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?

 

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?

Finding Your Inner-Artist

Photo by tsand (Creative Commons)

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded the Draw Something app on my iPod Touch. Since then, I have struggled to draw accurate portrayals of everything from a worm to the Rugrats (linked for those of you far younger than me who may not remember the show). I have also had to guess some pretty interesting artistic expressions of words like chef, fairy, peacock, and more. This app has been so much fun, but has also caused a little frustration here and there as I try my hardest to draw or guess the given word.

Here’s the funny part, though: I have NEVER considered myself creative, artistic, or to have the ability to draw ANYTHING! Sure, the kids I taught in Kindergarten (and my own 2 1/2 year old daughter) think I can draw an amazing stick person, firetruck, or tree. Ask me to draw something that isn’t a basic shape, however, and you never know what might show up on the page.

Put my lack of artistic ability together with my new-found app addiction, and you can see where I get the title of this post. I have actually drawn some pictures that I’ve been quite proud of…and a few that I wanted to send an “I’m sorry this is so bad…the answer is _______” message along with the image. I wish I would remember to take screenshots of these pictures to share. I’m sure you would get a kick out of them.

Now that I have developed the Draw Something addiction, I guess I’ll have to add it to my list of other app addictions (Words with Friends, anyone?). As if I needed more things to keep my mind off the tasks I need to be doing. This week, I’m going to have to work on setting aside specific times of the day to play my games. Maybe I’ll turn the notifications off so that I don’t get bombarded all day by dings and badges yelling that it’s my turn.

What are your biggest time-stealers? What tips have you found to help you keep your time well-managed?