A Few Of My Favorite Life “Helps”

imagescc

Try this:  next time you are with a group of friends or family, ask everyone to share their favorite app.  Not app “etizer”– I’m talking about a phone or computer app “lication”.   It’s amazing what helpful ideas are out there!

Here are a few of my favorite things (apps and other great life ideas) for 2016:

  1. Tone It Up and Blogilates:  These are both websites that are great for getting you motivated to exercise.  I like them because I can open up the workouts on my IPad and exercise right there next to my dogs and laundry basket.  No gym necessary!  And you are guaranteed to sweat–these girls are hard core!  Tone It Up Link   Blogilates Link
  2. FaceSwap.  This is just a silly app, but so fun and guaranteed to make you and your peeps laugh. Stand with a friend and hold your phone so that it can “read” your faces.  The app will “swap” your faces (but keep your own hair and eyebrows). You can just imagine what my dad and I looked like when we did this.  Not pretty.  But hilarious.  Pull it out when there is a lull at a party, or when you are waiting for your food to come at a restaurant.  We did this with our kids and got quite a laugh with each other.
  3. Marriage Prayer Of The Day.  I have shared this before, but it is just so good.  You can click here and then subscribe to the daily prayers–they keep everything in perspective and that means happier marriage!
  4. Bouqs.  Looking for a great florist? Try the app Bouqs. It’s easy to use, affordable, and the flower arrangements are impressive.(I sent some for a funeral and my friend raved about how beautiful they were).
  5. Vacation Candy.  We are using this travel/management company for a trip we are taking in February. I stumbled upon their website after hours of dead-end accommodation searching.  We are SO happy with where we are staying and the price we found!

Keep your eye out for news about my new blog!  It will be launching in the next week or two so stay tuned to posts here giving more info–sooo excited to share this with you!

xoxo,

Amy

 

Silencing The Most Critical Person In Your Life

image 888

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

images (20)

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:

IMG_2695

 

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

marriage-prayer-surrender-our-weakness

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.

 

What Do You Long For?

your-labor-is-not-in-vain_500

What is Your Long Labor?

Are you in a season of your life where a circumstance has you in for the long haul?  It might not necessarily be a season you wish away–just one that is not always easy.  A few examples come to mind.

Parenting. It is where we live with our heart beating in the open air, vulnerable to the highs and lows of the little lives we are raising. Parenting is a labor of love, endurance, continual trial and error, mistakes and triumphs, heart on the floor and then lifted to greatest heights as we weep and celebrate with our flesh and blood the events and circumstances of their lives.

It is a season that for me has lasted seventeen years as my oldest celebrated this year in her life a few months ago.  And from what I hear speaking to older, wiser mothers, the ride does not end when our child walks out the front door into adulthood–there is labor ahead, even if it is just the labor of my heart, while my hands rest from years of parent-work.

And it is long.

How do any of us get through it? How do we possibly live so vulnerably for so many years, with soft, pliable hearts that don’t harden just for self-protection and a moment of rest?

LOVE.

Love is what keeps us malleable, it is the hand that picks us up again and again as we strive to be the good parent to our children, when we truly don’t know what we are doing so much of the time. And, I believe it is the love of God that pours through us that allows us the shred of wisdom and forgiveness and grace for each day.

In Beth Moore’s latest study, “Children of the Day”, she speaks of Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus and their letter to the Thessalonian church with encouraging words:

“We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians1:3

Paul was speaking about the faith, labor and hope of the people of Thessolonica who were trying to be faithful in their day to day lives.

In her study, Beth changes the emphasis just a bit on these words:

FAITH CAN BE WORK

LOVE CAN BE LABOR

HOPE CAN GET LONG

Paul acknowledges that the people of Thessolonica who were trying mightly admidst much persecution to love and serve the Lord, were in it for the long haul.

