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.

The Most Awkward Sales Pitch Ever

Photo by DS Williams (Creative Commons)

A few weeks ago, I was cooking dinner when our doorbell rang. I answered the door, and found a young (late teens-early twenties) girl, dressed sloppily, with a bag full of bottles of what appeared to be cleaning solution. She did not introduce herself, but instead immediately jumped into a sales pitch by asking “What is the hardest part of cleaning your home…windows? bathrooms? carpet?” When I answered that it was “trying to maintain a semblance of clean with a toddler running around”, she said “Oh, do you have any carpet stains you’d like me to get out for you?” I told her “No, thank you” and was ready to close the door when she continued her pitch.

She talked about all the perks of her cleaning solution, how it was made, on what surfaces it was safe for use, and more. Then, right as my toddler walked over, she opened one of the spray bottles and put the plastic tube in her mouth to LICK OFF THE CLEANER! This was her way of showing me that this product was non-toxic and therefore safe if my toddler happened to get into it. Ummm…really???  YIKES and EWWWWWW!

This has to have been one of the most awkward sales pitches I’ve ever witnessed. Did I buy her product? NO WAY! Honestly, I almost called the police when she left my house. There is, in fact, a No Soliciting sign at the entrance to our neighborhood.

As a sales consultant for one of the most well-known and respected Direct Marketing companies (Mary Kay Cosmetics), I often worry about being too sales-y when talking with new people or doing facials and skin care parties. I don’t ever want to come off as pushy or overly selling my product. Instead, I want people to see that I have a great product about which I’m passionate. I want them to try the product for themselves, and to feel confident in their decision to purchase (or not) the items from me. I think that’s why I often stop myself before I approach a potential new client when I’m out and about. I don’t want to seem fake. I want to have a genuine conversation with women and for them to feel like I was truly interested in what they had to say. I want to be respectful of their time…yet I also want to be able to offer a sample or my business card without being pushy or awkward about it.

In contrast to the desperation I saw in the girl trying to sell cleaning products, 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. You see, being a Mary Kay consultant isn’t just about making money to me. 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!

Tell me: What are the BEST and WORST sales pitches ever thrown your way?

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?