Finding My Purpose in Sacred, Ordinary Days

If you’ve ever read this blog before, you know how important organization and planning is to me. Meal planning, scheduling, calendaring, whatever you want to call all the things- I love them. Organization and time management tools are my love language. Anything to help me feel like a better wife, more intentional mother, and saner human.

The past few years have been a journey for me, as I’ve lost a son, had another son, and moved across the globe to Rwanda. It’s been like pouring miracle grow on all of my flaws and it’s fast-tracked my quest to figure myself out and learn about my personality. Through this crazy season, spiritual disciplines and liturgy have become an integral part of my daily life, and very well may have saved my faith.

Along the way, I came across the Sacred Ordinary Days planner. Now, I’ve been a devoted Simplified Planner user for years (and still highly recommend the SP to everyone), but the SOD planner seemed to meet me where I am right now: still needing the organization and intentionality of a daily planner, but wanting to infuse that with my spiritual life. I haven’t been disappointed.

A mutual friend connected me with Jenn, the creator of the Sacred Ordinary Days planner, and she kindly sent some goodies my way! I’ve been using them for a few weeks now, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you, because I think these planners will be a really great tool for so many of you.

First of all: these planners are BEAUTIFUL. They are hard-bound and the colors and designs are just gorgeous. I particularly love the inside covers- on the front, a visual representation of the liturgical year, and on the back, a finger prayer labyrinth. I need to take advantage of that one more! Maybe I’ll start using it for morning meditation…

The planner is set up so that each day, Monday-Saturday, is it’s own page. At the top of each page are readings from the daily lectionary, which reflect back on the readings from the past Sunday and look forward to the readings for the coming Sunday. As our priest preaches from the same lectionary, this is a perfect way to keep in tune with what I’m hearing on Sunday mornings. I love this!

Each day has an open-format list and schedule portion, and then a section at the top where you identify your three main priorities for the day. I’m used to having an already-laid-out schedule portion and a to-do list with boxes to check, so this threw me at first. How do I use this? Where do I write what’s for dinner?

I think the beauty of this planner is that it can function however you need it to function. I started using the list section for my to do list, and crossing things off as they were finished. The gap at the bottom is now where I write our dinner plans. It works for me- it may look different for your needs!

The top of the page- where you identify your priorities for the day- might be my favorite part. At first, I was hesitant- how do I pick three? Or prioritize one over the other? But I started thinking about my PowerSheets, and how they help me create my “most successful day/week/month” and create lists of things I want to accomplish to feel healthy and productive- and I started applying the same principle to my priorities list. I ask myself each morning, “If I only accomplish three things today, what should they be for me to end the day feeling healthy and successful?”

Sometimes those things are concrete- writing this blog, for instance. Other times, they are more abstract- celebrating a friend’s birthday well, making my husband feel loved, being intentional with my time with my daughter. Each priority has a “cue” and a “reward” section, too- I love rewards- so this has been fun to get the hang of.

Your “cue” is when you know to start on that priority- so, that might be 10am, or that might be “when I receive this email from this person”. It’s what you need it to be. We don’t always have a set start time for each task, so this lets us have fluidity while also understanding how our day needs to go.

Your “reward” is whatever you need it to be, too- sometimes, it’s an intrinsic reward that comes from finishing a task, like a clean home after you wash the dishes. Other times, you may want to set an actual reward for yourself- watching one episode of The Office after you clean the kitchen, for example. I’m highly motivated by gifts and rewards, so this works well for me.

At the end of each week, there is a Sabbath spread- which is designed to be Sundays, but the layout leaves it up to you when you practice the Sabbath (Saturdays often work best for us, because church is a circus). The Sabbath spread leads you through the Ignatian practice of Examen- looking at your life from 7 different angles and identifying how you’re doing (and how you can improve) in each of those areas. I have found this to be an immensely helpful spiritual practice, as have many others for hundreds of years 🙂

Now, a few notes about this planner: it’s big and a little heavy. Not crazy, but like a small coffee table book. If you’re someone who likes to carry your planner around with you, this may not be the best choice- though, it’s so beautiful you may not mind 🙂 I like to keep my planner at home in my “command zone” of my living room- and because it lives there and doesn’t travel with me throughout the day, this works perfectly. An idea, though: the SOD Liturgical Year Weekly Planner is a smaller, more streamlined version and would be a perfect companion to keep with you, to write appointments and reminders in throughout the day. You could then copy everything into your larger planner at the beginning of the day (or night before) when you identify your priorities.

