Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Editing

Spring has arrived in Texas (the best time of year in my humble opinion) and with that the urge to change things up around my house and mostly edit. We've been attempting to get our house down to the things that we really like and make it even easier to clean and enjoy. With that, we've eliminated a big chunk of furniture from our den and we absolutely love the results.

We're finding that the less-cluttered den, even with a big comfy "chair and a half" eliminated, to be much more inviting. We are even spending more time together as a family playing games and just enjoying each other's company in this simplified space. For those of you who are new here, our house is only 1275 square feet, yes, all of it. Yet, we've found it to be a wonderful home for our family of four. I do believe the key to this is editing our stuff from time to time and keeping the clutter to a minimum.

Here are the big results, sorry I have gotten so bad about getting my good camera out so these are cell phone pics. The new edited den: 


  
Here is a before pic with the big red chair set up for a birthday party. Doesn't the den look so much larger with that piece of furniture eliminated:


Our two thrifted chairs and Haley's school desk, also a garage sale find, refinished by my dad:



Our simple mantle, for so many years I wanted to paint this niche and even the room, but I'm so thankful that my artsy husband insisted that the room stay white. Now, I can put any splash color as an accent or in art and it seems to work, plus white walls are once again in:



Our clutter-free entry way, what do we do with all of our (bags, coats, shoes) stuff without a cluttered entry way you might ask, perhaps I'll write another blog post answering that question:



Keeping the coffee table clear of clutter has led to many games of Uno and Lego projects:


My little man had a bad mouth injury over spring break on his bike requiring 16 stitches inside of his mouth, so we've played lots of Uno while he's been on the mend:



I can also see that our family dog feels more relaxed in the space, ha:



Speaking of spring in Texas, check out this amazing sunset last night:



and the buds on our trees:



I hope this helps you to see the beauty in editing and making whatever space you have work for your unique family! I sure hope spring has arrived where you live!

Oh, I should mention, that my free eBook, The Intentional Home, is a 7 week guide to getting that clean clutter-free place you desire! 

Blessings,
Jennifer

Sunday, March 9, 2014

On Praying In Public (for the self-conscious)


As a person who didn't start a personal relationship with Jesus until I was 23 (my testimony), I know that one big hurdle to get over is feeling comfortable when praying aloud in groups. Really, this took me A LONG time to get comfortable doing. A couple of years ago (the same time I read the Bible in 90 days), I challenged myself to start volunteering to pray aloud when out with girlfriends for meals or even when asked in a women's study if anyone wanted to close in prayer. Yes, I felt super self-conscious at first but the more and more I prayed aloud, the more comfortable that I felt. Just like anything else, praying takes practice! 

The most important lesson that I learned was the need to remember that I was really praying for an audience of one and the one who would not judge me but extend His grace and love as I tried to communicate in my less than eloquent ways to Him, my Father in heaven. Now, I love praying aloud and my favorite time of the week is when I gather at my children's school on Wednesday mornings for a prayer time with fellow moms. Oh, what I would have missed out on if I had let my self-consciousness keep me from this treasured time. Trust me when I tell you that I still stumble over my words from time to time and it really doesn't matter one bit because my heart is in the right place and that is all that anyone you pray with would really care about anyways.

Since, my children are growing up in the faith, my husband and I have the chance to encourage their walk and prayer life starting at an early age. We've found a great way to encourage them to pray aloud at the dinner table. After we do our family devotional using Our 24 Family Ways, we participate in a "popcorn prayer". Basically, one of us starts the prayer and each person takes a turn praying aloud. We have prayed over several different topics like just praising God for who He is, praying for another family or person (Haley prayed for two children she has learned about who are orphans in South America) and giving God our gratitude. These have turned out to be such sweet times for our family and it really takes the pressure off anyone who is not completely comfortable praying out loud.

I hope this encourages anyone struggling in this area to know that you are not alone! Just like I tell my beginner golf students not to feel bad because every great golfer was once a beginner, perhaps the same is true even in our prayer life and walk with God!


I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time-waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.
C.S. Lewis

God bless you on the journey!
Jennifer

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Leave it Better Than You Found it" Principle


Hello! I'm just sharing a short and sweet post with you today. Something I've been trying to impress upon my kids lately is the "leave it better than we found it" principle. Basically, it goes something like this: if we go to a park and see a piece of trash, then we pick it up instead of just walking on past. Therefore, we leave the park better than we found it. Or, after washing our hands in a bathroom, we can wipe off the water on the counter and once again leave it better than we found it. 

