Category: Home Life

Friday Five – May 5, 2017

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Habit Stacking, aka Many Steps to Self-Discipline

I’ve read numerous books by author Steve Scott, so it’s no surprise that I picked up Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take 5 Minutes or Less (affiliate link, but it’s free for Kindle.) It’s sort of exhausting to read, as the habits are sort of stacked (sorry!) right on top of one another so you need to stop and breathe every so often.

I also recommend reading with a pen/notepad or, if you’re paperless, a suitable typing device nearby. You’ll want to jot down some ideas. He had me at #5, Chunk Down a Task into Manageable Steps, when I got a lightbulb moment and realized I need to do that. As many years as I’ve been writing books, I can still become overwhelmed at the thought, “I’ve got to work on my book.” According to Scott’s methodology, I need to think instead, “I need to write (or edit) this one chapter.” This is easier, and maybe I’d stay out of the craft room and do it.

The book begins by explaining what habit stacking is – interestingly, I have used the same concept for (cough cough) a few years with my violin and piano students. I called it “tying to” rather than stacking; for example, tie your practice time to another daily activity, like eating dinner. That way it always gets done. Scott’s point is twofold, stack the habits for a good routine, and keep them under 5 minutes so you can squeeze them in when you have a little down time. [Note: For me that means lots of little lists]

Anyway the book explains all that and then breaks the habits down by category, like finance, health, and so on. Much like his other books, Scott’s Habit Stacking sort of makes me grit my teeth in places; for example one habit he lists is “check your social schedule.” And he goes on about aromatherapy, then dismisses it as possibly too “woo-woo” and states that he can’t prove it works. Hello, then delete it from your book?

Yet I keep coming back. He is a good writer, and overall it’s a good read, even if much of it feels like a fast-forward roundup of other people’s similarly rehashed words of advice. He takes the time in the end to give several real-life examples of habit stacks, and spends some time discussing our universal lack of motivation in doing our daily chores/habits, which is an extremely useful section of the book (maybe the most important part). I did get a few good websites/apps from it that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Here they are:

Rescue TimeThis is an app that promises to get the wayward writer or home-worker back on track. It runs in the background on your computer or device, and alerts you to how much time you’ve spent on an activity. It can also block distracting websites at your discretion. Awesome, no? (Not an affiliate link) lists tons of concerts, festivals, movies in your area – yep even in my small town.

Only In Your StateThis site looks a little like The Enquirer of the Internet (Note to self: Stop revealing your age!) but the link will take you to River towns in my state, and they all look legit. And cool. Cool as in, not 90 degrees like down here.  I might have to go visit them.

Which reminds me, I just read a really good book set in Apalachicola, the #6 town on the list. Details below.

Friday Tip #6, or 1a: The Forgotten Coast Florida Suspense Series: Books 1-4 (affiliate link but free for Kindle). It has 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon, no small feat these days.

Written by Dawn Lee McKenna, who I don’t know but I’m pretty sure we’d be good friends, this is such a great depiction of the area (NW Florida). I’ve met writers who set their books in towns they’ve never visited, relying on cliché’s to build it (gag, choke). Not so with this series. McKenna is from Florida, and now lives in Tennessee – I lived in Tennessee and now write from Florida. Anyway she knows the area, and describes it well.

The books are short, but pleasant to read and full of dry humor. Suspenseful enough to keep you reading, but lacking in foul language, and there’s a little romance but not enough to keep me from recommending it to hubby. The characters are so well-developed that when a storm blows in you actually think “I hope so-and-so is okay!” (Then look over your shoulder to be sure no one actually caught you thinking that!) Check it out. I’ll be reading book 5 in the series this weekend.

Techno Free Day a Failure

I wanted to make today a gadget-free day. It’s Friday, I’m not under the gun for projects, and there’s plenty spilling off my to-do list that doesn’t involve a computer or iPad. It didn’t work. I just wanted to scan through my email quickly, but one thing led to another and three hours later, yep you guessed it, I was still online. It’s such a common problem it’s hardly worth mentioning, right?

But when it carries over to everything else in your life…nearly half of people in this survey reported being phubbed [phone snubbed] by their partners – and higher levels of phubbing create higher levels of relationship conflict. Ouch!

Hubby and I use the excuse that we live/work/play together. We even share an office. So if we play on are completely absorbed in our smartphones while waiting in a restaurant, that’s okay. But is it? You tell me.

