Spirit, Word and Truth

Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Page 4 of 52

He Is Faithful: A God-sized Dreams Guest Post

Hiya, folks! I’m still adjusting to changes and struggling to figure out rhythms. The good news: I’ve had a steady stream of freelance work coming in each week for about a month now. The bad news: between the freelancing and the book writing and the upcoming release marketing and all of the aforementioned life adjustments I have no ever-lovin’ idea where blogging fits in, so expect things to remain sporadic until either I figure that out or things settle down.

At any rate, before the upheaval I wrote and submitted a guest post over at one of my favorite devotional blogs, God-sized Dreams. And whaddaya know, they accepted it! It went live over there last week. I’m a bit behind on giving y’all the heads up. Sorry about that. At any rate, here it is:

One day last fall, I holed up by myself in my quiet place, a little bedroom nook where I could pray aloud without being heard. I had a lot of things I wanted to cry aloud to God about, and I knew there was bound to be some actual crying in the process that I didn’t want anyone to see.

I’ve been waiting a long time for some of my dreams to happen.

I have big dreams in my heart, dreams that include becoming a best-selling author and having a thriving blog ministry. I have more personal dreams, too, dreams that might be on a smaller scale but to me seemed even bigger and more impossible. Dreams like becoming a mother even though it seems like that ship has sailed and my husband and I missed the boat. Dreams like moving out of our crime-ridden neighborhood and back to the country where, if kids ever did happen, we could raise them in peace.

I was struggling with disappointment because it seemed like that first dream had been dashed. Just weeks before, I had launched my first traditionally published novel. Despite all my efforts to build excitement about it, and despite all my prayers for its success, book sales were lackluster.

Somewhere along the way I had convinced myself that this book was the key to all of my dreams coming true. That if God chose to bless it and allow it to prosper the way I hoped it would, we’d be able to move, I’d finally be able to get good insurance, and we could start trying for a baby.

When my book failed to take off out of the starting gate, it felt like all my other dreams stalled along with it. Sitting there in my nook with tears streaming down my face, I confessed all of this to God, along with my anger and frustration and hurt feelings. “When, Lord?” I cried. “When will you bring my dreams to reality?” And then I lifted my eyes and saw the stack of paperback copies of my book that my publisher had sent me, and I heard a still, small voice speak to my heart:

Daughter, I already have.

Read the rest over at God-sized Dreams.

And here’s a little addendum to that post: all of this upheaval and transitioning and adjustment and busyness is all the result of yet more of His faithfulness. God is good, y’all. Amen.

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

In Praise of a Quiet Life (Link Roundup)

“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

I was really hoping to resume my regular blogging schedule this month, but realistically it will probably be next month before that happens. But I wanted to check in and let y’all know that I haven’t fallen off of the planet.

Transitions are hard, y’all, and while this one is the answer to a lot of prayer and a whole lot of waiting in faith, I’m going to be real and remind myself (and anyone else reading this who’s dealing with hard times as the result of blessing and answered prayer) that it’s okay to acknowledge the hard, that doing so doesn’t make you ungrateful. I am SO thankful that all of this is happening right now and yet that doesn’t change the fact that my husband and I are exhausted and overwhelmed and there is still so much more to be done and I cried this morning and told God I can’t do it anymore before He helped me buck up and put on my big girl pants and come up with an action plan that I can live with.

At any rate, in the midst of a flurry of busy with the end looking a long way off, I’m longing to get back to a simple, slow, quiet life, and these links are all about doing just that.

What I Learned from Adopting a Simple-Living Mentality – Back in February I had the privilege of interviewing Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist for an article for Brightpeak Financial. Here’s a sneak peek:

A simple living mindset can mean different things to different people. According to Becker, simple living is “about deciding what in life is most important and then redirecting our resources towards that.” Getting rid of clutter and reducing material possessions is a big part of it, but it doesn’t stop there.

For Becker, it also meant cleaning up how he spends his time. He not only got rid of most of his television sets, but also vastly reduced the time he spent watching TV. His family also downsized their home to one that cost less in both time and money to maintain.

While some of these changes may seem drastic, it still came as a surprise to Becker how this mindset changed his life for the better.

Head here to read the rest.

What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life? – This post at A Life in Progress speaks so directly to the heart of everything God’s been dealing with in my heart for the last year and a half or so that if you take out all the parts about motherhood I could have written it myself. Seriously, y’all, I think it’s time to stop telling our kids (and ourselves, for that matter) that they have to aspire to lives of greatness and instead that they should aspire to lives of satisfaction and contentment–and that if that means lives of quiet domesticity and small, behind-the-scenes contributions, that’s completely okay.

