I've missed this place. But there are reasons that I've been away for so long and haven't had the time to sit down and spread out my thoughts like the sheets on a freshly made bed. It's simple, yet complicated. Easy to push this aside, yet so, so hard. Writing is good for my soul, but there there have been other things to put first these past six months. It's the most basic, fundamental principle for motherhood--putting others needs ahead of our own, and I wouldn't trade these past six months for all the blog posts in the blogosphere.
It's that time again...
I have about four weeks until we add another little Shoe into our family photo. I know, I could have shared this with you sooner, and I thought about it SO many times, but, well, to be honest...this Momma ain't as young as she used to be and quite frankly, I've been beyond exhausted for a good bit of this pregnancy. And, I'm sure I don't have to explain...Momma and Baby's health comes before blogging :)
And besides that, I've been soaking up the moments that I've spent with our Fab Five before our world gets turned upside down again. Starting back at square one is hard on ALL of us. What was normal is totally disrupted and we start anew. A blessing, yes. But still hard some days.
So after we shared the news of anticipating our newest blessing with family and friends, I decided that I needed to focus less on extra things and more on being intentional with my children. Because, you see, up until we found out about Baby #6, I was getting a bit distracted by things that are good, but non-essential in daily life.
My children, at times, were like the brown bananas that are often in my fridge--that I look at and think, "I really should do something with them soon." Always waiting for me...amidst the laundry, dishes, errands, email, blogging...you get the picture. So I made up my mind to put aside the non-essential and focus on what matters to me most--my faith, family and friends.
So yes, writing is good for my soul. But so is connecting to the people most dear to me and creating special moments for our family as it is NOW...before we begin a new chapter in this crazy life we live. I hope you'll check back periodically because there is More Beautiful Chaos to come...
I've really been working hard to do just this lately, so I had to smile when I read this little silver wrapper...
It's not always easy to accomplish this in our humble home of seven, especially when there is so much to keep tidy and organized. The project I've been working hard to tackle the past few weeks is the dreaded playroom. I've asked the children for months (I'm totally not joking--months) to help me get the room in order because you couldn't even walk in the place. But I realized that I can't expect my kiddos to be up to the challenge when I, myself, hyperventilated every time I looked into the room. Well, I finally mustered up the motivation to divide and conquer.
Now you see it...
Now you don't...
What's crazy is that the first photo was actually after I had already done some work cleaning and sorting in there!!! Unbelievable, yes, but it was worse than that when I started:(
How did we do it? Well, with the help of my very generous children, we gave a lot of it away. Stuff they weren't using anymore, stuff they weren't taking proper care of because it wasn't something that they cared much about, and lots of broken or junky odds and ends (i.e. McDonalds toys) made their way into the trash.
That my friends is our latest story of creating a happy place...but don't worry, I'm sure it won't stay this neat for long:) I have five kids, remember?
But when I say Dove, I mean a little bit of chocolate:)
If these words of wisdom aren't a reason to treat myself to a little piece of chocolate every now and then, I don't know what is:)
When things in life get hard today, think of this little silver wrapper and stop to enjoy the small things in life. Take it from me...it can make all the difference between just "making it through the day" and loving the life that your living.
Enjoying the small things in life by counting one blessing at a time to 1000 and beyond...
201. A love of singing
202. The laughter of siblings
203. Funny faces
204. Freshly popped popcorn
205. A silly toddler dance
206. Cuddles on the couch
207. Nighttime talks with my husband
208. The dance of lightning across a black night sky
209. My nightly ritual of picking various items up off the floor (in every room:)
What a wonderful reminder that things are not always what they seem...God has a plan for each of us. And we don't always see things the way he does. So many times in my life, looking backwards, I can see so clearly the path that God had set for me. I realize that even when my world is upside down, God has a way of turning it around and showing me something amazing.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
I mentioned before that I had to give myself a little "time-out" on the computer. Why, you ask? Well, it has a little something to do with my newest love/hate relationship.
