Archives For January 2014

Caroline Rhea Vending machine

© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

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© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

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By Angie Faulstich

There is a danger in becoming a parent.  After I bundled up my newborn and took him into my home, that wee little one took over my entire world. It took all of my effort and more strength than I thought I had to keep my little guy alive.

From midnight feedings to mid-afternoon snacks, my mission was to keep my little one fed, dry, warm, and safe. But, as time has passed, Aidan is becoming more and more independent, and he needs me a little less with each passing day.

After an extended break from school over the Christmas holidays, Aidan went back to school, and a large chunk of my heart left with him.  The loss feels like- well, to be honest, it feels like you may just as well have carved out a piece of my heart with a spoon.

That’s how it felt in the beginning as well.  His first semester of kindergarten did not go well for me.  I felt alone and lost, without a purpose.  I grew tired of spending my days alone at home.  And while still not sleeping well most of the time, I just felt tired.  So as the days of Christmas break came to a close and there were no more snow days or 2 hour delays in sight, I began to fear that the emptiness would return.

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It was an emptiness that could not be filled by anything of this world.  Not hobbies that I enjoy.  Not my favorite foods.  Not entertaining movies- even the good clean ones.  Not even the thought of taking on a job outside of the home could fill the empty hole in my heart.

My life lay before me as a beautiful tapestry cut into a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  The puzzle was finished save one last piece that should have filled a hole near the center of the picture.  And as hard as I searched, high and low, around the puzzle, on the floor, inside the box, in the cabinet from which the puzzle came, I could not find the missing piece.  It was lost.  And I could not fill the empty hole in my heart that I knew had been stolen from me when my son went away to school, and I was no longer needed.

I sunk into bed after their first day back to school, and I cried, “Lord, I cannot live alone anymore.  I feel like I’ve been left behind.  There is emptiness in my soul that I cannot fill, and I do not want to be alone anymore.”

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And then startling words flooded into the cavern of my soul.  From somewhere deep within, I heard the words: “You don’t have to be alone.”

Instantly, I knew He was right.  The Savior of my soul was the missing piece of the puzzle.  And it suddenly dawned on me.  No matter what stage of life I find myself in.  No matter whether my children are home or away at school.  No matter where in the world I find myself, as I often dream of traveling and going on great adventures.  No man, child, friend, food, or entertainment can ever become the missing piece in my puzzle.  For if they do, I have left myself in grave danger and in desperate need of the only One who can ever fill the missing piece of my heart- and that is Jesus.

He has now promised to walk with me through these days of uncertainty.  And I will each and every morning invite Him to lead me through them.  And somehow now I feel hope.  Hope that one day I will feel whole again.  Peace that He will mend my broken heart.  That He is and always will the missing piece to my puzzle.  If I make Him that piece, I will be whole.

I just have to keep inviting Him in, and I can’t let anything else take His place.

Is there an emptiness in your life that needs to be filled?  Is God the piece that is missing?

My incredible guest writer today is Angie Faulstich.  Angie is a child of God, a mother of two bright and wonderful sons, and a wife to an amazing husband.  She is the author of a weekly newspaper column entitled “Finding Peace” that encourages readers to turn to God for all of their needs so that they, too, may experience everlasting peace.

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© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

Billy Sunday quote graphic

© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

Easy Laundry Plan

January 8, 2014 — Leave a comment

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Hate laundry?  Try the following simple method to make laundry manageable.

Use a central basket system

  • Choose a location in the house and provide 4 laundry baskets total for everyone to use.  This can be in the laundry room, in a closet, or another convenient place.
  • Use one basket for towels and sheets, one for whites, one for colors, and one for darks.
  • Every person then brings their dirty clothes to these central baskets.
  • Once a basket is full, it’s ready to be washed.

Get kids involved

  • Assign each child a week for laundry duties.
  • Train them to keep an eye on the laundry baskets and wash whenever a basket becomes full.
  • Instruct each child on the rules for laundry.  Teach them how to set up the washing machine and dryer.  Let them know which baskets need to be washed in hot and which need to be washed in cold (this can be marked on the baskets as a reminder).  Also instruct on the amount of detergent to use, if dryer sheets should be added to the dryer, and how to use stain removers.
  • Spend time teaching folding techniques so there is consistency with each load.

