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Archive for the ‘Priorities’ Category

If you’ve been a reader of neverforsaked for any length of time, you know already that I am VERY goal oriented.  My philosophy is set a goal, (using the SMART Goals Method) break it down into small action steps,and accomplish your goal.  I’ve used goal setting for everything from starting my own business to getting daily tasks accomplished. 

I’ve been a Christian for many years, I grew up in a Christian home, but I’ve always struggled with Bible reading.  Church attendance, tithing, giving to missions, giving of my time and talents, praying-none of them have been struggles for me, they have been a natural part of my spiritual life for many years. 

I always have good intentions.  I start the year out and I read the Bible for a few days, I get busy and then I don’t pick it up for months except to go to Church.  I sit in Church and I think “I really want to read my Bible, I’m going to read it today” and then I get busy and it doesn’t happen.  I hear other people talk about what they read in the Bible and I think “I really want to start reading my Bible again.”  I’ve tried using bookmarks, Bible reading guides and even just reading one chapeter a day and I always end up with the same results.  I’ve prayed and asked God to give me the desire to read the Bible.  It’s not that I don’t have the desire, I really WANT to read it, it just seems like things just “come up” and it doesn’t get done. 

Then it dawned on me last week……Set a goal!  If you remember some of the principles from my post on “Setting Goals to Accomplish Things”   you’ll remember that if I’m making a goal out of something that isn’t currently in my schedule or routine, it has to be ‘attainable.”

That means that I’m not going to set a goal to read a book of the Bible every day.  I’m not going to set a goal to read the Bible every day this year.  Not only is that not attinable for me since I don’t do it now, but it’s also very overwhelming and discouraging because I know that if I set a goal to read my Bible every day, I’ll fall short of it and give up (again)  so following the principles of SMART goals, I set a goal to read the Bible just three times a week.  That gives me room so that if I miss a couple of days, I’m not overwhelmed.  It’s also attainable for me.  I know that most Christians are taught that they need to read the Bible EVERY day, and that’s true, but reading three days a week is so much better than what I’ve currently been reading it, and once I get the three days a week down, I can change my goal to four days a week, then five, six, and then to every day. 

See how small steps help you accomplish BIG goals?  Since I started with this goal last week, I’ve already read the book of Revelation, I’ve read through the New Testament about the Second Coming of Christ and I’m almost done with Romans.   WOW, that’s A LOT of Bible reading for someone who hasn’t been successful in this area in the past.  Now that I’ve set a goal, I look forward to spending time each evening reading a few chapters before I go to sleep.

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Ever since Grace turned 2, these words seem to come out of my mouth multiple times a day.  Grace is getting whiny, she cries about all kinds of little things, she doesn’t listen when she doesn’t want to, she wants to be the center of attention, she wants to do things that aren’t safe like run through a parking lot.  She wants EVERYTHING she sees, and EVERYTHING her friends have…….

There are days when I feel like I’ve just about had it.  My patience only goes so far, there’s only so much whining, crying and selfishness I can take before I say “Grace, get on your bed and take a time out.  DO NOT get up until the timer rings!” (I set it for 2 minutes and 30 seconds since she’s 2 now.)

Tonight, things were kind of rough…..I am a planner, and I plan things out with mental timelines and I like to stay on schedule, no waisting time.  Well, things didn’t go according to my schedule tonight.  What could go wrong did go wrong, and on top of everything Grace was crying because her movie was over.  “Does she have to cry about every little thing?” I though  while I was trying to take care of everything else that needs to get done and was falling apart in our house tonight.

I don’t generally stress out about things, If things don’t go as planned, I use plan “B” or “C.” 

I run around all day taking care of things at work, run to piano lessons, run errands, run to go get Grace, we come home and I literally run all over the house while dinner is cooking to start a load of laundry, put away the dishes and clean things up…….when things don’t go as planned, I sometimes become impatient with Grace, I get whiny…..I want things to happen the way I have them planned…..Then I had a thought…I wonder, what does my Heavenly Father see when He looks down on me? 

Does He look down and see His Child listening to Him and obeying Him without whining?  Does He see His Child wanting to be the center of attention? (OUCH!)  Does He see His Child crying over “little things?”  Does He see a child who impatiently wants to have everything that she wants?  ….Beth, you need a TIME OUT! 

I think that’s what God meant when He said “Be STILL, and KNOW that I AM GOD.”  We get so busy doing things our way.  When we want something, we impatiently buy it instead of waiting for God to bless us with someone giving it to us or finding it a much lower price.  We try to do everything in our energy instead of in His strength, and then when things don’t go as we planned them, we sit around and cry about it instead of waiting for God’s plan……….this week, I’m going to focus on being STILL and letting God be God……I’m on TIME OUT!

