Monday, August 29, 2011

Friends and Community Third

My Third Priority:  Friends/Community:

                We’d been living in Louisiana about 3 months when we visited a church and we were invited back to a deacon’s house for lunch.    We had a wonderful lunch with some precious people.   The next week I received a thank you note from the deacon’s wife thanking US for having lunch with THEM!  Inside the note she had this quote:

“Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver the other is gold.”

I loved it and still have the card today.  It made me realize you’re never too old to make new, lifetime friends!  The families we had lunch with that day became some very close friends.  As a matter of fact, over the next five years they became our family!  I couldn’t imagine the time I spent in Louisiana without them!   I believe God puts different people in our lives at certain times to fulfill a purpose.  Some of them, as they did, leave lasting footprints on our hearts forever!   

                We can’t have too many friends and I must say I’m blessed with some of the best!   I have some that I’ve had since elementary school, church friends, family friends, and long distance friends.

                I love having friends over to our home.  I think I get that honest from my Mom.  She’s pretty much always been the one to host family or church get-togethers.  I can remember when I was younger people coming to our house to play Rook on Friday nights.  I can even remember a couple mornings I woke up and some would still be there cooking breakfast!   Although it doesn’t always happen, I usually try at least once a month to have some of our friends over.  (HINT:  Inviting people over will also give you motivation for a clean house!)

How I plan on living it out:

1.                       Visiting - As I mentioned earlier, Monday-Wednesday we will be doing Tot School and Friday will be our field trip day.  That leaves us Thursdays to visit friends and those in our community.  It may be a neighbor, a family member, or a friend we haven’t seen in awhile.   Last Thursday we took a cobbler and some ice cream to a lady from church that had surgery.  For some reason I feel like I need to take people something when I visit and most of the time it ends up being something sweet!
2.                    Our Father’s House – Our Father’s House is a house that has opened in our community.  A neighbor, Mrs. Jones, felt led by God to rent this house and basically provide a place for the community to come together.  As a way to pay for the house she serves breakfast and lunch and rents out space in the house for people to sell different things.  My sister and I have just a small part of selling some children’s clothes.   We were also able to attend the dedication service and what a blessing that was!
Mrs. Jones herself is quite an inspiration.  When we first met with her she made the statement “You don’t have to be on foreign soil to be a missionary.”  She felt like her gifts were cooking and hospitality so she opened up “Our Father’s House” as a place to serve God and use those gifts!  What if everyone took their gifts and went out into their community, took a leap of faith and used them like she did!  My how our communities would change!
Our Father’s House also supports community events.  Since they opened in July they’ve helped with two fund raisers to build homes that were destroyed in the April tornadoes.  They also have a memorial service scheduled for September 11th.   I’m looking forward to attending and seeing what else God has in store for this house and our community! 
Our Father's House                                            Gallant, AL

Monday, August 22, 2011

Family Second

My Second Priority:  Family

                I can remember when Curt and I first got married.  I worked 7:00 -2:00 and he worked 2:00-11:00.  He got a break between shows from 7:00-9:00 and he’d come home for supper.  Those two hours were the highlight of my day!  I’d have supper cooked and waiting on the table.  I’d even have the ice in the cups and in the freezer.  Then I’d wait for him to get home.  When he walked in the door I stopped everything else I was doing, got the glasses out of the freezer, poured us some sweet tea and we sat at the table and ate.    We’d spend those two hours together then once he went back to work I went back to whatever I was doing around the house.  Even though we only saw each other a couple hours a day I think we actually spent more time together then than later on when we started working the same hours.  We knew we only had those two hours and we made the most of it!

“Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted.”  Paul Pearshall
               Why is it so easy to say we’d give our life for a family member yet so hard to take time out of our daily schedule for them?  Instead we take them for granted.   Not only do they often get the short end of our time but the short end of our temper and mouth too!  In the last few months, I’ve gotten back to cherishing family time.  I love where my little family is right now!   I’m blessed not only with a wonderful husband but we now have little "Miss Priss" who will be two in just a few months.   

               Some of my favorite days are those when I get to stay at home all day!  Playing with Miss Priss in the morning, doing housework throughout the day, cooking supper and once again waiting on Curt to come home!  It may not seem like much to you but those are the days I feel most accomplished!

               I truly believe being a wife and Mom are two of the most important jobs I’ll ever have!  It’s our (Curt and I’s) job to lay a strong foundation for Miss Priss.  That’s one of the main reasons family is so important.  I love this quote by John W. Whitehead: 
“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” 
              Whether we realize it or not, we as Moms and Dads, are shaping our future through our children.  For the most part, that is done within the home and within the family.

How I plan on living it out:

1.        Family Night – We’ve just started a weekly Family Night.  On Tuesday nights we do something just the 3 of us.  It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive.  In fact, my goal is to spend $10 or less.  Last Tuesday night we went to a place about 3 miles from our home, Camp Sumatanga, and let Miss Priss play on the playground.  She’s all about slides right now!  Then we fed the geese and fished for a bit.  We came back to the house had a hotdog and then went 4-wheeler riding.  Nothing spectacular – just the three of us hanging out and we had a blast!  Tuesday night is quickly becoming one of my favorite nights of the week!

2.       Tot School – This will be my way of spending quality time with Miss Priss while she’s also learning!  It’s very easy, as I mentioned last week, to become a “Martha” and get so caught up in housework and everything else that’ s going on  that I forget the real reason I’m home – to take care of and spend time with Miss Priss!  I also used to teach a 2 and 3 year old class at a daycare so I know how much they are capable of learning at this age.   This also comes from the teacher in me and my background in early childhood education.  Over the last couple of months I’ve actually looked at some formal curriculums and was about to order one when I came upon the website for Tot School.  It was perfect for us because it’ll allow us a scheduled time to spend together while playing and learning but it’s still very flexible and simple!  In fact Tot School is not school at all but more of an organized play time!  We’ll do Tot School Monday-Wednesday and then Friday will be Field Trip day!  I’m planning on starting it with Miss Priss next Monday so I’ll give more details then!

               How do you make time for your family?  Do you have a “family night” or something special you do with your child?  I’d love to hear about it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

God First

My First Priority:  God
This is my favorite verse in the Bible.  "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."  (Matt. 6:33)  Put God first and everything else will fall into place!  In order to live simply God must be first.   Believe me when He’s not life is much more complicated! 
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home where God was first.    There was NEVER any question where we were going to be on Sunday morning.  I remember getting frustrated because I didn’t understand why we couldn’t get in an extra day on our family vacation.   Either we didn’t leave until Monday morning  or we were home Saturday night so that come Sunday we were in God’s house.   My parents never actually came out and told me that God was more important than our family vacation yet their actions more than showed it!  As much as I love my husband and my daughter, God still comes first.   The Bible even tells us that if we love our family more than Him we are not worthy of Him.  (Matt. 10:37)  After all if it wasn’t for Him I wouldn’t even have them! 
I was saved when I was seven years old at a small country church.  God became not just my parents' God but my God too! Eight months later I joined the church and was baptized.  It’s where my membership still is today and the most precious place on earth to me!  I haven’t always made the right choices since then but I’m thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness. 
 It is a constant battle for me to put God first.  I often find myself like the seeds that are spoken of in Mark-letting so many worldly things IN that God gets choked OUT:
I often find myself having to simplify and get rid of some of the things in my life so that my priorities are right and I can do what I was created to do: worship and serve God!
And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.  (Mark 4:18-19)
One other example I love to read about is Mary and Martha.  (Luke 10:38-42)  Jesus came to their home to visit.  The Bible says Martha was “cumbered about with serving.”  I can just picture her running around doing all of her “busy work”: cleaning the house, preparing food, worrying that everything was just right.   We’ve all been there!  Mary, on the other hand, was sitting at Jesus feet.   Martha asked ”Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?  Bid her therefore that she help me.”  I love Jesus’ response: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needful; and Martha hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”   One thing is needful in our lives and that’s to be attentive to Jesus.   Everything else passes away and will be taken from us.
How I Plan on Living it Out:
                To me putting God first is much more than just going to church and giving a tithe.  It’s waking up in the morning and wanting to get out of bed so I can spend my first hour of the day with Him before all the chaos begins!  I’m so thankful that I have my Good Morning Girls group to hold me accountable for my morning quiet times.  
                If you don’t already start your morning off with God, then I challenge you to try it for a week and see if it’s not life-changing!   Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier and get out your Bible!  Start in the morning and read about Mary and Martha.  Then have a prayer time and just “sit at his feet” for awhile!  I’ve found since I’ve started putting God first in my day,  life has become simpler J
What is your first priority and how do you put it first in your day?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Living Out My Priorities

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ~Confucius
 I’ve realized over the last year how true that really is.  God created us for one purpose:  to worship and serve Him.  Yet we I often cram so many things into my daily schedule that I miss the big picture.  I’ve come to understand that my life is only as complicated as I choose to let it be. 
We live in a society with all kinds of modern “conveniences” to save us time and make our lives simpler.  Yet we seem to have less time than ever for what’s really important.   My husband and I went out to eat about a month ago.  As we were waiting on a table, we couldn’t help but notice the family of four beside us.  We waited for at least 20 minutes and not once did that family say a word to each other.  They were all consumed by their hand-held devices.   The hostess called their name and they got up to go to their table the kids still glued to their games.   Whether we realize it or not how we spend our time is a direct reflection of our priorities.  
Don’t get me wrong- those who know me best know how much I love technology.   I’m also guilty.  I know how easy it is to be totally consumed by some of these things.  It’s not just technology either.  We think we must have certain materialistic things and be involved in every extracurricular activity there is.  Yet with all this come attachments and consequences.  We’re too busy to even have dinner together.  We’ve traded in family dinners around the table for quick trips through the McDonalds drive-thru.  Instead of sitting on the front porch actually talking to each other we sit in front of a television or a computer.   Seems like a pretty bad trade to me.   I want the modern conveniences but not at the price of “old fashion” values.    This is where my simple life comes in . . .
It’s still a work in progress but I’m learning to live a simpler life.  To me to live simply means to live out my priorities.   Focus on what’s really important and eliminate everything else.  It’s to live with the things that I truly need and to protect the things I treasure:  my relationship with God, my family, my friends/community, my home, and my health.
 When I quit my job last year, I was worried because I knew living on only one income meant we’d be doing without a lot of “things”.   However, after the end of this first year, instead of wanting more I actually want less!  I’ve found those simple moments spent with those I love are far more precious than anything money can buy!  I always said it but now I’m blessed enough to be living it!  There’s a lot to be said about living simpler and having less.  Here’s a few:
1.        The less that you have the more you depend on God to supply.   
2.       When you simplify, you have less to interfere with what’s really important.
3.        You don’t have as much to maintain, clean, organize, or store.
4.       If you don’t have it you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay for it.
5.       There’s less stress and more joy!
                 The purpose of this blog is for me to hold myself accountable for keeping it simple and to document my journey of living a simple life in a complicated world.   I’ll spend the next few blog entries elaborating on my priorities and how I plan on living them out.     I want to share some of these simple moments –like sitting on the porch having a Popsicle with my daughter – that we often miss or let fly by!  I hope you enjoy reading about my journey and take away a quote, tip, or experience that will help you prioritize and simplify your own life!  I'd love to hear from you so leave me a comment!!