Not Enough

I looked at my husband through eyes filled with tears.  “I can’t do this any more.  I have nothing-I only hear the message, ‘You are not enough'”.  In that moment I felt drained.  I honestly felt like any ability to extend grace, love generously, even think, was gone.  I had two discontent teenage daughters pecking at me, I had not been able to take care of something my husband needed done, I had received a message I wasn’t spending enough time with my mother, I had not called my mother-in-law and thanked her enough for Christmas (according to my father-in-law), I was behind on laundry, I was out of groceries, and my business had not met my expectations for the month.  The day before I had also received a call asking that I take a large leadership role in a ministry engaging women in our state.  While I desperately wanted to serve in this way, to engage again in ministering to women through a structured ministry, I knew beyond question my answer at this time was to be “No.”  It wasn’t what I wanted the answer to be.  In fact, I wanted to ignore what I knew to be true and say “Yes.” I was disheartened by the clear direction to say “No”.

It was a melt down  moment.  There was nothing my husband could do.  There were no “Sorry mom” statements big enough. There was no deleting the messages.  The only way to say “Yes” was to act in disobedience.  With wisdom my husband simply took the girls on to their respective activities, never saying a word.  And I, well I was left to fall into a puddle of what felt like complete overwhelm and despair.

Frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to talk to God.  I didn’t know what to pray.  Yet, I didn’t want to be angry.  I didn’t want to feel defeated.  Joy.  That was supposed to be my word for the year.  Only weeks into the new year and Joy felt like a universe away.  As I sat there motionless, empty, 2 Corinthians 12: 9 began to play through my mind.  “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect (complete) in weakness.”

I am not enough.  That is the truth.  I can not do it all.  I can not, in my own strength, be all I need to be.  I am not enough.  I am not complete.  There was nothing to do in that moment but to release the emotions and lean into His grace-grace that is sufficient for me.  A part of obedience is not only doing the stuff, but it is the letting go and leaning in.  It is the acknowledging.  It is the accepting.  I am not enough.  The message didn’t need to be defeating-that’s what Satan would like.  The message simply needed to be an accepted truth that would prompt me to act in obedience, leaning into Him, His grace, allowing Him to complete me, to strengthen me.

” I am not enough, but His grace is sufficient for me and His strength is made perfect in my weakness.”  That is the message I need to let run through my mind.  That is the truth.

grace

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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.

Under Construction

We are still in our little two bedroom, furnished apartment.  NO   LONGER   FUN.  As I went to the house under construction to meet yet one more sub, I must confess I was NOT FEELING IT.  The words running through my mind were not positive, chipper words.  NOPE.  I was having one of my “I am DONE” conversations.  Done walking the dogs, who are done being tethered to a leash.  Done trying to get laundry done with no place to fold, iron or store.  Done trying to plan meals using an apartment size refrigerator, electric cook-top and borrowed pans.  Done with the soft, too small mattress I am sharing with my husband.  You get it.  Just DONE.  Then I pulled up to a house almost complete.  I thought to myself, “We are so close, and yet so far.”  The muscles in my neck tightened, my grip on the steering wheel began to turn my knuckles white, and my right leg began to twitch.  In that moment I stopped.  I knew  I needed a moment.  A moment to stop and breathe, to collect my thoughts and reign in my little pity party.  What did I have to be so “DONE” with?  Here I sat in front of a new home.  A home my family has spent a year planning and 4 months tending to.  A home where we have already begun to envision family, friends and strangers being served and entertained.  A home in a new neighborhood full of new friends to be and new opportunities.  So I decided to stop and utter up a word of thanksgiving and ask God to breathe new words into my mind, to refresh my spirit.  I just sat, in the quiet of my car looking at the house under construction.  In those minutes God reminded me of two things:

1.  Quit striving.  Over and over this past year God has convicted me and disciplined me regarding my tendency to strive.  He reminded me I need to enjoy the process, the journey and conserve my energy.  Striving does nothing but deplete me of my energy and deprive Him the opportunity to carry out His works in His might.

2.  I too am under construction.  Under construction is the only way I can be on this world.  Completion only occurs when Christ takes me home.

Talk about a change in perspective and attitude.  By the time I got out of the car, I had a new outlook.  Yes, my house is still under construction.  So much is done, yet all around lies dirt, trash, and so much more to be done.  The big things are complete, but all those details that bring the house to life, are just being installed.  They take time.  They must be done in specific order.  The house won’t be perfect, either due to budget constraints or human error.  And, that’s OK.  As I walked around each room checking on installation, taking measurements and just stepping back to look at the progress I could not help but think of His words whispered so quietly in the solitude of my car, “You too sweet daughter are under construction.”  I had to smile as I thought of my Heavenly Father looking down on me.  Oh the mess He must see: the discarded baggage; the piles of tears and disappointments.  Yet at the same time I know He sees beauty.  He sees the laugh lines engraved upon my face from those just right moments with family and friends.  He sees the freckles upon my arms and face from days spent playing in the sun.  He sees the frayed finger nails from scrubbing toilets and washing dishes all out of love for those residing in my home or visiting.  He sees the readers perched on nose’s end as a result of late night and early morning reading, letting the encouragement of another’s prose sink in or His words come to life.  Yes, I am under construction.  I am so close, and yet so far.  I have grown, some big things have been worked out and worked through, but I’ve still got a ways to go.

My house will be completed.  Turning it into a home will take years to come.  Hopefully my journey to completion will take years to come.

Here are a few shots of the new home for those of you who have asked to see a few shots.  In the months ahead I have no doubt I’ll be asking for some advice on decorating.

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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

Organized to Party

We had quite a weekend!  In the midst of beginning to home school one of my daughters, we had the privilege of hosting a baby shower for a very special former babysitter, now considered special family friend.  Well, truth be known, we claim her and her best friend (also former babysitter) as family.  It had been a while since we had a large event at the house.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy hosting parties and celebrating life’s special moments!  To say we had fun, is truly an understatement.  It was all the more fun getting to host with girls just shy of being 20 years younger than myself!

Blue, Blue and More Blue
Blue, Blue and More Blue
Drink Station Decor
Drink Station Decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I planned, I found myself once again searching Pinterest.  Not just for shower food ideas and theme decor, but some cute little printable to use for Party Planning.  I found several, but in the end, this Second Season Mom decided nothing beats my planner and a legal pad.

Trusted Legal Pad
Trusted Legal Pad

I made a list of decor for each area (food table, beverage table, seating area, gift display table, etc…).  I then listed the menu, who was to bring it and put recipe locations and grocery items on the back of the trusted yellow legal pad paper.  Last, but not least, I listed in the margin next to each item or task what day I would take care of the assignment.  Some of these got transferred to my weekly calendar pages, while others just got marked off directly on the legal pad.  Some days you just have to do the job.  I could have spent many more hours searching all of your incredible sites for the perfect planning pages, but…  Tried and true are sometimes best.  Most importantly though, what matters most is just getting it done!  Purge the mind, trust your list, and then set out to get it done.  The day of will always be more enjoyable that way.

 

 

I am ready now to begin my holiday planning.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  My girls will have the entire week off.  I love the crisp air, beauty of the fall leaves and a holiday that requires little more than some cooking.  We are loving our new edition from Ever Thine Home created by Barbara Rainey at Family Life.  Being thankful is a state of mind.  Being thankful is a by product of living in the moment.  We had much to be thankful for this weekend and trust we will continue to express our gratitude through the holiday season.

 

Gather Round from Ever Thine Home by Barbara Rainey
Gather Round from Ever Thine Home by Barbara Rainey