Monthly Mashup

Welcome to my monthly mashup! These are some of the things I’ve enjoyed or pondered this month:

Book I’m reading:  Boundaries, when to say yes, how to say no to take control of your life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

 I buy multiple copies of this book to give away. Every page has highlights and notes I’ve made over the years. “People often focus so much on being loving and giving that they forget their own limits. Have you ever found yourself wondering: can I say no and still be a loving person? How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? How do I stand up to hurtful behavior or abuse? Why do I feel guilty when I consider setting boundaries?” Seriously, get this book! I’m rereading it right now because I caught myself recommending it to three different people this week. As I go back through all of my highlights, I still can’t believe how much wisdom is packed into these pages.

Toy I’m enjoying: Taotronics Massage Gun

After shredding the pow at Snow Basin, our friends Jorge and Gina pulled out this massage gun for my aching quads and man I was hooked. I immediately bought one and use it almost every day for sore neck, legs, feet, even on the palms of my hands feels great. The Taotronics Massage gun is great for deep tissue massage as well as for any prep or recovery from any workout. It has a great battery life plus multiple levels of intensity. Such an easy way to feel better!  There are a number of good Massage Guns out there, Taotronics happened to work for me.

Song I’m proclaimingGod Favored Me by Hezekiah Walker https://youtu.be/gb8YW64dL5c

A few years ago, my son Cooper broke his nose from a fall while mountain biking. It happened two weeks before the big waterski weekend with his youth group. I told him there was NO way he could waterski with a broken nose, but I would acquiesce to the recommendation of our pediatrician Dr. Vereschagin. That day at our appointment, Dr. V said Yes where mom had said No and a jubilant Cooper played this song, singing at the top of his lungs, “God Favored Me” as soon as we got in the car!

What I’m celebrating: Forgiveness, knowing that I am forgiven, and through Christ, I have the power to forgive others. I’ve gotten so many responses from my post last week of Real Talk at FCC about forgiveness. One young woman told me that she listens to many podcasts and sermons but was searching online for a gentle, wise, and motherly voice to help her process forgiveness when she found my interview. I will outline my process for forgiveness on next week’s blog, so stay tuned! If you want to give the interview another listen:  https://youtu.be/KZhNtOhpEwA   

Quote I’m pondering: “Name a single time in history when the group fighting to censor speech and ban books were the good guys.” @ksorbs

As always, please give me feedback on the blog. What do you want more or less of? Feel free to share the blog on your social! You can sign up to receive it in your email every Monday at www.MargaretAllen.org at the bottom of Monday’s With Margaret. If you are reading through my book, Gracious Living, I want to hear what resonates for you! Tag me on insta @margaretallen.gl Have a beautiful week dear friends!


Shifting the Atmosphere

Wisdom writings in the Bible said: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away.” (Ecclesiastes 3) I’ve been reflecting on what brings joy in life and what doesn’t. It’s easy to get stuck in patterns that aren’t helpful or healthy. Us moms often have a finger on the pulse of our homes: are people tired, frustrated, bored? Are we in a slump of watching TV every night or retreating to our own rooms? Maybe we are already anticipating what Thanksgiving will be like with family this year. Now is the time to evaluate how we are doing and make mid-course adjustments. We can introduce change in thoughtful and fun ways. Does our family need nurturing or change right now? Here are five easy and inexpensive hacks to shift our home atmosphere this week:

  1.  Get outside. Even if it’s just going for a walk in your neighborhood or playing games in the front yard, it feels good to get outside and move around. If you have more time available, hike the nearby mountains, enjoy the sunset, or play at a park or beach. We all need a change of scenery. Simply discover the space that speaks to you. Ahh, fresh air!
  2. Serve somebody. Our lives are meant for higher purpose and nothing feels better than to serve others. Bake cookies for a neighbor, volunteer at a family shelter, babysit for a single mom. We all are seeking connection in this difficult time. Volunteer opportunities abound and, as much as you can make service decisions a group effort, you will witness your family’s heart light up with meaning.
  3. Set boundaries on your time. Now that we are working from home and living at work, we need structure. Note your work schedule, technology use, time sitting vs. active and so on. Design a weekly schedule that creates the life you long for. Does your time allow for relationships, creativity, exercise, great food, music, and gratitude? Setting mindful boundaries gives us space to savor the good things in life! 
  4. Create a Spiritual Climate. How can we withstand the negativity in our culture right now if our families have no shared spiritual experiences? Let your kids hear you pray, worship, read scripture. Discuss what God is doing in your lives. Read a few scriptures together after dinner each night. It is never too late or too early to establish a godly culture within your home.
  5. Learn together. If this entire year is just one big time-out, we might as well learn something! Kids love learning alongside their parents. Watch YouTube videos to master juggling, or how to paint a landscape like Bob Ross, cook Thai cuisine, design 2020 T-shirts for your family, and so on.  We all have something we wish we could improve if we only had the time. 

To everything there is a season. What’s working for you? Go to www.MargaretAllen.org for declarations to speak over your life and to get the book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion.


Easing into Gratitude

Did you know when people are feeling positive they are 30% more creative and productive than they are at negative, neutral or stressed? I don’t know about you in 2020, but I’ve been straining just to get to neutral. Goals of creativity, productivity, positivity are melting into a coronavirus ooze of Netflix, Zoom calls, tired cooking, and boundaryless life-work tension.  Like me, are you searching for ways to lift your mental health

We learn to scan the landscape of our lives for good. My daily gratitude practice is outlined in my book, Gracious Living. Gratitude begins with posturing our heart toward God. Here’s a starter: “I take a few minutes to turn my affection toward God. Some days, I have more time, but at a minimum, I spend five minutes loving Him and celebrating His friendship in my life. It can simply be turning my face upward toward the sun for a few moments; dancing when a song comes on; or cherishing the sweetness of a moment in prayer.  Every day I also jot down three things for which I’m grateful.” (p. 43) You see, telling God thanks helps us to relive those good moments along with all the positive feelings. It’s way more productive than reliving every negative conversation or thought.

Besides my gratitude list of three every day, I practice another habit that has significantly impacted my life. Again, from my book, Gracious Living: “I send an encouraging text or email to someone every day. Whoever comes to mind, I take that as a sign from God.  I send them a Bible verse, tell them why I’m grateful for them, or share what I’m praying for them.  You might ask, ‘How does this help you, Margaret?’ If I consistently speak life over others, it will stand out as incongruent if I speak poorly to myself.  If I’m better to others, I will be better to myself, plain and simple.” (p. 43) Try it out: send an encouraging text or email a few mornings this week and see if your mood is lifted!

The Bible is a plumb line for me. When my thinking starts to spiral toward negativity, I review this honest word from Philippians: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) So my friend, when you walk into the kitchen, what do you dwell on? When you interact with fellow employees or family members do you dwell on what is true and honorable and worthy of praise?

This attitude of gratitude will ripple outward into every area of your life. Let the goodness of God shape your thinking so that you can be positive in this present moment. If you need some inspiration, find my book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion at MargaretAllen.org. The kindle version is on Amazon. Thank you for reading my blog today and let me hear how your gratitude practice is going!