Friday, August 31, 2012

the end (31)

August 31st
The simplicity challenge has had its ups and downs.
I've found that making charts and filling a binder full of great ideas doesn't make me an organized, productive person.  It just means I know how to work the printer.

Here's the overall finished product of trying to simplify life and gain some discipline;
*I rose earlier than usual.  I tried to get up every day before my family so that I could have a quiet time, check email and get organized before the rush of day.  I did fairly well in this area, praise the Lord.  I really REALLY enjoyed getting up (honestly) early.  It was wonderful to have a quiet house to myself. Sure there were days (like today) where I couldn't peel myself out of bed.  But overall, getting up early was a good habit to start and continue into September.

*I engaged with my neighbors a bit more.  Not a whole lot but I tried to stop and have conversations with them instead of passing greetings flung through the air.

*Exercise is always an area where I can grow but I've managed to get a little better and even a small step is a step.

*It was hard to stay on budget... must be better at this.

*Cleaning... hmmm... yeah, this is also an area where I can grow and be more disciplined.

I have learned that I do a good job cleaning when I have friends over.  So I would take care of cleaning and engaging my neighbors if I had them over more often.  Must think seriously about this.

It's been a good month.  Simplicity is never something I will attain in life but I can always try.

What about you? Have you learned anything on your own quest to simplicity?  Any tips or tricks to pass on to the rest of us?

Monday, August 27, 2012

a slight obsession

I love fall.  I have what some may consider a slight obsession with fall but I consider it a healthy admiration for the best season of all.  Don't get me wrong, I like the other seasons.  Winter is fun for snowboarding, spring for flowers & warming us all up again and then summer... well, don't get me started on all the fun things about summer.

But nothing comes close to fall.  Fall is when all my favorite things in the world happen.  The weather starts to cool down, nights become longer, football season, pumpkin spice lattes, jeans come out of closets, snuggling with a cup of hot apple cider or cocoa or coffee or tea... everything just seems to take a long deep inward breath and a slow exhale as it was usually panting and sweating during summer... now, in fall, we can relax.

I love fall.  I love everything about fall.  I love the changing of leaves. I love the crispness in the air. I love that I can wear my favorite thing in the world, jeans and not be sweltering by ten in the morning. I also happen to love beanies.  And yes, I know people wear beanies in all seasons but I'm just not a fan of beanies unless it's a proper temperature outside and I'm guaranteed to not have a sweaty neck.

Fall is the reward we get for not melting during the summer.

Even foods taste better in the fall.  Bountiful harvests start to reappear in the fall.  Apples, pumpkins, tomatoes... and so much more.  So. Much!

I love back to school. I don't even go to school but there's just such an excitement in the air.  I'm all about the new beginnings and possibilities of these beginnings.  The daydreaming is finally starting to bear some fruit and the fruit soon to be ready to harvest.

Don't you remember the excitement of the first day of school? Seeing old friends after a summer apart, making new friends, discovering new classes & the excitement about which ones will be a thrill and which will be a bore.  Cracking open new (used) books.... I get such a rush from thinking about fall.  Yesterday I pushed my babies in a stroller up and down a Staples aisle looking at school products and had the sappiest grin on my face.  I love fall.

And of course, how could I forget to mention the Friday night/Saturday morning rush of a football game... did I mention football?  Well, it's in my top five of fall loves~ along with jeans & pumpkin spice lattes!

For several birthdays I had friends around the world celebrate at a certain time with drinking pumpkin spice lattes and toasting to my good health! It was a fun fall way to connect with people that I love.  See the first year here and second year here and then for some reason I stopped.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe that needs to change? "Meeting" for coffee is such a great way to connect with friends... even long distance friends. And coffee tastes better in fall.  See? It all leads back to fall.

Football, friends, leaves, beauty... I love fall.

And while its true that I live in Southern California where the leaves won't turn till January and we don't have a football team at our nearby school and the "crisp" of our weather is a chilly 68 degrees~ I still long for and love the call of a good old fashioned fall.

I'm off to go google the closest place for hay bale rides.

Friday, August 17, 2012

hear ye, hear ye

I think we need to make more announcements with the calling out of "hear ye! hear ye!".  It seems to bring people together...

and here's something you'll really want to gather round for and sink your teeth in to. Literally.

I found this website through a friend and am hooked.  I am in love. I am making promises to this site that I can't keep but I can't help it.  They just keep coming out of my mouth like I'm a 13 year old in love for the first time.  Okay, that's not true.  But if you visit this blog you'll see why I'm head over heels in love.  A healthy & tasty & not full of "where do I get that ingredients?"... I love cooking healthy but sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the different hip terms that I am so not in tune with. You with me?

That's okay! This chica is not like that. She'll hold your hand, rock you to sleep and sing "Soft Kitty" to you if you get hurt.  Okay, that's not true either.  But she does make cooking light and healthy easy!

With all that said.  Please eat these delicious morsels, ignore the fact that I used christmas sprinkles and go over to Skinny Taste for the recipe*.


