Expectations & Vacations

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I have been learning over the last few years (you know, since marriage and kids) that my expectations can tank a day faster than I can blink.  And I’ve really experienced this during vacations with little ones.  Come on mama’s, who can relate?  =)
My husband got a great deal a while ago on a hotel in Flagstaff at the end of February.  Which ended up being the days that they got like 6-12″ of snow.  And our hotel only had 1 queen bed in a tiny little space.  And my daughter is used to sleeping in a pack n’ play in the closet (don’t ask), which of course hotels don’t have and the only space to put her pack n’ play is right in front of the sink about three feet from the bed so sleep for everyone seemed like a pipe dream.  And what can you realistically do in Flagstaff with a 3 & 1 year old when it’s snowing?

But, because I have had some really high expectations of vacations with littles before that were dashed to a smithereens, I intentionally entered into this one with VERY LOW expectations.  Like, we’ll play in the snow at least once, the baby will probably cry all night and we won’t get any sleep for 3 days and we’ll be stuck in the hotel room watching Curious George most of the day, every day.

And you know what happened?

First, we decided to move rooms, because at 4pm, we had the people below us come knock on our door and tell us the “STOMPING IS REALLY LOUD”.  Ahem.  I may have had to choke down a, “Well, ma’am, it’s a hotel and that kind of comes with the territory,  and it’s pretty hard to get a 3 and 1 year old walk quietly or keep still apart from tying them down and then you’ll have to deal with the screaming unless I gag them, and might I mention that it’s four in the afternoon? You can’t reasonably expect it to be super quiet at that time of day and can I offer you a pair of earplugs?”

I may have had to pray and let go of some stuff after that encounter.  Especially since we had already unpacked everything and now had to repack it all.  BUT…I knew it would be better than barking at the kids every 2 seconds to “Be quiet!  You’ll disturb the lady downstairs!”
Night one, I got like 2 hours of sleep in between trying to nurse G to sleep because she refused to sleep in her pack n’ play, and not wake her up as she’s sleeping sideways in our bed, but I asked the Lord for energy and I actually felt pretty good that day which was completely supernatural (because I get pretty grouchy at the 6 hours or less mark!)  Also I was taking Super C, and Inner Defense capsules, and dousing myself in oils preventatively, which I think really helped also!

But, the second and third nights were MUCH better.  I may still have had to sleep across the foot of the bed because G was taking my place in it, but still…many more hours of sleep than I thought!

We bundled the kids up (with our ragtag makeshift snow clothes cuz Phoenix dwellers!) and let them enjoy the snow three or four separate times.

 

Joseph so excited about whacking people with snow chunks. Mostly he would just rub it into your back!
Joseph so excited about whacking people with snow chunks. Mostly he would just rub it into your back!

We got everyone in swimsuits and bundled up and walked across to another building that housed a heated pool.  Before the trip when I heard they had a pool, I was planning on swimming everyday while we were there.  Once we got there and realized that it was in a separate building with no bathrooms, or changing rooms, and it was SNOWING, I re-evaluated and decided I still wanted to embrace the adventure and do it, but ONCE was enough!  =)
I am sooo glad we did though because it glass all around and super steamy inside and we could see it snowing and piling up as we were swimming which was pretty cool.  After awhile as as those piles of snow started falling off the roof, we decided we should probably head back to the safety and warmth of our room!

 

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There was some Curious George watching, but we also made copious amounts of hot chocolate and cooked fajitas in our room (don’t tell anyone!) and enjoyed the heck out of the free hot breakfasts they offered, and drove around and played in the snow, and threw snowballs, and laughed like crazy.

 

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Little princess in the snow

And before we left, we went to a park still covered in snow and swung and climbed, and threw more snowballs and overall, it was a much better success than I had hoped.  If I had let my expectations for it pile up though, I would have been grouchy and disappointed and frustrated.  Instead, most of the time I was able to embrace it and push through some of the wet, sometimes frustrating and uncomfortable things and just enjoy it.

 

Swinging in the snow!
Swinging in the snow!

 

Be careful of expectations.  I know firsthand where they can lead, but if we change our perspective and ideas about it, we can cultivate a grateful heart and a flexible spirit.  I’m not perfect at it by any means, but I’ve come a long way from a few years ago (in this area at least) and in looking back at this trip, I can do so with fond memories of making the most of what we had and enjoying each other.

 

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A few practical tips:

-Mentally prepare and change your mindset to focusing on enjoying all the bits and pieces however they come and whatever they look like.

-Plan ahead for what food/toys/books/ect… you are packing for the car.

-Have enough but dole them out ONLY as needed!  Let them use their imaginations or zone out if they will.  Save the stuff for when you are going to pull your hair out or you have to keep one from waking up another!

-Have some HAPPY music and put it on when you need some extra energy or to help get out of a funk.  It really helps me.  Also, singing worship songs together helps me refocus.

