One Habit a Month: Get Dressed Before Breakfast

As I mentioned yesterday, there are many areas in my life that need to be more disciplined. Though I’d like to jump in and change them all, that inevitably leads to failure. So, instead, I plan to work on one habit each month in 2012.

My habit for January? Get dressed before breakfast. (Lofty, huh?)

photo credit

Somedays I honestly dont’ know what happens. There’s always one excuse or another. Before I know it it’s 10:00 and though the kiddos are dressed, I’m still walking around in my pajamas.

This month I plan to change that.

What about you? Is there a new habit, even if it’s small (like mine) that you are going to create this month? If so, I’l love it if you linked up or left a comment so we can encourage one another to become more disciplined women.

One Habit a Month [12 Habits 2012]

I was planning to post this before the dawn of 2012. My computer died and it just didn’t happen. Even though it’s late, I’d better practice what I preach and not let perfectionism paralyze my plans. 

I have this image in my mind of an “ideal me.” A me that always gets up early to read my Bible and exercise, gets dressed long before 11 am, never runs late, spends hours each week just reading and treasuring my kids, has a nourishing and yummy dinner ready to pull out of the oven when my husband gets home, and, well, the list goes on and on.

I am miles from my own ideal.

On time? Those words are hardly even in my vocabulary.

On the one hand it is okay. The highest calling of a Christian is to love and worship our King. You can worship in your pajamas while stepping over loads of laundry to get dinner in the oven.

But each of us has an earthly calling too. As a wife and mother I am called to wisely build my home.

I wish I could have rolled out of bed January 1st, turned over a new leaf and been an “ideal me.”

I’ve tried.

It works for about 24 hours. (Actually, make that 24 minutes.)

Trying to tackle a hundred habits all at once almost certainly will fail. Crystal, in her excellent series 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life challenges us instead to implement one habit at a time. That is what I plan to do in 2012.

Building new habits takes time. Lots of time. Research shows that it takes about 21 days to develop a new habit. I’m going to give myself a month.

Each month in 2012 I will choose one habit that would help me carry out my calling better and prayerfully seek to cultivate that habit.

Would you care to join me?

Of course our habits will look different. Each home has its own unique culture and that’s a glorious thing! Each of us have our own strengths and weaknesses.

A habit that would really benefit my family might not be good for yours. But we could all encourage one another as we seek to become more disciplined women of God.

The first weekday of each month (or tomorrow, in this case!), I’ll list the habit I will be working on with a linky for those that want to join me. On the last weekday of the month, I’ll post my progress (hopefully!) and what I’ve learned, with a linky for you to join me. Don’t have a blog? We’d love to have you join us in the comments.

Don’t Let Perfectionism Paralyze Action

Striving too hard for perfection sometimes keeps us from doing anything at all.

I’m reminded of the wicked servant in the parable of the talents. The King gave gold to each of his servants. The wise servants went out, worked and traded and earned more. The wicked servant, for fear of messing up, buried his gold in the ground.

Far too often I am like that wicked servant. Instead of following through, I think and dream and stew. I spend so much time trying to perfect a goal or come up with a perfect schedule that there’s not enough time to actually carry it through.

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This point was brought home to me recently:

I decided to teach my daughter a Christmas themed-poem. I just needed to find one. Days and weeks passed as I read poem after poem trying to find the perfect one for her. One was too long and another too short. Others carried the wrong message. Finally I settled on a poem, but by this point there wasn’t enough time left before Christmas to teach it to her.

My insistence on finding a perfect poem robbed us of time to actually learn any poem.

Unfortunately, perfectionism doesn’t just create problems learning Christmas poems. Many areas in life can be affected.

  • Stressing about having the absolute best curriculum can lead to not wisely utilizing what we do have.
  • Over-analysis of purchases wastes precious time that could be used to enjoy it
  • Writing and rewriting an e-mail, blog post or letter means it may not get finished on time

Some decisions require hours of prayer, soul-searching and seeking advice. Often however, we need to stop worrying about having everything absolutely perfect and just diligently act. Now.

As Amy (from Blogging with Amy) wrote in a recent post, in blogging and many other areas of life “Good Enough is Good Enough.”

[Speaking of acting, want to join me in my One Habit a Month [12 Habits 2012] Challenge?]

Linked up at Women Living Well and Proverbs 31 Thursday

Practical Tips for Showing Hospitality (in a Small Home)

As I talked about yesterday, hospitality is a command, whether you live in a small home or not.  Opening up our homes is a way to show “generosity and kindness” (as Webster puts it) to friend or stranger.

When we first moved into our little home, I never dreamed I’d one day feed eleven guests (plus our five) for lunch. Or think it was fun.

As I’ve tried to practice hospitality in our little home, here are some things I’ve learned along the way.Things that work for me:

Don’t be afraid to invite guests over: This may seem silly, but when we first moved into our little home, I was afraid to have company over. Pride played into it, but I also thought who would want to leave their homes and come hang out at my little place?  Maybe you have thought the same thing. But most people still want to come. Even large families! After all, they’re coming to see you, not your home! Some might even find the small home cozy and nostalgic.