One of the suggestions in this article suggested practicing phone etiquette, as if having etiquette is a new and unpracticed habit. Is it? Maybe so; I googled and found hundreds of articles with titles likeDon’t be Rude: 5 Tips for Proper Phone Etiquette”.

Being present means being where we are, which is not on the phone but rather face-to-face (with not only our loved ones but the cashier, the wait staff, etc.). A great Zen teach said that we must be as observers, seeing what we are doing but not clinging to it lest we become trapped by it. Maybe somehow he was predicting, decades ahead of time, our love affair with smartphones.


Do statins and other medications really cause cancer?

Yesterday I spoke with a friend who mentioned taking herself off statins. “They are said to cause Alzheimer’s,” she explained.

Another friend had done the same a few weeks ago because they cause cancer. I decided to do a little research, as I am not on statins but I want to be ready lest I be prescribed one someday.

After fairly extensive reading, I found that there are hundreds of article showing putative results from taking statin drugs. Studies suggest an increase in: acidosis, Alzheimer’s, anemia, cancer, chronic fatigue, diabetes… need I continue?

I have said since the beginning of the cholesterol craze that I didn’t believe in the hype. Cholesterol is found in every cell in the human body. In some instances it actually prevents disease. It supports the myelin sheath, the immune system, and protects skin from certain bacterial and fungal infections. Again, I am not a doctor or any sort of medical professional, but reason would say cholesterol is present in the body for a reason.

So it sounds like the doctors in Forks Over Knives were spot on. I believe I’ve mentioned this film before; two physicians literally dedicated their careers to finding scientific reasons for changing our diets – the real culprit in diabetes and all the other health issues.

Check it out – watch the video, then read the plan (affiliate links) that will help transition you to a healthier diet. And don’t go off any medication without speaking to your doctor first.

Handmade Eye Candy

If you love browsing quality handmade items, take a look at I stumbled upon it while hunting for artsy business cards. Here’s one business logo stencil ideas! Maybe I’ll hand make my business cards! (This is why I never get anything done). I have cards for my art website, cards for my Facebook page, and author cards. But now I have this. Need. More. Cards.

Crafty Homemade Napkins

You know what a craftaholic I am! I got excited over this Watermelon painted napkins project over at Ann’s Entitled Life. They’re perfect for summer, and picnics, and July 4. I think I’ll give it a try; anyone else want to try it with me?

When Your Friend Has One of Those Drama Fits, and You’re Trying to Be a Good Christian



I’ve had one of those weeks where somebody you thought was a friend turns out to be worse than an enemy. I’ve got to be a little vague, because I don’t want it to seem like I’m gossiping. And for the record, I won’t gossip about it, let’s not go there, please don’t ask me who it was. But I was attacked, some of those around me were hit by the flying mortars, and she went over my head to complain about me.

I would have taken a bullet for her – then I saw she was the one behind the trigger.

You’ve been there. Your stomach clenches and churns; your heart races, and its all you can think about. You get absolutely nothing else done because your mind keeps returning to The Situation. Eventually, you get a headache, or your back hurts, or you throw up.

You feel guilty, even though you’ve bent over backwards to try to make it right with this person and there isn’t any making it right. The agenda is not yours to control, and it goes from bad to worse as you try your best to fix it. In truth isn’t about making it right or smoothing it over or fixing it; it’s about this person being able to say she was victimized, she was stabbed in the heart by the dagger you hold, and you were responsible (even if you weren’t).

“You and I spend way too much time worrying about the fact that we were accused,” my daughter said. “Even if you had done what she’s accusing you of – there is no excuse for her behavior.”

It’s a really good point. The behavior was so outrageous I could laugh – except I can’t. Because I’m still on the verge of crying. Or throwing up. Or both.

I also question what I’ve done wrong in this situation. Could I have handled it better, or differently? Which leads me to thinking about mercy: did I have enough?

It’s something I think about often, because to me mercy, love and grace are three requirements for living well.

“You’re showing her a lot more mercy than I would,” a friend says. I get that a lot. I don’t really mind because I want to show mercy.

 The Bible is my guide for living and it says,
“The Lord comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV).

Here is the same verse in a different translation, The Message, which I love:
 “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4, The Message ).

The struggles we have, the ones you have and I have, have shaped us to be the people that we are. Those struggles have made us able to sympathize with people who are in need. Which is exactly why we can reach out and give us “the same comfort God has given us.”

Which is why I question myself.

Because I know this person is in need, I know that she struggles. I know she doesn’t have a lot of friends, and she considered me one of them. Before she attacked me. Before she burned all the bridges, and turned back around and built structures over them so that there was no way to ever go back.

