Friday, January 31, 2014

January Recap

So here it is, the end of January, and what do I have to show for my month?

1. I am officially 10 lbs down. A kajillion pounds to go.

But more than that, I have learned that exercise can be fun, and that my entire life is healthier if I can squeeze a little activity into my days.

2. I have blogged 18 times in January, all the while asking: why did I commit to this?

And ultimately, I have decided that somewhere, at some time, someone will have a story that needs to be told. And when that place and time and person show up on my doorstep, I want to have my craft so finely honed that I am capable of telling that story to the masses. Or to just a few. Or to whomever is supposed to read it. In the meantime, I am recording our days. Taking time to remember the beautiful moments and process the difficult ones.

3. I have spent time with Jesus almost everyday.

With this part of the "hustle" especially, if it doesn't happen in the early morning (even if it's while the kids are eating cereal watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) then it won't happen at all that day. Also, it's like taking a vitamin. I may not notice a huge difference if I miss one day, but after two or three or four days, I feel weak and tired and out of sorts. Regardless, He is with me, and He's always waiting to sit and have coffee the next morning.

4. February is a-comin'. Tomorrow. And I'm ready to build on what I have already "hustled" in January.

5.  I have signed on for a second month of "Hustle" with Jon Acuff. If you have some goals for this year - be they big or small - can I encourage you to do this? You get daily emails from Jon with specific instructions that help you achieve your goals, plus an awesome online community of encouragers and dreamers (via facebook). Do it! Now. Seriously. Sign ups end today. This is not a request.

6. We got our YMCA membership yesterday; so my "30 minutes of daily movement" will increase to "30 minutes of movement 4 days a week, AND 1 hour of movement at the Y, 3 days a week." My goal is still "fun" here. So I'm looking at classes and swimming and any machine that will give me 1 hour of uninterrupted TV time (hello, bike!)

7. I will continue my daily quiet times, but would like to add some extra time once a week (preferably on my Sabbath) to just be. Quietly listening. Worshipping. Whatever. I want to set aside weekly time with no agenda except to sit at His feet.

8. I think I found a good blogging rhythm (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). But I want to work on "batching" my writing and planning my topics and posts in advance.

Then there are a couple new hustles that will get added this month....

9. House and home. Did I mention we are moving in the next few months? We don't know exactly when or where yet, but I want to get every area in my house organized and cut down to the necessities. More on this later.

10. Family. Wife to my husband. Mother to my kids. I want part of my February hustle to focus on these relationships. It won't be huge or life-changing (it can't be, with everything else that's going on this month), but it will be intentional and life-giving.

So that's it. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how January has gone down. Here's to February and new goals and small changes that bring big results. Hustle on, my friends.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Life in Pictures

I was flipping through my phone pictures today and was overwhelmed with nostalgia and gratefulness. I love these little snapshots of our life here in Memphis...
Penelope caught RSV over the holidays. This was Christmas Eve Eve (the 23rd), right after treatment in the ER. She's just chillin' like nothing's wrong. Crazy cute kid.
Thanks to an awesome craigslist find, I officially have an Exepedit bookcase from Ikea, solidifying my title as a homeschool mom.
Right now, I'm diving into a couple books for our church's spring Connect Groups. But once I'm done with those, this will be waiting. I'm stoked.
This Christmas was the "Year of the Scarf." I think I got seven, and I LOVE them all. This is one of my favorites. Yum.
We got sick of paying to have the dog washed and groomed. So we "hired" our kids to do it. The whole idea totally grosses me out, and the girls get a real bath as soon as it's done. But, they love it. And the dog loves it. And I love not paying $45 for a dog bath.
This is my Maple Anne helping hand out bikes on our church's Big Serve Day. It's blurry because she couldn't be still. She bubbles over with excitement, and I'm hooked.
And these are her healthy eyes. The very ones we prayed for while she was in the hospital with an unknown infection. God is good.
Singing in the kitchen. "Let It Go."
Do you see all those dark specks in the sky? Those are birds. Check out the left hand horizon. Do you see how the line of birds go on and on and on? It's like nothing I've ever seen before, like a river of birds that flows over our house for about 20 minutes every day around 4:30pm. Crazy birds.
If I ever can't find my Chloe Jane, I start looking in one of her many "reading corners." My little introvert loves her some quiet space and a good book. Near and dear to my heart on so many levels.
Random, crazy, beautiful moments that make up our days. It all goes so fast sometimes.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Small Victories

Last week, I went to get some size 4T blue jeans out of Maple's drawer so she could have something decent to wear to the playground.

First, her drawer was so packed full, I had to smush the clothes down just to open it. Then, I pulled out a pair of jeans with holes in the knees. Then a second pair, with holes in the knees. Then, I pulled out a third pair of jeans, with a broken zipper. I stuffed all three pair back in the drawer, and decided to opt for a pair of leggins.

That night, I went to find some pj's for Chloe. And the same thing happened. Overstuffed drawers, holy mismatched pajamas (batman!).


Then. I went into their rooms, where I saw their laundry baskets, overflowing with dirty clothes. And I thought, even if I did get everything washed at one time, where would it go?

Next thing I know, I'm drifting through space and time to our apartment in Korea. We all shared one dresser and one closet. And it wasn't even a walk-in closet. Chloe had seven "everyday" outfits and two "church" outfits. Same for me. Same for the hubby. Except he only had one "church" outfit that he wore every weekend.

And you know what? It was enough.

And it was easy, even without a dryer. 

My wandering mind was jerked back to present-day reality when I heard Chloe say, "I can't find anything to wear."


