A tip for timeliness

Please, if you know me, do not laugh at me trying to write about being on time. In no way am I an expert on punctuality, but I do get to practice at it every single day. This little tip is beginning to change how I work to meet a deadline.

Hurry before you need to.

How many times do I find myself hurrying the kids to finish breakfast before we need to leave for church? Hurrying to pick up the house before company arrives? Hurrying to get my homeschool plans in order before the first day?

Bleck, bleck, and bleck. I don’t mind hurrying, but I hate feeling rushed and forcing others to rush. And I really hate that realization that no matter how much we hurry, we will already be late.

So I’m working at hurrying before we really need to.

I encourage myself and the kids to get ready quickly in the morning even when we woke up on time; choose a reasonable amount of time for breakfast and then end it; plan time to actually clean off the table, get our Bibles, and get in the car (stepping into another area of preparation there), but making ourselves do it quickly even if according to the clock we’re looking good. (this scenario applies to our Sunday mornings)

If I’m prepping vegetables or setting the table for company that night, I push myself to work as quickly as I can – feeling that hurry – even if no one will be there for an hour and a half.

When I sit down to homeschool plan I love to take my time and look through the books and think, but realistically, I only have those chances every so often so I need to  pick up the pace and get my assignments written down as efficiently as possible. Right now, some plan for two weeks is better than an extensive plan for three days.

It may sound like a silly mental game, but it really has helped me. And I really need help!

What about you – do you struggle more with the preparation or execution stages of punctuality? (I have my hands raised for both) = )

I’d love to hear what has helped you.

Here is a fun article I found after I wrote this. I seem to spend lots of time reading about how to save time. = ) Secrets of people who have all the time in the world.

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There is so much about this picture that cracks me up! Sorry if it’s only funny to me.

 

 

The greatest lemonade stand ever – phase 1

the greatest lemonade stand ever

Oh my goodness, how I love our Hopey. Her eyes twinkle when she talks about anything to do with this lemonade stand.

The first lemonade stand has come and went. It was fantastic.

I woke up Hope at 6:22am, which is approximately a very long time before she normally wakes up. By the time I was out of the shower and ready, she had woken up all her sisters (except Zoe, thank you!) and everyone was ready to go.

the greatest lemonade stand ever

We open the door… and it’s raining. I think I may have stomped an internal foot or something. It can’t rain on the greatest lemonade stand ever. They had worked so hard! Hours and hours of making signs, baking, decorating cups with washi tape… we had to move forward.

Sophia and Mckayla had to wash their hands A LOT while we were baking cookies. = )
Sophia and Mckayla had to wash their hands A LOT while we were baking cookies. = )

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We took everything out to the front porch and by the time we got it out the rain had lightened enough for us to move on out to the driveway. It was so exciting to be actually setting up!

Customers came right away; thankfully it was a steady stream not a rush. We quickly realized that the cookies were the most popular item – though honestly, who wants lemonade on a drizzly Saturday morning before eight o’clock? The lemonade became more popular as the morning went on.

The girls were so proud to tell people that one teenager liked the cookies so much he came back for seconds. = )

the greatest lemonade stand ever

Sophia was invaluable for advertising. Every car that drove by was greeted with a rather loud and cheery, “Lemonade and cookies! Lemonade and cookies!” As soon as anyone would get out of the car at the neighbors yard sale she would yell again, “Lemonade and cookies! Lemonade and cookies!” Soon the other girls chimed in.

How long will they keep that up? I wondered. They’re going to be completely hoarse tomorrow!

They kept it up for several hours. It worked like a charm. = ) And no voices were lost in the process.

Gracie and Mckayla didn’t even need to pass out free samples. Business was great regardless. They stayed busy sampling for themselves. = )

At the end of the day, Hope made several dollars more than what she put into it. Also, the only supplies we will have to replace are the cookie mixes.

Bottom line – phase two should be almost all profit.

Speaking of phase two, I’ve emailed our local Chamber of Commerce for suggestions or guidelines on choosing locations for a lemonade stand. They haven’t responded and Hope is less than impressed.

I know this because as Paul and I were eating out on a date this week, he got a text from the family who was -so sweetly!- watching the girls. The text read, “Hope doesn’t think my son would want to be a part of the Chamber of Commerce.” We laughed to ourselves and figured the lemonade stand must have come up in conversation.

