Feeling…crunchy? When You Have A Bad Day

Do you ever have days when you feel like this?

You know, the kind of day that overwhelms you. One that makes you feel attacked. Consumed. Crunched on. Maybe it’s a week, a month or even a season. Do you ever feel like circumstances are chewing you up and spitting you out?

I’ve been going through one of those seasons lately. It seems like stress and challenges are coming from every direction. Some days my husband and I look at each other with the “how much more can we possibly take?” look. While this is season is not yet over, I have learned a few things going through this difficult time.

  • Some things are just plain out of my control. Can’t fix it, can’t eliminate it, can’t do squat about it. I can; however, PRAY. I can pray for grace to accept it, mercy to deal with my frustrations, peace to let go of trying to control it, strength to endure it, and patience until it gets better.
  • Complaining only makes it worse. Sure its good to vent every now and then but getting stuck in an ungrateful, grumbling attitude is what got the Hebrew children stuck in the wilderness for forty years. I do not want to get stuck here! I want to move on to better times. I have to purpose my speech and my attitude to be one that God can bless.
  • It won’t last forever. Circumstances always change. Life never stands still. I will get through it. One step in front of the other and one day at a time, I will move through this season on to the next.  
  • Take care of myself in the meantime. Eat nutritiously. Get adequate sleep. Read uplifting spiritual material. Limit negative influences (TV, gossip, etc.) when possible. I must treat my body and mind well if I expect it to carry me through seasons of trial. 
  • Lighten up. Laugh. Be silly. Count my blessings. Appreciate the love and beauty in each moment. Sometimes I just have to get out of my head and into the present moment. I can enjoy life even when it is trying. I just have to look and try a little harder in the difficult days.  
How do you cope with difficult times? What are some of the ways you keep yourself from sinking into despair? Do you laugh in the face of adversity or do you grit your teeth and bear it? Share with me. Lets grow together.

Three in Thirty

Three in Thirty – Week Two

3in30 I'm In!!

I am so excited- I’ve gotten off to a terrific start this month!

  • I am on time with the #31DBBS Challenge. I really enjoy having a specific prayer focus for each day.  I printed the eBook and added it to my morning Power-Time routine. 
  • I have found a beautiful gratitude journal with photo capability. Ann Voskamp has a One Thousand Gifts mobile app! Wow, I mean what more can you say about that? I have it on my iPad and LOVE it.  Love it, I say. Being able to add the photos is just incredible.
  • I have posted both my organization post and my faith trial post. I hope it blesses you. 

It feels so good to be back in the groove and getting things done. You know what else feels good? Having a whole community of folks cheering you on! Thanks, #3n30 Ladies!

Three Simple Ways to Get Organized and Stay Organized

I love organizing. Let me re-phrase that: I love the benefits of being organized.  When things are organized I know where they are.  My house looks tidy.  I save time. I save money. What’s the biggest benefit?  I stay sane!  It drives me nuts when things are scattered all over the place, when I can’t remember appointments, or getting to the grocery store and not knowing whether or not we need to buy milk.

My brain just doesn’t function well in chaos.  
Here are the top three ways that I keep things running smoothly:
          1.  I write it all down. If you write it down and keep it in one place you don’t have to remember it or go looking for it.  I use a combination of a home management journal, smart phone, iPad, and a weekly calendar posted on the refrigerator.  My home management journal is for things that I use less frequently. It’s for my contact list, emergency info, master to-do list of some day items/projects, monthly meal plan ideas, and chore lists. My iPhone and iPad hold my everyday information such as appointments, phone numbers, Bible reading plans, e-books, etc… seriously, I’m going to have do do a whole other post on this one. Going digital keeps the info you need with you at all times. I utilize this pretty weekly planner on the refrigerator so the rest of the family knows what’s going on and what’s for supper. 
          2.  I keep it all together.  For this I use my mobile office.  It holds all my stuff and looks great too. I can grab it and go.
The idea came from A Bowl Full of Lemons. My mobile office holds my laptop and iPad.  My files include our monthly budget and bill paying info, homeschool lesson planning, devotional materials, goal/projects list, holiday planning, craft info and blog journal. The outside pockets hold my power charging cords and office supplies. My “office” lately is my Big Cozy-Comfy Chair. What could be better?

