Extras to Earn, Not Expectations to Receive :: A Week of Boundaries

leaving the house and boundaries

I read Boundaries with Kids in February (which feels like so long ago!).

While I felt like I understood the concepts, I floundered on the follow-through. I could see the issues described in the book being played out in my home, and like the true brainiac that I am – I just watched and I couldn’t seem to connect the dots.

I felt like I couldn’t come up with consequences that made sense. My kids would cross boundaries and disobey while I just watched, feeling paralyzed.

Instead of being constructive, I lectured and over explained how their actions made me feel. I saw their little eye glaze over again and again. Here she goes again… I reacted with words which doesn’t help at all. (And now I know better. This is explained in detail in the book.)

For a couple weeks, I felt like a train wreck.

So I did the only thing that made sense: I prayed.

Help me, Lord! I am so broken and needy. I know what’s right but I can’t do it! I keep repeating the same mistakes. I want to love my children by creating and maintaining loving limits but I honestly don’t know how.

For weeks, I felt like my prayers were going unanswered.

I was grasping at straws.

Then I saw our routine chart (you know, the one we never use and have visually learned to “not see” anymore – yeah, that one), and I realized that I had already done the work of creating boundaries. No reinventing the wheel necessary.

So, now I had my boundaries clearly laid out, but what about consequences for crossing the boundaries? Because as the authors said “It’s their job to cross the boundaries.”

And then I realized that the consequences should be the loss of the regular, weekly extra activities that we enjoy. In my desire to shower my kids with comfort and joy (great things!), I made the “extra activities” in our life the expected activities or dare I say the entitled activities. For example, a trip to the library is great! And when you take due dates into view, a trip is a need. But do we need to go there or do we want to? For us, the line between needs and wants in our schedule was blurred.

Not only was our schedule a blur, but our household chores were getting muddy too. Because there weren’t consequences for failing to follow through on tasks, I was turning to money to motivate them to obey. When I would engage with my older kids (7 and 9 years) to train them in some personal responsibility, they were beginning to expect monetary rewards instead of just doing the tasks for the sake of obedience. So, I allowed my lack of boundaries to fool me into the mindset that I should try to bargain, bribe, or beg them to obey.

And I’m not joking! The words: I’m begging you! Were becoming a part of my weekly vocabulary.

(Whoa.)

I took a hard look at my own life: why is this behavior so important to me? What is most important to my kids? How can I move them from consuming our schedule, home, resources, etc. to contributing to these? What will motivate and correct?

I already learned that money didn’t work. Like a cupcake with too much frosting, they bit a little and then scraped the extra off and continued without changing the behavior I was trying to change.

So, I considered my life again but more practically. If I want to enjoy something, what has to happen? If I want to have a peaceful morning, I put in the work the night before to wash pans, tidy up, and write the plan.

Plain old life requires work, but there are natural rewards in that work too – like peace!

(Lightbulb.)

I decided that I needed to train my kids to see life’s rewards as extras to earn not expectations to receive.

And this week has been so different.

Monday: I wanted to follow the routines. Now hear me, I’m a flexible person. I’m not hyper strict about most things. I enjoy my Type B personality (or my adult ADD) most of the time. So to reward my kids for their participation in our daily responsibilities, I said that I would take them to a new play place by 2pm as long as we each put our responsibilities first. I built free time into the schedule too. There was no need for anyone to feel burdened, just loosely guided.

One additional condition was kindness. No out of control arguments. I’ve been working for months on training my little people to treat each other with kindness and respect, to see and anticipate the needs and feelings of each other.

They were on board and super excited to go and play! What a treat. Usually Mondays are “stay home” days.

But they argued – again and again. I had to correct and redirect. I warned without lecturing or showing any emotion, until finally I had to say “You’ve lost the privilege. We will not be going to the play place.”

Boy, was it hard to stick to this consequence! They straightened right up, got back on track, and asked again if we could still go. Considering the fact that we actually hadn’t fallen behind in our routine. We could still make it – no harm, no foul. But I couldn’t give in or change my mind.

This is vital to establishing real boundaries. Boundaries that are consistent.