Which leads me to the next point: This is a planner best used with a daily quiet and planning time. It certainly doesn’t have to be, but for me, it feels like it wants to be sat down with a cup of tea and reflected over at the beginning of each day. When I get a chance to use it in this way, it’s beautiful- but, honestly, that’s just not how it always happens. Motherhood doesn’t always afford me a quiet 15, 10, even 5 minutes in the morning to do my daily readings and identify my priorities for the day. But I LOVE that I have the option if I want it- and I try to do it the best I can.

On the whole- this is a tool that I am THRILLED to use, and highly recommend if you are wanting more of your spiritual practices infused in  your planning. The Sacred Ordinary Days Planner is incredibly intentional, beautiful, and will be a treasure for your soul!

PS- The new Liturgical Year Planners (starting with this coming Advent) are now available for preorder, and they are gorgeous! RUN and grab yours! 

Note: I was sent planners to review at no cost to me, but all opinions are enthusiastically my own! I was under no obligation to share, but do so because I LOVE this product!

8 Ways to Love Your Kids (When They’re Driving You Crazy!)

Oh wait…am I the only one who has crazy kids sometimes?

…I didn’t think so.

Let’s get real. We all have those days where our kids are driving us nuts. Constantly needing attention, not listening, whining about everything…yeah. It’s hard. and It’s often. Ya feel me?

Both of my kids are miracles. I am so grateful for them every single day. But some days really test my patience! I’m no expert, but I’ve recognized some quick tricks to helping my kiddos feel loved (and helping me feel like a better mama) on those hard days.

SPEAK AN AFFIRMATION

Every kid (just like every adult) has their own love language- but all kids need to be verbally affirmed. For me, this often is just me saying, “Halle, I love being your mommy.” Especially on days when I’m really having trouble showing that with my actions or attitudes, this almost always brings a smile and a snuggle.

Here’s some other ideas:
“I’m so glad God gave me you as my son/daughter.”
“I love to watch you (paint/sing/read/dance/play).”
“You are so brave. Can you show me that trick again?”
“I love when you tell me about your day.”
“Being your mommy is my favorite thing.”

PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY

This is THE HARDEST for me! Yet- I notice a direct correlation with my patience level (and my kids’ craziness level) and when I have my phone in my hand. When things are starting to get nuts or I’m feeling overwhelmed, I go plug my phone in in another room and I practice being present. Even if it’s inconvenient at the moment or I’m in the middle of something- it’s always worth it to delay what I’m doing on that phone (or recognize that it’s not important anyway) and reset with my kids.

GET OUT YOUR ENERGY

Honestly, sometimes I just get flat-out angry, and I have a ton of negative energy to burn. Instead of screaming in my child’s face when they are screaming at me (I’ve done this, and found it counterproductive, ha!) I try doing something silly but energy burning- crazy dancing while making funny noises, running really fast around the house while singing one of my daughter’s favorite song, burpees- anything to get out that energy. I often find that my daughter will join me, and it usually ends in smiles.

READ A BOOK

This may not work for everyone, but I can often reset both of our attitudes by taking a few minutes to read a book. Nancy Tillman books are our favorite- they are beautiful, calming, and affirming for your child. We love “I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love” and “You’re Here For a Reason“.

TAKE FIVE MINUTES FOR YOU

Sometimes, mama just needs a break. Give your kid a snack, put them in front of the TV, give them playdough- whatever works, you know your kids- and take five minutes for self care. Here’s some ideas if you need them!

OIL THEM UP (AND YOU!)

It’s no secret that I love essential oils, and I especially benefit from using them for emotional purposes. There are oils for lifting moods, calming craziness, and balancing feelings of stress and overwhelm- grab some for your kids, and for you. DoTERRA’s Emotional Aromatherapy Touch Kit is our lifeline- we can’t live without it in this house!

DO SOMETHING YOU KNOW THEY LOVE

Again, this is different for every kid. Most days, Halle would love nothing more than for me to sit in her playroom and let her serve me pretend tea (or, TBH, she usually gives me pretend wine- ha!) and cookies. She also responds well to a snack, or riding her new bike. This is hard because it, again, requires our undivided attention to really work- but it’s proved super helpful for us to just take a few minutes and do something I know my child will love.

APOLOGIZE AND LISTEN

…and this is where I end up multiple times a day. Too far into the spin cycle and everything feels out of control. For us, this looks like me getting on the same physical level as my child (either sitting on the ground with her or pulling her up onto the couch to snuggle), apologizing that we are having a hard time, and asking her about her feelings. And really listening. You’ll know what to do from there…

What are some ways you’ve found to love your kids when they’re driving you nuts? What is the hardest for you? Tell me in the comments!

5-Minute Self Care Fixes To Do RIGHT NOW

Self care is sooooo tricky, right? Especially for us young mamas with young babies- finding time to take care of ourselves is so so important, but also SO difficult! Why?

I think sometimes we assume that self care has to be done in large time chunks- a few hours at the spa, a netflix binge, time to read a few chapters of a book, or an early breakfast alone. But let me tell you- that stuff is just not always possible often enough to keep me sane. I’m lucky if I can get one solid chunk of time alone a week- and that’s just not enough for me to keep my wits about me.

So, I’ve had to get creative- and really good at taking tiny chunks of time and using them intentionally to feed my soul. Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite ways to take care of myself, in five minutes or less. I do most of these every day!

1. RINSE OFF

Now, before you give me the side eye and reach for your dry shampoo, I’m not talking about full on showering. Let’s be realistic- that just doesn’t happen every day and it certainly doesn’t happen in five minutes. But y’all, the art of the quick rinse off- I’m talking strip, get wet, soap up real quick, rinse off and get back out- has transformed my life. It can happen with kids on the bathroom floor and it still changes my attitude. I also like to rub an uplifting or grounding essential oil blend, like Citrus Bliss or Balance, into my wet skin quickly before I dry off. Instant mood change!

2. LIPSTICK

One of the most obvious changes I have made to my daily routine since moving to Africa is putting on makeup every day- especially lipstick. I never used to wear it! But something about putting on makeup quickly each morning helps me feel prepared, intentional, and like I’m doing something just for myself. I’ve fallen in love with Lipsense this year, and I find myself reaching for my lippies usually in the morning when I need a pick-me-up. It’s a confidence booster for sure, and it’s fun! Plus, I can put on lipstick in the morning and not worry about it until after dinner. Win!

3. MEDITATION

One of my new favorite things is the Headspace App. There are SO many guided meditations available, and even some for kids! When I start to feel overwhelmed, I will give the kids a snack or get my husband to watch them for a second and go do a five minute meditation. It’s so helpful in resetting my heart and changing my attitude. I love using some of doTERRA’s emotional aromatherapy blends to support these mood changes, too- Cheer and Peace are two favorites!

4. TEA

Yes, TEA. Not coffee. I mean, trust me, I drink my fair share of coffee, but for self care- I go to tea. Why? Coffee- my first and real true love- starts to feel very utilitarian when I’m in a funk. “First I drink the coffee, then I do the things”. Right? I need it to survive. For self care, though, I make myself a cup of tea- nourishing both soul and body, not necessary to function like coffee can be, but still something special for myself. Even if I have to reheat it four times before I drink it all! This one’s my favorite these days!

5. WALK OUTSIDE

Here’s one I’m trying to get better at- when I am feeling overwhelmed or claustrophobic, going outside- especially barefoot in the grass- for a few minutes can do wonders to clear the brain and bring peace and grounding to our spirits. I’ve found that my kids can be pretty receptive to this, too- laying in the grass and staring at the sky can be super fun for them!

6. GET DRESSED

This might seem silly, but “getting dressed” to me often means pulling on some leggings with the shirt I slept in and calling it a day. No, that’s not what I mean! Taking a few minutes each day to get dressed and intentionally put together an outfit does wonders for my focus, productivity, and confidence. I tend to overdress for my day- so, a skirt or dress for a day at home even, thanks Lularoe- and I never regret it.

