Healthy Eating Blogging Gems And An Update!


I have been missing from here for a few weeks, but I have certainly kept busy and true to my word! I have the most wonderful friends around me to keep me motivated and upbeat.  You know who you are! Without them, I would sink right back into the deep dark hole that is being homesick and fed up!

What have I been up to? Walking at least a mile, at least 6 days a week. Researching the bejesus out of healthy eating and recipes (AMAZING links below!) Even starting a few hobbies/crafts to help me feel accomplished. I love figuring things out and making something where there was nothing! Yet another life lesson I was taught growing up in what I will contend was the best environment possible. It was never perfect, but that was the point! I learned to make the very best out of every situation, always leave things (and people) in better shape than you found them, always have an open heart- even when  you know it will hurt, and most importantly, don’t dwell. (or as Mom would say, “have yourself a pity party”)

So I’m doing just that. I’m making the best out of things! I have been cleaning/decluttering my house for myself. Not for company. It’s about taking pride in yourself and your family. And MAN does it feel good to wake up to an empty sink and clean floors! Granted, the last two days I have been down for the count with a tweeked neck thanks to a squirmy, almost 40 pound toddler, but I will still upkeep what I can. Yes, my house was never really “dirty” to begin with, but I forgot how good it felt to take pride in even the smallest tasks. It does seem like the impossible mission some days though. With a nearly 3 year old tyrant ruling the roost, clutter free living seems an impossibility. There is a certain amount of clarity of thought that comes from an uncluttered surrounding. So I’ll take a later bed time to do those last minute things and maybe a little less free time if it means that I get to feel a little less wound the next day. I now know why my mom could never stand to wake up to dirty dishes! It really sets the tone for your whole day.

I’ve also been dreaming a bit again! Finally feeling myself again. When you’re down and out, you think to yourself- why bother? It’s not going to happen for me anyway. Well not with that attitude it won’t! Things never work out how we plan, but that’s half the fun! You learn to adapt and make a new dream! I have no idea what will happen with our next journey (our next stateside base) but I’d for once like to think of the possibilities instead of dreading the change.

Ok, enough dribble. On to the fun stuff!

I have been printing off recipes like a crazy person. To anyone that thinks eating healthy is too tedious and boring, you just haven’t been inspired yet! These ladies have put together some of the most amazing looking (and tasting, I’ve tried a few!) recipes and ideas. It’s not as complicated as I once assumed. The whole point of healthy eating is to simplify. Simplify ingredients and cooking methods. Less is most definitely more in some cases. I find myself all the time looking at some of these and saying “That’s it??” Heck yeah!

http://thishomemadelife.com/

Alison Bickel’s blog is full of her adventures in parenting, some of her writing, and some really yummy recipes!

“Where I’m From…

I am from art books and photo albums

from the farmer’s market and Photoshop.

I am from the plains, amber waves of grain and a slowly winding river.

From the silver maple on Linden Drive and practicing cartwheels til I was dizzy.

I’m from violin strings, sketch pads, church on Sunday and letter writing.

I’m from “pick up your room” and “set the table”.

I’m from strong willed and creative.

I’m from Steve, Lorie and a brother named Lucas.

From childhood, adulthood and motherhood all in 37 years.

I’m from Ben, Samuel and Henry, my 3 sons, and for better or for worse my best friend Bret.

From a home where “what’s for supper?” and Saturday morning pancakes are ritual.

I’m from home sweet home and the people under it’s roof.

I’m from the pictures that hang on our walls. Each a brushstroke in time, the art of a simple, creative life fully lived.”- Alison Bickel

http://naturallyella.com/

Erin, a professor of music and food lover. Her food always looks amazing!!

http://bakedbree.com/

Bree has been consistently my favorite. I have yet to see a recipe I wouldn’t love to try. Best part? SO SIMPLE!

Ok, this laundry isn’t going to wash it’s self, so off I go. More to come soon I promise! I have really struck gold lately in the inspiration department! Have a great week!

OH! And a recipe! This is one that my friend Holly came up with, that I made for dinner last night. Oh it’s so good! (in the tone of Mr. Food)

Black Bean Chili

2 cans rinsed reduced sodium black beans

1 can chili beans

1 46 oz can of tomato juice (not sauce)

1 pound ground turkey breast (my favorite is Butterball)

1/2 white onion diced

These dry ingredients: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/chili-seasoning-mix-i/detail.aspx

In a stew pot, cook turkey and onions at the same time. No need to drain. Add beans and dry ingredients, stir and warm for a minute to let the flavors soak into the meat. Add your tomato juice and simmer for 10-30 minutes. That’s IT!!!

