Sunday, March 1, 2015

Having "alone" time with God when you never are alone



We are taught how important it is to spend ALONE time with God, but what happens when you are never alone?

We hear how Jesus would run off and spend alone time with God and if anyone can get away with NOT doing that, it would be Him. Although we want to do that, some of us are in a season of life where it just doesn't happen by no fault of our own.

Have you ever made a special effort to have morning time with God? The night before you place your Bible and other items you're using on the table (or wherever you spend your alone time with God), you prep your coffee or tea so you just have to turn it on in the morning and even lay out your clothes? You set your alarm clock off early, get up, sneak around the house getting dressed, get your coffee going, finally you sit down, open up your Bible, and then it happens...

Someone wakes up. Usually it's a little one.

This happens more than I care to admit. Can I be honest for a second? I get really mad at God when that happens. I mean, I'm trying to have some alone time with HIM and He has the power to keep these kids asleep, so why wouldn't He?

It got to the point where anytime I was truly desperate to be with Him ALONE someone always caused it not to happen. Not too long ago, I gave up with the whole concept. I was so in need of His presence, I really needed Him...one on one...so I got up...at 2 AM!!!!

And, like I said before, I spent almost an hour the night before prepping. As soon as I sat down, took my first sip of coffee (again at TWO IN THE MORNING), touched my Bible, my youngest woke up. And I mean he was up, up. He was up and ready for the day. I had a few choice words with God and I haven't had my morning time since. I was very angry and bitter.

And it only got worse because I kept hearing teaching and messages about the importance of spending alone time with God. I'd scream at God "HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO HAVE ALONE TIME WITH YOU IF I'M NEVER ALONE??!!! AND *YOU* ARE CAPABLE OF KEEPING THESE KIDS ASLEEP!! IT'S NOT LIKE I'M NOT PUTTING IN AN EFFORT TO TRY!!!

Now I have relatives living with us for a few months. They are up at 5 am. My older son gets up at 6 for school.  To have morning, alone time, I would have to get up at 4! However hubby is now home on workers comp (possibly for a year or two) so we don't go to bed until 11 or so (since we barely get alone time to ourselves either)...that means getting up at 4 would mean consistently not getting enough sleep...and I'm not guaranteed of it actually being time alone with God. I swear kids have radar for when their mama wakes up.

So what to do...

Well I prayed about it and God showed me a lot through all this

First and foremost...God is not sitting up there, like an ogre, ready to smack ya. He is a loving God who understands your situation and season of life. He knows your heart.

This is what He was teaching me during these consistent frustrating events:

When you learn to seek Him in the chaos, it helps us learn to spend time with Him when situations aren't perfect. If we can only sense His peace, His presence, and guidance in a perfect environment that we created and planned for, how in the world can we seek Him when we are drowning in a storm? How can we hear Him through the thunder and lightning life throws at us?

He has used my own life situations, including my own family, to teach me to hear His voice in the chaos and to be led by Him when I can't find my way in the darkness. Not only that, but to really dig in and seek Him

You don't have to have the perfect scenario to seek Him and read His Word. The bathroom can be a very holy place! Lol

Here are some ideas God has shown me how to have "alone" time with Him when you just aren't ever alone

- Accept you'll never be alone in this season. It's okay!! He's not grading you and there is no set way of spending time with Him. Get whatever picture you have in your head of a godly woman and that picture perfect scenario of how she spends time with God, out of your head. I have finally accepted that in this season of life, I'm not going to have any alone time, or at least nothing consistent. The picture in my head of me reading the Word, early in the morning, is not going to happen right now. But I pray, and look forward to the days where not only can I get up early and do that, but I can do it some mornings in front of a lake or ocean...some place super peaceful. Or even just on my backyard patio while the birds chirp

- Realize there is no certain way to spend time with God. I'm very much a type A personality. I get lost if there is no plan. I always did the same thing every morning. I wrote in my journal. I prayed out of my prayer binder that was divided up into certain sections and certain days and there was always a plan with the Bible. And then I would wonder why I was getting bored with reading the Word. You can just sit with a cup of coffee and talk to God. That works! All spending time with God is, is talking to Him...that's it!

- Get some ear buds! I have a love/hate relationship with theSE things! I like the typical headphones I grew up with...they actually stayed on my ears! lol. But the advantage of today's ear buds is you can keep one out of your ear. Let me explain. I'm not a big TV person. I have to almost mentally prepare to watch a movie. I like my sitcoms and a few religious shows on TV...that's about it. However hubby can watch movies anytime...he can even watch one NOT from the beginning (I can't!). Sometimes I sit next to him and read or crochet while he watches, if I'm not interested. However God gave me another idea and that is to listen to podcasts or religious teaching or music on YouTube, while only having one ear bud in. That way I can still hear hubby talking to me, I can still hear what is going on in the house, but I also get to be uplifted by what I listen to. I leave the ear bud out on the side hubby is sitting on.

- I love the Coffee Cup Bible Studies! Have you ever heard of this series? Click HERE to see them on Amazon. I love them because they are one of the few Bible Studies out there that include ALL the Bible Verses needed. Why is that important? Because you don't need to have the book AND your Bible to do the study. That means you can do a Bible study while going to the bathroom, while you're on hold on the phone, while you're waiting for something to defrost, while you're at the doctor's office...anywhere. The books aren't that big and they are spiral bound. Perfect to put in your purse or bag, or to fit in the slot in your car door.


