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5 Green Lights for 2020

16 Jan

My husband asked me this past weekend if I had made any recent purchases from San Francisco.  I was really ticked off and impatient with his question…which reveals something about my purchase amnesia.  I could not confidently answer him yes or no.  Racking my brain and trying to remember really hard whether or not Sephora or is based in San Francisco, I insisted someone must have hacked our card.  Then I backed away slowly, and retreated to my Happy Endings reruns on my iPad. (With a hacker’s VPN running in the background to trick it out of the United Kingdom’s programming restrictions. Not to mention it.)  #imissbravo

Quietly he did more research and uncovered the mystery charge: WordPress blogging fees. (Thanks, WordPress, for the super cryptic account statement name, btw.) Oops. I inadvertently re-upped my blog for the year 2020, even though it was the absolute last thing on my mind right now.

Since we paid for it—here I am.  New year same me.  I am not here for New Year’s resolutions.  I really am only able to live my best life by the……  Sometimes by the half-day.  So in lieu of resolution announcements, here are my green lights for 2020.

1. Podcasts.  Hands down, my number one most enjoyable healthy distraction.  Levity.  Maybe I am late to the party, but I’m astonished at how many people are not tapping into podcasts yet. There is so much amazing content out there!  I can also get lots of housework done instead of giving into my temptation to scroll.  I have done 18 months of field research for you, and you only really need this one: The Popcast with Jamie and Knox.

Their show wins the contest by a MILE. It’s everything popculture, and it’s a laugh a minute. This is just what I need to offset my mood-a-minute.  It’s clean humor, you can listen to it with the kids around, 99% of the time.  (Note: The green lights/red lights at the end of their episodes inspired my title.)  Also, the Urban Dictionary episodes keep my slang fresh, hundo p.  

Runners up are: Conan Needs a Friend, The Sunday Sitdown with Willie Geist, Armchair ExpertSchoolhouse Rocked.  I listen to others but these are my five favorite.


2. Dresses. When I am in a mood, I don’t want to get dressed, but I am not one who can go too many days in my stretchy pants.  Enter big dresses.  Dresses are the new athleisure, ladies.  Leggings are over. (But don’t throw away those Lularoe Leaning Tower of Pisa Leggings if you have them.) Put on a dress, pop your favorite jacket/hoodie/cropped sweater over top of it, and you’re done. I wear my big ol dresses with my sneakers or ankle boots…and I feel so much more pulled together than when I am in my gym clothes, and it is just as comfortable if not more. Breathing room. Bonus: sometimes I get compliments!  Here are a few pics for inspo:

10 ways to wear sneakers with dresses

don’t you want to be her?

10 ways to wear sneakers with dresses

this one probably doesnt count cause she def. did her hair

10 ways to wear sneakers with dresses

graphic tee + skirt + sneakers, who dis?

dress + leggings works too @frannfyne

3. Skin Care.  When I tell people my age, no one ever reacts with any disbelief whatsoever.  How offensive is that?!!  Maybe that is why I’ve had R&F people chasing me down for years now, and I have always run from them.  Because I didn’t want to pay those prices. Or sell it.  Then I would make it worse by telling them I am a soap and water girl.  Well, PopCast Jamie finally sold me.  Not on R/F–but on taking better care of my skin. I did some research and purchased a few products…some from the drugstore and some from Sephora. Whoa, not only can I feel a difference, I can see one.

Okay I admit: I get why R/F are so gung-ho about their hustle.  Because once you start seeing the difference, it becomes a hobby for sure.  I am like giddy to go do my face routine, AM and PM. So, for what it’s worth, I now officially recommend beginning a skin care regimen, not only for results, but to have something to do. Remember, healthy distractions.  Favorites: Dennis Gross Peel Pads, Ole Henriksen Vitamin C serum.  



also this

and this

4. Morning Time. This one is a little more serious, but the morning time routine I have with my kiddos is a HUGE green light. I come away from it feeling so encouraged by them as people, by our family situation, by God.

