Word of the Year

Word of the Year

New Year’s resolutions have been fading out of fashion over the last several years. It’s no wonder. They’re often daunting, overwhelming, and by mid-February only a distant memory. My biggest gripe with resolutions is that usually they’re made without much thought. What’s taken its place, though, is the all mighty Word of the Year. And it is mighty in my opinion. Having a word or short phase to continually refer back to for the entire year is a great way to bring focus and intention to the mundane of every day life.

NURTURE was my word for 2020. I had several areas of my life that needing tending to grow and further mature. Things I nurtured were my spiritual life, my marriage, relationships with my children, my love for the outdoors, and so on. It was a wonderful word. I had it posted on my bathroom mirror for the entire year. On the hard days, because we all have hard days, I would see it right there in front of me. It quickly reminded me of the things that matter most, and it made it easy to let go of all the excess. Having a word of the year grounded me amongst all the chaos that was 2020.

When picking a word of the year, I want you to consider a few things. Firstly, don’t rush it. Pray and meditate on the things that went well and the things that didn’t in 2020. How does it make you feel? What things do you want to change? Secondly, choose a verb. A verb will inspire action. It will make you focus on forward grace-filled progress. Lastly, when ideas start coming to mind, take time to look up definitions and synonyms. It’s likely that google will help you find an even more purposeful word or phrase for your hopes of 2021. Sit with your word for a few days before you commit. How does it make you feel? Hopefully not overwhelmed! The goal is to feel refreshed, motivated, and inspired.

On that note, I am so excited to share my word of the year for 2021:

EXPAND

I know that I nurtured good things in 2020. When working on my goals for 2021, one thing kept coming up. I want to expand on things that have already been planted. I want to expand my theological knowledge. I want to expand my physical fitness. I want to expand this blog. And so many other things. It’s perfect for where I’m at in my life, and I am so excited.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a word, I wanted to share this resource from Cultivate What Matters. (If you have followed me for at least 5 minutes, you know I love this company.) You will find suggestions on their site, and they also provide wallpaper for your phone with your word. I screen shot (shotted???) the blank floral pattern, then edited in my word, expand. I will have this be my wallpaper on my phone for the year. I cannot wait for you to share your word of the year! Drop it down in the comments below. And as always, if you enjoyed this post, please like and share, as it’s a simple way to support this little space of mine. Much love, and Happy New Year!!!

It’s Time to Edit Our To-Do List

It’s Time to Edit Our To-Do List

2020 has been weird and hard and heartbreaking and all the things. There’s no way to beat around the bush or sugar coat it. The holidays are supposed to be filled with joy and glad tidings, but this year many of us are grieving or struggling financially or feeling burned out or all of the above. I see you. I hear you. And I am here to encourage you.

Take a couple of deep breaths, mama. When you exhale, let it go. Let go of your expectations of what this holiday season will be like. Let’s agree to leave some wiggle room in our schedules. Let’s agree to take it day by day. There. Does that take some of the pressure off? I hope it does. Speaking of plans, lets take a look at our holiday to do lists. I’m not talking about the practical things that are non-negotiable. I’m talking about that holiday baking that you do every single year. I’m talking about the 17 Christmas movies are a must watch. I’m talking about the five course dinner that you typically serve on Christmas day. Those things. Things that you might really enjoy but maybe won’t or shouldn’t happen this year.

It is okay to not do all the things. It is ok to cross things off your holiday to do list because you don’t have the capacity to get them done this year. This isn’t a lesson just for 2020. I actually learned this truth last year. There wasn’t one specific thing that was going on in my 2019 life, but I was feeling SO spread thin by the beginning of December. A lot of little things added up, and I was just DONE before it even started. The holiday season felt like some gigantic mountain I was going to be forced to climb. That’s when I realized that’s not how I wanted to spend my time. I am worthy of enjoying the Christmas season just as much as my kids and the rest of my family. I made the decision. I crossed something off my list. Something big. I decided that we wouldn’t celebrate Advent nightly in our home. I know what you’re thinking. “But Emily, isn’t your husband a pastor?” Yes, yes he is. What I realized (thanks to the Holy Spirit) was that I am not responsible for my kids’ relationship to God. Yes, I am responsible for guiding them, but their salvation isn’t going to come down to one Advent season. And so, I crossed it off. IT WAS FREEING! I was able to enjoy the holiday season with my family without feeling like I was in servitude to them.