Finding my happy place every day.


It’s been a long road to this place, but I can honestly say it’s getting better. Not because I suddenly got everything I wanted or needed. Not because I miss my family any less. Not because I do everything right either. I found this place by letting God back in my life (admittedly not as much as He deserves or in any huge way). I am easing back into living. I say “back”, but this could be the first time ever. I am listening to my heart and living for today and the promise of a new day every time I am blessed to open my eyes every morning. This is MY life. I chose it, so I am for the first time am going to enjoy it!

I’m taking better care of my body and I’m taking better care of my soul and the well-being of my family. I am figuring out there are many different kinds of nourishment.  Healthy eating and healthy relationships with one another are my top priorities. God gave me this body, where my son grew. He gave me my husband who I’ve learned a lot about love and forgiveness from. He also gave me a beautiful amazing son and the opportunity to serve my country by standing behind this man I chose. Those aren’t things to take for granted like I have been! I have been so focused on what we do without, that I couldn’t see what I have had all along. I’ve also been blessed with some amazing friends here that really keep me going. Once you make a friend under these circumstances and bond the way only military wives can, they are friends for life!

So I really have found my happy place. It’s just a moment each day where I can appreciate and take care of what I have and plan for ways to do it better! My happy place is a list completed, that allowed me to have a clean house or things taken care of for my family. A healthy meal, that will help us all thrive in a very stressful place that can take a toll on your body. A shower to start my day and my “warpaint” to help me face the day, instead of pj’s and bed head for most of  it. It’s a home free of clutter (working on that one), that I hope will spread to every other part of my life.

So I will keep making my lists. Keep striving to do it better the next day. Keep my ears and my shoulder open to my friends. Keep working every day to strengthen this marriage God gave me. Find ways to help Alek grow into a man that He/he can be proud of! That’s my happy place. Just little moments every day that let me know that I am still growing and that one day, I will know for sure that I fulfilled my purpose.

Are you still working to fulfill yours? Or are you like I was, and letting your life go on without you? Are you letting God show you the value of even the smallest tasks?

These random thoughts, brought to you by junk food free lunch and my “thoughtful spot” (if your kid is a Winnie the Pooh freak like mine, you’ll know what I mean)

Snapshot of my spot.

Blueberry green tea, turkey on wheat sandwich, coupons to clip, lists to make, and a blog in my head to type.

Best wheat bread ever! Little bit of everything in it.

A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore. ~Yogi Berra


Keeping with my baby steps approach to life, I realize that even a baby step can turn out to be a giant leap sometimes.

I still consider myself a “newlywed” after 4 years because we have barely begun our life together and barely begun to figure all this out. In our short time together so far, we have been through more challenges and obstacles than the majority of newly married couples.  We had yet to make that leap into this life being “OURS” and not his and mine. We were apart for a large chunk of our marriage so far, and never really had a life together.

It’s a difficult thing to balance working together while still maintaining some independence. (Especially for the stay at home mom) Living in Germany sure hasn’t made it easy to keep any independence and that was putting a HUGE strain on our relationship. You’ve heard me complain about how lonely and oppressive it can be here.  I’ve decided to take some steps to save my sanity. I started with my mental and physical well being and focusing my energies. The next step is to take back a little independence and for once really be able to take care of my family.  With previous debts and a very complicated juggling act to keep us afloat financially, I had shied away from taking responsibility for the budget and our expenses. It started to feel like I was a child with an allowance versus a partner in this thing. It’s was both of our faults, but this had to change.

I have put a LOT of thought into how I can really take responsibility for our financial woes and feel like an equal partner. Men and women think about things in different ways. Plain and simple. Having different points of view is the only way to tackle difficult situations. He sees the big picture only, and I’m more of an “ok, how do we get this done” person. Prime example: cleaning a house doesn’t involve nearly as many steps to most men as it does to most women.

This is where my baby step approach comes in. There are little things I can do in addition to really paying attention to the bills we already have. We don’t have any kind of budget right now, and it’s eating us alive. To some of you this is old hat and lessons you learned years ago. To me, this is pretty new and intimidating stuff!!

