Friday, January 22, 2016

What a Friend

I feel compelled to share something with you tonight…something that I think forever changed my relationship with the Lord.  Let me first say this… I believe in a very real Heaven and a very real Hell.  I believe that the Bible is God’s living word. I believe that I was born into this world a sinner.  (Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”)  I believe that God came down in the form of man, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world, (“Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”) was crucified on a cross, buried and risen again.  I believe that there is no other way to Heaven, but through Jesus Christ.  (Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved”)

On January 15, 2007, in Wilmington North Carolina, at Peace Baptist Church, with Pastor Rudy Shepard, I confessed my sins and asked Jesus into my heart as my personal Savior.  My life was literally, forever changed.  Because of God’s promises, I now know that he has an eternal home for me in Heaven, a place better than I could dream of. 

I say all of that, to lead up to this.  I know many people “believe in God” and many people that do not.  When I think about what or who God is, it’s more than our brains can wrap our heads around…. But when I finally started to make God personal in my life, that’s when our relationship changed.  I do best when I compare my relationship with the Lord and the work that it requires to any ‘earthly’ relationship.  Relationships require communication and trust.  I speak to the Lord through prayer, and He speaks to me through His word. To me, God is not some strange creature lurking in the sky… He is so very real to me.  The more I pray and the more He hears and answers my prayers, the more real He becomes to me.  Every time I have an answered prayer, even when it’s not the answer I want, it still feels startlingly remarkable that HE would hear and answer my prayers.  Often times, it has been my answered prayers for the smallest of smalls, by which I have been the most astonished. 

When we don’t talk with our friends, we feel a bit disconnected with them.  Likewise, when we don’t talk with the Lord (pray and read His word), we feel disconnected with Him.  When we do something that we know pleases our friends, it brings both parties happiness.  Likewise, when we do something that is pleasing to the Lord, it brings us both “happiness.”  When we do wrong to our friends and don’t deal with our problems, it causes distance and discord in the friendship.  Likewise, when we don’t humble ourselves and confess and recognize our wrongdoings (aka sins), we put up a wall in our relationship with the Lord, putting it on hold, if you will.  The more we spend time with our friends and enjoy their company, the more time we want to spend with them.  Likewise, the more time with spend with the Lord and feel His presence, the more you want that in your life just as much as you can get it.  When our friends help us through difficult times, it builds trust in the relationship.  When the Lord holds our hand through times that we know we would not be capable of getting through without Him, it gives us assurance and trust that He will do it again.  When a friend keeps a promise, we trust them.  Likewise, when the Lord keeps His promises EVERY SINGLE TIME, we grow our faith in Him.  

You see, to me, the Lord is not some mystical creature in the sky.  He is my Savior and dare I say “friend” who walks beside me everyday. 

I have been saved for almost exactly nine years and it is only in the last year that I learned just how personal the Lord can be in my life. 

I pray that everybody who reads this would soon come to know the Lord as their personal Savior, if they don’t already.  I don’t say this to shove something down your throat.  I say this, because I want to share with others the amazing things that the Lord has done in my life. 

If we started some amazing diet and got great results, we’d share them with each other.  If there is a big sale going on, we’d tell each other about it.  If there is a cure or some ailment we’re having, we’d tell one another.  So, why would I not tell you what an amazing thing the Lord has done in my life and what He can do in yours!?


Monday, June 22, 2015

Cleaning Schedule Tips... As requested

From a very early age, I enjoyed organization, systems, schedules, color coordination, filing, plans, charts and tables…to a fault.  It has helped me in many ways, but because I rely so heavily on these things, I often feel lost without them.

Recently, I have been specifically asked about my cleaning schedule and how I do that.  First, let me tell you WHY I do this.  I am that person that if I don’t have a checklist I will wander around and NEVER stop moving or working.  I am “busy” by nature (no matter how much I try to stop.)  Having a cleaning schedule (and a daily schedule in general), as silly and militant as it may seem to some, actually helps me be more productive with my time and the MAIN GOAL is that I know exactly what I need to accomplish, when, so that I have more time to sit down with my kids. 

When it was just the boys, I spent much of the day in their face, on the floor, playing with them, reading to them, laughing with them, dancing with them.  Somehow, somewhere between kid number two and kid number four, I lost this time and routine of playing with my kids so constantly.  I am often guilt ridden at the end of the day, regretful that I didn’t spend more quality time with them.  It’s like those posters say, a child is not going to remember how clean their house was when they are grown.

