Goodbye January

Finding the magical peaceful moment in my day when I can sit down clear headed in a quiet peaceful environment……yep that’s not happening! I may as well go searching for unicorns and leprechauns! Working full time with seven children at home I’m lucky if I can make it in the bathroom for 5 uninterrupted minutes.

I always seem to have the greatest intentions. Over the years I have made several attempts to follow a personal bible reading plan and scripture studies on my own. Some attempts and plans have been more successful than others along the way. But none the less, life, excuses, the busyness, the to do lists, and the exhaustion take over and the struggle to find that magic peaceful moment seems like a lost cause. In past years and attempts I have found myself discouraged and frustrated.

But not this year!!!

These photos show what my 2019 scripture study is looking like this year, it is not pretty but it is wonderful and I am so thankful to have pushed through all the discouragement and barriers and making my scripture study this year grow so much already! Praise God!

 

 

Scripture study in the chaos of our kitchen….

My office space

Some study time in car with our daughter

Studying in hallway/office/sewing&craft area

 

 

 “that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” Psalms‬ ‭30:12‬

 

 

I have been following devotional I found online and my scripture study and prayer time is taking a priority over the to do list.

It has not been perfect, there have been a few days along the way when my weary exhausted mom brain just had nothing left but to hit the pillow…. when that happens I just pick up the slack and the next day when I sit down I spend some extra time in my scripture study to catch up.  I am giving myself grace and moving on where I have left off.  It is quite impressive how just adjusting my expectations and planning for failure has helped me to be more successful.

Planning for failure has made this more successful!

I am enjoying my scripture study immensely.

I am learning.

I am growing.

This is the plan I have been following.

https://asymphonyofpraise.com/blog/inscribe-the-word-february-scripture-writing-plan-2

It has verses selected for each day. The verses are written out and studied. I am finding how effective writing them out is for me. I am incorporating tools I have been learning in Sunday school as I write out my verses to study scripture. When? Who? What? Why? Where? How?

This year I have taken a new approach and attitude. I’ve stopped waiting for the peace and quiet. I am building moments in my busy day for my study.  So I am putting my intentions and desires into action in between the noise and the chaos. I have prepared my mind and heart to be able to study regardless of what the day is like.  Not having my heart set on the same time, same location and expecting perfect quiet is just not realistic at this season in our lives, I am no longer letting this be a barrier and the results are AWESOME!  So while my study locations are not picture perfect or ideal, they are real life and its working!  I have successfully done every day of January for my scripture study this year!!!

Bring on February 2019!!!

 

 

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Organizing successes & wins for our super size family.

Keeping a home with our family of 8 (plus a grandmother) running comes with its fair share of challenges.   So as we are about to take on another busy school year I will share some of the organization successes and wins that we have experienced over the last few years.

 

 

The color system, this is something my mom did with me and my brothers growing up and has been a huge success with our crew. Each child has a color, this goes for theirs cups, tooth brushes, towels, anything that can be done in their color.  It helps the kids to know what is theirs and makes it much easier for us to keep track of many daily items.

Joshua is green, Tyler is blue, Emily is pink or purple (since she is the only girl this works), Noah is yellow, Richard is red and Nathaniel is orange.

 

LOCKERS IN THE GARAGE

Lockers in the garage have been amazing. We started off with the white plywood ones from Lowes but these did not last and were very expensive, so last year we found some metal lockers at Ollie’s and they are fabulous.  The kids have a place to keep their shoes, book bags, coats, sporting supplies and anything else they want.  They were allowed to personalize their lockers with stickers.  I cannot imagine the chaos we would have if they did not have this space to put their belongings.

These kids would be lost without these!

 

 

CUBBIES DOWNSTAIRS FOR ELECTRONICS

 

Cubbies downstairs, these functioned for a while.  We are actually in the process of phasing these out and taking on a room swap that is turning out to be a complete disaster!  The cubbies are downs stairs and the kids rooms are upstairs so instead of using this for storage of books or things they would be using daily it has become a catch all for things they do not feel like bringing to their room.  The big idea with these was a charging station and storage for their electronic devices.  We stand firm in no phones, tablets or electronics are to be brought upstairs.  These devices are limited in use and must be used in the main spaces downstairs where everyone is.  So while we are going to get rid of the cubbies my husband will make a small shelve with 6 slots to use strictly for a charging station so their devices remain downstairs.


