fresh start goals.

a fresh start.

Here are my goals for 2014.

seek Him.

I want to pursue knowing God more deeply through surrender, study and a stronger focus on prayer. Advent uncovered some stony unbelief in my heart, and I am praying that God will cut through all of the fogginess those untended corners can bring. Whatever He does do this year, I want to keep showing up. I struggle most with being persistent and specific in my prayer life, so I’m feeling drawn to focus on that. My dear friend recommended Val Marie Paper’s prayer journals to me, and I have loved using mine so far.

Mostly, I am committed to wrestling and pulling all of my identity under the truth that I am Loved.

pursue them.

I want to know, love and like Tom more than ever. We have more flexibility than we’ve ever had in the day to day, and I am focused on serving him and spending time with him.

I want to disciple my children by consistently seeking the Lord together, establishing daily habits of togetherness and parenting them one-on-one more frequently. I hope we’ll read aloud more together. I hope we’ll draw near over the Word more and more frequently. My biggest challenge will be finding more individual time, which I am finding is a high need since we are in some transitional years as far as age.

anchor by rhythms

I long to serve my family by establishing and maintaining rhythms that anchor our home and communicate my love for them. Basically, I hope to grow in tending to our home life.

walk in truth

I want to focus on my overall health with an emphasis on making wise and moderate choices and meditating on God’s truth about me. I have so, so much to say about my health journey. I just refuse to spend one more year focused on losing weight. I’m tired of it. I’m feeling a little disillusioned with all of the healthy eating talk right now as I don’t see much of Christ being brought into the dos and don’ts. In the past month, I’ve come to a realization: as I’ve ventured more and more into healthy eating ideology, I’ve become that weird food person, which feels ok but isolating. Full disclosure? My family does not love the way we have been eating lately.

Still. I battle my self image and long to change every single day–many, many moments throughout every single day. I’m not sure where this leaves me except that I would love to make meals my husband actually likes. He eats whatever I make, but I would love to see him genuinely excited to eat a meal he loves. And I see. I see (Jamie Foxx SNL skit, anyone?) that we live in a culture that worships food and diversity and availability. I don’t want to be fooled by a false freedom, but I’m not sure I haven’t been exchanging that for a different kind of worship: a worship of what I can do.

So. All I know is that I want to believe what God has said about me. Change happens this way: mind, heart, actions. I’m starting with my mind this year and reading over and over again how He loves me. Then, I’m trusting John 10:4: that Christ goes before me and that the more I know His voice, the more easily I will follow Him. God has a path marked out for me. I won’t lie. I’m afraid to not start with what I can do, but this feels more hopeful than any other way. This doesn’t mean that I’m abandoning all of what I’ve learned over the past year. I’m just bringing all of that under the truth-telling light of God’s Word.

write hard and clear

I want to be brave this year. I am prayerfully pursuing some new things with my writing, and I am scared. I feel a strong allegiance to who my audience is and want to circle around that more and more. Mostly, I want to write in a way that illuminates God’s work in my life and connects me to others.

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Real talk? This is the kind of post that leaves me feeling overwhelmed. There is much here, and I know I’ll fall short over and over again. I will be selfish. I will yell. I will oversleep. I will leave dirty dishes in the sink.  I will speak in anger. I will let others down. A lot. Perfection is not my goal. Growth is.

So. These are my plans. What are yours? I’d love it if you’d share a goal or two for your life right now!

things written on my heart.

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Like most people, I get all wrapped up in the romance of a new year. It feels fresh and clean and opportunity-laden; a little pink cheeked year all scrawly and ready to be filled up with all the things. I wrap my year up in hopes and dreams and the resolve to be a better version of myself.

This year I am letting go of being a better version of myself. Instead I am setting goals that I hope will lead me to begin to live out of God’s love for me. The truth is that I often try to drum up the wherewithall and gumption to be better and lovely and liked and good from other things: approval, acceptance, conformity. These all lead to comparison and competition and, well, a fissure-covered heart that can’t seem to hold onto anything worthwhile. Also, I get stuck. Stuck in fear. Stuck feeling ashamed. Stuck in avoidance.

I’ve been working through this process as I reflect and redirect and I’d love to honor what the Lord has been writing on my heart over the last year.

God knows even the tucked away, unnamed dreams we harbor. I’ve taught classes. I’ve shared a message with the women of my church. I’ve led workshops. I’ve met you all here. All these things, I never would have been able to verbalize a dream toward. But when I’ve stood in these pockets, I’ve felt closer than ever to my 17 year old self sprawled on a floral comforter and scribbling words in a composition notebook. This is a dream I never would have named, but it appears I have always had a heart communicate with others.

I need a plan. As much as my right-thinking bent brain revolts against straight lines and lists, I need to be intentional and thoughtful. I don’t want to serve lists or try to squeeze grace out of dry-lived performance but I do want to be engaged and unstuck. Inspired by my friend, Hayley, I’ve begun making some realistic goals for each month and even though I’ve written “Make a chore chart” for two months now, I do see that I am making more progress in my daily living and finding more joy in being a servant in my home.

I want to be sensitive to my distractions. More and more, I am feeling convinced that we are being paralyzed by all of the information rushing around us. There’s a trade off: the more time I spend gathering status updates, beautiful pins and 20 ways to be better, the less I am actually doing and being. There is room for inspiration and I don’t mean to imply that information is inherently bad. But. Information is not truth and inspiration dies when it becomes prescription. I feel compelled to become more and more discerning about the quality and quantity of the voices and stories I allow into my life.

I am a writer. This is still a descriptor I find hard to clack out on keys. And I don’t apply it based on any perceived skill level I think I have. I just find life in words and I love to meet you here, invite you in and extend “Me, too.” My mind is constantly churning and processing and it is freeing to look for the Lord’s hand and sort things out in words and find out that I am not alone. I feel a heart for you and my words are the way to get there.

2013 was a full and beautiful and hard-fought and slow and jumbled and everyday-filled year. What about you? Would you share something God has been writing on your heart?

everyday : saturday morning.

saturday morning treat.

Even though I’ll always be the mother of this little operation we’ve got going on over here, something happens to me on Saturday mornings. After coordinating practices and homework and games and almost forgetting to go the dentist, I’m tired. I feel like I’ve just crossed the finish line of a marathon.

I can get a bit grumpy. Especially when the breakfast game begins. You know how it goes. One child wants Cinnamon Toast with no butter. Another wants regular toast with a thick layer of butter slathered all over it. If he can’t see it? It doesn’t exist. And the other child? Wants pancakes which are nowhere in sight. I have to admit I am not in the mood to juggle.

We fell into a slump, the kind where I grumbled and closed the cabinets a bit too loudly. But Saturday is the one day free of early mornings and packing backpacks and making lunches and rushing off. It’s our family day. So I took some inspiration from a friend here and I decided to smooth the wrinkles with special breakfasts.

The trick to this whole thing is that the bulk of the work has to be done the day before. I love to eat good food but I don’t so much love standing at the stove for 30 minutes flipping pancakes on our morning of rest. It might be your thing and that is ok. It is not mine.

For the past few months, I’ve spent Friday afternoon or evening baking up a lovely little something that can be ready to eat or be popped in the oven when I hear the thumping of feet hitting the floor the next morning.

We’ve had Apple Fritter Bread, Easy Apple Cake and Baked Apple Cider Doughnut Holes. We got on a little apple kick, obviously. One Friday I felt especially adventurous and made up a big batch of Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Roll dough and changed up the fillings every couple of tins. And, then? I froze them. Smiley face. Last week we had the most delicious Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Muffins.

I know. This makes a mess. And it’s a good bit of extra work for me, although I usually enlist at least one helping hand. Also? Don’t you think that my house is spotless all the time and I’m cooking everything from scratch and my kids don’t have bed head. I am not above the Chick Fil A drive through. They might know me by name. But, this? It’s working for us. It’s the kind of thing I love to hear about from others and then tweak for our own family: a bit of work that buys rest .

for you on my birthday.

This giveaway is now CLOSED and the winner has been notified.

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Today is my 36th birthday.

We celebrated yesterday with a day that involved someone else being responsible for all of the meals. For the whole day. We did a few other sweet things, including consuming the most delicious birthday cupcakes from my friends at Pink Magnolia Bakery. (Local friends! You want to use them)

What I would like most for this year is to breathe deep and wrap myself up in the slow of determination. I want to do the things that only I can do. Not so that I can chase after perfection but so that I can be fully present. I’ll fudge and flub my way through, I know. There’s grace for that. But. My hope is that I will walk out of this year having been less distracted and more invested. And maybe take some risks along the way.

