My ‘wobbly’ life and encouragement for Easter

From time to time, I experience what I like to call a “mom meltdown.” For example, as I was driving home yesterday after a late-night Easter basket run, I looked around my vehicle, at the kid crumbs and discarded french fries and junk from all the projects I’m working on, and I mentally threw my hands up in the air.

“Why can’t I ever seem to get it together?” I asked myself. “I’m always so overwhelmed and behind on everything.” And then came the other inevitable questions:

  • How do my friends do it? They always seem so organized and at peace.
  • When will I ever get caught up?
  • What do I need to change to make things easier?
  • Why does life seem so hard?
  • What is wrong with me?

And as I drove home in the dark, exhausted and on the verge of tears, this verse popped into my mind:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Cor. 12:9 (NIV)

For Type A people like me, this verse is hard. Because I want so much to improve myself, to accomplish my goals, to please others, to control the outcome. It’s unnatural for me to boast about my weaknesses because I spend so much time trying to get rid of or minimize them.

But during this particular late night “mom meltdown,” it was as if God himself laid His hand on my shoulder and simply asked me to let go …

… To let go of the idea of perfection – the perfect home, the perfect family, the perfectly organized and chaos-free life.

… To let go of the silly notion that I will catch up on my to-do list.

… To let go of the striving for significance, influence and approval.

And then He asked me to rest. Rest in the promise that He’s still working on me and I will never be complete on this side of heaven. Rest in the promise that He cares for me and has never failed to provide me with everything I need.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

So in spite of the fact that my life often looks and feels a lot like the wobbly fan I recently renovated on my back patio, I can actually rest and rejoice in the chaos of every day. Because it is one more piece of evidence that Jesus is alive. His power rests on me and is made perfect in my weakness.

Hyacinth

May you enjoy a restful and joyous Easter celebration!

Recent bargain finds (plus a peek into my thrifty brain)

Today I thought I’d share a few bargains I found recently that are helping me transform my living room into a space similar to the decor inspiration I’ve collected. As always, I’m working to do it all for pennies on the dollar. (Stick around after the photos because I’m sharing the three main questions I ask myself before making purchasing decisions.)

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I almost passed out from excitement when I discovered my favorite discount store, Gabe’s, is currently selling fabric remnants. I got four yards of the high-end decorator fabric above for under $10 total! I’m planning on using this gorgeous fabric to make a few pillows and a valance for the kitchen window. (By the way, I still can’t believe I found that chair for free along the side of the road.)

Speaking of pillows, the one in the photo above was $7.99 at Gabe’s. It is 20″x20″ and seems to work great with the living room decor. I would be hard-pressed to find a new pillow this size (or even to make one) for that price. Interestingly, I remember looking at the same exact fabric the pillow is made from at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store a little over a year ago. I think it was about $10 per yard at the time.

Thrifty-finds

The blue throw blanket was $9.99 on clearance at Kohl’s. I also had a coupon for an additional 30 percent off, bringing the total down to about $7.

Hickory-floor chair

The oil painting was $25 on clearance at HomeGoods. This thing is huge! I checked and checked and couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I’m not quite sure why it was so cheap, but it looks great in my space. :)

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The blue pillow on the leather chair was $2.99 at Gabe’s. Yes, $2.99 people! I wish I could have found two more of these for my couch. But after breaking a sweat digging through bins of pillows, then discovering my toddler was using a pile of clearance washrags as his personal tissues, I abandoned the search.

3 questions I ask myself before buying home decorations

OK, so a lot of people ask how I’m able to get stuff for my home so inexpensively. Honestly, there is no real science to it. But there are a few key principles I follow, which begin with me asking myself some tough questions.

1. Do I love this enough to let it take up space in my home and add to my cleaning responsibilities?

This may sound like a heavy question considering I may just be looking at a candle holder or lampshade, right? But here’s the deal: There are so many lovely things out there that catch my eye. If I brought them all home, I’d be broke and ready for an episode of “Hoarders.” So I must be extremely intentional about the decorating choices I make.

My goal is to look around my home and feel peaceful and proud (most of the time ;)). After all, it is my haven. For me to purchase something that will be in my line of sight for the next however many months or years, it had better be the.one.thing.I.can’t.live.without. If it’s not, I don’t buy it. Period. This curbs a lot of unnecessary spending and helps me avoid buyer’s remorse.

2. How (or where) can I get this for less?

If I find that one thing I can’t live without, I move on to this question. This is where patience and coupons, internet deals, free shipping, etc. come into play. If I’m not comfortable with the sticker price of an item (I rarely am), I engage my thrifty mojo to see what I can do to get that item for way cheaper. This usually means waiting for it to go on sale, then stacking coupons and deals on top of it. As Dave Ramsey would say, after I see the sticker price, I chant, “That’s not good enough!”

