One of the things that really helps me to stay on track during the stress of the school year is trying to be productive early on each day.
I'm not a good "sleeper-inner", but there are also mornings that I get up early and do more sitting and wasting time than doing my best work.
Because of this, I've developed a morning routine that is built on habits and not a lot of random time-consuming choices.
My morning routine really starts the night before when we lay clothes out and prepare for the next day (more on that coming in another post).
However, in August of this year, I decided to make my bed every single morning and build the habit. It stuck. I don't even think about it anymore and when I leave my bedroom, I've already got a little bit of productivity under my belt.
I used to shower and get dressed & ready for the day right after that, but I have realized that in the wintertime especially, I love drinking my coffee and doing my morning Bible reading and prayer time in my warm and cozy jammies. I just have to be sure to set a timer or I would sit there all day!
I have found that taking a nice chunk of time each morning for my coffee, Bible study, prayer time, and running through my day BEFORE THE GIRLS GET UP really starts my day off on the right foot.
I am usually going through a few Bible studies at the same time on my YouVersion Bible app. You can see the ones I was working on this morning in the images below.
I have found that I HAVE to set a timer during the morning to keep myself on track or I will get carried away reading or during my prayer time and before I know it...I have forgotten to get the girls up and we are running late.
So by 5:45, I like to have the girls up and going before I jump in the shower. I get dressed, fix my hair, and occasionally whip up some eggs. A lot of the time I don't even eat breakfast...fancy people call it "intermittent fasting" and I call it "I'm just not hungry yet."
My girls always grab something to eat...they are breakfast people.
We are...er, really try to be, out the door by 6:30.
Once the girls are up and running, I know that my day won't be quiet again until they all climb into bed that night.
This is why that morning time in the peace and quiet of the farmhouse seems so valuable to me.
I'm working hard to be centered and intentional with my time and getting up early is just another piece of that puzzle for me.
My morning routine helps me to be the best version of myself, for Mr. Farmhouse, my girls, the rest of my family, my staff, and my students.
Trying to "rise & shine" from the farmhouse,
Back in January, I made the goal to read 30 books in 2018.
Well, it's mid-April and I am in the middle of books number SIX and SEVEN.
Book number six is The 7 Experiment (Jen Hatmaker).
And book number seven is The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact (Michael Fullan).
I will post a completed list at year-end, but for today, I would love to talk to you about the book I finished just last week, The 12-Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Get Done in 12 Months (Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington).
I immediately downloaded it and started listening to it that night.
The concepts in the book were so obvious and yet, I needed to hear them so badly.
How many of us wake up on January 1st every single year with so many hopes and dreams for the year?
We make goals (New Years' Resolutions, if you will), whether on paper or in our heads.
There are so many things we want to accomplish by December 31st, and yet by the time February hits, adequate progress towards most of our goals has not been made.
We don't have to work too hard in January and February because December is still SO...FAR...AWAY.
We push through March and April, making excuses as to why we are not moving towards our goals.
It's so cold.
When it warms up, I will get to work on those goals. I promise!
When the school year ends, I'll have so much more time to focus on my plans.
There's still PLENTY of time to meet my goals before the end of the year! We're not even halfway through the year!
May, June, and July come and go.
The summer is just so busy. When school starts, I'll be able to focus more.
It's too hot!
Summer is for rest and relaxation.
By the time we hit August and September, we are ready to get the kids back into the routine of school and get to work on those "New Years' resolutions"!
But it's just crazy when everyone is trying to get back into the grind of school.
On October 1st, it hits us...we only have three more months to reach our goals.
We start to get a glimpse of the urgency that is needed if we're going to hit our goals before January 1st, but by this point...it feels like it's too late.
We'll try again next year.
I knew I couldn't continue this cycle forever.
With all of the changes coming in our life over the next six months, I knew that I needed to get it together.
I'll be starting a new job on August 1st and life will be different at the farmhouse at that time if we don't start to mark some things off of our giant to-do list.
The basic premise of the 12-week year is that we get rid of our "annualized" thinking when it comes to goal-setting and working towards making our vision for our life a reality.
We start to think of each 12-week section of time as a year.
Instead of putting off tasks until the end of the year when the urgency starts to take over, we keep that sense of urgency year-round, while setting realistic goals and focusing on the execution of daily tasks to help us reach our desired result.
"If you want to know what your future holds, look at your current daily actions. Those are the best predictor of your future. Not your hopes and dreams and visions. Your daily action. Because daily action is what moves a person forward."
We can have the most well thought-out vision and the most wonderful plan in the world.
However, if we don't execute well...none of that matters.
So remember as you think about your vision, your goals, and your plan that we need to also think about the effectiveness of our execution.
We have to DO the hard work every stinking day. Even when we don't feel like it.
Just do it.
We are in Week 2 of our first 12-week year and we are LOVING the results we are seeing.
I'm going to take you through the process of how Mr. Farmhouse and I set up our first 12 weeks.
This is, in no way, a substitution for you reading the actual book and following the plan.
But I'm hoping it can at least inspire you to get started!
1. Write out your personal vision for your life 10 or 15 years down the road.
Be specific! Close your eyes and picture the life you've always dreamed about! There's no goal too lofty. Just write it all down!
2. Based on that vision, think about what parts of that vision you could work towards for the next three years.
We are zooming in at this point.
We're taking that lifelong vision and breaking it into more measurable and attainable chunks.
We went through our vision and wrote some attainable goals.
I'm not going to share every single part of our personal family vision because your vision should be your own.
However, on our long-term vision, we wrote that we want to be completely debt-free in ten years.
So for our three-year plan, we want to work towards having everything paid off except for the farmhouse and my student loans.
3. Based on your three-year goals, set goals for the next 12 weeks.
We are zooming in even farther at this point.
What can we do to move ourselves closer to meeting that long-term vision and that three-year goal in the next three months?
At this point, we broke down our 12-week plan into fourteen very specific, small, and attainable goals.
It includes blogging goals, a plan to get my classroom completely cleaned out before I move into an office next year, and a plan for our first garden here at the farmhouse.
On this step, be specific.
And be realistic.
4. Create a weekly plan including activity that needs to be completed every week to help you reach your goals.
We did this on the Sunday evening before we started into our first week.
These are very specific tasks that will move you toward your 12-week goals.
Here's an example of this from our 12-week year.
We want to finish the wall and closet for the fourth bedroom.
During week 1, we needed to measure the closet and wall space and make a materials list. We needed to order the supplies from Sutherland's. These are the only two tasks for that goal that we could realistically finish in Week 1.
But we finished those two tasks and moved farther along in the process than we have in the last six weeks.
We aren't putting that task it off any longer because now it seems manageable.
It seems attainable.
We can do this!
5. Every single week, check your progress from the previous week and plan the next week.
This part is crucial to the success of the 12-week year.
What daily action did you carry out regarding each goal?
How much progress did you make towards your goals?
Were you diligent in doing the hard work every single day?
If not...OWN IT and vow to do better this week!
After checking your progress, make a new weekly plan!
In the book, Moran talks about three different blocks of time we need to religiously schedule each week.
Strategic Blocks - 3 hours of protected time early in the week where you knock out a lot of your weekly activity work (1 time per week)
Buffer Blocks - 30 minutes to one hour blocks of time where you do those mundane yet necessary daily tasks like checking emails and social media (1-2 times per day)
Breakout Blocks - 3 hours of time later in the week where you BREAKOUT of the work cycle and focus on pouring back into yourself (1 time per week)
I tried this schedule this week and could not believe how much more I was able to accomplish during that first strategic block when I wasn't distracted by emails, my phone, or other daily (sometimes meaningless) tasks that I spend so much time on each week.
Week 13 in the 12-week year is for reflection and celebration!
Because you're not thinking about the annual goals that are looming over you, you are able to be more focused on a few attainable goals and the tasks that will get you to the end result you desire.
I would encourage you to grab the book or at the very least, try to plan your own 12-week year soon.
You won't be sorry.
Happy Windy Saturday from the farmhouse, friends.
Week 2...here we come!
Every single Sunday, I find myself worrying that people think I'm texting or checking my Facebook during the sermon.
Granted, I do reply to a text message here and there.
But usually, I am looking up the scripture that Brother Matt is referencing or taking notes on my phone.
I started taking notes on Google Docs in January of 2017 and it has been amazing.
Brother Matt is in the middle of a sermon series entitled "Second Chances" right now.
He preached his first message on Easter.
It was amazing. You can check it out here.
Today was week 2.
The message was from Acts, Chapter 2.
Acts Chapter 2 was after...
the betrayal in the garden,
and 40 days of traveling and teaching.
In Acts 2:38, we read these words that Peter had said when the people asked him what they needed to do to make Jesus Lord.
"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
I grew up in the Church.
I can't even tell you how many times I have read that passage or heard that passage read aloud during a sermon or Bible study.
And yet today...I got a fresh perspective on it.
Repent means I'm turning AWAY from my sin.
Baptism is when I'm turning TO God.
When we choose to leave behind those behaviors that are not pleasing to Him, we choose to leave behind those feelings of guilt and remorse.
The feelings of not being good enough.
The feeling that we are "broken by our own mistakes" (good words, Brother Matt!).
We choose to turn towards Jesus and the feeling of hope that He brings.
So we stop repeating our bad behaviors, turn towards Jesus, and He sends us the Holy Spirit to help us to keep ourselves out of the situations we have been in for so long.
It's like a lightbulb popped on for me.
So I took notes and journaled about it this afternoon.
Sometimes, my pages are a lot more detailed.
But today, this was fine.
Turn away from sin.
Turn to God.
The stain will be removed and a Helper will be sent to you.
If you enjoy art and would like a creative way to connect with God's Word, I would recommend the art of Bible journaling.
Happy Sunday from the Farmhouse, friends.
December 31, 2017 marked the ending of an era in our little town.
My grandma played her final song as the church organist.
She has played the organ at Adrian Christian Church for my whole life.
In fact, the first wedding she played for was for her cousin Ed & his wife, Darlene. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year.
My parents reminded me that when my brother and I were preschool age, we would sometimes go sit at the funeral home on the couch in the piano room while Grandma played for a service.
We must have been pretty good kids, because I cannot imagine having my sweet three-year-old Mattie-girl sitting in the piano room during a funeral!
I can remember Grandma practicing her hymns on the piano in their dining room and the organ that set in their bedroom.
I can remember sitting on the front row on the organ side while Grandma played for the church service every single Sunday for years and years.
Actually...that's still where we sit.
And from now on...she will sit there too.
Surrounded by her children,
by her grandchildren,
and her great-grandchildren.
Surrounded by some of her dearest friends from Sunday school class for the last five decades, or more.
Surrounded by church family...young and not-so-young, new friends and old friends, meeting every week to worship the One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
If you have any memories to share of Grandma's organ playing years, we would love to compile them for her.
If she played for your wedding, for a funeral of a dear loved one, for your Sunday school class, to accompany you for some sort of special music...please share these stories so we can share them with her.