This principle especially holds true when we are guests in someone's home. We might not always leave it better, but we can certainly get it back to the state in which we arrived. 

I wonder how much cleaner the world would be if everyone practiced this principle! I'm enjoying the sunshine and the hope of spring coming soon North Texas! I hope you have a great day and wherever your daily travels take you, I hope you choose to leave it better than you found it!

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.
Psalm 8

Blessings,
Jennifer

Monday, February 17, 2014

On Hospitality


I wrote yesterday about the fun "coincidences" that really aren't coincidences that have been happening in my life lately. I was invited to a women's study called "The Home Experience" by someone who had no idea of my passion for making my home a haven and even teaching on the topic. So, of course, I jumped at the chance and took some wonderful wisdom away from the first meeting.

One of the topics discussed was hospitality, and once again perfect timing as my family was getting ready to entertain at our house just two days later. I loved what one of the leaders of the study said, it was something along the lines of "Don't wait for that new sofa or the bigger house to entertain, they are coming to see you, not your house." Isn't that the truth! Yet, even though we know that, we still can find ourselves comparing our home with others and if we fall into that mindset, let's face it, our home will never measure up in this "Pinterest" world.

If I had let the fact that I have a smaller house compared to pretty much all of my friends stand in the way of entertaining, then I think of the wonderful birthday parties I would have missed out on hosting, the fun playdates with girlfriends and their kids and wonderful meals prepared by my husband to enjoy with another family. Not only would I have missed out on all of these experiences, but my children would have missed out on the chance to learn hospitality and how to make a guest feel welcome in our home.



God created us for real fellowship and in today's society some of us have replaced that real fellowship with Facebook and other ways of interacting that are not intimate and don't feed our souls. Don't get me wrong, Facebook can be a great way to keep up with friends (I personally enjoy it) but it simply cannot replace real intimate fellowship that our soul craves. 

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25

I've prepared a little list of things that you can do to prepare for a guest, if you do a little planning then there is no reason to stress!

-Plan a menu ahead of time and grocery shop. If cooking is too stressful then plan to have pizzas with salad and a store bought dessert. It is not about the food it is about the fellowship. 

-Give the guest bathroom a good cleaning.

-Sweep, vacuum and tidy up the rooms where you will be entertaining.

-Make sure there is ample seating for the guests you've invited. I've had to get creative with this at times, like bringing a bench into the den from the kitchen for Harrison's birthday party and borrowing a table for Haley's tea party as seen in the photos above.

-Set the mood with lighting, candles, soft music and fresh flowers are a nice touch.

-Have your kids make a welcome sign with the guest's name for the front door.

-Set the expectations for your children's behavior and how they should to greet the guests on arrival.

-Let your children get involved in the process. Haley recently made her first homemade strawberry two layer cake when we had a family over for Valentines Day. I am also letting the kids take "ownership" of their domain. I let them clean and tidy their rooms before the guests arrive. 


-Greet your guests at the door and walk them out when they are leaving. 

-Stop apologizing for your less than perfect house!

-Enjoy yourself!

I hope this encourages some of you to invite friends over. If you are feeling that your house really is in too bad of shape to invite anyone in, then consider going through my seven week plan to a clean and clutter-free home called The Intentional Home. Click here for the Table of Contents. 

Many Blessings,
Jennifer


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Coincidence?


Whether you acknowledge it or not, God is always at work in our lives. Often times we don't realize what He's been up to until much later when we're reflecting on the past. Like the time when I had an almost career ending wrist injury, but it happened at the exact time I was beginning a relationship with my now husband. Because I was away from golf, my career at the time, I was able to focus on creating that relationship, something that would have been challenging had I spent those four months of the "off season" working on my golf game as I would have normally done. Coincidence? I think not.

I can even look to times before I was a believer and see God's hand on my life. No question, He is always there and so involved in the details of my life, it is truly humbling. Now, as a more mature believer, I can see God's hand in my present life. I can see when He has divinely arranged "meetings" that at one time I may have called a coincidence. It is so exhilarating and, yes, just plain fun when you know something happens and you know that it wasn't just a coincidence, it was God. Not only do you know that was God's doing, but the creator of the universe actually cares that much about you, wow!

