There is such a negative connotation with the words losing, failing and giving up. When I woke this morning my mind was filled with these three concepts not because I’m depressed and wanting to give up on life, but because I want to retrain my mind.
When I think of the word ‘lose’ I picture a race being lost or searching for a misplaced item. When I think of failing my mind goes to tests and trying new things. Giving up is the phrase often used for defeat, but this isn’t always the case.
If we look at the context, it can all change. Are we focusing on the negative or what comes with it?
Losing your mind is a bad thing, but losing excess weight is a good thing. What about losing ourselves in a good book or another activity we love?
I know God is trying to change the way I view failure and success.
Failure is not the opposite of success. I actually hate the word success because I feel its pursuit can steal the joy of the journey. One person’s view of success can be very different from another’s. Failing forward is progress. Failing shows attempt. And where does contentment fall in the process? Dream big, but don't forget to be thankful for here and now because it is all you have.
Giving up is another one that I laugh at. Giving up sounds so bad until you tack on what you are giving up. Giving up sugar? Wow! Giving up worry? Yes! Giving up control? By surrendering you may actually gain freedom and peace.
Maybe I am just a die-hard optimist, but once again my perspective is my choice. It doesn’t matter how someone else views it. How I choose to perceive and think on a topic can make or break my day, joy and ultimately my life. My responsibility is to keep my heart attentive to the Lord’s direction and enjoy life’s ups and downs.
There are a few things that help turn my day around. Music is a big one. I am a shower singer. I love to sing and thankfully my kids are a kind audience. They don't tell me to be quiet or intimidate me into silence. In fact they joyously join in with singing and dancing when we turn on our favorite pandora channel. Thankful for our little portable speaker that allows us to take our dance party all over the house and backyard. Music soothes me and often it is songs or hymns from my childhood that are my favorite. I have noticed my oldest child enjoy singing in the shower as well. The tradition passes on. ;) Sing when you are happy, sing when you are sad... or just let the music wash your soul!
Another, new favorite atmosphere enhancer is my aromatherapy diffuser. The smells are nice, but I think it is more the colorful lighting than even the fragrances that make me happy. I can lock it on my favorite soothing teal color or let it flip through the rainbow slowly. I am still learning what fragrances we like (and not to put too many drops in!), but I am loving the addition to our living room. The quality of air is so important. My husband installed a pallet screen door and we love this in Spring and Fall, allowing fresh air to pass through! But this time of year when it is too hot and muggy to open the screen door, the diffuser helps us feel like we are breathing healthy fragrances in at least even if the fresh breeze is absent.
My husband and I love to surround ourselves with beautiful textures. He has a favorite fleece blanket he prefers to sleep under rather than sheets. Our children love texture as well. Our youngest can tell the difference between his special fleece blanket and the one we have as a backup! We love nature. We have made many pieces of furniture out of recycled pallets this past year. Nature is beautiful so why not bring it indoors as much as possible? Functional and self-made are the kind of projects we enjoy - If you can make it pretty, so much the better! Carpentry runs in the family and my husband has quickly turned into quite the Mr. Fix-it. Nothing sexier than a man wielding tools!
The other atmosphere enhancer is flavor! The fresh smell of brewing coffee in the morning (you know you hear the Folgers jingle in your head...go ahead and hum it, I will wait), freshly baked cookies - yum! or the dissolving of a dark chocolate kiss - yes these are all a few favorite pick-me-ups in our household. If you slap uplifting slogans on all your favorite mugs and verses on your walls then - Amen! We are trying to add healthier recipes to our arsenal and fresh herbs and spices smell amazing. Sometimes a little flavor is all you need to hit those health goals. This would explain our flavored sparkling water addiction. Those little bubbles fill you up and black cherry flavored water is always a win!
These are a few of the way we have been shaping our atmosphere.
What are some of your favorite pick-me-ups? What do you like to diffuse?