I told them that we could find another time in our week to add in this fun extra, but that they would have to continue to show me that they could respect the routine.

Tuesday: Library day. They couldn’t keep it together. Squabbles and dawdles robbed them of their “need” to go to the library.

At this point, I could see that I was really getting through to them. Not only was I being firm on the limits of their behavior, but I was being loving! I was calm, compassionate, and willing to listen to them. I wasn’t willing to compromise or change my mind. I asked for the routine to be followed without fighting (little arguments and disagreements aside – they are kids for heaven’s sake), and I meant it.

Wednesday: we got out of the house and enjoyed a little perspective from the outside, which brings us to Thursday and the picture of us leaving the house!!!

We enjoyed the library and the play place! We got out of the house (easily!!) by 9am with chores done and no fighting!

Am I being too strict? Is it fair to cancel plans and make they follow the routine? (Side note: we [my older kids and I] created this routine together, so this isn’t just a “my way or the highway” plan. It’s a collaboration.) I don’t think so.

This is parenting. 

 

*I am not a parenting expert. This post isn’t written to diagnose or treat any parenting issues. If you see yourself in my experience or my kids’ behavior, I pray this post will encourage and not discourage. I would love to connect with you personally too! Click here to read my previous post reviewing the book on Boundaries with Kids.

Read and Grow.

Photo credit.

It’s happening again. And I’m so utterly excited and thankful. Life has presented me with a challenge, and God has birthed in my heart a craving to grow.

The desire and motivation are a gift. I didn’t design it nor can I contain it.

This happened once before, a little over 7 years ago. I wrote about my desire to change, to fix a character flaw. It was truly the beginning of my blogging journey as well. I had no idea that writing my way through that year would serve to fundamentally define me as a writer.

Isn’t that just the way God works? Those mysterious ways that come upon us, altering us in areas beyond imagination.

Last year, I tried to manufacture my growth by setting up a reading challenge full of deep and delightful titles. But even while creating the list, I could feel my own distance – reluctance that I ignored because I wanted to teach myself a lesson in discipline. I was tricked by my own success with growing productively into believing that I could force growth in any area. I didn’t honor my limits, I wasn’t being gracious with my weakness, I over estimated my strengths.

I was sick of being held back. I thought pushing through, trying harder, and thinking big would free me from my own struggle with my brain.  

Dealing with my ADD brain can be tricky. Sometimes I do need to “sit myself down” and “obey the list.” I’m learning that I can only make progress through this type of firmness in the area of productivity not the area of contemplation. I need to budget my energy to fuel these two parts of my mind (there’s a post brewing on this topic…). I’m realizing again that God gave me this brain with all of it’s limits and talents for His purposes to be used in His timing. 

So, I’m excited for this year and the growth I can see up ahead, but I’m not ashamed of last year’s “failure” because I recognized an important, personal limitation and learned to respect it. More on this later.

For now, I can see that the challenge in my life is CHANGE. There is change all around me. My kids are all coming out of a coasting season. Their interests, competencies, and complexities are on the rise. Taking just this area of change into view, I see that I will have to change in order to rise to the occasion of being the kind of mother I want to be for my loves.

Questions: How can I rise to the occasion on my own? What strength or talent do I possess that will allow for personal growth? Can I contain or conjure up a motive that will sustain growth over a long period of time?

Answers: I can’t. Nothing. No.

What gives? Why am I excited if I can’t do this on my own? Exactly because the desire, strength, motive aren’t coming from my decision, I can trust that I won’t have to worry about controlling or maintaining them.

It’s like the “Field of Dreams.” I feel like the Lord is showing me how much great change is ahead of me, and all I have to do is pick up the book and read. He will grow me from the inside.

And He already has. Since the beginning of 2017, I’ve been reading. I’ll do my best to share the most of what I gain from the titles this year. And I’ll keep the list here as a reference.