And a book rec: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown – Like the post above, this book is about everything I’ve been trying to do by editing my life over the last couple of years. For me, while this book had some things that I can apply to help me tweak my efforts to streamline my life, it was less of a revelation and more validation of my determination to turn my back on a life of hustle. But if you’re stuck in hustle mode and feeling overextended and overwhelmed I highly recommend giving this book a look-see (and if, like me, you’ve made it your aim to stop hustling and slow down but are wondering if that makes you selfish, definitely read this book).

I’m hoping to get an April issue of Daydreamer Dispatch out later this week (…maybe), so if you’d like to know more about both what and how we’re doing, scroll to the bottom of this post or click the link in the sidebar to make sure you’re signed up.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to regular posting in another couple of weeks, but don’t be shocked if that doesn’t happen. In the meantime, thanks for hanging in there.

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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Link Roundup: K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sunshine)

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I was originally planning to do another blog series this month, this time about faithfulness, but this month is really chaotic. I need to simplify and scale down the things that are in my power to do so or I will lose my mind, and one of those things is this blog.

So this month (and probably next month too) will feature easy posts that include links and fun stuff, as well as some repeats from the archives.

Speaking of keeping things simple, this week I’m sharing links to my favorite links about minimalism, simple living and keeping house, since that’s mostly what’s occupying my head space right now as I scrutinize every object in my house (or at least the ones my husband hasn’t declared hands-off) to determine whether it belongs or needs to go.

For starters, if you’re interested in simplifying your life, I highly recommend watching the Minimalism documentary for inspiration and motivation. It’s on Netflix, but if you don’t have a Netflix membership, you can watch it here on YouTube for $3.99.

Or you could just watch this TEDx Talk by the Minimalists — it’s free, much shorter, and you’ll get the gist of what the documentary’s all about.

This lecture from Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist is long but worth it (I had the privilege of chatting with Mr. Becker a few weeks ago for an upcoming article and he is a nice guy who is full of Godly wisdom about this subject).

The Simple Show Ep. 60: A Slob Comes Clean – You guys, I think Dana White is my brain twin. I wish I had read her book because all of her mental road blocks to cleaning and housekeeping are identical to mine and I just figured out how to get around them in pretty much the same ways she describes in this podcast. Her book might have saved me a lot of trial and error. I put it on my wish list so I can see if she has any insights that I haven’t yet stumbled into on my own.

And here is her blog. I think I have a new guru, y’all.

Speaking of gurus, y’all know I love the Lazy Genius, and I want to give you a heads up that her podcast is starting back up this month.

I also want to give a shout-out to Trello because it’s really coming in handy for organizing and tracking what we’re doing this month. I can see this being a really useful tool when it comes to tracking a big decluttering project, too.

Finally, for those who are into this sort of thing, I’ve started a Lifestyle Goals Pinterest board where you’ll find all kinds of inspiration for slowing down and simplifying.

Got any links of your own to share? Do any of these look helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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What I Learned This Winter

what-i-learned-feb-17This week I’m pausing to join Emily Freeman and her community of readers in talking about what I learned this season. And I’m glad this has come up because this winter had quite a lot to teach me, lessons both big and small (and a little scary).

