Intentional – My Word for 2014

As I sat Tuesday night reflecting on the amazing year that 2013 was for my family and me, I also had to think about the things I wish I had done differently. Sure, I could have changed things at any point throughout the year, but as I thought about all the good and bad of last year, I knew I had to make some changes this year. When I wrote out my goals, I noticed a common theme – being intentional.
I’ve decided I’m done just floating through my days, feeling frustrated at my lack of accomplishment or just being in the room with someone, but not really being WITH them. So, my goals for this year are to be more intentional about the ways I spend my time.

I want to be INTENTIONAL about spending quality time with my husband. Not just sitting next to him on the couch while we both play on our phones or watch a movie together…but talking to him, loving him the way he deserves…being the wife God designed me to be (and yes, I’m sure that means submitting more).

I want to be INTENTIONAL about the time I spend with my children. I spend so many precious moments with them, sitting in the same room, but not really doing anything WITH them. I want to show them how much they mean to me by playing with them, reading to them, teaching them.

I want to be INTENTIONAL about growing my relationship with God. Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible. Studying His word – on my own and with others. Diving deeper in my commitment and surrender to His will.

I want to be INTENTIONAL about reading. I once set a goal to read 2 books every month – 1 fiction and 1 nonfiction. I think I made it 2 months before I gave up. This year, I just want to finish every book that I start. I haven’t set a certain number of books because I know that life with little ones sometimes gets in the way…but I love to read and I want to get back into the habit of readin often.

I want to be INTENTIONAL about making my house a home. I HATE to clean…actually, hate may not even be a strong enough word. I’ve never understood people who say that cleaning their house is a stress relieving activity. However, having a dirty, messy, cluttered house is definitely NOT stress relieving! No…I don’t want my house to be spotless, model-home clean. But I do want it to be clean enough that I am not embarrassed to invite people over. I want to keep up with the dishes in the sink, to spend a little time each day picking up the messes.

I’m going to pick 1-2 of these goals to really focus on each month this year. I’m going to make living my life – participating, not just watching – a priority this year.

What are you being intentional about this year? What is your word for the 2014?

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Thankfulness

Photo by Cindi Albright (Creative Commons)

Are you thankful? I mean really, truly thankful? Merriam-Webster defines “Thankful” as:

1. conscious of benefit received

2. expressive of thanks

3. well-pleased : glad

This month, our church is doing a series through the book of Psalms. This morning, we focused on Psalm 71. While the Psalm does not necessarily say “Thank You” to God, the psalmist does list many of the things the Lord has done for him. It is evident through the words that this man is thankful.

At the end of today’s sermon a question was asked that resonated with my soul, and was actually quite convicting.

Are you a thankful person? Do you compliment more than you complain? Is the cry of your heart one of thanksgiving to God?

Ouch. Personally, I know that I try to live my life in a way that shows my thankfulness…but I know that I have days where I complain a lot. I pray that those days are few and far between, because when I look at my life, I have so much for which to be thankful. Here are just a few of my many blessings:

My salvation through Christ

My amazing family and friends

My handsome husband

My beautiful daughter

My home

Food to eat and clothes to wear

My church families – from all of the churches I have been privileged to be a part

The list could go on.

What are 3 things for which you are thankful today?

Challenge for the week: Let’s try to compliment more than we complain.

Mom…

Photo by Angela (Creative Commons)

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. I’ll be honest and say that my family really doesn’t do much to celebrate this particular holiday (or the dad’s equivalent next month), but that doesn’t mean that we don’t love the moms in our lives. Here are just a few things about my mom that make her special:

  • She loves my sister & me unconditionally. Even when we did the dumbest things, we knew that she would still love us. Sure…she would dole out the appropriate discipline, but I never once doubted her love
  • She was willing to discipline us when we messed up. If that meant we didn’t get to play with friends, missed out on driving privileges, got grounded from all activities other than church and school, or received a spanking. If my mom said “If you do that one more time, you’re going to _______”, we got whatever was at the end of that sentence.
  • She let us be kids…even when it meant we made a mess or broke something. I vividly remember that we had these HUGE pillows (I have no idea where they came from or what their intended purpose was). I used those pillows as my gymnastics landing mats, as I did flips and jumps off the stairs, couches, or floor. One day, while doing a handstand against the wall, my hands slipped out from under me and my rear end went through (yes, through) the wall. There was a giant hole in the wall…much bigger than my behind. Sure…my mom was upset…but if I remember correctly, she also laughed once she knew I was OK.
  • My mom still lets me call her “Mommy”. At almost 34 years old, “mom” just doesn’t fit…
  • My mom was my parent when I was a child, and now that I’m an adult, and a mom, she is my friend.
  • I haven’t even begun to calculate the hours I know she spent praying for us, with us, and over us. And the example she set in living out her faith.
Thanks, Mommy, for being you. I’ve always been, and always will be a “Mommy’s-girl” at heart. 🙂

What about your mom? In the comments, tell me something that makes your mom special.

