Fresh Start 2015 – Chaplain Spouse Presentation

I’m working on a special presentation for my fellow Chaplain Spouses here at Fort Hood.  I have about three hours of information I want to share and only about fifteen minutes to do so.

Because I can’t bear to withhold all the fantastic information I have discovered I have created this page that I can refer them to if they’re interested in reading more.

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Chaplain Spouses, welcome to my home on the Internet.  Below you will find the notes from the presentation from Tuesday evening.  It’s way more information than you need, but I do hope you can find some of it helpful.

Fresh Start:

First, I want to state that if I’m not careful, this presentation could make it seem like I’ve got it all together. I don’t want to give that impression, so please accept this disclaimer right at the start. I do not have everything running ship-shape all the time, but what I have learned is that life is challenging enough with the things we cannot control, so why not make the other parts of life easier… the parts of life we can control.

And, I’m not one to reinvent the wheel. My mama taught me that! So I am always on the lookout for someone who has gone before me and mastered a skill or a method and is willing to share. Most of the methods I’m going to share with you can be done for free. If there is a fee, you can determine if that advice is something you’re willing to pay for. If not, skip it!

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.  ~Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar was an amazing motivational speaker who greatly influenced the way my parents raised me. He wrote many books including, “Raising Positive Kids in a Negative Word,” “Conversations With my Dog,” and “Born to Win.” He taught that life is broken into seven main compartments. He presented them as if they are the spokes wheel and called it the “Wheel of Life.” His point was that a wheel needs the spokes to maintain its integrity. If any one of the spokes break, the wheel can continue to limp along, but eventually it’ll wear out and the ride will get bumpy. We need to focus our attention on all the spokes of the wheel, not just one. This will help us work toward the balanced life we all desire. Dave Ramsey brings up a good point. Life is not balanced at all times. There are seasons when someone is more focused on one specific area, but over the span of a year, it should balance out. For example, if I’m going to train for a half-marathon, my life will be unevenly skewed toward the physical spoke for a season. But once it’s over, I can resume a focus on another area that might have been lacking during my training.

I will do my best to briefly share a little about each spoke, but I want you to know that what I have to share will fall heavily into the “career” side of things, (which for me, is household management).

In each of these categories there are podcasts that you can listen to. Podcasts are like episodes of a radio show that you can listen to at anytime you want to. There are hundreds out there, and I listen to several regularly. If you want to find some podcasts that match your interests, I suggest searching around the podcast section of your device (iPhone, Andriod, or your computer). Also, ask friends which podcasts they listen to. There are podcasts about quilting, finances, exercise, learning languages, & even fishing. As I go through Zig Ziglar’s spokes, I’ll mention a podcast if I find one specifically helpful or applicable.

I will start with the spiritual spoke, since ultimately I believe that if that spoke is solid, it’s easier to move into the others.

1. Spiritual – Get involved in Bible studies, PWOC, CWOC, Sunday School, in-home studies. One of my very favorite studies ever was “Experiencing God” by Richard Blackaby, Henry Blackaby and Claude King.
As we are all the spouses of Chaplains I will assume you are able to find the spiritual resources you may seek. It matters more that your spiritual walk is healthy than whether your house is spic-and-span.
There are a hundreds of podcasts in this category. If you like a specific preacher who happens to be in a relatively large church, go check to see if he/she has a podcast. There’s a good chance there’s one out there. I happen to listen to a few churches from Colorado Springs and a couple in the Carolinas.

2. Financial – If you know me at all you know I am a huge proponent of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. In short, our testimony is that we racked up $125K in debt during the first seven years of our marriage, then spent four working it off. It was in large part due to FPU that we were successful. Because of that, Matt and I are dedicated to spreading the word and teaching that class. In 2014 I taught five sessions of the 13 week course, Matt taught two downrange. In total, Fort Hood families paid off $500,000 in debt just for having gone through these seven classes! We have three classes that just started this month: One at our chapel, one at PWOC and one during Community Connections on Thursday nights. The class is aptly titled: Financial Peace. There is truly a peace that settles on one’s home once finances are not an issue.

Dave Ramsey’s Radio Show is broadcast on live radio, online as a tv show and radio, and as a podcast.

3. Social – There are more ways to count social than I can share. I’m part of a few closed groups on Facebook that allow me to connect with people who share similar interests.  Make it a point to spend time with people who have similar interests as you and help make you a better person.  When you hear yourself say to someone, “We should have lunch sometime,” put it on your calendars right then.  Make it happen.

