Monday, April 24, 2017

Good and Faithful Servant

'Well done, good and faithful servant...' - Matthew 25:21

Well done.

Good. Faithful. Servant.

Is that me? This statement has been popping up in my head again and again this past week. It has been on my mind so much that at times I am questioning every task I am doing. From cleaning to cooking dinner to taking my kids places to teaching my kids etc. etc. Am I being good? Am I being faithful? Am I being God's servant? Am I doing these tasks for God's glory, God's will, and God's desire? Am I doing them to further His Kingdom?




Most of the time, probably not. They are duties that just need to be done and I power through and I complete them and look forward to the times of quiet and sleep.

But along with this statement that has been popping up in my head, so has the feeling of emptiness and questioning. Questioning of what I am doing with my life at this time and emptiness of uncertainty that I feel fulfilled and purposeful.  In truth, being a Stay at Home Mom can bring upon these feelings again and again.  

Yes, I have purpose. INCREDIBLE purpose. Raising two little girls is definitely not purposeless. And living for God no matter what I am doing is full of purpose, the only purpose I really need. I know these truths. But I need to reminded of them daily...sometimes hourly. These truths are so important to take the time to dwell on, no matter what our tasks are for that hour, that day, that month, that year.

These mundane tasks can feel so… mundane. So unimportant and at times so 'unfulfilling'. Yet they are tasks that are entirely full of purpose if we complete them in a way that is for God's glory. Yes, wiping down my baseboards and doing load after load of laundry and scrubbing my kitchen is included in that. Tasks that I all too often take as not important and would prefer to just 'lazily' and begrudgingly complete them.

When I look at my day, I often consider what tasks hold priority that day, what tasks really need to get done. (Like a bathroom that hasn't been cleaned in a month…;) ) But is the question I need to be asking first and foremost how can I do my tasks that God has designed for me this day and use my talents in a way that is glorifying to Him? I must think how I can do these 'mundane' tasks in a way that is good and faithful to Him and in a way where I am completely serving Him.


It is so funny. When I started this post I started it to write about how jobs like cleaning won't make God tell me I am 'a good and faithful servant' at the end of my life; How tasks like cleaning don't matter in the large scheme of life and so I should stop 'stressing' about it and focus on more important things. Ha.  Even as I write this post, God is working in me, changing me for His glory. 

No, our houses don't always have to be perfectly clean, nor do our dinners have to be perfectly homemade. Yes, there are days when our houses will be a disaster and we will order pizza because there will be days that God has placed other tasks for our time. But cleaning and cooking ARE tasks that we are given as moms and wives – tasks given to us by our Heavenly Father. While every day they may not take presidence, they DO hold importance. And I do believe that God does hold them as tasks that can further His kingdom if we chose to make them so.  How awesome it can be if we let God speak to us, soften our hearts, and change our every day ways for His glory.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Abide

(A continuation of a recent post Less of Me… )

I want to serve by telling others about Him. By expressing my need for Christ, my love for Christ and above all His love for me. I want everyone to know. I want the world to know. Christ is my passion and my life – why wouldn't I want people to know about that!?

Yet I fail every day. And I get so frustrated by this. So overwhelmingly frustrated.

Another day at a play group, the library, an early years centre, the grocery store, the coffee shop...and another day where I did not mention the name of my Saviour to someone new. I pray for opportunity and wait. I go home and I question… God why? Why did you not provide me with opportunity? Why?! Or – I go home and I think of how I could have and should have mentioned the name of my Saviour. So begins the frustration, disappointment, and guilt. Feelings that bring me to a point of wanting to give up. I want to stop trying because it's not working. It's not working.

You know what's really not working? Trying so hard yet trying so hard on my own. Sure we pray before we do something, we come to God first – but do we always stick close to God throughout the entirety of the situation? Am I praying without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:16-18) ? Am I continually coming to God and allowing Him to truly work through me? 

Really, it is so much less about what I do and how hard I try and so much more about letting Him use me in His way.





Abide. Jesus says to abide and bear fruit (John 14).  Abide. Less of me, more of You. Less of me.

