Jul 13, 2014

Week review and Bullet Journal lists

It would be so much better to do these reviews on Friday, or even Saturday..
But here is how my week worked out.  I think I got my main priorities done, though I'm always hoping for at least 50% done in each category, and it didn't quite work out like that.

Thinking through why I still procrastinate on doing the Proverbs project.  I think it's just plain procrastination and unorganized thinking in the morning.  Each morning next week I'm going to make it a point to review my Bullet Journal every morning for just 5 min while I sip my coffee.  Hoping that helps.  There are still days where I forget to even look at it.

So in order to do that, it means I have to rework my morning routine--which, honestly, isn't working that great right now anyway.  I need a lot more margin built in because I am still moving too slow in the mornings, and I still really struggle with switching tasks.

I did have a great light bulb moment earlier this week for my sales goal though, and will be working on that this week.  Totally different than what I had been trying before.  Instead of focusing on total sales, I'm going to focus on product. I can't really control sales... but I can control that I am consistently putting out fun and new items and using my email list and social media effectively.  So that's my new focus this week.

I also thought I'd share some random lists I have in my bullet journal. It was great going over these lists to get pics for you.  I also need to include a Bullet Journal review once a week and re-read through these quotes and lists.
(earlier this week, T1 came in on my bed with me and I happened to have my bullet journal out, working on it, and I flipped to the page where I have been writing great things about each son and read the list outloud to him... he didn't say much, but had an embarrassed smile the whole time. I highly recommend it!)
"Amazing things about" list for each son.
Great ideas for doing on the weekend... that I very rarely do.  But wouldn't it be cool if I did?!

Great quotes I want to remember.  Especially that middle one!
I have lots of lists like these to try to combat falling into the same old routine of wasting time.
Still have not done much here... yet.
Kind of similar list to the one above, but this was a year review after my 41st birthday.
So good to re-read and ask why I'm not doing these.

These lists are pretty much the only things that keep me focused on the big picture.  I SO easily fall into the easy and familiar and start putting out fires and wasting time online, sitting at the computer, and doing the urgent.  I definitely need to build daily review/reflection into my morning routine so I can remember what I want to be doing.  If it is not in my face, I get lazy, I forget, I get overwhelmed and return to what I call "scribble brain", where I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing, and get overwhelmed with kids in my face, literally breathing my same air because I'm not paying them any attention.  So, here's to a new week and new goals, and lots more margin and review!

Jul 10, 2014

Book Review--The Hope Quotient

I received a copy of The Hope Quotient from Thomas Nelson publishers and was excited to get to it because I had never really thought of hope being something  you could learn and increase.  
I thought you either had it or you didn't.

Come to find out, I was wrong.  

I loved so much about this book. It read quickly, with lots of great lists and bullet points, which I love in a non-fiction book, and was 224 pages of encouragement.

As with all reading, the entire book never sticks with me, but a few sentences do.  And this one had three that I can think of right off the top of my head:

-What can this become? 
(instead of Why did this happen?)

-Don't make decisions when you are down.

-You get what you expect.

These are not necessarily new concepts, in fact I know I've heard some version of all of these before in some context.  But in this context, they really stuck out to me.

I loved the chapters on Recharging Your Batteries and how important it is not to run till exhaustion but to take some time off to help yourself be the best of yourself.  This is an area I really felt guilty about doing before and am now coming to realize how it helps not only me, but everyone around me.  Definitely need to fit this into my bullet journal planning.  It is so important.

Another section stuck out to me too, and it was on burnout.  He brought up the thought that maybe what I consider burnout is really just discouragement.  I thought on that for a bit and for the most part, I think he's onto something.  Going to let that roll around in my brain for a while too.

This book was VERY encouraging. VERY good to read, and I will definitely be carrying around these thoughts for quite some time.  In fact, I'm going to keep this one in my library to refer back to when I feel my hope diminishing and my discouragement increasing.  

I would definitely recommend reading this, especially if you are going through some trying times or feeling a bit hopeless and overwhelmed.

