Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Starting at the Right Place


I don’t know about you gals, but the Kathi Lipp video was exactly what I needed this morning. Yesterday was a tough day emotionally and the clutter that was consuming my home turned me from emotional to grumpy to darn right mean in the time it took me to walk from one end of my home to the other. I was so overwhelmed by the piles, the projects, and the things I needed to do that I lost all motivation to do any of it. Everything seemed monumental and too much. Shoveling it into a giant dumpster seemed like an easier task than simply putting it away. 

This defeated feeling was so frustrating because organizing and decluttering have always been a favorite of mine! I was that girl growing up that would take absolutely everything out of my room and start from scratch, going through every drawer and box and rearranging my room until I found joy in how it looked.  

So why do I have such a hard time now?! Why does my home continually look like some magic genie came and transported articles from one room to another, right before a massive nuclear bomb went off?!!

I know I am not alone in the feelings of complete frustration that happen after a long day of cleaning and organizing, you turn around to catch a break and BAM...disaster strikes again! 

Those sweet little dears....

But then again, nothing breaks my heart more than having to tell my kids “not right now” or “I can’t play because I have to do chores...”. I’m tired of the time it takes to manage our stuff and keep it cleaned up and organized. I want to be able to tell my son “heck yes I will play Legos with you!” without feeling the guilt of towering dirty dishes, scum ringed toilets, or the mountains of laundry.  

Now where to begin? Naturally my thoughts turn straight to Pinterest where I have quite a good organization board going, and those great books I have on the subject of decluttering speak great ideas and solutions to help the drowning woman. But I’ve realized this time around that I need to start at the heart....my heart. 

I have an addiction to the high of a great purchase. Not just any buy, but the great deal buy. I’m pretty sure my gravestone could easily say “But it was only $2.00!”. Hi, my name is Mallory and I’m a thrift store junky. I love the hunt, and saying no to that random something that is just too amazing to pass up because it’s just so cheap is my downfall. So, I bring it home, put it where it needs to go and the piles increase.   

Whether it’s the great deal, the freebie, the happiness or keeping up with the Joneses, we all have our justifications for buying that something.
  
But what if we stepped back, looked around our home and saw all the stuff that was holding us back from living our best life, and decided to make a change so that sitting on the floor playing block towers with your toddler didn’t mean neglecting anything else; to really be in that precious moment without being distracted by our own leaning towers of clutter?

Never a better time to start than in the New Year! I want this year to be the year of saying “NO” to the clutter, to the managing of stuff and impulsive buys! Remembering that clutter in our homes actually manifests itself in our attitudes and hearts!  

Just like Kathi said, just take 15 minutes today to start somewhere! Clear out a closet, a drawer, or simply your diaper bag. Only keep those items that you truly need or bring you joy! I’m thinking about my closet right now knowing I could easily fill a bag with all the items that no longer bring me joy, and don’t even get me started with the toy situation in our home. Grab your laundry basket and walk your sweet home, filling it with things that aren't where they belong and put them away! Scroll Pinterest for easy organizing ideas and start a declutter challenge! Ask a friend for help. Organizing and decluttering your home is way more fun with a friend and a box of chocolates (cleaning burns calories :) you’re welcome).

But remember that it has to start from the heart first to make a real change in your life. Ask God to help you see through the mess to what’s important, ask for strength and patience with yourself, ask for perseverance and some blessed energy to tackle your home. Remember grace for yourself that it won’t happen overnight and you’ll probably buy something in the next week you don’t need. But also Remember the reasons you want to make your home a sanctuary for your family. Think of all the time you will have to do the things that really matter when you are not slaving away managing all the stuffs. When you get rid of the stuffs, you can make room for something better. 

