8 Ways to Know You are Sleep Deprived…

When my oldest was born, she awoke every 20 minutes during the night for a feeding.  I calculated the amount of sleep I was getting and it totaled two hours a night! This was a bit challenging as I was working full-time (with my daughter in tow) at a highly demanding job with a heavy caseload.

No wonder when I look back at photographs from those days my eyes are always closed – I was desperately attempting to squeeze in a nap whenever I could!

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Fast forward many years later and there are still clues that I am sleep deprived.

So, how can you tell that sleep deprivation has made its entrance into your life? Here are 8 ways:

1.  You make your husband’s sandwiches for the next day’s lunch as you always do. However, when your husband arrives home from work the following day, he breaks the bad news to you – could you please remember to put the ham and cheese on the sandwiches? After all, a mayonnaise sandwich is hardly tasty, let alone healthy!

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2. After you drop the kids off at soccer practice, you realize a startling fact – the sliding rear door of your minivan is left open and you’ve been driving it that way for the past 3 miles! (This happened to a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous).

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3. You begin unloading the dishes on a particularly tiring day. What you don’t realize until minutes later is that you have been unloading the dishwasher of dirty dishes and putting them in your cupboards. Two words for this: EWWWW! and GROSS!

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4. Speaking of house cleaning duties, you hear a clunk-clunk as you are vacuuming and discover to your horror that you didn’t realize in your sleep-deprived-state that there was Polly Pocket clothing and accessories on the floor of the playroom. Alas, those same articles of clothing and accessories have now fallen victim to a Hoover upright vacuum – known as “Big Mr. Blue.”

5. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation messes with the memory. Case in point: You get your children’s names mixed up, or call them the names of the characters in your books. Or worse yet, you accidentally mix up the names of your children with the name of the family pet!

6. You drive home after grocery shopping and drive right past the turnoff to your house, but don’t realize it until you’re in the next town. This might have happened to someone who is writing this blog post who might have been sleep deprived. But we won’t mention names. 🙂

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7. We’ve all been in those grocery stores where they ask for your telephone number at the checkout. You’re so tired that you stutter about, not remembering that you had a telephone, let alone a telephone number.

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8. Speaking of telephones and telephone numbers, here is one of the best measures of how to know you are just wiped out from lack of sleep: have you ever been having a challenging day and needed to call a friend for encouragement and prayer support? My friend called me one day in tears. “I really needed to talk to you, but when I called, your phone was continually busy.”

I was perplexed. After all, my landline phone can never be busy since I have call forwarding. If I’m on another line, it will automatically ring to my cell phone. “Really?” I asked.

“Well, at least that’s what I thought,” began my friend, “Until I realized that I had called my own phone number and that’s why I was getting the busy signal!”

What humorous side effects have you experienced from sleep deprivation?

How to Instill Compassion and Servanthood in Your Children

Ephesians 6:7 says “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord and not men.   However, just telling our children to serve others isn’t enough. We need to model compassion for others to our children.

How can we, as parents, grandparents, teachers, and youth leaders, make the application for our children from the physical act of service to the motive we need to have?

Our motive must be for Jesus and not ourselves. Matthew 6:3 says “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…” Explaining to our children that we help others, not so we can brag about it, but so that we can honor Jesus is a great step in explaining this passage.

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1. Remind our children to put others first in a me-first society. Teaching our children (and modeling it through our own behavior) to put others before ourselves can be a daunting task.

I’ll never forget when my girls were toddlers and I had split a cookie in half (inadvertently, one piece ended up slightly larger than the other) and told them to each choose a piece. I watched from afar to see how things would unfold. My oldest, Sunshine, told my youngest, Doodle, “It’s important that the person who picks first should pick the smallest.” I grinned. Sunshine was getting it!

A moment later, my smile faded as I listened to the rest of Sunshine’s rationale.  “And, Doodle, you can pick first.”

“I’m supposed to pick the smaller piece,” said Doodle.

“Yes you are,” agreed Sunshine, with a glint in her eye.

I watched as Doodle picked the smaller piece, leaving the larger piece for Sunshine, who  knew how to manipulate the system!

Our job is to continue to impress the importance of putting others first on our children, even when they don’t “get it” the first, second or one-hundredth time!