Let me start out by saying that I LOVE the sharing of ideas. I LOVE (an attempt) to organize. I love technology that is useful and functional. I love fun stuff!
What I hate is becoming obsessed with something that contributes to thoughts that "steal my joy". I hate realizing that I'm purposefully engaging in an activity that encourages me to be discontent with my beautiful life.
My newest love/hate relationship is with Pinterest. If you've never heard of Pinterest, the site is described as a computerized cork board where you can "pin" your favorite ideas or concepts that you've found, so you will be able organize them and to return to/access their direct websites more easily. The way that I often explain it to people is that it's like a virtual 3 ring binder with an unlimited number of dividers (because I used to tear pictures or articles out of magazines and then stick them in a binder, so I could go back to the ideas again later). My "pin boards" (or categories, if you will) range from Home and Garden to For the Fab Five to Free Printables, etc.
It's actually a very helpful tool to reduce paper clutter in my life and to make it easier to revisit ideas about, well, just about anything.
The thing is...you can also follow other people's pin boards and see all the things that they pin. Which leads me to my problem...
I found myself becoming a tiny bit obsessed with Pinterest and what other people were pinning.
When I would look at other people's pins about activities for children, I found myself thinking, "Why don't I do all these cool things with MY kids. I need to be a better mom."
When I would look at pins about home decorating or home improvement, I found myself thinking, "I wish our house had that." or "Our _________ room would be so much better if we could do THAT."
When I looked at pins that included fashionable clothing or fancy hairstyles, I would find myself thinking, "I'm SO frumpy. If only I could look more put-together." or "The body that carried 5 children would NOT be able to make that cute outfit work." Aghhhhhhhh! Get the picture?
And once I realized what I was doing, it led me to think about other issues I was having with computer usage, like checking my email every 5 minutes or wishing I could just spend the afternoon blogging. I was getting so distracted and it was really affecting my homemaking and overall attitude. So, I had to go "cold turkey". I chose to extremely limit my time on the computer and gradually, I have allowed myself to return to Pinterest.
So that was a very long explanation of why I "disappeared" from the blog world for awhile...
Now, hear me when I say, I am NOT anti-Pinterest. I think the concept is fabulous and I will continue to use it BUT, and this is a big but, I am determined to be more purposeful when I do. My "fast" helped me refocus on simply using MY "boards" and not looking so much at what others "pin". And when I do choose to look at other people's pins, I'm making sure to fight any discontent that may creep in with reminders of God's truth. I love my beautiful life and what I've been blessed with is more than enough!!!
Praise God, my cup runneth over--with or without Pinterest:)
It's 7:30am on a Saturday morning and I'm already on my second cup of coffee...let me just say--a morning that begins with two little guys getting up at 5:40am after a night full of coughing children, well, put gently, it's been a little rough around here.
Anyway, as I was looking through my blog notebook this morning, I came across a snippet that I jotted down about a year ago and it gave me a good laugh...
And this is how my morning began... fishing the toilet paper roll holder out of a urine-filled toilet. Add in two leaky diapers and a nighttime "accident"--which brought me to a morning dealing with more pee than I care to think about...
Later in the morning I found a cup of water that someone had put Dorito crumbs in, which turned into a lovely cup of Dorito mush...
Motherhood is so glamorous, isn't it?
Well, there you have it. I prayed for a little help finding the right perspective this morning and God meets me right where I am. That little memory lifted my spirits. I guess this morning isn't as rough as I thought it was:)
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Trust me when I say, "I've REALLY wanted to and have written about 20 blog posts in my mind, but, well, I had to give myself a bit of a TIME-OUT on the computer". I'll explain more in a different post...
but for now, I'll just say, I'm glad to be back:)
I hope y'all are doing well and thanks for stopping by!
