I'm still done blogging, but I would like to share a few things with those who regularly read my blog. Many of you have struggled in similar ways that I do, this is why most of you were drawn to my blog. I have learned so much on the WHYS behind these struggles in the past few months. I want to share them with you in case you can relate...my only motive with posting this is to help even just one person, who may be battling what I did (and still do...it's a day to day process).
My biggest struggle was with homemaking...especially in regards to cleaning. I have learned that the reason I struggled so much is because I was trying to copy how other people did it, however I didn't realize that's what I was doing. I liked their ideas and tried to implement them...which always failed! Almost all homemaking blogs out there have some sort of cleaning method, routine, Home Management Binder, Household Notebook, schedule, printables and so on.
I have learned that I, personally, don't need any of that. If you do, then go for it. But I had to learn, for myself, that I am fully capable of cleaning without someone telling me when and what to do. Since I have been battling with confidence issues, I thought I wasn't doing a good enough job. These women dripped with confidence (or so it seems), so I wanted what they had and tried doing what they did to get it. It definitely wasn't working.
So here are my 2 suggestions that I have learned in regards to cleaning
1) Pray and find out what works for YOU AND ONLY YOU! And then accept it!
2) It is OKAY to not like cleaning! I'm not getting into a big speech about this. I just wanted you to know that there is nothing wrong with you if you don't like to clean!
Now onto another thing I learned. Some may not like this and that is fine. One of my biggest "life improvements" that has really helped me is I stopped reading blogs...ESPECIALLY homemaking blogs.
I want to put blogs in their right perspective. All a blog is, is someone's opinion. That's it! Anyone can write a blog and say whatever they want. They have no authority in your life whatsoever. Do you really care when someone cleans their toilet? I mean, seriously...do you? Nothing turns me off more than when I read a blog post title that starts off with "Why I..." Whether it's "Why I homeschool," "Why I use cloth diapers," "Why I don't eat butter," or "Why I don't use toilet paper." Good for you! That doesn't mean your choice is better than anyone else's!
Again, it's all opinions and it has no bearing in my life. They don't dictate my life and they shouldn't dictate yours! I decided I'm not wasting my time reading other people's opinions, especially when I battle with confidence and question myself in comparison to them.
Along with blogs, I have stopped reading books on homemaking as well. Again, they are all opinions. Instead I am learning to seek God's guidance for my life (more on that in a minute). I have a lot of homemaking books by different authors and I absolutely love Elizabeth George. I own a couple stacks of her books. However, many of her practical how-to's, I manage to turn into laws. This is a personal struggle for me...I have learned recently that I am a straight up perfectionist (will talk more about that too later). I basically stopped all outside influences when it comes to every area of my life. What a huge blessing it has been to think for myself and not have everyone's OPINIONS floating in my head!!
God has been working on teaching me to seek Him for guidance and not people. When I do go to people I get stuff that is so unhelpful it baffles me...I get down right angry. Well that has been God pushing me to seek Him. The more I seek Him for guidance (even with simple things like the kids' chores, help with bedtime and so on), the more GREAT help I get. Who better to ask for advice on your life than the one who gave you life? No friend, relative, blogger, or book can give you that!
I have also learned that technology steals, at least when it's out of balance. Recently my eyes were opened to the fact that for the past few years I have had an addiction to the computer. I didn't know that I had a problem with it but once God started pulling me away from it, my eyes were opened. The minute I woke up, I wanted to get on that machine, I got mad when I was interrupted while on it, when I wasn't on the computer, I was thinking about it, I rushed through everything so I can get back on it...and the worst was I constantly felt like I had to defend my use of it. I'm rarely on it now. In the span of a week I'm probably on it from 1-2 hours...that's a huge improvement from being on it for about 8-10 hours a day!!! It's so freeing!! I clean more, read more, spend more time with God, my husband and my kids. I actually get bored! Earlier this month I did a 500 piece puzzle over the course of a few days. How many people have time for that nowadays? Well me lol!!! At least, now I do anyways. I also would like to add that I lost 30 pounds by just not sitting in front of that machine!
So now that I have stopped studying homemaking, my main focus is the "inner life":...having a quiet spirit, living in the fruit of the spirit, holiness, integrity and so on. I've learned it's good to clean your home, but not if you're going to scream at everyone while you're doing it lol!