I totally understand and know the feeling of walking into one's closet and saying such a thing, but something about that statement - in my state of mind - sounded like a challenge.

So the next morning, I officially announced a "No Schoolwork Day" in our homeschooling world. The announcement was met with cheers and hoorahs...

...until I told them to bring me all the contents of their dresser. And their closet. And their laundry baskets.

When all was washed and put into one place, our living room was overcome with piles and piles of little girl clothes. Pink sweaters and sparkly skirts and leggings and those darn holy jeans.

One badly photographed corner of the chaos:

Now, five days, one migraine, and a tummy bug later, all kid clothes have been sorted and put into their proper piles. 
Eight "everyday" outfits (including church clothes).
Two "messy day" oufits (for art and mud and such).
So if you were to walk in my door right now, you would see unswept floors, a sink full of dirty dishes, overflowing trashcans, and a mom-has-been-sick-all-weekend kind of mess in every room of the house. BUT... if you took the time to open the drawers and closets. Dude. You'd award me housekeeper of the year.
Okay. Maybe not. But on this Sunday night, I am choosing not to focus on all the things that didn't get done. Instead, I see the mammoth of a project that was tackled and conquered in the midst of a crazy five days.
And even in that, in the perspective, there is a small victory.
And even a small victory is not a defeat.
I'm still hustling, y'all.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lessons From My Twenties (part 2)

If you missed the first installment, hop on over here and check out the first five life lessons.

Otherwise, read on...

10 Lessons I Learned in My 20's
That I Hope to Carry Into My 30's
Part 2
6. Hard work trumps intelligence. As I typed that last line, I totally butchered the spelling of intelligence and had to look it up. I think I just proved my point. This is a lesson I regrettably learned late in my twenties. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I've got a fairly decent head on my shoulders. I made good grades in high school and in college. I can usually figure out how to do things - be it a job, technology, or a new recipe. But, when I look at the failures of my twenties, most (if not all) of them were directly due to a lack of effort - not a lack of smarts. I'm tempted to make a list of my failures just to prove it to you, but after thinking better of it, I've decided you'll just have to trust me on this one.
7. Pursue excellence, not perfection. There is such a huge difference between striving to be better and striving to be perfect. Perfection holds impossible standards. Excellence sets the bar high, but leaves room for grace. Perfection can only be achieved by perfect people. Excellence can usually be achieved by hard work (see #6 above).  Perfection asks: "What did I do wrong?" Excellence asks: "What can I do better tomorrow?" Perfection leads to depression and self-loathing. Excellence leads to anticipation and momentum.
8. Seeking advice = wisdom, not weakness. I was 22 years old when I had Chloe, my firstborn. I was surrounded by women who loved me and my baby - my mother, aunts, grandmothers, cousins. All who had gone before me in motherhood and were/are fantastic mamas. But if any one of them handed down some hard-won advice, I bristled. I thought I should have it all figured out, and every kind suggestion felt like a blaring reminder of my shortcomings. Nowadays, if the comments pass the haters test (See lessons 1-3), I hold onto them for dear life. Someone who loves me cares enough to risk offense and help me hack life? Bring it on!
Proverbs 15:22, "Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed."
9. The best time to start a healthy lifestyle is right now. Helloooo!!!! I'm talking to you 20-year-old-newly-married-pre-baby-bikini-wearing me! LISTEN UP! It's never easier to be healthy than in your early twenties. After about 25, the hill gets a lot steeper (more steep? Whatevs.) That being said, I'm also talking to you almost-30-year-old-yoga-pant-wearing-mama-of-three me. Carpe diem, and all that. 
10. Jesus is my source. If I could write a letter to 20-year-old me and give only one piece of advice, it would go something like this: "You will spend  most of your twenties drawing from multiple sources - your husband, career, money, houses, friends, titles, grades, travel, and more. It's a natural part of life. But the most important lesson you can learn is that all of those sources - all. of. them. - will dry up at some point or another. Only one Source will sustain you when all the others fail. Only one Source doesn't ever dry up. And if you're not tapped into that Source, you're in for a world of hurt - mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. So tap in. Daily. Be intimate with the Source. Gain all you need from Him, and the rest is just gravy.
So that's it. Those are the biggest lessons of my twenties. Oh that I can take hold of them, drag them into my thirties, and multiply them. Here goes...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lessons From My Twenties

Hey y'all. I'm turning 30 in like eight weeks. Yes, I am.

I have to tell you, a couple years ago, the idea of 30 scared me to death. In my mind, a person should have her stuff together by the time she's 30. She should have some semblance of an idea as to what she's doing with her life. She should be, ya know, put together and all that.

As the Big Day approaches, I find myself less disappointed about what I'm not, and more excited about where I'm going.

I look back at the past decade - with all its changes and turmoil and challenges - and I think, "I survived." And not just that. I learned a thing or two that I hope to carry into the next 10 years. Not that I have figured out how to do these things perfectly, but I at least learned some truth about them. And knowing is half the battle, amiright?

So lets get this ball rolling, shall we?

10 Things I learned in My 20's
That I Hope to Carry into My 30's:
Part 1

1. Forgiveness is a choice, and often must be chosen over and over again. As a child, most of us were taught that when someone says, "I'm sorry" the proper response is either, "I forgive you" or "It's okay." In my twenties, I learned that "I forgive you" and "It's okay" are actually two very different things. "It's okay" says: what you did to me is allowed and not a big deal. "I forgive you" says: what you did was huge and hurtful and cruel, but I will not be held captive by it - I will choose to let it go. Often, we have to make that choice before we feel it. And then five minutes later, we have to make it again. And the next morning when we wake up, we have to choose forgiveness again. And a week later, and a month later, and a year later, and a decade later, and a lifetime later. And every time we choose to forgive, we take another step toward freedom from the hurt and bitterness. The choice comes first. The feelings follow. It's not about letting "them" get away with it, it's about letting me get away from it.

