Character Lessons Learned by Downsizing in House Size

Previously, I  shared with you our journey taken that brought us from living in a 2,260 square foot house to our current home of 1,245 square foot home.

Our last year of being here, we have learned a few things about being a large family living in small accommodations.  There are positives and negatives to any situation. I’ve read many articles and posts highlighting all the glimmery spots of smaller living, and while there are really great benefits to smaller living, there are also hard parts in it.  I want to share some honest feedback about the benefits and the challenges that we have encountered during this time of scaling back on house size.  I will be sharing this over a period of several posts.

The first thing to share is the character lessons learned by downsizing in house size.

 Scaling Back is a Great Time to Sharpen One’s Character

Lessons on Thankfulness and Contentment

As I mentioned in my last post on how we got to the purchasing of this house, all of us were experiencing a lot of disappointment about being here in this town and in this house.  While disappointment was expected, what I quickly realized was that the kids, as well as I were grumbling and complaining.  Quite bluntly, we were sinning.  Scripture tells us plainly that God’s will for our lives is to give thanks in all circumstances.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Also, Paul gives us example in Philippians to be content.

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”

Clearly we needed help in his area.  We needed to practice thankfulness, even though we weren’t feeling thankful.

Cultivating thankfulness

To work on this we did a couple of things.  I picked back up my Thankful Journal and made a practice to try to write down thanksgivings each day.

Strawberry's thankful journal.

Strawberry’s thankful journal.

I also made each child a thankful journal for them to record those things in their lives that they were thankful for.

In addition, we took up the practice of Thankful Thursdays that a friend told me about.  Every Thursday, she had her children write a note of thanks to someone in their life.  We’ve missed several Thursdays, but more often than not, the children and I all try to write a note of thanks to someone.  Sometimes that note is because someone blessed us with a physical item, other times we express thankfulness to them for speaking kind words or truthful words to us.

We’ve also made a point to discuss with our kids how truly blessed we are.  We read to them stories from Gospel for Asia highlighting our great luxuries compared to the poor conditions so many others live in.  We discuss the blessing it is to have all our family here, not struggling with chronic disease.

 

Bearing with One another in love

Living in close quarters gives us many opportunities to practice patience, grace, and just good old bearing with one another in love.  Since every time we turn around, some one is there, and it is rare to get to have a room or space in which someone is not in there with us and we have had to learn different coping mechanisms.  Some days we do this well, but often times we do not.

Giving preference to One Another

Eight people in a small house and only 2 bathrooms gives us a natural environment to learn to give preference to one another.  It seems like the bathrooms are always needed at the same time around here.  I am not really sure why everyone seems to think they need access to the bathroom at the same time, but they do.  So, we are daily reminding our children to wait patiently on the person in the restroom.  Also, we have conversations with them about how little one’s may have more urgent needs.  This character lesson plays out in many other instances in our home.  It’s also a trait that I realized I could use some more growth in as well as the kids.

What are some character lessons you have recently learned in a hard place? Please share in the comments.

Tomorrow – Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday’s word this week:

Tomorrow

A new beginning.  A new perspective.  New opportunities.  Tomorrow at one point in my life was filled with expectancy, excitement, hope.  As I sit contemplating on “tomorrow” I realize that somewhere along the way I lost my wonder.  The excitement and the joy that came in the new day.

I realize my folly.  I should look upon my tomorrows with an expectancy that God will show up.  A zest for life.

I’m finding my way back to this place, as I dig in the Word. Sitting with the Lord changes me.  Takes away fear.  Gives me eyes to see more of the wonder and the glory that occurs in the day-to-day of life.

Tomorrow: A day worth being excited about if I’m letting the Lord lead.

How do you view your tomorrows?

I’ve linked up with other writers on blogging on the word “tomorrow” over at 5 minute Friday.  Come join the fun.

Answered Prayers for Strawberry

My Strawberry turned four in February.  This little girl, whom we desperately cried out to the Lord for in her early years.  So many of you did too.  We appreciate those prayers.  We are so thankful for His answer that the spot continued to shrink.

Blessed to have to deal with just the effects.  She had surgery to correct the droopy eye in September of 2013.  An addition of glasses in  December of 2014.  Praise be to God, that is the extent of her physical effects.

strawberry4

She’s always been a bit different from the others.  Dissolving to tears in frustration, fear.  A loss for words.  Complete meltdowns. Much more clingy to her parents than the others were.  Mistrusting of people she first meets.

