Tag: Tips

Help for Setting and Achieving Your Goals

I have spent November and December in quiet time, prayer, and planning.  I wanted to greet the New Year with enthusiasm and a plan.  You see, ever since MOMCon 2014 (Mothers of Preschoolers Convention- totally awesome, by the way) I have been contemplating this year’s “Brave” theme and what it means for me and God’s call upon my life.  Never before have I spent so much time and effort into setting goals. Oh I make plans, alright, and lists – tons of lists. (My Mom thinks I’m a little overboard in the organizing department. I may or may not have had my suitcase packed two full weeks before my last trip back home, outfits rolled together with undies and jewelry all together. That’s not weird. You do that too, right?) But goals? Actual write them out all official-like goals? Nope. Never. I wasn’t even sure where to start.

Several resources have helped me in that department. Each one has profoundly changed the way I think about goal setting and why I should even bother. I want to share these resources with you. Each one has been for a specific area of my life.  All together, they were beyond what I’d call a good value for the little money I spent. THEY WERE FABULOUS, I’m telling you. Fabulous!

I downloaded the books A Million Little Ways, Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman and Restless: Because You Were Made for More by Jennie Allen.  I attended workshops that each of these ladies led at MOMCon. Oh my they were fantastic! It’s no exaggeration to say that the Restless book radically changed my mindset. If you have ever pondered your purpose beyond wife and mother, these books are for you. (While I am not an affiliate for either one of these titles, I do have them in my Amazon store for your convenience.)

I also downloaded a few workbooks to help me get it all sorted out. The first one is Your Retreat, A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day by Erin Odom. Erin blogs at The Humbled Homemaker. She’s the perfect combo of crunchy yet practical – I like that. In this downloadable PDF, she covers why it is so important to set aside time to plan and set goals. She guides you through several areas such as homemaking, meal planning, personal growth, spiritual growth, and finances. She also touches on our roles as wife and as parent. This was the perfect starting point for me.  It was easy to read and to implement.

About the same time, Tina at Savvy Homeschool Moms recommended a free ebook by Leonie Dawson called A Cowgirl’s Guide to Riding Wild Donkeys. Crazy, I know. (I loved it. You know I would. Come on…wild donkeys? Yes, please.) That book led me to her workbooks, Create Your Shining Year, 2015 Life & Biz Editions. Now, before skipping off to her site I have to warn you: the girl has got a mouth like a sailor. Somehow, though, she’s endearing on so many other levels that I sort of overlook it. (And read emails from her with one eye closed. Really. Lovely girl but whoa..that mouth.) She’s a totally groovy, hippy dippy sort of chick. I think she’s the Australian version of Dharma & Greg. (Kinda miss that show. I may have been her in my previous single, yoga teaching, life. Dharma with the clean mouth. Just so you’re clear on that one.) These two fun and artsy workbooks narrowed down the focus a bit more. They cover specific goal planning for what you want to accomplish but also the kind of life you want to have. Clever, huh?

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Those three workbooks impressed me so much that I partnered with the authors as an affiliate (As an affiliate, I earn a tiny bit of moolah for each book that is purchased though clicking on their links from my site) to help them reach a greater audience. The workbooks are THAT good. I can see myself re-using them for years to come. They are available as printable PDFs so I can do that. Score! Green, even.

You know what’s even better? This week only Erin’s Your Retreat, A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day is available for only 99cents !

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I’m curious, do you set goals? What’s your process? Do you have a plan or just wing it? Connect, let’s chat about it.

 

What To Do When You’re Hanging On

Today as I write this, I am sitting at Starbucks enjoying a latte and a kid-free morning thanks to the Mothers Day Out program at the First Baptist Church.  Big deal, right? Well…it is for me. TOTALLY new experience. I feel so hip and cool: writing, sipping coffee, grooving to Muddy Waters. (Thank you, Starbucks for making this Mississippi girl feel right at home with the blues. Someone must have told you I was coming.)

It’s funny, listening to blues music when everything in my body screams “happy, happy, happy!” Metaphorically speaking, I’m finally enjoying some warm sunshine after a long, very cold rain. You know how sometimes you feel like you are hanging on by a thread? For a long time? You get weary. You get gloomy. You’re tempted to give up hope. Everything gets a little gray. I just left that place, so I know how you feel.

