Hey there. 
Yes, we like our house.
No, we don't know how long we will stay.
Yes, we plan to buy eventually.  We don't know when or where.

Just thought I would answer some common questions. 

2 biggest deals in my life right now:

1. Lilly will be a munchkin in the Beck Center production of The Wizard of Oz.
2. David has begun the orthodontic process. Oh, and he is quickly outgrowing size 10 jeans.  I bought 12's today. He's 8.

Just thought I'd do a little update. :o)
I love flavored cream in my coffee. It's so good. The types I usually get are full of crazy ingredients which don't line up with my attempts at making healthier choices.
Yesterday, when I was making my grocery list, I wrote "coffee creamer?" I was hoping to find some kind of healthier alternative.
I found it!!!!! I was skeptical of it, of course,  but I am happy to report that it's great!!
I used the same amount as I did with the other brands and it was perfect.
  • yummy
  • dairy free
  • 25 calories per tablespoon (versus 35 in the peppermint mocha cream in my fridge)
  • organic
  • partially fair trade
  • Tiny little carton
I am happy to be making a positive change....even if it's just with my coffee!
But, there are others, too. Like, I got rice chex with almond milk and sliced banana for breakfast instead of 2 giant bowls of honey nut chex with 2% milk.
Positive changes!!!!

Happy new year's eve!!!

I seriously don't know what I'm going to do. I'm an over scheduled person who just wants to be lazy. I have the worst time figuring out food for my family and exercise may as well be trigonometry....impossible.
I used to eat and sleep as much as I wanted. That simple routine worked wonders for my figure until I turned 30. 30 is like an evil spell that steals your metabolism, gives you lines in your forehead and neck, & doubles your number of chin hairs. What the HECK! The worst is the lack of metabolism. Having been in my 30's for 2 1/2 years, I have added 35 pounds to my once curve-less figure. I can't decide how I feel about it, besides confused, and I definitely don't know what to do about it.
I'm still in the "healthy range" for my height but the line that divides healthy from unhealthy is a little too close for comfort. I'm afraid that I'm on a slippery slope and that laziness will keep me from digging in my heels and climbing back up.
Dad has told me over and over again, "Hang on and keep climbing." The problem right now is just being brave enough to start the climb.
If I'm not especially good at something, I don't like to do it....it's a weakness. That weakness is the main reason why I wasn't a school athlete (I quit softball once and track twice). So, in keeping with tradition, whatever exercise or active activity I need to take on comes with some fear.
About 4 years ago I thought I would do a 5K. I went "running" once.
ugghhhhh....running....I'm so bad at it. It seems like the thing to do, from what I see you all doing on social media. I just can't wrap my brain around it. Listening to music while running seems like it would be helpful, but I'm afraid that taking away my sense of hearing the outside world could get me run over or abducted. Abducted...that creeps me out....I don't want to go running.

The YMCA.  I need to go there and put my kids in child watch while I do the elliptical or whatever. Here's the thing....Every time I start up with it, it doesn't last past 1 work out....Maybe more if someone is meeting me there. I'm always super proud after I've exercised and I promise I will do it again and again...but I don't....and I fail. Ugghhh.
So, I need to make a plan, right? Make a calendar for this week with Y time scheduled in. My personality type loves making lists and not doing them.
Wow, look at me with my plan and calendar and list! Wow, look at me, such a rebel-playing on my phone and giving the list dirty looks. MY LIFE!