With that in mind, my husband and I are both clean people and appreciate cleanliness and organization.  I know our house would not function happily if I let all of the housework go and spent all day every day with my kids, in their face.  I may have happy kids, but my husband and I might go a little crazy.

So, what’s a cleaning schedule you say?  It is an outlined schedule of cleaning that needs to happen daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly (seasonally).  Gone are the days, before children, of taking your Saturday to fully clean your house from top to bottom.  There aren’t enough hours in the day – especially with four little ones running around – to accomplish all of my cleaning in one day.  So, I clean a little at a time, a concept a friend taught me shortly after I had the boys.  As long as I know it is getting accomplished, even if it’s just a little at a time, each day, then each day I can clean and then---- STOP for that day and go be with my family!  (At least that’s how it’s supposed to work, but I am also that person that will create a to do list for tomorrow and then do everything on it that night --- see busy by nature.) 

Here are the simple steps I use
1.    Make a master cleaning list, with no certain order to it.  This is basically just your draft of everything that YOU think needs to be done in YOUR house to YOUR standard of cleanliness. 
2.    Begin to put some organization to this list.  Some people choose to organize this by room or by the chore itself.  For example, you may do all of your windows on one day or you may instead have a room by room list (which I am currently trying) and you would do the windows of each room on that rooms day. 
3.    Once you figure out how you would like to organize it to meet your needs, you can begin assigning items to each day of the week, spreading it out evenly throughout the week so that you can do a little each day and get on with the rest of your life. 

Simple as that, right?  J  .

Here’s a little more information about what I do. 

I have small things that are done daily, like sweeping the floor, vacuuming, wiping counter-tops, emptying trash and laundry.  (I also have a laundry schedule.  I do at least one load of laundry EVERY day, otherwise I would spend a lot of time in one day on laundry.  (Just in case you were interested to see – Sunday bath towels and kitchen towels, Monday – baby/toddler bedding, Tuesday – kitchen towels, Wednesday – bath towels, Thursday – Guest bedding (if needed), kitchen towels, Friday – Master Bedding, Saturday – boys bedding.  And then a regular load of clothes each day as well.)

Then  I have weekly cleaning that is done in each room.  The rooms are assigned a day to clean them.  Weekly room by room cleaning includes things like – dust furniture, mop floors, wipe down light fixtures and ceiling fans, clean baseboards and doors/frames, vacuum furniture, move large furniture to vacuum underneath it. 

Then there is monthly cleaning room by room.  Each room is assigned a certain week for it to be deep cleaned. 

I am currently in the process of trying to figure out how much time this takes and move some things around as I can.  I also like to play a childish game with myself and set the timer so I can race the clock. 

In the past I have done really well with having a “cleaning/chore” time during the day and only allow myself the amount of time I have allotted and then STOPPING. So you see where the racing of the clock comes in to play. 

I really love efficiency – and like I said, to a fault sometimes.  So, I’m sharing this with you, because some of you have asked.  I’m hoping you can take from it what may be helpful to you and leave the rest.  We are all different people with different families and different needs.  What works for some may not work for others and that is okay. 



Monday, June 1, 2015

Corrupt Communication to Edification


This past Sunday, a message was preached at church that resonated with me in many ways. 

 

II Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

 

The part I wanted to focus on is, “and seek my face.”  This means to be constantly aware of God.  As our Pastor mentioned, how many OTHER things are we aware of and focused on during the day, leaving little time and thought for God and Godly Things.  An illustration was given how we will often google something before we open our Bibles or seek Him in prayer.   I have (just in the past couple of days) made more of a point to seek answers in His word, which is how I ended up writing this blurp.

 

My question is this.  If somebody hurts your feelings or a situation has made you upset, is it wrong to tell somebody else about it?  Where is the line between sharing your feelings and speaking badly of another. 

 

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

 

It seems as though my question has been answered, yes? 

 

The next part of the message after Seeking His Face was to Turn from Your Wicked Ways…This is the part that I’m sure many of us deal with.  I don’t know what the next step is.  I don’t know how to share my feelings that may involve an interaction with somebody else and do what I think the Bible is telling me.  Do I bottle the feelings?  Put them away?  (So against my personality) 

 

My intent in writing this is to share what I have only just tonight realized.  And also, for my friends to hold me accountable.  I think my tounge could stand to take a leave of absence or something. 

