Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Forgiveness ~

This post was about to be my comment on 

She wrote a touching and raw post about Mercy & Grace and I realized that it wasn't right to use her comments section in that way, but that I could post it here.  

Here's what came to my heart in response to her post~

We all will stumble and we all will fall. All of us, every single person. We will do things that we know before we start that we shouldn't and we will do things that afterwards, we realize whether on our own or through another that we messed up, made a bad choice etc. Yes, it is God's mercy and grace that gets us through it all, along with the mercy and grace that others extend to us. Probably because He is using them for just that purpose.

I'll share two times that I've experienced the giving or receiving forgiveness and I saw God's gift of mercy and grace like no other.

One was several years ago. A fairly close friend had an affair and for some reason other friends thought I knew and turned my back, I didn't. I did feel deep in my gut that something was going on and had caught her lying to me, but truly knew nothing. When it all came out I was - well lots of things. My emotions were all over the place, to say angry or mad doesn't do it. I felt used & betrayed and was even ashamed to say I associated with her, in addition to a hatred I felt toward her. I never called her, nor did she call me. But I would think how could she? Why did she choose this path? Why did she lie to me, to others?  Many weeks later at church, our associate pastor {who's so hard to follow} was preaching that day - when it was over {after I managed to hang with'em} I had to call her and apologize to her for the way I handled it. That I had done wrong.  Long and short, a sin is a sin and we are all sinners every single person, not one is less of a sinner than another {this was so hard to swallow - HARD}. There is no sliding scale with God and his rules.  I am no better then her, or anyone else and we were no better than someone sitting in jail for sure guilty by the justice system, we are all sinners. But even with that sin God looks at us all the same, as his child, his creation that he loves abundantly. He is heart broken when we sin, in the same way I find myself upset with my child when they do wrong, yet our love never waivers and neither does his.

Funny thing it really help me become more comfortable in who I was and to care far less what others think of me or my decisions for myself or my family. Someone may want to make feel like less, but I'm not, not in Gods view anyway and that's the most important opinion to me. Everyone has short comings and insecurities, everyone struggles with something. We are all sinners. We each have our own journey and I have no right to judge someone on theirs, when there are flaws in mine.

Another and more recent time that comes to mind.  I needed to conduct an interview with some one who also happened to be an old beau. He had dumped me 4 weeks before my senior prom, but our paths had not crossed since. Can we say uncomfortable? Anyway he moved away and had since moved back, and had gotten on with life as had I.  I decided it best not to tell him who I was {since my married name is different} just conduct the interview and be very professional. I learned during the interview that his life had been far from perfect. Some drug use, a major accident that forever changed his life, a failed marriage, and that he was now a christian. We finished the interview, I asked him if he had anything he wanted to add? He said no, that now he wanted to know how I was. He said he knew the minute he saw me and since our first meeting that he knew that he needed to ask for my forgiveness for how he treated me. His body language mirrored the words coming from his mouth, this was sincere and genuine. Just as interesting is the fact that there is a lot of his past that he can't remember due to his accident. But he remembered me, how he treated me and wanted to make it right. My forgiveness was important to him, after all he had gone through, my forgiveness was important. I had forgiven him, long ago, we were kids after all. But it got to me at my core. I came home shared this with my husband {who knew the whole deal before I left for the interview} and for two days I was a complete mess. Why? I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't deny him forgiveness, I had given forgiveness, not received it. I extended grace to him with the forgiveness that he had asked for and was very happy  to give it {although not prepared and in some shock about it}. I didn't need an apology, at least not as far I knew. Still it messed with me for a few days, I would cry just thinking about it all and wonder why.  It did make me think did I owe someone an apology? Did they deserve it, did they need it, were they waiting for it? Did I need to be forgiven? I began working toward that.

Thankfully in the end we are all better for these types of experiences and to see God's mercy and grace up close and personal.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Getting all of the juice I can out of less.

Well so far in 2013 my challenge of less is still that, a challenge.

I have met the challenge of less in the area of finance, I continue to have less money than I need, but I guess we all do. Oh wait; it was suppose to be less debt, not less money. So the pursuit must continue, since there are still several months to go before we bid 2013 ado and I can say farewell to the challenge of less {or re-new it as I'm fearing I might}.

