Imperfect People

Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

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Imperfect People - Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

Realigning my focus

I’m a big hot mess y’all.  Seriously I have got in way over my head.  I have overcommitted, under delivered and exhausted myself doing “good things.”

I was talking with my husband this summer about how I feel my gifts are to work with young women and write.  He was astounded, “Reallly? I don’t disagree with you but what in you life reflects this?”

I felt like I had been punched.  Mind you, a well needed perfectly timed punch back into the reality I had created.

Here’s the scoop.  Back in January of 2013 Yes WOW it has been almost 2 years ago, I felt like God almost audibly whispered my FOCUS needs to be with college/high school girls and writing.  I was excited about my focus and dove in with two feet as I do pretty much everything.  But somewhere along the ay I got totally lost.  stece-jobs-focus-1024x675

I have gotten involved with lots of “good things” I have said YES to pretty much anything anyone as asked of me.  I am leader of this committee, contact person for that, volunteer for this, and coordinator of everything else.

Last semester I quit leading a college group because I was “too busy” I haven’t written anything in months and guess what…I have been a an un-focused un-joyful disobedient basket case all coming to a head when I realized my FOCUS was totally off.

One of my dear friends pointed this out to me last night.  She simply said you are all stressed out because You are not doing what you are called to do!!!

How funny/annoying/ironic is it that I was told by the creator of the heavens and the earth, the one who knit me together, the one who knows every minute of my past and future what my focus should be and it took me TWO years to come back to it?

Apparently I was like, “Oh good idea God, but look this is pretty and shiny let me go over there, this looks fun let’s do that too!” Sometimes I feel like my faith is about as mature as a 3 year old.  I’m reading Lysa Terkherst new book, The best Yes.  This has been another perfectly timed eye opener for me.  The main thing I am learning is there are a lot of GOOD ways I can spend my time but there are only a few BEST ways. I realize this may not sound revolutionary but sometimes you just need to be reminded.

So I’m reeling my chains back in.  Trying to FOCUS (lord I love that word) on where I am supposed to be.  Narrowing down my commitments and
learning to feel the joy again of being in the will of God.

We really and truly are all different parts of the body called to do different things and my obedience will look totally different than yours.

I’m writing this here for accountability and to see the journey of what it looks like when I come back to the feet of Jesus.

Have you ever gone astray from where you should be focusing?  I love your comments! Please share!

Hills worth dying on this fall

School has started back for us!  My inner rebel fights a schedule but I secretly love the predictability and routine that school gives us.  The newness of this time of year has stirred in me a desire to commit to a few priorities I want to fiercely protect.

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I always have grand ideas about what is important to our family but I rarely have the backbone or strategy to impliment anything.

Thankfully, one of my BFFS, i.e. soul sister, ie. new blogger gave me the idea during one of our summer pool-dates, i.e wear the kids out dates, i.e counseling sessions.   “Hills worth dying on” she called it.  The few things in the day to day that are worth putting her feet down, worth scheduling around, and worth fighting for.  The few things that are worth protecting for their family.

HillWorthDying

Taking her inspiration and after much thought, I also came up with a few hills worth dying on that are important to us right now.  This is certainly will look different in different stages of life so for now I will just decide on what’s important for the fall.  And here it is:

1)Family Morning devotion time:
Mornings can be crazy for everybody but we always have at least 15 min while the girls eat breakfast at the table, when we can read them a devotion.  It’s important to start our day off in the right direction, get good conversation going and help give our day some direction.  It’s a Hill worth dying on this fall. We plan to use these two this year (click on the picture for more info):



2)Reclaiming the bod
I have never been much of a fitness buff, but here lately I have gotten into a few classes at the gym and some yoga DVD’s at home that I really REALLY love.  I feel better, I look better, and as they say, “When mama’s happy everybody’s happy.”  So this mama makes working out a hill worth dying on!

3) Turning my phone OFF for 1 hour a day:
I work from home. (If you need T shirts, polos or promo items you should msg me!) It’s great that I can set my own schedule but I also have to guard and protect the times when I’m working and when I’m home even when I’m in the same place.  Turning my phone off for one hour when the girls first get home from school has been REVOLUTIONARY for me.  I have tried just turning it on silent but something about turning it totally off is just magical.  It helps me remember that the most important place for me to be, for that hour, is with them.

4) Weekly alternating date nights: We implemented this a little bit last spring but look forward to scheduling this every week in the fall.

