Do you remember The Wizard of Oz? I remember being scared out of my mind of the flying monkeys! I still have trouble watching that movie. But I loved all the other parts. Especially the Munchkins and all their voices saying, “follow the yellow brick road”.
We all wish we could follow a yellow brick road that would lead us to all the answers to our questions. A place where everything will be fixed. I know we’ll have that in Heaven one day, but the truth is we want to “arrive” while here on earth. We want the perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect kids. The perfect job. But the real picture often looks something like a house with a leaky roof, a kitchen table covered in laundry, kids that whine, a crazy family, a jerk for a boss and an empty bank account.
We have an idea of what we want things to look like (or least how we DON’T want them to look), but the journey to that place is challenging. I like to know I’m moving forward, making progress. Sometimes it’s slow. But I’m just going to share some resources with you that help me along the path. Things that have helped me grow. Things that help me TRY to be organized and keep moving forward. I guess you could call these my “top picks” for 2014. Some tools to put in your toolbox to help along the journey. There are all sorts of things here from books, to apps. Scroll down and see what applies to you. I’m going to open up the comment section for this post and hope you will share some of your favorite tools (anything that helps you grow or keep going forward) with the rest of us. Or maybe I didn’t address a category you need help in, then ask the question and maybe another reader can help you out.
Have a New Kid by Friday – Dr. Kevin Leman: This book has lots of very practical tips from how to get a kid to sleep in their own bed to setting curfew for your teens and everything in between. He is a marriage and family counselor who has raised 5 kids. He knows what he’s talking about.
Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid her Home of Youth Entitlement – Kay Wyma: I heard this lady on Focus on the Family and could so relate! Do your kids expect you to do too much of the work around the house and they do too little? This book is for you! Be sure to check out her blog too, especially if you have teenagers.
Life Changing Books:
One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp: This is a game changer. Apart from the Bible this one book may have impacted my spiritual walk more than anything else I’ve ever read. It has changed the way I look at God and my life.
If you are looking for a personal Bible study or something to do in a group. Try one of these. I’ve done them myself and led a group through all of them and you won’t be disappointed.
Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions – Lysa TerKeurst: You can read the book or you can add on 6 weeks of video lessons. There is also a participants guide for the video series (depending on the amount of time you have).
James: Mercy Triumphs – Beth Moore: This one is IN-DEPTH friends. But so worth the time and effort. You can download the videos for just a couple $$. No need to invest tons of money into the kit. Just download as you need them.
Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free – Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think the title says it all. She addresses 40 common lies women believe……..and you will be surprised. Prepare to have your toes stepped on.
Health & Fitness
I lost 35 pounds in about 4 months through Weight Watchers. It works.
If you are a runner or want to start running, you can’t beat Runner’s World Magazine for anything you need to know.
If you are looking for a training app to start a run/walk program, check out the Run for Pink apps (5k, 10k, half-marathon, etc.)
If you want to build some muscle, see if your local gym offers a Body Pump class or some similar strength training. But don’t quit after the first day even though you think you might die. Go back. It will get easier.
If you join Weight Watchers as mentioned above you have to use their e-tools. The WW app is great.
Prayer Notebook – This is a great journal to keep track of your prayer list right on your phone so you are never without it. The free version will get you started but it’s worth buying the full version for more features.
Bible Gateway – you can put this app on your phone or iPad or go to BibleGateway.com on your computer. It’s a great source of study options with multiple translations to choose from.
Some of my favorite apps for kids are below and these are particularly enjoyable for my daughter with Autism. (I’m not sure if these are available in Android).
Jigsaws 123 – These are available in all types of themes from farm animals to transportation and the amount of pieces for the puzzles can be set from 2-16.
Additional Apps for iPad for Autism
My First AAC – Turns the iPad into an Augmented Communication Device
If you have lots of schedules to keep up with then you need the “Do it All Mom Planner”
If you are trying to get organized then you will love the Fly Lady. 🙂
This one!! Just kidding. 🙂
Kid’s Teaching Videos
Children’s Curriculum for Sunday School, VBS or Children’s Church
My all-time favorite is Group Publishing. I love everything they do. Especially their VBS materials. They also have great materials for adults and women’s ministry.
If you want something quiet to listen to as you study, read or relax then check out David Nevue piano solos.
Perhaps you want to share your faith but you are unsure how. The Billy Graham Evangelical Association has some great tools like this video, The Cross.
I’m counting gifts. Just making a list of all the good things that come my way. Whether it is a hot cup of coffee in the morning or an unexpected financial blessing. Maybe it’s a sloppy kiss from my baby girl or a sweet note from a friend. Practicing thanksgiving changes things. It changes me.
Totally Random Autism Stuff
When going on a trip or out in public with a child with Autism that tends to flap or stim or make noises or meltdown, then we find that having our daughter wear a t-shirt dealing with Autism is helpful. When we went to Disney last month I bought some transfer labels from Avery that I could print on from my computer and then iron onto a t-shirt. I bought a pack of t-shirts and ended up making her 6 t-shirts for about $25 (instead of ordering 1 online for the same price). She wore one every day we were in the parks and if she acted a little “different” then it was obvious why and it avoided all the weird looks, questions, etc. and we just got on with having fun and not explaining. 🙂 All 6 of her shirts were the same and said “Autism Is My Super Power” with a picture of a cartoon super girl. Email me if you want me to send you the template. My address is in the right sidebar.
In the Kitchen
Cook once – eat twice: Use the crock pot and fill it full when you do. Then have leftovers later in the week or put it in the freezer and have leftovers later in the month. Save yourself some time.
Give your kids kitchen chores (unloading dishwasher, sweeping floor, setting table) and then have them do them WHILE you are making dinner. That way you can supervise their work while without having to stop what you are doing. They can also see you work and hopefully pick up some cooking tips at the same time. And you might just get a good conversation with your kid out of it.
Ok – now JUST FOR FUN I’m going to share my Grandmother’s Chocolate Gravy recipe with you. Some of you have NO idea what I’m talking about, but try it any way. There is nothing at all healthy about this and it’s NOT good for you, but it sure is good. Just don’t make a regular habit of it. Here’s what you do:
- Makes some biscuits if you know how. Or if you are like me, go to the grocery store, buy some frozen ones and then bake them.
- While the biscuits are baking, mix together 1.5 cups of sugar with 2 heaping TBSP of cocoa in a sauce pan.
- Add 1 cup milk and 1 cup water and bring to a boil.
- Then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes stirring often.
- Take those hot biscuits out of the oven. Split one open and spread butter on the 2 pieces. Then ladle some of that chocolate sauce over the biscuit and savor every bite with a cold glass of milk. IT. IS. AMAZING! Enjoy!
Don’t forget to share your ideas with us in the comments or go to the Grace In The Real World page on Facebook.