Embracing a Plan

In my last post I alluded to a new system I’ve been working with that has been helping my organization and general well being. It’s not super complicated and didn’t cost a bunch of money. A simple planner has completely (maybe not completely completely, but a whole lot) changed the way I am operating.

This decision to embrace a planner was not random. Upon reflection I can see God guiding me toward one for a while. I’ve actually tried to use planners before with limited success. I would forget to bring them with me or leave them in my purse for days. I wouldn’t have a pen or some other excuse. This time is different.

The first step toward the new planner-me was re-discovering the Fly Lady and her methods for keeping your house clean. This new method inspired my whole series of Advent posts. I’ve been tweaking the Fly Lady’s ideas to fit my needs and family’s needs fairly successfully since November. I am a whole new cleaner.

The second step was reading a blog post (I wish I remember whose so I could give credit! Thank you whoever you are) that was about a blogger’s Christmas gift, a new planner. At first I thought, well whatever floats your boat. She had some pictures of the planner and I admit it was very pretty. I decided to click on the link to check it out more since this blogger was so passionate about how wonderful this planner was and how she utilized it in a number of ways – daily tasks, appointments, homeschooling, blogging, cleaning, meal planning – basically all the things I have been trying to keep straight in my head. (I’ll give you a hint – my head isn’t big enough)

Oh how I wanted this planner! It looked beautiful and seemed to be the answer to so many problems. I was so eager as I went through the website, choosing all the extras I thought I would want. Then I saw the prices. Yikes! Beautiful as it was, I knew I had failed with planners before. Until I knew this was something I could stick with, I couldn’t justify spending so much just because it looked nice.

However, my overly positive reaction to using a planner was surprising to me, so I decided to try it out on more of a DIY scale. $10 planner from Target, some washi tape and colorful pens was a much better route. I took some time and invested in “beautifying” my simple planner with the tape and pens. I also made some inserts to hold post-its and a meal planning pad of paper – thank you Pintrest.

Embracing a Plan by Kate Taliaferro at DailyGraces.net
My planner with Pintrest additions. I love having these tabs handy!
Embracing a Plan by Kate Taliaferro at DailyGraces.net
I love the owl tape! And now I will remember when Daylight Savings is thanks to some scraps of the blue-green tape.

I’ve been using this planner since mid-January. It’s only been a month but it has made a huge difference in my life pre and post-Eliza. Here are just some of the ways:

  • I am keeping a cleaning schedule – and actually accomplishing all the cleaning tasks I set out for the day (and if I don’t I am rolling the task over to the next day). Thanks to the Fly Lady these tasks are realistic, evenly distributed through the house and I try not to put more than 4 a day so I don’t get overwhelmed
  • I am meal planning in advance, which means I have much more complete grocery lists, which means less trips to the grocery store
  • I am remembering to write thank-you notes because I have a post-it for that
  • I am remembering all the things we need to accomplish in these last few weeks before we move because I have a post-it for that too
  • I will *hopefully* get most of the birthday cards out on time this year because I took the time to write down 2 weeks before each person’s birthday a reminder to buy a card and a few days before their birthday to mail it
  • Using the planner has also introduced me to bullet journalling which I’m also giving a go. It’s only been a little over two weeks with that though so the jury is still out. So far though I’m loving it

I never, ever thought that a simple planner could hold so much grace for my family. I am more calm, collected and less stressed. Plus, our home is cleaner than it has ever been. I look around (most of the time) with joy at how much more smoothly our family is operating because I am operating more smoothly. So much of our family dynamic is influenced by how well Ben and I are coping with whatever our current life situation is. As we continue in our transitions – moving again plus a new baby while Ben is in training – having one place for me to put basically everything has been game changing.

