Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When things don't go as planned...

When the clutter is piling and the chores are back logging, I realize that more than just my work is needing attention. I wonder when the last time I did anything artsy was? Why haven't I been in God's Word as much lately? When did I last plan a special time for my sweet family?

All of these areas need attention at the moment - and I know that beauty and time in God's Word are sure ways of feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Regardless of all the work that needs to be done, sometimes I know that I must start with something beautiful and meaningful for the strength to get back to work with motivation and energy.

While at the store yesterday, I bought these white tulips for myself. And, this simple act of beauty spurred a morning idea, which turned out to be very hard for me and a struggle.

I made muffins, packed the wagon and planned on spending the entire morning over at our little neighborhood lake. This spot is a favorite of my children so what better way to encourage them and create a little beauty?

The walk over was lovely, the sun was rising through the trees and making everything look pretty. Flowers are blooming everywhere - it was just really nice!

We got our breakfast all set up and realized how terribly bad the sand gnats were. There were just swarms of them all the time, I had to keep my hand moving constantly in front of my face to keep them moving away. Then, they crawl in your hair and all three of my sweet children were scratching their heads like crazy - yet they did NOT complain one bit about it.

But, this mama was really struggling. Oh, Lord - to create something beautiful, do something special together, be refreshed - please! But, it was not His will today for some reason. It was one of those moments where I wondered why God would create such an annoying little pest to ruin our desire to enjoy His Creation. (So I will long for my perfect Heavenly home is the answer that popped into my mind.)

I came home with a heavy heart and to face this:

It just was a rough day and I don't say this to have a pity party. But, to be real. Sometimes I think that I love taking pictures and looking at the beauty that it is possible to observe and create because it is not messy. When so much of my life feels messy, it is just nice to have something be tidy or beautiful.

And, too - I think that we often look at each other through a limited view on a blog and think that her children always enjoy everything she plans for them and the weather is perfect where she lives and this and that. Just as a photo only captures what we want it to show - our blogs can become similar if we let them.

Several hours later, as I look at these pictures - I do see beauty. I don't see the gnats or the frustration or the disappointment. And, I am thankful for this. Somehow even when it is so hard, I must continue to trust that He is still in control. He still knows what He is doing. Even if I never understand the why - I must continue to trust. And, I must not give up!

As I sat down to write this post, this is not what I intended to write. But, again - He has another plan.

Tonight, I wonder ~ are you overwhelmed? struggling? feeling lost in clutter? missing beauty in your life?

I am right there with you friend! You are not alone! I think God wants to remind us that we are in this together and none of us are perfect, none of us have it all together. Each day is one step at a time.

Let's link arms and build one another up! I would love to pray for you (and would you consider praying over the comments as well?) if you would leave a comment or e-mail me!


Shannon Miller said...

Monica - I would love to pray for you and I would soooo appreciate your prayers too! My kitchen looks just like yours:) And it does seem like I start every day with a plan to get things all fixed up and and by the end of the day nothing's changed!

MameyJane said...

Hi, Monica. I've been a long time reader but rarely (if ever) commented. Thanks for being honest and real. I do feel overwhelmed with 3 children, homeschooling, and all the hats we wives and moms wear. Sometimes I feel like I'm too tired to even comprehend what I am reading when I get in the Word. But I know every effort counts and every prayer is bottled up into an account in heaven and when I need that refreshment God will reward my faithfulness with a little fresh touch. Your blog is such a blessing to me. Hope you find that peaceful, restful, "tidy" place to get refreshed.


p.s. Tidiness brings me peace, too!

Carrie said...

It's almost pathetic to say this but I really did appreciate seeing your dirty kitchen!!! =D At the end of my pregnancy I've been reading your blog and thinking, "Will I EVER have energy to make ANYthing beautiful again!!??!?" Most days it's just a question of whether or not I can out of my pjs! So, thank you for being real. It was very encouraging to me to think that no, not all of our plans and desires go the way that we want them to go every single day of our lives. Not every day is perfectly beautiful. Sometimes things get messy and occasionally they fall apart. But He is still God and He is still in control and He still chooses to bless us. Even with a sink full of dirty dishes!