- Keep books that inspire you readily available. I always have a "bathroom book." Basically a book that I will only read while in the bathroom. It's amazing how far you get just reading a couple pages a day. I'm now working on keeping one in my purse at all times and one in the car. A little goes a long way and sometimes just that quick reading sets your mind back on God. Even keeping one near the computer for when it lags can be helpful.


- Listen to music while cleaning and really sing and communicate with Him. I just love having the Christian radio station playing while cleaning, and then a song that my heart loves so much comes on. It's one of those that, when you hear the melody, you're instantly connected to God. This encouraged me to purposefully listen to music and talk to God while I clean. Just because I'm not sitting at a table, with a Bible in front of me, doesn't mean I can't, or I'm not, spending time with God.

- Take advantage of the random times you do get alone. When you're life consists of no regular alone time...meaning none you can count on...you never know when "alone time" may appear. Maybe your hubby takes the kids with him to the store. Maybe everyone takes a nap (it happens! lol). I strongly suggest you devote even 2 minutes to God right off the rip. I started doing this and I notice that I get more windows of alone time for Him than I did before. I think it's called sowing a seed :)

- Get spouse's help if possible.  If your spouse is understanding and open about this (not all are), see if he would be willing to watch the kids while you get some time alone with God.

- If you have family or friends close by, have them watch your kids for a few hours (not every day of course, but maybe once a week or even once a month). I personally don't have this luxury but I would love it if I had a friend that we could swap watching each other's kids while having a few hours to ourselves to be with God. Whether at home or out some where.

So those are the ideas God showed me. They have really become helpful for me and I hope help you. Getting mad at God because people wouldn't stay asleep, although understandable, was stupid. God uses things and situations to teach us, whether we realize it or not!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Getting in the MOOD to Clean



Ever look into a room and just want to cry?  It's such a mess you don't even know where to start?  Or maybe it's not that bad, but you know you have to clean and there isn't an ounce of desire AT ALL to do it!

I struggle like this quite often actually. I've been at this homemaking thing now for over a decade and there is a lot that is just getting plain old. Dishes and laundry are at the top of that list. There are many homemakers who take joy in taking care of the home. I do, most of the time, but there are times (and seasons...looooong seasons at that) where I just don't want to be bothered. I even become resentful, at times, of my role and miss my life when I was the only one I had to be responsible for (living single in my own apartment and can do whatever I wanted, when I wanted and had no one to answer to). Thank God this isn't the norm.

But this kind of thinking is foolish. I live for God and want to make Him proud of me. I do my work for Him...whether it's actual work, or actions led by Him

So here's this mess and/or it's time to clean and I just plain don't wanna...hmmm....what to do..

Sometimes I'll complain in my head the whole time (especially if it's not a mess I made). Sometimes I just won't do it and come up with an excuse to justify the mess or why I didn't clean it.

But I know that's not very responsible...and deep down I'm not happy with myself.  So I came up with an alternative.

First thing I do, is make coffee or tea. Then I light a candle on my stove. After that I put on some music. I know others like upbeat music to clean to, some like gospel, for me, when it comes to cleaning, I LOVE spa type music. It just relaxes me on the inside while I do it. I even have a set of indoor windchimes I like to turn on (HERE is a link to the one I have, but I certainly did not pay that price...I think it was like $20...it's 13 years old).

Basically I'm creating a mood. Mrs. White, from The Legacy of Home, calls her mood a "pink mood." I think my mood might be different than hers. I've given up with the "coziness" factor and just go for a serene type of peace. The peace you get when standing in front of waves at the beach. The peace you get when the sun is slowly coming down over acres of quiet farm land, where the only sound is of birds chirping. That serenity type peace is what I go for. If I can bottle that up and have it every single day of my life, I would be in heaven.

Once that flows, THEN I tackle my cleaning. Sometimes, I even put on makeup and perfume on especially hard days lol.

I usually start in my kitchen and work from one section to the next. My life is crazy right now so there is no cleaning routine going on...all my daily rhythms are out the window. And I'm learning, it's okay. Life doesn't always have to be perfect, planned, or how you pictured. I try to plan as little as possible because just my day to day life never happens how I want it to. And again, that's okay.

Here is a video of what I'm currently enjoying for my "spa" type music.


So, ladies, how do you get yourself in the mood to clean when deep down you just don't want to?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When Nothing Goes as Planned


I started blogging again, last year in September. I took about 2 years off with the original intention to never blog again. I truly believed I was called to homeschool and I wanted that to be my only priority and focus. Earlier last year, I learned that I was wrong.

I also believed that I would be miss suzy homemaker for my whole life. I'm not working right now because I have a little one still at home, but he starts school this fall. Now there is talk about working part time while the kids are in school. When this discussion happened, I was in a resentful fog. I was still getting over the idea that I will not be homeschooling for the next 13 years.

I got where I was finally looking forward to cleaning the house during the day, peacefully, while the kids were in school, spending hours with God like I did before I became a mom and was married, I wanted to volunteer at the church and maybe go to some Bible Studies. All that changed in the blink of an eye. In the span of a couple months all my future plans went down the toilet. I was an emotional mess on the inside.

I love being this old fashioned housewife. I loved homeschooling (my son is now THRIVING in public school...with me he ended up being below average for reading...just a few months in public school he's reading at a level that is a grade higher than him...plus made honor roll...AND made some wonderful godly friends...public school isn't all bad!).

I loved, and still love, everything about being home.

And now that might change.

And that's okay. I'm actually, now, looking forward to getting out a bit.

