Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Life Giving Home: Part 2 Seasons of Home (excerpts)

Creating a Framework For Home: Rhythms, Routines and Rituals 

Planning daily rhythms - meals, devotions, cleanup, bedtime routines - should take into consideration the abilities and personalities of everyone who lives in the home. 

Am I doing something now that doesn't need to be done? How can I simplify my work to provide more time to do what I value most? I want to avoid "mile-wide and inch-deep" commitments and commit to a few activities that are central to my values. 

What daily and weekly rituals will bring pleasure and mark important areas in which I can invest my moments?

Whatever your household or season of life, make your plans according to your needs, circumstances, life stage, and personality so that your home can thrive in sync with your own preferences. You will only find your plans sustainable if they fit you as well as those who live in your home. 

Decluttering the Soul: I also try to identify ways I have missed my goals and ways I want to strengthen my commitments in the major areas of my life - physical (diet and exercise), emotional (my relationship with Clay, the kids, my friends, and our a quite time, what I will study or read in the Bible, ways I want to grow) . I choose one or two areas I will concentrate on during the following year and find a pertinent Bible verse to memorize as a support.   

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Life Giving Home: Part 1 Thinking about Home (excerpt)

By: Sally and Sarah Clarkson

The very richness of this room brings life to my soul, and that is what this book is all about - how to create a home that nourishes, nurtures, and sustains life and beauty. It is all about how to order your living space and what happens there to embody the joy and beauty of God's own spirit. 

If we look at the lovely world that God has designed for us, we can see a pattern for what He has always intended for us - a home environment filled with color and creativity and order, a welcoming provider of laughter and refuge, a space where memories are made and shared. Instead of creating us to live in a house of weariness and colorlessness, God has made us to live in a home full of soul-beautiful elements. 

Give foundations of strength and inspiration to these precious ones, but give them wings as well. Prepare them to take risks, to live by faith, so that they can take the messages and cherished values they learned at home and share them with a hurting world. And so our home becoming a launching pad, a place of blessing, as we sent our beloved children on their way - hopefully strong, whole, and secure in the ideals, faith and values that truly matter. 

Part1: Thinking about Home 

1. A Lifegiving Legacy 

As I toured Biltmore, my imagination and vision were once again piqued by the idea of intentionally making my home a holding place for all that is beautiful, good, holy, and foundational to life - a place where those I love always feel like they belong, a place of freedom and grace that launches them into the persons they were made to be, a place of becoming. In the midst of demanding, constantly pressured lives, we all need refresher courses from time to time about what we are building and why we must be intentional about doing it. 

"All people need a place where their roots can grow deep and they always feel like they belong and have a loving refuge. And all people need a place that gives wings to their dreams, nurturing possibilities of who they might become."

Family was God's original organization scheme for society, and home was the laboratory where human beings could learn to glorify God through the work, relationships, and purposes of their lives. Home would be the place where love for God and commitment to His purposes would be passed down from one generation to another.

Homemaking - not in the sense of housekeeping, but in the broader sense of cultivating the life of a home - has to be done on purpose. 

The essence of home, you see, is not necessarily a structure. What makes a home is the life shared there, wherever they may be. And cultivating the life of home requires intentionality, planning, and design. There must be someone (or several someones) to craft the life, the beauty, the love, and the inspiration that overflows from that place. 

Because of our missionary, job-oriented lives, Clay and I knew from the beginning that we would probably not have a static homestead where we could congregate over our life as a family. So we focused on creating home out of less tangible materials - traditions, habits, rhythms, experiences, and values. 

Creating a lifegiving home, then, is a long process taken one step, one season at a time. 

The intentionality of seeking to build my home piece by piece, day by day, as moved me and my family toward the goal of creating a great legacy of healthy people who live and grow within its walls. 

Home should be the very best place ever to be. 

2. Made for Home 

We don't have to have a perfect family, a healthy background. We don't have to have lived in one place. We don't have to own a mansion or even a house. Nothing required for the making of home except a heart that loves God, an imagination fired by His Spirit, and hands ready to create. And, well, a bit of courage, spaces and fill them. But when we do, the Kingdom comes in the homes we make as the love of God becomes flesh in our lives once more. 

