Sunday, September 27, 2015

Feeling "Off"

I have been feeling "off" the last couple of days. For some reason, everything I normally do started to feel really hard. Why does that happen? I was doing really well with reaching for good goals (see previous post for our daily schedule) and I was feeling motivated and excited about the challenge of reaching them.  And then yesterday I hit a slump and motivating myself to get anything done was really hard. Writing can be therapeutic for me, so this post is my therapy today.

We were away from home for much of last week. It is so hard getting back into a routine after I have been away from one for a bit. I looked at the fridge with the intent to clean it several times yesterday, but I never got around to actually doing it. I am behind on the school work the kids are supposed to turn in online so that is the other thing I planned to get to yesterday. I didn't get to it. I feel like I cleaned some, but everything still felt messy.

I got on my phone with the intent to get on Librivox and listen to something while I cleaned, but I kept getting distracted on there and never pulled up a book. I did spend some time with the little ones... I wanted to go to a homeschool conference that I had tickets to, but felt I had too much to do and yet didn't get much done.

That night I went to women's conference. It was amazing. I needed that reminder of why I do what I do. Things felt right and I was ready to go home and do good things.

Then again today, after a rough night with whiny dogs who don't let me sleep, doing anything felt hard. Church was nice, but the rest of the day has seemed blah. Usually starting a job is the hard part, but once I get going it gets easier. Making dinner today was hard the entire time. Each moment felt like drudgery. Why was it such a big deal?

I am grateful for new beginnings - new weeks, new moments. I think I will go see if anyone wants to go for a walk. Then maybe I'll make my bed. And then I will cuddle my kids and read them a story. Maybe I just need a Sunday.

Whew. I don't know why anyone would want to read this post, but I do feel better, strangely enough. I guess I needed to remind myself that I have choice. I can choose each moment to start over and make it better. I made dinner today because I had to, I forgot that I was choosing to - because I love my family and I love my God whose children these are.

That's what it was. I forgot my cause. I forgot my why.

I am reminded of a quote that my good friend shared with me "It is not about you, it is about the God you love and those He died to save."

I need to put that in my kitchen somewhere :)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Clearing our Time for the Most Important - Enriching the Soil

Or How do I Motivate my Children to Want to Learn Step 3

Step 1 was to Clear the Soil or Detox - to rid our homes of things that distract us.
Step 2 was to Fill the Environment with Sunshine - or to build relationships of love instead of battles
Step 3 is to Enrich the Soil with the proper nutrients

Here is how to enrich the soil of your home:

1. Observe. Think about your typical day. How do you spend your time? Maybe go through your day tomorrow and write down what you are doing and how long it is taking. Or you can take pictures of the different things you do through the day and then go back and get a vision of you typical day.

2. Ask. The first question to ask yourself now is, "What is my goal?" Think big - what is your overarching goal for everything you do? When I think about this question, I would say that my goal in life is to lead my family back to Christ. That is what I want to spend my time doing.

As I look at my life through the lens of my goal, I can ask myself, "Are the things I do in my day helping me reach my goal?"

3. Evaluate. I can look at my typical day with this question in mind: I get out of bed (important part of progress ;-) ) Next, I pray and think about how I can dedicate my day to God. Then I make my bed...does this contribute to my goal? Well, yes - it reminds me to start with myself in creating a loving environment. Making my bed is a daily reminder that my heart must be full of love in all that I do. For someone else, making their bed could remind them of starting fresh each day... the point is that even something as simple as making a bed can help me reach my overarching goal. I go through my day to see if what I do helps me reach my goal.

4. Discard. If I come across something in my day that does not seem to contribute to my goal, I get rid of it. Seriously. I know some people want to disagree with this. "What? You mean you have to have a spiritual reason for everything you do???" Well, to be honest, I can find a spiritual reason for almost everything, but if I cannot - then I know I need to let it go. If I can't find a spiritual reason for teaching my kids math - I don't teach them math (I have found some, though, btw) I don't have time for things that don't contribute to my goal. And neither do you.

Don't be afraid to discard things. If you take something out of your life that Heavenly Father wants you to put back in - He will guide you to the spiritual reason for it - which will bless you with the motivation to put in the effort (like He did for me and math). Discarding is an act of faith and He will bless you for it.

