Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Saying No to Over-Commitments

Growing up I heard, say no to drugs, drinking and driving, and remember, no means no. Yet I grew up and started saying yes. "Yes, I'll host this event."  "Yes, I can volunteer to teach." "Yes, I can bake the cookies." Yes, yes, yes! Commitment after commitment was leading me down the road of exhaustion.

I tend to be one of those people that bites off more than I can chew. One commitment after the other leads to long sleepless nights, trying to accomplish too much. After one season of being sick at least once a month and trying to be everywhere and do everything, I decided it was time for things to change.

I informed Carl that I couldn't keep going like this. He totally understood. The problem was that my husband is the same way! So if I wasn't committing to something, then he was! And you know how that goes... 

One day I started to listen to my conversations with others and I realized I was part of my problem. I heard myself volunteering and offering to commit to things that at the time I knew would be too much. "Yes, I'd love to bake three dozen cookies (even though I don't like to bake)."  I know this doesn't need further explanation because you know what I mean. 

You might be one of those people. We bite off more than we can chew. Then we're miserable about it. Why do we do this to ourselves? Well, I've spent quite some time analyzing myself and my husband and this is what I've come up with.  

I'm a people pleaser. There I said it! Are you? I always default to what the other person wants instead of thinking what will work best in my situation.  

I want to make sure I fulfill my obligation. I never want to do less than my part which leads me to take on more so that I consciously know I'm doing enough.

I operate too much on my emotions. This one gets me into trouble too many times! I love the idea and dive in without praying about it!  

Carl, my husband, on the other hand takes on too much for totally different reasons than I do. If you don't fall into my category, you might fall into his. It's important to know the reasons behind why we do things, especially if we want to change the outcome. 

He likes building things from the ground up. He likes to reinvent the wheel, at least this is what I tell him. Taking on a project that involves creating something from practically nothing draws his attention.

He doesn't want to miss a good opportunity. We have a term for this around here.  FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Lots of great opportunities come our way but we're learning that we don't need to be part of it all. 

Provides a sense of accomplishment. If Carl takes something on he is going to give it 110%. He will dive in deep and put a lot time and effort into accomplishing the task.

It's important to know the reasons behind why we do things, especially if we want to change the outcome. In this case, we are learning to say no. Its taken many years for us to decide letting go and saying no is what we need to do. Finally after years of over-committing we are taking a step back and saying no to good things to make way for greater things because there's more to life than being busy. Remember what we learned in our younger years and "just say no."

Want to join us? Go ahead and make a list of reasons why you say yes and then pray about the things you need to say no to. 

Do you have a hard time saying no to over-commitments? What are your reasons? 

Linking up to:
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Less is More

Happy Resurrection Sunday! 
What a joy it is to celebrate today and recognize that God is always at work even when we don't see it. 

Can you imagine Mary Magdalene, who went to the tomb expecting to see Jesus's wrapped lifeless body lying in there and instead saw that the tomb was empty?

After days of mourning His death and probably trying to make sense of all He had told them, the empty tomb would seem to add to her confusion.

But Jesus confronts the poor woman and asks her, "Woman, why are you crying?"

I feel like Jesus was saying to her, "Your mourning over my dead body, but I'm here to give you more." 

You see, less is sometimes more..
It is when we are empty that we are ready for God to fill us up.
When we are weak that His strength is made perfect.
When we let go of what we are holding on to that he gives us what we really need.

Then, we could go running to others, like Mary did, exclaiming, "I have seen The Lord!"

Today we celebrate less being more, an empty tomb and a Risen Savior!

Have a blessed day!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Reflection

It was probably a day a lot like today. The normalcy of the day had begun with a special interest in current events. Everyone was talking about it, and like with any controversery, it drew a crowd. But that was a day like no other.  It was the day an innocent man would pay the price of the guilty...the man between two thieves... our Savior.

Today, I wanted to reflect on this truth with more than just knowledge. More like a visual reminder of what Jesus did.  With kids ranging from 15 to 3 in age, I was trying to find something that would capture all of their attention... And I did!!!
Well, not so much the 3 year old, but she did partake in it, briefly. Hey, 4 out of 5 ain't bad and I've learned not to expect perfection. 

We have this cross hanging in our kitchen.  

We got paper and folded it to make little rectangles to write different sins on it.
We thought of sins that we struggle with, and that our society struggles with. We opened our bibles to the book of Proverbs and wrote sins we found in there. It led to other scriptures and a great discussion on sins that we probably take for granted.

 When we were finished, we cut out the pieces of paper and taped them to the cross.