The schedule will be something like this:
Week 1: Mommy Daddy date night
Week 2: Mommy and Little 1 date night/Daddy and little 2 date night
Week 3: Mommy and Daddy date night
Week 4: Mommy and Little 2 date night/Daddy and little 1 date night

And there you have it. That is what we have committed to for the upcoming season.  What about you?  Have you made any new commitments for the new school  year? What are your “hills worth dying on?”

I love to hear your comments!

Marriage advice: My top 5

For our ten year anniversary we went to Winshape Marriage Retreat up in Rome Ga.  I would like to take every married couple by the shoulders, look them square in the eye and say GO TO THIS RETREAT.  It’s fun, they feed you like a king, and you spend a weekend learning more about the most important relationship we have here on earth.  A relationship that EVERYONE needs to take time to intentionally work on, no matter how good or bad your marriage is.   Go to Winshape people!   Ok enough about that.

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The speaker at this particular session was author, Gary Thomas.  Wow what a win to visit Winshape while he was there!  If you are not familiar with him, he  wrote (arguably) THE BOOK on marriage,

He gave the most unique and applicable marriage advice I have ever heard.  Without further aidu here it is:

1) Do we really think the media has our best interest at heart?

If we compare ourselves to what we see on TV and the movies (and haven’t we all) then we are comparing our selves to a dream made up by a few imagintive writers whose purpose is to take us AWAY from reality and ENTERTAIN us.  Often there is an agenda and rarely is it to strengthen our marriage.

Romantic comedies are sweet.  I admittedly thought the notebook was the best movie EVA.  But it’s not fair to expect my husband to be all those things I see on TV.  After all they are ACTING and let’s be honest, most actor’s REAL Life romances don’t usually last very long.

2) Infatuation doesn’t last

Speaking of movies and TV, isn’t it interesting that the whole plot is based around the couple getting together?  Usually the end of the movie/series is a wedding, when in reality that is just the beginning.

According to Thomas research shows us that the infatuation stage can last AT A MAX of 18 months.  This is the stage when we just can’t get enough of each other.  Everything they do is hilarious and perfect, and we sacrifice work, sleep, and commitments just to be together.  Our brains cannot keep this up, this stage simply doesn’t last…It can’t!

Media reminds us of the butterflies and fireworks that were there at the beginning and make us curious if leaving years of memories, life together and true intimacy is worth trading in to feel the infatuation stage afresh (which will AGAIN only last 18 months).

3)Thinking of God as your Father….IN LAW

This is by far my most favorite piece of advise.  Thomas explains it this way….
Imagine if you will, I think you are the most amazing person I ever met, I quote everything you say, I read everything you write, I sing songs that praise you and I even give 10% of my income to you.  BUT I don’t really like your kids.  In fact I talk down to them, treat them disrespectfully and condemn them for doing anything that even sorta gets on my nerves.

Would you want to hang out with me?  I mean I do lots of wonderful things for you?

NO!!! I don’t care how nice you are to me, if you are condemning and mean to my children it’s game over.  We are no longer friends.

Do you see where I am going with this?  My husband is God’s son!  His baby boy, the apple of his eye.  Just as your spouse is too!  For me to be rude and disrespectful to him yet expect my relationship with God to be good is just crazy talk.  The scripture says it this way:

husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together….Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7

The same goes for us ladies so don’t think this is a way out since it is addressing men.  Peter says when you treat your spouse as your should your prayers will not be hindered.  Wow!  What insight!

I imagine that one day, I’m going to stand before God, and He’s going to gently talk to me about Bryan. He’ll say, “what did you do to care for my son? How did you love my son?”

It really puts a different spin on things doesn’t it? 

4)What if Marriage is more about holiness than happiness?

I had a friend who was getting a divorce tell me, “I’m just much happier outside of my marriage”  I couldn’t help but cringe knowing this quote from Sacred Marriage.  

What if marriage wasn’t invented just to make us happy?

Marriage is about teaching us to become LESS SELFISH.  Lord knows we need it.  To change our marriage positively, we each need to PUT OUR SPOUSES NEEDS ABOVE OUR OWN.  As we do that, the marriage becomes stronger, we become better people, and you may just find that happiness after all. True love is less about finding the “right person”, but becoming the right person.