Great stuff here.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Jun 30, 2014

Weekly Review and Reflection with the Bullet Journal

I am just starting to really appreciate the power of reflection and figuring out how to make it work in my life.

I have never deliberately taken the time to reflect on my days and weeks.  Instead, I usually just reflected when a flash of something stupid I did popped up in my mind, or something that I should have done better bounces across my thoughts.  And then I'm usually crushed under guilt or terrible self-talk.

So instead, I'm trying to be more intentional and proactive and deal with the issues shortly after they come up, so I don't have to stress and feel awful when they pop up the other way... I just make myself feel awful intentionally and it's done.  Just kidding.  Kinda...
Also, reviewing my days and weeks help me plan better for the upcoming ones.

So how do I do that using the Bullet Journal?

My journal pages for the week.

After the week (usually on a Sunday or Monday morning) I look back over my checklists and see what I checked off and what I didn't.
Then I make a short note about what I accomplished, or not, for each section. If I didn't do well, I ask myself why. What was holding me back?  Usually it's lack of time management, lack of focus, or just plain procrastination.

Just the process of seeing how I did, 
and asking myself WHY has been SO valuable.

For years (well, all my life up until the last few months) I never evaluated myself on any area of life. I'd just get through the days, fall into bed feeling like a failure for not getting to everything I should have, and start over.  The process never improved, never gave hope or conviction, it was just an endless circle.

Reflection and review is a stepping off point for the circle.

Now I pause, evaluate, and come at the new week a little better armed for battle.  This week, I know my battlefield is mostly focused on making it a priority to get to personal development and transcribing Proverbs.  Had I not taken the time to review, I would have just started a new week's list and tried again, probably still lacking in that same area and being unbalanced.

That's how review and reflection works for me in my bullet journal.  I hope you make the time to review your past week and see where you did well (YAY!) and where you need to focus more intentionally (We can DO THIS!).

Have a great week and an awesome Independence Day!

Jun 28, 2014

The Inscribed Collection Bible Studies--Review and GIVEAWAY!

I recently received four Bible study books to review from Thomas Nelson Publishers and was excited to try them out.  The Bible studies I'm used to are the workbook/DVD based Bible studies... which are great, but really expensive to do if you are just wanting something to do in your own time.  And it was starting to seem to me that most of the Bible studies coming are were all tending to be video based studies.

So I was excited to see what these new Inscribed Collection books were like.

And I wasn't disappointed.

Every bit as good as the video driven studies, but with a depth I wasn't expecting, and still fit into a realistic amount of time to do.

The first one I read was Leaving Ordinary by Donna Gaines.  This was a great study into the tabernacle and the furnishings of it and how they relate to our lives and especially our prayer lives today.  I loved this one because I was not deeply familiar with the tabernacle and Donna brought out some great points that I hadn't thought of before.

The next book was Dive Deeper by Jenifer Jernigan.  Jenifer took me through the book of Ephesians in great depth with her D.I.V.E system of Define, Investigate, Visualize, and Embrace.  The lessons in this can be a bit long if you are running short on time, but are easily broken up to make it very do-able if you have only 5 minutes or a half hour.  Each lesson takes you through an overview, prayer, a lesson with other verses to look up, and personal stories to guide you through the section. It was very easy to read and well written.

Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel works through the book of Habakkuk and some deep thoughts on seeking God's will, even when it is confusing and painful.  This book is more reading and answering questions at the end of each section, which is a nice change and more of a laid back kind of study, but still rich and deep.

Living So That by Wendy Blight was a fun way to work through all the 'so that' scriptures.  These chapters are short with reading, application, go deeper, and concluding thoughts sections.  They, too, are short but deep and include memory verses that you slowly work through and repeat daily so you really get them down.
I loved each of these studies because they each approached the scripture slightly differently.  They read quickly, are written well and bring a fresh new way to Bible study, especially for individuals, though they would work great for small groups too.

I'm so excited for the variety of Bible Studies being offered and the different voices that bring out things that maybe you've never thought of before.  I highly recommend any or all of these studies.

And now for the FUN part! I'm giving away the entire collection of four books to a lucky commenter! a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post contains affiliate links.