  1. Apparently you can have two words. Remember back in January when I said I originally thought my One Word for this year was “faithfulness,” but then I felt God nudging me to switch it to “abandon”? Apparently, I’m supposed to focus on both, because no sooner did I set aside “faithfulness” as my word than I started getting bombarded with lessons on both God’s faithfulness and faithful obedience. Like, every single Bible study I’ve done since the beginning of the year has emphasized these things. I’ll be talking about this more in the months to come because I’ve learned a lot on this topic and there’s too much to go into in this post.
  2. I’m actually capable of keeping a clean house. Y’all, I’ve never been able to get this whole housekeeping thing down, and I’m over 40. I figured that at this point, this leopard ain’t going to change her spots, and I was working on accepting this about myself. But this year I kept feeling a nudge to just do my best to be a faithful steward of my home (see item 1 above), and so far, I’ve been doing pretty good. I’m not going to be winning any Good Housekeeping seals of approval or anything, but I’ve managed to pick up some habits that are helping me stay on top of things, and I’m finding that this thing I’ve struggled with all my life is really not that hard. I don’t know if I just reached an age where the adulting switch finally flipped to ON of its own accord or if it’s something else that just clicked into place for me, but something has suddenly transformed me into a halfway decent housekeeper.And I’m not sure what it says about me that this, more than anything else I’ve done — more than getting a publishing deal for my novel series, more than losing weight and keeping it off, more than running a business — makes me feel like a capable, competent grown-up.
  3. Small, faithful steps can accomplish much. Seriously, it never ceases to amaze me what just whittling away at something for 15 minutes a day can accomplish. That’s how I’ve managed to stay consistent (so far, this year) with updating this blog regularly. It’s how my next book is getting plotted and planned (and most likely will also get written). It’s how the sorting and packing is getting done. And it’s also how my house is getting cleaned — not necessarily 15 consecutive minutes a day, but just a few minutes here and there throughout each day. You can fit just about anything you really want to get done into your day if you do it in small bites, and while those tiny bites might feel futile and pointless at first, you’ll be amazed by how quickly they add up to big accomplishments.
  4. I’ve learned a lot about English and Irish history. My husband is reading The English and Their History by Robert Tombs, and it’s put him in the mood to watch these documentary series about English and Irish castles on Netflix, both of which are heavily focused on medieval history. It’s all pretty fascinating. I can’t say I’m retaining a lot but some of it’s sinking in. I can tell you this — it was all pretty bloody.
  5. I think I might be a minimalist. After so many years of living in cluttered chaos and inflicting mindless busyness on myself, I’m so, so tired of it. The Lord’s been working on me for the last couple of years now to get me to slow down and focus more on what really matters, and now I’m at a place where I want my home to reflect that, too. I crave white space not just in my days but also in my environment. The other day I watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix and it really spoke to me and where I’m at in this season.
  6. I know what my next book is about. And maybe the next two books (in the series) after that. I haven’t got the plot completely hashed out, but I’ve got a pretty good road map and I think I’m almost ready to start writing it.
  7. I also think I know the sort of freelance writing I’d like to pursue. A vision is starting to emerge of being more of a Christian living and home and lifestyle blogger — which coincidentally seems to be the direction this blog is moving into. It feels like a bit of a stretch and it’s a little scary, but I’m trusting God and staying yielded to the kind of work He wants me to do. That seems to be the direction He’s leading me, but I don’t want to presume anything or run ahead of him. This whole sitting back and allowing Him to control and shape my writing career has been working pretty well so far and I sure don’t want to mess that up.
  8. Trader Joe’s Ginger Turmeric tea is delicious. The end.
  9. I learned about hygge. And that I pretty much already practice it but it’s nice to have a name for it, even if it’s funny and hard to pronounce.
  10. We’ve been living catty-corner from a member of a Mexican drug cartel for the last several months. This nugget of information came to our attention a couple of mornings ago when we were awakened by a multi-departmental law enforcement raid on the neighbor’s house, complete with a SWAT team in full armor riding in on a small tank. There were minor explosions, but no gunfire, thank goodness. It was all very exciting — a little too exciting. Lord help us.

That’s quite a lot of learning crammed into a couple of months. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of lessons this next season will bring. The weather people are expecting a rather terrifying spring, with the potential for both more and bigger tornadoes, so there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to exercise faith over the next few months. Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, indeed.

What have you learned this month? Tell us, or link up your own What I Learned post in the comments!

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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How I Manage My Own Capacity: A Day in the Life

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Day-in-the-life posts are a little weird to write. As a reader, I usually enjoy them and often find them helpful. But when it comes to sitting down to write one, it feels a little conceited and self-indulgent. Like, who really wants to know the details of how I spend a typical day?

Um, maybe people like me who find it helpful to know how other people manage their days (and find it encouraging to know that other people don’t have it together every hour of every day)?

So here goes. This is how I spend a typical day as a work-from-home freelance writer, homemaker and wife, and how I apply everything I’ve talked about in the last two posts.

Early Morning

My husband usually wakes up between 6 and 6:30. I wake up when he does, and get up long enough to let the dog out of his pen and do his morning business. Then I get back in bed with the dog until my husband’s done in the kitchen, usually sometime around 7:00.

Once I’m up for real, I take my thyroid pill and drink a big glass of water before I feed the dog, let the cat out and make sure she’s got food and water, and check on the turtle. Then I go into the kitchen and put on water to boil for coffee (I make it in a French press). While I wait for the water to boil and then for the coffee to steep, I try to get some kind of movement in. Sometimes I do stretches, sometimes I just pace back and forth in the kitchen, sometimes I get on the stationary bike. Lately, though, I’ve been grabbing a wet wipe and using the time to wipe down surface in the kitchen, and also round up any recyclables that got left out the night before.

When my coffee’s ready, I pour myself a cup and then snuggle on the couch with my dog and my Bible. I usually spend about 15 minutes in prayer, then I open up my Bible to whatever chapter we’re reading that day in the First 5 app before reading that app’s lesson for the day. If I have any of my own insights, I’ll jot them down in my prayer journal.

