Tips on Becoming a ‘semi’ Minimalist, etc. (part 2 of 2)

Cont. from part 1 ‘Throughout the process of eliminating debt I began to feel a weight lifted with every bill paid off…and I wanted “more”….more of that feeling, so I began to purge belongings.

Over the years (and especially during that time of paying off financial debt) my relationship with Jesus was growing and as I read scripture like, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,’ I realized that ‘stuff’ and following Jesus don’t go hand in hand.

It’s a lot of maintenance to keep stuff:

  • It breaks and if you’re that attached you find yourself glueing parts back together that will never be the same in the end anyways.
  • It needs dusted.
  • It multiplies and takes up space, creating clutter.
  • It gets outdated.

I started weeding out belongings first by telling my mom to get rid of all that junk of mine she had at her house from when I was growing up. I figured if I hadn’t missed it over all these years chances are I wouldn’t and had no use for it anymore. So it went away without me thinking twice about it..except the baseball cards..I still have the darn baseball cards.

In my own home I went through and got rid of anything that seemed cheap or cheesy. Things I hadn’t used in months could go too.

This is something I still do at least twice a year (purging) and usually just one room at a time.

I want to be able to appreciate my decor, not be overwhelmed by the sight or burdened by the upkeep. Less is more in this case. It allows you to focus and enjoy your blessings.

To sell, toss, or donate once I decide I don’t want it anymore??…

Anything that has some value I sell on my mom’s Facebook account. Anything that is broken or stained I throw away. Anything that is still nice looking and usable (but I don’t want to mess with selling) I donate to second-hand stores.

MY ADVICE: Take inventory!

Get rid of things you have too much of!

For example our family of five has seven bath towels in our home. There’s no need for more than what you need or will use.

Saucepans: 1 large, 2 medium, 2 small

Skillets: 1 large, 1 medium, 1 small

Large soup pots: 1 tall, 1 short

We don’t need a dozen towels, pots or pans, coffee mugs, mixing bowls, etc when chances are we’re only going to use so many at one time.

I feel like blankets are another thing that accumulates easily in our house. Instead of four-plus blankets the kids are now each allowed only two. There’s no reason for more than that. We keep a few in storage for guests and from time to time I make sure the blanket area hasn’t surpassed its allotted number, apparently that’s a popular gift we receive.

I’m also trying to be more attentive to buying quality items as well...(thanks Nathan)!

For the longest time I was buying plastic containers and then when spaghetti sauce or something similar would stain the dish I would get annoyed by how gross they looked so I would throw them out and buy new. Now I’ve purchased glass containers with dark lids to store those types of foods; and plastics are still used but only for foods that won’t stain.

I try to decorate with simple, practical things that serve a purpose and echo the word ‘timeless’…by doing this I’m saving money in not trying to keep up with the latest trends.

Financially we have our necessity bills only: house payment, electric, insurance, and phones…thanks to Covid an internet bill until the kids aren’t at a chance of needing it, and then I’ll waste no time canceling it!!! Can’t wait!!

Using a budget and set amount in cash envelopes (for groceries, fuel, animals, and fun money) each pay check has allowed us to grow our savings account.

For phones we use a tracfone (Straightalk) at $45 a month with unlimited texting and talk and 25 GB of high speed internet.

We don’t do home internet (typically) or cable etc. because we don’t have time for it or an interest. Instead we lift weights (at home), play card games, read, play catch outside, or get creative for entertainment and family memories.

I understand many people enjoy tv programs etc. and that’s fine, do what works for you!!!

I know groceries can get expensive so to save on cost in that area we eat a lot of chicken and use turkey burger instead of beef (sorry cattlemen, I’m saddened by this too). Steaks? — ya well the only ones we ever see are the ones you poke in the ground.

We eat very clean and healthy…lots of fruits and veggies and manage to feed two gluten free people (which isn’t a cheap option) all while maintaining a $400 a month grocery budget. That amount covers not just food items but toilet paper, soaps, other bathroom essentials, etc.

No soda pop or Little Debbie snacks make their way into this home unless grandparents have spoiled their grandkids..that’s the only exception!❤️

I use the Walmart grocery app to order groceries that way I have more control of my spending habits in that way.

The animal’s food budget is $50 a month: feeding three rabbits, five chickens, two kittens, and three small dogs.

When purchasing material items I try to keep in mind a few questions — Is it good quality? Does it serve a purpose? Do I have a place for it? Is it going to end up in storage or a donate pile soon?

Y’all, the bottom line is that none of this is perfected by us; just a few weeks ago during my quarantine I went to our storage room (curse those anyways!!!) to where many unused items had collected and although it was easy to take them to the second hand store or toss some of them, I wondered how in the world we even had all of that and where had it nested beforehand??

Purging and organizing is an ongoing process. It takes time and self control to take these steps, and even encouragement from others!

