House For Six


The Year of Stewardship: The Lies We Believe

Deme CrinionComment

I've deemed 2017 my Year of Stewardship.  Can you see me pounding my gavel all official-like?

If stewardship is what we do with what we've been given, then I have to admit.... I've been less of a good steward and more of a selective clinger.  Life's been swirling, sometimes faster than I can handle, and I've been frantically grasping at some of those gifts, while totally abandoning others. 

Now that we're in a season that feels slightly less chaotic and uncertain, it feels like the right time to take a closer look at how I've mistreated some blessings, and what got me to clinger status in other cases.  

The past few years were full of so much change and flux that we often felt like we were just surviving our circumstances.  To climb out of that mentality I know that it will first take some major shifting of the ole' mindset, followed by some practical changes to help us get to a place where our family is thriving once again.

I think a lot of ways I've fallen off course, stemmed from a lie.  In fact, I think there's a lot of lies floating around about what will bring us happiness and contentment.  And what we should do when we're not basking in all those rainbows and unicorns.

I sat down with a notebook and started to write down the lies I've allowed myself to believe.  Some of them actually hold some truth, under certain circumstances, and understanding that distinction is key.

The most effective lies have an element of truth (which makes them so believable), but that truth has been twisted.  And it takes the God of Truth to undo the damage from the Father of Lies.

Sadly, there's a lot of untruth I've allowed to occupy my head-space.....

"You should lose 10lbs before you wear that"

"If I just had this one more thing, then I would love it and never want/need anything else"

"Too much time has passed.  They won't care and it doesn't really matter anymore.  Some friendships don't last forever"

"It's not on the list or in the budget this time, but I'll just borrow from another category.  It's so cheap, it really won't make any difference"

"If I don't act right now this opportunity (or price) will be gone forever"

"You're so selfish for wanting to pursue hobbies and/or a career outside the home, away from your family.  That's where you should be until the kids are out of the house."

"Your desires, career, happiness and personal fulfillment are more important than serving your family. Your personal happiness is the highest priority."

"The dishes are more important than creating"

"Creating is more important that making sure the kids have clean clothes to wear tomorrow."

"You would be happier on your own." 

"You're not a good mother.  So many other women are more patience, loving, and selfless - they nurture their kids far better than the crap show you're running."

"All he sees are my lumps, bumps, and wrinkles.  Hide yourself."

"I can't do this anymore"

"My kids will be embarrassed by other kids for not having as much, or the latest and greatest, or..."

"Just accept that this is the world we live in"

"Your dreams will have to wait"

"But it's not perfect yet"

"If you devote yourself to family life, you will lose yourself"

Some of these still sting when I read them, because at my core, I struggle to reject them.   

There is an undoing that needs to happen in me.  An untwisting of the truth, and a reminder of what is in fact true, good, and worthy.  Then there is the work moving that truth from head-space to heart-space....because it is one thing to know something and another to live it. That's where grace comes in - thank God!

When we operate from a place of exhaustion, lack of purpose, or skewed clarity, it's easy to just put our head down and go through the motions to survive the day.  And it's also really hard to pick your head back up, especially when the whirlwind isn't slowing down.  Yet, God promises that we can set our feet on solid ground no matter the circumstances.  And boy, am I in need of that. 

Tomorrow begins the season of Lent (a time of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting in order to draw closer to Christ and be renewed in his grace).  I know that not everyone who reads this blog observes this liturgical season, but I can't think of a better time to pull some of those weeds masquerading around as flowers.  I hope you don't mind that we tackle some of that work here over the next few weeks.....and don't worry, I have plenty of house projects to update you on too!  #winkwink

Our entry floors are finally done and they're completely different than what we planned.  The happiest of accidents indeed.  I'll have an update on that space later this week.  In the meantime, I would love to hear from you....are there certain lies you find yourself falling for?  What helps you stay grounded in truth during a season that demands more than you feel you can give?

