Archive | children

How I’m Simplifying My Life This Month

I am not a minimalist but the more full my life becomes with children, friends, relationships… the more I crave simplicity around me! I am not great at being organized, but I love when things are in order! As wife to a guy who likes order, mom to five children between the ages of 1-10, home educator of those five children, a business team leader, and all the “normal” things that come along with being the CEO of a household, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to simplify our life!

simplify my life
{they keep me on my toes!}

FullSizeRender 5{Slow breakfast with Gramma & Grampa earlier this month…
Bible reading, blessings pronounced over us, hymns, story telling, and much laughter!}

The fact that I have young, busy, energetic children can make nearly every day a whirlwind of flurry + activity.  I crave beauty and slow, rest and calm, clean and bright! :) It feels as though I must constantly curate our life and schedule to find a flow that works for us in all the changing seasons and ages, and that allows my mind and heart to be at rest. Simplifying our surroundings and schedule, so that we, the people who live here, have a place that allows us to thrive + grow.

Three things that are saving me right now:

Just Saying “No”
It’s hard to say no, but the more you do it, I think the more that muscle strengthens! :) And the freedom you find when saying no becomes almost addictive. :) This year has been one of evaluating the people and activities that really matter to us as a family! It’s easy to want to do “all the things” and please “everybody”. But we all know we run ourselves ragged going down that path! I think too that everyone has a different capacity for how much they can do personally or as a family, before the fun turns to stress~simply because there is too much going on, and not enough margin for rest and personal time at home.

We had to evaluate what we want our family future to look like and go from there. Family culture isn’t something you create in a moment, but a lifetime of moments and days…the feeling you get when you look back on your years, the memories you made, and the values you are passing on to your children. This year, and especially this season, we have said no to quite a few good, amazing things simply because the calendar already had a few days blocked off … and we have learned that we operate best with space between events. Rushing from one activity to the next does not lend itself to peace for most of us, especially when it involves schlepping sweet young ones around!

We’re even saying no to a week in Florida between Christmas and The New Year this month because we *love* to be in our own home for the holidays. Trial and error, baby! Last year we had that week packed with extended family on both sides, driving here and there and out of state, and this year we said, no. We’re staying put. Any other time of year, we’d be there in a flash, but like I said, something about Christmas at home, preparing for a new year, etc ~at least for now~feels restful and right for us.

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{Finding children fully engrossed in books all around my house is one of my favorite things!!
My reward for reading to them and teaching them to read!! 😉 }

Unsubscribing to the One Million Emails
Ok, well it wasn’t a million, but last week it dawned on me that it was once again that time to unsubscribe from all the extra emails coming into my inbox. Placing online orders, subscribing to an e-course here or there….and then with Black Friday + Christmas happening, it seemed like every business and person I was subscribed to was sending me double and triple mailings every day!! Talk about brain overload! So I sat down one morning and unsubscribed to over 30 companies! Thirty! I still love, will read and/or purchase from them in the future, but I know who and where they are when I need them! For now, I just needed more space/rest in my inbox *and* my brain.

Simplifying the Dinner Party
Loooong have I admired several groups of friends who host dinner parties in their homes every month, and what appears to be an elaborate, child-free, intimate, quiet affairs! :) For nearly two years my friends and I have talked about doing this. I mean, we REALLY wanted to do it! About that time we each had a baby boy and neither of us had babysitting readily available, so we shelved the idea for “next year”. Next year came and not much in our lives had changed. So again we waited. Finally this year, we put dates on the calendar. Life is full and those couple of dates got canceled~mostly because our expectation of what was *supposed* to be felt like too much to pull off! Finally, we said to one another. “Let’s just DO it….but simplify our expectation of what a fancy schmancy dinner party looks like! We’ll include our children (bye bye to the stress of finding sitters for 4, 5, and 5 kiddos!!)~ we will simply have soup (prepared by the host) with salad, bread, and dessert brought in by the others.

