Jan 212016
 

I had everything pulled off the counter and was wiping the far-to-reach corners of the backsplash while standing on a stood (short person problems) while she sat and talked to me from the table. I had planned to start dinner and then go sit down and hang out on the internet. Maybe watch some YouTube videos or scroll through social media, but instead I grabbed a rag and had started to scrub and before too long the counter was clean and even the crumb trays on the toaster had been wiped to a shimmering shine.

She talked and I talked back. We talked about school, how she finished her homework in her gym class because she can’t participate because of her knees, we talked about boys and “ships” and girls and their “ships” and all of that stuff. She showed me a few videos of what she found fun today and talked about her best friend not using his phone today while on the school bus so he could actually talk to him.

Yeah, I was present. I was present for the moments that make memories. I don’t want to be remembered for napping all the time and for being on my computer when I am conscious. I want to be present. I want to be the one that the kids talk to while dinner is being prepared. I want to help with their homework and learn about their interests.

It fascinates me that social media has given us this amazing gateway to be connected and yet we are excruciatingly disconnected from the ones that mean the most. I am not one who has their phone in their hand or beside them at all times. I don’t even have a phone. But, that’s not the point. I have spent so much time being depressed and hiding out, hiding behind the screen and fostering relationships with people I will likely never meet that I am guilty of neglecting the ones who sit right in front of me.

And while Jesus was The Gift, the ultimate Present. It was his presence that gave us redeeming grace. What would Jesus do? He would sit in the kitchen and talk over chores or leave the chores to wait. He wouldn’t say the internet is bad, but he would likely say real life is better.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Jan 202016
 

Standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes while my girl reads to me the lost chapter she is writing for The Giver for her English class and I can’t help but think how much like me she really is. Only, this sweet child doesn’t know how to type very well and is growing increasingly frustrated because her typing isn’t able to stay caught up to the story in her head, giving her a case of writers’ block, which, I am definitely familiar with. I put the last dish to dry and wiped my hands and went and sat beside her at the table and read what she had, her paragraph cut short mid-way through and her having no clue where she was going with that thought because typing had hindered her.

I lean in close and she pushes her computer over to me and the story springs back to life, only this time my fingers are the ones bouncing up and down off the keys and she says to me with a bit of amazement in her voice “how do you type like that?” and she leans down real close with her face nearly on the table and her eyes staring horizontal across my fingers as they tap away and she watches me type, like she had never seen me do it in the 13 years she has walked this jagged line.

Within a few minutes her story is complete and she is proof-reading it, looking for spelling and grammar mistakes before I transfer it to my computer where software will do that. She edited away like she had done it a thousand times and deleted the odd sentence or paragraph that didn’t really make much sense and then I transferred it over to my laptop for a run through the software and to print.

I have been doing a lot of dishes lately. Yeah I know, I am a mom and that’s what we all say. But really, my mom normally does the washing up but I have been doing it the past month or so. There are a couple of reasons, one being that I really hate having dirty dishes in the sink and beggars can’t be choosers… I absolutely hate having to clean the sink to grab a glass of water or to fill the kettle but a family of five does that to you, even with a dishwasher, so I have been purposing to stay on top of the dishes just so I can save my sanity.

But you see something happened when I started doing the dishes. The girl child, she started sitting at the table while I do them. She comes out of her room and sits and chats, about everything and anything and that is the BEST REASON EVER to do dishes! She puts things away for me too which is also helpful, but praise the Good Lord for the 20 minutes a few times a day that she comes out and is simply with me. I enjoy our time together. I had no clue that we would grow our relationship over dirty dishes. Had I known, I would have started doing them more often a long time ago!

I am definitely a mom in the minority when it comes to having her kids do chores. They don’t have any designated chores. Why? Because they go to school from 8-4 and have homework when they get in and I don’t work outside the home and I would rather my children go to bed at a decent hour and worry less about chores and more about getting a good education, focusing on their grades. They help when they are asked and they often offer, which is fun because I get to see where they really enjoy doing things and where they don’t.

If my kids had chores I wouldn’t know that my son likes to work outside with my dad, especially when it comes to working on the tractor or anything with tools. I wouldn’t know that my daughter likes to cook, especially for me, and that she has a servants’ heart and takes great care in the things she prepares and how they look and taste, because once it becomes a chore, we treat it like a chore and school is a big enough chore for them right now and I absolutely love seeing what they have created or found while doing what they truly enjoy.

