We had a great time at our Inspire (formerly More Than Moms) meeting last night! I was the hostess and COMPLETELY FORGOT to ask anyone to take pictures! BOO!
I covered seven different areas of organization, most of which, I have already covered here on the blog. Most of what I shared, I’ve already explained in these posts so instead of typing it all out again, I’m going to direct you to several different places via links.
- Command Center: I blogged about my process of organizing my command center HERE. There are several before and after pictures. I was inspired to do a command center by DaNita over at Delightful Order. You can see her amazing command center HERE. I also shared a few pictures of some simpler command centers in case you don’t have much room to work with:
- Pantry: I blogged about my process of organizing my pantry HERE. There are several before and after pictures. I featured two other pantries that are much fancier and roomier than mine:
- Laundry Room: I blogged about my process of organizing my laundry room HERE. There are several before and after pictures. I received most of my inspiration from Jen over at iheartorganizing. You can see her amazing laundry room HERE.
- Office/Craft Room: I blogged about my process of organizing my craft area HERE. There are several before and after pictures. When I’m crafting away in my space, I dream that I’m working in Maggie’s (Smashed Peas and Carrots) BEAUTIFUL studio.
- Planning and Scheduling: I featured 5 different planners that I have seen, heard about, and LOVE. I personally use an Erin Condren planner, but all of them are GREAT.
- Erin Condren: I recommend the journal over the life planner. I didn’t really have use for all that the life planner provides.
- momAgenda: Great if you have school age kids who are involved in extracurricular activities.
- Paper Coterie: Has a place to journal special memories and reasons to be thankful.
- Plum Paper Designs: Similar to Erin Condren, but a bit cheaper.
- May Books: FULLY customizable.
- Organization in the Car: I haven’t blogged about what I use to keep my car organized. I have an organizing utility tote where I store Wet Ones, Clorox Wipes, Kleenex, a flashlight, changing pad, DVDs, and an “emergency” kit that is contained in a diaper wipe container. I got the idea for that HERE. Here are some pictures of other ways to organize in the car: There is a tutorial HERE on how to make this organizer for your car.
- Recipes: I blogged about my process of organizing my recipes HERE.
Finally, I shared that my 3 favorite organization blogs are:
In 5th grade, I failed the Presidential Fitness Test. When we weighed in, the girl behind me in line saw my weight and proceeded to announce to the rest of the class that I was a good 15-20lbs overweight. On that day, I took an imaginary Avery name tag, wrote “the fat girl who can’t exercise” in bold, and stuck it to lapel of my identity.
In 8th grade, I tried out for and made the basketball team. As I worked hard to be able to confidently rip off the label I had been wearing for 3 years, I went the entire season and didn’t score one goal. Label confirmed.
In 9th grade, I was cut from the basketball team after a long couple of months of daily workouts and practices. The coach told me I had potential, but I just wasn’t good enough. Label confirmed.
At this point, as a teenager, I felt it was too late to rewrite my label so instead of trying and failing, I just started to adapt to the identity I had believed and worn for so long.
Last year, I finally decided this label would not define me any longer. I made the choice to sign up for a 5K (The Color Run), downloaded the Couch to 5K app on my phone and started my journey of redefining what I BELIEVED about myself. It was HARD. When I started, I had a difficult time running for one minute without stopping and my pace was a 15 minute mile. It’s been a LONG process, but I’m finally starting to see myself getting stronger. I’ve shaved about 4 minutes off of my pace, added more exercise (BOOT CAMP!!) into my weekly routine and I am seeing myself do things that I believed for FAR TOO LONG that I could not do.
Last week when I was running with Nick, I realized that when I got to a point that I need to take a break and walk, I was say, “I can’t!” and stop. When I ran my 5K today, I decided to change my dialogue and use the encouraging words I hear from the other ladies in my bootcamp classes on MWF. I would put a goal in my head (the next stop sign, a tree, a curve in the road) to get to before I stopped to walk. As I approached that point, I would start to say, “you got this! you can do it!” and I found myself pushing beyond the goal I had set in my mind.
I have reached a point in which I am free to rip off that nasty name tag that has been worn for far too long, and confidently wear the name tag I was originally given….
