A life prepared

In what is, arguably, the busiest season of the year, I find myself in the middle of a time-use overhaul. In the last several months, I found myself painfully overstretched in my time, and somehow even in the leftover moments, I was still floundering with it. I have lamented over the hours flying by to God, to my friends, and my husband, a lot…bless his heart. But no matter how I tried, I felt like I was walking through a life wasted.

Do you ever feel like that? Like your entire body can be present and at work in good, and even meaningful!, things, but your heart and mind are so distracted and absent, that you feel like you missed it? I have sat across from inmates in prison and wasted it. I’ve had coffee with a woman aching from a hard situation in her life and wasted it. I’ve gone on a rare date night with my husband, and yet, wasted it. I don’t mean wasted as in, not worth it, I mean wasted because I walked away wishing it had gone different, desperate for another chance to encourage and be there for them. The primary cause of my wasted opportunities was because I wasn’t prepared for it all. I didn’t ready my heart to make the most of my words and their time.

When it comes to regulating something, I am very much like a horse in need of blinders on. I am strong-willed and very much like the dog on the movie Up who is always snapping back to thoughts of squirrels, no matter what important moment is happening. So, I’ve gotten a bit drastic in my time management lately, and asking my husband to hold me accountable to my attempts to form new habits.

It may seem like an overhaul is drastic especially this time of the year, but sometimes drastic is what is needed. At least when you’re as hard headed as me, it is. But why SO rigid on my time and determined in my efforts? Because reading through the story of Jesus’ birth, there are two words my eyes rest upon. I stare at them, willing them to be untrue but seeing myself in them despite my desires: no room.

I am the innkeeper.

I talk a big talk as the season approaches, and I have such desires of where my  heart focus will be, but once Christmas is upon us, I look around and realize that my time and choices said there was no room for Him. No extra room, at least. No room for His birth. No room for the prophesies leading up to that moment. No room in my heart to look through all the Christmas glimmer to see Him standing there on the other side of it, looking at me with calm, patient eyes, willing me to  drop it all and walk away with Him for a moment.

He has gone ahead of us and is busy preparing a place for us, and yet, I don’t do the same so often for those He has placed in my life. I live out a life that believes the lie that there’s no room. No room in my time, no room in my head, no room in my heart, my home, my budget….

And to be honest? I’m pretty sick and tired of the lies. Because when I step outside of it a minute, I see the truth. But inside of it? As hard as I try, and as much as I care, I find myself rushing and rushing to check off lists and squeeze things in. I want to spend time with people, but often I feel like they need me as if I’m what stands between them and collapse. But I am no savior and I have no healing powers.

But, there is something I do have to offer up with open palms: a heart prepared. A heart that has readied for time with others so I can sit across from them over coffee, dinner, or the ever-watching gaze of a guard and listen instead talk. I can look into their eyes and know that the only One who can save them is One who was born and placed in a manger, but grew into a man and changed the entire world. I can remind them of His promises and love for them, and that will be so much more than enough.

I have a great desire to leave the presence of others almost bursting with all the words unsaid, so that I may pour them out to Him instead. I want to ask questions that cause true reflection and help me to know them. I want to walk away empty, because I have filled them up. But what I have found, is that the catalyst for all of that starts way back down the line in time before that moment. It can only happen when I have been so intentional with my time and gifts, that I may not be great and as boastworthy as an inn on a dark night, but I am as welcoming and warm as a stable.

Normally, this is a New Year’s sort of thing, but the people in my life are there now. Max Lucado says that you change your life when you change your heart, and that is so, so badly what I want for Christmas. So Merry Christmas, and may your gatherings this year be full of the light and warmth of a stable, even if they aren’t as done up and fancy as an inn.

New Year and a clean slate—Free 2016 Printable!

Happy New Year! Did you have a great New Year’s Eve?? We had a fun dinner and celebration with our girls, ringing in the new year with parts of Greenland…ahem…thank you, Netflix, for giving us a countdown we can use at 8pm.

new years with kids

we had dinner with fancy glasses and new years tiaras…except there wasn’t enough for daddy, so we had to make him a crown

Even our Westie, Jazz got into it

new year dog

We bought lots of confetti poppers and made a balloon drop on our fan

balloon drop kids new year

Then, we played board games and filled out some kid friendly year end reviews, with all the big events of our year on the wall for reference…because lists are my life blood

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When bedtime grew near and the smallest of us began to wane, we pulled up the countdown on netflix and had a big celebration with dancing and poppers and balloons! This was the entire floor of my living room by the end of the it all…

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It was all really fun. I love celebrating holidays with kids. Everything is so magical and fun to them, and their lack of expectations keep away the fear of disappointment. After the girls were all tucked in for bed, Lance and I filled out our own year end reviews and looked back on our last year together. We have a really lovely tradition for New Year’s where we go to bed before midnight…I know, we’re so lame. But, after all that partying hard, we were tired! So, we went to sleep and awoke to a whole new year. And, the weekend was full of relaxation. He built things and I read books. The girls played and giggled and ran. And we began talking about what a new year means. Lance and I talked about how important it is to learn how to dream together, and we spent most of the evening discussing our own dreams for ourselves, each other, and our girls. Then, last night, we wrote them down. The thing I love about fresh starts, is that they can go any direction you point them to!

Clean slates. Just like a slate chalkboard wiped clean, yes it has the chalky white appearance of things erased, but it is ready for something new! So, what will you wipe off your slate? What will you determine to write on it? There are so many great printable lists online. I looked through so many just to find one for myself, but I couldn’t find any that contained all the directions I really wanted to go in my planning for 2016. So I made one for myself, and I’m making it available to you. 🙂

Here is the image, if you’d like to right click, save as, and download it that way!

2016 clean slate printable

and here is the pdf file if you’d like to download it that way>>>2016 clean slate printable

What will your slate look like this year? Will you be sure to wipe away ALL the old chalk first? What will be your big goal? What will you do for yourself? I’m still mulling over many of these questions, including food to eat. SO MANY OPTIONS! 🙂 But also, what is my big goal? What will I devote my time, energy, and heart to? Do you know yours? I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee and hear your answers. Have a happy new year and a first normal week back after the holidays!

oh, hello there, 2016–Free 2015 Year Review printable!

It’s a new year! I love autumn, deeply, truly. It speaks to my heart in ways other things and seasons can’t. But, oh my, oh my, how I love the season of new year’s leading to Easter.

I could use a second chance. I could use every opportunity of a second chance I can get. And New Year’s, Lent, Easter, all of it reminds my heart that I have just that each and every day.

But it’s hard to look forward without taking a moment to look back. Today, I grabbed 12 pieces of printing paper and wrote a month in the middle of each piece. And I’ve been going through my calendar, pictures, and social media accounts and making notes on important happenings in each month. I’m planning on taping them to the wall tonight for my family to read after dinner and maybe add their own moments. They’re not fancy, just like many of the moments we’ll add on later. But they meant everything to us.

new year's tradition

I also found a few kid friendly New Year’s pages we’ll fill out as a family, but I also wanted something for Lance and I to fill out together after the girls’ were in bed. So, I made us a cute little year end review, and I’ll make us a New Year 2016 goal list too that I’ll share with you. But for now, I wanted to share our year end review list as a printable for any that would love to look back on their year and breathe it in one last time.

Here is the printable as an image to right click and save as…

year end review

and here is the file as a pdf that makes it a bit easier to print ;)>> Year End Review

I hope you have a lovely (and safe!) New Year’s Eve! Now I’m off to go tape up a balloon drop to my ceiling fan and plan a yummy year end dinner for my family. You can’t end the year with mundane food, right??