Holiness

 

5) When you are looking for things to praise, you will find things to praise

One of my favorite things to quote is, “there is good and bad in everyone it just depends on what you are looking for”
This is so true but sometime I get in a rut and have to INTENTIONALLY shift my thinking.  You can make a list of the things you appreciate about your spouse.   Even if you can think of only one thing, harp on that one thing so much until it makes the bad fade and the good shine.  We are not a slave to our thoughts.  We can shift our thinking to a positive and thankful attitude.

1,000 gifts is a whole book devoted to the idea of journaling thanks and how it is a complete game changer on perspective.

In closing:

“What if the greatest act of worship you could do today is to love your spouse?” -Sally Clarkston
And it very well could be. God loves your husband, and He planned for your husband to have someone to help him, to encourage him, to inspire him, to love him. God wants someone to appreciate your husband, and to urge him on in faith and in love. And that someone, that He has especially prepared for the task, is you -borrowed from 7 thoughts that will change your marriage. 

Ok now it’s your turn.  What is your advice on marriage? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Look for Jesus in the lives of the poor and broken because that is his zip code

It’s all Jesus’ fault.  Yep that’s where I find myself today.  In the middle of an exhausting, stressful, beautifully glorious mess.  Sometimes I look up and realize in the middle of a mess there is such majesty.

Ok let me back up.
So i kept reading this book, you may have heard of it it’s called the Bible.   I noticed Jesus kept talking about us helping the poor, in fact he mentioned it like 9 bazillion times (or so).  And that darn Frances Chan and David Platt didn’t help me ignore it either.

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Now I’m not saying I read all these verses  differently than anyone else…but I felt a call to DO SOMETHING!  I was so tired of sitting in bible studies that talked about loving the poor while we ate home baked goods in our warm church wearing our pearls and expensive shoes.   I like pearls and expensive shoes I’m not hating…it just makes me itchy.

I am somebody

But I had no idea what that even looked like.  I did not know a single person who didn’t have a car, on food stamps, and certainly no one living on the streets.  So what’s a middle class white girl to do?

I figured rather than waiting around for God’s parting of the heavens to reveal his miraculous plan for my life,  I decided just find where God is at work and join in.

I knew of two local ministries in our small town doing some amazing things for some amazing people.  So I called to see if I could volunteer.

It started small,  Just cleaning, organizing and the like.  I lead a college girls group and dragged them in with me….turns out they loved it…and they are awesome.

But then something happened.  Something I never expected.

As I became a regular volunteer.  One of the directors called me when she met someone she thought I could connect with.  A young mom of two.  No car, no home, no job, no family, and no hope.

“It’s a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer a missions project but become genuine friends.”-Shane Claiborne

And that is exactly what happened.  She was never a project but a very dear friend to me.  Her burdens became mine.  I lost sleep, I cried, and I learned a million and one things through this crash course of cultural divides.

We may have grown up only miles apart but it may as well have been in another solar system.  There are not enough words to describe how  differently our lives were growing up.  And in turn we found our selves in very different shoes yet similar life stages (more on that here).

That experience opened the doors for me to continue to meet new friends much different than the friends I had in the past.  Now that I have names and faces instead of just statistics,  I find myself in a totally foreign place.

I understand how food stamps work.  I have friends who have families that make Jerry Springer’s guest look normal.   I wrote a letter to a friend in jail today.   And I regularly hang out with the fatherless, and the addicted.

“If you can’t find Jesus among the safe sanctuaries then look for him in the lives of the poor and broken because that is his zip code.” -Jen Hatmaker

It’s amazing how much God can do when we are willing to get uncomfortable.  It’s basically a big hot mess of awesomeness.

My encouragement is not “hey look at me” because I am only a year or so into this whole new world.   I don’t have any answers and I have no idea what I’m doing.   I think most well meaning Christians DO want to help those outside of their comfort zone, but have no idea where to start.

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.

I don’t have a formula or a 5 step process but I do pray we can all reach a little further than the comfort of our pews and get our hands dirty.  Jesus truly does make beautiful things from the dust….especially under our fingernails.

If you are ready to jump into the deep end, I will warn you it’s messy and complicated and you may want to run, but if you stick it out you will be amazed at what God can do.

I don’t think we were meant to stay comfortable.  There are great organizations in every town and hopefully one through your church doing great work.  See if you can join in, and see if God leads you to befriend someone totally out of your comfort zone.  More than just seeing a face, but truly getting to know someone, knowing a story, sharing a burden, and sharing life…You will never be the same.

