A Year in Review: Intentional

Photo Credit: marianna armata (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: marianna armata (Creative Commons)

 

Way back in January, I decided that my word for 2014 would be intentional. I listed several areas in which I wanted to be more intentional with the way I spent my time. So…how did I do?

Before I get to the specific areas, I want to just come right out and say, I started the year strong, but really fizzled out pretty quickly. I still spent way too much time on unimportant things, or just not being intentional about my time.

Here are the areas I wanted to be intentional in:

  1. My relationship with my husband – This year turned out a LOT different that I planned, in a lot of ways.  But I do believe that my husband and I have a stronger relationship today than we did a year ago. We are talking more, not just sitting next to each other (though, that happens too!), we are learning to depend on each other more, and more importantly, to depend on God more. What could we have done differently to make this year better? More intentional time together away from the kids…date nights, maybe even a weekend away here and there.
  2. My relationship with my children – Wow…this one is hard for me. There are days that I feel I did REALLY well here, and there are days that I feel I failed miserably. Don’t we all feel that way sometimes though, mamas? I do think I’m still learning and growing here, though. I think I’ve become a more observant, attentive parent this year, I’ve learned things about my kids, and I’m enjoying them more. I still need to work on this area, and one way I know I can do that is by spending more focused time with each of them individually.
  3. My relationship with God – I started out so strong here, and fizzled so quickly. I’ve let the demands of my day, the busy-ness of my life, the exhaustion of mommyhood fill me…instead of seeking to allow God to fill me. Sure…I have days (even weeks) where I truly seek Him…and then I have days/weeks/months at a time when I barely crack open my bible (electronic or actual pages). I do believe that my prayer life is stronger, as I find myself praying regularly throughout the day…whether a praise, prayer of thanks, or call of “HELP ME!!!”
  4. Reading/completing books – I’ve actually done OK here. No, I’m not reading every day…but so far, I’ve finished all but one book this year (the one I’m reading now…I have 4 days, maybe I’ll actually finish it before year-end?). I’ve read a mix of fiction and non-fiction books…books that have challenged me, encouraged me, and even some that simply entertained me. I look forward to reading more in the new year.
  5. Making my house a home – I started out the year printing a cleaning schedule. I knew I’d have to slowly work my way up to completely every task every day…but I was doing a decent job of doing a few cleaning tasks each day. Then, we decided to put our house on the market, and the cleaning got intense. I really felt like all I did was clean for a couple of months. We moved in August, and I’ve made it a goal to try to keep up with laundry and dishes…but there is SO MUCH more I could do every single day. I could do a much better job of cleaning up after my kids (and getting them to clean up after themselves), as well as general pick-up/cleaning throughout the day. But…I don’t want cleaning to be the only thing I do all day. So, I’m still working on finding the balance.

Overall, I actually feel that I did better than I originally thought. However, I still see room for improvement in all 5 areas, and that’s why I’ve decided that intentional will once again be my word for 2015. I’m going to do things a little differently this time around. For starters, I have 2 sweet friends who will be praying for me, checking in, and holding me accountable, and I will be doing the same for them.  Also, I will be making my relationship with God the most important priority. I know that none of the other items on my list will work if He is not first in my life.

What was your word for 2014? How did you do?

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?

In the Morning When I Rise

Photo by Alejandro Erickson (Creative Commons)

Photo by Alejandro Erickson (Creative Commons)

In the morning when I rise

In the morning when I rise

In the morning when I rise

Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus

You can have all this world

Give me Jesus

(Give Me Jesus – Fernando Ortega)

Yep…it’s been a LONG time since I last posted. I can’t promise to be a consistent blogger (obviously), but I think I have found a reason to post at least somewhat consistently. This is my story…

For the past 6 months or so, I have been involved in an online community of women who desire to maximize their mornings by waking early enough to spend some quality time studying Scripture, exercising, and even planning out the day. All of this before the kids wake up! Unfortunately, in the past 6 months, I’ve also dealt with the extreme exhaustion of pregnancy in the third trimester, childbirth, and life with a newborn and a three-year-old. Needless to say, I have struggled to wake up earlier than my family. I have done well for a week or two, then fallen behind for a day, week, or month. I am so thankful that this isn’t about me being perfectly consistent…because I am obviously anything but perfectly consistent.

What I have discovered is that on the days when I made my mornings a priority, my entire day seemed to go more smoothly. My daughter was still a three-year-old with all the same fun and challenges as before…but I was more equipped to handle all of it! My house was still a mess…but I wasn’t so stressed about it because I had a plan for working on my mess. My body was still tired, my baby still cried, my days still crazy…but God filled me up each morning with peace, and I was reminded throughout the day that His grace was sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). I also discovered that on the days that started with my sleeping in til my daughter woke me up, I often woke up cranky, exhausted, and not ready to deal with the day. It took me longer to feel up to the task of parenting, I was resentful of my messes, my temper was shorter, and my day seemed full of chaos.

