Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What I've Learned By Giving Up Shopping (for Lent)

What do you DO?
Three Questions

but back to the series...

"Three things are necessary for man's salvation," said Thomas Aquinas, "to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do."

In this three part series, during Lent, I am going to take apart this quote from Aquinas. In this quote, he begs the question.... actually three questions.

What do you believe?

What do you desire?

What do you do?

These are the three essential questions for faith and for salvation.  Aquinas said it: it must be true!  :0)

This year during the season of Lent, this will be the focus of my conversations. 

Today, I'm discussing what we do.

How's the 'no shopping' going for Lent?

Well, it's interesting. It is really opening my eyes!  The first few days, I just went about my normal routine, and I was surprised at how my consistent shopping this year has rescued me from the temptation to go to random stores throughout the week! :)  I changed my routine, so that instead of going to run errands Monday and Tuesday, I now go to Aldi on Sundays so that I don't have to go shopping or run any kind of errands during the week.  Without my rules in place (consistency is the backbone of life!!!), I think this would have been a disaster.

I was also able to have a day out with Frances on Sunday.  That way I could focus on her and her needs without the temptation to buy a whole lot for myself (I did get a stampad, a gluestick, and rubber cement for my craft collection on Sunday)!  That was a definite win and a resurrection moment for me-- taking my eyes off myself because my myopic lifestyle was damaging my relationship with my kids.

Am I saving money? Well.... not really. Yet.!  I am saving my going to Aldi. The thing is, I was going over-budget before, meaning Stephen wasn't really saving either.  Now I think he is saving, but I'm sticking to budget.  It is really frustrating and humbling to be in this position. But have you ever had to feed and raise 6 kids?!?!   They eat SO MUCH food and they are little consumers themselves. ACK!!!  The sad thing is we're going to be in a little bit of debt when we do our renovations. I would so much rather save a huge chunk in advance, but we'll have a loan to pay off when this is said and done. I suppose the upside is that we have NO other debt... no student loans, no credit card debt to pay off.... ETC!  SO I feel good, all told.

What am I learning by giving up shopping for Lent?

I am definitely learning how selfish I am.  I didn't realize how much I think about what we "need," constantly.  I have had to lay down my wants and focus more on my needs.

I have also learned that shopping is hard to avoid. I can't even read some blogposts or check the weather without feeling like I'm shopping on Amazon.  Avoiding all online shopping has been difficult!  Honestly, though I have gotten out of the habit of shopping on Amazon and almost completely online shopping, because we have had to be super thrifty especially recently!

How does 'no shopping' affect relationships?

This is HUGE.  There is more trust and even affection between me and Stephen. There is an arrow pointing from within our hearts and straight to God (I won't disclose what he gave up for Lent, but it has been a period of growth for both of us, FOR SURE).  We have that love for God in common, and in turn he leads us in paths of righteousness and excitement for his namesake.  #hyper

My kids of course notice that I'm not spending a bunch of money, and they respect me for that. Especially the older two. They notice everything we do, guys.

My relationship with myself is better, too. I have more self-respect because I don't have to question where the money is going.  During Lent, it goes for groceries and gas.  So far, that's about it.  Plus providing for my kids' needs.  I am able to do my job as wife and mother with more grace, and just that alone is worth the sacrifice for me in the end. (!!!)  :)


I know some people give up something different everyday of Lent.  Or one day a week.  Or just Fish Fridays. I challenge you to challenge yourself. It is tough, but worth it.
cross-posting at the ACWB

Friday, February 16, 2018

Three Things Are Necessary: A Series on Lent (Pt. 2 ~ Desire)


A Huge Oopsie

The other day, after picking my oldest up from her volleyball practice (she joined the team last week and will begin competing in games in the near future),  I let the kids play in water outside because despite being February, we had the rare 70 degree day.  They were squirting the hose, and playing and laughing.  I put Conrad down for his nap, checked my iPhone, then went outside, to find no one in the backyard.  I called for Annabel (the toddler) but she was nowhere to be found.

I looked in the front yard first, then ran upstairs and asked Molly and Frances where Annabel (and Anders and Madeleine) were.