Jun 27, 2014

For moms of tough teens.

Last night I was overwhelmingly blessed and humbled more than any other time in my life.  Because I got to see with my own eyes and my tiny, finite mind, how God will take a situation in your life and use it to bless you, even if you are fighting tooth and nail against Him in the process.

Three years ago we had a tough choice to make.

Our oldest son, T1,  had not done well in the private school we were attending, and lost his scholarship.  And since I refused to do his work for him to keep the scholarship, and we couldn't afford the school without it, we had to pull out.  That was one of the hardest days in my life.  We LOVED that school, loved the teachers, the principle, the schedule, everything.

I was mad.  

And HATED that we were put in a position of having to make an even harder choice of "now what".

We could put him in public school, but for him, there were lots of reasons why we didn't feel free to do that just yet.

Or, we could homeschool.




My husband and I both grew up in public schools.
We live a block away from the local high school.
I would have 6+ hours of free time.

But, with his personality, his struggles, and numerous other reasons, neither my husband nor I felt any sort of peace about sending him. 
In fact, I KNEW that it was the wrong place and the wrong time.  

So for weeks...
weeks and weeks...
I would beg and plead with God to give me another way.
I would go to bed crying.... some nights YELLING into my pillow.
This was NOT what I had planned!
This is NOT what I want!

But, with lots of friends to talk to, and great people who have gone before, eventually I calmed down and we settled into homeschooling.

It was rough at first, but gradually we grew into a routine, and it went okay.
There were days that I didn't want to do it, and LOTS of days when they didn't want to... but overall it began to smooth out, and eventually we started to even sorta like it... except for T1.  He tolerated it, and it showed by his attitude and lack of effort.  He still just tolerates it.

And it wears on me.

It exhausts me.

And I'm still confused as to how much longer we will be homeschooling... but don't feel like it's time to enroll him in public school yet either.

But last night, I started to see a bit of the bigger picture, and I am humbled and overwhelmed by God's goodness.

You see, if I hadn't gone into homeschool, EXACTLY when I did, T1 would have missed an amazing opportunity.
Through the co-op we joined I got to grow in relationship to lots of other homeschooling moms, and one mom in particular, Connie.  That year we got to attend Bible Study together, and eat lunch together.  And through those times, I learned about the Search and Rescue program her son was in and she gave me the website to look into it. 

(Since that year, our schedules have changed, and I rarely get to spend the time with Connie I would like to.  Had I not joined that year, I would have never had the time to visit and get to share with her like we did.)

Well, to make a long story shorter, 12 days ago T1 left for the Search and Rescue Training Academy.  And we watched him graduate last night.

And I am humbled.

This is so beautiful for him.  It couldn't be more perfect for his bent and abilities.  He held himself higher and straighter.  He did things he didn't think he could do and he did them well.  He stretched and grew and learned and I am SO PROUD of him.

I guess what I am trying to say through this big long blog post is 
Don't Give Up.  

You moms with tough kids, 
doing things that you don't want to do,
wanting to give up and let them go,
trudging day after day through the ugly.
Don't give up.

When you are confused.
Fighting God and His will for you.
Ready to throw in the towel,
Don't give up.

We see SO LITTLE of the picture.
All I could see in those nights of ugly cry-fits on my bed was me, in jail, in purgatory, homeschooling until it killed me and them.

I HATED everything I thought it would be.

I had a terrible attitude.
I fought against God because His plan was SO VERY WRONG for me!

And through it all He lovingly wrapped His arms around me,
held me, flailing and kicking, tight in His arms,
and whispered, through my yelling, that He has this all planned.

 I look back and see that now.
But for three long years I didn't.

I warred.
I fought.
I calmed.
I settled.
I started trying.
I was humbled.
 I was being sanctified.
and I got to see the blessing, 
and now I fall to my knees.

Don't give up moms.
God has this.
You may not see it for years.
But there is a perfect plan for your hard teens.

Don't fight it,
Don't Give Up.

P.S. Eventually, we might feel led to have him go to public school. We are NOT against public schools, in fact, both of us grew up in public, but for him and at this time of his life, we aren't there yet.