Yes, if you are wondering...I'm still counting to 1000. So here we go--
171. Knowing that a few days of cooking chaos will result in months of meal planning simplicity
172. Watching Hope at her piano recital
173. Children behaving well for our 1 1/2 hour shopping extravaganza at the grocery store
174. A four year old willing to push our full 2nd cart:)
175. The sounds of soft thunder and gentle rain as I ready for sleeping
176. A chubby shirtless baby belly
177. Vacuuming the living room at 10:00pm
178. Spending Sunday together as a family
179. Finally an interest in potty training!
180. A trip to the church for bike riding and baseball
181. Lots of compliments from the children at mealtime
182. Trying a new recipe--that worked!
183. Fancy colorful pens used to organize our calendar of activities
184. Success in planning ahead...sometimes:)
185. Catching a glimpse of a rainbow and remembering God's promise to Noah to never flood the WHOLE earth again (we needed that reminder after all the rain we'd been having:)
Thanks again for stopping by... Blessings to you until we meet here again!
I sit in front of the screen and read tips and suggestions about how to "streamline" my life, become more efficient at running my household, then about clearing out the clutter and how to organize what's left. I can't even count the number of emails that I've received that touch on one, if not all, of the previous topics. It's hilarious, really, because I've come to realize that if I would just take that 30 minutes that I might spend sitting in front of that screen and actually use it to DO something--I wouldn't have to read about how to accomplish more, in less time:)
Every year I think, "This is it. I'm going to get it together this year. I'll have a smooth running home. Schedule in place. Every closet organized (with lots of plastic containers, each one labeled). Then life happens...
I appreciate all the help and suggestions, really I do, because let me tell you...the other day I was trying to find a notebook where I jot down blogging notes and I came across eight spiral notebooks (each of which had some type of writing in them) but NONE of them was the notebook for which I was looking. How is this possible?? So yes, I can use a little "clutter cleanse" in a major way.
Many of the "experts" tell me to have a set CLEANING SCHEDULE, and my home will be in shape in no time. Block time each day and assign different chores... Problem is, that assumes that each of your days is the same.
What about when life happens? My 5 children and husband are living, breathing and very active. They are not robots that do and say the same things every day. I love the idea of a cleaning schedule and have tried and tried to make it work...but how do I include vomiting/feverish child in the schedule (complete with unexpected trip to the pediatrician) or the extra laundry and upholstery scrub that was needed when previously mentioned child missed the bucket? How about the child that I was dealing with for 15 minutes during a temper tantrum (hers, not mine--just for the record)?Is there a time slot for preschooler in frog galoshes tracking mud all over the living room floor clean-up?Or a block of time for "I left the water running in the bathroom and flooded the whole floor and basement"(that's a story for my book:)? Or when my husband calls and needs us to run an important errand for him? What about the time we spend enjoying a visit with unexpected company (which we love, by the way)?How does all this fit in to my so-called "cleaning schedule"?
It has occurred to me that sometimes I let this dream of perfection become an idol in my life. This quest for perfection can be consuming. Something that can be SO defeating to me that I can barely function. The constant thoughts about what I can't seem to get accomplished and how embarrassing an untidy home can be. They lead me to become frustrated in so many areas of my life. These thoughts send me in a downward spiral of negativity.
"Sometimes, when you are too close to something, you can't see it clearly. You have to get a new perspective." -Soul Surfer
"When your attitude is bad, your heart's not right." -Facing the Giants
So this year, I'm gonna try to smash that idol of perfection. I've decided to change my perspective.
What we need is more focus...
1. Daily Devotions (a MUST for me)
2. More consistent chores for the children
3. Guided activities for the children--because left to themselves, they turn into wild little creatures- running, screaming, wrestling, fighting, and undoing all the work/cleaning that I've spent doing that day.
