Thursday, February 22, 2018

save the drama...

So one of the things that I have realized from being a female for my whole life is that I don't do drama. I'm don't like it. I don't have patience for it. I think it's petty and dumb. When I was younger, I hung out mostly with the guys because they don't really don't do drama. I was a tomboy probably for that very reason!

Recently, I had a run in with some drama. Like I said, I don't do drama. I was simply pulled in by being in the same room as this gal. It's complicated to explain and not really worth it (BECAUSE DRAMA *eyeroll*) and that's not the main point of the story anyway.

Here's the main point of the story (well, getting there anyway...): part of me was very frustrated with this person who had not even spent a moment of her time to get to know me before judging me and creating drama. I had a couple of good friends who were involved in this situation as well and while I know a part of us wanted to bash this person, that wasn't the right thing to do either.

While our frustrations were justified, our bashing wouldn't have been appropriate. We don't know this person's background, what kind of baggage they might be carrying (because we are ALL carrying luggage around, some of our bags are just bigger than others!), we don't know what a person's state of mind or heart might be or what in their life has influenced them to be who they are or act the way they do.

And for these reasons, and because God calls us to, one of those good friends on mine said that we should pray for this person. Not because we liked her, but because it was the right thing to do. (I'm telling you, I have amazing friends.)

Matthew 5:44 specifically says: "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Do you KNOW how hard this is to do?! Pray for the person who is being mean to you?! AND LOVE THEM?! God, really, you are asking too much. That's just ridiculous.

But do you know what that does for you? It releases the responsibility of justice and anger from you and puts it in God's hands. And although the whole "love your enemy" part might seem impossible, you are truly showing them love by praying that God might have a mighty work in their life.

So as much as I'd like to avoid drama, it looks like I can't even in my late 20's...I mean 30's (*sigh*). I might as well be a teenager again...


Wednesday, February 21, 2018


I just returned home from a little trip away where I got to spend time with some of my nearest and dearest. I left my most nearest and most dearest to do so. In other words: I left my hubby and kids so that I could spend some time with my friends. (Sorry I used so many words there. I thought I was maybe being clever or something. Maybe not so much!)

I try to do this about once a year. I used to feel guilty about going. After all, I was leaving my family to go and do what I wanted to do. Things like eat what I wanted, eat when I wanted, eat where I wanted.  Okay, usually it really is about food for me. I love to eat! I like to cook. But I really prefer to go somewhere and have someone else make my food for me. You know: like even a sandwich will taste 10 times better if you don't have to make it yourself! Maybe I should just hire a chef...

Okay, but digging deeper: there are many reasons I like to go away for a bit with my friends. I like to have fun and it gives me a chance to catch up on their lives. We go places and experience things I don't regularly get to do. But the truth is that I need the break from home. My brain needs to get out of my house so it doesn't keep the big to-do list up front and center. My body needs to sleep in without the nagging feeling that the laundry should be started. My heart needs to not "mom" for a bit (not that you ever stop momming, but it is nice to hear the sound of the water fountain outside the hotel room instead of the children bickering and arguing and making annoying sounds!) I get to think about me and my needs instead of meeting everyone else's, just for a little while.

I love being a wife and mom. But being a wife and mom often means running at full speed to make sure that everything runs well, or in my case just making sure everything runs! Eventually the gas tank runs out. If it runs out for me I can feel myself getting bitter and resentful. I'm not saying I'm right in feeling this way. I'm just saying that it becomes a struggle.

So I go away for a bit so that I can fill the gas tank to this old Katillac. (See what I did there?! Cadillac, but with my name instead! Clever!! Or dumb. Mostly dumb.) And when I come home, I feel needed and ready to tackle all the responsibilities once again! Well, not exactly. I could handle vacation for a little longer. But I do come back feeling as if I have caught my breath and can do all the things on the to-do list. That feeling lasts for about a day when reality checks in and I see that the to-do list is never going to be completed. But there is hope once again and hope is an important thing to have.

I don't know exactly how Jesus felt about this but in Mark 6:32, He and his buddies did go away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. Sounds like a chance to breathe and rest to me!

So next trip away from the to-do list, who's with me?!
(I'm thinking we go next week...)


Monday, February 5, 2018

say it, mean it

There's this saying that gets said a lot. I'm never sure exactly how to take it because it often feels like a platitude. It's supposed to be said in appropriate situations but the follow-through is not a guarantee. And that stinks.