I wish I had done this sooner. I wish I had dedicated more time in my previous attempts at planners so that it wouldn’t have taken me this long to see how much I needed one. But I am so thankful that I finally got the message and am able to receive all the graces God has waiting for me in its pages.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Melting a Heart of Stone

Melting a Heart of Stone - Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com
By Sylda31 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
This day did not start out like a normal day. It actually started out as a rather terrible day. It was the day that Ben was coming home from a trip, which usually means it’s a day that is both exciting and awful all at once. Exciting because, obviously, Daddy’s finally coming home and the kids are bonkers, elated and otherwise screaming with joy. It is awful because time moves at its slowest speed and since we are all so excited our faces hurt from smiling, sometimes patience wears thin and tempers flare as we march through the day until he finally gets home.

Today was just such a day, except today started with one of my children, I won’t implicate them here, informing my still closed eyelids that there was potty on the couch while still dripping with it on the carpet in front of my bed. I flew out of bed to find indeed a soaking wet child as well as a drenched couch. Not only is Daddy coming home, now he is coming home to a pee-soaked former-favorite spot to sit.

Needless to say, I was not amused. I think my patience was forgotten in bed, probably still with my sleepy eyes and my temper was shorter than the coffee I had not yet drunk. With each paper towel, every squirt of any deodorizer I could get my hands on, and towel soiled, my heart hardened. The whole house smelled, breakfast still had to be made, children clothed and we had someplace to be by 10am. Oh, and I needed coffee. Badly.

Children truly are incredible in their ability to move on. The offending party was appropriately contrite, said all the right words and gave lots of hugs. They steered clear for a few minutes, recognizing that Mom was in rather a state. But only for a few minutes. Then, they were back to their happy-go-lucky selves, asking for extra juice and asking me to find a missing toy for them as if I wasn’t up to my elbows in pee and all manner of cleaners, almost desperate enough for a clothespin on my nose. Rather than being inspired by their uplifting attitude, it only fueled my stony heart.

I was turning into one of the disciples in the Gospel of Mark. They had just witnessed Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fish and now were looking across the sea to find Jesus walking to them in the midst of a storm. Mark says they were “astounded.” But at the same time, their hearts were hardened because they did not understand what Jesus was trying to tell them.

Jesus was trying to soften my heart through the cheerful attitudes of my children. Instead, I gave him the cold shoulder.

My mood, predictably, did not improve on its own. I needed some serious help. And thank goodness, I got it. We were driving to our morning event when Rosie asked to listen to the Vacation Bible School music that the kids had just finished that week. If it kept the car quiet and peaceful I was all for it so I turned it on, fading it to the back of course so that such uplifting, happy music wouldn’t influence my sour disposition (because who would want that? Clearly, I was stuck).

Then, very faintly, I heard the singing. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw John singing along to the song playing. Rosie quickly joined him. The next song they added some hand motions and even Clare tried to keep up, clapping and giggling. Slowly, my stony heart was melting. These beautiful, simple children, were praising God to the greatest of their abilities. They were filling the car with joy and adoration. Who was I to stand in the face of that worship, fold my arms and turn up my nose? Who was I to hold onto a grudge that I had to serve my family that morning, even if it was at a time not of my choosing or a task I was particularly fond of? I had been given an opportunity to serve my family with love, patience and and joy. I utterly failed on all counts.

The sweet joyful singing of my children brought me back to reality, sufficiently humbled and sorrowful for the example I had given them. Instead of seeing an opportunity to demonstrate love, I displayed petty anger, frustration and a general yucky attitude. And so I joined in their song, letting all those negative emotions ebb away as I allowed myself to be graced by their song. In those few moments my heart of stone was being melted away and replaced with a softened one capable of seeing God working in our day once again.

I’m not going to say the rest of the day was perfect, because of course it wasn’t. But it was better, so much better than if I had hung onto that stony heart rather than embracing a humbled, soft one.

Melting a Heart of Stone - Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com
The 3 causes for my joy!

God is on the Move….on Instagram!

