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I was sitting outside one morning, feeling overwhelmed with a pile of things that needed to get done, that just weren’t getting done. Chris (my husband) was away, and had been away on training for three weeks or so. I laid it all out before the Lord, and asked Him for help. I remember reading and praying that he’d help me out of the “mud and mire,” as inspired from the psalm I was reading that morning.

Well God pulled through, and I certainly felt like I was plucked from the “mud and mire” of life (which for me was feeling overwhelmed with tasks and the management of life when your husband is very far away). In the quiet, God laid this plan on my heart to execute for the day, and by the end of the day, I felt like he had truly helped me feel free from any burdens I was feeling that morning.

In the quiet this was the plan that helped kick start my “Mary way” approach to life:

Choose…

  1. One thing I should do for the home (the thing that’s bothering me the most).
  2. One fun thing for me.
  3. One fun thing for Asher.
  4. One easy thing on the procrastinated list.

“The procrastinated list” was something I was inspired to create and is borrowed from the Dave Ramsey model of getting out of debt, but instead of having a list of debt I created a list of “procrastinated items .” It is simply is a list of things that are mostly non-urgent, but important things, that should get done, but I’ve been putting off. Each day I’ve been trying to get one of those items done, starting with the easiest, and working my way down to the most difficult.

This plan helped me balance Asher time, personal time, and household management in a nice way. At least for me it was a “low-balling” way to feel accomplished at the end of the day without overloading my schedule. And really, a kick-start plan should be really doable and ease you into things, right?

Now that I’ve been in the rhythm of using this method, I use those four things as the priorities for the day. I write out several other things I’d like to get done, but as long as I get those four things done we’re good. It has been a nice method to help me focus on the “first things” for the day.

The other essential things in my life, like exercise, daily time with God, cooking and eating, taking a shower and getting ready get jotted into the day as well, but are fairly habitual at this point that I don’t need to scribble them in as the top four priorities, even though they are priorities in my life.

I’m not sure that this is ground breaking in the time-management world, but I do think the main lesson is going to God when you feel overwhelmed and watching Him come up with a plan to help you ease the burdens of life. It will be different for everyone, because he made us all unique.

Be blessed today :),

Amanda.

Linking up with: Wild & Precious for Life Lately.

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life continued 122

I think I’m starting to get this. You know the whole “Mary” thing. Isn’t that such a dangerous thing to admit? “Getting it.”

If you’re Christian like me, you probably know what I’m talking about, but if you’re not (or are) and still don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll give the quick blurb:

When Jesus was over at Martha and Mary’s house, Martha was busy prepping the meal, and getting things ready, while Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, just hanging out with him and listening. This peeved Martha, and she made a fuss about it to Jesus and everyone else who was in the room. Jesus promptly corrected her, and said Mary chose the better option (Luke 10:40-41).

From this story, comes the Mary and Martha archetype. Mary is the listener, the relational one, while Martha is the practical, “doer” type.

I have often found myself relating to both, but more often than not I feel like a “Martha.”

I love a clean home,  I love to organize (even if it doesn’t always come naturally), and I love “doing” things. At the same time, just being still, and hanging out with friends and family is cool too. I don’t have to be moving around busily when I’m on the phone with a friend. I can totally just chill, talk and listen.

Being a Martha isn’t all bad, but a breaking point or turning point occurred in my life very recently.

I had  returned from a trip visiting family in Canada and in a swirl of enthusiasm I cleaned the whole house, and did all my laundry that same day I arrived back in the North Carolina. I was pretty content, and felt that elation you feel after cleaning (at least I feel that way!).

The next day, within minutes of Asher and I waking, all the order and neatness very quickly become “undone”. All I could think was “yeah, I guess there really will always be a mess to clean.” This pattern had occurred several times before, but for some reason this was a “a ha” moment for me. I guess that was when God chose to give me a revelation.

