Finding Joy

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This week in my homeschool co-op, among the mom’s we talked about just this!!!

Apparently nearly all of us struggle with finding joy amid all the busyness and doing and being of life. There’s just SO MUCH ON OUR PLATES. It doesn’t seem to matter what your lot in life is: homeschool vs. public/private schooling, stay-at-home vs. working mom, no kids vs. 1-3 kids vs. 4+ kids/large family, etc.

Nearly all of us feel it. We’re all so busy living… but how much of us are really enJOYing?

I am so right there with ya. I’m feeling it, too:

I’m a wife.
I’m a mom of (7) children ages 15yr-2yr.
I’m a homemaker.
I homeschool.
I help my husband with some secretarial work for his business.
I’m a blogger/writer.
I’m involved in my church & community & 4H.
I volunteer.
I’m on (2) local Boards.
I have friendships & family relationships.
My husband & children have full lives as well that I must work around.
I have (2) high schooler’s at home that are quite busy with their schooling & sports & choir (soon to be driver’s ed. & getting jobs).

I’m not even going to include here doctor’s appointments, homeschool co-op mtgs/activities, meal planning/shopping & the actual making (& cleaning up) of meals, exercise, recreational activities, alone time, Bible study time, house/yard projects, paying bills, all the time I spend in the car driving everyone everywhere… etc.

Our house is hopping from morning till night.

To boot, I’m an introvert/HSP. And if you’re into the whole Myers-Briggs thing, I’m an INFJ. I require a ridiculous amount of alone time to process life & chill. I often struggle with anxiety & overwhelm.

In all this crazy living, it’s honestly really hard for me to stop & smell the roses.
Shoot, sometimes I miss the roses altogether. LOL

But if I had to guess, you’re pretty darn busy, too. Your “busy” looks considerably different than mine (for sure), but it’s there nonetheless. It’s real. You’re running & going almost non-stop. You’re trying to complete a seemingly endless list of to-do’s. You’ve got a slew of people that need you on the daily. You’re responsible for an incredible list of responsibilities.

Can I encourage you to: Slow Down

Breathe.

Just be.

Look around you.

Take stock.

Though we live in a fallen world, there is pure beauty and bliss all around us.
Look for it. Seek it. Think on it. Meditate on it. Get lost in it.

I don’t think JOY is just something that happens to us– it’s something we have to actively cultivate and nurture.
I don’t think it comes from any outside source or person or circumstance– it’s a practice we must regularly be involved in.
I think it’s like a muscle: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
It’s not something handed to us on a silver platter– we ourselves have to hunt and search for.

Even amid the busy, JOY can be ours. It’s looking at our everything… and giving thanks:

“Thank You, God, for all these special relationships, all these activities on my calendar, all these opportunities to serve, all these growing experiences, and yes, even the trials and struggles– they are making me more like Your Son, Jesus.”

Joy comes from opening our eyes and seeing the wonderful that’s all around us… it also comes from a heart of gratitude.

So what’s bringing *you* joy today? What’s putting a smile on *your* face?

Let’s cultivate this together! Let’s practice this JOY. Let’s give thanks in all things.

#liveawakened   #livefullyalive   #JOY   #findingjoy   #encouragement   #stopandsmelltheroses   #practicejoy   #happinesscomesfromwithin   #gratitude   #lifeisbeautiful

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Let’s Talk Comfort Zones

So today I had to do some MAJOR “adulting”. To boot, my hubby was out of town/wasn’t able to get to his phone–> so I had no extra help or direction from him. I did “it” on my own. And to be honest, I kicked some adulting butt. (Really I did.)

I was *totally* out of my comfort zone. But I did it anyway.

Was it easy? No.

Did it feel good? No.

Was I scared? Yes.

“It” wasn’t expected. I wasn’t prepared for “it”. What I *thought* was going to be a simple thing turned into a “you lost your afternoon fussing with ‘this’.”

But because I’ve been working on myself and actively dealing with my insecurities, I really handled it with genuine ease. I didn’t get flustered/confused. I didn’t fumble over my words. I was able to be straightforward & honest.

