Tips + Tricks to Get Your Schedule Under Control

People are always tell me how organized I must be since we have six kids and I have my fingers in all sorts of stuff.

Know what I whisper back? “Don’t say that in front of my husband or he’ll die laughing.”

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I’m not, you guys. I’m just not mega-organized in all aspects of my life. The biggest source of struggle for me?

Scheduling.

But guess what…I have some fantastic tips on how to get a grip on it all!

Our kids after-school sports/activities schedule is on a separate calendar on my phone but I needed something for the every-day.

You know, so I don’t schedule trips on days they don’t have school, or don’t double book a doctor appointment on the same day I have a speaking engagement, that sort of thing. I needed to get a better grasp on things because I was drowning in double-bookings and scheduling things poorly, which wasn’t allowing me to accomplish all I needed to do.

Maybe you’re the same.

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Or perhaps it’s not work-stuff that’s bogging you down, but mom-hood in general (hand raised here!!). You know, things as simple as scheduling a get-together the night before your son’s huge science project was due (oops). Or maybe being excited your mother-in-law was coming to visit before realizing it was finals week for your oldest and they would be holed-up studying the whole time and not able to play.

A few months ago, my dear friend Lindsay Sherbondy (also known as Lindsay Letters) sent me a wall calendar unlike any I’ve ever had. A wall calendar? That’s it? That’s your amazing organizing tool?? (**yawn**) I’ve had one since high school.

No! No you haven’t!

This is different…and so is how Lindsay taught me to use it.

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But here’s the thing: it’s not just what we use…but how we use it!

First of all, let’s talk about how pretty it is. Everything Linds makes is like the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen. So there’s that. But you also have an opportunity to select all sorts of options so it fits perfectly in your space AND perfectly fits your needs.

  • weekly, monthly, yearly, quarterly, seasonal

  • kids schedule, kitchen (with foodie illustrations), traditional

  • calligraphy or typography

  • vertical or horizontal

  • wall-peels or framed (PS there are TONS of different framing and sizing options)

  • huge-sized, tiny-sized

  • big budget, small budget

Are you freaking out about all the options yet? I know…how do you choose, right?!

But here’s the great part: Unlike most calendars that are made of paper, this one is covered in plexiglas which means it basically lasts forever (there is also a wall-peel option, check that out too!).

After the month, quarter, year, or whatever, is over…you simply wipe it clean and start afresh!

Ok ready for some tips on how to use it to stay mega-organized??

tips:

I certainly like that dry erase and wet erase markers can be used for different purposes but what I LOVE is the ability to use more than just pens to help me remember various things. Because of the way my brain works, other materials such as washi tape, post-it notes, tags, etc easily pulls my eye toward exactly what needs to be done and highlighted… basically separating or classifying various projects and topics.

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Want to understand better what I’m talking about?

Head to this quick little video and see what I mean!

What do you think? Was that helpful? I sure hope so…because it’s truly been invaluable for me! And if you’re wondering, my calendar is The Quarter Cal.

I don’t have a ton scheduled for the rest of September but I know there’s a lot of travel, etc coming up in October and November so I went ahead and started those months a little early to make sure I’m set up for success!


Also…

If you haven’t already fallen in love with Lindsay’s crazy-creativity (and her dry humor…she’s just so fun. Check out her IGstories)…then I’m so excited to have changed your life for the better.

Head here to see more of her AMAZING hand lettering and artwork!

Take Joy,

Teresa

What do my book + MOPS International have to do with each other??

Years ago, when our kids were still small and I only had two blonde boys at home (ohhhh how things change!!), I heard of this thing called MOPS International. I first thought how weird the name was...and then thought the acronym didn't apply to me because I wasn't a Mother of a PreSchooler, I was the mother of two toddlers. (Helloooooo...they didn't need to be IN preschool, they needed to be pre-elementary school aged! I was totally their target mama!)

Even though I didn't really "get" what it was all about, a friend was starting a group at our church and she asked me to co-lead it. I really shouldn't have said yes and was the worst leader ever because it was right around the time we brought home Imani...and then Ezekiel, and I was so massively over-capacity that I could hardly function in life, let alone lead 40 other exhausted mamas.

But alas...God used being the co-coordinator at our MOPS group to get my feet wet and learn what this incredible non-profit was all about and teach me of its impact during my exhausted season with little ones underfoot.

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Fast forward several years of living in Denver and I became friends with a handful of women who worked in MOPS' corporate offices (who knew their home office is mere minutes from my own home?!). God is so fun to have introduced me to the organization when I, too, was trying to figure out this whole motherhood-thing. He brought me to these women who love-on and support mamas in the most beautiful way and then moved me closer so I could link arms with them! I love that He sees 10 steps further than I ever could.

One sweet friendship I've made is with Mandy Arioto, the CEO of MOPS International. She even wrote the foreword to my book. So humbled by that.

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(don't tell Mandy I posted this photo, it's horrible of both of us, she'll kill me hahahaha)

A few days ago, MOPS' blog featured my story and the heart of what Beautifully Interrupted is all about. 

Here's a snippit:

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Click the button below to read the rest of the article!

**If you're not involved with MOPS and you have babies on up, click here to learn more. They also have groups for teenaged moms, military mothers, as well as moms with school-aged children.**


By the way, have you preordered your copy of Beautifully Interrupted yet?

I keep getting screenshots from friends after Amazon has sent them updates on the delivery date...how crazy that some will arrive on doorsteps on April 30th when the release date isn't 'till May 15?!

Go order now and you might get it before it hits stores, too!!

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(PLUS... by preordering, you'll have access to freebies!! See what I'm talking about here)

Take Joy,

Teresa

How to Rest + Be Still

Life is busy and bustling and very rarely is there time to sit and rest. Are you in this same season?

Every night I sing to the girls after our prayers. They make their minds known while shouting out their favorite end-of-day songs: Jesus Loves the Little Children, Twinkle Twinkle, the Rainbow song...and one I made up when Anton was an infant called Be Still.

Based on the hymn we sang in church as a child, it goes like this:

Be still (insert child's name), and know He is God...that Jesus loves you, Mom and Daddy too. So close your eyes...and go to sleep. Every time I sing it, it's like God's murmuring it right on back to me because I'm tired and have a hard time settling down to rest.

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This has been an extra busy season, with Ben still settling into his new job and me trying to figure out what life as an author looks like: completing my manuscript, getting gigs on my speaking calendar, coming up with good content both for my own blog and for articles I'm collaborating with on other peoples sites and magazines.

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What's funny though is that I work so hard to ensure our extra business doesn't affect the kids that I end up just creating a whirlwind of exhaustion. I want our kids to know that my ministry won't disturb our family-memory-making that when I am with them, I just have nothing left.

Instead of allowing our family time to fill my bucket back up so I can pour out...

I'm left dry and parched.

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During church last week, a friend filled in for our sick pastor and spoke about this very subject. Our family intentionally hunkers down during the winter months, when cold weather sweeps through our Colorado mountains, but fall is just a busy one with six kids in activities, clubs, friends, homework, and all that fills the outside school hours.

I needed this reminder on rest.

Why do I look at Sabbath as something unattainable, though?

Are you the same? Our friend Eric (who preached last week) talked about how the Sabbath isn't supposed to be a 24-hour span of time full of what we cannot do...but isn't that often what we think?

When I hear the word Sabbath, I feel I need to somehow figure out how to just be still and relaxed and quiet for the entire Sunday hours. Like I need to do literally nothing.

But as a mom that just doesn't seem possible!

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We live in a neighborhood full of Jewish families because we're so close to the Synagogue. It's amazing to watch their diligence walking to and from service on Saturday: pelting rain, blistering sun, and deep snow, it doesn't matter.

A few summers ago, a someone's dog got out and was running around the street. A knock on our door brought me face to face with a smiling woman who said she heard we "take people in" (hah!) and would we be willing to take in this lost dog because since it was Sabbath, they couldn't use their phone and locate its owners.

Huh. Is this what Sabbath looks like?

Am I supposed to rest in a way that I cannot even help a lost pet?

How are we supposed to rake the leaves and go to Costco though, if this is the only free day we have? What about those of us with kids that need to be run around town for sports and birthday parties?

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What about the toilet that keeps plugging up and the necessary trip to Home Depot? Sunday is the only day we have to get all this done and prepare ourselves for the week ahead. Sunday is when we do meal-prep and change the sheets and make sure all the laundry is put away.

So someone...

please tell me how we're supposed to keep this Sabbath?

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Our sermon on Sunday reminded us it's more of a heart issue.

Sure we can go to Costco...but when we do, let's not get riled up with the crowds and our children touching things and making the trip take longer. Let us instead take a step back...walk a bit slower.

Stop for the samples. Let them play with the karaoke machine and the keyboard piano or drum set. What if we actually made Costco...or Home Depot...or raking the leaves...or whatever it is we're needing to do, into an experience.

What if we did our week's meal prep with the kids instead of ushering them out of the kitchen? What if we slowed down enough that we enjoyed our tasks, rather than simply rushing through them?

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We may not get as much done on whatever day we choose to rest on, but isn't that the point?

We don't need to literally do nothing.

We can still go on a hike, bike ride, or fishing with the family. But if chores need to be done and errandss need to be run, we can do it with a different viewpoint.

Our tasks can still be done... but with our hearts positioned differently, it could become more restful.

More rest-filled.

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What do you think? How could you honor the Sabbath and put rest in its rightful place in your life?

Take Joy,

Teresa

The Impact of voicing "I'm a Good Mom"

A few days ago, I scrolled past a dear friend's post on Instagram. Her words stopped me because I needed to hear them. I thought perhaps you needed to hear them, too.


I am a great mom. (You must continue reading to see that is not a conceited sentence!)

Last week I was out with a few of my girlfriends and we started talking about parenting, being a mom, and how hard it is. One of my girlfriends then said she sucks at being a mom. Over and over in her head, she hears herself say she is inadequate and not doing a good job. Around the table we all chimed in agreement,

“ Ya, I hear you. I suck at being a mom sometimes too.” .

I even said it. I said, “Yes, I often fall mega short at being a good mom.”

WHY? Why did I say that? That is not true. I do not believe that in my core. I immediately felt my heart tug at me. Why did you say that? You know you are a great mom. You pour your heart and sweat into that
job.

Did I want to make her feel better? Did I want to conform to the group? Yes!

You know what, though?

That friend is an excellent mom.

And so was every girl sitting at that table.

We all love deeply our children and our husbands. We fight for our kids. We delay gratification in hopes to build little human beings that are not entitled. We set boundaries. We protect. We play. And we love.

I have had it with this idea of self-deprecation and false humility. There are no perfect mothers. We will make mistakes every day. But as long as we show up, work hard, and love hard, we are doing a dang great job.

So to my girlfriends around the table that evening - I apologize for being anything less than the powerful spirit inside of me. We are fabulous moms and we are going to bask in that sunshine. (written and posted by Abigail Irene Fisher)


As I sat on the couch, taking a few minutes for myself as the kids played outside, I read through my friend Abigail's post again. I remembered how a few weeks prior, I had taken an eight-hour mountain biking workshop here in Colorado.

Toward the end of the day, I was tired and overwhelmed. We were going down a hill that was mega-outside my comfort zone. It was steep, there were rocks in the way of where I wanted my tires to go, and the loose dirt and gravel taunted me with it's instability. When it was my turn and I rode my bike gingerly down, I froze and nearly fell. My coach asked me to go back up and start again.

Over and over, I tried, but I couldn't get over how hard and out of my comfort zone it put me.

It seemed dangerous and I pictured myself plummeting down the mountainside, bloody and injured.

The other girls were patiently waiting for me at the bottom, cheering me on. "They'd done it," I thought frustrated. "Why can't I?!"

As my sweet coach walked up to where I stood with my bike, one foot on a pedal, the other on the dusty ground, she said something profound. Not just something that got me down the hillside, but something that has stayed with me and I recite back to myself all the time in my day-to-day life:

"Look to victory."

"If your eyes are on the rocks and hard places, that's where you'll end up. And we both know the rubble and rocky ground is not your target. Look instead to where you want to be, look at your destination." 

"Where your eyes look directs where you go"

"Look to victory!", she said again. "Look where you want to go and guess what...that's where you'll position yourself to be. You CAN do this...don't allow yourself to dwell on the crags and rocks. Look at the place you want your tires to roll over and that's where they'll roll."

And guess what? I did it. I forced my eyes away from the scary places that would take me from achieving my goal, and recited "look to victory!!" under my breath the whole way, as I hurried down the steep decent I thought I could never successfully make.

I think about this now as a mom. As a writer and creative. I have massive insecurities and fears I have to shove away a million times every day. But I'm learning to look to victory and set my sights on where I want to be instead.

If we allow ourselves to listen to the lie that we suck as moms, or are horrible in our careers, or will never be a good enough Christian or wife or friend...that's where we'll end up.

Look to victory, friends. Set your eyes on Christ and don't let lies of inadequacy and weakness dictate where you steer your day. And remember...

Look where you want to go and guess what...that's where you'll position yourself to be.

Take Joy,

Teresa

Motherhood: How to freak out less + laugh more

The phrase "The days are long but the years are short" seems to be on repeat in my mind as the realization that our kids are growing older hits. It's been quite awhile since I've bought diapers or filled a bottle. I don't often wake in the middle of the night to a little one's needs.

Though I love the baby and toddler stages (like loooooooove them), I always figured I'd be excited to be out of it and onto the older years. And it is undoubtedly fun to be able to snuggle on the couch and read books side by side, have water balloon fights in the front yard, and cook dinner together...and yet, I'm realizing something.

The stage that I considered to be the most challenging of my life because I was tangled in a life of exhaustion and spit-up, has shifted into something else...another season more challenging than the one before.

Though I now have a few minutes to shower every morning (sometimes even without a kid interrupting!) and generally sleep through the night without someone needing me at 2 am, this stage is a hundred times more demanding.

Our kids have opinions and personalities and giftings and struggles. They have expectations and hurts and fears. There are days of tremendous elation and others with lots of tears.

I realize each and every day that I have no idea what I'm doing and pray that I don't screw them up...too much.

I pray deeply and fervently that Christ speaks to their little (and big) hearts as they begin making choices that will impact who they grow up to be. Our youngest may be four, but our oldest is seventeen. We're nearing the four-year mark with both these two and though it seems like we've had them forever, I also realize how fast time is going.

I think sometimes I stress out too much. Do you?

Sometimes I forget to celebrate the little things like I used to and see the weeds rather than the flowers.

Last night six-year-old Imani had her kindergarten performance. The spring weather was beautiful and warm and we smiled as we walked to and from the elementary school. We were all hungry afterward and as we fixed some snacks before putting on pj's, one of the little ones put on the La La Land soundtrack. The music is so fun and upbeat. I've played it so often that we all know the words to our favorite songs and the younger three and I danced around the kitchen, lip syncing and laughing.

But when I tried to bring one of the older kids into the fun, he got angry. Some of our kids have a lot of trauma from their past and unpredictable anger flares up now and then because of it. But this was not one of those kids.

The way he shunned our fun was surprising and unexpected. And it made me really sad. Like heartsick kind of sad.

I looked at him and wondered where his joy had gone.

I'm not saying he's a depressed kid. I'm in no way detecting a constant spirit of sadness or anger. But it does flash more often than I think it should and definitely more often than it had when he was young and every conversation had to do with superheroes, trucks, and legos. Now he talks about mean girls in class and struggling in math. He shares when he feels like he doesn't fit in and that he's not good enough, cool enough.

Ohhhh how that breaks my heart.

Motherhood is hard to maneuver, isn't it?

So my challenge for this summer is to bring more joy to the house.

To freak out less and laugh more.

I came upon Rachel Macy Stafford's post today titled, The Day My Child Lost Her Joy—and What I Did to Revive It and realized this isn't only hitting my family. Is it impacting yours?

I think it's partly my own fault. I've noticed as the number of children in our family expands, the more order I need in our home and when order is not there, I get tense and frustrated.

And as we know, mothers are the heartbeat of the home.

How does the saying go? "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Gosh, it's true.

Life is so chaotic and loud in a family of eight that I think it's my way to restore a little calm. The more kids in the house, the less I can handle mess and clutter. And my patience wanes as our old-enough-to-clean-up-after-themselves children either don't clean up...or they whine the entire time they do.

And because they see impatience in me, they're impatient. Because I'm stressed, they're stressed.

But if I ooze joy, they'll ooze joy.

And in all truthfulness...I yell. You guys, sometimes I yell at my kids for almost no reason at all. Sometimes it's simply because I'm stressed and they did something that broke the camel's back.

I've never been a person who yells. What is my problem??

I don't want them to remember me as a "Yelling Mom."

I want them to remember me as an affirming, goofy, fun mom.

Something has got to change. And I think joy is where I'm going to spend my time first.

How do you infuse joy and happiness into your home? How, as your kids enter elementary, middle school, and high school...do you help them brush off hurt in a healthy way and turn their faces toward the light of Christ?

How do you see the flowers and not the weeds in your day-to-day life? From one mama that often feels in over her head to another...I'm so glad we don't have to pretend everything is always ok and perfect. No facades here. Let's grasp authenticity.

Take Joy,

Teresa