How Our Tendencies Shape Us

better than before

So my husband got me to listen to an audiobook.  This is weird, guys.  I’m the one who gives out reading recommendations.  But he’s been on this Audible kick since he’s in the car a lot and he chose a book called Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  I had no idea he was reading it and then he comes to me one day with this big news:

“I think I’m going to go on a sugar detox.”

I’ll spare you the details of our discussion (albeit heated) but the end result was that he was telling me that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.  He started sharing about this amazing book he read about habits.  I was super skeptical.  He was convinced I’d love it.  So, being a self-improvement kinda gal, I decided to just take him up on it.

And I pretty much became obsessed with it.  It helped me to understand myself better and so much of what the author said about my tendency rang so true and explained a lot about what I choose to do and not to do.  There are four tendencies and I am an Obliger (you can take a quiz on her website if you’re not going to read the book yet).   This explains why I will tend to say yes to people often, work really hard for others, etc. but when I try to set a goal for myself with no accountability I inevitably fail.  I need external accountability.  This is probably why I tend to exercise more if I commit to a class or I pay for a subscription to something.  I also discovered that I am an/a:

Opener: I like to start things but am not big into finishing.  I like the excitement of the beginning and get bored easily.

Moderator: I have enough self-control to be able to indulge in things sometimes and don’t have to completely abstain in order to be successful (unlike my husband).

Lark: aka a morning person

Simplicity Lover: This was so not a surprise.  Others are Abundance Lovers (have lots of trinkets, keepsakes, etc).

I am also prone to novelty over familiarity, which explains why some people are more into tradition and others, like me, need change often.

I cannot tell you how helpful this book was for understanding myself and therefore taking better action for future habits/goal-creating. But it was also helpful for me to realize that we’re not all the same.  I went into this book skeptical, thinking that there are obviously basic ways to create new habits and maybe even some “ideal” ways of being.  I came out of it realizing that yes we are all different and that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with people who are different from me.  So with my Abstainer husband, it’s okay that he can’t just eat one little piece of chocolate; it just means that we can’t have it in the house or where he can see it if he’s trying not to eat it.  We adjust depending on our tendency.

The beauty of this is that we can all be successful in habit formation and self-improvement.  I no longer have to get down on myself for having such a difficult time keeping up a routine that doesn’t hold much value to me.  I can accept the fact that the only routines I’m going to keep are the ones where I have some kind of external accountability and are in line with my values.  I no longer have to try to convince my husband to be a morning person; I can accept that he does better at night and just encourage him to make sure he’s getting an adequate amount of sleep.

Gretchen gives so many practical tips for the various tendencies and general habit-formation that I don’t think anyone could walk away from the book not knowing how to take steps to better themselves in whatever areas are important to them.

I think understanding this could help those of us who want to live more intentionally actually DO IT.  Sometimes we hit a wall because we want to make a certain change but we don’t.  It could very well just be that we aren’t going about it the right way.  Maybe we were told there’s only one way to make it happen but in reality there may be various paths to get there depending on our tendency.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  What tendency are you (either from taking the quiz or reading the book)?  How do you see that shaping your future and your desire to live more intentionally (whatever that looks like for you)?

Routine: Good or Bad?

Routine

When I first became a parent, I thought that every hour of the day should be scheduled for my child. Now, of course, I wasn’t the one at home with her. I simply put the expectation on my husband with something along the lines of the following schedule (because, you see, I had more experience with children from jobs and babysitting and clearly knew more than him . . .):

7:00 Feed
8:00 Tummy Time
8:30 Read
9:00 Snack
10:00 Gross Motor Activity
11:00 Feed
12:00 Fine Motor Activity
1:00 Nap
4:00 Snack

And of course I would provide ideas for what those times could look like for the two of them. It was basically Lily and Daddy school time . . . for a baby.

I was clearly a very realistic first-time mom.

Not.

I know many others have said something similar about their first child. They have all these crazy expectations and then realize they’re totally whacked out and need to take a chill pill. Don’t worry, I got there. My poor husband. Bless his sweet soul.

