Category Archives: My purpose

Confessions of a Self-important Slow-Learner

pumpkins

I will start off by just admitting that this is not the post that I thought I was going to write today. Over my morning cup of coffee, I felt a very strong urging in my heart. Naturally I pushed it aside thinking, “Oh, lovely idea. But I can write about that later. I have a plan.” Hmmm…why does this sound so familiar?

For those of you who know me already, you are probably aware that I am a bit of a slow learner when it comes to my spiritual walk. Reluctant. Recalcitrant. Stubborn. Obstinate. Disobedient. At my age, I really should know better. Whenever I make plans and hold on to them very tightly, God usually has another idea.

So, here is the first part of my confession: I thought that I had figured out the purpose of this blog. I had a plan. I had mapped out topics and scheduled them. I was primarily going to focus on our house refurbishment (Project Take Back Our Home). Now don’t get me wrong. I had every intention of sharing some personal stuff but I was definitely planning on directing (deflecting?) the topics away from me and toward more generalized commentary.

But this morning, God reminded me—in the way only he can do—that the purpose of this blog is about giving him the glory, not me.

Now for part two of this confession. Remember back to that whole “slow learner” business? Well I have just now figured out and am living into my purpose at home. Five years after I returned home.

Here is a quick summary for those who came in late. Five years ago I left my career and came home to care for my husband, teenage daughter and aging mother. I had worked outside of the home for almost twenty years—first as a museum curator and educator and later in children’s ministry. Although I believed (and still do) that I was called by God to come home, I struggled (fought) with God about being a stay-at-home mother and wife. I constantly told God (yeah, I know…) that I knew he had something b i g for me during this season. A new ministry? A novel? A business? Surely he wanted me to do something more than just care for my family. Yes, I do realize how prideful and ridiculous this sounds. I can’t believe he didn’t strike me down.

I was grumpy and whiney and quite difficult to live with (sorry, family). I am sure my friends have been sick to death of all the “Woe is me…I am a stay-at-home mom but I was meant for bigger things” (sorry, friends).

Two months ago my husband and I started a much-needed, long-overdue home refurbishment (Project Take Back Our Home). Suddenly I was completely immersed in the de-cluttering, simplifying and organizing. I began to have more time to do the things that we needed to keep our family and our home running.

So this morning as I was fixing breakfast for my husband and daughter, it hit me. This is my purpose. Simple as that. I am meant to love and care for my family and to keep our home running as smoothly as possible. It is big stuff.

It seems that once I was willing to embrace the purpose and the role that God had called me to in this season of my life and quit struggling to find “more important things to do,” I could finally see just how important my job is to my family. I think we glorify God when we are passionate about our calling.

So how does this confession and realization affect my blog? Well, I’m not quite sure, but I am pretty sure God is. What I do know is that you can probably expect a bit messier version of the typical lifestyle/decorating blog as I write about Project Take Back Our Home. My guess is that home refurbishment will not be the main focus.

I told you I was a slow-learner.

Thanks for struggling along with me, friends.

God’s peace–Amy

When a Break Turns Into a Sabbatical

I’m back. I took a little break from writing and blogging this summer thinking I would be back at the keyboard by late-August or early September…it is now October 13. I suppose that is more of a sabbatical than a break. I didn’t expect that I needed or could even tolerate this much time away from writing. I guess I was wrong.

I stepped away from my laptop in June for family and for personal reasons. I will be writing more about both of these in future posts. In short, I wanted to spend as much time with my daughter before she started her senior year and I needed some time to process some things privately. I was concerned that if I continued to blog I would process publicly–and prematurely. Given these few months, I know I made the right decision in both of these cases.

The time away also allowed me time to get started on some much-needed and long-overdue projects around our house. I will be posting regularly about our “Take Back Our House Project.” I have some great before and after photographs, will share some of our dirty, little secrets and the solutions we have found. We are still very much in the process of this project and will be continuing to work on it throughout the year.For a sneak preview, check out my Instagram posts.

I’d love to hear from you about your own projects: how do you get started, what keeps you motivated, how you juggle the long process with living life, etc.

So…I am glad to be back. I am determined to keep writing and to continue to share my journey and struggles, battles and blessings.

God’s peace, my friends.

Amy

 

The Best Way to Change Your Attitude: Realizing That Everything Has Beauty

Everything has beauty

The best way to change your attitude is to realize that everything has beauty.

I am pretty sure that one of my primary purposes in life is to recognize that everything has beauty.