April said...

I usually lurk, but wanted to thank you so much for posting this, Monica. I will confess, I have put you on a bit of a pedestal. It was so comforting to see your counters looking like mine did a bit earlier this evening! I'm lifting you up in prayer right this very moment. Tomorrow is a new day! God bless...

pippasmum said...

Oh, Monica, I know the frustration when we have a picture in our minds of what we want to happen and it doesn't turn out that way. Your spirit of acceptance is inspiring to me. I have four more weeks at home with my children before I go back to work and the last three days have been totally overwhelming by both children sick - we discovered this evening that my little man, who is 9 months, has a double ear infection and a lung infection. It's been really tough and discouraging but I just keep thinking of those children in Japan and the images I saw of mothers having to line their children up to be scanned for radiation and being thankful to God that I have my children close to me and can cherish them. It can be so hard not to be overwhelmed - my prayer has been that either God bring healing to us quickly or that He send me the strength to serve my family unceasingly and to bless them all through this struggle. I am praying the same for you.

*carrie* said...

I love you, sister!

Thanks for sharing your heart. You know I get it.

Good talking to you today! Praying you'll feel refreshed and encouraged tomorrow.

. said...

Yes! You are talking to me!!! I had bid project of taking down all my picture frames, painting them, changing out pictures, AND re arranging them. This has been going on 3 weeks. My family couldn't sit at the table to eat, or even on the couch to relax! I finally got it done today. To celebrate, I put a beautiful floral tablecloth on. =) Thank you so much for sharing.

Paige said...

I appreciate your honesty Monica. I am feeling a bit sad if I let myself. My dad was recently diagnosed with primary liver cancer, stage 4, and told he has between 4 and 12 months to live. I am having a hard time seeing beauty.
But I try, and sometimes God sticks a flower in my face or a bit of color on the side of the road, or something terribly funny comes out of one of the boys mouths, and I see, God is beauty. God has created all of this. God gives and God takes away.
And in the end I see, it's all about Him. And that makes this day, with it's frustrations and sadness, just a blink of my existence and all so very VERY worth all the ordinary and in between beauty days.

Rebecca said...

Monica, this was such a refreshing post. I often have wondered how you keep up with everything you do and how you manage to incorporate some much good in your life and the lives in your children, when I am drowning in the "daily to do's" I absolutely loved the pictures of your kitchen counter tops and felt such a connection seeing the "lack of perfect." This home maker thing is hard, it keeps us on our knees, and in the Word. We don't have it ALL together ALL the time, the struggle is part of the journey. Thank you for sharing a piece of yours, one that I could relate so closely too. I am blessed.

Alyssa Rose said...

Thanks for being real tonight. The past week has been a time of life lessons in adulthood. I am in a position where every where I look it seems impossible. People have been telling me trust God and his timing. My flesh wants to just give up! Simply give up. Yet I know better and just don't feel like listening. But like them, God is using your words to remind me that He can do the impossible and make it possible. So, I will wait and continue to hope in Him!

"Somehow even when it is so hard, I must continue to trust that He is still in control. He still knows what He is doing. Even if I never understand the why - I must continue to trust. And, I must not give up!" I needed to read this and keep this in the forefront of my mind.

Praying for you tonight!

Angel said...

I know so many people struggling through the same thing! Your blog has been such an inspiration to me. I will pray for you and I'm passing your post on via Facebook as well!

Tiffany said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've been feeling the same way lately and it is good to know I'm not alone and to see the other side of someone who always looks perfect through their blog. I need to get back into the Word and more Godly, lovely pursuits. Please pray for me.

Anonymous said...

Monica, your honesty is refreshing. We all have hard days. Yep, i feel overwhelmed and stressed and like i am missing some beauty. I need my *filter* cleaned, that is for sure :-). May the Lord bless you with encouragement and strength and peace. tammyp

Bonnie said...