Books read in 2017 (I’ll link the ones I review):

  • BFG by Roald Dahl*
  • Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally by Chris Davis
  • Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  • Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
  • Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl & Serene
  • Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  • Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae
  • Managers of Their Homes by Steven and Teri Maxwell
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Unveiled Wife by Jennifer Smith
  • Currently reading: The Life Giving Home by Sarah & Sally Clarkson, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, Gameplan by Sarah Harnisch 

Are you interested in following me in this process of change through reading? I’m ready to really GROW. Let me know in the comments what books you’re reading and what you recommend! Who doesn’t want to GROW their TBR list even more? 😉

Here’s my Amazon list for easy reference. If you make a purchase, Amazon thanks me at no cost to you.

* Audio book

Photo credit.

Know Your Style: Homeschool Planning Tip #4

Know your style hpt 4

There is so much more to planning a homeschool year than putting dates and assignments on a calendar.

I wish it could be that easy.

Two years ago, that’s all I thought it took. I opened up all my resources, gathered the time frames suggested in each, wrote out the units on my planner, and mentally clicked on “autopilot.” I truly thought I was not only doing what was best for our year but I was also tricked into thinking that the schedule would somehow run the show.

I thought I was being logical: If we have deadlines on the calendar, then we will accomplish all of our work on time.

This didn’t happen.

Not at all.

To our credit, we were still sort of settling into to what it means to learn at home. It was the first year that I would say my kids were past the “kindergarten” stage of just needing the basics. So, I honestly didn’t know how to incorporate different subjects on my own. That year, I didn’t buy a curriculum-in-a-box with a master checklist of the daily list of to-dos.

Also, this was pre-Bullet Journal and pre-Make Over courses.

I simply didn’t know how to manage a day well. I didn’t know how to manage myself well. My style at the time was still developing, but I didn’t realize the work ahead of me to define a working routine that would bless both my kids and myself.

So, before jumping into the same mistakes I made (or other ones, there are many to choose from) like filling in your whole homeschool planner with dates and deadlines – take a few days to define your style. Your style for accomplishing your responsibilities. There are so many “right” styles, the only wrong one is not knowing what yours is.

Are you energized by a busy schedule?

Are you defeated before you begin if your house is a mess?

Do you thrive on field trips and spontaneous learning?

Or do you need someone to help keep you accountable to check off the lessons in your child’s math book?

We all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to management and leadership styles in the home. As a home educator, you’re both – whether that sits well with you or not.

I’m learning that my style is slow and steady, housework then schoolwork, in more than out, and the discipline of “withness.” These are the realities that go into my homeschool planning for the year, month, and week. When I prioritize these into each day, it not only benefits our school day but it also fuels me as a person. I feel more alive when I’ve honored the way I’m wired to function.

Notable in November 2

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to recommend Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace (affiliate link). I wanted to tell you about the section where Sarah Mackenzie details the virtue of rest and the 2 vices on either side: Anxiety and Negligence – but I can’t find the page. So, instead I’ll recommend that you think about this (from page 57 – section titled The Truth About You):

“We must look ourselves squarely in the eye and decide what is true about how we operate best, then base our homeschools on those truths, playing to our strengths and providing for our weaknesses. The result? The children benefit tremendously, regardless of their unique learning styles.”

The truths detailed in this little book (seriously, only 81 pages – even non-readers can read this) are worth spending a few weeks with before planning the nitty-gritty details of what you want to learn and accomplish this next year in your home.

Don’t neglect this piece of the planning process! I hope you can be encouraged to spend the rest of this month steeping in truth, digging in to understand yourself better, and committing to steward the resources available to you.

The question that masks a deeper more confronting question.

The question that masks a deeper more confronting question. 1

I’ve already told you that I’m prone to panic. I had to learn through so much failure and struggle that the first few years of home education proved to be more for educating me on self-control and discipline than about what curricula is best suited for my children and their learning styles.

Even after 4 years of studying home education, I still ask other home educating friends on a regular basis, “how do you do this?

The truth is that while things do become more routine the longer you do them, there isn’t a magical answer to “how” they should be done.

I have spent so much time trying to answer this question before actually putting any action into home schooling. Reading books, blogs, studying development and researching the best tools for the right ages. Figuring out the “how” is difficult and no doubt daunting when I admit that the whole of the child in my care is resting on how well I do this.