I was guilty of this years ago. If someone was going through something tough, I would tell them: "I'll pray for you!" or: "I'm praying for you!" And, admittedly, I'm not a prayer warrior, so I would rarely revisited that promise.

I got tired of being fake so I stopped saying that I would pray when I knew I wouldn't follow through. So instead, I told them I was sorry for them, or that the situation sucked, or some other thing that didn't require commitment. But that felt terrible too, so I decided I needed to do something about it.

So often, I think that when we say we will pray for someone, we think we need to speak in clear and concise sentences to God. As if He doesn't already know the situation and can't figure out what our dear one needs. I also think we feel like we should be in a solemn, quiet situation before we start and complete our prayer because that's the only way that God can hear us.

There's nothing wrong with either of those situations, but the truth is that we're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves when we tell someone we will pray for them, with the intention that we will find our most eloquent words in a serene setting. (Do you know how often eloquent words come out of my mouth and how frequently I find myself in a serene setting?! Never. Just never.)

And I don't think we need to be an incredible prayer warrior. I'm not and I no longer feel bad about it. Turns out that God has other gifts and uses for me and I'm cool with that.

But, with all my shortcomings in the prayer field, I think I've found a few things that seem to work for me and God. When I tell someone that I'm going to pray for them, I do it immediately. And then I do it when they randomly pop into my head throughout the day. And in some situations, I find myself in a semi-conversation with God all day long regarding a prayer request.

I'll pray when I'm driving, because it turns out that I CAN have a conversation with my eyes open. And sometimes the words that come out of my mouth are just words like: "peace," and "comfort," and "wisdom," because ultimately God already knows what is needed and if He can understand every language in this world, then I'm pretty sure He can understand the utterings of my heart, as simple as they might be. There have been times when I have told God: "I don't know what to say so: *siiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhh*" and He totally understands the heaviness and the heart behind that sigh.

Check this out:
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."
Romans 8:26
(See, that Holy Spirit has got our back!)

And then there are times when, even though it might seem awkward, I'll stop my friend who is struggling and pray right then and there for her! Imagine that: praying in the middle of Starbucks, or a parking lot, or in their living room. It might start out awkward, but by the end of my simple prayer, God usually takes the awkward out of it. He's good like that.

I don't know that I'll ever make it into Prayer Warriorshipdom. 
But I can tell you this: If I tell you that I'll be praying for you, I will be praying for you.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

dumb idea

YOU GUYS!!! Why in the world do so many of you want to go zip lining with me?! And why didn't I put "Go on a cruise with all my friends" on my 40 Before Forty List instead of zip lining?! AUGH! Here I was, just hoping that perhaps that one would fall through the cracks this year but NOOOOOOOO, you all are going to get me up on a terrifying platform, hooked to some rope contraption thing, only to be pushed off (because I'm pretty sure I'm not getting off that platform voluntarily) into crazy heights over absolutely no safety nets, hoping to high heaven that I don't pee my pants! I regret sharing my list with you all!!!

Okay, maybe not.
I still like your hearts.
Even if you are trying to get me to pee my pants.

Let me explain my foolishness for adding zip lining to my List.
I have a phobia regarding heights. I struggle to be near the banisters upstairs in my own house. If someone is standing near them, I ask them to move away. I cannot watch videos of people in those tall buildings who are looking out of floor-to-ceiling glass windows. And those RIDICULOUS videos of people walking on glass bridges over stupid heights so that they can see what awaits them if they fall thousands of feet....NOPE. I can't. I struggle if my kids walk over a bridge. You know that one at Knight's Ferry? It's enclosed, people. But there are cracks and I have to concentrate on not looking down through those cracks because otherwise I will never, ever cross the bridge. I do not have any idea where this phobia came from, but it affects me if members of my family are on tall ladders or on our roof or are looking over the edge of anything that is more than 8 feet tall. I seriously even had issues at the playground watching my children climb over and around the structures and I stressed about them falling down.

I am telling you, zip lining is not on the List because I think it would be fun. I probably put it on the list for reasons of facing my fears. Which I now think is a dumb idea...