And said, “I’ve blocked you on Facebook” like a third-grader.

Mostly I feel sad. I’m sad that she reached out and clawed, swiping again and again at me like a feral cat. I’m sad that she has lied, and will continue to lie. I know that those lies will be repeated to others, who may or may not believe them. A long time ago this would have hurt me and I would’ve spent a lot of time worrying about whether people would believe it or not. Now I just share sadness with her, sorrow that we’ve both lost a friendship over a simple mistake, a stupid misunderstanding that could have been resolved with a one-minute conversation. I’m sad for all the people like her who feel the need to create drama and twist and manipulate, and lose their friends. (I do that. I encompass the whole world, while I’m at it.)

I’m sad that people can be our age and still go through this.

I read back over our emails to each other endlessly, pointlessly. “Please call me,” I begged from the beginning. “I know we can resolve this just call me,” another one implored. No calls, as is her modus operandi. Just the sudden irrational attacks. And Facebook blocking, which I know people do all the time but it seems so…childish. Like: I have the POWER to block you! On Facebook!


To me mercy, love and grace are three requirements for living well.

I read back over the 2 Corinthians verse again, The Message version. I realize and I’m comforted by the fact that God will bring her alongside of somebody else, not me, who can comfort her. It’s not my problem. It’s not my job.

“Wow,” one of the standers-by who got dragged in and hit by shrapnel emailed me. “Best we move on.” (She was similarly given the don’t-contact-me-anymore order)

We should, and we will. I find myself okay with that, and okay in general – something that lets me know I’m in a really good place right now. I feel a measure of peace because I did the best I could, even if it wasn’t right or enough or there was some other agenda going on to negate my efforts. I feel good because I’m surrounded by an incredible group of close friends and the most wonderful husband anybody could imagine. Those are the people you need when things like this happen, and they’ve all come through.

There’s always a moral, a take-away, and this is no different. I believe the unhappiness, bewilderment, and ultimate coming-apart of this friendship happened because of a misunderstanding.

Yet we both made a commitment in the very beginning of the email barrage not to have that. “I don’t want any misunderstands [sic]” she wrote in the second one. “I don’t either, that is why I want you to call me,” I wrote back. She didn’t.

In life, we misunderstand, miscommunicate, and don’t hear each other.  We don’t make time for (proper) communication. We know we need to listen better, so we make promises like I will communicate more by phone, not text. Or I will listen to my wife better. Or I will be present when someone is talking.

Then we forget, and the miscommunication starts and we are upset and have headaches and lose people who are important to us. That is my take-away.

To that end, I’ve made a list of ways we can communicate better. The link is the big graphic at the bottom of this post. The list works from both ends (talking and listening) and although I have a Biblical worldview, it isn’t strictly a “Christian” list. Meaning some parts may related to a Bible verse, but there is no citation. They’re just my suggestions, actually they are more a very short “Notes to Self” than anything formal or spectacular. Maybe someday I’ll make it into an ebook or something, but for now it’s like lifting a bit out of my diary. Take what you like and try it. Let me know how it turns out.

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
― J.K. Rowling

Friday Five March 31

friday five

If God is everywhere, why are so many people lonely?

friday five

I hear from readers about loneliness almost every day. One of my most popular articles is How to know God, but another one had the title “I Want to Belong Somewhere.“  We have an innate desire to belong and to feel loved. We want and need a tribe. It’s God’s plan that we have a sense of belonging. If that doesn’t happen we feel lonely.

And God is everywhere. So why do you feel so lonely?

The immediate answer in recent years usually blames Social media “it isolates us somewhat,” one counselor told me. That’s true; one friend said she’s made a New Year’s resolution to reach out by phone rather than messenger. But surely there is more to it than that…

I strongly believe the “love yourself” phrases and ideologies have hurt our culture much, much more than they have helped. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to love ourselves. (Jesus did refer to loving ourselves, in the sense that we already do. But he did not direct us to do so.)

True belonging only occurs when we become other-centric. By focusing on others, on their needs/wants/desires, we become more like Jesus. Isn’t that our goal? Jesus’ way of caring needs to flow from you and me down to those who are struggling. If we are walking with Him and focusing on lifting up others, we lose the lonely, isolated feeling and instead feel the depth of  true joy – God-joy, a feeling that is a result of our faith. This deep, honest joy can only be experienced by true believers. Loneliness becomes a thing of the past.


 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:3-5).