Voila! Best.Thing.Ever. Just like that, because we allowed our dinner party to be its own thing, and not have to look like someone else’s dinner party…. because we acknowledge our stage of life and decided to work with it instead of wait til it’s over… we are having a marvelous time each month together. Our children are typically 😉 well behaved anyways + best friends, so they love to be included. And can you beat a meal of soup and a few extras in the winter?? I imagine our spring and summer parties to include grilling instead of soup, but we can definitely cross that bridge when we get there! :)

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{Throw back to the “naturally slow” days! :) We are blessed to have spaces where our children can wander + play}

And that’s it….just a few things making my life a little more restful and joy-filled! I’d love to know how you bring a little more simplicity into
your life!

Much Love & Merry Christmas!!

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Rainy Day Work

Her face will stay with me for a long time, haunting my days~waking me in the nighttime hours. A beautiful young woman with the most gorgeous skin tone and curly brown hair~walking determinedly, loudly spouting off her reasons of why she had to do it. There was no other possible way.

The rain fell steadily all morning. Wrapped in ponchos and sheltered beneath large umbrellas, we were wrapped securely in the knowledge that we were in the right place for this moment. Doing the work of speaking truth, pleading for the cause of the children, and for those who walked not three feet in front of us, most times herded, and what could safely be called intimidated along by two strong men, into a dark and bloody place. The desire to preserve and save a life~upwards of twenty lives a day~does not always end in success. Sometimes you simply obey~and trust~that your presence fills a place in the gap, that for today nobody crossed the threshold of that terrible place without knowledge of the truth, without causing a moment of “pause” in which they could have chosen life. The rain pouring down felt like a welcomed friend, crying down the tears welling inside that hadn’t yet found their way out.

Her baby would have been absolutely beautiful. It hurts beyond words to know what has happened to that little boy or girl. Ripped apart, piece by piece, from the safest place on earth. Oh, Jesus, forgive us. Reassembled on a tray to be sure every part of a precious human being has been removed. God, how did we ever get to a place where mothers allow this crime to be done against their bodies and their descendants? To be thrown out with tonight’s garbage. The very creation of a Holy, tender, righteous Lord~ How, Jesus? For the first time in my life, my arms feel empty because another woman’s baby has died. Back in the shelter of my home and in the arms of a man who loves me and values children, and LIFE, my tears join the rain. Deep sadness for all we have lost. Grief for the grief she will undoubtedly walk through after today.

One of her final questions as she passed through that dirty glass door, half covered with black paper was “You’d get up in the night with this baby!? Really!?”

We’ll already be awake in the night, love. A beautiful brown-skinned, curly-haired baby to carry us through would have been no trouble at all.

“Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children…” Lamentations 2:19

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Trading in My “Somedays” for Today.

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Today I’m jotting down a few thoughts on perfection…and of the letting go enough to live the life I truly want for me and my family. I pray it will encourage you in some way. To live today. The days literally fly by my friends! With five sweet children born to me and my handsome man in ten years, with him making a career change and me starting a business all within the past five years, with homeschooling and picking up after babies and toddlers all day…things I always dreamt of keeping up with and the ideals I wanted to live out..well you can imagine, some things just take a back seat, the back burner, controlled by the tyranny of the urgent!

But somewhere in the middle of these fun, full, beautiful, crazy, colorful days, I keep thinking….We have to DO the things NOW that are going to define our family, build a legacy. We have to do them now, every year, every day, little by little. It’s the little things that add up to make a life. I don’t want to spend my days thinking “someday” and miss being the person I dreamt of being, building the traditions and memories with my family. It doesn’t mean “doing all the things”….but it does mean deciding on a few things that are important to us, letting go of the perfect time to get started with them, and living them now!

First of all, I *adore* this woman as one of my mentors through her books, blog posts and podcasts: Her admonition for Taking Time for a One Woman Retreat and a follow up to that post called How Are You Doing Caring For Yourself? are the perfect reminders to establish little moments into your yearly, weekly, and daily routines to keep your own soul refreshed and alive!!