I need to do something to have less, less clutter is one big goal I have. Every room and closet is full. There needs to be less stuff in our home. I want to enjoy space. I want to enjoy time. Not spend my time cleaning up our space and clutter that seems to be everywhere. 

I think the idea of paring down our belongings is hard, our parents and/or grandparents seem to save everything. It's possible that in my father-in-laws' attic are the boxes to everything he ever bought, I'm not kidding. There is also a chance that they still have everything they've ever bought, if it still works, they keep it and even if it doesn't, because it might can be fixed one day. To prove my point, my mother-in-law gave me her juicer last month. I think it's almost as old me, but this is the part that makes it funny, I've been in this family for 19 years and I had never seen it before, ever. But I commented that I wanted a juicer and hated to pay the price for an electric one, the plastic ones I had found seemed flimsy. My mother-in-law pops into the laundry area and comes out with a juicer, there, done, problem solved. She was even reminding my husband about how his dad use to love fresh orange juice. Really? When? Nineteen years and this is the first time I'd ever seen this vintage beauty.

So let's face it, most of us come from people that hold on to things, you never know when it might be needed. Will I still have this juicer to give my kids? Maybe, it's sweet! But we can't hold on to it all and must shed our homes of some of it. It's just good for us.

How can we ease the clutter problem without a full scale attack on our homes and the stuff we've allowed to penetrate it? I offer a tactic that I've used with good success and a small solution toward having less, at least a little less. I started this about three years ago, right after Santa made his annual trip to our home. I wondered where the haul would go, it was then that this idea was born, on whim, but it has been useful.

My idea is this: pick ten areas of our home and get rid of at least ten items from each of those areas. The kitchen, the pantry, the laundry room, bedrooms, closets, the bookcase in the den, any room or space with stuff qualifies. A few items here and there and I was surprised how fast I found ten items to get rid of, usually I'd find more than ten. After I culled at least ten items from each space I quickly sort them, to donate, sell it or trash it. I almost always find several items worthy of my time to list on ebay and have a nice donation for our local hand up organization.

When I use this method I'm done in about two or three days tops and I'm not working sun up to sun down, just few hours each day, stopping to see to my family as needed. I usually try this at lest twice a year, but may go for three times this year. The best part when I'm done I've just gotten rid of one hundred items from our home, and it wasn't a big job, requiring a lot of time and organization.

The next area to tackle, don't bring new stuff home, but the juicer stays!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Challenge of Less

New Years Resolutions....Why? What’s the purpose? Who started this anyway? Is it really worth the time and effort? Do they work or do they set us up for failure? Studies show that most people will abandon their resolutions by the end of the 1st month.  That’s it, 4 weeks is tops for most people. That’s all that they have in them to resolve to change or improve themselves or their lives.  My son even informed me that January 17th was national give up your New Years’ resolution day...Wow!

I confess that most years I haven’t bothered with a new years resolution, it seemed like a big fuss or hype more than anything else.  However over the last few years I have attempted the one word challenge introduced by a blogger a few years ago. She challenged her readers to pick one word for the new year and apply it to as many areas of your life as possible. This one word is to help define your year, give it direction. You can choose any word but only one, just one word to guide your actions.  Words like hope, light, reflection, rest, renew or beauty, you get the idea. How you apply the word is also up to you. Where do you need hope or beauty in your life?

Seems easy enough, but when you really stop to truly consider which one word would have the most impact or is most needed in your life, choosing becomes difficult. What needs changing or improving in your life or that of your family and how can one word help you get there? What is it that you want the new year to hold and why? Suddenly one word is now pretty important.

After a lot of reflection of how the last year had been my one word presented itself to me and I could not argue, I knew that my one word had found me.


Yes, Less is my one word for 2013. 

Less stuff, less stress, less debt, less worry,  less of the things and trappings that tie us down. All of this less has me hopeful that our family can have more. More time for each other…more time to relax and enjoy life. Less debt, for more savings and hopefully more opportunities to be spontaneous.  I want less clutter to take care of and clean and more time and energy for our family. Less processed foods and more real foods.  Less take out and more home cooking. Less time with things that take away from our family and more time for each other and the activities that we enjoy or want to try. Less stress and more joy and happiness, more of what's important!

