This writing adventure called Intentional Jane started out because I craved focus. I was in a new town, a stay at home mom, isolated, and trying to find some steady ground.
Writing was a life line. It still is.
I started with the intention (sound familiar?) of working out my life plan and sharing the journey. Now, almost two years later, I’m still waiting on the plan. I barely have time to plan what I’m doing next week let alone 5 or 10 years from now. And honestly, what I thought was the plan two years ago didn’t look much like writing this blog at all. Still, I want something to help me keep the big picture in focus for myself and my family.
Hello Monthly Planning Process
Rather than planning where we’ll be years from or setting up unrealistic resolutions we’re starting smaller. Our family is using a simple monthly planning process to set our goals and keep our focus on what matters most. We’re three months in and find that by looking at our month as a whole we’re better prepared to accomplish our goals.
We used to come to our days at the mercy of someone else’s whim or wondering how they would be spent. Now we have a plan, a filter, if you will, for what takes priority in our schedules. It doesn’t feel big or fancy but it is fulfilling to come to the end of the month knowing we stuck with it.
I’ve also noticed we’re gaining momentum. Each month we learn something new about how this process will work better for our family. We like it so much I thought I’d share it with you and invite you to join us. Let’s reach our goals together this March!
How it Works in Our House
We start the month with a planning meeting. We choose a comfy spot and bring our calendars, budget and a monthly planning worksheet. We use the questions on the worksheet to gain some clarity around four areas: Focus (Goals), Passage (Inspiration), Budget, and Calendar.
We hash it out together, decide on a plan to keep our family on pace for the month and then get on with it. Nothing fancy.
In January we decided to focus on our marriage. We’re still enjoying the impact of that experiment. For February we focused on cleaning out our garage. That post is coming but I can tell you it’s so much easier to get into the car these days! This month we’re working on our family purpose statement.
This process is flexible, fuss-free and effective. I come to it excited because there is no feeling that we are setting ourselves up to fail. Instead we have a plan for success.
Would you like to join us? I’d love to hear what’s happing in your home this month. Download the monthly planning worksheet. Choose the Planning Worksheet With Questions or Planning Worksheet No Questions. Schedule a meeting. When you’re done please come back to share your focus and passage on the One Month page. I’d love to hear your goals (even if you’re not using the worksheet).
What methods have you found to help your family make progress?
This Thursday, February 27th is Shine a Light on Slavery Day.
The End It Movement has set out to make it known that slavery still exists. This week they’re hoping to create a worldwide influx of awareness for the cause of freedom.
Their website says:
“This February 27th, join us and other Freedom Fighters from around the world as we SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY. Draw a RED X on your hand. Tell your world that slavery still exists and YOU WON’T STAND FOR IT. ” enditmovement.com
This week I’ll be sporting a RED X on each hand and changing my Facebook profile picture to show a RED X. In anticipation of people asking what the RED X is all about I’ve created an information card. I’ll tuck an envelope full of them in my purse. They look like this:
Even my kids are getting in on spreading the word by wearing a RED X and they’re excited about it! Read this for more on how to talk to your kids about slavery.
You are invited to join me. If you’d like you can download a printable version of my Slavery Info Card. Print on both sides of letter size paper, cut them apart, and you’re all set.
Are you in? Let me know in the comments.
If I speak and write with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I communicate God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give my children an elite education, enroll them in sports, fill their bellies with fine food, and surround them with wise counsel, but do not love, I have plotted their course in vain.
If I keep my house spotless, decorate like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, if I’m always ready for guests, and can entertain like Martha, but do not love, I fashion a house, not a home.
If I smile, say, “hello,” get involved in every group, volunteer to help, and I’m always on time, but I do not love, I only have managed my schedule not nurtured my relationships.
If I work my body to the bone, fill it with nourishing food, if the scale says just the right number, my complexion is clear, and my hair is never out of place, but I do not love, I tend the shell but not the soul.
If I ascend the corporate ladder, shatter the glass ceiling, and find my name on the list of most influential women, but I do not love, my accomplishments are hollow.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, what I attain, how I look, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love is patient, love is kind. Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel. Love rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never dies.
Achievement will be overshadowed. Houses will crumble. Beauty will fade. Inspired speech will be over some day. Praying in tongues will end. Understanding will reach its limit.
For we know in part, we accomplish in part, we build in part, we beautify in part, and we prophesy in part. But when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a woman, I put aside childish things.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. Working out this thing called motherhood. Muddling our way through what’s right in front of us. Figuring out what beauty is all about. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.
These three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.
When we set out to choose one focus for January I don’t think my husband expected me to say, “I want to focus on our marriage.”
We weren’t coming undone. We weren’t passing each other silently in the hall. We were alright. Everything was fine. Nothing exciting to see here. And that was kind-of the problem.
I didn’t need it all to be right but I didn’t want it to just be alright. (See what I did there, with the words, clever, no?!)
My husband thinks I’m brilliant so he agreed to my request and we mapped a course for a month long experiment in setting our marriage at center stage. Because complicated is taboo around here our plan had to be simple, achievable, and meaningful. Once a day, for the month of January, we were going to speak the other’s love language. We’d go beyond the words, “I love you” to the actions that were most meaningful. Once a day. For one month. Doable.
I didn’t know what to expect or, honestly, if we’d keep at it. I’m good at having intentions and equally good at letting them fall victim to a busy schedule, early bedtime, laundry, or Downton Abbey. Who’s with me?
Some days it was simple to tell him I loved him with an act of service or words of affirmation. The task flowed easily on those days because it felt like love. Then there were days when it felt more like work to come up with some little way to bestow favor on my husband. And some days just as he was falling asleep I’d remember I needed to speak his language and come up with a last ditch, half-baked, totally awesome effort before fading off for the night. Usually something like, “I think I forgot to speak your love language today. Do you still feel loved?” See, awesome!
Even in the moments when it felt more like a homework assignment than a love letter we were forging bonds and mending parts of our relationship we hadn’t realized needed attention. Our little experiment led to conversations about how we each experienced love in the most meaningful ways. We talked about how this was the happiest month we’d had in a long time. Ten years into our relationship and we were growing, learning something new about the importance of love. We were doing the work of loving each other intentionally.
Experiencing his love on a daily basis made it easier to bring my concerns to him. It was easier to trust myself and him with the issues that would normally fester in my mind until they came out in depression, anger, and frustration.
Toward the end of the month we had a tough conversation. A conversation we’ve had before. The kind where I would usually come to the table wondering if we’d be able to resolve the issue. This time was different. We were different. More gentle and understanding than we had been before. This time we resolved the issue and both came up on the winning end.
Now, almost half way through February, we’ve kept with it. One month of focusing on our love languages has formed a new habit and raised the bar in our marriage. We’re feeling loved and it’s permeating our home, trickling down to our children, even the dog is getting more love these days.
Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – St. Paul
Would you like to see what this experiment can do for you? Learn your love language. Let me know in the comments if you’re giving it a try. I’d love to hear how it goes.
How do you show love in your home?
I spent a little time this weekend surfing some of the ethical stores around the web for Valentine’s Day gifts. I was not disappointed. In fact, I had a hard time narrowing it down.
Here are some of the items I would enjoy giving or receiving any time of the year!
Don’t see something that works for you? There’s much more to choose from at each of the sites pictured above. Find even more options on my Ethical Goods Pinterest board.
Wishing you lots of love this Valentine’s Day!
Where is your favorite place to shop for ethical gifts?
NOTE: I received no compensation for this post and am not affiliated with these companies in any way. I will only promote companies or items that I have or would consider using.
For the days when…
your calendar is be-speckled by obligation and your home is overrun with mess.
work seems insignificant and the future is clouded in fog.
you list has outgrown your ability
you’re ready to throw in the towel.
little ones are crying, hungry, sick and tired.
your head is pounding.
For the days when…
you cannot can. not. pick up one more Lego or wash one more dish.
you seem to get it wrong more than you get it right.
life threatens to undo you.
duty calls and you must soldier on.
it seems no one has a kind word to say.
For the days when…
the news is bad.
it all comes crashing down and you can’t see the purpose anymore.
your words fall on deaf ears.
it’s hard to breathe and harder to speak.
you miss your mom.
For the days when you’ve had more than you can take.
Friend. Let go and rest.
Play in the mess. Build the Lego tower. Rock a baby doll. Dress up and pretend. Read stories. Make cookies. Eat ice cream. Snuggle. Build forts. Have breakfast for dinner. Watch movies. Take walks. Color. Paint nails. Play tag. Throw a dance party. Jump rope. Go to the park. Stick stickers. Play a board game. Put candles on the table. Sing. Use the good dishes. Have a picnic. Celebrate life.
Bless. Love extravagantly. Seek peace. Pursue joy.
Then, when you can…
Treat yourself gently.
And once you’ve caught your breath…
and take the next step forward.
How do you make it through overwhelming seasons in life?