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6 Small Habits to Increase Contentment – Guest post at Red+Honey

6 Small Habits to Increase Contentment When Life Isn't Easy Photo

I’m posting at Red + Honey. Read the teaser here and click over to read the rest. While you’re there, stay a while! It’s one of my favorite blogs and I am constantly blessed by it.

The couch is covered in unfolded laundry. The kitchen sink is pilled with dirty dishes. My unchecked ‘to-do’ list mocks me, my weekly goals are untouched. It’s already half an hour past bedtime and the kids are still running around, not even in their pjs. My husband asks where his work clothes are and I hear a child scream out through hot tears, ‘He hit me!’

What I want to do in this moment is scream, cry, run away. I want to be as far removed as possible from the responsibilities and pressures of managing a home and raising a family.

But what I need to do in this moment is to choose joy. To choose love for those entrusted to me. To choose contentment. Click here to read more…


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When someone else’s life looks better than yours

When someone else's life looks better than yours

Earlier this week I ran into a friend I’ve known since high school in the grocery store.

We briefly updated each other on the happenings of our lives, mostly the adorable and annoying things our kids have done lately, and I told her about developments in my family’s plan to move abroad again soon.

She laughed and said, ‘I live vicariously through your adventures!’

My friend lives in her hometown and is married to a man from her hometown, they own a home, have great jobs, a beautiful daughter and are surrounded by family.

Her response made me smile.

‘I live vicariously through your stability!’

Yes, my life is full of adventure. Plans are solidifying for Ryan’s internship and we will move to our fourth country in seven years (update to come). It’s fun, it’s exciting and I love it. But not all of it. I know it’s a blessing but sometimes I long for more consistency.

The stability my friend has is a precious gift. There are so many blessings that come from the choices she and her husband make that grow their already deep roots even deeper. It can be easy for me to look at her, and others like her, and see how she is surrounded by people she has known for decades, lives in the house she will be in for many years and her strong connection with the community and long for what she has.

After my friend and I said goodbye and continued with our shopping I thought about how we both have it pretty good. We both love our lives and wouldn’t change them. They are very different and that means they come with different blessings and challenges.

That’s what I need to remember: no matter how anyone lives, there are blessings and challenges. There’s no point in idealizing and one situation or set of circumstances and looking only at where my life lacks. I get the greatest blessing from being thankful for all aspects of my life and choosing gratitude to a God who puts me in places where I can learn to be more like him.

So when someone else’s life looks better than your own, remember the benefits that come from your life and how you live and know that she faces hardships, too, and it’s better when you can share them together.

 


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Setting weekly Goals – Guest post at Red + Honey

Setting Weekly Goals

Today I’m posting at Red + Honey. Read the teaser here and click over to read the rest. While you’re there, stay a while! It’s one of my favorite blogs and I am constantly blessed by it.

We’re half-way through 2014 (I can’t get my head around it, either) so it’s a good time to evaluate how you’re doing on the goals you set back at the beginning of the year.

Didn’t set goals?

Me neither.

I’ve never been a goal-setter. It’s just always seemed kind of corny to me so whenever I was forced to set goals I usually picked something I knew I could easily achieve.

But back in December when everyone on the internet was talking about setting goals for the New Year (‘resolutions’ are cliché) for the first time I started to think goal setting actually had some value. I read enough blog posts and statistics to convince me I really should set goals for 2014.

I was gung-ho and had my printables ready to fill out, breaking down my goals into action steps and such.

Then about five minutes later I realized this was ridiculous. Click here to read the rest!


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Fear, faith and money

Fear faith and money

“Am I acting in faith or in fear?”

I often ask myself this question when faced with a tough decision or feel unrest about my circumstances. By God’s grace my life is defined more and more by faith but fear still has some very secure strongholds in my life and over the past couple of weeks I’ve seen just how much fear I have about money.

Ryan has finished the academic portion of his MA, leaving only his internship to be completed. I figured we’d have something lined up by now and we would soon be on our way somewhere exciting. That’s not the case. Because we’ve put every penny into paying tuition we aren’t in a position to pay for an internship, like some other students, and we can’t live off our non-existant savings while we do it. We’ve spent the last year looking for a paid internship but we now recognize that’s not going to happen; they simply don’t exist.

Money is always the issue, money is what always seems to hold us back, lack of money causes me to fear.

What if we aren’t able to go anywhere because we can’t pay for it? What if we get somewhere for the internship but aren’t able to move to where a job is? What if the money’s out there but we’re not smart or good enough to get it?

I’m caught between having faith that God will provide and fear that he’ll leave us stranded. In my heart I know that he will bring the good work he has started to completion but my head isn’t ready to give up worrying and come to a place of total reliance on God.

I’m trying to live in total faith in God’s goodness, trying to have complete and total confidence in him. It’s hard, but he is getting me there.

There’s a strong option for an internship that would provide housing and food, thus being less expensive, but location is not somewhere we’re excited about so we haven’t jumped all over it. There has been lots of praying, lots of scratching my head saying, ‘Really, God? Really? Is this what you want us to do?’ 

