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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It's the People that Matter

I will never claim to do this step mothering in a perfect way, but I am thankful for the relationships that are growing in our home.  Lately, I've been looking for connection points and being mindful to invest in the hearts of each person in our home.  Once, I poured myself into a group of young women who I now get to follow via social media and still see the rewards of that effort.  Now I get to do in my own home - I want to be faithful in the task.

Some days, I get too wrapped up in the dishes or the holey armchair or the torn quilt.  I let these things distract me from the people, the souls that need care.  Often I am more concerned with the menu and grocery list than the hearts around the table that need to be nourished.  It's always been easy for me to become more task-oriented than people-oriented.

Recently I was looking forward to a day off work when the little children would be visiting their dad. I had planned some errands, some shopping and scheduled a massage - a complete indulgence for me!  Then my stepdaughter asked me to take her shopping, to help her find some things she needed for an upcoming event.  I was thrilled to be included in these preparations.  Yes, I was giving up some much-needed personal time, but it was worth it to continue building the bridges of a relationship that I hope will last a lifetime.  We enjoyed girly shopping and Thai food and I still made it to that massage appointment.

I'm so glad I chose to invest in the relationship instead of my to-do list.  Yes, there are things left undone, but the greater work was accomplished and the days for that are too few.  My default mode is to work on the tasks, but I want to be the one who invests in the people.  This time, I got it right!  I would love to hear about what you did right lately.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Girls, Girls, Girls!

View photo.JPG in slide show
When I gave my heart to Mr. Wonderful, I also gave my heart to his two teenage daughters...and once again got a front row seat to the intriguing world of teenage girlhood.  While the girls have a mother involved in their lives, I like to think of myself as kind of the "cool aunt" who gets to go prom dress shopping and practice dance moves in the bedroom.  I'm also reminded of the many insecurities that come with being a teen and being a female.  Every week I find myself remembering something I'd previously forgotten about my own teen years.  I'm also aware that my own daughter is zooming toward these days at warp speed!

I wonder about us girls (I still think of myself as a girl) and whether we every completely outgrow our insecurities?  I wish my thighs were more slender and I miss the waist I had before I carried babies in my belly.  Once I considered my full cheeks were a flaw, but now I embrace the joyful expression they provide.  I don't love my thighs, but truthfully, they will not improve as I age, so I better flaunt them as they are.  I witness the girls in our home as they primp, diet and hide behind makeup, clothes and attitude.  They don't yet know they are so gorgeous - each one of them!

How can I convey they are lovely, desirable, accepted and created for purpose?  It's too big a task, I fear.  There are moments where I'm "in" and they hear me...and moments where I feel so shut out.  I want to make the best of those moments when my influence matters and when I have a way to encourage.  I want to point them to the Lord as their mirror and to the Scripture as their source of truth.

I see an ending - one of our girls will be graduating high school in one year.  My season of influence will be short.  I want to make it meaningful.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throw Back Thursday Story

I have always loved photographs and still enjoy looking back at so many.  So it's no surprise that I enjoy TBT!  Today, I posted these two photos of sisters at Easter.

The first is my mother and her sister, around 1954.  Their own mother had passed away and their Daddy was the pastor of small church in Missouri.  Some kind woman took it upon herself to outfit the girls for Easter Sunday.  My mother says she still remembers how fun it felt to be all "done up" - it was an unusual treat for two girls with a widower father.

The next is my own sister and me around 1985.  I'm grateful my mother was very present in our lives and kept the tradition going with fancy dresses, hats and gloves for Easter Sunday.

Is fashion part of your Easter tradition?

I'm linking up with The Mom Creative:
Throwback Thursday Stories

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reduce Stress by Letting Go of Perfection

"Perfectionist thinning patterns create stress, which in turn wreaks havoc on the body as well as on the mind," say psychologists J. Clayton Lafferty and Lorraine Coletti-Lafferty.  Perfectionists were found to have 75% greater tendency to suffer from a variety of ailments from headaches, to depression to heart problems.

When you are more realistic about your expectations you will also reduce your stress.  Another benefit of having realistic expectations is to lessen the amount of disappointment in general.

Please know, I'm all for high standards!  But we must also keep our perspectives real and then we are free to accept the gift of each moment and be surprised when things turn out better than we thought they might.

I am experiencing it firsthand in our blended family.  When I let go of the idea of a 'perfect' holiday or family outing I am free to enjoy the actual experience.  The times I idealize or try to manipulate our time together, I end up disappointed, frustrated and stressed trying to keep things on my script.

Do you place unrealistic expectations on yourself or your family?  What are the results?  Have you tried lowering your standards/expectations?  When do you find you receive the most joy?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Moody Monday

I wasn't ready for Monday to arrive this week.  We had a fantastic, but very full weekend (the past several weekends actually) and I just feel like I need some time to organize my closets, spend unhurried time with my children, putter around the kitchen, spray weeds on the back porch, etc.  There is nothing so pressing that it cannot wait, but there are things I just feel I cannot get to right now.  I'm sure I'm not the only one!

Today the rain was falling steadily and I enjoyed the last few minutes of a quiet house snuggled with my husband.  He says that I can be a grumpy sleeper who doesn't like to cuddle ... but when I'm awake and aware, I love to cozy up to him.  I admit that it is wonderful.  Thankfully, my children aren't difficult in the mornings (ususally) and we went through our routine with ease.

My job is great because it is generally low stress and fairly non-demanding. But that also makes it somewhat boring and un-challenging - hard to get motivated when I'd rather be elsewhere.  I'm sure the same is true of many positions in the workforce.  But this rainy, Monday, I wish I could have a day to myself in my space doing my own thing.

When is the last time you had the chance to do that?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Update and Call to Action

I chose to give up all retail shopping for the month of March and in doing so learned a few things:

  • I spend more time online shopping than I thought...and I like to fill the virtual carts and baskets!  This can create discontentment and I don't need to look for things that I never knew I needed.
  • Denying myself isn't that difficult.  Not making purchases for my children is challenging.  But I told them my plan was to not buy anything extra for this month, and they learned the answer would be no.
  • I wasn't sure if it was cheating to use 'reward' dollars that cost me nothing, but now I feel like it was.  It still fueled the habit of wanting, searching and receiving something.
  • I wasn't sure if it was cheating to allow my husband to buy me things, but now I feel like it was not!  The act of being spoiled was sweet and fun and totally his idea, uncoerced by myself.  How could that be a negative?  I'm thankful for a husband who notices what I enjoy and takes good care of me.
  • Buying a spring bouquet is just as invigorating as a spring blouse.
  • March is little too early to get a garden going because we are still having freezing nights!  
  • Waiting to make a purchase helped me realize that most purchases weren't actual needs.  I was able to be more discerning than just pulling the trigger for things I wanted.  I got more comfortable with feeling empty or living with want.
It's an older photo, but
I was having trouble
with a new one today
It was also my goal to get rid of something every single day this month and I loved it! I posted most of my purging on Instagram and while I didn't actually photograph every day or every item, I let go of way more than 31 things.  My children and my husband even got in on the act and I made a trip to Goodwill or the Habitat Home Donation each week.  I've got another box filling up now and will constantly keep a box handy for things we're ready to pass to someone else.  I sold some things, also, and added some cash to my "New Sofa Fund."

Now, I notice that I'm still getting readers each day, but people are just not commenting on blogs these days.  So, if we're not already friends on Facebook, please find me there.  I'm loving Instagram and would welcome any followers.  Pinterest is more fun than ever with friends. So don't be a stranger and connect so we can share.  As always, I welcome your thoughts and support here.  Have a fabulous week!