It’s the anchor of our day, and it’s just as much for me as it is for them.  On the best of days it takes about 90 minutes. We open with a bit of music to set the tone; we share prayer requests and pray together; we go over memory work; we read a bit of scripture aloud; we close with a missionary story/novel/poem/whatever.  When time is short, we do just the five minutes of scripture and a quick prayer.  I could blog a LOT about this…there is also a ton of content on the internet/podcasts about it.

The small amount of time we spend together is redeemed exponentially. Fun fact: 5 minutes of reading aloud per day amounts to 30 HOURS in a year. You can cover a LOT of content by reading aloud just five minutes at a time.  Try it out–set your timer and start reading.  See how far you get.  When reading the Bible with kids, stick to the 5 minute rule.  That’s it. It’s a lot and not too much all at the same time. Everyone wins.

Morning time is something you can do whether you are homeschooling or not—when my kids were in school, we did it before they left for the bus. (A 10 or 15 minute version.  Still so much ground covered.)

5. Shopping my home.  When I feel down, my heart is pulled toward retail therapy. It feels soooooooooo good. I don’t even realize how much I buy!  See story above.  Wanting a refresh isn’t necessarily wrong.  So, sometimes I shop inside my own house.

I do it in two areas: house stuff and clothing.  Shopping my house means I am redecorating/rearranging with what I already have—serveware, art, lamps, house plants, etc. All decor and furnishings tend to fade into the background over time. Having a re-do with all of it is a fabulous alternative to hitting up HomeGoods and TJ Maxx when the urge to shop looms. It really hits the refresh & makes me remember that I have a collection of wonderful things that can be featured in all sorts of combinations!  Consider restyling a bookshelf, china cabinet, corner of a room, or bathroom.

Second area: clothing. I will go in to the closet and create outfit combinations from what I already have on hand. I’ll hang them all together with the accessories.  My cleverly coordinated ensembles are set aside and waiting for the times I have no time/energy to think of an outfit.

Bonus to shopping my house: It doubles as an opportunity to declutter. 


Thanks for reading, friends!  I hope you all have a wonderful January and I can’t wait to hear if any one has any other newfound loves in 2020. xoxo

Two Truths to Fight off Mom-Guilt

9 Jun path of grace in parenting

mom guilt

Not enough exercise.
Their/They’re/There still stumps my 12 year old.
We move them around too much.
I let their pet bunny roast in the Texas sun accidentally.
In a rush, I threw the bunny’s corpse into the garbage in front of them.
Not enough time spent reading.
Too much yelling.
All their food is either beige or neon orange.

I delegate every request to play pretend.
They never see our other side of the family.
They don’t like team sports.
Too many empty threats.
Allowing too much screen time.
Not allowing enough screen time.
Not enough Easter egg hunts.

You read right.  I cried this past Easter, because we didn’t do an egg hunt.  To be fair, it’s not that much of a thing in the UK…not to mention they don’t have those convenient, plastic, fillable Easter eggs.  But still—the parenting anxiety that I even might have deprived my children of a candy-centric holiday custom brought out liquid tears.  I had to go check my Glow App just to see where I was in my cycle, in order to rationally categorize my Easter-onset distress.

Mom-guilt.  I have taken every trip!  Times five kids, there have been many!  You’d think I would see that guilt-trip train rushing toward me from a mile away and avoid it.  But I still get on board, after all these kids and all these parenting years later.  So many nights I crash-land into bed, ruminating over the coulda-shoulda-wouldas.   

Some of the guilt is warranted–and the conviction leads me to say I am sorry, and restore the relationship.  (Great opportunity to model the art of apology!)

But most guilt is useless and cumbersome.  It’s all self-doubt which throws me sideways and strips away my confidence.  (By the way, tripping on mom-guilt is a huge indicator that I need to rest from social media.)  This luxurious and modern American culture causes us to overthink the definition of success in parenting!  The truth is that parenting is hard, but we don’t need to get cynical or discouraged.   

Here are two thoughts that refocus me when the negative thought train comes barrelling through:   

  1. The path of grace in parenting is very wide.
  2. The gospel of parenting is this: if they know they are loved they have everything.

