Life with Jack: 1st Corinthians 13 for Moms

A good read for any day.

http://www.lifewithjack.com/2012/05/1st-corinthians-13-for-moms.html

Chewy.

This is a good blog post my husband sent me this morning. Its some good stuff to chew on.

Be a Friend to Have a Friend
by Laura MacCorkle

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17, NIV

Christmas is just about three weeks past us, but the remnants remain on a bulletin board in my office.

There, I have thumb-tacked various holiday family pictures and newsletters that I received in the mail from all different friends and acquaintances.  I decided that that’s how I would “handle” these materials this year, instead of putting them in a pile to collect dust and go forgotten.

As I look at the bulletin board each day, my heart is warmed as I see the faces of friends who have played different roles in my life:  comforter, truth-teller, listener, hugger, encourager, constructive criticizer, relationship decoder/investigator, and so forth.

I see so many ways of serving and giving from so many different types of friends.  And I am blessed as I am reminded of what they have done for me.  And then I am also convicted:  What am I doing for my friends?  How am I pouring into their lives as they are pouring into mine?  How is God moving me to be part of their worlds?  And am I responding to his instruction and guidance in my life?

Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said:  “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”  And he was so right about that.  Friendships don’t just happen.  They take time.  They take effort.  They take upkeep.  And that means we all have to do something if we want to cultivate, grow and nurture relationships with others.

When I look at my bulletin board of friends, if I am truly willing to be a friend “who loves at all times,” I know that that means I have to always be ready to shelve or alter my plans in order to help meet the varied needs of others.

It’s something God has been working on me for a while now.  Am I willing to lay down my plans and sacrifice my time and my desires for my friends?  Or is it more important that I get done today what is on my list and what I think is right for me?  Am I seeking the Lord for his direction?  Am I paying attention to the Holy Spirit for conviction?

Let me warn you, though.  Don’t ask God to move in your life in this way unless you really mean it.  Because when you do ask him to help you be a better friend and to help you reach out to others, he will give you plenty of opportunities that may or may not be what you had in mind.

You might be asked to…

  • Offer your professional skills to someone else in need for free.
  • Forgo your after-work errands or agenda to just sit, listen and offer a warm hug
  • Give up your Saturday to help someone move, paint a house or run a garage sale.

Better yet, you might be moved to…

  • Give financially to someone you don’t even know.
  • Befriend the “different” or “difficult” person whom no one else likes.
  • Not take careless words or confusing situations personally and instead choose to “cover” these minor offenses with love.

That’s what a true friend does:  gets outside of themselves and gives.  And gives.  And gives!  Are you up to it?  I’m asking myself the same question.  For friends both new and old, how can we be a true friend to someone else today?

Intersecting Faith & Life: No doubt, at some point in your life you’ve known what it’s like to be on the receiving end of someone who has been a good friend to you.  But what’s it like to be your friend?  Do you take more than you give?  Are you ever around?  Do you take time to listen and care about others’ concerns and life matters?  Take a friend inventory today and see what changes you might need to make in your outreach to those you call “friend.”

Further Reading:

John 15:13
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

And we’re leaving, in a moving truck, don’t know when we’ll be back…

We’re currently in the middle of moving, which translates to lots of stress, breaking out, and unintentionally wearing the same outfits over and over again. I actually hadn’t even realized that I was stressed out until yesterday when Tony said something quite benign and nonthreatening and I quite literally bit his head off. There in fact may actually still be teeth marks. After a moment like that, as you are quietly thinking about your actions while walking because your husband has let you out on the side of the freeway (not really, though if I were him I might have done this), you realize, “Golly, maybe I’m a little on edge.”

Fun facts about moving:

It is the third most stressful life event (following death and divorce). 

I told this to my friend Katie the other day (not talking to myself, I actually have a friend whose name is Katie), and I said while trying to justify my stressed-out-ness, “They say moving is one of the top three most stressful events in a person’s life.” And being her intellectual and cunning self, she retorted, “Well, who is they?” Well, here you go my friend (Employee Relocation Council, 2003).

The typical moving customer is between ages 25 and 44, with children ages 2 – 11.

That makes Tony and I very typical. Addie is 2. I’m 29, and Tony is 31. Tony is getting old…

Advice to make moving easier:

Get back to normal as soon as possible. 

We’re going to try! We are moving things slowly over this week, with our “big move” planned for this week. We also have friends who have offered to help us pack or drive boxes over this week. How ridiculous is that? Friends who offer to help you pack and take things to your home. How blessed are we. It is not lost on us.

Pace yourself.

This was hard to do. We found out we needed to move very recently, and found a house within a week. One of the reasons for this is very few homes are actually found during the holidays, so we knew if we wanted to find something we loved and would be in for a while, we would need to be on top of it. Total turnaround for finding out we needed to move, finding a home, packing, and moving: 3 weeks. Giant Self Pat on the Back.