In September things calmed down. I felt like I was lead to blog again (and no I'm not quitting...lol...that's not what this is about). So that's what I did. I finally got in my homemaking zone once again. I had a system in place. Everything was going great. I have a notebook that I use for when blogging ideas pop in my head and I have quite a few in there.

Then another bomb fell on me

Long story short, hubby got hurt on the job and has been out of work since. He's not seriously hurt but we've had some issues with worker's comp cooperating with us. Money has been extremely tight.

The bombs haven't stopped falling.

Without getting too personal, we now have some people living with us temporarily who are also in need.

Can you see why I haven't been blogging much? lol

I created a little group with a few friends of mine all about weight loss and exercise. *I* created it...and haven't exercised once yet.

Did I ever mention on here that I am a planner?  That I have to have everything planned out for me to be calm? If you're like that, then you can imagine what I'm going through.

But truthfully, that's NOT what we are going through. Amongst all this, my husband and I are at peace. Yes there are moments of stress but they aren't the norm.  I do get weary every now and then and just want these trials to end. But God has shown His favor over us in HUGE ways.

Our bills our paid and there is food in our bellies :-)

But it's not just that...it's little things that are huge to me.

Whenever we would run low on something, God always provided. I have seen answers to prayers that I've been praying over for A DECADE come to pass.

Now, I titled this post "When Nothing Goes as Planned." But first I had to show you that I KNOW what I'm talking about lol. These incidents are not the only incidents. A few weeks ago I planned on getting up at 4 in the morning to spend time with God because I needed it DESPERATELY. I woke up at 2am and decided that I'm not laying in bed trying to fall back asleep, I'll go seek God. Once I sat at that table with my coffee and journal, sure enough, my five year old woke up and was up up...like wanting to play type up. It was 2:30am. There was no way he was going back to bed. I wish I can say this rarely happens. It seems when I need God desperately, I never get alone time with Him. And forget it now with all these people at my home.

So I know ALL ABOUT when nothing goes as planned. I've prayed for years about being able to go with the flow more. I probably shouldn't have prayed that lol! It's like praying for patience...not a good idea lol.

There is a big word that I utter all the time lately...and that is:



Dictionary.com defines it as: "to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress."

I have yielded everything to God right now. I have given up completely. Daily I pray "Your will be done."

I don't have the energy to fight what's going on. I certainly don't have the strength. By 5:00pm I'm ready to crash for the night. I don't have the energy to cry about it. I refuse to sit here and ponder what could happen and instead focus on all that God has already done. I've heard multiple times now "I don't know how you guys are dealing with this."

Well I'll tell you how...

We trust God. We have no other option. God has pinned us in a corner right now and He is our only option.

We are in survival mode. I don't sit and think "wow, I can't wait for this to be over" or "when will this all end?" These types of thoughts will upset us. I focus on what God has done and thank Him for working on future happenings. I also focus on what CAN we do. We can watch TV, we can read, play games, etc. This year I made my entire to-read list from books that the library has. I won't have to spend a penny. I reserve one at a time so I don't feel rushed to read them, and only go and pick them up when I'm already going out. I also focus on what can we do to make things easier. I do a lot of prepping when my energy is high. We've been using the crockpot a lot lately so the only mess from dinner is what we used to eat with...plates, forks, etc...but not pots and pans, cutting boards and the whole nine yards. Clothes are laid out at night...systems are in place.

I also listen to encouraging teaching. During this trial I need to hear how powerful God is...how faithful He is...and how He gives double for your formal troubles.

I will tell you God IS faithful. I'll be honest, I used to get frustrated seeing how God does so many big things for people. Yes I know He's not a respecter of persons...what he does for one he would do for another. But in my life, I've never seen anything BIG. It was always nice to hear what He can do, but deep down I honestly felt that I would never see it for myself. It's becoming overwhelming (in a good way) seeing God work. Every day we SEE Him...even in little things.

So when your life is crazy due to circumstances out of your control...just surrender.

Trust God...and surrender






Sunday, January 4, 2015

Two Bloggers that Inspire me and my 2015 goals



I have mentioned many times on here how some blogs have actually hurt me (A LOT) on my homemaking journey. Well there are a couple blogs that have truly inspired me, big time! I mentioned one on here already, but she's worth mentioning again.

TWO BLOGGERS THAT INSPIRE ME:

The Legacy of Home - She inspires me to be a joyful homemaker, to go the extra mile with my homemaking and to keep things simple. She's gentle yet reminds us of the importance of keeping a clean home.

The Prudent Homemaker - The level of this woman's frugality is beyond something I have ever seen. I love how she notes everything, researches well and has weekly goals (as I mention below)



Here are my 2015 Goals:

- TO BE MORE GOAL ORIENTED - Yes, I have a goal to have more goals lol. I was so inspired by how The Prudent Homemaker makes her weekly goals and actually does them! I feel like I've been floating through life all these years. If I feel like doing something, I do it. If not, I don't. I can make this big cleaning plan/routine/schedule, and that's all well and good, but if I wake up and don't feel like doing it, I will tell myself a ton of reasons why I don't have to (ex: it doesn't really matter, no one will notice or care, it will just get messed up again so what's the point, compared to so and so's house mine looks great...and so on).

So although this is a list of 2015's goals, I'm not actually making any MAJOR goals this year. I just want to keep it small...I'm going to start with maybe 3 weekly goals and each day have one goal for the day. That's it. I will be reading some books on how to be more disciplined and goal oriented and what not...then maybe 2016 will have some stronger goals

-TO FOLLOW THE MOTTO OF "SLOW AND STEADY" - This is kinda what I was talking about with having small weekly goals. I am notorious for going all out with tons of willpower and determination...only to have the fire go out in a few days. Then I feel like a failure and give up (hence why I haven't lost any weight in over 5 years).