I have a few more random "nuggets" for you that I've learned. Here they are:
Get rid of toxic people! I don't care if you've known them for years or even if they are family...get rid of them! What do I mean by toxic people? Well here's a short list:
- People who lie to you or about you and/or are pathological liars
- People who only call you when they need something
- People who are never there for you when you need them (I saw a facebook picture that said "stop jumping over oceans for people who won't jump over a puddle for you"...hmm...)
- People that somehow always have problems and then they become your problems
- People that always cause drama everywhere that they go
- People that bring you down emotionally, whether it's intentional, or they are just negative rotten people
- People that guilt trip you and/or manipulate you to do what they want you to do
I've had a few people like this in my life (and yes they were all family) and I no longer associate with them (this was after a ton of prayer in regards to this). It has improved my life DRASTICALLY. My walk with God improved, I became a better mom, wife, woman and homemaker, I have less problems and less drama and so on. Just because you are a Christian doesn't mean you have to sit back and swallow these toxic people's poison on a regular basis! Forgive them and move on!
Trim fruitless activities from your life. This is a biggie for me. I trimmed so much now that I'm bored. How many moms are bored nowadays? Not many. Most are usually going, going, going. In a few weeks I start homeschooling so I won't be bored anymore, but it's nice to know that school is the ONLY thing that I have to focus on
Accept the season of life you're in. Oh do I struggle with this. Having 2 kids with somewhat of a large age gap (4.5 years apart) has made the toddler/preschool years feel like I've lived them forever! Both boys were late potty trainers so I've been changing diapers for over 8 years now! One thing I miss doing is reading fiction. I just can't mentally get myself to read to escape like that. I am however, reading The Secret Garden that I got for free on my phone with the Kindle app...I read it at night when I'm putting my son to bed (I lay with him until he falls asleep) and when I want to read but it's dark (like when hubby's watching TV at night). My oldest was a pretty easy baby, toddler and preschooler. My youngest is anything but easy. And yet, I still leave the library with stacks of books...I never read them. It's just a habit. But I do know, that one day I will be able to read all those stacks of books. I am learning to not only accept the season of life I'm in, but find things to enjoy about each season!
Don't compare your kids. Like I said, I have a challenging younger son. I've had people question me if he's autistic, another asked about Aspergers and so on (we've had him tested and he's just a high need's child). People love to tell me what I should do in regards to him. My son is NONE of their business and a big part of me wants to say to them is "what I should do is shove my foot up your 'you know what'" lol. People love to tell us what we should do when they have never stepped in our shoes. The other day I got the greatest blessing from God in regards to this. He showed me what a gift my son was to me. I don't know a single person in my life that could take on my son...even for just a day. They would lose their mind! I get quite often from other people, statements like "how do you deal with that all day?" or "I don't know how you do it." (Yet these are the same people who want to tell me what to do lol!). Well you know what that tells me??
That I'm a damn good mom!!!
If no one could deal with what I deal with, then that makes me a special kind of mom. And for someone who battles confidence, that was very refreshing! If you have a challenging kid then know that you too are a great mom (of course you don't have to have a difficult kid to be a good mom...I'm just trying to encourage us folks who do). Not many could walk in your shoes!!
Let's talk about being a perfectionist.
This has been the big piece of the puzzle for me. I knew that I was a perfectionist in certain things, but I didn't realize how it takes over your life!!! I felt led one morning, (after begging God for some peace!), to Google "freedom from perfectionism."
Oh my goodness!!!
I found out that I am 100%, without a doubt, a perfectionist. Here are some signs (I have them ALL).
Never Satisfied - No matter what anyone did, I could find something to complain about. My husband complained to me one day saying that no matter what anyone does, I'm not happy. Ouch!
Critical of Other People - this is embarrassing to admit, but most days I wake up and immediately start complaining in my head about someone and that goes on most of the day. I notice the bad in my kids and husband before I notice the good. I hate it!!!
Sets Impossible Goals - My husband and mom have been telling me for YEARS that I do this.
