The Center of Our Home-Where Things Change

The center of our new home is literally my great room coffee table.  Our home is a very open concept, so you walk in the front door to a large entry from which you just flow right into the dining room, great room and kitchen.  I LOVE IT.  And literally in the middle sits my coffee table.

Advent has been a part of my family Christmas off and on for most of my life.  As a pastor my dad loved to include the advent candle as part of our worship.  Some years we did the same at home, others not.  With my own children we have attempted some form of Advent each year.  When they were young it was about the Advent Calendar.  My mother-in-law purchased a wonderful nativity scene advent calendar from World Crafts years ago.  My children loved trying to figure out which pieces to put in the pockets so the story unfolded correctly.  We also used the Advent box purchased through Family Life, where the children open a new gift box each year.  As they grew it sometimes amounted to nothing more than reading the daily scripture.  Then, last year I came upon Ann Voskamp’s, “The Greatest Gift”.  We purchased an Advent Wreath and candles.  We are using the same this year and have added to it our “Gather Round” from Barbara Rainey’s Ever Thine Home and the “post-it” notes provided on Ann Voskamp’s website.  (Each morning after reading the “post it ” reminder, we place it on the Gather Round Wreath.)

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It is here our hearts are stirred.  It is here our minds are cleared.  It is here the quiet settles in and His truth permeates the stillness.  The center of my home is where things change.  Each morning the “post it” cards prompt us to new thoughts, transforming thoughts and action.  Action following love, the love He imparts through grace.  Each evening our spirits are quieted as we stop to relinquish the day, prepare for rest.  Life may get messy in between.  We will fall short of His glory.  We may even lose sight of Christmas, but this place, this centering spot, brings us back.

If Advent has not been a part of your Christmas, head over to Holly Gerth’s site (see the button over on the side).  Today is a round up of Advent Resources.  You are sure to find something.  You won’t regret adding this to your traditions.  And remember, if you miss a night, life goes on, don’t give in, just pick back up.

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Truth for Daughters-And Mom Needs to Hear It Too

I was up at 3:00 a.m.  The doubts, the fears, the wondering…  How easily we fall prey.  Add menopause in the mix and getting a good night’s sleep seems truly elusive.  Then, this message.  The one that tugged at my heart and spoke to the depths of my womanhood.  I printed this devotional message and placed it in the journals I keep for my girls.  They need these words, this message.  Today, I need to impart it to them in my own words.  Once they have left my nest, I pray they treasure the journal.  The one filled with my prayers for them as they grew in my womb.  The one full of magical moments caught in words.  The one with tear stained pages when I felt I wasn’t enough or had lost my temper in a very un-Christian like way.  The one with letters of congratulations marking the day of their baptism and public confession of faith in Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God, Lord of their lives.  I pray, as I pray over each entry, these pages tucked in will serve to remind them their worth, their value.

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/09/what-women-need-to-say-to-each-other-to-shatter-the-dark/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aholyexperience.com%2F2014%2F09%2Fwhat-women-need-to-say-to-each-other-to-shatter-the-dark%2F&utm_content&utm_campaign=A+Holy+Experience+Blog+Posts

 

 

Perfect Planner Does NOT Mean Perfect Plans

I have “planneritice”.  A friend and I have coined that term after numerous discussions regarding our obsession with planners.  Despite owning numerous planners (not necessarily all at once, although I am afraid that too is true on occasion) she and I can get lost in time searching for the perfect planner.  While this is in part due to our desire to always grow in our organizational wisdom, I have to confess, at least for me, it is in part due to the notion in my mind that the perfect planner will finally bring perfect order to my life.  No more plans gone awry.  No more searching for papers.  No more last minute runs to Wal-Mart of a gift on the way to the party.  No more forgotten birthdays.  No more…  Oh if it were only so!

As I mentioned, I have found the “perfect” planner for me.   A compilation of several planner pages and some creativity on my part.  However, let me be clear.  This perfect planner has NOT meant perfect plans.  I do make better decisions (most days).  I do worry less as I know my “to do” items are written down (most of the time).  But, life is not perfect.  I am not perfect.  The people I live with and work with are not perfect.  To live this life with any level of peace and joy, we just have to build in space for the imperfect.  

My daily planner pages are the center of my planner.  The heart beat if you wish.  I refer back to these pages ALL day long.  These pages in particular are why I love the Life is Crafted system so very much.