…Amy…a Beloved daughter of the most high King who has created me, called me, and equipped me for every good work that I might bring ALL glory, honor, and praise to Him!!
We were challenged last week at church to look for opportunities to share our story…this is part of mine. If you’ve been wearing a nasty name tag on the lapel of your identity, RIP IT OFF. Rediscover who you are. You ARE capable. You ARE beautiful. You ARE designed for something greater.
And if you’ve believed for far too long that you’ve always been overweight so you might as well just stay that way, it’s a LIE. Start somewhere. YOU GOT THIS.
So…when Nick and I take Reuben to bed at night, we tuck him in, turn on his music, and say a prayer. As soon as we say amen, Reuben starts in on the questions to delay bedtime as long as possible.
A few nights ago, Nick high stepped out of Reuben’s room so he wasn’t the one left behind to answer the questions. Well, I wasn’t going to be caught in that trap again. During the prayer, I planned my escape. What I didn’t plan for was the random toys in my path that I couldn’t see since the light was off. We said amen and I took off in a dead sprint. The next several seconds consisted of me tripping, trying to recover, and eventually falling.
I started by laughing which quickly turned into tears. My knee hurt and my thoughts immediately turned to the fact that I probably just ruined my Bootcamp and running routine by trying to beat my husband out of Reuben’s room. (Dramatic much?!?)
Reuben got down out of bed (I’m sure he was thrilled by the opportunity to delay bedtime even further), crawled in my lap, and started very sweetly patting my back. He turned to Nick and said, “Daddy, I think Mommy needs an ice pack.” So, they went and got his monkey boo boo pack for my knee. I continued to sob.
Nick was starting to become concerned and asked, “Are you going to be okay? Did it really hurt that bad?” I assured him that I would survive, but I’ve been needing a good cry so I was just seizing the opportunity to let it all out.
The next thing I know, I felt a little tap on my shoulder and Reuben asks, “Here, Mommy. Do you need this?”
I look up and he’s handing me a plastic slice of chocolate cake from his play kitchen.
My response, “Yes. That is exactly what I need.”
At least plastic is calorie free.
There seems to be a bit of a trend lately in some viral posts about women…specifically moms…trying to come out from under the pressure of Pinterest.
There was the FB post from a mom in Florida writing about her thoughts on trying to measure up as a mom that went viral…
There’s Kelly’s post today…
There’s Jen Hatmaker’s post last week…
I must admit. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed the last couple of weeks…well, really the whole year, but here’s a glimpse into why the last couple of weeks stressed me out…
Here’s what came of my Advent plans and intentions this year. My cute stockings were pulled to the ground. I managed to pick them up and pile them on the piano, but that’s where they stayed. I think we got around to doing approximately half of our planned activities. Guess which one’s I posted about on Facebook? The few we accomplished.
Our Christmas tree never got a star this year and Reuben asked me one day, “Mommy, why doesn’t our tree have a star on top?” When I took our star out of the box, it was broken and I just never got around to buying a new one. It finally got close enough to Christmas that I realized it would just be better to buy a new one when all the Christmas stuff went on sale AFTER Christmas.
This is my living room right now. Enough said.
AND…Ella Reu headquarters needs some serious love and attention.
Back in October, Angie Smith wrote this post about “The New Pretty.” She talked about starting a new revolution of showing pictures of our reality rather than our highlight reel. This post really resonated with me.
So…this is all what brings me here today. I want to apologize. The majority of the time, I have the BEST intentions when I post anything on this blog or on FaceBook. I very rarely come up with my own idea…most of what I do is copied from someone else who shared…so I want to share what I do via social media to spread the love and ideas to other people. HOWEVER, I am always more motivated to show my best than I am to be honest about my daily reality. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my struggle to make sure people believe I have it all together and am successfully living out my life as a stay-at-home-mom, pastor’s wife, and recent small business owner.
What I DON’T want to happen is in my effort and attempt to make you believe I have it all together to make you feel like you are any less than your best.