Fast forward to many years later. Sunshine is now one of the most generous and giving people I know. She is the first to give assistance, even without being asked, and the first to share what she has with others.

2.  Hone in on each child’s unique personality and their God-given gifts. Each child has their own unique personality and will each have different ideas of what types of service projects they would like to undertake. In addition, they each have their own spiritual gifts.

Doodle has a heart for world missions and decided at age five that she wants to be a missionary to Haiti. She has never once wavered from that goal.

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Sunshine has a deep love and devotion for younger children and has already been a mentor and childcare worker at our church, a VBS teacher, and a soccer coach.

Discover your child’s gift and passion. Discuss with them and ask if they could help one person in this world, who would it be? And what type of help would they want to provide? Some children have a heart for animals; some have a heart for those who are terminally ill. Still others have a heart that breaks for those in orphanages or foster care.

3. It’s never too early to start our children on the path of serving and blessing others. We started our children serving others when they were babies and would accompany us to the nursing homes. Although they don’t recall the details of those days, my husband and I were still cementing within our children a permanent foundation of following Jesus’ command to love their neighbor.

5. Pray as a family that God would place someone in your family’s path – someone who needs help. Allow each child their turn to pray for this important topic.

6. Pray for those in your neighborhood. Each month, we choose two families in our neighborhood to pray for. We have also gone on walks and runs in our neighborhood and prayed for the people who live in each house.

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 Serving others fosters Christian fellowship both within your own family and with your neighbors – it unites families and brings us closer to God and each other.

For more ideas, including “Up for Discussion” questions at the end of each chapter to help families look deeper into the reasons behind each activity, check out 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference.

77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others

A bit more expensive (but still reasonable!) pieces of exercise equipment

Last week, I posted about 7 inexpensive pieces of equipment to jump start your workout.

Today, we’ll look at some more expensive (but still reasonable!) pieces of exercise equipment to enhance your workout.

1. A Bosu ball. I first used a Bosu ball at the gym during a weight training class and fell in love with it immediately. Easy on the back and neck and super-effective for situps and planks, a Bosu ball is a bit pricey, but worth every cent.

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2. A BodyBar. I have personally found the BodyBar so much easier and more versatile than hand-weights. Prices vary based on the weight. I purchased mine directly from the BodyBar website.

3. A fitness tracker. The preferences for fitness trackers are varied and range in price from economy to super-expensive. Fitness trackers can do everything from calorie count, heartrate, to steps taken, to logging in different exercises. I absolutely love the Fitbit Surge my husband surprised me with last year for my birthday.

A more economical way to count your steps would be a run-of-the-mill pedometer. Another option is the variety of fitness apps available today. While I have not used it personally, I have heard good things about myfitnesspal.

What types of equipment have you found useful for your home gym?

 

**Please be sure to check with your physician before starting any new exercise program or varying your current workout.

7 inexpensive pieces of exercise equipment to jump start your workout

Getting into shape doesn’t have to be expensive. Below are seven inexpensive pieces of exercise equipment to jump start your workout.**

1. Resistance loop bands. Need to work your upper and lower body? Resistance bands are excellent and versatile for just this purpose. Allergic to latex? I found some bands by LIV Active in different strengths that are latex free and perfect for shoulders, upper arms, and even leg exercises.

2. Hula hoop. A great way to whittle your waist…crank the music and hula hoop to your heart’s delight! Hula hoops come in both weighted varieties and non-weighted varieties. While the weighted hula hoop works well for many, I don’t use mine much because it has caused bruising. Rather, I have found my cheap lightweight Walmart hula hoop a useful piece of equipment to integrate into my workout.

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3. Jump rope.Want a good cardio workout, but can’t get outside for a run? Try jump roping. Again, these come in weighted varieties, but even a standard is more than sufficient and offers heart-healthy benefits, strengthens the body, and burns calories. A portable piece of exercise equipment, it can go anywhere tucked in a purse or suitcase. My daughters and I recently headed out to the driveway and tested out our new double jump rope. With a daughter turning each end, I was thrilled to discover that I could still do double-Dutch and remember the songs from my childhood days on the playground.