Lord, you created Monica, you created her love for beauty, and her desire to make memories for her children. Help her Lord, to know where to begin. How well I know Lord, that feeling of so much to do, but where do I begin. And Lord, now that I think about it, by tidying up, and putting things in order, we are creating beauty!
As I was reminded last week Lord, this is the day that You have made, let us rejoice and be glad in it, even and- especially when, everything around us seems to be falling apart.
Please Lord, bring peace and order to Monica's mind and
heart, and bless her Lord, as she has blessed us!
Thank-you Jesus, AMEN!

Every morning, for the last week, the children and I have
been singing ~This Is the Day~. Such a simple children's song, but by declaring it, the whole spirit of our day
changes. I'm still behind, and trying to keep mu head above
water, but I'm learning to rejoice and be glad.

And may I suggest what I have been doing for my quiet
time? I have been reading the chapter of Psalms and
Proverbs that corresponds with the date. If God brings
another passage to mind, I'll read that as well, but as a
busy mama with four little monkeys to care for, these two
books have been my lifeline!

Blessings to you, and a big I'm right there with you hug!

Genesa said...

Thank you for a wonderful post! It was very encouraging! We often see only a fraction of someone and their life. I've been reminded/gently pushed that I shouldn't be looking at what others do or have. My focus should be on My Heavenly Father and what he has blessed me with. Thank you again! (and I love your blog, I rarely comment, (sorry), but I read it regularly!)

Leanne said...

I really loved this post, Monica. its funny, but I think there are always going to be things in our lives that are "messy" in one way or another. My counters don't look like yours, but we haven't sat down as a family for a real dinner in over a week! at the same time, I've given up creating some things--like big birthday parties, in an effort to stop focusing on what I did for an event, and just focus on enjoying my family during celebrations!
I'm throwing a baby shower tomorrow for a friend-its not going to be nearly as creative as I had once planned-but, it is going to be from my heart☺ I think any type of loving effort we make towards other people is always beautiful in God's eyes--I have to remind myself of that in the moments when the paper plates have been broken out and we're having hot dogs for dinner! and when I have a knot in my stomach because I want a baby shower to turn out just right!
thank you for sharing the beauty in the reality of our lives! and the struggle to sometimes find it!

Wendi said...

Oh Monica! "when things don't go as planned" could be my theme song!

Seriously I am at the overwhelmed stage often. Tired of being frustrated with the little man I watch, wanting to just sit down and craft with my girl (and just not getting it together), looking around at the not so clean kitchen that was clean just an hour ago. Wondering why I bother and just wanting to throw my hands up and surrender.

Thankfully there are those sweet, simple moments that sneak up on me and remind me why I keep going.

Dawn said...

Beautiful post. Truly beautiful...and real.

Unknown said...

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. I have been struggling the past couple of days. Feeling overwhelmed and things just have not been going my way. Every step forward causes 3 steps back it seems. Add on the terrible weather we are having in Michigan (ice storm and it was 19 degrees this morning as I took the kids to school-- only going to be 29 for a high today-- brrr what happened to spring??). It hasn't been helping. It was great to read your post and realize-- I am not the only one dealing with these struggles. Thank you!!

Lona said...

Monica, with a heavy heart I type. A friend lost her husband yesterday to cancer. I could not help but have compassion and relate in my own life. We take for granted some times, that life is just a vapor. Here today, with our Savior tomorrow.
But sometimes I feel like I DESERVE MORE than I have, and that my friend, is such a lie. I am so blessed to have one more day here with my loved ones.
So, with that being said, LET'S TURN UP THE MUSIC, USE OUR GOOD DISHES, DANCE IN THE RAIN, AND LIVE LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW!! Make memories with the lake bugs, because our children don't mind if our houses are cleaned or not!! Praying for you!!

Lisa Northcutt said...

Hi Monica, I have been following your blog for quite a while. I am so happy to see that others struggle to keep counters cleaned off!! I will certainly pray for you to find energy/stregnth to cope with everything and still create beautiful memories with your children. Although my children are 18 and older, My husband is disabled and needs constant care. I too struggle and would appreciate your prayers as well. We are so blessed to still have him in our lives but I get so bogged down in everyday chores/care that I don't get to make beautiful memories. We all need more beautiful memories!
Thank you for your wonderful blog--it brings me such joy!

Lisa @ Simply Things Family said...