It’s so important to take moments for rest, dreaming, and appreciating beauty~even in small ways! Sometimes I am able to do this alone (definitely needed!) and sometimes it’s good for me to draw my sons and daughters into those moments. (I’m trusting that this will become easier and more meaningful to them the older they get because honestly sometimes at this age and stage, if there’s more than one of them sharing these “moments” with me, it can be a little chaotic. 😀 ) So, for me currently, this looks like taking just 15 minutes to sit down with a cup of tea in the afternoon with a book. Not an hour, not two hours. FIFTEEN MINUTES! See! Letting go of the perfect “someday I’ll have hours of time to read…” and instead taking, yes TAKING, fifteen minutes to rest and refresh! It’s adding value to our lives NOW.

I wanted to share a recent example of how letting go of the perfect has worked out for me. I have had years of perfect scrapbook layouts, printing them off at the end of each year, to record our family “history”. I have also made baby albums for several of the children. But suddenly with “all the babies” and the business and another child entering kindergarten. All of those lovely albums came to a screeching halt. For over two years I’ve been thinking….SOMEDAY I’ll get back to those perfect layouts and make more albums! Someday. Someday. But right now I feel a little overwhelmed with the thought of first organizing all those years of photos taken in the meantime!! And I’ve been frozen into inactivity!

A couple of weeks ago the children pulled out the albums from the past and poured over them for nearly a week. Every waking moment in the family room or in their bedrooms was spent laughing at “how cute we were”, asking questions about faith and why we do certain things (prompted by pictures of my sister’s baptism), and remembering good times and even important people in our lives who have passed away! I decided then and there that I was going to stop waiting for SOMEDAY to print their “perfect” photo books. I’m still planning to make those someday, yes! But in the meantime, I want each of them to have a personal little albums of their baby and toddler years. I decided to do it TODAY.

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The easiest way for me to do that was to print little ChatBooks from my Instagram account! The amazing ChatBooks app allows you to do almost anything you need to do~to print photos from your phone or computer, from Instagram, pull in a few from your computer that aren’t on IG, edit your text, take it off completely, print the date or not….I mean it’s so quick and wonderful!! Not every cute picture that I want to print “someday” is on my IG account, but I decided that with the exception of one birthday photo and another family photo, I wasn’t going to allow myself to add extra photos from my computer….because then I would go down that whole I-need-to-make-this-perfect road and it would take me too long to complete and therefore it wouldn’t get done, defeating the whole purpose….

SO, I did it. Within the space of a few days I had designed and ordered a little album with approximately 100 pictures each for each of my four older children. Imperfect, but FINISHED. (This is a HUGE step for me!! Especially when it comes to photos and words and documentation!!)

BTW, have you watched the HILARIOUS Chatbook mom youtube videos??? I laugh every.single.time. Like~die laughing!! They’ve gone virial~over 50 million views~so I imagine you have!

 

My quality-time daughter was pouring over her book a couple of days ago and asked if we could snuggle in my bed that night and look through her book together. If you know me, my bed and bedroom are *nearly* holy ground and I don’t share them easily! But oh my goodness. I couldn’t turn her down. So that’s what we did. Flipping through those pages, admiring her as a baby and younger girl, she showed me her favorite pictures, and I got a little glimpse into her heart and a few of her current hopes and dreams! Priceless.

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Oh, and now the other children are each requesting “a night to snuggle in your bed, Momma, and look at my book.” I’m so glad I chose TODAY and not “someday” on that task! That I decided to be OK with imperfect for the joy of sharing these moments with them NOW.

I have other long-time dreams and ideals that I’m circling back around to this year. It’s been pressed upon my heart so strongly that these.are.the.days. to do them! So we’re just getting started on some of those. Maybe in the future I can share! For now, it’s going to take *daily* determination to make these dreams a reality!

Praying for you, my friends! Especially you mothers! May we take the time to choose the BEST dreams God has placed in our hearts, make room for them to grow and bloom…to live the life He has given us. Letting go of perfection and living TODAY!

~Shelly

** The Chatbooks link HERE is an affiliate link. Use it and further my album cause~or not. :) I think you might get a free one out of the deal!? But don’t hesitate to print those pictures TODAY if that’s one of those thing you’ve been meaning to do SOMEDAY. xoxo

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