Now?  I am about to have my 4th child and am homeschooling my 5 year old for Kindergarten just this year. We started the school year out by having a pretty set schedule, thinking that would really help to make sure we got through what we needed to. I had it set for certain hours to tackle certain subjects. And let me just say that I got BORED. I’m not even the student. She was flying through the material and then I felt like I had to force her to do more until the time was up. I can be really Type A and super organized and structured at times. I like to have order and minimal chaos. And I often think that having a routine is the way to make that happen. Of course, sometimes that is definitely the case. We have instilled, from the start, a very clear eating and sleeping routine for our children. Because of that, both we and the kids have benefited greatly. They sleep great for others when we aren’t here, they know when they need to eat so they’re not constantly asking, they know not to expect dessert unless it’s a weekend or a special event, and we can form our days around this pattern.

However, what I am learning about myself, due to my own personality (and, as what Gretchen Rubin in Better than Before calls the tendency toward either Familiarity or Novelty . . . I’m Novelty), is that I can’t have too much routine or I bust at the seams. I cannot have every day look the same. I will never take a 9-5 job where I do the same thing all the time unless it’s life or death. I cannot stand knowing that today is going to be the same as tomorrow. I like to have different places to go, explore, learn something new, and talk to people who are not my children.  If every day is the same and there’s no room for that?  Then please let me meet Jesus now.

I may not like routine BUT I do like order.  Solution? I’m highly organized, I have my systems for maintaining that organization, and those parts of my life are like second-nature; they just happen. For example, everything in my house has a place. We have a sliver of a junk drawer and that’s it (and it really isn’t junk–it has some pens, sticky notes, and extra keys and that’s pretty much it).  My kids follow this as well so we don’t have random toys in random spots, nor do we have shoes and clothes scattered throughout the house. We also have set times that we tend to clean up (before nap and before we start our bedtime routine). I make sure the dishes are done/in the dishwasher and I know what tomorrow looks like before I relax for the evening because it makes for a peaceful environment when I wake up.  I wake up at least 1-1.5 hours before the kids so I can prepare for my day, read, and be ready for them at 7:00 when they come down. These are just natural things that I do that I don’t even take time to think about.

But as for how each day looks? I need variety. Novelty.

So the other day, my kids kept asking what we were going to do and I had a list of things that needed done but not necessarily in a particular order. My 5 year old is a future event organizer and so, for her sake, I wrote a numbered list on the fridge in an order that seemed reasonable for the day. It included when we would eat, read, play, do schoolwork, take turns on the iPad, make muffins, etc. This was brilliant on my part. It satisfied my daughter’s need for knowing what to expect, it stopped questions of “when is that happening” from my son, it gave me a sense of accomplishment because I love crossing things off list, and it held me accountable to make sure I followed through on what I promised them they could do that day (like letting them help me bake even though it’s easier not to with a 5 year old, 4 year old, and 20 month old all at the small counter).

This was a way for me to have enough of a routine for the day that we got what we needed accomplished and yet it didn’t have to look the same for the whole week.  No more charts that I create that I use for, oh, a week, and then pitch because it’s too mundane.  Just my cup of tea.

I am finding my happy medium. Routine that comes in the form of habit (aka I’m not thinking about it because it’s happening naturally) that creates a sense of order and peace in my life is good. Any other kind of routine can find another person to snuggle up with and they’ll be great partners.

How about you?

What are you learning about yourself in this area? Do you tend to like routine and structure down to the hour/minute because it creates a sense of calm for you? Do you like knowing exactly what’s happening each moment of your day and look forward to your planner telling you what to do?  Or do you tend to be one who doesn’t like any routine at all and fly by the seat of your pants for pretty much anything but that excites you? Are you somewhere in the middle like me? Once you’ve figured it out for yourself, if you haven’t already, how can that help you to be intentional in your every day life so that you’re really feeling a sense of thriving and not just surviving?  The more we understand our natural tendencies, the better we can function in the every day.  

