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Shifting the Atmosphere

Wisdom writings in the Bible said: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away.” (Ecclesiastes 3) I’ve been reflecting on what brings joy in life and what doesn’t. It’s easy to get stuck in patterns that aren’t helpful or healthy. Us moms often have a finger on the pulse of our homes: are people tired, frustrated, bored? Are we in a slump of watching TV every night or retreating to our own rooms? Maybe we are already anticipating what Thanksgiving will be like with family this year. Now is the time to evaluate how we are doing and make mid-course adjustments. We can introduce change in thoughtful and fun ways. Does our family need nurturing or change right now? Here are five easy and inexpensive hacks to shift our home atmosphere this week:

  1.  Get outside. Even if it’s just going for a walk in your neighborhood or playing games in the front yard, it feels good to get outside and move around. If you have more time available, hike the nearby mountains, enjoy the sunset, or play at a park or beach. We all need a change of scenery. Simply discover the space that speaks to you. Ahh, fresh air!
  2. Serve somebody. Our lives are meant for higher purpose and nothing feels better than to serve others. Bake cookies for a neighbor, volunteer at a family shelter, babysit for a single mom. We all are seeking connection in this difficult time. Volunteer opportunities abound and, as much as you can make service decisions a group effort, you will witness your family’s heart light up with meaning.
  3. Set boundaries on your time. Now that we are working from home and living at work, we need structure. Note your work schedule, technology use, time sitting vs. active and so on. Design a weekly schedule that creates the life you long for. Does your time allow for relationships, creativity, exercise, great food, music, and gratitude? Setting mindful boundaries gives us space to savor the good things in life! 
  4. Create a Spiritual Climate. How can we withstand the negativity in our culture right now if our families have no shared spiritual experiences? Let your kids hear you pray, worship, read scripture. Discuss what God is doing in your lives. Read a few scriptures together after dinner each night. It is never too late or too early to establish a godly culture within your home.
  5. Learn together. If this entire year is just one big time-out, we might as well learn something! Kids love learning alongside their parents. Watch YouTube videos to master juggling, or how to paint a landscape like Bob Ross, cook Thai cuisine, design 2020 T-shirts for your family, and so on.  We all have something we wish we could improve if we only had the time. 

To everything there is a season. What’s working for you? Go to www.MargaretAllen.org for declarations to speak over your life and to get the book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion.

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Self-Talk

What’s the conversation sound like in your head these days? The harsh rhetoric in our world today seems to have leeched into my self-talk. Having just published my first book, I’m on a steep learning curve with publishing, marketing, social media, shipping and so on. My brain hurts! But I’ve caught myself being self-critical and exaggerating negative predictions like you’ll never figure this out! Why did you even think you could… you fill in the blanks. My daughter heard some of my stinkin’thinkin’ and she started quoting my book to me. In her sweet, young voice she read: 

Do the conversations in your head sound like someone who is deeply loved and secure? Is your self-talk filled with compassion and gentleness? Would you hope your daughters talk about themselves in similar ways? Small changes produce significant results.  Thinking of yourself and talking to yourself with affection and appreciation may seem insignificant, but it cascades into a more gracious environment all around. Silencing the harsh voice of self-criticism and speaking to yourself with grace is sunshine for your soul, my friend.  You’ll feel the warmth—and so will others.” (Gracious Living, p. 37) God bless that child and our kitchen conversations!

The turn-around for me was quick. At the next obstacle, instead of berating myself, I purposely declared there’s a lot to learn here, and I’m new to this, be patient. You see, if I had a friend entering a new profession, I wouldn’t call her stupid for not knowing things. No, I would call her brave for trying something new. I would say things like hang in there, you’re just learning, be patient with yourself and with the process. It is a gracious choice to speak kindly to oneself as well as others.

How do you keep the conversation in your head bright and true?  Do you struggle with negative predictions? In this season where we are all grieving some sort of loss, intentionality is key. The Apostle Paul wrote that we are to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Ruminating on negative, fearful, or critical thoughts doesn’t produce goodness in us.  The wisdom writings in Proverbs state “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) I’m learning to speak life over myself and others. My goal is to release resilience, hope, and peace through my words.

Don’t let negativity creep into your language! Take those thoughts captive and replace them with truth and love. We each carry tremendous power to speak life and love—over ourselves, our friends and family, our community and nation. Use your words to create a culture of honor. You, and those around you, will be lifted up.  

You can buy the book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion today at MargaretAllen.org or the Kindle version on Amazon.