Thursday, March 08, 2018

high-five yourself 👏

there is a zumba instructor who teaches one of the classes i go to who always ends the class by having us give ourselves a pat on the back. after an hour of following her dance moves through each song, she slows down the beat and leads us all in bringing our right hands up towards the sky, and then down behind our shoulder, and pat, pat, pat. it's sweet and silly and it always makes me smile, because i get it. everyone in the class gets it. we all woke up, got dressed, drove ourselves to the gym, and moved our bodies for an hour together. it's not a huge feat, but it's an accomplishment nonetheless. pat, pat, pat, congratulations, self!

i received an email a few months ago from a friend who works with the same company that i work with, asking if i was going on the company's annual retreat for top achievers. all expenses paid. at the beach. but, no. no i wasn't a "top achiever" so i wasn't going to the retreat. which is absolutely fine with me because as amazing as that sounds, it hasn't ever been a goal of mine to earn "top achiever" status. ((and thankfully i don't tend to suffer from FOMO with these kinds of things!)) but my friend was pumped about earning top achiever status and getting to go to the beach retreat and i was really happy for her! pat, pat, pat, congratulations!

rewards, raises, retreats, bonus checks, award banquets, promotions. it's all very good, this system we use to acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments. i have a pretty deep circle of friends, though, who aren't part of companies or organizations or networks with reward systems like that. our pats on the back aren't frame-able and our kudos don't show up in the bank account. it's more common for me and many of my friends in this season to celebrate accomplishments like not burning dinner, matching all the socks in the laundry, saving 50cents at the grocery store, and remembering to get a birthday card in the mail for aunt so-and-so. pat, pat, pat, congratulations, self!

i'm not being sarcastic: those are real wins. unfortunately, i think it's also common in my circle for weariness and self-pity to creep in and sabotage our daily joy. because we're doing a lot of hard work that mostly goes unseen and unrewarded like other accomplishments in other circles are. and we can easily slip into wondering does this even matter? or worse, we see someone else being applauded for their work and we think no fair.   

please hear me: this is not a pity-party invitation. definitely not. this is a call to GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK. when no one else is, when no one else sees, when it feels silly- do it anyway. we don't need the certificates or the title changes or the round of applause or the medal or the retreat. those things are great, yes! and well-deserved, i'm sure! but let's not discount the work we're doing or the power of encouraging ourselves in our daily accomplishments.

another caution: this is not about entitlement. absolutely not. this is a challenge to acknowledge your own accomplishments. step away from the lies of "it's not fair" or "i deserve this." and get on board with the satisfaction of simply encouraging yourself in the work that you're doing. and let's beware of bitterness when comparing our high-fives with other people's beach retreats. 

i just vacuumed the living room. pat, pat, pat. and then i handwashed all the dishes. pat, pat, pat. i'm home alone and it's very likely that no one will notice the things i did today. i could very easily give into a self-pity woe-is-me wheres-my-raise mindset. but as i was winding up the vacuum cleaner cord, i thought of that silly pat on the back we give ourselves at the end of zumba class. i don't need a kudos for taking a zumba class, but it's nice to acknowledge the time i took to do it and investment i made in my health! just like i don't need a kudos for vacuuming, but it's nice to acknowledge the time i took to do it and investment i made in my home! knowing my family will come home today to clean floors is a little secret kudos tucked away in my heart and that is all the reward i need.

have you ever tried to give yourself a high-five? try it. it's basically a clap. one clap.

i'm going to start giving myself a high-five (or clapping one time) after my daily unseen small un-celebrated accomplishments! why not?!

when i'm working hard on daily domestic stuff and i have a moment of wondering where's my awards banquet? when is my beach retreat? (first of all: shut up, devil.) it helps me to remember WHY i'm here doing what i'm doing: God chose me for thisthe reality is that i was selected and appointed for this! of all the people in all the time in all the world, GOD CHOSE ME to do this here. my mindset immediately shifts to: wow, what an honor it is to be these kids' mom and this man's wife! what a blessing it is to get to serve my family in this way! truly there's no where else i'd rather be. keep the accolades: my appointment here IS the reward! i can encourage myself in the Lord because He called me to this. i can give myself a high-five for my small daily accomplishments because i know God sees me, is with me, and loves me. He's my rewarder! (Hebrews 11:6) i have a renewed pep in my step when this is my mindset! earning "top achiever" status isn't my goal right now; serving my family and honoring God by making the most of these days is. 

so, when tomorrow's lunches are already packed and in the fridge: high-five.
when the floors are mopped: high-five.
when the dirty dishes are washed: high-five.
when the library books are returned on time: high-five.
when no one had a meltdown at the grocery store: high-five.