While searching for answers to how, a fear rises and begins to tell me that I will never have enough information, tools, or understanding to do a good enough job for my child. And in response to this fear I put in even more effort, endlessly asking myself, how do I do this? The fear that maybe I can’t do this as well as I should begins to turn the question of how into an illusive thing. As I learn more about the best how, I lose sight of how to begin, how to be faithful in today, how to be content. I believe the lie that if I can’t match someone else’s “how” then mine isn’t good enough and I shouldn’t even try.

That was until this thinking was confronted.

You see, it doesn’t matter the subject of the “this” in the question how do I do this? If I’m not careful, this question masks a deeper more confronting question. One that has changed the very nature of how I view everything that is difficult in my life.

On May 10, 2015, I was sitting in church listening to a sermon on spreading the gospel. The series was titled Ignite, and the message was titled Spreading the Fire. As a church, we were studying what it means to be disciple-making-disciples.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.02.10 AM

The subject of evangelism has always been a difficult one for me because I don’t come to the command with a personality that can quickly embrace the implications of spreading the name and fame of Jesus easily. For me, talking about the gospel and bringing the name of Jesus into every conversation is a challenge because I’d rather not have to talk to anyone at all. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not commanded to do so just as much as one who enjoys conversation and can readily share the gospel with others.

So when I was listening to this important message on the imperative command, I was suddenly confronted to my core when my pastor said:

Asking “how do I do this?” is really asking if there is an easier way to do it.

I knew that this was true for me in wanting to learn more about how to share the gospel. How do I start a conversation? How do I know what to say? How do I follow up with people outside my normal context? All of these additional questions are legitimate but they serve to distance me from obedience because I begin to believe that if I don’t have the answer to the “how” questions then I don’t have to start obeying. If I don’t know how, then I’m not accountable to the what.

Thinking this way is wrong. The conviction that I’ve been distancing myself from obedience has had a ripple effect in every category of my life.

In my heart, I knew that wanting things to be easy was my secret desire. For all my learning about faith, marriage, home education, and building friendships I came to the conclusion that anything worth doing requires sacrifice. And in order to begin and commit to following through I consistently came to the place where I stopped moving forward when things became costly all because I fooled myself by wanting to know “how.”

In my foolishness, I thought my wanting to know how was wise when really it was a cover up for wanting obedience to be easy.

So here are some practical suggestions if you find yourself burdened under the question of how:

  • Accept that hard work is hard. If someone else makes home education or life in general just look easy – it’s a fact that they work hard, and have worked hard for so long that doing so has become natural. Nothing in life was meant to be free from work. Own your work and commit to getting started today by just doing what you already know to do.
  • Stop comparing your how to someone else’s how. There is fear in learning something new like how to home educate. I fell into the trap quickly of wanting my day with my little people to look like the ideal – I wanted all the boxes checked, all the books read, and all the clutter cleared. I didn’t want to have to give space for learning curves and growing pains. But when I began to value my life simply because it is mine, that’s when I could actually own my how and let go of someone else’s.
  • Start in layers. Just do one thing and commit to doing it well. Discipline is grown best over time and with patience. I was tangled up in the “how can I do it all” mess when I first started home education. I wanted to give my children the best of me 24 hours a day which led me to a point of utter exhaustion. Exhaustion led me to resentment, and resentment led me to the point of missing my own life. I had to start all over and just choose 1-thing to commit to be disciplined in, to be patient to watch that one thing grow, and to be content with the time I was spending to guard and be faithful to this process.
  • Ask yourself what is easy for you. Be honest about the things you are good at and don’t miss out on the joy to life these easy things bring. These easy things are different for each person, so enjoy seeing where they can balance out the things that are difficult.
  • Talk it out. Whether in your own self-talk or with a friend, spell out the areas of home life and home education that are too hard to even begin. Discuss with your spouse whether certain ideals are even worth pursuing in the season of life you are in right now. Write out the balance of responsibilities and weigh out the easy and difficult things. It is okay to take non-essentials off the list for a season.
  • Be resolved to not measure yourself by an impossible standard. Own the gifts you’ve been given and commit to do your best. End the struggle between being a good mom and a bad mom because the best answer to “how” cannot guarantee you won’t make any more mistakes.

