July 05, 2010

summer ideas- share your excess!!

{this is a post where i pour out my brain... feel free to skim!!}

So, Last WEEK, my mind was focused on my HUGE thinking shift...  
Scarcity mentality to Excess mentality.

-i brought 4 suburbans full of stuff to my Philippine friends... i told them to give anything they didn't want to Goodwill.  (they have been taking monthly trips to Goodwill to buy things to ship...)

-i organized LOTS of my house and i can honestly say it is different this time...
i'm getting rid of enough stuff that it STAYS clean.  EVEN MY GIRLS' ROOM.
my problem was not organization, it was EXCESS.
the girls had too much stuff in their drawers so they couldn't keep them clean.  now, it's simple.
my problem, i was in a SCARCITY mentality... i kept a lot, because i felt like my kids already didn't have enough clothes so why would i be getting rid of clothes that they could still wear.
Now, i have a complete EXCESS mentality...  we have SO much.  So much that it is embarrassing.  I am grateful for the opportunity to give to others that need.  I feel this in every area of my life...  I am constantly making little bags of stuff that I can give to people that I know with young children...
even baby clothes... i usually keep mine because i'm not done having babies.  the truth is... my clothes get out-dated.  i really don't need 40 0-3 month outfits.  and, when i have a new baby, i usually buy a few new outfits for him to wear anyway.  when i go through my clothes with an excess mentality, i find so many things that i could give to someone else for the baby they are dressing right now.
i'm still sentimental, and i still have lots of kids, so, i do still keep things... honestly, you can tell i've gotten rid of a lot... but, if you looked at my craft room, you'd still think i had a lot of fabric.  you'd still think my girls have a lot of clothes.  it's a MENTALITY.  and today, i KNOW i have SO MUCH and EXTRA TO SHARE.
Josie said, "In Philippines, we never throw away our leftovers.  We just cook a little, one course, and if there is more than we can eat, we bring it to our neighbors."  This rings over and over in my ears.

-i'm buying less.  even though i keep a lot with the intent to use it... i usually buy stuff that i need instead of use what i have.  because, most of the time i can't FIND what i have... or it's not exactly what i want.  i'm changing and i'm really trying to stay home, create from my resources and make do with what i have.  EVEN IN MY PANTRY.  do you know how much i just buy at the grocery store?  My pantry is pretty organized, but even in that organization, i have a lot of stuff.
{like 20 boxes of Jell-O that i NEVER remember to make; 15 seasoning packets for taco's, beef stew, curry chicken, biscuits and gravy; bags of beans that i always buy and have never once cooked; barley;  etc, etc, etc}
i'm done with this excess...
so, i'm planning my meals around the extra in my pantry.  i want to use up the weird stuff and then keep it simple.
if i buy a seasoning packet, i will use it that week.
Buy less... Use what i have.
i know, this is NEW stuff right?!
it just take me awhile to have stuff sink in.

And, last week, my HEART was focused on a SERVING mentality.

-the problem with house cleaning, is that it has a tendency to become all consuming and it is SO SELFISH.
yes.  it's for your family.
but really, i think it is a tool of Satan to keep good woman distracted from loving others and reaching out.
even distracted from loving our own children who we use as the justification for our excessive house cleaning.
Our houses are cleaner today then they have ever been in the history of the world.
{except perhaps in houses that had slaves... and even then, the masters house may have been clean, but the slaves quarters were less-than-desirable...}
And, we are far less likely to entertain guests, have family members move in with us, know our neighbors.
We get distracted by higher and higher levels of cleanliness and are embarrassed for people to see that our houses are lived in.
i am guilty of this.  and ashamed of this.
so... i really make a point of not letting my home keep me from serving...
i force myself to reach out to others and amazingly, my home is fine...
it's the same as if i would have spent all day cleaning it, and i feel good about myself.

