The 5 Paragraph Blog: I..have a plan!

Sorta.

I’ve never been the best at planning. Especially when it comes to planning out my financial health. That is what I consider it now as I near my 43rd birthday. The health of my finances has always been somewhat important to me. Especially when it was poor. And it seems to have been poor for most my life. In recent years I got it to the point where it was…passing. Barely. I just couldn’t get to the point I actually had anything saved! I knew if I did not figure it out, I would wind up in the hole the moment something went wrong. And it did. It always does.

Before you start throwing out helpful remarks, links, books, and programs..let me assure you..my mother has already showed me pretty much all of them. The problem has never been the program. The problem has been with me. I don’t handle money well. I have reasons for these. They would probably even make sense to most if I laid it all out. However, just as I did not give myself an excuse to be a bad parent because things were rough for me growing up, I should not be excusing myself for how I save (or dont, actually) money.

So, yes! My bills were on time for quite a few years. I would immediately pay bills when payday came around. If it was gonna be due before the next one, I paid it. I felt very good about this. I still kinda do. I was always behind in the past and racking up late fees and additional deposits and destroying my credit. Now, I was caught up and not behind. My credit improved and I was quite pleased with myself. However, just as quickly as I paid my bills, I was just as quick to spend what was left of it. I was not saving a thing and not getting any closer to some of my dream goals. A house. A travel Trailer. To not be living off of cat-food when we became too old to work. To actually afford retirement.

So, what is my plan anyways? I am just beginning the general outline. First thing I know I must do…is work. And I have. I have worked my arse off, and in less than 2 weeks, I’ve gotten us out of the hole I dug us into. But, I refuse to be at “ground level” any longer. I am gonna grow my money tree and climb it, dammit! For me, it’s as simple as making a decision and doing it. To have more self control and make my dreams come true. Excuses won’t do that for me. Working hard on it will.

Look, I am not here to give you a grand success story. There is no trick or easy way to make big chances in your life that will take you where you want to go. I’m not going to sell you a lie. I am here to tell you I am not going to make excuses for my poor financial health. Not only that, I plan on doing something about it. One step at a time. Even if it’s just a dollar a week, I am going to save something. I can pretty much guarantee you can do the same. If all else fails, I am sure there is a dime in the street. No more excuses.

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From the LDS Blog (A Share)

I came across this in my morning explorations and studies and thought it was too good not to share. This is not my writing, so proper credit is given. You can  find the original post here.

You’re Not Messing Up God’s Plan for You

February 22, 2017

For a lot of my life, I’ve wondered if I was messing up God’s plan for me.

I’ve agonized over making THE RIGHT CHOICE—a common dilemma for someone in my stage of life where big decisions are looming. The one on my mind most often lately is where to go next with my career, but before it’s been where to go to college, whom to date, where to live, how to fulfill my calling, and so on. I’ve wondered if I’m even capable of reaching my potential. It’s tempting to think that God has some master plan that He’s measuring me against, and if I take one misstep I’ve missed my chance for happiness forever, or at the very least I’ll be doomed to walk around with the nagging feeling that I’m constantly disappointing God.

But you know what? As I’ve examined that mindset, I’ve learned that I need a better understanding of God and what the term “His plan for me” means.

I’m learning that God is much less a divine dictator who demands perfect compliance to a predetermined plan for our individual lives and much more a co-creator with us of the kind of lives we want to live. I’m learning that His plan for me is a lot less like a laser-crossed minefield and a lot more of a journey of coming to know myself and coming to know Him.

What God’s plan isn’t: My expectations of how my life “should” be

I have a lot of “should” voices in my head. They say things like, “I should be married. I should be better at this dating thing by now. I should know what I want to be when I grow up. I should have a 5-year plan and a 401k and a perfect, step-by-step plan of how to get to my dream career—starting yesterday. Because I don’t, I’m a failure.”

God’s voice, unsurprisingly, does not agree.

What God’s plan is: A journey of joyful discovery that begins where I am

Through multiple impressions, God keeps telling me that this time in my life is a period of joyful discovery—emphasis on the joyful. An impression I received recently as I was stressing over finding the “perfect career” was this: “Ariel, I don’t care what you do to pay the bills. Have fun! Explore. Do what you want to do. Just keep writing, and we will do great things together.”

Well, all right then.

I question answers like that, wondering if this is some sort of test to see if I’ll choose right and win His approval or choose wrong and disappoint Him. I stress out and hesitate to act because I’m worried about doing the “wrong” thing. What an answer like that really means is to move forward with confidence that as I act in accordance with my righteous desires, counseling with God along the way, I’m following His plan for me. God understands where I am. He is patient with my progress, and every sincere effort counts to Him. If He is okay with my learning process, I can be too.