Just like Jesus was only on the earth for a short time, our children will only be in our home for a short time. Mary chose what was better when she chose Jesus because he was only going to be there for so long.

Asher, my son, is the better option. Playing with him outside, and making his fun a priority is the better option. Not worrying about a little mess because I chose him over having a perfect house is what being Mary is all about to me. There’s been a song in my heart since living this out!

Now, I think it would be misleading of me to say that I think I should entirely neglect my home and chores for the sake of Asher. That can become unsanitary fast. But attitude is everything. Do I let the little mess and clutter bother me, and take away from enjoying Asher, or do I let go a little and accept this brief, albeit messy toddler stage?

Letting go of the perfect home, and perfect upkeep in exchange for more memories and fun with Asher has been a blast! This is what I mean by how I think I’m finally getting the “Mary” thing, or the expression that so many older women say, “the laundry will always be there, but your children won’t.”

I’ve turned in my rebuttal  that use to say, “well if I let go of the laundry I make more work for myself in the end, and therefore take more time away from the ones I love.” I have found just the opposite to be true since following the “Mary way.” I‘ve been finding as I’ve placed things in the proper perspective, and put first things first (like Asher, the husband and God…but in the opposite order), the little things, like laundry do get done, and if they don’t one day, I don’t worry about it because I can rest easy knowing I chose the better option: relationships.

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life continued 125

In Part II, I want to share a practical “to do” list I came up with that has really helped me kick start my Mary life without neglecting my home.

Be blessed today,

Amanda.

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life continued 121There’s a song in my heart everytime I experience the joy of motherhood.

There’s a song in my heart everytime I put aside the chores so we can have fun and play.

There’s a song in my heart when my life is balanced, and see what truly matters:

The laughter, the play, the memories we share together matter more than folded laundry, and shinning floors.

I love a clean home, and who doesn’t? But your joy, and fun we have together is so much more important to me.

A little cleaning here and there, but once it’s done it will be there tomorrow. You are my temporary assignment, a true treasure and a joy.

A little load skipped here and there, a day of cleaning skipped everyday is okay, because I get more fond memories with you.

Oh, it gets done. The less important things, like laundry, and housework, they do get done, but never to the point of perfection, and I’m okay with that.

I’m okay looking past the dirt, the dog hair, and messy mess in his play room if that means more time enjoying life and less time worrying and perfecting.

Maybe in another day I can indulge in my inner martha, clean bug, clean freak, but even then I think I might choose living more often.

Oh, it’s a balancing act, a conumdrum of sorts.

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Linking up with Lisa Jo, for Five minute Friday.

 

40 days of joy

My top 6 favorite joy experiences.

1) Play outside. 2) Blessings. 3) Freedom from high standards. 4) Resting when I need to. 5) Knowing that being a Mom is a big deal, and 6) The God Pocket in real life.  

My 40 days of finding Joy in the everyday officially ended on April.2. It is now April.20th, so I’m a little late in writing a reflection piece on the whole process, so I apologize.

My main point around starting this series came from that inner struggle of fighting the Mom funk, and finding Joy as a stay at home mom. You can read about this in my first post here. I was thinking it would be a fun, light series, and “happy, happy, happy” (for duck dynasty viewers, as Phil would say it).

In the end it became something much different then I ever planned on. Sure I wanted to blog more then I did. I only posted nine posts for the whole 40 days, but I also imagined the topics I chosed to be much more about balancing time between myself and being a mom and wife. Instead, it ended up being a massive spiritual journey, where I more or less disconnected from the blogging sphere, unless I posted, and really focused on living the series.

It also wasn’t an easy journey. I found that more than ever my Joy was being attacked as soon as I started the series. But after thinking about why I chose 40 days, and how I even prayed for the 40 days, and dedicated it to God, it all makes much more sense. The 40 day excursions that Jesus took, and the Israelites took (insert 40 years) wasn’t a cake walk, but a desert-like experience. Jesus went for 40 days without water or food for crying loud!