I'm unhappy with my body. Even though I'm in the "healthy zone" I KNOW I am not healthy. I'm tired. One Just Dance song takes like 15 minutes of recovery.
I don't like it that my wedding ring feels too tight.
Although what people think shouldn't matter, I worry about everyone's thoughts when they see me. Their first thought has to be "Wow, Rachel is putting on weight!" or "She still hasn't lost that weight she put on?!" or....I don't know what.
TRUTH IS.... it wasn't just the dirty thirty that put on the pounds. The last two years for me carried some big emotional baggage. I didn't know how to handle new stress and felt like a failure in a lot of ways. As I mentioned earlier, feeling like I'm not good at something does not make me happy. This time, though,  I couldn't escape like I did with school sports. I had to stick it out and realize that I'm not perfect and I really suck at life sometimes. I dealt with these awful feelings in self destructive ways. Too much time on the couch. Too much shopping. Too much time online comparing myself to other people. Too much time being bitter. Too much ice cream. Too much pop. Too much alcohol. It's easy to feel better about sucking at life when you can just put the kids to bed, have a big glass of wine and crash. But, the next morning, the suckiness is still there and a lot of calories have just spent the night turning into sadness and fat.
There was a lot of happiness through that time...my family is amazing. Chris and the kids are like warm sunshine....but I can't deny reality.

I'm happier now and I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone. You know...take risks and all that. Simplifying life and focusing on the joy that is right in front of my face everyday....warm sunshine.

I just need to get healthy. But I don't want to fail again.

So, no promises of work out plans or challenges or diets. Those are all things that could be dropped...quit...left.

I think I will just pursue more life. I'm not exactly sure what all that means. ..it's like a goal that can't be measured...which seems like cheating...but it's what I have right now. Pursing more life.

Did I mention how much I like sugar? I love sugar.
As always,  I hope and pray that seeing into my real life is helpful to someone. Fakeness is cheap and unfair.  Let's not try to impress eachother...let's just share this crazy life.

Much Love--
I think that the more "traditions" and "special moments" we feel like we need during the holidays, the more stressful everything gets. I have given some stuff up. Check it out.
1. The Perfect Christmas Tree
We did not spend forever picking out the ideal tree. We mostly let the kids pick. The kids also decorated the tree. We don't do a theme because our ornaments are mostly all the kids' creations and family pieces.  Actually, I think our Christmas tree imperfection is quite perfect.
We got rid of our fake tree a couple of years ago. It was a huge pain. I hated storing it and I hated it when the pre lit lights didn't light. I also resented eaxh and every branch I had to fluff. ugh!! I love getting and getting rid of a real tree.

2. Coordinated Outfits for Christmas Eve worship
Ok, if I had happened upon a great deal on awesome adorable coordinated outfits,  I probably would have bought them. But,  I didnt, so I didnt. I got great deals on Lillys dress and Davids shirt and they looked great. ...even tho David wore the wrong shirt...which I didn't mention until now and chose not to care about....He looked great.

3. Baking Cookies
I decided not to bake cookies. I don't know when I decided that or why but it worked out. Lilly ended up baking cookies with some of my awesome middle school girls and brought some home that she and David frosted for Santa. I've been enjoying those. We also got a jar of chocolate chip cookie mix from a neighbor,  so we can do that next week if we feel like it. Less cookies+More Time+Less Fat=Less Stress. It's an easy equation.

4. Attending Every Holiday Gathering
Here's the thing...Chris and I work full time and Chris works RETAIL. I do wish that I could see my cousins and aunts and uncles this Christmas (love you!) but it doesn't work logistically....and I'm not going to stress about it. I also missed a cookie exchange (go figure) and Chris' work party. No shame, more gain....just working with what we've got.

5. Choosing an appropriate holiday greeting.
Is it Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays???? Thank goodness we are moving toward Happy New Year---which would be tough to argue with. Seriously- I do wish you all happy holidays. ....happy thanksgiving, Christmas,  new year, and everything else. And thank you to all the store people who have wished me happy holidays. That's really nice!

These holidays have definitely been happy. :-) I hope yours have been, too. :-)

My husband is the extrovert....not me. This doesn't mean that I want to crawl in a hole while he parties all night....well maybe it sort of does.
There are actually times when our life looks like that. Chris goes out to a movie with Steve, Chris, one of the Paul's, etc. while I go to bed early. I prefer this set up because he gets to be social and I don't have to be.

Our Core Group is preparing to do a study on personality types and faith so we are all taking the Myers-Briggs test. It's been a while since I've taken it and this time I scored as 100% Introverted. ISFP.  Chris is....surprise, surprise...an extrovert. haha!! duh. He is ESFJ. 
Life can be interesting with the two of us, but the more that we have understood each others personalities, the better we have worked together. This is true with all relationships!