When we picked the girls up our friend explained that they were telling the girls about their sons and what they’re studying in college. When they mentioned that one was studying business Hope blurted out, “I’m sure he does NOT want to be in the Chamber of Commerce.” She hadn’t given an explanation so we told how them that she was a little peeved that these people (who are supposed to help businesses!) had not helped her out with her lemonade stand yet.

And that is where we stand. We are working on a location and date for the next lemonade stand.

Stay tuned! = )

(Oh, and there’s already a pre-order for cookies!)

the greatest lemonade stand ever

January goal check-up

If you remember from New Year’s, my goals are very simple this year. Here are some thoughts on the progress so far.

1. Treasure God and His Word.

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I have to say here, that I am so thankful for my husband. Three times a week I get to hear him teach the Bible and every time I learn and grow in my desire to read and study myself. That being said, I know there are pulls in my heart to choose other things when I have the option. My prayer is that this year those would be put aside and replaced with a deeper hunger for the knowledge of God and His Word.

My current place of study is Acts because Paul is going through this with the students on Wednesday nights. The girls and I are memorizing in Proverbs, and I also would like to come up with a plan of what to read when I just want to sit down and read for awhile. (Do you ever feel like that?) That way there will be some direction of where to pick up.

The other part to this goal is the prayer that God’s Word would be right on the tip of my tongue as I go throughout ordinary life with the girls. I know I need to speak the gospel to myself constantly and I want that influence in their life as well.

Practically speaking, this goal involves nightstands, pens, journals, and a specific effort to reduce clutter. Sitting down to read or meditating throughout the day are greatly helped for me when things are in order and easily accessible.

2. Read. Read. Read.

I love reading! In January I finished The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and I highly recommend it! This month I’ll be reading Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss and The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss by her husband George. Also, Dispatches from the Front by Tim Keesee and Robinson Crusoe with Paul. Someone gave the girls the entire Little House on the Prairie boxed set for Christmas so I am officially making it a goal this year to read those aloud to them.

2a. Read aloud the Little House on the Prairie to the girls. = )

3. Regain an enthusiasm for mothering.

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What I’m realizing is that this involves a very careful putting aside of “extra weights” and a very conscious commitment to do the things I want to do with the girls. Discipline is involved in this. The girls are much more delightful to be around when I am proactive about their behavior. Also, the more involved they are with what I’m doing throughout the day, the better. Yes, everything takes three times as long, but that has to be an investment in the future that I’m willing to make.

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I’m sure this goal will continue to take shape as the year goes. More to come!

4. Make monthly menus and make one freezer meal a week. February’s menu is done! And I have two extra meals in the freezer. Hooray!

5. Make a list for every day and week. Do a monthly goals check-up. 

About halfway through January I stopped making a list every morning and I can see how it slowed progress. That’s why there’s a monthly goals check-up (yours truly) to remind me! And out of the twenty-two items on my most recent weekly list, I accomplished about nine. Oh, look at the room for progress there! = )

These next goals are specific to this month alone.

*Make and use chore charts for the girls. It’s time, people. Way time.

*Accept help with things around the house. It has come to my attention that I cannot do everything. In fact, I do it quite poorly. However, I am not content living in such a sad state of affairs, so I am going to need help.

I can think of two ladies at church who have specifically, genuinely offered their help. This month I want to contact them and make a plan to do some things around here.

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Thanks for reading! See you at the end of February. {James 4:14-15}

2015 – a year for simple goals

New Year’s has come and gone.

My favorite holiday.

I’ve been brooding about New Year’s Resolutions for about six weeks now. I know, my love for them is a little over the top.

There’s so many things I want to do!

And so little… everything.

Last year my goals were good and there was a ton of success {yippee} but they were a little complicated.

This year I don’t have time to be that detailed. We’ll start out really simple and build from there every month.

Want to hear my goals? (me too, cause these are coming straight off the {hoodie} cuff.

1. Treasure God and His Word. That might seem nebulous, but it’s not. It is simultaneously the most simple and rewarding obligation and the most difficult and elusive pursuit. In any circumstance I can ask myself, What do I love?

2. Read. Read. Read.

3. Regain an enthusiasm for mothering. I think I’ve lost some of the rah-rah that always seemed to come so naturally. But that’s okay – I’m a big believer in the fact that correct emotions will follow obedience. Lately I’ve just wanted to hide in bed from all the responsibility (until I realized Proverbs might have a thing or two to say about that). I’m asking the Lord to help me see and hear and feel and slow down – to love all the cuteness and craziness that I live in every single day.