 

My goal and prayer is that my mouth would use more words for

 

“the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Peace & Perspective




            Last Sunday, our Pastor preached a sermon on Peace in the Home.  I, the mom of four little ones and wife to a hard working husband, was immediately convicted.  I began scribbling as many notes as I could, trying to soak it all in, because I knew I needed this message…for our family, I needed this message.


Colossians 3:15 says “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” 




Although the messages was about Peace, what I’m about to write about is on something a little different.  Keeping with the theme of my blog, PERSPECTIVE, I would like tell you about how my perspective effected my peace. 


The night after that sermon I prayed that the Lord would help me do the things that I needed to do to have Peace in our home; to have a home that my husband would be eager to arrive to (despite four little … noisy… ones); to have a home that people would feel peaceful in, to have a home that I would feel peaceful in, but above all to have a peaceful home because sometimes it’s hard to hear the Lord in the chaos. 


And the next day…. Was better….. A little quieter, a little calmer, a little happier, a little more joyful. I don’t know that we arrived at PEACEFUL in 24 hours, but I do know that there was more peace in our home that day than there had been in a long time. 


Naysayers could say that I just shifted my perspective and decided that things were going to be better.  And while all of that may be true, I believe that the Lord answered my prayer and knew my heart and guided me through the day. 


The perspective that did change was ME LOOKING FOR THE LORD.  It’s easy to think things are good and give myself credit…. But what I’d much prefer is to listen for the Lord answering my prayers and recognizing His blessings in our lives daily. 


So, in all of that, my point is this.  When I am looking for the Lord to hear and answer my prayers, it’s amazing what He does! 







Friday, February 28, 2014

Committed and Undivided


Committed and Undivided.

Over four years ago (shortly after we found out we were expecting twins) Nathan and I went back and forth about the decision for me to transition to a stay at home mom.  This is something we prayed about for some time, especially as we knew it would be a HUGE financial challenge to go from two incomes to one income.  However, the cost of child care for two infants would’ve eaten most of what I would’ve brought home anyway. 

 

One of the reasons I wanted so badly to become a stay at home mom was because --- and I had forgotten about this until just tonight ---- I had already felt so torn.  I felt like I was devoting so much of my time and energy and who I was to teaching and had little energy, motivation, patience, etc for my husband.  I have the personality that when I do something I really want to commit to it…maybe even over commit.  I was finding being a wife and teacher difficult to balance because I didn’t feel like I was giving 100% to either, leaving me frustrated with both identities. 

 

When I considered adding the role of Mommy into the already, personally difficult, wife and teacher I feared that I could not divide myself well enough between these three roles and would become increasingly frustrated and unsatisfied with myself. 

 

Like I said, I had forgotten all of that until tonight.  I was cleaning the floor (where all big AHA moments occur J)  and I began to think on this.  I am currently taking a class to keep my teaching license up to date.  It is an online class that only lasts five weeks.  Embarrassingly, I have found this difficult to keep up with.  I am supposed to devote about five hours a week to this class…which, for some reason, I just can’t seem to find.  It’s a lot of posting on discussion boards and commenting on other peoples posts.  (Kind of like school facebook, but not quite as user friendly.)  The content of the class is not what I’m struggling with….it’s the desire and effort to go into the class that I cannot seem to find. 

 

And tonight I realized why.  Because of my “committed” personality….as oxymoronic as it seems…For lack of a better phrase….  I just don’t care – ENOUGH.  For almost the past four years my family (my husband and children) have been my main priority and apparently I find it difficult to focus on anything outside of that.  When I’m all in…I’m ALL in.

 

I know SAHM’s have a bad reputation for “sitting on the couch and eating bon bons”  (I still have no clue what that is, by the way)  However, I take my job as SAHM (and WIFE) very seriously.  I don’t just play with my kids, I feel it is my responsibility to do many things in the home.  Being a SAHM/Wife for me means that each week I’m spending time planning for “homeschool”  for the boys, focusing on healthy meals on a budget and therefore menu planning, couponing, running errands, being budget conscious, scheduling to make all of our lives easier, documenting memories through writings and photographs, keeping things organized and clean, spending time with my children, making three meals a day (and cleaning them up!) and that’s not even a list of the cleaning I do on a daily basis. 