We went to a Christmas-y gathering with our Core Group at the Pierce's last Sunday. It was a really good time.  As an introvert, I escaped twice to....refuel?....and Chris, as an extrovert,  didn't notice. When I escape I really, really want to be left alone, so it works out quite well.

Being married to an extrovert is helpful in a lot of situations. When I am overwhelmed by a big event, busy schedule...anything...he carries us through-& he likes it! That's a relief to me.
I was able to help him out a little today when he was trying to figure out why he is so tired. It's the holidays...2 days after Christmas...He is working like crazy while making sure he has time with family. He thinks he should be able to go full force forever and needs reminding that it's OK to slow down.

When we were first married, it was harder. I remember our first Christmas and the gatherings we attended. I was overly stressed with preparations and socialization while at events. He didn't get it, but he was always kind. He never made me feel bad for wanting to leave early or for feeling sick. (anxiety, more on that later)

I'm blessed with an extremely compassionate spouse. My advice to everyone is to recognize the personality traits of the people you live and work with. Praise each other and carry each other, when needed. When you don't understand someone's actions or words, try to understand or just accept it.

I encourage you to look up a simple,  free Myers-Briggs online test. Then, read as much as you can about your personality type and those of the people you spend time with. You'll probably laugh at the accuracy and be relieved that you're "normal."

Love all you unique people!!! Happy weekend!!!!

Like an iceberg, what you see on the outside is only 10% of who I am.  I'm choosing to drop the waterline.  Will you?
 I've  been working at my current church for over 4 years now and each year I participate as a volunteer for Challenge Day.  "Challenge Day's mission is to provide youth and their communities with experiential workshops and programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth and full expression." (Quoted from the website.) 
One of the "norms" at Challenge Day is to "Drop the waterline." I LOVE this, because it's what I am currently striving to do with my life.  The example used is of an iceberg.  Above the water, we can only see 10% of the iceberg, leaving 90% out of our view.  How could we judge the iceberg based on what we see on the surface of the water?  The iceberg serves as an example of the human life.  Looking at me, you will see only 10% of me.  How, then, can you judge me?  How, then, can I judge you?  Included in the 90% of me that you cannot see by looking at my appearance are my childhood, my family, my insecurities, my dreams, my failures, my accomplishments, etc. When we drop the waterline, willing to expose more of ourselves, we find that we are more alike than we originally thought.  We find out that the people who we thought were perfect...aren't.  We find out that the people who seem to have it all together...don't.  We find out that we are all in this together.  
The huge efforts that people go through in order to try to be as good as or better than people who seem to have it all together is exhausting. If we could put those energies elsewhere, think of the good we could do for ourselves and others.  I'm embarrassed about how much of my life I have wasted in exactly that pursuit...I feel extremely self centered.
Your clothes, your home, your makeup, your purse, your shoes, your watch,
your mode of transportation, etc...don't have anything to do with your value.  Anyone who thinks they do needs to read my blog, go to Challenge Day, and find a good church. Just my opinion. ;o) 

Real Life RachyBurns is exactly that....Real Life. I'm dropping the waterline.  I hope that you will, too.  

A special note: I would like to say that I'm really proud of Rocky River Middle School for bringing Challenge Day to their 7th graders each year. It is truly a gift to the community.  Thank you, Mike and Shannon Cain, for your humble service.  You are amazing.  Thanks for helping Rocky River drop the waterline.

After reading Living with Less by Joshua Becker, my perception of stuff changed. I will write more about that perception shift another time.....but, for now, I will share 5 of the many reasons why my life is better with less stuff.
1. My house is cleaner and more organized.
This is a biggie for me. I like organizing (when I get around to it) but I'm not good at keeping things organized...resulting in piles of stuff everywhere. Having less stuff means that I have a lot less to keep track of. It is easier to have a place for everything and everything in it's place.
Cleaning the house is easier because I have less to dust and clean around.