Intentional Christmas Giving

Intentional Christmas Giving

 

Some of you are already done Christmas shopping (like me . . . because I had to be due to timing of seeing family).  Some of you started but have more to do.  And others haven’t begun yet (and that’s totally ok!).  Those of you who need some gift ideas still, or just want to have a resource to turn to for gifts for other times of the year (or next year), will really enjoy this!

We know this is a great time to be intentional with our money because we’re often spending more than usual (though we shouldn’t feel the need to–that’s a whole other thing altogether) so why not spend our money in places where it’ll make more of a difference?  But I’m no expert so I’m giving credit to those who have already done the work.  They’ve created some GREAT lists and I’m here to share them with you today in case it helps with your Christmas gift ideas or any gifts for that matter (birthdays, just because, you get the idea).  Enjoy!

And if I missed any good lists, please please please feel free to comment on the blog post itself or you can comment on the post on Facebook when it’s up there if you prefer.  I’m all about sharing the good stuff that helps us live more intentionally especially when it comes to our choices as consumers.  And now to the list!

5 Lists to Help You Give Intentionally

  1. Melanie Dale’s Slave-Free Christmas: She has TONS of ideas and has them all organized by what kind of gift you may be looking for.  The link will provide you with all the posts on her blog related to Slave-Free Christmas but some of the posts contain actual lists while others feature specific companies.  She posted a list of toys that give back all year long so check that out too for Christmas, birthday parties, baby showers, etc.
  2. Jen Hatmaker’s Buy Once, Give Twice:  She created a list in 2014 and and it’s sorted by the person you’d be shopping for.
  3. The Art of Simple’s 2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Tsh updated this for this year and I LOVE it.  You click on the tab and it opens up that category.  Then you can close it and open a different one.  Super easy and clean, which I am always into.  She even has specific book title recommendations.  Tsh also has an all-year-round Ethical Shopping Guide she keeps on her site at all times.
  4. Carrie’s (Lovely Etc.) 45 Gorgeous Gifts that Give Back: This is a BEAUTIFUL list.  She has stuff you’d never see elsewhere (or at least this Pennsylvania girl wouldn’t).  She has it organized by type of gift so you can look for gifts for kids, items for the home, or accessories, among others.  Definitely check it out.
  5. Erika’s (Married in Mile Square City) Ugandan Gift Guide: This is a list of just 5 organizations that give back to those in need in Uganda specifically.  Love that it’s a short list and yet she hand-picked some stellar organizations.  I love that she chose to focus on a specific area she wanted to reach by way of her giving because that country has a special place in her heart.  Makes me want to choose one area of focus for next year’s Christmas giving (a fun challenge to be super intentional).
  6. Heidi’s (Heidi at Home) Shopping with a Purpose:  She has some that are different from the other lists so definitely check this out.  She also links up to Fair Trade Friday which is a great option either for yourself (am I allowed to promote buying gifts for yourself?) or as a neat subscription box that helps women around the world.
  7. Jamie Ivey’s (The Happy Hour) Christmas Special Shopping Guide:  Jamie Ivey and Jen Hatmaker co-hosted a podcast sharing 25 different companies that are worth buying from.  But Jamie, the awesome girl she is, put a whole list together so you don’t have to go back and listen to the whole episode every time and write it all down.  Brilliant.  But you still should listen to the podcast because Jamie + Jen Hatmaker = fun times.

Sharing Our Stuff

sharestuff

Ah, teachable moments.  Don’t we just love them?

My daughter is usually a pretty giving person.  But she’s 5 so that isn’t always on her mind.  Let’s be honest: it’s not always on my mind either and I’m almost 30 (eek–that really is coming up soon, isn’t it?).

The other day, she got all huffed and puffed (no, she didn’t blow our house down) and she declared that her friend was getting a computer and it’s not fair that she doesn’t have her own computer too.

Yes, dear, because you’re 5 and you need your own laptop.  Of course.

Let’s also keep in mind this is the same girl who, practically every morning, has nothing to wear and can only wear sandals in 40 degree weather.  #itssohardtobefive

Enter teachable moment.

