What I Learned About Coming Unglued

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I have a confession to make.

I often come Unglued. I have raging inner emotions that explode at the worst times. I yell at my toddler. I snap out at my dog. And I stuff things away to later retaliate and throw at my husband.

It’s extremely hard for me to admit this. I have an intense amount of pride in regards to my emotions. I don’t like to admit that I have emotions, good or bad. I don’t like to cry. (I’m an ugly cryer when it happens.) I don’t get overly excited. It’s sometimes joked about with my family that I have no emotions.

Then I got married. EMOTIONS. Then I had a baby. MEGA EMOTIONS. I suppose part of it is that I’ve allowed myself to soften a little when it does come to emotional events. One of the reasons I was sure about my husband being the one for me, was the fact that he made me feel. I actually teared up at our wedding. Partly because he did too.

Five years later our Little Man arrives and I’m just all over the place. Most of it I account to being hormonal. Again, I don’t like to admit to my emotions. But honestly, I should be feeling all the feels when it comes to my baby. (Part of me is turning up my nose at that last sentence.)

Ok. So, it’s out now. I have emotions. Most of those emotions are positive. I am SO in love with my husband (yes, he drives me crazy, but it wouldn’t be as interesting if he didn’t). And I am head over heels with my little boy. I try not to spoil him but it’s hard to resist because he is SO cute and SO sweet. Most of the time.

That’s where I have problems. On those occasions when sweet-little-toddler isn’t being so sweet, my raw emotions will appear. And not the good ones. I alluded to my struggles and what I was overcoming after the first year of motherhood. But I have continued to struggle frequently with my buttons being pushed, an explosion, guilt,  regret, and tears. And sometimes a complete breakdown with a phone call to my husband telling him I. Just. Can’t. Anymore.

Then I found Unglued. It’s a popular Christian Living book by Lysa TerKeurst. One that I would not have picked up (because of my pride), if it were not for my small Bible Study with a couple of good friends. We went through this book together and learned a lot about dealing with raw emotions and how to make wise decisions in the midst of them.

Unglued

Lysa describes in this book the process of imperfect progress. I can try as much as I can to not explode when crisis hits, but I truly need God’s help to be in control of how I react.  I must be regularly filled with his Spirit and keep his Word in my mind. I won’t always react with grace and gentleness at first, but a step forward and a half step back is still progress.

She helped me discover that God created our emotions as indicators, not dictators. When negative emotions come boiling up I don’t have to let them control who I am. I can use them to identify an insecurity, weakness, or area of pain in my life. Realizing why I’m having raw emotions in a situation gives me the ability to grow and progress toward a more Christ-like attitude.

The one thing that stood out the most through reading Unglued, is the importance of taking a Sabbath. God knew we needed time off from the cares of our daily life. Time to clear our minds and put specific focus on Him.

Taking time to set aside the to-do list, forget about the laundry, and solely allow yourself time to focus on God, is life changing. We need to be filled with his Spirit and we need to allow God’s strength to revive our souls. Letting go of the demands of our busy lives for a day, an afternoon, or an extended quiet time is so important.

I’m not talking about just a daily moment with God in prayer or reading the Bible. That is important and sometimes difficult for a mom with young children. But a set aside time during the week or weekend to really rest in God’s comfort. This may mean escaping the house for an hour while your spouse takes care of the children. And not to shop or run errands, but to just sit in God’s presence.

Or maybe you have the ability to spend an entire afternoon or day with God. It will look different for everyone depending on your season of life. The thing to remember is to take a Sabbath. Allow yourself the time and freedom to just rest.

Currently for me, I can take a Sabbath on the weekend during my little one’s nap. I set aside my list of things to do and rest. Sometimes it’s reading Scripture, and sometimes its coloring and reflecting on life and praying. (Coloring is amazingly relaxing.) I make it happen and it does wonders.

Lysa TerKeurst quote

Giving myself time to take a break from the demands of life, daily reading Scripture (even a verse or two), and opening myself to God’s wisdom has changed the frequency of my unglued moments. I’m realizing why I’m feeling the way I am and am learning to put a stop to the outbursts before the happen.

I don’t need to label myself as a “yeller” or “terrible mom”. I am a child of God and I can be like him, full of grace and gentleness.