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After I’m done with my Bible study I usually have some time left before I can eat, so I use it to scroll through Bing and earn my daily mobile Bing points (we do this to earn Amazon gift cards). This usually entails looking at headlines, which usually leads to discussing current events (and to one or both of us ranting about the state of affairs).

By the time we’re done enough time has passed since taking my thyroid pill that I can eat breakfast. Typically on weekdays I eat refrigerator steel cut oats that I set up the night before. I zap them for about a minute to warm them and then zap a couple of chicken sausage links to go with them.

After breakfast I pour (and heat up) my second cup of coffee and sip it while I read my favorite daily devotional blogs, and then I segue into my favorite secular blogs and newsletters before taking a few minutes to check e-mail and notifications on all my social networks (and if I have time I might go ahead and scroll a little).

Mid-Morning

By the time I finish drinking coffee and making my online rounds, I’m usually feeling sufficiently awake to really begin my day. So I put down my phone, get off the couch, and go make myself change out of my pajamas into actual clothes–usually some combo of sweater/sweatshirt and leggings (or shorts and a tee-shirt in the summer). I don’t bother with makeup if I’m not going anywhere, but I do wash my face and put on moisturizer, and run a brush through my hair before either putting it up or hiding it under a wide headband. I also brush my teeth and take an extra minute or two to wipe down the bathroom sink and mirror.

Feeling sufficiently put together, I put on a cup of tea and then do some light housekeeping while it steeps. This usually involves picking up a trail of dog toys and corralling any living room clutter that might distract me while I work. If it’s cold or gloomy outside, I’ll usually light a candle or two, then sit down with my tea ready to work.

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(At this point either my husband or I usually retreat to the bedroom with our work so we can both do our thing without distracting each other. Lately it’s mostly been my husband hanging out back there and leaving me with the living room all to myself.)

Late Morning/Early Afternoon

Before I start work I usually go over my bullet journal and see what’s needed that day. This typically involves praying and asking God to show me what He wants me to work on that day and asking Him to set my pace and give me the capacity to do what’s needed.

Then with my agenda in place, I get to work on whatever novel project I’ve got going on. Right now that means researching, plotting and outlining my next book, but when I get to the drafting stage this will be the time of day that most of the writing gets done.

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I usually work on my book for about an hour to an hour and a half before I run out of steam. Then after a short break to check my e-mail and peek at Facebook and Instagram, I’ve usually got enough time before lunch to spend about 20 minutes working on my blog.

At about 1:00 I stop for lunch. First I feed my dog–he eats three tiny meals a day, and pretty much eats when I eat–and then I eat something quick and easy. On weekdays I’m a big fan of what I call healthy adult lunchables–cut up nitrate-free lunch meat, avocado slices and gluten-free crackers with some kind of fruit on the side.

After lunch, if the weather’s even halfway decent, my husband, the dog and I usually head outside for about twenty minutes to get some sunshine and/or fresh air (as fresh as it gets living off a major city street, at any rate) and some more movement. When we’ve had enough, we head back in and I make myself another cup of tea and do some more light housework while it steeps–usually involving dusting and wiping down surfaces.

Mid-to-Late-Afternoon

Once I get my tea and sit back down I’m usually feeling refreshed and focused enough to do some more writing. This is usually when I work on freelance projects. If I’m between freelance assignments, I use this time to work on my blogs or my newsletters, and also do various book and blog marketing tasks. If I’m getting close to a book deadline I’ll use this time to write on my book.

I usually run out of steam by about 4:30, so I get up to eat a healthy snack and make my third and final cup of tea–something light and non-caffeinated. Then I usually come back to the couch and just sit and sip my tea and look out the window. Sometimes I pray, sometimes I meditate on the Word, sometimes I just practice being still. Sometimes I just let my mind wander. The important thing is that I allow myself a few minutes every day to stop doing and just be.

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All of this usually gives me enough of a charge that I can get in another hour or so of work. But I try to stop working and shut down my computer by about 5:45. This gives me 30 to 45 minutes in the evening to do something just for me. Sometimes I’ll put on a podcast and work on a craft project, or on KonMari-ing my stuff, or coloring in my adult coloring books or doodling in my journaling Bible. Sometimes I’ll just read a book or watch some videos. If it’s laundry week, this is usually when stuff gets folded and put away.

Evening

Around 6:30 I stop whatever I’m doing and eat dinner (after feeding the dog his last bitty meal, which is more like a snack so he doesn’t feel deprived and spend the evening pouting). My husband and I are on different eating schedules and also different diets, so we usually each cook for ourselves, but I try to do enough meal prep on the weekends that on week nights I can just heat something up.