Organizing…like items should stay together and never overpopulate their space.

Keepsakes…my kids are each allowed a large tub and can keep (as they’re growing up) anything meaningful in there (stuffed animals, awards, crafts). Sometimes if they’ve grown tired of something they’ll toss it to place something new in there, never overflowing their box. I use a wooden hope chest with the same process for myself.

When it comes to memorabilia or hand-me-downs from loved ones (especially those who’ve passed) it can be tough to make a call on ‘keep or toss’. If that piece means so much to you because it truly helps you feel closer to your loved one then by all means ABSOLUTELY KEEP IT!!! But if it doesn’t mean anything to you and you’re only hanging on to it for their sake, let it go. It’s not your beloved “memory-treasure” of them.

None of those things will bring our loved one’s back unfortunately.

Stuff is just simply that…stuff!! It’s never as good as our memories…those are the true keepers.

So while considering materialistic things and deciding what stays or goes remember that our memories and relationships deserve the most attention. Those can be built to last, they won’t fall apart if you mutually cover them in love, they grow more cherished with age, and they are the true and most important gift that keeps giving!!

Guys, if you’ve made it this far chances are you’re passionate or interested about this just like me. This post is waaayyy too long, but I hope you’ve found it helpful.

Message me with your own tips, advice or questions!!!

In the meantime, Happy Purging!!

Take me to part 1 Becoming a (semi) Minimalist

Becoming a ‘semi’ Minimalist, etc. (part 1 of 2)

Here’s the promised post some of you have been looking forward to.😊 BTW I’m out of quarantine — never got sick and honestly loved the time I had at home to organize, relax, and study! It was good for my soul.

Okay I know the title is misleading because while ‘minimalist’ refers to less, ‘etc.’ means more!! BUT here’s the deal, in effort to not overwhelm on a minimalist post 😅, I’ll split this into a two part post. Part 1 (today) I’ll dish out my spiral-story of minimizing on “stuff”, and part 2 (tomorrow) will include tips to help you do the same if you’re looking to declutter.

Disclaimer: I’ve named this post ‘semi’ minimalist and I want to explain — here’s the deal, if you’ve ever watched tv programs on tiny living there are some super extremist out there!! And I kind of admire that, BUT the reality (for me) is that I have a family and I need my life to work and make sense, so maybe I could minimize more here or there but we also need to be able to function decently at the Witt house so this ‘semi‘-minimalist-living is what works for us…

Mostly I receive positive comments or compliments from family and friends when they come over and see my home’s decor or lack there of. Even people have commented on the blog when they see pictures of my house’s content.

People are interested (maybe even sub-consciously) — in less distraction, tidiness, and clean design these days from what I’ve learned. The interest of thinning out can be overwhelming though — not taking action is sometimes a lack of knowing where to begin but having a strong desire to do so.

The enthusiasm has caused me to write this very post to help encourage the fervor.

For me I was always a collector growing up — those creepy little troll dolls, knick-knacks, baseball cards, collector Barbies, etc, etc, etc…

I’ve shared about my adversity as a child and I’m pretty certain collecting (for me) was a coping mechanism. I must have felt security through my stuff and I had a lot of it.

When I left for college I took some of the knick-knack things with me and left a good portion of the rest at home where I grew up.

In my twenties, once Nate and I were married, I began adding pots and pans, wall hangings, holiday decor, craft supplies, etc…

It didn’t stop there. I remember when Nate started getting his first paychecks from the job he’s still working at. It was good money and that was something neither of us had growing up so after the bills were paid every paycheck, we’d spend the rest on this and that — I don’t even know what we’d spend it on but we were definitely living paycheck to paycheck at that point.

In our late twenties we had over $10,000 worth of credit card debt, and another $8000 wrapped up in college debt, some odd amount on a personal loan, plus a car loan or maybe two, on top of a house payment.

One day, when I went to pay a credit card bill, I paid attention to the interest rate!!

Ouch!!

Our interest amount was of course higher than the monthly payment. I was like ‘umm we probably better do something about this!’….so I did the only financial thing I knew to do “best”…

I got another credit card!!

Only this time it was a zero percent interest card and I transferred everything from the other credit cards over and we began power paying that single credit card payment and stopped spending frivolously (tips will be provided in the follow-up post).

I was beginning the process of minimizing without even realizing it.

I’d also picked up on the Dave Ramsey financial plan from a few friends. I never purchased the program but learned enough about it to utilize the idea to my own advantage — power pay bills and use a cash envelope budget for grocery, fuel, and fun money.

Around that time Nathan (thank God) got two large bonus checks and rather than blowing them on junk, we paid off debt. So between the bonus checks and the Dave Ramsey budgeting we paid off everything except a car payment within a few years…the car is now paid off too.

Slow learners…shortly afterwards we bought a camper on a loan and kept it until this past summer, selling it and eliminating that payment.