In a word, it felt very “freeing” today. Not in the moment, but afterward. Something that would normally be crippling was handled “matter-of-factly”. I cannot adequately explain how proud I am at my ability to handle this hard situation.

Perhaps my “hard” is another one’s “simple”. IDK. We’re not comparing experiences here.  That’s dangerous ground (that is, comparison). It seemed hard to me, and I conquered it. Yay!

Feeling strong. Feeling accomplished.

But it all started with stepping outside my comfort zone.

It’d be “comfortable” to have someone else deal with this issue.

It’d be “comfortable” if it wasn’t my problem to fuss with.

It’d be “comfortable” if I could wash my hands of this.

But I stepped out and did something scared.

Honestly, I’m on Cloud 9.

Like I said, in the moment, it didn’t “feel good”. It was uncomfortable. I wished someone else could handle it for me. I thought of my escape routes for sure.

But I stuck with it. Did it scared. Prayed. Believed that God was in control over all things.

If there’s something you’re struggling with today, may I encourage you to take just (1) step forward and do “the thing” scared. I’m right there with ya. I did a scary thing today, too. You can do it as well. From one scaredy-cat to another… we can do this!

#formerscaredycat    #nowbebrave    #takethatfirststep    #doitscared    #trustGod    #youarenotalone    #stepoutofyourcomfortzone    #liveawakened   #livefullyalive    #beencouraged    #loveyourlife

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Weekend Smiles

1) Early AM quiet time with the Lord. There’s just nothing like it.

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2) This gorgeous car was parked outside my house today while it’s owners went to get some ice cream at the nearby ice cream shop. I hope they don’t mind I was ogling/drooling over it.

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3) Salted caramels. Be still my heart.

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4) When my kids make hot breakfast’s for everyone.

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5) Please pardon the language in the title of this Podcast, but golly, this lady’s got some really good stuff in her podcasts concerning boundaries (and no, they are *not* filled with colorful language- she’s actually a very professional counselor. ). Listened to this gem today. So so good.

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 https://beyondbitchy.com/podcast/8-celebrate-the-no/

6) Also listened to this podcast as well. Really hope they post the other sessions!

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https://chipjudd.com/2018/02/02/boundries-ch-1-audio-recording/

7) Fires with my family!

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8) Bright colored clothing. Can’t it just ALWAYS be summer?!

 

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Back To School

I don’t know about you, but I’m really feeling the pressure and urgency of the whole back to school thing.

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We homeschool our children, but our oldest two kids (ages 15 & almost 14) take one class at the local public school. Our son is taking a class so he can play tennis. Our daughter is taking choir because she LOVES music & singing.

So (1) class each and (1) sport for my son. That’s it. And I’m SHOCKED at all the stuff that needs to get done prior to starting classes. My head starts hurting when I think of what parents of full-time public schoolers must have to deal with. I truly feel for you! The process is no joke.

Hair cuts, school registration (hallelujah, it’s all online this year! An introverts dream come true!), tennis registration (online, too, for the win!), sports physical, homeschool transcripts made, Freshman orientation, talking with the guidance counselors, getting lockers/combos, getting their tablets, eye exams, clothes shopping, school supply shopping, etc.

I’ve kinda been swimming in school stuff lately.
How are you other parents doing?
Hanging in there?

Shout out to our local school district, though! They have been absolutely phenomenal to work with. What a blessing! Being a homeschooling family, I was a little nervous about interacting with the school corporation. But they have been SO welcoming, SO helpful, SO caring. I’ve asked a bazillion questions and they’ve been so patient to answer each and every one of them. Even with our schooling situation being unique, they’ve been SO accommodating. I honestly cannot say enough positive things about our local school district. They’ve been just fantastic!

This post is rambling, but I suppose I’m in a rambling mood. Working on school stuff now and so I wanted to write about it. Ha, maybe a needed distraction I suppose.

So hang in there mom’s and dad’s! Try to enjoy these last few days of summer with your kiddos before they head back to school. And I hope it’s not too stressful for you as you prepare.