My general game plan to get us on the road to a real budget: (Yep, we are that far gone!)

  • Weekly menus.

I’m not talking about Monday equals meatloaf, Tuesday equals spaghetti. I plan to shop by the meal for 7 days.(what we eat first depends on what is the most perishable) Start calculating what we are spending on the average week per meal. That way we don’t waste, and can clearly see where our money is going. This will also really help with our diet! If I’m planning meals, we are less likely to drag in junk or in a panic go for take out.

  • Set aside a “household fund”

This will definitely be my department and something I’m pretty excited to dive into.  Instead of just blindly spending or asking my husband if we can afford something, I will, for once know. It’s a terrible feeling to want to take care of your family and not have the means to do so. This will be after we pay the major bills to see what is left over to divi out on a bi-weekly basis. We get paid on the first and fifteenth. If he isn’t already doing this, I’d rather spread the bills out evenly instead of one paycheck being a lot smaller than the other.

In the fund I will be able to budget out incidentals, supplies, projects, repairs etc. Alek currently needs a dresser, headboard and rug. To do that we have to be able to budget it out so we aren’t put in a bad situation at the end of the pay period like we have been for a few years now! This might even end up in us setting up a separate account just for this purpose. I need to be able to have some emergency cash and taking care of things that come up without worrying about breaking the bank. Clothes for the family, new shoes, furniture…..the list goes on and on. I just don’t want us to be blind sided with these expenses we should have already planned for! 

  • Tackle existing debt.
I’ve approached Keith with this before, but I think it’s easier said than done on his own. Without a clear budget and really knowing what I need before crunch time, he has had to “rob Peter to pay Paul” on many occasions.  Totally not his fault, but we just can’t do this anymore! I want to start tackling the smaller credit cards and debts and checking those off the list. The smallest amounts usually have the most interest tacked on them! By the end of the year and certainly after his pay raise goes into affect next summer, we should even have some of the bigger bills paid off as well.
My goal is to go back to the states with most of our old baggage taken care of!!
Then the real fun begins of getting a second car, furniture, and setting up a new place without having this cycle take over again!! I hope with starting good spending habits now, we won’t be getting ourselves into major debt in the future. Wish me luck!!
I hope to start posting our weekly menus/grocery shopping lists on here to sort of share ideas. I’ll even post how much I have saved with coupons etc. This week with a half empty pantry and freezer, I put together 10 meals with the random food that we had in there!! I have also already started on a list of what fall clothes we will need and what we already have so we know what’s coming.
This should prove interesting if not extremely challenging! I’m ready to feel like a responsible adult for the first time in my life.

Happy Naked Friday Everyone!


“Who wears the pants in this marriage?”

“It’s not about who’s wearing pants or not wearing pants, it’s about a partnership.”

“Gawd, how triteful.” —This made me giggle.

Happy Friday all! Today I am living room bound while Alek goes commando for day two. Thank you horrid diaper rash!

I have tried it all! It’s been about two weeks of blistered hiney and this mom is getting desperate. The usual creams aren’t working, so I have taken a few steps on my own and of course consulted a nurse.  I made up a little spray of my own last night and he seemed to really like the cooling effect. If you read up on tea tree oil, you will find a million and one uses for it. I will never again be with out it and a few other essential oils in my cabinet (another post about them all to come!) Between the nurse, my mom, and my own common sense (also thanks to mom) I have a plan of action for the weekend to see if we can’t kick this rash and possibly get a good start on potty training!

The plan:

NO baby wipes. They contain alcohol and will only further irritate. It also hurts! Instead I’m making my own wipes and using my own recipe for a cleansing spray!

-Non irritating DIY Baby Wipes-

*Viva papertowels (they are the softest in texture)

*unscentend bar soap (Dove or Ivory)

*a baggie

Note that these don’t keep forever, so only make enough to use in a day. Fill up sink or bowl with warm water and get a good lather of the soap going and dip in the paper towel. Ring it out slightly (the Viva brand being so thick it will hold up better) and fold them into a square. Repeat about 8-10 times for enough wipes for most of your day. You will also find you use way less than you would with a regular wipe. I am far too lazy to do this everyday, but while he is hurting, I will suck it up!

-No more diapers-

Doctors orders (and Mommal’s and Mine). Going commando and letting his skin breathe is the most important part.  SO we are just learning to use our potty, and our cotton underwear when we eat (just for hygiene).  I have to say he is REALLY getting the hang of it. Only 1.5 accidents today and one unprompted, solo POO!! Gross or not, that’s a big accomplishment!!!