2. "Haters gonna hate." Or, as Michael Josephson more eloquently put it: "When someone is nasty or treats you poorly, don't take it personally. It says nothing about you, but a lot about them.” Ah, what a hard-earned lesson. When someone says something hurtful to me, I have learned to ask a few questions:
First, does this person love me and have general good will towards me? Clue: if they are talking about you, and not to you, the answer is probably no. If they care enough to talk to you about it, move on to the second question.
Second, is it possible that what they are saying is true? Do those jeans make your butt look big? Does your attitude need an adjustment? Do you really need that third glass of wine? A friend will tell you the truth in love; so if they passed the first question, take a minute to evaluate if what they're saying could be true.
Third, can I (or should I) use this statement to make myself a better person? Some things are the truthful, but still hateful. "Those jeans make your butt look big" is one thing. "You have a huge butt" is another. If the person saying it passes question one, and it's the truth, ask if there's anything you can do to change it. If not, move along.
If something being said to (or about) you doesn't pass all three of these questions, chalk it up to the haters. And recognize that what they say has little to do with you, and a lot to do with them. With that being said...

3. Don't give mental or emotional real estate to the haters. Ok, so I totally recognize that my first three lessons are all about dealing with the world's meanie heads. But for me, unforgiveness and poor relationship choices held me back for a loooong time. And what I came to realize is this - a lot of the hurt in my life could have been avoided if I had simply chosen not to believe what the haters said about me or to me. In my twenties, I had a "friend" who used qualifying statements like "It's the truth!" or "I'm just calling it like I see it!" as an excuse to say hurtful things. I believed the things that were said. I took them to heart.  I believed this person when they told me I was unattractive because I was overweight. I believed when they told me I was a bad parent because my children whined. I believed when they called me a "b**ch" because I was too opinionated. Here's the thing about the haters and the things they say: They are only partial truths. Yes, I was/am overweight. That part is true. But I am beautiful, and my husband is attracted to me. Yes, my children whined on occasion. But they are loved and cared for and taught right from wrong - I am a good parent. Yes, I have strong opinions, but God can and has used my passions and convictions to stand up for injustice and give voice to the voiceless. You see what I mean? Partial truths do not The Truth make. My mental and emotional real estate is valuable, and ain't nobody got time for that junk.

4. I can choose my thoughts. (Prepare for an onslaught of quotes and statistics.) My pastor preached on this topic a few months ago. Here are some stats from my notes from that message: The average person has upwards of 60,000 individual thoughts in any given day. 98% of them are exactly the same thoughts as the ones they had the day before. On average, 80% of those thoughts are negative ones! After hearing those numbers, I decided to start some serious thought control. I was in a serious pattern of negative thinking (see above: believing the haters), and it took (and is taking) some effort to work my way out of that pattern. It goes something like this:
- Recognize negative thoughts and call them out: Hey you! Miss Negative Nancy! I see you lurking in the corners! Get over here!
- Assess them using the questions from #2: Are they in your best interest? Are they truth (and NO partial truths)? Can you change them?
-If they don't pass the test: kick 'em to the curb and replace them with scriptures, with songs (Katie Perry's "Roar" is an awesome mental tool. No joke.), with affirmations, whatever works for you.
- Remember that Miss Negative Nancy will try to come back. Martin Luther said, "You cannot prevent the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair." The thoughts will come back, we can't prevent that. But we do have the power keep them from settling in and making a home.

5. Intentions matter. Actions matter more. "It's the thought that counts" works if you are giving a gift that didn't turn out as you expected; it doesn't work if you give nothing at all. It's the same in life. You can plan to lose weight, to remember a birthday, to call someone back, to quit smoking, to be a better friend. And the planning - the mental preparation - does matter. But it only matters if it is followed by actually losing weight, sending a birthday card, making the phone call, putting down the cigarette, or making time for your friend. Clearly, I haven't figured this one out perfectly. But I'm believing that having numbers 1-4 under my belt gives me the mental preparation and clarity to actually move forward and DO it in my 30's.

Want to know the last 5? Come back tomorrow! Until then, hustle on!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The winds they are a-changing

Do you ever close your eyes and see your past few days flash before them? I don't mean in an it's-the-end-of-the-world-and-my-life-is-flashing-before-my-eyes kind of way. I just mean in a my-brain-is-processing-too-much-at-once-and-I-can't-turn-it-off kind of way.

I'm experiencing the second kind.

Hello, my name is Brandy, and I don't do well with change.

I'm not sure when that happened to me. I used to thrive on change. I loved travel, and people, and horizons, and all things new.

Before we moved to Memphis (over four years ago now), my husband and I had moved eight times in our seven years of marriage, and I loved it. Just as I would finish decorating a new place, it would be time to pack up and move to the next. If we ever settled into one place for too long, I would start to paint random walls and rearrange furniture, just to give myself the feeling of being in a new place.

Somewhere in our second year here (during the middle of our Damascus Road Internship) that desire began to shift in me. It was a scary shift. I felt the Lord asking me, "What if?" What if He asked me to stay somewhere 15 or 20 years? What if He planted us somewhere and told us not to move - ever? What if we were not called to pioneer, but to homestead? How would we respond?

Slowly, over time, the shift happened. I can tell you exactly where I was sitting and what I was doing when I heard Him ask, "What if?" But I can't tell you how or when my heart changed.