HOWEVER, once upon a time, I did face this fear. In high school, our volleyball team went on a retreat and participated in a ropes course. One part of the ropes course was a giant ladder that was made up of huge logs held together by I-have-no-idea-what anymore, but it was not safe, I'm sure of it! Our job was to climb all the way up this stupid thing (it looked like 300 feet tall but was probably more like 40 or 50 feet), cross over the top log/rung of it and then climb back down. There was room for about 3 of us to do it at once, but in reality, it was best for just 2 of us to try and maneuver up and over it. If I remember correctly, we were paired up with someone to help each other get all the way up and over. I was paired with the tallest gal on the team who could hit the ball like no on else. She was a fierce competitor if you faced her on the volleyball net. AMAZING. Strong, powerful, full of all the things you want in a front row hitter.

This amazing gal, she got halfway up the ladder and stopped, and started crying, her fears had completely overtaken her. And there I was sitting across from her and my job now was to encourage her to get up and go to the next rung and so on until we made it up and over and back down again. UMMM, WHAT?! I was the skinniest, scrawniest kid in school. I was a setter on the team and "powerful" and "strong" did not define me. But she needed me so I climbed with her through her tears and encouraged her up and over that stupid giant ladder. And any fears I had were completely gone. Why? Because my focus was no longer on me, but were on helping someone else.

Little did I know how true this would be in life. The first time it truly became evident to me was when I had children. I went from an anxiety-ridden woman to a momma bear who would overcome whatever obstacles I needed to in my own life in order to be there for my children. When we turn our focus away from ourselves and our fears and towards other people and how we can meet their needs, it makes our fears seem a little less significant.

God knows this: "There is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear." 1 John 4:18.
Perfect Love = God.
Best example ever.

I'm pretty sure, though, that God didn't say: "Kat, you should go zip lining because that is a great way for you to help somebody out..."
So I think I'm going to need a little more convincing, y'all!!

Seriously, guys, couldn't you have all been more excited about helping me grow a garden or write up my will?!

I guess I'll be planning a zip lining trip. Better be some yummy treats awaiting me when I'm done, just sayin'.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

the list

I recently told you all about my Journey into 40 and my decision to continue to rock 39 as I work on my Forty Before 40 List. What I didn't mention to you is all that I have completed to date (in approximately 6 years. Sheesh).

So here is my Forty Before 40 List with all of its accomplishments (in red) and even more unaccomplisments (in black).

1. Perform music in some capacity (Complete! I played piano for a number of years for a local Southern Gospel group.)
2.Own a cabin with Scott (Twain Harte/Mi-Wuk, anyone?)
3.Grown a veggie garden successfully (I try every stinking year...)
4. Build a piece of furniture
5. Bake a cake and frost with fondant (I did this last year for Lincoln's birthday - not gorgeous, but done!)
6.Take up jogging consistently (I did this until I completed a half marathon and then I switched to CrossFit. Totally counts.)
7. Have a successful outlet for my crafting (I've owned two businesses, going on three, and have sold all kinds of my crafting stuff and things!) 
8.Catch up on scrapbooking (HA!!)
9. Read the Bible from beginning to end
10. Go on a cross-country trip with Scott and the kids
11. Zipline (I regret putting this one on the list)
12. Go to a ranch
13. Eat Thai food (My gal pal, Stacey, was determined to help me accomplish this when I visited her in Phoenix! It was so good!)
14. Knit or crochet a scarf (turned out to be a blanket, but that's even better!)
15. Learn to play guitar (I can play a G chord so far...)
16. Buy real cowboy boots (They were from a garage sale, but they were Ariats so it TOTALLY counts!)
17. Go to a rodeo (I hear Oakdale has one coming up in a few months...)
18. Read 5 classics (I'm nearly finished with my 3rd one so I'm getting this one done for SURE!)
19. Watch Citizen Cane (done in 2016)
20. Finish writing my Forty Before 40 List (it took me a while to get it done, okay?!)
21. Try to convince Scott to write a 40 Before 40 list (ours are vastly different)
22. Begin hosting a neighborhood block party on a regular basis (we are well on our way to this one, eh, neighbors?)
23. Own a pair of Tom's shoes (I've now owned 3 pairs)
24. Run a 5K marathon (which I did, followed by a half - yay me! And there is no desire to run one again...)
25. Visit Napa (it was beautiful!)
26. Learn to skateboard (I have no desire to learn tricks, just how to ride and keep my balance!)
27. Be able to sponsor a child in a 3rd world country (we sponsor Dove)
28. Adopt a child
29. Go on a missions trip with Scott
30. Learn some type of formal dance (does Swing count? I think it does. Anyone wanna teach me to Swing Dance?!)
31. Find a good ladies Bible study to complete (key words being "good" and "complete")
32. Shoot a gun (thank you hubby and Barnwood Arms!)
33. Make a clock and/or lamp (it wasn't pretty and currently lives in a closet but I can mark it off the list)
34. Write and publish an ebook (I've started it...)
35. Learn the Maple Leaf Rag from beginning to end (those of you who have heard it know that I can play this song from the beginning to about the end of the first page...there are 5 pages)
36. Learn a second language well enough to hold a simple conversation (any Spanish speakers out there?!)
37. Paint a realistic painting (but of what?!)
38. Take the entire family to Canada to visit relatives (done and done again!)
39. Develop a habit of writing at least one hand-written note/card a month (send me your address, I've got to get to work on this one!!)
40. Complete my will (I'm nearly 40, people!! It's time!)       