40 Bags In 40 Days: The Plan

Deme Crinion2 Comments
I couldn't be more ready to work through this 40 bags in 40 days challenge over the course of Lent.  I'm not super excited about the work itself, but I already feel a sense of relief that I'm not going to sit paralyzed by our piles any longer.

I hadn't really thought about my Lenten commitment before Ann Marie announced this year's challenge but as soon as I read it, I knew that's exactly what I needed to do.

Do you ever feel weighed down by your house?  By all the STUFF?  I literally feel out of control. Like our stuff is taking over and I can't get a grip on it.  Throw the holidays, a couple birthdays and a new baby into the mix and I feel like we're being overrun. Whenever I think I'm making progress on the chaos, I'm usually just shuffling things from one spot to the next instead of actually dealing with it.

And for me, the real issue is that all the excess somehow leads to a feeling of needing more or not having the "right" things.  I talked about a few ways to fight the Need Machine here (ironically during last Lent) and one of the most counter intuitive but effective ways is to give. stuff. away. 
tips when you feel like you don't have enough

When we're overwhelmed by the clutter and the excess, we become dissatisfied and start playing the "if only" game.  If only we had _____......if only we could fix____......if we could just____then it would be better.   I often tell my kids that if they can't maintain their rooms because they are overwhelmed by the stuff...then they have too much stuff. #blackpotcallingblackkettle

Yes, I've purged in the past, but I've never taken on our home as a whole or dedicated this much time to the task. 

My hope is to approach each room, each drawer, each cupboard, both prayerfully and intentionally.  Do I really need this?  Do I actually use it?  How often?  Is it a double or very similar to something else we have?  Does it have special meaning or significance?  Does it still reflect our style? Do I love it?  What is God calling me to do with it...with this space?

I think a key to success is to go in with a plan, but one that can flex.  And to set realistic goals for each day.  I used Ann Marie's printable to jot down a list of all the areas I feel need attention over the next 40 days.  I ended up scheduling one large room or zone (like the kitchen) each week, and I tried to balance out the days of that week with larger and smaller tasks. Hopefully it's a doable mix but that's where the flexibility comes in #usepencil

I also planned a few days for the unseen clutter that's making me my inbox and backing up/cleaning up computer files.  I would include going through our photos, but that might rate it's own 40 days. 

I have some helpful ideas on how to go through your things in this post here, but one reader mentioned that the hardest part of purging is deciding what to do with all the stuff you're getting rid of.  So true!  There are a lot of it for a yard sale in the spring, sell some items on craigslist, donate to a local charity close to your heart, or just chuck it all. 

Some stuff truly is junk and needs to head straight to the trash, but for everything else you need to weigh time and effort.  A yard sale and selling online take additional time and mean you have to store all that stuff somewhere in the meantime.  Is it worth it?  Maybe!  For something like this, I know my personality and it's usually best that I get rid of things right away.  I'm planning to make a donation run or schedule a pick up at the end of each week...and maybe sell one or two big ticket items on craigslist. 

If you're joining in for this challenge or just have the urge to clear out some closets, I know it can be overwhelming....but you can do this.  You do not need all that stuff.  Our happiness is not in our things.. The mess might get worse before it gets better, but it will be so worth it! 

I'm starting with our biggest frustration and that's our "school zone".  We started out homeschooling all the kids this year and now have one back in school.  We didn't end up using the homeschool area I set up the way I thought we would, and having a kiddo back in school has brought another set of papers/communication/routine.  There are papers and craft supplies and lots and lots of books....all piled in with stuff from my previous office and last year's school projects.  It's time to dig in!

*There's a lot of great resources and a supportive community of fellow purgers over at White House Black Shutters!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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How To Squash The Need Machine

Deme Crinion28 Comments
I did it again.  I told myself I would go into Target for groceries and only groceries....

But somehow my cart first made it's way into women's accessories and then through the entire home department juuuust to see what might be on sale/clearance.

And somehow I managed to find my cart piled up with an area rug for the living room, an entry rug, rug pad, a small bench, a few cheap frames, and a ceramic turtle...before I so much as glanced at the grocery section.  At which point there was no room for the groceries.  You know, the things I actually needed.