Another thing I learned through reading Unglued, is that I am not alone in this. Everybody has emotions! I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. God gave them to us. He uses them to teach us why we need his grace and how we can extend that to others.

If this is something you realize you are dealing with, you are not alone. Pick up Lysa’s book and read about how you can make wise choices when your emotions are out of control. I recommend it for anyone that has emotions. Which is everybody, including me, apparently. (And yes, I did cry when my little sister was trying on wedding dresses. Don’t tell anyone.)

What happens when you come unglued?


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Why You Should Embrace the Mud

why you should embrace the mud

Kids love mud.

I don’t think any mom can argue that fact. Yeah, there are probably a few kids out there that aren’t too keen on frolicking in puddles. But for the most part, kids are attracted to mud. Or maybe in some cases mud is attracted to kids. When and where they find mud sometimes is a mystery.

As a mom to an all-boy toddler, mud is a regular part of our lives. I’m learning to embrace it. And here’s why you should too.

When you and your child(ren) are faced with a mud puddle opportunity, you should ask these three questions:

What is the source of this mud? – Most mud encounters will be in the backyard or neighbors yard. Typically these places are A-ok for mud jumping. You may want to avoid run off from farmland (cattle or crops). Construction sites might have some stray debris with sharp object so you’ll want to avoid that too. Our best mud is on the dirt road leading to our house.

Are we going anywhere that requires clean clothes? – If you aren’t parked in a clean garage, your kids will find mud (or even dirt because they have some sort of honing beacon for these things) between the house and car. This could cause problems if you are headed somewhere nice, like church or a wedding. Even the grocery store merits clean clothes from time to time. A strict command to go straight to the car is in order for this situation. Or even a bribe.  If you’re home all day or have time to clean up, those clothes and shoes will wash just fine.

Is there really a reason not to jump in this mud? – Most often the answer to this question is “no”. Mud is FUN. The joy and entertainment a simple mud puddle can bring is quite amazing. I love the smiles my Little Man gives me when he’s running through mud.

Muddy shoes

Muddy kids can stress you out, or bring you joy. The choice is yours. I’m learning to find joy in the little things.

If it tends to stress you out, prepare the kids to play in mud by sending them out in older clothes and muck boots (because you know they will find it, especially after a stormy day). Have a plan in place for when they come back inside (strip at the door and straight to the bath).

And better yet, go out and play with them. It’s fun to splash in puddles and feel the slimy mud in your hands. Embrace the joy that mud brings.

It’s actually really good for kids to play in the mud and dirt. In our super sanitary society, kids need a little dirt on their hands and mud between their toes. I don’t have any science-y stuff to back this up, but I’m sure the minerals and clay in the dirt soak into the skin and provide a little extra goodness to growing kids.

Imaginations and simple play can help the development of kids much more than a TV show or tablet app. Even toys can overdo the “learning” aspect. Simplicity can grow a mind better than lots of bright flashing colors and sounds.

With Spring on its way and rain in the forecast, look for those mud puddles and embrace them! You’re kids will love it. Mud is good, clean fun!

When was the last time your kids played in the mud?


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Create a Cleaning Routine that Works

create a cleaning routine with printables

Writing things down will change your life.

I’m not kidding! It sounds a little dramatic to say it like that, but it’s true. Just check out any of those “what successful people do” articles or books and that’s always part of it. That, and having a routine.

Write a list and create a routine for your housecleaning and be amazed! List out your chores and stick to a routine. The list keeps you on track. And the routine streamlines your efforts which in turn frees up your time for more enjoyable things. Creating that chore list and routine may be easier said than done. So I have a few tips that I’ve learned in my short experience as primary housekeeper.

Free printable chore chart —-> Download

First, for your typical housecleaning tasks, determine if you are a do-one-thing-each-day kind of person or a bust-and-get-it-all-done-in-one-day person. I am the latter.

I’ve tried both methods, when Little Man was very little the first approached worked pretty well. In those first months of motherhood, I was too tired to do a whole day of cleaning, but doing a little something every day kept the house at a reasonably clean level. I see how this would also work very well for families where the parents both working out of the home. Freeing up your weekends for family time instead of housecleaning sounds appealing to me.