My focus should be asking God to help us find:
a little more structure, a lot less stress a little more function, and a lot less frustration a little more order and less overwhelming chaos a little more peace and less problem behavior
These are the things that I'm going to work toward in 2012. Not designing a rigid cleaning schedule that will lead to feelings of failure. Not perfection. Now, don't get me wrong, I'll still be using some of those organizing tips and schedule methods, but first and foremost, I'm going to be "clearing the clutter" out of my mind. Continuing to count my way to One Thousand Gifts and beyond. Blessings to you as we journey through this new year. May it be one filled with joy to overflowing!
Well, our 30 day challenge came and went and this family sure learned many lessons. The biggest one being, not a new lesson but a reminder that is often needed, that God's timing is perfect. Sometimes, I get frustrated that there are things on my "To Do" list that take (what seems like) forever to get done. But I have to remember that my plan is not always the same as God's plan.
Let me give you an example from our intentional acts of kindness challenge...
Before I had even seen a thing about the challenge on the I Can Teach My Child blog, I made a list in church one Sunday of people to which I would like to send the children's artwork. I had this list sitting on my messy counter for weeks, and kept thinking, "I've got to get that done!" It seemed like a simple task--write a little note on the artwork, pray with the children over the picture, address the envelope and stick in the mail. But for some reason, I couldn't manage to get it done.
I decided that it would be our first "intentional act of kindness", thinking that maybe it might brighten a day or give someone a little smile. I'm gonna be honest, I kinda felt like it was a really weak beginning to our 30 day challenge. My insecurities screamed that it seemed a little "not good enough". But wouldn't you know it, it was all part of God's plan.
One of the ladies on our list thanked us in church with tears in her eyes and revealed to us that she received our letter the day before she went to a doctor's appointment, where she found out she has cancer. And it was such a blessing to her to know that we had prayed for her and had taken the time to remember her. Another church member revealed to us that he received his letter the day before the anniversary of his wife's death. Our simple little letter and prayer also brought tears to his eyes.
What an amazing reminder to me.
When I sometimes think, "Why can't I get this done?"...God is answering, "It isn't the right time."
When I doubt that the gesture is big enough...God reminds me that sometimes just showing that we care and are lifting them up in prayer is exactly the right thing.
Something that I though was too small. Something that I intended to do for weeks.
God's timing. Perfect. Beautiful.
It's what turns our sometimes small, better late than never, acts of kindness into a special blessing for others.
Today I'm thanking God for His timing, for a boy healing after surgery, and for the many visitors, gifts, cards and prayers that have been a blessing and encouragement to him (and the rest of our family). We have been the recipients of many intentional acts of kindness this past week:)
And my journey of recording 1000 gifts continues...
#161 My 3 yr old "reading" to me
#162 My 4 yr old reading upside down...and reading the right words!
#163 My 6 yr old, ball-playing son finishing his 1st chapter book:)
#164 My oldest daughter "cracking up" at her dad as they tie in their race to see who gets home first
#165 A "can't stop laughing" moment with my husband--while the children sleep soundly in their beds
I happened to be on the receiving end of the intentional act of kindness today. My sweet daughters surprised me by secretly making my bed this morning! What a gift it was, not only the bed making, but also the feeling that maybe, just maybe, this 30 day challenge is having a lasting effect on our family:) I'll know it's for real if the siblings spontaneously start making each others beds...I may consider that a kindness challenge miracle!
Anyhoo, we are loving a holiday weekend full of lots of quality family time this weekend. Just enjoying being together:) Is it possible to cram celebrating a lifetime of things for which to give thanks into a short few days? Not. A. Chance. So I continue counting...
#146. Being able to continue piano lessons with a teacher that we love
#147. Memories of Tom
#148. A dear friend doing devotions with the children at the picnic table
#149. Turning our sadness into a celebration of memories
#150. Pudding pops on the front porch
#151. A dragonfly playing chase with a big fuzzy bumblebee
#152. A good first hit and safe at base
#153. Chocolate smudges on faces
#154. Little green thumbs in training
#155. A college baseball game with the family (including fireworks!)