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These pages are divided into 8 columns.  One for each day of the week, and an extra left over.  Across the top are 8 blocks to be labeled with categories or project titles.  I use the same 8 categories each week.  Home, My girls names, Mary & Martha, Keller Williams/SOS, New House, Miscellaneous and Blog.  I look back at my Master To Do and any items on the Monthly To Do.  I select the items I need to do next and write them under the appropriate heading.  I try not to have more than 4-5 items under each heading.  Remember that need to build in time for the imperfect?  Yep.  Be real.  Know you will have interruptions (good and bad), know things will take longer than planned, just know.  The next section is a column for each day (beginning with Monday) and time slots.  This system begins at 8:00 and goes through 7:00.  I wouldn’t mind it starting a little earlier, but… Here is where I time block.  I honestly believe this is the key to good time management and absolutely the hardest habit to develop.  I fill in appointments first.  Second, I determine which tasks from the above section I want to complete on which day.  I determine a day and time and block off 15 minutes more than I think I will need.  I also leave 15 minutes between every appointment and/or time block.  So, in reality I build myself a 30 minute buffer.  And guess what?  Some days that still isn’t enough.  Below is a section to write down the 3 most important things to do that day (and these items should be in my time blocks somewhere)  and then list out specific tasks.  If I have quick phone calls, an email to respond to…. that is not a part of a bigger project and I know can happen in less than five minutes I will write those things down here and not time block them.  I love that the pages include little stars at the bottom for tracking water consumption (which you can tell I have not don :()  There is also a place to write down 5 things you are grateful for each week.  I am working hard to discipline myself to do this.  If you have read any of my other posts, you know I was convicted about Gratitude and am an avid reader of Ann Voskamp.  I’m not there yet, but this little reminder is helping.  When possible I do color code appointments.  I usually use a yellow highlighter to mark off the time blocks.  It gives me a really good visual and helps me guard those time blocks.

At the end of the day, the truth is, time management is about discipline.  It is about being mindful.  I have to stop and put some thought into what I am doing.  What is most important.  Sometimes items that don’t look important are critical-like laundry!  I have to work the plan.  We have all heard it said before.  I can get it all on paper, but if I never open the planner, never check in during the day to see what I have done (mark it off!!!!), I will fail to move forward on projects.  I’ll fail to do those things that are BEST.  My planner is simple.  I don’t use Smashbook or Washi tape.  I wish I did.  I love to see the creativeness.  It’s not me.  I’m a simple gal, needing a little focus and discipline.  So, these pages work for me.

The remainder of the planner are sections I have added to track my businesses and attempt to have pertinent information with me.  They have been the “work in progress” the past 6 months.  I think I have about got them tweaked and working.

My perfect planner is working for me.  The secret though is in me working my plan and allowing for imperfection.

Don’t Do a Thing-Just Be Thankful

“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.”  Ann Voskamp, “One Thousand Gifts”.  I read those words back in November.  At the time I found those words thought provoking, but it wasn’t until today I began to grasp them.  As I have continued in my journey to intently search for lessons on PEACE and incorporate specific new behaviors/actions this year, I continue to read His word from new perspective, making myself open to conviction, wisdom, encouragement.  I have felt compelled to be more grateful, yet too often it is a rote list of items/things.  Today, as I sat reading a passage in Ephesians 5 (verses 1-14) I was struck by the directive regarding what should take the place of our sinful nature or sin behaviors-those listed being sexual immorality, coarse joking, foolish talk …  “but rather thanksgiving.”  For a moment I thought, “But how can simply being thankful, be the answer?”  My mind went immediately to words read in “One Thousand Gifts” and I pulled back out my notes and began to thumb through the highlighted pages.  The sentence above with the scripture I had just read began to do a work in my heart and mind.   Being thankful alters our mindset.  When our mind is altered we behave differently, we speak differently.  As our mind changes, we are compelled to act.  When I am grateful for my family, I mean really grateful-not the “Thank you God for my family,” kind of grateful, but sincere, deeply felt gratitude for my family compels me to want to do things for them.  Cleaning the house becomes an act of service, of LOVE, not a chore or obligation.  When I am really thankful for the support of a true friend I want to tell them, again I am compelled to act with love.  Why haven’t I really gotten this before?  Does it matter?  Need I dwell there?  No.  I need to rid my mind of the foolish talk (that is so my issue-negative self-talk).  I need to be thankful.  It is going to take some practice, but the spirit filled life is just that-a life of discipline.