Now that Little Man is a little older I’ve switched back to my favorite method. I really love the feeling of a fully clean house once I get it all done. Working at home gives me the flexibility to spend a half or full day cleaning during the week. This allows freedom on the weekends for friends or family time as well.

Once you have your method determined, you need to write a list of tasks and plot out a rough routine. Bathrooms on Tuesdays? Floors on Wednesday? Whole house on Fridays? Personally I like to clean on Thursdays or Fridays. We often have friends over on the weekend so if the house is already clean, I don’t have to make a big to-do about having guests.

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There are some cleaning tasks on your list that can be done monthly or seasonally. Rotate those in on a particular day or as part of your weekly cleaning day. As long as you do them regularly, it makes the cleaning process so much easier. I tend to add in organizational or decluttering tasks to this list as well. Clearing out my closet of unused items is always freeing.

Don’t forget to write down the daily tasks as well. Most likely you won’t forget to do the dishes since you’re going to need them for the next meal, but writing it down will help lock it in as part of your routine.  Instead of always playing catch up with your daily tasks, be proactive in getting them done.

I’m not going to claim perfection in that area, but I do strive to always clean up after myself before moving onto the next thing. One of the most helpful proactive tasks I’ve done is to do a quick pick-up before bed. I go through the living room and straighten blankets and pillows, pick up stray toys, and ensure shoes aren’t scattered about. It makes for a smooth morning.

After you have your chore lists written down and a rough idea of when you need to accomplish those tasks, it’s time to start implementing a routine. It may take a few tries to get into the swing of things or find the right fit.

I have my master cleaning list on a chore chart you can print here —> Download

If you are the primary housekeeper like me, it can help keep you on track and stick to your routine. Or if you share responsibilities with a spouse or older kids, this is a great list to post on the fridge so you can assign tasks or see what’s already been done.

Again, I’m more of a get it all done at once kind of cleaner so this chore chart is laid out in that manner, but it could be adapted to a daily cleaning list too. Pick a different room each day and do the chores, rotating monthly and seasonal tasks as well. Remember you have to find the routine that works for your family.

Now you have some tracks to run on to create your own housecleaning routine. Start writing that list and change your life!

Print your chart here —> Download


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One Small Change That Gave So Much Freedom

One Small Change

There is one tiny thing that I recently changed that gave me immense amounts of freedom. Freedom I didn’t realize that I’d lost. Time that I didn’t realize was missing. Joy in the little things that had slipped away.

I wonder sometimes, if all the technology around us these days is making life easier, or just more complicated.

Think about it. Yeah, our washing machines help A LOT. We no longer have to spend an entire day scrubbing and line drying the family’s clothes (and cloth diapers). Dishwashers are nice (although I’ve lived the last five years without one). Oh and central heat, I’m not giving that up! (Ours went out last week and it was COLD.) There are some aspects of technology that I don’t want to lose.

But what about your TV? Your tablet? Your smart phone? Uh oh, I’m stepping on some toes!

There is definitely room for allowing entertainment and enjoying technology for sure. And access to the internet brings in a whole new world of learning and communication, and a world of opportunity! It’s hard to complain about that.

What I find complicated is the distraction that some of these things cause. I’ve talked about Unplugging. That can help tremendously in reducing the interference our devices cause in our relationships. But I found that one or two hours in the evening wasn’t enough.

Want to know my secret? I turned off ALL notifications on my phone. ALL OF THEM!

Oh. My. Word. You have no idea how FREEING it is!

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I somewhat tried this before. Most of my notifications were off. But slowly as updates came, I allowed them back on. And I was suddenly sucked in to keeping up with the notes across my phone or the red dots alerting me that something had “happened”.

Once I turned them all off, and I mean all, no emails, no Facebook, no Instant Messenger, nothing on my lock screen, nothing telling me that something somewhere out there was going on, my life became my own again! Wow.

The ONLY exception is text messages and phone calls. (I should go back to an old school Nokia! Ha!) The reason for that is to keep in contact with my husband and close friends. A ding or beep now means that someone is specifically needing my attention. In my circles, most all other forms of communication are not time sensitive or can wait until I have sit down time at the computer.

The reason that this works for me, is if I have to intentionally unlock my phone and open an app to find out what has “happened”, then I’m going to think twice about that action. Is this something that I have to do right now?  Most often the answer is no.