{{when i go to my friends house and see that it is messy... i LOVE them more.  for real.  it is hard for me to be friends with "perfect people".  so, why do i have to bite my tongue hard to not apologize for my mess??  i dunno?!}}

so, with a calculated effort to NOT wait till my organization was finished before i reached out,

-i invited 2 wards to come swim in my [neighborhood] pool and have a pot luck lunch.  on a day that it rained.  one boy split his head open doing a backwards cannonball.  the ambulance came.  he got over 100 stitches.  poor, poor boy.  miraculous plastic surgeon.  i don't think i'll invite that big of a group over again.

-i brought dinner to 2 families (sweet friend who just had her 7th baby, 2 months early; and sweet friend who spent the day in the emergency room, in her swim suit.)

-we had a good friend stay with us for a night...  and i FORGOT to have him sign our signature linen.  i'm so mad about that.  (love you brobergs!!  maybe we'll be neighbors again someday)

-we had a baby shower at our house for 3 woman from primary...
oh, i had grand plans for this shower, it ended up lovely and just fine
{my kids and i hot glued white pom poms onto yarn for a cute garland.  it was so cute, but when i went to hang it up it was a BIG KNOT.  i spent 40 minutes trying to untangle it and finally just gave up... oh, my sweet pom pom garland that never was.  AND, i made a white chocolate covered chex mix.  only, i was dumb, and just poured all the melted chocolate over the mix and stuck it in the fridge to harden.  yes.  it hardened.  into a big solid lump.  when i went to pour it into my white bowl, it wouldn't budge.  turns out you're supposed to let it harden on wax paper and then combine it.  my friends laughed at the white chocolate pieces all over the floor- evidence of my wrestle with the chex mix).
overall, the shower was a really nice chance to get to know woman i go to church with that i didn't know before...
grand plans... sweet reality

-i sewed 2 dresses {for leah and anna}, cut out a new white temple dress for me, and made 6 baby blankets {just soft flannel or minky on one side and cotton on the other, with a embroidered name on the corner.  so cute!  thanks for the idea Ashley!!}

-i spent my organizing hours on the phone with sweet friends and uplifting conversation {thanks to taneil, rebekah and my mom} my poor neck!!

-i planned and canceled a 4th of july camping trip {due to rain}  thanks for the invite Partingtons!!

-i planned and canceled a fun invite to the 4th of July parade {yes, i'm a fair-weathered friend} thanks for the invite Stevens!!

-i went to my church for THREE hours, and then stayed for the NEXT service to help interpret ASL for the deaf sisters in that ward.  I was asked to interpret Sunday School, which is the second hour.  I usually just sit on the couches in the foyer for the ending of the first hour and then go to Sunday School.  But, yesterday, I felt like I should go into Sacrament Meeting.  The second time I felt that prompting, I just went in, thinking I'd sit in the back and listen to the service.  I was surprised to see that no interpreter was in that meeting.  There was a sister trying to write out the meeting with a pen and paper.  I went to the front and was able to interpret.  Surprised and grateful that I had heard and acted upon that small prompting.  God knew I could help.  

-we had a fun 4th of July dinner with sweet friends, Whitby's and McCombs...  the kids went outside and watched fireworks in the street...  my girls tried on every outfit of sweet 5 year old Laurens... we left a mess, but loved the company.  Thanks again Mira!  {i know it isn't easy to invite over a family of 8!!} 

overall, i feel my week was full.