We now have a house payment only!!!

Throughout the process of eliminating debt (and starting a savings account) I began to feel a weight lifted with every bill paid off…and I wanted “more”….more of that feeling, so I began to purge belongings.

Tomorrow we’ll digger deeper and get into the physical process of keeping, saving, selling, or donating stuff; and hopefully if you’ve felt the desire to change things up a bit in your home and spending habits you’ll be able to gain some insight!

You can leave a comment if there’s anything you hope to see included; because while I’ve spent time on putting this together in what I feel is simple form, I’m hoping I haven’t overlooked any tips (for tomorrow). I’ll try to include whatever suggestions I get, along with my own tips in part 2.

See ya tomorrow in part 2 (Tips on Becoming a ‘semi’ Minimalist).

Reopening my Etsy Shop on Day 11 of Quarantine

Last week I wrote about my run-in with (or exposure to) Rona which threw me into a 14-day home quarantine.

So far I’ve managed to dodge the bullet and I’m at day 11 still feeling well; no symptoms means no getting tested. Been there, done that with my nursing home hair job as they have to test employees once a month and trust me if you haven’t been tested there is absolutely nothing flattering about someone shoving a six-plus-inch stick up your nose. I don’t think it actually goes six inches or whatever up there BUT nevertheless my brain feels like it wants to sneeze each time afterwards!!

Anyway quarantine hasn’t been bad but I’m also a homebody so I don’t mind, plus it’s cooled off a bit my way so I’m good staying indoors. My homeschooled girl, Mc, on the other hand is chomping at the bit to get out of the house and go somewhere… ‘like to grandma’s or (her friend) Quency’s’…I hear that at least three times a day!!

So what have I been up to during my time of quarantine you might ask?

Well I’ve organized the pantry, created a simple laundry system for my way-too-small laundry area, re-situated the baskets and their contents in our linen closet, cleaned out and tidied the basement storage room, sanitized surfaces a half a dozen times each day…

Y’all I’m feeling well accomplished!!

That basement storage room was no small task! Boxes of clothes, boxes of junk, boxes of nothing, bags of this and that…stuff collects and builds quickly and I’m not a fan.

When I get out of hock (actually quarantine has been wonderful) my first outing will be to the second hand store to drop off this mess of collections. Technically it’s all still good stuff, it’s just things I’ve grown tired of or the kids have outgrown etc….In a future post I plan to write about getting rid of things and not feeling bad about it, and really just getting to the point of minimal-izing (I might have made that word up).

Sorry mom if anything’s in there that you’ve given to me over the years.

Minimalism is something I’m hugely passionate about!!….But it wasn’t always that way…so if you’ve ever felt in the same boat, take heart, there is hope! I’ll be sharing (in an upcoming post) some of the things that have helped me to throw out “stuff” without feeling like I’m throwing my heart out with them!! Stay tuned for that one!!

OK so in my title I mentioned that I am re-opening my Etsy shop….

I’ll explain. Along with deep cleaning in the basement storage room I had to look my jewelry making supplies right in the eye because they share the same space. I felt like it was taunting me….‘what a waste of money…think of the possibilities…Christmas is right around the corner…’

Sooooo two days ago I took the initiative to clean up that space, hammer out a few pieces of metal, and relist some of my items on my Etsy shop.

Rustic Looks Etsy Shop

I actually plan to open an Instagram account as well which is scary — actually terrifying to me. I like simple and practical so the idea of having a few more social media platforms to operate is somewhat intimidating to me.

However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during 2020 it’s that life is so unpredictable and with that neither of my jobs (substitute teacher or nursing home hair stylist) are providing a stable income. I’ve decided I’m going to make an effort to get a bit more serious about jewelry making and other odds and ends that I may list on Etsy to create a little extra cash flow on my end. Aside from Instagram I’ll advertise on Pinterest as well. That’s one I use already but not necessarily for the benefit of advertising so that’ll be an adventure in itself too!

As I write this post so many motivating Bible verses come to mind but there’s one I want to settle on and highlight:

Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

That verse encourages me to do what I feel called to do but also (and most importantly) to just simply trust that God is in control no matter what.

The things we dive into, get involved with, create or take interest in may very well flop — they quite literally may. We’ve seen, and hopefully learned, in 2020 that plans change and uncertainty exist — yet even then God is ALWAYS strong, dependable, and His love is steadfast. He never wanes. Ever.

It’s okay and healthy to have the mindset of motivation as we want to release from what might feel like a gripping year BUT ‘motivation that is moved by Him who leads’ is what will bring us through.

As I venture out to re-open my Etsy shop I want my motivation to be stirred and moved by God. I want to listen and follow His lead. I want even Rustic Looks Etsy Shop to bring glory to Him.

Thanks for reading! Take care!