A friend of mine came up to me at church last night to hug me and thank me for posting a “real” FaceBook status. This is what I wrote:
Anyone else considered lining up childcare for holiday festivities with family? Not for ALL of it…just to enjoy a few family traditions without having to chase the little crawling human vacuum or discipline the ball-throwing-in-the-house, toddler-and-baby-wrestling, constantly-on-the-move-and-questioning-everything little boy.
No? Just me? K, cool.
The truth is…no one usually comes up to me to hug me and thank me for posting a picture of the cute new craft I did or the clean house I keep. I’m not saying I won’t ever post anything like this again, I just want to make a new and fresh commitment to be REAL…to share my REAL life and my REAL struggles. My heart is TRULY to dispel the lies and make other women feel that they are NOT alone in their struggles with motherhood, measuring up, weight, fashion, etc.
And I want to sincerely apologize. I’m sorry if the things I’ve posted via social media have ever made you feel less than best. The truth is, I struggle daily with measuring up. I’m in a process with God in which I am RE-learning the truths He has laid out in His Word which clearly describe how He feels about me and choosing to BELIEVE them. I want to be open and honest and share my journey with you because there have been women along my path who have done the same for me and it has made such a difference!
So…here’s my heart…in a random, unplanned, disjointed blog post.
Know that you are LOVED. You are TREASURED. And you are ENOUGH.
(P.S. I make no apologies for pictures or posts bragging about my children. It’s a mother’s duty to brag, right?!? I sure love reading about and seeing all of your babies!!)
Wishing you a JOYFUL holiday season full of QUALITY TIME, LAUGHTER, and REST all while focusing on the true reason for the season…JESUS CHRIST. It is our prayer for you that this upcoming year is one of HEALTH, ADVENTURE, INCREASE, PEACE, and IMPACT. We are thankful for each one of you. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
Nick is wrapping up his first week of being a full time worship pastor at Destiny Church. There have been several times this week we’ve looked at each other and smiled huge smiles when we’ve realized how GOOD it feels to have MARGIN back in our lives. As we’ve pushed on the brakes, we’ve started to understand just how hard we were pressing on the gas pedal.
So…here’s the Top 10 Reasons (from this week) I’m LOVING Nick’s new job:
- After pouring his heart out while leading worship in our 3 services this weekend, we had Monday OFF to REST as a family!!
- We didn’t have to pick out and iron his dressy work clothes for the entire week. He is able to dress in his “normal” clothes!
- On Tuesday afternoon, Nick was home by 4:15 allowing me to cook dinner while he watched the kids!
- We had almost 3 full hours with Daddy at home on Tuesday afternoon/evening before he had to go to vocal and band practice. It used to be he’d run in the door, eat dinner, and run back out the door.
- Nick didn’t have to fight his way through 5 o’clock traffic after a crazy day at work to make it to church on time. He was already at church…finished his work day at 4:00…and was able to hang out at church and work on writing a new song until preservice band practice began.
- Nick is off on Thursday mornings so he stayed with Gabriella while I took Reuben to school and then had a chance to run errands by myself!
- We got to enjoy a staff Christmas party at our pastors’ beautiful home over lunch on Thursday and then spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing as a family.
- We had TIME to go out with some of our friends on Thursday night because our schedule was open enough to allow it!
- Nick got to come home and have lunch with us today!
- My husband has a pep in his step, a smile on his face, and is excited about this new journey…AND SO AM I!!
So…I was working on preparing Advent activities to do with Reuben this year and ran across a website that has several FREE Pre-K packs that are categorized by a variety of holidays and themes. They are super cute! I decided the Winter Wonderland and Nativity Packs would be great to have on hand to use with Reuben when we have down time. He has been highly interested in all things counting, shapes, alphabet, reading related so these seem right up his alley.
These Pre-K packs are super cute and I wanted to use them more than once SO I figured I would print them in color on card stock paper and laminate the pages that required writing. This way Reuben could just use a dry erase marker and work on them over and over. Once I got them all printed, I headed to Mardel to laminate them.
After working as a school teacher for 7 years, I feel very confident in my laminating skills. In fact, dealing with lamination was one of my favorite parts of being a teacher. Preparing for each school year felt like Christmas to me because I would have a LARGE stack of lamination that needed to be cut out. The stress of an impending first day of school was quickly minimized the moment I sat down in front of the TV, grabbed my trusty pair of scissors, and started to glide my way through the stack of lamination. LOVED IT.
