Sunday, July 29, 2012

Proverbs 31, what it means to me...

As a stay at home mom and homemaker, I have had many different roles and experiences throughout the seasons of my life.  I have had overwhelming seasons where my home was a chaotic mess, lacking any structure or order at all.  I have had seasons where my job dictated how I spent my time, including time with my family.  And now, the season where my children are not babies anymore, and I have finally figured out how to bring order and peace to my household.  Of course, my home is not perfectly clean and organized all the time.  My children are not perfectly behaved and engaged at every moment.  However, I have really been committed to improving my skills as a homemaker and mother.  I have set small goals, and accomplish them often. 

I am often asked how I accomplish things in my life, how I find a balance.  And the answer is not black and white, not pinpointed by one easy answer.  The truth is that it comes down to two things for me.  First, is the fact that my youngest children are nine years old.  This is not to say that I don’t have to constantly parent them, arbitrate arguments, mold their character, mentor their relationship with God, physically and emotionally care for them – you get the gist.  But the fact of the matter is that my children are not babies anymore, and life does get easier in some ways as your children grow (and harder in other areas as well).  I am simply able to accomplish more on a daily basis without twin babies hanging on me, needing me physically, 24 hours a day.  I think my mental clarity exists differently and is less cluttered now that my boys are making decisions and accomplishing tasks for themselves.
Second, is motivation, and where this motivation comes from.  Let me just say that whatever job I have, I pride myself on doing it full force, with a joyful and motivated heart.  And being a homemaker and a parent is a full time job.  It is my only job right now.  I am so blessed to have a husband that provides for our family, and enables me to spend my time caring for my family and my home.  Not everyone has this opportunity in their lives.   I do, and I don’t take any second of this time for granted.  I treat it as my job, and strive for an orderly and productive life.  But let’s take a minute to discuss where this motivation comes from.  Yes, there is the normal motivation of being a mother, wanting a clean house, not wanting to hide behind my front door and never invite others into my home.  But it is much more than that.  It is my religious belief that motivates me as well.  You may, or may not be of any particular religious faith.  I was raised as a Catholic, and have spent the better part of my adult life as a Christian.  But more importantly, I am a believer.  I believe in the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  I believe that the Lord has a plan for me as a wife, a daughter, and a mother. 

This is never more evident than in Proverbs 31.  This section of the bible speaks directly to women.  It details how to be a wife, mother, and faithful servant (to God and to your family).  It speaks of a woman who is motivated and busy because this is what God wants you to do.  Specifically in verse 27:  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness”.  This tells me that the Lord desires me to be busy, maintaining the affairs of my household and tending to my children and my marriage.  This Proverb details very specifically that I keep my home clean, provide meals, take care of myself, tend to my children, and be an attentive wife (just to name a few). 

Now, you may ask, “How does this manifest into daily life as a wife?”.  The truth is that there are have to’s and want to’s in everyone’s life.  The have to’s of a homemaker are take care of your children, take care of yourself, take care of your husband, take care of your home.  All the other stuff is simply a want to.  This means that you have the power to say ‘No’ to these things.   You have the power to choose how you spend your time outside of taking care of your personal responsibilities.  You don’t have to overwhelm yourself with constant play dates, birthday parties, weekend trips, and doing everything that everyone asks you to do.  Yes, it is nice to serve and help out others.  But my motto is not at the expense of the order and availability of my attention to my home.  The fact is that the Lord wants you to have an orderly and spiritually faithful life.  You may read Proverbs 31 and think, “The Lord wants me to be able to do it all and burn the candle at both ends… how will I ever do it all?”.  And the answer is that he does want you to do it all in the way of your household, family, and marriage.  If not in effort alone.  He does want you to serve your church and your community.  But he doesn’t necessarily want you to say “Yes” to so much outside of this that you don’t have the energy or the motivation left to maintain an orderly life. 

These days, I find myself spending more time at home.  This allows for one on one time with my children, and time to care for my home and my husband.  I have often heard the phrase, “if your home is clean, then you are not spending enough time with your children”.  And I think this is simply not true.  My home is clean, my mind is clear, and our life is orderly.  And I spend every waking minute outside of school time with my children.  Granted, we are not at the kitchen table going from task to task for 8 hours a day.  But I am there, shaping and molding their mind, their behavior, and their heart every day.  I still say yes to volunteering at school, serving others, attending social events, and maintaining friendships.  But I take on what I can handle, without overwhelming myself (or my family).  I take on what will allow me to continue to be a faithful homemaker and still engage in life outside our home (whatever that may entail).  And that’s just the point – what life outside our home entails is entirely up to us.  If your life is so stressful, what part are you playing in creating that stress?  Yes – you should live life to the fullest.  But that statement has different meaning for every person who says it.  If you just throw your hands up in the air and say, “I can’t do it all, so I’m not even going to try”, then naturally you won’t even come close to accomplishing what the Lord wants you to.

