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?

What I Learned in the First Year of Motherhood

What I learned in the first year of motherhood

My baby is turning one!

I cannot believe how fast this year has gone. Of course they all say it goes by fast, but you never realize it until the year has come and gone. It seems slow in the moment with the long nights, the fussy days, and the endless rocking, soothing, feeding, changing, chasing. And then bam! A year is gone. Wow!

I remember those last really uncomfortable days of being pregnant. I felt like a whale. And I kind of looked like one too, when I glance back at photos…ahem!

The big day finally arrived. (You can read the story here if you’d like!) Such a whirlwind of joy and pain and emotions! I’m not the sappy type, but I can tell you that there is nothing like bringing a life into the world. It changes you.

It seems that motherhood and parenting is not only to raise up a child, but also to learn a lot about yourself.

  • You learn that it is pointless to change your shirt more than once in a day.
  • You are ok with sniffing unidentifiable moisture to find out if it’s a serious contaminate or not.
  • You find out that you can go a week without brushing your teeth and they won’t fall out.
  • You discuss poop as a normal topic of dinner conversation.
  • You discover how many song lyrics you actually know (or don’t know).
  • You learn a lot about how much you need God’s grace.

It is a true test of patience to tend to a baby! I know God brought my little man into the world for many wonderful reasons. One of those reasons is to teach me how much I need Grace.

The first couple of months of sleep deprivation and tending to the every need of a newborn baby are to be expected. It was hard but I expected it to be hard. I knew he needed me and I was happy to do all I could to meet those needs.

But after some time of sacrificing sleep, personal time, regular showers, and complete meals, I began to grow weary and restless. I was often conflicted between taking time to rest when my little one was sleeping or using that time to work around the house. I quickly realized how uptight I was about the dishes and keeping the house straightened.

As the inner conflict of needing to do chores and tending to my baby grew, I began to often be frustrated. I got frustrated when he took a long time to fall asleep and then would wake as soon as I put him down. I got frustrated when he would seem to cry unceasingly. I got frustrated when I had to change his diaper again, feed him again, rock him again. It’s a never ending cycle!

Then I reached a moment when I realized I can’t do this. I can’t rock him another moment. I can’t change another diaper. I can’t soothe his tears. I can’t do it!

Not alone anyway. Not even with the support of my husband. I needed God’s strength to get through the tough days. He has enough strength to help me through my weariness. And his strength is never ceasing.

Over this past year I have learned a whole new meaning to being dependent on God. Now, when I reach those moments of not being able to just-even-one-more-time, I grit my teeth and ask for strength. And it helps. I get through the moment and move on.

Dylan-those eyes-small

One thing I’ve said all along this journey of babyhood is that “he’s only this little once.” And that is so true. This helps me to savor every little sweet moment. It also helps me to get past the difficult ones.

  • He won’t always need me to rock him to sleep, but while he does I need to treasure it.
  • He won’t always need me to feed him, but while he does I need to enjoy it.
  • He won’t always need me to change his diaper, but while he does…hmm…well I’ll keep on doing it anyway.

In addition to learning to be more dependent on God’s strength, I have also learned that I am greatly in need of his grace. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve yelled at my baby. In some of those intense moments of frustration when I just couldn’t take another cry or another second of attempting to get him to sleep, I have lost it.

I have had to ask my little child for forgiveness many times. I have had to ask my Savior for his grace and mercy. I hate that I’ve struggled with this particularly. I don’t want to be a mom with a temper that yells. And yet I have failed multiple times. And every time I feel guilty and torn up and not cut out to be a mom.

But God.

My temper and frustration worked hand in hand at keeping me away from being the mom that I wanted to be. As I realized though my frustration that I needed to be dependent on God’s strength, I also realized that I needed to be grateful for his grace and mercy. I had to give up my actions to him and let go of the guilt.

I will make mistakes as a mom. I won’t always have the right attitude or reaction. I can’t be perfect. Only Christ is perfect. And in his perfection he came and died for my sins. He came that I might live. And that I might live abundantly. Part of the abundant joy he gives is the blessing of a child.