4. Make monthly menus and make one freezer meal a week.

5. Write out a list for every day (and right here my list-loving Mom starts rejoicing for the prodigal coming home) and a list for every week. Also do a monthly goals check-up. 

And honestly, I think that’s all for now. I do want to build and elaborate as the months go by, but if I make improvement in each of these areas by next January 1, that will be wonderful.

Happy New Year!

(10 days late)

 

Goals for October

It’s that time again to review my goals, plans, priorities, and resolutions that were made in January.

I completely missed doing this in September, but I don’t feel too badly about it as I replacd it with lots of snuggling Zoe. Mmm… she is sweet.

Since there’s no review I’m going to comment on each of the categories with notes of and plans for improvement.

Goals

Organized and prepared – yes, this is quite necessary after the commotion of having a brand-new baby. Specifically this month, I want to keep up to date with homeschool plans, work to be at church on time (I’ve decided that on Wednesday’s the only two things we will plan are school in the morning and church at night. Add in meals and baths times five and that is one full day!), and be ready for Mckayla’s birthday.

 

Writing letters – I need to finish thank-you notes for all the wonderful people who gave meals and gifts after the birth of Zoe.

Keep readingCurrently working on The Shallows, What Jesus Demands from the World, One With a Shepherd

Do things with the girls just for the sake of spending time with them – going to be honest here, after school and nursing and meal-making, I don’t feel very affectionate and ready to just sit down and read or play Sorry; I rather want to either clean a long-neglected bathroom or hide in a room by myself and look at Pinterest. I need to pray about this, for a heart that seeks to love my children as I love myself and for wisdom to know when to take naps or clean and when to spend “just because” time with the girls. There’s just no formula is there.

Domestic skills – working to use the crockpot more?? = )

Embrace the newborn stage of life with thankfulness and calm. Yes. I do have to say that right now, Zoe is easy to be thankful for.

Plans

Bible reading – still working on the Old Testament, still working to memorize Ephesians 4

Fitness – do workouts to heal diastasis recti; it’s only eight minutes a day! And would help so much!

Home organization = Packing! I haven’t told you this, but we’re planning, hoping, praying to move this month! And that will be the most time-consuming “plan” for October.

Priorities

Rejoice. Give thanks. Love Paul. Love the girlies. Make meals. Do laundry.

Must remember. = )

Resolutions

To rejoice in the character of God – Paul is doing a Wednesday night study on Jonah; so much to learn about God from that book. Salvation is of the LORD!

To diligently fulfill mundane daily responsibilities – as unto the Lord.

To prioritize nighttime sleep – much easier now that Zoe mostly sleeps through the night. I do need to find a way to nap now and then in the afternoons.

To simplify; to focus on the joys and responsibilites that will not remain after this stage of life. 

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What about you? What are you working on this beautiful month?

Nine months down, three to go!
Nine months down, three to go!

 

 

 

 

 

Grace for July, Goals for August

Life is good. Right now, sleepiness is my dominating trait. My eyes hurt from not being closed enough in a twenty-four period for weeks. But, we have a healthy happy baby girl who I get to hold and love and feed. I get to watch the other little girls love her and take care of her in their own sweet ways. Our church family is showering us with love in the form of meals, visits, gifts, folded laundry, and clean bathrooms.

And that is how July came and went. It was a wonderful, challenging month.

I just re-read my original goals for 2014 and was struck by how many of them were accomplished in the month of July, completely apart from any effort on my part. What grace to know that God is still working for temporal and eternal growth even while I’m at my weakest. That’s the way it always works, but I forget every single time.

Here are just a few examples,

Reading- I finished the book True Companion. Remember I was hoping Paul would buy it for me? He did! And it was a delightful and encouraging way to spend those nursing hours. I’ve read more of others on my list and started a new one, too.

The girls and chores- my girls have overwhelmed me with their helpfulness. We’re keeping things picked up more than before the baby! A nightly clean-up time has finally clicked; I don’t have to micro-manage it. (keeping fingers crossed)

Surfaces- don’t laugh at me, there’s actually been improvement here! I have no idea how, but it’s on the list and I’m telling you there’s been improvement.

Schooling- though it’s summer time, I realized that a lot of our goals in this area are either met or still happening. Here’s a good example of how this is happening without me at all. One of my desires for Hope was for her to read beginner biographies. A dear friend dropped off a box of books with probably twenty biographies right at Hope’s level! She devoured them! (and read them to Sophia while I napped) Abraham Lincoln, the Wright brothers, Ben Franklin, etc. So exciting.

