Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!  I look forward to it all year long.  What could be better than a good meal spent with good company, all while reflecting on the many ways that we are blessed?  While we try to teach our children to be grateful throughout the entire year, it is awesome to be surrounded by other people who are more willing than usual to share about all of the good things they are thankful for in their own lives.  This year, on the main wall in our dining room, we replaced some pictures of family and friends with a piece of string hung with mini clothespins on it.  Leaves were available for those who were in our home to fill out and share with us what they are most grateful for this year.  Many of our family and friends participated and it was good to see how God is working in other peoples lives, as well as our own.  

Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions you share with your family and friends?  Take a moment to reflect on those and how they make you feel, then please leave a comment about the activity to give the rest of us some new ideas for our own Thanksgiving celebrations next year.  Maybe you all be blessed immensely, not only during this holiday season, but the coming year as well!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Clean Home Is A Happy Home

When our home is clean, I feel much more productive and energetic.  However, when our home is messy, I have a hard time concentrating or relaxing.  Lucky for me, I married someone who feels the same way about keeping up on housework as I do, so he is willing to jump in and do whatever needs done to keep things maintained.  While my house requires constant upkeep (one words... children!), as long as I do some small things each day, it rarely gets out of control.  My goal is to have all of my more deep-cleaning projects done by next week so that I will feel okay letting those things go in the month of December to enjoy the spirit of the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here are a few of my best tips for keeping things in order (in no particular order):
  1. I make my bed every day.  Not only do I have a hard time going to sleep if my blankets are all bunched up when I crawl in, but it gives my bedroom an instant look of being more organized, which then motivates us to keep the other things (like folded laundry that needs put away) taken care of too.
  2. Before we go to bed each night, we make sure the living room is picked up and the dining room table and counters are cleared of any odds and ends left out during the day.
  3. We have a window seat by the back door where everyone is supposed to leave their things for the morning.  This includes my purse and/or work bag, my son's backpack, and my daughter's diaper bag.  We pack all of these at night so we aren't running around in the mornings like crazy.  (It's a work in progress, but the system works when everyone does what their supposed to, and really, who is perfect anyways...)
  4. We sort junk mail from the regular mail at the trash can before it ever makes it's way to our desk.  It only takes a few seconds and is one less thing that we have to deal with later.
  5. We make a menu on a regular basis. It includes all of the dinners that we have the ingredients on hand for.  This helps me remember if I want to make something that needs to be thawed from the freezer or if I have a few extra minutes, what I can do to prep meals for the next few days.
  6. I keep a magnetic list pad on the refrigerator where we can add items that need to be replaced right away.  Now that my husband and son are in the habit of doing it, there are much fewer runs to the store when we are out of something that we absolutely need (like milk for the baby).
  7. I try to do a load of laundry or two each day that am home.  This keeps the laundry from getting out of control (either to wash or fold and put away), and we rarely have an issue with needing something that is in the dirty clothes since everything gets washed on a regular basis.
What about all of you?  What are your best tips for keeping up on housework?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Life Happens! (But what is God trying to show us?)

 "We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer."  Proverbs 16:1 (NLT)
I was supposed to work today.  However, that verse was my Facebook status this morning at 4 am from my devotional.  I typed it after scrubbing the couch and floor and starting a load of laundry because my son came down with a stomach bug and didn't make it to the bathroom before vomiting all over.  I truly believe that God allows all things to happen in our lives for a reason, and I feel that lately He has been showing me how I need to realign my priorities.  This was just one more lesson in that.  While I feel awful that my son is sick, it has been another reminder to me of how important my role as a mother and wife is.
The last few weeks, I have been working quite a bit.  The truth is that I currently have 4 part-time jobs.  I work as a nursing instructor for 2 different schools, which means that I teach 2 days at the hospital each week.  I am also on-call in the local ER and work at another area hospital as a RN Case Manager on an average of 2 to 4 days per month.  Occasionally, other instructors will also ask me to sub for their clinical groups.  Between all of these jobs, I have been averaging somewhere between 42 and 60 hours a week for the past 3 weeks, and my schedule continues to be just as intense for the entire month of November.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that I have hardly any days scheduled in December, and I have decided to be much more choosy about which days I agree to work during that time.  
Originally, I had picked up some extra shifts because both of our vehicles needed new transmissions within 3 months, which was a very large expense.  We had wiped out most of our savings to pay cash for the first one and wanted to be able to pay cash for the second one as well, so it seemed fine to work a little more for a short time and be able to meet the goal.  (And I'm so thankful that I have a career that allows me to do that!)  However, while I started this schedule for good reason, in reality, I truly do love to work.  As much as I love to work, though, I love my family more, and the reason I took the part-time jobs in the first place was to have more time with them while the kids are still little.  I was already feeling a little unsettled about the situation, then 2 other nurses that I hardly know made comments comparable to calling me a "workaholic".  While I don't remember what exactly was said, I do remember feeling convicted by what they said because it was a confirmation of what I was already feeling myself.  As much as I truly enjoy my job and am satisfied with the things I am able to do with my job, there are often things left undone at home and I feel more disorganized that ever even though I am taking a year off of school to get my life in order.  For this reason, I am praying diligently for God to show me which jobs I should keep and which ones I could do without.  
The last week or so, I finally feel like I am getting some clear answers.  One of the hospitals will be starting to use an electronic charting system in the spring, which would including having to attend computer training sessions (a total of approximately 6 days), meaning more time away from my family.  Plus, I would then by trying to use multiple computer systems (which are very complex) on back-to-back days frequently which may be very difficult to keep straight.  I spoke to my husband about the transition, and he was in total agreement that it would be a good time for me to step out of that role, so that will free up at least 2 more days a month for me to be home.  Secondly, now that I am no longer attending school at one of the colleges that I teach for, the pay is not that good compared to the other school without the half-off tuition discount I was receiving and that just happens to be the teaching job that gives me the most stress, so I am seriously considering giving up that position as well.  
I am so thankful that we have a God who is working in our lives everyday.  If we are seeking Him, he will open or close doors on things that are helping or hindering us.  The key is to be paying attention for what he is trying to show us.  My co-worker has a beautiful framed sign hanging in our shared office that couldn't be more true for this season in my life.  It reads the following:
"We must listen quietly for God, 
because He whispers while the world yells."
It is important to think when we are going through our busy day-to-day life if our activities are filling up our time or giving our life a purpose.  For me, it required some real soul-searching and some tough decisions, but I know that when January arrives, I will feel like a much more balanced person which will hopefully allow me to feel like I am truly fulfilling my calling as a Christian wife and mother.