How To Find Success in Your 2016 Goals

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Hi Friends!

We are 7 days into the new year and I’m sure you are following all of your 2016 goals and renewed resolutions to the T!  Like the way I committed to a “No Spend January?”  So far I have already had a massage (justified medically helpful), bought some very necessary new pants for our family vacation next month, been to the grocery store practically every day because God-forbid we don’t have protein bars and fruit snacks, and caved to an infomercial on face cream. Yep, I’m totally dedicated.  Actually the face cream moment of weakness was my husband’s fault.  He is just so darn supportive…”You should buy it honey!”

Clearly I am not ready to take on the no spending challenge. It’s actually like my commitment to not spend money has taken away all my self-control in that area.

The problem lies in that I don’t think I REALLY made a commitment to not spend money.  I bought a book, and even as I read the first chapter and the author asked us to make a decision in this area of finances for the next month, I knew my heart was not in it.  I fake committed.  And it hasn’t worked out so well.

On the other hand, I have committed to have quiet times consistently, to organize my week so that I can accomplish my work and creative goals, and to exercise.   These are all going great so far!  Why?  Because I was ready to commit to these.  I truly wanted to make positive changes in these areas.

So here are a couple of thoughts about sticking to your new (or renewed) 2016 goals:

  1. Be selective.  You can’t decide to completely revamp your life in every way this year.  Pick two or three –or even just one thing to focus on.
  2. Know What You Want.  Well we all want to be skinny and have gobs of money in our savings and be kind and patient and never yell at our kids.  But what is the reality?  What is the thing you are READY FOR?  Just like the smoker who really wants to quit smoking but can’t seem to shake the habit because deep down they want more to keep smoking.  They are not ready, and maybe someday they will be.  I thought I didn’t want to spend a DIME (well according to the book you can spend a few dimes) in the month of January but I didn’t really want that.  Not yet.  I do know that I want to continue to grow my relationship with God and that means a commitment to spending time with him each day which is why that area is working for me right now.

Take a look at your goals for this year.  We are just a week in, but what is successful so far?  What isn’t?  That may give you an idea of what you really want.  God Bless!

~Amy

GraceFullHome Update

Hello…

It is good to be back.beach pic

I took a break from blogging starting at the beginning of this past summer to focus on the kids being home from school along with the YouTube channel I had started for middle school girls.  I fully intended to start writing when the fall school bells rang, but then we decided to put our house on the market in early September which turned into a story that is too long to share right now (future post on
that coming…).

We just took our house off the market and I have decided that I need to choose between writing (which is food for my soul) and shooting videos (which feels like exercise–a good thing but not always so enjoyable).  While both are valuable endeavors, one of the most important lessons I have learned in 2015 is that for every “Yes” there is a “No.”  If I say “yes” to both, then something else sacrifices….my part time job which brings in needed income, my energy and time available to my kids, my ability to fully be present for my husband in the important areas of our life.

There are SO many great opportunities that we have in life.  That is the gift.  The challenge is to pick which few deserve our time.

I have learned to ask myself–does this activity, project, effort bring me joy and excitement?  Or does it cause me stress and sometimes dread–even if it is a GREAT thing to put effort into?  I believe God has given us gifts and talents to use for His joy and good purposes…and as a result they will bring us the same in return….joy and good purpose.

So I am saying yes to GraceFullHome and no to HairstylesandHallways.  While I love the idea of speaking into the lives of tweens and teens, I have to choose to listen to my heart which knows there is something better for my time and energy investment.  Yet, I want to finish that effort well, so I am wrapping up that project with three videos on Dating and Middle School.  I believe this is so important to talk about with our girls, as they are in such malleable and formative years.

I have big plans for GraceFullhome in 2016–including a total re-brand with a new look, new topics, and hopefully a lot of content that is practical and inspirational for you!

Here is the Dating video if you want to check it out!

