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NurturingMama

My days are filled with my family, raising 5 kids, homeschooling, running a Moms and Tots program in our local community, among many other hats I don on a daily basis! On our corner of the earth we have all 4 seasons, which most of them we enjoy immensely (I will tell you though- we do tire of long winters ha!). I love to share our surviving to thriving moments, the silliness and imperfections that come along with 7 different personalities under one roof. I also would love to share some tried and true resources and learning fun for you and yours to enjoy.

Motherhood Musings

In light of mother’s day this month I wanted to share some musings of mine as I have searched the scriptures on motherhood…

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Guarding your ‘Yes’

I don’t know if your like me, but my automatic response to a question usually ends with my saying yes. I love helping and I love “saving” the day.

‘Yes, I can help you those days!’

‘Yes, I can bake 10 dozen cookies for that.’

‘Yes, I can pick up the slack.’

‘Yes, I can fill in for you!’

‘Yes, I can watch your kids this day and that.’

I have realized that saying yes to every good thing (and these are good things) has taken away from being able to say yes to the best things. I am learning to put safe guards in place preventing the crash and burn. I have come to know that just because there is a need, I don’t have to be the one to fill it, regardless if there is nobody else willing to step up. Someone is always going to have an opinion out there, whether I am doing too much or not enough. I’m not here to please people, there is only one approval I seek. When I take the time, pray about an opportunity and seek His will for the situation everyone benefits.

I mentioned placing safe guards in my life to ensure I am functioning at my highest performance and I would love to elaborate on those…

1.) Carving time out for God daily in devotion and prayer. This is where I find clarification and direction.

2.) They say you are what you eat. I wish this one wasn’t true, oh how I love food! I find my mental health and physical wellness directly links to what I choose to put in my mouth. I am trying to make healthy choices for optimal energy.

3.) Pulling back the reigns and re-evaluating my busyness. Asking the question- am I pouring into something that is also benefiting/pouring into others’ lives, or is all my energy going down the drain with no evidence of any fruits?

Change can be hard. Even unnerving at times, the unknown is a little scary and saying no sometimes “feels” selfish to the outsiders view. However, when we wait for those perfect opportunities to arise that we are called to do and resist the temptation by saying yes to every little thing, the results will be amazing. Our reserves will be filled and the fruits will be overflowing.

Saying no to a good thing is hard for me, but guarding my yeses has become more important. I want to be a blessing to those God has placed in my life and give them my best, I can’t do that if I am caught up in the rat race of life.

After having countless conversations with a couple close friends of mine about this very topic, I was blessed to receive this book full of life giving words-

Trading life draining obligations for freedom, passion and joy. I can feel a heavy weight lifting off my shoulders that was never intended to be there, and it is freeing.

Not to say we can’t have full busy lives, but the right kind of busy…

I hope you have enjoyed reading along as I learn what it takes to say no, and save my yes for the best.

Amber

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Creating a Quality-Rich Environment

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

Everything in and around us begs for us to choose quantity over quality. Which is a stark contradiction of what we are taught within the scriptures. We are to strive for excellence in everything we do, and sometimes that means saying yes to less. I have always appreciated the status quote ‘quality over quantity’ and have applied it to different parts of my life for many years. One of my personal examples of this is the purchase of a coat. when I am purchasing a coat I choose a durable, high-quality jacket over a few cheaply made ones that may come apart at the seams or zippers, even though owning a variety of colors/styles may sound great, in the end they fall apart and use space in the closet waiting to be mended. Which then in turn is a hindrance and becomes an inconvenience. The cost of the well-made coat may be steep as a one-time purchase, but it will far outweigh the life of the other coats made with cheap and inexpensive materials that were never designed for the practical everyday use. It has always been easy for me to choose quality over quantity when it comes to material things. Even applying it to friendships and those who are a part of my everyday life I have used this mantra with; having chosen people who I have the time and energy to pour into a relationship, creating a life-long friendship that can pass the test of time. I have come to realize that these few things are only a small part of what it truly means to choose quality over quantity…

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17 NLT)