7. RESET A SPACE

This might be the type A in me talking, but sometimes I just need to see blank spaces in my home- and by sometimes, I mean all the time. Tables, countertops, a made bed- all a reflection of the state of my brain. When I need to quickly do something to reset my day and refresh my spirit, I often look at my space and pick one to “clear”- and the results are astounding for me. I find I am easily overstimulated (just me? no?) and this is an easy way to calm some of the visual chaos.

8. MAKE A PLAN

Often, when self care is the farthest from my brain, so is any semblance of organization. I recently started using a Sacred Ordinary Days planner, and it’s helped me a TON with identifying priorities and being intentional with my time. Taking five minutes to plan my day and identify where to put my energy is KEY, and is a crucial way I’m taking care of myself these days!

Each of these five minute fixes is something I am actively trying to incorporate into my day- but I am always looking for new ideas! What’s your go-to quick self care move? Share in the comments!

Finding Time to Read as a Mama of Littles

I love to read- I always have. I devoured books as a kid, and I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t reading for pleasure- even in college, I would make a point to read an unassigned book for a few minuted each night before bed. I love it!

Finding time to read has become increasingly hard since I’ve had kids, though. Ya feel me? When the heck am I gonna find the time to sit down with a book and a cup of tea? Can I even keep my eyes open long enough to read a chapter before I go to bed? If I’m honest…usually, I can’t. But that hasn’t stopped me from continuing to read as much as possible- I’ve just had to get creative.

I’ve found a few tricks to getting my reading time in, and I want to share them with you today! and if you’ve got tricks, too- DO TELL!

THE KINDLE APP

For real- I’m giving you my #1 trick first. The Kindle App has changed my life and is the biggest reason I continue to be able to read. My phone comes with me everywhere, and if I read via my Kindle app, so do all of my books. I’ve been reading through the Harry Potter series this year, and this is how! Any little snippet of free time I get (waiting in the preschool pickup line, pacing with Shepherd during the day) I read a bit at a time. KindleUnlimited is a monthly service that lets you borrow a few books at a time (including Harry Potter) and I’ve loved taking advantage of that- but it’s not necessary to use the app. Many books on Amazon are available on Kindle for cheaper than a hard copy!

Also, I got you a FREE MONTH of Kindle Unlimited. YOU’RE WELCOME 🙂 🙂

WHEN ONE IS ASLEEP

This might feel like a no-brainer, but it took me a while to take advantage of one child sleeping and the other playing quietly. Specifically, this is when I get my Bible reading in. Shepherd wakes around 6am each morning, but Halle usually sleeps until 7 or so. I use this time to let Shepherd explore and work on my Bible reading, or read a devotional book. PS- I’m REALLY loving this Bible right now- SO glad I made space in my suitcase to bring it over here!

AUDIOBOOKS

I don’t take advantage of this nearly as much as I should, but I know lots of mamas who swear by audiobooks. I just have a hard time doing much else when I am listening. But- if you’re looking for a new tactic to try, check out Audible! I loved Audible when I tried it out a few years back- I listened to several books on my cross-country road trips from TX to FL to Md and back. They are great! I LOVE listening to Harry Potter with Jim Dale. THE BEST.

PS- I also got you a FREE MONTH OF AUDIBLE (that’s 2 books FREE)- You’re welcome again 🙂

 

WHILE NURSING

This is a big big win for me- using my Kindle app and reading while I am nursing. This is almost exclusively how I’ve been getting through Harry Potter, and it’s awesome! Much more relaxing and better for your brain than the endless scroll of social media.

PRECIOUS KID-FREE TIME

Yes- I do use my very infrequent kid-free time to read. Sometime that looks like me reading while the kids nap, or when I get “introvert time” on the weekends. Other times, this looks like Matthew and I just calling a “reading night” after the kids go to bed, and reading until we are ready to go to sleep. We have both realized how good this is for our mental health, and we try to do it about once a week. This is also a great time for me to catch up on physical books I have on the shelf, as most of my reading time otherwise is done on my phone via the Kindle App.

For My Friends on Special Diets!

What would you say if I told you that you could buy over 100 digital resources (107, to be exact!) to help you improve your health?

You’d probably say I’m crazy. But I’m telling you, that’s exactly what’s happening right now with the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!