This year has been really interesting. It has really made us focus on what really matters. What really matters to you? What fills your cup during this time? What brings your family joy? By crossing off the things that don’t really matter, we can make room for this things that do. One thing that I am excited to make room for is decorating gingerbread houses. But here’s the kicker, because I’ve crossed some things off, I am planning on making the gingerbread myself. This is something that I have wanted to do for years but haven’t been able to because of being distracted by other things. What matters most to us, this year, is that our family feels peaceful and bonded. Every activity is put through that filter. If it doesn’t meet that basic criteria, then it’s crossed off the list.

What are you crossing off your list this year? Are you adding anything to it? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed this post. Happy Holidays!!

Living Intentionally Well

Living Intentionally Well

I’ve spent the last two weeks thinking some deep thoughts. Thoughts about expectations I’ve placed on myself and making adjustments. You see, about three week ago, I found myself stretched to the max. We were still trying to find our rhythm with homeschooling, my husband’s work schedule shifted (again), my two oldest children started [separate] sports, and apparently there is a lot to growing a blog from the ground up. My brain was fried. I felt like I was juggling 15,000 balls in the air. It was all too much. I had to take a beat and remind myself on what was important. Now granted, when looking at that list, these things are ALL important. But, I needed to take some time to plan, focus, and reevaluate where I was spending my mental energy. You see, my little corner of the internet here is called Intentionally Well because I believe it is of the upmost importance that we live our days on purpose with a purpose. Our days are numbered. They are limited. I want to spend mine well.

On this quest of intentionality, I’ve learned something. You have to be intentional about being intentional. It seems redundant, doesn’t it? I know, I know, but go with me here. Our lives are not static. Things change (hello 2020!). Schedules, routines, seasons, etc., it’s always shifting. I find that my brain can handle some minor shifting and take it in stride. But after a while, I feel like I’m swimming in a deep sea while just trying to stay afloat. And that, sweet friend, is not a place that I like to be. Do you? Therefore, it makes sense that we need to be consistently evaluating our circumstances to know where we need to put our time and energy. Notice I said constantly, not continually. When you do this well, it won’t need need to be something that you have to dwell on daily. You’ll already know what’s important and where you need to spend your time. You’ll be able to focus on what really matters, and let everything else fade to the background.

So, how exactly do we do this? I like to take myself on a little date with my planner and calendar at the end of each month. I go to lunch or a coffee shop alone and spend time taking inventory of what is happening in my family and what we have coming up. I consider how things are going and what needs tweaking. If my schedule doesn’t have room for my little date, then I’ll spend some time planning after the kids are in bed. But, friend, there is something so relaxing about getting out of your every day environment. It is SO much easier to focus when that pile of laundry isn’t staring at you in your peripheral vision. I find that monthly planning is what works best for me, but you might find weekly or quarterly is better for you. The frequency isn’t as important as the consistency, which then develops into a habit. Now, I am not talking about a daily to do list or things like my homeschooling lesson plans. I am talking about planning things like family time, how I am going to grow in my relationship with the Lord, what needs focus in my marriage, what needs changing so I am living my life from a place of rest. Big things. Important things that if we aren’t intentional about will slowly disintegrate if left unattended.

I have been doing intentional planning like this for about two years. I know it works and is beneficial. But I’ll be honest, it’s been harder this year. 2020….there really aren’t enough or adequate words to brush the surface of what this year has been like for all of us. Putting it lightly, it’s been hard. Some months, I have been on it. Like planning and intentionality to the tee. Then other months, like last month, I’ve rushed it. I always pay for it. But that’s ok. Remember, it’s the consistency that matters. We don’t have to do life perfectly to do life well. So, I’m pausing and evaluating what and where to spend my time. And you can to!

Do you plan out the big things in life? How do you live intentionally in the season you’re in? Let me know in the comments below.

Math: Love It or Hate It?

Math: Love It or Hate It?

Either way, we have to teach it. Hopefully, we can teach our kids not to hate it. I actually really enjoyed math in school. It was my favorite subject. Side note: I’m a child of a math teacher…so maybe it’s genetics? Math made sense to me. It was like solving puzzles, and my Type A personality savored the fact that there is always a right answer. I’d probably still do Algebra problems for fun. Joking, not joking!

When it came time to choose a math curriculum for my early elementary aged kids, I was here for it! However, I became quickly overwhelmed. There are a LOT of choices out there, and there are a lot of different methods for teaching math to kids. I googled, I polled Facebook groups, I asked friends what they were using, and so on. A few curricula were mentioned over and over again, so I did a deep dive.

I was all set to spend a bunch of money on a super trendy program. It looked so fun, but I hesitated. It was a really expensive curriculum, and I was having to make a choice with never seeing the books in person. I decided to poll my homeschool mommy friends one more time. See, I already learned math. I am good at it, and I one hundred percent did not want to have to learn new methods for myself. I wanted a curriculum that taught to “carry the one” in addition. Did you know that’s not taught in public schools anymore?? At least it’s not in our’s. So, come to find out, the curriculum I was about to buy did not teach the 90’s way of math I was looking for.

When I told my homeschool community exactly what I was looking for in a math curriculum, I had one sweet mama recommend Christian Light Education. It is definitely in the Traditional category of homeschooling. You can tell parent book is made for a teacher in the classroom setting. But for math, I feel like that is okay. We don’t need a lot of fluff. Best of all, my kids are learning to carry the one! Added bonus: this curriculum is pretty budget friendly, which is so nice when having to buy for multiple grades.

I can only speak to their math program, but Christian Light Education is simple and straight forward and has a spiral approach. This means that the child learns a new skill with the parent, then reviews previously learned skills independently each day. There are ten units per grade level, and each unit includes quizzes and a test. We use these just as an indicator as to what we need to continue to work on. There isn’t a dedicated Kindergarten math level with this company. It starts in grade one, so your child has to have a basic knowledge of numbers and counting. My kindergartener learned a lot of basics in preschool, so I felt comfortable starting her in grade one for math. She has done really well with it. My second grader is right on schedule with grade two, and she tells me that math is her favorite subject. She especially loves the Speed Drills. Child after my own heart!

Helpful Links:

Christian Light Education Website: https://www.clp.org/store/browse/31_curriculum

Math materials we use:

Unifix Cubes: https://amzn.to/2Q6pYlP

Unit Books Organizer: https://amzn.to/2EjXouz

Learning Clock: https://amzn.to/3hcjhuv

Play Money: https://amzn.to/3iWWCTz

Rulers: https://amzn.to/31cPMU1 and https://amzn.to/34dhbXE

**Some links are affiliates which helps to support my little passion blog here at Intentionally Well. Thank you for your support**

Our Bible Curriculum

Our Bible Curriculum

I use the word curriculum loosely here. The word routine might be more appropriate. However you phrase it, I want to share what we are doing for our Bible lessons in our homeschool this year. Our faith is part of our daily life. We are a Christian family, and my husband is actually in vocational ministry. We talk about God and the Good News in our daily life often. With that said, I have chosen to do some intentional instruction on the Bible this year. My school aged kids are still young, being only in second grade and kindergarten, so I really wanted to take that into consideration when deciding what our goals would be. I decided that rather than focus on scripture memorization, I wanted my kids to learn the narrative of the Bible. I wanted them to learn and have a better understanding of the people and stories of the Bible, and how they reveal God’s love for us.

I am using a children’s Bible as our main source to accomplish this. About 3 mornings a week, we read a selection out of The Big Picture Storybook Bible (linked here: https://amzn.to/31wJgpK ). Guys, I love this children’s bible so much. Each story is so beautifully and clearly written on a child’s level without sounding babyish. The corresponding chapter and verses are always given if you want to go even deep with your learner. At the end of each story, there is a section called Christ Connection, and this is where the story (whether taken from the Old or New Testament) is brought back to Jesus and the gospel. Lastly, the passage ends with a comprehension question for the learner. This bible isn’t particularly meant for schooling, but it so beautifully serves that purpose for our family.

This set up has worked really nicely with my girls. The “lessons” are short and engaging but also very meaningful. We are focusing on the New Testament for this fall semester. We are going to learn all about the life and work of Jesus, which will culminate with celebrating His birthday at Christmas.

Also, can I just say how much I miss in person church?! Man….anyone else? Okay, thanks. I just needed to put that somewhere.

**Links are affiliates which helps to support my little passion blog here at Intentionally Well. Thank you for your support**

The Journey Begins

cactus near canister and box
Photo by Alizee Marchand on Pexels.com

Hi friends!

Do you remember in January of 2018, when everyone was set on picking their “word for the year”. It was basically the topic of every conversation I had that first week of the New Year. Some picked “peace”, others picked “determination”, and so on. It was something my friends and I all prayed over. What did we want our focus to be for the year? How did we want our 2018 to be different than 2017. Picking a word of the year was the new New Year’s Resolution. I was a fan of the idea. Sticking to a word seemed much easier than sticking to a myriad of resolutions that can quickly fall into the superficial. But, what would mine be? I thought about my life in 2017. After a difficult pregnancy, I had my third baby in the fall. I had been in “survival mode” for quite some time. You know the feeling. Where you’re doing anything possible to just get through the day. Survival mode had marked my year, and I didn’t want to live it in any longer. I was ready for my life to be proactive instead of reactive. I was ready to rise up and live each day on purpose. Intentionally. And there it was. My word for 2018. Intentional.

Keep your face always to the sunshine, and the shadows will fall behind you — Walt Whitman