Clear out the clutter: If you want to fill your home with people, there won’t be as much room for stuff. Clear out the clutter and make sure the things you have make your home a better place to be. Plus, the less you have, the less there is to make messes with!

Get creative: If seating is an issue, turn buckets or boxes into makeshift stools and pull them up to the table for kids. Turn your living room into the dining area. Eat outside. Make it an indoor picnic.

Some activities just don’t work in a small home, but many do: Seated group games don’t take much space. A long walk is fun if it starts to get cramped. Sometimes we turn our room into a personal theater for the kiddos so the adults can talk quietly.

Keep the menu manageable: Remember Mary and Martha? Don’t focus so much on food that you don’t have time to enjoy your company.

Make a plan: Pick a few tried and true meals and desserts that you can rotate for company. Write out a menu. Try not to experiment on guests. [Don’t ask me how I know!]

Be prepared:[Try to] keep the home somewhat orderly. Keep easy to heat up food in the freezer for unexpected or last minute company. Some cookie dough freezes wonderfully (like the dough for these Almond Crunch Cookies.) Freeze the dough in wax paper and when a friend drops by, slice and bake. Soon you’ll have hot homemade cookies to serve.

Expect imperfection: Hospitality is not about putting on a perfect front. Be real. Sometimes the meal won’t turn out exactly how you wanted. Sometimes the dishes will be stacked high in the sink or your toddler will “decorate” the living room right before guests arrive. It’s okay.

Embrace the adventure: Warn your guests ahead of time that your home is small. My guests won’t get a guest room. They may not even get a chair. Enjoy squeezing a few more people into your home. Laugh. Make memories. It takes very little space to have a good time.

Prepare your self: The last few minutes before guests, arrive I’m usually flying around the house trying to get the last few things warmed up or put away. But, whenever I take time (even a minute or two) to pray, glance in the mirror and prepare myself, I am much better prepared to show real hospitality to others.

Most importantly, love your guests. Show them how glad you are to have them in your home. To loosely paraphrase Solomon, a simple meal served with love is better than a fancy feast and hatred (Prov. 15:17) Remember why you invited them over in the first place: you love them and want to get to fellowship together.

What about you? How do you show hospitality? Any suggestions for entertaining in a small house?

photo by agamamedia

Showing Hospitality in a Small Home

According to Western standards, we live in a small home. Often, when first-time guests walk into our home, they glance around with a look of you do realize you have three children, right?

Yes, we are aware of that fact. We know it’s crowded. Although it’s a tight squeeze, we rather like our little house and think staying here is best for our family at the moment. 

Whether by choice or necessity, many of us live in small[ish] homes.

Hospitality is still a Scriptural command. No matter how small your home is, you can still show hospitality.

Maybe you can’t lay a spread like Martha Stewart. Maybe your guests, like mine, will be eating on the couch with barely enough room on the coffee table for plates, much less a centerpiece.

Maybe, despite constant scrubbing, your cracked old linoleum never looks quite clean.

Maybe you can’t prepare a gourmet dinner with less than two feet of counter space.

It’s okay.

There are many challenges we women face in being hospitable. Worry and pride are special challenges when working from a small home.

But hospitality is not about impressing guests with incredible decorating or cooking skills or a large beautiful home. Hospitality is about sharing and fellowship and friendship and love.

Webster defined hospitality as “The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality.” Kindness and generosity can be shown in the tiniest of places.

Those with large homes can more easily host a large Christmas crowd, but if your house is as small as (or smaller than) mine, there are still ways you can bless others by opening up your home.

You can still invite a friend over for lunch to fellowship over a hot bowl of soup, provide a college student with a home-cooked meal or turn your living room into a somewhat comfortable campground for friends passing through.

You can still bless a friend. A very hospitable friend (and amazing cook) said she sees it as part of her ministry to give other busy moms a break by cooking dinner for them. As a recipient of her hospitality, I know just what a blessing enjoying someone else’s [simply amazing] cooking can be.

Opening your home to friends and strangers is a command and a privilege.

Come back tomorrow as I share practical ideas (and a few things not to do!) when showing hospitality, especially if you live in a small home.

Linked up at Teach Me Tuesday and Domestically Divine

photo by agamamedia

Vote With Your Money

Every time we shop, it is like we are stepping into the voting booth. Each purchase made (or avoided) is a vote, whether made consciously or not.  

  • A vote for Walmart or the farmer down the road.
  • A vote for a new dress or money put towards a student loan.
  • A vote for a friend’s hand crafted soap or factory produced soap
  • A vote for contentment or consumerism

photo by Alessandro Paiva

We are a consumer driven society. Our purchases change the marketplace. It is just a small example, but in less than three years, consumer demand changed the type of milk offered in local stores.

Three years ago, only one store carried RBGH/RBST free milk [milk that’s free of these artificial growth hormones.] The FDA position hasn’t changed, but now even store brand milk displays a hormone-free sticker.

