Things 2014 Taught Me

2014 was a year of learning. The best ones always are. Some of the lessons were new, and some were strong reminders. Without further ado and in no particular order, here are the things 2014 taught me…

  • I can survive winter without being completely bummed the whole time. Get out of the house and keep moving, even if it means wearing extra layers and braving time among sick people…it’s worth the risk.

  • Stress over illness can be more harmful than illness itself.

  • Communication is critically important in relationships, and that is not as simple as it sounds. Keep talking to each other, even when it hurts.

  • We can survive far more than we can imagine, but only when we rely on more than ourselves. My own strength, Dustin’s and my strength together, your strength, isn’t enough to brave the trials of this life. And that’s okay.

  • Humility goes a LONG way. It is one of the most important elements in a healthy relationship.

  • Marriage can survive a separation.

  • Not everyone is going to be happy when you succeed. Sometimes your success will hurt another person, because they don’t understand how you have what they don’t. Because of that, you might feel guilty about the happiness in your life.

  • You shouldn’t be ashamed at how far you’ve come or how much the LORD has given you. Walk in humility and gratitude, and recognize that not everyone is where you are in their journey.

  • You should give more grace than you think people deserve. That’s one way to be like Jesus.

  • Not everyone is in the same place in their spiritual walk, but that doesn’t mean they love Jesus any more or less. Everyone is learning.

  • Good girlfriends are precious gems.

  • Life is best lived when you choose to be grateful for the unexpected. And there will always be unexpected things. Don’t hold too tightly to your own plans, because God’s plans are always better.

  • You cannot just show up and expect everything to fall into place. You have to work hard and then work harder. Life will not hand you success.

  • Two tall adults and one little boy can live a very joyful life in a 500-600 square foot second floor apartment…even if those two adults hit their heads on the surprisingly low ceilings and door frames.

  • You don’t need nearly as much as you think you do.

  • Going to school gets harder with age and more responsibility, but you appreciate it more.

  • There is a much greater sense of accomplishment when you pay for things with cash, especially if that means waiting a long time to get them.

  • Sometimes dreams coming true looks a lot more like hard work, sweat, and tears. Also, you rarely feel the way you expect to when things happen, for the good or the bad, but it’s so much better to take chances than to sit back and always wonder what could have been.

  • You don’t have to be a slave to debt. Whether you are just starting out or starting over, you can have freedom. Again, that means working hard and sacrificing.

  • Judging between right and wrong is far different from being judgmental. The first seeks to be right in the eyes of a Holy God. The latter places oneself in the throne of God, and pride certainly leads to a fall. And oh, how far I’ve fallen.

  • Potty-training is rough.

  • Your children will become just like you. Be someone you’d want them to become.

  • If you have a will as strong as an ox, you’d better gear up to raise a strong-willed child. No joke.

  • I married an incredibly patient and loving man.

  • Time alone is good for personal reflection and growth, but should not be a constant in your life.

  • If you seek opportunities, you will find them, especially opportunities to serve others. There is need all around you.

  • Cliches exist for a reason. It really is more blessed to give than to receive.

  • You can allow people to make you feel bad for just about anything, but don’t. Once upon a time, I let someone make me feel like less of a mother because I only have one child instead of many. How silly.

  • You can be miserable doing something you love, and you can be happy doing something you don’t. A lot depends on your attitude and the people around you.

  • Painting murals makes me very happy.

  • You cannot do everything, so ask the LORD to guide you in how you spend your time. And on that note, you can’t go wrong spending time with Him.

  • Prayer is the most powerful tool a person can use. Miracles happen when you hand control over to the LORD. He can heal hearts and repair relationships. He can and will do far more than you could ever ask or imagine.

  • I firmly believe the entire Bible, but sometimes God uses life to highlight verses in our hearts. If I could use a verse to describe this year, I think Ephesians 3:14-21 would be fitting…

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

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#30Before30 Strikes Again!

This morning I got to mark off another box on my #30Before30 list!