Is an Idealist - Here's an example of my thinking. I wanted to start having morning devotionals at breakfast. I pictured the kids joining at the table with their yummy breakfast while I joyfully read from the children's Bible. Everyone was smiling and the whole thing was nice. Now here comes reality...one of them (or both) won't like what I made, someone will spill something, my youngest won't want to be at the table, how am I supposed to read out loud and eat at the same time and so on. The majority of my thinking, I have now learned, is totally unrealistic!!!! Therefore I'm never satisfied, since people are the problem (in my original way of thinking) then I become critical and that's because I had too high of a goal due to my idealism! See how it's all connected? lol
Gets Value in What they Do - I should also add "lose their value in what they don't do." A full hamper condemns me. It screams out that I'm a failure as a homemaker because I'm behind in laundry. You throw dishes in the sink, dust, cluttered counters and so on and you can imagine my insanity. So stupid...I'm working on it though
Feels Guilty when Relaxing - I complained about this for YEARS!
Project Minded instead of Process Minded - I think this is why scheduling and planning doesn't work for me. I know what I want to do (which is usually some sort of impossible goal) but due to my idealism, the process part is usually wrong.
Always feels guilty - yes yes and yes. I feel guilty more times than not and have complained about it for years
So now that I know my problem, I'm walking daily with God (and hubby's help - thank God He made men logical!!) to overcome this. By the way I got that list of perfectionist characteristics from HERE.
So that's about it. I will say that I miss blogging and I do have plans, God willing, to blog again. I have learned that I am a writer at heart. I know I did a lot of rambling here, but I hope you got at least ONE thing out of all I wrote!
God Bless You!!!
My last post a few months ago I was saying goodbye. I battled so much with the computer and balancing my time with my family. I was in a very bad spot. I am still "gone" but I want to give a little update and share something I have learned along the way.
As you know, I stopped blogging. I had other duties online, such as 2 book clubs I ran, my facebook page...never mind commenting on blogs, joining linky parties, trying to increase my blog's followers and so on.
I was ALWAYS on the computer and if I wasn't, my mind was mentally there.
Well I can say that I can walk away from the computer for DAYS at a time. It has no baring on my life. I can't begin to tell you how freeing it is.
I was going through my journal starting a few years back. I can't believe how much I complained about my struggles with computers, schedules and cleaning.The whole time I was blogging I never once wrote in my journal. I love journaling since I was a teenager. Since I stopped blogging I have come back full force with my journaling. And you know what?...it's FREEING!!!
To write what I REALLY want to say without any fear of anyone misunderstanding me, taking offense, having to explain myself, trying to get that blog post "out there" and so on is freeing. I'm free to be me, to write whatever I want, whenever I want. I battled with perfection with my journal...I'm done with that as well. Now I have a binder for it. Most of the time I type it out because I type a whole lot faster. I keep a word document titled "journal" on my laptop. I write in it and when I get to about 10 or so pages, I print it out and put it in my binder. If, I get the urge to handwrite out something, I do that as well and put it in my journal/binder. Most bloggers enjoy writing. My enjoyment with it has increased 10 folds since I'm only writing in my journal.
I no longer have ANYTHING in my life that is pulling me from my husband, my kids, or my home. I have no activities going on...nothing. I don't HAVE TO do anything except the basics at home. It is wonderful!!
Now for the scheduling...I'm done with that too. I've battled for years with it! Not anymore. I have a rhythm...that's it. I don't battle with cleaning anymore. God has changed my husband's heart with A LOT of things and he now sees where I come from. I clean because I want to because it blesses me and my family.
I can't begin to tell you how much I've changed. God is so awesome!!
I found my church home and I love it. Never in my life have I gone to church and have time fly by so fast!!
We are finally getting a second vehicle so I'll be able to get out of the house.
My oldest son has been approved of K12 - online public school. Next year my youngest will start Kindergarten with K12.
God has been bringing me to a more feminine place. I also have recently grew a huge interest in flowers, gardening and homesteading
MY HONEST ADVICE TO YOU:
If you have struggled like I did, I want to truly challenge you (and it may be a challenge in the beginning) to put the computer down or at least most of it. Think about it.
I don't read many blogs anymore..and I definitely don't read Christian blogs or homemaking blogs anymore (except 2 that I am friends with the writers). I have no input or influence in my life except my family, the Bible and church. That is such a great place to be I can't even begin to tell you!! It is so freeing to live without other people's opinion...whether it is comments on your blog or reading other people's blog posts. I can hear God's direction 10 times better. I have more time to do everything!!! "FREEING" IS NOT A STRONG ENOUGH WORD! I highly suggest it.