First of all, your commitment and desire to raise children well means that you are on the right path.  No matter what side of the aisle you are on, your viewpoint on screen time, whether you stay at home or go to work, breast or bottle feed, homeschool or send them to the brick-and-mortar school.

The path…the right path…is graciously wide enough for everyone! You’re on it.

Secondly, and most importantly.  If you stripped everything away until all they had left is your love: they would have everything.  Strip off everything. Everything you consider good, bad, disappointing or super advantageous in their lives. Take it all off, and imagine their life without any of those conditions and circumstances.

Sit on that for a minute.

If it all went away, and all that remained was a tent, rice, water + your love, they would have EVERYTHING.  Everything they need to become high-functioning adults, contributing members of society, and capable of spreading this love to others.

This is old news, but it’s all we need to parent entirely guilt-free.  You can check off every box, and your children could be a total success on paper.  But if they don’t have love, they are nothing.  This is a simultaneously simple yet somehow monumental challenge!  Maybe it is just me, but I have to continually recenter on this over and over.  In this way, parenting is inherently a spiritual practice. 

Since love is action and not just a feeling–here are a few, off-the-top of my head ways to demonstrate your love to your children on the daily:

  1. Hug and kiss your children as often as they are fed.
  2. Tell them you love them–may as well be when you are giving them that hug.
  3. Listen when they share.  It is possible to disagree with them without voicing it the moment after they share with you. They need to be heard, and this is central to their feeling loved.
  4. Encourage and point out every good thing.  I have even created handwritten lists of the good things.  Because, sadly, I am much much better at keeping track of their shortcomings–such an unloving tendency.  We are not supposed to keep a record of wrongs, but we definitely ought to keep a record of rights!
  5. Discipline from a place of peace.  When it’s time to give correction or consequences, ask them to go to their room and wait for you.  Take five minutes to collect your own emotions, and even say a prayer before you approach discipline.
  6. Be quick to forgive.  We are often much harder on our kids than God is on us!
  7. Find every easy yes.  There will always be so many necessary nos.
  8. Create spaces where they can express themselves in a healthy manner.  This one is hard because we are territorial about our living space.  They want to cook, dance, make messy art, create potions, dig holes in the garden.  The home should be their haven for self expression See #7.

After all this, you have permission to sleep well at night because you gave them everything.
Let that be an encouragement to you.




How to Memorize Long Passages: The 50 Times Method

9 May

Learning how to learn is one of the greatest gifts that home-educating has given our entire family.    

I’m an army brat, so my academics skipped and jumped around.  I was thoroughly peer-oriented, and the minimum standard of effort was good enough for me. Basically translated: I moved constantly, which made me focus on my friend situation relentlessly.  I banged out assignments as fast as I could in order to get back to life’s central focus: the crush of the week.

Sadly, this action plan lasted all the way through college, where my academic motto was “no one will ever care what grades you got in college!”  It did work. But, other than a diploma, my peer-orientation/crush mongering habits left me with little else.

My mantra SHOULD have been: “Grades up or guns up, sister.”  Because that’s what happened. I joined the Army. It was post-9/11 and they were hiring.  Anyone.


A salary, a housing allowance, dental, and a chance to impress my friends and a lot of jocks?  Full circle, baby! I guess it’s true, everything really does work out.

The purpose of that story is to share that even though I scored a “good job” out of college, I was still missing a solid piece of educational development that I am now pursuing in my adulthood: the ability to learn things permanently.  I’ve hated feeling like an empty vessel, and as an adult I have struggled to memorize even one sentence perfectly.  I would start with good intentions only to give up very easily.

When life gets hard, it feels urgent to place our thoughts elsewhere.  On the advice of Beth Moore I attempted Psalm 25, because I wanted to be able to pray it.  It took months. I wrote it out 8 or 10 times.  Read it over and over. Said three verses, the next day saying those three and adding one more.  Using symbols in place of the words, etc.

I finally got it down, but the process was ridiculously long and convoluted.