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#backtoschool   #highschool   #homeschooling   #publicschooling   #hanginthere   #enjoyyourkids   #lastdaysofsummer

Random: Automatic Public Toilets

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Yes, this post is totally random. You will most definitely get that from time to time with me. Well, today is that lucky, odd day. My totally random thought of the day is about: Automatic Public Toilets.

Regardless of the fact that it’s nice to not have to hand flush (or kick flush)… if you’re a parent of a potty training toddler… or maybe said toddler (or parent) is terrified of the automatic flush… or you just have the tendency to sit too still for far too long…
I think we can all agree that automatic public toilets can be a pain.

They sometimes flush too randomly… they sometimes flush too early… sometimes they repeatedly flush… sometimes the flush is just startlingly too fast or loud… sometimes you’re just not prepared…

Well, I have a tip for you!

Somewhere I learned the following hack (& boy, is it ever useful!). If you’ve already discovered this little trick, than kudos: you, too, have been enjoying being in the driver’s seat of toilet control. For those of you yet to discover, may I reveal the following secret to you. Ta-da:

I’ll tell you what… I was about 3-4 kids in before I discovered this trick! It’s so simple! I’ve never had freaked out kids (or me) in the bathroom ever since!

So, if this is the first time you’ve ever seen this: you’re welcome. Enjoy. Hope this random thought of mine today is actually a blessing to you.

Happy flushings!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#totallyrandomthoughtoftheday   #bathroomhack   #nomoresurprises   #pottypeacefully

Stop Waiting

Stop waiting. Make something of the moment you're in right now

Because of the Fall of man and the effects of sin on the earth, there’s always gonna be decay, failure, let downs, problems, sadness, and death this side of heaven. And quite frankly, I kinda think that because of sin, our brains may be hard-wired to immediately see the darkness around us. I think this because ‘seeing the good & the positive’ seems a skill that most of us struggle to naturally have and develop. It doesn’t seem innate to most.

Scripture says,

“… brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”
~Philippians 4:8

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.”
~Proverbs 4:23

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, be be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
~Romans 12:2

It matters what we meditate on in our hearts and minds.

If a negative thought comes into our minds, it matters what we do with it. Do we run with it? Imagine intentions of other people? Think worst case scenario? Ruminate over it? Meditate on it?

What we’re doing is creating mental ruts and grooves. And quite literally, we are creating neural pathways of negativity in our brains. The more we think negatively, the more ingrained that line of thinking becomes!

We must counter this with positive thinking. Not in a New Age-y way. But in a Biblical way! Focus on what is right and true and praiseworthy. Focus on the good that is all around us. Focus on the blessings of God. Focus on what Christ did on the cross for us.

Having a hard time doing this mentally? Just get out a notebook & pen or sit down with a blank Word document and just start writing. Even if it’s simple things like: the sun is shining and the weather is nice today, it’s Friday and I’m getting paid, no one’s sick in my family right now, we went grocery shopping and have a full fridge/pantry of food, etc. It doesn’t have to be anything huge and amazing. But what you’ll see is that there is a TON of things in our lives that are going RIGHT. We just need to be paying attention/looking for it. It’s there, I promise.

On learning to take a positive spin on events & circumstances…
An example: this Thursday (7/19/18) AM, I had a varicose vein procedure. I had my alarm set for 4:30a so I’d have ample time to get ready and drive to my appointment. Well, I forgot to turn that alarm off. So come the next morning (Friday), my alarm goes off at 4:30a. Besides scaring me out of a nice dream, my next immediate thought was “grrrrr… this upsets me… I want to sleep!” But I forced myself to take a positive spin: though I don’t like waking up at 4:30a when I don’t need to & I was awoken out of a deep sleep: I am now awake enough to take the Ibuprophen I have on my bed stand. Now, when I wake up at normal time, I won’t be in pain. Yay!

Though “yay” wasn’t my initial response, it’s the one I rolled over/fell back asleep to. I was genuinely happy and slept like a baby like a husband. 🙂 I knew I’d wake up with less pain in a few hours AND the Ibu would allow me a couple more hours of good, pain-free sleep. I successfully took a positive spin on that experience.

