Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Timer is a Girl's Best Friend

A timer is a girl's best friend.

And by that I mean this . . .

If you are desperately trying to accomplish a goal that just seems TOO difficult, start by setting a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and then just "Go Forth and Do."  Just until the timer goes off.

You can do it!

I want to tell you how I do my devotions.  I set the timer for 10 minutes.  I read my Bible for 10 minutes ( plus the notes in the margins) and then the timer goes off.  I love my Bible because it has a weekly reading plan so all I really have to do is turn to the week and start reading.

Then there is the matter of praying.  Again, I set my timer for 10 minutes.  And I write my prayers down.  It just works better for me.  Over the years I have prayed in different ways:  30 minute walks where I prayed out loud ( I loved those walks);  prayers where I played worship songs at the beginning of my prayer time just to express my thankfulness and awe of God to Him.  You can choose verses to pray to Him.  You can write down the name of someone you love and then pray for them using the letters in their name, a character trait per letter.  This really makes you think about your loved one or yourself.

For example, my name,  Jennifer.

Lord, I pray that I would have a Joyful heart.  Lord,  I pray that I would do my work Earnestly.  Lord, please meet my Need.s  Lord, thank you that you will Never leave me or forsake me.  Lord, help me to be a woman of Integrity.  Help me to Forgive others as you have forgiven me.  Lord, Encourage me when I am downcast.  And help me to Rejoice in you always!  You are worthy to be praised, Oh Lord!

For sixteen years I have prayed my children's names off and on this way . . .you can see that it can be very easy to go over the timer!  Not a bad thing :)

I am going to add a third 10 minute part to my devotions: planning my day.  It would probably be even better if I took Saturday morning and planned the coming week but I'm not getting too far ahead of myself yet!

The planning part is just kind of saying "Okay, here's what our lives look like.  I have to do this and this and I see this issue . . .how can I address it?"

Here is what part of my "plan" for today looked like:

The Issue . . .

I think that one of the hardest parts of being a mother is promoting unity in the home and also a sense of everyone doing what is best for the family unit.

In my family there seems to be an innate belief that everything must be FAIR.

So, for example, if my 16 year old is too busy with homework or school activities to wash dishes at night, the 13 year old and the 10 year old do not believe it is "fair" that they be required to wash dishes.

I have come up with a solution for this, I believe.  It is going to look like this:

Fine.  You do not HAVE to do the dishes.  They'll get done eventually, but you DO have to surrender your screen time to me for the rest of the night.  Big Sis is not getting any fun screen time because she is doing homework.  So,  if you want your  fun screen time,  wash the dishes and you'll get it back.

So that's just a thought.

I sure hope this works!  Chores are a hard one around here!  In order for the kids to be disciplined Mama has to be disciplined and I am just kind of easygoing by nature . . .and that makes it hard to keep things ship-shape.  I am not a Tiger Mom.  I am a Jello Mom sometimes ( just sometimes!)  Sigh.  We'll see.  We will see!

Have a Wonderful Day!

~ Jennifer

New Year's Eve

I woke up this morning and drug my bleary self into in the kitchen.

I honestly felt like somebody had taken a gray marker and colored all over my soul.  Just down and "Bleh."

I mentally recited all the things that are wrong about my life.  I'll spare you the list!  And I asked God, for the thousandth time "Why!?!"

It would be so much easier if He'd just tweak a few things.  Just a few.  I'm not asking for much . . .

But then I sat down, opened my Women of Faith Bible and started to read.

And these words just jumped out at me:

Beware of discontent.  We will all face temptation to believe there is something better out there.  When  we accept that belief, we scorn the One who gives us our deepest intimacy and security.  Life on earth is flawed.  Nothing and no one apart from God can satisfy the aching vacuum in us caused by the fall;  only Jesus' love can fill the gap between what is and what was meant to be.

I suppose what shook me the most about my attitude after reading for a few minutes was that I was exhibiting and DO exhibit Eve's very brand of sin very often in my life without even realizing it.  And let's face it, that was the sin that started ALL the bad stuff on earth.  Super bad stuff we're talking about here!

The kids get upset and cross;  I get upset and cross, too.  I become discontent "If only we hadn't moved to a cold climate . . .we could go outside.  If only we hadn't moved here, we would have friends to call up on these days when we're going nuts inside . . .if only, if only, if only!"

I got to thinking about my New Year's Resolutions and I have decided to follow the lead of some other people . . .the idea of picking a word, not making a list.

My word is going to be "Morning."

Psalms 5:3  My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

The thing is this:  if I don't get up and read my Bible and pray;  if I don't get up before my girls and spend some time reading my Bible, praying and then planning how the day is going to go, well, chances are I am going to start the day frazzled and just plain discouraged.

So this year I want to do things differently.  I'm not sure HOW I will transform into a morning person ( I have some ideas) but I need to do it.  Not just for me, but for all those people around me.

Happy New Year's Eve to You!

May you know exactly what you are called to work on this year!

~ Jennifer

Friday, December 27, 2013

For Messy People Only

I like living in a clean house.  I don't like making the house clean.  I find it tedious and annoying and sometimes I feel insulted by the fact that if I don't do it or tell someone to do it, it doesn't get done.

There are multiple mess makers and only one mess cleaner upper person?  How fair is THAT?  (Yes, I know these are wrong attitudes and I don't really believe them :)

Nevertheless, the fact remains:  for the house to be clean, someone must clean it.

So here are a few of the strategies I use to get my house clean;  before we go any further I must tell you that you should google Flylady to really learn how to do the house cleaning/organizing thing well.  She really helped me immensely and I am sure that some of what I am going to say right now is based on her principles.

But before I really do my list, let me say these few things.