Rustic Looks Etsy Shop

**Feel free to browse Rustic Looks and share on your social media avenues. Adding new items frequently.

**We give 10% of all sales to charity.

Day 4 of Quarantine

Well hello there!

First off allow me to explain the title to this post. Yes I’m in a fourteen day quarantine, homebound for the next week and a half. I was exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid recently therefore I have to do the “stay-home” procedure — ordered by our local health department.

As of now I’m feeling alright so I may end up getting out of the woods without a hitch. I do have a high chance of ending up positive so we’re trying to take necessary precautions here in the Witt household. Sanitizing like crazy, social distancing from my family, even masking up in my own home.

It’s such an uncanny feeling.

Here’s a selfie of Nate and I — social distance rule breaking…(Nate’s being a smart aleck with the mask FYI)

I even got shunned to the living room with a twin size mattress while Nate gets the king size bed and our room. I’m still trying to figure out how that makes sense so please don’t judge us.

I’ll explain the no-couch situation some day in a future post…

A few random facts & thoughts:

1. I’ve noticed our ceiling fans and light fixtures REALLY need dusted….but maybe that should wait, don’t want to agitate the lungs by chance…

2. The lady from the health department suggested I have a bathroom separate from the family so I wasted zero time and kicked the girls right out of theirs and took it over as my own!

3. Having my very own bathroom is really nice!!!! I never imagined I would enjoy it this much!!!

4. Sometimes I find myself in the bathroom taking mask breaks.

5. Wednesday morning’s conversation with my husband:

Me (in a muffled voice behind my mask): Hey Nate could you let Max out?

Nathan (whining): Aaaahhhh!!! I have to be a mom and a dad!!

Me: uhh….When did you turn into a mom?

Nathan: Well I have to let the dogs out and make food by myself now!

….Not sure when those two duties ever fell under the “mom-only” category!!?

6. Black Rifle Pumpkin coffee is magical when you mix it with Caramel Macchiato creamer.

7. A research statistic shows 70% of people who tested positive for Covid were faithfully wearing a mask…..so am I producing Rona for myself as I sport my mask within my home?…hmmm…

8. I kinda want to get Rona just to get it done and over with.

9. A close friend of mine texted this the other day, “once you get out of jail (or vacation depending how you look at it) we should get together.”

…Yes please!!!

And this is exactly where I want to turn for a devotional reflection today.

You see, my friend’s words have coated my heart with peace and a goal because the reality is that I have the choice in how I want to view this time.

Jail or vacation…what will my perspective be of it?

And the answer I’m choosing is not to view it as jail, not to count the negatives (and there definitely are some) but rather to focus on the REAL “positives”….like me getting my own bathroom, because that’s been cool.

Lol, no on a serious note though there’s true good in this time of being confined to the house.

As with anything, I can sit (stuck in quarantine) and still praise God because He is good and faithful when I consider that then who am I to even begin to complain. He is who He is, no matter my situation or condition. My circumstances (or yours) don’t ever change who God is.

That truth alone is so soothing to my mind and heart.

Check out some of Paul’s words in the New Testament:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ…I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly. (Ephesians 1:3, 16)

Because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. (Philippians 1:14)

You guys!! Paul was writing those words while literally under house arrest in Rome for preaching Jesus’ name and falling into some religious disputes over it…and yet look at his remarkable encouragement!!

Those words weren’t recorded just to fill up space but rather to fulfill a purpose. I think the beauty and importance in Paul’s frame of mind is that we have the choice to adopt that same mindset for our very own.

Y’all we’re living in some tough times, where we could ALL benefit from a positive perspective. Just the idea of the election and the shape of our nation seems so eerie and off to me this time (regardless of who wins)…like unsettling.

I’m so thankful Jesus is my partner; because of my faith my heart feels prepared.

I can’t imagine life without Him and I hurt for those who don’t have their hope placed in Christ. It’s a mystery to me how people do life without God as their source of guidance and protection. With that I can count it as gain that He is in control and the ultimate leader no matter which way our country heads. I don’t have to worry over the outcome. He is the calm to the crazy.

Side note: Having said that, I’ve done my research and I’m confident in who I’m voting for!! Likewise, I want to encourage you to study up and be sure to vote! I don’t care how mouthy either candidate gets in debating — one has some better morals and values and it doesn’t take much digging to find out who.

This isn’t meant to sound like a political post but rather to encourage in undeniably wild times.

Friends, fear and negative thinking don’t have to be a part of our daily routine. There is magnificent hope when we’re fixed on Jesus — when a mess swirls around us or the unexpected takes up residency within our own homes, work, or lives —even then, we can choose to be optimistic by relying on Jesus!

Though this world is troubled, He is still in control and seated on the throne.

John 16:33 says this: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

When we turn to God we find stability, security, and support to wipe away the mundane parts of life that long to overwhelm us.

A positive mentality, focused on Christ and His words of truth, ‘trumps’ the disorder and unforeseen in our lives — every single time.