-Warm bath with baking soda, then Lotrimin-

Also doctors orders. Up to three times a day I’m to put him in a warm bath and sprinkle in some baking soda. The nurse and my mom also told me to use some Lotrimin anti-fungal cream if it gets worse or doesn’t improve.

Ok, mid post just got a call from Keith explaining why he couldn’t pick up what I needed for Alek HOURS ago. Really?? This base is just crap!! He can’t even get an hour to take care of his family. I guess I will be walking up to the BX to get what I need. Alek has been coughing and I didn’t want to drag him out in this icky weather today. On my list was also a humidifier for his cough. I am trying to stay positive but the is total bull. I have been expecting him for the past 4 hours and he just now got to call me and tell me he can’t get those things to me. Now what? I can’t put a diaper on Alek, don’t want him out today and I have to drag him to the store? Where I have to WALK btw and drag him in a wagon. This is vaguely reminiscent of the stories I used to hear about people “walking five miles to school in the snow”. I hate this dang place. I can’t even take care of my own child……

Enough rant. I just need to calm down. Here is the recipe for his cleansing spray-

*spray bottle

*one cup water

*2-4 drops tea tree oil

*tablespoon of almond oil

*tablespoon of baby soap

That’s all. It’s still Naked Friday, but no longer a happy one 😡 Maybe a little take out will calm all of our nerves tonight. And nice clean sheets for all. I might be alone here but there is nothing like clean sheets at the end of a craptastic day. It will at least keep me busy until our weekend officially starts in a few hours!! CHIN UP AMANDA!!!

~Little Bit Of An Update And New Things To Come~


All the seemingly random and monotonous posts of different outfits and style posts finally produced a clear idea of the direction I want to go towards while “building my wardrobe”. I am tired of wasting money dipping my toe in styles that just don’t suit me, having drawer after drawer of old reliable loungewear that just breeds laziness and an overall sloppy bad day.

I am not vain by any means, but a woman likes to feel good about herself. If you haven’t noticed that’s why my blog is all about. Feeling good about myself and sharing ways that I have discovered to do so.  I want to turn my graveyard of all things slouchy and ratty wardrobe into something that I can build on and possibly carry me into a better state of mind.

It may seem silly and very old school, but Keith having just made his new rank of Master Sgt in the USAF really got me thinking. I thought with his new stripe, I should also wear one of my own (so to speak). We military wives can get run down and weary and boy can we look it! I’d like to take it back a few years when women took pride in their airmen/soldiers, families, and themselves! It was a rare thing around 30 or 40 years ago to see a woman waltz into even the grocery store sporting pajama pants, house shoes, a holey t-shirt and bed head. I have been GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY of this many a time. To think of what image I was portraying makes me a little sad. Is that what I want my son to see and remember? A mom that was just too worn down to take care of herself?

I had a terrible realization last night. For my child’s entire existence in this world, we have faced nothing but difficult situations, stress, hardships, and turmoil. Heck, even before he was born our life was a mess. I envy so much the families who get to make a home somewhere for more than a year, who can actually create structure and get to enjoy their extended family. To think of how much he has missed and how much the rest of the family has missed of him gets me really down! I am capable and I do know to make the best of what we do have and that this is a great experience for us all, but this is not all he needs and definitely not all that I need. For his first three years, I have NOT been the best parent or person I know that I can be.  I have been scrambling and scratching to get myself out of this hole that I’ve fallen in.

I’ve always always been interested in fashion and the arts. It’s time I found joy in those interests again and use it my advantage. Even, in a sense, to my family’s advantage. I can be a better wife and mother if I finally figured out what makes me happy and what keeps me going, so I can nurture, protect, take care of, and be there for them!

So out with the stacks and stacks of oversized shirts, lounge pants. Out with going three days or more without putting a stitch of makeup on to help me face the day. Out with not even getting dressed some days (yes I shower daily).  Out with frowning at myself in the mirror or groaning in disgust. Out with “waiting” to dress better for this pre-baby body that may or may not make a comeback.  I’m older now, my body did change shape to accommodate my pregnancy, and let’s face it life changes you in every way possible! So no, I won’t be deluding myself into thinking that 24 year old me is the only me that can look good.