So here's how this may look:

READING - I'm really good at reserving a ton of books from the library, coming home with a stack, and trying to read them all before they are due. It would stress me out, I'd say forget it, and return them all out of frustration. I'm not quite sure WHY I do this to myself lol. So this year I'm doing something different. I created a 2015 Book Reading list on Goodreads. I only put books on here that my library has (I refuse to spend any money on books this year if I don't have to). I am only reserving ONE at a time. And I won't reserve another until I'm done with the first. Even if I don't read all the books on my list, it's not a big deal. Stressing over something this minor is stupid!

THE BIBLE - I've been at war with reading the Bible. If I don't have a plan, then I'm at a loss of what to read. However a plan then makes me feel obligated...it's a no win situation. The past few months I started a chronological reading plan. I'm not following what to read each day, just the order of what to read. I originally started with Genesis (which I have probably read hundreds of times from all the plans I've tried to do, start and then fail half way through the first five books). By no means am I a history person, so I find the first few books in the Bible extremely tough to read. I said forget it. I know I have read them before at some point, but my perfectionist ways knows I can't skip it. So I read those books...all the way through and stopped at the book of 1 Samuel. Now I can go back to reading the Bible like normal. If I can only do a chapter a day, then fine. Missing a day is okay too! Jumping ahead is okay too! There is no one checking my work!

HEALTH/FITNESS - This is a biggee for me. I'm trying something completely different this year. Something makes me angry about being overweight and then I get determined, make this huge plan, start it out, last a few days, maybe even a few weeks, and then something happens and I've lost it. This year, I made a 2 year plan. It's actually an investment in myself. My main goal is to develop habits that will, hopefully, be permanent. Each month has a different habit that builds on each other. Instead of having this 45 minute cardio plan, with weight lifting 3 times a week, I'm starting small...and slow. This month I am exercising for 15 minutes twice a week (cardio only). Then next month is 3 times a week. The month after, 4 times a week all the way to 5 times a week. Then I'm slowly increasing the 15 minutes each time to having one day a week do 30 minutes (while continuing the 15 minutes for 4 times). Each month I SLOWLY increase, so by the end of the 2nd year, I have the complete program that I will, hopefully, do for life...or at least something in that area.

It's not only exercise...each month I have a water goal and a health goal. Yes we're supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day, plus an additional one for every caffeinated and alcoholic beverage we drink. I've never been able to do that. So, here comes the slow and steady way. This month my goal is to drink ONE glass of water a day. Next month is TWO and so on. Once I get to 8 a day, then I'll drink the additional glasses as needed.

My health goal this month is to eat something within an hour of waking up, to startup my metabolism. Next month's goal is to focus, STRONGLY, on eating when I'm truly hungry and stopping when I'm satisfied, yet not full. I have a whole 2 years of them...one month at a time. I will be sharing that on here if you want to follow.

-TO BE AS FRUGAL AS POSSIBLE- This is another biggee for me. We are having a lot of issues right now that I rather not share...but they are serious and they are extremely difficult. Amongst all this, TONS of lessons and answered prayers have come from it. We are working on getting our finances in order and to be as frugal as we can to pay off bills, debt, build an emergency fund and other type of savings. Every penny saved, needs to go towards something. The more pennies saved, the quicker things will go. And once everything is normal, we will STILL be frugal. But this year I am spending the entire year studying it. I mentioned hosting a book reading on a yahoo group of, "The Complete Tightwad Gazette." We just started...if you are interested email me at freshhomemaking(at)gmail(dot)com.

So there are my goals...have you come up with any this year?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2015's Theme for my life and blog



I remember seeing a lot of bloggers come up with a one word theme for the new year. One year I did that..my word was "cozy." Well, I'm jumping on that band wagon but with a serious purpose.

That purpose is frugality...in fact I want to be a downright Tightwad. We have gone through a lot over the years financially, however this past year (2014), I have to say has been our worst. I do believe that this is all part of God's plan because my husband and I have learned A WHOLE LOT due to this. Things will change and it WILL get better...not only that, we'll have a ton of knowledge and wisdom to go with it. Many changes that I have seen are the result of prayers I've said for 10+ years. Now I wouldn't have asked for the lessons to be learned the way they have been learned, but I'll take it lol. So you will see a lot of talk about frugality and living more simply.

We were driving down the highway recently and we both noticed all the billboards. At the same time we both brought up how all these companies just want our money. My husband is a little bit of a spendthrift (smiles) so the changes that I've seen, even in as little as the billboard statement, is huge progress. In fact, I am so proud of both of us because we have given up cable! This is the first time in my whole life that I have not had cable. It's a HUGE change. My hubby is out on worker's comp right now and has to rest his leg. So normally that would be a lot of cable tv viewing. We got an HD indoor antenna, netflix, and a ton of DVDs from the library...it's still an adjustment, but not too bad. I'll talk more on that later.