Scripture proves itself so. The answers to our problems and the encouragement needed are written and found there-in. Join me by opening your Bible each day and pouring comfort and hope into your heart…it’s just what the Great Physician ordered for each of us. How will you respond?

Take care,

Alicia

Use the (Clipper) Guard…

Oh boy I’m almost ashamed to write this — but last Thursday was, as usual, hair day at the nursing home for me. I showed up physically prepared but for some reason my haircuts on the residents weren’t going smoothly. It was, as some say, literally a bad hair day.

Friends, I knew it was bad when an elderly, frail man took a seat and I began buzzing what little hair was there. While free-handing with my little clippers and no attached guard I got a bit too close and scalped the poor fella!! …Just a little area but scalped nevertheless.

Most are probably familiar with clipper guards but if not I’ll quickly elaborate. Guards are used as an attachment on clippers and quite handy when you’re cutting the hair real short. They act as sort of a safety method and help control how long or short the haircut will be…that is if you choose to use them…

Immediately after my haircut-foul my mind raced to the fact that we don’t have to do life on the edge, nor solo, or at risk — instead God acts as our guard.

Check out these verses; the first one uses the word ‘guard’ and the other ones strongly imply it’s importance.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” —2 Thessalonians 3:3

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” —Psalm 3:3-5

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” —Psalm 32:7

The following Sunday when our pastor gave his message I sat in awe as his words on healthy boundaries poured over my heart. It was so similar to where my mind had been focused in light of concentrating on that one simple yet profound word: guard.

God longs to guard our minds and our hearts over fears, hurt, and failures but we must be willing to attach to Him. Just like I have a choice in using or not using the guard on my haircutting clippers (taking the chance of styling a bad hair day if I refuse to use one) we have one of the most important choices each and every day…will we attach to God as our guard or risk going alone?

The beautiful thing is that even when we choose against His guard and end up in regret it’s still never too late…

Remember I mentioned my neglect of using the clipper guard on my little old man, well I was thankfully able to blend over the hair and cover up my mistake to the point the haircut looked normal.

Consider the idea that at times we try and do life without God yet once we become aware of our egotism and call upon Him He is quick to come to the rescue, saving us from ourselves and stepping in as our guard. Every. Single. Time…no questions asked. Surely the best form of God’s guard shows up through Jesus (in the act of the cross) saving us from the punishment of our sins as we choose to trust and believe.

Because He loves us that much.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.’ —Isaiah 54:10

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” —John 3:16

16 Marriage Tips by Nate and Alicia

Tomorrow, September 25, puts Nate and I at number sixteen for our anniversary years so I thought it’d be fun to create a blog post offering sixteen marriage tips or pieces of advice. And I got Nate in on it too!!

Newlyweds, kids or no kids, empty nesters — hope these tips are helpful!

They’re listed in no specific order by the way.

1. Discuss your own love language with one another and speak each other’s as well. Super important!!!

Which of these makes you feel loved by your spouse and which one makes your spouse feel loved — Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, or Physical Touch

2. Do projects together.

Whether it’s just hanging up shelves or building a she-shed for your lady, create and work alongside one another. It’s awesome to be able to step back and admire your work later on.

3. Put your spouse’s needs before kiddos.

I know this is a hard one but if you think about it you and your lovey came before your kids…

So (for example) when entering the house from work greet each other with a hello and kiss first and foremost and then move on to the kids. From this one act your kiddos will see that your marriage is healthy, in order, and that you two are the bosses. It will also help them feel that they’re in a safe zone and well taken care of. Kids thrive off of peace and orderly conduct.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.’ — Ephesians 5:22-24

4. Laugh. Don’t be too serious.

This was a text between Nate and I one time which isn’t out of the normal. We can be serious but I’m 40% sure that we’re silly a majority of the time.

5. Have date nights. (copyrighted by Nate)

Seriously your children need to know and witness that mom and dad are happily married, healthy, and in love. Set an example by doing little dates, even if those dates can only happen at home.

Drink a cup of coffee in the mornings, workout, take a walk, rub each other’s feet (I “stink” at doing this one)

Make little points to be connecting with one another so your children can see this happening.

6. Take care of one another in helpful ways.

Examples: Whoever has time be the one to make breakfasts, help with dish duty, wash or vacuum the other one’s car, switch laundry over or fold clothes, sweep/mop, etc.

I promise if you make a habit of chiming in on these little chores your spouse will notice!

7. Encourage with notes or texts. Give compliments.

Recently one morning I went into the bathroom and found this sweet note Nate had hung on the mirror. He came up with the idea on his own…and I probably skipped putting on blush that day!!

8. Thank your spouse.

When you notice or appreciate the good they do (or them helping out) don’t take those moments for granted. Let your spouse know your appreciation.