“Choose today who you will serve. But for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. For He alone is our God!”
Joshua 24:15,18

“Clutter is anything that doesn’t bring you joy and stands in the way of the things that do.”
 -Leah Martin

“We were never meant to live a life accumulating stuff. We were meant to live simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the journey of life- not the things of life.”
-Joshua Becker

-Mallory




Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wonder Face


My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night, because it gives me all the warm fuzzies as I think about that night when my Savior was born. But I find myself playing my favorite Christmas album a lot more this time of year… The Beach Boys Christmas! Oh my goodness, if you haven't heard these Christmas songs, march your little hiney down to the record shop and buy it! (Or download it from ITunes, Whatevs). I find myself craving the upbeat and just plain fun Beach Boys album because I just want to have the joy of Christmas that I remember as a child, the joy of Christmas before being the Mom that makes it all happen.                 
               
My goal every year is to KISS; keep it simple stupid. I try and not overbook us. I try and have all of my shopping done by November at the latest. I try and try and try to make everything simple and easy so we can just soak in the Christmas joy. But every year it gets harder and harder to do.

Heather spoke so eloquently last Tuesday about keeping our focus on Jesus and away from all the hustle and bustle. That we need to soak in our babies and that look they get when they experience something magical for the first time; Wonder Face. As Heather spoke about that, it made me ponder, what is the root of the Wonder Face and how can I … 1. See it and take it in when my kids have it? And 2. Experience it myself? So I've been asking God to show me what is up with this face and surely I can get in on this action too. Surely the God who made the universe doesn't want me to run around like a chicken with my head cut off making everything magical for everyone else without any peace and joy for myself?

Then at church on Sunday, my Pastor spoke about Hope.

May the God of HOPE fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Now, not only does God want us to have Hope, He is actually the God of HOPE. That's pretty awesome. I want to be a hope filled Mama. I want to see the Wonder in my children and have it too. I think we all do. Life has some bumpy spots. Some hard things happen... some very, very hard things, and it is easy to become negative and not think of future possibilities of joy and peace. But you know who that is from; the enemy. He wants us to be depressed and hopeless. But our amazing Father wants us to be Hopeful. To have that Wonder Face at all things bright and beautiful.

The good news is well, the good news. Jesus was born so we may have the greatest Hope of all. Hope in Christ our Savior. He lived and died and He lives today! We can remember that this world with all of its troubles and aches and pain is not our home. And while we are here on this earth, we do not have to do this alone.

He gives us His Holy Spirit to help us.

"So that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit".

My prayer for you today Mama is that you take your eyes off of your to-do list and focus on the Hope of the Lord. That you know you are beautiful and loved and it is not because of what you do that you are loved, but because of Whose you are.

Now play some Christmas music and show me that Wonder Face!

"OH Holy Night,
The Stars are brightly Shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior's Birth

Long lay the world,
In sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt it's worth.

The thrill of Hope, the weary world rejoices."

- Summur


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Not Our Plan, but HIS Plan


Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Game changers…we all have them. Those times in life that change EVERYTHING. I want to share my game changer with you ladies. Her name is Maya Elena and she is one of the best surprises that Jesus has ever blessed me with. I thought that our family was doing well, but we were missing out on so much. We were settling for doing okay and our girls deserved better. I remember taking that pregnancy test and crying and asking why. I mean c’mon God, my life was perfect, what am I supposed to do with 4 kids?! After telling my husband and crying more and talking to friends and crying even more, we ended up at church. We were never religious people, but we were both asking God, "what now?". Our 4th baby girl (yes people, 4 girls!) changed EVERYTHING! We gave our lives over to God, and my family, my marriage, my friendships, and my life will never be the same. I was so scared and felt so helpless and once I learned that this baby was in God’s plan for us all along, my perspective changed. Yes, I still cried every now and then, but after I was done I got up and prayed. That hole in my life was filled and I no longer was alone in my anxiety. I learned through that situation just how loving our God is. He never stopped pursuing us, and for that I am so grateful. Seeing my daughters worship or my husband pray still brings tears to my eyes even now. God knew exactly what He was doing when He blessed us with Maya. I just needed to learn to trust His plans. How amazing is it that we have a God that wants nothing but beautiful things for us?
Amber and Luke Grover had a game changer too. Her name was Olivianna Grace. Olivianna only lived 11 minutes, but she is still touching lives to this day. After she passed, Olivianna’s Closet was started. The goal of Olivianna’s Closet is to provide necessities for parents or guardians in need and to share with them God’s Word. We can help this ministry continue to bless parents that may be feeling overwhelmed or fearful by donating items or even our time. They accept gently used and new items for babies and up to size 5t. Amber and Luke had faith in God’s plan for them and through Him they created something beautiful. We may sometimes feel overwhelmed or even alone, but God never abandons us. He is with us in our misery, our fear, our mess, and He is creating something beautiful out of it all.  So ladies, let's bless these families. Who knows, maybe these babies are God’s game changers in motion bringing these parents to a place where they can hear about Him!
If you would like to donate items, feel free to drop donations off at any time. There is a crib located next to the nursery that you can place your items in.
-Ana