Why is it so much easier to help others find their boundary line than it is to find your own? When I talk on the phone with a friend, it is often clear as day where they should draw a line in the sand. Things sneak up on you and creep in without always asking for permission or consent. In my own life I can feel the line, but not necessarily always see it. I string along countless excuses why I allow my boundaries to be crossed, stretched or moved altogether. More often than not, it is guilt or people-pleasing that account for my loss of decisiveness and muddled thinking. The older I get the less it is people-pleasing. See, I am getting wiser. ;) I might even throw worry in there too as a factor for crossing boundaries, but that isn't as high up on the list as the others.
I am a lot bolder on behalf of other people than I ever am on my own behalf. I love being able to encourage others to rest and feel peaceful. I abhor watching family or friends pushed into exhaustion by other demanding people or life's crazy pressures. I am quick to remind others to take time for themselves and set healthy boundaries in place to allow for recharge. It seems the moment I make space in my own life to breath that something comes out of the woodwork to steal back that room or time. It is such a battle! I know this life is a journey, but I don't think it is meant to be an all-out sprint to the finish. To make it the end, I know the tortoise approach is wiser and healthier. Stop and smell the roses; take time to enjoy the life you have been given. Intellectually, spiritually and emotionally I know what is best, but I allow the roar of life to drown out common sense and what I know to be right for me.
Life shows us pretty quickly that there are seasons for everything. There are seasons when we need to keep our obligations low and our boundaries high for our sanity and/or health. We also need to take into account the health and care of those we share life with. There are rhythms that we need to adhere to if we are to make it without hurting ourselves or others. Doing for others at the expense of yourself and your loved ones is not called servanthood, but codependency. Getting the details is an important step before agreeing to take on anything new. Indefinite service will cause harm if not balance with rest. Don't give an answer! You don't have to make excuses or give an answer right in the moment. I heard someone say that they wanted to "fall exhausted into the arms of Jesus" and every part of my being cringed! God, the maker of heaven and earth, rested on the 7th Day, so I am a firm believer in following His example. I think we have forgotten what true rest looks like, however. If you have kids and a spouse it is harder to find true rest. Someone is always pulling at you. Keep in mind what season you are in!
We can't just wish our boundaries into place any more than a general can get his troops from point A to B without sending out the order. We can't reduce our obligations without saying the word - No. We can not rest without allowing space and time for it. Staying balanced is a constant ebb and flow of decisions and planning. It isn't a one-time deal and opportunities come and go, so it will never be flawless, but having some steps in place helps me retain my sanity.
My go to's:
1. Call a WISE friend - In this season of my life, I am blessed to have many friends who are also balancing the wife and mother roles. I am grateful for the telegram app that allows me to share a photo or a laugh, seek advice, empathy or sanity at the push of a button with my group of mom friends. It is good to have people who remind me of my limits and priorities. I am also blessed with a wise mother who walks a few seasons of life ahead of me and is gentle in her wisdom and nearly always available to encourage and/or listen when I call.
2. Just say NO - don't add excuses - So many times I have people approach with requests or opportunities that seem to need immediate answers. I love to help others and disappointing people is hard for me. I am still learning the art of saying NO! If it is at all feasible, I want to say yes, but that has bitten me one too many times! I tried to put things off by saying I would pray about it. Better, but not best! When I know in the moment that my answer should be no, but I feel like I need a "good excuse" I need to remember - no - is good enough.
3. WAIT & Pray & WAIT - When in doubt - Wait! Then pray specifically and give yourself time to wait for His answer. Not the answer that you feel guilted into or pressured into! A thing can be really good, but if it is not in it's proper time then it can turn bad and quick. I will make mistakes, but slowing down and waiting gives me the chance to make well thought out decisions about my boundaries and obligations. Time also allows me to ask wise people to weigh in on the examination process.
Tell me what are your some safeguards for balancing boundaries and obligations? I can use all the help I can get. ;)
I am a huge believer in life-long learning. I try to model this habit by signing up for lectures and classes, watching documentaries and researching my latest interests online or through the local library. So, needless to say, you will nearly always find me with a book in my possession. Learning is easier in certain seasons of life, but I think it is always advantageous in keeping a sense of self by pursuing your interests.