// turn on some music and do a happy dance.
// write out a gratitude list. pray and thank God.
// prop your feet up for a few minutes and do nothing.
// take one minute to step outside for sunshine and fresh air. take a walk, even just to the mailbox.
// text a friend or reply to a non-work email or phone call.
// wash your hair.
// paint your nails.
// refill your coffee mug.
// read a few pages of a book or magazine.
// write out a DONE list, like a to-do list but of things that you've already accomplished so you can cross things off immediately.
// find a podcast or youTube channel to listen/watch that will encourage you or make you laugh.

remember, wherever you are, whatever you're doing today: God chose you for this. your appointment is your reward. encourage yourself with that truth! do it all for God's glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) and like David did, encourage yourself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6).

high-five yourself! 

"For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

6 tips for a peaceful home

"you have a very peaceful home."

that has to be one of the greatest compliments a person could give me. i didn't know those words would mean so much, and i didn't realize "peaceful home" was a hope of my heart, until about 8 years ago when someone walked into my house and described it as peaceful. we had two young children at the time, so "peaceful" wasn't really even on my radar. my radar was more focused on sweeping up Cheerios, babyproofing cabinets, and corralling toys. but since that day that friend paid me that incredible compliment, my heart shifted and "peaceful home" became an intentional priority.

"peaceful home." i like that. peaceful is how i want my family to feel when they are home. it's how i want visitors to feel when they come inside. it's like my home is a big gentle hug, making everyone feel peaceful, calm, welcomed, relaxed, warm, loved, nurtured, protected, valued, supported. i absolutely believe God wants us to live in peace, and it's worth it to me to make a conscious effort to create a peaceful home.   

"My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest."
-Isaiah 32:18

the impact of this intention was reaffirmed a few years later when we were getting ready to move and our house was on the market. a potential buyer - a complete stranger - toured our home and left feedback with the realtor that the house had a "real peace" about it. those words meant so much to me! 

the best part about it is, even though it's a priority and intention, creating a peaceful home doesn't require much effort. apparently i was already doing things that gave our home a peaceful vibe without even realizing it. once creating a peaceful home became a goal, other habits naturally fell into place. it became a mindset and way of life. the benefits of our peaceful home: contentment, joy, rest, confidence, love, faith, comfort - for those of us who live here and for those who visit - are absolutely worth the efforts to create that peace. 


// MINIMIZE CLUTTER. find a place out of sight to store paper piles, mail, and other odds and ends that tend to clutter up surfaces. the kitchen countertops in my home are where clutter tends to pile up, so i make a daily effort to sort and store as much of it as i can. a purge-mentality is good here especially when it comes to papers. if it's a magazine or flier, read it and recycle it. if it's a bill or school paper or something, deal with it and file it away. if it's a keepsake, put it in storage. develop a 0 tolerance for paper clutter. scour pintrest for clutter-taming ideas! and then put a plan into action.

// MINIMIZE NOISE. there's a reason why "peace" and "quiet" always go together. i figured out recently that one of the major reasons i don't like shopping at a particular grocery store is because of the noise level. squeaky buggy wheels, voices on employee walkie talkies, the store alarm going off because of a rogue sensor, commercials on the radio overhead, buggies crashing, registers beeping, loading equipment in reverse, and inevitably there's a child crying somewhere across the store. it's nerve-wracking! it's difficult to relax in a noisy environment. and that applies at home, too. keeping distracting noise to a minimum will definitely contribute to a peaceful home. sometimes, in our home, i'll turn on the radio or a playlist for background noise during the day, but otherwise, it's peace and quiet. right now the only sounds i hear are the quiet gurgling of my oil diffuser, the bubbles of the aquarium, rain, and birds chirping outside. i keep the television off all day because the sound of TV is distracting and chaotic (and mostly toxic) for our heads and our hearts. try turning the sounds off or down and see if it helps create peace. if you prefer background noise, find something that contributes to a peaceful, uplifting atmosphere.

