Intentional Living…

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One of the challenges I give myself spiritually, and as a wife and mother, is to choose the way I live my life as intentionally as I can. It’s easy to go through your days like a robot. Or to follow the ways of the world and immerse yourself into what culture, community, or media dictates as “normal” or “ok.” I like to be different. Go against the grain. Challenge myself to be better. To have a reason for everything I do and to be sure that my reasons are in line with what my beliefs are. I don’t often give myself a head check to see how I’m doing with my intentions, though.

I’m a perfectionist. I hate that about myself. I crave order, demand it, actually. And it can be crippling sometimes. I haven’t figured out why I am like this or why it’s so hard for me to compromise. I have some ideas, but I won’t get into that. That could be a whole other conversation. But the craving, and exhausting clamor, for perfect, order, glitch free, or whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish is getting in the way of me following through on my intentions.

When I decide to tackle an area of my life, whether it’s exercise, healthy eating and cooking, home care, spirituality, serving my spouse or children, cleaning, jumping back into my career, whatever…I do it with amazing force and power. I knock it out of the park…for a little while…until I, predictably, get burned out and somewhat frustrated that everything else in that list has been completely ignored and left behind. And I end up with an amazing amount of catching up to do in those other areas in my life that I am responsible for. And even though I am doing beyond great in one category of life, I end up feeling a little bit like a failure because everything else was left in the dust. It’s a ridiculous cycle I go through over and over that needs to be balanced. Please tell me that I am not the only person who does this?!!

Yesterday, my husband called me on his way home from work after getting a text from one of our kids asking him to pick something up on his way because we couldn’t figure out what to make. The afternoon had gotten away from me and nothing was prepared. He started the conversation by saying, “So I guess this isn’t one of those days where I come home to an awesome dinner waiting for me on the table?” Although it was totally lighthearted with no negative intentions, the guilt that welled up inside of me was pretty intense. He was totally right, although he didn’t know it. That act of service…having an amazing home cooked meal on the table when he gets home…is one of my intentions. It may sound old fashioned, but the results that come from it relationally within our family, and our marriage, are very sweet. That statement from my husband let me know that action on that intention is important to him as well, for whatever reason it is for him. Being an attentive wife and mother is so important. I know this. It’s one of my most important jobs that God has bestowed upon me. Getting caught up in other things, our unusual and unpredictable summer schedule, trying to find some semblance of a routine, and spending too much time thinking about how I can be a better person, and planning my perfection, has caused a lacking in my attentiveness.

Today I am thankful for my husband and his witty remark about a lack of dinner on the table last night. It unintentionally reopened my eyes to that list of intentions that I have and desire so greatly to balance throughout my life so I can be a blessing to those around me, and, be a reflection of God to others who watch me. Thanks for the “head check” my love, you make me a better person!

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~ Romans 12:2

Hold Their Hands…


After a bit of a hiatus, I’ve been peeking into Facebook here and there “just to see” what’s been going on with some of my old friends and more distant family members.  The main topic as of late has been the weather, and school closings, and there’s been a lot of chatter the past few days about kids being stuck at home…or more accurately, moms complaining that the kids can’t go to school and their resulting despair because of it.  My kids haven’t been able to go back to school here in Minneapolis either, not because of excessive snow, but because the wind chill temps have been in the -40 to -50 degree range, cold enough to freeze your skin solid in about 5 minutes flat if exposed to the air.

I can’t even begin to describe what that feels like…so I wont…

When my family walked out into the dark morning and balmy -24 degree air this morning to go back to regularly scheduled programming, I sighed and climbed back into my cozy bed to contemplate my plan for the day. I opened email on my phone and drifted over to Facebook instead and began reading post after post about the turmoil that was happening at bedtime last night not knowing if there would be yet another snow/cold day for multiple family and friends.  And then it went on to parents now cheering this morning as their kids do in fact head back to school…phew!  That was a close one!  Then this thought came to my mind as I rode the roller coaster of all those emotions…

Why do mothers cry when their children go off to kindergarten, mourning the loss of their babies, the carefree days of them playing at home and no dictating schedules, and the dawn of a new chapter in life and the resulting lost freedom, yet scream, kick, cry, groan, and LAMENT over a snow day, or three, tacked on to an already awesome two week winter break?  What happened between those two moments?

I’ll admit, when my kids went to kindergarten, I was the mom secretly laughing at the crying ones for their foolish sadness and Kleenex parties.  I was the one who RAN away from the school, clicking my heels in the air as I went rejoicing in that freedom I now had with my day empty of children.  Did they not know what was ahead for them??  QUIET.  TIME for a long shower! Grocery shopping could happen ALONE.  All glorious things!  But something has changed for me.  I was sad this morning when my family left me.