We’ve discussed often, is this just the make-up of her dna?  Is she just a more sensitive child? Would she have been as high-strung had she not been poked and prodded at by strangers at such a young age? Or maybe we coddled her too much? Spoiled her when she was little.  Over reacted to all her needs for fear there was more gloom to come.

Whatever the case, we have learned disciplining her is a different ball game than it was with her siblings.  She’s just more sensitive.  We have to talk to her differently.  Get her to catch her breath so she can even begin to hear what we have to say.  She is a different child.

God still is in the business of answering prayers, and I saw it in regards to this child a few weeks past her 4th birthday.  We were having a rough patch of tears and meltdowns.  I found myself one night beseeching the Lord, “I need wisdom for this kid.  Help her.  Draw her to you.  I don’t know what to do with her. Only you Lord can change her.  Only you can draw her heart to You.”

Calm.

The following morning, we had breakfast and followed that up with chores.  All the kids were beginning their school work, and I thought to myself, that it just seemed so much more peaceful. I wondered why.

My Strawberry, stands up from her activity, walks over to me, and boldly announces “I’m going to obey today.”

“You are?  That’s good.  What made you decide to obey today?”

“Because God told me to last night in my bed while I was sleeping.”

She did really well that day.  At one point I asked her to complete a task that was displeasing to her.  I saw it on her face.  “Sweet girl, remember what you were going to do today?”

“Yeah, I told you I was going to obey.”

As she went about completing her task, with a pleasant face.

God hears.  He answers.

And He has a plan for this little girl.

plans

I began a post for FMF back at the beginning of March, but never finished posting it because I was tucked away in a tent that weekend, hidden from the world, but not all the kids.

The word to blog about: plan

A white, crisp blank calendar is a thrill to my heart.  I love to look upon the days laid out before me, to imagine, plan, and dream of the excitement that they may contain.  I thoroughly enjoy jotting out the ideas, the things I want to see come to fruition.

Plans are so much fun.  The what if, and the how, the lists, all of this doing brings about a thrill in my heart.  I actually really love to plan.

Plans are full of expectancy, hope, greatness.

But the reality of what is met in the middle of the excitement of planning to the execution of the plan, well that is another story.

In my zest of planning, I seem to over plan.  Then, I struggle to meet those expectations that I’ve put upon myself.  I often think I am failing others, but I’m not sure that I am so much as not meeting my own ideals. Perhaps, I’m just more keenly aware of all that is left undone.

I find myself flustered over my plans in the end. Overwhelmed.  Wondering why in the world I ever thought I could muster up the energy or the ability to do whatever it was that I had planned.

I’m so thankful that scripture teaches that man makes plans, but God directs the steps of man.  So thankful that He will set me on a right path, even though the plans I make seem to be failing.

Break With A Mission

We were camping last weekend.  I attempted my FMF post while driving but internet was spotty.  Since I wrote it, I will be brave and go ahead and post.

Friday’s Word was: BREAK.

As I thought about the word break, images of playing basketball during my school years kept coming forth.

Here I go:

Team huddled in a circle, arms extended in, hand stacked upon one another.  The plan is given.  “BREAK!”  Players scatter ready to defend and score points. The huddle gives instruction, puts everyone on the same page.  Purpose.  The “Break” signifies “Go.”

Christ gave us the “Go.” The Words are in the great commission. Go into the world and make disciples.

I wonder what would happen if the smaller church – the local church, meet together in small huddles. Every believer given details on what area to defend, which offensive play was at hand.  We would then move forward in a “Break” scenario with enthusiasm working as a team until it was time for checking in at the next huddle meeting to revamp the strategy. Would we be more effective in our mission to “Go and make disciples” instead of lost wandering around on the playing field of this life, players stumbling over each other’s feet, because no one knows where the other is going? Would our impact be greater?

Check out what the other brave writers had to say in 5 minutes on the word break over at the Kate Motaung’s blog.

 

How would you view a “breaking with a mission” mindset?

building a platform vs seeking an inner room

About the time that I decided to pursue this blogging endeavor again, I was asking myself to what end?  Why do I want to blog?  What do I hope to accomplish through conveying thoughts and ideas to whoever happens to stumble upon my blog?  What is my message?  What am I about?  To be quite honest with you, I haven’t settled all these questions in my heart.

But this seeking: this question asking, is not only relevant to my blog life.  It is extremely pertinent to all aspects of my life, especially spiritual life.  Because in actuality one can not separate the spiritual from the practical.  The spiritual invades all areas of ones life.  There is no separation.