*Side-note: Nate and I attended a marriage conference last year and the couple who were speaking told us that after doing a recent study it showed that ‘men actually feel most loved and appreciated when their spouse simply and genuinely acknowledges their good work and then thanks them.’

9. Team work.

Make the bed together, cook/bake together, clean together, do yard work together, budget together, etc.

Don’t miss that word — “together”.

10. Respect one another so you both feel loved.

Value one another’s opinions/advice. Be supportive of emotions and concerns.

Nate suggested to remember “happy wife, happy life” …I’m gonna rename this though because I think it needs to be two-way so I’m going with “happy spouse, happy house”.

11. Communicate well.

Listen to each other. Ask questions. Seek marriage counseling if needed.

12. Entertain one another’s interests.

They say opposites attract. If your spouse enjoys things that don’t quite appeal to you do them anyway!! …garage saleing, hunting, golfing, shopping, etc.

13. Start a new hobby TOGETHER.

…frisbee golf, Nate said clogging (where you do some folk dancing, I think he’s just being a nerd but now he’s google searching it as I’m writing) learn an instrument, etc.

14. For the Christian couple do a Bible study, just the two of you alone or in a small group through a church setting.

And if you’re not Christians go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

15. Always say I love you before bed or when leaving each other for work or wherever.

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” —Ephesians 4:26

16. And yes I’m gonna go here — I don’t care if physical touch is a love language of yours or not — MAKE LOVE!!

No extra commentary needed for this one.

Well except that the Bible even says to:

“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” — 1 Corinthians 7:5

All of these tips take patience and practice. This list is not exhaustive and definitely not perfected by us, but it’s things Nate and I strive to accomplish. By doing these things we build our relationship and also help our three attentive mockers know what to look for one day in a future spouse.

I love you Nathan! Thank you for encouraging me as a writer, wife, and mother! You (and our faith in Jesus) are my favorite piece to sixteen years of marriage!!

Choosing Positive Thinking

One of the benefits of following Christ is that we get to take on the perspective and mind of Him.

Those unfortunate circumstances we experience throughout life we can choose to dwell in the yuck or counteract with truth of what God would say over them.

For me this is what that might look like

Growing up with a mom who has epilepsy I could choose to focus on how scared I was every time she’d have a seizure when I was a kid — but instead I’m learning that in my adult life I have compassion and understanding for others as a result.

The multiple situations of sexual abuse in my childhood years — I’m reminded of the many times I’ve now been able to connect with other girls and women who have experienced the same nonsense; conversation has formed a bond between us.

Participating in the party scene as a teen and in my early twenties is such a regret of mine but I love how I can look back and see how God grabbed my attention and changed my life, turned me to Him and has given me several opportunities to speak my story out these days and turn the glory to Him.

Negative thoughts are exhausting but the good news is we can actually get to a point where we adopt and desire a positive mindset no matter the circumstances. And I feel like as Christians we’re blessed with a clearer opportunity to do so, more so than someone who’s not following Jesus. Those who don’t know the freedom offered through God do not understand “true release” from the burden.

I have a best friend who is a volleyball coach —

one of her player’s parents mocks her, ridicules her, and degrades her weekly — accusing her of being a poor coach.

When I see my sweet friend I see a woman of strength and perseverance. Someone with dedication and commitment and a huge heart for the Lord. The only way and reason she pushes through is because her hope is placed in Christ. She chooses to believe His word of truth over the lies of someone else’s sin.

Maybe there’s a negative thought pattern, a festering lie, or mental battle taking root in your life — to overcome fill up on what Jesus says is true about you and take on His mindset to knock down the negatives.

Romans 12:2 says:

‘Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.’

God’s word tells and shows us that we are able to overcome, Romans 12:2 is just one example of many.

We can make the choice to surround ourselves in healthy Christian friendships, daily prayer and scripture. Listen to worship music. Seek out a good Christian counselor if needed…Renewal of the mind in a positive Christ-like way is sure to inhabit our thoughts once we make a desired habit of doing these things regularly.

Negative scenes are bound to play out this side of heaven, but when we fully navigate with ‘Christ in us’ our thought patterns won’t align with the chaos.

Do yourself a favor today and tomorrow and every day following — be thankful, respectful and sensible of the life God has breathed in you — and waste no more time feeding Satan’s senseless antics.

…I’ll be doing the same.

Relating to Max (Paige’s dog)

Max, my daughter’s dog, only weighs a whopping three pounds but the little guy has the demeanor of a bulldog…most of the time…

I took this video (above…actually I’m not linking the video because it’s messing up my post) earlier this year where he’d somehow gotten over to our coffee table but now wanted back to the couch but couldn’t bring himself to take the step to do so.

Fear separated him from what he so desperately desired.

I consider the times where I’ve mentally visited that same posture — resistant to take the leap but desperately wanting to get to the other side.

For me, fear was my hangup just like with Max but mine was long-lasting instead.