After dinner I clean up my mess and wash my dishes, then set out everything I need to make my coffee in the morning and prep my refrigerator oats to soak overnight. Then I brush my teeth and make another pass at wiping down the sink and mirror before my husband and I snuggle up together on the couch and watch a show.

After the show, usually around 8:30, we turn off screens and start getting ready for bed. We have an elaborate routine involving putting all the pets up for the night that I won’t get into, but by the time they’re all tucked in and I change into my PJs and wash my face it’s usually about 9:00. I take my bullet journal to bed with me and write down anything I want to remember from the day, and also answer my daily questions. I’ll also jot down a tentative agenda for the following day, and if there’s a lot on my mind I’ll do a quick mind sweep to clear my head. Then I read a book until lights out at 10:00.

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So there you have it. The main things to notice are how I don’t really schedule my time; I simply have times of day that are best suited to certain tasks, and everything else kind of flows around that. I’ve established rhythms for myself that make the best use of my peak capacity and let me do things that rebuild my capacity when it starts to wane.

I also keep a tight reign on things like social media and other distractions, although I don’t eliminate them completely, because they do add a little spice to my day and help me feel more connected to the world at large. It’s taken a lot of trial and error (and a lot of beating myself up for not being able to do it the way I thought I was supposed to), but this is what works, at least for this particular season of my life.

What about you, friend? Do you arrange your day according to rhythms or are schedules more your jam? How do you manage your capacity? Have you learned anything from this series of posts that might help you manage it better? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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Managing Your Capacity to Steward Your Time

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“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” — Colossians 4:5

This week my month-long series on managing our capacity continues. Last week we looked at what capacity is, and the importance of knowing (and being realistic about) your own capacity — i.e., the size of your plate.

This week we’re getting into the nitty gritty of actually figuring out how to manage your capacity, or maybe more accurately, how to manage your time within the limits of your capacity.

Our key verse from Colossians suggests that being good stewards of our time is part of walking in wisdom toward outsiders. In other words, managing our days well serves as a good witness to unbelievers. Of course we don’t want to present a fake, smiley brand of Christianity where we force cheerfulness and go around pretending that everything’s always great. That sort of thing doesn’t serve anybody.

Remember that I’m preaching to myself here, y’all.

We don’t have to have it all together or even appear to have it all together all the time. But as believers empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit, our lives should look like that actually makes a difference, even if it’s just in our attitudes.

And that’s what this concept of managing our capacity for usefulness vs. managing our time is all about: giving ourselves a whole lot of grace as we acknowledge and even embrace our limitations and proceed to do the very best we can with what we’re given, relying on God to strengthen and sustain us and help us do what needs to be done.

Before we get into the steps of how I manage my capacity, I want to make clear that this is just that: how I manage my capacity. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some of this might work for you. Some of it might need a little tweaking in order to work. Some of it might not work for you at all. This stuff took me a lot of trial and error to figure out and I’m still working on it, tweaking it as necessary.

I should also point out that my husband and I are both work-at-home freelancers with no kids, and I realize that makes some of this easier for us than it might be for you. Just know that as you’re envying my ability to move slowly through my day and have plenty of margin that there’s not a lot I wouldn’t give to be chasing around after kids all day.

Okay. Now I’ve broken this down into steps, but these aren’t really steps that need to be followed in any particular order, one after another.

Step One: Decide What Matters

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I talked about this in a previous post (which links to a Lazy Genius post expanding on the topic that you should definitely read). But before you can begin effectively managing your days, you have to have your priorities nailed down; otherwise you end up wasting your capacity and time on things that don’t matter.

The thing to remember here is that your priorities are YOUR priorities. It’s not about what’s important to your mom or your mother-in-law or people on Pinterest or Instagram or the mean boss in your head. This isn’t about “should” or “ought to.” Just go ahead and eliminate those phrases from your vocabulary.

This isn’t purely about being productive and useful every waking hour of the day. This is about designing your days so that you flourish, and feel good about life, and don’t get burned out or depressed because you’re overwhelmed and stuck in hustle mode.

So if it’s important to you to have time at some point each day to read a book or scroll Pinterest or color in your coloring Bible or work out or go outside or bake cookies or watch a show or whatever helps to recharge you and make you feel like a person and not a machine, that’s fine. It’s important and it matters, and it’s fine to make it a priority.