Within 5 minutes, I had found them *you turn your back for one minute, guys*.... they were playing "Let's go to the swimming pool" and Madeleine - the ring leader- had brought them to the car. The three of them had gotten cold from the hose so they were trying to warm up by sitting in the car.

They all got in HUGE trouble.  But because it has been cold and we've mostly not been in the yard, they needed to learn the NEVER play in the car rule. It is not a place to play. ABSOLUTELY NOT.  I've had some bad past experiences with this and it is a huuuuuuge trigger for me.

They all had to change after that and I was shaking.

Cue all the anger and anxiety, guys!!!

Have you ever done anything like that?

Three Questions

but back to the series...

"Three things are necessary for man's salvation," said Thomas Aquinas, "to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do."

In this three part series, during Lent, I am going to take apart this quote from Aquinas. In this quote, he begs the question.... actually three questions.

What do you believe?

What do you desire?

What do you do?

These are the three essential questions for faith and for salvation.  Aquinas said it: it must be true!  :0)

This year during the season of Lent, this will be the focus of my conversations. 

Today, I'm discussing what we desire.

The Creamer Girl, Revisited

Last time, in part one of the series, I discussed the example of the 'creamer girl.'  She said in a blog post that she wrote about Lent that she wanted to give up creamer in her coffee for Lent.  What she, in fact did, was give up creamer on Wednesdays.


First of all, why?  

Well, to put it plainly, it is more serious than that.  Like finding your kids playing in the car (even if it isn't hot outside), God sees us messing around and it concerns him deeply.  Jesus is with us but he also says, "If you deny me, I will deny you."

If you say you're giving something up, it is - personally I believe- somewhat dishonest. You aren't taking it seriously.

What if you said, "I tithe to my parish!"  but when pressed, you admitted that you only tithed 10% of December once a year.  

Does that count as tithing?  Um, no.

Same goes for giving something up for Lent. If you give something up, REALLY give it up. If you don't, there is no way to know the joy of Easter (or mini-Easters).

I've had mini-lents in the past .... once I tried giving up caffeine and I actually did it (way back in college) but I tried again in my mid-thirties and failed miserably.  Mini-lents are weak sauce and I'm sorry ... they don't count in my book because like tithing, God only gets part of our heart. The rest is balderdash.

What do you desire?

There are honestly SO many things that I desire.  I want to travel, I want to be a *real* writer, I want to homeschool my kids for a year, I want to go to the moon on Elon Musk's car-- or maybe on his dime??? :)

I want so much. What do you want? Do you want to be an artist? Do you want to live on a farm? Do you want to homeschool your kids? Travel?  Become a maker on Etsy?  Make $150,000 a year?


Is the cry and the desire of your heart something you feel when you start dreaming, but you can't even put it into words?

We all have a romantic urge within us. It's *that thing* that makes us wistful, dreamy, and come alive.  It's a deep feeling of joy and desire. It is important to dream. It is also important to dream with the people we love. Dream with your spouse, out loud, together. If you are unmarried, dream with your friends and superiors.

Dreaming gets to the root of what is the cry of the heart and soul... and it often has to do with your future.  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

God wants us to have a wistful longing... because there are better things ahead than any we might leave behind.

Surrendering to God's will is the quickest, easiest way to find out what JOY feels like.  An answer to pray is the fastest route to freedom.

Ultimately, as a Catholic and as a Christian, I believe that UNION with God is the ultimate cry of the heart and soul.

I smell coffee....

So what does Lent have to do with it?

I feel like my heart is full of improper passions.  When I surrender the passions and lusts of my flesh to God, I end up finding out his will for me.

When I pray more,

1. I hear his voice.

2. I see his work.

3. I feel his presence.

4. I taste his strength. (5 senses anyone?? :)

5. I speak love.

6. I serve.

7. I listen and learn.

I am reminded that I can even live this way in ordinary time!

But during Lent, I find out just how powerful God is.  

When I am weak, then I am strong, says Paul.

When I put to death the lusts of the flesh.... and I'll be on the surest route to joy and freedom.