Yesterday, I caught my 15 year old son in a lie.  It was on a topic we have been butting heads on for almost a year now.   I sat him down and confronted him, again, begged for explanations, and cried.  Yes, I cried.  Bawled actually.  I let the year of frustration freely roll down my cheeks.  I poured out my heart to him.  I told him how frustrated I was and how I felt like a bad parent because I couldn’t figure out how to communicate to him in a way that got results I wanted to see.  I told him I was sad he didn’t trust me as a parent that my decisions for him were because of how much I loved him.  I told him about mistakes I made at his age and how the consequences I suffered from lack of discipline motivate me in how I parent him because I love him so much I don’t want him to hurt like I have sometimes.  He sank in his chair and his cheeks turned red as he sat quietly and listened.  And then, a beautiful, hour-long conversation about compromise, understanding, encouragement in making changes, and empowerment happened.  We joked about my tears and I told him “I’m training you for marriage!” and he responded, “Thanks for that…” and then suddenly I realized, I was right.  One day, many days actually, his wife is going to sit in front of him and pour her heart out to him and tears will surely flow.  How is he going to know how to respond to that if I don’t take the time to teach him??  In the midst of my frustration over his lie, I was able to teach him probably 10 life lessons in that conversation that followed and speak into his life in a way no one had ever done for me.

So here’s the thing, fellow moms, BUCK UP!  Stop the moaning and complaining that you have to deal with your kids one. more. day.  It’s a blessing from God.  I didn’t realize it until this morning but I see it now.  If my kids didn’t have that extra day off of school I might not have had this opportunity to pour teaching and wisdom into my son’s life!  He’s almost 16.  My time is running out with him.  I’ll be the first to admit that missing a day of work can be a huge inconvenience with snowball consequences or that a quiet day at home to get things done without interruption is bliss.  I relish in them as much as you do.  But I’m realizing as I’m moving from younger children to older children that my job as a parent is very important and I cannot slack off.  I need to take advantage of the time I am given with them and I probably should have used some of that time more wisely when they were younger.  I only get one chance to raise each one of my children into adulthood, God willing.  I want to make the best of it.  I want to deal with the boredom.  I want to deal with the squabbling.  I want to deal with the lies, and sneaking around, and less than desirable character flaws they may develop.  I want to discipline with love and have time to cry and pour out my heart to them.  It’s my job!!!

Enjoy the time you are given with your children.  It’s precious and limited.  Look for opportunities to pour your heart out to them.  Find the time.  Make time.  Love them.  Discipline them.  Teach them.  Set your needs and desires aside to raise them and mold them into the adult you wish you were sometimes.  I want to be the greatest influence in my children’s lives.  Not their teachers.  Not their friends.   Not their coaches. Not the Internet, or iPad, YouTube, or TV shows.  ME.  God gifted these babies to me to raise up and train in the way they should go.  It will be hard.  It will be tiring and annoying and get in the way of what we had planned for our day.  Things can wait.  We need to want to be with our kids every chance we get and influence them in the time we are given before they are off in this big scary world alone and we can no longer hold their hands…

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6


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What do you get when you have a family of 7 and remove half the sq footage of their home, two-thirds of their televisions and electronic screen time, nine-tenths of the surrounding traffic, noise, and life busy-ness, and hopefully, all of their insanity?  The next phase of our life…

That’s right, this family is going on an adventure…an adventure that moves us drastically towards a life of minimalism.  I might be a little terrified.  But I’m also beginning to feel incredibly calm about the whole idea and can no longer argue that it’s not the right direction for us…argue for very long, at least.

This story starts with a previous adventure…a move to a new state and a larger city.  We settled into a luxuriously glorious life with everything we hoped for in a home, schools, and location and loved every aspect of our new environment.  God blessed us with a smooth transition and amazing surroundings.  And we were happy, settled, and content. Then something happened.  Despite the fact that we had everything we needed and then some, we kept adding more.  More activities, more sports, more driving, more meetings, more craziness, more needless spending, more monthly expenses which resulted in more bills, more furniture, more clothing, more toys, more hired help, more date nights, more vacations to get away from all things more…which all led to more…discontent.   The discontent led to hunger; a hunger for change. Change that simplifies our home, our belongings, our finances, our schedules, our decisions, our everything!  And I’ve realized over some time now, that someone else was hungry for change as well.

God has been nudging us to make some adjustments in how we are living and utilizing His blessings and we are (finally) responding.  There is something incredibly frightening, and humbling, about following the voice and nudging’s of our awesome Creator, yet at the same time, so incredibly peaceful and really exciting.

