Colorful Book Spines

Focus in the Fog

You're doing great.

My kid does that too!

No...that's not crazy.

This season will pass.

You are loved.

You have no idea how talented you are.

These are some simple words of encouragement.  


Maybe, like most of us, a little bit of encouragement helps you keep going.  You can find that here.

 

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A few weeks ago, I had a stroke of genius. I always plan a weekly menu. This particular Friday night we had planned to make hamburgers and hot dogs. There was about a half a foot of snow on the ground, so grilling out wasn’t an option. That’s when it hit me. Why not do something really fun for dinner? We were planning on basically diner food, so why not invite the kids to Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls?


I've always been a fan of the show and now my kids like to watch it with me on Netflix. They especially like the scenes in Luke's -his grouchy service, the yummy looking food, and how everyone knows everyone else.

Since our menu was already set, all I needed to do was actually make a menu. Using the air fryer, I was able to make a few choices for side items. I added a few salads (because of Nicole) and picked up some ice cream for dessert. I did an image search for Luke’s logo and had a printed menu in about 15 minutes.


Here's a printable menu for Luke's Diner.

luke's diner
.pdf
PDF • 96KB

Ryan put on a plaid shirt and backward baseball cap and the kids took their seats. He was gruff and lovable and the kids put on one of their favorite Gilmore Girls episodes to watch while the food was cooking. They agreed to let "the restaurant employees" join them once dinner was ready and we had a wonderful, memorable time. The funny thing was, it didn’t take a lot of effort. And we turned a regular Friday night into a special one. Also, it was much cheaper than actually going out to dinner.


Theme dinners aren’t only for Gilmore Girls fans. Think of your family’s favorite show or movie and get creative. Pinterest is helpful too. If it’s a movie night, go all out. If you’re watching Tangled, why not make really long pasta or braided bread? Have kabobs and pitas for Aladdin. Try your hand at gumbo and beignets for The Princess and the Frog or a Hawaiian luau for Moana.


Other theme dinners could be fun too. What about everything on a stick? Or the classic breakfast for dinner (we do that a lot). Frozen? Not necessarily the movie, but just everything has to be from the freezer. It’s okay to be random and just make a game of it.


Throwback dinners could be fun. You could do TV dinners for the 60’s, a fondu party for the 70’s, or something gross like those stuffed green peppers my mom always made for the 80’s. Maybe don’t do the peppers. Decade dinners should include music from that era and maybe even a few decorations.


As we’re nearing the one year mark of…let’s call it “making memories at home” because “prisoners in our homes” sounds harsh, we are running out of ideas. And although I want a theme dinner called, “Let’s burn our masks” or “Please just go to school”, I also really want to make the most of our family time.


I’ve seen people on social media doing themed dinners. If you have other ideas, please share them in comments. I’d love to hear what you’ve done.


I’m feeling optimistic about the way things are heading for the virus, but for now it’s best to stay home when we can. A few fun ideas a little prep can make this time at home something special instead of something to get through.

Blessings,

Shannon


If you regularly read this blog, let me apologize for my absence. I started February with hearts in my eyes, ready to blog about love, but then, something happened. I experienced a spell of writer's block that's still plaguing me.


I remember when I first started blogging. It was a suggestion from a professional I met at a writers conference. She felt it would be good to grow my platform so getting a book deal would be easier. To me, it felt like one of those days at school where the teacher assigned extra homework in addition to the regular homework just as we were heading out to the bus. I was afraid it would take all of my precious writing time and I didn’t think people read blogs anymore. While both of those things are kind of true, it has been a blessing. Don’t worry. I’m not quitting.

Back to the meeting…I told her I didn’t think I had anything to say. She wasn’t phased and said, “Who’s your audience?” I said, “I don’t know. Stay-at-home moms? That’s what I am.”

Then, she said, “As a stay at home mom, what do you wish someone would have told you?”

I thought for a few minutes then said, “I would have wanted someone to tell me I’m not losing my mind. That even though I’m not even alone in the bathroom, the feeling I’m experiencing is loneliness. That I have to make time for friendships with other women or I’ll lose perspective. That there are a lot of things people will make you feel like are important, but there are just a few things that actually are.”

As I was speaking two things happened. Tears began falling down my cheeks and I felt a weight lifting from my chest I didn’t know was there.

This woman nodded and said, “Well, I think you know the answer.”

I had this fun idea to have a contest to name my blog. And people came up with some cool ideas, but none of them felt right to me. Anything that included my last name sounded like a cooking blog, so that was confusing. Ultimately, I thought back to that conversation and landed on Focus in the Fog because as a stay-at-home mom, things often feel foggy. Mommy blogs will make you feel like you’re failing your kids if you don’t add carrot puree to their spaghetti or if they’re not wearing a helmet to play well, anything outside. And you read these things and you really want to do it right so you pick it up and begin juggling. Soon, you feel so overwhelmed keeping everything up in the air, you’ve missed out on time with your kids which is why you chose to stay home in the first place.

Long story short, (too late) back to my absence. If I’m honest, I’ve been living in the fog recently. I sat down multiple time to write only to find I didn’t have any focus at all. I had ideas that weren’t coherent, let alone a blog post. I’ve been overwhelmed by the weather, my husband’s travel schedule, and the fact that my kids haven’t had more than one day a week in school since Christmas. While I’ve stayed on top of some things, my brain is so foggy.

I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling this way. We are in the middle of a pandemic and most of the nation is covered in ice and snow. Things are a little off right? No cause for alarm. I'm not depressed. I don't have anxiety. I don't feel hopeless or scared. I'm just a little numb. If there's one thing this year has taught me, it's that there's no normal life in the midst of a pandemic. It's not a sprint like we thought it might be last March. Instead, it's a marathon with no concrete finish line. So, there will be days when we're just trying to keep our motion forward moving.


Sorry I don't have anything more profound to share with you. I assume I'll be back to my normal self soon. I'll find a Bible passage that spoke to me or I'll want to give some sort of advice. But for today, it's important to acknowledge that I don't have the answers. I'm just trying to stay afloat. There are days I just don’t have clarity (as evidenced by all these mixed-metaphors) and that's okay. Hopefully it’ll pass, but for now, I’m going to take it one foggy step at a time. I hope you will too.

Blessings,

Shannon


As far as months go, February isn’t the best. (Sorry February Birthday people). It’s especially tough in the midwest where the sky is constantly gray and the sun is more of a myth than reality. People talk about the dog days of summer, but what’s the equivalent of that for winter? It’s that time of year when I feel like winter will never end and I’ll never be warm again.

The only saving grace for February is Valentine’s day. Love it or hate it, the colors alone feel like when Dorothy suddenly steps out of the black and white frame in The Wizard of Oz. I love the sudden burst of red and pink.

I don’t know about you, but all that gray and darkness of winter affects my mood. And although Valentine’s Day is the time to celebrate the people we love, winter often has me wanting some time away from my loved ones. I sound like such a grouch.

If you’re looking for verses in the Bible about love, people tend to go to 1 Corinthians 13. I think of these as the wedding verses because I’ve hardly ever attended a wedding where they weren't read.

“Love is patient. Love is Kind. It does not envy or boast. It’s not proud or self-seeking…”

This definition of love is so admirable, but also so overwhelming. Today, I was reading Galatians 2. Check out verse 21: “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Follow me here. Sometimes when I read 1 Corinthians 13, I’m like, “I could never be all of those things. I’m not terribly patient. I’m kind as long as I’m not too tired. I tend to be self-seeking (you see the trend here). BUT my righteousness isn’t gained from following the law; it’s gained through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

I’ve never really enjoyed magic shows. And it’s not because I’m no fun. Well, maybe I am. But my problem with magic is I don’t like being tricked. Even if it’s totally amazing, the magician is still pulling a fast one. Like, how did that handkerchief appear in his hand? I know you can’t make something out of nothing.

Love is like that. Love doesn’t just appear from thin air. It comes from the Father. Oh sure, I can love for a bit. I can possess these qualities in little spurts, but prolonged, sustained love isn’t something I’m capable of as a human.

All you have to do is spend a little time with people to see this. Wait long enough and people will let you down. You’ll also let them down. It’s what we do. But we strive for a 1st Corinthians 13 kind of love. And we yearn for it from others. You know what? That’s good. God gave us that yearning because he knows how much we need Him.

Take a minute and read this description of love once more:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

When I look at my life, especially in my February “cabin fever” state, I wouldn't describe it like this. Always hopes? Always perseveres? Nope. Maybe always blames. Always loses temper, sure, but not “hopes and preservers”.

The good news is: we shouldn't think of this list as a set of standards like a school report card. Instead, we should think of them as a litmus test for the presence of the spirit in our lives. When I was a lifeguard, I had to take regular water tests. When I put the drops in the little test tube, it would change color depending on the amount of chlorine was present in the water. If instead of colors, the test came out “patient” or “kind”, then traces of the Spirit have been detected. When I don’t feel the need to keep a record of wrongs, or when I rejoice in the truth, I know the Lord is growing me. I know the Spirit is present.

When I look at this passage as a “to do” list, I’m setting aside the grace of God and remember, “…if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21)

This is news I needed to hear right now. Whether it’s the dog days of winter or even a beautiful spring day, I can’t love like this on my own and you can’t either. I hope that relieves some pressure in your life. Not so we have an excuse to treat people like garbage, but so that we can connect with the source of love -to love in a way we could never do on our own.

I don’t like the “slight of hand” of a magic trick. The poof of smoke or fire and then something appears. Jesus didn’t just “poof” and create love. He came to earth and suffered on a cross in order to bring it to us. In this month where we celebrate love, how can we not tell people about that kind of love? Why would we ever keep it to ourselves?

Blessings,

Shannon


 
 

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