At the time, I reluctantly replied: "Where you go I will go. And where you stay, I will stay." Although I hoped and prayed it was a "sacrificing Isaac" kind of test.

Now, two years later, I find myself longing for home. Not for a particular city or house, rather for a place to be planted. A house to grow old in. Space for my kids to be kids - outside and free. A garden I can plant in the spring, with confidence that I will still be around for the fall harvest.

I am tired of change. I am tired of the unknown.

The past few days have been a flurry of job interviews (for the hubs), house hunts, schedule conflicts, and hard choices. When I close my eyes this evening, all I can see are flashes - like a speeding slide show - of the many decisions we are in the process of making.

I pray and remind the Lord of all the things I want. Space. And roots. And permanency. And peace. Close to friends. With room to breathe. Near my church. But out of the "city." Big enough to grow a family, but small enough that we don't grow apart.

And in that moment I am reminded: my desires are not always His desires. While I do believe that He gives us the desires of our hearts, I also know all too well that my heart can sometimes be wicked and selfish and hardened and small. So rather than worrying so much about what I want, I will seek Him with my whole heart. I'm in the market, with all its trappings. I can choose the cheap trinkets, or I can choose intimacy with Him.

Let tomorrow worry about itself. Tonight, for the last few minutes of my day, I choose intimacy. On earth, as it is in Heaven.

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world." - C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Little Ones I Love

Chloe Jane - My firstborn. She is a beautiful example of a lion and a lamb. She is gentle and tenderhearted. She cries at movies and when she witnesses the pain of others. To truly "discipline" her rarely includes anything other than talking with her about how her actions make the other person feel. She loves to snuggle and melts into my arms when I hug her. She's quiet and creative and loves having time to herself (much like her mama in that characteristic). A lover of books and art and soulful music. Then, out of nowhere, she flashes a bold streak. Like a lioness, she is focused and determined and not afraid to roar. She's stubborn to a fault, but it often plays in her favor. She makes up her mind she is going to try something new - and succeed at it - and she does. No one can convince her of her ability before she's ready, but once she has it in her mind, there is no stopping her. The kid's got guts. Her laughter is one of my most favorite sounds in the world. She is beautiful and fearless, all wrapped up in gentle and tender. She is captivating.

Maple Anne - My little firecracker. In our home, she is audacious and uninhibited. She sings at the top of her voice, speaks with gusto, and flies around the house, half-naked, in an unbridled flurry. She plays hard and works hard and loves hard. It's rare to coax a snuggle out of her. But when she gets in her mind to hug me, I can expect two little arms squeezing so hard that they are shaking, and a long, wiggly kiss on the cheek that usually ends with a raspberry. She takes everything in stride - the good with the bad - and has resilience out the wazoo. While she is gutsy and bold at home, she is reserved and observant in the "world." She enters into new territory curious, yet cautious. She watches - with sparkling eyes - all the dynamics of the space and people, and usually hides in a coloring sheet or quiet game until she finds her footing. Like a fairy or nymph, it's rare to catch her "true form" outside of her natural habitat, but when you do, she is mesmerizing.

Penelope June - My sweet little bundle of contradictions.  She lights up if I look in her general direction, and when we jiggle her belly, she curls up into a little ball and squeals with laughter.  Her sisters are her favorite toys. Her father is her calm place (believe it or not). And the dog is her greatest source of entertainment. She loves faces and people and raspberries and baby talk and tickles and snuggles - until she doesn't. Then she's done. And when she hits that point, her only comfort is a cool, quiet room with little or no stimulation. If she is ever fussy beyond consolation, she simply wants to be left alone. And in that quiet space, she once again finds her center, and makes her way back to that happy, giggly baby. A sweet little bundle of vigor and life. She is my sunshine.

And those are the little people who have taken over my world and turned me inside out. I love them, in all their similarities and individuality. They are my adventure. 

"You are my I love you"
 - by Maryann K Cusimano

I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your London Bridge, you are my falling down
I am your Carrot Sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favourite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you

Monday, January 13, 2014

10 Things About January 2014

So last night I totally outlined a nice, well planned, thoughtful post.

Then tonight the baby decided she didn't want to go to sleep until 9:45pm. So here it is, almost 10pm, and that outline is going to remain an outline, and in my notebook, for the time being.

So due to the time constraints, and the lack of creativity not swirling around in my head, I present the list format:

1. I have lost 10 pounds since this thing started. My goal was to lose 23 pounds by my birthday in March, and I am almost at the half-way mark. What WHAT?!

2. I am consistently doing 2 out of my 3 things every day. Still can't drag myself out of bed early enough to squeeze it all in, but I'm loving the results of what I have been able to do.

3. Did you know there is a "right" way to walk? I mean. It's walking. I've been doing it for, like, almost 30 years. You'd think I'd have it down by now. I knew from my not-so-recent visit to a "professional" runner's store that I put more pressure on the outside of my feet when I walk. But what I just learned (thanks to my awesome friend Kelly) is that the way I walk can be corrected. Who knew? So here's the deal. I walked some hilly territory yesterday, while pushing a stroller - all the while, focusing on walking "the right way." I fully expected to have shin splints this morning, as is usually the case after a walk like that. But when I rolled out of bed, lo and behold, I had sore calves (something I can't ever remember having, ever) and no shin splints. AND I had my best time ever. Even with the hills. Even with the stroller. So now I'm sold. I am totally researching and watching YouTube videos on the "right" way to run and walk. Who knew, right?

4. Babies are fun. This 4-6 month range is definitely one of my favorites. Sleeping all night. On a fairly regular schedule. Old enough to have personality, young enough to lack an opinion... or mobility. Right now it's bubbles, and raspberries, and coo's, and squeals, and giggles. There's nothing in the world like a baby's belly laugh, and I'm getting them in every chance I get.