-Be realistic about sleeping.  Mistake I made that first day was nursing G and she fell asleep on me for two hours and then wasn’t tired enough to sleep well that night.  Night sleep is the one you really want to go well.  If you have to skip a nap to make sure they are tired enough, so be it.  But, it also may take trial and error to figure out what is going to work.  So really, just don’t expect to sleep much!

-If you don’t sleep much, see if you can work it out with your spouse to take turns watching the kids so the other one can have a nap!

-Realize you probably can’t do all the things you would like to do.  Keep a list of options that you can choose from but DON’T expect to get to everything.

-Try to keep your room at least a little bit organized.  It helps with the chaos when you’re stuck in your room all day and trying to find the one lone sippy cup, or book that they wanted.

-Take a “Mommy Timeout”.  Even just five minutes to refocus can help me shift my attitude away from the grumpy place and back into the enjoying our time together and being grateful place.

-Reset the car before you go.  Clean out the trash, get everything re-organized and ready for the trip back.  You’ll be happy you did, I promise!

-You will probably be more tired when you get back than when you left.  Plan for that in your schedule.  Give yourself some down time after you get back so you can recover and re-enter.

-Give everyone grace.  Yourself, your husband, your kids.  Everyone is likely to get a little on edge at some point, but this is where we can practice extending grace!

 

What are some of your tips for traveling with little ones or letting go of expectations?  I’d love to hear some of your stories!

 

I hope these give you some helpful ideas for enjoying your next trip with littles or bigs even more!  =)

God bless!

Heather

Whole 30 Tips for Busy Moms *Repost*

posted in: Food, Seasons | 0

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Hi Everyone!

I just started my second Whole 30 last Friday, and went back to reread this post so I could remember the things that helped me through the first one.  I figured if any of you are doing one now, it might be helpful.

I also wanted to add a few resources that helped me out with it.

  1.  The Modern Mrs. Darcy has several Whole 30 posts.  This one was really helpful.
  2. Well Fed & Well Fed 2 Paleo cookbooks.  Well Fed 2 has a Whole 30 section in it and her meat + veggie + seasoning combos in Well Fed were great to help make quick meals.  I just checked them out at the library.

 

I also want to emphasize how important seasons are.  I did the last one when I felt peace about it and it went really well.  My second one I am contemplating quitting or modifying because I’m not sure it is the season for it.  I’ll let you know what I decide and the reasons for it.  But whether you do the Whole 30 or not.  Or start it and quit because the timing is not right, please give yourself grace and be conscious of your season.
If you could use a little help figuring out what season you are in and how to embrace it, subscribe to Living in Jubilee and you will get a FREE copy of 7 Steps to Embracing Your Season with printables and journal pages.  I go through it periodically to reassess my season.   Hmmmm…..actually, I should probably go back and do it again now!

 

I hope some of these resources can help you on your journey!

 

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*Repost from February 2016*

My husband and I just started the Whole 30 last Monday.  Traditionally, I do terrible with anything “diet” related.  Of the NUMEROUS things I have tried, I usually only lasted about 2 days but sometimes less before I was binge eating ice cream or bread or chocolate! 

I tend to do better when I practice moderation and focus on eating more nourishing, healthy things, adding more fruits, vegetables and water.  Focusing on deprivation of certain foods makes me want to gobble down an entire package of Oreos. 

So, while I was interested in the Whole 30, I waited to try anything new until I felt a peace about it.  Amazingly, I was really excited to try it and even more astounding to me was how easy it has seemed! 

I had a mild headache on one or two of the days, and felt a bit tired (although, I do have a baby and toddler, so that might have a lot to do with it too!) but really didn’t have any problem with sticking to it, or even with cravings.  But the last couple days I have been really wanting some stir fry or greek food, so they are on my radar for after we finish the 30 days!

After giving some thought to what I think has made this week pretty easy, I have come up with these seven tips.  Hope they help in your Whole 30 journey!

 1.  Tailor it to what your family already likes

My husband loves Mexican food and meat but dislikes most soups and salads.  He’s a meat and potatoes (or tortillas) kind of person.  He doesn’t need a lot of variety.  Instead of trying to look up a bunch of different recipes, I looked at what we already ate and figure out how to make it Whole 30 compliant.  Chicken fajita salad instead of in tortillas, taco salad, grilled chicken/steak/fish with veggies.  I added a bunch of avocado and the vegetables he will actually eat, like sauteed/steamed broccoli or green beans and radishes and cucumbers with lemon and garlic salt.

2.  Make it Easy

I have a two year old and a six month old who can now crawl all over the place.  I need things to be easy.  I don’t have a lot of time to spend making meals.  If something takes a lot of prep time, I usually won’t do it.

I have come to terms with the fact, that while I enjoy feeding people, I don’t enjoy the extra time to make time consuming, elaborate dishes.  There are other things I want to do. 

