Friday, July 26, 2013

So many happenings, so little time

We've had a couple whirlwind weeks lately. As a new(ish) blogger, I listen to advice about blogging and writing and time management, etc. People say that you should only post when you have something to say, not simply for the sake of posting. I have plenty to say (as most who know me can testify) but lately I have not had time to do my thoughts justice in the form of a written post.

People also say that you should spend plenty of time actually living your life (obviously) so you have something, if anything, to write about. So I'm going to call what I've been doing lately "research" and I'm going to look into writing off a large portion of my grocery bills and living expenses as "research expenses" since life sort of is one big research project. I'll let you know how that turns out ;)

He's looking for my next post idea...

All this to say: I'm still here and I'll be writing some more soon. The weather has been just perfect this week and I'd hate to post something so epic and thought provoking that you all were glued to your computers hanging on every word. HA!

Olive on! and God bless.

Monday, July 15, 2013

When selfishness stole my joy

It's probably safe to assume that most of us understand on some level that selfishness is wrong. When we see someone conspicuously choose their own comfort or benefit over another, we notice. When a lesson is preached or a comment made regarding putting others first, we nod along with the speaker and perhaps even think about how we changed three diapers, mopped the floor and started the laundry before having our morning coffee that day. I'm not selfish. Right?

Without going into too much detail, our family is struggling a bit financially right now and a lot of conversations have taken place regarding what we should do next. I'm ashamed to admit we've occasionally fallen into the "woe is me" mentality. We are striving to keep our priorities in line as a growing family on one income. We are at a point where big, serious decisions need to be made to ensure we are living a sustainable lifestyle. It hurts us in terms of added stress (although we truly should not be worrying about material things) and it bruises our pride to ask for help, to admit our shortcomings, to know that some people's opinions of us could sour. This pride thing is a problem.

At a lunch with some friends, various ones were sharing news of promotions, weddings, looking for a first house and other exciting life changes. I sat in silence, eating my food, feeling sorry for myself. I wasn't rude or bitter, but instead of rejoicing fully along with my friends, I was selfishly comparing their happy news to my own imperfect life. "If only I could do things over.." I thought to myself. "Maybe I could have avoided so much student loan debt. Maybe we could have waited before buying a house. Maybe we could be in a position like our friends if we had just done this differently or that...." And it gets worse.

I thought to myself "Everyone is able to choose their next move and accept big new changes and all we've done is have babies." All we've done is have babies. I cringe as I recall the thought somehow slipping past the gatekeeper of my conscious mind and out into the open to convict me of my terrible pride and selfishness. I didn't say it out loud, but it doesn't matter because our mouth speaks of that which fills our heart. (Luke 6:45) I might have had enough sense to keep my mouth shut, but those words came from my heart nonetheless. It doesn't matter if it is because our society doesn't value children and homemaking and bringing children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord that this thought materialized. It doesn't matter if I was just stressed and reverted back to my old, worldly way of thinking that having children and taking care of them all day isn't a valid career option.

I selfishly denied the utter blessing of my three beautiful, loving children and allowed my own self pity to drown out the many countless blessings our family has received, day after day after day. And I wasn't the happy, supportive friend that I should have been during lunch while hearing of others' good news. I failed to "rejoice with those who rejoice." Romans 12:15 My own selfishness stole my joy and I repent. I repent, and I pray that others who read this will also pause to consider their lives and count blessings and give thanks and not let selfishness or the pride of life steal the joy from your lives.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:4-7

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Better late than never!

On Friday I committed to clearing off and organizing my sewing/working desk by Monday. I shared the photos in this post to give myself some accountability.

A quick look at the "before" picture:
My productivity has been... hindered, to say the least.
I did work on it over the weekend, but we also had some work needed in our basement after all the rain and so I wasn't finished by Monday.

Today I am happy to report that my work space has been fully organized, cleaned, cleared and optimized! That sounds impressive, right?
I was able to toss out two garbage bags of clutter, one large bag of donations and consolidate a tub of items to sell at a garage sale or something.

This giant work space system is in our dining room, by the way. The photo you see above was taken from the chair in front of our computer table. Our small round dining room table with three chairs (one is broken for good) is just to the right in the center of the room. Our lovely 12x12 dining room also houses a play kitchen for the littles, a pack n play and a dresser in the other corner for more storage. Did I mention our house is 100 years old and lacks closets, plentiful outlets and wide open spaces? We use every inch!