{{when i read over this blog, after i'd posted it, i was tempted to take this part out...  i didn't, for example, include the many quarrels that i calmed, the days that we didn't have scripture time, the areas of my home that are NOT clean and orderly, the times that i prayed and prayed for empathy for todd's dissertation when i want to scream at him to come home and bail me out because i get in WAY over my head...  
and, i didn't include the list of 100 things people did as service for me...  the people who watched my kids, brought me homemade bread, shared wisdom, sent me emails with recipes and ideas, taught me to sew for real, BAILED me out when i got in over my head-- thanks todd!  yes, he stayed home all day on Thursday, the day of my baby shower, to help me organize all of our papers and clean up.  he traded me for all day Saturday.  it was PERFECT.  i didn't tell you about the sweet friend who sent me a card with coupons to McDonald's and Bahama Bucks, this is how i could send my kids out to eat while i set out the food for my baby shower.  i am so blessed by the selfless service of SO MANY.  the service i did last week may not have been the most needed or the most helpful,.  i did what i felt i should do.  little things that required me to stretch.
i am choosing NOT to delete this list because, i didn't write it to tell the world how great i was last week.  
--i'm not great, just normal... and, you would be surprised how much you do in a week if you wrote it all out.
i wrote this blog as my testimony.  to myself.  so i will remember.  I can serve more than i think i can.  I can help others even when I feel like someone should be serving me.  I can give to others even when I think I need...  I have learned that I do have excess.  Enough stuff, Enough skill, Enough time, Enough food.  Enough and EXTRA.  I can serve.  I can invite people over.  I can reach out.  Even on the days, ESPECIALLY on the days when I'm feeling sorry for myself.  Something magical happens when i reach out...  I HATE making meals for my family, when it's just a humdrum necessary task. --i know that's a horrible thing to say--  I LOVE making extra to bring to someone else.  i LOVE planning a FUN meal or a really healthy meal, or cooking for company, or making a birthday dinner, or sprinkling parsley in the sour cream so it looks pretty... and that's why i serve.  with all my heart.  i feel joy when i'm serving and frustration when i'm just surviving.  yes, i cycle in my service.  sometimes i tell myself that i am doing to much, that i need to scale back and just focus on my family.  and, sometimes that is important.  but, i am not happier when i just focus on my family.  my family is not more functional when i just focus on my family.  i truly believe that when i am willing to serve, God expands my capacity, He expands my Joy and He blesses my home with peace and joy.  Not when i serve begrudgingly, not when i allow anxiety to be an excuse for my contention... but, when I serve with gratitude and peace and joy... i am better than i am when i focus only on my family.  Women who know, do less.  Less decorations, more getting together with woman.  Less fancy meals, more friendly meals.  Less washing windows, more smiling at the fingerprints.  Less perfect hand-outs for Sunday School, more spiritual study and preparation.  I can do less trying to appear perfect, and more service with a pure, perfect heart.  when it comes to service, i believe we all can do more.  a sweet friend of mine reminded me once, "the only things we can take with us when we die are the BONDS that we make with others." i love this.  and, i really try to overcome my natural tendency to turn inward... this week, i think it's all about bonds.}}

what about my kids?
they are doing well.
we have productive mornings and free afternoons.
i have been organizing in the afternoons.
we have scripture time, chores and practice in the morning.
i've had them pick something to CREATE as part of their morning jobs.  that's fun.
and, they all help make lunch.
i really let them have free time all afternoon.
they have downloaded Hanna Montana on Netflix and have watched MUCH hanna.
i remember ellie's joy when she clicked on season one.  "Look Mom!  26 episodes!!"
the professor and i like hanna.
i heard billy ray said he wouldn't do the show if they made the kids smarter than the dad.
so, he always wins.  hanna always learns a lesson.  and, they aren't sassy to their parents.
yes.  we have probably had Screen watching excess last week.  i'm tempted to say this week is NO SCREEN week.
but honestly, i don't want the mess that their creative play makes.
maybe next week, when i'm finished doing the food for youth conference.

Yesterday, I had a couple sweet moments where I was reminded that my service is blessing the lives of my children.

First- Ellie and Anna shared their testimony at church.  Anna does often.  Her testimony was sweet, she told about a time when her grandma had cancer and lost her hair.  how she prayed and fasted for her, and now she is better.  Ellie told about our friend who split his head open.  She only spoke a little, she told how she could see his skull and then just started to cry.  I went up beside her and told the miracles that he received, how he got a blessing and was able to sit AWAKE, while they stitched his head back together for over an hour.  What a miracle it was that he didn't have a cracked skull.  How Ellie prayed in the car and felt peace.  It was a sweet moment for Ellie and for all of us who could feel her concern, faith and gratitude.  Sweet Ellie.

Second- My friend Josie shared her testimony about coming to America and getting courage from God to make friends.  She talked about coming to our home and said that she hopes Jakob and Drew will someday come to her country on a mission.  That afternoon, Jakob told me he hopes he goes to the Philippines on his mission, because he loves the food {??!}.  He said, "Mom, when I'm saving up money to pay for my mission, I'm going to save an extra couple hundred dollars.  And then, I'm going to buy some fabric to take with me."
Sweet boy. 

