Amber's life in Austin

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During a recent visit to Starbucks I decided to go the healthy route. I opted for oatmeal instead of my usual sugary, but delicious scone. As I inspected my purchase I noticed on the outside of the carton it read, "perfect oatmeal…enjoy".

"Really," I thought to myself. "Has Starbucks actually created the perfect oatmeal?" I tasted it. It was not too watery or too chunky. I was delighted with the little packet of dried cherries, currants, cranberries and golden raisins to add as liberally as I wanted; but was this really perfect oatmeal and what is perfect anyway?

While my mind wandered I remembered how much of my life I have spent in bondage to perfection. Only time and experience has taught me that perfection is a myth.

Only God is perfect.

I’m not sure how a bowl of oatmeal gave me such a profound realization, but it was so freeing realizing that I can try all I want, but perfection is just not attainable.

Instead of perfection, excellence is what we should strive for and for the record I prefer my oatmeal more on the chunky side.

dream a little dream

I guess I could say I have always been a dreamer. I realize it is unusual to say this, but all of my dreams came true by the time I was 25 years old. Yes, I was one of those people who went to college knowing what I wanted to do with my life and with God's grace and favor I accomplished it. Accomplishing my dreams at such an early age was mind blowing and then it occurred to me I still have three-quarters of my life to live and I have no idea what is next.

I found myself visionless and almost lifeless as I went about the daily grind in an unfulfilling manner. The only other dream I had is to be a mother and after years of struggle and disappointment I realized for whatever reason this dream isn't happening right now. So, if I am not a mother what am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?

I still remember sitting on the couch with my husband lamenting over my dilemma. I knew I could either continue to be miserable with my unfulfilled dream or I could move on and choose to live an abundant life despite my circumstances. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Even though I was perishing, I was determined to fight for life. I prayed for a vision.

The new vision did not come immediately, but my heart and my attitude were the first to change in response to the world around me. I became teachable. I began to have joy in what I had instead of what I thought was missing from my life. Then at a time when everything was clear the dream came.

I do not even remember how it started, but I knew what I needed to do. I wanted to teach others what I had learned so they might be able to avoid some of my mistakes. I wanted to share how each of us can have a bountiful life no matter how much or how little we have.

So, now comes the execution of the dream. How long will it take? Only God knows. It is a journey I am determined to labor on until whatever God has for me comes to fruition.

first experiment

I knew I had 30 minutes to spare before my husband arrived home so I set the timer to see what I could accomplish. I was able to accomplish a lot, but due to the fact that I am far from the maintenance stage it didn't look like I had accomplished anything!

Here's what I did:
- put presents and games by the back door to take to a family get together
- rinsed dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher
- put away Christmas wrapping paper
- took out the trash & recycling
- unloaded Christmas presesnts and found a place for them
- unpacked my laptop and cables and reconnected it to the server here

So that wasn't nothing I guess.

planning vs. preparing

I've discovered that there are two things I must figure out for a successful life. How to plan and how to prepare. I'm really good at planning. I make plans all the time oftentimes months in advance. Although, time and time again conflicts arise because I've planned too much without taking into account the preparation that is required to execute my plan.

A plan is defined as a scheme or method of acting developed in the advance: battle plans. Whereas, prepare is to put in proper condition, readiness as in proper assembly: to prepare for war.

I have to say I love how these two words are explained by referring to war. One doesn't go into battle without the proper equipment, training or without a plan of action. So why should we haphazardly run through life with out preparation or a plan. Too many times I have started a recipe without reading it in its entirety and in realizing my error I've had hungry guests waiting for their main course or I am rushed around the kitchen like a mad crazy woman trying to finish everything before my guests arrive. Then instead of enjoying their company I am anxious and anything but a delightful hostess.

I have to admit I find it a little bonkers that Martha Stewart plans out every day of her month at the start of her magazine, but I also realize that there is something to having a plan so I don't wake up wondering where all of my time went. There must be a way to plan, prepare and execute my schedule without being in bondage to it.

I am challenging myself to learn to maintain my home in 30 minutes a day. This includes cleaning, organizing, planning and most of all preparation. If Rachel Ray can make delightful dishes in 30 minutes or less, I am sure there is a way to take a little time each day to maintain our home and life so we aren't left with a huge mess. I plan on figuring it out!