Aug 18, 2014

Overwhelmed, discouraged and a plan to attack it.

We recently got back from 8 days of camping at the Oregon Coast and the week after returning I kinda hit rock bottom for some reason.

It probably had a lot to do with:

smelly laundry

filthy floors

lack of room in the garage

no organization in the garage

HOT weather

no goals

news of Robin Williams' death

news of a mother in Cannon Beach killing one daughter and trying to kill her other one because they thought it was the best answer to their problems

But whatever the reason, I succumbed to discouragement and just overwhelming OVERWHELM.  I slept a lot.  Read a lot of fiction.  Had no plan for dinners and a messy, unorganized, wreck of a house.  

So one morning about 5 days into this yuck, I took some time to write in my journal exactly what I was feeling, specifically.  WHY I thought I was feeling that way....

And what I could actively do, today, to help alleviate some of this dark cloud.

That act, right there, made a huge difference.  

Instead of walking around just feeling bleh, I was able to specifically name a few areas that I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged in, why it was that way, and what, if anything, I could do about it.

That act, right there, helped me SO much.  

I was able to pinpoint some items that were hanging in the corners of my brain, taunting me, and figure out why they were there and what I could do about it.  And I started making a list.

And part of the problem, was that my schedule, for most of the summer, lacked any sort of GOALS.  I had TO DO items listed, but no goals to move me forward as a wife, mom, and person.  No real specific spiritual goals, no specific financial goals, no specific anything.

So I dug out an old journal that had FLYlady stuff in it from 2 years ago and re-adjusted everything in that to work into my life today.  Now, I have a plan, a schedule/routine, and a way to make the important things happen.


That is the key.


If you feel like you've hit a wall.  If you're discouraged.  Overwhelmed.  Exhausted.  I challenge you to think through WHY.  Write SPECIFICALLY what is eating at you.  Spend time. Really think it through and WRITE IT DOWN.

Then ask yourself what you can do to change it.  If there is NOTHING you can do, then write PRAY.  Ask God to be HUGE and reveal Himself to you through the struggle.

If there IS something you can do.  DO IT.  

Make a specific NEXT ACTION list.  What is the next thing you can do to change this?  I guarantee you, if you spend some real time in thought here, everything that is overwhelming you has a next action of something you can do.  And doing something changes you from being a victim of circumstances and overwhelming overwhelm, to being proactive and able to do your best in the situation you are in.

Today I woke up excited to get going on my new week and it went well.  In fact, I was able to pretty much follow my morning routine without a hitch, though I know not every day will be like that.  And that's okay.  I have a plan, a routine, and I'll do the best I can with the season of life I'm in now.

If you decide to try this, leave me a comment or send me a message about what you are dealing with and what you are going to do about it.  Let's pray for each other in the comments and share our struggles and triumphs.

Life is always good.
Sometimes you just have to look harder for it.

Aug 11, 2014

Book Review--The Sticky Faith Guide for your Familiy

Last year (at exactly this same time of year, because I read it over our camping trip) I read Sticky Faith.  It was a book I picked up from Amazon because I'm raising teens that I hope will walk with Jesus after they leave high school and move on with their lives.  It was a great book and I highly recommend it.

So when I saw The Sticky Faith Guide for your Family available for review from Zondervan, I jumped on it and took it along on our camping trip.  I am SO glad I did!  It seriously transformed our trip.

First off, the author makes it a point at the beginning to tell you to not walk away discouraged because you aren't doing some of the ideas in this book, but rather encouraged that every day you are here on earth is another day to try.  That made me think of this important fact:

There is NEVER a day that I'm hopeless because there's NEVER a day I'm without the Giver of Hope.

The next thing that the book made me think of (though I couldn't find on review if she mentioned this or if I thought of it because of something she said) was this question:  What do your children need from you in this stage of life, right now?  So I went through each child individually and asked myself that question.  Then I asked my husband.  Then I asked my friends we were camping with.  What does ____ need from you right now?

For my oldest:  He needs my respect.  I'm least likely to give it to him because he hasn't really earned it.  He's my quickest to fire off in anger... and I find it funny that he is the one who needs respect the most.  I can tell how it eats at him when I respond to his attitude with a lack of respect.  So we had a talk at camp about how I will work on respect, and he needs to work on responding to me in love. (I want him to practice for how he will need to respond to his wife one day.)