#156. Silas cheering at his big brother's baseball scrimmage
#157. Watching a 3 yr. old boogie:)
#158. Beautiful weather for a farm field trip
#159. Lots of hugs from my oldest son
#160 Meeting new people--especially moms of the children's school friends
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. -Psalm 100:3-5
One. One act of kindness. Who knows how much good can stem from one "small" act of kindness? Only God, really.
This week of the challenge we were asked to highlight acts of kindness that someone else has done, instead of focusing on each of our own acts this week. Many other bloggers have shared some fantastic ideas...many of them inspired us! But I'd like to share with you something that profoundly impacted our family this year and it isn't a part of any blog or any 30 day challenge.
It all started with a birthday party. Dear friends of our family having a large gathering to celebrate a sweet girl turning 7 years old...and then a year later turning 8. Last year and this, instead of birthday presents, the family requested that each party guest bring canned goods to donate to the local Food Bank. And so it began...
Not only did that family help many people receive food that they so desperately needed, but an act of kindness like that can be "catchy".
After a thoughtful discussion and just a tiny bit of encouragement, Hope decided to do the same thing for her birthday. She was overjoyed as we delivered her collected food to our local food pantry! And the kindness kept "catching"...
Hank decided he wanted to ask his guests to donate school supplies to compile MCC school kits. He was so excited to compile 14 complete kits. And the kindness kept on "catching"...
Mattie asked her birthday party guests to bring items to include in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. She has packed 13 shoeboxes that we will be taking to our local Drop Off location on Saturday.
What a wonderful example of how one "small" act of kindness can have a huge impact. Three little lives (plus how many more?) that were influenced by an example of kindness.
Throughout our 30 Days of Intentional Acts of Kindness challenge, I've enjoyed reading other blogs to see the acts of kindness other families have been doing. So many great ideas have been shared these past two weeks!
I've already mentioned Cindy at Crayon Wishes and Popscicle Dreams in a few previous posts...thanks again, Cindy!
And I LOVE what Jennifer has to say over at The Purposeful Mom about encouraging her kiddos to show kindness within their own family. Her children made sweet books sharing what they love about their sibling. I am planning on borrowing the idea this week because we could stand to cultivate a little kindness between siblings around the Shoe household! And special thanks again to Jenae over at I Can Teach My Child.com for starting this 30 day challenge. It has truly been a blessing to us and, hopefully, to others receiving our small attempts at kindness these past two weeks.
This challenge continues to remind me not to underestimate my children. Little ones can do BIG things, too:)
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. -1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)
I'm a day late and a dollar short...isn't that how the old saying goes?
Anyway, yesterday the kiddos made a little something to let their teachers know that we are thankful for them. I had a fun little idea that popped into my head as we checked out at our local bulk foods market. They always have some yummy treat sitting there by the cash register and yesterday it just happened to be the mini buckeyes. They were packaged in a plastic cone shaped bag. I envisioned that we could turn them upside down and make them into turkeys.
Here's how they turned out...
Cute, huh? One of the things that I love most about doing this kind of activity with my children is that they all create something unique. Just like their personalities, each turkey was a little different than the others.
Our act of kindness idea today came to us again courtesy of Cindy- over at Crayon Wishes and Popsicle Dreams. We will be treating someone to a free load of laundry at the laundrymat! I just happened to have one of my "freebie" samples of laundry detergent and some quarters available.
What fun! Thanks again so much, Cindy, for the idea!
I'm just a small town girl that married her dreamy high school sweetheart. I've been a lot of things since graduating college but my best job has been that of wife and stay-at-home momma. I have 5 children, age 8 and under, and the ins and outs of our daily life is crazy and chaotic. I don't know how I would do it without the help of an amazing, compassionate, Almighty God (and also very nearby, helpful family members:) * * * * *
My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.