If you can't tell...my "goodbye" is now permanent. I want to thank all of those who have read my blog, especially those who have stuck around for over a year. You have taught me a lot!
God bless you all!!
I have come to the decision to stop blogging. I can't seem to find the balance in my life anymore and I need to trim away EVERYTHING that does not involve my family. That means this blog, my book club, and a few other things as well. My family has to come first.
I am not deleting this blog, instead I went through the whole thing and deleted any non-important posts. I went from about 300 posts to under 80. There are some that I just can NOT delete due to obligational reasons (ex: book reviews - I got free books in exchange for the reviews and other ad type things). I have listed all my posts on the right hand side of this blog with a link to each of them.
As I was looking back through my old posts and saw the things that I THOUGHT I was healed from it made me realize that something was wrong. I am NOT healed from them. Maybe I had a little layer of healing, but not complete healing. I'm not letting go until God changes me! And I mean truly CHANGES ME!! Reading through my old posts I see how they just flow through me out onto the screen. I don't have that anymore right now. I truly believe that God has instructed me to take a break...a good long break....even for a couple years or so. I think He lifted His anointing off of it because everything has become effort...there is no ease to it at all...a good sign He wants me to stop.
Many of you find my honesty refreshing. But I have to ask myself, "At what point can I succeed?" If I'm always being "real" and showing that homemaking isn't always easy...when can I truly conquer my struggles? I want to be real to make people realize that they aren't alone in their hard times but at what point can I get above that and truly be done with them? I don't want to always be in the homemaking hospital, so to speak. I want to get to the point where I have checked out from the hospital, totally healed, and can go on and tell others how to get their healing!
I noticed that I was rushing to find answers to my problems so I can post about it on here...only thing is...I didn't give God time to answer...so I made up my own answers, THINKING it was God. It's time I really dig in and live the life that HE wants me to live and move on. I'm tired of all these emotional struggles!
I also need to get every form of input into my life, out. It has gotten to the point where I don't even think for myself! It's what I read on this blog, and in this book and so on. I want it to just be me and God.
I'm battling other issues that have popped up as well and just really need to focus on my living quarters and my life. I can't help or minister to anyone if I'm broken!
I have absolutely no idea what God has in store for me. I WANT to blog, but I don't know exactly when I would start again. Maybe I won't be part of a blog at all...maybe I will be with people I actually see. I've always wanted to have a Bible Study right at my home. Maybe I'll be doing something with my church. I don't know. God isn't even HINTING at me with a possibility. I just have no clue.
If you want to be notified if and when I start up again, I suggest you sign up for my emails on the left side of my blog. That way if I start writing again, you'll get notified.
Until then...I pray God blesses you on your homemaking journey!
So I've been going through some things lately.
I really hate when I can't quite figure out the true root of the problem.
I don't even know really where to start. I've been battling with anxiety but more recently it's been more depression. Maybe it's the winter blues (I get them every year).
Part of me is tired of everything...even little things. I'm tired of the TV. I'm tired of music. I'm tired of reading, I'm tired of being home all day, I'm tired of the Bible, as bad as that sounds (although I'm not really having too many issues with God right now).
Then there are more bigger things.
I'm tired of cleaning. Yesterday I cleaned all day...I mean ALL day. Before going to bed, I wanted to cry. In fact I did cry....I sobbed to the point I almost couldn't breathe. After seeing popcorn, pretzels and graham crackers thrown all on the floor in the living room by my 3 year old (after cleaning all day to the point I needed to shower) I couldn't take it anymore. Because of him and a couple relatives who are temporarily living with us...I just can't keep this house clean. It is driving me nuts. Since hubby recently explained to me that his expectations aren't nearly as high as I thought they were, I'm now free to clean because *I* want too. Only thing is, I'm turning into a neat freak. The house being messy keeps me anxious. I want it cleaned.
Now I didn't just sob over the spilled snacks...nope. There has been a tsunami brewing way across my inner emotions and it has finally made land.
I can't get into the details of it all because it involves family. But let's just say after constantly cleaning up after people I shouldn't be, and all the extra responsibilities that I should NOT be having, on top of the responsibilities that I DO have, I just lost it.
Yesterday I needed a break. I wanted to go to the library to relax. Well that turned into me having to run to the bank, run to CVS for a prescription, get gas, get stuff for dinner and during all that my little one kept having hissy fits in the backseat. My trip to the library just ended up with me returning stuff in their return slot.