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4. Water bottles. Don’t have hand weights? Try out two standard 16.9 ounce water bottles for an easy upper body workout.

5. A chair. Speaking of upper body workouts, tricep dips on a chair can work wonders for that flabby under-part of the arm that’s traditionally difficult to tone. An informative way to do tricep dips correctly with a chair can be found here.

6. A dog leash. Stretching is critical to a well-rounded workout to avoid injury. Using a dog leash to stretch the calf muscles after exercise is easy and effective. Details on how to stretch properly with a leash can be found here.

7. An effective playlist. All right, so I added this one in because as one who has taught a variety of aerobic workouts at three different gyms, I know for certain that no workout is quite as powerful and sufficient without the right tunes. Seven of my must-have songs on my downloaded playlist at present are Set it on Fire – Citizen Way, Sold Out – Hawk Nelson, On my Own – Ashes Remain, The Difference – Jonah 33, Restart – Newsboys, and This is Not a Test – TobyMac among about 500 other songs! 🙂

Join me next week, and we’ll look at some more expensive (but still reasonable!) pieces of exercise equipment to enhance your workout.

**Please be sure to check with your physician before starting any new exercise program or varying your current workout.

how to become an undercover prayer warrior

Please note! I am in the process of updating this blog after a hiatus due to my husband having open heart surgery. Below is the first in my updated blog posts that will be posted each Monday. Looking forward to getting back into blogging about Jesus, homeschool, health and fitness, writing, and humor posts! In the meantime, feel free to peruse old posts. 🙂

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After Christian historical romance, Christian suspense is my favorite genre. Especially when characters go undercover and the tension builds as covert operations are planned to catch the bad guys.

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It may be that I have read one too many of these novels. Or that I have watched Sue Thomas F.B. Eye too many times to count. Or that my grandfather was a retired police officer for the San Diego Police Department.

I’ve recently felt God prompting me into my own incognito activities.

I’ve become an undercover prayer warrior.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still (and always will first and foremost) intercede for family and friends numerous times a day. There is not a time during the day when I’m not in constant contact with the Lord.

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However, now I’ve added strangers to the list. People who don’t even know I’m praying for them.

Want to join me in this venture? Here’s how to become an undercover prayer warrior:

1. Keep your eyes open. There’s a woman I see each time I’m utilizing the elliptical machine at my local gym. A salt-and-pepper pixie haircut and a somber expression line her face. I’ve never seen her smile. Not once. Not when the machine she wanted was available, and certainly not to return a smile. This woman became my mission. Each time I see her, I pray earnestly for her. I pray for whatever struggles she is facing. I pray for joy and peace in her life. And I pray that if she doesn’t know the Lord, she would someday come to know Him.

Had I not been keeping my eyes open, I may not have noticed this woman and had the privilege to pray for her.

2. Keep your ears open. Ambulance sirens? Emergency helicopter? Both denote that someone is injured, or may even be possibly fighting for his or her life. Whenever our family hears either of those sounds, we stop what we’re doing and immediately pray for those who are being transported. We pray also that the Lord would provide wisdom and guide the doctor’s hands, as any necessary medical procedures are done.

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3. Keep your heart open. Whenever I pass by the hospital or local cancer center, I pray for those who are receiving treatment. I pray for God’s healing, and that He would make Himself known to those who don’t yet know Him. It’s beyond difficult to struggle with an illness, especially one that’s terminal. Prayer support is the most important thing we can offer someone.

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4. Keep your mind open. Some of the hardest people to pray for are those who are unkind. I experienced some unkindness recently from a woman in desperate need of prayer. I didn’t necessarily want to pray for this meanie, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I had to keep an open mind and pray for this person. (Matthew 5:43-47)

So become God’s undercover prayer warrior. Slip into detective mode and…

  • Pray for that exhausted mom in front of you at the grocery store with the seven children.
  • Pray for the clerk at the department store or the waitress at your favorite restaurant.
  • Pray for the man in front of you at the doctor’s office who has just been told to go to the E.R. because he may be having a heart attack.
  • Scan the newspaper and pray for comfort for the families of those who have recently passed away.
  • Pray for those in jails and prisons.
  • Pray for those in drug treatment facilities attempting to overcome addictions.

And the list goes on.