Now I want to bring something up. I don't know if you are familiar with Yahoo Groups. They were very popular before facebook came around. I have been part of one for over 7 years and I am hosting a book reading on it for the whole year (possibly longer) using the book "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn


This book is over 900 pages and we're taking it really slow. I may even park on a certain topic for a whole month so who knows how long it will take. The group I'm part of is actually a holiday group so we talk a lot about holiday stuff, sometimes off topic stuff, crafts, cooking, but the most popular are chats about frugality. If you are interested in joining this group, email me at (freshhomamking(at)gmail(dot)com). The group has a couple thousand members and the messages go in your email so if you're not interested in having a lot of email, then think twice. In my opinion it's not too bad, but everyone is different and the group fluctuates between a lot of emails and then barely any (you can also choose to have a daily digest or no mail at all and just visit the group's site) . I will be talking on here as well, but not in the detail I will with the group.

I'm just really fed up with wasting money. Now I'm not saying that we went crazy...I've always been frugal to a degree (hubby calls me low-maintenance), but I want to pay more attention to the details because they DO ADD UP. For example, I stopped buying saran wrap because I hated that it had only one purpose (to cover stuff and then be tossed). So I started just buying foil because I can at least cook on it. However, it made me mad to see how much I threw out because I always needed to cover a bowl or something to put in the fridge. Sooo, I have tried something else and have succeeded greatly. And that is, at Dollar Tree, I bought these:

Thanks to the fact that they are made more out of the material of thin ziploc bags (meaning they aren't sticky) and have a rubber band...I can WASH them. So my foil is only used in the oven (and if it isn't too dirty I may wipe that too, fold it up and put it away). I love it!

Stuff like this seems to not be a big deal but when you do this with EVERYTHING, and pinch pennies every way possible it DOES add up.

When I was driving to the cable company I had this feeling of mourning. Oh it was so hard lol...but when I left I felt empowered!!! Who are they to have such a hold on me?! LOL  My bill went from $146 (that includes phone, internet and cable) to $72. That's an extra $74 a month in our pocket!! I'm also working on getting rid of my phone service and trying out something else that's only $10 a month. I'll keep you posted on that.

Anyways...that's my theme this month. Do you have a theme? What kind of frugal things do you do that helps you pinch pennies?






Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Struggling with Holidays and Traditions


I have always been the Christmas fanatic in the family. I LOVE Christmas. I listen to Christmas music throughout the year and when I'm really in the mood I'll watch a Christmas DVD and curl up with a cup of hot cocoa...even in August.

As a child I had great Christmases. I was the only child and the only grandchild so needless to say I was spoiled. But my love for Christmas had nothing to do with gifts and everything to do with the coziness of the holiday. The lights, the smells, the shows, the music...everything.

The past couple years I finally realized it was all from my mom. It was me and my mom watching these Christmas shows every year, drinking hot cocoa, listening to music and so on (my dad watched a few Christmas movies but was never into it like my mom and me...although I do remember hearing him whistle Christmas carols every now and then lol). My mom worked full time since she was 18 years old. By the time she got home she was really exhausted from work like most people are. But something was different at Christmas time. There was excitement in the air when we knew Charlie Brown was coming on that night or Frosty or Rudolph or, our favorite "Twas the Night Before Christmas," you know, the one with the mice? I also loved Mickey's Christmas Carol...that was my favorite as a kid. 

My mom MADE Christmas for me.

As I've grown into an adult I have battled with Christmas. I loved the atmosphere my mom made when I was a kid (note - she wasn't even trying to do so, she just did it...it just happened) and I have been trying to duplicate it ever since.

I also had a small family (just my parents, grandparents, and an aunt) and we did the same thing every year. It wasn't done on purpose, it's just the way we did things. In fact I don't think that we really did anything traditional each year on purpose. But to me, these "traditions" were engraved into me. (I also lived in the same house my entire childhood - I never moved as a child and neither did any of my family, so it was ALWAYS the same)

So here I am, 31 years old. I've been married for almost 11 years with 2 boys ages 9 and 5. I only have one living grandparent left and we moved out of state (from CT to OH). I don't even see any of my family at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

A part of me longs for that coziness that I had as a child, but each year I fail to get it.

Growing up we had an artificial Christmas tree and every year we put it up the day after Thanksgiving, along with all our Christmas decorations. Hubby grew up with no traditions and a real Christmas tree. My husband doesn't find the need for traditions like I do so they aren't that important to him. He also didn't really like Christmas when I met him so I decided to give in to his need for a real tree since that really was the only thing he cared about. (he enjoys Christmas now - guess that happens when you marry a Christmas freak! lol) 

By doing that, I lost my day after Thanksgiving tradition. That was my most favorite day of the year. I actually looked forward to it as much as I looked forward to Christmas day itself. He also works in the retail business so he HAS TO work the day after Thanksgiving so even if we used an artificial tree, I couldn't put it up that day or have that day be the official Christmas decorating day. Getting the real tree is supposed to be a warm, exciting tradition. We used to go to one of those farms where you cut it down yourself, then drive home, decorate it while listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate. But this is how it really ends up happening:

After getting home, hubby drills holes into the bottom of the tree trunk (helps get more water and makes the tree last a LOT longer), then gets it in the stand and finally we have to wait. If you use an artificial tree every year, you may not know about this. But the trees close up when it's cold outside, soooo when you bring it in the house you have to wait for it to get warm so it will "drop" it's branches. Well kids aren't that patient so let the whining begin. And then when it's FINALLY time to start decorating the tree, they still have to wait for mommy and daddy to put the lights on and then the garland and THEN they can put the ornaments on. I remember a couple Christmases ago, it was the first year my youngest was able to help decorate the tree. Only problem was he didn't understand how to put them on the tree...so they kept falling. And no matter how we showed him he just wasn't getting it and he was screaming the whole time. So decorating the tree that year was chaotic. Instead of the warm, cozy, atmosphere with the hot cocoa, cookies and Christmas music, I instead got a whining 7 year old, a screaming 3 year old, a puppy whimpering, Christmas music that just become a lot of noise, no hot cocoa, I put the butter back in the fridge because at this point I had no desire to bake, and a whole lot of stress. 