We are homeschooling right now, and I like to live out what I teach. They need to see that they are not alone in their thirst for knowledge. I want to create and keep an environment that encourages not only my children but everyone, myself included, to ask questions, pursue interests or at least test out things to ascertain what makes us come alive. This is the age of information and I am determined that we all take advantage of it before the grid goes dark and all these amazing resources vanish. ;)
Let's enjoy discussing all kinds of topics whether we have a firm stance or knowledge of them or not. There are stacks of books by my bed, as well as a full kindle app on multiple devices in my home. Even when a topic seems outrageous, or maybe especially when it seems outrageous, I believe we should dialogue about it. When we have fear or anger towards a certain topic or theory, then it is time to dig in and shed a little light on it. The world won't fall apart if we entertain a false theory.
Questions shouldn't create fear. Fear often comes from the unknown, so let's ask some questions and set ourselves free. Being wrong or ignorant is just a part of the journey, but it is more fun when we don't stay there.
I love that even the library has online catalog apps such as OverDrive with downloadable books on almost every topic you can think of, and if it is missing from their catalog there is a neat little recommend feature, which I take full advantage of. There are so many tools available to us from Google to Kindle and did I mention that I love free!! There are emails and blogs highlighting free e-book deals on all kinds of topics and in different genres. Maybe reading isn't your thing? I hear you! Sometimes, with kids underfoot and laundry to fold, I don't have the luxury to prop my feet up in the hammock to get lost in a chapter or two of my current read. But....
...I can pop my earbuds in and listen to a podcast or watch a short video on anything and everything from baking sourdough from a starter (my current obsession) to hunting (one of my husband's favorites) and back again. I am thankful for Youtube and Youtube kids which allows the entire household to watch and learn about countless topics. Sometimes though your brain needs a little break and then we switch to music.
Pandora allows us to put in our favorite artists and not only can we enjoy our favorite song, but the app also plays similar artists and helps us find new favorites.
Thank you to all those people who write informative blogs and vlogs to share their hobbies, interests, and expertise with us!! You make life rich and full for so many. Have a favorite app or blog? Comment below and share some of your favorite resources for learning!
January always gets me thinking...
We are at the start of a new year, which is full of promise and potential dreams. We may make resolutions or goals. There is a sense of hopeful expectation of what might come to pass. We can choose to look into the future with hope or fear. We can look at anything or anyone with hope or disappointment. I always seem to have increased optimism and patience in January because it feels like a new beginning. I think hope is easier when you are younger. The older I get and the more knocked around I've become, fear and doubt often sneak in to try and ride shotgun.
Will this bring me more joy or sadness?
Will I gain new friends or lose someone?
Will I experience new freedom or become more enslaved by life?
This is the year for...
February hits and my focus switches to romance....
My healthy resolutions get pushed aside by chocolates, fudge, and other various sweets. I find myself starting to examine my relationships. Am I the best mom, wife, daughter, employee I can be? Or dangerously, are they the best husband, father, parent, or boss they can be? The marketing ads remind of the promise of happily ever after and falling in love. These reminders to follow your bliss, find your calling or restore passion seem to surround. Love seems to permeate the masses and its hard not to be swept up in an ideal, slogan or feeling. The message to love your neighbor, but more importantly to love yourself comes across loud an clear.
Will he remember Valentine's day?
Will she remember to buy me... , razors, or that a watch?
Will he buy me flowers, chocolates or jewlery?
Will she make me my favorite dinner/dessert?
Will he/she ever learn to speak my love language?
Will he romance me at all?
Goals and plans turn to questions and longings...
