Revisiting Plans & Priorities

 

I have to remind myself of goals and priorities constantly so I don’t forget. In January, I set out to make a list of plans & priorities for the year. Now that it is spring and no longer winter, I thought I should revisit and see how things are going for me so far. This is not a checklist of things I have to mark to validate me as a person but a guide for the type of life I want to create this year.

My categories where Faith, Family, Home, Homeschool, Mother Culture, Art, Writing/Blogging and I just wanted to check in on these things for growth and accountability. Blog friends or Real Life friends I encourage you to ask me how these things are going, I am encouraged when others take interest and likewise take interest in the progress your friends that set priorities this year.

So I’ll go down the list (with excerpts from the Plans and Priorities Post):

Faith

“This is a primary priority because without Faith I am hopeless. 2013 was a year that God helped me begin to unravel from depression and hopelessness and show me to delight in my circumstances, so 2014 will be even more so a testament to what He is doing. I will continue to study and trust more. I want to be more thankful as well this year.”

I have been trying to study more and trust more and grow in contentment and joy. I can say it isn’t an easy battle when a history of depression rears it’s head and you forget truth, but it isn’t my fight really, I am trying to remember to give it up. I just pray I continue to do so. I have been reading a few things for personal study, I read “Keep a Quiet Heart” by Elisabeth Eliott which is helping me to examine my heart. I also stick with my old steady “Morning & Evening” by Charles Spurgeon. I learn so much from this beautiful and encouraging devotion and Spurgeon has a way of putting things to my brain that are equal parts inspiringly truthful, achingly beautiful, and simply revelatory.

We are also very happy to be in a church home for the past year after a very long church search that lasted almost a year prior to that. It is a sweet community of believers and biblical learning that we are happy to take part in.  I am very thankful for the teaching that is really good and encourages me in Faith, this is a recent sermon that blew my mind: Behold I see the Heavens Opened. I encourage you if you live in Augusta, Ga and do not have a church home to join us this Week for our Easter Series.

Family

“Instead of busy-ness, instead of this activity or that event, instead of every kind of distraction I want my family to be a priority and for us to find peacefulness in our home and with each other. This means we will continue in traditions like Sunday Radio Day, no media except music or talk radio. Also, we will make more intentional time together and less sitting around the tv.”

On the busy-ness front this is an ongoing battle that I am hitting with full force daily. It is so easy for our Yeses to become full schedules and stress inducing weeks. I’m not for that. I am not saying this is hermit time for us, -even though sometimes I think I’d like that- I mean that is time to be intentional with our time. Say maybe in your mind, evaluate and answer back with a definite “yes” or “no” when it comes to events that draw you from the home. We have succeeded in doing Sunday Radio Day and trying to reduce the media intake on school days, so I think we are getting somewhere. I can tell the difference between the character of my six year old that plays outside all day versus a little six year old that watches tv all day. We are definitely not an anti-tv house, just trying to reign it in.

We are also being more intentional with family devotions and going through this book together at night time storytime. I wrote a review this month and highly recommend it.

Home

“This is related to the care and cultivating of the home. I want my home to be simple, beautiful and help my family to thrive, so I am making an effort to make it so through the simplest of measures.”

Soooo…. this has been a big struggle for me, for like, always. I am learning to enjoy the day to day maintenance that comes with making a happy home, knowing that real life looks most days like this and it’s ok as long as I am helping my family to thrive and be happy…also coffee….coffee is my new friend.

Homeschool

“The past ten months we’ve had a new baby in the house and now that that new baby is somewhat an old baby we have gotten into better rhythms at home, especially in regards to school for Emma. As long as she’s learning truth, beauty, and goodness through her schooling we are doing something right.”

We are back on track with school and even though we are a bit behind on the schedule we are trucking through and happily making education a priority again. Emma ( our almost seven year old) is enjoying school time and I am loving this time together, sometimes school is interrupted by Alice’s (our 1 year old) needs  and that’s ok we resign to Mom’s bed to put Alice asleep while I read aloud from “Little House in the Big Woods”.