Step Two: Eliminate What Doesn’t Matter (or Pare it Way Down)

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I’ve been reading up a lot lately on minimalism and simple living. There’s another concept along the same lines called essentialism, which is about figuring out what really matters in your life, and eliminating the things that stand in the way of that. Where minimalism seems to be more focused on only having what you need to live and be content, I feel like essentialism offers more margin for you to decide what you need in order for your soul to thrive–things that might have no place in a truly minimalist home or lifestyle.

Either way, the point is that it’s helpful to figure out what’s using up your time and capacity and getting in the way of what matters. If you’re spending an hour dusting and organizing your house every day then you probably need to get rid of some stuff (or maybe even get a smaller house). If it’s important to you to make time to read books but it doesn’t happen because you can’t tear yourself away from scrolling Facebook and getting stressed out over political memes then maybe you should delete your Facebook app. If you’re doing laundry all the time then maybe your family has too many clothes, or needs to learn how to wear stuff more than once before watching as long as it’s not smelly or stained. If you really want to write a book (or blog) but just can’t find the time then maybe stop watching TV during the week and save your can’t-miss shows for weekend binging (this is how I make time to write).

Step Three: Decide What’s Needed Today

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Step One is about deciding what your priorities are in general. This is about deciding what actually needs to get done today. I do this by praying before I open up my bullet journal and asking God to show me what’s on His agenda for me for today. I ask Him to show me where I’m being too Martha by piling too much stuff on my plate that’s not actually needed, and instead to help me be more Mary and focus on what really matters.

The thing about Martha, bless her heart, is that she wanted to be impressive. I’m sure a lot of it was about wanting to impress the Lord while she was hosting Him in her living room, but she probably tended to try to be impressive in her hostess and homemaking duties in general.

But we don’t need to impress anybody, and most certainly not the Lord, who just wants our faithful obedience. So a good question to ask as you make your To Do list is, “Does this really need to get done, or am I just doing it to be impressive?”

Step Four: Establish Rhythms Instead of Schedules

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I don’t know about you, friend, but for me figuring this out was a big deal. Things just really clicked into place for me once I stopped assigning set times to my tasks and started figuring out where they fit into the rhythms of my day instead.

For example, I have ADD, but there are certain times of day when I’m naturally more able to focus on tasks that require a lot of concentration. For me it’s the late morning, after I’ve had all my coffee and am fully awake, and about two to four in the afternoon. So this is when I do all my writing. I work on my novels and blog posts in the late morning hours leading up to lunch, and in the afternoon I work on freelance assignments. During the times when I’m less focused I do tasks that require less mental energy, like housework or exercise or marketing my books and blogs on social media.

I also try to punctuate my days with breaks to just sit quietly and stare out the window. Sometimes I pray, sometimes I just practice being still in God’s presence, and sometimes I just let my mind wander and dream. To a lot of people this looks like wasting time, but I’ve learned that this time is necessary to help me recharge and re-focus, and it also helps me be more creative.

Of course, there will still be appointments and things that have set times that you can’t get away from. I just do my best to work my rhythms around them. It’s not always easy. A 2:00 doctor’s appointment, for instance, means that I’m not getting any freelance writing done that day — or if I have to because there’s a deadline, then I skip novel writing and do my freelancing in the late morning instead. The thing about rhythms is that they’re flexible and fluid in a way that schedules are not.

Step Five: Nurture Your Capacity

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This post is already really long so I’ll try to keep this part short. The main thing is that, as I said in last week’s post, capacity has a way of expanding and shrinking. You can expand your capacity by doing things like eating healthy, getting regular exercise and getting plenty of sleep. You can also expand it, or help keep it expanded, by leaving enough margin on your plate for self-care. By that I mean doing things that fill you up and give you energy instead of depleting you.

My staring-out-the-window breaks are part of this for me. So is starting my day out with time in prayer and in the Word. So is taking ten minutes to go outside with my husband and dog to just stand in the sunshine soaking up vitamin D while we shoot the breeze, or squeezing in a few minutes of knitting, or taking five to color or doodle in my journaling Bible. So figure out what does that for you and then allow yourself the space to do it throughout the day without any guilt. It might not feel useful or productive but it’s absolutely necessary.

Bonus Step: Start a Bullet Journal

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You don’t have to keep a bullet journal, and it might not be a good fit for you. But a bullet journal is flexible and adaptable and works with rhythms in a way that a planner with its neatly laid out time grids just can’t.

My favorite part about the bullet journal is how easy it is to “migrate” a task to the next day if it doesn’t get done. You still get to put a mark by that task–an arrow instead of a check mark–to indicate that it got moved, rather than just having this unmarked task staring at you accusing you of failure. It’s such a simple little mind trick that for me is huge. It’s not, “I’m a failure because I didn’t manage to fit this task in today.” Instead it’s, “I didn’t get to this today but that’s okay because it really can wait till tomorrow and it’s not a big deal.”