Quiet my heart.

Still my heart.

Abide.

I can hear God calling me now. Just abide. Don't worry. Stop over thinking it. Come to ME, and simply abide. I will do the rest. Abide.   

Monday, April 10, 2017

Less of Me...

I so badly want to serve. I want to serve Christ. I want to serve Him through serving others; through being an example of His love by being incredibly kind, incredibly gentle, and incredibly selfless.

I saw a man begging outside of the liquor store the other day. My heart reached out to him. And I thought...I want to care for him, I want to love like Christ loves. So, like a good Christian girl...instead of giving money I went to the nearest Timmies, bought a sandwich combo and drove back, only to find him gone. Embarrassed, ashamed, and confused I drove away. That is when I prayed. God, why? I was trying to be your hands and your feet… why didn't you let me?

Oh how funny it is when we think we can do God's work on our own. Without Him. Oh how funny it is when we think we have the best idea of how to serve, on our own. How funny when we think we know… because we don't know. We don't know how God is going to use us, how He wants to use us. We can't serve Him without Him. Obviously. Yet, so often we try!

If only I had prayed before I chose to try to help that man. If only I had asked God if he wanted to use me in that situation, what He wanted me to do at that point. If only I had gone to Him first. Who knows how the situation would have turned out differently.

It is so much less about us and so much more about God's work and God's plan...no matter what situation we are in. May it be less of me 'wanting to serve' and so much more of me wanting to come to my Lord and live with and for Him.





**Less of me Oh Lord and more...SO much more...of You.


John 3:30 "He must become greater; I must become less."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Discipline of Writing

It has been a while. And even now, as I sit and write I am struggling. Struggling to get back into this focus and discipline. Isn't it funny how even though it may be something we love to do, it still at times takes discipline to do it? Our flesh would rather turn off our minds completely, eat some cake (Who are we kidding...I am still eating cake.), and binge watch something without thought until we no longer can keep our eyes open and we sink into our nice cool sheets. Ahh...I am dreaming of it now (the sleeping part..)

Discipline. That should be my word of the year. I have had to use this so much this past year in so many ways. Discipline in training my thoughts to be thoughts free of worry, training myself to stop being distracted and more in the moment, and training myself to look for and at the things and desires of God rather than the things and desires of self.

And now, here I sit. Disciplining myself to write. Again. Why? Because it is oh so good for my soul. It is oh so good for who I am and who I was made to be. I crave it. It has been a while and I feel rusty. But I also feel refreshed and revamped and renewed. I am ready to re-start this journey of writing.





Ps. What are you putting on the 'back burner' that you need to start disciplining yourself to take time to do?! Whatever it is – take a night out...sit in a coffee shop, or in a quiet room, or wherever you need...and just do it. Take time to revive yourself. You will be a better wife, mom, sister, friend, and/or employee for it.   

See post Be Disciplined for more talk about 'discipline'.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Finding Joy as a Stay-at-Home Mom

Recently, I have come to the awareness that I can be a grumpy, complaining, and ungrateful stay-at-home mom.  This is the job God has set for me and is such a clear purpose for my life right now.  Yet many days I have allowed a critical mindset and attitude to overcome the joy that can be found in such a job as this.

Well, I am done with that.  I am ready to move on and to be grateful for this incredible job I have been given.  From laundry, to dishes, to playing on the floor, to cooking meal after meal... this is the work that I have been entrusted with.  I have decided to find joy in my life as a stay-at-home mom because it IS a choice to do so.  

There are so many ways to find joy in your everyday tasks.  It is simply a matter of taking the time to find those ways and to see how you can bring about your own 'voice' to each task in front of you.  



The following are ways that I am choosing to find joy in my every day mundane tasks as a stay-at-home mom.  These ways work for me because they allow me to express myself as who I am -- for you, the ways that you can find joy in your everyday work may look completely different.  It is entirely dependent on what brings you happiness, a feeling of success and accomplishment, and gives you the ability to creatively express yourself.  

