Are You Ready-Hospitality

Now that we are settled into our new home and I am in the midst of this incredible business Mary & Martha, I have a renewed desire to carry out one of my passions – entertaining.  I love inviting people into my home.  I love that quiet time, set aside to focus on friends, family and even strangers.  I love the conversations, the laughter.  It’s easy to let life crowd those moments out.  It’s easy to compare ourselves, our homes, our abilities to others and talk ourselves out of opening our homes.  Little good can come from that.  Real conversations are hard to have sitting in a coffee shop or a busy restaurant.

I am challenging everyone I know.  My Mary & Martha business holds me accountable in this area.  My Mary & Martha business helps open doors encouraging other women to welcome friends and family into their homes.  My Mary & Martha business provides products to help all of us entertain with ease.  I LOVE it.

Mary & Martha is in the midst of clearing out for our new product line.  I get to go to Siloam Springs, AR next week for my first Leadership Conference.  I can’t wait to worship, fellowship and learn.  I can’t wait to get to see Dayspring headquarters (our parent company).  I can’t wait to get ready-ready for a year of growing my business, sharing hospitality, modeling hospitality and encouraging hospitality.

Our flash sale has been extended one day only.  Ends tonight at midnight, January 16.  If you have never shopped the products this is a great opportunity to sample some at great prices.

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To shop go to http://www.mymaryandmartha.com/shana or click on the Mary & Martha button.

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Striving Stress to Relinquishing Rest-Lessons from Mary and Martha

I love organization.  I love having the sense that my life is in order and therefore I am able to serve.  I love having the sense of peace and calm that comes from being in an uncluttered environment.  I love that God is a God of order and even in the creation story we see His deliberate order.  I love order.  I have always loved order.  I have to admit though, that often, and especially in my early days, order was a means of control.  I worked so hard to have order, keep order, because I was striving to please, to be good enough, to succeed.  Those aren’t in and of themselves bad reasons, but they aren’t the best of reasons.  I often hid hurt, sorrow, frustration, disappointment behind my order.  I often let keeping order keep me busy so I didn’t have to participate or deal with some things.  Isn’t it funny how things in our life that can be really good things can become walls, keeping others out and keeping us from living abundantly and freely?!  Striving to do something in an attempt to get something really does nothing more than exhaust us.

There are days when I look back over the course of my adult life and get discouraged, saddened by the course of events, most out of my control.  My parents divorced, an array of hardships resulting from that for all of us.  Financial strains of family members and my husband and I trying to fix those or provide, often beyond our means.  Getting married to have two different family members live with us in the first year and half of marriage.  Paul’s mother being diagnosed with brain cancer and passing on within our fourth year of marriage.  Six years of infertility.  A difficult and complicated pregnancy resulting in the loss of a set of identical twins and the live birth of beautiful fraternal twin girls.  My husband facing the suicide of two good friends.  Mixed in with that the normal ups and downs.  Losing grandparents.  Beginning new businesses.  Having those not so great days in marriage and in parenting.

Sadly through most of it I spent a lot of time striving.  Striving to get through it the way I thought all good Christian girls were supposed to.  Striving to keep myself from falling apart.  Striving to keep others out of our business so as to avoid the inadvertent harsh remarks.  Striving.  This same striving often led to my rushing decisions and trying to work “ahead” of God.  This same striving often caused me to lose focus on what was most important and even caused me to lose my compassion for others.  Striving stress became a way of life.

It is a long story, over the course of about 6 years, but God has shown me that relinquishing rest comes only from Him and comes ONLY when I quit striving.  I can’t rush God’s work.  I can’t fix things for others, and often I can’t even fix them for myself.  My life is intertwined with others and at times their choices, their decisions, their God given direction changes the course of my direction, my life, my plans.  I don’t understand.  At times it seems unfair.  But this I have learned-no amount of striving, attempts at putting everything in order, creating order out of chaos will change anything.  It may serve as a band-aid for a moment or a time, but it will always lead to exhaustion.

I don’t know if it is this way for you or not, but when God has a message for me and I am slow in taking it in, or need the affirmation of hearing it over and over, He does just that.  I find myself daily running into the message, the story, the characters-whatever it may be.  Mary and Martha have been that for me the past 7-8 months.  A common story and one women often read, but seldom really understand.  The scripture isn’t about comparing these two sisters.  It isn’t about making one more right than the other, but gosh do we women love to go there.  This story is about striving stress and relinquishing rest.  This story is about two sisters, who when living life together, embracing one another’s strengths and weaknesses, were able to serve our Lord in their home, trust Him for their brother’s healing/resurrection and accept Him as Lord before most even understood who He was.  Martha was not chastised for her preparations and her organizational skills.  She was gently reminded that there was a time to stop.  There is a time to set aside the “doing” and rest in the moment.  I have no doubt Mary had been helping Martha.  Now, I don’t doubt Mary was the baby sister and didn’t give her housekeeping and organizational work the same effort big sister Martha did, but I still believe she helped her sister.  However, once Jesus arrived, Mary decided that what had been prepared was good enough and it was time to take enjoy her company, to learn from the Master.  Martha couldn’t let go.  She couldn’t quit striving.  I think her motives were pure-she wanted Jesus to have the very best.  She wanted it all to be just perfect.  But that is where the truth lies.  We are not perfect.  We can not strive enough to become perfect.  He knows.  He sees.  He created us.  He wants us in our less than perfect state.  He wants to spend time with us teaching us, encouraging us, growing us, changing us, bringing our image closer to His image. Mary got it.  She knew when to let go and let God.