As I wrestle with the hard things in my life, now I am confronted whenever I start asking myself the wrong question: how can I do this? I now know that I am really asking: isn’t there an easier way to do this? And if the answer is no, there isn’t an easy way, I’m learning to own the work and just get started. I don’t want to waste my life waiting for an easier way. The how do I do this question is answered easily: start.

The number one thing to ensure failure in home schooling.

The number one thing to ensure failure in home schooling 1

I lost all the music on my phone.

Technology can be a beast sometimes.

I didn’t realize my music was gone until the next morning when my alarm rang to a buzz instead of the normal tune. I didn’t think the change was that big of a deal until one week later – I was failing to wake up at my usual time consistently. Every day last week I slept past my alarm. Snooze. Snooze. Snooze.

This isn’t like me. I’ve learned through so much trial, error, and victory that there are certain disciplines that are just so worth the little effort that I don’t want to put them off or ignore them.

And more than the immediate victories and rewards as motivation, I realized that they also guard me against being pitted with a hard choice of whether I will do the work now, or put it off for later.

Because once I put off one thing, it feels strangely more tempting to put off another thing, and another, and another. You get the point.

When I put off doing the right thing in my day, I don’t realize that I’m setting myself up for failure for the rest of the day. But by giving into distraction, I’m feeding on a lie that somehow I will feel like doing the right thing later on in the day. For me, that later on in the day feeling never happens.

The same is true in home schooling. If I say we are going to start at 9 o’clock and I let that time roll on by, my kids may or may not notice it in the moment – but they sure notice it sometime. They are hungry for consistency, routine, integrity, and discipline.

Yesterday, my daughter was caught up in the feeling of doing her math lesson. By that I mean, she absolutely did not feel like doing it. She begged for all various ways to simply “do it later.” She wanted a break to get a drink, have a snack, wipe her eye, finish another lesson on her daily journal assignment, or play outside and then come back to do it later.

I sat calmly right next to her almost the entire time she struggled through her lesson – mind you, she did not struggle because the problems were too difficult nor because the lesson was longer than appropriate for her age. She struggled to find the discipline to keep her mind on the page. She let herself wander mentally, and she was discontent with boring math.

(Oh, how painful it was to see myself in her in that moment. How many times I have told myself I can just to do the dishes later, or just declutter later, or just start writing later – and my phone, the computer, or a book is right within reach tempting me to pay attention to it instead. Oh the subtle lie that I can distract myself from the boring work of something for the fruitless waste of a delightful distraction.)

I don’t think that parents – especially home educating parents – should just heap unrealistic expectations on their children and then task-master all day long. No, first we must make ourselves the students of our children and then inspire them to follow our example in the way we are disciplined, balanced, and trustworthy.

I’ve learned the hard way that just giving them arbitrary times and numbers of lessons to accomplish is a recipe for failure. I must first study when it fits best into the whole scope of our day or best within the natural bends of their attention. I’ve seen how drastic of a difference keeping my word versus not keeping my word has been on their actions, attitudes, and words.

The number one thing to ensure failure in home schooling is to put off until later what should be done right now.

Whatever “it” may be, one slip in my day and I’ve lost ground with myself and my children.

How can I ask my daughter to sit and finish what she has been assigned if I can’t sit and teach at the time I told them I would?

I’m still learning this lesson.

I’m also learning that just because she begs for what she wants, doesn’t mean that giving her that thing is best for her.

So for my daughter, I changed our dinner plans from what was on the menu to frozen pizza. I barely left her side in order to show her through my commitment that hanging tightly to discipline and doing what we know is right is the best decision we can make.

I made a point of teaching her to finish, instead of just telling her to do so.*

This is when knowledge with action leads to wisdom.

And I want more than anything for my children to be wise. I know they won’t be gifted at everything. They won’t remember each lesson or each year of school. I won’t be able to teach them all there is to know, but I can train them to do the work of integrity: to work out what is right, to try hard at something that isn’t natural, and to enjoy the fruit of faithfulness.

