3 ways to start monday off right

I always used to the think the command to remember the Sabbath Day meant to go to church once a week - maybe even Bible Study with coffee and donuts! The more I read and study Scripture, however, the more I'm starting to see that God has designed a day of rest for our benefit. For awhile I got defensive about this concept, wondering how God expected me to do nothing at all for 24 hours, when I was barely keeping up with my regular tasks the rest of the week. I think, though, the idea is not to count the number of steps we take on a Sunday, lest we break the Sabbath law, but rather the spirit of drawing closer to God, giving our bodies and minds a chance to rest and refocus so as to enter our week refreshed and ready to give work our all.

In that spirit, I try to avoid income producing activities on Sundays, spend quality time with family, and read a little extra Scripture. And, though it may not seem 'restful,' I also try to prepare myself and my family for the week by doing a few extra chores. I love blasting hymns, or Christmas Carols, now that the Holiday season is {almost} upon us, putting on some clothes with an elastic waistband, and taking a few small steps to make sure our week runs smoothly.

1. meal prep + chores

This does not have to mean making six freezer meals on a Sunday afternoon (although that would be awesome). For me this simply looks like planning out my meals for the week, and chopping my veggies ahead of time both for meals and snacks. It may or may not also include a deep clean of the fridge and a fresh loaf of pumpkin bread.




For us, the extra chores are washing towels and bedding, vacuuming everything, actually folding the baskets of laundry that were forsaken in the midst of a busy week, and possibly reorganizing a drawer, shelf, or closet.

2. quality family time

My love language is quality time, so if I don't get that extra dose of family time on the weekend, I'm already feeling depleted going into a busy work week. It's not always possible to sequester your whole family at home on the weekends, so it can be as simple as a nice long family walk, a board game, or snuggling in bed reading together. I always find that I'm much happier to jump into a busy schedule when I have taken the time on the weekend to refresh my body, mind, and relationships.

3. plan everything for the week

And I mean everything. Especially for people who have unpredictable schedules (ahem, children), it is super important to write down the most important things that must happen in your week. I write down when I will work out, and what that workout will be, what my morning devotions will be, what meals we will eat, budget meetings, blog posts, business hours and phone calls, and of course lesson plans for school. Thanks to a tip from my sister Molly, I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go, so I can keep a running list of things that need to get done, things I need from Target, blog post ideas, things I need to talk to Justin about, Christmas gift ideas, etc. I also keep a small, cheap planner from TJ Maxx to keep track of dates, like doctor appointment, scheduled meetings and phone calls for my business, and important deadlines. If you don't plan to fill your time with your priorities, it will quickly get filled up with scrolling through social media, scrambling to get things together last minute, and walking into a room but not remembering why. Know where your week is going!

via Ziglar.com
And there you have it! That's how I utilize my Sunday to prepare for the week. What are your best practices for making sure your week runs smoothly?

a crucible of sorts

crucible

noun | cru • ci • ble 
: a difficult test or challenge
: a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions

Thanks, Merriam-Webster.

Anyway, we seem to have found ourselves in a nice little crucible of challenge and change. First there's the conundrum of packing while keeping the house perfectly clean for showings. Then there's just...pregnancy in general, and figuring out in what state and hospital we will give birth. Also, someone seems to have entered the terrible 2's a few months early. She's certainly been strong-willed and vocal about her preferences lately. Finally, there are all the everyday responsibilities that come with being an adult. 

School ends in 5 weeks. The countdown to our cross-country move is now 8 weeks and change. Baby's guess date is in exactly 12 weeks. The showings on our town home will, apparently, never end. Ever. And anyone who has ever tried to keep a home show-worthy with a toddler and a dog knows this is a Herculean task. (Maybe it's just because I'm pregnant or out of shape or both, but I feel like I've run a marathon after cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, swiffering, and wiping down mirrors). 

It's so absurd to complain, because we don't even own the townhouse, so we don't have to worry about selling it, or even setting up the showings on our own. We just have to keep the place clean and vacate the premises when necessary - that nomad life. So many friends are in the same situation right now, but with the added stress and pressure of actually selling the home and having multiple children. And after venting to my mom, I am reminded that she and my dad did this at least 6 times while in the process of having their 6 children. Perspective.

Most days I feel up to the task, even excited about everything that's happening. Then there are days where the exhaustion knocks me flat on my back, and let's just blame the pregnancy hormones for all the emotions that come bubbling to the surface. Just keeping it real, folks. 

I'm getting better at prioritizing, and deciding what truly needs to get done each day, what can wait, and what can get done in a "good-enough-for-now" manner. (I'm looking at you, hiding extra junk in the garage when there's a showing). 

I'm also learning that most worthwhile changes come after a period of intense work and challenge. 

And most importantly, I'm learning that I am human. I can only do and handle so much. But God  promises to be my refuge in times of stress. When I am weak, then his strength is shown. When I feel overwhelmed, it is then that he shows me what he can do. 

Our current situation is temporarily stressful, and will lead to so much joy. It is truly not trouble or hardship. Many face far more difficult and dire situations on a daily basis. Many battle illness, tragedy, and persecution. 

Despite knowing all of that intellectually, I still feel overwhelmed some days. So I am reading and rereading this section of scripture:

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." {2 Corinthians 12:9-10}

I'm thankful for God's mercy each day. I'm grateful for those around me who have shown me grace as I fumble through our "crucible of change." I'm thankful for all that I'm going through, and all that lies ahead. 

In conclusion:
It's all good. The end. 

the mythical art of balance

Balance. It has been studied and written about and sought after. It has been lauded and denounced. How can we achieve it? Can we achieve it? Should we achieve it?

Well, I actually don't have the answer to any of those questions. If anyone has the answers, please send them my way.

Instead, I will remind you of this analogy, of which I am sure you have heard or read at some point or another.

I'm not sure where this simile originated, but I love it!

Life is like a juggling act. We're trying to keep all of our oranges or apples or chainsaws in the air. The more chainsaws we add to our juggling act, the tougher it will be (but also the more impressive and exciting!). In order to restore the balance of the juggling act, we may have to set a chainsaw or two down momentarily. That doesn't mean you're dropping it and failing at juggling altogether. Au contraire, my friend. Setting down a chainsaw is a sign of self-knowledge and maturity. (No one wants to be the guy who thinks he can hang with the juggling professionals only to cut himself in half with a flying chainsaw, amiright?)


I'll give you an example from my life. I've got some great chainsaws to juggle:
my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband, motherhood, family, friendships, health, cooking, a home to clean, being a dog owner, operating a home-based business, coaching, teaching Spanish, my own study of Spanish, using Spanish with Pippa, writing, reading, photography, volunteering, and rest.

Some of these things are really, really important. Vital. Imperative. These things should almost never be set down in favor of less important ones. They are the chainsaws that are the "meat and potatoes" of my juggling act.

Then there are the chainsaws that make my act fun. Maybe they are leopard print chainsaws that play "La Cucaracha" when I juggle them. They add joy, delight, fulfillment, frivolity, and laughter to my act. My act can survive without them, but it's not as exciting.

Sometimes I really need to focus on a specific chainsaw. When it's volleyball season, reading, writing, photography, cleaning, and cooking may have to be set down.

When I'm focusing on my health chainsaw, my Spanish chainsaw may be momentarily set down until I've comfortably incorporated my health chainsaw into the routine.

Sometimes I accidentally or neglectfully set down a chainsaw that should never leave the rotation, like reading the Bible and cultivating a rich prayer life. In fact, the more chainsaws I have in the air, the more I need to focus on these two things.

I forget that a lot.

I used to get stressed when I had a lot to juggle and say things like, "I can't! I'm too busy!"

When I realized that each chainsaw was a choice - that I didn't have to keep them all in my juggling act - I started changing my language. I started saying things like, "I'm choosing to focus on this instead of that right now."

I'm learning that it's ok to set something down for a season. I'm learning to choose my chainsaws wisely, and weed out the ones that are distracting to the rest of my juggling act.

There may be a season of many flashy chainsaws when my act is really exciting and entertaining and exhausting.

There may be a season when I decide to go back to basics and juggle like 3 chainsaws.

And other times, you have to drop ALL THE CHAINSAWS so you can get your hair cut for the first time in a year.

But I digress. Just know that no one is juggling all of their chainsaws at any given time, even if their juggling act looks super organized and perfect. Even if all of their chainsaws are labeled with free printables from Pinterest.

What is your best advice for finding balance in the juggling act of life?