 

I say this not to say that I do more or less than any other SAHM or Working Mom…I say this because I’ve just realized this truth about myself for the first time in about four years….That I am dedicated and seemingly unable to divide that dedication.  I’m sure in some ways this is a good thing and in other ways it may inhibit me some.

 

Being a mommy (working or not) is not always the most outwardly rewarding job in the world.  There is no paycheck at the end of the month, no vacation time, no special awards or recognition, no rule book or guidelines, no staff meetings, no sick days…and like an article I recently read stated…It seems like all the ‘little’ work you do…nobody notices (God notices – The article states) 

Here’s the thing though….Reflecting back remember praying through my tears that we would somehow figure out a way for me to stay home because I was TERRIFIED I was going to MISS all of these tender years with my kids….I would’ve never imagined it would’ve turned out like this. 

 

Being a Mommy is NOT easy (no matter if you have a job outside of the home or not!)  There are some days that I wish for a second I could go to work just to change up the scenery or feel useful or valuable or like a human being again…. And then, I have awesome days with my kids!  (I still can’t believe we are about to have FOUR kids…. Never saw myself as a Mommy of FOUR but the Lord has blessed us!)  Yep!  I have awesome days with my kids!  …. I also have awful days with my kids… or at least a few awful hours every so often J  …. How lucky am I that I have a supportive husband who’s hard work allows me to have the opportunity to have awesome days with my kids…everyday!  Not every hour in every day can be amazing, but like I’ve said before, we can have many PERFECT MOMENTS and for that opportunity, I am so so very thankful. 

 

I’m thankful that I don’t have to divide myself and decide which role to put more time or energy into… I am wife and Mommy and, realizing once again, THAT IS EXACTLY WHERE I SHOULD BE!! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Perpsective...Again


PERSPECTIVE.  The original inspiration and drive for this blog.  While the importance of this idea has been lost many times along the way, I am occasionally reminded if it in such a powerful way that it moves me to write about it or to make an about face in my life.

In the 3rd Trimester of my pregnancy with our fourth child I have embarrassingly found myself moody, grumpy, unthankful, easily angered, frustrated, quick tempered and just plain not enjoyable.  Why?  Oh because my life is JUST SO HORRIBLE  (insert shameful sarcasm here).


I’ve said this before, but my very worst of days may be the kind of day that some only dream of.  My “big deals” and daily “stressors” are NOTHING in the grand scheme of things.  And quite frankly, I’d like to boldly tell myself, “Get over it!”


In the past couple weeks alone I know people who have laid a child to rest, spent time in and out of the hospitals,  gotten terminal diagnoses for themselves or have been told that they will soon have to watch their child die.

…My stressors are NOTHING when compared to any of that!


I have so very much to be thankful for that I have begun to take for granted.  I should be thanking the good Lord for every breath that my family and I take and for everything that happens between each breath.  (Afterall, somewhere tonight, I’m certain that somebody is wishing that their child could take just one more breath!!)


I’d like to reflect on all of the things that I have to be thanking the Lord for, not to boast or showcase, but mostly as a written reminder to myself….

I have been saved and promised a place in Heaven.  I have a hardworking and faithful husband who really spends time with his kids and helps out wherever he can…who provides for this family beyond our necessities.


We have a nice place to live where we can be together.  We’re warm when it’s cold out and comfortable when it’s hot out.  We have good food to fill our bellies. We have reliable vehicles to get us from place to place. We have warm beds to rest of the night and…we have a family that is still intact!


I have three (Lord Willing, soon to be 4) amazing children.  They are happy.  They are healthy…something I’ve taken for granted far too often and pray continues through the course of their lives. They have amazing qualities that sometimes I wish I would stop being too busy to appreciate….filled with curiosity, love, energy, heart and childhood ‘innocence’ and tenderness that will fade away far too quickly.




Thank you Lord for every single thing that I’ve mentioned and forgive me for anything that I have forgotten, minimized or have taken for granted.  I pray this will be a reminder to myself that each day is a gift…no matter how ‘difficult’ it may seem, may I do more to embrace it with a smile, a good attitude and grace!!