I wrote a list identifying what Thankfulness does:

1.  Builds trust/faith

2.  Forces us to reign in the clutter/chaos/negative mind chatter and move forward believing God is who He says He is and that His promises are true

3.  Replaces other thoughts-when I seek to be grateful the other thoughts are pushed out.

4.  Prompts me to do good, speak good, think good.

All of the above move me to a life of PEACE.  More importantly, the entire lesson today reminds me that God is much more interested in my “being” than in my “doing”.  Hard lesson for a Type A person with innate desires to make a list and check it twice.

 

Still No Resolutions, Still No Goals, But a Plan Coming Together

I haven’t quite yet gotten back in the groove of posting to the blog.  In days past, I would chastise myself and create additional stress.  It has been tempting to go down that road again.  After all, I’m still that same girl-the one who likes to have a plan, get things done, see organization and order around me.  I love a check list and checking it off!  But…  I have continued resting my mind on the word God whispered to me:  PEACE.

Peace, it is truly elusive, so easily stolen from us as life marches on bringing with it new demands, new disappointments, new seasons.  I have held strong to praying daily for PEACE and opening myself up to His direction. Late last week it dawned upon me to identify those moments in the day when I sense a lack of peace.  As you might expect, a pattern emerged.  That bewitching dinner hour.  The time between late afternoon and dinner. Surely I am not alone.  I can have conquered mountains, but in those few hours the weight of the world seems to fall upon my shoulders.  The husband comes home with his day’s worth of baggage, the kids need help with homework, the taxi service begins, dogs need fed and/or walked, the household chores for the day await, and then there is that thing called dinner.  No matter how well planned my day, week, even month, this time of day seems to be truly bewitched.  My stress level rises, and the more I am asked to do, the more my mind seems to race to all those tasks I have failed to do, did half way or simply had hoped to do.  Before I know it I feel drained and defeated.  And sadly, too often that feeling stays right with me through bedtime.  I have determined I need to focus on this area more than any other area.  This time, this “area” of my day is my peace thief.  So, as I approach my little mini retreat on January 31st (see previous posts about my Sabbath practice holding the 31st sacred each time it rolls around) I have begun to look for things I can change, let go over or begin to change the end of my day.

First and foremost, I have determined to end my day reading a devotional in bed and writing down blessing of the day.  I am thrilled to be using “One Thousand Gifts:  Devotional” by Ann Voskamp.  She is one of my new favorite authors.  Her writing is classical, almost musical.  Her thoughts are deep, they are real and they are sometimes even raw.  I wish I could say I had stuck to the plan, but frankly, I’ve let a few nights go by. Honestly, I’ve crawled into bed and fallen asleep.  But thoughts of defeat I will not let enter.  I will not quit.  I will miss a day or two, get over it and carry on.

Second, I have made a few changes in some household routines.  After reading several other blogs on parenting and motherhood I realized I too often do for my girls, instead of teaching them to do for themselves. Culprit number one:  laundry.  I have taught them how to sort.  I have shown them how to do, but rarely have they had to.  Not to mention, the only consequence for not bringing laundry down and sorting has been mom spending all Saturday catching up.  Now, I realize I should be smarter than this, but sometimes the duties of motherhood seem to sap me of any cognitive abilities.  Well, not now.  No.  There is a new plan in place. Mom does one load of laundry every morning (for me this happens about 5:30 a.m. before my quiet time).  If you fail to bring clothes down and sort them so they make it into one of these laundry loads, you get to do your laundry all by your lonesome Saturday morning.

There’s no Third.  Not yet.  This journey to PEACE isn’t going to happen overnight.  I am pondering and waiting.  I’m not looking for a grand list of goals or legalistic list of rules.  I’m just looking for God to show me where and when I fail to trust in Him.  I’m asking Him to show me my weaknesses and help me work to become stronger in those areas.  PEACE is not perfection.  PEACE is knowing I have done what He has called me to do, He has prepared for me to do.  It is knowing when enough is enough.  It is knowing that my efforts can never match His efforts.  It is knowing when to say “well done” and rest in His grace.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  … Be holy, because I am holy.”  I. Peter 1:13,15 NIV