I keep all our financial papers together in one huge binder. I three-hole punch everything.

This binder has been especially helpful. It’s organized into sections such as bills due, bills paid each month, insurance EOB’s (great for matching the medical charges with the actual benefits paid), bank statements, info needed for filing tax returns, etc.  At the end of the year, the contents go in the tax box with our receipts then to the attic for storage.

          3.  I plan ahead. Utilizing a monthly meal plan helps save time and money. I always know what we are having and I have dramatically reduced the number of trips to the grocery store. In the past, I listed 30 meals and the ingredients needed for each meal on this meal planner. Then I plugged it in on a monthly calendar that I posted on the fridge.  I also typed our favorite recipes and had them in a cute little binder on the counter.  NOW, that I have my iPad (and we all know how I love my iPad), I use a menu planning app called Paprika.  It’s awesome! I can use all my own recipes or search for new ideas and save them all in one spot. It will even print out a grocery list for my planned meals.

I also lesson plan in advance for our homeschool. I save so much time in the long run by getting things together before I need them. I utilize work boxes to keep things handy and broken down into days. I put the day’s assignments and any craft materials inside the box. They stack nice and neat for presentable appearance and easy access. 
Staying organized keeps life simple for me. It gives me more time for the FUN things. How do you manage the chaos? I’d love to hear some of your sanity-saving tips.

Learning to Lighten Up

For the past two months my life has been consumed with doctor appointments. Everything is fine.  No, everything is WONDERFUL because I do NOT have breast cancer.  (I wanted to lead in with that right off the bat so you wouldn’t be worried.)  During this time of driving an hour back and forth to the hospital (four separate mammograms, an ultrasound, a MRI, a MRI assisted biopsy, and ultimately a lumpectomy) and waiting on test results from all these procedures I’ve learned a lot about myself and my faith.

When the doctors first stated that they suspected that I had cancer, I knew that with out any shadow of a doubt that I would be okay (okay as in NOT die). Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew.  I guess that’s what faith is.  I had Psalms 118:17 deep down inside of me screaming “I will not die but live and declare the glory of the Lord.”

I distinctly remember standing at the kitchen counter.  The nurse called. She told me that I needed to come back for a “second look.”  She explained that the hospital’s machines were more powerful.  She told me there was a “suspicious spot.” I got off the phone.  I posted the appointment on the refrigerator.  I prayed – not a long prayer.  It wasn’t even a faith-filled prayer but it was an honest prayer. I said, “Lord, I just don’t want to go through this.” After awhile, the verse Matthew 28:20 came to me, “I am always with you.”  Thank you, Lord but I really wanted to hear John 19:30 “it is finished.” With that I knew that this would be something I would just have to walk through. Long or (hopefully) short, I was about to embark on a journey.

These were the things that went through my head in rapid-fire succession:

  • I don’t have time for this. I have Christmas shopping. I have MOPS meetings. I looked at my calendar (yes, for real) and justified the “I just don’t have time for this” mentality.  In my world if I don’t write it down – it does not exist.  Period. I have chores. I have homeschooling. Then BAM. Second thought…
  • I’m homeschooling.  How in the heck am I going to homeschool, clean the house, cook supper AND have cancer?  I mean, really, breast cancer means LOTS of doctor appointments.  Lots of medical bills. Bills we don’t have the money for right now. My hospital is an hour away.  Breast cancer means tests, surgery, chemotherapy. BAM again. Third thought…
  • Chemotherapy.  Wait, that makes you sick.  I don’t have time to be sick (yes the time thing again…I know, NO ONE has time to be sick…). Chemo makes you sick.  Chemo makes your…hair…fall out.  BAM. Fourth thought…
  • What if my hair falls out?  I’ve worked so hard to grow it out from years of a super-short pixie. It finally looks half-way decent.  I don’t want it to fall out. I took a deep breath and thought, well if it falls out, it falls out.  I’ll wear cute scarfs. What if my husband thinks I’m ugly? My husband…BAM. Fifth thought…
  • My husband.  What is he going to do? Is he going to be okay? This is going to be so hard on him. This is going to be especially hard on him.  It hasn’t been that long since we watched his mother wither and vanish before our eyes from cancer.  Can we even speak that word? (Another note: in my world if we don’t speak it, it doesn’t exist.) Will he be able to bear hearing that dreaded, fearful word? I whispered it, “cancer.” Nothing happened.
Every test just resulted in yet another test.  The doctor apologized, “cancer is usually so clear, black and white. Either it is or it isn’t but your case is different.” Well that’s of no comfort, I tell you. I just kept telling myself it would be okay- even if I had…swallow hard and whisper…cancer. I told myself it was just a word.  I would not fear a word used by doctors to describe a particular set of physical symptoms.  It was just a word. I repeated it in my mind and said it out loud, “it’s just a word.” I know a greater Word. His Word. THE WORD.  His word says by His stripes I am healed (1Peter 2:24). His word says He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases (Psalms 103:3).  His Word says I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). His Word says it all works out for my good (Romans 8:28).
Test after test after test. My patience was growing thin. Christmas, then New Year’s, more tests.  I was still recovering from a surgery in November and felt my body getting weary from the traveling, the waiting, and the wanting it to be over so we could get on with our regular life. Finally the doctor recommended that I have a lumpectomy to remove a pre-cancerous radial sclerosis. My husband and I were actually glad- now we had a plan. We had a solution. Hopefully, we thought, we would have an end to this.
I had surgery last Thursday and after a very long weekend the nurse called. She said the pathology report showed no signs of malignancy.  Praise the Lord! She said they had removed the lump and surrounding tissue. I will have a post-op exam next week where I expect the doctor to say that this is indeed all over.
As I write this (ice pack on right breast, ibuprofen within reach) I have to admit that I just don’t know how people survive life without faith. It may sound corny, but it truly is “so sweet to trust in Jesus.” Life gets messy and sometimes we go though tough times.  My husband and I both had such a reassurance that no matter what we went though, it would all be okay.  We would adjust. We would overcome (Revelation 12:11).  We would triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14). We knew because God says so.

I’ve also learned that I’m WAY too tied up in defining my life by the tasks that I do.  I am not my schedule.  I am not my chores. I am not my dozen or so lists. While all my little organization tricks are great, they are just tools that I use. I spent the past two months just being with my family. Some of the chores were left undone, some of the items didn’t get checked off the list, we ate a lot of take-out, and you know what? The world did not fall apart. I let people help me and you know what else? It didn’t mean I was less of a wife or mother. Now these things may be common sense to you. For me it has been a huge revelation.

When you define yourself by what you do, 
you judge yourself by what doesn’t get done.
Now, I’m not going to use this as an excuse to get all sloppy and lazy…we can’t have total chaos afterall!

I am going to lighten up and 
keep trusting my wonderful Lord.

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

  1. ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to take Him at His Word;
    Just to rest upon His promise,
    And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
    • Refrain:
      Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
      How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
      Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
      Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
  2. Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to trust His cleansing blood;
    And in simple faith to plunge me
    ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
  3. Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just from sin and self to cease;
    Just from Jesus simply taking
    Life and rest, and joy and peace.
  4. I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
    Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
    And I know that Thou art with me,
    Wilt be with me to the end.

    Three in Thirty : A Late Start

    3in30 I'm In!!