Last Saturday I saw someone toting home a fresh Christmas tree and I could feel it starting up, that feeling of being behind, behind, behind. It really is the most wonderful time of the year and if I’m not careful I’ll spend it rushing and running and being stretched too thin. Distracted.

And I thought about you. And how maybe you can feel that way, too? I wondered? Would you like to take some steps to redirect? To slow down? To really celebrate the coming King?

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So. I bought this advent calendar for you. And I would like to give it to one of you.

Our family used the Naptime Diaries advent calendar last year. I like to use a combination of daily scripture reading, activities and traditions. You can read all about that here.

This year? This year, Jessi is including a corresponding devotional with each calendar. Which means most of the work is already done for you.

Would you like to receive this calendar?

It’s simple. Leave a comment-ONE COMMENT-here and share one word that you would like to see characterize the Advent and Christmas season in your home.

This giveaway closes at 6:30 am on Wednesday, November 21st.

the beauty of your second day

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That breaking moment in the midst of your day? Can I pour something healing and wonderful down over it?

It’s called your Second Day and my beautifully hearted friend Jessi taught me about it.

At the very moment when you are just about to give out but your day calls for you to give more, make a shift. Start your Second Day.

Apply it this way: Back up a few minutes. I shoot for 30. Or 60 on a really, really everything is right in the world day.

Split your back up time in half. First, do some things that bring you peace and prepare you for what is next. I try to do as many as I can of those everyday things that suck life and marrow out of me if they are left undone. You know the drill. Dishes. Tidying. Clean off the desktop. Write that email. Do whatever it is you do with that pesky spreadsheet (I don’t know because I am one of those weirdo right brained people). What you want is to trick your mind into thinking that things are fresh instead of mind tired and frizzled hair feeling. Just trust me.

Now. For the second half. Do something that is only life giving. Maybe you read. Maybe you write. Maybe you pray. Maybe you draw. Maybe you walk. Maybe you listen to music or nothing at all. Maybe you’re an extrovert and you do extroverty things (I wouldn’t know because I’m one of those stubborn introverted types). Whatever your thing is that makes you feel full and alive and at rest. Do that thing that speaks to your heart.

And then? Then you start your Second Day.

Shifting like this has brought some kind of fierce refreshing into my day. Oh, there are days where I just put my head down and steamroll through. That’s ok, too. There’s victory there. But the days when I get to walk through my little Second Day rhythm are becoming quite the treasure.

Will you try it? And will you come back here and share about it? I’d love to know.

a prayer for 3 p.m.

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Lord?

Today done flat wore me out. My hair is going every which direction and my words aren’t good anymore and every response I’m making is clipped with frustration. Because where am I in the midst of this? Of the powdered sugar caked on the counter. Of the popcorn covering the kitchen floor. Of the papers strewn about the dining room. Of the Zaxby’s drink from two days ago that’s still sitting on that table in the den. (Thank you for Zaxby’s, Lord. You know I love it.) Of deadlines unmet and receipts unreconciled. I don’t even know if I have clean underwear for tomorrow. And there’s that book, magazine, whatever that I’ve been wanting to read for days. I think it has jelly on the cover.

I’m thirsty, ever so thirsty, for refreshing. And this stony heart, the one that I was born with? It keeps telling me that I’ll quench my thirst reading just a few blogs or in five minutes checking my email or two minutes more on facebook. If I can just sit down.

But there’s only One who ever broke stony rocks and made water come spilling and trickling out. And that is You. If it’s not You then I’ll just be parched.

And so I will wash the powdered sugar off of the counter because it’s work you’ve given me to do. And I will answer that 7 plus 7 is 14 even though I do NOT want to. I will do that paperwork that has been waiting for three weeks. I’ll even do the laundry.

And I will look for you. In every single thing I do, I’ll look for you. And I’ll do it because you gave it to me not because I have to be good. If this is the work you’ve given me then You are in it. And I’ll believe that even though it is work, because You are in it then even this stuff of my hands can be refreshing. If I don’t give in, then you’ve promised I’ll reap. I’ll reap and I’m believing that it will be margin. It will be refreshing gifts from You to my heart, things that give me life.

Amen and Amen.

Whatever your 3 pm looks like, maybe you have a verse or encouraging truth that you turn to. Would you share? I’d love it if we lifted each other up.

the redemption of time

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Last week I sat drinking unsweetened iced tea (dumb diet) across the table from a lovely heart who has more life experience than I do.

This change I am seeking is going to require all of my thinking parts.

I want to delight. I want to cherish. I want to pour out love, love, love.

Homework time is a major battlefield. I feel tired. I’ve been up for years, it feels like. I’ve been in the physical world of a four year old. I feel not enough. And I’m just done.

But it’s a gift that I am able to be here in this moment. And it’s the sweet pulp of our day together.

And so as my words poured out over unsweetened tea and devilishly tempting coffee smells. I said it.

What is my part in redeeming this time?

The simple answer that came back was fresh air to my not good enough, work harder heart.

What would make me look forward to it?

And that very afternoon, we positioned ourselves right under the window where the absolute best afternoon light splashes in. It’s the kind of light that makes you want to do something fancy and important.

And we spoke God’s Word over and before that time.

And there was soft music. A bit of Sandra McCracken is always a good thing. Or the Wailing Jennys can make romance out of first grade spelling words.

Today? I think we will selfishly pilfer every camellia off the bushes just around the corner so that we can have a table full for tomorrow. Wednesday and Thursday are always hardest. The best part is that the quince is about to bloom and I cannot wait to look through wiry, white bloomed branches at third grade math.

There is peace in this time now and I am feeling less and less the pull to rush out of it (sometimes). Sometimes it is still hard and groan filled but we will do it anyway.

I was stuck in unlocking the mystery when all I needed was just to bring the sweet gifts to the table.

This isn’t about perfection. I’m trying to keep lofty expectations at bay. This is just about being present. Being Present. It might be grumbly on their part or mine. It might mean doing math that I needed a tutor for. It might mean digging in and pushing through and it might not feel delightful right this very minute. It might mean that I have to stop the whirlwind of a to do list that I was never going to finish in the first place. But they are worth it and I want them to know it. It’s a tiny portion of my day that I can stop and let be redeemed.

Are you on this journey, too? I’d love it you’d share.

whys and wherefores

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Here’s what has changed: my heart.

I started 2011 with the gusto to take more risks. Grow my business. See just how much energy I could eek out of my life and into my little plant of a thing.

Here’s what I’ve learned: I am an artist. Not a businessperson.

Sometimes you have to be both. But sometimes you don’t.

Beautiful things have grown in me as I stretched to the far end of my boundary lines. I wouldn’t trade the things that have been added.

But a calling came stronger than the stretching.

Do you know what love is?

Love is releasing a perfectly good thing because it isn’t the best thing.

handmade recess (the shop, the shows) is a perfectly good thing. I am good at it, thankful for where it has gone this year.

But it is not the best thing.

Right now the best thing for me is to serve my family in love.

Right now the best thing for me is to turn in to the beautiful gift of my marriage. Please do not worry. We are better than ever. I just won’t take it for granted.

Right now the best thing for me is to lay a groundwork of grace and love in my children’s hearts so that they will never-not ever-doubt that they are loved and Loved.

Truth? It’s easier for me to focus on my gifts used in my business. Those made things? They do what I want them to. I feel more capable with them.

I don’t feel at all equipped for this season our family is in. We’ve entered the heart boundaries part of parenting and even though I’m not always physically worn out, my heart is heavy, heavy, heavy with these choices. It’s going to take all of my energy, this transforming. I don’t carry all the weight. I AM does. But, still, I must keep my focus.

There is laughter running through my mind right now as I imagine my husband reading this post. I’ve used 342 words to say this:

I am almost completely giving up handmade recess.

You can find my products at this amazing store in Atlanta, Georgia. And. I might have a little holiday shop if I feel like there is room come Christmas. I’ll still be pursuing my artistry. I’m just letting go of the burden of the business stuff. It was stealing too much of my heart.

This space? Will go on. It’s one of my favorite things that handmade recess has given me. Pursuing writing years after I studied it, packed it away, has brought me so much joy.

I’m not sure what to expect in this space, except that I l will live my life and then I will write and then I will post it here. Not the other way around. I said it last week: it’s my heart that this be a place where your failure-feeling is checked, where you find a kindred spirit, where you feel encouraged to always choose what is best no matter how afraid you are. And. Where you glory in the fact that you are clay.

And? Just one caveat: please know that this is my choice. It may not be yours. If you work out of the home (I still do…just differently), if you work away from home, if you stay at home, if you stand on your head 15 times a day? I think you are awesome. Ok?