We talk often about not complaining about what we have and instead being grateful.  I remind my kids that there are children who don’t get a choice of which shoes to wear (if they have any at all), both locally and across the world.  But today was a little different.  This was an issue of, “She has something and so I should have  it too.”  I know, it’s a long road ahead.  I knew this day would come but didn’t think it’d happen this early.  I remember vividly wanting certain sneakers and clothing as a preteen because that’s what others had.  My mom simply said that if I wanted to spend $50 on a pair of sneakers then I could save up my money to buy them.  The alternative was to spend the $20 she was offering up for a less expensive pair since my feet would be growing and I wouldn’t be in that size forever.  Wise woman.

With the topic of the laptop, I sat my daughter down and explained that just because someone else has something doesn’t mean we need it too.  Everyone has different things.  I may have something that one of my friends doesn’t and vice versa.  And that’s totally okay.

I then led this into a brief discussion on sharing what we have with others.  We read in Acts 2 how the early Church would share their resources and they would give to those in need.  So I explained to my daughter that by the kids sharing a computer with me, we then can save the money we would’ve spent on another computer and use it to help others.  We talked about how when I have something that someone else doesn’t, I can share it with them.  And when others have something I could use, they can let me borrow it.  We do it often with friends and neighbors.  I may not need a saw more than once in my life but my friend may need it often.  So instead of buying my own, why not borrow it from my friend?  And I may have a printer that they barely ever need so why don’t I allow my friend to print off some things every once in a while rather than them purchasing a printer for themselves?

I’m not just preaching something to my kid–I’m trying to live it.  When we thought we were done having kids, we gave away a lot of our baby stuff and it went to people who truly needed it.  When we found out I was pregnant with baby #4, I started to regret having given it all away.  But my husband reminded me that God would provide just as He always has . . . and that He wouldn’t have put it on my heart to give the stuff away if there was a reason and purpose for it.  Well, just this week, a friend gave me a ton of baby clothes/bibs/swaddles that she didn’t need.  Just that morning I was thinking how I’d have to go out and buy something for the baby to wear for the cold weather and how I didn’t really want to spend $20-30 on something that he’d only wear for a short time but inevitably needs (and I found it super handy with my other son in the winter).  Well, in with all those clothes was exactly what I needed.  You can’t tell me that wasn’t totally a God thing.

Yes, sometimes sharing means that it is a little inconvenient.  Maybe it’d be easier to just buy everything we need, even if it’s only for that one time.  But what I think trumps the inconvenience is the fact that it brings us into community more.  (And of course I love having fewer possessions in my home but that’s another thing altogether.)  We are forced to interact with one another and live in community.  It usually prompts discussions and check-ins and we find out more about the other person than we otherwise would’ve.  We get a chance to step outside of ourselves.

So I shared with my daughter that for right now, she doesn’t need a computer.

Does she now have this grand appreciation for everything she owns?  Does she have a heart full of gratitude and a desire to share all her possessions with others?  Probably not.  But it’s these intentional conversations we have with our kids over and over and over again that will hopefully result in some heart change.

Let’s set a good example and share what we have with others, building community in the process.  And take advantage of these teachable moments with the kids in our lives because whether we realize it in the moment or not, it’s all getting inside those little hearts.  

Halloween in Community

  • halloween

This life is so much more fun when we live it in community with others, isn’t it?  Sure, it can be messy.  It’s easier sometimes to just sit in our homes and ignore each other.  But how often have you had good conversation over a meal with friends?  Or you’ve had an interaction with someone that made you belly laugh?  We were made to live in community, not to curl up and pretend like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.  There’s so much benefit to choosing to get to know one another.  Deep relationships.  Friends to call on when we need help.  Kids having playmates.  Shared experiences.  It can be so beautiful.

So one way that my husband and I have chosen to be more intentional about getting to know others is by taking advantage of times when we get to see our neighbors.  When the weather cools off here in Pennsylvania where we currently live, it’s not as easy to see others in our neighborhood.  Summer is easy: cookouts, sprinklers, playgrounds.  But hanging outside after dinner when it’s 40 or below just isn’t as enticing.  So we’ve decided to view times like Trick-or-Treating as an opportunity to get outside and interact with those who are living their lives around us when we otherwise might not see them.