I’m breaking the habit of picking up my phone and letting it distract me from my day. That is the freedom that I am enjoying. I have time to finish the tasks on my to-do list. I’m finding joy in the little things in life again, like a quiet moment right after Little Man falls asleep. And when he’s awake I can give him my undivided attention when he needs it.

I just have to say again how freeing it is. Maybe I have a problem with my excessive phone use, but I don’t think I’m the only one. I’ve read about other’s that struggle with this, so I hope this one simple change can give you freedom too.

If you find yourself distracted by your phone, tablet, TV, or whatever device that becomes your vice, turn it off for a while! See if you can find some freedom and take back your time. Enjoy the day to day aspects of life. Be in the moment with your kids and spouse. It brings a renewed level of satisfaction in those relationships. It keeps you connected to the things and people that really matter.

Do you find yourself distracted by technology?


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Top Ten Reader Favorites from 2015

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I still can’t believe the new year is here. I’m not sure I’m ready to embrace it! But I have my theme and I must move forward. Before we move on, I want to celebrate some of my reader favorites from this past year! This blog has grown quite a bit and I am always blown away at the positive response I get from my lovely readers. So, a big THANK YOU to you for joining me in this journey!

Here’s the count-down to Never Lacking Zeal’s reader favorites:

How to make garlic oil

10: How to Make Garlic Oil – With its high nutritive benefits, garlic is one of the best things you can have in your kitchen. This simple garlic oil is great to have on hand this time of year to boost your immune system and ward off infections.

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9: 5 Reasons You Need Epsom Salt in Your Life – Plus a recipe for a relaxing foot soak! Epsom salt has some really amazing health benefits. Read the list to find out more.

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8: The Benefits of Baltic Amber – Is Amber all it’s cracked up to be? Although Baltic amber is often just looked upon as a hookey hippie necklace, there are some proven benefits that can make positive changes in your body. I don’t think we could have made it through teething without it.

DIY Sore Muscle Rub Title

7: DIY Sore Muscle Rub – Don’t forget to pack this in your gym bag. Sore Muscle Rub uses natural ingredients to help your body fight the inflammation caused by a tough work out. You can make your own Muscle Rub or buy some from my soap shop, Southern Vines Soap Company.

benefits of cedarwood eo

6: The Benefits of Cedarwood Essential Oil – If you’ve never smelled Cedarwood, you are missing out! One of my favorite essential oils to diffuse in my home and has quite a few benefits for the body too.

DIY Flea and Tick Repellent Dog Shampoo

5: DIY Dog Shampoo – Let’s not forget about our furry friends when it comes to switching to green household products. This shampoo will clean your pooch and help repel fleas and ticks. Make sure to whip up a batch before the Spring hits.

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4: DIY Liquid Shampoo – Although I’ve switched to using Herbal Shampoo Bars, you can’t go wrong with a wonderfully scented liquid shampoo. This combination of liquid castile soap, coconut milk, and essential oils will leave your hair nourished and smelling great.

DIY Static Stopper

3: DIY Static Stopper Spray – The dry season has recently hit at my house with the increased cold and use of the central heat. With it comes the static on my clothes and hair. And it drives me nuts! Thankfully, there’s no more craziness with this quick recipe.

DIY dry shampoo

2: DIY Dry Shampoo – I LOVE this recipe and so do my readers! So easy to make. And I use it almost every day (when I don’t shower).

12 ways to use grapefruit eo

1: 12 Ways to Use Grapefruit Essential Oil – This quick list has gone viral on Pinterest! Grapefruit essential oil is a mom’s best friend. Go read it to find out why it’s so amazing.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. I love writing and I have some really amazing stuff for you this coming year. I hope you are encouraged and inspired to live a simple natural life.

What is your favorite post from this past year?


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New Year, New Theme

design (4)Ahh, the New Year. The time where most people pick a resolution and make a plan to become better at some thing or other.

I’ve expressed before how I don’t care for resolutions. New Year’s Resolutions tend to be loosely based ideas of who you want to be or thing you want to achieve. But without putting specifics on it, it can easily set you up for failure.

Instead I pick one word to use as a theme throughout the year. It is amazing what I learn. Last year’s theme was Be Present. I wanted to learn to focus more on the task at hand or be there wholeheartedly with my son and husband.

I believe I achieved that to some degree by simply putting down my smart phone and focusing.  But I also learned something else. Being present isn’t just focusing on what you are doing or who you are with at the moment, it can also be going out of your way to be in someone’s presence.

Taking the time, even when it’s inconvenient, to bring a friend out to coffee or be with a family member when they are facing rough circumstances, can make a huge impact on their lives. Physical presence is very important in our day and age of fast paced technology. It’s easily put on the wayside because we “don’t have time”. In reality, that is all we have to give.

Because of my strong introvert personality, I have a long way to go when it comes to reaching out to people. But I’m coming to realize the importance of it and also to be intentional in my conversations. Now, thinking of the growth that I still need to do in this area, Intentional would be a great word for next year. After considering it, though, it doesn’t quite fit. I believe my word this year needs to be Joy.

I have a feeling there will be some challenging things this next year and I want to face it with Joy. I know the Joy of the Lord will give me strength (Nehemiah 8:10).  I also know that I can rejoice in the Lord.  Philippians 4:4-7 is a favorite of mine.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So this year as you think about who you want to be and the things you want to achieve, what theme do you want to carry with you? Set your goals and achieve your dreams. Choose your theme and open your eyes and ears to all the God has in store for you this upcoming year.

What is your New Year’s Theme?

Christmas Thoughts

design (3)There are other things I need to be doing at the moment. Things mostly related to making our family Christmas a joyful and restful day, filled with the warm-fuzzies that come along with a hugely blessed life.

But I took some time out of my day to continue my Advent study. I attempt to do one every year and this year am finally succeeding (although I will go a few days past Christmas, I struggle making this a daily habit). I am blown away at what I am experiencing.

This small study is taking me through many of the prophecies about Christ and their fulfillment. There are so many amazing specifics spoken in the Old Testament that come true in the New that firmly convince me of God’s greater plan. I love reading about the prophecies of Jesus, many of which focus on his birth. This year has been a little bit different.

Generally at Christmas I like to think of the happy stories in the Bible. The story of Jesus’ birth and the miracle of his arrival. The glory of God wrapped in a small babe here to save the world. The heavenly angels singing to proclaim His coming. It gives me joy and happiness to think of Jesus here as a human, experiencing life as we know it.

But the Scriptures that are really hitting home are quite surprising to me. Not that I haven’t read them before or dwelled upon them, but for some reason they are really heavy on my heart. And that is hard for me to admit. I don’t like to share my emotions, especially if they are negative. I tend to keep them hidden, even from myself!

Have you read Isaiah 53? The Suffering Servant? The clearest picture of Christ painted in the Old Testament? It has me in tears. I’ve been reading it every day for almost a week now and I can’t stop the feelings! Besides that portion of Scripture there are many other’s that tell of the suffering that Christ endures.

Christ came to earth as a tiny baby, lying in a manger, born to poor parents that were nearly outcasts. He starts humbly and continues to keep that attitude throughout his life. If you know the story, jump ahead to the end of his life.

Jesus KNOWINGLY faces the most trying experience that anyone could face and he does so with humility and grace. He is rejected, betrayed, illegally tried, falsely accused, abandoned, mocked, beaten to disfigurement, spit upon, and crucified.

This is not just the Jesus of the nativity scene that we admire at Christmas. This is the Jesus that loves us so much that he would endure complete and total rejection from us to save us from death. Wow. I mean, can you even imagine all that? This is not the warm fuzzy story I want to dwell on at Christmas!

But the birth of Jesus is greatly to be celebrated because he is coming into the world to deliver us from death. And there is of course the most amazing ending to the story. Jesus lives again. Although he suffers more than anyone can bear, he conquers the grave and brings us new life.

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His glory shines through the story from the beginning to the end. It is spoken of throughout the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New. You can see how God’s Plan is greater than we can imagine. He loves us SO MUCH.

As I continue to think this week about what Christ did for me on the cross, I am going to celebrate his humble beginning all the more. He truly changed the course of history so we could live with him one day. I am so thankful he bore the burden that I couldn’t bear and saved me for a glorious life everlasting.