God has been taking my family down a path recently to a new church home. We had a chance to visit a couple of wonderful churches until He led us to our new "station". It's been so fun to see His divine confirmations over the last few weeks that say, yep, this is where you are supposed to be and why did you question me in the first place, I always come through for you! 

So, my challenge to you (and myself) is to look for God's hand in your daily, everyday life, the people and situations that He places in your path are not by accident because, yes, He really does care about you and love you that much!

However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
    the things God has prepared for those who love him
1 Corinthians 2:9

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me, on a Monday!



Today is my birthday and it's Monday! I laughed about picking the wrong day for a birthday this morning as I got two grumpy (yet adorable) kiddos off to school. I had fun making up birthday songs like "happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, it's Monday and I have laundry, happy birthday to me" and so on. We had a few good laughs!

To my surprise and delight a sweet friend, who happens to be celebrating her birthday tomorrow, invited me to join her for coffee after we dropped off the kids at my favorite quaint coffee shop. Although, we've only known each other for a few months, we are kindred spirits and we had a wonderful time together.

She asked what I was looking forward to this year, my 37th year. Oddly, I had a hard time answering that question. Of course, I'm looking forward to the MomHeart Conference coming up in a few weeks and some other things like a beach getaway. As I stumbled answering the question, I realized that perhaps I've mastered something that has eluded me for so long: living in the moment. 

You see, I had been trained to set goals and really look forward to things. I was always looking to the next big "exciting" thing whether that be a trip or a big golf tournament. But, I really believe that in my effort to be more intentional with my life, I have began to savor each ordinary day for the gift that it is and not always look to the next great thing to come. Of course, God has been so gracious to me and I am enjoying some of the real "desires of my heart" that have come to pass; like being a part of a University Model School, the new like-minded friends he's placed in my path along with wonderful "tried and true friends",  and a new church home where my family can thrive. I just have so much to be thankful for right now in this moment that it is almost overwhelming.

As the years seem to go faster and faster, my hope for this year is to really savor these days. They will not always be easy and there will be disappointments from time to time, but in each day there will be many gifts and I hope to not miss a single one of them!

Speaking of gifts, we had a little family birthday celebration on Saturday. My sweet girl made the most adorable and delicious cupcakes. I love the little lady that she is becoming!







Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Blessings,
Jennifer

Monday, January 27, 2014

Making a Housework Schedule Work for You


I'm no stranger to writing about this topic. I've written several other blog posts about making a cleaning schedule and a rotating "theme" menu, not to mention my ebook, The Intentional Home, leads you through a seven week process into a cleaning schedule. That said, I thought I would write a little encouraging post today on the benefits of a housework schedule, because I think it holds the key to less stress in the home. 

I sat down yesterday and reevaluated my housework schedule and created a new one for our ever-changing lifestyle. The result: I found myself to be much less overwhelmed starting a new week and much more focused and intentional. I even gave myself time to relax and enjoy a movie before getting the kids from school! 

Here is a snapshot of my new housework schedule:

This is really a simple schedule, but it gives me a blueprint of the basic things that I need to accomplish on any given day. Of course, there will be more things that need to get done that don't need to be on the schedule (for me) like dishes, making our bed and the daily messes that just happen with living, but if I stick to this plan then overall my house will stay orderly.

I've added a few new things to this simple schedule from my previous cleaning schedules like challenging myself to a small decluttering project on Mondays. This week I went through the kids schoolwork and sorted it, next week I might tackle the kids clothes and so on. I've added a few chores for the kids, family and personal devotionals and character read alouds for the kids. In addition, I've added daily themes for dinners during the week. I don't have to stick to it, some days I might have leftovers or I may have a pantry cleaning out week, but when I need to plan a menu this can be very helpful.

With a schedule, chores that can be overwhelming feel much more manageable when broken down into a simple schedule. I hope this encourages you to make a housework schedule that works for you! Also, be sure and read my post Putting Heartwork Before Housework, after all, it is the real key to not getting overwhelmed with the daily work of maintaining a home!

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. 
1 Peter 4:10-11

Need a little more encouragement today? Check out this post about Finding True Joy in Doing the Dishes!

Many Blessings,
Jennifer