// MAXIMIZE NATURAL LIGHT. draw the curtains and open the shades, even if it's a cloudy day. (especially if it's a cloudy day!) natural light is so much more peaceful and inviting than LEDs and fluorescents. one of my friends was working on improving her family's bedtime routines, and recommended working with the natural light. so at dusk, instead of turning on more lights in the house, she kept the lights off. as the sun went down, and the house darkened, her children started to relax and they were all able to fall asleep easier at bedtime. let the natural light in! artificial lights are stimulants that affect our peace and the moods of our home. 

// MAXIMIZE WHAT'S MEANINGFUL. there is a certain personal peace that comes with being able to look around your home and see things that hold special meaning for you and your family. when we first moved into this house i rushed to buy a painting for over the mantle in the living room. the art was fine, but i couldn't stand it. it was sterile and meant nothing to me. for months i had to see it every day in my living room. it stole my peace! i would much rather have something on my wall that has a story behind it than a forgettable fancy painting. model homes are pretty but no one lives there so they have no personality. it's a wonderful, welcoming feeling to be surrounded by things that are unique to your family for a reason - things that reflect who you are and why. think of the lyrics in "A Million Dreams" from The Greatest Showman: "there's a house we can build; every room inside is filled with things from far away. special things i compiled- each one there to make you smile on a rainy day..." pictures in frames, decorations on walls, books in stacks, knickknacks on shelves - make the things in your home meaningful and it will create a peaceful aesthetic for you and your family.

// MINIMIZE MESS STRESS. what messes in your home stress you out? dirty dishes in the sink? unmade beds? shoes in the middle of the floor? for me it's cluttered kitchen countertops and dirty floors. i can look past almost everything else (for a time) but if my kitchen counters aren't clear or my floors are a mess, then i am completely stressed out. and if i'm not at peace in my own home, than surely others won't be able to find peace in my home. my stress will affect everything and everyone around me. but if my counters are clear and my floors are clean, i can relax. the tip here is to identify the messes that stress you out and make it a priority to tackle those areas regularly, so that you can be at peace, and therefore, everyone else in your home will be at peace.

// MAXIMIZE KIND WORDS. you know that toxic noise i mentioned earlier? sometimes it comes from our own mouths. ouch. but think about it, which is more peaceful: a home where people are sarcastic, yelling, spitting insults, or disrespectful to one another? or a home where people speak positively, affirm one another, are kind, respectful, use manners, and pay compliments to one another? if the words we're speaking in our homes are critical and harsh, we're filling the atmosphere with toxins that will affect our hearts and rob us of peace. but when we're speaking words of joy and life, peace follows. fill your home with kind words and peaceful tones of voice. in fact, i would encourage you to pray over your household often and aloud. there is POWER and PEACE in prayer and our words! 

home should be a place of refuge and comfort. havens for our families and loved ones to enjoy God's blessings together. i know that keeping home comes with lots of responsibilities, especially if you have children. and i think we all would agree that we want our husbands to come home to and our children to grow up in a peaceful home. well, it's our responsibility to create that peace in our homes, and put it at the top of our priorities list. creating peace will bless your family and guests when they're in your home.

people who live in a peaceful home find contentment at home. if home isn't a place of peace, why would anyone want to spend time there? if home isn't peaceful, what's there to look forward to at the end of a long day at the office? if home isn't where i feel relaxed or comfortable, i will want to get out of the house every chance i get. i'll get cabin fever in my own home and want to escape it. if home is a place of negativity, clutter, and stress, my children will prefer to go to the neighbors or somewhere else where they can find peace. i don't want that. i want my people to walk into our house and say "'s good to be home." (you, too? get the free printable reminder here)

if you think you're too busy to even think about creating peace in your home, it might be an issue of poor time management or a cycle of bad habits. in that case, i like THESE SUGGESTIONS from Natasha Crain.

a peace and quiet home sweet home can be a reality by doing a few intentional things to make it happen. choose to make peace a priority, a mindset, and a way of life for you and your home and everyone who enters.

"Zion, praise your God!
He made your city secure,
he blessed your children among you.
He keeps the peace at your borders,
he puts the best bread on your tables."
-Psalm 147:12

"May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace."
-Numbers 6:24-26