What does this look like?  We live in a townhouse so we have a parking lot in front of our house.  While sometimes I loathe it because I’d rather have a fenced in yard, it has served us quite well for things like bike riding and random get togethers with friends.  And for Trick-or-Treating?  We get to use the space to have a small block-party style get together without a fence closing people off.

Last year, a few of us got together and each picked something to provide.  We grilled hot dogs, had warm apple cider in slow cookers, and had a fire pit with supplies to make s’mores.  We handed out glow sticks to kids and had candy of course.  As people came by, we offered up what we had as a way to get people to linger a bit and get to know them.  We told people this wasn’t just for us–it was to be enjoyed with anyone who wanted it.

This year, we’re doing it again and we hope to continue to build momentum over the years so people know to expect it.  It was wonderful for our kids to be able to meet other kids and great for us to finally get to know some of the people who live around us who we otherwise don’t get to interact with too often.  And we found that Trick-or-Treating is way more fun when there a bunch of people hanging out (even in the cold!) than just sitting waiting for the doorbell to ::maybe:: ring and hand out candy.  Why not be out where the action is?  It’s hospitality at its finest: casual, no cleaning of the house required, and people don’t have to feel obligated to linger if they don’t want to or have cranky kids.  A win-win for everyone! 🙂

How are you going to spend your Halloween?  Do you have any traditions in your own community?  

I Don’t Do It All

idon'tdoitall

 

(You can listen to this blog post by clicking the “play” button above if you prefer the podcast-style.)

It seems to be that for some reason people think I’m extremely busy and can’t imagine how I “do it all.”  I hear this often.  What’s funny is I intentionally don’t talk about how “busy” I am because I think busyness is a disease that is pervading our culture.  We make it seem like if we’re “busy” then we’re somehow more important and people should be proud of us.  But busy doesn’t always equate to better. Oh, we say we know that but do we really?  It feels so good to say we do a bazillion different things . . . that we manage to juggle it all and keep it all in balance.  Really, though, are we?  Are we truly capable of “doing it all?”  I argue no.  Seemingly, we’re superheros.  But in reality?  Something has got to give.  Sacrifices are being made.  Any time we commit to something, something else is sacrificed.  That doesn’t always mean it’s wrong; it just means that when we place priority on something, other things aren’t priority.  That doesn’t mean they’re totally ignored; we just aren’t as focused on what isn’t priority.  If we’re multitasking, something is being sacrificed–we aren’t capable of devoting our entire attention to more than one thing at any minute in our day.  Just reality.

So when people ask me how I do it all, I simply say that I don’t.  I’m not actually that busy.  I was for many years, yes.  I said yes to everything and tried to fill my plate with as much as possible because it made me feel accomplished, important, and as if I were contributing to the world in a greater way.  But what ended up happening was I neglected other areas of my life, like my own emotional health.  If we’re so busy that we don’t choose to have time to relax and reflect on our lives, for example, then our emotional health just gets pushed deeper and deeper.  It doesn’t disappear but just remains untouched.  Eventually it can’t get pushed down any further and it explodes and needs addressed.  For some this is a complete rock bottom breakdown.  For others, it’s a slow process of muck coming to the surface. [Read more…]

Thank You Notes

So I’m reading an ah-mazing book right now that was so worth the wait (For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, if you care to know).  And she honors Jimmy Fallon and his Thank You Notes by writing her own and putting them in her book.  Brilliant.  I’ve laughed so hard I peed.  No shame here.  She’s hilarious.  Let’s just give her the credit she’s due, even if it’s in pee.  Ok, things just got weird, I understand.  We’ll move on.