You might even use the old saying that I want quality versus quantity. I'm not looking to lead some minimalist lifestyle with only the bare necessities. Although selling it all could knock out a lot of those at once. I love color and pattern, I can't have or want a bare home.  I do want to love what's in my home, for it to speak to me in some way or in it's way make me happy. That when I pass by it or spy form across the room, a smile comes on my face. Because it has some meaning or reminds me of a special time or person.

I was a historic preservation major in college, so I had lots of designer friends. So often they would tell me about or I was even able to witness them with their clients, a lot of the  clients were trying to achieve a look; I assume in some cases to create an image or even dare say an illusion of the life they want to have or to be believed to have. It's not really them, they may love the style, but none of their true personality is in their home, only the one they want you to think they have. For many there is this need to cover every inch of their home, no blank space, so put something there, anything, everywhere, just don't leave it blank; undone. I know that our home at least in places unintentionally became like those my friends would design for a client, here's the look I want, here's a check when will it be ready? I'll need to get the invitations for our party out soon so everyone can come see it. {No a lie here, I was witness to this more than once}.

I recently discovered a designer the talks about embracing the white space. I think that when you can embrace that, a clam, no frills spot or two, then you can better enjoy the other. I want little white space, I want our "look" to be about our family, not an image of what we might be, but who we really are and what we love. I want to love every aspect of our home and life; not be bogged down by all of the stuff that needs our attention.

In some ways I have already gotten started. I honestly was not in the mood to decorate for Christmas. It really felt more like a chore on the list to cross off instead of part of a wonderful holiday time. I feel certain if I didn’t have young children that kept asking when it would get done and who even helped make it happen; it wouldn’t have. Our tree came home on December 1st and wasn’t touched until about the 16th. In addition to the busyness of the holiday and normal activities, my son came down with the flu.
So December 16th was the first time I had the energy to tackle it.  By the time we finished our decorating, I had scaled back what we put up. A little less of everything, but enough to feel like Christmas and enough for the house to seem bare once it was packed and put away.  It really helped me to embrace the idea of less, that less is more.  We enjoyed Christmas every bit as much with fewer decorations and trappings as we have had in the past. We had enough to enjoy the specialness of Christmas and more energy with which to enjoy it. Plus the clean up was faster and less stressful.

It really helped the idea of less seem even more attractive to me.

I’ve chosen a biggie for our family and myself; thankfully I have all year to meet the challenge of less.

Yes, I want less this year, so that we can have more!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Twentyone - R & R

You've come to learn that on Sundays my post are to review the week and rest up for the new week ahead. Today is no exception. You probably also know that I'm behind in posting.

I won't lie writing for 31 days is hard. Yes, harder than I thought especially since I thought I had chosen a topic that would come easily to me and easy enough to jump back in with. In the beginning I was even a few days ahead in my writing usually by 2 or 3 days but life goes on and stuff happens.

My son got sick with "something" still don't know with what and that's after a trip to the hospital to have x-rays and blood work, all which came back negative or inconclusive...fabulous! He recovered with several days of rest, by the following weekend dear sweet hubby was with sick similar symptoms but still it left us wondering what was going around and who might be next. Guess who was next? Yes, me! Luckily I saw it coming and upped my vitamins, herbs and essential oils, it didn't keep me down too long. Who's got time to be sick anyway?

I've also tried to keep up with a few of the other 31 day blogs, there are so many great ones, but that to can eat up so much of our time. I will direct you soon to some of my favorites for you to find some time to enjoy and learn from.

Throw in the rest of the busyness that life seems to include these days and there you have it...behind.

I'm so very sorry, but I do have every intention of getting these 31 days written. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Twenty - Family Time During the Holidays

We like to designate a time or times for our family during Christmas, sounds crazy but if we don’t plan for it ahead of time something or someone else will take it from us. A time just for the four of us, my darling hubby, the two kiddos and myself but this time can be for really whomever you wish to include.

We have a few rules. No shopping or errands, it will include a fun or special treat restaurant for dinner and we all have to agree to where we are going and what we are going to do. It has varied for us almost every year. We have seen the Rockettes, the Nutcraker, we’ve gone to the movies together or simply to look at Christmas lights.  But each year we have enjoyed an activity together. 

