Goals for 2014: The Messy Middle

Goals Check-up Time!

goals: themessymiddle

My most recent long run was a run of 7 miles. I had run that distance before, but it had been about a year. This time, I’ve been working myself up to running longer distances over the past few months, so I had run 6 miles on my previous long run. It was time to up my milage and continue to stretch my wings – I mean, legs – by running 7 miles again!

Everything went fine for the first couple of miles. The weather was perfect – about 50 degrees with a slight breeze. After awhile, however, my legs began to feel like they were made of heavy iron. I know it didn’t help that I was running at a park, doing 0.6 mile circles. How boring is that? All that energy going out, and I was really going nowhere. The only thing worse is a treadmill! ūüėČ

Somehow, I’m still not sure how, I survived (couln’t guess, right?;) I can tell you that it’s a lot better to be on the other side of that run – the DONE part – than to be in the middle! Oh, how good it is to be done! But I learned a very important lesson here.

Many of us have written down goals for 2014. It felt so good to get down on paper the things that we want to accomplish, by God’s grace, over the next year. But let’s face it – it’s mid-March, and a lot of us have lost contact with our goals already.

Here are some thoughts I have about How to survive the messy middle:

1. Keep moving. In a race, especially a half-marathon or marathon, the goal is merely to keep moving toward the finish line. There is only 1 winner in a race, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to give up; we can still put one foot in front of the other and reach our goal just fine.

2. Fuel up! When I get a few miles into a long run, it’s time to break out the fuel, or the long run becomes a short run! When it comes to the Messy Middle of the year, it’s important to fuel our hearts with the Word of God and good, encouraging words. If God is the original source of your goals, then staying in touch with Him will be your source of inspiration.

3. Concentrate on the end. When I was running, I watched the cars driving by and thought, “how nice it must be to sit down – even in a car!” I worked on concentrating on the “joy set before me” – a wonderful yummy smoothie when I got back home! With our 2014 goals, it’s important to remember the end result we’re trying to acheive, and why we want to achieve it.That can go a long way to pushing us forward!

4. Finally, you’re only one step away from heading the right direction. If you find yourself doing NOTHING that you had planned, it’s ok. It does you no good to beat yourself up over lost time. The only thing you really need to do is Turn Around. In other words, just look at your list, find one thing that you need/want to do, and think of your next action item for that thing. Do that one action, and it will help you get moving in the right direction.

How are your goals coming along? Mine are moving along slowly, but surely. But with God’s help and some “running inspiration,” I know I can get through the Messy Middle.

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum href=”http://www.growinginhisglory.com”>Growing in His Glory

How to Get More Hours in Your Week

Have you ever wondered how to get more hours in your week? In a helpful series called The More Organized Me! During the month of January, I’ve been writing various posts on goals, mistakes I’ve made in finding “the sweet spot” of organization, and how I schedule my day and my home. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not arrived in this area – I’m still a work in progress. But I think I’ve learned a few things over the past 30 years of marriage, raising 7 kids in all sorts of situations, and I’ll be sharing them with you! If you missed any of our posts, you can find it here!

 

HowToGetMoreHourInYourWeek

I remember one particularly busy year, one of the kids asked me the inevitable Christmas question, “So, Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” While most people instantly think of things like new phones or a Kitchen-Aid, I thought to myself, Should I tell her that what I really want is 4 hours to sit by myself and do nothing, or to hide in the bathroom for about a week? Nah…too hard to explain. Finally I replied, “What I could really use is about 15 extra hours in my week!”

I used to think that it would be great to have more hours in my day, but I think Parkinson’s law would come into effect: “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it.” If I had an extra hour, I would still fill it up with even more activity, and STILL end up being late for church!

To get more hours our week, there are a few solutions. I’ll just rattle some off:

1. Seek the things of God first. (see Matthew 6:33) God promises that as we “acknowledge Him, He shall direct (our) paths.” As much as we are able, we should begin our weeks with God, and our days with God, spending time in His Word and prayer. One of the things I’ve found particularly helpful is to “acknowledge Him,” or verbally and in my heart set Him as the top priority of my life and day.

2. Trim down the amount of activity we try to accomplish. Sometimes we need to understand that it really is ok to say No. For me, I often have to say No to myself, and tell myself that I need to keep focused on the task at hand – building my family. Because of so many fun and interesting things to do or learn about (and because I’m terribly curious) it’s easy to get bogged into interesting projects or activities, which only serve to take me away from my real priorities.