Reconciling my shortcomings and asking God to cover me with his grace, gives me the ability to start a new day, a new hour, a new moment. And in that newness I have found freedom again. I have learned to let go of some of my tasks. My list is not as important as my baby. (For some of us that is easy to say but not so easy to do!)

I don’t think my lessons in life have ended now that this first year of motherhood is over. It’s only beginning! I know there will be other aspects of mothering that will test me and put me through the fire. I can only hope that I going through the ups and downs of mothering, that I will display what a walk with Christ is like.

I want my son to know that no one is perfect, but we have a perfect Savior. I want him to know that the good things in life are a reflection of Christ and God’s beauty. I want him to know that he can always depend on God. I want him to know and experience God’s love for himself.

And now that I have spilled my heart I hope you can learn something from it too. I think being a mom has made me a little bit sappy, but more often it makes me smile. There is no greater joy than wrestling on the floor, tickling my little boy, and making him laugh. (I promise I’m not crying as I write this. Okay. Maybe I am just a little.)

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Thursday’s Thoughts – Vision

Two thoughts come to mind with the word “vision”. The obvious use of the word is in regards to sight. Our vision is a valuable thing.  As a glasses/contacts wearer since I was twelve, I’ve always been envious appreciative of good eyesight. I am especially noticing it lately because of the trouble I am having with my contacts. I went in for a routine visit to get my eyes checked. No change to my prescription (which is absolutely amazing!). But my eyes seem to be rejecting my contacts. One of them is completely blurry. I don’t know that I could describe it in a way that makes you understand. I can tell its not my vision, but everything out of my right eye is hazy. It makes for a very frustrating time when trying to read, drive, cook, anything that involves my eyes. Which basically is everything. And now its starting to make my eye hurt because its straining to see past the haze. I’m trying some experiments suggested by my eye Dr. and I hope we can find something that works. Or perhaps Lasik, if that is an option. With all that said, it is not my main thought on vision. (although its constantly on my mind because I CAN’T SEE!)

The more insightful thought I have today in regards to vision, is in respects to goals and future. It seems to me my hubby and I are finally reaching some vision for our future. We haven’t sat down and written a list of goals. Or set any specific plans to achieve them. But I feel that our sights are becoming clearer. This is because we are trying things and finding out what we really enjoy and what we want to pursue. And strangely enough, we seem to match up perfectly. (It’s like there was some great Planner out there that brought our lives together for the good of us both. Hmm.) Putting two indecisive people together making life decisions creates a rather slow process.

We are attempting this thing called 13 in ’13. It is basically a set of goals. One for each month of the year. (Plus one.) Each month we have a skill or experience that we learn or seek after. It is really interesting so far to focus on learning something new each month. For example this month is Chickens. We did research, fixed up the coop, and got the chickens. We wanted it and made it happen. Part of this 13 thing is to make us do things. And part of it is to get experience and explore new things. It keeps your mind learning and growing. It also helps indecisive people try things out and in our case, make decisions.

Without consulting each other, my hubby and I made our 13 lists separately and there happened to be quite a few things that matched on our lists. Most of our matching items have to do with outdoors, homesteading, and self-sustaining. (Like the chickens!) Even the things that don’t match, like hunting for my hubby and knitting for me, they both tend to point toward a similar lifestyle of self-sustainment. (I don’t think that’s really a word, but it is now.) And also, seeing that we put those matching things on our lists, it only makes sense to move forward with pursuing them as a couple. We can work together to achieve those things and set ourselves up for success in our future.

Those thoughts in mind, I can see some vision to our future. It’s not clear yet exactly where the road will lead, but its becoming clearer as we focus on what we know we love. Perhaps as we become more passionate about our pursuits we will become more decisive in our actions. (Remember the whole “never be lacking in zeal…” thing?) I’m excited to think about life as we decide on where we want to be and what we want to do. The possibilities are really endless, we just have to go out and grab them. As our focus hones in on more specific goals, it will be satisfying to achieve them. Vision is good.

 

PS: This blog was one of my 13 in ’13. Obviously it’s lasting longer than a month (YAY!), but getting it started and building the habit of writing has been at least a month long task. Creating new ideas of what to write will be ongoing, but it hasn’t been as hard as I thought. I probably should have started this a long time ago. But alas, I couldn’t decide. I’m glad I finally did.

