Cutest Blog Layout

Friday, January 15, 2021

Winter Work

 I have things I would like to accomplish, and know that there is work to do is making progress toward the goals. Yet I find myself avoiding and putting off the tasks needed to move forward.  Procrastination is the term, I think.

This week I intend to do some of the mental work by identifying what I would like and then prioritizing.  My tendency is to wait until there is demanding need, then tackle it and my desire is to be more proactive in the way I focus my effort.

Much of what calls is boring, quiet and isolated work: Improving my core strength.  Creating order in hidden spaces.  Saving for long-term goals.  Eliminating items which no longer serve our family.  Cleaning, repairing, preparing for upcoming events.  There is nothing glamorous or immediately rewarding in this work.  

Winter is much the same way.  Where I live, it is the season when my garden rests.  Work is happening tucked away from view.  The evidence is unseen, the toil unappreciated until a future time.  Often we want a sweeping rescue to solve the dilemmas in life and yet I have witnessed and experienced that daily, regular commitment makes more impact than the grand gesture.  

May I be committed to that.  Delayed gratification is such a difficult concept for me to embrace.  I want results and I want them now.  Sometimes winter is sparkly and crisp.  More often, winter is gray and gloomy with one day rolling into another and little seems to change.  The work happening in this season, though, is what makes spring explode with life and color.  The work is worth the effort.



Friday, December 18, 2020

Stocking Stuffers They Will Actually LOVE

 My job at Christmas is to be in charge of the stockings!  We always need to include some candy and cocoa, but here are several other ideas that have been a big hit.

Weather Gear - mittens or headbands

Hand Warmers

Playing Cards

Specialty Mugs - fill with favorite candy

Reusable straws

The best pens

Charging Cords (Can there ever be enough?)

Outlet extenders


Pampering Face or Shaving Kits

Cologne, Perfume or Body Spray

Travel Sized Games

Devotional Book to Start the New Year

Fishing Lures

Jewelry

Scrunchies

Wallet (add gift cards for extra squeals)

Kitchen Tools

Treat Coupons

Gift Cards

I have vowed not to include face masks this year - we have plenty!


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

How to Replace Holiday Hooplah with Genuine Joy

Our family has been asked to quarantine due to Covid exposure.  It's been a lot of togetherness and a big change to our normal Christmas experience. There have been a lot of visits to be tested, protocols and general upheaval of our plans.

Winter break will be a longer break than usual.  Our Christmas is often filled with excess and activities but since much has been eliminated this year, it's a good time to consider what has become excess calendar clutter and what truly enhances our joy and our generosity.

Embrace the Empty. There are going to be open slots on my calendar and I don't want to fill them.  I want to linger with hot chocolate and read a book while my family is busy nearby.  Rest is high on my wish-list this year, for me and for my blended family.

Honor the Traditions. This isn't the year that I want to try a new recipe or venture into a new venue.  I want to participate where I can with those memories we most value like our church's Christmas Eve Service & Communion (socially distanced) and the Christmas lunch I share with Mr. Wonderful, at our traditional spot. I'm going to make the same Christmas cookies and I've got the gingerbread houses all ready to decorate.  I'm not looking for new decorations, I'm pulling out all the vintage mismatched gear that we use to make our home merry.

Release the Expectations.  I think this is a tough one for most of us.  Christmas has become this epic event for which we hope all year to connect with family, to satisfy wishes, to relish much togetherness.  For me, I find that my expectations don't always mesh with reality.  A fuller-than-usual home and a tighter-than-usual budget brings stress.  I'm allowing that to be real and planning to pull back when needed.  

Quit the Comparison.  My Christmas season and yours may look very different, and that is okay!  Let's each enjoy the day we have and make the best of our moments.  What we see in a social feed may or may not reflect what is actually happening throughout each day.  Post your proud moments, but remember that is all that others may be posting, too.

Enjoy my Savior.  Ultimately all those hopes that we often pin to Christmas are met when we open our hearts to Christ.  In Him I can find the peace, the satisfaction and the joy for which we are all so longing.  It's truly the greatest gift ever given. 




Thursday, December 10, 2020

A Simple Season

Many thanks to my family for helping with all the decorating this year - it's the first time I've asked and it made getting festive so much more merry! Asking for help relieves so much self-imposed pressure. 

I confess that we aren't very simple with our decorations.  We love to make our home sparkle and shine, to the point that some may consider it gaudy.  It's fun to pull out the same little trinkets and knick knacks that make us smile every year.  They have little actual value except the history and memories.

Having the decorating done leaves me to enjoy the season in a more quiet way.  With our calendar more clear this year (thank you, Covid), it feels possible to be content at home with what we have.  Contentment is a gift you give yourself.  When it's so easy to focus on what else is out there, choose to notice all that you already have.

Things may look a little different this year, so maintain whatever traditions you can.  We  have an annual evening of gingerbread house decorating.  This year, I ordered "pick up" and the house walls were broken on some, but we made the best of it.  I've had several orders cancelled or delayed and it sometimes feels overwhelming that I can't have or get what I want.  

Our gatherings are limited, our travel is on hold, many activities are cancelled all together.  