The year after that we got an artificial tree to put in the kitchen...which we ended up dragging into the living room because we couldn't afford the real tree. This year we have that tree in the kitchen again, but went to Menards and spent $18 on a real tree...we set it up while my oldest was in school and my youngest was playing on the computer...no drama that way lol. We just waited to put the ornaments on so we can all do it together.

Christmas was never stressful for me until I had kids. I couldn't wait to have kids so I can pass down what my mom has done for me. But so far, it doesn't seem to play out the way I pictured it. My life as a mom is completely different than my mom's. She worked full time, I'm a stay at home mom. She only had one kid, I have 2. She had a girl, I have boys. She lived in CT with all her family, I now live in OH with none of my family.Down to every little detail we are different, except for our personalities.

There is no way I can duplicate my child hood...NONE of it.

Even when it comes to watching the Christmas shows. Maybe some of you battle with this. I record the shows on my DVR "just in case" I miss them. Only thing is,I don't remember they are on, or we go out, or for whatever reason we just don't watch them.  Am I the only one that finds watching a Christmas show "live" to be totally different than watching it recorded or on a DVD?

I have learned a lot about traditions. The biggest thing that I learned is....

IT'S OKAY TO BREAK THEM!...EVEN ALL OF THEM!

Any time I try to do anything that resembles my Christmas from when I was a child, it comes with a painful feeling inside, almost of mourning. A big part of me wishes I can go back in time, to when I was a kid and relive all my Christmases. Back when not only did I have my family with me, but my family that has passed away over the years.

Sometimes Christmas music is unpredictable to me. I can put on the same music all the time and I never know how my emotions will go. Most of the time I'll enjoy it, even get the warm fuzzies from time to time. But there are times where it brings up raw emotions. I go back in my rut wanting "the good ole days." I never know when it's going to hit...I can be in a great mood and then all of a sudden BAM...I'm in the rut again.

I have prayed a lot about it and God showed me a few things and I'm sharing them with you here.

Like I said, it's okay to break all your traditions that you grew up with. For some reason I NEEDED to know that it was okay. I almost felt guilty if I didn't do it.

If you struggle with anything even remotely similar to what I do, here are some suggestions that I'm learning.

Enjoy the holiday for YOURSELF. My mom absolutely loves Christmas. Because of her I am a Christmas fanatic...however she will actually wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate and celebrate like normal people. Most of the time, when she watches her Christmas shows, my dad is in another room watching something else. Do you think that stops her? Nope. If I wasn't home to watch a show or wasn't interested it didn't stop her either. Her love for Christmas and doing things that SHE liked BLESSED US for multiple reasons. One, we all know that the woman of the home sets the tone. Two, her love for Christmas becomes contagious and three, she's happy doing it which makes her enjoyable to be around. Which brings me to my next point.

Don't depend on someone else for your Christmas enjoyment. Just like we're not supposed to depend on someone else for our happiness (we instead go to Jesus), we shouldn't depend on someone else for our enjoyment with the Christmas season. Just like my first point mentioned enjoying the season for yourself, there is another aspect I want to make sure I do... that is to really bring Jesus into the season. Yes we have our nativity scenes, we read Luke 2, do the whole advent thing and what not, but I really want to use this season to get back with Jesus. During the year I spend a lot of time studying and reading about being a homemaker and things that I need improvement on (anger, prayer life, patience, etc) that sometimes I forget the whole reason WHY I need to change and sometimes I even forget that Jesus loved me so much that he died for me. I think Christmas time should be a regular renewal of our love and closeness to Jesus. This is even more true if Christmas brings you pain. If you lost a loved one and this time of the year really gets you down, you would benefit to dig into Jesus more than you normally do. 

I found this AWESOME reading plan that I'm putting in my Christmas binder to do each year. It is called "30 Days with Jesus."  It's a reading plan that goes through the life of Jesus and everything He did and said.

And my last point...

Rethink ALL of your traditions or even just get rid of them. Did you know it's okay to throw out all your traditions? It really is okay. Did you know that it's even okay to not have any? For some reason we love to have traditions when it comes to the holidays. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with them. But if they are causing unnecessary stress or unwanted emotions, get rid of them. If you are like me and love traditions but have a family that either could careless about them or for some reason you just can't do them, then make up some traditions for yourself. You can make your own traditions just for you if you'd like. Here are a few just to get your brain going

- You can make yourself a cup of hot chocolate while reading the Word during the month of December
- You can try out a new Christmas movie each year or a new book. 
- Try out a recipe just for yourself for lunch or during the day
- Each Friday (or whatever day you pick) of the Christmas season, cuddle up on the couch or in bed and watch your favorite Christmas shows.
- Do a craft that is just for YOUR home. 
- Make the house smell nice even if you're the only one home (boil some water with some cinnamon in it along with other similar spices -nutmeg, cloves, allspice, etc) or light a Christmas scented candle

You get the idea. I can't stress enough that we set the tone in our home. And if we're upset and down during the season for whatever reason, then what kind of tone are we setting for our family during the holidays? And what kind of memories are they producing?...especially if you feel this way EVERY YEAR?

