Wednesday, June 25, 2014

“Fix the Roof While It Ain’t Raining”


You might prefer JFK’s version of this quote, but there is so much WISDOM in this statement.

Problem solving is one of Jonathan’s strengths (which I so appreciate and admire because it’s definitely not one of mine); however, we are still all about the power of PREVENTION. It makes more sense to put in time, work, and effort to improve circumstances before the ‘rain’ comes than to chaotically try to fix it once it’s here. Obviously this is meant figuratively (literally too, of course), but the visual helps me make it more concrete in my mind. Have you ever tried fixing a roof while it’s raining? Me neither. Ha! And hope I never have to.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Benjamin Franklin

This applies to nearly every aspect of your, marriage, finances, health…the list goes on. As believers, the Bible assures us that trials are coming our way. We cannot avoid them, and the book of James instructs us to “Consider it pure joy” when we are faced with them, because ultimately that’s how God grows our faith & deepens our relationship with him. But this does not mean we shouldn’t do our best to be prepared ahead of time for when the trials come.

There is no better time to start taking care of your health than NOW, before the illness comes.

There is no better time to invest in your marriage than NOW, before the struggles hit.

There is no better time to get your finances in order than NOW, before the hardships.

There is no better time to start focusing on your walk with the Lord than NOW, before the enemy attacks and trials and temptations enter your life.

We try to focus on the 5 F’s in our life…Faith, Family, Friends, Finances, Fitness…(in that order) and be good stewards of our time, talents, and resources in these areas. God has blessed us tremendously, and we want to honor him by putting effort into the 5 F’s. Just being totally honest & transparent though, it is VERY easy to get off track and out of balance. The BEST way we have found to keep our priorities in order, aside from praying daily for the Lord to order our steps, is through honest self- reflection and lots of open communication. We ask each other for accountability and take time to stop from all the madness of life to just THINK & evaluate how we are doing in these areas. I guess that may sound cheesy, but we know that to truly honor the Lord and be the most Christlike we can, we have to honor him in all areas of our life, but these 5 areas in particular.

Maybe life is smooth sailing for you right now. I pray it is, and I pray you remember to be THANKFUL during the mountaintops. But are you ready for the valleys? Are you ready physically, spiritually, financially, and emotionally? Have you invested in your relationships and put the work into growing your faith so your roof is ready to weather the storm?

Just some food for thought on this Wednesday…

Monday, June 9, 2014

What do you BELIEVE about God?

Ever had some head knowledge that doesn’t line up with your heart? Something you KNOW to be true but have  hard time grasping, believing, feeling, and claiming for your life??

We are in an awesome new Sunday school class - an answered prayer for us to be mentored by wise and godly couple whom we admire. One thing we learned recently in class that is reiterated every week is that we as humans parallel the trinity in the fact we can be described by three different parts- soul, spirit, and body. The spirit can be divided further into three parts as well- the mind (thinker), will (chooser), and heart (feeler). This makes perfect sense and is backed up in Scripture. It’s important to recognize these different parts of ourselves so we can recognize when our heart, our emotions, our flesh, or the enemy, are trying to deceive us. Unfortunately,these don’t all match up all the time, and that can leave us feeling confused.

My brother passing absolutely rocked my family’s world and cut me to the core. I can’t even describe the whirlwind of grief and emotions that have flooded our hearts. One thing I have learned (and I already knew, but witnessed first hand) is that everyone grieves very differently and it’s super important to respect (without judgment) each individual’s grieving process.

I have relied on my faith more than anything to get me through losing Michael. More than any person, memory, distraction, etc. I am so thankful for that testimony and God’s faithfulness to provide peace and comfort through pain and heartbreak.  The women's retreat came at a perfect time, but challenged me to examine my faith on a deeper level. And to be totally transparent, I have a lot of growing to do. Like, embarrassed to even admit kind of growing. It challenged me to question what I REALLY believe about God.