Some years it’s been very planned and other years not so much. Since the kids are getting older and their interests are changing, we like to change up what we do. But we are hopeful that whatever we choose that they will remember and cherish the memories and time together.

Whether this is already a tradition for your family or you have never done anything like that before, start looking now. There are lots of great shows or activities to do together, if they require tickets the sooner you decide the better, you don’t want it sell out. Don’t let your ideas only consist of those that will cost money. As I said some of our activities are been simply getting in the car to go look at Christmas lights. We’ve made hot chocolate and had a sing-a-long to Christmas songs in the car as we drove around.

Some other ways to spend time together as a family might be to spread Christmas cheer to others or for some down time together at home; we’ll talk more about that soon.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Nineteen - Meal Planning

We’ve talked about holiday cooking and baking needs along with cleaning out our pantry, now let’s talk about meal planning during the holidays.

What about your normal everyday meal needs? Start with looking at your calendar. What kind of events will you need to attend, especially during the week when cooking dinner could present more of a challenge than normal? Having a plan in place {if you don’t already} for which meals you’ll eat at home versus out along with what you might serve will help make this a little less stressful. Have you considered preparing some meals to have in the freezer? We’ve cleaned out the freezer, so we’ve got room.

I know I always have the best intentions to eat at home as much as we can. It never seems to fail though that for one reason or another we have to eat out more than I had hoped for, mostly due to poor planning.

How nice would it be to have meals ready to heat and eat?  It would help ensure that you eat at home more which is almost always healthier and cheaper than eating out. Preparing a few casseroles or soups now to pull out later will make life a little easier during the busy Christmas season.

Once you’ve decided on what you will cook and you have the supplies ready, plan a day to cook. Do this before things get busy and your calendar gets full. Make time to prepare meals to have in the freezer ready to cook for your family when you need it.

Most people that I know that prepare meals ahead take a day to do it all at once. Then you only mess up your kitchen once, you’ll do all of your chopping & preparing for several meals in one day. Having just 3 or 4 of these in your freezer could be big lifesavers later.

If by some chance you don’t use these meals you could always give them to someone else in need or use them in January when you want a night off from the kitchen.

If you are planning to include baked goodies as gifts you may want to see if you can prepare any of these ahead of time too and then plan a day to do that, if not then schedule it on your calendar for later.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Eighteen - Cleaning: The Pantry, Fridge & Freezer

I’m sure you were wondering when I would cover this. I almost did this one during the first week, but decided to wait and here’s why. It will just get messed up again. I know your thinking well of course it will. I’m not ready just yet, as you will see I save the BIG clean ups for later, then its just maintenance cleaning through the holidays. I hope that makes sense. In other words when I go into cleaning mode I want to know that I’ve completed a lot of the messy work already and my cleaning will stick so to speck.

On to cleaning out our pantries, refrigerator and freezers, basically I pull everything out and go through it. While you’re there really clean it, dust or wash the shelves and organize the items when you put them back, grouping items that need to be together are easier to find.

Check to dates and throw out expired items and make note of the items that you are low on {and know you will need}. The best part is that most of these items are plentiful in the stores right now and may even be on sale, most have coupons out there for you to use too.

Earlier we talked about holiday entertaining or baking needs, what recipes will you prepare? If you’ve had the chance to look these needs then you will have better idea of what to look for as you clean out these areas in your kitchen and to help your budget since you will know what you need to replace. Even if you are just taking a dish to a gathering having everything on hand can go a long way in helping you to enjoying a stress free holiday.
Make list of your needs spices, flavorings and basics like flour, sugar and butter along with the other items you see you need to stock up on.

I know in the past I “thought” I had everything only to have run back to the store or send someone to get it for me and hope that they get the right item. Let’s save ourselves from that stress. Take the time to plan and shop ahead and we’ll be ready.

I feel a more enjoyable {and less stressful} Christmas coming, don’t you?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Seventeen- Crafts or Baking Projects with the Kids

What types of events do you & your families enjoy doing together over the holidays? I know that with the long break the kids can get board. Trust me that statement makes me cringe.  I really don’t remember being board growing up, but I wasn’t use to all of the instant gratification/entertainment that our kids seem to be.