Since I was not there for home decor, nor really had the extra money to spend on home things, I spent minutes and minutes mulling over the rug purchase.....get the rug or not?  I've been looking for a rug for a long time...its such a good price and the color is great....but it's not in our budget right now...and am I sure that's really what we want for the room?.....but it's a great price...

I threw it on the cart, walked around some more, tried to shove a box of cereal between all the crap, realized I was CRAZY, and eventually put everything back except the frames and small bench (which I may need to return because it's not quite the right size).  

Then, I got the groceries.  #dangyouTarget 

Honestly, I left there feeling awful.  Even though I walked out with only two "add-ons", I had wasted SO much time in there conflicted over things I didn't need- but would I forever regret this amazing steal??

And sadly, this was not the first time I've done this in the past couple of weeks.  I know that Target requires will power, but I've just had this overall feeling of UGH when it comes to our house lately.

Maybe because there are still parts of the house that are chaotic and disorganized from moving....maybe I have stage fright of sorts since I really want to capture our tastes with this house, but can't seem to make a decision about anything design related and feel like I might hate everything I chose down the line...maybe I'm too busy looking around at everyone else's more complete homes.....or maybe it's just my heart.  

So, what do we do if we find ourselves unhappy with where we are and longing for more?

tips when you feel like you don't have enough

1.  Count Your Gifts

It's really scary how quickly I can forget how much we are blessed.  Hello!  We have an amazing home to call our own, in an amazing area to raise our kids (who are healthy and thriving) also happens to be a big ole blank slate prime for the DIY taking.  I really couldn't have asked for more in a home.

Taking just a second to think about what we do have can usually pull me right out of that needy funk.  Saying it out loud or putting it on paper is even better.  There is joy in giving thanks, but self control seems to make it's way back around through gratitude too. 

gratitude quote

2.  Give Things Away

In the parking lot today, I thought back to when I was feeling this way about my clothes...not so ironically, the Target clearance racks were a vortex then too.  I was all about getting a "great deal", whether or not it was flattering, fit well, or was something I truly needed.  I ended up filling a closet full of clearance steals that I hardly wore and would stare at my closet packed with great deals feeling like I didn't have anything to wear...and needed more, or at least needed the "right" things.

It may seem counter intuitive but when you are most feeling like you need more and are not happy with what you have, that's usually the best time for a purge.

I ended up doing a massive purge of my closet going down to a versatile 30-piece wardrobe.  And it was the best thing ever!  The only things left in my closet were things that fit, flattered, worked a number of different ways, and were items I truly loved, not just liked. (You can see that full post with an example wardrobe and free shopping printable here).
30 piece wardrobe

 It was completely liberating.  But clearly, I haven't had the same epiphany with the house just yet.

A purge doesn't have to be massive, but getting rid of what you don't like/use/need is so freeing.  It reminds us that we don't need to hold on so tightly to stuff.  Getting rid of the closet/house/brain clutter gives us space to breath.  If we only keep those things we need, use, love, and have special meaning, then two things happen:  we better appreciate what we do keep, and we're more selective about what we bring in.

Purging literally frees up space, but it can also do a 180 in us....turning our focus outward and back onto others, instead of on ourselves and what we want/need/don't have/whine/whine/whine. 

We have a new house with a totally different layout than our last.  It's bigger overall, but the rooms are smaller.  We could use a couch in the family room and a rug or two, but they aren't necessary right now.  The bedrooms, however, have far too much stuff and could stand to lose a few things.  Not to mention the toys that multiply while we sleep, and the random linens and home junk we've accumulated.

Right when you're starting to feel like if you just had that one [fill in the blank], all would be right with the world, go give some stuff away.  It feels good to give and good to shed the excess.  Don't be afraid!  Purge and purge good!

If you need some tips or help with how to purge your stuff, check out this post here.