For my middle son, he needs my encouragement and pushing. He needs me to push him to go beyond his introverted world and encouragement to try new things and make new friends.

My youngest son needs my positive interaction and touch and love. He is the one who will come in for one last good night hug six times a night, and call good night from his bed about twenty times.  He needs more daily positive interactions. 

Then, upon reading further, I came across this paragraph which totally changed our camping trip this year.

I thought after reading it, that it was probably true, but wanted to test it out.  Since we were camping with other families from our church, I asked them if it was true for them that their children had never heard their stories.  Most of the children never had.  For some families, the oldest had heard bits and pieces, but most hadn't.  So, we made it a point to tell our stories to our children around the campfire after dinner.  

You guys, it was AMAZING!

I cannot even say how cool it was.  We heard all kinds of faith conversions.  From huge change in an instant to some that gradually understood and accepted Christ.  It was truly the most amazing evenings we've ever had camping.  Not only did we get deep with fellow church members, but we all had a chance to verbalize, remember, and grow closer through telling our stories.  Our children were there to hear and were able to see and understand that God works through all kinds of experiences, circumstances, and people to bring us to Him.  There were stories of forgiveness, falling back into sin, growth, pain, happiness.  It. Was. Awesome!  And it is a tradition that I hope we can continue each year that we camp.

I wrote a lot of notes, underlined miles of passages, and will return to this book over and over.  The author encourages you to choose just 5 things to work on so you don't get overwhelmed.  I found my five and with Christ's grace I will work on them.

Some ideas I hope to work on:  

Inviting families over from our church to hear their stories and continue that awesome time of getting to truly know our friends.

Figure out ahead of time what my response to bickering will be (still working on that one!).

Have a date with each son on the date of his birthday each month.  My oldest was born on the 6th, so on the 6th of each month, we'll do something one on one, even if it's going for a walk around the block, or grabbing a soda at the drive through.

Make a scripture memory wall or board near the dining room table so we can all work on verses together at meal times.

Institute a Sabbath Saturday.  No screens, no electronics.  Just time together to play board games, go on hikes, or just hang out and read.  (We've done this before, but like all good things if you aren't intentional, it just kinda fell under the radar and was forgotten.)

This was an amazing book, packed with tons of real life applications that you can do right now.  All information came from real parents, doing real things, struggling in real ways just like you and I, but letting you in on the secrets that worked well for them.  I'm so glad this book is out there for us who continue to keep trying!

Go get it!

This post contains affiliate links.

Jul 13, 2014

Week review and Bullet Journal lists

It would be so much better to do these reviews on Friday, or even Saturday..
But here is how my week worked out.  I think I got my main priorities done, though I'm always hoping for at least 50% done in each category, and it didn't quite work out like that.

Thinking through why I still procrastinate on doing the Proverbs project.  I think it's just plain procrastination and unorganized thinking in the morning.  Each morning next week I'm going to make it a point to review my Bullet Journal every morning for just 5 min while I sip my coffee.  Hoping that helps.  There are still days where I forget to even look at it.

So in order to do that, it means I have to rework my morning routine--which, honestly, isn't working that great right now anyway.  I need a lot more margin built in because I am still moving too slow in the mornings, and I still really struggle with switching tasks.

I did have a great light bulb moment earlier this week for my sales goal though, and will be working on that this week.  Totally different than what I had been trying before.  Instead of focusing on total sales, I'm going to focus on product. I can't really control sales... but I can control that I am consistently putting out fun and new items and using my email list and social media effectively.  So that's my new focus this week.

I also thought I'd share some random lists I have in my bullet journal. It was great going over these lists to get pics for you.  I also need to include a Bullet Journal review once a week and re-read through these quotes and lists.
(earlier this week, T1 came in on my bed with me and I happened to have my bullet journal out, working on it, and I flipped to the page where I have been writing great things about each son and read the list outloud to him... he didn't say much, but had an embarrassed smile the whole time. I highly recommend it!)
"Amazing things about" list for each son.
Great ideas for doing on the weekend... that I very rarely do.  But wouldn't it be cool if I did?!

Great quotes I want to remember.  Especially that middle one!
I have lots of lists like these to try to combat falling into the same old routine of wasting time.
Still have not done much here... yet.
Kind of similar list to the one above, but this was a year review after my 41st birthday.
So good to re-read and ask why I'm not doing these.

These lists are pretty much the only things that keep me focused on the big picture.  I SO easily fall into the easy and familiar and start putting out fires and wasting time online, sitting at the computer, and doing the urgent.  I definitely need to build daily review/reflection into my morning routine so I can remember what I want to be doing.  If it is not in my face, I get lazy, I forget, I get overwhelmed and return to what I call "scribble brain", where I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing, and get overwhelmed with kids in my face, literally breathing my same air because I'm not paying them any attention.  So, here's to a new week and new goals, and lots more margin and review!

Jul 10, 2014

Book Review--The Hope Quotient

I received a copy of The Hope Quotient from Thomas Nelson publishers and was excited to get to it because I had never really thought of hope being something  you could learn and increase.  
I thought you either had it or you didn't.

Come to find out, I was wrong.  

I loved so much about this book. It read quickly, with lots of great lists and bullet points, which I love in a non-fiction book, and was 224 pages of encouragement.

As with all reading, the entire book never sticks with me, but a few sentences do.  And this one had three that I can think of right off the top of my head:

-What can this become? 
(instead of Why did this happen?)

-Don't make decisions when you are down.

-You get what you expect.

These are not necessarily new concepts, in fact I know I've heard some version of all of these before in some context.  But in this context, they really stuck out to me.

I loved the chapters on Recharging Your Batteries and how important it is not to run till exhaustion but to take some time off to help yourself be the best of yourself.  This is an area I really felt guilty about doing before and am now coming to realize how it helps not only me, but everyone around me.  Definitely need to fit this into my bullet journal planning.  It is so important.

Another section stuck out to me too, and it was on burnout.  He brought up the thought that maybe what I consider burnout is really just discouragement.  I thought on that for a bit and for the most part, I think he's onto something.  Going to let that roll around in my brain for a while too.

This book was VERY encouraging. VERY good to read, and I will definitely be carrying around these thoughts for quite some time.  In fact, I'm going to keep this one in my library to refer back to when I feel my hope diminishing and my discouragement increasing.  

I would definitely recommend reading this, especially if you are going through some trying times or feeling a bit hopeless and overwhelmed.

Great stuff here.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Jun 30, 2014

Weekly Review and Reflection with the Bullet Journal

I am just starting to really appreciate the power of reflection and figuring out how to make it work in my life.

I have never deliberately taken the time to reflect on my days and weeks.  Instead, I usually just reflected when a flash of something stupid I did popped up in my mind, or something that I should have done better bounces across my thoughts.  And then I'm usually crushed under guilt or terrible self-talk.

So instead, I'm trying to be more intentional and proactive and deal with the issues shortly after they come up, so I don't have to stress and feel awful when they pop up the other way... I just make myself feel awful intentionally and it's done.  Just kidding.  Kinda...
Also, reviewing my days and weeks help me plan better for the upcoming ones.

So how do I do that using the Bullet Journal?

My journal pages for the week.

After the week (usually on a Sunday or Monday morning) I look back over my checklists and see what I checked off and what I didn't.
Then I make a short note about what I accomplished, or not, for each section. If I didn't do well, I ask myself why. What was holding me back?  Usually it's lack of time management, lack of focus, or just plain procrastination.

Just the process of seeing how I did, 
and asking myself WHY has been SO valuable.

For years (well, all my life up until the last few months) I never evaluated myself on any area of life. I'd just get through the days, fall into bed feeling like a failure for not getting to everything I should have, and start over.  The process never improved, never gave hope or conviction, it was just an endless circle.

Reflection and review is a stepping off point for the circle.

Now I pause, evaluate, and come at the new week a little better armed for battle.  This week, I know my battlefield is mostly focused on making it a priority to get to personal development and transcribing Proverbs.  Had I not taken the time to review, I would have just started a new week's list and tried again, probably still lacking in that same area and being unbalanced.

That's how review and reflection works for me in my bullet journal.  I hope you make the time to review your past week and see where you did well (YAY!) and where you need to focus more intentionally (We can DO THIS!).

Have a great week and an awesome Independence Day!