Thursday, November 16, 2017

MOPs Mentor Mom Panel


First, I want to thank our fabulous mentor moms for being willing to sit before us and be vulnerable; for stepping out of their comfort zone to share their wisdom, their mistakes, and their journey through motherhood!  You were such a blessing to so many of us moms that morning and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

I love that we have mentor moms! And no, their job isn’t just to show up and bring an egg dish.  Our MOPs group is so very blessed to be able to have so many different mentor moms from so many different walks of life with a multitude of tried and true tips and tricks!  Sitting on the stage before us was a fantastic testimony of God’s work through the variety of amazing women who are still walking the motherhood journey, just a little further down the road from us.

With all of the hundreds of resources online available to us (sometimes feeling shoved down our throats) it is easy to feel like you are alone and lost in the sea of information, or feel like you “got this” mother thing and don’t need any help from anyone.  I definitely relate to the first one by the way.  Either way, we have lost the apparent need for community and relationship and mentorship. 

I feel like our generation was given two roads of motherhood: the first being well worn and smooth with clearly marked hazard signs and the second being a dense jungle with no warning signs of dangers ahead, and you better have a freshly sharpened machete or you ain't goin’ nowhere very quickly! 
That first smooth path with the occasional bump is the one where we are looking ahead to the women who have gone before us! We learn from their mistakes, take in a bit of their wisdom, and when in need of help, there are tea shops lining the path!  
The second path, jungle dense and full of booby traps, is the path a lot of us have felt the need to take.  Alone and without a clear idea of where the path should even go.  Well meaning parenting techniques bombard you from every side and you no longer can make a confident decision about what your child can eat because apparently everything will give them cancer. You scour the internet and books and magazines trying to make a plan of attack, trying to understand what will be best for your family and you feel like you are drowning and alone.  

Meanwhile, your fellow motherhood sisters are making their way down the clearly marked path lined with tea shops where they stop once in awhile gaining wisdom and snagging tidbit tips left from the moms who have gone before them.  Sure there are still struggles and bumps and full on middle of the grocery store with a full cart tantrums, but at least they feel prepared and surrounded by fellow moms sharing in the same hike.  

Which path are you currently on? Which path do you want to be on?  

As for me and my circus, the path well traveled and tested is the one for me.  Sure, not everything will fit our family, and maybe I’ll try something that totally flops, but I will know I am surrounded by friends.

And remember, while there are those freshly showered moms with their second cup of hot coffee in hand just ahead of the mothering journey from us, there are also those who are just behind where our trail marker stands.  They are the ones with the sweet smelling newborn in their arms, blissfully unaware of the grocery store meltdowns but are bleary eyed from only getting two hours of sleep last night.  There are the moms who can’t seem to see the light at the end of the toy packed tunnel and if she steps on one more LEGO in the middle of the night she will lose her mind.  The mom whose special needs babe takes absolutely all of her waking moments and some of the sleeping ones too, who feels alone and misunderstood.  

Last Tuesday morning we all walked away with bits of wisdom and hope from our mentor moms, but I also hope that it will remind us to pause and look around at the other moms near by.  Who’s the mom you can ask for help from when you are stuck in a tough parenting situation that she’s already been through?  Where is the mom right there next to you on the path that you can reach over and pat on the back as you both drag your flailing toddler out of the store?  And who is the mom just behind you, who needs to be shown a little hope amidst the growing piles of diapers and handed a hot cup of coffee?  

We were not created to do this motherhood journey alone.  We were beautifully and intricately made by a God who favors the relationship.  