Mother Culture

“Mother Culture (Self Care and Interests ex. staying healthy-eating healthy, gym time and reading for pleasure and knowledge)- It is helping me to think of getting healthy as a thing I am doing to help myself and my children in the context of being a Mother opposed to some arbitrary goal I set for myself. My goal for this is more health, more wisdom.”

I’ve had a slow start and have started back working out and eating healthier. Thankful that one of my gifts recently was a Fitbit so I can track steps and progress. I am continuing to read and am always adding to my “to-read” list.

Art

“I never completed art school and I am down on myself a lot about it, in 2013 both Kenny started actively pursuing Art making more in our lives and this year I want that to ripen even more. Whether it’s photography or printmaking, I want to see more art making this year. I’ve started making plans based on this and am just praying for the occasional quiet times to work on these.”

I’m getting there, it’s hard to be motivated to make art after a long day of kid wrangling but I just need to be intentional with the time I do have.

Writing/Blogging

“I want to be more consistent with my writing and blogging without being overly ambitious. One plan that I am thinking of is setting a manageable schedule for me to work on this. Something easy-like twice a week, just to write out some of the things I have rolling around in my head.”

I haven’t done much writing lately but have been trying to post frequently and this is something I want to make a priority. It helps to sometimes get mangled thoughts on to “paper”.

I guess to some all of these things up the key word is Intentionality and just being mindful of the details.

So how are you doing with your plans & priorities this year?  Do you need encouragement for plans ahead? I hope to revisit this often and please share what you have going on in your lives.

Intentionality and Lent

 

Today is the 2nd day of Lent, yesterday was Ash Wednesday. In recent years we have started to organically observe in our family a few religious holidays that my husband and I were not familiar with growing up. We marvel at how advent and lent are ways for us to point to Him and how we learn so much in the journey to the cross leading up to Easter Sunday or to Christmas. Not only has it been a healthy experience for our family, we are more thoughtful during the seasons and it helps to reflect and remember Grace in our lives.

lentday2

As we are more reflective of our lives we reexamine the ways we live in the day to day. Instead of doing a traditional sacrifice of some sort during Lent this year I am reflecting on how I can be more intentional- My goal for 2014-with my Family and what are things we can do to implement intentionality in our daily lives. When I say intentionality I mean that We are being mindful of every little thing. Being intentional to me is just examining our hearts and motives in the every day and changing the things we feel led to change. For example, Why do I spend so much time on Social Media? or Do I feel like I am benefitted by the time spent? Probably not for the most part, there are groups that do encourage me and I would be sad to part with but most of the time spent is just browsing mindlessly. So, What are ways I can modify this? I could only check at certain times of the day and especially not this constant checking I do now. I need to think on that more. It’s a journey.

I am trying to be more intentional in my home with the daily activities and tasks like the keeping up of the home. Honestly so far it’s been a wonderful learning experience and am surprised at how much our Family is changing in these things. Sometimes with young kids things get forgotten and put to the side and then your house ends up looking like something out of Hoarders. I can’t really use kids as an excuse though, my house always looked that way, ha. But now, guys, the house is in a state where I’m not embarrassed to have last minute guests like I have in the past. Woohoo, so I m expecting texts and phone calls for visitors any minute, right? Getting the house presentable has never been about keeping up appearances for me but an honest desire to make a comfortable home for my Family and for guests in our home. I think we are one step forward because of prayer and prompting. Thank you God.

There are so so many ways I want to be more intentional, whether it’s playing with my 6 -almost 7- year old more (We broke out the cards yesterday for some War and Slapjack, not to mention trying to do tea times daily, just sweet time together) or making a homemade breakfast for my husband on a week day (this is very rare and does not happen often, so don’t think it does), I am trying with His help to love my family in the little spaces. I know I fail at this time and again but with the help of the Spirit, I want to try.