    My life and #3in30 got just a tiny bit interrupted during December and January (I’ll post about that later over on Practical Faith for Everyday Life). My overall goals for 2012 are in three broad categories:

    Home & Family
    Social Media
    My goals for January/ February (a little late than never):
    1. Complete the 31 Days to Pray For Your Spouse Challenge
    2. Create or find an existing gratitude journal utilizing photographs
    3. Publish my post on organizational habits/tips and post about my recent faith trial.
    These were some of the things that I wanted to accomplish in January – thank goodness for “carry over,” huh? I’m super excited about the 31 Days to Pray challenge. I’m also so thankful for the privilege of praying for my husband.  He’s truly a God-sent spouse.  I plan to post the organizational post this week here on MommieKate. The faith trial post…well, lets just say that’s a bit of a test for me. It’s hard for me to share the really personal stuff.  I posted about our pregnancy loss a year after it happened. It took a whole year just to work up the nerve.  I started blogging because I wanted to share my faith and encourage other women.  I’ve realized that sometimes I have to dig a little deeper. You can get fluff anywhere, right? Maybe what I’ve been through can bless someone else and the only way to know is to share it. Share it, I will.

    Although the little #3in30 break was not planned- and I took a break from EVERYthing- I was able to spend time loving my family and living simply. That’s what it’s all about, anyway!

    Finding Time For Devotion

    Super Easy Life Hacks For A Great New Year

    I have two great posts coming for you in 2012 about ways to organize and simplify your life.  Until then, I thought you may enjoy the Top Ten List from this past year. Happy New Year!

    From Practical Faith for Everyday Life, Posted December 30, 2010

    Many people this time of year reflect upon the past year and look ahead with new goals, resolutions, or at the very least: wishes for improvement.  I have a confession. I don’t really make New Year resolutions.  Not that I’m perfect, I just get bogged down in the details…and the guilt when I don’t fulfill them.  Why set my self up for failure? (All though I have heard that writing them down and breaking them up into attainable steps works. Hey, wait- I already do some of that with housekeeping.  Keep reading. You’ll see.)  Sometimes I just take the easy way out.