4. Family – Read! (And in the case of podcasts, listen!)


Raising boys:

Raising girls:


5. Intellectual – The average millionaire reads one non-fiction book a month. Motivational speaker Charlie Jones said, “You’re the same today as you will be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” He’s right! Next to relationships, books can be our greatest teachers.  Here are some of Dave Ramsey’s Top Books to read, just for the fun of it:

  • Start With Why, by Simon Sinek
  • Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright
  • Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
  • The Advantage, by Pat Lencioni

Dave believes that reading is crucial to one’s success, so he has a required reading list. His new team members must read these five books within the first 90 days of employment. Matt and I have read a few of these books because they’re quality books.
This list includes :

  • QBQ! The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller
  • The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant by Terry Felber
  • Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
  • The Go-Getter by Peter B. Kyne
  • Rhinoceros Success by Scott Alexander
  • The Go-Giver by John David Mann and Bob Burg

In the “intellectual” category, I listen to “This American Life” and “Radio Lab” podcasts, but not all of the episodes. Only some of the topics are of interest to me.

6. Physical – I am not a lover of exercise, however, I love how exercise makes me feel (after I’ve finished). I believe that all forms of exercise are worthwhile, so I love it when trainers tell people to do whatever exercise they enjoy. I prefer doing “Insanity” and running. Before 2008 I would say I’d only run if I were being chased by a boogeyman. I had a neighbor tell me I needed to start running and I laughed out loud. In front of her! A few weeks later I was sitting in church in Colorado Springs and the speaker that night told his wife’s story of her running journey. I could NOT believe it! It was MY story, only she actually started running and just that year had run her first race. At that time ANY distance may as well have been a full marathon to me. I began running on my own and hurt myself terribly. I was running in 4-year-old tennis shoes (that’s how seldom I exercised… the shoes looked brand new, though they were totally worn out). I ended up injured and basically unable to walk for a week. That neighbor (who told me to start running) had to come over to haul my laundry up and downstairs for me! I got smart, then, and started over, with shoes fitted for me by a running shoe-store. I started out walking 5, running 1, and alternating for 30 minutes, and eventually ran a 5K in Colorado.  My best advice is to take it slowly and wear great shoes!  I’ve also read a book on how our cravings for food are tied to our spiritual walk.

  • Made to Crave by Lisa Terkeurst
  • C25K – Couch to 5K.  A great way to start running if you’ve never been a runner before, or if you have taken a long break.

7. Career – I will not be the most appropriate one to speak on careers if one defines career as a job you do outside the home. I am a homemaker, for lack of a better word, and I strive to be the best one I can be. Another of Zig Ziglar’s sayings is: “You are the only person on earth who can use your ability. It’s an awesome responsibility.” I feel completely called to be a stay at home mom, but your calling might be to be a Chaplain, a teacher, a nurse, a counselor, etc. Whatever it is, you are the only one who can use your ability. Use it well.

I separate my job as a homemaker from the “family” spoke because I have other resources to help me with my family. For the “career” spoke I look at the main tenants of running a household, and it is here that I find my most useful information to share with you… and I’m very excited about it!

Here I share with you what really got me excited about this presentation: a way to start fresh in the home; life-changing information; stuff that will make your day-to-day life easier and much more relaxing. That is, after you’ve put in the up-front effort.

Cooking: Seriously, why is it that my kids want to eat EVERY SINGLE DAY? I feed them, and then three hours (or three minutes) later, they’re hungry again!

When I first heard of Once A Month Cooking I loved the idea of cooking one day and feeding my family for a month. I am excited to tell you that I contacted the author and she sent me two books to use as a giveaway tonight. She wrote: “You might want to announce in your presentation that on the website at there is a free, downloadable one-week cycle of recipes that could be used to get someone started, or for a time when prep time is at a premium.”

I’ve removed some of their recipes from my rotation and added in some others. Even during seasons when I’m not using the OAMC strictly, I have adopted some great habits that I’ll likely never lose. For example, when I make spaghetti sauce, chili, or chicken tortilla soup, I always make a 12 qt. batch. We eat that for dinner the day I make it, and then I freeze the rest in 1 qt freezer bags. I can then make spaghetti, chili, or soup on any given night in very short time. And the things that go along with each of those meals are things I have on hand all the time: noodles, cheeses, crackers, etc. If I’m totally at a loss for a meal, I KNOW I can make one of those meals.

There are several different websites that have different meal plans, but the one I’ve mentioned tonight is the resource I have personally used.