I’m sure in this process there will be some tears, some frustration, and a little more craziness and chaos at first, but there is in all transitions, and I know after the initial hub-bub, we can look forward to a renewed sense of calm.  But this time, my husband and I are hoping for a new kind of calm.  One that allows us more time together as a family, in the Word, out in the community we live in getting to know our neighbors FACE TO FACE.  We want a calm that allows us to rest in the evening when our heads lay on our pillows, instead of anxiety about how we will manage our next day.

About two weeks ago, we started this adventure in a new home.  A home more than half the size of the last two homes we have lived in.  It’s 20 miles outside of the city we were once in the middle of.  We sold almost all of our furniture and a few random things here and there.  We packed the rest up and plopped it into the new two-stall garage. We have every necessity we need inside this new home and everything else remains out there.  That’s one of the chapters to be written about next in this adventure.  To sort and release everything we just don’t use or need today.  No more holding on to “what if’s”.  We have learned by experience, so many times, that God will provide us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.  And if it doesn’t come in our timing, we can figure from that it’s just not supposed to be a part of us at that particular moment.  God has a better plan.

As we move forward in faith, we hope to stand strong and be an example to live simply and free, to reduce our belongings and provide a refreshing view of a simpler pace of life.  It can work and we intend to prove to ourselves that this is what normal should look like. Not like we thought it should be by following along in the pace of our society today. I look forward to sharing our stories of success and failure in this journey and what lessons God teaches us along the way.  Already, in the middle of our transition and slight bits of chaos, we are seeing the benefits of taking this leap.  I have a feeling the reduction of “more” is going to result in something else “more,” a much better kind of “more.” God is funny that way.

His Way or Mine…


I just finished reading a post on a new blog I was recently introduced to.  I know, I know…who hasn’t, right?  This one happens to be written by the wife of one of my husband’s new employees, so of course, I am intrigued and riddled with curiosity.  It’s like receiving a free Google pass into someone’s personal life!  Don’t we all want to know more about the people we interact with or occasionally cross paths with?  I admit, it’s not a very becoming curiosity at first glance, but I find people intriguing and ALWAYS want to know more about their lives and their stories!

She, like I, set aside her career endeavors, left behind her network of support, packed up her family, and joined her husband in a cross-state move so he could experience change and growth in his career.  She writes about following her dreams to be a speaker, writer, and motivator and how she is balancing the advice of others with her own desires and how she thinks both sides fit into what God has planned for her.  I am intrigued by her hesitation to do more, as she was advised, before giving it thoughtful reflection and prayer.  I find this woman wise and intuitive.

I get a lot of kick back still after being here in Minneapolis for over two years now from followers, old clients, friends and family wondering why my writing has slowed so much and why I haven’t continued to design and why haven’t I continued with the health counseling here and what happened to the new venture of the two tied up into one business…it was all going SO well!?!?  I haven’t for the very same reasons this other woman hesitates…because I have a responsibility to care for the gifts that I have been given.  My family comes first.  My dreams and desires and “me time” come second.  I dabble in all of my career interests and research constantly to stay in the game.  But there are seasons in life, as she has realized early in her journey, and there is a time and a place for each step in the process.  Not to sound condescending, but I feel proud of her for realizing that and taking a step back to thoughtfully reflect upon and consider each step of her journey and whether it honors God, the one who presented her with her gifts to use in the first place!

Since our move two years ago, I have had plenty of time to step back and reflect on why I do what I do.  Does my writing cause others (or even myself) to remain idle when there are other responsibilities or gifts they/I could be taking care of?  Or does it inspire them to get up and do something great, as I hope and desire?  Does my knowledge in design and incorporating that into helping others re-work the way their home/office functions, clean things up, and move into a healthier and more productive style of living actually create more discontent or does it improve and encourage better use of time and thoughtfulness and inspire contentment, as I also hope for and desire?  I, too, wonder if the world really needs one more blog or one more designer or one more person to encourage others to live thoughtfully and healthfully.  Is that my desire for my time here on earth or is it God’s?  I believe that the desire I’ve had to let things simmer down and wane for a while is actually in response to a nudge from God.  He may just have a different plan here for me, so I better lift my head and open my eyes so I can see it when it’s time.

One thing I love about crossing paths with other Christian women is that it validates my belief in Christ and that I’m not alone in a world that can sometimes feel overwhelming and negative.  There is hope to be inspired, encouraged, loved, and motivated by others to do what God calls us to do.  I also love the thought that maybe we cross paths with certain people on purpose.  There is potential to do something greater as a pair, or in a group, than there is alone.  This excites me.