I'm personally done with MAKING traditions. Unless one of my kids or hubby has something they want to do every year, I'm not bothering. I'm giving them all up. In fact I'm trying to convince my husband to just do Chinese next Thanksgiving. My kids don't like anything that is on a traditional Thanksgiving table. My oldest just wants mac and cheese...the holidays are the only time I buy the kinds with character shaped noodles (he'll only eat the boxed kind)...that's what makes the day special for him. My youngest...well he just wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We don't have family to enjoy it with either and we both feel sick after. Why bother? lol. I rather save all that money and get a smorgasbord of different things from Chinese take out. I had to admit to myself that I truly don't care all that much for the Thanksgiving parade...I just watch it because my mom did. Other than the floats...everything else is boring. I have to decide whether or not to keep it going. My kids don't watch it either, no matter how much I try to make them lol. 

I'm not trying to reproduce my childhood anymore. I'll watch Christmas shows on the DVR, we'll get a real tree whenever that happens, we'll have different menu plans each year, have different Christmas foods each year, different activities and so on. Only if something is requested again, will I do it. Then that becomes a "natural" tradition.

My mom never did things on purpose. It was her joy during the holidays that brought the warmth in the house and what made me love Christmas so much and THAT is what I'm hoping to pass along to my family.

Joy...that's it. 

Do you struggle at Christmas? What about with traditions? I hope I helped you somewhat. This is supposed to be a time of joy but, like with everything else, I'm good at complicating things...how about you? :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Complicating Bible Study




Complicate

Thesaurus.com states:
Definition: confuse, make difficult
Synonyms: add fuel to fire, bedevil, clog, combine, confound, convolute, derange, disarrange, disorder, elaborate, embroil, entangle, fold, foul up, handicap, impede, infold, interfuse, interrelate, interweave, involve, jumble, make intricate, make waves, mix up, muck up, muddle, multiply, obscure, open can of worms, perplex, ravel, render unintelligible, screw up, snafu, snag, snarl up, tangle, twist, upset

Just reading these words stresses me out. But I am QUEEN of complicating EVERYTHING!!! No matter what it is, I will find a way to complicate it. Whether it's grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking and yes, even my Bible time. 

I have been a Christian my whole life. I have been a more serious Christian for about 13 years and in all that time I have never read the whole Bible. Yeah I've read all of the New Testament but there are many books in the Old Testament that I haven't read...yet. 

I have tried Bible Reading plans, study guides and I even own a study Bible. For a few years I tried the Good Morning Girls studies off and on. I read a book by Kay Arthur that teaches you how to study the Bible deeper along with a few other books. I have tried bible marking, doodling, different methods...whatever is out there, I've tried it. (You should check out one of my Pinterest Boards...it's filled with different Bible Studying methods)

And yet, there is a good chunk of the Bible I haven't read yet. Out of condemnation and guilt I get myself all determined to read through the whole thing. I set up a plan and everything...only to fail.

I've prayed and prayed for YEARS,only to still not know what to do.

With each book I read, each blog article I read and any other source where I am trying to find an answer...it just gets more and more complicated. 

One of the books I read gave me the perception that just READING the Bible isn't good enough. You can't capture what's really going on and worst of all, you'll just forget what you are reading. 

That last statement has been Satan's number one lie in my ear for YEARS...yes...over a decade I've truly believed that. Isn't it just like him to know I'm seeking ways to know the Word more, and I find all these resources in my face that will help me further complicate it? Satan doesn't want us in the Word and if we do actually get in the Word, he doesn't want us to enjoy it or get anything out of it. 

I have a Life Application Study Bible. And I love it. It's my main Bible. However I have complicated reading the Word because of it. There are so many notes and other things to read. When I start off with full determination to read the WHOLE Bible and start right there in Genesis 1 I lose it. Reading all the extra stuff plus chapter 1 sometimes takes me 30 minutes and a few times a whole hour due to interruptions. I lose all that willpower to keep going...after 1 chapter. After all, I can't just read the bible...I have to study it...right? Well by me trying to "study" and only failing, there are big chunks I haven't read yet.

After all my praying God finally helped me to simplify it. I put my study Bible down for a bit and picked up a Bible my grandmother gave me. It's a simple NIV for women. There isn't too many notes in it. In a half hour not only did I get past the first chapter, I got through 8...and that's with interruptions. 

I have always wanted to read through the Bible chronologically and I'm FINALLY doing just that and only that. I'm not setting up any certain amount of time or chapters to read each day. Even if I can only read a paragraph that day, that's good enough (even if I miss a few days, that's okay too). I don't have a stack of books, binders or journals to go along with my Bible time. I don't even have a single highlighter or pen.  Nope, I'm sitting on my couch with my Snuggie, a cup of coffee and my Bible...just reading.  That's it.

By just reading I get to read more. I see a bigger picture. I pray throughout what I'm reading for God to change me based on what I'm reading. My biggest prayer right now is that I get a revelation on how BIG God is. For me, in this season of life with small kids, and a desperate need to KNOW God, I personally can't follow any plan or do any deep studying. I complicate it too much and I just need to flood my heart with His Word. No day is the same therefore I can't do the same thing with the Bible every day. Some days I can read 10 chapters...another just a few verses. 

And that's okay.

If you are doing any type of study and it's working for you...then keep at it. But if you are like me, and have struggled with this, I want to give you the comfort of knowing that it's okay to just READ the Word. It's okay to take small chunks every day of the Word. It's okay to not read a Study Bible (can't believe it took me 13 years to figure that out!!!!).