My Three Most Important Things

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ending to my post about awkward sales pitches. In the last paragraph of that post, I said:

“I want the women I approach to see passion, hope, and joy in my eyes. I want them to see a woman who, even if she’s running errands with her  two year old, is composed, confident, and approachable.”

Followed shortly by:

“It is an experience that has given me confidence and has helped me to grow as a wife and mom. I’ve gained friendships and been pushed out of my comfort zones. I’ve learned to think positively about life, and to laugh off some of the stressful days (OK, so I’m not always laughing in the midst of the stress, but usually a day or two later, I can look back and laugh about how stressed I was over something so minor). Because of those things, I don’t want to be a walking sales pitch. I want to share the joy I’ve found with other women!”

I’ve realized that I said these things about my Mary Kay business, but am I able to say the same things about my relationship with Christ? You see, even before Mary Kay became a part of my life, Jesus came into my life. And my relationship with Him should be so much more important to me than anything else. In fact, I’m even encouraged to run my business with the mindset of God first, Family second, and Career third. The strong Christian values are one of the things that drew me to Mary Kay when I began looking for a small work-from-home business. However, as I sit here typing this today, reflecting on my life and priorities, I have to wonder…am I really living out God first, Family second, Career third? I’ll be honest, I think I tend to put my Family first, and then let God and Career flip-flop for second and third position.

So, today, I’m making a commitment. I am going to spend time every. single. day reading Scripture, praying, and listening to what God has for me. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, that’s more than I’m doing every day right now. Then, I’ll keep my Family in second place, and focus on my Career last.

Question: How do you keep your priorities in the proper order?

You Can Do It!

I had an AMAZING weekend! It was full of encouragement, friends, business ideas, and so much more. Friday night and Saturday, I went to my first ever Mary Kay Career Conference in Knoxville.  I am SO glad that I decided to go!

The theme of the weekend was “You Can Do It”, which is exactly what I need to be my focus. As I’ve shared in my posts on Doubt, I so often allow the fears in my heart (fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of saying the wrong thing) to stop me in my business. What I heard this weekend was that these fears are common, almost everyone has them, or has dealt with them! Sales Directors and National Sales Directors (the top women in Mary Kay) talked about how they dealt with these fears, and what they did to overcome them. One of them even talked about many of the mistakes she had made in her career, and followed each one with “you, too, can be a National Sales Director.”

Here are some of the main points that I brought home this weekend:

  • Get out of your own way – STOP making excuses! Excuses are lies only you believe.
  • Do something TODAY that will move you forward
  • Step out of your comfort zone, do what others are unwilling to do
  • You’ll never get anywhere if you wait for all the lights to turn green before you leave.
  • I have everything to gain and nothing to lose by taking the next step
  • Make the choice that your dream is bigger than your challenges
  • You don’t have the right to give up on the dream that God has put in your heart
  • Never give up on your dream
  • Enjoy the journey you are on
  • Do the work!

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, those points aren’t just great for a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, but they apply to anyone and everyone who has a dream. We are each designed with specific strengths and weaknesses, and God has given each of us a dream. Does that mean that our dream will always be easy? No way! Achieving a dream or goal takes work…and sometimes that work is hard! Sometimes it requires doing things we’re not comfortable doing because we’re not very good at them. Sometimes we have to do things that are scary. However, if we keep making excuses, we’ll never get anywhere! We’ll never reach our goals when we aren’t willing to take the first step toward our goals.

What is a goal or dream you have in your life? Are you allowing fear or doubt to stop you from achieving that goal? Do any of the points above resonate with you? Which one? What are you going to do about it? (OK, I know, that’s a lot of questions. Feel free to answer the first two or three to yourself and the last two in the comments.)