Our lack of faith or trust plays out in the form of emotions like fear, anger, anxiety…and the bottom line is it points back to an error in our relationship with Jesus.

Isaiah 26:3 says, ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

When I wrote ‘I’m Over You, Fear’ (last October) God did such an amazing work in me.

That word, fear, had hovered over me for years and years so that it had became so ingrained in me that I would, by habit, set myself up for failure. It was last year when I finally began to search my heart to figure out the problem and what I came to was that I had allowed different circumstances (from over the years) to define me which caused deep rooted fear as my internal self-label. I was living through built-up, unfortunate insecurities rather than releasing Satan’s stronghold to God — subconsciously resistant to giving them to Him for the benefit of peace and healing.

I look back and can’t believe how much time I let pass under the pressure of fear.

I know I write about fear a lot, but I do so because I realize how much of an issue it is for myself and so many others! Just this year, in 2020 alone, I’ve had multiple conversations with friends and complete strangers finally opening up about their real and ongoing struggle with fear.

The truth is…we can combat fear!! But we need to be intentional in pursuing Christ! Our relationship with Him needs to be alive and active, and the most important part of our lives.

Listen, Max didn’t get back over to the couch until my husband picked him up and moved him there. Max needed a helper and the same is true for us.

We must connect with God.

We need to understand that though our battles aren’t in our favor (it could be in the form of declining health, friendships on the brink, rocky careers — whatever area we need help) our faith will absolutely not fail when we’re making a daily conscious effort to connect with God.

He brings us peace and comfort if we will allow it and He’s big enough to handle us along with our problems!

Connecting with God looks like quiet time in prayer and reading His word. But it also includes listening to Him speak over our fears or whatever those feelings might be.

Listen to God speak over us.

Sometimes God answers our heart’s discontent through His word and prayer — other times through a Sunday morning church service, or through the wise words of a Christian friend.

Share our heart/feelings.

We knew Max was in distress because he unashamedly cried out in need, making his request known.

Allow your feelings to be made known to God and those He has placed in your life that you trust. Fellowship with other believers can be emotionally and spiritually therapeutic.

Joyfully soak in encouragement.

Max loves and finds comfort through my daughter’s voice, especially when Paige really sugar coats it with some baby talk…he listens excitedly then and it is a huge encouragement to him. Now God most likely won’t baby talk to us but we are His children and when we choose to listen He speaks truth and wise direction over us (in various ways) as our Heavenly Father.

We find encouragement through connecting with God, listening to Him speak truth over our emotions, and sharing our heart with those we trust. When we’re encouraged we believe there’s purpose and reason to celebrate! When we discover how freeing it is to be released from negative feelings we should desire more of God.

Maintain our relationship with God.

Max is so devoted to Paige it’s almost repulsive. All of Max’s fear and anxiety melts away the moment she scoops him up close to her. He usually puts up a rigid front against the rest of the family because he wants her to himself. He loves Paige that much. This I don’t recommend BUT in the same sense our daily relationship with God should be the dedication Max shows to Paige. We should want to be protective of our time with God, not becoming lenient.

Paige’s dog has developed a trust in her because the two of them pour love into one another and he faithfully follows her footsteps as his “choice person”.

I get it — because I get better, not perfect but better, at giving up my insecurities when I closely walk with Jesus…my choice person.

Our love for God, others, and self grows stronger the more we understand, develop and maintain positive habits learned from following Jesus.

Like Max, I too know I want to get to the secure side…and when I make my goals spoken and known I overcome the adversity with God right in the midst of it all.

I don’t want to write a story of fear but instead a story of faith.

Applicable verse:

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. —Psalm 94:19

Getting Over Those Toxic Thoughts That’ll Drive You Crazy

My almost fifteen year old daughter, Paige, is now old enough to drive with a school permit to and from school since we live outside of town.

That thought doesn’t at all settle well with me.

When I was seventeen my family was involved in a horrible car accident that took my father’s life…sometimes my mind trails back to that blacktop road and that ugly scene that forever changed my little world…

Now that my oldest child is behind the wheel I’ve struggled. I have such an uneasy feeling at the idea of my girl driving to school without an adult in the vehicle (or anywhere for that matter once she gets her actual driver’s license.)

In fact Paige has technically been of age for the past year to use the school permit and I have yet to allow it to happen. My mama bear instinct just wants to jump in and take over. As she’s practiced driving with her dad and I she’s done well, but I just can’t seem to get over that large bump in the road of my messy mind — the one of her driving without us in the seat next to her.

So I’m working on my thought patterns and I’m in a new book by Jennie Allen titled, Get Out of Your Head. Jennie shares about her own struggles in life and writes about the idea of overcoming those thoughts that lead to a negative downward spiral.

I love the words from 2 Corinthians 10 verses 3 through 5 where Paul writes, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

I have to truly live out taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ, especially the negative ones I have lately of my teenage daughter driving.