Nowhere in the Bible are we told to love ourselves.

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Changes in Attitude

Being a freelance writer/entrepreneur, I’m always trying to improve on things. One of the areas I’m working on right now is spending enough hours per week writing. When you work for yourself, if you don’t write you don’t get paid, end of story.

I used to be a lot better at BIC (Butt in Chair) than I am right now. There are many reasons excuses. Those are the cause for my title, Changes in Attitude. It isn’t my office, desk, husband, appetite, editor, book subject, or anything else – it’s my attitude, or call it mindset if you will, that’s got to change.

I need to spend more time writing. Not surfing the Internet, playing a game, petting the dogs, or my favorite excuse: Eating. In years past I’ve done this little study where, when I become unproductive, I make myself write down what I am doing every 15 minutes for 3 days. You get honest real fast when you have to write TV four times in a row, and it was 2 pm.

I didn’t do that today; instead I wrote a note that said I was going to spend 4 90-minute sessions working on ONE project. (I read someplace that we do our best work in 90-minute segments followed by a break). Working this way, walking the dogs in between (dogs were thrilled) I pounded out more than I have in the past month. And I enjoy checking things off, so I got to put my little marks by the “4”.

Another helpful part of freelancer-gets-back-on-track is this cool app, Momentum. If you use Chrome, it is worth a try. It shows you a beautiful scene along with the words “What is your focus today” and if you fill it in, it prints that as your to-do plastered right in the center of the screen. Very helpful as a reminder to stay off the Internet, too.

Can you believe it’s almost Easter?

Me neither. I did manage to create some digital cards, though — Easter cards you print onto card stock from your computer! And they’re lavender! Get them here.

Enjoy Life

While working on the attitude/mindset change, balance is also important. I have to remember to enjoy life by getting my head out of work and into something meaningful. If you are that way too, remember to spend a few minutes every day seeking joy around you. Here are a few things from my list:

  • Work on something meaningful
  • Listen to good music
  • Read a good book
  • Watch the sunset
  • Help someone

Medication Alert

I was startled to learn that antibiotics like Cipro and Levaquin (both of which I’ve taken in the past) have terrible, disabling side effects. Did you know about this?

The antibiotics are used for sinusitis, bronchitis, and other illnesses – but they can cause permanent problems with tendons, muscles, joints, nerves….hallucinations…

I first learned of this in this article

and I double checked it with the FDA here.

Please read the warnings, they are quite serious.

Have a great weekend! I know I will — I am crafting with friends tomorrow. 🙂




friday five

Friday Five March 17

Five Tips to Help You Grow, Develop, Flourish

This has been one wild week. I have 2 publishers waiting on books that… keep getting pushed to the back burner. Aaaaagh.

Yesterday I painted – my class is called “paint with a pro” and the teacher is awesome (here’s some of his work). Well it was less than 50 degrees, and I swear the wind chill was about 30. I know for most people that’s not so cold, but when you live in Florida your blood gets thin, so I never really warmed up, you know?

Anyway… here are Friday’s Five:

Hand Lettering

A couple weeks ago, my son and I discovered that we both separately developed an interest in calligraphy. As I searched online, I found that calligraphy has become quite a thing. Look at Amazon’s best selling calligraphy pens – they vary from Pentel pens to a Hogwart’s quill!

More exciting, I found that in working on it my regular (illegible) handwriting has improved! So now I’m more motivated than ever to master it.

Here are some of our favorite sites for calligraphy or handwriting: Lindsey offers both free and very inexpensive worksheets, and tons of great tips.

Dawn Nicole recommends brush calligraphy; she also offers free downloads, and a 30-day challenge.  I include this one because you can look at the fonts and copy the ones you find interesting.

Faust does giant calligraphy-style graffiti.

Sleep Schedules

I finally slept last night for the first time in at least 3 weeks. Usually I wake up every hour or two, with one long (2-4 hour) period of wakefulness in the middle. This article suggests staying awake all night to re-set your sleep pattern! I was almost desperate enough to try it; someone told me loss of a single night’s sleep increases the odds of psychopathology by 60%.

I’ve tried essential oils, melatonin, sleepy teas, music, silence, and I have a great bedtime routine. What do you use to fight insomnia?


I keep working ok I think and read about, and occasionally work at, simplifying. We had a garage sale and raised over $1,000 and managed not to bring *most* of it back in the house.