God always hears each and every prayer we pray.

Why not bless someone today with your prayers?

21 awesome family movies you may never have heard of

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
Our family is always on the lookout for wholesome family films for our weekly Family Night. Some of the best movies we’ve ever seen have been undiscovered gems we’ve stumbled across by accident.

The 20 undiscovered treasures below are in no particular order. Some are newer and some have been out for awhile, but they all are must-see movies for your next Family Night!

 

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry

The Redemption of Henry Myers (12+)

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Finding Normal

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The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

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Though None Go With Me

The Gospel of John

Time Changer

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Last Ounce of Courage

The End of the Spear (13+)

King’s Faith (13+)

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Hidden Places

The Perfect Gift

Duma (12+)

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Seasons of Gray

Christmas Angel

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The Good Book

No Greater Love

Christmas Oranges

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Backroads and Lilies

Civil Love

 

For a listing of other fantastic movies, check out my Mom-Approved Movie List.  Interested in movie reviews? Go to my Mom-Approved Movie Reviews tab.

 

 

Top 50 Christian Workout Songs

weightsThere’s nothing quite like a good beat with uplifting words to accelerate your heart rate. Whether out for a run, mountainbiking, or in the gym on the elliptical, these songs guarantee a workout like none other. And with these upbeat tunes, time will fly by and you’ll scarcely notice you’ve been working your heart and muscles for the past hour.

Some from the past and some from the present, in no particular order, here are the top 50 Christian workout songs:

1. Greater – Mercy Me (and really, you must watch this video – it’s hilarious!)

2. Do Life Big – Jamie Grace

3. Made New – Lincoln Brewster

4. Me Without You – TobyMac

5. Big House – Audio Adrenaline (so this song is very old, but it’s still a goodie! And check out the video. We’ve come a long way with technology).

6. Restart- The Newsboys

7. This is the Time – Superchick

8. Words – Hawk Nelson

9. Overcomer – Mandisa

10. Do Everything – Steven Curtis Chapman

11. Turn Around – Matt Maher

12. You Save Me – Kutless

13. Lay Me Down – Rush of Fools

14. Take My Life – Jeremy Camp

15. All the Time – Whosoever South

16. Hurricane – Natalie Grant (Moms, can you identify with this song?)

17. I Am Free – Newsboys (another oldie but goodie)

18. This is Who I Am – Third Day

19. Drifting – Plumb

20. God’s Great Dance Floor – Chris Tomlin penpen

21. Make Believe – Seventh Day Slumber

22. Everything About You – Sanctus Real

23. Right Beside You – Building 429

24. On My Own – Ashes Remain

25. Jesus Freak – DC Talk (take a trip to the past and check out Toby Mac and Michael Tate in this video).

26. Every Good Thing – Afters

27. I Thank You – Rebecca St. James

28. Come to the River – Rhett Walker Band

29. I Believe – ZoeGirl

30. Shake – Mercy Me

31. The Only Name (Yours Will Be) – Big Daddy Weave

32. The King is Coming – Newsboys

33. Hello My Name is – Matthew West

34. Finding Who We Are – Kutless

35. Alive – Hillsong Young and Free (check out this video for some dance-move inspiration!)

36. Song of  Hope (Heaven Come Down) – Robbie Seay Band

37. Risen Today – Aaron Shust

38. You Lift Me Up – Rachel Lampa

39. Reckless – Jeremy Camp

40. Promises – Sanctus Real

41. Tonight – TobyMac

42. More Love More Power – Jeff Deyo

43. Reaching for  You – Lincoln Brewster

44. O Praise Him (All this for a King) – David Crowder Band

45. Incredible – Building 429

46. This is Love – Kutless

47.  Matchless – Aaron Shust

48. There’s Gotta Be More – Stacie Orrico

49. Fix My Eyes – for King & Country

50. I Refuse – Josh Wilson

And, as a bonus, here are five awesome “cooldown and stretch” songs:

1. Remain – Royal Tailor

2. We Won’t Be Shaken – Building 429

3. More of You – Colton Dixon

4. That’s What Love Looks Like – Among the Thirsty

5. Beauty of the Cross – Johnny Diaz

What are some of your favorite Christian workout songs?

 

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