This week my prayer would be that we remember that.  

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” -Romans 15:5
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”-Hebrews 10:24-25
“3 And here’s what I want you to teach the older women: Be respectful. Steer clear of gossip or drinking too much so that you can teach what is good 4 to young women. Be a positive example, showing them what it is to love their husbands and children, and teaching them to 5 control themselves in every way and to be pure. Train them to manage the household, to be kind, and to be submissive to their husbands, all of which honor the word of God.”  -Titus 2:3-5 (voice)

-Mallory

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Let Love be the Loudest Voice


It's pretty loud in my house right now, so I have relaxing nature music on, on YouTube haha. Annnyyyway, I'm really not sure where to start on this post. As I've been thinking this week about what I might write, I haven't been able to get out of my head that love has not been my loudest voice throughout my life. Irritation, impatience, whining, selfishness… these are some of what my loudest voice has been, and it hurts to be typing this. While it bothers me that I've lived like that, it stirs in me the desire to keep seeking the Lord for help to keep growing through it and past it. Oh, I'm so weak on my own. 

In her testimony, Love used the term "generational dysfunction" to describe unhealthy repetitive patterns that are present in a family tree. I do not want to pass my generational dysfunction on. I want it to stop with me, and I want a new (functioning) pattern to start with my family.

Love is hard for me. In my eyes, I'm hard to love, and it's hard for me to show love. Honestly, I don't know why. But thankfully, I don't have to. What I do know, is Jesus loves me and He is working on my heart and refining me day by day to be more like Him. I struggle, but He meets me there and gives me the strength to try again. And again. Him showing me love and grace is teaching me to show love and grace. 


Something that has been encouraging me is… when my little Abby was learning to walk, I would tell her, "Stand up and walk, stand up and walk", and I remember God teaching me through that, really the same thing; to "stand up and walk". To trust Him and get out of my comfort zone and try things I've wanted to try but never believed in myself enough to. That, if only I knew the goodness that awaited me once I "started walking"; I would try. Being her Mama, I knew Abby could do it and that once she did she woudn't stop. I believe it's similar to having a relationship with God (with the exception that I'm wee lil' me who doesn't know much, and He knows everything). He's the Father, and He knows what goodness awaits for His children. I hope all that makes sense!

Psalm 37:23-24 NIV
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Mark 10:27 NIV
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

-Heidi M.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Love & Marriage


So my lovely Mama friends, I have been wracking my brain with what to write from the marriage talk on last Tuesday because I came out of that talk honestly not really thinking about my marriage, but about my relationship with someone more important than my husband; with Jesus. If I am really honest, my relationship with God has gotten swept under the rug a bit for other relationships lately. After Michelle's talk, I came away convicted about my devotion & prayer life; or lack thereof. 

I mean, I feel like my relationship with my husband is pretty good, and I know that is really annoying because marriage is hard and I know a lot of people are going through some hard things. But when things are good isn't that when we start to forget about God? When things are hard it is really easy to cling to Him.

We have had some hard years. I swear the first year was all yelling and slamming doors. I mean, this guy was not meeting all my needs exactly when I wanted them met! What is wrong with him? (Can you guess who the selfish one is in our marriage?)

So in 11 years of marriage, I feel like the only advice I can give is the number one rule of marriage....grow in your relationship with Jesus. The closer we are to Him the easier it is to see when I am being extra selfish, extra prideful, and extra "fun" to be around.
When I am focused on Me and My marriage it is easier to see all of Matt's mistakes, when he left his shoes on the floor, or all the cabinets open. (Why do they do that, ladies?)

When I draw near to the Lord, He draws near to me. God is not a band aid and won't fix our issues over night, but he slowly prunes us and grows us. And when we grow, our relationships do too, especially our marriage.

I am so thankful that we have a gracious Lord that gently reminds me when my heart begins to wander from Him. And I am so hopeful to see my marriage grow as my relationship with Jesus deepens.

If you need help in your marriage call Michelle Williams on her cell (209.581.2789) and she can get you into her Marriage 911 class.
Don't be ashamed, we all need help at one time or another.

-Summur