5. There are 2 months and 3 days left in my 20's. This was the topic of the blog post I outlined. So that's all I have to say about that tonight.

6. Has anyone seen kid snippets on YouTube? My kids are addicted, and I have been using the videos as rewards for getting schoolwork done in the day. Hi-larious.

7. Homeschooling has suddenly become easy. I don't know how long it will last, but I'm enjoying it while I can. Chloe is excelling in her reading, and she's not hating Math. That, my friends, is a small miracle. Can I get an amen? But more than that, she is becoming confident in her abilities, bold in her beliefs, and comfortable in her own skin. If she learns nothing else this school year, I will consider homeschooling a success.

8. Having said that, it looks like Maple will be heading to Kindergarten next year. She is definitely the social butterfly in our family, and she keeps asking when she gets to go to school. Nothing will be decided until we know what school system we're in next year. (Oh yeah, we're moving. We literally know NOTHING else right now, as we're waiting on several factors before we can even begin to talk details. But that's another post for another time.) Suffice it to say, we think she's ready for school, and we think she will thrive. She agrees, and that's something right there.

9. Brandon's dad gave us a Wii over the Christmas break. It has made every single night "family night" at the Thixton house. Our former bedtime traditions have been scrapped and replaced by a rousing game of Mario Party. It has been one of the best things we've ever done. Snuggled on the couch, sipping hot cocoa, laughing till we can't breathe, wielding our controllers, and threatening the lives of anyone who dares to take our bananas. We kind of rock.

10. Life is sometimes really difficult. So when there come those rare and beautiful seasons where everything is a little bit easier, I want to remember them. I write them down - not because I only want to present "the good stuff" to the world - rather, so that when the days are once again hard, I can look back and remember that the night does not last forever, and joy comes in the morning. This is a joyful season.

Good night, y'all. Hustle on.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

And we're back to this...

A couple days ago, Jon challenged us to cut our goals in half for the month. Ah, like music to my ears.

I was honestly running out of blog topics, and this has given me an opportunity to regroup and really look at what I'm trying to do, and what's keeping me from doing those things.

Right on cue, Jon sent us yesterday's challenge: Figure out your triggers. What will knock you off track? What keeps you from accomplishing your goals?

And then today's challenge: Make a plan for how to deal with those triggers.

So here it goes:

When it comes to my life in general, anything outside of a "normal" schedule gets me off track. This week, I watched a baby in my home for three days. She was sweet, and easy, and absolutely adorable. But the day after she left, I crashed. I did absolutely nothing that I absolutely didn't have to do. Absolutely.

So then when I woke up on Friday morning, my house was a wreck, I was a day behind on, well, life. I was able to get a lot done on Friday, but this Saturday morning, we're still feeling the effects of my "day off" in the middle of the week. (Ok, seriously, I'm going to do those dishes today. No, really.)

But the thing is this: I never, ever, ever - like, ever - have a week with a "normal" schedule. There's always something. Fun things. Like hanging with friends, going to the park with kids, taking a last-minute trip to the zoo. And not so fun things. Like doctor's appointments or car repairs.

So I can't blame, ya know, life for getting in the way of, ya know. life.

And I certainly can't use it as an excuse for just taking a day off in the middle of the week.

The more I have thought about this "trigger," the more I think the answer is found in the Word, and in something I have written about before.


Sigh. Months later, and I still haven't figured out how to do that. But I think if I had a guaranteed Sabbath each week, I could use that when temptation comes a-calling. I could say, "I have a Sabbath in 'x' number of days. I can make it until then!"

What I also know is this: Sabbath rest is so much better than "day off" rest. I don't know why. I just know that when I declare a day of the week my "Sabbath" and stick to it, I feel rested and at peace. When I randomly decide to take a day "off," I end the day feeling like a failure and making lists of all the things that could have been done during that "wasted" day. I often feel more drained at the end of those days than when I started.

So this morning I am resolved. I'm going to get my house in shape. I'm going to make a big pot of chilli for tomorrow's lunch. I'm going to do whatever I need to do today, so that tomorrow I can take a Sabbath. A real Sabbath. A holy day. Set apart.

I'm sure there are other triggers (I'm looking at you, facebook!), but those will have to wait for another time, another day. Because today has already been claimed.

Love you all! Keep on hustling! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Today, Tonight, and Tomorrow

Today I...

... Overslept.
... Didn't wash my dishes or my laundry.
... Didn't make my bed.
... Fed my kids spaghetti-O's, from a can, unheated.
... Spent 65% of my time on the couch, with a heating pad, hoarding a Dove dark chocolate bar.
... Didn't exercise.
... Am only blogging because my husband turned off the TV and forced me to open the computer.

Tonight I...
... Am making a list of all the things I did right today.
.... .... like getting in a complete day of homeschool, even if it was from the couch.
.... .... like loving on someone else's baby, in my home, in addition to my own babies.
.... .... like drinking lots of water.
.... .... like making it through the day without going postal on any member of my family.
... Am grateful that I'm allowed to stay home, with a heating pad, and chocolate, and my kids.
... Am going to spend time with Jesus. 
... Am laying my head on the pillow, with no regrets. Honest.

Tomorrow I...
... Get a fresh start.
... Receive new mercies.
... Start my 2014 Vision Board.
... Reconnect with the energetic, non-hormonal, normal "me." 
... Love my family.
... Love my Jesus.
... Love myself. 
... Hustle on.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hope in the Hustle

I rolled out of bed at 6:07am. We're seeing some improvement, people. Yes, we are.