Why am I telling you this? Because I am going to try again. I have felt the Lord nudging my heart to make my mornings with Him a priority in my my day. I have heard Him calling, and I have decided to answer. So, starting May 6, I will be participating in my third challenge with the Hello Mornings community (HMC). For thirteen weeks (May 6-August 2), I am committing to waking up before my family (or at least before my 3 year old, since the baby is still somewhat inconsistent in his morning waking times). I am committing to spending time each morning reading and studying the book of John, using the Meet Jesus study guide from HMC. I’m telling all of you because I need all the accountability I can get. HMC provides accountability through my online small group (the group I’ve joined is on facebook, but there are also twitter groups available)…but I’m also asking you, my only blog reader, to hold me to this! Ask me about it. Pray for me. Encourage me to write an update every so often about what the Lord is teaching me.

If you’d like to join me in committing to spend time with Jesus, just head over to Hello Mornings to register! Registration is open until Friday May 3…but groups fill up quickly! I am excited to see what path the Lord has in store for me in the next three months, and I hope you will join me!

Christian Community

Listening to that Still Small Voice

Image

Photo by hfreesartography (Creative Commons)

Wow, it’s been a while since I last posted. Sorry about that! A lot has happened in the last 4 months (yikes!). Here’s a quick little update for those of you who care:

  1. We’re pregnant! Yep…soon after my last post, I discovered that I was expecting. I am 21 weeks,and so far, everything seems to be going perfectly. Thankful.
  2. I traveled to Dallas, TX to Mary Kay’s annual Seminar. Seminar was 4 fun, exciting, and learning packed days. I had the opportunity to meet National Sales Directors, hang out with my Sales Director and her Director friends, as well as build relationships with fellow consultants. I am so thankful for this trip. (I’ll blog more about that another time)
  3. I have decided to work on being more of a morning person. Yep…if you know me, you know how much I loathe mornings. But, I have felt the Lord pulling on my heart to start my days with Him. That is what today’s post is about.

I started this blog as a way to share what I’m learning through my Quiet times, as well as other stories from my fun-filled crazy life as a stay-at-home mom. Soon enough, though, I found my Quiet times were getting further and further apart. I was just not consistent…never have been, really. In the past few months, I have been feeling a tug on my heart to truly spend time studying God’s word, praying, and listening to HIm. When was I going to do those things, though? First I thought I’d use my daughter’s nap time…but that soon proved to be ineffective. So then I thought “I’ll do it after she goes to bed at night,” but by that point most evenings, I just want to veg on the couch and pretty much do nothing. My brain has shut down for the day, and I want to spend time with my husband. Suddenly, I realized I was hearing a whisper that said “how about first thing in the morning?” Yes, the Lord was prompting me to wake up early.

Well, I’m just over 3 weeks into my new journey. How am I doing? I’ll be honest…it is TOUGH most mornings to get myself out of bed. I am finding, though, that the more consistent I am with going to bed at a decent time and getting up at the first alarm, instead of hitting snooze, the easier it becomes. I haven’t yet perfected my morning routine…but I’m figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Going to bed at midnight, then getting up at 6:00 does. not. work. To feel even remotely rested at 6:00, I have to be in bed by 10:30.
  2. Having the coffee pot ready to go the night before makes it so much easier in the morning. My grinder is LOUD. I don’t want to wake the rest of the house, so I need to grind my coffee and have it ready to go before my head hits the pillow.
  3. My 3 year old is so much sweeter, cuter, more adorable when I’ve been up a while before she gets out of bed. So many days that I’ve let her be my alarm clock have started on the wrong foot. My patience, while still not great, is better when I’m up and awake before her feet hit the floor.

What are some things you’ve come to realize as a result of listening to the nudges of the Holy Spirit in your life?

 

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.

Patience for my Mommy Heart

Photo by Jake Bellucci (Creative Commons)

Have you ever prayed for patience, then regretted it as soon as the words came out of your mouth? I have. Why? Because I know that the way the Lord teaches me patience is by putting me smack in the middle of a situation that requires patience.

Just the other day, we decided to start Potty Training, Round 2 with our 2 1/2 year old. The night before our 3-day journey began, my husband prayed that God would give me patience through the process. I very audibly, and very irreverently, sighed “Great“. After the prayer was over, I looked at him and asked if he knew what he had done. I truly believed he’d set us up for MAJOR failure on day one.

I am SO thankful to say that I was wrong. I honestly don’t know if God gave me an extra dose of patience that day, or if day one was truly not as in-need of patience as I expected. I do know that throughout the process, I have been able to catch myself pre-loss-of-patience, then refocus and move on. That has been a HUGE blessing to me…and I’m sure to my daughter as well.

I do believe that my daily Scripture reading has been an important part of my increased patience through this process. Almost every morning, it seems I am waking up before my daughter. As I lie in bed, mentally preparing myself for the day to come and trying to pry my eyes open, I turn on my iPod, open the Bible app, and read 4 chapters from the Psalms. And every single day, it seems that there is one verse, sometimes two, that jumps out at me. Usually something about God being my salvation, redeemer; or about His love and peace… I am so thankful for His reminders every morning!

A few of my favorite verses from the last few days (taken from the English Standard Version):

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14