What is the dream of your heart?!


this is part two in a series, read part one here
linking up with kelly and acwb

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Three Things Are Necessary: A Series on Lent (Pt.1)

Three Questions

"Three things are necessary for man's salvation," said Thomas Aquinas, "to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do."

In this three part series, during Lent, I am going to take apart this quote from Aquinas. In this quote, he begs the question.... actually three questions.

What do you believe?

What do you desire?

What do you do?

These are the three essential questions for faith and for salvation.  Aquinas said it: it must be true!  :0)

This year during the season of Lent, this will be the focus of my conversations. I am going to start that conversation here, with part one on my blog!

Let's Talk About Lent

And before we get into that question, I want to discuss Lent for just a minute.  I remember in years past, I heard about a girl who was going to give up creamer in her coffee for Lent. However, it was too tough for her, but she still wanted to honor God by doing some kind of sacrifice during Lent.  She decided to give up creamer in her coffee one day a week.

I personally think that despite many shares on social media, "creamer girl" example is weak sauce.  If it was too hard for her to give up creamer in her coffee, then she should pick something else, and really give it up, and actually stick to her guns.

Why? Because the purpose of Lent is to make room for God.  We do this by practicing self-denial.  Even though she got a bunch of shares on Facebook, seriously... don't be like "creamer girl" because the backlash and repercussions of a lack of follow-through can really stall you in your goals. That's a fancy way of saying, "Oops."


I'm giving up shopping this year for Lent. I plan to REALLY give it up. The only exception (not excuse!!!) is Sundays. Sundays are little Easters- a day of rest- and so we can take part in that which we gave up on Sundays.

Lent begins this week on you guessed it- Valentine's Day (celebrate a day early?)  But going back to the first question in Aquinas' quotation, what do we actually believe.... what do we believe about the Church calendar? What do we believe about the resurrection from the dead?  What do we believe about Easter?

If we know the answer, then Lent makes sense. I'm not going to give up shopping "in name only" and still do whatever "the *h*" I want. I'm also not going to indulge in other things during Lent. Any kind of excess defeats the purpose of the fasting we practice.  If I gorge myself on cookies or become hugely addicted to crisp white moscato while I'm giving up shopping, I'm missing the whole point of Lent, which is to ...what?

What do you believe?

The other day I was out in nature, pushing two of my children in the stroller. That experience tapped into so much of what I believe about daily life. I believe that fresh air and sunshine and exercise are all good for you. I believe that my kids need to be in nature for their development to be consistent and healthy. I believe that stretching my legs, working my muscles, and getting my heart rate up all help me to be a healthy person.

Do you believe in the almighty dollar? Do you believe this is a free country, so to each her own? Do you believe your personality explains (away) every little thing that you do, sinful or not??

Our beliefs inform our desires and our actions.

If we don't know what we believe, but we are simply practicing Lent by giving up sweet tea, or wine, or sugar, or shopping...... then it is not going to be effectual in the cleaning out of our souls.

As Catholics, we say, "Lord, I am not worthy, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed... enough for you to enter under my roof."

That means we allow him to clean our souls. Thereby he can enter in and make our hearts holy .... Holy enough for Him! Holy enough for him to dwell within us.
When we ask God for a clean soul, we are expressing what we ought to do (which we will get into later in the series).

Each and every time we deny our flesh, we are asked to pray.  We are also supposed to practice almsgiving and chastity.

"Lord I am not worthy for you to enter under my roof. But only say the word and my soul shall be healed."   This is my prayer this Lent.  To be FOCUSED on God and his will for me!

How can you take steps this year to have an effectual Lent? What will enrich your faith, or that which you believe?
cross-posting with the ACWB

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What's "Saving My Life" Right Now

Of course we all know WHO saved the world.  It wasn't Martin Luther King, Jr. But in other news, these are the little itty bitty things that are "saving my life"  right now.  Linking up with MMD to share just that!! :)

1. Working Out

So at the end of January, I joined a gym.  This has been a long time coming, and after so many years of walking around the block, I'm finally not braving 30 degree nights any more! YAY!  I'm running on treadmills, doing the bike, lifting weights, and doing sit-ups/crunches/push-ups again. My gym has a locker room with showers, hairdryer, and more.. and it is in a superb location. Aaaaand I couldn't be happier with how good a deal I got! (Did anyone know that the Y is *so* expensive??? I'm paying about 70% less per month at my gym!!!)