I'm still holding out for a cottage with a garden someday, but until then, I know that each new little student room is my space of possible creation. 

As I order and hope, fill and form, the Holy Spirit is renewing one more corner of the world. Here, in my room, the fallen stuff of the broken earth is being formed back into love, into home. There's no place like it. 

3. A Symphony of Grace 

- The Music of Welcome: We always try to write the name of those we know will be entering our home. 

We want all who enter our little kingdom - family, friends, and guests - to know that they are welcome and cherished in this sacred place we call home. 

- The Music of Safety: I try to ensure that wisdom, truth and the reality of God's grace are kept within and that my home is a haven from the destructive voices of the outside world. 

In order to protect ourselves and others from finding menacing influences, as much as possible, we must purpose ways to keep our homes as havens of all that is good, pure, innocent, and excellent. If the Lord guards our own coming and going, so we should be guards over what is allowed into our homes. 

- The Music of Knowledge and Wisdom: As a young woman, I began to picture my children's hearts as treasure chests of a different sort, and I vowed to fill them with intrinsic treasures: the best stories, memorized Scripture, priceless images of classical art, excellent books, memories from great feasts enjoyed together and special days celebrated, great Bible stories and wisdom passages, plus heart photographs of love given, holiday cherished, lesson learned. 

- The Music of Beauty: We honor Him when we make beauty a priority in our homes. 

- The Music of Relationship: Relationships are the core focus of celebrating life together in a place. Consequently, the desire to create spaces for friendship, companionship, and fellowship, influenced many of our home choices - even the furniture we bought, where we placed it, and how we used it. 

- The Music of Nourishment: I believe every meal should be a celebration of life itself as we break bread and enter fellowship together. And the way those meals are planned, prepared, and served enhances the connection and the celebration. Every meal, in other words, should be a feast for the senses and the spirit. 

- The Music of Rest: - a personalized space for each occupant (in a bedroom) 

Having home that tells a great story happens over time as we mature, refine, create, and love. 

I hope you will have that experience as well. Whatever your taste, preferences, and style, you have the freedom to create your own home art and make your dwelling a place that is distinctively yours - a place of comfort, safety, and delight for you and everyone who steps inside your door. 

4. The Rhythms of Incarnation 

A Renewed Awareness 
If we want to embody the life of God in our homes, we need to understand what God intended human life to be, and we also need to be aware of what distracts us from that intention or diminishes it in our lives. 

A Scrambled Consciousness
The rhythms of earth and body require me to sleep. The limitations of my physical senses mean I can only hear so  many voices, so many words at one time. But the online world is unresting. 

We can only create what we have imagined. We can only embody the life of God if we have internally known and tasted His goodness. 

If the precious, limited hours of my day are used bit by bit in scanning information. I will have less and less time for the attentive, slow, good work of creativity, conversation, and connection that real people and real homes require. 
If my awareness of space is concentrated on a screen, my home will reflect the absence of my attention, my creativity, and ultimately, my love. 

We cannot change the world if we cannot incarnate God's live in our own most ordinary spaces and hours. Homemaking must be understood as a potent Kingdom endeavor, not merely a domestic task. Homemaking requires a willed creativity, a conscious diligence, because we are called to create new life and challenged to do it in the midst of a world that actively resists us in this endeavor. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Atomic Habits (excerpt)


Changes that seems small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you're willing to stick with them for years. We all deal with setbacks but in the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits. With the same habits, you'll end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible. 

1. The Surprising Power of Atomic Habits 

That said, it doesn't matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results. 

Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy. 

Mastery require patience. The San Antonio Spurs, one of the most successful teams in NBA history, have a quote from social reformer Jacob Riis hanging in their locker room: "When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it - but all that had gone before." 

All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. 

Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. 

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems. 

2. How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa) 

Habits like exercise, meditation, journaling and cooking are reasonable for a day or two and then become a hassle. 

However, once your habits are established, they seem to stick around forever - especially the unwanted ones. Despite our best intentions, unhealthy habits like eating junk food, watching too much television, procrastinating, and smoking can feel impossible to break.  

Changing our habits is challenging for two reasons: (1) we try to change the wrong thing and (2) we try to change our habits in the wrong way. 

Many people begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve. This leads us to outcome-based habits. The alternative is to build identity-based habits. With this approach, we start by focusing on who we wish to become. 