Note: I will NOT be accidentally be waking up at 4:30a on Saturday as I successfully deleted that alarm. 🙂

But no matter our situation or lot in life, there is ALWAYS something positive to focus on that can bring a smile to our face. There’s ALWAYS a silver lining. Look for it. Seek it. Search for it. Don’t “wait for it to happen”. MAKE it happen. It seriously starts in the mind and how we perceive the things that happen to us and that are said to us. Happiness starts within us. It’s not an outward thing that happens to us.

Let’s make it happen.
Let’s look for something good to savor today.
Let’s choose now to be happy!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#lookforthegood   #bepositive   #livefree   #choosehappiness   #happinessstartswithin   #becarefullittlemindwhatyouthink   #smile   #behappy   #liveawakened   #livefullyalive

Fearlessness vs. Bravery

Our goal in life shouldn’t be to “be fearless“.

Think about it… there are things and situations in life that are very much fear-inducing: getting a bad report from the doctor (then following that up: medical procedures), getting our works published, starting that new class/degree, stepping back into the world of dating after the death of a spouse or a divorce, getting that positive pregnancy test, starting a new job, etc. There’s so many variables and unknowns and new things we’re  being faced with. It can be frightening and uncomfortable.

We can’t not feel fear. It’s there. It always will be. It’s impossible to genuinely be “fearless”, that is, to be without fear.

A better, more noble goal is to be BRAVE.

It means we feel the fear and yet still go forward anyway. It means being courageous.

I used to always tell my kids to “be fearless“. That is, until this last week when my little girl had an earring infection.

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As I started to clean her piercing, she started saying, “I’m scared, momma.” Then it dawned on me: of course she’s scared. She’s scared of pain. That’s a very real thing. That’s a very valid feeling. How could I tell her to be fearless? Fear is very real.

So I pointed this thought out to her. I said, “you’re right, honey. This is scary. It could be painful. I’m going to try my best NOT to hurt you, but I *have* to clean this infection or it will get worse and even *more* painful. You know how momma used to tell you to be fearless? Well I was wrong. You need to be BRAVE instead. You’re going to feel this fear, but you have to do this anyway. But you know what? I’m RIGHT HERE WITH YOU. You’re not alone. We’ll do this together.”

She did it scared. She was so brave.

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This week, I myself am going to be putting my “bravery” muscle to use. Today (7-19-18) at 7am, I will be having an ablation procedure on a varicose vein that’s been bothering me for YEARS.

Starting around my 4th or 5th pregnancy, a vein on my right leg became varicose. I then had to begin wearing compression stockings during each of the following pregnancies (I’ve had 8 full-term). It would get so swollen, inflamed, painful, itchy… and to boot, it was ugly. Perhaps I’m just being vein, I mean, “vain”, but I really don’t like the way it looks. [LOL. I had to add that in, apologies. ;-)]

But now that I’m done having children, that vein is STILL causing me problems as it hasn’t gone away. It still gets irritated and flared up and achy. And it’ll only get worse if I don’t get it taken care of now. Plus, having a vein like that increases my chances of getting dangerous blood clots.

The ablation process is outpatient. It’s routine. It’s pretty low risk. If there IS any sort of issue, the hospital is literally next door. It’s pretty painless (thank you lidocaine). Success rate is high. I’ll have a gorgeous/pain-free leg. Woot woot.

BUT… I’ve never done it before. This is all new territory. I’m not going to lie, it’s giving me butterflies in the belly.

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But I’m going to feel the fear and do it regardless. I’m going to be brave and step boldly into this new experience. I’m going to focus on the fact that I won’t be alone during this procedure: my hubby and God will both be with me. (Plus, my hubby promises to take me out on a lunch date later and buy me a tenderloin from the most amazing food truck in our county. #worthit)

So anyway… I leave you with this: be brave (rather than striving to be “fearless”). Do the scary thing anyway. Trust that God has your back and that you’re not alone. Stop focusing on what could go wrong, and instead focus on what could go right!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

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#bebrave    #youarenotalone    #Godiswithyou    #feelthefear   #doitanyway   #doitscared   #liveawakened    #livefullyalive   #livebyfaith