So if I have a head of lettuce in the fridge and I have to wash and dry and tear up to make one salad, I just won’t eat the salads.  Or if I have to wash, and cut up the broccoli or green beans and then figure out a way to steam them when I don’t have a steamer, I probably won’t do it.  And then I will watch as they go bad in fridge while I keep telling myself, “Tomorrow, I will make them tomorrow.”  And it’s no surprise that tomorrow never comes! 

So I buy the pre-washed ready to use spring greens for super quick salads, plus a bag of romaine hearts that I will rinse and chop for fajita or taco salads.  I also found frozen broccoli and green beans at Sam’s Club that come in one pound steamer bags that you pop in the microwave and five minutes later you have your vegetables ready to eat.  (Soooo worth it inmy case!)

3.  Prep Ahead

Prepping ahead was key for my success during our first week.  If I get to the kitchen to make dinner and the meat is not thawed or I’m starving and nothing is cleaned and ready to go for lunch or snack time, then I am in definite jeopardy of cheating!

Do things like:

-Grilling up a bunch of meat on the weekend and freezing it for quick dinners and lunches during the week.  Just today I realized that I forgot to look at the meal plan after being gone all morning so I pulled out some grilled chicken breasts from the freezer.  Add a steamer bag of vegetables and a salad and avocado and we are set.

-Make a batch of soup for the week and freeze.  This is my go to lunch.  I freeze the soup in two gallon Ziplock bags and take one out on Monday and the other one Thursday or so.  I alternate between the soup and salad or a baked sweet potato and salad.  Both are super quick and easy.  If I’m going to be gone all morning, I have the soup because I don’t have to chop up a bunch of toppings.

-Prep fruits and vegetables for snacks.  I usually make sure to have at least one cucumber already cut up and ready to go.  Sometimes I will cut up oranges and keep them in baggies, or portion out some nuts for convenience and portion control.

4.  Be Prepared

If I’m out and about and forget to pack a snack, I’m in trouble.  I try to make sure to look at the schedule to see when I’m going to be outside the house and make sure I have enough with me to make it until I get home.

-Larabars.  I keep a bunch on hand for emergencies.  I never leave the house without at least one in my bag.  I try to use them sparingly but they are perfect for when I’m on the run and need something easy to eat.  (If you are one of those people who has extra time and will actually make them yourself, then go for it!)

-Bottle of water.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  Especially because I am still breastfeeding. 

-Baggie of nuts or fruit.  Sometimes I’ll grab a banana, or chop up an apple or orange for the road along with a little baggie of nuts.  Plus, it’s great in case the kids get hungry!

5.  Make a Detailed Meal Plan for the Week

It is ok to reuse it every week if you want.  Like I said, my husband does not care much about variety, so he’s fine with Chicken Fajita Salad every week, or the piece of meat and veggies.  The more variety, the more ingredients you need, and the harder you have to think about it.  I personally didn’t have the mental energy to have to make four different meal plans, so I am mostly reusing the same one.

-Keep it basic.  If you want to change something up, you always have that option, but if you have a week’s worth of quick easy basic meals already in place, you are set in case you get behind and don’t have time to think about meals before the next week is upon you.  (This is me most of the time)

-Keep in mind where you will be and what days need something really minimal prep, like a crock pot meal, or breakfast for dinner, etc…

6. Clear Out the Pantry/Fridge

It really helped me to know that basically everything in the fridge I could eat. (Minus the milk, cheese, and yogurt that I was keeping on hand for Joseph)  I also boxed up most of the beans, pasta, grains, chips, etc… in the pantry that would tempt us and I put it in our guest bedroom.  Out of sight, really out of mind.  There is a much better chance that I will stay with it if I am not staring chips or pasta, or sourdough bread in the face everyday.

7.  Keep Your Meal & Snack Times Regular

In trying to figure out why this felt so easy for me, I started to realize what an important role, regular snack and mealtimes played in it.  Before I started this, I felt starving ALL THE TIME!  I would stuff myself at lunch and dinner, wolfing down my food as if I hadn’t had a meal in a week.  But when I started the Whole 30, I was being super mindful about having a mid morning and mid afternoon snack.  And for the first time in a long time, I was able to have one medium bowl of soup and feel full as opposed to scarfing down 2 huge bowls and then feeling obnoxiously stuffed thirty minutes later.  The few days that I accidentally skipped a snack, I would overeat at the next meal. 

Perhaps, this is accentuated for me because I am breast feeding and need more calories, but if you find that this is a problem for you too, I would encourage trying the regular snack times.  It really made a world of difference for me!

So there are my seven tips and tricks for an easier Whole 30!

** P.S.  I’ll be posting my Whole 30 Meal Plan: Week 1 in a day or two, so check back, or subscribe by email so you don’t miss it!

God bless,

Heather

Things I’m Loving: Fall/Winter Edition

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1.  Wearing an apron

I think it was Edie Wadsworth that first opened my eyes to the happy homemaking power that comes with putting on an apron.  I haven’t worn one in a long time and this fall I finally donned my cheery red and yellow ladybug apron and immediately felt like the world had instantly improved and all the domestic kitchen chores that we do over and over again to keep our people fed and our homes in order were a good deal more enjoyable.  I’m not sure what it is.  This mystery of the apron’s powers, but I am a fan!  So let the homey holiday feelings come and try wearing one.

 

2.  Chocolate in my coffee

 

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Oh my goodness.  This totally takes my coffee to the next level.  I need my coffee sweet and milky and I’m a back and forth coffee drinker, so sometimes I just cut it out altogether instead of settling for just ok tasting coffee.

Right now though, it’s fall and I just want fun drinks!  So this is my “recipe”:

-Put about a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder in the bottom of my mug.

-Pour coffee over the chocolate.

-Add your sweetener of choice.

-Pour in a nice glug of half & half ( or heavy whipping cream if you’re feeling really indulgent)

-Find a quiet place and SAVOR.

For me, this is making it so much better than just regular coffee.  More of a hot chocolate with a shot of coffee.  =)  And since budget constraints rule out a Starbucks run, this has become my treat to myself.

 

3.  The Holiday Instrumentals station on Pandora

I am highly sensitive to noise and music, even good stuff can quickly become noise to me, especially if I am trying to do or concentrate on something else.  This channel lets me have my Christmas music in the background without getting twitchy and irritable.

 

4.  Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God”

I LOVE this album!  Take my advice and go listen to it.  It’s broad and encompassing and fun and folksy in places but totally brings me to tears in others.  And it is such a unique perspective.

 

5.  Poldark

I wasn’t sure about this show at first.  It’s set in Cornwall England post Revolutionary War (which isn’t traditionally my favorite time period)  But it is such a great series!  We watched Season 1 on Amazon Prime and Season 2 is currently airing on PBS.

  It’s based on books by Winston Graham which I started reading and was amazed to find how closely the show follows the book.  There are some minor characters and scenes left out but nothing is really changed.  I think it’s probably the first time where I am enjoying the book and the show equally.

It’s a fascinating look at this time period in this particular area and there’s lots of galloping around horseback and amazing views of the sea.  I totally want to go live in Cornwall now.  And then I’ll go stand on the cliff overlooking the ocean while the wind whips my hair and dress….

 

6.  Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

 

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This is a great recipe!  Chock full of healthy ingredients, lightly sweetened with honey and perfectly filling.  The kids and I both love them and I made two or three batches before getting wise and tripling the recipe and freezing a bunch of them.  It was awesome.

It’s pretty flexible too.  I didn’t have quick oats so I ground up regular oats in my blender instead.  I also ran out of pumpkin seeds so I used sunflower seeds.  And I left the flax seeds whole instead of ground.  All the variations were great!

I take them to the park for snacks, or use them as a special treat for tea time.

 

7.  Tea Time

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I was inspired by Sally Clarkson to start doing tea time with my three year old son.  He has his own special Peter Rabbit tea cup and plate and we use the aforementioned Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies as our tea time treat. 

He LOVES it.  He gets to help put the tea bags in and pour the water and take the bags out and he gets milk and a couple ice cubes in his tea and we sit at the kitchen table and read something while we sip our tea and eat our cookies.  It’s been great.  I don’t always get to it everyday, but the times we do we totally enjoy it.  Of course, he’s a three year old boy, so attention span is short (the food helps with this a bit) and inevitably tea gets spilled and sometimes there’s fussing but overall it’s been a great little resting place routine for us.

 

8.  Target Dollar Spot Paper Chains

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I don’t think I’m alone in my love/weakness for the Target Dollar Spot.  A few weeks ago, I found packs of paper chain kits (in pretty shiny paper) and bought a couple.  Last night we put them together with my son and it was so EASY and added instant pretty fullness to the tree.  If you want to have a  long enough one to put around the whole tree, I would get at least 5 or 6.

In this season, I am all about simple and knowing what to do yourself and what’s not worth the hassle.  I could probably have cut the strips and stapled/taped them without too much trouble and I still might, but I like the pretty glittery paper and Joseph had fun.  So I’m calling it a win.

 

9.  Minimal Christmas Decor

 

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Last year I read Kendra’s post over at the Lazy Genius Collective about decorating without wanting to punch something and it was awesome!  I went through my box of Christmas decorations and got rid of everything I didn’t like or that was in colors I hated.  It didn’t leave me with a lot of stuff you guys.  (I’d only been married for a few years so we hadn’t amassed a huge collection yet)

So this year, I pulled out my one large Christmas tote, and put a few things out.  Just a few.  And those few things have been MAKING MY DAYS!  I’m telling you, it’s amazing what a frosty garland, a centerpiece, and a couple TINY Christmas trees (one with lights, and one for $3 at Target) do for my downstairs/kitchen.  I’m loving it.  Over the last couple days I have pulled out a couple more pieces as I’ve felt like it.  But it was super easy, simple and not overwhelming.  Again, I’m calling a win!

 

10. My new Young Living Starter Kit

 

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Last year, I had a c-section with my daughter and my immune system tanked.  Two days after we left the hospital, I ended up with a blood clot and we had to load up everyone and go to the ER, which led to spending another night in the hospital (on my birthday no less!)  Then a few days after that my body went crazy with hives EVERYWHERE, I caught hand foot mouth disease from my son (which let me just tell you is NOT FUN as an adult!), and I was pretty much sick on and off for the entire fall/winter season.

 

This year, heading into September it felt really important to focus on building my immune system and being proactive about our health and wellness heading into fall.

I had already been using a few essential oils from Sprouts for about four years or so and knew about their benefits, but my use of them was spotty at best and mostly they just cluttered up my drawer.

I took a class at the library on essential oils for kids and got to try some of the Young Living oils.  I knew that I wanted to get their Thieves blend which is excellent for boosting the immune system and their Stress Away blend which smelled divine!

That’s when I saw an Instagram post by Edie and she was telling her Young Living story so I decided to go ahead and get the Starter Kit.

 

It is the BEST investment I have made for my health and wellness and I am totally LOVING it!  Along with a great variety of 11 oils, you get a couple on the go packs of their super antioxidant drink Ningxia Red (which deserves it’s own “I’m Loving It” for the energy it’s given me from Day ONE!), AND a diffuser.

I can totally tell the difference of quality in these oils from the ones I had been using.  It took me by surprise at how well they are working and what a difference they are making in how I feel.  And having such a variety means that I can use them in so many different ways all the time.

I have been diffusing Thieves and their Christmas blend pretty much 24/7 since I got it and it makes me sooo happy and my house smell sooo good AND as a bonus, I get to boot out a bunch of toxins in the candles and cleaners I would have been using!

 

Right now, they are giving a FREE bottle of Christmas Spirit to everyone who orders a Premium Starter Kit!

 

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If you would like to order a Premium Starter Kit and get wholesale pricing of 24% off all future orders, click here.  It will automatically fill in my ID #10338448 for Sponsor and Enroller.  Then you just choose which Starter Kit you want (I HIGHLY recommend the Premium Kit!) and you will be on your way to reaping the benefits of essential oils!

If you have any questions, email me at hlion23@gmail.com

 

And that is what I’m loving right now!

Let us know what you are loving in the comments.  Or hop over to my Facebook page and tell me!  =)

 

Have lovely Advent season!

God bless,

Heather

Fall & Gratitude

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A few weeks ago now, I stepped out on our patio around seven in the morning and startled, exclaimed to my husband, “Honey! I feel coolness!” It wasn’t hot, or warm as it has been for months, but the air actually felt cool on my skin and bubbling up out of my soul from deep down came a “Thank God!”

 

I felt incredibly grateful for that one tiny thing. That small blessing of a break in the oppressive heat and the whisper of a change teasing my senses and instantly, my mind turned from the “Just hang on and get through the summer” mentality to all of the freshness of fall and the changing of seasons.

 

Of course, it was still hitting over a hundred degrees during the day but just that little bit of cool air in the mornings had me throwing open the windows for as long as I could and setting out a fall centerpiece my son and I threw together, and turning my mind toward the things I want to enjoy about fall. The warm spicy drinks, the apples, and pumpkins, and baked goods. The ability to actually spend time outside again.

 

It was funny how just that little breath seemed to give me renewed energy to clean and go through things and bring about more order. Go through the toys and the closets and give the kitchen a little more thorough cleaning than normal.

 

I re-organized the pantry and made applesauce. Tried a few scone recipes in my search for a great one, but they didn’t make the cut. (If anyone has a tried and true amazing one, let me know. I’m looking for a regular one and a gluten free option)

 

Now, the weather is cooling a bit more and we are only hitting the low 90’s and the mornings are almost chilly instead of just cool. We’ve had some rain and some cloudy days and we can be outside past nine.

 

I’ve been struggling for a while with a general morning grumpiness. If I don’t get enough sleep, my default is a bit of a grumpy attitude. Or too much noise without some oasis of solitude and quiet during the day will also do it. I find it far too easy to sink into a discontented and negative outlook. Perfectionism, and the harried pushy feelings of needing to do it all now, get our life together now, frequently overtake me.

 

But I’m finding that the remedy can be surprisingly simple.

“Give thanks with a grateful heart”, as the song goes.

I decided to start really taking stock of the hundreds and thousands of things I have to be thankful for. And not just thinking about them, but actually giving Him thanks.

 

Practicing and cultivating a grateful heart is turning out to be a good way for me to battle against all of the irritations and stresses of life. Intentionally looking for the joy and fun to be had, all the ways to really enjoy this journey has made a world of difference.

 

I’m also finding that finding ways to infuse the daily rhythms of our life with the wonderful things of each season has enhanced my enjoyment of them.

 

I’m looking at simple ways to tweak my menus to have more of a fall feel. Planning for the pumpkin picking, and harvest festivals, apple cider, pumpkin carving, hiking, and planting (for our area) so that they actually get scheduled into our lives has helped to give us things to look forward to and brings all the feelings of the season. I also started putting out some easy decorations and things to make our home feel more welcoming and cozy.

 

Intentionally ordering our life around the changing of the season has helped me to really see with fresh eyes all the things I take for granted and all the beauty and wonder of His creation. It helps me cultivate the grateful heart that I want to be the rule of my life instead of the exception.

 

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It’s obviously been a month or more since I actually wrote the above, and we have entered November heading toward Thanksgiving. We are still waiting for it to get cold enough to wear sweaters during the day, and I am looking forward to it with glad anticipation.

 

Practicing gratitude hasn’t been easy and I have struggled some days with the overwhelm and daily irritations but when I intentionally let go of them and turn my mind toward taking it slow, enjoying my children and the rhythm and joys of the season and give Him thanks…well…it overflows and helps to wash away the negative.

 

Another small thing I’ve been enjoying that makes a big difference for me is turning on some good music (for me right now it is the Jazz Holiday station on Pandora or Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God” album) and diffusing some Thieves essential oil. It is such a great fall smelling blend and an amazing boost for the immune system! It sets a peaceful yet festive mood for me and I feel almost immediately calmer and more grounded with just those two things.

 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you can find ways to enjoy your season and see with new eyes all that we have to be grateful for!

 

**If you are interested in essential oils or would like more information about their benefits and uses, send me an email or comment below!  =)

God bless,

Heather

Embracing Dependency

posted in: Faith Joy Freedom | 0

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It is so easy to get caught up in our culture’s idea of being independent.  And how much importance it places on it.

 

We start to see this independence thing as something we should strive after and dependence something to be avoided at all costs.  And so we fall into the trap of trying to “make” things happen, or “make” ourselves more spiritual.  And then the voice of failure slips in to whisper that we will never be enough, that we will always fail, that all our efforts are for nothing.

 

Well here’s the thing.  Pulling yourself up by your own boot straps will NEVER work.  The entire idea of independence is flawed.

 

Because we were not created to be independent.

 

We were created as dependent beings.  Ultimately dependent upon God, but we are also made for relationships with other people.

 

Our spouses, our children, mothers, fathers, friends, church body, community.

 

But we don’t like being dependent on people and though we probably don’t like to admit it, we don’t like being dependent on God either.

 

And so we trudge on trying to do it all ourselves, in our own strength.

 

 

road through hills

 

And we WILL fail.

 

I’ve been there.  Just recently in fact, in my mothering, in my other relationships, in my daily life.

 

And then I read “Own Your Life” by Sally Clarkson.  (I HIGHLY recommend all of her books, most of them focus on motherhood and life giving home making.) 

 

It was the perfect blend of grace and freedom in Christ with a gentle mother kind of kick in the pants motivation to not just spend daily quiet time with Him and in the Word, but to infuse it throughout my day.  To keep drawing on His strength and the Spirit to bring the gentle word, the patience, the peace, love, and joy that I need.

 

It’s not like I haven’t heard it before.  It’s not like I didn’t already know it, but as I started to implement it, I quickly saw how spending even ten minutes reading a passage and praying changed the whole tone of my mornings.

 

But here’s the other thing I noticed.  My need for Him does not stop after my morning devotions.  It’s not like one of those energy shot drinks that will keep you going for 12 hours without needing to refuel.

 

Today for example, I spent ten or fifteen minutes before children woke up reading a couple Scriptures and offering up my morning.  It made a huge difference and I approached a somewhat challenging morning with grace and patience.  But as more and more things started to grate on my flesh, I slowly started to slip back into old ways.

 

My need for Him is constant.  Walking in the Spirit takes constant course correcting to stay on the path.  I have to notice when I’m starting to respond out of my flesh instead of the Spirit and turn my face back to Him.  Ask Him for His love to flow out of me.  His strength for my day.  His peace and direction.

 

I’ve been working with my son to “STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN” when I call him.  I realized today that it could just as easily apply to me.

 

When my flesh rises up and I start doing things in my own strength, I need to remember the same thing.

 

  • STOP.  Literally stop what I am doing.  It never seems to work very well when I try and keep doing, acting, reacting and just kind of half heartedly throw out a “Lord help me.”  I have to call a time out for myself and quiet my body and mind.

 

  • LOOK.  Turn my face fully to Jesus.  Focus my whole attention on him.  Confess my frustrations and flesh reactions and pray for his strength, his love, and spirit to fill me.  Ask for his help if I’m not sure how to deal with something.

 

  • LISTEN.  Take a minute to listen to what he might want to speak to me.    

 

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.”   

 

When I am relying on him, I can do everything He is asking of me.

 

But the opposite is also true.  Without Christ, I can do nothing.  Toiling in my own strength will get me nowhere.

 

It is when I turn again and again to the well for the living water that I am able to be the light to the kingdom.  To live in peace and freedom from constant striving.

 

So I encourage you today to embrace your dependency upon God.  Try infusing more and more Scripture throughout your day, add more spontaneous prayers, or even just talk to Him while you go about your daily chores and activities.  The more we etch his words in our heart, the more time we spend with Him, the better able we will be to walk more continually in the spirit.

 

“My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you.  Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart.”  Proverbs 7:1-3

 

“For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

 

Please don’t pursue this with an eye on perfection, but instead with an eye on growth.  Perfection is unattainable in this lifetime, but we can steadily grow closer and closer to him and abide more and more in Christ.

 

And that is something worth pursuing.

Beautiful Things: A Life Well Lived

Dad picnic with Steve
Today is my Dad’s birthday.  He’s the rugged one with the mustache in the straw hat.

 

He would have been sixty-three.

 

There are so many things I could say about him. So many stories saved up in my heart. But I want to focus on how he lived his life.

 

He was a farmer and cowboy at heart and if he could have had his own land, he would have worked it happily til the day he died, but instead he worked hard to support us and spent his spare time tilling the land in our backyard, growing peas and tomatoes, and planting fruit trees and grape vines.

 

When I look back, I am able to see that despite the fact that he had big dreams that wouldn’t come to pass in the way he envisioned them, doors that wouldn’t open, he epitomized the adage of “blooming where you are planted”.

 

He may not have had forty acres to farm, but he created a mini farm in our backyard.

 

He loved the outdoors, so we camped and fished and hiked.

 

He loved Western history, so he read books and took classes and stopped at every monument or fort we passed.

 

He wanted to write, so he painstakingly hand wrote pages at work during his breaks and brought them home for me to type up.

 

He worked with leather and wood, teaching my homeschool group and making shelves, and shadow boxes for family.

 

He followed Jesus and loved well. He gave generously of his time and his money. He was a good friend.

 

He was the best father.

 

 

But that wasn’t the whole story.

 

When I was six, he was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins cancer. He went through chemo and had five years of remission before he got leukemia.

More chemo and remission and then the doctor calling to say it was back.

More months of hospital stays and a bone marrow transplant with his own bone marrow, and again, the call.

Again the needles and the chemo.

 

This is an excerpt from his journal in 1997 while he was in Tucson getting the bone marrow transplant.


 

“I told him (Dave Szenyes) some things God had been showing me. God is like the pilot of my ship and we are heading down a narrow river canyon. Only God knows if that canyon narrows to the point that the water falls off into Heaven or if it opens wide again and I have more life to live in this place.

 

John 21:18-22
Jesus has repeatedly asked Peter if he loves Him (Jesus). Then Jesus tells Peter how his old age will be and his death, that his death would glorify God. Peter turned and said what about John? What will happen to him? Jesus said, ‘If I want him to survive until I come again, what concern is that of yours? You follow me.’

 

We have to remember what King of Kings and Lord of Lord means. It means as it says in the Bible, we are His servants, slaves. Bought with a price, we must do what He tells us. Sometimes we will be asked to dig out the cesspool instead of polish the golden challis and silver. We are not to look at other people who never seem to have a trial and say God is not fair. He’s not our senator or politician but our God, Lord, Father, & King. We serve where He puts us, we follow Him.”

-Kim Lionberger 1997


 

 

He wrestled with the depression and all of the “Whys” as he lay in the hospital bed. He walked through the valleys and had his dark moments but he clung to the truth. Even when it wasn’t the truth he wanted to hear.

 

He submitted his will to the will of the Father.

 

And two years later in July, the river narrowed and he sailed it into Heaven.

 

I’ve been listening to this version of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” this week.  Thinking on the lyrics…

 

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace”

 

 

I look back and see him feverish and shaking and yet still joking and making us smile. Tired and sick and yet still choosing joy. Turning his face to Jesus and letting His light eclipse everything else.

 

I hope that I can live like that. Fully and present and faithfully. Even when life goes down unexpected roads with outcomes we don’t want.

 

Living life well, as a testimony to the glory and power and love of God is a special kind of beautiful.

 

Happy Birthday Dad.

 

 

Do You Need to Reassess Your Expectations

Coffee on book

 

Are you finding yourself increasingly frustrated and perhaps not really knowing why? Or feeling as though you are failing to “get things done” that you think you should be doing?

 

Sometimes we enter into a small season change without realizing it and suddenly we are mad, frustrated, depressed, etc… (or like me this week, spiraling down the dark hole of despair wondering what the heck initiated it)

 

We make more elaborate To Do Lists or try and figure out where we have some extra chunk of time to squeeze in more things. Or perhaps we feel as though we just need more discipline to stay on top of things.

 

But maybe what we really need to do is to stop and reassess where we are. Has something about our season changed? Do we have new limitations or demands on our time that we haven’t accounted for and are simply going about expecting to be able to produce the same amount of results even though we do not have the same amount of time to work with?

 

Or perhaps, like me, you realize that even though you don’t necessarily have more “things” to do with your time, the time you do have is not able to be utilized the way you had previously.

 

For example, my daughter is now crawling super fast, pulling herself up on everything, not staying put, and just in general getting into everything. I didn’t see at the time that even though her schedule of waking and sleeping was still about the same, my ability to walk away and clean the kitchen or file papers, or scrub the toilet pretty much vanished or was severely crimped.

 

My attention has to be much more focused on her and what she is doing, or what her brother is doing to her! And after my day in the “pit of despair” (cue the creepy albino guy from The Princess Bride), I finally realized that I had crossed over into a bit of a different season, a “mini” season if you will and I needed to stop and reassess my expectations.

 

So I sat down and made a list of the bare minimum “Must Get Done” things. You know, things like feed the children, change diapers, brush teeth, wait outside the door for ten minutes while my son goes to the bathroom “BY HIMSELF”, make sure we have clean clothes to wear, and clean dishes to use.

 

Then I wrote out the things that I “Really Would Like to Get Done”. Things like keep the surfaces cleared off, and pick up toys before Daddy gets home, and maybe do some writing.

 

And then there was the “Everything Else” list to dump the rest of my To Do items that eternally kept getting written down and never done.

 

Now having decided that my goal is simply to do the “Must Get Done” things, if that is all I do in a day, the day was a SUCCESS.

 

If I do something off of the “Really Would Like to Get Done” list, then BONUS! It was a REALLY GOOD day.

 

If I do all that plus something off the “Everything Else” list, then it was an I AM A ROCKSTAR day.

 

Now I could say goodbye to that pesky feeling of failure for not getting enough things done and instead feel a sense of accomplishment for even the regular days that are filled with dishes and diapers and laundry and potty training.

 

As my sister says, our To Do lists and schedules and routines, and all of those things are simply tools. They work for us, not the other way around. And if something isn’t working, then we need to remember that it is only a tool and it’s ok to find a different one.

 

DON’T let your To Do list rule you. Use it how you need to and revamp it when it becomes obsolete or burdensome.

 

DON’T think that you have to do everything in every season. And some seasons change more quickly than we might think.

 

I know that realistically, I only have 6 months to a year of this hyper watching season (even though it feels like that will be FOREVER, it really isn’t).

 

I know that my husband will be out of school for the summer, so all the projects like painting our furniture, and decorating Gabrielle’s room, and going through all the papers in the house can wait until then. And it will be like 115 degrees here so I’ll be wanting to stay inside anyway.

 

So it’s ok to spend my days taking the kids for walks or to the park or the library, because we won’t be feeling like doing much of that in a couple months.

 

I’m feeling so much more at peace now that I’ve revamped my own expectations for myself to match the current season.

 

Maybe your season looks like taking on new projects at work, or extra classes at school, or wedding planning, or growing a baby, or extra commitments for your children.

 

Whatever it is, think about whether your circumstances or time commitments or limitations have changed and if you have adjusted your expectations accordingly or if you are still charging ahead trying to match the same output from before.

 

If you are feeling frustrated or anxious or depressed about what you may not be getting done, you might not be matching your expectations to your reality. And take it from me, there is so much more peace when you do.

 

And here’s a little food for thought…

“If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there…” -Elisabeth Elliot

 

How many of those items on your To Do list are ones that He put there and how many are ones that you’ve added over time?

 

There are a lot of GOOD things out there that may not be the BEST things for right now. Take some time to ask God which ones they may be.

 

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

So take heart and some time by yourself to listen and pray and maybe you’ll find that there is more freedom to be had right now than you thought.

 

God bless,
Heather

Beautiful Things: Andrew Peterson & “No Longer Slaves”

Guitar

This is the first Beautiful Things post.  Each weekend I am going to start posting something beautiful that has been bringing me joy or blessing me in some way.

 

A few weeks ago, my friend Haylie Allcott introduced me to Andrew Peterson.  She features an Artist of the Month on her blog, which I really enjoy and did a piece on Andrew.  He is a singer/songwriter and an author.  I started listening to some of his music and I love it!  I’ve had his Behold the Lamb album going all week.  It is so refreshingly different and in this album, I love how he follows the foreshadowing of Christ throughout the Bible.

 

 

Another song that I’ve been playing over and over again is “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan and Melissa Helser.  This blog is all about walking in joy and in freedom and the phrase, “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”, seems especially important for me right now.

 

Like something that I can stand up and claim and when I feel the insidious tentacles of fear trying to wrap around me, I put this song on and let the truth of who I am flow over me.

 

I am not a slave.  I am a child of God.

 

…Perfect love casts out all fear…

I John 4:18

 

 

 

I hope these songs bring a little bit of joy, freedom, or beauty to your weekend!

 

God bless,
Heather

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