I know it’s almost October, and so all the high hopes for the new school year have drooped a little bit. That’s okay. Each new school year doesn’t have to feel right every day to be right. It is still possible to have an excellent year of progress, not because you have the latest book, course, or blog (even this one) on the topic of organizing your home school, but because you choose to do what is right.

Don’t put off for tomorrow what is in your power to do today.

* The simple switch from telling to teaching is a concept I'm learning from No More Perfect Kids: Love your kids for who they are by Jill Savage and Kathy Koch, PhD.

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#MakeOverYourMornings: The #5Things I Needed Most.

I’ve been circling. Imagine toilet bowl with me. Yes, it’s felt that bad.

Stress mounting to the point of spiraling out of control, and no matter the amount of know-betters and best-intentions I’ve truly been in constant conflict with myself.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you - I may get a small commission. However, this post is NOT a paid advertisement; you will have to read through to the end to see my #1 and #2 reasons why this was written - neither of which are to make money.

Let me explain.

I was going through one of the roughest days I’ve had in a very long time. And no matter how much I could pray through and ask for more faith to trust, at the bottom of everything I was feeling was this demand to know the source – was this a test to make me stronger? Or a temptation to see me fail? Should I beg for mercy, wait, and endure? Or should I fight back, get tough, and push through?

I felt like I was at the fever pitch of what my self-control could handle and yet there was more coming at me than I felt like I could bear. I couldn’t see clearly to the end of the day, let alone the end of the problems.

Enter #MakeOverYourMornings.

Like I said in this status update, I initially put the thought of signing up for the course out of my mind because – I’m a generally organized person. I get up very early, I have a good morning routine, and I’m generally satisfied with how I spend my personal time.

But…

Then I took a good look at myself, and I was still in my pajamas and it was nearly 10am. I had no clue what I was going to do next, eat next, or how we were going to just-make-it-to-lunchtime.

Oh, how my pride is sneaky.

Sure, my personal time was in good order, but my homemaking and scheduling for the kids needed some direction.

I was operating under good intentions, but not goals and plans. Pride, and the fear of change, had me believing everything was going well. I was making it to the end of every day getting some things accomplished but I didn’t have anything to measure it against. How does the saying go? The path to failure is paved with good intentions?

Facing my pajama-clad-self, I realized again that in order to grow in discipline and self-control I would have to accept this help. The right time feeling dawned. I wanted to get perspective – to take an inventory of my responsibilities, habits, routines, schedules, and goals.

So on June 2nd, I jumped into #MakeOverYourMornings with both feet, and here are my 5 favorite things about the course:

  1. Goals – I have grown in baby steps by following Crystal Paine of the MoneySavingMom.com (MSM) for years now. The fact that this course was created by her was a big motivator for me to try it. Her journey with goal setting and follow through has been encouraging and transparent on her blog. When I have tried what she has recommended I have experienced growth and rewards. In the course, she goes in depth to explain the in’s and out’s of goal setting and keeping. She’s written a 64-page handbook to go along with this course including 6 unique printables.
  2. Accountability – The course itself is an accountability. I have to do something every day, and before charting the next day’s task – I need to truly implement today’s. Day #7 is dedicated to accountability, and for the first time in my life I understand accountability in a good way. Before (subconsciously) I understood accountability as a consequence. It was something I needed in order to pull myself back up from falling. In my mind, it had the face of punishment and condescension. It was someone superior pointing down to me. And who wants that? That all changed today because of the way Crystal explained her need for and gaining of accountability for herself. She cast a whole new light on the subject. She built confidence into my heart to change my understanding, to open up to someone, and to believe in growth again. And I came up with a plan to make accountability personal – here’s part of my comment from the #MakeOverYourMornings discussion board: “[How about] a shopping accountability? Just a quick text to someone to say, “hey I’m at (name of store) and I just need to buy (item) – I just want someone to know that I only can spend (dollar amount).” For me, I can’t stand it when I’ve overspent and then I have to tell my husband and ask for forgiveness. It’s-the-worst. I’d rather not shop at all than risk overspending. So I think I’m going to ask a friend to be my text-to-shop accountability partner.” 