But some items do better online, like eBay. I have a bunch of items going on eBay, but that venue hasn’t worked so well for me in the lasts 2,3 years. I’ve been on eBay since ’98, when it was wonderful. Over time, it went slowly downhill. Now I am so glad to learn they’ve made one major change, which I consider to be a big PLUS for sellers: EBay is removing its 3rd-party ads and allowing sellers to place a promoted listing in that spot instead. The 4th and 5th spots will be dedicated to promoted listings, and they will have the word “promoted” on them.

They’re also working at other ways to drive traffic to eBay. I think that’s really great news for eBay sellers.

This blog explains sponsored ads for eBay sellers.

Going Paperless

In an effort to continue fighting clutter, I’ve gone paperless. This has been a slow process and I don’t have it down yet. One tool I’m using is Evernote. It’s an online note storage system where you can put unlimited photos, links, clippings of web pages, and more. To do that, you’ll need to set up notebooks, which will be extremely personal, as they’re tailored to you. Here are mine:

!Inbox (anything you start with a ! will show up first; I want the Inbox at the top)

Art and Craft Business


Books in Progress

Books Read 2017

Challenges (where I put notes about various painting or craft challenges)

Cricut (where my friends and I keep a list of our craft cartridges, so we can share them)à this list can be viewed from each of our Evernote accounts)


House Hunt





Shopping (I’ve linked up hubby so we can share the list)

Statistics (don’t even remember what stats I’m tracking)

Today (to do list, which I forgot was there and don’t use)

Web Stuff (Miscellaneous clippings that don’t fit everywhere else)

As you can see, most of mine pertains to writing books but you can fix it however you want. I love it! I’ve already cleaned out one whole desk drawer (not an easy feat for a hoarder like me) and I’m working on another one.

To get the full use out of Evernote, you might want Evernote essentials which is $9.99 for the paperback but if you do the paperless, Kindle Unlimited version it’s free.

How to Praise God

If you don’t attend church regularly, or you do but you aren’t one of the hand-lifter / hallelujah crowd, you might wonder how you can “praise” God. We’re often told to praise him first thing (in prayer) and praise him daily, but so often no one tells us how.

I’m going to try to explain it.

Praise flows out of our sense of wonder for the Creator. It is something we choose to do, both to give him glory and to help us build a deeper relationship with him.

Praise to God can be done either outwardly or inwardly. Inward means in our thoughts. You might say something like “God, I am so glad to be a part of your world; I want to praise you in every way!” You might quote a Psalm – like Psalm 150. When your heart is grateful to God, you’re probably already thanking, exalting, and praising him; you just didn’t give it that name.

Outward expressions might be singing a song to God, or doing art or music that you use to honor him. You could state your praise publicly. You could pray a pre-written prayer. Dan Burke admits this felt a little awkward at first, and describes how he personalized it.

Dr. Michael Youssef explains that praise “teaches us to be joyful and thankful regardless of our circumstances.” Perhaps that explains why some people are so good at remaining joyful; they practice praise. And, if we aren’t feeling so great, praise him anyway – it is important to commit to doing so, and to follow through. Which it turn teaches us to be thankful regardless of our circumstances … so it’s a circle.

In addition to Psalm 150, I like Psalm 95 and 98.   And Exodus 15:11 “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord?….”

When we praise God, he works in us and through us. He honors us and protects us. Others might see our praise and come to know him.

Changes Again

If you’re female and over the age of six, you’ve heard of Stampin’ Up, a resource for card-making supplies like stamps, cardstock, ink, and so on. I have been a SU demonstrator for awhile, but just took the plunge and set up my website. I won’t be discussing it much here (it’s not the purpose of this blog) so if you need Stampin Up supplies, this is the link to my store and here’s my blog where I will (eventually!) show some card-making techniques.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that, should you choose to use them, will compensate me for the referral. 

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friday five

Friday Five – May 5, 2017

Habit Stacking, aka Many Steps to Self-Discipline I’ve read numerous books by author Steve Scott, so it’s no surprise that ...
Read More

When Your Friend Has One of Those Drama Fits, and You’re Trying to Be a Good Christian

I’ve had one of those weeks where somebody you thought was a friend turns out to be worse than an ...
Read More
friday five

Friday Five March 31

If God is everywhere, why are so many people lonely? I hear from readers about loneliness almost every day. One ...
Read More

Friday Five March 17

Five Tips to Help You Grow, Develop, Flourish This has been one wild week. I have 2 publishers waiting on ...
Read More

You wouldn’t Quote “Spare the Rod” If You Knew Where it Really Came From

Spare the Rod… I’m long past the age where parenting is a part of my day. So I was surprised ...
Read More

