Sunday, January 23, 2011

Living in the Fast Lane

It's been quite an amazing few weeks. On January 9th I started my first fast. I found a 21 day fast that started on January 9th and ends on January 29th which just happens to be my 40th birthday. I went into this with the desire to ask God for direction for our family and for blessings upon my children. Fasting for me is a time to take my focus off of food and putting it on God. Everyday that I make the choice to sacrifice certain foods and focus more time on praying and reading the Word is a day of fasting for me. My prayer has been to ask God for His direction for my life to show me what He wanted for our family. I did not know how pleased God would be by this sacrifice. Since I have started this fast, God has shown us where He wants us to live, has directed us to a house that will bring us 5 minutes from our church (rather than the 35 minutes we've been traveling for the past year) and has made our family really evaluate what is most important to us material wise. We currently live in a home that has 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. We built it and picked out each detail from the trims to the tiles. It was so much fun. My husband and I generally had the same visions throughout the building process and it brought us closer. (I was warned that times like building a house can put a strain on a marriage when couples don't see eye to eye.) When we moved in, I had a 7 year old, a five year old and two one year old babies, one on either hip as I directed our friends where boxes had to go. Two months after we moved in, I discovered that I was pregnant with our 5th child. Life has been very busy and the last 8 years have made this house our home. Life has a way of changing though. We now have two children attending a school that is a half hour drive away and attend a church that is 30 -35 minutes away. I have been an on the go mom for quite a long time. I'm not complaining. I love that my children are in such a great school and they are loving their new church as are Rob and I. The thing is we are living out of two (actually 3) different towns. What was making the decision even more difficult is that my husband's family lives here in town and that Rob and I are very involved with our community's sports programs.

So what's a girl to do but start a fast and ask God for some direction as she approaches her 40th birthday. Isn't that what everyone does?  Well, I certainly hadn't before. As I approached this fast, I explained to God that I am weak but I would give this a good try. I told Him that I had my doubts and didn't want to make this some superstitious thing where if I do this God will do that but if I "mess up" (superstitionsly walk under the proverbial ladder) then He wouldn't grant my prayer. So here I am 2 weeks later and all I can say is WOW. God lead Rob and I to a house very close to church and closer to the older kids' school. It is a rental house that has room for 5 kids and allowed us to have our 2 dogs and cat. It "fits" us. It even has a fire pit outside for those summer nights of roasting marshmallows and making s'mores, which is what we have at our current house. God has opened a door for us and we weren't even sure if we should go knocking. He has shown us that He wants us to move on beyond the material and prepare for what comes next. I'm not sure what that will be but I am happy to know that we are in His will. This sacrifice of food and material items (funny how willing my children are to give up the toys, clothes and books that they have outgrown given the opportunity) has lead us to clearly and quickly see what God's will is for us. What makes it even better is that my family knew I was fasting for God's direction and so they are all very aware that this is answered prayer. What an amazing testimony for them and us.

So I'm heading into week 3 of this fast. (A fast that I have failed at miserably by my own standards but God knows my heart is in the right place and that seems to matter to Him quite a bit.)

This has been an incredible way to start the new year. I'm looking forward to what comes along in the year to come.

Blessings to you,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My One Word for 2011

Happy Epiphany! I have been thinking about my one word that I'd like to focus on during this year. If you aren't familiar with My One Word, here is an excerpt from their page.

Every New Year we hope this will finally be the year that things will change. We make promises about the new person we're going to become, pledging to get a grip on our finances, get in shape, become a better parent, spouse, even a nicer human being! But there’s one problem: our resolutions seldom work. The busy pace of life gets the better of us, and suddenly, the year is over with little to no personal growth having occurred in our lives.

“My One Word” is an experiment designed to move you beyond the past and look ahead. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD. This process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. One word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future. So, we invite you to join us and pick one word in 2011!

So this year I've been giving this one word a lot of thought and prayer. I had it narrowed down to Time, Give and Present. The common thread for me is to focus on living in the moment. To live in the moment. To EXPERIENCE THE MOMENT. That is what I've been lacking in my life, truly experiencing it. I've realized that I allow so many things to distract me from my life. I love reading other blogs, looking at the beautiful photos of the homes, decor ideas, fun crafts to try and the fun snacks to make. I read about their trials and triumphs, their sad seasons and their seasons of overcoming and joy. I can spend way too much of my time spent observing other people's lives vicariously through their blogs. Don't get me wrong, I've brought some fun ideas into our family. We've tried fun snacks like the bunny buttons, I've made fun wreaths, decorated a Jesus tree, had the courage to re do my daughter's desk with chalk paint and mod podged pretty papers on it and have refreshed my thoughts on what making a house into a home can be. This last one is, making our house into a home is the one that has giving me much to think about. What do I want OUR home to look like, feel like and smell like? Just because I'm a stay at home mom am I really using my time to make our home ~ homey and a comfortable safe loving place for my family? I had to face the answer was truthfully, "no". I was spending my time vouyering into the lives of people who WERE doing that or at least were good at making it look like they were on their blogs. I need to begin being PRESENT in my own life. To focus on each moment as it presents itself, not as I wish it was or hoped it was but as it is.

For example, I spend so much time thinking about where we live, wouldn't it be easier to move closer to church, the older kids' school and into a smaller ~ home. (read lower mortgage) I can spend so much time packing, searching for homes, day dreaming and we don't even have a "for sale" sign in front of our house. How silly is that. Today we live HERE. Today we live at 52 and I need to make 52 our home. I need to make 52 the place where we have comfort and peace from the outside world. So my one word this year is PRESENT. To be present in the present. To focus on today and what I can do today, right now, for my family. How can I serve my children and husband today? I'm not talking about 1950's motherhood here. I'm talking about being here in my present life with the people I love and care about. Not living an escapism life. That's how I see it. Spending my time focusing on my children and husband to make my family a true family not just 7 people who happen to be live under the same roof. Here is the selfish part. In order to make my life calmer I've found that by making those around me, my family, feel loved and taken care of, then my home is becomes a place where we all feel cared for.  I've started taking better care of my family. They are coming home to fresh baked snacks, from a box but they don't seem to care how it's made just that mom made it for them. They have clean laundry that I am putting away for them (sometimes ~ they still need to put away SOME of their clothes). My 14 year old son was surprised when he came home and his bed was made. (I'm not a "make your bed" mom ~ so when it is made they notice it right away and really like it.) These are all simple things. I know these aren't new ideas but as a stay at home mom it is so easy to get into a slump. After so many dishes, loads of laundry and meals, there comes a point when I started wondering what's the point? Dishes are never done. Laundry is never caught up. Meals are a hassle with picky eaters who would just prefer frozen pizzas. (maybe that doesn't sound so bad but I cant' tell you how many times I've been to the grocery store and thought I'd have a conniption if I had to buy one more box of pop tarts or pizza bites. I wanted REAL food.) Sometimes it all seems so futile. What is the real purpose of it all?

I knew this is not a way to raise a family. For 2011 I am focusing on My One Word ~ Present. By being truly PRESENT in my life, in my family, in my marriage, in my friendships, in my own projects in the PRESENT moment my life actually becomes a LIFE that I am living not a life that I am avoiding or being distracted from.

So I'm going to spend less time thinking of "bloggable" moments and just be present in my life. Don't get me wrong I am still going to blog. I think accountability, even if no one is reading this and it is only to myself, will be important throughout the year and blogging about my progress will be one way I can be accountable.

Presently yours at 5&2,