Monica: Saturday we returned from a very fun and relaxing vacation to FL. This time away always makes me reflect on my priorities and where I should be putting my efforts. It seems that you put you efforts to you family. How wonderful! I would like to say that I do the same, but I have gotten into reading MANY blogs! My home is not as nice as it used to be. The first thing I did when I got home was delete about 18 blogs that I was following (of course, not yours). I am simplifying and evaluating myself. I request prayers as I make changes and focus on what is important to me and my family.
Prayers for you. Your blog is one of the inspirational ones!

Patty Williams said...

{ HUGS } -- Looks like alot of us feeling the same way! I will definitely say a prayer for all of us and appreciate any in return.

We have so much going on- a DD that just made the jv softball team and is in band. The band is going to Disney on Spring Break (leaving this Sunday--anxiety is at an all time high for me!) Son is in baseball and band. The pothole roads have gotten the best of husbands car, so many $$ in repair and it's not finished yet. All just little things but they do weigh on a persons mind.

I tell myself constantly that if life were "perfect" all the time, we would never appreciate, the seemingly small simple things that happen. I do so enjoy those happy little moments!

Hugs and prayers for all ♥

Kellie said...

Oh Monica, thanks for your little glimpse of imperfection!
I don't have a grand home, but I love keeping my simple little cottage welcoming and beautiful to me... That said, I am a mother to 15-month-old twins (as well as an 8-year-old daughter) and have struggled since the babies were born to keep my house in order. There are not enough hours in the day to keep my counters clean, the laundry done, the house neat, and make sure my family is happy. My crafting has basically stopped. I love my babies, but keeping up with the older one and the littles is definitely challenging.
I say all this not for my own "pity party" either, but just to show that you are not alone! I often wonder how you manage to do such wonderful things for your family and create and keep the house so neat. A little reality is good for my spirit today, as I face a long To Do list.
Thank you!!

Agnes said...

Oh Monica, I will pray for you and all of us struggling. Your post made so much sense to me. I am now at my 5th month of pregnancy and things are so hecktic sometimes: work can be hard, the house is a mess, my garden is far from where I would like it to be now. The children are acting out, everything feels out of control, but you are right, He is in control and He knows what is the best even if we don't understand. Praying that all of this will bring us strenghth.

Angie said...

People forget that bloggers are real people. When we look at their beautiful pics and say "I wish my house was that neat or I would love to have that" it makes you wonder what's wrong with me. Why can't I have that? I'm a stay at home, homeschooling, Christian mom and I'm tired!Only other stay at home moms understand that kind of tiredness! So thank you for showing us your worked in kitchen.

~katie~ said...

Thank you for being an inspiration once again, Monica. I took a very similar of my countertop last week that had been that way for weeks!!! I just hadn't decluttered it in so long, and my life was feeling that way too. I thought if I took a picture...I would just have to eventually get that satisfying after pic too! I did a few days later...but it's growing cluttered again. I grow more and more thankful that the Lord looks at the condition of our hearts before the condition of our homes...and how little by little, He allows us to take one thing at a time. I really identify with this post and admire you for how you find the beauty in every moment...chaotic or calm. You have refreshed me today, dear friend!

Blessings on the rest of your week,

Betsy said...

Monica, thank you so much for your transparency. It IS a blessing knowing that we are not alone in this struggle. I have always admired how you intentionally create such sweet "party" like experiences for your children and I know it means the world to them! I am praying for peace for you and that God will also help you see what a great job you are doing! I, too, struggle in this area and would appreciate prayers.

Sharon Taylor said...

I, too, will pray for you and ask for your prayers also. I start each day with a devotion and ask the Lord to help me finish what is needed but still find myself running short of getting it all done. I was making good time until yesterday when, out of the blue, came down with a 24 hour stomach virus which had me laid up all day. I think that this is also included in God's plan to get us to stop and rest, to also look for and enjoy the things of beauty when we are not so busy. You are turly an inspiration to me and so many others.

Anonymous said...