These will not nearly be as hilarious as Jen’s or Jimmy’s but I just couldn’t help myself.  It’s just too fun.

thankyou

  • Thank you tissues for helping me to rid my nose of its mucus only to leave it on my hands instead.  Clearly it’s put to better use as slime on my fingers than dripping down my face.  #yougetwhatyoupayfor
  • Thank you full-panel maternity jeans.  You help me not feel pregnant while also giving the appearance of being one month less pregnant because of your belly-sucking capabilities.  You know how to love.  #noshameinwearingmaternitypantswhennotpregnant
  • Thank you drive-thru everything.  I know I should hate you because I’m all about the healthy stuff.  But let’s be honest: bringing a bunch of little kids into the bank/restaurant/coffeeshop just isn’t worth my time or yours.  I saved you money because my kids didn’t break something.  You’re welcome and thank you.  #weneedmoredrivethruplaces
  • Thank you Magic Eraser for actually living up to your name and for not being called what you actually are which is melamime foam.  Magic Eraser is just way cooler and you’re less likely to be bullied in the aisles by your peers (who are definitely acting out of insecurity because they’re not even close to as cool and original as you).  You have made me not fear markers on the walls and instead I can worry about tomato sauce stains.  #youshouldgetonthat
  • Thank you ice cream maker for making me feel that because it’s homemade it must be okay to eat 3 cups.  #youcanfoolme #caniplaythepregnancycard
  • Thank you nutrition facts for being responsible for my daughter asking if there is calcium or protein in everything she eats.  #youcanpaythepsychiatrybill
  • Thank you Brain Pop Jr for basically being a $99/year teacher for my kids.  I thought you may not be worth the investment but you so are.  I owe you for my children’s incessant trivia-sharing and future screen addiction.  You give me a non-guilt-inducing break.  #noshame #ipadbabysitterclub
  • Thank you McDonald’s for having all-day breakfast.  I once got over my addiction to sausage egg & cheese McMuffins because I couldn’t have them after 10:30 in the morning.  Now you are trying to persuade me back into your health-sucking sandwiches because you know I love me some breakfast and you are Satan trying to drag me into your world.  I will not succumb.  I will not succumb.  Ooooo that smell . . . NO, I will not succumb.  #realfooddontletmedown #healthygirlproblems

Ok, Coffee Breakers.  Come up with one of your own and share either in the comments or over on the Facebook page.

When it’s not a setback

setback

Let me set the stage for you.  We had a rough visit with my family up in New England because, while there were good and fun moments, there was little sleep in a not-so-familiar environment.  If you’re a parent or have any experience with kids, then you know how that turns out.  Oh don’t think I’m being all judgmental on my kids either–I was a total wreck myself.  Recipe for disaster that ended up in us just coming home a little earlier than expected (originally planned for a couple days, switched to a week, then ended up in the middle).

So we’re getting back into the routine of things . . . slowly (and that’s being generous).  This morning, I decided enough is enough and I’m tired of reacting rather than responding to my kids.  I’m tired of being tired and using that as an excuse for setting a bad example to my kids.  So I woke up and chose to do some yoga/stretching with some Bethel music in the background and then read from Invitations from God, a book given to me by the non-profit I do some work for/with, LiveWell!Ministries.

I’m reading a chapter on what it looks like to follow (specifically to follow Jesus).  What does it take?  What do I have to give up?  What results?  And here are some snippets that stuck out to me as I read this morning:

“In Deuteronomy 15, God said, ‘There need be no poor people among you . . . Be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need’ (Deut 15:4, 8).”

“Following Jesus means caring about more than me and my family.  It means identifying with God’s broken heart over poverty and his holy anger at injustices in our world.  It means following his lead on who and what matters.”

“God cares that his kingdom of fairness and justice comes.  He cares that I buy fair-trade commodities.  He cares that profits reach those serving at the bottom of the production process.  He cares that those who work in sweatshops in Mongolia, China, and Nepal–those who make my cashmere sweater–get a livable wage.”

“God created a world with enough for everyone.  There is enough land and water and even enough food.  The problem is not supply.  The problem is distribution.  But there is a more basic problem still: a problem of caring and sharing.”

In talking about how she sees others live these things out, the author mentioned a friend who “makes it her goal to give others the same things she buys for herself and her family.”  She continues by saying, “It’s how she has chosen to love her neighbor as herself.”