So, how will we spend our extra time and energy?  Where can I focus to divert disappointment to opportunity?

I'm already enjoying more time at home, truly.  The hectic pace has never been for me, but it creeps in with three school-aged children and their multiple calendars.  Having the three of them under my roof more often is a sweet, treasured gift of this season.  Even when we aren't all in the same room, I like to grab moments with each one individually to laugh, chat or work on something.  It's been a special time.

I'm reading actual books. I'm watching holiday shows, both old and new.  I've hand-written notes and I'm way ahead on actual wrapping.  We are chatting and gathering and snuggling our pets more than ever. 

It's a lovely time to be at home. 


Monday, November 23, 2020

Thankful

(Photo by Anita Larmore)
If ever there was a time to make the effort toward Thanksgiving, this is it! It's so easy to find reasons to complain, and in my mind I tend toward that often.  But I'm trying to catch myself and let only the positives come from my mouth.  Remember, we contribute to the tone of the entire household. 

I'm so thankful for my husband.  This year has been challenging for him professionally and he has been consistent and good in his dedication to his job that provides for us so well.  He has jumped in to help with three (step) children that are now in multiple activities with a busier schedule than ever before.  He has been patient and encouraging with my adventures (le Conte) and the best companion ever.  We have spent more time together than ever before and it's been a gift.

Speaking of my children, I love watching them bloom in new spaces! Our hectic calendar is daunting, yet the personal growth and expansion of their skill has been a gift during this time where so many other things are closed to them.  I'm impressed by the independence and leadership that I see emerging, along with the gumption to try new things.  I'm so grateful for my children.

Even though travel is limited and gatherings are smaller this year, we are so happy that our oldest two girls are coming home to gather with the family.  Both are doing well in their lives beyond our town with new accomplishments and opportunities.  

We have friends and acquaintances who have contracted Covid and several who have passed away.  Our hearts are heavy for those facing grief.  Our jobs are affected and business is slow but thankfully God continues to provide.  We are sharing what we have, we are looking for ways to give and to share - the opportunities are abundant right now.  

Whatever the season may hold, we are seeking to find ways to be grateful.  In the crunch of leaves, the coolness of the air, the pulling out of familiar holiday decorations.  Read the scriptures, count your blessings and pray earnestly for those with needs.  Our Lord is with us, this is certain.

So, gratitude is and action that you can choose regardless of circumstances.  Where is grace showing up in your life today? (More on Gratitude Here)



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Five Things to Ask For In Marriage - and Bonus Request

October marks ten years since my first marriage ended officially, though I now see it was dead long before.  I still feel the sadness over the dreams lost and the hardships endured through that season.  In that relationship, I was so used to negativity and pain that I didn't even hope for joy and fulfilment.  Getting through the day without conflict was the best and I didn't know it was okay to ask for more.  

I'm now grateful to know that it's okay to insist on something better.  Here are five things it's necessary to ask for in your relationships:

1. Ask for honesty.  There is no foundation for a relationship that isn't founded on the solid truth. Require this of yourself and your partner, even when the truth is tough.

2. Ask for courtesy.  Home life is so much better when respect is communicated and partners are valued.  This is expressed in the common courtesies of gentle speech, grateful attitude, cooperative interactions and communication that includes kindness.

3. Ask for time.  Relationships require time to be nurtured. Yes, life is so full and hectic, which only means that it's even more important to prioritize time for your marriage relationship to be at the top of your time list. If you need more time to connect, let your partner know and ask.  When I think of needing more time, I realize I'm really asking for attention.  If the phone, the tv or even the job is blocking the connection, it alright to ask for those things to be minimized for a set time to be together.

4. Ask for help.  In my immaturity, I wanted to avoid conflict at all costs. So, I took on unrealistic expectations for what I could manage and do.  Instead of asking for help which made me fee vulnerable or weak, I tried to do more and be more.  Instead I became worn down and resentful.  Use these feelings as opportunities to ask for help.  In this way, your partnership is reinforced and burdens are shared.  

5. Ask forgiveness.  We all make mistakes.  Being up front with them and asking forgiveness requires humility and risk.  In an unhealthy relationship, mistakes were used against me and I became afraid to admit when I was wrong.  This only led to shame and hiding which fueled a cycle of division.  Mistakes will happen and resolution only begins when we address and correct them.  Marriage must be a safe place to seek forgiveness.  

Can you ask for each one of these in your relationship?  If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot ask for even one of the key requirements for a safe marriage, please search for help.  You will need support if you are in a difficult marriage but help is available.  Learn to be the healthiest you can be so that your difficult marriage doesn't destroy the person you are created to be.  Resources are available online and in real life.  

Bonus Request: I wouldn't put this in the category of necessity, but in the theme of "You Count" in your relationships, it's okay to ask for fun! What gives you life and joy?  Is it books? nature? cooking? going to concerts? travel? coffee?  Let your spouse know that you are going to invest in something just for you - does he want to join or come along?  I hope so - but it's alright if you do it alone.  This is an investment in yourself so that you are full and free to bring joy and energy to your primary relationship.  Remember, it is not selfish to invest in yourself.