March fades into April and the somehow the rest of the year speeds by in a blur, but no matter what the season or the time of year, we all reach points of personal decision. Our emotions can bring us to our breaking point, or a loss can help put things into perspective or knock us out of perspective. No matter how bad things are, they could always be worse. No matter how good they are, they could be better. Striving can exhaust you, but giving up isn't necessarily a good option either. We each reach moments when we choose to reset or change aspects of our life. We are ever changing, growing, evaluating...
I'm reminded almost daily that life isn't the fairytale, no matter how hard social media may try to convince us it should be. We may have fairytale moments, but life, in general, is hard. Yes, it can be filled with incredible beauty if we remember to look for it. The beauty of redemption can definitely be found if we reach for it. Marriage isn't the picture of perfect love, but redeeming love. Any relationship worth having is hard work, that is why there are countless books on communication, dating, and marriage. The perfect person, career, hobby, passion, body, etc will not fulfill us and make life perfect. We create our own happiness! Choice! It all came down to where I found my source for joy. Anytime I allow anyone or anything to try to fulfill me I am sorely disappointed. Relationships change because we change. Careers come and go. Hobbies morph as time or interests change. Passions may fade but time continues on...
The only constant, that hasn't changed or let me down is Jesus. He enables me to see the beauty around me and to restore that beauty when it has faded. He has shown me people in a new light, enabled me to forgive when I couldn't on my own. He has filled me with new dreams, passions, and goals in new seasons. The source of my joy, happiness, contentment, peace and all beauty I see, is the faithful Jesus Christ. He can empower us to see beauty when he redeems our perspective. Keeping him in the forefront is key for me! What are some ways you keep your joy?
He gives us the power to choose love and to see beauty!
The time has finally come to slow down, turn inward, and find me again. But, as with everything, there is a pendulum swing and I can take it too far. I start focusing on what I want, need, am entitled to and end up being unhappy, whiny and no one I want to be around. Focusing on what I don't have instead of counting my blessings slowly turns me sour - every time! Instead of balancing life with God's perspective I swing from not caring for myself enough to demanding too much for myself. I am learning (oh so slowly) that I need the Spirit's help to stop the swing from going too far one way or the other on any given day in every area of life.
Dynamic tension takes focus and intention!
It is a struggle to retain some healthy boundaries and a sense of identity in this rat race. Keeping who I am with God is vital because when I start to let my kids, husband, role, passions or job define me I am in trouble. One-on-one my kids can be amazing or moody tyrants and together, mostly they are a cute and noisy circus. My husband is sweet and seemingly perfect one moment and the next I think about hopping on a plane and traveling the world solo. Being a wife can be absolutely maddening, but thank God for those sweet happily ever after moments that keep you hoping to grow old together.
Motherhood is fulfilling sometimes and draining others. My passions can seem fulfilling but can place my priorities in jeopardy. One day work is fulfilling and the next I want to quit. My identity needs to be firmly in Christ so I quit returning to life in my own power. When will I learn that I need Him every hour - every moment to get the fullness that I am craving and the sustenance I need?!
Nothing and no one is important enough to allow crowding Him out!
Yes, He created me with strength and ability, but I have yet to learn which battle hill is worth dying on and which ones I should let Him conquer.
Just because I can, doesn't mean I should!
I am afraid I have been a poor example in strategic warfare to those around me. I have heard His voice in some matters and have been so blessed through obeying His call to drop certain balls so I can do what He is calling me to do better. I took my sweet time getting the message though, and it makes me wonder what I may have missed out on in my delay. I have battled so hard in one area and totally lost sight of others that were way more important! My days always have adequate time when He is in charge. On days I take control I scramble. He is sovereign and that I can rest in. My journey, though bumpy, will be a part of refining me through His grace and for His glory.
Why I am still amazed that on those days when I take my time to invite Him to lead, that things go not perfectly, but way more smoothly? I get, for those type-A peeps like me, way more accomplished! My eyes are opened to those special God appointments with my kids, the neighbor or my spouse. How great to feel that high of being a part of God's work! Let's make that happen more! I get peace even in the busyness and confidence in the turbulence. I know it is because I was fortified against the devil and remembering to be in tune with the Spirit that I can do all things through Him.