I love the idea of bring kids back down to reality and to appreciate time together that we don’t get enough of with the crazy schedules we keep.  Giving them an opportunity to take a step back in time together, reconnecting to each other as well as creating those memories that they’ll reflect back on one day. Making something with their hands, being creative and learning from the experience.

Past projects for us have including making gingerbread houses, hosting cookie-decorating parties with friends and making ornaments as well as other projects. But as with the recurrent theme here, planning is key to keeping things fun and running smoothly regardless of what activity you plan.

Whether baking or crafting, Pinterest is a wealth of ideas for projects and ideas.  Luckily with most of these a few clicks and you have your supply list and directions ready for your use along with several photos to guide you. Just be realistic about your time & ability, this is meant to be a fun time not the start of something ugly!

Once you decide on what if any projects that you’ll do this year go ahead and add these items to your shopping list and have then ready to use once your ready to use them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Sixteen - Gifts for Others

Perhaps you covered this when you did your Christmas budget…but just in case you didn’t let’s look at gifts for others.

I’m thinking neighbors, teachers or a gift for a hostess.  As with pretty much every other area some times just taking the time to note the need and have some kind of rough plan will greatly reduce your stress levels.

For me I always seem to forget someone.  It never seems to fail I’m headed to a party and realize that I don’t have a little something for the hostess or the team mom approaches me at practice that we need gifts for the coaches or the kids are going to have a gift exchange…ugh!

So take a few minutes and think of all of the people in your life outside your family & friends that you may need to buy a gift for or might be asked to go in on.

Will you need to contribute money, buy a gift or maybe make or bake gifts?

Know what’s coming and be ready, that can go a long way to reducing your stress and allowing you to enjoy the holiday.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thirty-one Days~ Day Fifteen - Updating our Christmas card lists

{sorry I'm behind I've had a sick child all weekend}

Now’s a great time before it gets much busier to update your Christmas card list.

Did any of your friends or family move?  Make a note of it now or call them if need be to have the correct address when the time comes

Has someone on your list passed away? Ok I know that may seem harsh, but my father in-law passed away earlier this year and when my mother-in-law has received some mail addressed to him or the both of them it’s been hard. So be sensitive to anyone on your list that may have lost a spouse.

I guess the same goes for divorce.

Do you need to add anyone new? Do you have any new friends or neighbors? Maybe there has been an addition to the family, nieces or nephews that have recently gotten married and started their own families.

And again maybe you need to remove someone all together?

Take the time to look at your list and update it, in most cases it shouldn’t take to long and it will help you to know how many cards you will need to buy. I just guessed last year and ran short by about 15 cards. So don’t wait, you could even pick up stamps now as well.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Fourteen - Review and Rest

Here we are at Sunday. For whatever reason this has been a very long week around here. We've made some process, but I still have a lot to do. I know that I need to rest.

I can't believe that two weeks are behind us, we're almost to the half way point. I also hope that you have found some useful tips or inspiration to begin to get ready for the Christmas season and to do so with less stress. Since we've done a lot of planning and prep work...we'll be ready!

Look back over the suggestions and ideas that we've talked about and see what areas still need to be addressed. Decide what you can work on this week and what can wait until later to tackle.

Enjoy a day to rest or maybe visit some of the other 31 Day blogs there are some great ones.

~Also this week we hope to get our Christmas card pictures taken. Still can't decide what the kids should wear???

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Thirteen - Gift-wrap and Batteries

Now let’s move on to an area that I’m always aware of but still seem to forget.

Batteries, tape, gift-wrap, gift-bags, boxes, ribbons and bows.  No, I don’t forget all or every part of it. But I do seem to over look one or two of these. Maybe I get gift-warp but need bows and boxes. Have batteries but not enough or the have the wrong size.

So today is kind of an easy one. Make a point to look at what you may have on hand and add what you need to your list of supplies to pick up, maybe you can even catch some sales and save money too.

I hope these reminders are helping you to begin to think now about what you need or will need to do and by doing a little at a time we’ll all enjoy a Christmas with less stress.