    Here are some of my “easy way out” strategies.  Some of them require just a tiny bit of effort on the front end.  Over time, they really save me BIG in time, effort, and money.  Some keep me healthy. Heck, some of them even make me look better!
    1. Post a grocery list on the refrigerator.  Not on the counter.  Not in your head.  Put it ON the fridge. Whether you use a dry erase board, a pre-printed list, or a plain ol’ piece of paper (that’s what I do), you can quickly post grocery items as you run out.  Train the kiddos and hubby to do it too. This really does help eliminate forgotten items and trips back to the store. Now, if you really want to save yourself in the long run, take the time to organize your pantry.  Don’t go all Martha Stewart, just put all the cans of tomato soup together. (No offense, Martha, its just that most of us don’t have have a staff to help and tons of money to spend on closet hardware.)  Group like items together.  At one quick glance you can see what you have and what you need to add to the grocery list.
    2. Speaking of your pantry, as you run out of items replace them with the healthier, less processed version when you’re at the store. One by one you’re feeding your family more nutritious meals. You’re not throwing food out either-wasting money.  It’s not so overwhelming this way.  Small steps can make good habits last longer.
    3. Keep a small notepad in your purse.  I use the notepad on my iPhone.  Train yourself to jot everything down.  This way you can keep track of errands you need to run, gifts you need to purchase, items you need to add to the grocery list, etc.  Not everybody is a list maker, I know, but it does eliminate that feeling of, “I know there was one more thing but I just can’t remember.”  This way you can save room in your brain for the really important stuff!
    4. If you have trouble finding time to spend with God, break it up into smaller, do-able chunks during the day.  See my post on How I Abide In Him for easy ideas.
    5. Trying to get your house in order (especially after Christmas guests, and kids home on school holiday) can seem impossible.  Focus on smaller tasks.  Spend just 10-15 minutes once or twice a day on the trouble spots and you’ll be organized in no time.  This is how I keep my housekeeping chores from getting away.
    6. If you’re having a hard time exercising, this one is for you!  At least three times a week, put on some great music, set the timer for 15 minutes, grab the kids and dance your buns off.  March, run, jump, dance- whatever- just go all out for 15 minutes.  Increase your time as your endurance builds.  What’s better than having fun with the kids and getting a good cardio workout too?
    7. Lay out your clothes (and the kids’) the night before.  You’ll be amazed at the time this saves in the morning. No more “what to wear?”  No more wasting precious time trying on things. No more fights with the kids.  I layout my clothes on Sunday night for the week ahead. No kidding, I do! Use an over-the-door hook or just put those outfits together in the first space of your closet rod.  
    8. Even if you’re a stay at home mom, you need to have at least one “go-to” outfit ready. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just something that says “I’m fabulous.” You’ll feel fabulous too running errands in something other than sweats. Jeans and a trendy top (those tattoo t-shirts hide stains) paired with cute low-heels and big earrings are a must. Don’t spend much. You can pull together a great, yet inexpensive outfit at most discount or dollar stores if you take the time to look. I’m serious about the big (preferably hoop) earrings.  My theory is that they draw attention away from the dark circles under my eyes. 
    9. Keep those dry trouble spots smooth with a stick moisturizer. (I’ve been using one made by Palmer’s but Santa left Heel-Tastic in my stocking. I like it too.)  You can find one in the health & beauty section EVERYWHERE.  Keep it by your bedside or by your toothbrush if you have trouble remembering (like me) to use it. I swipe my heels, knees and elbows in the morning and the evening.  It’s a five second spa treatment with no greasy hands!
    10. Just like the go-to outfit, I have a quick go-to makeup routine for the days I want to look put together but just don’t have the time.  Tinted moisturizer + Lip Crayon + Mascara = Instant (but super quick) GLAM.  Use a mocha or mauve lip crayon in the crease of your eyelids and blend with your fingertips.  With the residue from your fingertips, swipe along your cheek bones. If you use a waterproof mascara, you can use the crayon underneath your lower lashes for a soft liner affect.  Of course, don’t forget your lips! With only three products and your fingers you can be gorgeous in less than three minutes. Really- three minutes! 
    These tips are so simple yet can revolutionize your day to day routine. I’d love to hear some of your short cuts and ideas!  Let me know if you try mine and how it goes. Why should getting organized, living healthy and looking great be expensive or hard?

    Super Easy Life Hacks For A Great New Year ~ 2012 Edition

    Need to simplify? Organize? Are you overwhelmed? Hate resolutions? Me too! Here are some ways that I create order out of chaos:

    1. Messy house? No time for a “deep clean?” Spend just five minutes morning or evening (both- if you’re ambitious) picking up the clutter.  Keeping the common areas free of clutter goes a long way in making your home appear clean and presentable.  Nobody really cares about the dust bunnies behind the TV anyway.
    2. Write EVERYTHING down –  on a post-it note, on your smart phone, or on a refrigerator memo board. Keep all your notes in a central location.  This way you don’t have to rely on your memory on days when you’re brain is overloaded. 
    3. Turn the TV off and turn the uplifting music on.  Even if you’re not paying attention to it, what you hear filters in to your heart and mind.  Brighten your spirit and you brighten your day.
    4. Drink LOTS and LOTS of water.  Water is an inexpensive way to detox and beautify your body.  Adequate hydration eliminates waste, lessens allergies, stimulates proper body weight, and moisturizes your hair and skin. Talk about multi-tasking!
    5. Learn to SAY “NO” with confidence and without feeling guilty. Know your limits and enforce your boundaries to keep sane.  You don’t have to do EVERYthing. Give yourself permission to prioritize according to your family’s needs.

    To see last year’s tips, click here. I wish you a very, very Happy New Year.  May God bless you with peace, health, and prosperity.

    Are You Coping With Grief or Loss?

    The holidays can be difficult- especially if you are dealing with tragedy.  If you need a shoulder to lean on, please follow this link.  You’ll be redirected to a post I published last year.  In it I share how my husband and I recovered from loss during the holiday season. I hope you find it helpful.