Just a Small Favor

Hi, As the year draws to a close and planning for 2017 has begun, I’m just hopping online with a ...
Read More

Simplify, Simplify

I was talking to my 30-year-old daughter a few months back about 2 habits I always made sure I kept ...
Read More

Organizing Your Home Slowly Vs the Tidying Up Way

I recently ran across this blog which offers a 52-week challenge for organizing your home. “You cannot expect to get ...
Read More

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wed Charleston photo

Wordless Wed Charleston photo

friday five

Friday Five – May 5, 2017

Habit Stacking, aka Many Steps to Self-Discipline I’ve read numerous books by author Steve Scott, so it’s no surprise that ...
Read More

When Your Friend Has One of Those Drama Fits, and You’re Trying to Be a Good Christian

I’ve had one of those weeks where somebody you thought was a friend turns out to be worse than an ...
Read More
friday five

Friday Five March 31

If God is everywhere, why are so many people lonely? I hear from readers about loneliness almost every day. One ...
Read More

Friday Five March 17

Five Tips to Help You Grow, Develop, Flourish This has been one wild week. I have 2 publishers waiting on ...
Read More

You wouldn’t Quote “Spare the Rod” If You Knew Where it Really Came From

Spare the Rod… I’m long past the age where parenting is a part of my day. So I was surprised ...
Read More

Just a Small Favor

Hi, As the year draws to a close and planning for 2017 has begun, I’m just hopping online with a ...
Read More

Simplify, Simplify

I was talking to my 30-year-old daughter a few months back about 2 habits I always made sure I kept ...
Read More

Organizing Your Home Slowly Vs the Tidying Up Way

I recently ran across this blog which offers a 52-week challenge for organizing your home. “You cannot expect to get ...
Read More

You wouldn’t Quote “Spare the Rod” If You Knew Where it Really Came From

Spare the Rod…

I’m long past the age where parenting is a part of my day. So I was surprised when I visited a message board and found a parent struggling with her choices and the “spare the rod, spoil the child” quote was thrown in her face. Surprised, because this argument was around when I was parenting. You’d think its legs would have worn off by now. Surprised, because Christian parents are still being encouraged brainwashed into believing they have to hit their children in order for them to become responsible/normal/loving adults. Surprised, because I wouldn’t think today’s enlightened young adults would entertain the idea for one moment.

The saying is attributed to the Bible, but that isn’t quite true. The attributed verse is found in Proverbs, and in the New International Version it reads like this:

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” (Prov 13:24)

Note that it’s not quite the quote we use.

The actual sentence is, instead taken from a poem written in the 1600s by Samuel Butler. It is a mock heroic narrative, and the sentence reads: “Love is a boy by poets stil’d /Then spare the rod and spoil the child. “

Wikepedia states, In the context of Hudibras the phrase is a bawdy metaphor suggesting the best way to curtail amorous passions or, through double entendre, to prevent conception.

Still want to quote it?

Back to Proverbs 13, or the perversion of it, many fundamentalist churches use to encourage spanking (“the rod”) as part of parenting. It’s part of the reason so many people struggle with who God is and what he wants from us. Corporal punishment is difficult to align with grace and love, isn’t it?

And since when does careful to discipline equate to hitting? But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself…

If we’re going to follow Christ, and be Disciples of Christ, we need to approach parenting in a Christ-like manner.

The overriding theme of Proverbs as it relates to parenting might be described as creating a culture of accountability, of culpability. God wants parents to give children the duty, the burden, of being responsible for their actions. Not beat them. Not verbally beat them, either; just teach them to bear the responsibility.

That’s a long way from hitting.

‘The Rod’ Defined

Thing is, the aforementioned “rod” didn’t have anything to do with spanking. A rod, in ancient times, was what a shepherd carried to care for his sheep. The Hebrew word used in Proverbs is “shabat.” A shabat had several purposes: it could be tossed past the errant sheep to startle him back to the flock, it could be used to fend off potential attackers, it was used to count the sheep (as they went under the rod), and it was used physically to pull back the wool in order to look at wounds or other defects on the sheep’s skin.

The rod would be pretty useless for these purposes if it were used as a weapon, wouldn’t it? I don’t think even a sheep would trust the rod being pushed against its wool for examination if it had been beaten with it!

