- I am going to be purposeful. I woke up this morning and realized that two days of summer were already gone. I want every day to count. We only have 63 days or so of summer and I already used up two without being purposeful! Days don’t have to be full just be filled with purpose. Purpose to laugh. Purpose to relax. Purpose to engage. Purpose to recharge.
- I am going to include the kids in as many things as possible. Usually my summers are filled with work. I work from home so summers are not normally relaxing. I spend my summers hiding in my office or yelling at the kids to stop yelling! LOL! I have a treat this year and don’t have to live by a work schedule. I am going to include the kids in as many things as possible. Trips to the fruit stand. Walks to the mailbox. Dinner preparations. Late night movies. This may be my last summer to have my 3 boys home like this.
- I am going to eat as clean and natural as possible and spend more time on meals. I am not a fan of cooking. It isn’t my spiritual gift (Can I get an amen?) but summer time is a great time to enjoy fixing meals for the family. Get the kids involved. (See #2) I am going to look for new recipes and fix meals that might take a little longer than normal. I will eat fresh foods that will give me energy. This is a great way to recharge for the new school year.
- I am going to plan fewer things and spend more time on those things. I tend to go overboard on filling our schedule when I try to be purposeful. (See #1) Being purposeful doesn’t mean busy it means planning things that mean something. I am going to limit myself to 7 things on a list a day. (This is crazy!) This includes cleaning and errands. I want to take each day slower so that I can enjoy the things we are doing.
- I am going to simplify. When I clean I am going to purge our things. I am not going to add to our clutter. I want to have fewer things that mean more.
- I am going to be aware. I want to really listen when my kids are talking to me. I want to smile at strangers and help those around me. (This may get me in trouble. I will keep you posted.) I want to live in the moment and enjoy every event and day of the summer.
- I am going to fill my mind with scripture. I want my mind renewed before next fall. I know that the only way this can happen is if I fill it with scripture. I am going to read the Bible. I am going to listen to the cool English dude from the Bible app read scripture to me while I am working around the house. I am going to listen to uplifting songs. I want to heal the broken places in my heart and mind this summer and the only way to do that is to wrap them in truth, God’s Word.
- I am going to relax. I am going to give myself permission to do some things that I usually don’t make time to do. I am going to read. I am going to get my toes done. I am going to take a bath. (For the record, I do bathe, I just don’t get to soak and enjoy a bath!) I am going to sit by the pool. These things will recharge my mind and body and help me be a better mom.
- I am going to put my inner manager on hold. Things don’t have to be as orderly during the summer as they do during the school year. I am going to put my inner manager on hold and just enjoy events without the spreadsheets. (Yes, I have heard this can be done. I haven’t personally experienced this but it is a possibility.) I don’t always have to take charge. I can just sit under the umbrella and see what happens when I don’t take over.
- I am going to embrace the bumps. Things will not go as planned. I understand this. A crazy person told me that the best vacation they ever took happened because of a canceled flight and all their reservations were lost. Who knows? Maybe that crazy person is on to something? God might be hanging out in the bumps this summer. He might meet me at the intersection where my plan falls apart and His plan takes over.
- I am going to put my expectations on hold. I am going to wake up each morning and give my day to God. I am going to ask Him to fill my day with joy and peace. I am going to relinquish my expectations and live with expectancy. I am so excited to see what God has in store for me this summer! Summer 2016 here I come!
Recently I watched a TV show about hoarding. It was horrible. I couldn’t begin to imagine how people could live that way. Homes were stacked to the ceiling with things people had purchased and not even opened the box. Trash and containers lined the walls. There wasn’t even room to move around or function in their homes. Items were rotting and the house smelled bad. Rats and bugs were running around all over the house. My heart was broken as they talked about the mental issues that lead up to this kind of condition. I wondered how hurtful this illness was to the hoarder’s family. I thought about how much it must have impacted their social life. I can only imagine how unhappy they must be to seek comfort in compulsively adding to their things and keeping stuff the rest of us throw away.
Then all of the sudden my heart was stricken by the Holy Spirit. It almost took my breath away. We hoard every day! We try to make ourselves feel better by spending money and having things that show status. We meet our need for approval by adding activities to our schedule that make us feel wanted. We eat way more food than we need because we are feeling stressed. We make financial and work related decision to hoard a feeling of security.
I think God is looking down at us with the same horror I felt while looking at the hoarder’s home on the TV show. He sees lives overflowing with meaningless items that clutter our ability to function and grow closer to Him. I think He is heartbroken watching us try to fill voids with stuff, activities and food that only HE can fill. He longs for us to loosen our grip on the need for security and step out in faith and trust Him.
More is truly less when we are trying to fill our lives with temporary things and don’t leave any room for God. Here are a few areas where more is really less:
- More security produces less faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So many times we choose the path of security over stepping out on faith. God wants us to depend on him to meet our daily needs. I have found that playing it safe and faith rarely hang out. Most of the time, God wants us to step out in a big way so that he can get glory from our lives. He wants to do things in our lives that can’t be credited to anyone else but Him!