Start small ladies!  Set daily goals that are priority accomplishments and others that are extra or “luxury” type of goals, time and energy permitting.  But be sure that you are really putting yourself into trying.  Honestly, getting started on a particular task is the hardest part.  Finishing the task becomes much easier once you have begun.  Overwhelming time commitments, debt, expectations, being too tired to get things done, are all choices.  I choose not to have these clutters in my life.  I choose to focus on streamlining our life and time, so that we can handle the curves that life and the Lord bring our way.  Only he knows what our lives will bring, but he has detailed how he wishes us to live it very clearly.  And Proverbs 31 speaks very clearly to us wives. 

10 Who can find* a woman of worth?a
Far beyond jewels is her value.

11Her husband trusts her judgment;
he does not lack income.

12She brings him profit, not loss,
all the days of her life.

13She seeks out wool and flax
and weaves with skillful hands.

14Like a merchant fleet,
she secures her provisions from afar.

15She rises while it is still night,
and distributes food to her household,
a portion to her maidservants.

16She picks out a field and acquires it;
from her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17She girds herself with strength;
she exerts her arms with vigor.

18She enjoys the profit from her dealings;
her lamp is never extinguished at night.

19She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.

20She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.

21She is not concerned for her household when it snows—
all her charges are doubly clothed.

22She makes her own coverlets;
fine linen and purple are her clothing.

23Her husband is prominent at the city gates
as he sits with the elders of the land.

24She makes garments and sells them,
and stocks the merchants with belts.

25She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and laughs at the days to come.

26She opens her mouth in wisdom;
kindly instruction is on her tongue.

27She watches over the affairs of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband, too, praises her:

29“Many are the women of proven worth,
but you have excelled them all.”

30Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31Acclaim her for the work of her hands,
and let her deeds praise her at the city gates.

I hope that you choose to prioritize your family and your home.  Even if you only change your attitude, motivation, and priorities on a daily basis.  That is a good start.  Set small goals, and accomplish order in your life.  The grace and contentment that comes from being a successful homemaker is worth the effort, I promise!  No one said being a wife and mother was easy, just make sure you are making your life instead of your life making you....  (said the biggest control freak ever :-).............

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July decorating and home projects...

Fourth of July decorating on a budget...  I really didn't have much put together for the holiday, but of course I still wanted to decorate for it....  So I purchased $.059 flags x 4 at Randalls and but luckily had everything else I needed in my crafty stash....  I was able to make a cute burlap and felt wreath and added touches all over the house....  I had ribbon garlands, a vintage picture, pinwheels, and crepe paper garlands in my stash...  Here is what I came up with to be festive for the fourth:

The front door festivities:

Hammered these babies into the ground... the hard, hard, clay soiled ground :-)

I whipped up a delectable batch of fried green tomatoes for the occasion :-) Dang...........  I am really becoming Texan now ;-)

We don't use the entryway hooks for much in the summer since we don't EVER wear sweatshirts here, so I decorated it instead....

I figured the banister was the best place for the cheesy paper star garland....

I switched out the summer themed table for a little bit of red, white, and blue:

Just randomly strung up another ribbon garland:

Put out the grocery store flags along the front porch:

Some random shots of things I love around my home...  This shelf is a bit out dated with lots of outdated accessories on it - but these are things handed down to me and many things on here hold deep emotion and memories for us - so why not display them??

Pictures of my babies when they were little:

All of the wall decor here was purchased at Goodwill, painted, and re-purposed.  I have always wanted a Pottery Barn looking desk set up without the Pottery Barn price tag.... so I just painted an old desk we had gotten for free, added some cute hardware, and slapped the Goodwill finds up on the wall..  I am not completely satisfied with it since I didn't leave myself enough room to get the twins pictures on the left side, but it will do for now...  Planning people..... it's all about the planning.... 

Just could not stand looking at my hall closet anymore... It holds towels, linens, an tons of  holiday decorations - and you could not even open the door without things falling out... With a budget of Zero dollars and Zero cents - I just reorganized and reworked it a bit.  I know I could have tons of cute baskets and storage options - but like I said - I did not want to spend any money on this project...  I feel so much better every time I open the door now!!

So far this summer I have accomplished organizing all my junk drawers, the paper/school/mail/ art area in the kitchen, 3 problem cupboards in the kitchen, my boys bedroom, the spare bedroom, and the cupboards in our television entertainment center...  I still have a few closets and the garage to go - but I will get it all done!!  Just watch me ;-)