At any rate, the rod is not a weapon, but rather a symbol for discipline. Sue Hille, in The Rod of Guidance, suggests the shabat has 5 symbolic uses in parenting:

Security—the child knows he/she is loved, cared for, accepted; 2) Guidance—the loving parent will teach the child and keep him/her from going astray; 3) Protection—the parent will not let outsiders hurt the child; 4) Evaluation—the child will be ʺcountedʺ and progress will be monitored; 5) Diagnosis—the parent will look for signs of anxiety or pain in the child and seek out treatment and healing.

These are solid principles, and they embrace the Word of God in the sense that they embrace grace and love – and forgiveness. I can’t imagine Christ raising a stick to beat a child, can you? If we’re going to follow Christ, and be Disciples of Christ, we need to approach parenting in a Christ-like manner. The Bible can help us do that.

My Story

I admit I did buy into the theory, for a number of years, that children needed to be spanked. You can only teach what you know, and I did come from a family that spanked. I gave fewer spankings than they did, and I really wanted to be able to align my parenting methods with God’s. A swat on a diaper when they ran toward true danger, like a busy road felt okay to me. But spanking didn’t seem to resolve anything, and as mentioned earlier it did not align with my idea of God as a giver of grace and love. Instead I searched for a gentler way…my kids are grown now and don’t seem to have suffered from the few spankings they got, though I am sure they’d tell you different.

Christian communities will suck you in and continually hammer you with what’s “best” for your child. It’s really difficult for new parents who are trying so, SO hard to do the right thing. Depending on your church family, you might be pushed to breastfeed, homeschool, use corporal punishment, and so on. Or you might be pushed in the other direction: bottle feed, use public schools, use time out for punishment. Going against either is like swimming upstream in a hard current. I know; I homeschooled and breastfed (in public – gasp!) and was from the “other” train of thought.

The one thing I know for sure is that God has a plan for you, the exact right plan that’s tailor-made for your child. His plan fits the child who is oversensitive, ADD, an introvert, and extrovert, and more. He already knows which of those labels fits the child, and He’s already worked out what to do. Getting into the Bible and knowing it will help to resolve the problem as well as the pressures that come along with belonging to a group.

By the way, if you started this article knowing that “spare the rod and spoil the child” was a distortion of the Proverb, kudos to you!



Just a Small Favor

As the year draws to a close and planning for 2017 has begun, I’m just hopping online with a quick request. I’d like to know why you read my blog. Do you love it? Do you love to hate it?

Do you wish you could see more of something? What would that be?

Just drop a quick line on the blog on Facebook, on twitter….wherever it’s most comfortable and easy for you. I have disabled on-blog comments because the spam was getting too offensive. I apologize for making it harder to communicate.

Thank you!

Be Blessed!



Simplify, Simplify

I was talking to my 30-year-old daughter a few months back about 2 habits I always made sure I kept doing. One is putting on makeup before going out. That one is probably not so important, but it is ingrained so I don’t know at this point if I could give it up or not (I said). I’m Southern, plus it goes way back to a beauty pageant, one of the Miss America prelims (yes, really) when we were told never go out without your face in place.

I’m good at following the rules, so I always put my face on. I mean, everybody else did too. We’re Southern. This is probably not so important here in South Florida, which is not the South but is, perhaps, a suburb of New Jersey, and where (1) it is hot and humid and (2) nobody else wears any and (3) did I mention hot? And Humid?

So – a couple weeks after our talk, I decided to quit wearing makeup. By “makeup” I mean foundation and / or powder. Not even Bare Minerals – have you ever actually seen what Bare Minerals looks like with a few drops of sweat running through it? Sort of like a sandy riverbed. Not pretty!

Besides the heat, my shoulder has been frozen all of 2016. Which means I can’t move my left (dominant) arm. I finally gave in and started taking pain pills the week they told me it was not frozen, but rather torn all the way through. Multiple tears on multiple muscles. The point of this is the pain pills make me sweat, as in hair-dripping-down-my-back sweat.

So I quit wearing makeup.

It was freeing; after all, I never wanted to bother with that stuff. It was the people who said things like “you need to put your best face forward,”  “you look soooo much better without it,” and so on. Superficial. I let go. (I also will probably save a bunch of money. Some months the bill for that stuff has been over $300).

It would be a great segue here to discuss why we teach our daughters that kind of rule, but perhaps I’ll save that one for another day.