So there you have it — everything I’ve figured out so far about managing my capacity to be productive in order to make the most of my time. And good grief, this thing is long. I’m so sorry, but I hope that at least some of you find it helpful.

If you do, or if you have any insights of your own to add, let me know in the comments!

And be sure to come back next week, when I’ll illustrate how all of the above works in my own life with a Day in the Life post. Unless you hate those, in which case now you’ll know to skip it. 😉

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

3-D Lessons for Life

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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Our Favorite Gratitude Prayers to Feel Better About Money

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There’s no denying that money is important, but too much focus on it creates stress and anxiety as well as marital and family conflict. Measuring success in terms of material wealth puts the focus on what we lack rather than on what we already have. Fortunately, gratitude prayers are one of the most effective ways to combat this when we could use a reminder that our needs are often already met.

The writers of scripture knew this: gratitude Bible verses tell us again and again to give thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, for example, commands us to give thanks in all circumstances. It may seem like a strange command to give thanks when times are hard, but those are precisely the times we need to exercise gratitude the most. And it’s not just the Bible that tells us this. As it turns out, science agrees.

Read the rest at Brightpeak Financial!

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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Know Your Capacity

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I’m going to try something a little different this month. Throughout February I’m going to do a multi-part series on managing your capacity. Capaci-what, you ask? We’ll get to what it is in a minute.

First, I just want to say that while I may at times write like I know what I’m talking about and I’m handing down sage advice and wisdom, the truth is that I’m preaching to myself here. Every now and then I figure something out, but then I turn around and forget it, or forget to apply it to how I do life. So my hope is that by sharing this stuff with you, dear reader, I’ll do a better job of remembering it for myself. But don’t for a minute be under the illusion that I’ve got it all together, because HA HA! Nope.

Anyway. So what do I mean by capacity?

What is Capacity?

For a long time — way, way too long — I thought being more productive and effectively adulting was all about learning how to manage my time. I tried out so many different time management systems — none of which actually worked — and constantly beat myself up for not being able to manage my time better so that I could get more done in a day. I really believed that if I could just be more organized about how I spent my time, that I could cram my plate full day after day after day and be some kind of superhero at getting stuff done.

It’s only been in the last year or so — this has been a gradual realization; I can’t cite a specific “A-ha!” moment — that I realized that I can be the best person ever at scheduling my time but that won’t make me able to be more productive. Because time isn’t the problem. The problem is that the time in which I have to get things done each day is not a uniform number of hours and minutes that I can neatly block out on a grid. Rather, the time I actually have each day is subject to things like my energy levels and my ability to think clearly and focus.

These things make up your capacity for productivity. And these things are not fixed. They fluctuate from day to day, even throughout the day, and they don’t always line up with each other. Sometimes I have more energy than I do focus. Sometimes — more rarely — I have more focus than I do physical energy. And your capacity can increase or decrease based on a number of factors, including how much stress you’re under, how much sleep you get, how you eat, etc.

This might not be anything new for you. But for me it was a revelation that completely changed how I do life from day to day.

Know Your Plate

We’ll get to the how next week.  But first, it’s important to know — to really be honest with yourself about — your capacity.

I recently read this Proverbs 31 devotional that touched on this concept and compared capacity to a set of plates. You’re probably familiar with the idea of a “full plate” to refer to a full (or, more likely, overloaded) schedule. But typically when someone says their plate is full, we imagine a standard dinner plate. However, as this post pointed out, not everyone is blessed with a dinner-plate-sized capacity for productivity. Some people only have a salad plate. Some people only have a saucer or a dessert plate. And some fortunate souls are blessed with a big ol’ turkey platter.

And the thing is, the size of your plate can change. If I’m not taking good care of myself by eating healthy and avoiding gluten and dairy, I get foggy and lethargic and my capacity shrinks to salad-plate size. But if I consistently practice good self-care I tend to have more of a  dinner plate. However, I still have the occasional bad day where my plate shrinks, and when that happens I’ve learned that I just need to cut myself some slack. Instead of trying to force a dinner-plate-sized load to fit on my salad plate, usually I just do what’s absolutely needed that day and give myself some rest so that hopefully my plate size will expand back to normal.

So know the size of your plate, and don’t compare it to other people’s plates. If they have a bigger plate it will just tempt you to feel bad about the small size of your plate. And if it turns out your plate is bigger than theirs? Then remember to give them grace. Don’t be one of those people who looks at someone struggling to manage an overloaded salad plate and think that they should be able to do as much as you do in a day.