I applaud this woman for being thoughtful, and bold, and allowing God to travel WITH her as she navigates her way into her new adventures.  We can learn from this.  Oh, how much more fruitful and rewarding our journey’s will be in the end if He is allowed to navigate the route and define what success is for each of us individually…

Crying Out to God…

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When I studied the life of David a few months ago, and read his anguish in the Psalms, I realized that I have never cried out to God or called out to him in times of despair quite like David had.  Thankfully for me, God inspired the young, soon-to-be-king, to write his feelings down, and then preserved them forever in scripture.

David is a good example for me on how I should be praying to God.  This is an area in my life that I tend to struggle with a bit.  I love prayer.  But, let’s face it, sometimes it can be awkward, right?  If praying silently in my head, quietly writing in a journal, or occasionally aloud with family or friends can feel awkward and one-sided now, how do I grasp this concept of crying out to God in times of desperate need just like David did?  When I feel desperate, I am often at a loss for words and I rarely respond to my difficulties with immediate and passionate prayer.  This is so practical and tangible, I don’t know why I don’t.  AND…have you ever asked someone else to pray for you instead of praying for yourself?  Yea, me too.

Sometimes I just feel like I can’t make a connection with God, that the relationship just isn’t there.  I long to feel His attention and presence in my life.  When there is difficulty, I do sometimes lay out the circumstances to Him…but a lot of the time, I just don’t know how to pray or what to say.  And honestly, I have never “cried out” to God in any circumstance.  I try to roll with it, endure it, figure it out, and fix it myself.  But I learned with this study, that maybe I endure too much for too long because I don’t bring it to Him with my full emotion and ask for help or to be rescued from the storm.

I need encouragement to be specific in my prayer life.  If I’m going to share a cup of tea and pour out my heart to someone it needs to be with Him, not my girlfriend, not even my husband.  Remembering this study not too long ago, I did just that.  I haven’t accomplished crying out to God ALOUD, which I think I should do, but I prayed for the first time with everything that I had.  It was all in my head as I lay in bed but it was heavy and specific.  The next morning, the weight had been lifted, my motivation was renewed, and I moved forward, not with perfection or even being rescued, but with clarity.  And I was calm.

I mentioned I need encouragement to be specific in my prayer life.  And wouldn’t you know, this connection with God was encouraging to me.  I was blessed for trying and applying something I had previously learned.  He truly is paying attention.  I know my next step in prayer will be to speak out aloud and hear myself calling to God…which is what I should be doing.  I know the awkwardness will fade and I will get there.  But in the meantime, I am thankful that He met me where I am for now.

“I pour out my complaint before Him, before Him I tell my trouble.  When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way.” Psalm 142: 2-3

The Power of Influence…


I was reading through portions of the books of Galatians and Acts in my bible this morning.  A section in Acts talked about Paul and Barnabas preaching to the Jews and Gentiles about Christ.  It’s no secret that Paul and Barnabas were often targets of violence and persecution because of their outspoken beliefs.  Yet that abuse never stopped them from continuing on and faithfully teaching and preaching.  After speaking to a large group, Paul and Barnabas’ words were spreading like wildfire.  Some Jews, of course, did not like this and began to plot against them.  While reading, I was pointed through my study to a verse to think more intently upon and study the context around it.  Here’s where it get’s interesting to me…

“But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.” -Acts 13:50

Who did the Jews motivate first to act against Paul and Barnabas?  Women.  And not just any women.  They were “God-fearing women of high standing…”, women of influence.  Interesting.  I then read this statement in my study book

For reasons we may never know, God entrusted womankind a most wonderful and terrible gift; the power of influence.

I’ve never thought about my influence being a gift from God.  In fact, if I really meditate on that, I would say that in thinking about influence, I would relate to it in a negative way – the terrible gift.  I think of people, including myself, to often use their influence to be manipulative or for personal gain.  It’s not really a fair thought and I am somewhat embarresed and disappointed with myself that I immediately went that direction in my head with it.  But what if I used my gift of influence for positive and unselfish gain?  What would that look like?  My thoughts immediately went to my children and husband, and then ventured outward to the rest of my family, friends, and those I don’t even know.  Suddenly I feel a weight on my shoulders that I am not doing what I could to influence others in a positive way.

What does the gift of influence look like in my home?  At a family gathering?  Out shopping at the grocery store? At church?  Wow.  God is pressing upon my heart to really think about this and take action.  At best, my influence should teach, encourage, nurture, love, and allow others to grow.  This is powerful and I am equipped and capable of doing all those things.  What a wonderful and unexpected gift.