Sorrow Before Joy

To be so early in the year, 2012 has been a roller coaster for my family.  In the past two-and-a-half months, we have had big highs and even bigger lows. A quick rundown for you:

  1.  In late December 2011, we found out we were expecting baby #2.
  2.  3 1/2 weeks later, it was mid-January. My Mamaw went into the hospital. Two days after, we went to our first OB appointment, baby measured 2 weeks behind schedule. I flipped out. Late that afternoon, my Mamaw passed away. At the end of that week, we traveled to be with family for the funeral and to say our final good-byes.
  3.  At the end of January, we went to our second OB appointment, hoping for good news. We left the appointment devastated and in shock that we will never meet our sweet baby.  We scheduled the D & C for later that week.
  4.  In early February, we headed to the hospital for the D & C. An ultrasound confirmed what we already knew…our baby stopped growing at 6 weeks gestation. At this point I totally lost it. I cried for the rest of that day, and off/on for several days to come.
  5.  Mid-February…Quitter Conference! This was a great weekend, focused on finding and chasing your dreams. We met some amazing people, and learned so much about making dreams a reality. We also had a great date night that week…which was SO needed after our January!

The end of February and first half of March have been pretty low-key, thank goodness! We have had time to really work through a lot of our emotions surrounding the miscarriage, and to begin the healing process. I’ve also been reminded that God knows my heart, my fears, and my joys. He also knows exactly what I need to remember that He is in control, not me. Last week, a family expecting their second child around the same time that I would have been due announced the gender of their baby. While I am truly excited for this family, when I read that announcement, my eyes welled up with tears. I cried uncontrollably for several minutes, grieving the loss of my own child. Once I was able to wipe the tears and “Like” the facebook announcement, I began to chuckle. You see, earlier that morning, I had told a good friend of mine that I felt like my hormones and emotions were finally starting to even out. I felt like I was finally starting to be more like myself, instead of this crazy hormonally emotional person that the pregnancy and miscarriage had created. I laughed as I realized that not only was I wrong, I had obviously been made a liar that day. It was a good reminder that I had been depending too much on my own strength in this process. I still need God every single day as I navigate my life’s journey.

I found this verse today, and though I normally post Scripture from the New American Standard Bible or English Standard Version, I really like the way The Message is worded here:

Psalm 30:5b – The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.

I LOVE that! I have definitely had a few nights (and days) of crying my eyes out this year. But now, I’m starting to see those days of laughter more and more. The Lord is good, and He is healing my broken heart as only He can.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
     and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
  to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
     to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3 (ESV) (emphasis added)

Have you ever had a night of crying your eyes out give way to a day of laughter? How has God bound your broken heart?

Words of Affirmation

Tuesday is one of my busiest, yet one of my favorite days of the week.  Tuesday mornings are full of fellowship and encouragement with other moms, as well as a time of digging deeper into Scripture to find how God’s word applies to this most important job of being Mom. Then, every Tuesday night, I rush through dinner, then leave my husband and daughter at home to make cookies while I go to my weekly Mary Kay Girls NIght Out. This is when the unit I’m in gets together to talk about the previous week, pamper our guests, and get some amazing training.

Each Tuesday night, our Sales Director starts the meeting by introducing herself. She doesn’t just say “Welcome to Girls Night Out, I’m Suzy Sales Director”.  Instead, she says “I am the motivated, God-inspired, Kingdom-minded, disciplined, determined, and blessed beyond belief Suzy Sales Director”.  I once asked her how she ever came up with such an introduction.  She told me it was her personal affirmation, one way that she keeps her mind from believing the negative things we all like to think about ourselves.

What we think about becomes what we do or believe.  If I am constantly thinking about how tired I am and how much I wish I were sleeping, my body is going to respond by acting tired, craving naps, and just not being alert.  However, if I start my day thinking about how blessed I am to have woken up, the fun things I get to do that day with my little girl, and the opportunities that await, I am more likely to be excited about the day.  Will it automatically make my eyes stay open before I’ve had my morning coffee?  Maybe not…but it will make it so much easier for me to focus on the important things around me.

I have been thinking about writing my own personal affirmation.  This would be something that I would stand in front of my mirror and recite out loud every day.  Yes, that means I would be talking to myself, but I’ve found it to be so much easier to change my thinking when my ears actually hear the change.  Plus, your mind can’t shout louder than your mouth!  When I asked my Sales Director about her affirmations, she said that she simply used words that describe what she wants to be.  It may not always describe how she feels that day or the way she acted, but it is what she is striving for.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:  I am the confident, organized, motivated, God-inspired Kristal Woods.  Of course, as I grow and change, I may add to or change some of that…but I think I’ve got a pretty good start.

What about you?  What are your personal words of affirmation?