2. Teaching Molly to vacuum

Recently upon dumping out a toy bin (see below), I handed Molly the vacuum cleaner, taught her how to use the hose attachment, and showed her where the "on" button was. I then proceeded to leave the room.  It has been so freeing now that she is ten to tell her, "Here, do this" and just LEAVE the room!!!! I don't have to supervise, and so much more cleaning is getting done! Woop. woop.

3. Repurposing storage containers

Over the past weekend, I used a file box like this one except turquoise to organize Madeleine's toys. This in turn created a domino effect, and for the first time ever, we organized the toys >>by person<< rather than by type of toy.   It has been wonderful.  I started noticing lots of un-used storage containers throughout the house, and by giving away one VERY large hamper of toys to Salvation Army, I got the girls' room organized once and for all *with our new system.*  Frances has her toys in this type of organizer , different color, in the closet, Molly is using a toy box in their room, Anders has a large basket, and Annabel has a plastic bin in the nursery.  I love it!

While we're talking storage, I've learned that smart people a) buy more unisex clothing and b) buy large.  The blue and pink are cute (sure it is!) and all, but if I had to do it over again, I would have gotten gray, green, white, and yellow onesies and passed them down to all the kids. Same goes for black pants and navy leggings. Jeans, khakis, and jeggings are often too gender-specific, but the cross-over there also doesn't have to be so stark. Perhaps it is all more dim and gray-ish than we think. :0) #buysmarter  I know I can still do this in the future. Also-- buy large then they can wear for 6 months or more, haha... AND black doesn't stain, neither does dark navy or dark plaid. :)

4. Buying coffee and Cleaning {And it goes without saying, reading}

Lately the thing that is getting me through the Winter is going out to a coffee shop somewhere downtown, and buying a good (not super cheap, but amazingly delicious) cup of coffee, and coming back home where I tackle one cleaning project in our house for the day.  It is fun because I often buy Annabel a little treat (her favorite is a chocolate chip cookie as a reward for eating a plate of eggs-- and I'm hoping to blend the treats into potty training in the very near future).  We live downtown, but it is so nice to actually take advantage of all that we have within arms' reach. I am getting better about it now.

It's also nice to finish the cleaning project, rehydrate by drinking a large glass of water with lunch, then make myself a cup of coffee, and read while the babies nap.

5. Drinking wine while perusing Pinterest + Protein powder

Ah, ordinary time, how I dost love thee!!!  Since we're remodeling soon, I have been saving a lot of ideas for our future playroom.  Do the words, "Accent wall" make anyone else hugely excited? No? Just me?  I want to paint the tan walls white, then add one accent wall of either pale pink or pale turquoise-ish like this color, silver mist.  Something about the routine of drinking one glass of wine while checking in with Pinterest makes me feel like I'm still getting a Happy Hour at 5pm everyday. :) Even though the kids climb on me nevertheless!!! But Lent, it cometh soon. Fast approacheth all types of self-denial and this might be the first or second thing that gets the boot!!

Also, this casein protein powder. Tastes delicious.

6. Consistency in errands and shopping +  Saving money

I'm still tackling my weekly chores using this system, and it is working marvelously!  If you missed that post, I do one Walmart run every Monday for staples, then I head to Publix on Tuesdays for any produce or recipe-specific extras.  It's a nice system for my forgetful self. I always know that I can pop in an easy dinner like frozen lasagna on Mondays, then make sure to get everything I need for more complicated menus, for the rest of the week, on Tuesdays.

And I'm not saving money yet --  and it doesn't help that I had $10-20 in my glove compartment that was taken, when Stephen I were both robbed from our cars over the weekend. UGH-- he lost his gym shoes and headphones 😭  I just lost some cash, that I know of.  However, I am planning to give up shopping entirely for Lent, so I'm hoping to save more money that way.  Perhaps a weekly trip to Aldi instead??

Here's hoping!!!!

Friday, February 2, 2018

100 ideas *to actually do*, besides go shopping!

Back when Molly was a toddler, I made a notebook full of homeschooling ideas and other things that kept me inspired. When I found that old notebook recently, I decided to jot some of the ideas down here on the ol' blog.  I found it inspiring that I don't really *need* anything to get started with most of these...... and I hope it inspires you, too!

I have noticed a huge trend with "unboxing" and I know online shopping is a pretty big deal, as are subscription services.  With Pinterest and all of the Amazonian wish listing going on, and add to that the fact that many people see shopping as a hobby or a way to bond with others (family or friends), I feel that we should start a counter-cultural movement.  The NO-shopping movement.

Is it possible? Absolutely yes. Is it better?  A million times better.  Have you heard of buy-nothing groups? They were started in Seattle, which is where my sister lives. Yet we don't have one anywhere near my area.  Let's get on that, people in the South!!!  It is a gift culture, where you give away things you no longer need, and can receive what others are giving away. For free!

So without further ado, here are ten ideas in ten categories for a non-shopping movement. :) And even though this isn't 7 things, I'm linking with Kelly today.

1. visit the warner park playground
2. frolic in the woods
3. hike
4. see a waterfalls
5. find a cool tree
6. gather greenery
7. gather wildflowers
8. wade in a creek
9. ride horses
10. fly a kite

1. draw a taco
2. DIY create your own decor
3. paint a flower with watercolors
4. practice drawing rainbows
5. make a collage
6. make greeting cards for pregnant mothers
7. make art for a wedding or baby gift
8. sew a bag
9. color with the kids
10. teach the kids a new crafting method

1. make hot chocolate
2. make mousse
3. make seafood
4. make pacific salad
5. drink coffee and plan
6. buy ingredients for scones
7. make a new smoothie recipe
8. make soup
9. try a new crockpot meal
10. make a cake

1. make valentines
2. make a banner
3. make a pennant
4. perfect playlist
5. simplify a wardrobe using color schemes
6. put inspiring words around the house
7. make sangria/drink a new wine
8. try a new hot tea
9. work on a photo scrapbook
10. make a recipe folder or box

1. read a memoir
2. read a mystery
3. journal
4. draw your prayers
5. create and use a devotional journal
6. journal collage (possibly with a magazine)
7. write a book review
8. plan a series for the blog
9. read aloud to the kids
10. peruse new releases at the library

gardening and planting:
1. get a new houseplant
2. save money in a planter
3. plant bulbs
4. force a bulb
5. get a fern for the front porch
6. build a digging area for the boys
7. plant flowers in pots in the backyard
8. plant flowers on the porch(es)
9. build an outdoor "housekeeping" area for the girls
10. make a backyard tent

health and wellness:
1.  do a video workout
2. long walk
3. make an instagram story about a beauty routine
4. make a new essential oils combination and diffuse it
5. try on new lip colors
6. organize your makeup
7. self-manicure and self-pedicure
8. dance party
9. do pilates
10. swim

with friends:
1. visit with friends for an afternoon playdate
2. get high tea
3. make bread
4. go to a pretty spot for a playdate
5. see a movie
6. go on an overnight to visit a friend
7. visit the zoo or aquarium
8. play tennis or cards
9. meet at library story time
10. go to a museum
making a sugar scrub with lavender oil, using things we already had on hand 
{coconut oil, lavender drops, brown sugar, and baking soda}

1. go for a drive
2. go see the stars
3. write a thank you note
4. write an email to an old friend
5. write a letter to a new friend
6. start a book club
7. write a devotional book
8. make a list of things you are thankful for
9. engage in liturgical reading and studying
10. try lectio divina
-visit a new city
Guess what?!  NONE of these things involve shopping. Not even the thrift store. You might have to buy a magazine or print some photos. Or go grocery shopping. Otherwise--- NOTHING.  The extra hashes are for you to think of your own ideas. What is your hobby, or what is in your wheelhouse?

also! read my January monthly recap 'inspired' if you missed it.

Life is so rich and full. Let's enjoy it shall we?!