Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quiet Your Space

Have you heard of the concept of "quieting your space?"

It simply means removing the things from your room that you don't love.

My front room has been feeling too cluttered.  When I walk in it does not greet me with the peaceful feeling that I'm trying to create in our home.  The problem was my wicker rocking chair.  It was blocking the window and we just don't use it anymore.  So I did something really hard.  I removed the rocking chair.  And guess what happened?  I feel like the room looks a million times fresher, bigger, brighter and happier.

I did the same thing in my living room.  It was feeling tired and blah so I removed the area rug, the coffee table, and an ottoman that had a hole in it.  Same results-the area looks so much cleaner and brighter.

If you have a room or space in your home that is in need of a little loving-try removing some things and see if it doesn't perk the room right up.  I know it is hard to get rid of stuff, especially if it has sentimental memories attached to it, but I really think I am finding that a peaceful space is more rewarding than too much clutter crowding out the life we're living today.

As much as I adore Pinterest and am always adding more, more, more to my boards, it is interesting that a key concept to creating a home I love involves removing to make space for less, less, less.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bad Dreams

Sometimes the kids get scared at bedtime.

They had a bad dream or saw something scary and when it's time for lights out their little hearts are fearful.

When this happens at my house the selfish part of me feels bummed out.  At the end of the day I am ready to disengage and be done.  I'm ready to hang up the mom hat and put on the relax hat.

Times like this remind me that in my own strength I can't be the mother God wants me to be.  They remind me of how it is such a blessed gift that I can lean on His Grace & Strength to love in those tiring moments when I feel spent.

It feels like we stumbled onto an effective remedy to this problem by accident but looking back I am sure it was the leading of the Holy Spirit.

One night my son was unusually fearful at bedtime.  The night before he had a scary dream and so this particular night he did not want me to leave nor did he want to be left alone in the dark.  We did two simple things that changed the atmosphere of his world and allowed him to fall asleep peacefully.

The name of Jesus.
The first thing we shared with our son is about the power of the name of Jesus.  We let him know that when we call on Jesus the enemy has to flee.  Maybe he knew that already, maybe not.  Either way,  we wanted him to know that the name of Jesus is powerful and always just a spoken word away.

Worship music on YouTube.
The next thing we did was pull up worship music on the phone and we let the words fill the air and change the atmosphere.  A worship Pandora station would also work.  It was quick for me to grab my phone and pull up a couple songs and for about 20 minutes we sat quietly listening to truth about God.  This song is one of our favorites to play when the kids get scared.

This is one of the most valuable tools we as believers have in our arsenal and oftentimes it can be one of the most forgotten and underused weapons.  Pray not only for peace, but also for God to reveal anything in your home or your child's life that could be causing the fearful thoughts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My 5 Day Game Changer

Over the course of the last 14 years I have changed up how I handle the grocery budget and shopping many times.  As our family grows the challenge to be a good manager of my resources has also grown.  I've done it all-once a month shopping trips, twice a month, weekly, you name it and I've tried it.

It seems like there is always a good handful of days at the end of the month where the grocery money has been spent and the cupboard is bare and I still have mouths to feed.  When this happens it discourages me because it is evidence that I didn't do a good job at managing my resources for that month.


I have discovered a game changer that is working like a charm for me.

In the old plan (the one that failed me, as in most months except February) I would divide my month and grocery money into four weeks and make four trips to the grocery store.  It was overwhelming to think of that many meals for me, and inevitably, there would be that pesky half-week at the end of the month I hadn't planned well for.

So you know what I did?

I started dividing my month into 5 day segments.  That means 6 trips to the store.  And I divided my grocery budget by 6.  Now I am taking 6 trips to the store and it is helping me really pick and choose wisely what we need for the week.

So for instance, if your budget is $600 for the month and you decide to divide up into 5 day segments, you'd have $100 for each trip!

We have discovered the Kids Eat Free places in town where we can all eat for under $20 and I am sure to include that in my 5 day rotations.

I'm not sure why it has been so much more freeing and less overwhelming to shorten my shopping trips to every 5 days but it really has worked wonders for me.