And there you have it. Looks like 2018 could have some interesting moments in it, don't you think? Donde esta el bano? (See?! I've totally got this...)      

I'll keep you all posted on my progress. It's gonna be a good year!


Saturday, January 20, 2018

grateful for fog (not really)

Can I just say how much I appreciate the sunshine?! I don't realize just how much I miss it until I'm into about day 3 of fogginess and overcastness. And I'm pretty sure we got to about 6 or 7 days of all that malarkey. The sunshine energizes me and when it is not visible, I live in a fog too. I'm kinda high maintenance when it comes to weather...

But then I think: what if I lived in sunshine all the time? Would I get tired of it? Would I take it for granted? (Probably not - I'm pretty grateful for it everyday! But for the sake of this post... maybe!)  I think that maybe when we get a good thing on a regular basis, sometimes we have to have it gone for a bit to really appreciate it.

It's like our health, or our families, or the stuff we have.

I love camping, but I'll tell you what: I'm grateful to get back to my bed and my shower and my kitchen!

And I love my kids. My kids are ornery and get completely get on my nerves. They can be stinkers and be disobedient and make bad choices (and leaves their socks all OVER the house - if you've been following my Instagram account: @katcragin_writes, then you would understand the sock saga). But I have a close relationship with each of them and I get to spend time with them and I know they have good hearts! And I'm reminded of these hearts when I read articles or hear stories of children who have no respect for their parents or have a rebellious spirit or who have parents who gave up on them and they've had to raise themselves.

And my health: I'm not in great shape. Pretty sure I can count on 2 hands how many times I worked out in 2017... But I'm not sick, I can still function quite normally, and I really have nothing to complain about. But having cancer in our family certainly makes a person examine ther lifestyle and be grateful for their current health and strength!

Sometimes the fog and gloom need to filter into life so that we can appreciate all the good God has bestowed upon us. 
Sometimes the socks need to be left all over the house so you can appreciate when they are all put in the laundry. That one day out of the month. 🙄
Sometimes you need to find an eggshell in your breakfast so you can appreciate how wonderful they taste without shells. 
Sometimes you need the loudness and distractions throughout the day so you can appreciate the peacefulness and quiet in the evening.
And sometimes you have to be in the ashes before you get that crown of beauty. (Isaiah 61:3)


Thursday, January 18, 2018

10 things i can't live without

I was chatting with a good gal pal of mine and we got to brainstorming about what we couldn't live without. It ranged from special people to food to kitchen gadgets and so on and so forth. I thought I'd fill you in on my Top Ten!

So here are the Top Ten Things I Currently Can't Live Without:
("Currently," because some items are seasonal. I love my flip flops in the summer, but currently I can live without them!)
(Also, I chose not to include people and food because those need to be their very own special lists, ya know? I can't very well just throw cheese into the middle of a list including non-stick pans! It deserves its own list. Shucks, I might just have to have a list dedicated to my favorite CHEESES! Coming soon...)

10. Non-Stick Pans (bet you didn't see that one coming!) I'm telling you what, though: with two kids learning how to cook, non-stick is the only feasible way for me to keep my sanity and save my money. I LOVE that my kids know how to make scrambled eggs. I do NOT love the idea of cleaning out a pan with crusty pieces of dried up egg all over it. So non-stick it is. PLUS: my children can easily wash the pan without complaining. "Can" and "do" are two different words though, folks...

9. Vaseline Lip Therapy - this is my saving grace for my lips. One of my gal pals bought me a little container of this a few years back and I used it ALL THE TIME! There are probably 7 little containers of this stuff currently hiding around my house. When my kids were little, they used to get really chapped lips, like the kind that makes them look like they tried to put lipstick on but ended up coloring outside the lines. I would wait until they fell asleep and then cover their lips with this stuff, just really slather it on them! They would twitch as I put it on, but I didn't care: this stuff absolutely works! And the containers are just so stinking cute!