I was totally convicted by all this.  It was heavy on my heart.  As a family, we do give and we have a certain budget line item for giving specifically.  But often times we end up breaking that budget and if I’m going to break one, that’s where I want to be in the red.  But do I really give to others as though I love them as I love myself?  Really?  It kills me that there are kids in Uganda getting paralyzed by jiggers embedded in their feet simply because they don’t have shoes to protect themselves.  It burdens me that there are so many without access to clean water and yet we can use water in America to just fill up a pool or play in the sprinkler.  But more so, it makes me weep that I say I care and that my heart breaks . . . and yet I feel helpless at times, not sure that I should really spend that money on a kid’s shirt that’s going to support a small business and help them get out of poverty when I could just buy a cheap one at Walmart.

Is it wrong for me to buy the Walmart shirt?  Not necessarily.  (I did buy a Walmart shirt for Colby this morning and leggings for Lily . . . so ya, who is feeling hypocritical now?  I’m certainly not judging anyone else).  But it’s just one example of how easy it is to not really think too much about where my money goes . . . to not think long-term and really put others before myself.

So my past week was rough.  My morning was rough.  We’re still struggling with obedience and normalcy.  And so while my morning started out great, once the kids woke up, it was back to reality where I was dealing with issue after issue.  I finally decide to try to get to Walmart to get a few things and Colby is giving me a hard time.  He had another accident (which he hasn’t had in a long time and yet this was like his 4th for today).  He then didn’t want to wear anything except pants (and it’s like 90 degrees out today).  Then he said he’d just go in his underwear (yep).  Finally I get shorts on him and he wants to go barefooted.  Totally looking for battles.  I get it.  So I finally get the kids into the van only to see that Lily’s carseat is in my husband’s car, which is at work with him 30 minutes away.  So I tell the kids we can’t go and we’ll have to go later.

Bawling.  Screaming.  It was delightful.  Why the fits?  Because I usually let them have a lollipop or something if they are decently behaved when we have to make longer trips to the store (I gotta do what I gotta do with a 5, 3, and 1 year old and another cooking in the oven).  So no Walmart meant no lollipop and it was not pretty.

My neighbor, who has grandkids, went to see if she had an extra seat still.  Nothing.  But then, as I’m about to head inside, my other neighbor (with kids my kids’ ages), came home.  And he let me borrow one of their carseats to make the trip.  Life saver.

That’s an example of caring and sharing.  Not a big deal to him but huge deal to me.

So we finally go and I’m already stressed because it’s lunch time at this point and I’m afraid it’ll be a rough trip.  Leila was crying a lot in the store.  She’s just not been herself.  And I just want to get out.  I keep thinking, “If only we had gotten out of the house earlier maybe this would be going better.”

We pull into one of the checkout lines and we see a girl who Lily met at the library (and then at summer camp).  She lives 2 towns over so we don’t see each other super often and it’s ironic that we’re seeing her at our Walmart and not the one that would be closer to her house.  Is it really ironic?  Not at all.  Here’s why.

I see her mom, who I’ve grown to just adore, and I see she’s stressed.  She apologizes for not seeing me sooner and says she’s having a breakdown.  I then realize from her talk with the cashier that she forgot her card and couldn’t pay for her stuff.  But she was just passing through town and it’s not like she was going to go home to come back to pay for the stuff.

“It’s how she has chosen to love her neighbor as herself” was on repeat in my head.

I had no idea if her cart was full or what was in it but I acted in faith and said I’d pay for her stuff.  Something simple I could do to stop her breakdown and love a woman who is in the same shoes as me as a mom of young kids.

No, this wasn’t some case of a poverty-stricken mom who needed money.  It wasn’t a case of needing to meet her needs because she couldn’t meet them herself.  But it was a reminder that we’re in this together.  We are mothers together, parenting together, trying to hold on to our sanity.  And sometimes we need to just share what we’ve got and remember that what we have isn’t our own anyway.  It’s all given to us to be used to care and share like Jesus did for us with His life.