And this is what we ended up with! I love it!! I can't help but stare at it and thank Jesus for what he did.
That little red piece of paper in the center was Eliana's piece in it. Mostly I involved her later, explaining that these are the bad things we've done that Jesus died for. 

And to think, this is probably just the beginning of it...

He bore all our sins and now we await Sunday!!

What did you do to reflect the crucifixion on Good Friday?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Be Who God Called You To Be

So here we the end of the 31 day series... turned 2 years.
If you read along, you might be thinking I have it altogether.  I can assure you, nothing could be further from the truth! I could easily write 31 days of Mistakes I've Made as a Parent, but I choose not to dwell on the past and instead be proactive on moving ahead in a better direction.  
This is a topic I am passionate about because I long to be the best mom and wife to my children and husband.  I want my children to see Christ reflected in me and in the decisions I make.  This is a journal of sorts to remind me of the values that are important to me and of the things we've done (even if it was only once) and should do more of.

It hurts my heart to see families falling apart and children growing up missing the comfort that God designed for them to find in Him through the safety net of the family structure.

So now what? Assuming you've read the past posts, where do you go from here?  I ask this question because I too wonder the same thing. I know for a fact that I will mess up, get irritable and forget to put into practice even the simplest of these at times.  So for all of you wondering the same thing, I want to comfort you in knowing that it's OK. Just be who God called you to be.  

You are exactly who your family needs.  Now believe it! God doesn't make mistakes and although many times we feel less than, we are not!! We don't need job titles or fancy labels to define us. We were children of the Living Almighty God to do His will in our family.  

This blog is based on me and my family. I hope you will be inspired by it and connect with what I write so that it gets you thinking and you can build on some ideas and make it even better.  In your family, your situation, God has a plan.  I pray that you kneel before the throne of grace, at His feet, and let Him lead you to guide your family in drawing closer together.


Sacrifice For Each Other

If I had to wrap up this 31 days series into one post, it would come down to this...sacrifice for each other. Where there is sacrifice there is selflessness and where there is selflessness there is love.
Where there is love, there lies the heart of God.                

There is no greater example of sacrifice than that of our Lord Jesus. It cost Him everything so that we could receive what cost us nothing. Wow! That one truth is so powerful that even though I know it, I have to stop and think about it, over and over again.

Yet as crazy as that sounds, as a parent, I understand. I would give my life for my kids... and I know you would to, and we do when we give up daily and make the choice to put their needs before our own.

Its amazing what happens once we become parents. What we thought was important, takes second place to this tiny life that we are responsible for.  Thats a good thing. It's a God thing.  It's through Jesus life and sacrifice that we recognize his love for us. He didn't just talk about and live a commendable life as an example, He gave everything because He loved us.

Carl and I both have amazing parents who are great examples of sacrificing for their families. My dad will often say when we thank him for something he's done for us, "It's the circle of life, you'll do the same for your kids."  In other words, pay it forward. It's a good thing because we could never repay all the love, time, effort, sweat, blood, and tears, its taken to raise us. What we can do is to pass that blessing forward by doing the same for our family.

Jesus sacrificed, we follow His example and it teaches our kids to do the same.

In what ways does your family sacrifice for each other?

Show You Are Committed

Home, sweet, home.  What makes that saying true? Home is a place that brings comfort and a sense of belonging.  What makes home so sweet is what we find within the people who live there.   Home should be a safe haven where we find love, forgiveness, honesty, and people who are committed to one another.

Everyday we have a chance to show our family that we are committed to them.
Do our families know that no matter what, we are there and that they come first?
No matter how much we may be losing it today, can they count on us to get up tomorrow and do it all over again?
Do our children see our dedication towards our spouse, for better or for worse?
Are we devoted to family matters more than outside commitments?

Growing up, the most important thing to me, when I was in a ballet recital, was to look up and see my parents sitting in the crowd.  All else was background.  It was the love I felt in knowing that they were there for me.

Today, whether it's a recital, play, game, or working together through a math problem, I want to be there, committed to celebrating the highlights and cheering them on during their struggles.  I want them to know that they can count on me because I am devoted to them.  

What a beautiful picture of God we paint when we commit to one another. It says,  "I love you no matter what." In doing so we live out the message of God's love and provide that safe haven we all desire.

How committed are you to your family and their needs?

No Secrets from the family

When my kids were younger we made a rule: no secrets from the family.
Unless, we were keeping a surprise.

We came up with this rule because we wanted to eliminate secrets that made siblings feel left out.  As a team we would work together, not against each other.  

It was a simple rule with a positive impact. It helped us to be open with one another, stopped anyone from talking behind someone's back and its a rule we would often hear our kids repeating to one another.

