.

4. Pinpoint Your Most Crucial Household Task. Do it Daily.

Your most crucial household task is the one that drives you insane if it’s left undone. Our house can be falling down around my ears, but a dirty kitchen floor drives me crazy, so I sweep and/or mop almost every day. You might tidy up your living room or wipe down the family bathroom. Do this job at the same time every day, and you’ll get lightning quick at it.

5. Do One Load of Laundry.

Washing one load a day helps me get laundry done on auto-pilot. I load the machine at night, and start it in the morning.

6. Family Dinner

With older kids, we move dinner time around to accommodate their schedules. We make it a priority to sit down and talk over a meal whenever possible.

7. Relax Before Bed

Turn off the TV or the internet a half hour before bed and do something that helps prepare you for a restful night’s sleep.


I have to confess that I’ve put off writing this post for weeks because I keep thinking, “I’d better get myself together first.” I’ve established some of these habits better than others, but a little progress in the right direction is a good thing, don’t you think?

Now it’s your turn: Do you find routine stifling or freeing? Which of these habits would you pick to work on? What routines work for you?

I link up with these communities: Holly Barrett’s #TestimonyTuesday, Kelly Balarie’s #RaRalinkup,  and Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory.

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God Can Turn The Worst Day Around

He will respond to usDo you ever have days when you wake up weary? Recently, I was shaken out of a dead sleep by my sweet daughter at 5:00 a.m. The night before, I’d been up with my son until midnight. At first I laughed about it.

“How can this be? My baby days are over, but these kids are still keeping me up at night!”

By noon, I was running on empty, dragging through the day with a less than stellar attitude. Our family had planned to go on a hike together in a forest just outside of town after homeschool. How was I going to do that on five hours of sleep? By late afternoon, when we got out of the car to start our hike, my efforts to be a good sport were wearing thin. We made our way up the path, surrounded by pine trees on either side. As the path got steeper, I lagged behind.

My husband and kids continued walking uphill, but the exhaustion of the day began to catch up with me. Why had I even come? My legs ached.

When we got to the top of the mountain, my weariness transformed to wonder.

The view of the valley, our city, and the bay beyond it transfixed me. I sat down and listened to the breeze blowing through the pine trees overheard. I looked up and watched the branches wave in the wind against the blue sky. I remembered how Jesus likened the Holy Spirit to the wind. You can’t see it, but you can feel its effects.

As I listened to the wind and felt it on my face, God’s Spirit began to rise up in me.

I felt new strength rise up inside me.

I felt new faith and hope rise up.

God gave me the gift of a special encounter with Him.

My family continued exploring the mountain top, but I just sat, enjoying God’s presence, somehow more real to me out in that forest. That special meeting with God in nature transformed my day. When it was time to go home, I had a smile on my face.

You’ve probably had your share of bad days. Isn’t it good to know that God is ready to step into our day any time we call on Him? Just as surely as the sun rises every morning, God comes to us when we call. When He comes, he brings new strength and fresh grace.

Oh that we might know!

Now it’s your turn: Have you had an encounter with God lately that turned a bad day around?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday. Writers all around the world join in a flash mob of free writing. This week’s prompt is “Rise.” Join us over at Kate’s place for fun and encouragement. Also joining with Grace & Truth, Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday, and The Weekend Brew.

Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to get fresh servings of Faith Spilling Over delivered to your inbox. Enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

photo credit: Melika


The Teen Years: Holding onto the Wonder

Holding on to the WonderAs a teenager, I’d secretly lift clothes from my mom’s closet and wear them. When Mom left for work in the morning, I’d wait for her car to pull out of the driveway. Then I’d go into her closet and slip on her expensive designer jeans before I left for school. In the afternoon, I’d get home before she did and hang her jeans back in their place…

Did you ever do things like that when you were a teenager?

Remembering my own experiences as a teen helps me to keep perspective when my kids do things that make my blood boil.  Even though parenting teens is like riding a roller coaster, it’s the phase I’ve enjoyed most as a mom.

Today I’m guest posting for Kaylene Yoder’s series, “30 Days of Love from a Mother’s Heart.” Follow this link over to Kaylene’s to read about what happened when my mom found out about the jeans. You’ll also  find some encouragement to enjoy your teens more through “4 Keys to Keeping the Wonder of the Teen Years.”


Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s #TestimonyTuesdayKelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup, and Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory. Check out their communities for more encouragement.



Even Control Queens Can Learn to Let Go

Control Queen

I’m a recovering Control Queen. (Don’t you think Queen sounds better than Freak?)  I like to plan and organize. Unfortunately, I can butt heads with anyone who gets in my way. Just ask my family. I’m perfectly willing to schedule and plan their lives for them, but would you believe they have their own ideas?

  • I made an elaborate chore chart, and my kids went AWOL on it
  • I wanted to dress my daughter in pink frills, but she likes casual cool.
  • When we moved into this house, I was excited to use the third bathroom as a storage closet. Who wants three bathrooms in an APARTMENT when you have no closet? Apparently my husband did.

I’m embarrassed to confess that I get stressed out over itty-bitty issues like these. The bottom line is I want my own way. I want control over my own life (and sometimes over the lives of those closest to me).

I like to run the show and call the shots, but that’s God’s job, not mine.

Sometimes life slips out of my control in a big way, and God reminds me that He’s the one in control.

Like the time our landlord gave us four days to vacate our apartment.

Or the time I waited with my husband 3 hours out on the pavement outside our local emergency room in Izmir. We found out Jose had had a mini-stroke. He needed to stay in the hospital, but they had no available beds. So he spent the night on a reclining chair in the emergency room. (Nope, you don’t plan stuff like that.)

When life spins out of control, two simple facts encourage me.

1.  God holds me in His hands.

Job scripture

How amazing to think that no detail of our lives escapes God. We have a secure place to rest. We can let go of the stress of trying to run the show ourselves. God has control over our very breath.

2.  I can trust Him because He loves me.

Psalm 13 5

Life can take scary, unsettling turns, but we can trust God’s perfect love for us. As we look back over each trial, we can see He redeemed it and used it to shape us. He’s had our good in mind all along. He’s doing a transforming work in our hearts as we learn to step down and let Him be God.

Here’s my Recovering Control Queen Manifesto:

When I let go of control, I’m free to be transformed as I let God take control.


When I let go of control over smaller issues, I’m more fun to be around.  I’m a better mom when I’m not stressing over my daughter’s decision to be a vegetarian. I’m a better wife if I choose not to comment when my husband puts on that same old sweater to go to a party.

Letting go of control over small daily issues is good practice for learning to release life’s bigger problems to God’s oversight. Letting go brings freedom. I’m free to rest. I’m free to trust. I’m free to let God change me. And so are you.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any Control Queen tendencies?

I’m excited today to link up with Suzie Eller’s #LifeFree Thursday. Also linking up with Grace & Truth and #DanceWithJesus. Check out these communities for more encouragement.

Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to get fresh servings of Faith Spilling Over delivered to your inbox. Enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

Photo Credit: Melika






Pressing on Towards Your Dreams


Have you ever been tempted to chicken out on a goal that proved harder to achieve than you expected? I can’t count the number of times I’ve taken on a new project, only to drop it because it takes longer than I thought. Luckily, I don’t have to go far to find a hero who inspires me in the perseverance department. He sleeps next to me every night!

When we moved to Turkey 14 years ago, my husband dreamed of being able to preach in Turkish. He loved studying and sharing God’s word. However, after a year of full-time language study and several years working with a private tutor, Jose still struggled to participate in simple conversations.

One day his dream hit rock bottom.

A neighbor jokingly asked, “What’s wrong with you? You’ve been here five years. How come you still don’t speak Turkish?

The man didn’t mean to be unkind, but we were crushed.

Amazingly, Jose didn’t give up. He continued to devote an hour each day to language study. He labored to read the Turkish newspaper. He studied grammar and watched television programs. Day in and day out, he made small improvements.

Most importantly, he continued to enjoy people. Even when he could hardly talk, people loved my husband for his warm smile and gentle manner. Years passed.

Today Jose is a proficient Turkish speaker. He can preach. He doesn’t speak perfectly, but he communicates God’s Word with passion.

It’s a miracle of grace and a lesson in perseverance.

Perseverance isn’t a popular word in our “get it now” culture, but we need to cultivate it.

Maybe you’re seeking to persevere through a difficult spot in your marriage or a stormy relationship with a child. Perhaps you’re trying to lose weight. You may be trying to complete a degree, learn to play the guitar, write a book, or grow your blog. You might be on an uphill quest to de-clutter your house.

All these pursuits require faithfulness in little things over the long haul, but I get discouraged when I don’t see fruit right away. When I encounter obstacles, I’m tempted to bail out and abandon my goal. How do we keep going?

3 Ways to Press on Towards Our Goals (And 8 questions to ask before giving up.)

Enjoy the Process

Sometimes we focus so much on accomplishing our dreams, that they drive us. We lose our joy. We take ourselves too seriously. We forget about enjoying the journey.

Ask yourself: 

  • What can I enjoy today?
  • What can I thank God for?
  • What areas of life can I take joy in while I work to achieve my dream?

Keep Perspective

When we’re pursuing a goal, it’s easy to lose the global picture. Our happiness becomes all about achieving it, and we forget that God is taking us through a process. It’s helpful to step back and seek His perspective.

Ask yourself: 

  • What is God doing in me as I work towards my goal?
  • What is my goal anyway? (Realizing that your end-goal is God might be a game-changer.)

Press On

Persistence is a series of small steps in the same direction. God looks for faithfulness in the little things.

Ask yourself: 

  • What step can I take today toward my goal?
  • What can I do in 15 minutes?
  • What can I do tomorrow?

If God has given you a goal, don’t give up. Seek Him for grace to enjoy your journey. He’ll renew your perspective and give you the power to press on.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any goals or dreams? Ever feel like giving up? How do you keep going?

I link up with these communities: Holly Barrett’s #TestimonyTuesdayKelly Balarie’s #RaRalinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory,  Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart, and Grace & Truth.

Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to get fresh servings of Faith Spilling Over delivered to your inbox. Enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

Photo Credit: Melika


Celebrating 51: What I Wish I’d Known at 31

Today I’m celebrating my 51st birthday. While my sweet husband makes me a pancake breakfast, I’m giving myself a birthday present. Instead of writing a Five Minute Friday devotional post like usual, I’m going to spend some extra minutes getting into God’s Word so it can get into me.

Here’s a re-print of a post I wrote last  year in case you missed it. Please do leave a comment about your favorite life hack.

As I celebrate my 50th birthday today, I remember my 30’s when I was in the trenches with my babies and hanging on for dear life. I thought fifty meant I’d be living easy, and I was partly right. Some things have gotten easier now that the baby phase is over, but I had no idea back then about the fireworks that would result from the haywire hormones of teens and a fifty year old mom in the same house! (Luckily my sweet kids are gracious and kind to put up with their mother.)

Today I continue celebrating joyful, hopeful fifty with the list I started Monday.

30 things I wish I’d known in my 30’s:

Continue reading


What Was God Thinking When He Made Me a Mom?

God used motherhood to mold me

When my son was born, I didn’t know that a baby can be a mom’s greatest joy and her worst nightmare. The fact that he came out screaming should have been a clue. When the nurse put that squirming, squalling bundle in my arms on the delivery table, I started singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Andres quieted down instantly, and my heart nearly burst. I’d sung that song every day during my pregnancy. As soon as I finished my song, he went right back to crying.

The next day I walked out of the hospital holding my brand new baby, with no clue about what awaited me. I didn’t know about pacing the halls with a baby at 2:00 a.m. I survived the first months of mothering, and by the time my baby was 4 months old, I felt almost human.

Most days the joy swallowed up the nightmare part. I was over the moon with delight the first day Andres said, “Mama.” I fell in love all over again when we bought him his first guitar, a painted wooden toy. He plunked himself down on the cement at the market. He strummed and crooned, “Guitar, guitar, guitar.” My heart swooned.

And when my Camilla was born, her dad and I were goners. She stole our hearts.

Although I loved being a mom, some days went south…

Follow me to Kristi Wood’s place to read the rest of my story. Kristi is a sweet friend and a talented writer. I’m honored to write for her blog today.


Linking up with Holly BarretKelly Balarie, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth. Check our their sites for more encouragement!

photo credit: creative commons



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