3 steps to avoiding the comparison trap

So there’s this thing…this ugly, strangling, ever-present annoyance that just won’t leave me alone, it’s called comparison.

I’ve read the books, shared the quotes, heck even written the blogs about how to stop comparing myself to others.  But no matter what I do I just can’t become immune to comparing myself to other women. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

I mean have you seen her?
Have you seen super mom who is team mom of everything her child does?
Have you seen her who is on top of her industry and published in all the trade magazines?
Have you seen her who cooks all organic, made from scratch masterpieces?
Have you seen her who has 8 children and home schools, and is sane?
Have you seen her who can still pull off wearing a bikini after having kids?

I’ve seen her.  She is everywhere and in every town.  But the shocking thing…the thing I NEVER notice is every once in a while…when the starts are all aligned.  I see her in the mirror.

I know what you are thinking, What??!! Who is this crazy self righteous blog writer?  I know, I know, Stay with me for just a second.

After my years of blogging about “imperfect people” I have come to realize one very important fact.  The comparison trap problem lies in me comparing my behind the scenes to her highlight reel.

somone else

To read the rest bounce on over to where I am guest posting today.  At Imperfect Women.  

The Beauty Experiment book review and challenge

The Beauty Experiment is a true story about the simple, honest, and pretty hilarious Phoebe Baker.   After having a baby and re-locating to Hong Kong she first sought refuge in the mall, buying beauty pick-me-ups for comfort. But she soon realized there was something deeper to self worth than a pretty dress and new mascara.  Enter in her year long radical experiment that revealed surprising insights into her marriage, her family and herself. (source) 

The Beauty Experiment

About The Beauty Experiment by Phoebe Baker Hyde: I looked at my reflection and despaired. As an exhausted young mother I felt ugly and saw that a new dress or face cream would never help. I was at risk of passing on a habit of feeling miserable about my looks to my baby girl—if nothing changed.
Soon afterward Phoebe Baker Hyde made a vow: to give up new clothes, makeup, haircuts, and jewelry in hopes of revealing something she had always paid lip service to but never quite believed in—her inner beauty. The Beauty Experiment chronicles Hyde’s quest for self-acceptance in nothing but her own skin. In thoughtful, exquisite prose, Hyde holds up a mirror to all women and shows how perfectionism can keep us from achieving what we really want: happiness, confidence, and serenity.

I was skeptical about this read at first.  I’m a pretty simple girl.  I don’t shop…like ever, I wear cheap makeup, I get my haircut bi-annually.  And I for sure never pay for any fancy nails or beauty treatments.

But apparently I am NOT the majority on this.  The salon industry ALONE makes on average 21 BILLION dollars a year (yes I said BILLIONS) and that doesn’t even include makeup, clothing, jewelry, or even plastic surgery!

Beauty is big business.  And it’s no wonder with the emphasis our culture puts on being…and staying young and beautiful.  Even when our REAL life is full of chasing children, wiping floors, and car pools.  A product promising to make us beautiful sells in a heartbeat!
Her blog provides a beauty wealth calculator where you can figure out how much a year you personally spend on beauty.  Mine was pretty low at $200 but I mean sheesh that is still $200!!

I am certainly not immune to caring what I look like.  I too have an “inner voice” as she calls it telling me that shirt doesn’t look right, I need more concealer and, if only my abs were tighter.

Phoebe embarks in several beauty experiments and chronicles what she learns along the way.  She also challenges her readers to have a beauty experiment of their own by trying out one of the below

Experiment Activities:

1. Identify your major cosmetic crutch and go without it for two weeks, noticing any changes. I think it takes about two weeks to really start feeling positive results, whereas negative ones start in one week!2. When in need of a new garment, go shopping without money and enjoy the “costume box approach” to the world’s malls. Then go back to the same stores a second time and purchase any items you still want/remember. Gauge how your habits and shopping experience shifted.3. Cover all but a small section of the bathroom mirror in your house for a week. Take notes on any changes, particularly interruptions of mental flow.

***

Inner Voice Activities:

1. Transcribe a recent inner conflict you’ve had as if it were two separate people arguing in dialogue. Label these voices “Me” and “Argumentative Inner Voice.” Then, write out a monologue featuring the AIV riffing on the problem, as if or she could hold forth without limit. Afterward answer a few questions about that inner voice: What is it afraid of? What are it’s survival strategies? What does it want to protect you from?