Many times, stacking deals and waiting for sales still don’t bring the price down low enough for me to feel comfortable buying something. So instead, I’ll hunt for a similar item online or at a discount store that has the same basic look or feel of the piece I desire, but at a fraction of the cost.

3. Can I make this or recreate something similar out of what I already own?

This is an important question to answer because, obviously, there are many times when I just can’t afford the item I want no matter how far and wide I hunt. This is when the creative juices really start flowing. (For a little more background about my DIY brain, check out my 10 random things about this blogger post.)

This is also when I go into my DIY zone. I brainstorm, research and hunt through my house … the backyard … the neighbor’s backyard … wherever … to collect materials that might be able to be turned into something similar to what I want. This process often takes a lot of thought and effort because I can’t really afford to waste money on project fails. Plus some of these projects require a high skillset and large investment of time. I try to be realistic about my own abilities and time obligations. I’ve gotten better at this over the years.

When things don’t work out

If I can’t find or buy the materials to make something super cheap, I abandon the whole idea and move on. Sometimes all the stars align months later and an opportunity arises for me to make or buy an item at the right price. The important thing is that I try not to rush a project or get my heart set on a particular item. Trends and my tastes are always evolving, so it’s not the end of the world if I have to go without something. (At least, this is what I tell myself. ;))

So there you have it, a peek inside this weirdo’s thrifty brain. For more information on frugal decorating, check out LROL Podcast Episode #003: Seasonal decorating for less – 10 strategies.

If you’re a fellow thrifty, what tips or tricks do you have for getting cheap home decorations? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section.

How to get more done and beat procrastination

I have to chuckle at the title of this post because I never thought in a million years I’d be offering tips on how to beat procrastination. When I was younger, I was literally the queen of procrastination.

Growing up, we lived down a long country lane. Each morning I walked about a half mile up that lane to catch the school bus with the rest of the neighborhood kids.

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(I couldn’t find a photo of our lane but it looked a lot like this one.)

I remember rolling out of bed 15 minutes before I needed to leave the house. Of course, it took me longer than 15 minutes to get ready. So instead of walking up the lane, I had to sprint. I can still recall the panic I felt when I saw that bus in the distance approaching our stop and I still had a quarter mile left to run! It was a great workout regimen, but certainly a poor way to start my day.

Unfortunately, my dashes to the bus stop weren’t isolated incidents of procrastination. I would get to school and hope my teachers didn’t ask for the homework until the end of class, so I could work on it during the class period. And in college, I was the one pulling all-nighters writing papers and, yes, even running to class each morning to make it on time.

Fortunately, there is one life event that will force even the worst procrastinator to clean up her act – kids. Those two little crumb snatchers made my “just-in-time” lifestyle impossible. I basically had to change or die – or at least suffer a series of embarrassing, public meltdowns. ;)

So I found some great resources to help me with my problem. I actually wrote about them in detail in Chapter 4 of my e-book. If you haven’t read it, it is totally free. Find out how to get your copy here.

One of the biggest game changers that got my procrastination under control was this guy:

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Courtesy photo

I learned to “Eat That Frog!”

Brian Tracy wrote a bestselling book called, “Eat that Frog.” His book title is based on Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

The idea is that, each morning, we should first complete the task that we are most likely to procrastinate on – often the most difficult, time-consuming and most important one on our to-do list. As a result of forcing ourselves to “eat that frog” right away, the rest of our day goes much more smoothly. I can say with experience that applying this principle on a daily basis has led me out of the depths of procrastination and helped me be more successful with finishing projects and managing my time.

It has also given me a greater sense of fulfillment, accomplishment and empowerment plus lower stress and anxiety.

So how do I make sure I’m “eating my frogs” each morning? I personally like to start by creating a schedule of the next day’s priorities on the evening prior. This allows my brain to subconsciously prepare for the following day’s activities while I’m sleeping so that, when I wake up, I’m prepared to get right to work – no excuses allowed.

When creating my schedule of priorities, I number them in order of importance. No. 1 must be accomplished, then No. 2, so on and so forth. No.1 would be my biggest, ugliest frog and then the next ugliest … you get the picture. Of course, the key to making this system work is disciplining myself to not deviate or skip around the numbers. They must be completed in order. This keeps me from wasting my most productive time, resources and energy on unimportant or less important tasks.

By learning how to get more done and working hard to fight procrastination, I set myself up for success in both my personal and professional life. This has become a key building block for me in creating the organized life I crave.

Do you struggle with procrastination? Do you have any stories or tips to share with others like me on the journey?