So while I was all frazzled and frustrated this morning because my day wasn’t going as I had hoped, God knew.  He took what I saw as major setbacks (maybe even roadblocks to having a good day) and turned them into something so good.  He showed me that we need others and others need us and sometimes we need to let go of what we think and remember He really does work it all out for good.

Longest {Blog} Nap Ever

The Longest {Blog} Nap Ever

Okay okay, I owe you all like a huge apology.  I took the longest blog nap ever.  It started with just being busy with preparing for my sister-in-law’s wedding.  Then we had people here for a while and then everyone left but I was exhausted.  Normally I’d still be able to take some time to write here and there because I so enjoy it.  But it just wasn’t happening.  I stopped reading for fun and writing and just did regular life stuff.

So if you’re still here reading and getting updates, thank you.  Thanks for not giving up on me while I took a hiatus.  And as a thank you, I’m now going to share some big news with you. 🙂

You know how I said I was exhausted?  Well I was more exhausted than usual because there happens to be this little baby growing inside my belly.  Yep, a 4th kid.  And hopefully now you’ll understand why I needed a little blog break.  I was having a really tough time with the news because it was TOTALLY unexpected (well, for me, not on God’s part).  I didn’t take the news well and kind of retreated for a bit in “real” life too.  I cried a lot and threw a little fit to God.  But now we’re good.  I got to see the little one via an ultrasound and that helped so much–something about seeing him/her move that little body just makes things a little more real.  I’m still taking 2 hour naps most days when the kids nap, which is so not like me.  And that’s tough.  But it’s needed.  So I will still not be writing as frequently as I’d like but know you’ll hear from me here and there and I haven’t completely disappeared.

I started homeschooling my 5 year old this week, which I’m loving, and may from time to time share what we’re doing in case anyone needs any ideas for stuff to do with their own kids (whether homeschooling or not) that doesn’t cost much and is still fun.  But it’s going really well, even with her being a little sick this week (go figure).  Otherwise, life is back to normal and as a family we’re just slowing down as best we can and doing lots of praying and talking about what our future holds since #4 has thrown us for a bit of a loop.  We knew before we needed to take some stuff off our plates for the health of our marriage and family and now with #4 coming and me not feeling at all equipped (though I know God will equip me), it’s even more necessary that we are super intentional with where we spend our energies.  I’ll keep you all posted on our journey toward living slower and more intentional, as always.

For now, can I hear from YOU?  If you’ll take the time, I’d love to hear from you on any of the following:

  1. Have you been able to slow down this summer at all?  If so, in what ways have you been and how can you continue to do so once the school year begins again?
  2. When it comes to meals, have you tried any of those subscriptions like Hello Fresh/Blue Apron/Plated?  If so, what was your experience?  Been looking into it, thinking I probably waste too much fun in our house and want someone else to do ALL the work for me so I can simplify a bit in that area, but it costs money to do that too.  So just looking for some feedback. 🙂
  3. What is one area of your life you really want to focus on for the rest of the year? (health, delving into a hobby, marriage, a character weaknesses to improve, etc.)

You can email me your thoughts (naptimecoffeebreak@gmail.com), leave a comment on Facebook, or just comment on the blog post itself.

Again, thanks for reading and being patient and forgiving.  Looking forward to getting more regular and interacting with you more!

Morning Intention

I am a morning person, as many of you know, and I highly recommend the whole “get up a little early to prepare yourself for the day” advice that’s out there.  I know it’s not for everyone but give it a try, even if it’s only 15 minutes.  For me, even as a morning person, it is tough to get up early and I’d rather just sleep til the kids wake up at 7.  But then I’m frazzled trying to get a shower in, get them breakfast, and having the constant demand of being needed.  I am an easily-frazzled person to begin with so the more time I can get to myself in the morning, the better.

I read in a free ebook (it’s a sampler of the full version) that it can be helpful to have a morning routine to try to stick to.  The author used an acroynym to help guide her so she is more intentional and covers everything she has found to be helpful with starting her day.  I didn’t resonate with every single aspect of her acronym so I decided to create my own.  I love that we can spur each other on to creativity simply by sharing our ideas and allowing others to work off of them. [Read more…]