I am challenging you to simplify your time with God. He just wants you. He wants to spend time with you and to love on you. By us complicating it, it brings tension into our time. 

I love the Antonyms of that word complicate. 

Here are just a few:
untwist, disentangle, ease, MAKE SIMPLE, untangle, UNCOMPLICATE, and free

aaahhh...aren't those words wonderful! We need to untwist and disentangle our time with God. We need to make our Bible reading simple and be at ease. We need to untangle and uncomplicate it all...so we can be free in God.

So go grab your Bible and enjoy :-)

P.S. - Now I just need God to help me simplify cleaning my house and I'll be jumping for joy! lol

Linked to: The Modest Mom Blog





Thursday, December 4, 2014

My favorite homemaking blog

I would like to share with you my most favorite Homemaking blog.
It is called “The Legacy of Home” by Sharon White. I love how she writes. She writes mostly about her days and doesn’t come off like she is telling you what to do. After I leave her blog, I want to put on a candle, some music, and go clean the house.
She has stopped blogging due to internet issues where she lives (although I have noticed some current posts...not sure if this will be consistent yet). When I first heard that she will no longer be blogging much, I was in such a panic. I literally emailed myself each of her posts…individually. That was almost 600 emails I sent to myself lol. I just did not want to lose that daily encouragement. I later bought one of her books called “For the Love of Christian Homemaking: Pleasant Visits from my Parlour.” They are actually blog posts printed into a book. I love it. I keep it in the bathroom for quick breaks to encourage me to keep going.
So if you are looking for another book to read or blog to visit, check her’s out at http://thelegacyofhome.blogspot.com/
Take care ladies and happy homemaking!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mission behind this blog



I know I have mentioned this before on here but I want to make sure the mission God gave me for this blog is clear (I think I need the reminder more for myself than my readers lol).  My mission is not deep, thought provoking or highly intelligent. My messages don’t need research or lengthy Bible studies to write (thank God because I can never seem to write without being interrupted lol). My messages may repeat themselves quite often, after all how can I write a ton of different things when my mission is somewhat very specific?
My mission is to tell you that you’re okay. So many “things” (blogs, people, magazine articles, the news, etc) tell us we’re doing it wrong, whatever “it” may be.  God has set me out to grab and target my fellow homemakers who have been hurt by the rules, legalism and the appearance of perfect homemaking. If this isn’t something you struggle with, then I’m not sure you’ll get much from my blog. But if you do, I hope that God uses me to help you. We'll also talk about cleaning, holidays, prayer life, recipes and so on.
After spending ten years feeling worthless because I don’t live up to some standard I set for myself (due to everything I listened to), I got fed up. I still have to fight feeling okay when I’m doing something fun because God forbid if I’m not productive every second of the day. I have to fight feeling okay serving non-organic food to my family because we can’t afford organics. I have to fight many other things…even simple things, because I have so many voices in my head screaming at me that I’m doing it wrong. I even read that if you don’t like cleaning, that’s because you are doing it wrong…I disagree. With everything you do, there will be parts you like and dislike. I may not enjoy cleaning all the time, but I do it and that’s all that matters. There are actually many times that I DO enjoy it, but that's not a constant thing.
I pictured in my head what a homemaker should be. She should be sweet, somewhat old fashioned, can cook and bake, garden and can, is well structured, follows schedules and routines, is always on her feet doing something, homeschools her kids, is always wearing a dress, listens to sweet classical music and so on. Well let me be honest, I have to work on being sweet, I like old fashioned things but I don’t like BEING old fashioned. I hate cooking but I love to bake. Any plant I touch, dies. I have no clue how to can. I am not structured at all. I have somewhat of a routine and schedule but that’s only since the last 2 weeks (more on that in a future post)…I’ve been at war with schedules and routines for 10 years. I don’t sit for long periods of time but I’m certainly not on my feet for long periods of time either. I tried on 2 separate occasions to homeschool my kids and it is not for us. In fact it ruins my relationship with my kids and turns my hair gray (God bless you if you can…I wish I could). Me and dresses are enemies and I hate classical music.
There are many kinds of homemakers just like there are many kinds of people.
Some wear dresses, some break out in hives at the thought of it.
Some sew, some don’t.
Some follow a schedule, others don’t.
Some work outside the home, some stay home.
Some are sweet, while others have to work harder at it.
Some homemakers love to clean, others despise it.
Some love to cook, some hate it.
Some own farm animals and homestead, garden and can, while others are the grim reaper to anything green
No one is the same. It’s sad, but after being alone for 5 years living in Ohio, I just figured this out. I recently went to a Bible study and I was SHOCKED at how different we all are. I feel stupid that Satan deceived me on something so dumb lol. He really had me believing that to be this homemaker, this godly woman, you had to look and act and do certain things. Uh…no! We’re all different.
I even have to realize that from a blogging viewpoint. Many blogs have all those fancy social media buttons. I personally, have no interest on putting my blog on facebook (been there, done that), I ramble too much to compose a tweet lol, I'm too shy to make a video and so on. I will, at some point in the near future get my pinterest stuff on here. If you want to follow me HERE is my page. But right now that's just my stuff, not my blog stuff.  I have no intentions at all of writing every day. I set up a system the last time and that's what made me lose my joy. When blogging feels like something you HAVE TO do, then the enjoyment that comes from writing is gone.
Anyways…so there is my mission behind this blog. To grab you, shake you, and express strongly to you that you are okay! God loves you! And to have fun in the process :-)