Happy Mother’s Day! To all the moms out there, especially my own and my mother-in-law, thank you for your daily love, dedication and sacrifice to your children and families. For all the women who are hoping to be moms or struggling to be moms, find a friend, companion and dear mother in our Blessed Mother. With her, find the courage to say “Thy will be done.”

For those of you who follow me on Facebook you may have noticed a few new Instagram photos popping up. Yes, I have indeed decided to try out the pictorial world of Instagram.

I’ve been blogging for about a year now and am starting to feel that this is more than just a whim or fancy for me. I’m feeling called, challenged even, to write more and more often. Some of my writing projects are here, on the blog. Others are at CatholicMom.com. Still others are tucked away in my “Other Ideas” folder on my laptop that is increasingly filling up to the point where I should probably start using subfolders.

My greatest desire in all of these endeavors – blog, Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram, is to allow God’s grace to shine through the words and pictures. I’m simply sharing where I find God and how I live my faith. Perhaps it will resonate with someone, perhaps it won’t, but that’s not really the point.

What is the point, you might ask? Great question! The answer I alluded to already. On the days that I’m on, I’m firing on all cylinders, I’ve got the right attitude and perspective, the point is – to give honor and glory to God who has inspired me and enabled me to share these simple thoughts and ideas. This is the goal I strive for, the heights I hope to attain.

On other days, days when I’m not feeling great, judgmental, gossipy, tired, whiny and worried, the goal is muddled. It’s easy to get lost in a desire to be noticed, to be seen, to “be somebody.” I get caught up in “wow, wouldn’t it be so great to write a book for my own fame and ego building” and “hey, hey, I have so many more followers on Twitter than a few months ago!”

But that shouldn’t be the reason why I am doing what I’m doing. It’s not the point of this blog and frankly, it shouldn’t be the point of my life. Though it’s another form of social media, I’m actually really enjoying using Instagram. It’s really helped me keep things in the proper perspective.

God is on the move...Instagram. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com #DailyGraces

Before, when I was using just Facebook and Twitter, I was starting to get caught up in word counts and how to phrase things to sound like I knew something about what I was talking about without carrying on and on. Sometimes it’s hard to express a feeling or emotion fully in just a few sentences without setting the stage, explaining the backstory or why this moment was so significant. Enter Instagram where truly, a picture speaks 1,000 words. I’ve been able to capture little moments of grace that are truly everyday ordinary things. Like cooking with my son, or putting together frozen breakfast sandwiches with my daughter for a family expecting a baby soon. They are moments of closeness with my husband or joy in accomplishing household chores.

I’ve got a song stuck in my head right now that I love, called “God is on the Move” by Seventh Time Down (which is a fantastic change to “Woody’s Roundup” from Toy Story 2 – yikes, I was desperate enough to get that out of my head I started singing other annoying children’s songs…completely ineffective.). In this song – God is on the Move – the band is singing about how every time someone chooses the good, chooses the light, chooses to share God’s Word, it’s another moment where God is on the move, He’s still on the move, and will always be on the “move in many mighty ways.”

Now this song speaks of some big moments, like when someone fully submits themselves to God’s will or takes a stand against injustice, which are incredible acts of faith. I would like to add a few that help me remember that God is on the move. They are smaller, more simple and more ordinary.

God is on the move when:

  • My son throws his arms around me for no reason and says “I love you Mommy”
  • My “baby” now 19 months gives kisses to all her baby dolls and pretends to be their mommy
  • My daughter dances with reckless abandon
  • I see new blossoms on our lemon tree
  • I wake up a few minutes before the kids and have time to appreciate the stillness of the morning
  • My husband gets home from a trip and cooks us his famous pancakes
  • The dishes are done!
  • So many more times and thanks to Instagram, I’ve found a new way to capture them.

I would love to see the moments when you know God is moving in your life. I’m using #DailyGraces on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and hope you will too. Together, we can see how God is working in all of our lives and give one another ideas for even more places we can recognize His presence.