Hi Monica. I am a long time reader but rarely, if ever, have commented. Thank you for your honesty. I love your blog and you inspire me to be better. Sometimes I feel like a bit of a failure and although I feel terrible saying this, I really appreciated see your messy counters. It reminds me once again that we are all in the same boat, and at the end of the day, just want to be the best we can be for our family.

Brenda said...

****waving arms wildly*****

Me! Me! I feel the same way!!! Those kitchen counters could be mine except they have spread over most of the house. I feel like we are very behind in school and I feel panicky about it. Oh I am behind on so much.

Thank you for the encouragment--I will pray for these others.

Anonymous said...

Your blog always comforts me in one way or another. It's so good to know that I'm not the only one that struggles with taking care of my home and trying to raise a happy family. We are all in the same boat! I will pray for you as I know you pray for all of your readers! God's blessings to you!


Jen Schwartz said...

Monica~I have read your blog for a long time but never commented until now. I was so very encouraged by this post. So often we do look at others and wonder "How is it that they have it all together when I struggle to simply make it from one day to the next?" I have felt simply buried lately, and with good reason~I have 5 daughters, and a baby on the way (morning sickness~Blech!), but that doesn't stop me from comparing. Thank you for your honesty and a simple reminder that we all have "those days" and God doesn't want us to compare~He simply wants us to do what we can right where we are.

Rachel said...

Thank you for your honesty, Monica! It is hard, a daily struggle to find the joy and beauty. I, too, feel the pressing in of the clutter around us and wanting to create wonderful moments for my kids and then get overwhelmed at the effort that requires...and sometimes with their lack of gratitude for the experience. I've been reminded lately that I am indeed, working unto the Lord. Pray that I would seek my satisfaction in Him alone and not in the affirmation of man, the completion of projects, or the order of my home. Praying for you, too!

Anonymous said...

While your tulips and your picnic were lovely, my absolute favorite picture was of your messy kitchen! I struggle so much in the housework department of being a homemaker. Reading all the comments from others who also struggle is comforting. Bless you, Monica, for keeping it real.

LynnMarie said...

I hear you Monica. Our kitchen cabinets had to come down and all the dishes are EVERYWHERE while we try to find a solution that will cost $1800.00! There is only so much money to go around you know. I feel overwhelmed by the mess everywhere and for a Type A - this is hard. I'm trying to figure out what God is teaching me. I hope I lean fast.... :)

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

Thank you for this. It's nice to see other people's honesty in the daily struggles. Sometimes blogs get too sugar-coated to feel real, so this was nice to read. (Not that I want you struggling, but I hope you understand what I mean.)

Personally, I've been a real mess lately. We had to put our beloved cat of 13 years down 5 weeks ago, and I found out at the same time that I'm pregnant, which was 100% unexpected. Then we got a new cat, and he's been having some minor health problems... On an emotional level, I'm a total wreck. On a physical level, I have no energy and am nauseated all the time. My house is a disaster, I have no idea what my husband has been eating lately, as I don't feel like cooking anything... I just can't keep up with life, in general, and it admittedly has me very down. Toss in grief over our cat, the adjustments to having a new cat, and getting used to the idea of having a child in a few months. To say I'm struggling is an understatement.

Not that I want others to go through hardship, but it is nice to know that others struggle at times, too. Makes me feel not so alone.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Monica,
Thanks for being real, Honey. So sorry you have been overwhelmed lately, but glad you recognize that God is in control...and that you are getting so much encouragement from your blogger friends. Believe me, I understand, as I remember what it was like when I had 3 little ones to take care of.

When I read your blog last night and you talked about bringing beauty into your home, it inspired me to do something like that for myself, as I have been in with laryngitis (like your mom..only I haven't felt bad.)
I had to get out today and the grocery store had the brightly colored painted daisies on sale. I have always wanted a bouquet of them, so I bought some today and shared them with my neighbor. Myrtle. It not only made me feel happy, but I shared my happiness with her. Thanks for the inspiration.

Just a reminder that I will be praying especially for you and Samuel as you go to the eye dr. tomorrow. (As I have already been doing.)

God bless you my dear grandaughter.

I love you very much, Grandma

angie said...

