Clear the Clutter

Clutter.

I absolutely H A T E clutter. Yet, as I type, my coffee table is cluttered with folded laundry. The chair next to it is cluttered with more clean, not yet folded laundry. 

This type of clutter is ok, since it’ll soon be folded and put away neatly, Konmari style. If you haven’t seen Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, on Netflix, go now. Seriously, she is an organizational wizard. 

Anyway, I’m in the middle of de-cluttering the mess in our home. Digging through piles and piles of the girls’ clothes, that seems like if I lined each piece, it would go on for miles and miles! 

I’ve been separating the sentimental pieces, from the heavily worn, no longer suitable to wear even at the playground, pieces. When on earth did I get THAT crazy with kid clothes?! 

Our coat closet is filled with toys, their playroom filled with more toys than a toy store. It all seems so excessive, and I feel guilty. It’s way more than my husband and I ever had growing up. 

Then, I think about the clutter in my heart. I let the outer clutter, invade my heart and I become a grouch, grouchier than the main man, Oscar himself. Haha

It’s a lesson I teach myself over and over, it’s just a season. The girls will make a mess, over and over. They’ll spill, leave trails of crumbs and run around enjoying their childhood. 

I remind myself that I do the same with God. I’ll snuggle up to his word, pray, worship and love on him and let him love on me. Yet not before long, I make a mess, leave trails of crumbs and run around like a mad woman, yelling at the girls to clean up their mess. Scolding them for not eating their food. 

Let them snuggle up to me and just be. The way the Lord wants us to just sit with him and be. Letting him lavish his grace, his love and his blessings over us. 

His word and his presence de clutters our hearts and minds and frees us from what the world tries to tie us down or burden us with. The world leaves us jaded and annoyed, while God gives us peace and joy. 

Peace in the midst of chaos and clutter and joy in the midst of struggles and the not so good days. 

So here’s a reminder, to clear the clutter in our hearts. To not allow what’s going on around us to determine our days and our attitudes. In motherhood, to not worry so much about the piled up laundry and overflow of toys, but know we’re blessed with a family, a home, food and clothes on our backs. 

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NLT

Planning for 2019

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My mind is blown! 

How is 2019 just a couple of weeks away?! 

Where did 2018 go?! I mean, are we really sure we’re going into TWENTY-NINETEEN!!!

We were JUST entering 2009 like yesterday 😭

Anyway, since getting married, my husband and I begin planning out our goals, vacations and events for the following year, between October and December. It gives us structure and expectation, and I wanted to share with you, exactly how we plan out our year.

We separate it into these categories:

Goals:

  • Spiritual: we want to read ONE book/month this year. We want to study the Bible deeper, than we ever have. Also, we want to write ONE song/month! 
  • Physical: we’re both into fitness, when we really get into fitness! I’ve got the rest of this baby weight to lose! And he’s got his own physique goals. 
  • Financial: how much we want to have in savings. How much we aim to spend on birthdays, vacations, holidays 
  • Personal: this includes fitness, but also, I have 2 specific projects that I’ve been working on that I really want to finish in 2019! Also, to be an even better wife and mother! I want to begin establishing more time where I focus on really cultivating my daughter’s talents/dreams and teaching my daughters to walk in truth, love, compassion and kindness. As well as diving deeper into the Word, having more devotional time and time for personal development. 

Vacations:

Here, we kind of brainstorm when and where we want to go. Typically, we separate them into a family vacation which is just us and the girls, an extended family vacation, a girls trip, guys trip, weekend get away (usually for the 4th of July) and a trip for just the two of us.

Next year, our biggest trip and our family trip, will be to Europe! It’s been a dream of mine(my 30th birthday wish). 

We still aren’t sure about the other trips we’re taking, but we still write a budget for them, and really try to stick to it!

Events:

These are, birthdays, holidays, our anniversary, valentine’s day etc. 

We set budgets for how much we will spend for each of our daughter’s birthdays, our birthdays and all other events. For our anniversary, we decide if we’ll make that our trip together or if we’ll just go out for a nice dinner and exchange gifts. 

We also set a budget for how much we will give siblings, nieces, nephews, close friends and parents for their birthday(the amount is the same for all) . Same goes for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas presents etc. 

……………………………………….

If you are on the track to financial freedom, advisors will tell you to write out every. single. expense. Down to the penny.

We don’t track every penny, but we’re not that far from doing it. Thankfully the only debt we owe is our house and car. We like to plan and budget, so that we keep the discipline of being responsible and one day having our money go to work for us. 

I mean, who doesn’t want the freedom to travel on the whim without requesting for the time at work?! 🙋🏽‍♀️ Amiright?!

………………………………………

Budget talk in and of itself is a topic all on its own, so anyway…

Planning all of this out, really helps us to see exactly where our money is going and gives us more discipline to stay within the budgets, in order to save what we set out to save. 

It also gives us expectations on what our year will look like. Towards the end of this year, we were a bit more spontaneous than we would’ve liked to have been with our finances, and we fell short on achieving this years financial goal. 

Though we had anticipated that adding our 3rd daughter, would change up what our “normal” looked like, we went a little bit further outside the lines LOL. It’s ok though, because life happens and it’s important to still live your life joyfully!

Smart, but joyful 😊

Can you tell we are planners and detailed people?

It also helps with being disciplined in other areas. Structure is better than chaos and sitting there wondering where your time and money went.

It shows you if you’re growing, because at the end of the year, we check off what we actually accomplished. 

There’s something so satisfying in checking off on a list! 

However, if it didn’t get done, we attach it to the next year and we try again. It’s a sign of success and perseverance to actually DO and not just SAY YOU WILL.

talk the talk AND walk the walk.

I truly hope you found this helpful AND encouraging!

Heres to an even better 2019!

Xo,

 Lorena 🧡

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

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This morning as I was reading a devotional, I came across this quote I hadn’t heard before. Maybe you have, but it was the first time I’d read it and it really stuck with me.

“Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” -Bil Keane

I’ve been feeling convicted this week, as a mother. My responses to the girls, have been short. I’ve been quick to get angry and quick to speak.

My frustration has been evident. Because I am frustrated, the girls become frustrated. They act out even more and begin to see how far they can go until I really “lose it.” I yell, they scream out back. They don’t seem to listen, but the funny thing is, I never listened to them when they weren’t misbehaving.

I only gave them my full attention when they were doing the wrong thing.

What if God only gave us His full attention when we only did the wrong thing? We wouldn’t want to listen to HIs instruction with joyful expressions and open ears, to listen. We’d grunt, huff and puff and try to interrupt Him ONE HUNDRED TIMES before He could get just ONE sentence out!

That’s what it’s been like for me this week. Instead of taking a step back and giving them my undivided attention; to see them and hear them; to watch what their hearts need in certain moments. In the one moment they do something they aren’t supposed to, that’s when I “listen;” and perhaps, that’s why they did it in the first place.

As I sit here, hearing them laugh and play pretend with their dolls, I am both happy and sad. Sad because, how many of these precious moments have I missed? How much time have I wasted in correcting them over silly things, only because I am frustrated at all the to-do’s that “must” get done before lunch? Frustrated because they didn’t want their pancake cut in half, they wanted it whole. Frustrated because they’re just being a FOUR year old and a TWO year old.

How many times have I acted in the same way toward God? Did he bicker and sneer at me? Fuss and send me to time out? No. He’s always been gentle with his correction, gentle with his words… gracious and merciful.

I could and will pray more consistently for God to make me more like a James 1:19 woman. Even in my marriage, many times I am quick to get angry and not quick to listen or quick to forgive… or apologize for that matter. It just makes everyone frustrated. It’s not about being wrong or right. It’s about working things out peacefully and enjoying the fact that I… YOU are here.

Enjoying the fact God blessed me with motherhood. That He’s blessed me with an amazing husband. That He’s blessed me with our beautiful home…

Waking up every morning with a grateful heart, regardless of our circumstance. 

Enjoying motherhood despite the fact that dishes need to get done, laundry needs folding, toys are covering the living room…

Simply listening to the sounds of laughter coming from those two little humans that God so delicately, lovingly and joyfully created inside of my body. Seriously, what a gift that I take for granted far more than I’d like to admit!

I’m reminded that TODAY IS A GIFT FROM HIM and I must be diligent in my role here on Earth.

To give more grace.

To be more gentle with my words.

To not allow negative circumstances to dictate my day.

To CHOOSE JOY and PUT ON LOVE the way GOD LOVES US, even when we do have our tantrums with Him.

DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF…dishes don’t have eternal weight, but how I go about raising my children does and how I go about being a good steward of what the Lord has entrusted me with, does too. 

XO,

LO

Homemade Pizza

One of my resolutions for this year, was to cook more at home and to involve the girls in making dinner… ideally, more homemade, from scratch type foods. Well, if you follow along with me, you know that I’m pregnant and the first few months of this pregnancy were very difficult!

My morning  all day sickness, was awful and well, I didn’t get the chance to cook much, until more recently. Though I’ve been making dinner a few nights a week again, I hadn’t done much to involve the girls.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m in the “nesting” phase now, but lately, I’ve been in the mood to bake/make things from scratch.

The other day, I made crepes and flour tortilla’s from scratch and I just wanna say, THANK YOU PINTEREST!

I’ve probably pinned hundreds of recipes, but they’ve just been sitting there in my “FOOD” board and haven’t gotten love from me till now.

ANYWAY… that was just a preface to why you’re really here… the part I mentioned about PIZZA! My girls are somewhat picky eaters, so part of my wanting to involve them in cooking with me, is to get them excited about eating the food they helped make!

I figured that starting with pizza, was a no brainer. So, the only truly from “scratch” part is the dough. I found this truly AWESOME recipe on Pinterest, here. If you don’t feel like clicking the link, I’ll post the recipe at the bottom of the page!

The girls were so excited to be helping out… from watching the yeast proof, to helping pour in the ingredients to form the dough.

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No Fancy pants productions over here and not in any way sponsored by Gold Medal flour HAHA Just us… as raw as it gets!
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The girls just being their normal selves… silly billy goats! They did “help” me roll out the dough after posing for the camera.

I wish the pictures I took of them putting the pizza toppings on, came out well. They were all blurry 😒 So, just pretend that it’s here.

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I don’t have a pizza pan, so I put it in a regular baking pan. I do suggest you cut the excess dough off a little more than I did, because it was a lot of crust. Although, we LOVE crust, so it didn’t bother us.

For the toppings, I used Whole Foods 365 brand Marinara sauce, 365 Mozzarella, 365 Italian mix and their pepperoni sliced from the deli.

homemade pizza, pizza, from scratch, cooking with kids, kid friendly recipes, pizza recipe

Yes, as amazing as it looks, is as amazing as it tasted! Let me just say, that deli pepperoni was life!

After following the baking time instructions, in order to get that slight burn, I broiled it for about 5 minutes… it depends on how your oven’s broiler works, so make sure you keep an eye on it so it doesn’t char and burn down your kitchen!!

The dough yields a lot! This was only half of the dough, so there’s plenty to go around if you’re a bigger family, especially if you make a smaller crust!

Overall, the girls and I really enjoyed making this deliciousness! They always want to help me out in the kitchen and were excited when they were finally able to actually get their hands on this! I can’t wait to keep finding more recipes where I can include them and create beautiful memories with my girls in the kitchen!

*Here’s the dough recipe:

PREP TIME 
COOK TIME 18 MINS
TOTAL TIME 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 5 cups flour, divided
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil (2 Tablespoons per pan)
Instructions
  1. Mix warm water and yeast and let sit 5 minutes until yeast proofs.
  2. Add 2 ½ cups flour with proofed yeast and mix well in Kitchen Aid or with a dough hook.
  3. Add additional 2 ½ cups flour and salt, knead until smooth. Cover bowl with saran wrap. Let dough rest in a ball for 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto baking sheet or pizza pan and evenly coat bottom of baking sheet or pizza pan.
  5. Remove dough from bowl and add more flour as needed (a little at a time) to alleviate the stickiness of the dough if needed. I add a few Tablespoons usually.
  6. Split dough in half and roll each ball of dough very thin and place on greased pan.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 F
  8. Now comes the fun part! Top your pizza dough however you would like. If you have a favorite pizza recipe or breadstick recipe, have at it! Be sure and leave a ¾-inch space on the edge for crust.
  9. Bake each pizza separately at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes for pizza and 15 minutes for bread sticks or cinnamon sticks.

 

*Again, this is not my own recipe, I linked it at the top from it’s original source.

ENJOY!

XO,

LO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time

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For the next 18 years, we will have first days of schools; and I can’t wait to capture that smile every time, yes even when she goes off to her first day of college! She just started in Pre-K 3, and although she’s only going three days a week, there’s so much excitement in that little girl, with the big heart, big smile and out of this world personality! I absolutely love her enthusiasm for learning; she started asking about school when she was only two years old, seriously! It reminds me of the excitement I felt every year for my first days of school.

I vividly remember waking up super early, getting dressed and sitting on the couch, waiting for my mom to wake up and bring me to school.  She has that same excitement, maybe even a little more and I love it!

She just finished her first week and today started her second week.  Already, she has made friends and talks my ears off with how much fun she had at school! I want to remember these conversations. I want to engrain them forever in my mind to replay over and over. I want to remember the sound of her voice as she tells me everything she’s learned, because time doesn’t stop.

Sometimes, I wish I had the super power to stop it, rewind and replay these tender moments with not just Ava, but with all four of us! Oh, if only I could! I feel like just yesterday, Sam and I were bringing home these two little tiny humans, and just like that, they’re growing into fierce, bubbly, sweet and sometimes sour girls!

Our days go by so fast, some days are tougher and rougher than others, and there are days when I let the frustrations of the day get the best of me. While they’re throwing a tantrum, sometimes I boil up and yell in anger…and I forget that my girls are still little.  They’re still learning and growing. They’re still discovering their emotions, and I need to be there for them. I need to help them work through THEIR frustrations, and not get frustrated at them.

Some days I want to give myself a high five, because I calmly corrected them and successfully disciplined them without being angry. Other days I do it all wrong! However, in those times, I quickly feel conviction and bring myself back down to Earth. I remember:

“…You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 

My daughters are watching me, observing me, hearing me and copying the things I say and do. I want to set the right example for them and love them tenderly and reflect Jesus on them. They are young, and so are Sam and I in our parenting. We are all growing and learning together and I want to make the most out of the time that we have. Time is fleeting, and they’ll never be this little again. I don’t want to take anymore moments for granted and soak in the things they do and who they are!

My prayer is that we will be the parents that they need us to be. That we would show them how to walk with the Lord and how to love not just each other, but everyone else around them.

I pray that while Ava is in school, she is a light and is showing love to her classmates and my prayer will be the same for Addi when her time comes. As kids, we learn and are molded into the adults we are, by watching our parents and I don’t want to let them down. I know at times I will, because we’re not perfect, however, I’m trying my darn hardest!

Every day, my prayer is: “Jesus, be my portion!” I can only be successful if He is the source of my strength and the focus of my heart and life! I can only be the mother my girls need if He is my number ONE. With that said, I feel so blessed He chose me and has entrusted ME to raise these two beauties! So I want to do it right, and enjoy each and every moment!

The hood called parent

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetThere’s a fine line as parents, that we teeter when it comes to giving our kids the things we wish we had as children. At least, my husband and I have that struggle. Growing up, my parents worked hard just to provide the basic things for my siblings and I, and while we weren’t on government assistance like my husband and his siblings, it was still a struggle for my parents to make sure a meal wasn’t missed.

I still remember the different places we lived, starting when I was five years old, and back then in my innocence, I didn’t know that we were “poor” in US standards. You don’t know you’re “poor” until you’re old enough to understand why you need a job and how money works… at least not back when we were kids. I think kids today know way too much, way too young but that’s a story for another day!

While I wished to have all the Barbie’s and the accessories that come along with them, my parents would simply say, “maybe one day, but not today.” My parents were stern and strict parents, however, I know that they really did wish to give my siblings and me certain things that we’d ask for; be it for our birthdays or holidays, and there were times that we would get one special wish list item and it’d light up our year!

I remember one year my mom told us that we could start a savings jar for a trip to Disney one day, and for years we’d put any and all spare change into that jar. However, every time it filled up, something needed fixing and there went that dream. We’d start over and over and over. In the meantime, we’d go on weekend trips to the beach and that made us so happy, it still does lol. I love the beach and I hold lots of great memories of vacations there as a kid! (I just wish Sam loved it as much as me and we’d be there more than just 2 days a year! lol)

Finally, when I was 15 years old, my parents surprised me with a trip to Disney World (at this point my brother had gone off to the Navy), so it was a special birthday trip for me. I know how much hard work and saving up my parents had to do to take me and for that I am so thankful!

Fast forward  13 years and my husband and I have taken our girls to Disney World since they were infants. We will be there in a month from now and I just can’t help but think that they won’t feel the same excitement that I felt when they’re 15 years old… or maybe they will, who knows? time will tell…When what felt like my whole life, that was one of the things I wanted the most… of course what so many kids dream of, meeting those two cute big-eared mice!

That’s our struggle, we want them to know and appreciate what hard work looks like and that they are blessed to have the life they have. The fact that they won’t know the struggle we knew; I am so thankful for that! I’m thankful that they will not grow up in a house with financial struggle, not very many people get to see that or know that. I’m thankful that God blesses us day after day, year after year and I know that we are only where we are by His grace, love and mercy over us!

My prayer is that we teach our girls to be thankful for everything. To not be spoiled, though I want to spoil them. I put into practice telling them “no” already when they ask for things. I tell them that they can’t always get what they want, but will always have what they need…even at their little ages of 3 and 1. I don’t want to give them everything just because we can spare the extra expense, it’s a struggle, but important.

One of the things that God constantly reminds me of is being a good steward. A good steward financially, spiritually, physically and a good steward of the two most precious little lives He’s entrusted us with! Oh, they are my heart and even through the ups and downs of parenting, I know that God’s purpose and plan for their lives is something out of this world! I know that they will be world changers and a light. They’re forces to be reckoned with and He’s given us the task to make sure that they’re led through the right path.

I’m constantly praying for God to give me the wisdom and knowledge to be the mother  that they need me to be and I don’t want to let Him down and I don’t want to let them down. I know that at times I will, however, through God and with God we can move mountains!

Daily, I pray for Him to be my portion, to give me patience, to give me wisdom in disciplining them, in teaching them and loving them. Parenting isn’t easy, it isn’t always fun, but in teaching them we also learn and grow along with them. Hopefully, that line becomes easier to balance as we continue in the journey of parenthood!