So.... finally! For your viewing pleasure, I present to you my finished work space!

A little dark since I finished at night. Ain't it grand?
The dresser in the corner during my cleaning work.
The dresser/changing station after 

 Please don't judge our filthy baseboards! One thing at a time, folks!

The white basket holds my 'works in progress.' I've got some work to catch up on!
A portable 'art caddy' low enough for the children to grab and take to the table.
 As I sit here typing this post, I can glance over at a job well done and be excited about how much easier it will be to keep up with my growing pile of projects. I truly do enjoy learning new skills relating to sewing, knitting, crochet, painting, needlepoint, etc. I love getting the kids interested in making things and being creative. When my work area is in such disarray, I am more likely to procrastinate a needed or wanted creative task and that is not a habit I want to pass onto our children. I'm hoping my newly organized desk will allow to be a "yes mom" when my littles want to try out an art project of their own. "Yes, I know where the paints are. Yes, you can use the cat stickers. Yes, I have a photo of Daddy and I know just where to find it." :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Progress report on my project

I know I said my goal was to finish my desk project by today, but in truth, I am only halfway finished. 
The before photo


The after photo

We had some water in the basement which took up more of my Saturday than planned. But I am definitely making good progress. Throwing a lot out and finally organizing the rest. It feels good! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Accountability project #1

Right now my sewing and craft desk looks like this:
Not ideal. I haven't made any progress on any of my projects lately due to this mess. 

I drew up a quick plan to reorganize this space and it is my assignment for the weekend. I'll let you know on Monday how it went with photos, hopefully. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

On getting along and playing nicely

I'll start by saying that I don't know how to angle this post. It could be marriage advice, parenting advice or just plain, how to get along in polite society advice.
Perspective is a funny thing. You have a unique perspective that no one else can imitate exactly. Only you are you, after all. Our individual perspectives allow us to approach life in a way that someone else might never think of.
Aside: Our collective perspectives (such as parents who can share the perspective at least in general of raising children) allow us to relate in ways that someone who is not a parent cannot. Another important collective perspective could be a worldview or religion held in common among a group of people. The shared perspective of being fallen humans before a holy God allows Christians to relate to each other in ways that those in the world might not understand. Of course, in the case of Bible believing Christians, we are reminded of the existence of absolute truth. Diverse perspectives are only helpful when tempered by absolute truth. 

What about when a problem needs solved? Is it more helpful for everyone to have the same individual perspectives when solving a problem or would it be better to have several unique perspectives when approaching a problem?
My daughter got a puzzle for a birthday present and promptly requested help. I sat down with her and began organizing the pieces. "Let's pull out all the pieces with flat sides since they will go around the border. Then we can make the border and start filling in the middle after that." So it went and we completed the puzzle. Of course, being a four year old, she wanted to do it again right away. This time my husband helped her: "Okay, let's put all the pieces in groups by color. You can make the pink pile and I'll make a blue pile and we'll put the green pile here. Then we can start to match pieces together." So it went and they completed the puzzle. I thought it was so cool that she got to experience two different strategies for putting together a puzzle, back to back like that. Perhaps an early lesson in understanding that different people do the same thing in different ways and can still arrive at the same result. Problem solving from a couple of perspectives can be useful.
The next day we took a walk through some woods at a state park. When Chris or I would say "Hey, look at that giant tree! Look how tall it is!" my daughter would look straight out (following our gaze or our outstretched hand) and find the tree and follow the tree upward to see its top. My son would immediately look straight up and (I assume) start looking for the tallest tree to then find and follow downward to see its trunk. I don't know how to interpret this other than to say, when alerted to the presence of a tall tree, one person might look around at eye level to find it and another might look up to find it.

Interactions with those around you will be improved by remembering that the solution that comes naturally to you could be completely foreign to someone else. And the hare-brained solution someone you know suggests might be the completely natural solution that comes from their perspective. We all have a unique perspective to offer and as important as that can be, we also need to remind ourselves that we ALL have a unique perspective to offer and should be patient with others who might differ from us. We just might learn something! And if it turns out we have the better idea, we can just be content with that and use the learning opportunity to broaden our own perspective.

Linked up at: Raising Arrows and Raising Homemakers