Cleaning out the Clutter

I cleaned out my pool bag today, after an entire summer of almost daily swimming trips. It weighed about 25 pounds and was getting harder and harder to carry. In fact, it was so heavy, it made me not want to go to the pool, which is why I decided it was time to look inside. I found a numerous variety of snacks, 4 bottles of water, 1 can of La Croix, and 25 pool toys. The bottles of water and the snacks were from the beginning of summer. And we only played with 1 toy all year, a rubber football. You know why we didn’t eat the snacks or play with the other toys? We didn’t know they were there, underneath the clutter and mess. So I cleaned everything out. I simplified the toys. I switched out the snacks. I reduced the water bottles. And today, when we went to the pool, we knew there were fun toys to play with and new snacks to eat.
Sometimes this happens with our lives. We keep piling more and more into our schedules. We keep adding more and more into our daily routine. And before long, our days are heavy and our schedules are hard to carry. We worry and dread about how were going to get everything done.
I think this time of year is the perfect time to be purposeful and protective of our schedules. As we transition back into the routine of school, we have the opportunity to guard our calendars. By being selective and careful about what we add into our planners, we can reduce stress and actually enjoy our daily tasks. (The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst goes deep into this. I highly recommend it.)
Our hearts can become just like my pool bag. They can become crowded and congested with clutter. When we begin to unpack what’s weighing us down, we wonder where the mess came from. And when we begin to remember what’s underneath, we remember what inspires us and gives us joy. When we simplify our schedules we allow ourselves the opportunity to actually enjoy what we’re doing. We also set ourselves up to succeed and thrive in what we are doing, instead of just trying to survive.
Soon we’ll trade out the pool bags for back packs and gym bags. Our schedules will be filled with homework and practice. Let’s aim to keep our bags filled with the essentials and leave the clutter out. Lysa sums it up perfectly, “Every day we make choices. Then our choices make us”.  Like I tell my kids, let’s make good choices!

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Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom’s 70th birthday.  I am thankful I was able to celebrate with her during my visit to KC last month.  I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she didn’t have anything specific in mind.  So we decided to take her to a baseball game.  In 100 degree heat.  Cause that’s what you do to show someone you love them.  We certainly made memories and managed to have a good time.

As I get older, I understand and appreciate my mom more and more.   Despite the fact that she was a single parent, she managed to be a stay-at-home mom also.  She has modeled what christianity and a prayer-warrior looks like.  She encouraged me early on to make bible reading a daily habit.   She has a heart to help the elderly and the sick.  I can remember many visits to nursing homes that ended with us singing for the residents.  She also has a strong sense of justice and a unique way of helping where she can.  She started doing foster care when I was in high school.  And more recently, she hosted a foreign exchange student from China for 2 years.img_3878.jpg

Even though I wasn’t interested in learning, she tried to teach me how to cook.  She is a pro at taking leftovers and making them into something amazing.  (Matt thinks this is her best quality)  She is the queen of garage sales and thrift shops, you would be impressed with the bargains she scores.  She regularly rearranges the furniture in her house and might do the same when she comes to visit.  (She did rearrange our furniture while we were gone for a night)

We don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but I am so thankful for the relationship I have with my mom.  I admire and appreciate the sacrifices she has made. And I love the special relationship she now has with my kids.  They absolutely love Grammy.   Happy Birthday Mom!

Silly Levi

Learning through the summer

Happy August!  I just want to let you know I’m still alive.  Having little people around me constantly translates into zero writing opportunities.   But I’m taking a minute to steal away and reflect on the summer thus far.  Although school is out, the learning continues, maybe more for me than the kids.  We are discovering valuable life lessons every week.  IMG_5246

At the top of the list is managing expectations. This is a weekly, sometimes daily lesson that, for some reason, is quickly forgotten.  Why can’t we just go into everything with absolutely no expectations?  Wouldn’t that make things easier?  Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen and so we have to learn to adapt and go with the flow.

We are also learning how our family works best as a team, how we all have a role to play and job to do.   My kids have certain tasks around the house they are expected to do.  When they choose to complain about doing them, I try to encourage them and point out how valuable their job is.  It makes us stronger as a family and lightens the burden of housework.

We are (trying) to navigate how to spend massive amounts of family-time together and still like each other.  Tucked inside of this is another lesson; how powerful our words are.  Sometimes we say things we regret after So.  Much.  Time.  Together.  And although we can apologize, the sting of our words can linger.

Additionally, we are practicing being thankful and content.   Often times, the more my kids get to do, the more they want.  So that might mean we pull away and spend the day at home, remembering how it is a privilege when we get to do fun activities, not a right.  Let’s nip that entitlement in the bud right now! IMG_5065

Since my last post and our ‘summer reset’, we have been doing a better job of enjoying our summer break.  While I was writing this, I asked both of my kids what they have learned this summer.  Levi said, “Not to use rude words” and Ellie said, “Jesus”.  That’s my girl, when in doubt, the answer is always Jesus.