So, as I am seeking out to relearn the basic stuff I knew about blogging before my blogging hiatus and pursuing other resources on building a successful blog, I was also seeking out the filling of my mind during any empty time with spiritual truth.

For my birthday, my mom had given me a cd of devotionals featuring various Christian speakers (affiliate link). I really enjoyed all of them.  One in particular has stood out in my mind as I’ve been investigating blogging.  Beth Moore in her talk about rooftops said something along the lines that we are rooftop-platform seeking people.  We all want a platform.  A place to shout out to the masses. We all want to be heard. But instead, we should be closet seeking. She goes on to say that we are to be seeking His message in a quiet place and when He gives us a message, He will in His time give us a rooftop or a platform.

Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. – Luke 12:3

In the space of time from hearing her message, all the blog gurus gush with ways of developing a platform.  While I am quite thankful for the information that freely abounds on blog building, I find my heart contemplating the question: am I closet seeking or am I platform seeking?

I realize that my first pursuit must be seeking the heart of the Lord. To do that I must be inner room seeking.  I must be looking to stow away with the Lord, in the closets of my heart and in the inner rooms of my home.  How can I still myself in my mind, which is jumping rapidly from item to item littered throughout my head, regarding all the cares that I need to tend to in a day?  I must find the way.  I must quiet my thoughts, gaze upon His majesty.  Drink the calmness and the peace that is poured forth only in His presence.  I must search His word, beg for eyes to see the beauty laid out in the Word.

To serve Him through this blog or any aspect of life, I must seek to know what He would tell me in the secret, in the closet.  I must wait for Him to build the rooftop or platform that He wants me on. Be it a platform before a few or a platform before many.

Do I want people to read my blog? Sure, I do.  Am I aiming for hundred’s or thousands of readers?  Well, not really.  My offerings are meager, but they are for the Lord.  I am writing because I enjoy the process of putting words to paper.

I like to investigate, learn, do and then share from experience.  If I publish a post with my thoughts, people have the freedom to read if they are interested instead of being caught up in a conversation with me that bores them deeply.  If they aren’t interested, they don’t have to read but avoid appearing rude.

I enjoy the pursuit of encouraging others through the practical application of life.  I believe that God has called me to uniquely influence those people He has appointed me to rub shoulders with in real life and online.

Whether my blog reaches one, tens, hundreds, or thousands, my prayer is that it will be a sacrifice to Him who sacrificed all for me.  That it will be a sweet aroma to Him and that it might just bless the heart of one reader.

If I make a few dollars here or there through affiliate links sharing those things that have been helpful to me, perhaps it will be enough to pay the cost for site hosting.

So, while many questions regarding blogging and what current steps the Lord is calling me to pursue in real life are not yet answered with more than “seek Me” and “Wait on the Lord,” I am certain of one thing. Truly, I want to be more about inner room seeking than platform building.  I want to hear the secrets He has for me.

Disclosure:  This post contains an affiliate link.  If you choose to click on it and purchase the item, I will gain a small commission at no extra charge to you.

I linked up with Testimony Tuesday.  A place for writers to share God’s fingerprints in their life.

Holly Barrett

Restless Place

I have little to offer in my post this morning except just honesty on where I am.

I find myself in a restless place.  As I pray and read scripture these last few days, there are verses that jump off the page, moving my soul in ways I grasp for words to explain.

  • Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.
  • Psalm 33:13-15 The Lord looks from heaven;  He sees all the sons of men from the place of His dwelling. He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.
  • Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
  • Psalm 28:14 – Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.
  • Philippians 1:12 – but I want you to know brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out from the furtherance of the gospel.

Words from my prayer journal this morning:

Disturb me Lord, if I need to be disturbed. Convict me Lord if it’s sin causing unrest in my soul. Jesus I do want to move when you say move, I want to stay put when You call me to stay put.

Lord, help me to look to You, not myself. Jesus, You are good.  You will gently lead. You will guide my steps.

 

 

Visits with Jesus

I’m back for a 5 minute Friday, where writers key their thoughts based off the prompt word that Kate posts on her website, for five minutes, without editing their writing.

Today’s word:

Visit.

Looking back at my college years, it’s visits with Jesus that I so miss terribly much.  I lived at home, 45 minutes away from campus where I had classes.  I would arrive early for classes, spending my morning studying.  Later, the favorite part of my day would begin.  my old car, would slide into a parking spot at the park, that was littered with huge oak trees. I would drag out my trusty Mexican blanket, Bible, journal, and a pen carrying it along with me to under a tree.  My blanket would spread out over the grass, and I would open up the Word, reading, soaking up the goodness.  Sunlight would pour into my skin, as I would share my heart, burdens, hopes, and dreams with the Lord.  Sometimes, I was still.  Sometimes I would slumber.  Other times I would watch children play, while homeschool moms sat at tables, grading papers – never dreaming that one day, that would be me.