It is not more important to be right, fair, or honest than it is to love.
And to love right, you need Him! Simple morning devotions are good by keeping me connected, but now I know there are ways to turn up the juice! So here are a few of my go-to Jesus Strategies:
Anyone one of these is great but when I regularly do them all I can understand why Peter got out of that boat. Want to feel the power? Share with me some ways you connect in with the source of all power!
All that other stuff has a season but it will fade and then what will I be left with?
I wish I could say that I was one of those moms who prayed constantly for their children, or at least nightly. I like to think that I at least pray regularly. Sometimes I feel my prayers for them have become rote and repetitive. You have all kinds of plans and ideals with the first child, but somehow after the third things start to slip. After a long day, I'll admit, I tuck them into bed and then go fall in mine often without more than a "Night Lord."
Years ago, I found a sheet listing ways to pray specifically for your children which even included scripture to back up each point. I have held onto this for years, but rarely got past the first few sections. It was too wordy and it seemed I was always interrupted. Good intentions are all well and good, but carrying around a nice but essentially useless (for me) paper had to come to an end.
Above, I have recreated the heart of it combined and shortened into prayer topics. I have successfully been able to pray my way through this one. Yay! I am a busy mom so it probably will still not happen daily, but God knows my heart and He will grow my prayer warrior skills yet. I have this on the front of my homeschooling binder in hopes of furthering my skills. I will also put the plain pdf below if it would be of use to anyone else.
Getting any exercise with littles can be difficult, but having it be enjoyable is another matter entirely! Whining can make or break your walk. It is just a fact that kids can bounce off the walls indoors for hours but have no energy to walk around the block moments later. So here are some tips to make walks more enjoyable for everyone involved.
1. Good shoes that don't pinch or cause blisters (think back up shoes too if someone wants to skate!) If you know the shoes they are wearing will give them a blister, just pack some band-aids or back up shoes. A little liquid band-aid works wonders too.
2. Water & Snacks for all! If you are really ambitious you can pack a picnic lunch. I know it seems to take forever to get out of the house, but the extra few minutes to put separate baggies of cheerrios or other dried snacks together will be so worth it. If everyone has there own water bottle, you are less likely to run out completely.
3. A stroller with storage - a double if you have it! Even though my kids are older I still drag out the double stroller because someone always gets too hot or too tired to walk as far as I would like to go. Even if it ends up just carrying the stuff until the kids have enough stamina to make it miles on their own, do yourself a favor and bring it.
4. Avoid anything loud or cumbersome - wagons with plastic wheels, noisy toys, (scooters never last), etc. You know you will be the one who ends up carrying that scooter or the plastic wheels scraping will steal your peace and bring on a headache. No matter how cute - if it is not practical - ditch it! Jackets in summer or objects too big to stick somewhere in the stroller storage also should be left behind, because you know they will be too tired to carry it far.
5. Timing it right - not too hot and no one has to pee! We live in Florida so we have to go early in the morning or in the late evening in the summer time. Noon walks last about 5 minutes tops before everyone including you is dripping and whining. If you can choose a walking place that has a bathroom at starting point so much the better. Look for shaded walks in the summer and sunny ones in the winter
6. Picking a new spot, preferably with bathrooms and water fountain nearby! Everyone likes a change of scenery but be sure that with littles there are conveniences around for their sake and yours.
7. Bring a Scavenger List, play a game or bring a camera. Distraction is the best method for young and old alike. There is Geocaching and now Pokemon Go can take that scavenger hunt up to a treasure hunt. They may go farther than you ever thought possible. Now with smartphones having your littles capture pictures of nature along your trail may distract them too. Be sure you have a quality case on it so you avoid tears on your end. There are little tikes cameras if you don't want to share.