Last month I even had a spare $20 at the end and guess what?  I used it to buy some plants for my front flower bed!  Now that was a great feeling!!!

If menu planning/grocery shopping/and being a good steward of your resources is challenging for you, I highly recommend trying to rethink your current system.  It is crazy to me that I still am working with the same budget and the same days in each month, but by re-working how I plan for it, it has given me freedom.  (it's also easier to keep the fresh produce and meats handy)

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Art of Life

It's Monday morning and we're barely stirring and the day already feels hard.

Sometimes people say they don't know how I do it.  I get embarrassed because so many things get left undone in the course of a day.  I love my life but a lot of the time I feel like I'm failing and doing a terrible job at what I'm supposed to be doing.  Somehow, I think acknowledging that it is the hardest thing I've ever done might take away some of the glory from God or make me sound like I'm complaining, which I don't want to do, so I don't often talk about the hard parts of my job.

There are dishes, floors that constantly need to be swept, fights to break up, lessons to teach, clothes to wash, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, diapers that need changing, nails that need trimmed, piles of paper, meals to be planned and shopped for, toilets that need attention, I could go on and on but you get the idea. 

Yes, it is a lot.  It is a busy life.  Several years ago a couple of my friends gave me the best advice that has stuck with me and come to mind so many times.

My friends told me not to look at other people and feel condemnation because I don't think I could do what they do.  They said that line of thinking is wrong.  I probably couldn't do what you're doing because God hasn't given me the Grace to accomplish those specific things.  He has given me the Grace to accomplish what He's asked me to do and He's given you the Grace to accomplish what He's asked you to do.  His Grace fills in the gaps where our human hands leave holes. 

Creating spaces that fill me up is something that I can do even in the midst of the busyness and messes.  This morning my son looked at me and said, "Mom, are you OK?  Do you need a drink?"  I'm assuming he was asking if I needed some coffee but I also know it's 5 o'clock somewhere.  Funny moments like this are part of each and every day of mine.
Keeping God's Word and encouraging books near are also part of my every day.  I think it is so important to stay encouraged and to continually be filling my thoughts with pure and holy things.  The hard stuff fights to crowd out all of my thoughts.  Replacing it with the good and lovely takes me being proactive.  It comes in 5 minutes here and 10 interrupted minutes there.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Leaning Artwork

As I look around my house I notice a decorating approach I've used several times.  I've started leaning artwork and d├ęcor against the walls.  I like the way it gives a casual and laid back feel to the room.  It is super simple.  When I don't have the time or energy to find an anchor and a stud, I just prop the artwork against the wall and I am done.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to spruce up my mantle for spring.  It was so fun to take everything off of the mantle and pull out some brighter and cheerier things.  I leaned this pear painting against the wall and then leaned an old window on top of it.

I'd say the only drawback to leaning artwork is that it is not super stable.  One game of indoor football or Frisbee gone wrong and you could be left with a broken piece of art or maybe even an injury.

I've been thinking of this concept of leaning quite a bit.  Scripture tells me not to lean on my understanding of situations. I find that my nature leads me to do the opposite.  I end up relying on my insight into the situation as my first go-to. 

Instead of applying Scripture to my circumstance, often times I ignore what would ultimately bring me into a place of obedience and blessing because I've asked the wrong questions and placed my confidence in the wrong thing.

So how then is it possible to redirect the thoughts and place them in their rightful place?

It begins by stepping back and asking yourself one very important question.
What have I attached myself to in this situation? 

Is my focus on my disappointment?  Is it on the thing that is lacking?  Is it on my fear of moving into the direction I feel He is leading me?  Have I attached my thoughts to the fear that something new is going to fail me?

Fear keeps a life small.

Our little unspoken thoughts (as well as the spoken ones) can trip us up.  If our thoughts are leading us down any path other than the one that takes us to the trustworthiness of Jesus, then we can be sure we've attached ourselves to the wrong line of questioning and thinking.

Processing the new, processing what has already taken place, processing that new direction, all of these things should lead us to a different place.  Not to the place of our understanding of the situation but to the place of the reliability of Jesus.  He has a path marked for us, and we can be confident that He will make our path straight as we keep redirecting our focus towards Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6