So glad to hear that there is a happy ending to this story! ( I read your later day post first...)
I have felt paralyzed by fear of making decisions this week. This feeling is not new, but I'm trying to handle it better than usual this time. Trying to remember that I cannot have two emotions at once, and joy transcends.
We finally started our "Journey Through the Holy Days" on Monday. It has been a good time of family devotions already. It is neat to see the topic strips adding up on the garland. (I decided to hang mine lengthwise by paper clips on ribbon strung under my mantle.)
Today I treated my family to a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. That freed me up a little more before dinner to make apple muffins. Win-win!

Mom said...

Dear sweet daughter, what a heartfelt blog post that clearly spoke to many of your readers! When I was a frazzled young mom with darling young daughters(!!), I read somewhere that when we are feeling dry, spent, overwhelmed, tired -- you get the idea -- that those are some of the times that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. What a comfort and encouragement that was to me then and still is now!

What a great idea to bring home those beautiful white tulips to be an oasis of beauty to focus on instead of the jumble on the counter, or the laundry piled up, or whatever else may have been around.

Love and prayers, Mom

barbara said...

I always appreciate your honesty, Monica. You are so right, we can read and view blogs and put ourselves into a depression because we think, "She's got perfectly behaved, happy children, a clean, beautiful home, time for crafting and sewing, and a garden that actually grows something edible!" My house is normally tidy, but right now we are packing to move; forced out by foreclosure. I make homeschooling a priority, but everything else is a disaster - it's hard for me to concentrate! I just have to keep asking God to keep me focused on Him first, then feeding and schooling my children and packing my home up. We don't even have a home to go to yet, but I am at peace knowing that God is in control and He is going to put us exactly where He wants us!

I'll pray for you, you pray for me.

Have a blessed day.

Anonymous said...

As a few people have said, I read your blog regularly, but rarely comment. I feel the same way right now, with a lot on my plate. I keep dwelling on the fact that I haven't done crafts with my kids in weeks and that we haven't done any fun outings. It's great to know I'm not alone!

Lee said...

I always feel overwhelmed. It's a continuous battle for me to step back and take a breath. I'm such a type A that I'm still learning flexibility. Some day I'll learn. We're in the midst of adding a third child to our family through adoption. We're just waiting for the phone call to place a child in our home through foster care. Scary because the mother may get her act together and have the child returned. Great for the family, but hard for us. Plus my husband's been feeling tugged on to become a church planter. This is my deepest fear. DEEPEST FEAR. I feel so scared. I can't imagine becoming a pastor's wife and having to reach out. I'm so quiet and introverted that the thought is terrifying. And yet, he's my husband and I want to honor him. I'm a tough place to be in and most days I fail miserably. I would appreciate ANY prayers. Even the quick one in between chasing kids. :-)

the mommy said...

"Tonight, I wonder ~ are you overwhelmed? struggling? feeling lost in clutter? missing beauty in your life?" your words hit me like a ton of bricks. This is exactly how i have been feeling lately. With 2 small kids a husband and full time job life is overwhelming right now. I would appreciate your prayers and will pray for you as well. Thank you for being so honest.

~Babychaser~ said...

I tried to mention something in a post I put up yesterday... yet, I feel I didn't quite put it as succinctly as you did. Thank you for putting words to my floundering.

It is so hard to make the time for these special moments... time for beauty... when our lives and our homes are so full of clutter. How terrible it is to dread my husband bringing home flowers because it's just one more thing to clutter... and it's beauty is so lost among the mess!

I will say a prayer for you friend... for I know just how you are feeling! I've been over at my blog these last few weeks in the beginnings of a series ( tracking my journey to keeping a better home (with God's help) so that I can enjoy these things you talked about. Thanks so much for your encouragement!

Elise said...

Hey Monica...I know just how you feel. Ugh...I have the same countertop situation, except its all over the house!! We did, however, downsize to half the size of our other house and I have so much stuff-its overwhelming, really. I need to have a yard sale and never go back to Goodwill!!
Thank you for being real. A friend of mine and I were talking the other day about our{my} struggles and how it stinks that you think others don't struggle because they always show a pretty front, you know...I want to see that other people have bad days, homeschool isn't always fun and easy, or that they have clutter, too.