 If you are a mother, delegate.  Do not try to do it ALL because you will only do housework and NOT the fuzzy, warm stuff like playing with your kiddos.

Also, try to remember that you are going to aim for clean, not perfect.

And it is easier to do chores if you have done your routine.  For me that looks like mornings:  doing my devotions, drinking my LightsOn and making sure my kidlets are doing what they are supposed to be doing.  Flylady recommends getting dressed to shoes.  The idea behind that is that you are more productive if you look nice.

So do what you need to do in order to go forth and conquer.  But once you are ready to conquer, here are some tips.

1.  Clean clockwise or counter-clock wise around your kitchen.  Start at the sink/dishwasher.  End at the floor.

2.  Tackle 5 things at each part of your task before moving on to the next item waiting to be cleaned.   For me that might look like this:   Take five glasses out of the dishwasher.  Then pick up 5 things off of the counter  ( book, pen, syrup, notebook, and glass that needs to be washed).

Variations of this method:  set the timer for 5 minutes or 15 minutes and clean in that circular rotation.  If your house is truly drowning in stuff you might need to limit yourself to an hour and then take a break or take a break after 45 minutes and then go back in.  There have been times when a task has seemed so daunting that I have told myself that I would only work on it for 15 minutes and then I'd give myself the option of doing something else.

Yesterday I had SUCH a pile of dishes that I had to set the timer for 15 minutes and work on dishes for 15 minutes and THEN pick up 5 things off of every surface.  Go ahead, tweak the program so it works for you.

3.  Listen to something you enjoy whether it be  music or a great speaker.  I like to fold laundry while watching TV.

4.  If your kids are old enough to be left alone and clean . . .try this:  tell them they can have XYZ great thing ( watch a movie, a homemade treat, whatever your kid likes) if they accomplish XYZ cleaning goal while you are gone ( even if you are just working on laundry in your room).  This removes from you the temptation to nag and anger them.  They also tend to get along better when Mom isn't right there . . .I hope!

Happy cleaning!


~ Jennifer

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lemonade, anyone?

As I write this it is almost Christmas.  I'd really prefer to writing about fun ways to celebrate the Christmas season with your family.

But right now I am more about survival than celebration.

We got thrown some lemons in November . . .maybe you've heard the saying "When life hands you lemons, make lemonande'?

I was really disappointed by the lemons.  I had my own personal ideas about how things were supposed to go and they did not include lemons.

I have friends who are dealing with their own lemons:  one friend is recovering from a massively invasive surgery;  another has to find housing NOW in a town that doesn't really seem to have any place for her to live.  A third friend is very ill during her pregnancy and dealing with extended family that make things worse, not better.

The longer I live, the more I realize that we all have to learn to deal with lemons.

For a while I dealt with my lemons by stuffing them into a cupboard.  Lemon bothering me?  Pick it up, chuck it in the cupboard.  Then one day all the lemons fell out of the cupboard and some of them were pretty gross from their time in the cupboard and not much fun to clean up.

So now I am trying hard not to stuff lemons in the cupboard, but since it was such a habit for such a long time, I still put lemons in the cupboard sometimes . . .

But this is what I am trying to do with my lemons:

1.  Bring them to God.  I try to read my Bible and pray every morning.  For awhile I was really good at this.  Then I got whacked in the head really hard by some lemons and decided that my Bible reading and prayer was not working so I stopped doing it.  But I read this book by Phillip Yancy on prayer and I found out that I'm not the only person who has prayed and not gotten any warm fuzzy feelings from God.  He spoke about quite a few people who prayed for years before they got the warm fuzzies.  One lady prayed for 20 years, faithfully before God really showed Himself to her.  Now I don't understand that, but I am going to keep reading my Bible and praying anyway because I believe it is the right thing to do.

2.  Talk to my husband about my fears.  I did this yesterday morning.  It helped.  I was not dramatic and I find that talking about things in a vague matter is unhelpful.  I try to be very specific about what is bothering me and I try to bring it up when he is somewhat relaxed and receptive to talking about "stuff".  Many times I find that I am imaging the very worst case scenarios and he is able to bring things into a better light and then I'm able to be a much nicer mom and wife because I can give the people I love my full attention instead of only part of my attention because the other part is mulling over the trainwreck that I am afraid our lives will become . . .because I am imaging the worst case scenario.

3.  I am trying to take care of myself physically.  I need to be more intentional in this area but I'm making baby steps.  Hubby and I found a really great nutritional supplement and I notice a big difference on the days when I use it and on the days when I don't.

4.  After I do those three things I feel like I should just do what I'm supposed to do that day.  So I dive into my work for the day and I give it my best . . .today part of that to-do-list is concentrating on Christmas and how to celebrate it!

And that, my friends, is my recipe for making lemonade out of lemons.

~ Be well,


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why I've Been Gone

Just a quick note to let you know why I've been gone.

My dear Hubby had to have back surgery twice.  We went into survival mode, I guess you'd call it.

He's doing way better now and probably shouldn't be doing as much as he is.

In the meantime I am trying to get the rest of the family, including myself, back into a routine of sorts while "doing Christmas" . . .you know, baking, buying presents, etc, etc.

So look for me after Christmas.

I've always wanted to write . . .ideally a book that would resonate with other people and show them some answers, let them know that they are not alone . . .and I thought at one time that I could.  But then life happened and things got busy.

And sometimes I think that there is so much out there that no one really needs to hear my voice anyway.  But I still feel the need to put my thoughts into black and white every now and again and I'm writing this because supposedly someone is reading what I'm writing . . .if the blog stats are to be believed! :)

Have a wonderful December!  And since this is a Christian blog, I'll say it:  a Merry Christmas, too.

~ Jenn