When I got home, we had dinner. I was in the bedroom talking to my husband and my niece. When we walked out we found our dog sitting on one of the dining room chairs and EATING my niece's dinner right off her plate on the table!!!!
Afterwards, I looked through the mail. We received yet ANOTHER $450 electric bill (normally it's around $250 - we have electric heat). Every little tactic we do to save money on our bill has not been working. We are already struggling financially!! It just keeps getting higher and higher. After opening the bill, I started loading the dishwasher and then got aggravated because they wouldn't all fit (I hate having to leave dishes in the sink and I was already upset so having to wash them put another nail in the coffin.) Then I realized the TV was left on so I went in the living room to turn it off and THAT is when I found the snacks on the floor.
I've been having a lot of "WHY BOTHER?" type thoughts.
Another thing that has been going on is I feel something shifting. Not quite sure what God is up to but something is changing. When I tried homeschooling my son for first grade, I tried so desperately to get involved with other homeschoolers. I created a group and everything. NOTHING I did worked. I mean nothing. I was so frustrated. Well now it is totally different (for those who don't know - my son is now in 2nd grade public school and next year we are homeschooling again - well technically it's online public school, but I still believe that is homeschooling since you are doing school AT HOME).
In the span of maybe 2 weeks, I have met 3 new moms that have boys my son's age. Two of those boys are doing the same schooling that I will be doing with my son. AND on top of that, one of those moms is part of a CO-OP group in the area I live in! It's like God has opened the doors in that area and I'm thrilled.
So there are some positives going around.
But that isn't the only shift.
I'm not too sure what's going on with this...
I'm starting to focus more inward. Not on myself...but my life, my family and my home. I have blogged for YEARS. Before making this blog I took a 6 month break and really believed God called me to do this one. I even spent money on the template. This has been my most "serious" blog.
I have been having some issues with the idea of blogging. I'm getting tired of putting myself out there. I run a woman's group where we chat online. I wasn't having peace about certain things, and I shared them with the group. My mind never stops running, therefore I'm always changing things, including the group. To others who don't think like I do, they just don't get it. Well I had a couple women leave because of it. I was originally upset, and then I got over it.
Or so I thought.
I'm over it, but the REASON they left has been messing with me.
It has crossed over to the blog. If people would leave a group because of it, then I must be annoying my readers.
I was all gung-ho about being this PASSIONATE homemaker when I came off my blog break. But now I'm back in a rut....a rut I've never been in.
How can I lead other women when I can't seem to get my act together?
And then if I want to talk about it on here, I feel like all I do is complain.
A part of me wants to quit blogging.
The last book review I have done will be my last one. I have put so many demands on myself over things that don't bless me or my family. And if the book club I created isn't active, I'm getting rid of that too.
It's really discouraging to me when I write a post...especially one that I worked hard on, and dealt with a lot of interruptions and see that only 8 people have read it. I have over 100 followers and over 300 facebook fans/likes. How is it only 8 people see a post?
And when you think of it...who are these 8 people? Those "interruptions" were my kids!! I'm going to put them to the side for these 8 people I don't even know?!!! That's the "inward" stuff I'm talking about.
A part of me can't imagine what my life would be like if I didn't have any other demands on my time. To not HAVE TO read a certain book (whether for a review or club). To NOT have to come up with something to blog about - especially when I'm totally NOT in the mood to discuss homemaking. I feel two-faced. A week ago I wrote a post titled Having a Heart for Homemaking. Okay...I didn't WRITE it a week ago, I just scheduled it to post then. I actually wrote it in December when I was in my happy go lucky homemaking bliss.
I don't know.
I'm not making any decisions right now because I would be making them with emotions. But at the same time I'm not sure if THAT'S true. Is God leading me to put the blog down? Or is Satan trying to stop God's work through me on this blog?
I don't know.
Please pray God shows me.
I don't want to fill my blog with negativity.
Many of you have made comments saying that my honesty is refreshing.
But at what point will my "freshness" stale up?
Do any of you battle with yourself?
You think you should act a certain way, or sound a certain way, or even think a certain way....but you just don't seem to be able to?
Every now and then I battle with this...and sometimes for a long period of time.
First and foremost, I believe this is an attack from Satan. If he can get you to feel bad about yourself, then you are only focusing on yourself, and then you can't really do any work for God.