5. Prioritize. I have found many, many things that can help me lead my family back to Christ. Such as: personal scripture study, prayer, journal writing; family scripture study, prayer, home evening; family morning devotionals, family work, nature time, wholesome recreation, wholesome meals, eating together, preparing meals together, regular one-on-one time, date night with my husband, daily dialogues with my husband (a communication tool), family learning time, individual learning time, exercise, temple, fasting, serving in our home and community, mentoring in the community, magnifying callings, family reading time, teaching my children basic skills, teaching values, etc.

Obviously, I need to prioritize and figure out what is most important as well as what needs to be done first each day, each week, each month. And then I make a flexible plan (open to changes according to the Spirit) to make it happen.

6. Remember. Once you have a plan in place - it is important to remember the "why" as you go forth to act on each item. I could do the dishes just because it is on my list, or I could do the dishes remembering that I put this on the list because I wanted to serve my family, there is a symbolic beauty in cleaning the vessels we use to nourish our bodies, I want a clean kitchen where family wants to gather, etc. If I can remember the "why" of each thing I do as I do it, it will keep my thoughts focused on Christ (always remembering Him), it will help me live in the moment with joy, and it will bring His Spirit to my heart and home.

It is important not to rush through our "to do" list, but to stop, remember, embrace the reason we put that action into our lives.

7. Evaluate. At the start and end of each day I can see what went well and what didn't. I can learn what I need to change or if I need to discard some good things to make time for the best things.

For an example of what this may look like, here is how I am structuring my day right now. This does not happen everyday (right now the thing that keeps getting skipped the most is exercise, so I need to reevaluate how to make time for it), but this is the ideal that I practice achieving each day. I attach a reason to each section of my day so my "why" is obvious to me as I look at my schedule.

1. Connect with God:
Clean my room (prepare my personal environment),
Read my scriptures,
Pray and listen,
Write in my journal and plan my day,
Exercise (tune the instrument of my spirit).

2. Connect with my Family to God:
Family Devotional (hymn, prayer, conference talk)
Science (we look at the lessons in God's creations - it is like an object lesson for a spiritual truth), Spanish (to remind us to serve all humanity and that service begins at home)

3. Family Service and Basic Skills (or weeding in the sunshine)
-We clean the house, or in other words, get rid of distractions (each person has a daily job - room, zone, laundry, kitchen job; weekly job - vacuum, bathroom, or mopping; deep clean job; meal prep job; weeding zone) This helps us learn to be disciples of Christ as we practice obedience, hard work, service, cleanliness and kindness toward each other
- Each person has some skills they must work on before they can move on to learning the things they want to learn about. Skills may include reading, writing, math, music (depending on what that child needs at this time).

4. Breakfast*  (nurture the instrument of our spirit and build relationships)
-Share personal ah-has from scriptures and practice kindness
*Breakfast usually happens sometime in the midst of working on #3

5. Lunch (see breakfast)
-Some share their ah-has here if they didn't read their scriptures before breakfast

6. Personal Prompting List - (learning to hear the Voice of The Lord)
-I encourage everyone to write down promptings they receive each morning, or through the day, on a list and to try to get some done each day.

7. Learning Time - Increase in Learning and Wisdom (the application of what we learn)
-Most of us read or prepare for classes. We were prayerful about which classes to sign up for (would they help us in our goals to grow closer to God?)
-The little ones play and practice kindness.

8. Family Dinner (family bonding and teaching one another)
We quick-clean the house while we prepare for dinner
We share our ah-has from our learning time,
Dad usually updates us on what is going on in the world,
We serve and clean the kitchen together

9. Family Scriptures and Classic (family unity)
-We read and discuss scriptures
-Mom reads a classic to everyone
-Dad takes little ones to bed (or anyone who is not able to sit still and listen to mom reading).

10. Bedtime Routines (one-on-one time)
-Mom or Dad pray with each child
-Little ones always ask for their mommy cuddles
-Older ones often talk or share at bedtime too

11. Couple Time (the marriage relationship is the foundation of a happy home)

12. Evaluation time (journal writing, prepare for the next day)

We also have some things we try to fit in weekly or monthly:
Dates with kids (Tuesday nights), nature time (Tuesdays and Thursdays) temple (Saturdays), callings (Wednesdays), classes, shopping, etc.

Again, this is the ideal. It is how I visualize my day and what I keep in my vision as I go through the reality of each day (which often looks rather different ;-) )

Everyone will structure their day differently, but I hope this example gives a picture of what I mean by "enriching the soil" and putting things in our day that get us to where we want to be.

Here are some more pictures I just uploaded from my phone of our summer (most wouldn't transfer - if any techy can tell me why that would be - I would love to get the rest of the pictures off my phone!):








Manti Pageant

swim lessons