Granted, I had food and water, and wasn’t completly isolated, but it did feel comparable to a “desert” season. The fact that I spent more time living the series instead of writing it, made it more authentic because it gave me more time to disconnect online and really focus in on Jesus, the source of my joy.

So did I experience a huge transformation?  I mean, that was sort of my point in this 40 day adventure, to be transformed by it. People, such as friends from Church, have commented on the growth they’ve seen in my life. Maybe it’s related to this 40 day event, maybe not. I mean, how can we really see our own growth that happens on the inside? It’s so much easier for an outside friend to tell you then for yourself to see it.

But I’ve still done some hard thinking to probe whether transformation has taken place, and I’ve concluded that it’s my perspective that’s been transformed. My joy is an everyday gift that comes from no other source but Jesus himself.

You see, even though I’m a Christian I think I’ve believed in the past that if I focus on improving my outside self, my inside self will feel better, but it’s all empty and fruitless. “If I spend more time working out, or being pretty then I’ll feel better.” And while they might help some, they don’t give you that lasting joy.

All the things in my life that give me joy only do so because Jesus is in those everyday moments. When I play outside with my son I can see His glory all around me; I can see His work in the clouds, in the ocean, and in the air. When I count my blessings I know they’re from Him. I’ve experienced amazing freedom from my own shackles of high standards I’ve placed on myself, and it was all from Him.

My walk with Christ is a daily walk. Therefore my joy needs daily renewing. I can still lose it if I lose my focus, but when I live for Him; where I seek my purpose, worth and approval from Him every day I start to experience joy in the everyday, because my eyes are opened to the Jesus that’s in the everyday.  

May you be blessed by this same joy!

Amanda.

Jabez

After reading The Prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkinson, I was inspired to take on the 30 day challenge of praying the Jabez prayer for 30 days. I didn’t  mindlessly repeat the prayer day after day, but I tried to personalize the words to my life situation: “Lord bless me, our family, and home; Lord bless everything I put my hands to. Enlarge our family, and our home…”

After reading several reviews of the book (after I read it), I found out it’s a rather controversial book, and tagged with “the prosperity gospel” message. I guess I didn’t receive the book in that light. Jesus said go into all the world to share His message, so why wouldn’t He want to expand our territory so we can reach more people for Him?

Without going into a debate, I just want to share that this book really made me ready, and on the look out for all that God was doing (and going to do) in my life. It made me count my blessings.

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1) Pregnancy, 2) Stronger Marriage, 3) More laughter at home, 4) More sleep, 5) Healing from chronic sinus issues, and 6) A fresh perspective as a Mom.

And really, I think it’s so important to take note of the blessings, and faithfulness God had shown in your life. If we don’t, we take Him for granted, and very soon forget about all of His goodness. I’m pretty sure that would be setting ourselves up for some discontentment with God and our own life. Where’s the joy in that?

After a few months of trying for baby number 2, pregnancy came during this challenge. Yay for enlarged territory! Other blessings included: A stronger marriage. It was crazy, as soon as I started to pray blessing over my marriage it just got that much stronger and happier. Seriously, this is my latest top advise for newlyweds: pray for your marriage! Laughter. It became more of a priority at our home, and more frequent as a result. Sleep. Our 10 month old finally learned how to sleep through the night, and I’ve been able to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, feeling more rested than ever. Healing from sinus issues I’d been struggling with for several months finally cleared up; and more than anything, I felt a renewed importance in my role as a Mom.

I can’t believe that this was all coincidence. Some people, even Christians, don’t believe in miracles or healings anymore…some would say we shouldn’t even ask for His blessing, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been blessed because I’ve asked to be. It’s never been about me deserving of it or not, but it’s all from Jesus; His grace that he gives lavishly to any who would receive it.

How awesome, right?

Amanda.

 

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