3.  Avoid Your Dens Of Temptation

For me, Target is obviously a weakness.  Do I need to go there to buy my groceries?  No.  There's this nifty place called a grocery store where all they sell is food.  So, personally if I only need food, I should go to the place that just sells food.  Because I can not resist the lure of the home decor aisle or a clearance end cap...I'm weak and I know it!

Maybe your weakness is clothing stores or even thrift shops.  I'm a huge fan of thrift shopping, trolling Craigslist, etc. but as the saying goes, if we're not careful we can "go broke saving money".

I mostly find myself impulse buying when I'm alone.  So, going places with James, the kids, or a friend who can hold me back when I try to break for the Nate Berkus display helps keep the non-budgeted spending in check.

The other day, we stopped at Target for soap and a few groceries, but I drove the cart into the women's clothing section first.  Mia says, "why are we over here, Mom?  I thought we were here for groceries."  Touche, Little Miss.  And thank you.

4.  Unsubscribe 

Unsubscribe from catalogs, promotional email lists, or newsletters that suck up your time or make you feel you need to jump on something.  You don't need to know about every sale you're missing out on, or to see all the latest and greatest from around the web/consumerville.  There will always be another sale right around the corner.

Wait until you're ready to buy, then start watching your favorite sites or stores for sales.  Ask what time of year they typically put those items on sale.  Then try to be patient. Once that sale comes, you can get what you need knowing that you've planned and are ready for that item.

5.  Stop Looking Everywhere Else & Take A Break.

Whatever it is....a neighbor's home, magazines, other's success, that mom who's lost the baby weight...whatever makes you feel like what you have and who you are isn't enough, cue the Frozen soundtrack, and let it go!

Take a break from Pinterest/TV shows/magazines that make you feel inadequate, edit down your blog list, resist stopping into your favorite stores as often, take a Facebook hiatus, change up your routine.....because:

6.  Be Good At Returns & Better At Grace

Don't beat yourself up over a bad choice.  If married, talk to your partner...if I'm hesitant to tell James what I bought (namely how much it cost), then I know it was probably a bad choice.  If you know hands down that the impulse buy needs to go back, return it ASAP.  If you're not sure, live with it a couple days.  If you still regret the purchase and the budget is hurting, take it back.

I can't tell you how many times I've done that, only to see it marked down even more a couple weeks later when I can actually afford it.  Other times it's gone forever and I just need to move on.

Because in the end, it's all. just. stuff.   And we all know that true joy doesn't come from the things we have, but the people we share it with. 

Breaking free from the "need machine" is hard.  And it's something that tends to come in cycles for me.  I'll go through periods where I don't feel the pull towards getting things for the home or updating my closet or needing to look a certain way.  Then, I quickly find myself fighting the urge for more or to measure up. 

I think that's because joy and contentment are things that require regular maintenance in a way.

There will always be something pretty and new.  There will always be birthdays and holidays that bring more things into our homes.  The physical act of purging is something we need to do on a regular basis to keep the excess from piling up again.  Just like the internal act of gratitude and detaching our hearts from material things or expectations is needed on a regular basis in order to keep our joy intact.

This season of Lent I've been trying to focus on better serving my family. I have a few specific ways I've been doing that, but it's mostly been an overall attitude adjustment for me.  Part of that is the way I've viewed our home.  I'm such a visual person that having the house in a chaotic state from moving and nothing finished stresses me out.  It's been difficult to be patient with the process, even though I know that home doesn't happen overnight.  Moving right at the start of the coldest winter in 50 years forcing us inside at all costs has not helped.

I can get so paralyzed by all there is to do that I have difficulty starting anything.  But small steps is the goal here.  Little things add up to a lot over time and I need to tackle some of the areas that are causing all of us some serious stress around here.  Like the ridiculous pile of stuff taking over the dining room.

I don't need a new rug or an awesome bar cart.  I need to stop avoiding our house!

Anyone else been there?  How do you combat the need for more?  Does anyone else suffer from chaotic home paralysis?  How do you move forward?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to keep in touch!

Ready, Set, Lent!

Deme Crinion7 Comments
I was hoping to add a 32nd post to our 31 day moving series yesterday, but I wasn't quite able to finish it.  Summertime is typically peak moving season, so I wanted to update our printable moving binder as folks start preparing for impending moving trucks.  We also wrapped up that series before our family had actually relocated, so I have one final post on making moving day (both loading and unloading) as smooth as possible.

I'll have that ready for tomorrow, and then Friday will be a peak at my office makeover!  Hopefully by then it's further along (read: less of a disaster) than it is at this very moment.

But today.... 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent.  Our family is catholic, so for the next 40 days we'll be in a season of preparation for Easter (although Lent is certainly not just a "catholic thing").  Lent's a time for fasting, prayer, penance, and charity....basically it's like pulling weeds for the soul or decluttering the ole heart closet.  And I love it, because I need it.  It's so easy for me to let my priorities shift out of place.

I'm sure those of you that don't observe Lent have at least heard of someone turning down dessert or coffee or meat in the spirit of Lent.  This liturgical season usually comes with a commitment to some sort of personal sacrifice and/or devotion to prayer/charity.......a way for us to actively focus on reordering those areas that have fallen out of place, and turn our hearts fully back to ready ourselves for the incredible celebration of resurrection and new life at Easter.

I always have about a million things come to mind when I start to think about what my Lenten commitment is going to be.  Less coffee?  For sure, my body could use that....or a sugar detox.   Go to bed earlier? That would definitely change the mood of our days.  A spending hiatus and a renewed focus on gratitude?  A good way to be renewed in contentment and fight that feeling of needing more. A time of day devoted to no gadgets and focused prayer....doing a study that touches on themes for my particular season of life...exercising five days a week....a social media hiatus....and so many more.

I've tried taking on ALL THE MILLION THINGS for Lent before and that was comical.  Comical and very unfruitful.  Which is the opposite of Lent's goal.  So, this year (faced again with a million ways my heart has gone adrift), I prayed for direction, and noticed a trend:  the need to better serve my family.

I'll be sharing more of my inner struggle as a stay-at-home mom in another post, but for today just know that it's really easy for me to distract myself with other things and to avoid the sometimes mundane, sometimes hard but beautiful work of caring for my family and our home.  My attitude and approach to this impacts our entire family and it's clear that it's been taking it's toll on all of us. 

So, throughout this Lent I'll be focusing on ways to ease some of the stress we've all been feeling.  Some are related directly to my prayer life and others are more practical....

Wake up early.  This may literally kill me.  I am the antithesis of a morning person. Young children are like a cruel joke to my inner sleeper. But this is one area of the day that causes a lot of undue stress for James.  He's an early riser and so are the boys.  Attempting to get ready for work and knock out all the awesome things he does in the morning (like unloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, turning up the thermostat, MAKING THE COFFEE, and getting out the door on time for work) are tough when two little boys want to hang all over you, while your daughter and wife are blissfully dead to the world in their sleeping chambers.

Getting myself up with enough time to quickly get dressed and do a short morning devotional before the boys typically get up (6:30am) will make a huge difference for all of us.  Pray for me! Seriously.  Pray for me.

Take care of our home/family first.  I find that even if I get just one housekeeping related chore done a day, it feels like I've been productive.  Since we're a bit more settled in this house, I've been working on a simple and quick cleaning schedule for our family. And now is the right time know, actually do it.

Each day can feel like a million things and nothing are going on at the same the day was so busy but I don't feel like I got a thing done.  I know that probably makes no sense, but I'm really good at doing the not-necessary stuff before the necessary stuff.  Which does zero for our home management related stress levels.  Granted, the children being alive is daily success.  Being able to keep a decently maintained (but never spotless) home and spending intentional time together is like icing on the cake.  And I like icing. 

There are few other ways that I hope to put caring for my family back in it's rightful place on my priority list, and I'll share a couple of them throughout this Lent.  I would love to hear how any of you might be entering this Lent too and would love to pray for you!

*You can catch some of our previous Lenten posts by clicking the individual links below or see them all by just clicking here.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to keep in touch!