I’m so glad that I didn’t give in to those feelings. Yeah, some days I switched to auto-pilot… Plastered on the smile anyway. You know the drill. After a long time, though it begins to feel like it will never get better. For my family it was a series of tough-break circumstances. Maybe in your case it’s an illness, job loss, divorce, or crisis of another sort. I don’t know what the event is but I do know that nothing last forever. Cliche’ but true. Sometimes it just takes a while. What do you do in the mean time? I’ll share what helped me:

  • Press in to scripture. Let God comfort you. Let Him guide you. Let Him love you through it.
  • Lean in to trusted friends. It’s okay to let others see you in your not so perfect state.
  • Smile anyway. I read in a medical magazine that smiling and laughing can improve a blue mood
  • Take a gratitude inventory. Really count your blessings. Be mindful in your everyday moments
  • Reach out to someone else needing help. Practice hospitality, sharing, and encouraging others
  • Objectively evaluate your circumstance. Change what you can and pray through the rest.
Don’t give up – just hang on a little longer!

Sometimes things get a little worse it seems before they get better. It did for us. God rewards the faithful, though, so keep on. I am pleased to say that the series of troubles is over for the moment. My family is enjoying a reprieve from spiritual and physical battles. My husband has accepted a career change that included a relocation to Kentucky.

Everything seems so new and fresh (and 15 degrees cooler). We have been blessed with a small town in the mountains full of friendly people. Autumn is bringing crisp air, changing colors, and a whole new beginning for us. I’ll post more about our adventure in getting here later.

Right now, I want to pray for you. “Father, I want to lift up this reader to you. You know what they are going through and you know exactly what they need. Bless them with, strength, direction, and endurance. Let them experience Your presence and fullness of joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

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.

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.

Joy in the Giving

Often when we think of Christian love and charity, we think big: mission trips, feeding centers, large sums of money.  We think of our local tithes and offerings.  We think of the parable of the Widow’s Mite.  I have found myself thinking of her a lot lately.  I think of how in her poverty, she gave all that she had.  I think of how her humble heart caught the eye of the Master.   I think of how He praised her.  I’ve been contemplating the principles of Godly Giving and whether or not I measure up to His expectations.

While studying I noticed that God expects us to be joyful as well as generous in our giving.  I also realized that giving all I have is not just about money.  God expects more of me than just my envelope in the offering plate.  While I am obedient in my finances, I’m not sure that my giving has honored Him the way that Widow’s Mite did.

I want to honor Him so badly- to catch His eye.  I want to make Him proud.  I want to give ALL.  What a lofty goal. So daunting, really.  Is it even attainable? Can I really give Him ALL?   As I shifted my focus from money, I saw so many other opportunities.

I can smile more, not just when I’m happy.  I can smile at the cashier when I’m held up in line because she’s changing the tape roll and taking forever.  I can smile at the driver who takes my turn at the stop sign.  I can smile at my son when he’s struggling to do a big boy job all by himself when I could do it so much faster. (I can even smile at these rowdy teenagers who are distracting me while I write this post utilizing free Wi Fi at McDonald’s. )

In my routine shopping, I can get a few “extras” for others. I can pick up some extra can goods at the grocery store for the local food bank.  I can pick up an extra pack of diapers & wipes for the women’s shelter.  I can take a book of stamps and some paper to the alcohol & drug treatment center.  I can take my old magazines to the nursing home.

I can make (and give Him) better choices.  When challenged I can choose mercy.  I can choose forgiveness.  I can choose patience.  I can choose kindness. I can listen patiently as if for the first time when my grandmother repeats the same story for the 100th time.  I can be sweet instead of sarcastic when my husband forgets that it’s date night and volunteers to work a later shift.  I can choose peace instead of arguing my point when a neighbor oversteps her bounds.

I’m learning that giving all I have is so much simpler than I thought.  It’s so much broader than I imagined.  If I choose a positive perspective about it, I can even have fun looking for opportunities to give more, to do more, to truly serve Him in my everyday life. I can give myself, my heart, my obedience as well as my money.