Maybe this has something to do with being artistic. Or perhaps it is because I’m an optimist. Yes these do have something to do with my attitude. But the real reason is because of my own history.

You see, over the years, I have made some pretty stupid, self-destructive choices. There are parts of my past that are pretty ugly. I spent many years pretending that the brokenness wasn’t there. I was very good at “fluffing the pillows” of my past so that no one saw it for what it really was–not even me.

I had an encounter that changed all of that. Not right away in my case, but little by little over time. I began to see that Jesus was not only able but willing to turn the broken, wobbly bits of me into something not only useful but beautiful. 

Looking back over the last five years, my family has experienced some very traumatic events. Some of them I wondered whether we would make it through. But even in the midst of tragedy, I knew (and know) that God does not waste any opportunity for transformation. He will not leave something dark and dead and useless. He is the God of light and life and purpose.

“to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61: 3)

Be encouraged, my friends. He will not leave us in our brokenness, our ugliness, in the dark. He longs to take our sorrow and trade it for delight.

Open your eyes. Look around and see that everything has beauty once it has been transformed by Jesus. Once we have been transformed.

 

How I Start My Week

Monday morning from my perspective: setting priorities

This is what Monday looks like from my perspective. Coffee, old school planner, iPhone, iPad, camera, pen, more coffee. In my pajamas. Surrounded by my hounds.

This is how I start my week.

I know that I am fortunate to be able to start the week this way. I am blessed to be able to spend this season of my life only working out of my home part-time. I am lucky to have the opportunity to explore my passion for writing and photography and to have time being creative.

So I sit on the sofa in the den in my pajamas with my three dogs barking and running in circles (or sometimes chewing their bones), the cat is perched on the pillow by my side and I try to plan my day, my week, my year.

I update calendars, make appointments, brainstorm blog post ideas, plan the editorial calendar for my blog, shoot a few photos, begin a draft post or two and try to finish at least one that I can publish this week. I research ideas, read new posts from my favorite bloggers and comment when appropriate. I look through emails, check Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts and try to respond in turn. Finally I check my site statistics to see whether anyone has even read my latest post.

Seems like a lot of work . . . but for what purpose? Sometimes I wonder about this. And I know that my husband certainly does.

But I love what I am doing–writing, taking photos, blogging about my journey, . . . this gives me joy, makes my heart sing, stirs my creative juices and, ultimately, makes me a happier mama and wife. My two days of doing what I love energizes and enthuses me for the rest of the week.

I am thankful to the Lord and to my husband and daughter for allowing me the time to see where this “work” will take me.

This is how I start my week. With dreams and plans and ideas and pajamas.

How do you start your week? Are you a planner or a dreamer? Do you carefully set priorities or do you just jump into the week and see where it will take you?

 

How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I am running in circles–darting from one “emergency” to the next. When a friend asks me what I have been up to lately–or even what I did yesterday–I find myself at a complete loss to remember anything that I have done.

What have I been doing? I often ask myself.

Movement not action

I know that I don’t lounge about eating bon-bons and watching television all day. I also know that I spend much too much time in my car running errands. And no matter how many loads of clothes I launder, there are always more to do.

Every single day I am surprised by how quickly time has passed.

I admit that I am a listmaker. I love to cross things off and check boxes. Yes, I am the kind of person who even puts things on a list that I have already done just so I can check them off.

Grocery store. Check.

Dry cleaning. Check.

Prescriptions refilled. Check.

Library books returned. Check.

I often wonder about the things I put on my lists though. Do these things really matter in the long run? Is this how I want to be remembered?

I realize that these tasks are all part of running a household, being part of a family, living in a community. I am not suggesting that they don’t need to be done or that they aren’t important.

I just wonder if there are other things that I might need to add to my list.

Listen.

Love.

Pay attention.

Be thankful.

Would I be able to cross these off my list each day? And if I did add these to my list, how might my day be different? How might my life be different?

I suspect that if I added these to my list and actually did them, my other list of tasks might not get accomplished.

How do I want to be remembered? As someone who was a listmaker and a list-checker? Or as a woman who listened, loved, was attentive and thankful?

I will let you guess which one I choose. What about you?

Evidence of living life

Time Flies When You Are Living Life

I sat in front of my computer this morning wondering to myself what I should write for my next post.

A blank computer screen rarely provides me with inspiration.

My mind drifted to the well-intentioned blog editorial calendar I created in January.

Where did I put that thing anyway? Why don’t I have a few pre-written posts ready to publish at the hint of a dry spell?