- More activities produce less margin. Just like the hoarder’s house on TV, when we fill our lives with so many activities that we can’t really move around and function, we are limiting what we can accomplish. Even when the activities we plan are good things they can crowd out the best Our society tells us that our kids need to be in all the extra activities after school and that we need to be on every committee. Our church expectations can even add to this chronic over-scheduling. Imagine if I attend all the Bible studies but don’t have time for personal devotions? What if I teach several classes but don’t have time to invest in my own kids? Do my kids have margin so that God can work in their lives?
- More food produces less space in my pants! LOL! I hear the tiny voice that shouts to me from my pantry as soon as I feel stressed. If things are not going my way, I head to the junk food. I reward myself for health goals by going out for ice cream! LOL! I am right there with you friend. In this area we KNOW that more is less. We are trying to fill an emotional or carnal need with over indulging in food. I appreciate food. It is wonderful in its right place, but when we try to heal hurts and meet needs that only God can address with food, “more” robs us of a quality of life. We can’t be all that God wants us to be when we are not treating our bodies right.
- More spending creates less peace. There were no self-storage units until the later part of the 1960’s. Today we have 2.63 BILLION square feet of storage space available just in the United States! What happened between the 1960’s and now? I know for our family, there has been a gradual shift. We watch TV and look at the ads and feel compelled to get the latest and greatest. I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was married with one baby and now I feel like I need the newest version as soon as it comes out. With that accumulation, we try to ease the guilt by keeping and storing our old items. I admit that shopping can give us a quick “happy high” but it is so fleeting and then we are left with guilt. Strife over finances is one of the top reasons marriages end. We overspend and are robbed of the peace God wants to provide by meeting our needs.
When we were given the news that Cliff, my first husband, was terminally ill, things became crystal clear. Identifying what was important was so simple: Faith and Family. It is a lesson I thought I would NEVER forget. However, life goes on and things call out to me and I am shocked to find myself in the same position I was in before we were given the bad news. This year I am purposing to DO less and BE more. I am going to simplify my stuff and my schedule to give God space to work. God moves in the margins of our life. What a tragic loss if we fill our lives with good and miss the great!
As every parent of a teenager knows, the key to a good fuss is the wind up. You have to lean back and take a deep breath before you start because it takes a lot of energy and you can’t show any signs of wavering. Teenagers can smell insincerity a mile away. This tiny window of weakness gives them just enough time to employ whatever tactic they have found to derail the fuss. Smelly Monster #2 usually talks in his Nacho Lebre voice or his Irish brogue to make me laugh.
During a recent trip to “Wally World” on a Saturday (my first mistake) with Smelly Monster #2, I was winding up for a fuss. I was cranky and grumpy AND at “Wally World” on Saturday. Not a good combination. SM #2 doesn’t like it when I pull the cart from the front while he is supposed to be pushing it from the back. In my defense, he only has three speeds: turtle, snail and slug. He was somewhere between snail and slug that day. I pulled as he was trying to push and we were at immediately at odds. This was the culmination of a day of frustrations. I was over it. I leaned back and took a deep breath. At that same moment Smelly Monster #2’s eyes became as large as saucers. It was like slow motion took over and I looked up just in time to be hit squarely in the head by a 12 pack of paper towels that had fallen from the top shelf. Not sure how to react, we both stood there looking at each other as a second package pelted me on the head.
Parenting tip #27: When you know you have lost the upper hand give in gracefully.
At that point there was nothing else to do but laugh. My favorite part of the story is when SM#2 came around the cart and gave me a hug and said, “I guess we should be thankful that we weren’t in the bowling ball section!”
The Bible says to “give thanks always for all things.” Ephesian 5:20
Ick, gag, ugg! This is not my favorite principle. However, I have learned that a thankful spirit and attitude changes everything. Grief is an overwhelming emotion and it clouds and blurs everything in our lives. Cultivating a thankful, grateful spirit helps us bring things into focus.
Here are 3 steps to cultivating a grateful spirit.
- Remember past blessings. Lamentations 3:20-21 The current situation may be painful and difficult but I bet you can list 10 things right off the top of your head that are blessings from your past. Good times with you lost loved one. Happy events with your friends. Simple gifts that lifted your spirit. Write them out and remember.
- Notice new blessings. Because of the blur and cloud of pain you are living in, you can miss good things happening all around. Psalm 28:7 God is continuing to give you strength and sustain you. Really look around and notice those current blessings.
- Choose to be thankful and grateful. Many times we have to take action first and then our emotions follow. Psalm 118:24 This small choice can change your entire life. Why just survive when you can thrive?
I wonder if God found falling paper towels as funny as my Smelly Monster? I am thankful that we were not in the bowling ball section.
Since today is Thanksgiving take a minute and post at least one thing below in the comments you are thankful for today. I hope you have a great day with family and friends.
You have to do it!
Simple living is my new passion. I am a complete failure but I am enjoying the journey.
Simplicity is a mindset. Simplicity takes commitment.
I woke up this morning feeling kind of blue. (I wonder if I will ever say that line without singing the Veggie Tales Madam Blueberry song?)
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