3. Carefully plan our days. This is a two-part point.

a. A flexible schedule is very important. When I just “let the day happen” and not do things according to schedule, time just slips through my fingers. So I’ve learned to schedule my days, but to keep the schedule flexible, to allow for all the wonderful things that go along with home education, like impromptu field trips, etc.

b. A planned week is very helpful also. I try to group projects into blocks, so two days of the week are devoted to one activity, two more days to another, and one day entirely for family, and 2 days for home and church. In each day, I have the normal round of daily activities which are scheduled in – the meals, laundry, and school. These things are more hard-and-fast, and are on the daily schedule, while the weekly plan rotates in its activities.

4. Stop multi-tasking. Studies show that when we multitask to try to get more done, we actually end up truly accomplishing less. And when little ones are demanding our attention, focus is extremely important, and multi-tasking is useless.

5. Work in 15-minute time blocks. Whether it’s writing a blog post, cleaning the house, or teaching math, I actually get more done when I set my timer and concentrate on that particular job for only 15 minutes. Maybe I have adult ADHD or something, but for some reason, it works. I suspect it would work for a lot of folks, as well.

6. Do mental work during your most productive times. Are you more productive in the morning, evening, or afternoon? I’m a morning person (much to my family’s chagrin) so I’m much more creative in the mornings. I try to schedule math class and writing for mornings, and things that require little brain work for afternoons and evenings when I’m out of it.

7. Plan your next session before walking away. At the tail end of a 15 minute math lesson, it’s very helpful for me to take a few seconds and jot a post-it-note that tells me what to do next. That way I don’t waste a lot of time at the beginning of a session, just to orient myself as to what’s going on. Maybe you could write a small post-it note, or just leaving the proper window up on your computer screen, so that it’s readily available to you as soon as you sit down again.

There’s a ton of things I could add here (I haven’t even mentioned those time-suckers, electronics!) but I think this will get your brain churning just a bit, and hopefully you won’t be hiding in the bathroom wishing for just a few more hours in your busy week!

Question: What do you do that helps you save some time? Are there any other ideas you can think of?

The BEST Way to Get Your Family to Help

This is our next-to-the-last post in a helpful series called The More Organized Me! During the month of January, I’ve been writing various posts on goals, mistakes I’ve made in finding “the sweet spot” of organization, and how I schedule my day and my home. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not arrived in this area – I’m still a work in progress. But I think I’ve learned a few things over the past 30 years of marriage, raising 7 kids in all sorts of situations, and I’ll be sharing them with you! If you missed any of our posts, you can find it here!

 

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Funny thing; I started running because my young folks attended a youth meeting and they were sent them home with a copy of the book, “Aerobics,” by Dr. Kenneth Cooper . Who read the book? Mom. Who started running? You guessed it – Mom! The kids didn’t read the book, and they didn’t get the “running bug,” and they didn’t start a running program.
Fast forward a few years. The other day a lady asked me, “I noticed running seems to be your ‘family thing.’ So how do you get your kids to run, too? Do you make them run, or do they just do it on their own?”

I thought of how almost all of my children run, and enjoy it. Lord willing, some of us are training for a half-marathon this year! I smiled and told her, “No, I don’t make them run, they do it because they want to. I guess they saw me running, and saw how much I liked it, and decided to join me!”

And that’s how it is with getting your kids to help around the house. I had spent years griping because no one cared about the house but me. No one would help me, so nothing got done. I had my lightbulb moment in 2001 when I first found Flylady, and she helped me work on my disastrified house bit by bit. I worked 15 minutes a day, all by myself, refusing to complain – and got the place in order over time. It was wonderful!

Now, after years of doing things myself, the kids can see what’s out of place and what’s not. They’ve learned how nice a room looks when the bed is made, and they enjoy living in an orderly home.

By the way, it’s the same way with spiritual things – if we live for The Lord with joy, even if no one else seems interested in living for Him, one of these days they will see how wonderful it is to live for God, and they will want that for their own lives. You won’t have to make them read their Bibles, because they will want to on their own.

The bottomline? Model the behavior you want to teach. Our actions speak a million times louder than our words…and if our actions and our words mesh together, it is a powerful lesson indeed.

Makes me want to go for a run!

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Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

 

3 Ways to Keep Your Sanity While Ordering Your Life

Join me for a helpful series called The Organized Me! During the month of January, I’m going to write various posts on goals, mistakes I’ve made in finding “the sweet spot” of organization, and how I schedule my day and my home. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not arrived in this area – I’m still a work in progress. But I think I’ve learned a few things over the past 30 years of marriage, raising 7 kids in all sorts of situations, and I’ll be sharing them with you! If you missed any of our posts, you can find it here!