1.  Creativity in cooking.  As I cook my meals each week I am learning more and more how much I love to prepare and cook good food for my family.  I love trying out a new recipe and it turn out to be absolutely delicious.  I also love knowing how I can best bless my family with healthy and yummy recipes.  In no way do I call myself a cook --- I am still learning and I still love to use my crockpot or any other incredibly simple way of cooking.  But adding a bit of creativity to my cooking allows me to grow in my cooking skills and please my family.  I do this by having a set meal plan each week so that I do not dread deciding what to eat each day (See post Making a Meal Plan Work) and picking one new meal to make each week.

2.  Set tasks completed each day.  By having a set chore list and to-do list (see post Simplifying To Do Lists...) I am sure to feel accomplished when completing those tasks.  For a while I was going through a stage where chores just weren't getting done and my to-do lists were never ending and never being crossed off.  Making these lists more attainable and doable, and setting apart specific time in the day to complete them, encouraged me to actually complete them,

3.  Hosting and Reaching Out to Others.  I love hosting, but I can be a lazy host.  Being a lazy host brings me a feeling of discouragement and failure.  By keeping my home open to guests, having snacks and/or appetizers to offer along with coffee and tea, and by keeping my home presentable  I am more prepared for whoever might come through the front door that day.  And that is how I want to be.  It gives me a feeling of joy to have people feel welcome in my home.  Along with that, being a stay-at-home mom gives me more time to reach out to others than I might have otherwise.  Whether it be through making a meal for someone, taking care of someone's kids for a day, simply sending someone a text...etc.  These are ways that I am able to easily reach out and be a support for someone else.

4.  Focus on Daughter's Playtime.  (see post on Intentional Play)  I love making up fun and unique activities for my daughter's playtime.  This does take extra effort and planning but it brings me joy to see her learning through these activities and enjoying them.  By taking the time to plan new activities weekly for my daughter, I am using my skills as a teacher in my work as a stay-at-home mom.  I miss this job and I am thankful that I can still use my abilities at home.

5.  Making Home a Place of Love, Peace and Joy.  This can be done through music, lit candles, cleanliness, baked goods, coffee brewing, dinner ready, and most of all through my own attitude.  Filling my home with a sense of joy always begins with me.

All of these things take effort --- finding happiness in your tasks WILL take effort.  It is easy for me to become lazy and not take any of these tasks as seriously, but when I take the work and effort into them the results are incredibly worth it.  Above all, I know it pleases my Saviour to do so.



Thursday, May 19, 2016

6 Practical Ways to Finding Time for You

Last week I wrote a post on becoming re-energized.  Read it here!  Becoming re-energized looks different for everyone, yet what IS often the same for everyone is the difficulty in finding the time to do so.  Especially as Mamas.  The following are some super practical ways to find time for yourself as a busy mama.



1.  Take Help. When someone offers help it is easy to respond with 'Oh thank you, but that is okay.'  We may want it to look like we have it all together, we don't want others to go out of their way for us, we don't want to be an inconvenience, or we feel helpless when accepting other people's help.

 In truth, if someone is offering it, they WANT to help.  People truly love to help.  People desire to be wanted and needed as it makes us feel purposeful.  Instead of brushing off the offer, TAKE it.  And LOVE it.  Beyond this, even ASK for help.  Many people may not realize you need or desire the help or even how to help until you express this.  Whether it be a free meal, help around the house, or taking your kids for an afternoon - use the time you otherwise would be doing for these tasks to spend for your self.  Take away any feelings of guilt and simply enjoy!  This is the beauty of the community around you.

2.  Consider child-care.  I have two young girls and I am a stay-at-home mom.  Yet I still chose to have daycare for my toddler once a week.  This gives me the freedom to not only clean my house, and spend time with my newborn, but to also spend time for myself.  Without this one day I feel extremely stretched and worn out simply because I did not get a significant amount of time to refuel.