I had to fight off this attack recently. I have been reading a lot of other Christian type blogs and I love them.
But then these thoughts kept coming to me:
Look at how elegantly they write
Look at how inspirational and deep they are
I can't compete with that. I don't write that deep. I don't even THINK that deep.
Look at how peaceful they write - sometimes I just sound like I'm mad all the time
On an on these thoughts went. After about a half hour of them, I felt inadequate to even be a Christian blogger!
But then God showed me that HE made me this way. We all have different personalities.
Yes, many who know me in real life would say I'm reserved. I'm not loud and obnoxious. I don't make a scene...I HATE being the center of attention. I hate confrontation and drama.
On the other hand one thing I totally am NOT is phony. I can't put on an act...I really am horrible at it. I can't pretend to like someone. I have no time to really care what someone else thinks of me.
I have been told that I'm outspoken.
Another blogger described me as bold.
I never thought of myself as bold or outspoken. In fact part of me is a coward. I don't stand up for myself when I should and I back down too easily. I was always the quiet shy kid in class. But I do just put things out there and say what I think (within reason of course). To me this is normal. To others I have balls lol. I also have a good sense of humor.
I am a very honest person. I think that being honest with others helps them.
If you are around "perfect" people, then how can you be comfortable?
But if you share your struggles and let people see your weaknesses, then they can put their guard down.
We need to stop trying to BE something that we are not. To my fellow bloggers, don't you DARE try to be a blog writer that you are not!
I am not deep, nor am I going to try to be deep. I have been in the Word all my life and more seriously the past 12 years. You probably won't see me lead a Bible study on here (at least not one that I've created). You're not going to see a biblical series or anything like that on here. I read the Bible at face value and just don't get it the way others do. That's okay. When I need that, God will give it to me. As long as I'm reading it and doing my best to LIVE it, then that's all that matters.
I didn't create this blog to do Bible studies. I created this blog to help out other homemakers who struggle! THAT is my purpose. And if I have to openly share my struggles and weaknesses to do it, then so be it. I really don't know how I'm perceived or how you all view me. I'm a devoted mother, wife and homemaker. But I have bad days like everyone else and I really believe that God uses me to help out others who have them as well.
I'm a big fan of Joyce Meyer (please no comments about her - most people who have anything negative to say about her don't really know what she's about...you might as well be insulting my own mother!). Twelve years ago I became a serious Christian because of her. She helps me every day because she is HONEST. She SHARES her STRUGGLES. She laughs at herself which helps me to calm down and realize I AM normal!
We are all normal!
For those who blog, I believe that God will guide people to our blogs that really need our types of messages. If others don't like it, they can leave. I don't read blogs I don't like, why would I expect someone else to?
I wrote a post last year called "Proud to be the Woman that I am" and I had to reread it to encourage myself. We SHOULD be proud of who we are, flaws and all. If we were perfect we wouldn't need Jesus!!!
Do any of you struggle with this?
Bloggers...do you ever catch yourself comparing your blog to others?
I know it's February, but I'm going to talk a little about Christmas...mostly about the emotional aspect of it.
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 could careless, although I remember hearing him whistle Christmas carols every now and then lol). My mom worked full time since she was 18 years old and still does. 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) and I have been trying to duplicate it ever since.
I also had a small family and we did the same thing every year. My grandparents and aunt came for Thanksgiving, on Christmas Eve we spent the late morning into early evening at one grandparents' house and then walked over (lived on the same street) to the other grandparents' house for Christmas Eve dinner. Then on Christmas day they all came over to our house. It was the same way every year since I can remember. 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, almost 30. I've been married for almost 9 years with 2 boys ages 7 (almost 8) and a 3 year old. 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.
Well 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. So when I try to push the issue, sometimes it turns into an irritated situation. 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. Getting the real tree is supposed to be a warm, exciting tradition. We 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 goes:
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. This past year 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. So decorating the tree this 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.
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 it's soooo different with boys. And it doesn't help when hubby just doesn't get my need for traditions.
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. She had a fake tree, I have a real tree. Down to every little detail we are different, except for our personalities (as each day goes by I realize I am just like my mother! And that is not a bad thing!).
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 the past few months 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 (which by the way, I listen to all year) 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 all the way from Thanksgiving into Christmas little things here and there that have helped me.