My excuse, as usual: too busy.

Too busy? I looked around me to find evidence of my busyness. There appeared to be too many “unresolved domestic issues” to account for that.

I took a five-minute break for my daily dose of would haves, should haves, could haves…the Voice of Doubt enters (I thought I had learned to silence that thing)!

My mobile phone buzzes with a notification: a calendar reminder of a scheduled meeting for which I will undoubtedly be tardy.

Picking up my cell phone is often a big mistake.

Ten minutes and multiple social media interactions later, I glance up at the blank screen again. Well, that was helpful, Amy.

Disturbed by my earlier excuse of busyness, I pick up my phone again scrolling through my camera roll.  Maybe the evidence is right here.

Apparently I have taken more than one hundred photos on my phone over the last seven days.

Here is what I found:

Photos of the “new” sofa we found last Saturday along with fabric swatches for reupholstering it.

upholstery swatches

 

College visits  during winter break to Clemson and Wofford with my daughter who is a high school junior.

Tillman Hall, Clemson University, Clemson SC

Tillman Hall, Clemson University, Clemson SC

Wofford College, Spartenburg, SC

Wofford College, Spartenburg, SC

Daddy-daughter chefs preparing a weeknight meal.

Daddy-daughter chefs

Letterpress class at Redux Contemporary Art Center on Wednesday evening.

Letter press class at Redux Studios

Website header and background updated.

Newest header

Darius Rucker concert in Columbia SC with teenage daughter and her boyfriend.

Darius Rucker, True Believers Tour, Columbia SC

Saturday morning Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts

Flower arrangements made and safely delivered for the Ashley Hall semi-formal pre-event dinner (seated dinner for 26 teens at a private home).

Flower arrangements for dinner party delivered

Front porch cleaned and planters replenished by husband in hopes that the beautiful Spring weather is here to stay.

planters replenished for Spring

Girl Scout cookies located, purchased and consumed.

Girl Scout cookies at last!

Girl Scout cookies at last!

House full of teens preparing for dance finally leaving.

Teenagers leaving for dance

Pre-dance photo shoot.

Pre-dance photo shoot

All of the essentials of a great Sunday afternoon.

Sunday afternoon essentials

Watching this season’s last episode of Downtown Abbey with my daughter.

Downton Abbey

Not pictured: Meetings, meals, work, school, family time, date night, talks with teenager, laundry, cleaning house, errands, doctor’s appointments, etc.

Evidence of living life

Evidence of living life

Ahhh. So that’s what I have been so busy doing.

L I V I N G  L I F E

Most of it is unscheduled, unquantifiable and cannot be crossed off a list.

Not distractions.

Not interruptions.

Just living life.

And thankful for it all.

Moving Ahead While Looking Back

Amy Watson Smith

This is the time of year that most people look ahead, plan, make resolutions. But it is also a time for reflection, a time of looking back, assessing and reassessing. This is a time to learn from your mistakes.

Believe me when I say that I love to move on. I fully appreciate the value of a clean slate. I am a planner so the start of a new year is welcome and full of possibilities.

At the same time I am an historian, a writer, an observer. I have known for many years how important it is for me to learn from the past–my past.

I try to reflect during the Christmas holidays but it seems it is just too busy and full of activity even if the activity is basically non-activity (e.g., reading books, taking naps, eating, talking with family, eating,…). Every New Year’s Day I am shocked that I haven’t really done the thoughtful preparation that I meant to do and instead scribble a few generic resolutions on my [symbolic] list.

And every year a week or two into January I realize that I have not followed through on any of these resolutions. I might feel a twinge of guilt or disappointment in myself for a few seconds but I wasn’t really invested in those things anyway, I tell myself.

This year I am trying something a bit different. I am using the month of January as a time to look back and reflect as well as a time to begin crafting some thoughtful goals. I am focusing on learning some things about myself, asking myself some difficult questions and looking around for resources that might help me.

I want to know why I am doing what I am doing (or why I am not doing something I should be doing). I want to be invested in my future. I want to live intentionally, to be authentic and to love wholly. I want to learn from others and to share my experiences.

I have invested in several tools that I believe will be useful and I will share these resources and some of the results on my blog. I will continue to document my journey both verbally and visually though I have not decided yet how my editorial calendar will be affected by this period of reflection, learning and planning. Once I have figured this out, I will post about it here.

I hope that you will continue to check in on my blog and to share with me your thoughts about my posts as well your own experiences in looking back and moving forward.

Blessings for 2014!

Amy