Pack Late.

We wanted to keep Addie’s routine as normal as possible. The first week we found out we needed to move there were boxes everywhere and things we not normal. It really was reflected in Addie’s routine and mood. We are trying to keep her bedroom and our living room as normal as possible until D Day.

 

Tonight, friends are coming over to help us pack. Ah-mah-zing. Until then, keep us in your prayers. My husband surely needs them as he will be tasked with keeping me calm the next few days…what a man what a man.

 

 

 

 

Why we sometimes spend.

Restoration, Refinement, and Renewal were the themes for the retreat I was privileged to attend this weekend in Leavenworth with a group of very real, very fun women from Mill Creek 4Square Church.

When a retreat is associated with a church or corporate setting, its often synonymous with the idea that you’ll come back refreshed. Whenever I hear “to retreat,” my mind immediately envisions an army retreating from battle. The retreat could be forced or strategic, and its usually for protection until they can come up with a game plan to get out with life and limbs in tact. I blame this on years of repeatedly watching Lord of the Rings (which I still think has hands down the best battle scenes ever). As people, we’re very similar to elven and hobbit filled armies…when its time to retreat, we draw back, go somewhere, and seclude ourselves for protection until there is a game plan and its time to come out. 

This retreat was full for me. Of knowledge, conversations, time in my head, and time in my journal. The theme of the weekend was to restore, to refine, and to renew. Unfortunately, I don’t think this process is always pleasant. There is a tree called the Pitch Pine Tree that, soon after a fire, sprouts needles from its trunk. The tree holds onto it’s cones, which, in extreme heat, open. The fire then allows the trees to reseed themselves. So, it seems as though we cannot grow until someone sets us on fire. Bummer.

Thats actually not true, though this idea of painful refinement (I really do pay attention in Thursday morning Bible study!) is that it hurts, you walk through it with God, and hopefully there’s growth and newness when its done. The hardest part of this is that we’re not actually Pitch Pine Trees. We don’t automatically reseed after an agricultural season. It could take a much longer.

What in the world does this have to do with spending you might be wondering? No Spend November is actually one of the first, tangible steps in what might be a process of painful refinement for me. I realize, and have been realizing as I’ve been very mindful of money these past four days, that I don’t necessarily always use it as currency. In fact, in can be used as a very real distraction. Purchasing items & having money can often be a smokescreen that serves as a diversion. I want to put all of that away and focus on whats actually going on. Thats my heart.

I’ll be very real with you right now, and my only hope is that I’ve been too wordy up until this point and you have stopped reading. I spent this weekend. Ug, I said it. Tony and I laughed about it when I confessed to him after I got home, but we also know that its simply an affirmation for why we are choosing to do No Spend November.

The retreat was a lot for me. A lot to process. When we’re faced with our junk, its so much easier to get a gingerbread latte and retreat…but not in a good way. Maybe hide is more accurate. When faced with things I didn’t want to think about, it’s easier to go to Starbucks, wander around the bookstore, and buy yourself a scarf, earrings, and a really cute headband. Please hear what I mean when I say that there is nothing inherently wrong with that. At all. Unfortunately, when your comfort and peace is found in a distraction, I don’t think thats a great thing.

So, although the things I bought were pretty darn cute, I think I did it because everything I was thinking about was a little too much for me and instead of sitting down and praying it through, I shopped it through. The same could be said for anyone who finds security in things that aren’t God; friends, tv, food, sports, eggnog…and the list could go on.

Fortunately for me, and for No Spend November, there is a lot of grace to be found in slip ups. They can serve as a motivator, and a hope that there is always a next time. And whoa there! Look how much character I’m building as I imperfectly execute these moves. It could take longer than a season to get this down. As we’ve established, I am unfortunately not a tree. Imperfection, persistence, and hope are good things. Things that I’ll need as I navigate through our thrifty little month.

No Spend November (or, How to Stop Living High Off the Hog)

Just sing this to the tune of Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out for Summer,” and lets get this party started!

What is a No Spend Month:
Its horrifically self explanatory, but I’ll still go ahead and explain. In a nutshell, its a month (of your choosing, though I chose November because I like alliteration), where you drastically cut your spending by choosing to pay only for essentials and non-negotiables. Essentials include mortgage, rent, food, and non-negotiables might include paying to get your finger sewn back on after a tricky kitchen incident.
Why some people do No Spend Months:
1. Some people want to find out if they can get what they want for less. Deciding you will not spend above a certain amount forces you to get creative with what you can spend.
2. Curb mindless spending.
3. Get things done at home that previously, you haven’t had the chance to because you’re out there wildly throwing around the green (which isn’t us).