What are you doing for Lent in your homes? How are you being more Intentional this year during Lent and throughout the year?

Christmas Trees Can Wait

It’s four in the morning. I can’t sleep. I have been up since 2 am and have been sitting in a tub of tepid water all the while, pruning while I think. Of all the nights when I needed sleep, this is the one. A week of cooking, Thanksgiving-ing and Nutcracker practices and performances for the tiniest tin soldier have me feeling gnawed at. I am thankful though.

We avoid the Black Friday shopping crowd, in fact I hate the whole occasion. We went to some thrift stores instead and our thrift haul was sweet. We found Kenny a new-old Wool Blazer to replace the one I decided to put in the dryer. Tired Mom strikes again. We found a cute fall skirt for Emma for 1.00. Also, we found a beautiful wooden train set for Alice for Christmas for 5.00. Kenny found some Santa mugs for pennies, He’s been collecting them every Christmas from thrift stores and shops. I was able to get some new ornaments for our tree Saturday as well, I can’t wait to add them to our humble collection. I am so thankful.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were packed with performances but I managed to stop at the Book Tavern for Small Business Saturday and get 90% of our Christmas shopping done there. I am very thankful for places like the Book Tavern and our friends that own this gorgeous place.

After promising my daughter we’d go Christmas tree shopping Sunday after her last performance and realizing on the way to the Christmas Tree Farm that with bills coming and a need for groceries we were going to have to wait, I couldn’t help letting the stress of week hit me with a guilt flood and cry until I realized Christmas Trees can wait. They aren’t the most important things about this season anyway. Advent is primary, time spent with Family is also so important to us. We, instead of Christmas tree shopping, took a detour to my Parents’ home and had leftovers to suffice for the night. In the busy-ness race, I’ll happily come in last and not worry if our Christmas is Pinterest-worthy or not. There is provision for today and Christmas Trees can wait. I am truly thankful.

Thanksgiving is over but let’s not stop showing Gratitude and giving Thanks throughout the seasons. God is good and there is enough for today and Christmas Trees can wait. When I forget and get discouraged hopefully I can remember Psalm 37 and wait patiently on Him with Joy.

Blank Bulletin Boards

bulletin

The New Year has begun and as I watched the Golden Globes Sunday night in my finally clean house after a beautiful time with friends at our belated housewarming, I couldn’t help but look around and be extremely thankful. He is so good to us. In comparison to the celebrities across the screen fancily dressed and awaiting the adoring press, my life may seem sub par, but it is far from that. Everything I desire,need is here with me, in my home, in my life. There is nothing material that can make me happier than what I have here.

My wonderful little family that is growing plus one in a matter of months, is an overflowing blessing. The way my Husband understands me and loves me, the way that we’ve spent these years just getting to know each other better than I know anyone on this planet, all of it is blessing. The way my daughter is a mirror of me in nature and in showing me what resides underneath even though she does not even know she is doing so, beautiful. She is lovely and healthy and blesses me daily, teaches me to love better, be better. Never forgetting, the way He has always provided for us when we thought we couldn’t make it through the day or week or year, yet we did. Yes, there are material things we bookmark and put aside for later but those things of the least importance, the fillers that are nice but not necessary for living right where we are with joy and gratitude. I always love hearing Ann Voskamp’s reminder to live fully right where you are. The last few years in our life has been an unraveling of sorts. The thread unraveled and we didn’t know what to do, but we didn’t truly understand that all things we’re working together for good. So the thread begins to wind the way it should have in the first place and we are blessed because of it.