Next week we’ll talk more about managing capacity instead of managing time. But for now I want to hear your thoughts. Is this a new concept for you? What size is your typical plate, and how often does that fluctuate? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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You Are Not a Failure (Link Roundup)

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It’s the last day of January as this post goes up, and I know a lot of you are already feeling like you’ve failed in what you hoped to accomplish in this new year.

I just want to stop everything right now and tell you that you are not a failure.

Seriously, y’all. It’s not too late to turn things around. His mercies are new every morning. Just because you caved and ate some pizza and chocolate two weeks into your new diet (…or maybe that’s just me) or haven’t even gotten started yet on your decluttering project (again, maybe just me) doesn’t mean you’ve failed and should give up. You’ve still got 11 months left to meet your goals for 2017 (and if some of them have to get pushed to 2018 it’s probably not that big a deal–the world probably isn’t actually going to end before then despite what the media says and you’ll still have time. Life is a marathon, not a race).

I hate New Year’s Resolutions — they set you up to feel like a failure and a loser. That’s why I’ve been moving away from setting major, concrete goals and instead making tweaks and edits to how I do life as I go (more on that in a future post). There’s no deadline and no expiration date. Just prayerful self-examination and asking God to order my steps and show me which way is best.

With God, every new day is a fresh start. Amen.

For those of you who need some encouragement or motivation, a different perspective, or maybe a little help, here are some links that might speak to where you’re at right now.

How’s your New Year going so far? Did your January go according to plan or was it a disaster? Have any additional links to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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What Matters Most

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It’s so easy in this life to get distracted from the things that matter. Without that focus, we end up spending our days running around and putting out fires, feeling stretched too thin as we try to cram in all of the things we’re “supposed to” do or accomplish or care about, and not leaving ourselves enough time or energy to enjoy our right-now lives.

This is something I’ve always struggled with, and something I want to continue to work on this year. I’ve already made a lot of progress in this area, but I’m a future-oriented problem solver, and that means that I spend a lot of time fixating on the future and strategizing ways to handle imaginary problems that don’t even exist yet.

It’s really hard for me to relax and live in the moment or sit back and enjoy accomplishments because I’m always thinking ahead to the next thing. I’m rarely content with things as they are and am always looking at how things could be better and then I end up trying to do ALL THE THINGS and beating myself up when I fail. People, this is a way to make yourself crazy.

That’s why I love love love this post by Kendra at the Lazy Genius Collective on deciding what matters to you and carefully editing your life around that. In her words:

Maybe you have one simple statement or belief that you want to direct your life. Maybe there are several attitudes you want to maintain always. Maybe you have relationships you want to prioritize.

It doesn’t matter what matters, as long as it matters to you. And once you decide, it changes everything.

Along with my one word for 2017, this principle has the potential to radically change how I do life and homemaking. As soon as I read that post I opened my journal and spent some time figuring out what matters most to me:

I want a home/life that:

  • Puts God first
  • Is peaceful, relaxed and welcoming/hospitable
  • Fosters creativity
  • Is debt-free

Here’s what I think that looks like:

  • Not a lot of clutter; enough to inspire and create an un-stuffy atmosphere, but not so much it overwhelms or feels chaotic
  • Clean/presentable enough to not be embarrassing or uncomfortable but not sterile or super neat. I want people to both not be afraid to walk around barefoot or to put their feet on the furniture.
  • Furniture/stuff that is comfortable, well-made and has personality but that won’t be a tragedy if it gets stained or broken
  • Remembering that Jesus is coming and stuff is just stuff and is temporary
  • Lots of books, art, hand-made pieces, personalized pieces and stuff that has meaning
  • Not of lot of being on the go. Having a restful, relaxed home where we enjoy spending most of our time.
  • Easy, healthy meals (and no guilt over the occasional not-so-healthy splurge)
  • Putting God first and last in each day and also making time in the middle
  • An un-fussy wardrobe that doesn’t depend on trends; simple hair and makeup & an easy beauty routine
  • Having people over more instead of feeling pressured to go out
    • Having games, a good entertainment system and plenty of comfortable seating
  • Being responsible financial stewards; only buying things that we need or absolutely love; investing in quality items that won’t break down or wear out quickly and need to be replaced; only buying stuff when we have the money available.

The main thing is that keeping this set of principles first and foremost in our decisions about how to do life has the potential to help me shed a metric ton of try-hard baggage and strip everything down to what actually matters.

I’m applying this as best I can starting now but I really can’t wait to see how it impacts the way we do things as we set up house and figure out our routines after our impending move and all of the other changes that will entail.

What about y’all? What matters most in your life, and how do you think putting the focus on that might help?

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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