It's hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior. You have a new goal and a new plan, but you haven't changed who you are. 

True behavior change is identity change. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you'll stick with the one is that it becomes part of your identity. 

The effect of one-off experiences tends to face away while the effect of habits gets reinforced with time, which means your habits contribute most of the evidence that shapes your identity. In this way, the process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself. 

This is a gradual evolution. We do not change by snapping our fingers and deciding to be someone entirely new. We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit. We are continually undergoing microevolutions of the self. 

Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. .... This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. 

The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do. 

It is a simple two-step process: 1. Decide the type of person you want to be. 2. Prove it to yourself with small wins. 

Building better habits isn't about littering your day with life hacks. ... Habits can help you achieve all of these things, but fundamentally they are not about having something. They are about becoming someone. 

Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be. They are the channel through which you develop your deepest beliefs about yourself. Quite literally, you become your habits. 

3. How to Build Better Habits in 4 Simple Steps 

Habits reduce cognitive load and free up mental capacity, so you can allocate your attention to other tasks. 

Habits do not restrict freedom. If you're always being forced to make decisions about simple tasks , then you have less time for freedom. It's only by making the fundamentals of life easier that you can create the mental space needed for free thinking and creativity. 

The ultimate purpose of habits is to solve the problems of life with as little energy and effort of possible. 

Any habit can be broken down into a feedback loop that involves four steps: cue, craving, response, and reward. 

The Four Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits.
They are:
(1) make it obvious -> cue
(2) make it attractive -> craving 
(3) make it easy -> make it easy
(4) make it satisfiying 

THE 1ST LAW = Make It Obvious 

4. The Man Who Didn't Look Right 

One of our greatest challenges in changing habits in maintaining awareness of what we are actually doing. This helps explain why the consequences of bad habits can sneak up on us. We need a "point -and-call" (raising level of awareness from a nonconscious habit to a more conscious level) system for our personal lives. That's the origin of the the Habits Scorecard, which is a simple exercise you can use to become more aware of your behavior. 

To create your own, make a list of your daily habits. 
Once you have a full list, look at each behavior, and ask yourself, "Is this a good habit, a bad habit, or neutral habit?"

As you create your Habits Scorecard, there is no need to change anything at first. The goal is to simply notice what is actually going on. Observe your thoughts and actions without judgement or internal criticism. 

The process of behavior change always starts with awareness. 

5. The Best Way to Start a New Habit 

Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action. Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement. 

Give your habits a time and a space to live in the world. The goal is to make the time and location so obvious that, with enough repetition, you get an urge to do the right thing at the right time, even if you can't say why. 

The implementation intention formula is: I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].

When it comes to building new habits, you can use the connectedness of behavior to your advantage. One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking. (It is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a current habit). 

The habit stacking formula is 
"After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]." 

The key is to tie your desired behavior into something you already do each day. Once you have mastered this basic structure, you can begin to create larger stacks by chaining small habit together.

Habit stacking works best when the cue is highly specific and immediately actionable.

The 1st Law of Behavior Change is to make it obvious. Strategies like implementation intentions and habit stacking are among the most practical ways to create obvious cues for your habits and design a clear plan for when and where to take action.  

6. Motivation is Overrated; Environment Often Matters More 

People often choose products not because of what they are, but because of where they are. 

The most powerful of all human sensory abilities, however, is vision. 

Every habit is initiated by a cue, and we are more likely to notice cues that stand out. 

If you want to make a habit a big part of your life, make the cue a big part of your environment. The most persistent behaviors usually have multiple cues. 

Habits can be easier to change in a new environment.

When you can't manage to get to an entirely new environment, redefine or rearrange your current one. Create a separate space for work, study, exercise, entertainment and cooking. "One space, one use"

Every habit should have a home.

A stable environment where everything has a place and a purpose is an environment where habits can easily form. 

- Small changes in context can lead to large changes in behavior over time.

- Every habit is initiated by a cue. We are more likely to notice cues that stand out. 

-  Make the cues of good habits obvious in your environment. 

- Gradually, your habits become associated not with a single trigger but with the entire context surrounding the behavior. The context becomes the cue. 

- It is easier to build new habits in a new environment because you are not fighting against old cues.