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Now for August.

This will not be a robust undertaking for obvious reasons, but there are a few things that have to happen.

First, it’s to time to prepare for homeschooling again. I am so excited for this. All our materials are in boxes, ready to be opened, right by the front door where the UPS man left them in… May. But that’s okay! I didn’t intend to open them until August. I also didn’t intend to leave them by the front door, but too late now. I need to open those up and get them ready to go. I’d love to have the worksheets maybe pulled out and filed. I think it would be helpful to do lesson plans more ahead of time. Also, I think we could plan field trips and park days already, at least for the fall semester. This is part of a longer story, but we will have a room to ourselves for homeschooling at least for the first two months. I want to make it special, but not too involved since it will not be permanent. This includes activities or a place for the little girls. My plan is for them to more involved and present during school. We need a desk for Sophia and I would like to check a local homeschool store for some supplemental activities. Maybe I’ll be able to post about the preparation process as we go.

Second, find and use good post-pregnancy workouts. It felt so good to exercise during pregnancy! I’m ready to start again, slowly. We’ve taken several walks, but I need something to strengthen my stomach and back- they need some TLC from all this nursing. I definitely have diastasis recti or separation of the stomach muscles so I’m doing some research to make sure that the exercises I do will be a help and not a hindrance. Suggestions? Links? If I exercise one to two times a week, including a walk, I will be happy.

Third, work on table manners with the girlies. Paul got me a new table for my birthday! We love it. It was sad to see our other table go, but we had a wonderful seven years with it and had just outgrown it. Hopefully, I can get good pictures of the new one and do a post about it. Anyways, now is a great time to just review and reinforce table manners with the girls. I want to talk about it when we’re out of the situation and enforce it when we’re at meals. Also, I want to work on having the girls eat their food right away at the beginning of the meal. They all do pretty well eating whatever we give them, but sometimes there is a lot of messing around before they actually get down to business. I think it’s time for them to eat their food without constant reminders to do so.

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Especially in this newborn stage my priorities are important: rejoice, give thanks, love Paul, love the girlies, make meals (or put them on the table when sweet friends bring them), do laundry. That will be good.

The book I just started, Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman, is a wonderful help with many of my resolutions. As postpartum hormones swing my emotions from high to low, it’s helpful to read over and over about finding my joy in the unchanging character of God.

I’m looking forward to and clinging to the goodness of God this month. Here’s to the last three weeks of August!

Seven months down, four and three-quarters still to go!
Seven months down, four and three-quarters still to go!

Thoughts for when you’re late to church on Sunday morning

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I trust that at some point in my life being late to church on Sunday morning will be a thing of the past.

But with multiple small children and a husband who usually has responsibilities at church before the girls even get up, being late on a Sunday morning is a semi-regular part of my life. I will say for those who may be brand new mommies and are about to be completely discouraged, I have a way better chance of being on time now with four small kids and another on the way than I did when there was just one or two. Life really does get easier.

Because being late is now semi-regular instead of constant, I’ve started to see how much being late can influence your mindset going into corporate worship.

(This is not about how to NOT be late, it is about how I try to think WHEN I am late.)

For those who follow Christ, Sunday corporate worship is essential. It’s something we look forward to all week long. On a completely temporal level for moms with little kiddos, it can be a chance to drop them off in the nursery or Sunday school and fix your mind on eternal truths while briefly leaving behind the immediacy of diapers, feedings, discipline and endless questions.

Bottom line, we have every reason to want to be on time or even early for church.

But… sometimes we wake up late. Sometimes we’re completely unprepared from Saturday night. Sometimes a toddler chooses an inopportune time to decide he doesn’t like eggs. Sometimes fixing four heads of hair takes longer than you planned on. Sometimes you have to take a different route because of a bike race. It seems like every force in the universe is plotting to thwart your plans to be on time.

It happens.

#1 – Being late happens.

The most discouraging mornings for me are the ones where I had everything completely prepared, where I got up ridiculously early, where nothing catastrophic happened… and still I was late. How many times I have complained in my mind, What’s the point of trying so hard if I’m still going to be late?

No, you’re not a failure. No, it will not be this way forever no matter what. No, it was not a waste to try hard. Easy to write on a Monday night, but very hard to tell yourself on a Sunday morning.