What else in your life is long-hoping, long laboring? What about marriage? When you know that God has your best interest in mind in the midst of a difficult marriage, you have a new perspective. You have to labor for your love. And hoping… it can get long. Hoping for change, for a new leaf to be turned, in yourself or your spouse. With no end in sight. How does one possibly hold on?

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he certainly does not make light of long-suffering. Having been beaten, tourtured, flogged, left for dead, persecuted, run out of town, shipwrecked three times, he is intimate friends with wanting a season of better. Even in this, he encourages us to hang on. In life, whether it’s parenting, marriage, financial troubles, relational troubles, work difficulty, depression, or whatever you want to fill in here, sometimes it’s going to be long.

We hold on, we keep hoping because we trust God and his love for us.  He knows what we are going through.  As my friend prays, “Your arm, Lord,  is not too short to reach us in our struggle.”

For me, accepting that something is going to be long somehow makes it easier.  I can settle into the situation, find my reality in it instead of fighting the reality.

When we hold on to the hope that God is good, and will see the circumstances out in our life according to His will—not ours—we can see the situation for what it is, not something to constantly try to escape from. When I accept that raising my children will be a lifeLONG process of joy and heartache, I can embrace the lessons I am learning, and the ways God is growing me right now. I can trust that he will see me and my children through, and loosen my grip of control.

So what is your long labor? Keep fighting to live in the present, learn the lessons meant to be learned, grow as you were meant to grow, and hold tightly to God in the long—ness of it all.

As always, I appreciate your comments!  Thank you for being such faithful readers!

~Amy

 

7 Steps To A Healthier Family

imagesDO45VSKJ

Do you have a healthy family?  Most of us would say yes, in most areas, and if we’re completely honest, we have areas that struggle.  This applies to those of us who are in the midst of youngsters in our home to those who are taking on the grandparent role.  Here are 6 ways I believe we can grow the healthiest possible family (and I am no expert–I just do a lot of reading!)

1. A Healthy Family Affirms and Supports Each Other

This is foremost modeled by mom and dad, as is everything that trickles down to the children.

Ask yourself:  Do my husband and I praise each other’s strengths?

Are we tolerant of each other’s weaknesses?

Do we support each other in doing things that are of interest to our spouse but not to us?

Our kids are watching, and will ultimately treat each other in the way they learned from parent modeling.  However, it’s not just how mom and dad treat each other, but how we treat our children.  Are we affirming? Supporting?  Do we focus on faults to a much larger degree than strengths?  My husband and I have had times in our parenting when we have challenged ourselves to speak only affirming words to our children for a week–SO hard!  It is incredibly easy to pick out all the faults, because children in their awkward, immature, developing selves are full of foibles.

Affirming is what lets our kids know they are valuable.  Be specific, be generous.  It is something I constantly have to remind myself to work at as a mom.

 

2.  A Healthy Family Shares Responsibility In the Home

We all know that chores are important for kids, but there are many times when it’s just easier to do things ourselves isn’t it?  Many times I have had to resist going after my children and “fixing” their bed after it’s been made, but when our children learn to take care of their things, we prepare them for adulthood.  Chores can be tedious, time consuming for mom and dad to monitor, and often create tension in the relationship–especially as teenage years approach.  But hold firm parents!  You are giving your child the gift of taking responsibility for themselves and respecting those around them, a gift that will follow them into adulthood.

3.   A Healthy Family Places Importance on Traditions

Think back on your childhood—what stands out?  The traditions your family celebrated.  Vacations to the same cabin in the woods, holidays with the same pumpkin soup served, or rituals of being read to each night as a child.  We have started an annual tradition of family fall leaf clean up with pizza night.  I am definitely more excited about this than my family!

Traditions give children a sense of stability, familiarity, and something that grounds them to their family name.  Traditions are timeless-they can be passed down from generation to generation.  What a beautiful way to connect the past to the present.

4.  A Healthy Family Is Faith Based

Having a strong spiritual foundation for your family is important for two reasons:

~It connects all members of the family to a common belief system, one which can be referred to throughout the life of your family when making decisions, or instruction for behavior.  It puts everyone on the same page.

~ Community.  Having a strong church community, or community of others around your family who share the same values and beliefs is so healthy for your kids!  They see other adults striving to be strong in their faith, living life together.  For the first 15 years of our life raising children, we did so side by side with four other families who shared our Christian faith.  We all went to different churches, but shared the same common core of faith.  We were at the birth of each other’s children, we weathered the toddler years together, and watched our kids grow into adolescence.  We just attended the high school graduation of the oldest child of this clan. It has been a gift to Jon and I to do parenting in community.

5. A Healthy Family respects the privacy of one another.

This is a great description I found from an author on this topic:
“A delicate balance exists between family members as they work together to satisfy the needs of the family as a whole and to preserve the right of each individual to grow strong on his own identity. Parents ideally hope to produce children who are emotionally strong and independent.  Parental authority has to be absolute with young children. But as the children grow there is room for family discussion, shared decision-making, and a gradual transfer of authority.

The adolescent years are often a time of turmoil and trauma for all: continual conflicts arise over the latest fashion fad, choices of music, or choices of friends. These years are a challenge. Parents who have taught their children a sense of trust, given them security, instilled in them moral principles and a sense of responsibility, have to learn to let go and allow the children to find the right path.  Parents who have a religious faith (and a sense of humor) to rely on will have the equipment to weather the inevitable storms.” (Delores Curran)

6. Pray Together

Many families pray together over the dinner table, and that is a wonderful way to express gratitude for what God has provided.  However, we can take it one step farther by praying together about our lives.  One way to really learn what is going on in your child’s heart is to ask them what their prayer request would be.  Do this together, as a family, so all the members can hear.  It’s amazing how honest and real kids will be in this moment.  What a great opportunity to take those requests and then pray for your children the rest of the week.

We recently did this as a family and I wrote down our children’s requests on three individual  index cards. When we all had shared and prayed collectively, I turned over their cards and asked that they pick a card from the pile.  They each picked a sibling’s card, and will pray for that sibling during the next week.  My hope is that it grows compassion, grace, and connection with each other.

6. A Healthy Family Makes Time for Each Other.

Whew, I had no idea how challenging this one would become as my kids grew up.  Now that they all are in 7th grade through high school, their schedules make it very difficult to find quality time.  Here are some of the things we do to protect this time:

A Traditional Night Out

My husband takes our son to the local sports bar across the street on Monday nights when we have a house full of women here for bible study.  They watch sports, have some chips and a soda, and do a dad-led devotional.

Speaking Their Language

Once in a while, Ill try to speak my girl’s love language–nails.  We will go get a pedicure followed by dinner out.  Or, do a little shopping if it’s the season.  This sometimes, however, gets stressful as we navigate negotiations on clothes, prices, and them not wanting to divulge their whole life over pizza to a very curious mom.  So the next idea is one of my favorite.

A Short -Get-Away

One of the best things I have done with my daughters is take them on a “girls” trip.  This past spring we booked a short and cheap cruise (inside room, basic accommodations), and we had a blast.  In fact, we started after our first day of writing down all of our inside jokes because we had laughed so much.  I can’t tell you how deeply satisfying it felt to spend some great quality time together, experiencing new parts of the world (the wide open ocean!), and listening to foreign taxi cab drivers give us a passionate lesson on transportation around Miami.

The Dinner Table

Since my husband travels for work, and my oldest has an evening job, along with youth group events, etc,  we don’t have many nights that the five of us are all together. So when we do, it is a bit sacred for me.  We prepare the meal together, eat together, and clean together.  Then we’ll settle in for a favorite family TV show or once a week a family devotional if we can pull it off.

Quality time is tough.  We have to squeeze it in when we can, and in a way that works for our family.  It might look different for yours, which is the beauty of our individuality.  I have learned not to force it, but to find creative ways to work it into your natural family schedule.

 

Here’s to HEALTHY, HAPPY families!

xoxo,

Amy

 

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...