Why we’re doing No Spend November (in addition to the reasons given above)

1. To create more mindful discipline concerning our budget. We know where every dollar goes (for the most part) but its been a lot of swipe and spend lately, with little thought as to where its coming from or  if it could be better spent elsewhere.

2. Learning well to delay gratification. If its cute, buy it. If we’re hungry, grab it. While we have a ‘budget’, we’ve exceeded it at times.

3. To get a chance to stop, reflect, and express some gratitude for everything we’ve been given. We have a lot of wants, but not needs. We’re really, really blessed. God’s taken care of us, and I think November is a great month to be content with what we have.

What it means for us:

1. No unnecessary spending. Whats unnecessary? Dining out, entertainment, lattes (no!!!), trips to, and subsequent purchases at Target.

What I hope we’ll gain from this month:

My hope is that this month will help us learn to better decipher between our needs and our wants. I would like to get a little more creative with our activities, and use more of what we have around the house before rushing off to buy something. I want to eat through the gross things at the back of our freezer. No wait, they’re not gross, just…not as exciting as other things. I want to be content with what we have, and start moving at a slower pace.

There are countless things to be gained from a no spend month, if for nothing else than to simply stop and evaluate the value of a dollar, and see if its going where it should be going. I plan to share our adventures, ideas, highlights, and trials with you throughout this month. Which is 30 days long. I just checked. 30 cheap, adventurous, simple, and non Target filled days.

 

October Night

It’s a dark, windy, and kind of rainy October Night. In other words, it’s perfect. I’m drinking hot apple cider, sprinkled with spiced rum, and I’m looking at this:

Addie’s in bed, happily on her part, snuggled with Elmo and Puppy and Pillow and Blanket (and Bunny and Monkey x 2). Tony’s doing his homework for mens bible study in the morning, and all of this is good because its been a high traffic day. In my head at least.

I’ve been thinking alot today about where I’d like us to end up when we move. Its not a high priority decision, as we don’t have to move today, but I’ve been tossing between being in the middle of nowhere, which makes me feel peaceful and calm, and practical living situations that are close to Tony’s work. As far as tonights concerned, not a big deal at all. In the grand scheme of me though, it kind of is. And here’s why.

I think we can mold to what we are around sometimes, and get away from what makes us us. It’s easy when you’re in the hustle and bustle to feel like thats what makes you tick, and thats what you like, because thats where you are. If you’re in the city, you feel like you need to play the part. You start to dress a little more fashionably, decorate a little differently, stay busy and stay in the swing of things. We move faster since we have moved from Bellingham, many many years ago. Maybe this is life changing, maybe its our environment, and maybe its both.

But when I think about what makes me happy, where I’d feel good, its in the middle of fields, in a house thats a little drive from the stores and the malls and well, even Target. Actually, it can be closer to Target than those other things. I guess I’m thinking of where I’d like to settle and what I want that to look like.

I think it’d be cool to plan a garden. I think it would be neat to look out around me and only see the lights from a few houses. I’d love to not see the UHaul Sign from across the street bright and blaring every night.

Like I said, nothings changing now, and probably not soon (until our landlords say it’s time to pack up!) But when they do, and when we have to start moving those boxes, I think I’d like it if we were still close to our family and friends, but close to the farms and fields too.

Rainy Morning

I’m sitting on the couch this morning, drinking a PSL (double tall, extra-hot, 1/2 the pumpkin) from Tony and I’m reading other people’s blogs. In fact, I’ve found one I think I’m obsessed with (a little). Click here for the post with which I’m currently infatuated.

This particular blog post is all about putting together a cleaning schedule you’ll actually stick to. I’ve been holed up inside our house for a week straight, and so this is kind of a big deal for me. Addie has had the Green Snot Cold, and although she sounds so. darn. cute stuffed up, its hard to take a toddler places when they sneeze and shoot silly putty snot from their nose onto all of the public toys around them. I didn’t think other parents would love it. In fact, I was pretty sure I’d be lynched, so we’ve stayed put this week. Aside from going a little “the Shining” type crazy this week, its been pretty good.

I’ve been forced to focus on home stuff. Freezer cooking. Cleaning schedules. Pantry organization, which I may have gone a little overboard on. Something about fall makes me want to waste less, declutter, spend less, be more simple, simplistic, and meaningful with my time. If you try to do all of those things at once, its really hard. I think its because its not just changing actions, its changing mindsets and habits. Habits, by definition, are really ingrained, and so I get really motivated, and then find myself sitting down to watch an episode of Homeland (or 3) when Addie goes down for a nap.

All of this to say, I’ve been loving this blog. Its stylish, cute, and she longs to be organized, simplistic, routine, meaningful, and effortless just like me. I’m hoping that I’m just not that far into the blog yet and that she’s actually done it by now so I can be inspired.