I don’t write this blog to gain recognition, make money, or even have a ton of readers. If even one person gains any inspiration or motivation out of anything I write or post, then that’s enough.

I do have plans on giving my blog a new little spin for 2012. Lots to be happy about next year. I plan on also taking a few trips around Europe for our LAST (hallelujah) year here and sharing our travels with everyone. I plan on dabbling and cooking more and sharing my finds and adventures there too. I also plan on taking back up my art. I wish I would have scanned or saved my creations in the past, but oh well, time to make new things for my new life!!

Hopefully I can give this “place” a little more structure so I can share my thoughts a bit better!

*Next post will be my recent inspiration and FINALLY a clear idea of a style I can actually pull off. Also I will give more details about my body type and shape so you can see if it will work for you! *

Adventures with Hellboy; A Day In The Life


This is a conversation between my mother in law, sister, and myself today on Facebook. I needed to record these little moments and figured this was the easiest way to save the memory! I would KILL to have had a camera for these moments!! As we are approaching 3, his personality is taking on a life of it’s own! My Little Big Man is helpful, quirky, charming, funny, a rascal, a brute, loving, and so so curious.

Amanda McCalister Coleposted toKim McCalister Stuckey
So….your nephew…peed in his own mouth tonight in the tub!!!!!!!! I still can’t stop laughing at him!! I told him that’s what he gets for playing with him! I WISH I couldn’t have captured his face when hit him in the face! He thought the stream was pretty cool until that point! BAHAHAHAHAHAA I AM STILL crying from laughing so hard and it was over 2 hours ago!!!

39 minutes ago · Like ·  · See Friendship

  • Sandra Carroll Cole likes this.
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey OMG LOL roiling in the floor how did he manage that

      37 minutes ago via Facebook Mobile ·
    • Amanda McCalister Cole He started playing with it and naturally started peeing! He thought it was funny to point the stream up until he pointed it to far! RIGHT in the mouth!! HAHAHAHA

      37 minutes ago · Like
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey Bahahahaha. Only boys

      35 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Oh my goodness. I guess he will never do that again.

      34 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole He has been hilarious for a couple of days now. He is talking a little more and BOY the stuff he says is unexpected!! Tonight he tried to launch off from sitting in the floor while we were looking at some posters that have his letters and words on them, and he stepped on one and couldn’t get traction and plowed up some floor!!!! It was like a cartoon! His legs were moving he just wasn’t going anywhere!!!!!!!!!!

      33 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole Oh God I can’t breathe I’m laughing so hard!

      33 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Did you get any of this on Video? Well at least there is never a dull moment.

      32 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey Lol stop you’re killing me can’t breathe!

      31 minutes ago via Facebook Mobile · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole THEN- after bath time we give him a few minutes to wind down and watch some Thomas. I walk in his room to check on him and I would have SWORN he had gone invisible or been abducted by aliens. No Alek in his room, but there was a diaper, still fastened together laying in the floor like he was poofed right out of it!!!!!

      30 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole HOUDINI!

      29 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Oh my. You do have to stop I am going to not be able to breathe either.

      29 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Amanda McCalister Cole Oh but I have so much more!

      29 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole You mean Hordini? That is what Keith used to call him when he was little.

      28 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey OMG LOL.

      28 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole When he gets annoyed with me he will tilt his head and glare at me from the corner of his eyes. He’ll say “UUUGHHHH”

      28 minutes ago · Like ·  1 person
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Definitely LOL. Hey Amanda you need to write a book.

      28 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey Abducted by aliens no diaper required

      28 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Amanda McCalister Cole HORDINI!!! hahahahahahaha That is going in the vault!!

      27 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole

      OH I forgot the funniest thing from today! So I’m doing dishes and trying to cook all at the same time. Alek gets bored and decides that I WILL pay attention to him. He takes his little plastic booster seat (the one I used at both of your h…See More
      25 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Yes it sure belongs in the vault.

      23 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Oh my goodness that is so cute. I am laughing so hard that it hurts.

      22 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole He sure knows how to entertain doesn’t he?

      21 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Amanda McCalister Cole

      OH and he is determined to be my helper dude. He will take the trash bag to the front door, put the soap in the dishwasher and toss in my downy ball for me. Well tonight he decided that the tv was just too dirty (well it was with all the sl…See More
      21 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole He sure does! Are you alive Michelle? Did I kill you?