Then I came across a blog post that changed everything.  The post stated that long passages–even up to 15 minutes long–could be memorized if they were read aloud 50 times.  That’s it.  No pony tricks.  No hieroglyphs. No music or hand motions.

Step one: Get the passage.
Step two: Read the words aloud 50 times.  (Not all in one sitting.  See below.)

I decided to try it with my kids. The results were astounding.  All I can say is, THIS works!  By saying the passages 50 times, we’ve memorized Psalms 25, 51 & 139, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 13, Matthew 5:1-16, Ephesians 5:1-21, Galatians 5:13-26, James 1, and we are currently learning Ecclesiastes 12 (NLT).

It’s been exhilarating for me to collaborate on these with them.  It’s risen above any of our other family rituals, and without question the most rewarding element of our homeschool.

Some administrative details:

  1. Everyone has their own copy.  We all say it in unison, in its entirety.  Then I make a tally at the bottom of the page.
  2. I usually go over the passage 2-3 times per sitting. Each of the passages take between 90-120 seconds to read, and so our memory work sessions are about 5-10 minutes total.  This can be done anytime, but mealtimes seem easiest because we are naturally together.
  3. It takes about three months to get to 50 times.  We work on it 3 times a week on average.
  4. The first 8-10 recitations feel cumbersome, but don’t lose heart.  The subsequent iterations flow smoothly.
  5. This method hits upon multiple modalities of learning: visual, aural, and oral.  In a way, also tactile because you feel the words forming a pattern as they come out of the mouth.  It almost feels like muscle memory.
  6. The New Living Translation communicates beautifully, it’s especially good for being read/recited aloud.  I prefer to use the Bible Gateway website to print off my selected passage.
  7. For my youngers who cannot yet read, I have them hold their paper and “follow along” by listening. After 5-10 times of hearing it, I’ve asked them to say as much of it as they can with me.  Not surprisingly, they catch on very quickly…even the two year old picks up clusters of phrases!
  8. Most of the kids have it down by the 30th time…I definitely need all 50.
  9. After we have it memorized, it goes into our recall rotation…we review previously memorized passages on a consistent basis.
  10. I don’t assign passages and send the children off to go memorize alone.  I don’t want this kind of thing to feel like a chore for them.
  11. Whether age 4 or 38, we are all working toward mastery of the same exact thing!
  12. This is a practical, everyday way to set your mind on things above and think right thoughts.  This will re-center your mind! (Even if it is only re-centered while you are saying the passage!)
  13. This doesn’t work if you default back into silently reading over the passage.  The words must be audibly spoken…I don’t know why, but that seems to be the hack.  My hubby said the fifty times doesn’t work for him.  When I hazed him about that, he finally admitted he tended to default into just reading it silently over and over. 

What words are worth having on the tip of your tongue for the rest of your life?  I do scripture because it is the Word of the Living God. But there are countless other passages worthy of committing to permanent memory.  MLK’s
I Have a Dream…the preamble of the Constitution…the Gettysburg Address…Shakespeare…Ozymandias…  I would love to hear your suggestions.

Memory work is not dead, it is a fantastic way to put creativity back into your life.

Don’t take my word for it!  Here are three of my friends’ reviews of this “50 times method”.  


–HS, age 22

–TB age 18

–JC, mom of 5

Have fun with this, please share your results!
Leigh G


Post Script:

I have wanted to write about this for years.  But I feared that it would come off as a huge public momblog brag: “My kiddos and I can recite multiple chapters of the Bible from memory!!”  I finally found the courage to hit “publish.” It is my desire that you would not consider it to be boasting…but rather see the 50-times method as a life-hack.

Secondly, the kids’ memorized scriptures do not make them Christians.  (It simply means their parents did everything in their power to instill in them our worldview.)  Head knowledge does not equal heart knowledge.

Finally, I have been consistently convicted that it is more important to demonstrate to them the love of God, than to simply tell them about God.  For me that means lots of mercy, listening, cuddling, and making my disciplinary decisions from a place of peace.  Parenting with a soft heart confirms God’s character to them in a tangible way. Frequently that means I must close the book, and just demonstrate.


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