 3ways to keep your sanity while ordering your home blog button

One of the combinations we used for travel was a 15-passenger van and a 40-foot travel trailer. It worked well for us, since we had all 7 kids at home at the time, but it meant that when we went from one meeting to another, we all rode in the van, after securing the trailer as best we could.

Sometimes we forgot something inside the trailer, like a plant or a vase, and we would open the door to the trailer when we arrived at our destination only to find scrambled plant on the floor, or shards of some beloved vase scattered everywhere. But the worst of all was being the first to open the refrigerator. Try as we might to secure the contents of the refrigerator, everything shifted while we drove, and was leaning on the inside of the door. And the poor sap who opened the door would be greeted with a barrage of items….and it was horrible when it was the milk! The gallon jug (and it was always full!) would leap out of the refrigerator and disgorge its contents all over the floor!

There is always something going on that seems bent and determined to wreck any semblance of order we have in our lives. It doesn’t even have to be a bad thing to mess up our lives; it could be a good thing. Anybody that’s ever brought home a new baby knows exactly what I’m talking about! So let’s think about our lives for a bit, and how to keep our sanity while ordering them:

1. Realize that the purpose of our homes is to love, nurture, and train those we love. The home is the exterior shell of the family, but the real goods is what’s inside the home – tender relationships, loving training, and gentle guidance. It’s a bit like the fellow whose last name was Peas. When he died, he had someone engrave on his tombstone:

Peas is gone.

Here lies his pod.

Peas shelled out

To live with God.

His body was just a shell, and the real him went to be with The Lord. That’s the way our homes are; they are shells for us to take care of and live in while we are here on this earth. Let’s remember to keep organization and house cleaning in that perspective.

2. Understand that the purpose of home organization and schedule is to make life easier. If we begin to become irritable because we “have to” keep things perfect, or because we “have to” follow a schedule, the whole thing have lost its purpose. We should be so organized that life is easier, but not so organized that if something changes, we fall apart and kick the kids around.

3. Realize that organization is a never-ending process. There is always a constant march of mail coming that needs dealt with, dirt sneaks in on the bottoms of shoes, and lids to non-existent containers spawn by themselves when you close the cabinet door. We never do “arrive,” and I hate to be the one to tell you this, but we never will. But let me be quick to add, “It’s OK!” That’s simply part of life.

One thing about life that’s very certain – other than death and taxes – is that there is always going to be a certain amount of maintenance required. But keeping our priorities in order first is the only way to keep from losing our minds while we try to maintain order!

Special Announcements:

  • Check out my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us!

Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil is¬†now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and it’s available here!! Check out the sidebar on the right!

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

 

How Seasons of Life Affect Your GOALS

Join me for a helpful series called The Organized Me! During the month of January, I’m going to write various posts on goals, mistakes I’ve made in finding “the sweet spot” of organization, and how I schedule my day and my home. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not arrived in this area – I’m still a work in progress. But I think I’ve learned a few things over the past 30 years of marriage, raising 7 kids in all sorts of situations, and I’ll be sharing them with you! If you missed our last post, you can find it here!

HowSeasonsOfLifeAffectYourGoals

When I was young, I had my life all planned out. After I got married, I would have children until I was 30, so that by the time I was 40, my youngest would be 10 years old and I would be able to do some other things with myself, rather than wiping runny noses and chasing small children.

But God had other plans.

The Lord worked in my life and I willingly surrendered myself to His guidance. When I was 30, I gave birth to Sharon, and at age 34, Lydia came into my life. Then, when I was 36, Johanna was born, followed by Jason when I was a whopping 39 years old! All the doctors had to do is ask “how many pregnancies?” and “how old are you?” and I was unceremoniously dumped into the High Risk category!

So I spent all of my 40’s (in addition to my 20’s and 30’s!!) changing diapers, potty-training, teaching preschool (along with high school!) and kindergarten. I did at least 3 to 4 loads of laundry a day during that 10 year period, which adds up to about 10,950-14,600 loads of laundry! (I read this to My Beloved, and he told me that it’s not completely accurate, since he did at least 3 loads of laundry during that time! lol!) And that’s just in that 10 year period! Tired? Been there. Done that.

I say this, not to get pity, but to help you realize that there are seasons of life. Perhaps I am a little slow, but it took me awhile to realize that whatever season I am in is soon likely to pass.