What happened? Consumers demanded change. Fellow milk lovers and I went out of our way to buy hormone-free milk at the one store that carried it. My guess is the other stores wanted our business back!

Of course, there is a problem for us consumers: funds are limited. (Unless we could find a way to tap into the Fed’s printing privilege!)

If I had unlimited funds, I’d only purchase yard raised eggs, milk from pastured cows, clothes made in factories that paid high enough wages to support a family (without forcing kids to work to supplement the income.)

I would support cottge [home based] industries so that more women could contribute to the family income while pursing the best job on earth, making a home!

But shopping is a balancing act. We must juggle budget and convenience, quality and quantity.

That is part of why I choose to shop at our local thrift store. It’s economical. But it is also a vote for less waste and less consumerism. It’s a vote to support a local charity. It is a vote to reuse what still has plenty of life left in it. It is a vote to free up money to save or put towards student loans or purchase higher quality beef or handmade crafts.

We may not always be able to pursue our first choice in every purchase we make, but it is so exciting that we can make a difference, however small. Our purchases are a tiny vote cast in the ballot of the marketplace.

Want to join me in supporting home based gifts this Christmas season? My real life friend Heather, from Raising Mighty Arrows, is hosting a virtual Christmas Marketplace! 

Raising Mighty Arrows

God Knows What I Need

Photo by Roger Kirby

I have seven younger siblings. All of them live a day’s drive away. This week I got to spend time with three of them, and have been far too busy sipping coffee, talking, watching girlie movies, playing at the park, and enjoying their company to blog much.

The day they arrived was shaping up to be a busy day. Very busy. I had to get ready for the class I tutor, go shopping, and prepare for their arrival. Plus all the daily tasks with three little ones to love, train and teach.

The list of “must dos” was long and getting longer.

Things were going well and then one of the munchkins accidentally made a large, unexpected mess (though after three children, you’d think I would just expect unexpected messes, right?)

I just really, really don’t need another mess right now, I thought.

Wrong.

God knows what I need. I don’t.

Sometimes I want to give Him my wish list. My list of things that I think I need:

The list is different for all of us. It’s usually full of good things, but God knows what we really need.

I need the extra mess or interrupted sleep to remind me to not trust in my own strength. To teach me to lean on Him. I’m a very slow learner. But God is patient with me and gives me lots of reminders (often through a dimpled round-faced child) because He knows what I need.

This is cause for rejoicing. Whether in petty problems or true trials, God knows what we need.

Linked up at Teach Me Tuesday and Proverbs 31 Thursday

The Ridiculous Freedom of Homemaking

Contrary to popular belief, the modern homemaker has one of the most freeing careers ever. What other calling let's you create and organize and choose your activities with such freedom?

G.K. Chesterton begins his brilliant and thought-provoking article “Woman” by demolishing the argument of  an acquaintance who urged him to embrace communal-kitchens.

His acquaintance argued that communal-cooking would free women from the tyrannical constraints of the kitchen. Chesterton disagreed. Why?

Not because Chesterton believed woman should be tied to the kitchen, but because it is in the kitchen and in the home that the creative power of dominion shines most brightly in the average home today.

“The average woman,” argues Chesterton, “is a despot; the average man is a serf.”

The average homemaker is a despot. The freedom she exercises is unheard of in most careers.

I know many amazing women who have full-time careers in addition to homemaking. My hat is totally off to you ladies. This post is simply meant to encourage those who have chosen the path that many view as a mindless waste of talents for what it really is: a freeing and rewarding calling. 

The Ridiculous Freedom of Homemaking

Why would a woman want a career Chesterton asks? Why change the freedom of home-making for the drudgery of working for a boss?

The idea of homemaking being the freeing “career” is refreshing. It’s radical. Most importantly, it’s true.

Within our homes we can decorate and teach, organize and cook with a creative freedom that doctors and lawyers can’t hope to match. We can start our own business or grow our own food, if we so choose. Or we can develop curriculum or make our own herbal “medicines”. Or do all or none of these things.

What other calling offers so much freedom? The modern homemaker has an amount of options that is unheard of in most careers.

So in his article Chesterton urges women to “cook wildly” and to embrace the creative dominion of making a home for our husband and children.

“I am for any scheme,” continues Chesterton, “that will make the average woman more of a despot. So far from wishing her to get her cooked meals from outside, I should like her to cook more wildly and at her own will than she does. So far from getting always the same meals from the same place, let her invent, if she likes, a new dish every day of her life. Let woman be more of a maker, not less. ”

Few careers boast half the freedom a homemaker exercises everyday in the choices she makes as she runs her home.

Embrace the freedom of building your home

The blogosphere (and Pinterest!) is filled with a gazillion ideas for making our homes more beautiful, more organized, more sacrificial, or more self-sufficient.

Many of these ideas are amazing. But the freedom of homemaking allows each of us to decide the “wild and wonderful” way we will run our home for God’s glory and our family’s blessing.

So, as Chesterton urged, embrace the delightful freedom of building your home.

photo credit/ photo credit