FYI my daughter is a bit OCD and does her own laundry on weekends and puts it away. Her bed is either completely unmade without a bottom sheet or made to the point you are scared to wrinkle it. My son is not a clean freak and is quite messy. He needs help cleaning his room and getting those types of things done because he has no clue how to even start, but if you say a wall needs built he’s in there like a dirty old sock (is that still a saying?) ready to help out!

I am so blessed to see some of the Proverbs 31 woman come out in me and to be able to, prayerfully, be a good influence to my children.

My daughter said tonight that her favorite song is inappropriate and my response was “sin is often easier, but it isn’t better.” I left her to think on that. Maybe we all need to think on that.

Jan 172016
 

Sitting at the dining table reading old Robert Munsch books with my daughter who is 13 and laughing at how silly the stories really are and enjoying the moments and having fun with crazy voices and her reading to me like she was 3 again instead of a young lady who found some old books while cleaning her room without needing to be asked.

I realize how much I miss her. I mean, I see her everyday. I see both the kids everyday, after all, I am their mom and we do live together, but we also live with my parents and in a lot of ways I often feel robbed of being “mom” so when these days come they are bittersweet, reminding me of the past and of what I am missing out on in the daily because we really are a family of five with 3 adults instead of a mama and her two kids.

It really is in the mundane that I find the most joy. So many people think I am boring. Maybe I am. No, I definitely am. The highlight of my day today was battling the cupboard to fit the mixing bowls in because my mom seems to be addicted to them and has like 30. It was mixing bowl Tetris here and when I couldn’t figure it out my daughter climbed up on the chair and took on the challenge until those bowls fit, and we laughed.

We laughed while I was on the floor cleaning behind the toilet. We laughed while dishes were being done. We laughed while eating dinner that my brother lovingly bought and brought over to us in the minus 40 cold. We laughed while sweeping when the pile got dropped after meticulously getting it all into the dust pan. We giggled while watching movies past bedtime and found that there simply is NO cupcake emoticon to be found, and my daughter pointed out that if you put a cup and a slice of cake together you get a cupcake.

So maybe, life isn’t perfect. No actually it definitely isn’t perfect. BUT, it is glorious and exactly how it should be. God is amazing and His presence is always known. I could have counted 1000 things today to add to my Joy Dare, my One Thousand Gifts.

I am blessed to be a mama. Blessed to have a bathroom to clean, laundry to do, dishes in the sink, too many bowls, and love beyond measure. Even that dog who talks back and argues over his need for a bone is a blessing that must be counted.

I am grateful for today, yesterday and for whatever tomorrow brings. And, when things need a little bit of color we have a purple vacuum upstairs and a pink one down, because life should be fun, regardless of what we are actually doing! God is good everyday and everyday God is good!!

Dec 272015
 

Picking a word for the year isn’t always the easiest task. Sometimes a bunch of words stick out to us. Two years ago Ann Voskamp touched me greatly with the word “eucharisteo” and that was my word for the year-without me even realizing it. I even bought the bracelet to wear to remind myself to give thanks and to live in thanks everyday.


Last year I had started so many things and never really finished anything properly. I was realizing that multitasking doesn’t always work and that I needed to finish things before jumping into a new one. I was creating chaos with unfinished projects and creating to-do lists a mile long that never got checked off. So, my 2015 word was “finish” as I just wanted to remind myself to commit and finish and to not over-commit to things because I want each project to get the best of me, rather than tiny pieces. My family deserves that, my pets deserve that, my home deserves that, I deserve that and most of all God deserves to be glorified by my actions -including my to-do lists!


For 2016 I have been looking around here and there trying to find the right word for me. I have seen so many awesome ones over the past year and I am always inspired by them. So, a few months back when I started to see the word “FOCUS” and remember that I had seen it I began to wonder if this was going to be my new word.


I have prayed over a new word and asked for God’s guidance and this word keeps finding me and sticking out like a sore thumb. I didn’t even realize that I was unfocused until recently when I was popping out of the #FMFParty chat and being sidetracked by everything from repotting plants, making snacks, and spending time with children. Over the past few days I have found this word in so many images and places and I have barely even been using any electronics because of the holidays. I am certain that this year God is telling me I need to “focus”.

Last year I also picked a verse for the year.