What God’s plan isn’t: God’s will forced upon me

I’ve often battled the fear that if I committed myself to doing whatever God asked, He would force me to do something I didn’t want to do.

I told God I didn’t want to go on a mission. Nope. It’s too hard, and you can’t make me. Besides, I had a plan, and it involved finishing my education and a certain young man that I was certain would be part of my future.

I’m sure you can guess what’s coming.

What God’s plan is: Invitations to reconcile my will with His and practice trusting Him

It’s interesting—with the clearest impressions I’ve ever received, such as the prompting I had to go on a mission, God has always made it just as clear that it is my choice whether or not to obey. He knows the deepest desires of my heart and He wants me to come back to Him, and so as I seek His guidance, He shows me how to achieve those desires. He is always trying to give me what I really, truly want. But it is always, always my choice.

I had a choice to make, and I was terrified. My future had seemed so neatly laid out before me, but with the prospect of a mission, it had changed overnight. I felt much less certain of how my desires for my life would come to pass, but I knew this was an invitation to practice trusting God—trusting that He knew what I wanted better than I did and that this path would be the way to achieve those desires. I chose to serve.

So here I am, several years after my mission. I did graduate from college after returning home, but that young man got married to someone else, and I have yet to see some of my desires materialize. Trusting God is something I practice every day. Being without the desires of my heart has kept me turning to God, kept me seeking Him, and I can’t help but wonder if that was the whole point after all—to use this time in my life to come to know Him and how He works with me.

What God’s plan isn’t: Only one perfect, rigid way to live my life “correctly” with my mistakes and correct choices predetermined by God

God does not dictate every choice we make. It isn’t God’s will for us to make specific wrong choices. It’s God’s will that we have the opportunity to choose for ourselves.

Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. —2 Nephi 2:16

It’s His will that we have a safe space to learn from our own experience, so lessons can travel from our heads to our hearts. He doesn’t make me make mistakes, but there is room in His plan for mistakes because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

What God’s plan is: Jesus Christ is the Way

So often we want to know “the way” for our lives. Well, guess what? Jesus Christ is the Way—the only way to become like our Father and return to live with Him.

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not wither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. —John 14:5–6

Following Jesus through the continuous process of exercising faith in Him, repenting, making and keeping covenants, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is the way back to the Father. As long as I continue in that process, I’m following the plan.

One day recently I was feeling particularly discouraged about my seeming inability to “get a grip” on my life and measure up to my own expectations. On one side of the whiteboard in my room I wrote down all my expectations for myself. Then I drew a line, and on the other side, across from each of my statements, I wrote what I felt God would have to say about it.

It all came down to this: Me learning is the plan. Me changing is the plan. And there are a lot of good ways to do that. My baptism was a commitment to keep learning and keep turning to Christ. It’s not a commitment to be perfect (and thus fail as soon as I make my first mistake); it’s a commitment to keep practicing. If I keep turning to Jesus after turning away, if I’m committed to keep learning, keep trying, and rest when I need to, I’m following His plan for me.


Ariel Szuch is a writer who originally hails from Boise, Idaho. She loves to read, write, dance, sing, and spend time with her family. She serves as a Sunday School teacher and choir director in her ward.

The 5 Paragraph Blog: Exploring the Word of Wisdom

I am a member of the LDS (Later Day saints) aka “Mormon”. I’m certainly not perfect and there are some things I struggle and even chafe against. One of these is what we call “The Word of Wisdom” or “The Law of Health” found in Doctrine and Covenants 89. Simple put, these are guidelines we are to follow if we wish to maintain our optimum health. This is where faith is needed as current beliefs, both social and scientific, will not always agree. Some things are obvious. Take in what is clean and you will have a clean body sounds easy enough to understand, right?

However, if you are someone that has even dug the tiniest of fractions into what is in our foods today, you will quickly understand; all is not as it seems. Take the drinking of coffee or tea, which many informed people know is something most Mormons do not consumed. It is frequently considered quite silly. I have been one of those people. I’ve been comparing coffee and tea to soda and thinking how much better they are. I did not accept the Wisdom of my Father in heaven. Instead, I chose the lesser of 2 evils to be acceptable. Because it was better than the Dr. Pepper I am always consuming. It made it even easier that advertising and a Google search about teas and coffees will show you a myriad of benefits when you drink them.

I challenge you to do a different search. Instead, search for “In what ways can tea be bad for you” and you will begin to filter out the advertisements and propaganda. And yes, that is exactly what it is. They want you to buy these products, after all. It gains them wealth. But does it truly gain us health? Don’t fall into the same trap I did where I told myself (and everyone believes it!) that “it’s better than soda!”. Sure, one poison is less toxic than another, but…it is still poison.