    Goal Sheet: written out, pictured, and set as lock screen (so I can't forget about them).

    Goal Sheet: written out, pictured, and set as lock screen (so I can’t forget about them).

  3. Personal – The video portion (which is professionally done) of this course is so personal. Crystal does such a great job at creating a warm and welcoming feel to each day’s video – and her true passion for helping others is communicated beautifully through her friendly words and attitude. I’ve read MSM for years like I mentioned in #1, and I’ve watched her live out the tips and principles that are detailed in this course. So can you just read her blog and find the same practical helps? Not really. The value of this course is Crystal’s voice – her telling in detail how she has lived these lessons one-by-one. Her advise is personal but the take-away is unique to me. She leaves the application both specific enough to know what to do, but the advise allows me to apply my own how to do it.
  4. Approachable – For each area of my life, this course speaks into both my strengths and weaknesses. My weak and lazy areas feel changeable. I’m inspired to make drastic change while also fine tuning areas where I thought I was put together. There is so much in the course – applying to every level of personal discipline – that I plan to go through the course again on a bi-yearly basis (or maybe more) when the seasons of life change and a new approach to accomplishing goals is necessary.
  5. Balance – One of my weaknesses with balancing all of life’s responsibilities with appropriate goals is actually a strength – my passion. When I love something or I am filled with a drive to get something done, I take large chunks of time to devote all my efforts to doing it with all my heart. This is great and I have benefitted time and again from the large strokes of change and accomplishment. The down side is that it is unbalanced. The other areas under my management take a backseat until they get unmanageable (coasting only lasts so long in any one direction) and I must change my focus to the next area. If you can relate, then you know how it feels to try to hold back or stop short of the finish line just because of other demands. But such is life. I’ve learned that no matter if I’m on a roll with writing in the morning, my kids still must have breakfast and we all must get dressed and start the day. Some daily demands cannot go on hold just because inspiration or passion strike. So my #5 reason why I’m enjoying the #MakeOverYourMornings course is a big one because it’s helping me learn how to balance not just how to hold back.

So why would I take the time and effort to share this with you if I’m not looking to make a fortune off of it?

First, this course has inspired me to embrace the confidence of knowing that I have authority over my own life and choices. I needed to consciously choose to put my anchors back in something, and this course has helped me take significant steps in goal setting again. Now, please don’t jump into this course if you want Crystal (or me) to change your life for you! It’s easy to fall into criticizing someone who is doing well with their goals when I’ve tried and failed – if I had been in that attitude then this course wouldn’t have helped me at all. Attitude and anchors mean so much to me in having a positive life.

Second, I love being apart of this big community where together we can make a significant difference. As I shared on #2, the accountability of going through the course and choosing to engage with others has been very helpful and encouraging to me. Plus, on the launch day for this course Crystal gave 25% of profits to a great cause. Read her post to find out more about behind the scenes of the course and the cause.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little bit about what’s helping me change, and I also hope you’ll consider taking this course to see for yourself. Also, I hope you’ll take a minute to read my latest post: Teaching Money Management to Kids.

And as always – thanks for reading.

For more encouragement from The Home Learner and a free PDF guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement, click here.

Whole30, Essential Oils, and Buying a House – How I’m really doing.

Whole30 Essential Oils Buying a House Box Pic

I don’t do well off my routine. I’m not a driven person. I do not come by self-control naturally.  If left to myself – I would flounder all day long.

All life long.

I found a way to help me keep steady, calm, productive, and optimistic – create an autopilot.

I’ve been working for years on adding slowly to my autopilot cue. No rushing, pushing, or measuring up to others. Just add one layer at a time. Good routines are formed in layers.

Morning routines, work and writing routines, homeschool routines, housecleaning routines, getting ready routines, leaving the house routines – you get my point. It’s all about critically discerning what I do, in what order, and for what benefit. Then writing it down and doing it again – in the same way – taking note of the effects and repeat until a habit is formed.