 

Have a BLESSED THANKSGIVING!

xoxo,

Amy

Silencing The Most Critical Person In Your Life

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When you think of someone who tends to be the critical voice in your life, who comes to mind? Is it a friend, a parent, a child, or a boss? Who is that person who is never pleased with your efforts, who makes comments that sting and guilt?  That person you are thinking of…make an imaginary list and put them at the top.

Then, just bump that person in the number one spot down….way, way down.  And replace your name with theirs.

“What? No…there are other people who are way more critical of me–than me.”

Really?  How often are those people critical?  Once every couple of years, maybe a few times a year?

Probably peanuts compared to how often you criticize yourself–my guess is daily…even hourly.  Think about the voices in your head. Do they praise your efforts in parenting, cheer you on when you make a mistake, whisper words of encouragement on your housekeeping, cooking, marriage relationship,  job performance? Or, are they more like mine:

“Well that parenting moment didn’t go so well did it?  You didn’t keep calm–you let your emotions win over self-control and then there went the volume on your words.  Now your message was not received because your child is upset and angry.  Way to go.”

“Darn, you blew it with the communication with your husband again.  All those things you were going to try to do next time a hard subject came up–listen before speaking, don’t get angry, try to understand his position before making yours known–well, what happened there?  Will this ever get easier?”

“You didn’t make enough of a dent in your to-do list today– your house is messy, the laundry is not put away (again), and you didn’t get the grocery shopping done.  No toilet paper for everyone tonight!  Wait…do we have enough Kleenex?  You better do more tomorrow.”

Think about it.  There is no one in your life who will give you a running list of critical comments everyday on all subjects like your own self.

Lets take it one step farther. When we talk to ourselves this way, we live on an island of self-sufficiency.  There is no solution unless we change and do better.  Which often feels hopeless. Where does God fit into this picture of messy life?  Let me show you:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~John 14.27

 But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  ~ 1 Corinthians 12-9-10    

In our barrage of self-deprecating remarks we completely cut God out of the equation. We limit him powerless to help us because our own voices muzzle his work in our lives. But look at His promises–to renew our strength, give us peace, His power in our weakness, to take away our fear.

What if we spoke different, better words to ourselves.

“Just because I have a less than perfect response to my child it doesn’t mean I have failed.  God has the power to give me patience and wisdom in my parenting journey–I just need to ask and invite him into this situation! I will remember that God loves me and my child and is bigger than my parenting flaws.”

“Lord, you know I struggle with wanting to be right. Forgive me for my pride and self-sufficiency in my marriage. Give me courage next time to defer my way. I know you love me and I’m a work in progress.”

“Tomorrow I will give my to-do list to God in the morning. I will ask him to help me manage my time and keep me focused on his plan for my day. I will get done the housekeeping that I can, but I will have grace for myself when I don’t accomplish it all. My home and homemaking doesn’t need to look perfect–God cares much more about me having margin for joy and energy with my family than to be a ragged mom striving to keep up with imaginary Pinterest perfection.” 

When we change the way we speak to ourselves, we change how we invite God into our moments and struggles.

Here is a three step process to changing the voices in your head:

  1.  Confess your sin/issue/struggle to God
  2. Invite Him into the situation. Ask for wisdom, hope, guidance…whatever you need
  3. Resolve to move forward, even to do better, but not on our own–with God, and with kinder self-talk.

What kind of self-talk can you invite God into?  How might it look different?

Let’s silence the inner critic today 🙂

XOXO,

Amy

 

Summer Mornings–Something For Your Inbox

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Hello! It is certainly summer around here–I know because on my to do list which has multiple tasks (including posting here) there are only four each day that seem to be accomplished–writing a new to-do list in hopes to accomplish more than yesterday, waiting for my kids to wake up so I can know who I am driving where and why, grocery shopping (again! where does all the food go in the summer!), and packing or unpacking from latest camping trip or summer outing.

The 30 other items on the to-do list continue to wait-not so patiently-for me.

One thing I do love about summer, however, is the mornings.  They are relaxed and lazy (for my kids) which means I have total choice in when I wake up and how I spend the quiet moments before sleepy bodies come down the stairs looking for sustenance.

This morning, for example, I am sitting at about 10,000 feet in the mountains of Breckenridge, CO, on the couch of a beautiful home that we are staying in for the week with some dear family friends.  In front of me is a large picture window with this view:

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The sliding glass door is cracked a bit and the cool mountain morning air is drifting in.  It is a little slice of heaven.

On these mornings, I have my routine.  Eat a bowl of Wheat Chex, and then snuggle under a throw with my bible and devotional.  When I am finished with those, I lift the top to my computer and begin my routine there–deleting spammy emails, and then opening the two devotionals that appear in my inbox every morning.  One of them is a daily marriage prayer…I love it because it is short and sweet, but gives me great perspective to enter the day.  I am posting today’s prayer below, and if you would like to see it in your inbox each morning also, click the link I posted at the bottom.

Blessings!

~Amy

 MARRIAGE PRAYER–WHEN WE FEEL HELPLESS

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Dear Heavenly Father,

Some days we feel helpless–helpless over the state of our marriage, our finances, our employment, our health, our family, and our friendships.

It’s during those times that we realize we can’t control our surroundings. It’s also then that we realize our need for Christ and the power of Your Holy Spirit working within us.

Without You we are helpless, but with You we’re triumphant!

You give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

Empty us of our sorrow, our fear, and our doubt, so that we might be filled with power and praise.

In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. – Isaiah 61:1-3

 Written By Darlene Schacht

To subscribe to the Marriage Prayer of the Day, click here.

 

Who Are You Trying To Please?

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For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.                                                        ~Galatians 1:10

When I was a teenager, I was often consumed with comparing myself to how others looked.  The hallways of my school seemed to teem with beautiful girls–the right clothes (ya know, those skinny zip at the ankle guess jeans?) or the perfect blonde curly hair–if I could only look a little more like them….then I would fit in.  The culture of my high school was a little cut-throat at times. When I flew 1000 miles away to college to escape the pressure, I landed myself in a sorority that precipitated this ideal even farther–and I found myself in a great battle with an eating disorder.

Later, when I became a teacher, a career I poured every piece of myself into, I compared myself to other teachers-whose class was the most composed walking down the hall, which teachers had students with highest test scores, etc.  As educational consultants, “the experts,” came in and out of our staff development room, teaching us about the latest and greatest, I would sit in admiration of their knowledge and authority.  So much so that I became one a few short years later.

Later, when I became a mom, I completely stopped comparing myself to others.  Except in a couple of areas…like every one.  As I sat in a mess of toys and dried oatmeal, at least two crying kids at all times, feeling defeated by how hard this new role in my life was, I couldn’t hear one more story about moms who just loved playing with their happy and well-behaved children for hours on end on the living room floor.  Would my kids rise up and praise me one day?  Would others ever ask me for parenting advice? I struggled with insecurity like I had never had before.

These days, I compare myself to other bloggers–we are a dime a dozen right now–what do I possibly have to offer that is anything special?  And, since I have started a new YouTube channel for tween and teen girls I am back to comparing myself to other teenage girls (go figure!).  Not that I want to be a teenage girl again, but my peers in this new world of media are very successful teen YouTubers with audiences in the millions-and I can’t help comparing myself to their success since at the moment I have an audience of 40.

All of this comparison has brought me to my knees over and over and over again in my life.  And God has the same message for me again, today.

His voice is gentle but prodding.

He tells me to look up, not around.

He is to be my audience of one.

One.

One.

One.

Not stats that spike with followers or likes or subscribers. Not admirers of my knowledge as an educator. Not children that act perfectly and grocery store shoppers that nod their heads in approval of my magnificent parenting skills-ha! Not the world that I want to see me as an attractive-ish, fashionable-ish, forty-something. None. Of. That.

Just God.

When we serve our Creator, we do not disappoint.  He subscribes, follows, likes, cheers, listens, and approves of anything we do in His name with a pure and willing heart.

It is the echo of His two clapping hands in an empty room that I long to hear.

He is our audience of One.

 

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