8. Go Fast! When my kids were younger we would lock that wheel in place and go fast! Run or skate behind that stroller. Be sure littles are strapped in and give them a fast ride and you a good workout. This gets harder as they outgrow the stroller but you can continue it for a time if you get the older ones to ride or skate too.
9. Bring a book or audiobook. If they bring a book they can read while sitting in the stroller or if you take a break at the halfway point with a blanket and picnic lunch. You can listen while you walk if you have a speaker with good battery life.
10. My favorite is to invite friends! My kids always walk farthest when they are laughing with friends. The bonus for me is I get a walk and talk to0 with their friends' mother! The little things don't bother you as much when you have a friend to keep you sane.
The more kids you have the harder it is to organize everyone into getting out and enjoying movement, but it is a great example of taking care of your body and your mind. Time in nature is a restoring process to encourage our littles to enjoy. So do your best to keep on moving!
It really is a choice... or a state of mind... how you see your current situation.
In most cases, I think it is decided by physical factors. How tired you are... the last time you ate... how you recharge... just to name a few variables. But despite all the things that can drag you down it still remains a choice.
Personality is a big factor. Are you an extrovert and crave people to rejuvenate you, aka a piranha as you steal energy from others? only joking...partly. ;) Or are you an introvert and need time alone to recharge. Do you crave just 5 minutes to yourself and feel yourself flinching from too much social interaction? Can you tell which one I am?
No matter what season of life or situation you are in, you can change your inner outlook by changing your thought pattern. After all, even the crazy people can retreat into their own minds to a better place. So...
Capture those inner voices and make them work for you instead of against you!
"This person is really annoying and if he doesn't just shut up in a minute I am going to do something we are all going to regret!" can turn into - "He is probably oversharing because not too many things are going well in his life and he is hanging onto any trace of hope he can find."
"These kids are driving me nuts and never pick up after themselves - I might as well be their slave!" can become - " I am so grateful my kids have so many toys and imaginations that keep them running all day long, but it is time to call them back to earth and ask for help picking up."
"My boss doesn't appreciate all I do, and this company would fall apart if it wasn't for me!" may be replaced with, for the sake of your job - "I am so thankful that I have a job I can really shine in and make a difference."
So to enjoy the insanity of life we need to learn to put a positive spin on things.
Here are some tangible ways to help -
Sometimes this is hard to do on your own, so find a friend or family member who can help you. When you start to "vent" they can help (with your permission so they don't get slapped) help you see another perspective.
When I can feel my day going down the tubes, I like to turn on some upbeat music and watch it magically put everyone in the vicinity into a better mood.
The big guy is pretty good at gut checking you and helping you see things in a new light as well. A quick prayer can set the day right too.
Yes, I have even plastered sticky notes or signs around my home with catchy positive sayings around my house to help lift my thought to a better place.
Schedule a Reminder:
With these handy-dandy smartphones, you can send yourself reminders throughout your day, week, month, year to uplift or remind you about your goals to see the cup half full instead of being a scrooge.
(Scrooge Reminders during the holidays may be just what will save your holidays!)
You are not alone in your fight to see all of life's little moments in a truly appreciative light. I have three little blessings in my life that are growing me in new ways every day. And I am thankful for the supporters in my life that keep me going or pick me up when I trip.
Special thanks to you...you know who you are!
I went to the Women of Faith conference last week and heard confirmation that Lifeline Celebrate Recovery is where God is calling us. Mandisa (who I had never heard before) sang, "You are my Lifeline" which was just icing on all the other confirmations. There are so many people hurting and he keeps placing people in our path who are in recovery from past hurts or who need to be.
This is a huge undertaking and I know we need God to do it! There are so many worthy areas to pour your heart into but it was nice to hear directly that walking people through recovery is where he has us both for this season. I also got to walk through another step of my own recovery that night by confronting resentment I had buried, so I can move on in health and freedom. I have no doubt that recovery is like onion layers and to stay in a healthy relationship with God we need to allow his son to peel back the layers of hurt, pain, and sin so we can get to the core where we were made in his image!
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....