*the recipe calls for "whole wheat pastry flour"... there are several options for substituting found here (it's easy!).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

(Day 14) Never a Mistake

This may look like an ordinary journal and it really is just that.
My best friend Kelli had this exact journal when I went to visit her in the Spring of 2010 and when I saw it I was immediately in love with it.  I don't know what struck me with this particular journal.  I blame it partially on Kel whose handwriting is so lovely and such an old friend to me that I was probably enchanted mostly with her penmanship moreso than the actual book.

I bought one, and promptly started using it.  About ten pages into the book I realized, "ohmy! this is going to take forever to fill up and I'll be stuck with this ugly old book forever"... I love journals, I love new journals, I love colorful fun and exciting journals.  So what I was doing with a black journal I have no idea.  Again I (partially) blame Kel's beautiful handwriting and use of colorful pens.  Darn you pinks, blues and greens.  You get me every time.

Anyway, not only do I love new journals but I also highly value "change and variety" as has been proven by a test the Navigators give me and proven true by the fact I change the layout of my apartment about six times a year (I painted my bedroom yesterday but more to come on that later).

Well, the black, ordinary (cough* boring) journal has won me over after all this time.  It has been WONDERFUL to go back through talks I heard and journaled on, encouraging receipts from time spent with friends and going back two years worth of writing to see in one book what God has done in this time.

Today I was thinking about Oswald Chambers' writing on letting the Lord have His way with you, admonishing and chastising you... and that reminded me of a talk I heard about Lila Trotman who was quoted as saying, "Pray that God will make you a woman of His, no matter the cost"... so I went back to see that talk and to reflect on it (two years ago September) when I stumbled on the poem that Lila was reading when Daws, her husband died, "He Maketh No Mistake".

I wanted to include it here to encourage you all (and myself) that no matter what we are facing, God never makes a mistake.
My Father's way may twist and turn
My heart may throb and ache
But in my soul I am glad to know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead,
for He doth know the way.

Tho' night be dark and it may seem,
that day will never break,
I'll pin my faith, my all, in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There's so much now I cannot see,
my eyesight far too dim,
but come what may,
I'll simply trust and leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift, 
and plain it all He'll make,
Through all the way, tho' dark to me
He made not one mistake.
~A.M. Overton, 1932

And while this "Amish Challenge" has been good to give me discipline and simplify life, I don't want to confuse "doing" with "abiding".  This poem was good to remind me that at the heart of simplicity is trust and that trust is always "worth it" because of the One we put our trust in.

If you're in a tight place now or just feeling low, I pray that it will encourage you to know that God knows what He is doing.

Friday, August 10, 2012

this moment

God's timing in life is confusing.  I don't mean that in a shake your fist at the sky kind of way.  I mean that in a genuine, what is going on, kind of way.

I've been praying for a certain thing this past spring only to see it arrive in February and bear some pretty awesome fruit.  Then it was taken away.

This wasn't a necessarily bad thing that I wanted... it is a very good thing.  So I don't know why it is being taken away but it is.

And I'm sad. But not angry sad.  Just sad.

I feel like I'm at the beginning of something... or does the end just feel like a new beginning? I don't know.  But I feel expectant and excited and confused.  I had my eyes on this "thing" and now that it's gone I feel a bit like I'm looking around for something to swoop in to replace it.

But I am not sure God is going to do that.  It seems that perhaps He wants me to turn to Him and replace this wonderfulness with something Best of all.

Two times that I can remember God has done this... at the end of something excellent and good He seems to say, "You were excited about something but I want you to be excited about Me."

It's not bad to like things and to want things and to have things... it's not bad to enjoy life, to have deep friendships, a husband/wife or children.... it's not bad to desire and to yearn for gifts from God.  In fact, the bible says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life" (Proverbs 13:12) but it also warns us not to become too attached to the gift, taking our eyes off the Giver of those good gifts (See Romans 1:25).

I don't think there was anything wrong with my gift.  It was wonderful, it brought me a lot of joy and I was able to express myself through this gift.  But God gives and He takes away (Job 1:21) and this is something He has seen fit to take away.

Who am I to argue or complain? To ask God, "Why did you take this tree away from me? It provided me comfort!" (Jonah 4).

No, in this season of not understanding what God is doing and just making a conscious decision to trust and obey, I know that it may not make sense, but that doesn't mean it's not good.

I love Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

There's always purpose.

Monday, August 06, 2012

(Day 06) Lessons Learned

I've already learned some lessons from the Simplicity Challenge I am embarking on this month.  For example, it was brutal getting up on Day 3 (Friday).  I seriously had trouble getting out of bed and even laid back down on the couch after an hour and a half.  My Love Bugs weren't awake yet (they slept in!) and I hadn't gotten my act together to make coffee the night before and couldn't make it in the morning because I am always afraid the grinder will wake the girls up, so I was running low on stamina that morning.

I realized sometimes the best things in life are the hardest things.

I've learned that I clean my house hoping for some acknowledgment from Hubs.  "Um, excuse me! Did you notice that shower was wiped clean before using it? Shall we take a moment to smile at our faces glistening in the wood floors?" And Hubs, if you read this, I'm not asking for acknowledgment really.  I just realized its a big motivator for what I do.  I want someone to notice how awesome I am becoming (which considering how awesome I started out at is mind blowing... ah, I am SO humble) and thank me for my hard work.

I realized the "amish" life is a life behind the scenes.

I've learned that saying I'll do something later usually means I won't do it.  I slept in this weekend because I felt like I had earned it and really I was running low on steam (see above about Friday).  Now, in the Amish Challenge's defense... getting up early isn't what is making me tired, it's more the discipline of setting an earlier bedtime that was making me a tad bit cranky and sleepy.  Anyway, so I slept in and said, "I'll work out and have my quiet time later in the day during the girls' naps."  I did neither.  Both days.  I think I had half a quiet time on Sunday... but I can't remember.  The truth is that once my day "starts" I'm busy thinking of my projects and to-do's to sit and read or really enjoy myself. So I think I'll consider the weekends just part of the week. :)

I realized I like rewards.  Gotta find something other than sleep. :)

So what motivates me? What gets me out of bed, cleaning behind the scenes, and doing things now instead of later?

Honestly, my alarm. And then I have accountability.  I'm still looking for others to join me here and I've signed up to be a part of Hello Mornings over there.

Hello Mornings is a place where women are gathering across the globe, committed to rising early (even 5 minutes early) to spend time with Jesus, exercise, and plan their day.  I love this challenge because it's full of grace (this is actually my third time attempting it.... third times the charm, right?), full of ideas for getting up & moving, and it's full of women who struggle & triumph at the same things.

Right now accountability is what is getting me out of bed, but I'm hoping to find some more things that get me going.  What about for you? Do you have an early morning schedule?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Day 01

You may not know this but I have a quiet admiration for our friends, the Amish.  I am quite taken with their way of life.  Or at least what I have observed of it.  The other day I was trying to figure out what is so fascinating about the Amish and I came up with some thoughts.  They are simple people, who work hard and have a disciplined lifestyle.  They're also intentional about passing on to the next generations and within themselves their tools and crafts.  They're pretty intentional within their community.  These thoughts led me to my own epiphany of "I don't have to be Amish to live this way" which is a good thought because although I've asked, Hubs is not interested in trading in his IPhone for a horse and buggy (insert sad face here).

Did I let that stop me though?  Not a chance!  I came up with my own plan of action and decided that August 1st was a great day to start my Amish Challenge. :)  I wanted to name it such but didn't want to happen on the chance that someone would read this out of context and be offended.  So instead I am naming the next 31 days,

*ta da*

The reason I am putting this on my blog is NOT to boast.  No way! I want to put it "out there" so that I can have some accountability (bring it on!) and share some resources of what worked, what didn't, how I triumphed and how I failed. :)  If something I say here can encourage or challenge one more person than that's just a cherry on top of my already delicious sundae.  I'm doing this for me, but if I can get some people to come alongside and join me? Well, the more the merrier!  Let me know if you start your own challenge!

Here's my game plan and resources that I'm starting:
*I'm rising early.  Every day, weekends and week days I'm going to try and rise before my family so that I can get some time in the Word, work-out OR just get organized for the day.  My resource for this is: Inspired to Action: Hello Mornings! Check out this website for the Fall Challenge!

*Staying on budget (do the Amish have credit cards? I don't want to assume they don't, but I kind of doubt it.)  I have trouble with this.  Guess what's the worst spender? Dining Out! Yikes! We use this but as I spend I forget to check the budget.

*Cook more at home... i love to cook but since having babies it's just so much easier to hop in the car and eat out.  No cooking, no dishes, no mess to clean up.  Wow, I'm lazy.  So this month I am severely cutting back on my eating out habits.  Hubs and I have come up with a game plan to limit our budge on this! I've come up with 30 meals that are our "staples" so that way when I am lacking in creativity in the kitchen, I can just go to a familiar face on our dinner table and know that it will be a success!

*Exercise daily in some way; gym, swimming at the pool, or walking with the stroller. Get out and get moving! One resource found here (thanks K).

*Maximize time spent with neighbors and my friends in the community vs. minimizing my time spent on my IPhone and computer.

*Cleaning Schedule (resource found here and gonna give it a whirl)

Okay, so now you're probably thinking... is this really an Amish lifestyle? Running? Using the internet for community and accountability?  So no, it isn't adapting a total Amish lifestyle but I'm trying to use my admiration for them to be a catalyst for change in my life.  The reason I admire them is because they seem to succeed in life where I falter.  So don't judge me if you see me driving, talking on my cell phone, or wearing jeans... I'm just adapting parts of their lifestyle into my life.

And without further ado. Let's begin....

Let me know if you see some flaws in my plan, if you love my plan, or if you just think I'm plain nuts.  I would love to hear from you and know if you have your own plan of action for structure set up!