You may be wondering what prompt today’s blog post. I am changing my life. I am beginning to once again start each day with scripture and talks from those who carry the Spirit strongly so I can better serve the Lord, my fellow humans, and better myself. For today, I decided to read a talk by Elder Quentin L. Cook called “A Banquet of Consequences—The Cumulative Result of All Choices:”. The Word of Wisdom was brought up, as was the drinking of coffee and tea and I decided to make that Google search I mentioned earlier.

In my search, I found one particular article called  “Could Tea Be Bad For You? 5 Tea Ingredients That Are Harming Your Health” and it brought home that even though it’s frequently thought to be strange and silly by those who do not know, over time The Word of Wisdom has continued to be proven correct as knowledge increases and people look into things for themselves. This is true for everything in our lives. Don’t just believe what someone tells you. Don’t just believe one random post. Not even mine. Do what I do and dig deeper. Don’t stop when you get the answer you want. Keep going and see if it’s actually just a matter of a paradigm shift -a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.- that has been used on you. This is your health and well-being we are talking about, after all. Take charge of it. I guess God actually knew what He was talking about, hmm?

The 5 Paragraph Blog: Be My Valentine

Ah, a day for all days! A day that many both can not wait for and dread all at the same time. I’m no different. Today I wanted to be able to go all out for my dearest hubby. To be able to get a sweet card and an even sweeter gift. Alas, it was not meant to be! Perhaps you can share in my sorrow. Things….are tough. Not terrible. Not soul wrenching. Just tough. Makes it hard to do a romantic meal at a restaurant, get a nice card that seems to say all the words you can not come up with on your own, and hopefully end it in the arms of your true love. So, what does a couple in our position do when money is not plentiful, but our hearts still beat as one? We do what we always do: Spend time together, cook a meal at home, and end the night in one another’s arms.

Dirty minds you have! Behave!

Recently my hubby and I celebrated 18 years of marriage. This means we’ve been a serious part of one another’s lives since we first dated 20 years ago. I feel that’s an accomplishment, dont you? And just like right now, things were tight. And while it might remain that way for a bit longer, there is one commodity we can always make sure we have. Time for one another. Sometimes we play games together, both online and at the table. We’ll even include others! Other times we’ve been known to binge-watch a show on Netflix. Heck, I plan on talking him into watching “Michael Bolton’s Big, sexy Valentine’s Day Special“. Warning, this show is not safe for little eyes and ears! I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it was worth the watch. Muhahahaha….

michael-bolton-valentines-day-netflixYeah, that happened.

I suppose cooking together does mean we are spending time together, but there is just something different about this past time. We both have our favorite types of cooking. He likes to bake cheese cake and other yummy goodies, while I prefer to go the more savory route. It’s not that I can not bake or that he can not cook up a smashing meal, because we are flexible like that! We just seem to enjoy what we enjoy. It works for us and I get lemon cake out of the deal. Hmm…lemon cake!

Ah, the grand finale. Or completion. Or maybe we are just damn tired. We are getting old these days and ending the day in one another’s arms can all too often mean one thing. Sleep. Besides, I wouldn’t tell you otherwise. Do the words “None of your business” ring a bell? Coughs. Moving on!

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Yeah, we are not rolling in the riches. Yeah, we love one another. One does not need money to show their special someone what they mean to them. A little time and effort sure goes a long way! So get out the games, Netflix, or whatever else you enjoy doing together, cook up a good meal, and snuggle it out in bed together. Heck, spending time watching a show and eating can easily be done in bed together. Screw what they say about keeping the TV or monitor outside the bedroom. It’s Valentine’s Day, baby.

The Sunfire Tigress Chronicles: New Town, Same Place

Kridina dropped lightly off the small boat to land easily on the dock. Without thought, her nose was already raised just a bit to test the air. For some reason, it always surprised her how clean these sea-side fishing towns smelled. Some would blame her feline heritage and a love for fish, but she actually despised the stuff. Casually, she slung her bag over her right shoulder and made her way across the creaking boards of the pier.

The occasional murmur or stare as she passed by was something she took in stride these days. She had stopped worrying months ago at the reactions of others. Sure, her people we not unheard of, just none had seen golden stripes in so long some doubted they had even existed.Their curiosity was no match for hers, however. Her first memories came into being just over a year ago. Everything before was a blank. And not just a blank slate. There was a void within her so full of emptiness it was nearly painful. In the beginning it felt endless and unbearable. These days it was merely an ache. Something she just lived with.

As the slosh of water against boat-sides began to be overtaken by the squawks of goods-men and townspeople, Kridina carefully made her way through the throng on the wide sand-packed street leading from the piers. The day was already well in hand, the sun quickly running towards the first true heat of the day. Her tail tucked close, people had a tendency to smack into it without looking, she turned left at the fork towards what appeared to be an area suited for lodges and some food.

Good food, she surmised as her eyes darted quickly about and her nostrils flared with appreciation. Just as every other town she had come across since she was first awoken, this one was neat, clean, and kept in excellent repairs. This experience conflicted with the scrolls and books she had come across in the scattered libraries during her travels. It seemed most towns described in stories were dirty, full of wretched souls, and with smells known to bring tears to your eyes. And not tears of joy. It was a mystery that nagged at the golden striped Kridina, along with wondering where she came from and what her purpose was. She did not even know what kept her moving. All she had was the name provided to her, and she had no security in that. She did not remember that name, or any name for that matter.

Tossing such thoughts to the side, the grim looking tigress slid through the swinging doors into the welcome coolness of the tavern. The sign had declared it The Tigress’ Den and she had been unable to withstand that call. An amused smile flitted across her face, causing the golden stripes of her body to glimmer for the barest moment. So quickly did both the smile and glow fade, not a single patron that might have actually caught either would have thought it more than the lingering brightness of the shifting sun of a swiftly closing door. Not even the tigress herself would have believed it.

Except, one did notice.

I Heart Games

I usually try not to flood the blog with posts, but, my pretties, I could not let this one go! If you have been following me any length of time, you have probably surmised I am a gamer. Heck, I belong to a family of gamers. I’m not talking just online games. I am talking board games, card games, social games, and yes the wonderful MMROPGs I am known to play.

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Being part of a family that plays games together on a daily basis has it’s pros and cons. The Pros? We live in Florida and hurricanes just wont phase us. We have games to play! The cons? It can get a wee bit pricey. I love a game? Chances are at least one other person in the household will as well. Now the price is times two! Imagine when we all like a game that requires each person have their own copy or account? We pull from the same income, after all.

So, when I come across a game that I know we would love playing together that is not only quick and fun and still looks to have a challenge to it while only requiring I pay for it one time to be able to include a lot of people… I gotta stand up and get a closer look. Thank goodness for my connections to The Review Crew! I get to learn about new products coming out and I learned about this one. It even has a Kickstarter! Woot! So, what is this game I am gushing about and ready to play right now?!

Home School Challenges and a Review

Every now and then I cover a bit about our home-schooling life. An ‘lo! Here is one! We are now in the high school years for both my boys. I feel we are in the home stretch, but when it comes to Sir A, one of his biggest struggles has been in math. While it’s gotten a bit easier over the years, he still struggles with times tables to this very day. His brother, Mr M did not have this issue and I’ve had to try and find ways to help Sir A get that skill under his belt.  It was especially difficult to find online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way that would not only interest him, but make him feel like he was succeeding and making progress. 

We tried multiple programs, games, and ideas over the years. Some of them quite expensive! I am both pleased and sad to say: I think I found it! This is one of those “Wish I had this when he was younger!” moments But when I was able to offer him, thanks to my being a 2017 Curriculum Reviewer on the Homeschool Review Crew, access to Times Alive online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way we found ourselves having an enjoyable time. While it’s true this lovely program is aimed at younger learners and not a high schooler, he still found it enjoyable for the most part.

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Sir A. is always a good sport to try out the different suggestions and ideas I present to him. He was no different when it came to trying Times Alive by the Times Tables the Fun Way company. We both looked it over together initially and it was cute and helpful. It started with a speed review/test we both took and then moved on to some funny stories and songs. After he went though the entire program on his own in just a couple weeks (It was fast for him due to him being older!), He stated: “I liked it and it did help me, though I think it was meant for younger kids?” And, yes..he asked that in a questioning voice. He continued to talk to me about it and I could tell he not only found it helpful, but would be happy with a product from City Creek Press whose math stories and songs were aimed at teenagers if it still followed the same format as it was the way the material was presented that was helpful to him.

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I want to stress my son loves humor and laughing and will always be attracted to cutesy and funny animations and the like. This online program has such things in spades and is adorable and silly to my old, adult eyes. Apparently Sir A. felt pretty much the same way and loved it. So, even though it was aimed at those younger than he is, he still benefited from it. I am sharing a couple pictures to help you see some of what can be expected on the game. It wont be tons as I want you to be able to discover things for yourself -spoilers!-Enjoy!

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And another….

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Homeschooling is not all fun and games. We, as parents, want to know the progress of our children and what they have and have not done. This little gem provides such a nifty feature to help you know your child’s progress. Heck, my son liked having it so he could have a nice visual of how he was doing! So, here is another cute picture that has the more nitty gritty things in it:

Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}In conclusion, this is a really terrific and fun way to learn your times tables and really feel you should give it a try if you have a struggling math-er in your life regardless of whether they are homeschooling, in public school, or attending any other place. With that said, the final graphic below and a handy dandy link to read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew blog:PCrew Disclaimer