 

WEEKLY FAMILY CALENDAR

 

Weekly calendar- we have been using this for a while now, I think I started this about a year ago actually.   This is awesome!  There is a row for ‘family’ for our family activities and events and then each person has their row.  I update this every Saturday and then everyone can see what the week will bring.  I used dry erase boards and put post it notes, I tried just writing in the squares with dry erase marker but that did not work very well.  The kids have really come to rely on this being there.  Next to the weekly calendar we have a plastic tray and in the tray if a folder for each member of the family.  This is used for kids to put papers in that need to be signed, trying to avoid being handed 15 different things the moment we walk in the door.  And then once the paper for school or whatever it may be is signed, we will put it in the child’s folder and it is their responsibility to check and get it out.


I also keep an update monthly calendar for the kids on the fridge. (MorMor uses this one too:)

 

 

MENU PLANNING

Menu plan- This is a must. We have used this for years, or the most part we stay consistent with using this. Not quite as good at using the menu planning over the summer while we are so off routine. On the weekend my husband and I will meal plan and then grocery shop based off of the meal plan. It is a piece of paper in a frame and I write in dry erase marker. The kids love being able to look and see what meals are what nights seem to love knowing this information. It is amusing when at times we do not have what is written on the menu, oh the looks of shock on their faces!

And yet they still ask almost daily…’what’s for dinner?’ 🤔

 

BATHTUB SOLUTION

 

Another thing that has worked well for the older children is shower caddies.  We have tried any things trying to minimize the chaos of bath products and sponges in the shared bathroom.  Especially keeping them out of each others things.  So we have gotten them each a plastic shower caddy to keep their shower supplies and they bring this to the bathroom with them when they go to shower.  No clutter in the tub and fighting over who touched who’s things!  Definitely a WIN 🙂

They will be ready for dorm life 😉

 

 BUSY MAMA—-> JOURNALING SOLUTION

 

This last organizational success is not used by my family directly but by me for keeping our family organized. This has truly been a game changer for me. I used to struggle with journal confusion and my husband would even tease me frequently because I was constantly getting a new notebook to try something different. I had a prayer journal and I would have a journal for taking sermon notes, I had my electronic and paper calendar and planner along with some form of running to do lists. At times it felt like I was trying to juggle six different notebooks. Juggling so many notebooks was complicated and caused more confusion than helping keep me organized.  About two years ago the bullet journal concept was all over the internet and that caught my attention. After doing some exploring and ‘pintresting’ thus began my journey and evolving of building my own organizational system that has worked so well for me.

I started with one notebook. I had ongoing prayers and running lists in the back. A yearly calendar in the front. And the after the yearly calendar I would do my months, weeks and days, sermon notes and daily prayers as I went. It was awesome! To have everything condensed into one flowing journal. I fine tuned this system and fell in love with the Leuchtturm1917 leather bound notebook. This was by far the best journal I found. I loved it so much and used it so consistently I started filling up one journal every 3 months! So having to change journals so frequently was becoming a chore because I would need to transfer my yearly information into each new journal to continue with my system that was working so well.

 

So several weeks ago I transitioned and transformed to a similar and updated version of what I was already using. I bought a 3 pack of the small moleskin notebooks and made a slipcover for them out of fabric.  There are elastic bands holding the 3 notebooks in place like binding in a book.  I attached ribbons in the moleskins to use as place holders.  I made a pocket in the front pocket for pens and then another pocket for post it notes and little papers I am needing to keep with or hang onto.  (I always keep a thank you card with me, just in case I need it).

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first notebook I use for my weekly/daily.  I have a list of tasks and events for the week, our meal plan, prayer requests from our loved ones, friends and church family, and a weekly verse to study/memorize.  Then I keep a page for each day with tasks/events, I log my miles, write out a daily prayer, keep track of my ‘wins’ for the day to help focus on the positives and write out the daily verse.  I keep two pages a week for writing out the prayers that I have written down prayer request for, writing them out helps keep me on track with actually praying over these requests.   I also like to tape and save any movie stubs or little momentoes I want to save as well. This is the notebook that will be replaced every few months, it fills up quick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second notebook is my yearly book, it is my constant.  I have my yearly tasks and goals, keep track of the books I have read, I have an ongoing list of things we have bought for Christmas gifts as well as ideas for Christmas gifts,  a list of all my log in and password information, basically anything I don’t want to forget gets written down.  I have a page with tasks/goals things to remember for each month and a monthly calendar. Each month is tabbed with tape.  I still keep my online calendar up-to-date, this is something that my husband and I use together.  However I still prefer to have a paper calendar to be able to write on so I keep a written one in my yearly book and up date as needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third notebook is my prayer journal.  This is where I can keep my written prayers, for my husband, marriage, children, country, church and for Landy our compassion child.  I have this organized by sections so I can keep track of the prayers.  I love written prayers, I love being able to look back to weeks, months, years ago and see where my heart was and the ways that God has answered prayers and brought me to where I am today.  God s good ALL the time!

Giving in—>NOT giving up!

I am giving in on a certain area of my life. I have come to a point and I realize I just need to let go of certain expectations, unrealistic expectations I continually place on myself. I feel like I have been in a constant battle with myself that I keep losing and this only leads to feeling frustrated and disappointed. Day after day I have this unrealistic idea that I am going to magically put this 30-60 minutes in my day where I might get this incredible quiet time and I can sit down and spend time in God’s word and have personal prayer time. Every time I plan for this to happen and it doesn’t happen I become discouraged and frustrated. It feels like this magic window of time doesn’t happen…. EVER and if it does I am so completely and utterly exhausted that my mind shuts down after just a few moments and while my heart desires the quiet time my brain fails and I end up falling asleep.

This is what I have come to terms with…. This is my season of BUSY

So while I am going through this season of busy I just need to accept that I won’t have extended periods of quiet time to feel close to God. BUT THIS IS OK! I have discovered that I don’t need extended periods of quiet time to feel close to Him! I have learned that can still feel close to God and still have time with Him even on the busiest of busy days! I just need to be creative in centering my day on Him and make sure I am keeping Him as the focus and not the opposite and not just ‘fitting Him’ into my day.

  
This is my season of busy, our children our young and my husband and I work full time, we are blessed with 6 children, we have my mother living with us and I am still keeping up with breastfeeding the youngest exclusively and we are active at church and play sports and we exercise regularly and frequently bottom line is —>we are a BUSY family. One day later in my life when I am in a season when things are not so busy and when our sweet little ones are no longer at home I know I will look back and miss these moments so I need to stop with my unrealistic expectations of sitting down for structured quiet time and regroup with a more realistic game plan.

After some careful reflection and consideration on my last few months I feel like overall I have done a pretty good job of balancing the busy and maintaining my spiritual time as a whole. Some days are better than others and they are moments spread through each day but I do feel like I have improved and can sit back and reflectively observe where I can do better.

There is ALWAYS going to be room to improve and grow. Now I am far from having this figured out but I feel like I am moving in the right direction and I am walking closer the Lord each day.

So far these are the areas where I have improved and feel I have made progress-

-devotions with the children, especially in the mornings, I have tried several things the last few years, making them read scripture out loud, having them read our family devotional and however I approached it seemed to at one point cause argument, conflict and grumbling and after a hectic morning to get everyone in the car this was very discouraging to me so what I have been doing is not making any of them read anything, when we stop in the morning before anyone gets out I take up our family devotional and I read it to them, no arguing or complaining, if they listen and get something from it GREAT! If not then that is their choice, and most days I am walking away with something from the devotion we read. They have even started asking questions on occasion and actually seem to be enjoying this, since I stepped back and made it less forced and gave them the choice to listen and participate it is going much better. Now there are days that we are running late or time just does not allow and we don’t read but more mornings than not we are doing this—>making progress!

 

-Weekly scripture- I have been selecting a verse each week for my own personal study and memorization, I write it in my journal, put it in scripture typer and put it on note cards and post it notes to help. I have not been completely faithful each week with memorizing but have been studying them, but I have memorized more scripture this year than I have in the past, I really feel like the methods I have been using have been helping me bury God’s word in my heart —>making progress!

-when I do find that have a few moments instead of instantly opening my Facebook app to see what is going on in social media I have been opening my bible app, scripture typer, devotionals and christian books.  I have actually finished reading a couple of books this year which I find a HUGE accomplishment for me.  Being more intentional and purposeful with these golden spare moments through my day has definately helped me keep my heart, mind and focus on the Lord—> making progress!

– one of the things I have started including in my daily journal is a praise and specific thank You lifted up to the Lord for something in my day.  So that even on the days when I don’t have time to write as many of my prayers and thoughts as I would like I have been dedicated in journaling thanksgiving.  It is already so awesome to go back and remember exactly the way my heart felt in these moments.  It has helped my heart to be more thankful each day—> making progress!

 

2016—>So as days turn to weeks and weeks to months I am making progress and maximizing my spiritual growth even in the busiest of busy days when I feel like my head is spinning and I want to submit to being completely overwhlemed.  I am working on keeping my mind, heart and focus on the Lord.  Some days I stumble and start to lose focus but we have such an Awesome and Forgiving God who shows such AMAZING GRACE!

So I am not rolling over and submitting to the busy, I’m not giving up, far from it, in giving in and moving forward with this wonderfully blessed season of busy.  Determined to continue to grow in my relationship with Christ and to be the best witness I can for our children and those around us.  

Thank You Father for this season of BUSY, for blessing us abundantly!

  

 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