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.
I now decorate for Christmas starting Nov 1st. Christmas begins then for me. We still get the main tree after Thanksgiving and I have decided that I no longer care WHEN that happens. This year I'm getting an artificial tree and putting it in the kitchen in the beginning of November. I'll be putting it up myself, by myself, with lights, garland, and just colorful ordinary ornaments.
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.
Think of things that YOU like to do for Christmas and do them. It may seem selfish that I want to decorate a tree by myself and not include anyone, but really no one cares that much about Christmas like I do in my home. I get so much joy in decorating, baking, making the house smell good and all that and that joy becomes contagious. If I'm enjoying Christmas, and full of joy and all giddy, it puts the rest of my family at peace...it blesses my family. Yes you can do things that YOU enjoy and it blesses the family. Which brings me to my next point, which is really 2 points in 1.
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 two other points mentioned enjoying the season for yourself, there is another aspect we should be doing. That is to really bring Jesus into our season. Yes we have our nativity scenes, we read Luke 2, do the whole advent thing and what not, but we really need 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 need to dig into Jesus more than you normally do. I was on a hunt recently for a 2 year Bible reading plan that is in chronological order.....while searching for that 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. Just like I have decided to decorate for Christmas on November 1st - BY MYSELF, you can make your own traditions just for you. 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. If you're a scheduler, schedule it in and plan for it (clean up during the day and get stuff done so you can sit back guilt free)
- 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 throw it all in the crockpot
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. 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.
I'm also rethinking my decor. I grew up with traditional decor. In some ways "old-fashioned" decor. Who knows...maybe I'll jump on the lime green, white and turquoise bandwagon. I went to Target during the Christmas season and I really liked their Christmas decor and some of it would be definitely considered "non-traditional."
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.
What comes to mind when you think of the title of this post..."Having a Heart for Homemaking?"
I picture a loving mother and wife who adoringly takes care of all the people living under her roof.
I picture a woman who is smiling warmly at her husband and children.
I picture a woman cleaning her home not because she HAS TO, but because she has so much joy in her heart since she is living her God given role as a homemaker, she knows the value in it, and knows that keeping a tidy home is a blessing to not only her family but to her as well.
Ladies we are called to live like this every day. We SHOULD live like this every day. There is something wrong if we are not.
If this is your true heart, and how you want to live your life and for some reason it seems out of your grasp, I highly suggest you bring it to the Lord. Keep praying that not only that God gives you a heart like this but shows you what is preventing it. I go back and forth with this. One minute I'm queen of homemaking and then the next I'm overwhelmed.
I personally found out that a lot of my problems stem from me doing what *I* want to do when*I* want to do them and God help anyone who slows me down. As women who are home all day, we do need a break. I hate hearing other bloggers talk about how it's selfish to want "me time." It is UNHEALTHY to go day after day taking care of everyone else and not taking care of yourself. But at the same time, if you go to the other extreme and only want to do what you want, when you want it, that is a problem as well. That's the problem I had (and still suffer from a lot with).
I can promise you this...if your main focus all day long is on what YOU want to do, then YOU won't be happy. We weren't meant to serve ourselves. And as much as I hate hearing this and even admitting this, I just have to say it because it's the truth...your home, your husband, and your children need to come before the computer (including Farmville! that was a BIG struggle for me, and I decided to just give it up because it was too big of a temptation to be able to be balanced with it), your friends, your groups, your activities, your books, everything else...those first 3 priorities need to come first and of course God comes before all of that.
If you are constantly struggling to get your time in with the other stuff, you should figure out what you need to let go of or what to change. I love reading blogs but that takes up a lot of my time (I'll share with you what I did to help with that). Just take the time to think about what is really bearing fruit in your life and even question if it's bringing joy. I'm not saying to stop anything that you really enjoy, just give some thought to what it is that you are struggling so hard to accomplish and rethink it.
Ladies, we are what makes our home a haven. Our moods infect the entire house and every living creature in it (I'm learning the dog even knows when I'm moody). We are the only ones in the entire WORLD who can give our family that warmth that only a loving Christian homemaker can give.
Embrace it and decide you will do whatever it takes to get it and make it an every day reality
God bless you on your homemaking journey
And if you love reading on this subject, here is a great article from Ladies Against Feminism called "Wife & Mother: Power to Grow or Destroy."