However, it is now 10:20pm, and I'm just now getting to the blogging part of the day. Oh well.

Today God has been reminding me to hope, even in the hustle, even in famine, even in the hunkering down.

I'm going to write some verses here. Bear with me.

From Genesis 12:

(1) God told Abram, "Leave your country, your family, and your father's home for a land I will show you." 
(4) So Abram left just as God said. 

[Abram arrives at the Promised Land]
(7) God appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your children.” Abram built an altar at the place God had appeared to him.
(10) Then a famine came to the land. Abram went down to Egypt to live; it was a hard famine. 


God told Abram to go. And Abram, in his amazing faith, picked up his wife and home and followed a new God to an unknown land. No questions. No doubt. No complaining. 

And when he got there? Famine. And not just any famine, a "hard famine." 

Can I just say, my heart twists up inside itself when I read that verse. Because I have been there. I have looked at life and said, "God called me here. And now there's famine in the land."

It's backwards. It doesn't make sense. 

But then we keep reading. (I'll sum up the next part.) 

Abram and his wife Sarai go to Egypt. Abram is scared he'll be killed because his wife is so beautiful. So he lies and says she's his sister. Pharaoh takes wife. Pharaoh is cursed.  Pharaoh learns the truth and is all, "What the heck, Abe? Why'd you lie like that? Take your wife and your junk and get outta town, yo!" 

Then Pharaoh gives them a booty-load of riches and sends them on their way. Back to the land God promised. 

Now this next part is pure speculation on my part, but as I read this passage, Abram's choices make sense to me. At least, I can understand where he might be coming from. 

He faithfully followed God into a land wrought with famine. If this God wouldn't protect him from that, who's to say he would protect him from a jealous, lusty Pharaoh? So Abram took matters into his own hands (a pattern we see over and over in his life, by the way). 

I get that. I understand self-preservation when God is clearly not following through on His promises. I have been there.  

But here's the thing. The famine drove them to Egypt, which lead them to Pharaoh, who gave them a gazillion dollars just to leave his country - to return to the Promised Land. (Ok, so I'm not sure it was exactly a gazillion, and I'm pretty sure they didn't have dollars. But you get my point.)

I guess what I'm saying is this, to you, to myself: don't lose hope in the famine. Don't lose hope when your faith falters. Don't lose hope when you take things into your own hands and royally screw everything up. Don't lose hope when you're afraid. Don't lose hope when God isn't fulfilling His promises. 

Because our God uses the famine. He uses the screw ups. He uses the fear. And He. Keeps. His. Promises. Above and beyond what we can imagine.

So tonight I'm going to bed, later than I should and with a list of unfinished tasks awaiting me in the morning. Regardless, I'm ending the day with this thought: I have hope for tomorrow. Hope for my future. And hope to see God's promises fulfilled. 

Goodnight, y'all. Keep on hustlin'.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Day 6: The introvert's hustle

Well, my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning. I rolled out of bed at 6:58am. Oops.

This getting up early thing is going to be even harder than I thought.

So here it is 1:25pm, and I am blogging in between feeding babies, giving homeschool instructions, and entertaining an adorable toddler. Time with Jesus may have to wait until bedtime - not my favorite time of day to do anything except, you know, sleep. And exercise may be wishful thinking... unless there is some miraculous moment when all the babes are asleep at the same time, and the kiddos workout with me.


Today's assignment was to decide on the "where." I pretty much did that when I decided the "how" and "when." In my living room, beside my fireplace, early in the morning.

It sounds so easy, doesn't it? Hm.

Anyways... today is our first official day back at "school," and I am loving the idea of having a regular routine again. Literature, math, and science are done for the day. Moving on to spelling, grammar, and art in a few minutes. The house is quietly humming away. It's busy, but steady. Just how I like it.

If only everyday could be like this.

I absolutely love days when we all stay home, quietly doing our work, playing, snuggling, and completely ignoring the outside world. To be perfectly honest, I love weeks like that, not just days.

And while part of my 5% is definitely found in loving on my family and keeping peace in my home, there's another part of my 5% that means reaching outside these four walls and building relationships with people other than the ones who live under this roof.

The thing is this: I am an introvert to the core. I have a very limited supply of relational energy, and require a good bit of "alone" time to recharge. So for me, every moment I spend investing in "outside" relationships is a moment taken from the relationship I have with my "inside" people - the ones in my home. And vice versa.

My husband and I have spent a good bit of time over the years learning how to budget our money and resources. We stick to a budget until it no longer works for us (jobs change, needs change, hence, budgets change). We tweak and perfect, until we find what works for our goals, and we do it.

Only now am I beginning to see the need for an energy "budget." I gain/earn energy through alone time and mental "downtime." I spend energy by loving on people and interacting with, you know, the human race.

So my life is usually a pendulum - lots of time investing in relationships means minimum homeschooling and even less housework. OR. Lots of time doing homeschool stuff and keeping a tidy house means not going out with friends, talking on the phone, or - I cringe to admit this - not even responding to text messages.

So somewhere in this year, I want to figure out how to do it all with excellence, because it's all part of my 5%. I want to learn how to fully invest in relationships while still setting boundaries to protect my "recharge" time and my home.

I want to burn bright, without burning out.

I have a feeling a lot of the answer will come when I can finally roll out of bed and do my three things with excellence. Jesus time, exercise, and blogging are all things that give me more energy and clarity. More energy = a bigger budget, and I'm all for that.

In the meantime, I just ordered a book that was recommended to me by a fellow introvert-friend. I'll read it and fill y'all in on the deets. It's going to be good.