Here’s the kicker: there are TONS of resources for all of my friends on special diets. Included in this bundle (among so many other things!) are:

8 Grain/Gluten Free Cookbooks

8 Paleo-specific Cookbooks

4 Keto Cookbooks

7 Real Food Tips & Tricks Cookbooks

Additionally- there are AMAZING bonuses included with your purchase, like a Kombucha starter kit, a bag of gelatinized maca, a bio-immunity tincture, and 2 free cartons of bone broth! #yasssssss!

The entire package is worth $3,680, but right now it’s only $29.95 to pick up your own copy of the bundle. But you have to act fast — at a price like this, they can only offer it for six days! Go get yours HERE:

 

My Secret to Making Healthy Living Easier

 

What’s standing in the way of a healthier life for you and your family?

Is it…

  • Having a Walmart budget when you’d like to shop at Whole Foods?
  • Feeling overwhelming by all the changes you’ll need to make? (<— this has been me recently!)
  • Wondering how to fit all the healthy tasks into your day (when you’re barely squeezing in the basics as it is)?
  • Confusion over what changes are really important (and which ones to do first)?

I understand where you’re coming from.

When we moved to Rwanda, everything I knew about running my household and keeping my family healthy was upended. I didn’t have the same ready-made foods available to me (I recently saw a small bag of quinoa being sold for $15!). Everything had to be cooked from scratch. I couldn’t just go buy paper towels without spending the equivalent of taking my family out to lunch. There aren’t any natural health stores, and even meds are different here. I had to relearn everything I had taught myself about homemaking and start fresh with new skills and new rhythms.

Making serious changes in the way I run my household was difficult, but I have a secret to share- something that made a huge difference for me last year, and can help you, too!

For example, what if you could…

  • Learn to replace store-bought products with DIY options that actually work and are easy to make? (my biggest win!)
  • Discover healthy meal planning secrets that are cheaper (and faster!) than the drive-thru, plus get wholesome recipes your family will love?
  • Access resources like eCourses that teach you what changes you can make (and how to make them)?

The folks at Ultimate Bundles have put together the popular Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle for the sixth year in a row (hurray!). They’re amazed at how many families are saying “yes!” to their health (over 80,000 and counting!) and taking them up on this super short opportunity to get a complete library of natural living resources for one teeny tiny price. I’ve been buying this bundle for YEARS and it is such an amazing value EVERY year!

You sort of need to see it to believe it, but the package includes 107 digital products and it’s worth over $3,680!

For the cost of a small bag of groceries, you’ll get a complete healthy living library to help you:

  • prepare wholesome & delicious real food
  • get the toxins out of your house for good
  • understand and use natural remedies
  • breathe new life into your exercise habits
  • learn about important women’s health issues
  • raise exceptionally healthy kids in an unhealthy world (yes!)
  • deal with digestive issues naturally
  • discover the exercises you need for the best version of yourself
  • plus learn about gardening & homesteading, meal planning, weight loss and so much more!

Plus, it comes with over $190 worth of bonus offers (totally one of my favorite parts!).

Besides being so incredibly helpful and inspiring, one of the things I like best about the bundle is the price. By offering the bundle for a short time only, they’re able to give you access to over $3,680 worth of high-quality eBooks, eCourses and printables for a whopping 99% off! $29.95 for an entire library of awesomeness.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit their website, take a quick look at all the goodness that comes in this package, then click the green “Buy now!” button to go through their simple and secure 3-step checkout process.
  2. You’ll receive an email with a login to their online access portal, where you’ll begin downloading your eBooks, signing up for your eCourses, and redeeming your free bonus offers.
  3. Use their Getting Started Guide to pick the topic you want to tackle first and start making healthy changes!

The most important detail, though, is that this bundle is available for just six days! After Monday night, September 25th, the sale ends and you’d have to buy all of these products individually.

It’s even backed by a full money-back happiness guarantee, so you can make sure it’s right for you.

No one should have to put off a healthier lifestyle because it costs too much or they can’t get the help they need.

Our family has felt so much better by making changes to the way we eat, the products we use, and how we take care of ourselves. It’s made all the difference in the world and I want the same for you.

Get what you need for your healthy lifestyle. Learn more or get your bundle HERE.

(Psst… the bundle goes away at 11:59pm Eastern on Monday, September 25th, so don’t wait!)