I’m just going to start this off by being brutally honest and vulnerable: I’m not having the greatest morning. I started this blog to talk about being intentional: doing things with purpose and planning, not haphazardly and reactionary. But right now, it’s 8:55 am on Friday, the day I set for myself to publish a new post each week. And here I am, just now writing one.
I feel like this week has been hectic and busy, but I have nothing to show for it. I feel like I’m failing and floundering and overall a hot mess.
These things may feel true, but they are not true. Feelings are not facts.
Life is busy, and a mom’s work (or, let’s be real, life as an adult in general) is repetitive and cyclical. As my former roommate’s brother once told me, “Your laundry will never be completely clean, so long as you are fully committed to the idea of wearing clothes.” (He now has a PhD in philosophy, unsurprisingly.)
Because I know that how I’m feeling is not the truth, and that intentionality is not only about planning for the future, but about taking assessment of the past and present in order to move forward, today I’m going to remind myself of things in my life that are working well, even while I’m currently frustrated about the stack of dishes in my sink, waiting to be washed yet again.
Setting timers for Abby
I’ve employed the use of timers for my own productivity in the past: racing a timer to see how quickly I can fold a load of laundry or setting a timer for 20 minutes to focus on one task without distraction. But recently they’ve come in really handy with Abby. One night on our recent trip to Oklahoma, she was playing with Mimi when bedtime arrived. She was…shall we say…less than pleased. As a compromise, I set a timer for 10 more minutes, and informed her that when she heard it go off, she needed to pick up her toys and get into her pjs.
I was shocked at how well this worked. As soon as the timer sounded, she said, “Now it’s bedtime!” And she proceeded to get up and get ready for bed! The next night, it worked again!
Since we’ve been home, this little trick had slipped my mind. But this morning Abby reminded me when I told her she needed to get out of the bathtub and ready for school. She said, “I’m setting a timer for 15 minutes, and then I’ll get out, ok?” Granted, she was trying to con me out of more time, and also, we didn’t have 15 more minutes, but I feel like the concept is a good one. Anything that reduces my role as the bad-guy is okay with me.
Leaving in my conditioner
I have naturally curly hair, and a LOT of it. It’s been a challenge for the past 17 years* (!!) figuring out how to care for it properly. In that time I’ve tried various products and techniques, but the most revolutionary piece of advice I’ve heard in recent months is: don’t rinse out your conditioner.
When I first heard this, I was super skeptical. But after seeing it repeated in multiple places (by people with really pretty curls) I started experimenting with leaving a little bit on the ends, and have found it to be so helpful! Curly hair is usually dry, and it turns out that the conditioner I already use is actually the best thing for adding moisture. I’ve started leaving larger and larger amounts in my hair each time I wash it, and I see a dramatic difference in how well it curls up.
I’m still working on other aspects of caring for my mane (like how to heed the advice “don’t touch your curly hair too much” when it hangs down the full length of my back and therefore is touching me at. all. times…) but I feel like I’m on the right track.
*(And yes, if you tried to do the math, this means that for the first 18 years of my life I didn’t realize I had naturally curly hair. It’s been quite the saga.)
Coffee with half and half
My progression as a coffee drinker has been slow. I started out only drinking an occasional Vanilla Latte from Starbucks. Over time I progressed to heavily creamed and sugared coffee at home. For a good stretch I preferred flavored coffees and creamers, usually hazelnut. But recently I find that I enjoy, and even prefer, regular coffee with half and half. I do still add sugar, but I’m trying (trying!) to reduce the amount little by little. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a black-coffee person, but if things continue on this progression, I might be!
Having people over every week
In October we started hosting a weekly dinner for our church’s Hyphen Group (young adults.) I felt strongly that it was something God was asking us to do, but as an introvert, I was also a little nervous about committing to having people in my space so often.
After two months, I can truly say it was an amazing decision. Having the time already dedicated on the calendar and the commitment in place helps me prepare for it, and removes my ability to give in to that introverted tendency to back out of social gatherings at the last minute. It also gives me motivation to keep things picked up, and run the vacuum regularly. But most importantly, the conversations and laughter and friendship have brought so much joy into our home. I’m thankful for every person who comes each week.
YouVersion Chronological Bible reading plan
I almost can’t believe that I’m on track to finish reading the Bible through for the second year in a row! This habit has taken me so long to develop and make stick, but I’m so pleased to say that it’s finally taken root.
This year I’ve been using the Reading God’s Story: One-Year Chronological plan through the YouVersion Bible app. It breaks down the Bible into daily readings, in the order the events took place. I have enjoyed it so much! While I prefer to read out of an actual print Bible, where I can highlight and underline things that stand out, having the app on my phone has helped me stay on track when I’ve been traveling (like our recent trip to Oklahoma, where I read on the plane, or this summer when we tried to pack as light as possible for Copenhagen, and I didn’t want to carry a heavy book.)
Another nice thing about the plan I used this year: it split the daily readings over six days a week, leaving one day a week with no new content. This gave me a chance to catch up, if I’d missed a day during the week. I also love the ability to quickly flip between different translations to get a deeper perspective on the day’s passage.
The downside to reading on my phone is my tendency to become distracted by other apps. In 2019 I plan to use another Chronological plan through YouVersion, but I want to do most of my actual reading in a print Bible (and leave my phone in another room.) I also plan to supplement my daily reading by subscribing to The Bible Recap podcast. If you’ve never had a consistent habit of daily Bible reading, I encourage you to try some of these tips and figure out a method that works for you!
Praying the Pattern of the Tabernacle
One of my goals for this year was to deepen my prayer life. I can’t say that I’ve been hugely successful, but recently we had a guest preacher who mentioned this prayer method, which I used many years ago when I lived in New York. I was happy to see that my former church, Bethel UPC, still has the guide they passed out to us available on their website. I printed out a new copy and have used it several times recently.
When I sit down to pray, I sometimes find myself distracted or unable to concentrate. This process helps me stay on track. When I feel my mind wandering, I can refer to the pamphlet and refocus. It’s so interesting to me how some sections take up a lot of my time on one particular day, while other sections get more of my attention on other days. It reminds me that prayer is just an ongoing conversation with God, and in a relationship, not all conversations look the same.
As we head into another weekend and the rest of the crazy month of December, it’s good to look back on what is going well. What’s working for you these days? Leave a comment below and lets all cheer each other on!