For now, I'm happy to stay in my little bubble most day and venture out only when necessary (especially when it's FURR-EEEE-ZZIING here in the South). I'll work on my 5% here, while learning how to manage my 5% out there. It's all good, and full of grace, with no condemnation. Just workin' out my salvation, y'all.

So hustle on, dear readers, hustle on.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Day 5: The wrench in my hustle

I'm starting to get why we were instructed to pick only one thing. Today ends with two of my three items completed - blogging and Jesus time.

How fitting that today Jon Acuff told us to focus on the "When" of our goals - on a large and small scale.

He specifically recommended that we circle the "problem" days we might anticipate for the month, and work out a plan for those days.

Clearly, I need this.

I know already that my "problem" days are days that my husband is home (weekends, holidays, etc.).

I guess I should clarify that my husband is not the problem. It's simply that when he's home, things relax a little. And that fact, I don't want to change.

I love that we all sleep a little later, and ease into our day, and cook a big breakfast, and spend time outside (if it's nice weather) or playing family games on the Wii (if it's bad weather). I love days that he is home, but I also recognize that those are usually the days that I miss my quiet time, spend little-to-no time on my blog, and only exercise if it's part of our family plan (like walking around Shelby Farms or the zoo.)

When I think about the changes I want to see happen in 2014, I recognize that - in the long run - I probably will not blog on days when he's off work. I probably will not spend an hour or more working out at the gym. But "Jesus time" is a must every day.

And I have committed to doing all three, everyday, for 30 days. It's a season of hustle and push and stretch, and so I am committed to figuring out how to do it.

Once again, I think the answer is going to be found in the mornings.

We take turns "sleeping in" on alternate Saturday mornings. So I think my plan is to treat my "get-up-with-the-kids" Saturday like any other day, and try to get up 1.5 hours before anyone else does. That way I can go ahead and knock out my three items before the day even gets good and started.

On my "I-get-to-sleep-in" Saturdays, when I normally get to sleep until 9am, I will go ahead and get up at 8am in order to at least spend some time with Jesus and get in 30 minutes of exercise (the blogging part can happen in the evening after the kiddos are in the bed). Sure, I'm giving up an extra hour of sleep, but 8am is still 2.5 hours more sleep than what I would normally get during the week.

I am determined to figure this out. I want it all. Consistency. Energy. Character. Quality.

I want the patience and joy and vision that comes from spending time with my Jesus.

I want the energy and clarity and sense of accomplishment that comes with exercising.

I want the discipline and creative flow that comes with writing every day.

And I want to have ALL of those things without neglecting my house, my children, my husband, or my relationships.

It's 9:39pm. Nine minutes past my self-imposed bedtime, and only 21 minutes until my self-imposed "lights out" time.

G'night all. 5:30am comes early. Let's hustle!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Day 4: Have fun!

Day 1: The What  - Get in the Word, move, and blog, every day, for 30 days.
Day 2: The Why - To be a better "me" so I can help create a better "we" in my family and relationships.
Day 3: The How - get up earlier (ugh).

So here's Day 4: Have fun!

Jon Acuff wrote, "Today, figure out a way to add some fun to whatever it is you’re working on for the next 30 days."


I mentioned in my last post that I'm finding the "move" part kind of fun, since I'm not restricting myself to certain types of exercise.

Day 1, I worked "movement" into my regular routine. Leg lifts during TV commercials, lunges while blowing my hair dry, arm curls while stirring the soup.
Day 2. I convinced the whole family to join me in doing yoga.
Day 3, kids Zumba on the Wii.
Today (Day 4): Wii fit.

It has been fun to give myself permission to mix it up, and do what I feel like doing, as long as I'm moving.

As for the quiet time, the only thing I can think of is turning on the fireplace. I know this sounds silly, but it's so cold when I first wake up in the morning that I don't want to get out of bed. We typically don't turn on the fire because the cost of gas has gone up so much. But the thought of snuggling up under a blanket, next to the fire, with a cup of coffee in my hand sounds heavenly, and seems like a perfect opportunity to commune with Heaven.

Then there's this here little blog. I don't know how to make this more fun. I might spend some time searching the web for some memes, simply so I don't have to think up a topic to write about. I'm open to advice from any bloggers lurking in the corners out there - comment below and let me know what you think. How can I make this more fun?

That's it for Day 4. I'm enjoying this journey. Tomorrow is church (yay!); then Monday is when the rubber really meets the road. Brandon goes back to work (and back to his crazy work schedule), and I go back to being full-time round-the-clock homeschool mom. This could get interesting...

Day 3: The How

So yesterday was Day 3, and I only did one out of the three daily tasks I've committed to doing.

Day 1 was about the "what."
Day 2 was about the "why."

Those were easy.

Day 3 was about the "how." Clearly, I need Day 3. I need to figure out how to fit it all into the day.

I looked at my daily schedule, and the bottom line is that there are simply not enough hours to get everything done.

So something has to go. After factoring in my energy levels throughout the day, I realized that by 7pm each day, regardless of what is still left to do, I am pretty much done.

Kids go to bed at 7pm, and my body and mind are worn out by that point in the day. Still, I usually stay up for AT LEAST 3.5 more hours: watching TV, surfing Pinterest, or (if I'm feeling really ambitious) reading a book.

Because I am an introvert and will implode without some downtime each evening, I cannot "schedule" all of that time. But I don't need 3.5 hours to get in the Word, move for 30 minutes, and blog. I only need about 1.5 hours.

So my new plan is this: I am going to go to bed early so that I can wake up 1.5 hours earlier and do my three things, first thing in the morning.

That's 5:30 in the morning. Ugh. 