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If you live in the US, November 4th is Election Day this year.  Each State has elections for everything from Governor to Senators to local elections for Mayor and City Council.  On the National level, our Country will be voting for President.  I’m not going to tell you who I’m voting for or who you should vote for, but I am telling you that if you are a US Citizen who is at least 18 years old, go out and vote on election day.  If you’re not registered to vote, get registered.  Every state has it’s own registration deadlines, but most are 30 days prior to election.  You can register in person, and most states now offer on-line voter registration. 

Voting is a right and a privelidge.  Especially if you are female, you should excersize this right.  Women have been able to vote in the US for LESS than 100 years and MANY women fought hard for the rights we have as female citizens in our Country today.  My Grandma was the first generation of females in our family to have the right to vote.  That’s only 3 generations of female voters in our family.  Don’t take your rights for granted……make it a priority to vote this Election Day.

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This has been a very busy week.  As you can see, I haven’t had time to blog very much this week.  My parents are on vacation, so our routine becomes a lot different.  Grace goes to my friend Patty’s house when Grandma and Grandpa are gone, which is great, but Patty lives a lot further away than Grandma and Grandpa do, plus when they’re out of town, Grace and I house sit for them, so after I pick up Grace, it’s over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to water plants and take care of the puppy.

Yesterday, I had a whole list of things that Grace and I needed to get done, but I woke up with a terrible head ache and by noon, I was out of energy, so we laid down for a nice nap.  I had some energy after the nap, so we were able to get a few things done yesterday evening. 

Even though this week has been hectic, and yesterday didn’t go according to plan, I was thinking back to where we were last year at this time, and I have to say, last year, I was OVERWHELMED.  There was WAY too much on my plate, and I was trying to do it all.  I would push myself to do everything by waking up early and staying up late.  It absolutely WORE ME OUT. There were times I barely had the energy to give Grace a bath and climb in bed at night.  I would crash on the couch all weekend with terrible exhaustion and headaches.  “What am I going to do?”  I remember thinking to myself.  I have to do something…..this is NOT working.  My mind is constantly working on solutions and the only solution I could come up with for being overwhelmed was to SIMPLIFY my life. 

“SIMPLIFY.  That sounds good.” I thought to myself…..”But HOW am I going to do it?  It’s easier said than done.”  I went back to the drawing board and kept thinking it over and over.  My first solution was to work fewer hours.  I was working 40+ hours at work (on top of everything else, so I was putting in over 70 hours a week BEFORE I even did anything for Grace.)  “Cut back my hours?”  I thought to myself, “That’s going to put us in a hole, we need the money.”  Then I did the math.  I cut back my hours at work to 34 hours a week, and guess what?  The difference after taxes between me working 40 hours a week and 34 hours a week is around $30 a paycheck.  I would rather have the extra 24 hours a month than the $60 a month I’d make if I was working those hours.

6 hours a week doesn’t sound like a lot, but I was amazed at how much I was able to get done during that time.  It gives me time to run a couple of errands and teach a couple of piano lessons before I need to pick Grace up.  One of the best things is that when we get home, I don’t have to focus on bills that need to be paid or errands that need to be run, or piano lessons that need to be taught…….I used the time I got out of work early to do those things, and when we’re home, I can focus on Grace!  It’s so nice to be able to go home, have dinner and relax before bed. 

My #2 solution has been my long term goal of teaching piano lessons as my source of income.  I’ve worked and worked on that goal one little step at a time.  I’ve had to push myself and remind myself that even though it’s not happening as fast as I’d like it to, and even though our life right now is hectic, this is only temporary until I can teach full time.

#3, I sat down and took a look at my priorities, and where I was spending my time.  I determined that I was spending too much time on-line.  Even though I was researching things, or trying to work out details of setting up my studio, it was taking up way too much of my time, so now I limit my time on the internet.  Now, I can spend that time working on projects around the house, and playing with Grace.

So, even though this week has been a busy one…….I am thankful that I made a decision to “Simplify” my life and I am not overwhelmed any more.

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Grace and I don’t have very much time together right now.  The only time that we really get to be together is from 6-10pm and that includes dinner, bath and getting ready for bed.  We’re also together all day Saturday and Sunday (my personal favorite days of the week…can you guess why? 🙂 ) So, I like to make every moment we’re together profitable.  When I’m not at work, we do EVERYTHING together and have lots of fun along the way.  Since children learn the majority of everything from their parent(s), I feel it’s important for ME to use every opportunity I can to teach Grace the basics.  Here are some of the fun things we do to help us learn while we’re having fun.