2. Laundry is easier.
Laundry has been one of my greatest enemies for most of my adult life. When I had tons of clothes, the laundry would pile up and then it would take forever to get it all done. Actually putting it away once it was clean was a joke. I always had laundry baskets of clothes all over the house. Getting the kids ready in the morning was awful and I had a constant case of "I have nothing to wear!"
Now, if I don't do laundry on a regular basis, I really won't have anything to wear. Smaller, more frequent loads are also much less intimidating to put away.
Isn't it nice that I am finally learning basic life skills now that I'm 32?!

3. Contentment
Because I don't want extra stuff to clean or store, I am more content with what I have. Searching for whatever it was that would be the magic token to life bliss and happy home took up a lot of my time. I've found it very freeing to be content with what I have & not desire the latest shoe organizer, wall hanging, kitchen gadget, etc. The less stuff the better. Content.

4. Budget-Friendly
This goes along with number 3. The less stuff you accumulate, the less money you spend. That one is pretty simple, right?

5. More Life to Live
Taking away stuff adds time to the day and focus to the mind. We don't need to go to the store to search for happiness.....happiness is already within us and within the people who we love! I will not be impressed when I come to your house and see your latest do-dad. But, I will be impressed with your engaging smile. 

I am still working at this new lifestyle. For instance, our dryer recently broke and it was over a week before we got a new one. Laundry became a problem....but I am determined to overcome the evils of laundry!!! :-)
Also, with Christmas just 10 days away, materialism has been tempting me. I am trying to make wise decisions for my family and myself, but it is really difficult. I am thankful for Chris, who keeps me grounded. More on Christmas, later.

That's all for now....  Love & Joy!! Rachel
Advent begins today. In worship, some beautiful friends lit the 1st candle of the Advent wreath, representing hope. There was also a baptism and the lovely child's name was Hope. How perfect is that?

Our Core Group (best buddies, small group, besties...) began our Advent study today. Chris and I are extremely blessed to have this Core Group...everyone needs this. Anyways...we talked about Isaiah 9 and what hope would look like for the completely hopeless. I think it would be like being in a completely dark tunnel, finding your way around a corner,  and with a hard squint seeing a tiny spot of light. Like, at first you think it's your imagination or that it's too good to be true and you don't want to believe it because you're sure you will be disappointed. So you would blink and blink and stare and stretch your head out and open your eyes really wide... hoping.
The first glimpse of hope.

That is where we are in Advent.

We all have this huge need for Christ as a savior.....to save us from whatever it is that haunts us. Christ is our HOPE! Christ IS the light. The light is there and it is for US! It's so cool....it really is.

I know that Christ is with me all the time...but this season is perfect for really reflecting on my life. There is darkness in me....There has been more darkness in me this year than usual. The darkest parts are over and every day I am finding more joy. I have turned the corner and the light is getting brighter. I am experiencing hope when I previously didn't know it was there. The thought of traveling through Advent with my family, church, and Core Group is really exciting. I know that we will light another candle next Sunday and another on the next Sunday...and on we will go until we are standing in the Sanctuary on Christmas Eve singing Silent Night and lifting our light high in the air. Aaaah!!!!!~~~Can't you just feel it??

Christmas is coming!!!!!

We are in the new house. Our stuff is here. Most of our helpers have left, but their fingerprints are on our home & our hearts forever. Community like this can only be created by God. Giving thanks for each prayer, warm thought,  bite of food, & serving hand.

I'm grateful for our choice to live with less and what it is meaning to our family.  A year ago we had my least favorite move....I wanted to cry at the thought of continuing to drag things to the new house.....baggage, literally & figuratively. 
This has been my favorite move. I love this house and this fresh start. Our home is smaller, but our hearts are larger. We have less material things and more peace.

So grateful. Thank you!  ♡♡♡♡
It's moving day!!! I have my mom and coffee and kids and hubby and soon friends.....woot woot!!

Say a prayer, Send good thoughts, Cross your fingers,  & Wish us luck!