This is my first post of the New Year, I took a much needed break to focus on the important parts of my life and it was really good. I don’t really believe in resolutions per se, I believe in refocusing on what is important. For more than a year I have been doing C.H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening and was struck by the simple request to make continuing in prayer our resolutions or focus. It’s so simple, yet we often forget. I never want to forget to bear all things to the One who has taken us through all we’ve faced so far in life. The other part of that resolution/non resolution is to simply love God and love others. I want to love all the people that come into my life, and the ones that have been here since the beginning. Most importantly let me never forget to love God for all the blessings above and below, for the gifts He gives, for everything I see He is doing and because simply, He is God. 2013 could be a very revealing year for us if we hold to these truths, which I believe it will be. Kenny painted this old bulletin board he got from the library and it is blank for us to add all the beautiful reminders of love and thankfulness in our lives. We just started filling it and I am excited to see what is made from the collage of our lives this year, while we create and love and abide.
afterglow (1)

Deep Distress and Joy

 

I don’t believe that heart ache and joy come independent of one another, at least in my life. Some of the biggest joy times are intermingled with things that hurt and break our hearts. I so wish it wasn’t the case at times but I see the beauty in the darkness while it blends and becomes light. That is why I am not afraid to talk about what I wrestle with and what I see in that struggle.  I believe in transparency, I believe in showing our true selves over the facsimiles of perfect people we so easily pass ourselves off as in the arena of watching eyes. If that is too much for some, I do not apologize. I am imperfect and I don’t feign what I can never be in my own right, so I lift the veil that hides my bare face in hopes to see….

This year has been the one; the one where I cried the most, I felt the most, I called out the most, and felt like the vice of brokenness harm me the most. It seems (I know) as though God is teaching me through this and even though I don’t know the message on the other side of this yet, I am hopeful in the hurting. There is so much grace in the joys that we receive in the dark times, when we feel the furthest from any and everyone. We bought a house this year, thank God, and we are expecting another child, a blessing. All things that sprung forth in hurting and broken times, are beautiful. Some are easier to notice like a house and a baby, some will take some time for us to recognize. All things working together for good, and His good is beauty unending, a story in trans media. He tells it and it is beautiful, we listen and wait for the next chapter anticipating the next and the next. We know that He protects us and shows his grace and love when we feel we are at the end of what we can handle. We know it, it doesn’t make the hurting less hard but it gives hope to know I am not alone, we are not alone, He is with us, He has been with us and will be at the end and forever after that.

I have struggled with Clinical Depression for over a decade, sometimes it has gotten so deep that I truly felt I could not survive another day. Other times, it has been a soft, sad lapping over me that brings me down with its ebb a little, a little, a little at a time. Only those that have dealt with the horrors of the darkest points of depression can truly know what it feels like. The suffocating grip and soul wrenching, you can’t breathe, can’t see, can’t believe, and feel you can’t endure, all the while, putting on the joyful face of someone else’s happiness. Those that know will try and help with well meaning words, so be thankful for those that pray and grieve for you. I don’t know why some of us fight this conflict in mind and heart, but we do.  If there is one thing I know for certain is that deep despair will never defeat me, even if I woke this morning crying for the loss felt of once present people in my life or the nights I cry over the circumstances that feel like the world, there is still victory because this is just the middle of the story working it’s through all of my being, the silver strings that connect this present, to that past, to what we all feel in our broken bodies is coming.

This Poem by Isaac Watts speaks to me :

Psalm 130:2 [From Deep Distress And Troubled Thoughts]

From deep distress and troubled thoughts,
To thee, my God, I rais’d my cries;
If thou severely mark our faults,
No flesh can stand before thine eyes.

But thou hast built thy throne of grace,
Free to dispense thy pardons there,
That sinners may approach thy face,
And hope and love, as well as fear.

As the benighted pilgrims wait,
And long, and wish for breaking day,
So waits my soul before thy gate;
When will my God his face display?

My trust is fix’d upon thy word,
Nor shall I trust thy word in vain:
Let mourning souls address the Lord,
And find relief from all their pain.

Great is his love, and large his grace,
Thro’ the redemption of his Son:
He turns our feet from sinful ways,
And pardons what our hands have done.