8. My Glorious Crockpot - There's not much more I can say. The name alone signifies a stressless afternoon while dinner cooks in the crockpot, just waiting for me to take it out as delicious pulled pork, stew, potato soup, or white chicken chili...I see another list forming.

7. Blankets - I'm sitting at my desk currently covered in a blanket. My children each have a minimum of 4 blankets in their rooms. My bed has three on it and I have foregone the sheet in favor of sleeping with a blanket on me because it is soft and warm immediately when I climb into bed. I refuse to count how many blankets are in my house for fear of your criticisms...

6. Brawny brand Select-A-Size Paper Towels - We will never buy anything other than these paper towels. Call us paper towel snobs. We will gladly own up to it. I buy a lot of generic things but paper towels and toilet paper are not among those things. Uh-uh. No way.

5. Mason Jars - Quite possibly the most versatile objects in my home, I have mason jars in pretty much every room of my house! We use them for drinking glasses, to hold pencils, pens, and paintbrushes, for collecting stray Lego pieces (because those sets are expensive, y'all!), and for floral bouquets. I have a small one for business cards, a taller one with succulents growing out of it, a couple of change jars, and some were actually used for canning salsa and hot pepper jelly! Imagine that...

(Isn't this exciting?! Getting closer to #1... Yes, I'm a dork for lists, but I know I'm not the only one. My gal pal who brainstormed this list with me is a list dork too!)

4. Large Desk Calendar - I tried using my phone and even my iPad calendars. They just didn't cut it. I've used day planners and smaller pocket calendars, but the best way I can keep my life organized, the way that actually works for me is with a huge desk calendar. I need to see it all. I don't know why my brain works that way, it just does, so I go with it.

3. Ticonderoga Pencils - I do not allow any other type of pencils in my house. If I see a cute Christmas pencil, I throw it away. I have purged myself of all pencils that crack and break, the ones that never sharpen, and the ones where the stupid lead just slides on out of it. Life is TOO SHORT TO DEAL WITH STUPID PENCILS!

(Okay, calm yourselves. I know we're close to #1 but I'm telling you: I'm not that exciting of a person and I don't want you to be disappointed. But you've made it this far so you might as well keep reading. You're learning some interesting things about me, to say the least. And you either thing I'm weird or that we might be kindred spirits. I'm good with both.)

2. Music - this is an absolute necessity in my house. I listen to music in the morning, when we're driving around town, when I'm in a bad mood, while I'm cooking dinner, when I'm trying to distract my children from being ornery ding dongs, when I'm in a good mood, when I feel like dancing (which is a pretty regular feeling for me). Music is a gift. God knew what He was doing when He gave us that gift. (HA! God knew what He was doing every time He did any thing! But you get my point here, I'm sure.) Music is a part of everyday life. It is in the store you shop in, the movies you watch, the church you attend - it's everywhere! I am so grateful for music's role in saving my sanity on some pretty rough days...


1. PINTEREST. Yes, you read through that entire list just to get to this one: Pinterest. Whoever created Pinterest is a genius!! If you haven't used it yet, you might just be missing out on the best thing to happen to your life. Want a recipe? BOOM! A funny quote? BOOM! A meme that perfectly fits a conversation you are having with your bestie: TA-DAH!! Want to DIY some project? Or learn about chickens? Find the right scripture from Psalms? Or grow a garden, find an essential oil recipe, figure out your next tattoo, discover how to generate a 6 figure income as a stay-at-home mom (yeah...), find educational activities for your kids, how to get a stain of any sort out of any kind of material, learn the difference between Paleo, Whole 30, Keto, and Alkaline Diets, figure out how to curl your hair better, or wear make up better, or how to install your own hardwood floors.... THE LIST OF IT ALL NEVER ENDS!!!! I am telling you: I use this app a million times a day and that is not an exaggeration. Unless exaggeration means excessive, in which case I might be exaggerating a bit, but I do use it a whole lot! I can honestly say that my life is better because of the Pinterest app.

And there you have it, folks: tonight's exciting List of Things I Can't (or maybe don't want to) Live Without. For those of you who read last night's blog, stay tuned: my Forty Before 40 list is coming soon!