Anyway. Enough about that. The other habit I like to keep in my routine is making the bed first thing in the morning. Not first-first, but somewhere in the getting dressed part of my day. Making the bed causes your room to look instantly cleaned up. It is a big part of the room, so if it isn’t made the bedroom will feel messy no matter what is going on around it. Plus, making the bed usually leads to more household chores like doing laundry or picking up the puppy’s toys. Anything that pushes me toward chores is a good thing.  So I like to keep my bed made. Except…my shoulder froze. I still made the bed, some, but then they told me it (the shoulder, not the bed) was torn. I quit making the bed in case it injured my shoulder more.

Now I am totally out of must-have routines. There’s nothing like a little pain to show you what matters. Makeup? No more. Fix my hair? Fuggedaboutit. I can’t reach it. The bed? Well, Mighty Man mentioned how he likes it made, and I explained that it takes about 15 minutes now, as I have to go from side to side dragging things with one arm. [Actually I might have said two hours…] So now he does it. So sweet!

Now that the musts are gone and a lot of the hacat-abedve-tos are being ignored, I’m free to completely re-design my routines. I have to have some, otherwise chaos abounds. So I’m going to put a lot of thought into it and share it with you here on the blog. To follow these posts, use the category Home Life or tag Home Organization.

Photos Courtesy Someecards and Original-Cards

Organizing Your Home Slowly Vs the Tidying Up Way


I recently ran across this blog which offers a 52-week challenge for organizing your home.

“You cannot expect to get your home completely organized over night [sic], even though that would be wonderful. It just won’t realistically happen for most of us because we have too many areas in our homes that we need to address,” it reads.

On the other hand, we have The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book is so popular that people refer to decluttering as “Kondoing,” a play on the author’s last name.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Kondo claims that we don’t need to take an entire year to de-clutter our homes (I breathed a sigh of relief!  Really, my counters are cluttered again after a day—a year would kill me!). She says that if we follow her method of decluttering, and believe me it is drastic; we would never have to do it again. Imagine never going to the store for more storage containers, boxes, and sweater bins.

Usually my declutter lasts about one afternoon, and looks like this:

Piper helping Sort Magazines
Piper helping Sort Magazines

You will notice that I’ve read the book. Twice, in fact. You will also notice that I am here telling you what ‘she says,’ not ‘what worked for me.’

Yeah. There’s a reason for that.

It’s because I’m still trying to figure it out: Is it better to declutter over a short span of time, like two weeks, or over an entire year?

I’m a third-generation hoarder married to a 30+year antiques dealer, so we know clutter – intimately. Hubby says neither of us knows how to put our toys away.

Store front image
Our former stores, Fiddlesticks and Trace of Time.


Sadly, he is right, at least about me. I craft, paint, groom my own dogs, and write books, leaving all my related tools/parts/scraps/stacks wherever I was working last. Recently I had to set up a 6-foot table beside my desk because my desk is too cluttered to write.

My Desk :(
My Desk 🙁

Hanging my head in shame.


Handmade gemstone necklace
My favorite type of jewelry to make, a chunky gemstone beaded collar necklace.


Handmade Pendant






Then I remember the two parts of the Life Changing Magic book that I did implement. One was to place a small box near my purse hang-out (for me that is the back of the walk-in closet) and empty the contents of your purse, using the box for your ‘have-to’ items. You can put away the lipstick, toss receipts, and store loose change. This gives you an empty purse to put away, and makes choosing one so much easier the next morning –grab the contents of the box, dump them in, and you’re ready to go. Well. With a lipstick and a car key.

Suddenly, I change purses all the time. And they look so orderly there in the back of the closet. None of them fall off the shelf from the weight of mystery items inside. I don’t carry around 5 pounds of stuff I don’t need. I feel…organized.

The other change was the way she folds and stores clothing in dresser drawers. Rather than folding more or less in half and stacking them, Kondo suggests folding shirts (for example) into thirds, then into a little package and stacking them endwise. The drawer holds way more shirts that way, and you can see what you’ve got without digging around wrinkling them. I did that, and loved it… and changed around another drawer, then another…

Courtney Carver, who I have followed online for a long time, says there is no such thing as overnight decluttering. I participated in her Project 333 (you choose 33 items of clothing for the current season and put away the rest; presumably you’ll decide you don’t actually need the rest). It really worked, and 33 items were plenty for my lifestyle, as long as I kept as much jewelry as I wanted. But I gained and gained and gained weight since then – so now my closet bulges with sizes from 8 on the left, to 10 and 12 in the center, up to size, yep you guessed it, 16. Booo!

I guess I could redo the Project 333, but honestly the closet door can be closed, and there’s clutter everywhere else…

So what do you think? Declutter fast or declutter slowly?

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