In all this I feel God calling to me, telling me to trust him, to have faith that he is leading this journey somewhere good, to know him, to love him.

God is peeling back the layers of my self-deception, revealing how much fear money causes, and giving me faith in himself.

It’s hard but he is giving me the assurances and reminders I need along the way. He has provided so greatly for us and so many other people, I just need to be constantly reminded (like on a daily basis). He is at work in ways I don’t see and he knows where he’s taking us on this journey and I only need to follow him.

Your circumstances are probably very different than mine but I hope this encourages you to build your faith in God and trust him as your provider, knowing that he is active and moving in your life and in your finances.

May we no longer live in fear but in an ever-increasing faith in the one who is unfailingly faithful to us.


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Solo parenting survival skills

Solo parenting survival skills

Parenting is a hard job, even when there are two involved and active parents. But because life is, well, life there aren’t always two parents around. Whether a parent is gone for a multi-week work trip or a long weekend with friends, we all get landed alone with the kiddos at one time or another.

As I write this I’m halfway through three weeks of solo parenting. Ryan’s in Victoria, BC for his final classes and while I’m super excited for him to finish the academic portion of his program and to spend time with his fellow students, I’m still at home keeping two small creatures alive and relatively happy. Without daddy. Without the support of my husband.

This is my third extended stint of solo parenting, my first was for a month when Eleanor was 7 months old and then again last year for three weeks when Eleanor was 2½ and Edward was 6 months. While I am by no means an expert on caring for kids on my own, I have learned a thing or two that have helped keep me relatively sane and the kids alive long enough for daddy to come home.

1. Get help

No matter how long you’re solo parenting for, get help. Get a babysitter so you can spend a few hours out of the house without the kids, have them stay the night at grandma’s, even a play date will keep your kids occupied and having fun while you enjoy some adult conversation. In whatever capacity you can have help, take advantage of it.

2. Cook ahead

Even when there are two parents, getting  meal on the table can be chaos. Cook as much as you can ahead of time and keep menus simple. Added bonus: less dishes! Preparing meals you know your kids like will also help mealtimes go more smoothly because you do not want to try to convince your child to eat something they don’t like when you’re the only parent there.

3. Lower expectations

Before Ryan left he asked if I had any projects I hoped to get done while he was gone. I laughed and said I just hoped to survive! While I have gotten some things done, it’s not nearly as much as I normally would. And that’s okay.

I also don’t have as high of expectations for the kids. While I do expect them to have good behavior, I don’t expect their best. They both have a hard time when daddy’s not around and there has been more than one meltdown because someone wants daddy. So I let a little more slide and we’ll re-tighten the reigns when we’re a full-functioning parental force.

4. Have fun and allow some indulgences

One morning both kids woke up in meltdown mode. There was one tantrum after another, often two at once. So off we went to the children’s museum (all three of us are much less likely to behave badly in public). When it was getting close to lunchtime Eleanor requested we go to a restaurant. Yes, dear. Of course. We don’t eat out often but if there was ever a time to do it, this was it.

Doing special activities helps everyone enjoy being together and takes some pressure off. It can be a special day trip or extra visits to the park — whatever will make the kids and you happy is worth it.

I treat myself to a stash of candy.

5.  Take care of yourself

Self-care is hard at the best of times, much less when it’s mostly up to you to care for the needs of your children. But if there’s any time that when it’s more important to fit in some self-care than another, this is it.

Make it a priority to schedule in activities that rejuvenate you. Have the babysitter watch the kids so you can go to a coffee shop to read, take a relaxing bath as soon as the kids are in bed, go out with a friend. Whatever it is, make it a priority. It just might make the difference between solo parenting success or failure.

——

Solo parenting is rough, but it is doable. With a little bit of preparation, help and grace for yourself and your kids it just might be fun.

How do YOU survive solo parenting? What would you add to the list?


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Why I haven’t washed my hair with shampoo in 2 1/2 years

No poo

Way back in early 2012 my friend told me she was using the ‘no poo’ method to wash her hair, which replaces shampoo with baking soda and water and conditioner with apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water.

I was hooked and planned to try it right away. Feeling pretty comfortable with making my own cleaning solutions and a mostly homemade, whole food kitchen routine I was ready to take my crunchy journey to the next level.

Cutting out shampoo and conditioner seemed like a good place to start detoxifying my personal care routine. Continue reading


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6 Way to Promote Healthy Gut Bacteria in Pregnancy and Newborns — Guest post at Red + Honey

Gut health and pregnancy

Today I’m posting at Red + Honey. Read the teaser here and click over to read the rest. While you’re there, stay a while! It’s one of my favorite blogs and I am constantly blessed by it.

When your baby is conceived she has a totally unique genetic make up, a mashup of you and your husband’s DNA.

You can’t control whose eye color she will have, if she’ll be high-strung like you or relaxed like your husband, or, God forbid, she gets your father-in-law’s sense of humor.

There is one thing your precious baby receives from you, as mom, from conception that you can control: her gut bacteria.

Super exciting, huh?

click here to read the full post

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