#14 WE PAID OFF A CREDIT CARD! WOOHOO!

Paid

One of our biggest goals is to become debt free, so that we can have freedom to follow wherever God decides to lead us without financial burdens weighing us down. That being said, we haven’t had a lot of success in this department in the past, because…well frankly, it all comes down to discipline and sacrifice. We are striving to better steward the money God gives us. It is all His, and we want to use it for His glory!

When I opened my list to mark off #14, I got to mark off another box that I accomplished earlier this month. Two in one month! Living it up!

#15 Take Josiah horseback riding!

We got to accomplish this one while we were on vacation in Tennessee with the Dummel Family. We stayed in a gorgeous cabin in the mountains, and one day we made our way to Deer Farm Riding Stables in Pigeon Forge. We road a horse called “Squirrel” who was very well trained and calm. The tour guide was amazing with kids, despite being quite young. I was very impressed, and although Josiah was scared at first, he kept saying, “This is fun, Mommy!” I loved every minute of it.

Josiah and Momma Riding Galahad

Not to be all sappy, but this was so meaningful for me.

One of the biggest elements of my story is overcoming fear.

When I was 12, I road a horse that scared the living day lights out of me. It probably wasn’t that traumatizing in real life, but I was a scared kid, and for years I refused to even go near a horse. When I decided it was time to face my many fears in this life, I knew I had to take Josiah horseback riding someday. I hope this experience showed him that it’s okay to take risks, because you give God more opportunities to bless you. And what a blessing it was! Thank You, Jesus!

Minimalism Game Days 13-19

October 20, 2013

I blogged a bunch last week, and then I didn’t blog this week. It’s an example of how much I struggle with consistency. I just live life in spurts. I wish I could change that about myself, but instead I’m trying to channel who I am in the right direction. Instead of trying to live by a strict schedule, I’m trying to make myself do a few small things regularly that will add up to the life I want to be living.

Goals:

10 minutes of yoga each day

10 minutes of Bible reading/prayer/meditation

Blog once per week

Progress so far…Yoga is 3/6…Bible is 2/6. I am NOT proud of that, but I’m going to try to just do better in this coming week.

Minimalism Game Days 13-19

October 13

1. Giant mason jar

2. Broken sippy cup

3. Hot, but dreadfully painful boots

4. ID holder

5. Reusable shopping bag

6. Reusable shopping bag

7. Pink sippy cup

8. Toddler sandles

9. Toddler sandles

10. Toddler sandles

11. Pen

12. Baby shoes

13. Poster

October 14

1. Painting from a student

2. Sippy cup lid

3-8. 6 Halloween cookie cutters (these came from a set of 100, and we don’t do Halloween)

9. Set of construction style alphabet stensils

10. Set of fancy alphabet stensils

11. Baby doll pants

12. Fancy Nancy poster

13. High school self portrait

14. Patriotic poster

October 15

1-15. 15 pieces of high school art

October 16

1-13. 13 pieces of high school art

14. Heart stensil

15. Number stensils

16. Alphabet stensil

October 17

1-5. 5 sheets of stensils

6-17. 12 girl books (the reason I have a bunch of girl stuff is a long story for another time)

October 18

1. Girl book

2. Girl book

3-18. 16 pieces of toddler clothes (these went to a sweet little friend of Josiah’s)

October 19

1-19. 19 pieces of toddler clothes

Minimalism Game Days 5-8

I know people who live fearful types of faith. They live in fear that they won’t be good enough for God and neither will you. These people are often quite judgmental. Maybe I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt in believing it’s truly fear driving their attitudes. Maybe that’s wrong, but I like to be positive.

Anyway, I’ve found that being judgmental doesn’t help anyone. First of all, who gets judged and thinks, “Oh yes, thank you for pointing out my flaws”? It’s very rare. People either get defensive and angry or ashamed and shy. When you choose to be judgmental and tell people how to live, no matter what your motivation, you are not inviting them to be real. Chances are, they’ll hide their true selves from you. You miss out on who they are, and they miss out on being themselves. It’s a missed opportunity for good relationships. And relationships, not judgment, are the basis for change and growth. When you allow someone to be real, you give him the chance to air out all of his issues and decide for himself that he needs to change, OR you grow close enough to him to offer him encouragement in areas where he needs to grow. An even bigger OR…you might be the one growing and changing…just a thought. Be real with people, and let them be real with you!

20131007-223041.jpg

Now, to catch up on the “game”…I was feeling tired and discouraged this weekend. I spent time with some awesome people and heard a great sermon. Woke up feeling slightly more perky and got on with life. I didn’t post all weekend, because I was worn out! BUT I haven’t given up on the game.

October 5

1. White, bedazzled (ugly) Crocs-like flip flops
2. Puzzle
3. Prenatal yoga DVD
4. Cheese recipe book (I love cheese, but those fancy recipes only remind me how small my grocery budget is right now)
5. Butterfly earrings

October 6

1. Floral hoop earrings
2. Guys’ ankle socks
3. Guys’ ankle socks
4. Guys’ ankle socks
5. Gloves
6. Gloves

October 7

1. Empty wipes container (I made a point not to include trash on the list, but truly, I view wipes containers as useful organizational tools)
2. Toddler snack container
3. Toddler snack container
4. Toddler snack container
5. Water bottle
6. Dress from middle school. No joke.
7. Baby flip flops

October 8

1. Baby shoes
2. Plastic bracelet
3. Decorative tin container
4. Headband
5. Comb
6. Butterfly costume ring
7. Tarnished Premier Jewelry ring
8. Set of butterfly hair combs (I’m seeing a trend)

I’m glad to get caught up. Consistency has never been a strong suit of mine, but when I care about something enough, I will find time to stick to it.

I counted the number of items that would be purged if I made it all the way through my October “Minimalism Game”…496 items. The scary thing is…that doesn’t scare me! I’ve been minimizing for a long time, and I still have plenty of excess!

Minimalism Game Day 3

October 3

1. Issue of Everyday with Rachel Ray

2. Issue of Better Homes & Gardens

3. Issue of Martha Stewart Living

stack-of-magazines

I usually try to reflect on life, but today I just had fun. I got to help scare the crap out our our business owner. There is nothing better than scaring someone. I laughed so hard I cried. It was a good day.

Minimalism Game Day 2

October 2

1. Broken travel coffee mug
2. Frustrating and broken reusable straw cup

broken-mug

Reflections…

I should never be allowed to complain about money. Seriously, the amount of stuff I have is astounding, even if it is below average for an American. I need to stop buying junk.

In April, I separated from my husband and moved. My goal of minimizing came to a halt and I reversed gears. I started buying more stuff. Now I feel frustrated by my lack of that money (not a large sum, but still) and by the necessity to manage more stuff…stuff does not equal safety or security, but sometimes I still use material possessions to make me feel better about my life. It’s a lie.

This morning I was praying about my desire for a devoted partner. The devotional I read immediately after (in a randomly chosen devotional for this exact day, October 2nd) was about how God is always, ALWAYS with me. No lover, no matter how intimate, could be with me always or know me completely. Touché, God. Touché.

I’m going to get through this separation, no matter what the outcome. God will be by my side and be my constant companion.

Minimalism Game Day 1

Today I woke up feeling weak and tired. I prayed that God would give me direction and keep me going. I was stressed about all the usual things, as well as how I’d get my homework done.

Homework went smoothly, work was relatively peaceful, my family came over for dinner…the day ended better than it began.

For each day in October, I’m attempting to get rid of the same number of items as the day of the month. Having just moved, I’m eager to get rid of some junk. I know the end of the month will get harder, but I had to fight the urge to get rid of more than one thing today!

First day of the month = 1 item, second day = 2 items…you get the picture.

October 1

1. Broken keyboard

keyboard