5 minutes are up.

I still have visits with Jesus.  I just rarely have the time to sit in the park for hours on end.  I think upon those days with sweet remembrance.

Interested in what other writers have to say about the word visit?  Click over to the 5 minute Friday link up.

Opening my eyes

Another week of Five Minute Friday, where writers come together, to put thoughts to written word in five minutes of unedited writing.

 

This week’s word:  OPEN

Light filters in the crack of curtains, dark.  Eyes squint trying to adjust to the light peeking in.  I open the curtains and give time for my eyes to adjust, to be ready to open to the day.

Have it my way, many mornings I would stay in the dark much longer, lingering, delaying the opening of my eyes.  Content to stay put.  Stay still.  Stay quiet.

I find life parallels the spiritual.  Too many times, I would rather stay closed, shut.  Not letting Light in to those places that need light to shine.  Instant light hurts.  It reveals sin. Yet just as I want to hide from light during the morning, I thrive from the warmth of the light as it filters into a room.opening-my-eyes.JPG

The same way with the Light of the World.  As I allow my eyes to be opened by Him and His light to filter in, there is comfort. Healing.  Warmth.  Forgiveness.  Life.

Jesus.

 

5 minutes up.

“Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your Law.” – Psalm 119:18

Hop over and read some of the excellent writing on the word open.

 

 

Faith Lessons in Fibromyalgia

I hesitate to publish the following.  Yet in the face of authenticity I feel compelled because one heart beat behind this blog is the desire for the myth of supermom to be burst.

The morning light illuminates the room, alarm buzzing.  Where did the night go? Stiff shoulders, burning pain in my ankles, heavy achy muscles.

These mornings, I hate.

Sips of coffee, trying to see the Word, through squinted eyes.  Whimpers..some days even whining to the Lord.  Oh not today.  Crying out,  “Lord I so desperately need you today.  I won’t make it without you.  Show me which steps to take.  What do I let go?”

Knowing these days, that getting through just the basics of life is a day of success.

Thankfully, these days are far between now. But they still exist. And I loathe them.

They fly in the face of what I want to do.  How I want to be.  This isn’t how I wanted life to be, not who I want to be.  I’m not the wife I want to be.  The mother I envisioned myself as.  Or the friend always there ready to lend a hand.

I see things falling all around me, and feel so powerless to hold them up.  Messes pile up but I just don’t have it in me to disperse them.

Welcome the beast of Fibromyalgia.

And yet, this season, this place God has allowed me to be.  He promises that it is all for His glory and my good, and His promises are true.

Humbling.

This is a season of humbling.  I can not hold things together, like I thought I could or think I should.

These days, that Fibro symptoms flare, I feel like I’m being lazy.  I’ve spent so many years trying to prove that I am not lazy.  But when I struggle for words, and fire radiates around my bones, I need to just sit or lay down.  These days I battle the thoughts that I am not enough: that I am not giving enough to my family, not serving others well, failing the Lord.  I sit barely functioning, thoughts evading my mind.

God’s word tells me to learn in this season, in these days, that God is enough.  He is the great I AM.  HE is enough for my kids and my husband on those days when I fall so short.  In actuality, it’s every day that I fall so short – not just my Fibro days.  But He is always there.

And He is always enough.

He is working in me, in my family.  He will complete the good work that He has started.

He is faithful.

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”- 1 Corithinas 1:9

 

 

 

Wait (Five Minute Friday)

I am participating in Five-Minute Friday today.  Kate Motaung posts a word prompt each Friday.  Bloggers then just write for five minutes on that topic with out worrying about editing their work. 

Today’s Prompt is: WAIT

Wait. A word I dislike, yet find myself saying far too often.

Wait seems to be a pattern in my life. Probably because I have a tendency to always be in a hurry. I can remember being in a hurry to grow up, move out, graduate college, marry, get a job.

My kids always seem to be in a hurry too. And now I am constantly telling them to wait. Wait till I am finished helping your sister, then I will help you. Wait your turn in line. Be content that it is winter. Wait patiently for Spring.

This season in my life, in some ways I feel as if God is telling me wait. Wait. I’ve got something for you to learn in this place. Wait. Learn contentment. Wait. See how I am going to move. Wait.

Wait on the Lord.