2014: Hope

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new year. A new season. A new heart.
I’m so glad for a God who makes all things new.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19
Last year, when I felt like the Lord laid the word “grace” on my heart as kind of a word for my year I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t realize that to truly learn about grace, I would have to be brought to a place where I deeply needed grace. Both to need it for myself and to give away.
This last year, I was wrecked. I have never had a season of life so deeply despairing, discouraging, and disappointing. For the past six months, every day has been a battle. It wasn’t just my circumstances that were despairing (although some were), but my heart’s response to those circumstances. It filtered into everything I did (you might have noticed a lack of blogging and if you came into my house, a lack of order) and really everything I was. I was a hot mess.
I have learned a lot, but I think it will still take more time to really look back and learn all the Lord has to teach me from that chunk of time. One of the biggest needs I realized was the need for my faith to increase. To not just ask for God to help me, but to ask him, and believe him to DO it. To give me grace. To increase my faith. To give me hope.
I started praying a simple prayer, “Thank you God for giving me hope.” Even though I didn’t feel it yet, it was a prayer of faith. All the while, just asking God to do it. Not help ME do it, but for Him to do it in me.
So it was at the end of this year, this season, that I started asking the Lord to give me a new word.
Christmas was a turning point for me in a big way. On Christmas night, after the kids were in bed, I started reading one of my Christmas gifts from Kyle. A book by a favorite author of mine called “Victims of Grace” (by Robin Jones Gunn). In the beginning of the book she defines the word “victim” as meaning a “live sacrifice” and she quotes the verse from Romans about being a living sacrifice.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”       Romans 12:1 
She also talks about Hannah in the Bible and about how Hannah honestly cried out to the Lord.
So right there, on the night of Christmas, I cried out to the Lord. It wasn’t the first or only time I had cried out to the Lord in this season, far from it, but it was probably the most honest and vulnerable that I had been. And then, after the crying was done, I told the Lord I wanted to be a living sacrifice for Him – and I really meant it.
And over the next few days (it already feels like weeks ago, even though its only been one), something miraculous has happened in my heart. The Lord is doing “it”.
My heart is becoming tender again to the Lord’s sweet voice and spirit, and y’all, I’m starting to feel it. Hope.
Did you know what “despair” means? It means “a loss of hope or hopelessness”. When I read that definition, with fear and trembling, I knew what my word the Lord was giving me for 2014: hope. I havn’t had it, not the right kind. And I ran out of the wrong kind months ago.
And I don’t mean the kind of floaty hope that just makes you feel good. I’m talking about hoping in the Lord and not my circumstances. Because God’s word tells us that that kind of hope doesn’t disappoint. And I am just sick and tired and defeated by disappointment. I just. can’t. do it anymore.
“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5
Along those lines, I feel like I’ve gotten some directives from the Lord in beginning this year. You might call them resolutions or goals. I’m just calling them the “things I’m going to try to do” list.
– Guard My Heart: I have found some triggers that send me plunging to the depths of despair or cause major anxiety. I need to do a better job of guarding my heart against those things.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
– Social Media Diet (Namely Facebook since I don’t have a problem with the others): I have become overwhelmed with the amount of controversy shared on facebook, some I’ve participated in and some I have not. I’m not saying it’s bad or even wrong. But for me, it has become a major trigger for despair and anxiety and if I’m going to do a better job of guarding my heart, I think this would be an easy one. I knew it was a problem, when I felt anxiety at the end of an article I read that I actually agreed with.  I don’t know if this is making sense to anyone else, but I know that it’s right in my heart to cut back. So I’m not cutting FB out completely, just cutting way back. I’ve deleted the app from my phone and ipad, and removed it from the bookmarks bar on my computer. The idea is to make my time on FB intentional. You’ll still probably see posts from me, but probably not as many comments or likes. (Not to mention, FB is not the best use of my time…see the next point).
–Cutting back on procrastinating. I’m specifically talking about the little things, like thinking “I should vacuum my bedroom” and then not doing it for a week. I’ve started asking myself, “Do I have a solid reason why I can’t do it right now?” It’s amazing how just this little thing has helped me be more productive in my day.
–Get dressed every day. This is going to sound ridiculous to some of you, maybe all of you. But for me, a stay-at-home Mom, it is really tempting to stay in jammies all day or at the very most, comfy sweats. Getting dressed helps me have more energy, helps me be more productive, and helps to battle feelings of depression.
–Waking up/getting dressed before my kids. My home runs better when I do this.
–More consistent time in the Word.
I’m not really at the point where I’m thankful for the season I’ve come out of, but I am thankful that He’s brought me out of it. And mostly, I’m thankful for the goodness of my Savior, even when I don’t see it with my feeble human eyes or feel it, I trust and believe that He is good.
Y’all, the last think I want you to thing is that I just prayed the right magic prayer and am all better now or even that just because the new calendar year rolled over, that that instantly ushers in a new season. I’m not quite sure I understand the Lord’s timing for me in this and I am still battling a lot. But, I’ve come a long way and I’m still thankful the Lord has given me hope, and I’m believing Him to increase my faith to believe it for the future.
If you’re still reading this, thanks for being faithful to stick it out! Would love to hear your word(s)/resolutions/goals for the year. Leave them in the comments or if you blog, leave your link!
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9 Habits Of A Successful Stay At Home Mom

I think there are a lot of definitions of “success” out there, so why don’t I start off giving you mine?
For me, a successful day means one thing: When I get in bed at night I can say, “I had a day” not “My day had me”.

See what I did there? Notice I didn’t qualify whether the day was good or bad. There will inevitably be both.

If you read this blog, you probably read this post and know that I’m coming out of a pretty rough season. A season where more times than not, my days had me.  In coming out of that season, I’ve made a few small changes in my daily routine that have had a huge impact on my day.
I heard somewhere that it takes 3 weeks to make a habit and 3 days to break one. For the following 9 things, I am 5 days shy of 3 weeks and already I see a significant difference.

1. Harboring A Love For God’s Word In My Heart
While not everything on this list I could confidently say applies to every stay at home mom, this one is unquestionable to me. For as long as I can remember while being a Stay At Home Mom, my times with the Lord and in God’s word have been inconsistent and sporadic. As the year rolled over, I just decided I was going to change that and be consistent. I thought about my daily schedule and set aside 30 minutes that I fiercely guard as my time in the word. My kids are in room time, I turn off my phone, and have decided short of a real, genuine emergency, nothing in my day is more important than that time.

And more than just walking through the ritual of reading my Bible and praying, I am begging the Lord to penetrate my heart with his word. That it would change me. And by doing so, I am relating with Him on an intimate level that carries me through the rest of my day. There is power in His word because HE IS THE WORD.

2. Waking Up Before My Kids
So yeah, this Mama? Not the morning Mama. But after a constructive conversation with my man over Christmas, we came up with a game plan for me to wake up, have a cup of tea and have time to get dressed before my kids wake up and I am “on” for the day. So I get dressed, do my hair and put make-up on. Then I walk out of my room and face my day.

3. Put On Shoes Every Morning
I seriously believe there is a direct correlation between wearing tennis shoes and productivity. I am a thousand times more productive when I wear tennis shoes. Seriously, a thousand. You should try it.

4. Make The Bed
Every morning, I make my bed. This helps me fight the temptation to get back in only to sleep 20 more minutes. Plus it just makes the room seem cleaner and ready for the day.

5. Make A Significant Effort To Love People More And Need People Less
I don’t know about you, but it is really really easy for me to fall into a pit of fearing man way more than the Lord. It takes so much mental and emotional energy to fear man and there is so much FREEDOM in fearing the Lord. Some one very close to me gave me this nugget a couple months ago and it is something I have latched onto to help me keep the right perspective. Focus my mind on loving people more, not needing approval from them.

6. Have A Good Belly Laugh With Each Of My Kids Every Day
I got this idea from my best friend. And it is AWESOME. One of my favorite sounds in the whole world is the laughter from my children. That good ole belly laugh. They need it and I need it.

7. Open All The Blinds And Curtains In The House And Let The Light In
One of my biggest triggers for grumpiness, laziness, and discouragement that is so easily fixed is when there isn’t light in my house. When its dark in the daytime. So every morning I have started to raise all of the blinds in all of the rooms in my house. Sunshine streams in, or even when it has been rainy it still helps bring in more light.

8. Read More, TV Less
Honestly I’m still working on this. But the amount I have cut back on screen time in general (especially FB) open up so much more time to read with and play with my kids. And screen time of any kind is such a time sucker!

9. Freely Give Grace
Grace on you. Grace on me. Grace on them.

Give it to the kids. To the people who cross your path in your day. And most importantly to yourself. One of the best things I have read in recent years that penetrated my heart as a mom the most was that mom’s of young kids need to give themselves grace for the things they didn’t get done in the day, and grace to still be in survival mode. I really believe that so many days of raising these kids is lived in survival mode. And I honestly think that as long as we are still submitting our survival days to the Lord, then that’s ok. I heard a speaker in college say this line “The place that God has you is the best place you can possibly be because HE has you there”. I know for this Mama, it’s encouraging to remember that HE appointed me here, in this home, with these babies, and with this man. And if HE has me here, then it carries great significance for His plan for my life.

So what about you? What habits do you have to help you have a day? Would love to hear your list!
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