Whether it is daycare or having a friend or family member watch your kids once a week, consider this for yourself.  You can give and give to your kids all day and night long, but taking that small break (even just for an hour while your friend takes them to the park!) can do wonders.  Even as I write this, my toddler is spending the day with a friend and her kids - she so generously offered to take Emelyn for a day.  It would have been easy for me to say 'That's okay'.  Instead, I sucked up my pride and embraced this help. And I am more than grateful for this extra break!

3. Take 15 minutes every day.  Block out 15 minutes of time every day to spend for re-energizing.  Perhaps this means taking out 15 minutes from precious naptime when you could otherwise be cleaning, spending 15 minutes in the late evening before bed, or waking up 15 minutes earlier.  At first, you will need to discipline yourself for this time as it may mean 15 minutes of less sleep, or a task that does not get completed.  Once it becomes a part of your every day schedule you will notice if it is missed.

4. Take one solid block of time a week.  Beyond that 15 minutes a day, take a solid amount of time one day a week to spend for re-energizing.  Ideas include a Saturday morning while hubby takes care of the kids or a planned evening during the week.  Make it consistant and make it a priority.

5.  List priorities.  Speaking of priorities, listing your priorities and leaving them for you to see is extremely helpful in finding the time to re-energize yourself.  This list can remind you what is of utmost importance and what tasks are okay to let go for that day.  You can't do everything or be everything -- as much as we want to :).  Read my post on Setting Priorities Straight.

6.  Plan week.  If you have been reading this blog for a while now you will know that I am a huge fan of planning ahead and making lists.  This does not come naturally to me, but I have noticed a huge difference of accomplishments and successful days when I do so.  Planning your week ahead of time will allow you to see where you can take out those significant times to re-energize.  Grab a cup of coffee, your planner, and your favourite pens and spend a bit of time at the beginning of each week planning out how you can find time to re-energize yourself that week.  And if it looks like an extremely crazy week - MAKE the time in your planner.

Be sure that you do not allow that known feeling of guilt to creep in when spending these times for your self.  We can feel guilty all day long for the tasks we do not complete and for any time we spend on our own but these feelings of guilt are not true reflections of all that we do.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Becoming Re-energized

This mothers day I spent time to sit in the still and quiet - to simply write.  I write for my own outlet, my own enjoyment.  It is nap time and as the house is at complete peace I am taking the time to exercise my mind and be reminded of what I love to do.  Normally, I would be spending this time napping myself -- a busy mom of a newborn and a toddler, sleep comes in short supply now-a-days.  But I am willing to give myself a little less sleep today in order to fill myself up in a much different way.  This way re-energizes me and allows me to be ME.



I hold many roles - as we all do.  These roles include (but are not limited to) wife, sister, daughter, and mother.  But these roles (as important as they are) do not define me.  Though, I do have one role that does define me - that role is Child of God.  This overcompasses all other roles and tells others who I am wholistically.  In order to best be in this role, I must take the time for my own personal enjoyments.  These desires come under being a Child of God because they are what make me, me - they are what God instilled in me.  One of these desires is to write.

For the past month I have taken a drastic step back from my own personal enjoyments.  Having a newborn baby is a good excuse.  But all this while I felt something missing.  I have been pulled and stretched in so many ways this past month, yet I have not chosen to take the time to truly refuel.  In turn, this has made me stressed, ungrateful, and overwhelmed in ways that I otherwise may have been able to overcome simply by taking a little time for me.  As tired as I am, and as worn out as I feel, these times of refueling are key in allowing me to do my job the best way I can.  Even if that means taking a little more time away from sleep.

No matter how busy, overwhelmed, and exhausted we are - we need to take the time to refuel.  In fact, the busier we are, the more we need to do so.  These are the times where creativity is expressed, thoughts are laid out, and happiness is re-defined.  These are the times where we can truly be ourselves in the most authentic way, which in turn can help us do so within our daily roles.

Take the time today to simply be you and to express yourself in the way you best know how.  Your family will thank you for it.  You in turn can be reminded of your worth and beauty as who God made you to be - hobbies, desires, enjoyments and all...you are his beloved child. Be reminded that He desires this of you as well.

**Later this week I will be posting on practical ways as to how to find this time for you in your busy schedule!**