“All things are possible with God”
~Mark 10:27~

I haven’t picked a verse for this coming year yet. As some of you may know via Twitter, I began reading through the Bible chronologically about a month ago. I figure if I can stay relatively on track during the busiest time of the year than I have no excuse to quit during 2016. A TON of verses have been highlighted in my Bible already and I have also made several graphics that I have shared on Instagram and Facebook.

I am still praying about which verse I should really “focus” on for 2016 and have even wondered if my verse would stay the same!

Dec 262015
 

Do you spend more time planning your day than you do actually checking things off of your to-do list? Are you working from home and struggling to balance business and pleasure, or business and household tasks? With these 6 tips to staying on track you will be well on your way to being more productive in less time, while improving your overall health!

  1. A morning routine

    This is the cornerstone to having a productive day. Part of a morning routine is waking up at a designated time, if you are like me and you can sleep in every day then great, but don’t push past a certain time. Set your alarm for what works for you whether it’s 4am or 10am and GET UP when it goes off. Have a shower, breakfast, Bible time, and don’t slip pj’s back on. I’m not saying you need to get dressed in a suit but tossing on clothes you would be comfortable answering the door in is a great start, add in hair and a little makeup and you are mentally going to be ready to go.

  2. Important things first

    Getting your most important task done first will help you to feel accomplished and therefore encouraged to get on to the more menial things you need to tackle in a day. It is also an awesome way to know that if a child falls ill or something comes up you have already finished what was number one on the list instead of being rushed around and staying up late trying to complete it when you are weary.

  3. Schedule your time

    Another load of dishes or a basket full of laundry may be something you need to do each day while you are working from home. You would be surprised how much time it really takes to get these things done when you stop procrastinating. You can easily get all the dishes finished and put away in 15 minutes. Don’t believe me? Set a timer and get to work. When it goes off look at how much you have accomplished and take note of that so you can easily schedule it in and not be pulled down by procrastination. If something does take you a long time and you feel like there must be a better way, it may simply be that you have too much stuff. Decluttering, even a little bit, while you clean up, goes a long way to making regular tasks, like putting away clothes, go a lot quicker and more smoothly. And the bonus is when you get dressed the next day everything is in its proper place!

  4. Unsubscribe and turn off notifications

    If you like a Facebook page, follow someone on Pinterest or Instagram or are active on Twitter or Periscope schedule that in so you don’t get distracted. Don’t even open these time-stealing apps until you have time to relax for a bit. It becomes far too easy to be checking our notifications and replying to the next cute photo when we should be actively working. Shutting off notifications means we won’t be sidetracked by constant alerts on our phones, tablets or even PC. If you are getting trapped in the land of email take 5 minutes each day as you go through and purposely unsubscribe to emails you would normally not even open that are just making your inbox feel daunting. This may take you several weeks as every mailing is scheduled a little differently, but once you have finished your inbox should be full of things important to you and not full of time-bandits.

  5. Dedicated workspace

    The idea of a home office is often a dream that turns into a catch all and therefore more anxiety and less work. That said, do your best to set up a little nook in a room that you need to be in throughout the day. I have seen some ladies using a tool tote with their pens, planners and other papers in them so they have all of their office supplies in a grab and go bag that works anywhere in the house. If you are blessed with a desk keep it minimal. Scan or take photos of papers you don’t need to keep and then shred the hardcopy and save the digital. Any papers you do need can easily be filed away. If you can purpose to work in the same area each day and not use that space for leisure you are going to be far more likely to use the time in that space productively while saving the more fun things for later!

  6. Break things up

    If you are working from home then you need to treat your work as a job instead of as a hobby. Blogging can be either or both and sometimes that line can become blurred depending on your current season. Setting up a regular schedule for posts, putting them in your planner, coming up with ideas ahead of time and taking the time to work is all great but what about when we spend too much time doing research or working and the house crumbles? Well that’s why we need to break things up. If you are a work at home mom you need to schedule your work time smartly and schedule in time for household tasks too or you will fall behind and end up spending the late evening playing catch up only to wake up feeling behind. Depending on the ages of your kids this may be a lot easier to schedule than during other seasons. Setting a timer for how long you are going to spend working can be a great reminder for you to take a break and it can also show your children when it is okay for them to take a break too and get ready for lunch or playing outside, etc. And, don’t put in overtime on evenings and weekends!