I hate it. Really. Because I looooove my sleep, and I am not a fan of getting up early.

But I have known for a while that this needs to happen. I like to ease into my day. A cup of coffee and Jesus, a little morning yoga, a few minutes surfing the news and blogs, a little writing or planning. This is hard to do when a four-year-old wakes me up with an "I'm hungy RIGHT NOW!" or a baby wakes me up with a leaky diaper or a seven-year-old wakes me up with a bloody mouth due to a pulled tooth. (That really happened.)

So that's the new new plan. Wake up early, knock out the three things, first thing, and go on with my day.

Having said that, here are a few observations from the past three days:

1. Exercise is boring when I'm worried about what I'm "supposed" to be doing (legs, arms, cardio, resistance, etc.). When I pick what I "want" to do, it's a whole lot more fun. And at least I'm moving, which is better than not moving. It is.

2. Getting in the Word is easy and makes a difference in my day. I just finished reading The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro (highly recommended), and he broke it down in such a simple format. I am loving my quiet time, and felt the lack when I wasn't able to do it yesterday.

3. Blogging is boring when I do it every day. My posts are boring. My writing is boring. My heart is not in it. I'm going to finish out the 30 days (only 27 days left!), but I may gain something unexpected in the process: the realization that daily writing is not for me. We shall see.

That's it. That's the end. I told you it's boring. But sneak peak to Day 4: it's all about some fun!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hustle Day 2: A Healthy Me

It's 11:17, and I'm heading to bed.

Our entire family did 30 minutes of yoga this morning, and it was a memory I won't soon forget.

I will spend a few minutes in the Word before I go to sleep.

And I suppose you could maybe call this a blog post.

It's not my best, but it's done (or soon will be done).

Today is about the "why." Though I don't have time or energy to write about it tonight, I have been thinking about it all day.

Here is what I wrote on the Facebook group today:

I want daily time with Jesus so I can become more spiritually healthy.
I want to MOVE everyday to learn how to HAVE FUN while becoming physically healthy. 
I want to blog everyday to help me build consistency in my writing. 
All three of these things make me a better ME, which makes me a better mom, wife, friend, etc. 
So that's it. I am learning how to take care of me - guard my heart, love myself, all that jazz. Because a healthy me equals a healthy "we" - in my marriage, in my family, in my relationships. More to come...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

30 Days of Hustle, Day 1: the WHAT

"Today is all about the WHAT"

Jon challenged us to pick ONE very specific thing that we are going to do in the next 30 days. But because I'm rebellious (or too ADD to do just one thing) I have three. Hm.

My goals for the year are rooted in a blog I read by Brandon Park.

If you have about 3 minutes, go read it. It's good.

If not, here's the gist of it:

Of all the things you do in a day (and in your life), only 5% of those things ONLY you can do. Confused?

Here's the breakdown:

80% of what you do can be done by anyone.
15% of what you do can be done by anyone with a little training.
5% - FIVE PERCENT - of the things you do in life can be done by you alone.

Over and over, during the past few months, the Lord has reminded me of this statistic. I feel Him instructing me: Know your 5%, and do it with excellence.

So that's it. That's my path, my goal, my focus for 2014. I want to know my 5%, and I want to learn how to do it with excellence.

Here's what I have thus far:
1. Only I can be a wife to my husband.
2. Only I can be a mother to my children.
3. Only I can make healthy choices (mentally and physically).
4. Only I can tell my story (in my writing, through my testimony, and in my friendships).
5. Only I can have my relationship with Christ.

So for the next 30 Days, I'm focusing on numbers 3-5.

I'm going to MOVE, every day.
I'm going to spend time with my Jesus, every day.
And I'm going to document the journey here on the blog - every day.

So here's to the hustle and to the big dreams and to the small beginnings.


30 Day of Hustle: This is Where it Begins

Happy New Years, y'all!

Well hey there, 2014. Nice to meet you.

I spent New Years Eve with my husband and kiddos, flipping back and forth between the Wii and New Years Rockin' Eve. We know how to party hard here in the Thixton house.

This is an exciting year. I don't know if I have ever had such clear vision or focus for twelve months. I have no idea what's coming this year, but I know where my focus lies. And that is something I have never been able to say before.

Years ago, the summer before I got married, I backpacked through Southern Europe (France, Spain, and Italy). One of my favorite parts of the trip was shopping in the Italian street markets. I loved the sounds of the vendors shouting to the shoppers and at each other. The smell of the food and leather and spices dancing on the air. Accordion music coming from an unknown side alley.  Bright colors. Crowded shoppers. Baskets. Fruits. Cobblestone.

I walked through several of these markets on our trip, but only bought a few trinkets. Everything looked and smelled and sounded so... overwhelming. I loved it. But there were too many choices. I would pick one up, intent on buying it. Only to doubt my choice and wonder what was in the next booth. What if I purchase this and immediately regret it when I see something else I want more? So rather than buy one or two of the more expensive items that I loved, I left the market with a basketful of cheap chotchkies.

Only recently have I recognize this as a theme in my life. So many choices. So many beautiful things. Vendors touting their dreams as wares. And I, unwilling to risk my heart on one path, have settled for a basketful experiences and unfinished projects.

But this year, 2014, I feel a call to something deeper. Amidst the shouts and the smells and the rush of the market, I hear a still small voice calling me to intimacy, and a clear path.

I don't know where the path will take me, but I know where it starts. And that's here. Today. In my heart. And on this blog.

I've joined Jon Acuff's 30 Days of Hustle, and for the next 30 days, I will be documenting my #hustle here. Everyday.

So join me in the journey, and get ready to hustle.

Here's to 2014!

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood