Monday, April 29, 2019

Intentional Series: Home

Home.

It can take on so many names.

Sanctuary, castle, dwelling, landing place, residence, abode, hideout, hangout, digs, shelter, address.

My guess is that each one of those words brought a different image or feeling to mind. And some of those you would never have thought to call your home.

If your word isn't on that list, what word would you use to call it by another name?

In order to get where you are going, you have to have a plan, a goal, and you kinda need to know your destination.  It may change along the way, but you need to start with a destination to even know which direction to begin.

I'm drawing the parallel between that and having an idea of what you want your home to be.  It doesn't just happen. To set up your home to be _________ (fill in the blank), then you need to start out with a goal, a destination.  I'm not saying it may not change along the way, but you need to at least have a place to start.


About a year ago I began hosting monthly art nights in my home.  I'm not a great artist, and I really don't know a whole lot of mediums of art, but I desired to do more of it and I knew it wouldn't happen unless I made time for it.  I also knew that I needed to move out of my comfort zone of introvert-ness.  Our home was more like a hideout and less of a hangout.  I want our home to be a place where our kids want to bring their friends. And I knew if we wanted to go in that direction, then we needed to model that for our kids.

So, Mission + Art nights were born.  Anyone and everyone is welcome. Art is played with, missions are advocated for, sweet conversation is had, and a little skincare for the fun of it is thrown in (hand massage anyone?)

It's not exactly how I pictured it at the beginning, but my hope is that it continues to grow into our home being an intentional landing place for others. A place where anyone can feel welcomed, and most importantly, everyone who enters encounters Jesus in some way.

We can create the feeling of our home by how we decorate, the type of furniture we choose. the paint colors and the lighting.  But just as important, what are we DOing with our homes?  How can we be more intentional with this gift of Home that we have been given?

This week, think on the word that would be synonymous with 'home' for you.  Is this a word that describes your home now, or where you would like it to be someday?  If it's now, what can you intentionally do to keep in going in that direction? If it's someday, what things can you set in place now to make your home that way in the future?

With Intention,
Nichole

March Lookback


It makes me kinda sad that I've fallen off with posting my monthly lookbacks. Now that I don't have any for the last several months (eep! maybe a year!?) I'm realizing how much I enjoy having these to look back through and remember where we were, how we've grown, and what things we continue to have to work on.

So, instead of sitting here beating myself up, which I am prone to do, I will choose instead to just start again.  And here we are with March 2019.

It was the month of basketball if there ever was one. Between College March Madness, Owen's basketball practice and games, and our high school winning (WINNING!) the State Championship, the whole month felt like it revolved around b-ball. Like true Hoosiers.

Quite a few other things were done in the midst of it and we all looked forward to the end of the month where Spring Break was patiently waiting for us.

There are days I'm digging my heels in, trying to slow down time, and others I just want to see the end of. Regardless, trying to remember to keep this prayer on my lips, "teach us to number our days, and help us to make the days count."

Meeting new friends for coffee.

First sign of Spring for me: when the sun is at the right spot to shine through this door in the morning. Something so peaceful and hopeful and promising about these sunbeams.

 School skating party. I almost choked up when I saw this pic. They look way older than they should. I'm blaming it on the skates making them taller...



 With Owen and Hannah at sports practices, Maddie has had a lot of time alone at home. She wanted to paint one day and she caught me in a good moment and I let her loose on this bench.

 We stood in line for a little over an hour to get into Winter Jam. Totally worth the wait, though my ears were ringing for quite a bit afterwards.....

 And believe it or not....this one fell asleep!


 We traveling North and South to follow the Blackhawk Braves on their quest for the Basketball State Championship.  It ended in Indianapolis with a Championship win!!


 I've been hosting a month Mission+Art night in our home for the last year.  A time of fellowship, art, mission advocacy, and skincare.  March's evening was spent learning how to do fauxligraphy.

 Influenza B hit our home, but thankfully only one went down. Hannah was home for 3 days with all the symptoms. Thankfully, I'm able to work both of my jobs from home while also playing nurse.

 I knew she was better when she started playing 'school'  So, we went on a walk to get fresh air and then cheerfully sent her off to school the next day.




 Proud of this girl reading a 6th grade level book in 3rd grade. I was a challenge, but she got it done!

 All the limbs that came down from the ice storms in the winter made for a fun pile to play on in March.


 More basketball....this time it was the 6th grade version.

 My dad turned 70 in March and we all surprised him by showing up a the restaurant where he thought he would just be eating with mom.

We ended the month at Pokagon State Park with the start of Spring Break. It didn't look very Spring-y but we were able to hike and that was good enough for me! And the kids got to swim and that was good enough for them.






Friday, April 26, 2019

Intentional Series: Thoughts

 

Thoughts.

That inner critic. Some of you may know who I am talking about.  That voice that continues to bring up the things that you could be doing better. That you failed at. It seems to follow you around relentlessly.  If you don't have that inner critic berating you on a daily basis, I'm guessing you have a close friend or family member who does.  It's seems to be louder in some types of personalities versus others.

I'm one of those people.

In every circumstance. In every event. In every situation. There is this inner critic that points out how I could have done it better.  If you struggle with this voice, you can attest to the truth that this can be exhausting. And defeating.

So what do we do?  And if we don't struggle with this, how can we help those who do?

You'll see this many times woven throughout these Intentional Living posts:  fight it with Truth.

This verse was running through my head this morning and I felt it so fitting for combating that critic who only wants to point out the errors.

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute,
if there is any excellence
and if anything worthy of praise,
dwell on these things."
Philippians 4:8, NASB

 
Dwell.  That word jumps out to me. According to Webster's, another word for dwell is to exist.  So, it's not about going to these types of thoughts listed about: honorable, right, pure, etc. and then leaving them for less desirable thoughts. But to exist, to dwell on these things.

So simple.  But not easy.

Guess what? It takes intention. (you knew I was going to get there eventually!)

For those of us who are berating ourselves with all the things we are doing wrong, what if instead, we dwelt in the thoughts of things that have gone right, the things about ourselves that are lovely, the actions that we have taken that are honorable? Not to the end of building ourselves up, but to the purpose of pointing it all back to Jesus. The One who is the reason that we have anything lovely, or right, or honorable about us at all.

For those of you who have these types of people in your life, those family and friends who are constantly being beaten down by their thoughts, remind them of this Truth. Speak the above truth into their lives this week.

Each week, as I put an intentional challenge out there for you, I am also challenging myself to do the same.  And this week's in particular will be a true challenge of intentionally dwelling on thoughts of praise, right thinking, excellent thoughts.

Let's fix our eyes on the Creator of all beauty, honor, purity, and goodness. And intentionally dwell in these thoughts this week.

With Intention,
Nichole

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Intentional Series: Heart

 

Heart.

For those who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, this is a very special week.

And I love how God orchestrated that this was the week that "Heart" was scheduled to be discussed. I just go down the list each week, and Heart was up next and so here we are.

Easter. We can show up on Sunday, dressed in our Easter finest, ready to celebrate Jesus and his Resurrection.

But we will get so much more out of it if we are intentionally preparing our hearts as we walk through this week.

One thing we do in our house is prepare and celebrate the Passover, or Seder meal, on the Thursday of Easter week. However, it's done a little differently than the Passover of the Old Testament, because we now KNOW the Passover Lamb and the Reason that the whole meal was pointing to.

We started doing this a few years back with our kids and it has made the Easter week even more meaningful and real in our lives.  I'll give a quick synopsis if you would like to incorporate a bit of this into your week as well.


There are different elements to the Seder meal:

Lamb The word 'pesach' (pasch, passover) applies to the Lamb of sacrifice as well as to the deliverance from Egypt and to the feast itself.
Unleavened bread (Matzoh) called "bread of affliction" because it recalls the unleavened bread prepared for the hasty flight by night from Egypt. Three large matzohs are broken and consumed during the ceremony.
Bitter herbs (Moror) is a reminder of the bitterness of slavery and suffering in Egypt.
Green herbs to be dipped in salt water. Salt water represents tears of sorrow shed during the captivity of the Lord's people.
Haroseth (or 'haroses') represents the mortar used by Jews in building palaces and pyramids of Egypt during their slavery. (It is a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine.)
Wine is dipped from a common bowl.

A Hakishut or a china dinner platter with the following ceremonial foods arranged on it: green herbs (parsley); bitter herb (horseradish); a boiled egg; and haroseth.
There are then four different sections that are read through by different parts of the family. Each section signifies the Four Cups:
I Kuddush - the cup of Thanksgiving
II Haggadah - the cup of Deliverance
III The Cup of Blessing
IV The Cup of Melchizedek
These are the four different words for redemption, spoken by God to Moses.

I just love each year as we read through the sections, share the food with one another, and remember God's plan for Redemption of His people, that all along God's plan was for Jesus to rescue us. And that woven throughout the Bible is symbolism of that plan. And it all comes into focus as we celebrate the Seder meal.

I encourage you this week to intentionally seek out ways to celebrate the Easter week. Whether it's celebrating the Seder meal, remembering through Communion, taking time to remember the sacrifice on Good Friday, and finally celebrating his Resurrection on Sunday. This week is rich with ways to take time with Jesus and remember the events of that final week that truly changed the trajectory of this world forever.

With Intention,
Nichole

Intentional Series: Money

 

Money.

Show me your back account and I'll show you your heart.

"Every person’s checkbook is a theological document. It tells you who and what they worship." -Billy Graham

Show me your back account and I'll show you your heart.

"Every person’s checkbook is a theological document. It tells you who and what they worship." -Billy Graham

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Jesus

Said in different ways, but all pointing back to the same idea.  We can talk about what is important to us, but what we truly care about - our money follows quickly after.

This week's topic of money always seems like such a tricky topic to broach. It can be a sensitive thing to discuss, each person in a different financial state than the other.

But regardless of the state of your checkbook, this one thing remains.  We put our money where our priorities are.

In America, we have the luxury of disposable income. We are just about at the top of the list for the amount of disposable income per person.  Though it may not feel like you have anything extra, no doubt you could cut something ‘extra’ out of your monthly budget if you really needed to. (Netflix, anyone?!)

I’m not here to call any person out for their Hulu consumption, or their need for a latte every day, or their drive to get a new pair of shoes every month.

What I am aiming to do is to ask you to pause for a moment and take inventory of your last month of spending.  How much of it was intentional?

Intentionally paying bills (good for you!)  Intentionally giving (yay!) Intentionally spending…. (Target foils again.)

As you take inventory of what your spending habits have been, think of ways that you could improve it. To be more intentional with what you spend.

Intentionally avoiding the store you know you will impulse buy in.  Intentionally look for companies that give back, or pass on their profits to help others, doubling your impact on your purchase.  Create a grocery list and stick to it.  Intentionally give to a charity organization the amount of money you would have spent on a pair of shoes that you didn’t really need.

This week, as we take inventory and look to spend more intentionally, may it also transform or heart. That we would be less focused on what the money can do for us and more about how we can help others with what we have been given. A truly intentional way to use our money.

With Intention,
Nichole

Intentional Series: Time

 

Time.

Breaks. Something we can all appreciate.

Though, for some of us, it may be harder to take than others. For myself, resting is difficult.  My personality doesn't feel like I can truly rest until all. of. the. things. are done.

I have a running list in my head of what needs to get done and I have to fight against the voice telling me I cannot rest until everything is done and in it's place. This can be exhausting, and something, the chance for a break completely passes me by.

Or, maybe you are cut from a different cloth. You are always looking for the next break, the next fun thing, something to help you escape the reality that you are in.

Or, you are one that the phrase "an object that stays at rest, remains at rest" Once you start taking that break, it can be hard to get going again.

None of these personality "pulls" is terribly wrong in it's own right. But each one has something that we need to fight against, something that we can't just throw up our hands and claim "this is the way I am."

Rest is a good thing. It can restore the body, soul, mind.

But too much of a break, too many breaks, or none at all, can be detrimental.

We are in the start of Spring Break in our house. With the week lying ahead I want to be intentional with the time. Unfortunately, for me, it would involve completing a long list of things and resting very little.  I need to be intentional to redeem my time for getting stuff done, and allowing rest to be one of those things.

This week. as we look to be intentional with our time, let's take inventory with how intentional we are with our breaks. Whether it's being intentional in actually taking that break, being aware that we are chasing the next break instead of being present in real life, or if we need to be intentional with the amount of time that we rest and moving on from the rest to the next thing that needs done.

May we each find that moment of rest this week. And in the resting, find restoration, that we may make best use of the time we are given.

With Intention,
Nichole

Intentional Series: Health

 

Health.

We all like the idea of being healthy.

More energy. Less aches and pains.

But the reality is, that we are part of a passing world.  Every thing on this earth is passing away in one degree or another. And if things are not intentionally maintained, it can deteriorate even faster.

Science has come a long way in finding out how to make us live longer, healthier lives.  And it seems there are endless avenues to take to get to that healthy destination.

But one thing all these avenues seem to have in common: what you put into your body matters.

And choosing the right things to put into your body doesn't always come easily. We are prone to eat what what tastes good, what makes us feel good. What is convenient and easy.

There are healthy things that fit all those parameters, believe it or not. But there are also just as many unhealthy things that fit into those categories, too.

I am by far nowhere close to being an expert on healthy eating. Seeking out a licensed dietician would be your best bet. But, I have found something in the last several months that has helped me start each day with intentionally fueling my body for the day ahead.

About 6 months ago I came across the idea of having a smoothie for breakfast. Not all that groundbreaking, I know. I had heard of smoothies for breakfast before, but this one took an approach I hadn't heard of.

A smoothie with low sugar/carb index to keep the body from having a sugar crash mid morning.  Instead, you have 4 components:

Green
Protein
Fiber
Fat

There are all sorts of expensive foods you can use in those categories. but I had to find something that was sustaining as well as wallet-friendly.  So, I've settled on:

Green - fresh or frozen spinach, celery
Protein - Protein powder (with no sugar added) Aldi has a decent one for a decent price
Fiber - 1 TB chia seeds or ground flax (again, Aldi for the win)
Fat - a scoop of peanut butter

Blend it with milk or the non-dairy alternative of your choice along with a few cubes of ice.

Now, the reason I spent an entire email on this topic? Because when I intentionally make myself this for breakfast - at 7AM - I am not hungry AT ALL until well past noon.  It has helped give me sustained energy and has kept me from morning snacking (sorry, break-room doughnut) for the last 6 months.

Now, for you, it may not be a smoothie.  It may be cutting your soda consumption in half. It may be adding fruits and vegetables into your daily meals.  Maybe it's choosing to plan ahead and make a crock pot meal instead of opting for fast food....again.

Whatever it is for you, make it intentional. We become what we put in our bodies - healthy or unhealthy. So it's up to us to make the intentional choice to make the right choice.

With Intention,
Nichole