2. Draw a timeline chronicling the development of this inner voice, adding all the influences that have combined to form it over the years. Start as a tiny girl and go all the way to now. What “injuries” or setbacks has this inner voice suffered?

3. Write a love letter to your inner voice, explaining that you find him or her useful and appreciate the help, but would like to reframe your relationship. Explain how.

It’s amazing how these simple experiments can help open your eyes to what is truly important and loving the real you.
In short I think this is a great read and resonates with women everywhere.

As a mother of two girls I especially love a book emphasizing the beauty underneath our skin.
Phoebe Baker Hyde

About Phoebe Baker Hyde

Phoebe Baker Hyde has written on self, place and culture for The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesSalon.com, and The Wall Street Journal. She holds degrees in Anthropology and English from the University of Pennsylvania and Master of Fine Arts in writing from University of California at Irvine. She currently lectures and teaches in Boston.

Find out more about Phoebe at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Thanks TLC book tours for letting me be a part of this review!

tlc tour host

Probiotics and keeping your kids well. Our experience

I have been so impressed with the amazing power of probiotics in our family in keeping us well.

You may have heard about probiotics in correlation with digestion.  And while it is true that they help regulate your digestive track they do much more than just that.

Yes it’s the good bacteria in yogurt but we take it in a tablet form getting MUCH more of these good guys in our system.  We have been taking a daily probiotic for about a year and a half now and I can’t help but notice…we sure haven’t seen our doctors office in a while!

Probiotics can provide multiple benefits for your immune system. When probiotics are abundant in your body, it’s harder for bacteria that cause illness to get a foothold. Some also keep you healthy by making bacteriocins, which suppress the growth of harmful bacteria.-Dr. Oz

4-probiotics-live-everywhere(Source)
About two years ago our youngest daughter had a double ear infection.  The doctor prescribed an antibiotic and sent us home.

I guess that is standard procedure but I was a little disappointed she was prescribed the SAME antibiotic that gave her a horrible rash only 6 months before that!
When we got home from the doctor I was very hesitant to give her the antibiotic so I did some homework to see if there was anything else I could do first.  What I found was very interesting.

The word “antibiotic” at its root meaning translates “no life” And I’m sure you don’t need me telling you “probiotic” means pro life.  If that weren’t enough to raise a few eyebrows, what about the countless side effects caused by antibiotics including the NEED for a probiotic?? What in the world?

Essentially we all have good and bad bacteria in our bodies.  We need more of the good to fight off the bad.  The good guys and the bad fighting each other in our body (I’m sure that’s how they describe it in the medical textbooks.)

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(source)

Yes antibiotics have their place, and we haven’t completely sworn them off but  in my humble opinion they are prescribed WAYYYYY too much.  The best defense is a good offense so I decided to try what probiotics could do for our family.

Back to the ear infection story…I ultimatley decided to start giving my daughter a probiotic and treat her ear infection with garlic drops.  Yes garlic drops.  I got the idea from keeper of the home but essentially you just heat olive oil and fresh chopped garlic on the stove until it is warm but not too hot.  Then simply put a few drops in each ear 3 times a day. Her ear infection was completely gone in 24 hours without a drop of the prescribed antibiotic.  I continued the drops for about 3 days and both our girls have had a probiotic pretty much every day since (over 2 years ago).  That was the last time we have had an ear infection OR a sick visit to the doctor.

Did you catch that!!? That means no waiting in a crowded waiting room, no co-pays, no trips to the pharmacy and more time feeling WELL!!

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I was so impressed at how quickly the natural remedy worked I was hooked!  I loaded up my “natural medicine cabinet” And have been fascinated with natural remedies since.

The one thing I have learned over anything else is how amazingly beneficial it is to take a daily probiotic.

When the stomach flu hit our school so bad the teacher sent him a note….we had one tummy ache, for one afternoon, and that was it.
When our kids shared drinks with a child who we later realized had “hand foot and mouth disease”…nothing.
When ALL of their friends they play with on a regular basis had the flu, we just had a little runny nose.

I’m not nieve enough to think they make our kids made of steel but I can’t help but notice they sure seem to keep their immunity up!

I recently had what I thought to be the start of a UTI.  I loaded up on probiotics and cranberry juice, two days later, no more symptoms.

If you decide to give it a try I suggest taking them daily not just when you feel sick.  The idea is to keep the immunity wall up instead of trying to build it when you are under attack.

What kind should you get?

We have tried several kinds but I have been the most happy with Kyo-dophilus from luckyvitamin.com. (Lucky vitamin is VERY affordable.  I love them for all my hippy remedies).

Kyo-dophilus also comes in several adult options and our kids LOVE the children’s chewable variety.  They call them “marshmallow vitamins” and I even offer them as a treat!  Bribe them with vitamins…that’s what i’m talking about.

I like this kind because, from what I have researched, they seem to remain the most stable and actually make its way down to do it’s job instead of many varieties that can be destroyed as soon as they are injested due to stomach acid and body temperatures.

Every time I hear people talk about getting on antibiotics I want to shout knowing that often there is a better way!

We are so thankful for our daily pro-biotic.  What are your thoughts of pro-biotics?  Have you had any experience good or bad?

9 New Year life challenges with a free download!

It is so wild how we can just “do” life with no plan. You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, how crazy am I to think we can build the life we want without a plan!??

I’m all about living with intentions.  The idea of looking back on my life and having no idea what I have done with it makes me sweat and determined to do better than that.

All that being said I am also NOT, by nature, a planner.  But it doesn’t take long to learn when you aim at nothing, you hit it every time.

Realizing that life is too important to waste without a plan, we have come up with a series of “9 New Year life challenges” made up of very basic questions to help even the worst non-planners develop a script for their life.  These questions will help you determine what you feel is important in life and ways to MAKE YOUR GOALS HAPPEN.

I listed out the challenge questions with details below on how I am using them.   If you would like to do this on your own feel free to click on the picture below to print out your own list of just the questions.
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Priorities challenge:
What are my top 7 priorities? In order of importance
Put this list up in an area you can see on a regular basis (on the fridge or bathroom mirror for example).  The decisions that we make throughout the year will be based on keeping these priorities in order.

Friendship Challenge:
Who do we want to invest our time with more this year?
For us this meant putting a once a month dinner date on the calendar.  This dinner date will usually involve inviting another couple over to our home for dinner.
We are also making a point to be more involved with a couple older than us.  There is soooo much to be learned from those that have already “been there and done that”  investing in a couple who already has grown children helps us learn so much about how we can live life better today.

Financial Challenge:

What is one (or more) habit(s) we can develop to be wiser with our money? These goals may be different for everyone.  I HIGHLY recommend Dave Ramsey’s Total money makeover.  There is a series of baby steps toward financial freedom.  We are currently on baby step 7.  His system has changed our life.  I wrote a whole post on Dave Ramsey Stuff.  If you are not currently following his principles it may be the single best thing you can do for you and your future in the new year.

Marriage Challenge:
Do we Pray together?  Do we have a regular date night? Do we regularly ask each other, “How can i help you?”
Even though I am super cheap and don’t always like to pay for babysitters I have found the absolute best way for us to stay in love is to have date nights and/or just time alone..without kids.  We love them, we really do but having time away really recharges your marriage. Be sure to check out 17 Cheap (and romantic date ideas).

Children Challenge:
What character traits do we want our children to have and how can we help develop them? What areas do our children need help to grow?  What is the example we are setting for them?
My challenge is to have a character word of the month that we will discuss as often as possible throughout the month.  Honesty, Respect, etc.  Our school and church both have character words so that makes it easy to choose.  If you would like to incorporate this in your family here is a great resource.
I am also going to better implement our chore chart by setting a timer on my phone to go off everyday at “clean up time.”

Ministry Challenge:
Who will know Jesus because of me?  How will we be connected in our community?
For me, this year my ministry challenge is to FOCUS.  Deciding where God wants me to be for this season of life and making the best use of my time talent and treasure in this ONE area instead of spreading my self thin in several areas.

Health Challenge:
How much will we exercise weekly?  How much sleep will we get?  What will we eat?
My personal challenge is to exercise more.  I have found a kick butt video from Julian Michales on Amazon Prime that will do just the trick.  I like working out in my living room where if I don’t hold for quite as long as I am supposed to know one can see (confession is good for the soul).

Learning Challenge:
What would I like to learn more about this year and how can I incorporate this into my schedule?  Do I have an area of expertise I can use to help teach others?
Our book club has already picked out our reading schedule for the new year and my goal is to ACTUALLY READ each book….baby steps.  I’m also excited about teaching a few more gardening classes this year at our local tech school.

IMPLEMENTATION Challenge:
Setting Goals without a plan are just wishes.  So how can I realistically work each of these goals into my life?  

For me this is getting better about scheduling my day the night before.  And setting weekly goals/plans on Sunday nights.

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In the upcoming months when you find yourself living intentionally and your plans are turning into reality please share on social media with #hashtag INTENTIONAL LIVING and I would love it if you tag me @imperfectpple

Cheers to a new year lived with INTENTION!  Let’s do this!

What if Mary had said no?

I love the Christmas Manger scene.  Sitting so pretty on most mantles at Christmas it’s a beautiful reminder of the miraculous day.

As a mom I can’t help but stare a little longer at Mary.  I am imagining all that she might be thinking.  Not only right there at the manger but at the very beginning when the Angel said she would have the baby.

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What if Mary had said no?

Have you ever considered this?

Mary who is engaged to be married is being told by an angel that she is to carry the Lord’s son.  There are about a million things she can be worried about.

Not only is she facing possible execution, her fiancé leaving her, and ridicule…  In the unlikely event that everyone believes her I think it would be totally valid for her to think: What about me and my plans?  I am about to get married!!  I don’t want to have to alter the wedding dress!  I like being a regular girl, everyone is going to ask me tons of questions!   I really am too busy for all this right now!  God can you find someone else?

Can you imagine this in today culture?  What with all our “plans and schedules”  I’m afraid we would just be too busy for such a task!

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But instead of any of these excuses she says:

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be with me just as you say.”

I think Mary “got” something that we often just don’t comprehend.

It wasn’t about her.

She had the amazing privilege to be the mother of Jesus because she was willing to be “the Lord’s servant.”

This is HUGE

And her self sacrificing doesn’t end there.  Imagine you have agreed to carry God’s baby and it comes time for you to deliver.  I don’t know but I’m thinking maybe an angel comes and offers a big palace for me to deliver and it is a totally pain free child birth complete with people fanning me and feeding me grapes.

But as we know from the story she has to make a long journey on a donkey only to find there is NO ROOM for them at the inn and she has no choice but to deliver Jesus in a manger.

You would think Mary would be shouting,
“UMM HELLO HAVING GOD’S SON HERE??? Can someone ELSE sleep in the manger for crying out loud?!!”

Yet Mary knew this wasn’t about her…it was ALL about Jesus. 

Every piece of her story, her pain, and even her frustration was all part of the beautiful story that we still remember today and will remember for generations to come.  I wonder what parts of our lives, are weaving together to ultimately be part of a bigger story?

The best we can ever hope for in this life is a supporting role to the most amazing lead character that ever was or ever will be…Jesus.    So many of us are fighting to further our own little kingdom.  We are wrapped up in making our name famous, when if we could understand it’s not about us:  It’s about Jesus.

While I certainly believe Mary was the one God choose but what if, for example, she had said no.  She would have been free to do live her own little “important” life not to be inconvenienced with the fear of being stoned and shaming her fiancé and family.   Yet her  own little plans and agenda would have died with her generations ago and we would never even know her name.  

Making His name famous, furthering His kingdom, and doing HIS work.  His name is the only one that will last through the generations.  Why is it so hard for us to realize this?

I can get so caught up in my “own little kingdom”  Am I listening for God’s direction?

Mary was truly the Lord’s servant.  She put her own plans, fears, and excuses to the side.  None of that matters when the God of the universe has other plans.

 
 

Jesus loving Elf on the shelf modeling acts of service

This is our first year with an “elf on the shelf”

I never thought of myself as an “elf kinda mom” but we have had SOOO much fun with this little elf…I’d probably have an elf even if I didn’t have kids.  But seriously.

On the first night she (ours is a girl) came to visit I was looking on pintrest for all the creative ideas our little elf could do but my husband suggested why not let our elf be a little different than the rest.
Frosty Sugar Socks (yes that is her name) left this note on the first night of her visit:Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 2.04.44 PM

We thought Frosty could help set an example for our girls and still have fun in the process.  Every morning they wake up they can’t wait to see what Frosty has been up to!

Here are a few examples:

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The one in the lego’s she left a note that said “When you play make sure you share and be kind to your friends”

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Our girls LOVE seeing what she has been up to every morning!   There are so many possibilities!

We are having so much fun.  Do you have an elf at your home?  What is your favorite thing he/she has done so far?

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