Get Fit 2013

My barefoot running shoes. Love!
My barefoot running shoes. Love!

Today marks the start of Get Fit 2013.

I have already achieved huge gains in the nutrition aspect of my life over the past year. Learning more about real food and how if effects my body is eye opening. Things like my dry eyes, sleep patterns, and thought clarity are effected by the foods I eat. I’m at the point where, if I choose less healthy food, I know what the effect will be. I feel good about this. I can manage my food choices based on the knowledge of how it makes me feel and whether I know it will make me more or less healthy.

The next steps of my journey are to get the right amount of sleep and to exercise regularly. Sleep is almost as important as nutrition and it rules higher than exercise in my book. (There’s lots of reasons for this as it reduces stress, heals the body, and we actually need it.) With the time change my body is in rebellion against the clock and I have not been getting to bed on time, thus resulting in not getting all the hours of sleep that I need. I’m giving myself some grace as I am transitioning to the time adjustment. The whole time change thing is good and bad. Adjusting is a beast. Daylight when I get home from work is golden.

Speaking of daylight, it is time to come out of hibernation. I give myself some leeway on exercise in winter. One, because its cold and two, because I have no light and I prefer to run outdoors. (And considering I literally live in the woods, I’m not going running after dark. Uh, little scary if you ask me. There are deer and rabbits out there!) But now its time to run! There are all kinds of trails that run in the woods by our house. One part makes a particularly nice loop that runs about two miles. Its got good ups and downs, windy curves and pretty trees. Bella loves to go running with me too, although she always finds mud or something dead to roll in. Bath season is upon us.

In case you are wondering, this is my tentative set schedule.

Monday: Off or yoga – depending on my grocery store time, I can always do yoga after dinner too, since its lighter and stretchy

Tuesday: Run!

Wednesday: Run or cross training. Currently I’m enjoying the Nike Training App on my phone. I’m going to add some weights to my workout too. I keep reading and hearing that (heavy) weights are really, really good for you. I want healthy bones!

Thursday: Run!

Friday: Off – Hubby and I usually go out on Fridays. And if we don’t its good to have a day off.

Saturday: Run!

Sunday: Run or hike.

This is a fit lifestyle change. I’m tired of sitting on my butt and getting flabby. Time to make things happen! I feel that I am also at the point where the exercise will give me motivation to stick to the healthy eating habits I’ve developed. I know I can run better and get a good workout if I am properly fueled. Its not fun to start a workout feeling tired and dull. The right nutrients will keep me going strong as well. It works both ways!

Thankfully today is sunny and I’m super motivated to get started on this. I know I will start strong. Keeping it up will be the tricky part. But I don’t foresee any reason not to. It’s just a matter of choice at this point. Choose to exercise or not. Choose to eat well or not. Choose to go to bed on time or not. Life is full of choices. Time to make the right ones.

Thursday’s Thoughts – Simplify

It seems to me that Spring is finally on the verge of arriving. I realize much of the northern parts of our country are still under inches of snow, but here in Tennessee the sun is finally shining!! The forecast is showing highs above fifty and sunny skies, which I will welcome with outstretched arms. (It has been miserably dreary here lately which does not help me or my husband’s mood. Lets just say it has been rather cloudy in my house this past week.) All to say, this burst of sunshine kicks me into organization mode.

For some reason, when the sun starts shining and I feel Spring coming, I am compelled to organize, clean, and purge my belongings. Indoors and out. I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation and I must get my surroundings in order. The time change is approaching too, and that means I have no excuse to get myself outdoors walking/running after work.

The first thing on my list is my closet. My husband and I share the tiniest closet in the creation of all closets and most if it is my stuff. In some ways I bugs me, but honestly it probably helps me maintain a creed of Keep Life Simple that I adhere to. There are always a few items in my closet that “I know I’ll wear again someday.” Usually that someday never occurs. It is time to remove those items from my life!! Good-bye Hawaiian print dress that I am saving for a luau that I will never attend! Good-bye red button-up shirt that I could wear at Christmas! Good-bye black dress pants that are really too small and got hemmed too short that I really don’t like to wear!