Clothing tips

  • Buy 2 week’s worth of socks and underwear for each family member.  There will be less “emergency” loads when everyone is fully stocked.
  • Each person is responsible for communicating when an item of clothing needs special attention.
  • In an inconspicuous spot, mark each person’s socks, underwear, and other clothing with their initials.  This will help avoid confusion when folding and returning laundry.
  • Once laundry is washed and folded, each person’s stack of clean clothes is placed on their bed to be put away.

Although there are many ways to tackle laundry, this system has worked well for our family for many years.  What has worked well for you?

© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

I’m not a fan of resolutions.  As I think about the changes I would like to make in the coming year, I feel like a failure for not achieving those changes in the past year….again.  And beginning the year feeling like a failure is a sure-fire way for my resolutions to fizzle out…….again.

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Rather than making resolutions, I spend some time reflecting on the accomplishments of the past year and I encourage you to do the same.  Look through pictures or the calendar to aid in remembering all that was achieved in the past year.

Did you get the oil changed in the car?  Did you clean out a drawer or closet this past year or spring clean a certain % of the house?  What books did you read?  Did you do a bible study, pray daily, or do devotions?  Did you learn to take care of your body by staying properly hydrated drinking 8 glasses of water a day?  How did your family spend time together?  Did you participate in a canned food drive?

By contemplating on accomplishments made, you will realize the successfulness of the past year and be ready to build on those achievements this year.

Review the past year in the following areas and make goals in each area for this year:

Personal growth

How did you grow personally in this past year?

  • What books did you read?  Recreational reading is also important as we need time to relax and recharge.
  • Did you do a bible study/specific devotions/read the bible in a year/etc.?
  • Did you pray daily or most days of the week or month?
  • Did you enjoy any of your hobbies or do things you like during your free time?
  • Did you develop your strengths or weaknesses by taking a class, finding a mentor, seeing a counselor, or reading specific books?
  • Did you ever give more than take?

Health

Were any lifestyle changes made?

  • Did you drink more water?
  • Did you cut back on soda?
  • Did you limit sweets to once a week?
  • Did you only go out to eat only 3-4 times a month?
  • Did you learn to eat more fruits and vegetables?
  • Did you decrease your plate portions?
  • Did you find a few activities to love and do to stay active?

Family

What investments were made in your family?

  • Did you enjoy any family nights?
  • Did you plan and do any activities during the Summer or holidays/weekends?
  • Did your family go on vacation or spend any weekends away together?
  • Did your family do any mission or volunteer work together?
  • Did you study the bible as a family or one on one as parent/child?
  • Did you tell your family members you love them regularly?
  • Did you hug your child often?

Giving

How did you give of your time and money?

  • Did you volunteer at the local soup kitchen or with another organization?
  • Did you go on a mission trip (domestic or international)?
  • Did you donate unneeded items to a local mission?
  • Did you supply canned goods to local food bank?
  • Did you support a missionary/favorite cause/organization/family in need financially?
  • Did you make a meal (freezer or fresh) or provide a gift card for friends or family going through a difficult time?

Organize and clean

How did you take care of your house and property?

  • Did you clean out or organize any cabinets, drawers, or closets?
  • Did you clean out the garage?
  • Did you clean up or add anything new to the landscaping?
  • Did you clean out or organize toys?
  • Did you clean out any files?
  • Did you add pictures to any albums?
  • Did you do any car maintenance?

Finances

Were any positive changes made regarding your finances?

  • Did you pay off any credit cards?
  • Did you use coupons?
  • Did you make a budget?
  • Did you take advantage of sales rather than pay full price?
  • Did you save any money?
  • Did you eat at home rather than eat out?

This is not an all-inclusive list so please feel free to add your own questions or areas.

In order to realize success in these areas this year, white space will need to be created on the calendar.

How do you spend your time daily?  Can less be spent on social media or watching TV?  Can you travel less for work or cut overtime hours?  Is getting up earlier a possibility?  A shorter lunch may provide some time to perform a few tasks.  Are there any other areas that can be cut back to realize your goals this year?  Decide on priorities and fill in the calendar with those first.

Did you do all that is on this list and will you be able to carry out all you set out to do this year?  Probably not.  And that’s okay.  All growth and achievements are something to be celebrated no matter how small.

Even if you’ve never realized your success in the past, I urge you to recognize it now.

I would love to hear what you plan to accomplish this year!  Please share in the comments below.

© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson