Grateful for 5Fs…

50 Days to 50

Day 48: Grateful for 5 Fs

As I’ve thought about the Savior’s birth this season, at tender moments an overwhelming gratitude has filled me for the simplest of things. I’ll share a few here with you—surprisingly all starting with the letter F—hoping that it sparks a moment of the same, a “fullness of joy” in the midst of the go-go of life.

Food and shelter. As I watch the refugee crisis, connect with the homeless in our own downtown city, and hear about stories of neglected children, I feel not only a need to make a difference but a deep gratitude for what I have, especially the ordinary. A month ago my husband gave me a marvelous gift: a new outdoor freezer filled with meat. At first glance, that may seem a little guy-ish to consider being giddy over. But I was. This year our neighborhood and church have made a concerted effort to prepare for emergencies. Just knowing that food is in there, and should trouble come that we have enough for our family and to share, fills me with gratitude.

Family. My children are now ages 22 down to 3 ½. I run, attend, and track four different schools, soon to be a fifth. It’s a busy stage that I love. And every now and then, a scene before me stops like a snapshot and I’m emotionally transported to many years before. Back to days that felt endless, to when I had six children under the age of twelve, with no family living in our state and feeling I was pulling three handcarts across the parenting plains. And now, they are mostly in the teen or young adult stage, and it’s a miracle to see the transformation before my eyes. Sure it brings stress, hormones, drama, trouble, and heartache. But it is rich in love, connection, and tangible building of our eternal family. To their souls, they are good, kind, and affectionate children who love the Lord. For those basic incredible things, I am beyond grateful.

Friends. The other day I had a realization: every single week, several times therein, I receive a gift from a dear friend. Whether it’s a loving call, note, service, or something wonderful, He teaches me constantly that I am who I am in large measure because of the grounded, stalwart, intuitive, lovely and loving women He sends me. I can’t express how this humbles me. Most especially over the past six weeks, He has sent me women who are a direct answer to prayer to a variety of needs. One tiny example: a few weeks ago I had wanted to talk with a friend of mine who also happens to have religious stewardship over me. But I didn’t call (she’s likely busy, right?) The next morning I got a flat tire heading to take my son to preschool. The thought came to call her. It turns out she was only a few minutes from where I was. As the tire guy fixed my flat, we took my son to his class and then had a needful, soulful chat. A small and simple thing to be sure. But it’s been those kinds of moments that make me remember and feel like Elijah being fed by the ravens. Truly, He knows our needs and usually meets them through a friend.

Fulfilling a personal purpose. You know how strongly I quote religious leaders and feel personally about this. We all have a part to play in this grand world, in large and almost unnoticeable ways. Over the past few weeks He has opened my world, unexpectedly, to a path I hadn’t planned on and quite frankly don’t have time for. And yet, like He always does, He makes a way. With small bits of time and energy, God magnifies what we have, combines it with others more talented and savvy, and creates absolute wonder. To be part of this process is enlivening and awe-inspiring. As we offer ourselves—what little we can give—and our willing hearts, He truly makes miracles every single day.

Faith. I can’t write this without feeling deep emotion. Many, many years ago my life was so different than it is today. I was a child in an unsafe environment and lived with abuse, chaotic family relationships, and wondering what food there would be to eat. I see God’s hand guiding me to where I am now, despite the difficulty of the road. Just because we don’t always see that guidance immediately doesn’t mean He is not tirelessly working in our behalf. As an adult, I can look back and see how all I’ve experienced has now and is being put to good use. And that’s what I do. And He knew that. He knew me, still knows me, and walks with me daily as I choose to let Him. Words can’t adequately share how much I love God and His Holy Son. For all they’ve done to mark the path, to love us onto it, and to keep walking with us even when our short-sightedness makes us momentarily unable to see it.

I hope this Christmas season that we can pause to feel the gratitude, really feel it. And hopefully it leads us to a bone-deep gratitude for a Savior, who began as a baby boy in a manger, and became the Redeemer of us all.

Merry Christmas,

Connie

What’s YOUR meaningful gift to give?

50 Days to 50

DAY 41: What’s your meaningful gift to give?

Over the past few months I’ve been intrigued by and awash with meaningful gifts. And I’m seeing this repeat pattern as a not-so-subtle sign from Him that I need to be more aware of, and more willing to give, meaningful gifts. The kind that take time. The kind that come from the soul. The kind that make me hesitate that if I give it, will they really like it, appreciate the time that went into, and dare I say, even love it as much as I did giving it? And if not, am I mature enough to go with it? Yes, Virginia, I really want to be a more meaningful gift-giver.

Likely even the mention of meaningful gifts brings up a host of those joyful similar experiences for you. At the risk of embarrassing a few friends, I want to share a few that have touched my soul and helped me be a better gift-giver.

*Lunch with Angela. A few months ago, at the start of this 50 Days journey, my dear friend, Angela, invited me over for a lunch and a chat. I can’t adequately describe what I found and felt when I arrived. The things were beautifully simple and the feeling so profound. Her beautiful house was tidy and cozy (with homemade but you’d never guess it chair covers and décor); the lunch was homemade chicken salad with fresh veggies so colorful you could almost hear them crunch in the bowl; the music in the background was soothing and warm. Honestly, I felt like I’d stepped into an emotional spa. And then she asked, nodded, and listened and listened, just like a favorite sister would, adding insights, feelings, and understanding. About two hours later I left, a bit unwillingly, with the parting words, “Every woman needs this kind of experience at least once a week.”

She taught me the priceless gift of creating an environment—within my home or myself—that is warm, listening, and nurturing to others.

*A friend’s selfless intuition. A week ago I felt to text a new-found friend, Ashlee, but thought, No, it’s Christmas and she’s pregnant, etc. (you know how we talk ourselves out of something if it seems it will, in any possible way, inconvenience another). Ironically, the next day out of the blue, she texted me and said, Let’s do lunch—and, I want to bring a friend. She did and, unbeknownst to me, had felt this friend and I could help each other in our pursuit of strengthening women and families. For about two hours this friend and I could not stop talking, amazed at the deep connection, similar thought patterns, and life preparation that made us come together and be able to seemingly fill so many needs and hopes. As I sat back, I realized sweet Ashlee had not only been content to let us babble THE ENTIRE TIME, and in our uber excitement lingo of helping women, but that she was thrilled to have connected the two of us and what may come of it.

Ashlee taught me the power of selfless gifts. That sometimes it’s not what we give, but what we are theintermediary for, and that we are willing to simply be a vital though quiet part of that gift-giving chain.

*A man-gift. A couple of months ago we went camping as a family at the sand dunes. Those who know me understand that my favorite camping spot is the Marriott Hotel. Despite that desire, for many years we have lugged tents and cooking equipment and snacks and coolers and done the camping thing ala Jeremiah Johnson. However, right before we left on this trip, my hubby bought a gift for me. What could it be—an air mattress? A generator? A gift certificate to a hotel? Verrrrry close. He bought a double-person chair. At first sight, I had to think for a moment how this was a loving gift. And then I saw it. I saw this tender man-gift in translation and heard him say, “I so adore you that I want you to sit right next to me while I cuddle you and listen to ALL THE THOUGHTS OF YOUR HEART FOR HOURS AND HOURS, with meaningful feedback and being totally present.”

I’m pretty sure that’s what that gift meant…

This taught me to appreciate the thought that goes behind the gift, and not to assume that when you see an olive green camping chair, it is simply a device for sitting.

For the remainder of this week, I’ll be posting more about meaningful gifts on my Facebook page (gifts both received and given) that have made a difference to me. I would love to hear from you and your experiences at www.facebook.com/8basics.

Happy Journey and Merry Christmas!

Connie

#50daysto50

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Merry Christmas!
Connie

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DAY 37: Rework the routines

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**If you missed my Studio 5 segment on “Find Peace in Chaos” enjoy it by CLICKING HERE Or read it at www.ksl.com by CLICKING HERE

50 Days to 50

DAY 37: Rework the routines

A few weeks ago I found myself frustrated with our family routines. It seemed that we were in the “Low-effort Lull”—that slow, steady downhill slide from the top of the “We’re On it!” mountain. For a while we had been doing our Deep Clean weekly and wonderfully, the laundry on our regular Monday, and the dishwasher generally on the day it was assigned.

But then, we weren’t. And then, not without fuss, complaint, and overall bickering.

What had happened? (Several things could be listed here, but I shall refrain…)

Ultimately, chaos to order and back again, I suppose. Finally, I took the bull by the horns, and the computer by the keypad, and reworked the routines. First, we had a discussion with the kids about what was working, what wasn’t, and why. Then I went through our chore chart and eliminated certain jobs, revamped the specifics (who does what when), and made it look HAPPY.

So far so good.

Then I moved to personal routines. One problem for me was that in all this personal shifting, my routines and needs have too (essential oils at night, older kids needing talk time later in the evening, etc.) Instead of acknowledging and making a place for these new needs, I’d been trying to squish everything in together, like the Abyss Closet that we keep overloading (and shutting the door with a prayer).

Enter my Personal Calendar. On a blank page I listed what I really NEEDED to do daily, WANTED to do, and WOULD BE GREAT if I got to do. Keeping it 80% loose (based on my philosophy to be an 80 percenter in most things), I plugged those needful and wanted things into the time slots best suited. Thankfully, I recognized that time for joy or peace were needful, just like picking up a child from school or holding family night.

Now my Personal Calendar sits by my bedside (mostly because Mom Fog makes me forget said awesome schedule). And I’m finding Happy Mom has returned to a greater degree.

Now it’s your turn:

What is a home or personal routine that you feel isn’t working?

After talking with the people involved, what is one thing you can do to make it work better?

What is one way to add a sprinkle of joy or peace in your day? (For ideas, check out my recent Studio 5 segment on that very subject by CLICKING HERE.)

Happy Journey!

Connie

#50daysto50

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Enjoy my Studio 5 chat with Brooke Walker on “Find Peace in Chaos” live at 11 a.m. on Channel 5. And it will be available right here on my site on Friday.

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How easy was that! I do this devotional book with my family, and I LOVE the discussion that each devotional question brings.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Connie

Reviews on 40 Days with the Savior:

“A great resource for quick, daily things we can do to draw closer to the Savior. This easily fits in to our busy lives, reminding us of what matters most.”

-Peggy Urry, President, American Night Writers Association

“Connie brings these scriptures home with real, everyday moments. I can savor these bite-size gems throughout my busy day.”

– Amy Chandler, Founder, My Story Matters

Day 34: Four Tools to Solve a Life Problem​

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​50 Days to 50

​DAY 34: ​Four ​Tools to Solve a Life Problem

Are you experiencing a particular life challenge right now? Me too. A few of them, as it happens. But I’m find that real change takes work. Lots of emotional, physical, and mental work. And yet, I’m a busy mom. So, in my desire to create real, fundamental, even generational changes in my and my family’s lives, how can I merge the two?

The other day, I found myself reading new passages of the book, Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol Truman. Although I’d read some of the book several months ago, I found new paragraphs, that combined with life experience and helpful friends, to add answers to my earlier question—how do I create real, fundamental, even generational changes while living the regular busy life of a focused mother?

After thinking and pondering, these are the four steps that I came up with.

  1. Accept the now. Realize there is a purpose in arriving at this moment, situation, or reality, one that likely we can’t see. Whether it’s a problem, person, situation, or concern, as we first accept what is, more peace and understanding (and solutions!) come to us. For myself, I’m finding clear teaching phrases have also come: stand as a witness, heal generational issues, learn to let go and let Him lead, you don’t need to have all the answers now.

“If we want [something/someone] to change, first WE must love [it/them] the way they are. Then the space for change is created. Trying to change things without first accepting them as they are is like wearing Chinese handcuffs…the harder you try, the more resistance you create…’That which we resist, persists.’”

  1. Open yourself to where He leads. Throughout my life I’ve been a go-getter—seeing something I want, setting a goal, and go-getting it despite obstacles and frustration along the way. Over the years I’ve thankfully also been learning to let Him lead, and even take a step back and simply wait—the latter is not my personal favorite. However, He is teaching me the beauty in just being. That there is a time to move and a time to be still, and that there is learning in both. And to ask more helpful questions:

Isn’t that interesting?

I wonder what He’ll show me through this?

How will this draw me closer to Him?

As I ask myself more open, grounded, peaceful questions, I’m in a more peaceful, grounded, and open place, and more frequently.

“There is a purpose for every challenge and every situation in which we find ourselves. The purpose is for learning and growth—and for getting to know who we really are.”

  1. Feel and express gratitude. Just as Dieter F. Uchtdorf shares in his masterful talk, “Grateful in Any Circumstances,” we don’t wait until all is perfect before being grateful. It truly is a joy to feel and find it right now, in the midst of whatever and wherever we find ourselves. To trust that He is there, loving and guiding us, filling in the spiritual and emotional gaps if we will let Him.

I’m learning that challenges are to be embraced, that He trusts me, that I’m ready to learn, that I’m seeing through new eyes, and healing present and previous wounds in a layered way. This way of thinking has been eye-opening and life-changing for me.

“Joy is preceded by gratitude.”

  1. Have faith that ultimate good will be the experience to come. Faith is an action, and as we move on the belief that all good will ultimately come, we find that to be the very case. Some of the “faith tools” I’ve used over the past months have been:

*specifically pray for awareness

*create my ideal vision of situations, relationships, and my life

*use scriptures, temple attendance, conference talks and devotionals, and prayer in very specific, life-applying ways

*use positive affirmations, scripts, and self-talk

*use alternative wellness methods such as essential oils and meditation

*be open to surprise and wonder, looking for what I don’t know and what I can learn

All four of these seemingly steps are profound learning for me. I don’t do them well or consistently enough. But that’s okay. I’m soaking in the peace, joy, and love that I feel from doing them at all.

Now it’s your turn:

What is a difficult life problem or person or situation that I’m facing?

What is one way I can accept it? Open myself to what I can learn from it? Express gratitude for it? Have faith that as I take action, this process will be for my ultimate good?

Happy Journey!

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p.s. Enjoy a new Studio 5 episode on “Find Peace in the Chaos,” three tips to feel calm and joyful during the busiest of seasons.

image via Google Images and survivinamerica.com

Black Friday: Heartfelt Gifts & Deals from Back to Basics!

Are you looking for meaningful easy-to-order gifts, on sale, for family, friends, or neighbors? Simply choose, click, and it will be mailed to you in 2-3 business days.
And, partial proceeds are donated to the UTAH FOOD BANK, so you can give to two with one purchase!
Best,
Connie
GIFT BOOKS
40-DAYS-Front-Cover-for-Amazon-and-Smashwords-400x604
(3 books for $25) 40 Days with the Savior: Amazon #1 Bestseller40 days of daily devotionals on character traits of the Savior. A simple and beautiful way to stay Christ-centered this season. Perfect for gifts. FREE book (Life is Too Short for One Hair Color) included today only.
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(3 books for $25) Simplify & Savor the Season. A great way to simply organize your holidays. FREE take-along planner included with purchase. Perfect for book club or group gifts.
A recent email on Simplify & Savor:
“I remembered seeing you on Studio 5 last Christmas, and then putting into practice some of the principles that you discussed about making the season meaningful…Our Christmas was much more peaceful and joyful as we ‘didn’t sweat the small stuff’. We really were able to achieve the goals of peace and giving and togetherness and happiness! Now, a year later, I finally purchased the book because I wanted to share the principles you teach with my book club friends of almost 20 years!” Shanna D.
ON KINDLE!
Holiday Gift e-book Trio, $5.99: Life is Too Short Collection, 40 Days with the Savior, Simplify & Savor the Season. A steal of a deal! Three books in one set, save big. Enjoy the fun, the organizational, and the spiritual to create the perfect holiday season this year.
SOMETHING FOR YOU!
*Fresh Start, Fabulous You Kit! On sale $99.99 +S&H  Buy now, start later! And FREE one month of online support (a $50 value). Make 2016 YOUR YEAR. Jumpstart positive life changes as you create direction, get fit and fabulous, organized and more. We’ll help you. In 8 weeks achieve 8 separate goals or choose one life area a month. Use a program that truly works!
Includes:

  • Faithful, Fit & Fabulous (print book)
  • Create a Life Plan (print book)
  • Week by Week Life Coach podcast (use for 8 weeks; 60 mins)
  • Get Fit & Fabulous download (45 minutes)
  • 8 podcast downloads (30 mins each on the 8 life area topics) including: Holy Habits, Create a Life Plan, Joy in Womanhood, Get Fit & Fabulous, Balance Motherhood, Get Organized, Healthy Connections (Marriage/Children/Friends), and Financial Peace and Prosperity

 
Enjoy simple but meaningful shopping using Back to Basics products and helping the Utah Food Bank.
Merry Christmas!

Black Friday: Heartfelt Gifts & Deals from Back to Basics!

Are you looking for meaningful easy-to-order gifts, on sale, for family, friends, or neighbors? Simply choose, click, and it will be mailed to you in 2-3 business days.

And, partial proceeds are donated to the UTAH FOOD BANK, so you can give to two with one purchase!

Best,

Connie

GIFT BOOKS

40-DAYS-Front-Cover-for-Amazon-and-Smashwords-400x604

(3 books for $25) 40 Days with the Savior: Amazon #1 Bestseller40 days of daily devotionals on character traits of the Savior. A simple and beautiful way to stay Christ-centered this season. Perfect for gifts. FREE book (Life is Too Short for One Hair Color) included today only.

SIMPLIFY-AND-SAVOR-THE-SEASON-400x604

(3 books for $25) Simplify & Savor the Season. A great way to simply organize your holidays. FREE take-along planner included with purchase. Perfect for book club or group gifts.

A recent email on Simplify & Savor:

“I remembered seeing you on Studio 5 last Christmas, and then putting into practice some of the principles that you discussed about making the season meaningful…Our Christmas was much more peaceful and joyful as we ‘didn’t sweat the small stuff’. We really were able to achieve the goals of peace and giving and togetherness and happiness! Now, a year later, I finally purchased the book because I wanted to share the principles you teach with my book club friends of almost 20 years!” Shanna D.

ON KINDLE!

Holiday Gift e-book Trio, $5.99: Life is Too Short Collection, 40 Days with the Savior, Simplify & Savor the Season. A steal of a deal! Three books in one set, save big. Enjoy the fun, the organizational, and the spiritual to create the perfect holiday season this year.

SOMETHING FOR YOU!

*Fresh Start, Fabulous You Kit! On sale $99.99 +S&H  Buy now, start later! And FREE one month of online support (a $50 value). Make 2016 YOUR YEAR. Jumpstart positive life changes as you create direction, get fit and fabulous, organized and more. We’ll help you. In 8 weeks achieve 8 separate goals or choose one life area a month. Use a program that truly works!

Includes:

  • Faithful, Fit & Fabulous (print book)
  • Create a Life Plan (print book)
  • Week by Week Life Coach podcast (use for 8 weeks; 60 mins)
  • Get Fit & Fabulous download (45 minutes)
  • 8 podcast downloads (30 mins each on the 8 life area topics) including: Holy Habits, Create a Life Plan, Joy in Womanhood, Get Fit & Fabulous, Balance Motherhood, Get Organized, Healthy Connections (Marriage/Children/Friends), and Financial Peace and Prosperity

 

Enjoy simple but meaningful shopping using Back to Basics products and helping the Utah Food Bank.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy being with those you love!

I’m thankful for my beautiful family, especially my wonderful children as shown here in my “Fruit of the Womb” tree

Hugs,

Connie

post fruit of womb 2

post fruit of womb tree 1

Have you tried Five-finger living?

50 Days to 50

DAY 28: Five-finger living

During this journey to 50 I’ve re-evaluated what are the most important areas of my life to focus on in a given day. With a large family and good works in the mix, I struggle at times to truly know, at a given moment, where my energy should be best applied.

To alleviate more mother guilt than is absolutely necessary, and to keep myself balanced as a woman, wife, and mother, I returned to my “Five Finger Living.” Only this time I adjusted a few of them.

In the past, and by finger (including thumb…), each day I have done something for:

God, Ministry, Family, Home, and Service.

Recently, my adjustments were slight but meaningful. For example, I changed “Me” to “Ministry”. Although that word is often associated with a southern religious fervor, for me it means Personal Purpose. I took Sheri Dew’s question to heart, which was, “How would your life change if you thought of it as a personal ministry?” I’ve seen for myself that it does change. I’m more aware of others, their needs, and how I can wisely assist or guide in filling them. It has changed what I focus on and how fulfilled I feel. Each day I’m not just checking off a list, I’m progressing in a purpose.

Another adjustment was to add “Home” as its own category. Because of the world we live in, I’ve found it doesn’t work to lump home into family. That running a smooth, organized (attempted), Christ-centered, loving (mostly), inviting, happy home takes even more focus and energy than before. Hence, it has received its own glorious digit.

That’s it: God, Ministry, Family, Home, and Service. It’s a simple way for me to remember what matters most, and to ask myself, have I done them today?

So a typical day might look like this:

God: read scripture text and discovered a meaningful Ponderize verse.

Ministry: post about the realities and divinities of motherhood

Family: do a one-on-one time with a child

Home: declutter the seasonal closet

Service: take pumpkin marshmallow body lotion to a neighbor because I’m thinking about her

Simple. And yes, I typically do more than one thing in each area. However, the gift is that I can easily look at my hand and check that I’ve truly focused on and filled those areas that matter most. When I put my head on the pillow, I ignore the thoughts of what remains to be done and rejoice in having filled the essential buckets, drop by drop.

Five-fingered living—maybe give it a try!

Now it’s your turn:

What are the five most important areas of your life?

What are one-word reminders you can use for them?

What is one way you can fulfill an area today?

Happy Journey!

Connie