Jennie uses these verses of Paul’s in her book to magnify just how important, necessary, and doable it is ‘to destroy the lies that dominate our thought patterns.’

Remember I mentioned that I can’t get over Paige driving without an adult in the vehicle, that’s where my hang up happens…but the truth is she is so covered in security because Jesus is with her all the time…in or out of the car…and the bottom line is He’s by far a better protector than I can (or will) ever be.

That’s a thought I have to hold tightly to otherwise I’m setting myself up for failure and I’ll be darned if Paige nabs hold of my anxiety for herself.

This book of Jennie’s challenges me to ‘interrupt negative thought patterns’ by remembering ‘I have a choice.’

I have a choice.

I can choose to trust Jesus more than the obstacle. I can choose to believe He is perfectly in control. I can choose to love that His word navigates me along a trustworthy path…otherwise the most notable “driving log” is going to be the one where I drive myself and my family crazy.

Y’all I don’t know if you’re facing a struggle of some sort, if you’re trying to take matters in your own hands (or out of your daughter’s) but getting into scripture and reading Christian resources is absolutely hands down beneficial to our faith.

Click here to purchase a copy of Jennie’s book: Get Out of Your Head

I may not be quite ready to let Paige have a go on her own just yet but I’m getting closer and the more I ride alongside her the more I see her improving and I become more comfortable with the idea of her driving alone soon. It’s so ironically beautiful because it reminds me of the fact that the more time I spend in prayer, God’s word, and with fellow believers the more comfortable and closer I feel to Jesus. With out a doubt I know I’m on the right road even given the turns and bumps along the way because the truth is those obstacles give way for the opportunity of perseverance through Him. And though struggles are never much fun, we have the choice ultimately to let Jesus take the wheel (spiritually) over our fears or messes every time!!

Awe just look at her sweet face…she was appalled that I took that picture!❤️

Motivated and Persistent

Of our multiple animals, we have a six year old Yorkie, Eli, who I’ve written about in the past. Eli was a gift to me, from my husband, for our tenth wedding anniversary.

For most of his life the poor little guy has had seizures due to a head injury that happened when he was just a puppy which makes him pretty fragile. Long story short, he’d jumped from my arms and smacked his little noggin on our wooden deck outback and from that time on whenever his head (or neck) are impacted you can bet he’ll go right into a seizure. He’s on seizure meds that control ‘random’ seizures (which he was prone to after the head injury) but he still has them when he encounters impact regardless of the meds.

As an example — Eli was sleeping on my bed recently when he heard me come into the house, he got excited and decided he was going to jump down and greet me. I was just walking through the bedroom door and couldn’t catch him in time before he clumsily hit the wood floor with a thud. The seizure that followed was one of his worst and honestly I wasn’t sure he’d come out of it. I prayed in my heart like crazy in the moment, God spared him and as a result Eli is never allowed to be on our bed again…no exceptions!!

He’s stinking cute!

We’ve now bought him a large dog bed and situated it near our bed but it’s taken him some time to get used to. Our bed is pretty high from the floor and this is something we should’ve bought and started years ago.

At nighttime he’s restless for a short while and the little clicking of his paws can be heard as he pitter patters from one side of our bed to the other, hopeful that either my husband or I will lift him up to his preferable place of sleep and familiarity. I feel bad because he doesn’t understand and I miss him cuddling up next to me…although I have been able to sleep better now.

Eli teaches me a “good” lesson applicable to my life as a Christian — I want to be so incredibly dedicated and familiar with Jesus (in my faith and relationship with Him) that I can’t stand to “feel” separated or distanced from Him.

Like my dog, I want to be so faithful, motivated and persistent in pursuing what brings me comfort and peace. For Eli it’s snuggling in close to my husband or I and falling asleep next to us on our bed or begging relentlessly for canned dog food — and for myself as I work on authentic Christianity it better be my relationship with the Lord that brings me satisfaction and security in my life without hesitation. Every. Single. Time. No exceptions!!

That means that if (or when) I’m putting God second it would bother me so much I’d be stir crazy. When something tries to distract me or come in the way I’d be unsettled. When Satan attempts to send me on a hazardous detour route, I’d notice the red flag warning immediately and head straight to the One who’s already paved the perfect path.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. —Colossians 1:17

Because Eli’s a dog he’s always going to live impulsively by selfish means and very sure-hearted in what he wants even if it’s not always the best choice for him; likewise as a Christian we’re to live selflessly yet with a devoted heart strongly fixed on Jesus…Eventually at bedtime Eli grows tired, loses interest in claiming a spot on our bed, gives in and finally tuckers down into his new, more safe, bed. Contrastively we as Christians can’t choose second best, we must strive ahead determined to keep Jesus first in our lives.

For you, are you persistent in keeping Jesus number one in your life? If not what is standing in the way?