Speaking of habits, I’m currently reading (as in I have bought it and have yet to open, but will soon) this book: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 . I think it could be really interesting, and it even comes with a quiz you get to take! I love quizzes, it feels like 17 Magazine all over again but with a purpose. Anyway, I’m hoping for some big revelations, or at least a few helpful tips and interesting tidbits to come from reading this. Expect posts to come!

 

Fall

Fall is coming. I’m so excited I could dance around in my scarves and boots and cozy warm jackets…but with it brings a little anxiety, only in that I have this ginormous need to feel organized, clutter free, simple, and prepared for fall.

Meal plans that will produce leftovers. Closets that make sense and are easily maneuverable. A generally clutter free house that has what it needs, but not much excess. Some sort of cleaning schedule, along with some motivation to actually clean (not sure how I’m going to drum that one up).

What I would really like is for my life to look like some sort of giant walking Pinterest Board, where everything is organized and categorized and colorful and appealing. Pinterest always makes me feel motivated…until I shut my laptop. So, my goal for fall is to figure out the way to keep that motivation. Then I will blog about it, copyright it, make millions of dollars, and hire someone else to do all of it for me in the future. I would also buy a pair of really, really expensive boots.

How do you get organized? When have you found is the best time for you to do projects?

 

Fresh Starts

Fall means different things for everyone. While technically the first day of Autumn is on September 22, the signs of fall are all around. Fog over the lake in the morning, leaves falling off trees and blowing on the roads, Monday Night Football, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks, a personal favorite of mine. Its chillier at night, the mornings are darker, and I want to make chili and pumpkin bread. So while everything in me screams fall right now, I know that it is almost around the corner. It may not be here yet, but it surely will be here soon.

While I see many of my friends posting on Facebook that they’re just not ready, I delight in Fall’s promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. Many parts of my blog are new. Can you tell? Though it may not be complete, what better way to begin the process of completion but to just start and put it out there? Thats what I thought today. I have a hard time with putting things, or myself, out there before its perfect (ha), or complete. It’s hard to be in process, and let others see. Welcome to my process!

So while summer is ending, and yes you summer lovers, it truly is, fall offers a fresh start. A chance for not only new school supplies, but a renewed excitement for the year to come. So come back often, I will be posting frequently. I would love to have you.

There’s sand in my bed.

Its become routine this summer for Addie and I to hit the beach after nap time. Generally thats when the weather has warmed up to balmy 70 something degrees, we grab our beach bucket, a diet coke, and I try not to worry that this will be the day my daughter chokes on one of the two billion rocks she’s eaten thus far at the beach.

Its usually a hit. Addie spends not an insignificant amount of time checking out boys in their bathing suits and sticking wood into her mouth, while I try to figure out if the lack of sunscreen I’m wearing will either connect all of the freckles on my body or inevitably give me skin cancer. It’s probably a combination of the two.

Ug, what I wouldn’t give to be golden brown.

Anyway, when its time to leave, I dust Addie and myself off with the capableness of any parent who has taken their child to the beach a dozen times, and stick her wet bottom in the car. And yet, inevitably, there’s nothing that I can do to stop the sand from being everywhere.  When I change her diaper, its in the cracks and crevasses. I find it in my hair, and oddly enough tonight as I was chewing dinner, a little somehow wound up in there too. Curiously, as I was rolling around in bed last night trying to get to sleep, I had to get up and brush the sand out of my bed. Quite a fair amount too. It kind of bugged me to tell you the truth.

For a lot of the good things, sometimes theres just some junk that goes with it. Going to the beach and getting some sun means that I will be digging sand out of all of our crevasses for few days. Even though I know that the good things are good, and they’re worth the sandy junk that comes with them, why is it still so hard sometimes?

Its been hard to lose these last ten pounds, because that means I can’t have dessert. I really just love dessert. Sometimes I have dessert.

Its hard to organize or clean my house, because that means sacrificing time from something I’d rather be doing, like reading on my deck in these last few days of summer.

Its hard to let bad habits go…because they’re fun and easy. But I know I’ll be better without them.

Its hard to let myself be worked on and worked out, because that means relinquishing the last bit of control I think that I have, and not being in control makes me really uncomfortable.

So yeah, the sand in my bed is really just a giant metaphor for something bigger going on that God’s working out in me. What I am actually saying is, God’s doing some good in my life, but theres some crap thats coming along with it. I know, I also rarely metaphors so you’re taken aback. You thought I really just was talking about sand in my bed!

Oh wait, yes, yes, I do use metaphors. Like, actually quite a bit, like here, and here, and oh, here! And here and here and here.

I’m confident I’ll get through this awkward teenage adolescent phase of feeling like I’m continually growing up soon, as in hopefully the next few years, but until then, I’ll just continue to go the beach, inadvertently eat sand with my daughter, and write blogs about it.

 

 

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