The Bible gives us a direct link of what it means to choose quality. The Apostle Paul traveled many places and accomplished many things beyond count in his lifetime. God used him for quality, which in the end produced quantity. The thing is however, he never brought attention to the quantity of all that he had done, but the quality of his work (I Thess. 1:2-10, Eph. 1:15-21, Phil. 1:9-11). Every work we accomplish will be judged. I am thankful to see this in a whole new light, for I want to be a God pleaser rather than a people pleaser. For God is the Quality. If I choose to try to accomplish 10 tasks, I would be graded a ‘C’ on them at best. Unless I had supernatural powers, I would never be able to give quality substance to all 10 subjects at one period of time/season. However, if I can strategically choose a handful of things to focus on and give my all to, giving my best, it would feel pretty great receiving an ‘A’ (at least for effort anyway, ha!) Honestly though, it does matter that we give our best to what has been placed in front of us. Sometimes I find I have to discern the things that are standing before me, with what is supposed to be in front of me. I try not to confuse the two. Some things are there to distract us from being fruitful. It pays off to hone in on the things that will produce quality, which then in turn yields more fruits that overflow into other areas. The enemy doesn’t want us to accomplish this, so he has provided much quantity, keeping us so busy running circles that nothing of eternal value is ever accomplished. Focusing on quality ensures that Gods will is being done. The minimalism movement (which goes directly against the grain of society, yet more and more people are feeling pulled towards) has a couple great points, one of which is how to live a more simple lifestyle with the reward of living a more quality, fulfilling life. I have yet to watch the documentary on Netflix on the minimalist’s, but I hear it’s rather good. As Aristotle once said, it takes practice to make excellence a habit and when we do something often enough it becomes a natural response. I am not one to make a “New Year’s Resolution” but rather a lifestyle resolution and this year I want to focus on quality of everything I do, from teaching my kids, my relationships with others, to my coffee (I am much obliged over this one 😉 ) as well as my family’s health and eating habits.

All in all, I am choosing to focus on one or two areas in my life at a time that I can bring more quality to, and as I practice this and put one foot in front of the other it is my hope that one day I will look back to see a quantity of many quality life choices over time.

I am looking forward to the overflowing perks of creating an environment rich in quality. Cheers to 2017!

Amber

 

Stopping Burnout In Its Tracks

“Oh no…” I moan to myself as the tell tale signs of burnout come creeping in. The short temper, irritated at …well nothing really. The gloomy looking future as my perspective is clouded. Don’t forget the pity party that sneaks in there too.

We are wired as parents to keep going and going, like the energizer bunny. Funny thing is we don’t have that long lasting battery. Unless we recharge or put new batteries in -we are hopelessly frozen in place. We are no use to anyone around us. In fact we may be doing more harm than good when we sacrifice our well-being to continue taking care of the demands of life when our current gas tank is on ‘E’.

It was recently pointed out to me from the opposite gender how wives/mothers need to get paid too. This can look different in many ways, but they all have a common denominator with the end result being refreshed and renewed. Many studies have been conducted in the work force revealing if you want your employee operating at top-notch there are steps to take to ensure productivity. This is not intended to encourage you to only think about yourself, but rather the opposite so you can give your best to others. If we are divided too many times over with programs, boards, volunteer work, activities and so forth we will only be able to give 5% to each category and sadly leave our family with cold, stale leftovers. My life has collided with burnout more often than I would like to admit, so I have been consciously seeking, trying and testing different ways to stop burnout in its tracks before it consumes me again. We are all so very unique and different that what fills me up may not necessarily fill you. Here are a few ideas I have had success with to help before it hits with full force…

Recognize what brings you joy. This may sound simple enough, but as life keeps moving forward and changing my interests have as well. I am still that person I was before I married and had children. I am also in a very busy season of life right now so I try to keep it simple. Coffee with a good friend, a supper date, or even a hair cut. Those things make me feel like an individual and not the “invisible mom”.

Volunteer in areas you actually enjoy and realistically have time for. Almost everyone I know volunteers in some shape or form. I am a planner so I really like putting together fun activities, parties and crafts for kids programs. It really takes the “work” right out of it when I enjoy it. Life stages change however, so I have to analyze how much I can actually do on a yearly basis.

Scheduling in breaks. When I have a block of time carved out in the day/week/month I am more likely to be more patient and have a better outlook. Similar to a small light at the end of the tunnel. When I can see the bit of light coming, I can breathe deep and keep going knowing my mind/body will have a chance to rest eventually. I try to combine what brings me joy with these scheduled “breaks” for the biggest impact on my state of mind.

Prepare for the worst and make an action plan. The signs begin to emerge that life is demanding too much and taking its toll, burnout may be around the corner. Plan for it. Which balls am I juggling that I can drop or delegate? For myself this may be taking a “snow day”. All activities for the day get cancelled and we stay in our pajamas and lounge around, reading a good book, baking cookies or drinking coffee all. day. long. The minimum gets done for housework and ordering pizza in for supper sounds fantastic. Other times this is simply impossible due to other obligations, so I make a mental list of what has to be done and what I can cut out later that week.

What are your thoughts on overcoming burnout? What helps you when life spins out of control? Are there certain steps you take to get a good grip on the reigns again? Whatever secret weapon you have I would love to be in on it, feel free to email or write it in the comments section, it’s always a joy to hear from my readers!

 

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Psalm 42:1

“And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds…” Eph. 4:23

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” Proverbs 11:25

-Amber

 

A Simple Christmas

How do you want to feel this holiday season? Most of us would agree the nostalgia of Christmases past and the feeling that is evoked through those memories top the list. Evaluating what is important to your family and those cherished traditions continuing on is a good place to start. I remind myself that the countdown for Christmas day is a large part of the fun. It truly is a festive time, for the Savior was born! There is much fun adding momentum while waiting for the 25th to arrive. The key is keeping it simplified enough to actually enjoy the holidays. I can only guess that Mary felt pretty jittery with excitement and wonder as the day approached to give birth to the Savior. What a magnificent moment in history. With all of the tinsel and baubles and the shining lights surrounding us we can still point it all to Christ. When the advertisements never cease in displaying the “best” gift from their store we can focus on the One true gift while keeping it simple.

I’d like to share a few suggestions that I have found helpful. Give them a try if you like, maybe they will alleviate some of the stress that is induced this time of year, leaving you with a simplified, but glorious Christmas.

  1. Surrounding yourself with those who give life rather than drain it. We only have so much to pour out to others and wasting it on toxic people is throwing away our resources. Our biggest impact is on those whom our fruits can grow and prosper (John 15:1-17). Go ahead and shake the dust off your feet from those who don’t care to listen. (Mat. 10:14, 7:6)
  2. Focusing your time on serving. It is amazing how our unspoken needs are taken care of beyond our wildest dreams, while we are busy caring for another. Perspectives are also kept in check as we live in this “me, myself and I” society.
  3. Feeling free to take a few shortcuts. Go ahead and buy that ‘ready-to-assemble’ gingerbread house kit from the store -rather than making it from scratch if time is more efficiently spent elsewhere. Coming back to my previous statement of evaluating the really important traditions to your family and letting the rest go. (Note* It’s impossible to keep up with the Joneses, they aren’t real!)
  4. Shopping online. Save yourself from impulse buys. Not to mention gas, time and parking fees. If you don’t like online shopping and lean more towards the traditional way, it is helpful to look online for the item you’re searching for and to find the best price and which store has it in stock in your city.

We celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Christ. The nativity story is beautiful. If we take it a bit further and think on the logical side of Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary would have had a long and hard journey. It certainly was no walk in the park to get to Bethlehem. Our lives at Christmas time are also intertwined with hurts, hardships and burdens.  Thankfully we have the perfect Present waiting for us at the end, and no matter how complicated things may get our joy can never be squelched. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation for your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9. How awesome is that? Let’s celebrate!

May the peace of God be with you all through the holidays as you share in it with those you love.

Amber

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 1:12