Good habits are satisfying. Seeing progress, goals accomplished, and happiness in the family are so fulfilling. I have been so encouraged by others who are farther ahead in the discipline journey than I am, but I’ve learned that routines and discipline are intimately personal. The what I do comes from the why I do it – and that looks different for each of us.

So I was happily plugging away at my routines until I went on a cleanse and started researching essential oils, all while knee deep in the process of buying a house (no small thing). Who knew 3 perfectly neutral things in and of themselves could humble me so much.

I have said I’m sorry more times in the past 2 weeks than I have in the past 10 months.

Making multiple decisions at the same time stresses me out. Wanting to do the best thing has cost more than I’ve wanted to sacrifice.

Whole30 Essential Oils Buying a House Food Pic

It’s breaking me that I need to constantly remember – don’t eat that, rub this oil on feet, this one has to have a carrier oil, and scan one more document to email the underwriter ASAP. All this thinking, deciding and choosing is constantly stretching my brain. It’s exercising my mental muscles and forcing me to own who is behind the routine. Who I am when I don’t have to think about decisions and who I am when I’m faced with 100 decisions at once can be 2 different people.

I had gained a certain amount of confidence from all my routines functioning well, but now that I’ve been crushed multiple times from the weight of circumstances and too many decisions that I’ve called my confidence into question.

So I went on a walk today and asked myself: what’s the big deal that I’m disappointed with what I chose to do? Did I mean to hurt anyone? Does anyone really care anyway? Am I just being hard on myself for the sake of punishing myself for having a stupid moment? And am I willing to submit to this circumstance and accept that it happened – and it’s over? Am I allowed to move on?

My answers:

  • It shows people around me that I have flaws. I don’t like my weaknesses and failures exposed.
  • No, I didn’t mean to hurt or offend anyone.
  • No one cares or even remembers. If they do then it’s their issue not mine.
  • Yes, I think I’m being too hard on myself and I’m not very good at correcting my behavior with negativity. Punishing myself will not push me to better behavior next time.
  • Yes, I can accept that it’s done. I can’t erase it. It’s history.
  • (Deep breath) I’m ready to move on. No one benefits from me staying in this hypersensitive state of disappointment.

Whole30 Essential Oils Buying a House Oil Pic

This was me working through one of the keys to self-control: the self-critique. In order to submit to life’s circumstances and serve my family with love and respect, I must revisit the lessons of self-control often. It isn’t a one and done test. And failing one test doesn’t disqualify me from my role in life. My kids still need a mother, my husband still needs a companion, and my God still graciously calls me His daughter.

Dr. John Piper once said in a Q&A session at the THINK conference that 95% (he said “I’ll just pick a number” so that isn’t a hard statistic) of behavior is unpremeditated. Most of the time I don’t have time to think about how to respond – so the 95% of my behavior that I don’t think about must be governed by a transformed mind. The 5% of my decisions are going to be the big ones, he said, “like where you’re going to work, who you’re going to marry, and a few other things. But most of what you do, you do not have time to think about it.” (See the video of this Q&A here – the portion referenced here starts at 33:00)

So I need to be prepared. I need to know what I’m studying. I need to guard my mind, and actively renew it.  Life does just happen. At the end of an hour, a day, or my life I want to have worked hardest on renewing my mind and not just on forming routines. Because at the end of it all whether on or off routine, my mind and heart will prove me right or wrong. Good or evil.

The past couple of weeks and days have revealed to me that I have been able to cover up some of my poor thinking. I have had to face that I still have a long way to go. There is a lot more for me to learn about myself and how I behave. For me, being a life long learner means that these seasons, days, and moments – the breaking and remaking parts – are used to grow deeper roots. Bigger storms always come, more significant tests will take me off guard, and in those future times – it will be what I learned about myself now that will inform the decisions I make.

Facing a hard season of decisions or simply a change in routine that throws everything off isn’t bad. I love the quote: “Hard isn’t bad. It’s just hard.” Accepting that something is hard and requires work is sometimes the most difficult step for me.

In the end, all of my hard work has paid off.

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