This week, my week is full again.  
The professor is frantically trying to finish up his dissertation proposal (he's been up at school till 10pm the past few nights and will probably be late again this week).  And, I'm in charge of Youth Conference meals dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch- for 100.
I'm really trying not to stress about it.
I'm pretty good at not stressing.
but, this scares me.
Today, my kids and I are going to make 100 smiley faced sugar cookies.  i think it will be fun, but i'm nervous because i'm not a baker and i don't want them to look homemade.
{i found this website- bake at 350* for great tips}
I don't want to loose this week with my kids while i stress about food... so i'm making a point of DOING something each day with them... park, pool, library, movies, etc.
This is going to be hard for me.  Cause i'm stressing a bit.
Honestly.  everything will be work out.  it probably won't be as perfect as i hope it will be.
but ultimately, it will be great.

Life is good.
I am so BLESSED.
We all are so blessed.
Blessed to live here in America.
Blessed to have people we love and people who love us.
Blessed to have all the COMFORTS of life.
Blessed to have good food, entertainment and education.
Blessed to have busy summer days and lazy summer days.
Blessed to have siblings and children and extended family.  Neighbors and Friends.
Blessed to have a Heavenly Father who knows us, who loves us, who lets us grow and become.
Blessed to have a Savior who already died to make up for the areas where we fall short, who loves and forgives, always.  Who takes our water and turns it into exquisite wine.
Blessed to have the guidance of the Holy Spirit each day to guide us and whisper the little things we can do to love and serve.
Blessed to have scripture and words of wisdom from modern-day leaders who help to guide us direct us...
{want to listen to a great mom "enjoy the moments" talk-- go here}
Blessed to be able to serve.

Today.  I am so grateful.


Heather said...

great thoughts. our problem is excess too. i'm in scarcity thought-process too. sigh... loads of sorting to do around here. i've been trying to get to it for - oh, like 2 years. time to buckle down and make it happen... for everyone's sake.

you do so many good things with your family. good luck this week!

Teachinfourth said...

I know what you mean about having excess…

I do have to say that hearing that you interpret ASL brought a smile to my face. I used to do that in a ward I attended 7 or 8 years ago. I didn't know a lot of the signs, but could get the point across and it was also a lot of fun.

The meeting goes so much quicker that way, too.

BTW, if you find yourself with too many smiley faced cookies...

Taneil said...

Just perfectly said Jen. You are an amazing writer and really explain what we all feel! Love you

The Davis Family Three said...

Loved your post Jen. Thanks for sharing your efforts to serve.

beckyjune said...

I have been feeling the urge to purge lately. Like I want to go through each room of the house and just get rid of stuff. We are hoarders, saving things for "just in case" even though that time may never come; saving clothes just in case we get to have another kid, though that might not happen, either. So, I'm going to start sorting and getting rid of things and I think it will help so much in the housekeeping department. thanks so much, Jen, for always being so insightful, for sharing things that a lot of us are concerned about, too.

Tiffany said...

I am so glad you are back!!! (Back to your blog, that is... I missed your posts last week!:-)) Thank you for sheltering & feeding my husband--you guys are awesome. I guess we just have to come back to sign the tablecloth?!? Good luck w/youth conference.

And, as always, thanks for the words of wisdom. *sigh* LOVE and MISS you!!!

ashley said...

um... i love you. yup. it's true.

thank you for the insights. this is just what i needed to read tonight! so much to ponder... but i really love this - "i feel joy when i'm serving and frustration when i'm just surviving." - and have been feeling that frustration. Thanks for helping me pinpoint why. i love hearing about your darling kids and tender moments - and I'm glad there were miracles that you got to witness and share with your kids. and I'm so happy the blankets worked out for you! :) we get to speak in church this coming week... on service. and you have captured many of my random thoughts into a cohesive post. magically.!? as always. thank you. {hugs}

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...