Bonus Tip!

  1. A night time schedule

    Just as you see children thrive with routine, so do adults. Eat your dinner at roughly the same time each day and clean up those dishes so you can wake to a clean kitchen! It only takes you 15 minutes and will help you to start the day off right. Have a shower or bath to wash the day away, sit back with a good book, TV or check in on social media. Have a time set for bedtime and stick to it! You need to be getting around 8 hours of solid sleep each night, if you wake up at 6 each morning you should be going to bed no later than 10. If you are struggling to fall asleep, try reading a real paper book. The blue light emitted by our electronics has been shown to prevent our brains from realizing that it is as late as it is, so stepping away from the screen an hour before bedtime and getting into a book or your paper planner may just be the screen time detox your body needs to fall asleep when you lay down.

If you work from home or are a stay at home mom/wife/dad/husband, what are your tips to staying on track and getting things done? I would love to know your personal tips/tricks in the comments!!

Dec 092015
 

You ever have one of those weeks that feels sooo long and then you realize it is only Wednesday and you have 2 days plus the weekend to get through!? Yeah, that’s me right now.

Grace…

The weather here has been amazing, seriously above freezing all winter so far which is a far cry from our near minus 40 wind-chills that are the Canadian normal. Today, I actually wore a denim jacket with a tee and I have only had to wear my leggings a few times under my skirt. Also, driving is sooo weird because in the winter I am used to snow packed roads and ice that I naturally drive slower. In the summer months I use cruise control so I don’t speed but I never use it in the winter because of the risk of ice so I feel like I am flying!!!

Monday was a nice day. I was able to play a bit of Bible study catch up. I decided to begin reading through the Bible chronologically through Bible Gateway this month and it has been fun and wonderful and a little insane. You see, I decided to start it now instead of in the new year because this is the busiest time of the year with kids and school and shopping and baking and cooking and simply adulting. Whew, that alone made me tired!! BUT I figured if I can stay on track while being uber busy then there is no reason why I can’t continue when life slows down.
No excuses!!

But the past two days have been insane. Yesterday started out with grocery shopping and picking up some Christmas presents. Going easy on the Christmas presents this year as the budget simply doesn’t allow for too much, and frankly, I am tired of the kids acting like we live in a disposable world where money grows on trees. This is Canada, our money is PLASTIC!!

Got home shortly after 1pm yesterday and was carrying things in when the phone rang and the caller ID said it was the Pope AKA school. I swiftly answered and the school principal was on the other line and seemed to be upset. Never a good thing.

She told me my son was okay. Also not the best way to start a conversation but you know how it goes, especially if you’re a boy mom!

I had to rush to the school and pick up my not so little man who had taken the stick of a slap shot to the eye while playing hockey with his friends. He was literally covered in blood and they had his head wrapped in gauze and he looked like a bloody pirate who had just been to war. It made me laugh and for some reason sort of reminded me of ninja turtles. Maybe this is because I am CPR trained to a fairly high level and I knew that because his vision was okay and that he didn’t lose consciousness that he was most likely alright.

We went to the hospital just to be safe and amazingly, or maybe miraculously, we were in and out within an hour! He needed two stitches but another doctor who had seen the chart was excited to see what a slap shot to the eye looked like and popped in before the stitches were done and announced that he would like to try glue. After hearing the two different doctors speaking rather heated in the hallway about potentially gluing his eye shut I knew we were getting glue which is always the best choice when possible because it tends to leave a much smaller scar (and seals the wound so it stays sterile!)

My boy got glued up and then some tape for added measure and we came home and washed those bloody clothes and I sent him to lay down because he was starting to swell.

He was fine, extremely super mild concussion diagnosed for precautionary reasons since it was impact to the head even though he has no symptoms.

Is it Friday YET?

Today, Wednesday, I woke up to pain. My back was on fire and I felt like a wishbone being eagerly torn apart in my lower back. My head was pounding and let’s be real, I felt like I had a hangover except I didn’t go to the party.

Paced around a lot and switched positions a billion times before having to get dressed and go get my daughter from school to bring to the dentist. Somehow in my pain this sweet child of mine managed to talk me into giving her 50 dollars so she can buy a new used phone from a friend. If 50 dollars would make the nagging stop for my poor head it was a great price. Plus, she offered to make dinner which was a complete bonus.