Because of my extensive resume in the field of lamination, I confidently walked back to the machine, checked to make sure all the appropriate lights were lit, the perfect speed was set, and the level of heat was just right. Once all these things were properly checked and adjusted, I began the process of sending my cute little Pre-K pack through the laminator, one page at a time.
As I was sending my pages through, I was thinking to myself:
“You know, Mardel sure has a lot of faith in the customer to allow any Joe Schmo to come back here and use this expensive machine. I mean, I’m highly qualified and have extensive experience, but not everyone is qualified as I when it comes to the art of lamination. There are so many people who could really screw these machines up.”
Suddenly, my prideful thoughts were interrupted by a Mardel employee, who looked herself to be a retired school teacher who probably had her own extensive resume in laminating, waving her hands at me and telling me to stop the machine. You see, what I didn’t realize as I was having an award ceremony in my head in which I presented the award for BEST LAMINATOR EVER to myself, was that the beautiful pages I was sending through were not coming out the other side. Instead, they were jamming up and wrapping back into the machine.
I was horrified.
How could I, not just any Joe Schmo off the street, jam up the laminator?!? The poor retired school teacher had to take the machine apart and CUT MY PAGES OUT OF THE MACHINE. I stumbled all over my words as I tried to prove to her that I knew what I was doing, followed all the procedures, and tried to convince her that there must be something wrong with the machine.
I don’t think she bought it.
I hung my head in shame as I carried my wad of halfway laminated preschool papers under my arm and walked out of the store. As I walked away, I looked over my shoulder just in time to see an “Out of Order” sign being taped to the front of the laminator.
First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
–Proverbs 16:18 (The Message)
**I asked my amazing husband, Nick, to write a guest post for me today describing the exciting new season our family is stepping into this week. So, without futher adieu, here he is…**
Recently, I made the decision to transition from working a secular IT job to full time ministry. For the past four years, I have served as the worship pastor of our church while working a full time job as a DBA. Thanks to the Destiny Church staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, I was able to do ministry bi-vocationally. When I was in my twenties and had no kids, this was feasible. But, now I’m in the thirties and we have 2 kids! My margins had disappeared and it became obvious earlier this year that a change had to occur sooner than later.
In the past few months, Amy and I have been through a process of reassessing our ‘ministry.’ First and foremost, our primary ministry is to our family, specifically our children and to each other. This is something that Pastor Carl Lentz from Hillsong New York City tweeted a few months ago, that really resonated with me. In this last season, we had been overextending ourselves and not giving ourselves the margin we needed to be the parents we knew God wanted us to be. This involved some serious soul-searching. We had reached a fork in the road. Something had to give.
Next, it was important for us to ask ourselves if we were answering the ‘call’ of God on our lives. We are all called to something. We are called to do, called to sow, called to help, called to bless, called to minister, called to be the Hands and Feet, called by Christ Jesus Himself. Part of this transition was revisiting what we felt we were called to do, and to seek God for where we were called to be planted. Our family believes that there is life to be found in the body of a local church, and it was important for us to recognize that Destiny Church is the place that God has called us to be planted during this next season of our lives.
Many times, we get busy with the where, hows, and whens of our call. Jobs, titles, and roles may come and go, but the call of God on your life will stay with you forever. Knowing who you are in Christ and what He has called You to do is an integral step to discovering Your purpose on the Earth. As a family, we had to get back to basics. Come back to our First Love – Jesus, and obeying the next step which He had put in front of us. I’m finding a major piece of faith is simply asking God what’s next and obeying that. Trusting God with your next step is many times much harder than trusting Him with your eternity.
This journey has helped us bring clarity to our purpose and we couldn’t be more happy (or full of joy) for what has been placed before us. We know that there will be challenges, but like Pastor Mike spoke about at church this weekend – there’s a difference between God’s word, and God’s word for MY life, and today, I will choose to live according to His word for MY life.
The concept of a new season is a theme that has been a part of Amy and I’s relationship from the very beginning. It was the theme of our wedding! That theme continues to ring true as we turn the page and look forward to a new chapter of HIStory – God writing His story through us.
Honestly, I don’t really remember when he started doing it, but something Nick does on a very regular basis has helped me to maintain so much peace and clarity. A few times a week, usually when we’ve collapsed into the bed after a long day, Nick will start into a list of questions:
- Do you feel safe?
- Do you feel loved?
- Do you feel cared for?
- Do you feel happy?
- Do you feel provided for?
This process of questioning is something that Nick has gleaned from a variety of spiritual leaders who surround him. I’m so thankful he decided to take their lead and bring this same series of questions into our relationship. It helps me to pause and really think about my answer. The truth is, my answer is always yes to each of the questions. There’s something about answering each of these questions with a confident and resounding “yes” that helps me to gain some perspective. If I feel safe, loved, cared for, happy, and provided for that’s really all that matters…not the dirty dishes in the sink, the floor that needs vacuuming, the bed that didn’t get made, the pounds that weren’t lost, the to-do list that wasn’t fully conquered, the stitches that weren’t sewn perfectly straight, and the list goes on… As a stay at home mom, it is easy for me to get wrapped up in the cycle of perfection. Because this is a standard I set for myself, I often project those expectations onto myself on the behalf of those around me. This leads me to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and sometimes ashamed when I don’t accomplish what I intended or with the level of excellence I expected. But when I collapse into bed feeling beat down because I didn’t meet my unachievable goals and am met with a loving husband that genuinely cares to know and make sure that I’m safe, loved, cared for, happy, and provided for, it instantly melts the pressure I had been putting on myself to perform.
In this way, Nick has been a beautiful example of my relationship with the Father. Because of Him, I am always safe, loved, cared for, happy, and provided for regardless if the wonderful people I’m surrounded by on this earth help me to feel this way. It’s become a quick mental checklist for me to scroll through when my life feels chaotic, overwhelming, frustrating, or just “blah.” When I can pull back and focus on the reality of the wonderful place that I am in, the “big” things around me quickly become meaningless.
Maybe you don’t have someone in your life who will ask you these questions and work their hardest to make sure your answer is “yes.” But you do have a Father who cares for you. As His child, your answer can always be “yes.”
Do you feel safe?
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.
Psalm 91 (New Living Translation)
Do you feel loved?
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 (New Living Translation)
Do you feel cared for?
29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.
30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31 (New Living Translation)
Do you feel happy?
…All who seek the Lord will praise him.
Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
Psalm 22:26 (New Living Translation)
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7 (New International Version)
21 He will once again fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.
Job 8:21 (New Living Translation)
Do you feel provided for?
19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (New Living Translation)
Now…REST…because you are His child, you are safe, loved, cared for, happy, and provided for…
I apologize for my absence from the blogging world the last several days! I’ve been busy with a new business venture! After many years of talking and dreaming about it, I finally took the plunge and decided to begin making and selling some things through my small business, Ella Reu Designs. My mom, sisters, and I have always enjoyed going to craft shows and making crafts of our own. I don’t know how many times we’ve said over the last 10+ years…”We could SO do this!” I finally decided that there’s no better time than the present to take the leap.
I posed the challenge to my Facebook friends to come up with the business name for me. My friend, Caney, came up with Ella Reu Designs (Ella for Gabriella and Reu for Reuben) and I absolutely LOVE it. It’s cute, has a ring to it, and represents the reason I’m doing all of this…for my two little blessings.
My friend from church, Devin, did the amazing logo design. He was a pleasure to work with and put up with lots of emails and nitpicking from me. I definitely recommend him for any of your design needs!
I’m still in the VERY beginning stages…mostly just selling to my Facebook friends…and trying to get a feel for what people are excited about and what I enjoy making. So far, I’m having SO much fun and feel like I have opened up a whole new pathway to JOY and FUN for myself. I’ve been spending nap times and late evenings busy sewing, planning, shipping, organizing, etc and am thoroughly enjoying myself!! So…we’ll see where it goes from here! I’m eventually planning to open an online shop, but for now, I’m solely on Facebook. Stop on by, take a look around, and let me know what you think!!