As my life has changed, so the organization of my life has changed. Schedules have changed, workloads have changed, locations have changed (a million times!) and even I have changed. And it will continue to change, because I have not “arrived” yet. But over the years, here are a few things I’ve learned about goals and how seasons of life affect them:

1. Focus on relationships, not productivity. I LOVE to get things done. Maybe I’m just addicted to that little adrenaline rush that comes from knowing something was truly accomplished, and it was ME that did it. But I need to recognise that I have a personal tendency to focus on getting things done, rather than building relationships with my family and friends, adn this tends to backfire on me later on. My neatly folded laundry won’t hold my hand when I’m crying, but My Beloved will.

2. It’s OK to put dreams aside for awhile, even a LONG while. As long as they are put in your heart by God, you never need to let them go, just let them sleep for awhile. They will still be there when the children are grown, and hopefully at that point you can have the best of both worlds, your loving family AND your God-given dreams.

3. Do your very best to get things done, but don’t stress if it doesn’t all get done. Someday, it’ll take about 30 minutes to do all the housework for the day, and you’ll be left with an entire day ahead of you with nothing to do. I know that sounds far-fetched, but if The Lord tarries, it really will happen. Do what you can, and love on your littles.

4. Develop good habits, even when it seems like that’s the only thing you do. My husband told me the other day, “I’m amazed at how much you get done, especially in the morning.” I told him, “Well, a long time ago, I developed a morning routine that gets done fairly quickly, and mostly while I’m still out of it. So when I finally wake up, I’ve already gotten a lot done.” That’s how it works, one habit at a time.

5. Limit your use of electronics. If you’re anything like me, you get sucked up into the cyberworld so easily. Right now, I don’t have a smart phone, partly for financial reasons, and partly because I know if I had one, I’d be so tempted to be on it all the time. I’m bad enough with my IPad! When I sit down to do email, post on FB, check Twitter, or read blogs, I look at the time and give myself about 15 minutes to do the current thing. Then I get up and switch laundry, do a little cleanup, or do something to get me moving around and spending time with my family.

Don’t be frustrated if you don’t seem to be as organized, or get as much done as the next person. Being a More Organized Me is a process, not a destination. And it’s a process that changes with the season.

What have you learned through the seasons of life? 

Special Announcements:

  • Check out my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us!

Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil is¬†now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and it’s available here!! Check out the sidebar on the right!

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

 

What I Learned About Goal-Setting from a Stinky Sock…

Join me for a helpful series called The Organized Me! During the month of January, I’m going to write various posts on goals, mistakes I’ve made in finding “the sweet spot” of organization, and how I schedule my day and my home. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not arrived in this area – I’m still a work in progress. But I think I’ve learned a few things over the past 30 years of marriage, raising 7 kids in all sorts of situations, and I’ll be sharing them with you! If you missed our last post, you can find it here!

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I was backstage at the high school getting ready to go out with the rest of the choir when a little twerp started pestering me. He was probably one of the younger brothers of another kid, and he insisted on irritating anyone he could, finally throwing a used sock at people. Eventually, he turned his stinky sock skills on me, tossing his vile item on my shoulder, which I promptly threw as far as I could. But suddenly it became time to go out on stage, and I didn’t realize it, but he had gotten the last toss.

His obnoxious sock was on my shoulder as I walked proudly out to do my number. Added to my impressive outfit, my grand victorian gown, was an obviously modern – and dirty – sock!

My error? Aside from not smacking the kid while I could, I didn’t look over myself quickly before heading out on stage!

As I think back to that time and laugh at my embarrassment, I have to remember how important it is to check up on things regularly, or something awful may happen! (Or embarrassing!)

Here are a few things I’ve learned from my 2013 goals, mostly from my own failures:

1. I did a good job setting my goals, and making them SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. I learned all that from Michael Hyatt, a productivity writer.

2. I achieved most of my goals, which is a good thing.

3. My big downfall, however, was that once I set my goals, I never looked at them again! Before I made my 2013 goals, I prayed about them, then wrote them out, made them specific, measurable, and realistic, but promptly allowed them to get lost in the shuffle of daily to-dos. Uh-oh! A sure recipe for failure!

This year, I’m going a step further. I’m praying about my goals, writing them out, making them SMART… AND I’ll be writing out my goals on my calendar. I must confess, that checking my calendar is not a strong point, either, so I will need to work on that as well.

Lord willing, I will try to check my calendar regularly, to see how I’m progressing, and setting aside a little time every month to look at my progress.

I would hate to end up 2014 with a sticky sock on my shoulder! Lord Willing, and with His help, I want to end 2014 stronger spiritually, stronger physically, and with a better marriage and a happier, more cohesive family. Will you join me in making 2014 a great year?

Question: What have you learned from your failures in 2013?

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Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, and A Mama’s Story Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum