I had a reader ask me recently where the blog updates were. It’s been a while, has it not? I reflexively want to extend my apologizes, but on the other side of that same coin, I don’t feel remorse for taking a necessary break. It wasn’t anticipated or planned, but somewhere along the way it started happening and it felt justified. It’s not because life was “busy,” because life is always busy, and you should never buy that excuse from a writer. I just needed a little head space to process some huge changes and events in my life. That said, please trust that I love this little online space and I have no intention of going away for good. (btw, You can subscribe on the right over there so you don’t miss any of my posts).
I’m always processing and taking down notes. It’s a switch I cannot shut off. It is how I am wired. If left to long without “dumping” said thoughts onto a page I will start to go crazy. I will become an irritable, emotional hypo manic mess. Just ask my husband who has learned when it is appropriate to ask me if I’ve been writing and if that is all that is the matter with me. Sigh, such a glamorous way of existence!
Anywaysssssss. We’ve both been experiencing some big changes. After a long process of deliberation, Solomon made the decision to leave the company he was with for 5 years for another contractor opportunity. It wasn’t an easy choice for either of us because we love his boss and the company in general to death and it served us so well. It had nothing to do with any issue. It was just time. He experienced many mixed emotions about this decision, not excluding sadness. Shortly after he accepted a new job we came across a Craigslist ad for the job I have now accepted. I wasn’t looking, though I knew the season I’ve been in for over a year would come to an end at some point. I’ve been wrestling with similar emotions.
What started as such a rough time for me has blossomed into a season of deep growth and refreshment. I’ve never learned so much about myself in such a concentrated amount of time. For months I didn’t work at all due to my health, and then I sort of self-employed myself with odds and ends – tutoring, consistent babysitting. I think a lot of people assume I haven’t worked at all in 2 years which is simply not the case, ha. The real story is that while I have worked, it hasn’t been my main focus. Which was entirely appropriate due to a whole host of reasons, but that season is now closing. I worked hard at home. I hung clothes on a clothes line and made all kinds of meals from scratch. I decorated and purged belongings we no longer needed. I planted flowers and took tons of hikes with our dog. I caught up with friends and learned to invest in interests I didn’t know I had. I went to doctors appointments and got testing done and problems corrected. I learned a healthy work- home life balance that will serve me so well in the future.
In short, I’m not the same person who quit her office job 2 years ago. I’m healthier in more ways than one. It would be easy to keep doing what I’m doing now because it works so well for us. Similarly, it would have been easy for Solomon to stay at the same job. But if he had he would have had less opportunities and less room for growth. I’m realizing that you have to allow life to unfold in the way it must. You have to keep moving where it moves. Even when it is hard and frustrating and emotional at first – that doesn’t mean it’s not right.
So, I’ll go to my new job in a couple hours, and I’ll put my heart into it. I’ll work hard to prove myself at an opportunity I never saw coming and didn’t know really existed. I’ll bless the Lord for it and bless the changes. And I’ll promise to keep reflecting. Because we know nothing good comes from a bottled up Michaela 😉
[tweetthis]You have to allow life to unfold in the way it must. You have to keep moving where it moves…bless the changes.[/tweetthis]
This is part two. Read part one here.
I think that sometimes when you are going through a difficult situation, it can be easy to downplay your emotions or write them off as unfounded. After all, if at the end of this season we were able to purchase our own home, why should it matter what we went through to get there? But that’s just not the way that it works. Every time that emotions surfaced, I had a choice. I could call them illegitimate and attempt to bury them, or I could deal with them and accept them for what they were. The latter is more difficult. It takes time, self-acceptance, and energy. But if I had never done that, my personal growth would be stunted. I would have missed out on the opportunity to recognize the depth of the blessing and joy that the Lord provided in the midst of the process, and we might not have grown as close together as a couple as we did.
We moved in in November 2015, just in time to share our first Christmas in the house together. We were asked often if the house felt like home. For the first few months the answer was honestly not yet. By that time in our 2 years of married life, we had moved 4 times. The process was wearisome and it didn’t just feel real that we’d actually be able to settle and call our house home for years to come. A friend told us that it would feel like home in time – after we had shared memories in the home, meals cooked, people over. Hearing that was relieving. The feeling couldn’t be forced.
Lately, though, my feelings have shifted. We’ve started to live in the house and develop rhythms that make it ours. We’ve shared meals with friends, watched the sunset outside the kitchen window, arranged and rearranged rooms and begun cleaning up the wooded yard. I don’t long for what we used to have, but instead am grateful for the goodness that this process birthed. We are looking ahead to the roots we will put down in this home, but recognizing still that permanence doesn’t come from our earthly dwelling.
In the spirit of my last post, I woke up this morning with a desire to share a little more of our journey that brought us to the place we are now – more specifically, the home we are blessed to call our own.
If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you may have realized that it was my original intention to share many steps in the process of renovating our fixer upper. And while I haven’t completely closed the door on that category, it has obviously not been fleshed out in the way I originally planned. But that’s okay.
The truth is is that the series of events leading up to the purchasing of our home were very much unexpected and difficult. We had moved from our first rental to a 2 bedroom duplex in May of the previous year with the intention of lowering our cost of living so we could save for a house. However, we ended up loving the duplex and talked about staying for longer than we’d intended, even discussing using the second bedroom for an eventual nursery. It might not have seemed like much to anyone else, but to us it was just right. It was in a quiet neighborhood where we could walk the dog at night and a yard we let our cats roam during the day. We had a garage and a basement and just enough space to easily make ours and enjoy married life. I’ve said before that I never minded renting, and I still hold to that.
It seemed like it was just after we really made the place a home that I started to get sick. As soon as we realized that it was from the city water that had toxic levels of by-products in it, we moved. Quickly. I’m talking overnight. I was too sick to do otherwise, so we moved into a bedroom at my parent’s house and packed up our belongings within a week. We spent a little time discussing whether we’d rent again or go ahead and buy before we decided to put the money we’d saved into a down payment and speed up our timeline for purchasing a home. I realize now that having that money at that time was nothing less than the Lord’s provision and care for our lives, but it still hadn’t been our plan and the sudden loss of our home was difficult to contend with.
We didn’t find our home until after the winter, so the purchase date was almost exactly one year after signing the least on our duplex, allowing me some time to recover before beginning work on our now home.
For some time, if I drove near our rental or past our exit on the highway, feelings would surface that I’d have to place before the Lord. Feelings of loss, of frustration over my illness, of anger at the sudden forced move. I had someone ask me recently why this was the case- wasn’t I so glad to own our home? And the answer is yes, absolutely. Our course I am grateful for the way these series of events lead to where we are now. But I can’t hide the fact that for both of us, it was a very difficult year.
Look for part two next week – tues., april 5!
hello, gracious reader.
If you’re here, I just want to say thank you – thank you for sticking by me through these past couple months of infrequent posting. I care about this space very much and I thought it was high time to fill you in on some of the recent happenings in my life.
since the new year it’s been crazy. we made it through the holidays, through my husband’s new job position, through new jobs of my own (tutoring & babysitting, both of which I am loving), though an unexpected family crisis, and now through the recent surfacing of my health issues. All this on top of an already new home with unpacked boxes and routines that have yet to be found. Needless to say, it’s been a LOT in every way.
The dust has settled some and we’re feeling our way through these changes. Here are some of the ways I’ve been coping with change and busyness – perhaps you’ll be able to glean something through my necessary adjustments to apply to your own life.
- I’ve created a new housework routine that works, combats overwhelm & makes it possible for me to get done what needs done in spite of varying degrees of chronic fatigue. I love it! It’s so much more manageable than how I previously was doing things.
- I’ve been fighting for my health, making necessary adjustments where need be. I’ve been getting tons of sleep, eating well, visiting doctors & getting bloodwork done, and learning about my body’s needs. [more on this subject soon.]
- I’ve been asking for help. My husband’s been making dinner on my longest work day, which is the hugest relief. He’s also been paying bills and doing tons of other work around the house, which takes weight off my shoulders.
- I’ve been having fun – seeing friends, taking walks at parks, and this weekend going on an overnight trip. I’ve started viewing this time as a recovery period and giving myself the necessary grace to support that.
I want to state simply that I’m still here, that naturallyjmharris.com is not going anywhere, and that I so appreciate any grace you extend me through this transition.
If you follow me in Instagram, you might have seen the post where I recently identified a pattern of mine: saving every single home-to do for one marathon day of cleaning/organizing/grocery shopping. The obvious issue with this method is that it leads to overwhelm and relies on large reserves of time and energy. I’ve known this for a while, of course, but I’ve justified it by saying that I’d rather do it that way then have to clean every day.
This weekend I found myself with a house that has literally not been cleaned in weeks, an entirely empty fridge, and 5 loads of laundry that needed washing. Obviously, this “system” is not working! With a couple of new work days and an increased amount of fatigue that I’m trying to figure out, I can’t afford to not change my ways. I’m leaning into self-discipline once again, and I thought I’d share some of my ideas in the chance that you can relate to my craziness. This method could certainly apply to work or really anything that requires self-motivation, but for the sake of this post I’m applying it to housework to help you create a housework routine that works for you.
- Write out a master list of home chores and break them down. Full disclosure: my husband and I actually wrote out the chores like this
months ago. He’s done his share and I have as well -mostly- but I’ve never successfully broke them down. To do so, I plan to use my new get to work book project pad on a weekly basis. I’ll write out all current tasks that need accomplishing and tackle them step by step throughout the week.
- Assign them to days on the calendar. To ensure a solid home rhythm, I’ll look at my planner at the start of every week and drop tasks in on the
days I think I can accomplish them. For example, today I had “clean out oven” and “start chicken in crock pot” as priorities. If I accomplish those and have time/energy to spare, I can check the get to work book pad to see what else needs done. It’s up to you how specific you want to get with this. I’m not planning on including tasks that we do every day like the dishes. Because my days vary, I’m not planning on doing a traditional schedule (Monday laundry, Tuesday floors, and so forth), but that could work well for you.
- The days that I have more energy – get more done. This will easily allow for unexpected sickness, events, tasks, and so forth – not to mention days that I just don’t feel like doing housework and want to spend my energies elsewhere.
- Remind myself of the value of discipline. Personally – I’m doing this because it will guard against overwhelm and create peace and order in my home. I value stewardship of my home & what the Lord has given me. I value openness of my schedule and flexibility, & this will help support that. I value my well-being and recognize that my current pattern doesn’t foster joy.
Alright, friends. This is one recipe that if you haven’t tried, you really need to try. And I know I sound excited about all my recipes, BUT there is no reason not to do this one! We’ve been making our own homemade laundry detergent ever since we’ve been married, so I sometimes forget that not everyone does it. There are so many reasons to make your own homemade laundry detergent – it saves a ridiculous amount of money (the recipe below yields 5 gallons & costs less than $5 to make), it is so much safer than store bought detergent, and it just plain works.
For me, though, finding a good alternative to traditional laundry detergent was a necessity. Ever since I was little I have broken out from certain laundry detergent brands. As a teenager, I had a terrible rash all over my legs that would never heal. My mom always bought the “free and clear” versions, but as an adult, I realized that I still sometimes reacted from them. Recently I washed some clothes at her house with a name brand natural detergent and broke out from IT! Crazy. Needless to say, I have NEVER had a problem from this detergent. Additionally, our clothes don’t seem as static-y. My husband does physical labor and it cleans his nasty clothes perfectly.
So what are you waiting for?! Carve 10-15 minutes out of your day and make 5 GALLONS of this amazing detergent (you can split it in half if you desire). Let me know if you make it and what you think or if you have any questions in the comments below!
1 Bar Dr. Bronner’s soap*
1 C. Super Washing Soda
1 C. Borax
Grate bar of soap. Heat pots of water on stove, add in bar soap and stir continually until dissolved. In a separate pot, stir in borax and super washing soda until dissolved. Pour into 5 gallon bucket. Continue to heat water until 5 gallon bucket is full (water should be very hot but not boiling). Stir well and let sit for 24 hours. Stir before use. Use 1/2-1 C. per load depending on load size.
*Please use Dr. Bronner’s! There are recipes floating around that suggest using other bar soaps. I am convinced that the reason this detergent recipe is so effective is because of the Dr. Bronner’s soap. It may be a couple dollars more than another brand, but it is completely safe and non-toxic and just plain works. If you have tried to make your own detergent before and felt it didn’t come out, that might be why! trust me. It can be found at Target or Amazon or practically any health food store. If you’re making for a baby, they sell an unscented version too!
**For an especially soiled load, just sprinkle a little washing soda directly into the load or use a little extra detergent (I rarely feel the need to do this).