So, now this mama is feeling tired and it’s only 7pm. I haven’t even had a shower yet today and my head is seriously going to explode. Perhaps this is what happens as we age, we get migraines because all that knowledge makes our brains grow or something… Sounds scientific if I use words like cerebral cortex and neural, right?

And then reality smacks me in the face and I realize that it really is only Wednesday and that tomorrow my son has a presentation at school that I have to attend and I still need to pick up some things for the stockings while all I want to do is hibernate and enjoy my green grassed-winter.

So, for now I am going to jump off of here and over to Bible Gateway so I can read some scripture, pull out my Bible so I can highlight and take notes and chill out with God, because He has this.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
~John 15:5,8~

On the hunt for a book for moms of boys? Praying for Boys by MOBS co-founder Brooke McGlothlin has been with me since I was a part of its launch team a year or two ago. A great gift for any mom or mom to be and especially great for a mom of boys!

Nov 052015
 

Yeah, I fall short of the Proverbs 31 woman and sometimes (a lot of the time) my perfectionism gets in the way and instead of trying I give up before I even start because I know I won’t complete the task to my own standard. The laundry clean in baskets waiting to be hung, the empty dresser needing wiped clean after a mouse decided to call it home. I can do this. I can do these things in under 15 minutes but the chaos in my head paralyzes me and the task list gets moved week to week until it’s so long I feel like it won’t get done unless I come undone.

My kids don’t help. At all. Ever. Okay, that’s not totally true, my son will help when he is told to, but if I ask I may as well be fighting a shark over a blood-raw steak because it just isn’t going to happen. So I feel like I am either snapping orders or snapping because I have no help and the truth is no one wants to snap and no one wants to do it alone and that picture perfect “yes mom” world we dream of when we are holding infants in arms makes us wonder where we went wrong because after all, my kid is going to do chores, is going to get straight A’s, is going to be in sports, never talk back, be helpful, courteous, well-mannered and never throw a fit in the store –ever.

But, after the first few weeks of their lives you realize that you aren’t perfect. Getting your body back isn’t happening the way you had planned, they aren’t sleeping through the night or eating enough and you realize that it’s all in His control because SOMEONE has to have control and it certainly isn’t me or you.

Now that the kids are older I still find myself reminding them to say please and thank you. A week or so ago I thanked someone and one of my children asked me why I always say “thank you”. Maybe leading by example also means that they need to know the why behind it. Why are you thanking the youth pastor or the pizza guy or the mail clerk for doing their jobs? Isn’t getting paid enough?


No… Child, it’s not enough to throw a tip at someone when you can throw a smile and offer your sincere thanks and praise. It’s not enough to think that they have enough since they are being paid.

We give thanks because Jesus gave thanks. That sweet eucharisteo spoken as He thanked His Father God for the wine, the food, the friends and family and strangers and everyone who could and would ever be saved.

I can order my child to do dishes and thank him for it because he did them, even if the attitude stinks, and show him that what he did was helpful and appreciated and that he is an asset to the family and the house instead of someone who simply lives here. I can thank my daughter for cleaning her own room even though she is 13 because it looks nice, she did a great job, I am happy she took initiative and I want her to know that her good works don’t go unnoticed and later on in the day, or while standing right there in her doorway I can say a thank-you to God for them being compliant, eager, willing and independent.


A lot of people have been talking lately about this book that’s name slips my mind right now, it’s a book about decluttering your house and living simply and in it the author speaks about thanking the items in your house and allowing them to rest. Thanking your socks for being walked on and serving your feet, thanking papers and dried out pens as you toss them out for making your life easier while they lasted. While I personally don’t talk to my objects I can understand where the author comes from.


If we are going to give thanks to everything we have and even to things that we don’t have, then we are going to be more content in our space, more caring of our objects, our lives and as a result happier because we are counting our blessings. You know, not everyone has socks to warm their feet, let alone put away. Not everyone has a dried out pen, or has ever held or seen a pen. People minister around the world without ever having held a Bible and I have 6. Keeping the gratitude journal alive and truly being grateful keeps me on track. It keeps me feeling real and it makes me realize what others lack.


Going forward I will continue to give thanks and be grateful for the opportunity to teach my kids (and myself) especially when they feel entitled and ungrateful because gratitude when given and received is wrapped up in heart and the heart is full of His unconditional love.

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