Which brings me to the next thought.

#2 – Every truth that you’re going to church to celebrate and rehearse is changed NOT AT ALL by the fact that you’re late.

Just recently I’ve learned to think about this as I get the girls ready and drive to church on a morning where I know we’ll be late. The glory of Christ’s work on the cross, the grace of God in forgiving and adopting His enemies, the comfort of the Spirit teaching us every day, the hope of an eternity with Jesus as King of Kings – all of these are steadfast truths that will never change. To imagine that somehow my little being-late escapade has any impact in eternal matters is laughable. I have to make a concentrated effort to think on things that are true and good.

To beat myself up over such a thing is really just an odd symptom of self-centeredness. Believe me, on many occasions through the singing or teaching at church, the Holy Spirit has gently shown me where I was wrong, or careless, or uninterested, which caused the circumstances around being late. But I have to let Him do that. Punishing myself over being late just clouds my mind from the One who can truly search my heart. And sometimes honestly, God just gives you a peace that it was just the way it was that day and it’s okay. See #1. = )

#3 – Being late is not an excuse to sin against your children.

To ask my three-year-old who is accustomed to thirty minutes for breakfast to hurry and eat in seven is just not wise. Ashamedly, I have been through so many Sunday morning breakfast’s where I have constantly been saying, “Girls, be quiet. We have to eat. Stop talking, we have to eat. Eat faster. We only have two minutes left!” (to finish three-quarters of a plate) Not going to happen.

Lately, the Lord has been teaching me to truly own when something is my fault and not to place the blame or the burden of hurrying in this case on my girls. I need to give them plenty of time to eat. Either that or have a really good back-up eat-in-the-car plan. (which usually doesn’t work anyway) Complete aside: Did you know my kids won’t even Pop-Tarts fast on a Sunday morning? Oh, the strategies I have tried to save time. Seriously! They didn’t even eat the Pop-Tarts. Like I’m giving you sugar you’re normally not allowed to have, but nope.

But I digress. When one of them comes to me crying and stomping because she can’t get her arm through her sleeve (and is not really even trying because of a bad attitude) I still have to respond with kindness and wisdom. Patience doesn’t get temporarily marked off the list from 7-10 on Sunday morning.

One of the biggest reasons I want to have everything ready for Sunday morning is so my girls can remember it as a time of joy, of looking forward to going to church together. I don’t want it to be a time of snapping and nagging, of empty stomachs and rumpled clothes all in the name of keeping up appearances for this weekly event.

When the mornings come where I know we’ll be late, I have to choose to still be like Christ. To still let the gospel adorn my speech and actions inside this house where only the little people see. I hope that His kindness and love is what they will remember.

#4 – Understand that others probably understand.

I have a particular problem with my pride where being late is concerned. I’m a pastor’s wife and I should be able to get there on time, right? I love to be early. I want to see people and talk to them and not have to slip in like a loser five minutes after everything has started. I don’t want people to think that I don’t care. But when I apologize all over myself or refuse to be consoled by people who assure me it was like that for them at this time of life, I’m really just revealing how concerned with my image I am.

Life will move on. Another chance to be on time will come in just seven more days. More than likely I’m a harder judge of myself than those around me. Get over it and keep going.

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One of the biggest benefits of controlling your mind when you’re tempted to bottom out because of being late is that it helps you to enter into the worship service sooner. This is what I mean: when I (89% of the time) am so upset over being late, I have to spend a lot of the Sunday school or worship hour getting over the usual mental clutter that comes with being late. Which means I am completely deaf to the truths being sung or taught. I’m oblivious to the help and comfort that is right around me. However, when I set my mind to rejoice anyways, or maybe to be late rather than getting upset at my kids… I can sit down in the service and begin soaking it in immediately.

This in the long run is much more beneficial than being punctual but frazzled or grumpy.

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Now, if you think I’m trying to just make excuses for being late, I’m not. There are so many reasons to be early, and I promise I try every single week to be early. In fact, it was one of my New Year’s Goals and there’s actually been a lot of improvement. Yay!

I could write an equally long post about what I do to try to be early; things that have worked and have not worked -like the Pop-Tarts. But one, there’s already posts out there like that, and two, I think it’s important to think through how we respond even when things don’t go according to our desires or plans.

This may seem like a tiny topic, but I have found it to have a huge impact on my Sunday’s, my family, and my week.

Thanks for reading my thoughts; I’d love to hear yours!