Shoes, purses, yarn, kitchen cabinet, and books (Yes, I may get rid of a few books) are also on the list of areas to simplify. I’ve also found many tips and tricks on Pinterest to help organize cabinets and such. It is time to implement those pins.  A trip to the dollar store for some much needed bins and containers is in my future as well.  There are also a few stray items that hover in corners around my house. These things are about to be evicted. I’m tired of seeing them and they are cluttering up my life.

Well those are the thoughts that are haunting me today. It is obvious cleaning is on my mind this week. I’m blaming the sunshine. Be encouraged and get your house ready for Spring!!

Method or Madness

There is nothing better than the feel of a freshly cleaned house. Everything is put away, the bed has fresh sheets, all the surfaces are dust-free and the floors aren’t crunchy or sticky! (It rarely gets to the point of crunchy floors, but I must admit it has happened.)

Follow me on my house cleaning routine:

La da da, I get out of bed on a lazy Saturday morning. A thought crosses my mind, Oh, I should clean house today. I proceed to make some real food breakfast, typically consisting of random veggies and eggs topped with hot sauce. If I’m in the mood I pull out my French Press and make a delicious, oil infused, flavorful cup of coffee. I find myself sitting on the couch, still in my PJs that mismatch my robe and slippers. Bella (the cutest dog in the world) is continually sitting by the door waiting for me to let her out and then two minutes later bangs her nose against the door for me to let her in. She has trained me well. Between the times I get up to let her out and I’m sitting an enjoying my coffee a thought crosses my mind again, I really need to clean house now so I can enjoy the rest of the day. I reach for a Christmas themed notepad that is sitting in the coffee table drawer and make a list of things I want to accomplish that day, including my cleaning list.

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I will most likely not look at my list again. I might wander back to it to cross off a few things, but it will end up back in the drawer. I find random lists of things from time to time and marvel at myself for my odd listings. My set of cleaning chores is always the same, I really don’t need a list. I always need to dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms, sweep, and mop. Every now and then I’ll throw a deep clean in there such as dust baseboards or wash curtains.

To continue with my narrative (forgive me if I get off track), I wander into my bedroom and change from PJs to yoga pants and a different t-shirt. Washing my face and brushing my teeth are also mandatory for getting myself in a productive mood. My movements form this point on are rather erratic, yet methodical. I go back and forth from one room to the other, always carrying some stray item that needs to go somewhere else. I find some socks in the study and carry them to the laundry room. I find a hairband on the dryer and carry it and fresh hand towels to the little bathroom. I find earrings and leftover Apple Cider Vinegar face mask mix and carry the items to my bedroom and then the kitchen. And so it continues until the random things are moved from one place to where they belong. I wonder to myself whether it would be easier to carry a basket and pile up all the things from one room in there and then go and deliver it as I go. That doesn’t work. For some reason the best way for me to get the house completely picked up is to go from room to room. I don’t like feeling confined in one room, picking up, cleaning it and making sure all the colors are in the lines. I have to wander! But I need my list! I can’t figure myself out!

On to the bathrooms. Using my homemade harsh-chemical-free cleaners I start on the sink, then the toilet, and then I can’t stand cleaning that bathroom any longer and flee to the other one. I start in on the sink, the toilet and then I grab the bath mat and run out the front door! Shake that mat and then I go grab the others from the first bathroom. Back and forth I go all the time wondering, why don’t I just finish up this room and then move on.

That would just be too boxed in for me. Through analyzing my erratic cleaning movements and my insistence on a list that I don’t actually use, I have found that I am part abstract and part concrete. I’m not sure if I just can’t decide in between the two. Or if deep down I’m wired to be concrete and learned my abstract methods from my mother. (Nature versus Nurture?) Whatever it may be, there is a little insight into my cleaning day. I’ll spare you the details about dusting without toxic dusting spray and chasing my dog around with the vacuum. Somewhere before, after, or in between I will add in a run and a bath for Bella. Finally after all the madness of getting the house cleaned I will shower and then enjoy the fresh scent and calm feeling of a clean home. (And then my husband comes home with muddy shoes.)