Another great tool for cooking is a free, website-based menu plan. It has some flaws, but once I did the plan once and altered it to fit my family, it has been a Godsend. It’s called 40-Meals-in-Four-Hours. The best thing about these meals is that they’re all crockpot meals! I began this over the summer when my kids had soccer six nights a week. I found that we were eating McDonald’s on the way home because I was too hot and sweaty (and tired… my husband was deployed) to cook. I had used all the crockpot meals we normally use, and we were tired of them. I found the 40-Meals website and dug in! It was wonderful! Again, I made a few alterations for my family’s taste, and we’ve now done it a second round. So easy! (After the initial work of prepping the meals.)

Food storage/Grocery shopping: I’m not a born-nerd-organized person. My husband is. When he came back from Afghanistan in July he found that I had managed to organize our pantry and stock room in such a way that we never (or at least almost never) run out of anything. Here’s how I managed to do this. I was listening to a podcast that I absolutely LOVE. The author (speaker?) is PJ Jonas and when I found her podcast, I starting at the beginning and worked my way through all of them.  Her family is fun. They have 8 children and raise goats for a living, making goat milk soap and laundry detergents that are safe for people with severe eczema, like my son. Their company is called “Goat Milk Stuff.” On that page you can scroll down a bit and on the left you’ll see a link for the podcast.

Regarding the pantry organization: Let me give you a brief explanation so that you’ll know whether or not you’re interested in looking at that.
A)  I created a grocery shopping list on my computer that matched the order of my commissary. B)  I organized my stock room in the order that I find things in the commissary. C)  Before I go shopping every two weeks I print off a new shopping list and then walk to my stock room. I go through my list looking at the items and checking to see if I have those things. If I see that there’s no mustard on the shelf, I know I need to add that to my list. That way, when the mustard that is currently in the fridge runs out, there’s a replacement in the stock room. (I do this with all the non-perishable items in the stock room.) I then go to my freezer and fridge and do the same. I know I want to have two bags of chicken breasts, two boxes of garlic bread, 4 bags of frozen broccoli, etc. I mark down how many of each item I need to get my pantry restocked and then I’m done. It takes no more than 5 minutes to create my shopping list. PJ Jonas describes her pantry system in detail on her podcast called “Organize Your Pantry and Shopping List” and she even includes a PDF of her shopping list, which I edited to match my commissary and my family’s preferences.

Schedules: We homeschool, and therefore we must have a fairly rigid schedule in order to get all the boys’ work done, our chores done, and my exercising fit in. I found a great book that has helped me tremendously, and I want to share it here. I won’t go into great detail because the topic isn’t one that all of us deal with, like cooking and grocery shopping is! It’s called Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell, and if you are ever interested in reading more about how I implemented it in our household, I’ve blogged extensively about it.  In my blogs about this process I refer to this book as MOTH.

Chores: Another book by the same authors is called Managers of Their Chores. I believe that anyone with a child can benefit from this book, whether or not you homeschool. I’ve blogged about how we have implemented this book in our home . These books each cost $25 and I believe they’ve been worth much more than that to our family.

Housekeeping: Flylady’s method is by far the easiest way to care for your home. In my early days as a mom, I found that keeping a house and caring for three toddlers ages 4, 3, and 2 was pretty tough. At that time I needed something to help me out and when I discovered Flylady, I found hope! This may sound dramatic, but honestly, her methods changed my life! The basic idea is that you can do anything for 15 minutes. Go to bed with a clean sink, swish-and-swipe your bathroom daily, and use baby steps to accomplish big goals. “Your home did not get dirty in one day, and it will not get clean in a day either.” Apparently I need baby steps in many areas of my life! Both Dave Ramsey and Marla Cilley utilize baby steps in their programs! Marla, since 1999, “has been a mentor to over half a million women teaching them how to organize their homes and how to love themselves.”  I got to meet the Flylady last week and I am still a little starstruck!

I believe it all comes back down to the quote I presented at the start:

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.  ~Zig Ziglar

These ideas will help you plan where you want to go, and provide methods of getting there. Otherwise, you’ll end up somewhere else.  If you have great tips, please add them in the comment section.

And kudos to you, for making it to the bottom of this 3000+ word blog post!

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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1 Response to Fresh Start 2015 – Chaplain Spouse Presentation

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’ve run across another resource:
    It’s called, “Faith, Hope, Love, and Deployment”
    A fellow blogger write this review and it has convinced me that it’s a devotional I need:

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