      20 minutes ago · Like ·  1 person
    • Amanda McCalister Cole Ok I should clarify that the downy ball does go in the washer! LOL

      20 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole If she isn’t then you are about to kill me.

      19 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Amanda McCalister Cole Can I go to jail for making you both laugh to death????

      19 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Maybe I am not sure about that. Probably not.

      19 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole Involuntary manslaughter? I’m sure they’d stick me with something with my luck! hahahahahaha

      18 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole Alek has to go to jail too then!

      18 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole I have laughed ALL day!

      18 minutes ago · Like
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey trying to breathe

      17 minutes ago · Like
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey you need to record all this titled the world according to alek

      15 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Amanda McCalister Cole I most definitely do!!!

      14 minutes ago · Like
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey must include photos

      14 minutes ago · Like
    • Amanda McCalister Cole I don’t have any from today but I need to start carrying one around my neck!!

      13 minutes ago · Like
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey attach cameras to your neck so you don’t miss anything

      13 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Yes record all and plenty of video or pics to go along. Absolutely agree with the title The World According to Alek.

      12 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Thank you for Blessing my day with all of the things that Alek is doing.

      11 minutes ago · Unlike ·  2 people
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey or “the wild and sometimes wacky world of Alek”

      10 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey I love that crazy boy

      10 minutes ago · Unlike ·  1 person
    • Sandra Carroll Cole That one is good too. Got to love the little man.

      9 minutes ago · Like ·  1 person
    • Kim McCalister Stuckey beyond measure, Sandy

      9 minutes ago · Like
    • Sandra Carroll Cole Well I have got to go. Love ya all.

      8 minutes ago · Unlike ·  2 people
    • Amanda McCalister Cole I love him to pieces too. The older he gets the more Hellboy fits him to a T. If you know the story it’s this little devil who grows up to be a big devil. He can’t help but get in trouble because that’s his nature. He also can’t help how big he is and just breaks things 🙂

      8 minutes ago · Like ·  1 person

Uphill battles and the road to “home”.


This week is not turning out to be one of my finest. Ok, so maybe this entire year. I find myself becoming a little more cynical and despondent each day. I am fighting it though! I am constantly calling on lessons my parents taught me on how to stay strong and focused.

But I still lose sight now and then. By lose sight, I mean I forget that life is a lesson in and of itself and it is in a constant state of change. When I start to resist that change, is when I fall short of who I know I can be.

I knew that life in another country was going to be a challenge and way out of my comfort zone. I can handle both of those things (now). I just had no idea how MUCH of a challenge even the day to day things could be. I had no idea how much I would have to push to the back of my mind to get through these 3 long years. My marriage is slowly beginning to mend, but each step seems to be more precarious than the last.

After 2 solid years of no breaks, no release, no outlet all that is starting to creep to the forefront. So to combat that, I am changing and working at the only things that are in my power. And that is my self-image and spiritual well being. This place, true to form, doesn’t make either of those things easy either! There isn’t even a church service that my family can attend. 3 years working on my husband to get him to open up to the idea of organized religion and I hit a brick wall. Long story/rant about why no church, but that’s another time.

The self image is slow going as well. I have just fallen so far, it’s hard to see the top anymore. The weight is very slow to come off. Motivation is hard to find.

Our finances are focused on getting us debt free for the next few years, so mostly all I can do is window shop and that’s OK with me! I know that in the long run, it’s the best step for my family. I know that once all this is settled we will have what we NEED as well as what we WANT. It’s hard not to “covet” though! I mean who doesn’t like to keep up with the Jones’ a little? Don’t lie. Our lifestyle is minimal to say the least right now. It’s freeing and oppressive all rolled into one.  We will have a yard for Alek one day, Keith and I will be able to take care of ourselves again one day, we will have two cars again one day, and I will be able to see my family whenever I want one day.

For now, I’ll stick to the only thing I can fix. And that’s my heart. I found this verse today and it spoke volumes to me. If I can give myself and my family a solid foundation to build on, “one day” when life is a little more-well, MORE, I draw strength from all that we are facing today and know that we have always been truly blessed.

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.~ 1 Peter 3:3-4

8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For

“ He who would love life
And see good days,
 Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
 Let him seek peace and pursue it.

I have been studying what the Bible has to say about marriage and plan to write more about what I am learning soon.