I love these sisters.  I love that God is using their story to alter the course of my story.  I love that even now, thousands of years later, I can learn from Mary and Martha.  I know I would have been drawn to them.  I know I would have love being in their home.  I am working on my striving.  I’m still in love with order, with organization, but I’m working really hard on doing it for the right reasons.  I want to manage my time, so that God can order my days.  I want to be faithful with that He has placed on my plate today, so I am ready for the task He gives me tomorrow.  I want to relinquish control and use my gifts and talents to draw others to Him.  My home plays a BIG part in that plan.  Letting go plays a BIG part in that plan.  From striving stress to relinquishing rest.

Perfect Planner-Business Pages to Keep Me Going

Where did Friday go?  Ever have one of those weeks?  This has been one.  I love fall.  I love back to school-not because my kids go back to school, but because it is the beginning of a new year: new calendar; new schedules; new plans…  However, it takes a a bit to get used to it all and to get all my systems in place.  My planner helps, in fact I couldn’t survive without it.  It keeps me focused.  I can also trust my planner when I can’t trust my brain!

I currently home-school one of my daughters.  I strive to live my priorities God, family, then work.  I have been privileged to have the opportunity to stay at home.  When my girls entered middle school I began working towards developing opportunities to earn some income, while still keeping my priorities.  For a brief period I actually went back to work outside the home, working for someone else.  The discontent was overwhelming-not just for me, but for my family.  It became clear I needed to be back home, where God had called me years earlier.  I had to quit comparing myself to others.  I had to quit wondering why I couldn’t “do it all” like some of my friends and acquaintances.  That’s not what it was about.  It was about God’s call for me.  What my life looks like is and will be different from that of others.  I can’t explain it.  I don’t always understand it.  That’s o.k.  God has plans.  His plans are often not in accordance with our ways.  It is not for me to understand, it is just for me to obey.

That being said, I am back at home.  I have begun an organizing business with one of my best friends and recently Mary & Martha found me, I am an independent consultant.  I have my real estate license, but am not sure where that will go or how long  I will keep that.  Managing our home, home-schooling, working in ministry through the Christian Women’s Job Corps and the Women’s Missionary Union, and juggling these income opportunities is challenging.  I was really struggling with keeping information at my fingertips.  I love binders, and for a while each project had a binder.  Problem was, I was frequently out or away from my office space and needed to be able to access some information.  As I began to build my new planner using Life is Crafted products I decided to add some business pages in the back.

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I have a tab for each business.  Behind each tab I keep a running Master To Do list.  I write down things I need to do to develop the business.  I can then determine week to week whether or not I have time to work on those tasks or just address the immediate clients/tasks.  Next, I have a set of monthly tabs.  I keep client intake sheets for my organizing business, hostess information for Mary & Martha, monthly promo sheets for Mary & Martha and any listing or selling agreements/info for my real estate.  I am in process of locating a monthly budget sheet that will help me track income and expenses for the three businesses.  I still keep separate binders for each business, but this allows me to have important data at my fingertips at all times (client names, contact info, listing info…).  The back pocket of the binder holds the current Mary & Martha catalog and brochures for my organizing business, Simplified- Organized- Styled (SOS).  I also keep post-it notes so I can flag items in my calendar, make notes, flag favorites/corrections in the catalog.

Life is crazy.  Things happen.  I can plan and plan, but at the end of the day life can only be lived one day at a time.  I love my planner.  I have no doubt it will continue to evolve and change as life evolves and changes.  I can minimize stress for myself by planning weekly and disciplining myself to write things down.  However, I am learning day by day to remember that God is in control.  I can’t run too for ahead with plans-my plans.  I want to be obedient and I want to be faithful.  I pray weekly and daily over my planner.  I want to do my best at what I have each day.  I want to be faithful.  I want to be ready for whatever he may have in store for me (like homeschooling).  My perfect planner helps me do that.  For it to really work I have to remember:

1.  My ways are not His ways.  I can never quit listening.  I listen best as I pray each morning over my plans.

2.  White space is imperative.  Life will either be full of interruptions (if I plan with no white space) OR it will be full of opportunities (those unexpected things I can do without stress when my calendar has built in white space.)

3.  Obedience to His calling gives peace.

4.  I can NOT do it all.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Today is about today.  Live well today and tomorrow holds opportunity.

5.  My planner is meant to guide me, not control me or confine me.

 

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Mary & Martha: Coming July 2014

I have been struggling to blog lately.  The move, end of school stuff, building needs, etc… are frankly keeping me busy.  Yesterday, in the midst of it all, God answered a prayer.  There are still more to be answered, but it is incredibly cool to see something come together.  I don’t have time today, but tomorrow can’t wait to share a little about the “how this came to pass” part of my story.