  • I taught Grace to count by counting the stairs everytime we go up and down them (she can count to 15 on her own now.)
  • Singing the ABC’s in the car or in the tub.
  • When I dress her I say “It’s time to put your LEFT arm in”  or “Let’s put on your RIGHT shoe.” (she’s pretty good at Left and Right now.)
  • When she’s getting dressed I talk about the color her pants, shirt, shoes are.
  • We also talk about colors when playing with toys “can you hand me the YELLOW block?”  “Where is the RED ball?”
  • We play DORA Dominos together, this helps her learn to match things.
  • In the grocery store, we talk about the fruit and veggies we are seeing as we go through the produce section.
  • When we’re reading books about animals, we talk about the sounds they make.
  • We mix up cookie dough from scratch (once in awhile, not every day 🙂 ) and Grace helps measure and pour things in.  I also have her “stir” the dry ingredients.

I am amazed at how much she knows just by using every day things as teaching opportunities.  We’re also working on spelling her name to the tune of BINGO.  We sing…..

“There was a mommy had a babe and Gracie was her name-o,
 G-R-A-C-E, 
 G-R-A-C-E, 
 G-R-A-C-E,
And Gracie was her name-o!”

What are some ideas that your family does to make learning fun and effortless?

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A lot of times, people say to me, “I don’t know how you do it…..how do you get everything done?” (Other than God gives me the strength to make it through every day and every challenge, I don’t know how I “do it” either, but I don’t really stop to think about it, I just have to get it all done.)

I’ve had several single moms tell me they are discouraged because they feel like they can’t get ahead.  They feel like they’re taking 1 step forward and 2 steps backward.  I can identify.  During Grace’s first year, I felt like all I was doing was going backward and that everything in my life was “on hold”  I went to work, came home and took care of Grace and went to bed.  It was all I had the strength to do.  When I look back and see how far I’ve come in just a couple of years, it has all been because of VERY tiny baby steps.  very tiny steps (and some patience.)  A few things that have helped me are:

  • Having good cheerleaders (When people are telling you that they’re proud of you and you can do it, you begin to believe them.)
  • Writing things down. (To do lists, goals for the year, month, week, and breaking the BIG goals down into manageable steps.)
  • Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook.  Yes there have been tough times, but I choose to not let it ruin my day, or my life, I’m making a conscious choice to have a “good day” even when bad things happen.
  • Prayer.  BIG things come up that I don’t have the answers to.  Lucky for me, I know someone who does know all the answers, and He’s available 24/7.

I also got some VERY good advice from a wise single mom before Grace was born.  She told me to remember that I ALWAYS have options, I don’t ever have to feel like I’m “stuck” somewhere in life.  She told me to put things into perspective and remember that what I’m going through is only “temporary” (pregnancy, finding a job, losing weight, finding a house, making a car payment, working long hours, illnesses etc. even though it may FEEL like it takes forever.)  She told me to put Grace first above myself, and most of all she told me, “You can do it.  I did it for many years, and you can do it too.”

I cannot tell you how many times our conversation has replayed in my mind.  She gave me perspective, encouragement, empowerment, and HOPE.  In our short conversation, she inspired me to do great things with the rest of my life…….she made me realize that I had to stop floating through life day to day and come up with a long range plan or I’d never end up where I wanted to be.  I wasn’t going to happen magically overnight.

It took me awhile to sort through everything, get back on track and be able to move forward with my life, but it’s been well worth all of the time and effort.  Because of her advice to put Grace first above myself, I am living out my dream to be self-employed and have more time for being a mom.  I’m not someone who’s an extraordinary super mom.  I’m just a single mom who loves her little one and wants to be the best mom I can be.  I’m not someone who has fairy dust in her back pocket to make everything turn out “Happily Everafter”  I’m just working on my goals little by little.  But I am someone who is telling you that no matter where you are in life and no matter where you want to be, with a little bit of determination, goal setting and extra effort…..YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!

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Summer is well underway, and I thought I’d share with you all a few of the inexpensive things that Grace and I do together to have fun.

  • McDonald’s Playland-(Air Conditioned fun!)
  • Playing in the Pool (in our back yard)
  • Playing at the Park
  • Taking walks, looking for birds, dogs, airplanes, etc.
  • Having a picnic in the backyard
  • Playing “hide & seek”
  • Chasing each other around the yard
  • Playdough!
  • Baking together
  • Decorating cookies
  • Bubbles!
  • Playing with balloons
  • Having a “Camp out” before bed
  • Singing fun songs together
  • Watching Parades
  • Fireworks
  • Storytime (at the library or at home)

These are just  a few of the things we have done this summer to have fun together…..having fun doesn’t have to cost very much money, the most important thing is spending time together.  I love spending time with Grace.  Many times she says to me before bed “Mom, you are my BEST friend”  We have so much fun together, whether it’s piggy back rides or sharing a bowl of Ice Cream, it’s good just to spend time together, and that’s the important thing…..she is growing up so quickly, that I feel it’s important for us to make good memories and spend time together now, otherwise I’ll turn around and she’ll be off to college.

I can’t wait to hear your ideas for having fun together without spending a fortune.

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