Knowing that secrets weren't being kept from each other was something that was important to us. We wanted our children to feel intimate enough with each other that they could talk things through during rough patches, instead of talking behind one another's back.

Starting this rule when the kids were young also had other benefits.  It helped create a bond within the family that was cemented even when we were around others.  For example, it taught them to be inclusive in situations when friends wanted to be secretive and push their sibling(s) aside.

Sometimes simplicity is all it takes to create a sense of closeness. Overall our rule of no secrets from the family has underscored the value of putting family first and has helped create unity among our children.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Be Creative

Parenting takes ingenuity. We need to think outside the box at times. Be creative!
These are the moments they'll probably remember best. Creativity means things could get messy, but for the sake of making memories and building relationships, it's worth it.

Last year my older kids were going to Johnny Rockets with the youth group. They were super excited... My younger kids, not so much. I heard all the complaints. "Why don't we do anything fun?" "That's not fair." "How come they get to have all the fun," etc.. etc.. etc..

That is until I got creative! I planned a night of fun for them that was similar to the experience my older kids were having. I planned a Johnny Rocket meal... Burgers, fries and they opted for cream soda in the glass bottles instead of a shake. I called it Mommy Rocks It! Afterwards we watched a movie together and enjoyed the evening.

A few months later, the youth group had a lock in at church where they stay up all night and play games. My younger daughter couldn't go and was feeling a little left out. So, I planned our own night of fun.

I set up a fort in the family room using sheets and we set up sleeping arrangements underneath. We had a special meal together and camped in the family room that night after letting her stay up late. I called it Mommy Locks It! (Maybe a little cheesy, but it worked for her)

A little creativity goes a long way! What creative things have you done lately?

Encourage One Another

At times, the loved ones we're closest to, can be the ones that annoy us the most.  We can know each other so intimately that our focus can become more about the negatives than the positives in one another. 

If we're not careful, this can take down down a road of not being appreciative and taking each other for granted.

So how do we change that?

For one thing, begin by recognizing that God put the people in your family together for a reason.  He created you each individually to fill a specific purpose in your family. Just knowing that could change things since sometimes we can all feel purposeless. 

So now that you know this, how do we communicate it to our family?  
By encouraging them.  

Maybe you already do this and if you do, congratulations, for looking beyond the drudgery of the daily tasks and seeking the good instead of focusing on what could be better. 

If you need help in this area, then you are probably part of the majority of us who have great intentions of seeking the good, but can spend more time trying to perfect the flaws in our family instead. 

Can you believe for every negative comment it takes 10 positive comments to make up for it? I admit, I have a lot of making up to do!

But here's a twist, it's not only having you, the parents, encourage the children, it also takes the children encouraging each other and you the parent!  It's a team effort, and we can all use positive affirmation.

What we do every once in a while is go around the table, sometimes during dinner, and everyone takes turns saying three things they love about each other. Try it sometime, the results are really interesting.  

When we first began doing this, it was a little awkward for the kids. I think they felt a little vulnerable sharing what they loved, especially about their sibling. As time passed, they've shared great words of encouragement showing compassion and appreciation for the things that can often seem to go by forgotten. 

Encouraging one another can be a great reminder of the good things we see in each other and can make a huge difference in how our loved ones see themselves.  

Our words have power, therefore, we need to make sure that we speak words that are uplifting and encouraging. Reminded them of the gifts and strengths  they possess through Christ to make a difference both in the family and out in the world.    

How does your family encourage one another?    

Cherish the moments

Its been a long, long while since I last blogged.  Life once again took over, but I am back to finish what I 31 days to Drawing Closer as a Family.  

It was my daughters H.S. homecoming. As I watched her do her hair, it brought me back. It just seemed like yesterday I was putting pigtails in her hair and now she was capable of doing it on her own.  Where did the time go?

My little girl grew up before my eyes way too fast. I have a bucket list of things I'd like to do with her before college and now there are only a few years left.

The funny thing is that the days that make up the years sometimes seem to drag. Did you ever have a bad day and wonder how long until they grow up? Well I have, and as I look back, I realize that they go by faster than you think.

My advice? Cherish the moments. Enjoy the good moments, learn from the difficult ones but cherish them all. Before you know it, the days turn into years and the kids are all grown up.

Take the time to make memories, live one day at a time (totally need to work on this) and enjoy your family NOW.  Most of the moments I enjoy most with my family aren't planned, overdone activities.  Mostly, it happens as we lived life together doing the simplest of things. Cherish those times because it's those moments simply spent with each other that help us grow closer as a family.

What are some of your family's most cherished moments?