I tried to imagine myself in Ragan’s shoes and think about how I would manage life without Jonathan. It makes me sick at my stomach to think about and beyond sick for her that she has to do life without Michael. As I began to really examine my heart, my mind was flooded with “What if…” I were to (Heaven forbid) lose my husband; my parents; my baby; my family; my home; my health? How would I react? What would I believe? Would my faith be strong enough to get me through?? Despite knowing all the promises of God’s Word and seeing Him answer them in my own life time and time again, I can’t say with pure assuredness that I know how I would respond to that type of loss. I would love to be able to say that my faith is strong enough to get me through because I know & believe that my God is BIG enough and CAPABLE enough…but do I TRUST the Lord enough fully depend on him alone? Do I believe he is really doing all things for good? He is always for me? Will never leave me nor forsake me? Hears my prayers?

The truth is… what we believe about God is the most important thing about us. It impacts every other area of our life- how we view ourselves, how we love others, how we treat others, how we forgive, our thoughts, actions, and attitudes, how we respond to trials, how we react to hurts, how we respond to victories- everything. EVERYTHING in our lives is dependent on what we deep down, in our core, truly BELIEVE about God. And I’m not just talking about head knowledge. I’m talking about HEART knowledge. I’m talking about our soul, spirit, and body. Getting our mind, heart, and will (spirit) in agreement.

That’s why it is so important that  believers make up our mind NOW...ASAP…about what we believe about God. The Bible tells us that as children of God, because we live in a fallen world with sin and are made in the image of Christ (who also faced many trials and temptations during his time on this earth), that trials and hardships are coming. It is not a matter of IF, but WHEN. God allows us to experience trials so we learn to fully rely and depend on him alone. It draws us closer to him if we choose to run TO him rather than from him. Trials grow our faith. They give us a testimony. (Read the book of James- my favorite book in the Bible and great wisdom about trials.)

But let’s be real. They are not fun. In fact, they can leave us feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, frustrated, lonely, depressed, angry, confused, hopeless, and uncertain when we try to rely on ourselves or anything/anyone other than God to get us through.

I just finished teaching a Bible study on a book called Unbroken. My computer crashed so I don’t have all the notes, but I encourage you to read it. It was a great reminder to me about the promises of God. Promises we need to make so REAL in our hearts that we will cling to them when the trials come our way.

I will never forget the morning of March 29th, 2014. I was nursing Jase when my phone rang. I didn’t want to get up from feeding him to answer, but it rang again and Jonathan’s phone rang at the same time. My heart sank and I immediately knew something was wrong. Bad wrong. My mom and sister were both calling. We answered the phone to a pretty hysterical urge to get to the hospital immediately- that something was wrong with my brother. Normally when we get news like that we hit our knees to pray together, but I started frantically getting ready to get out there as fast as possible because I knew my family needed me. We got a call back in about 5 minutes and my mom wanted to talk to Jonathan. She didn’t want to tell me, but I knew. I could hear her weeping and moaning and couldn’t decipher anything she was saying, but I knew. Jonathan’s face sank too and I just fell to the ground because I knew what he was going to tell me. I wanted him to stay home with Jase because I had no idea how long I would be gone, but I got to Michael’s house as fast as I (safely) could. I felt a sense of disbelief and could do nothing cry out to God the whole drive over. It took me about 40 minutes and felt like an eternity. It was such a nasty morning- somewhat rainy, cold, and just grey. I pulled up and saw family standing outside. I was the last one to arrive. My face was soaked with tears. The first people I saw were my niece Madison and my sister Stephanie. I hugged Madison, everyone crying, and the only thing that came out of my mouth was “I am so, so sorry. I have no idea why this happened, but I know God always works together for the good of those who love Him and he promises to never leave us and never forsake us.” At that time I heard the most agonizing cries from my mom. She was moaning - pure weeping over her son. It was a sound I hope I never have to hear again. She has been a ROCK for our family since then, but she has told me since then that she needed that hour to just weep. Seeing my sister-in-law and the kiddos, and knowing their life would never be the same broke my heart. Watching my parents agonize over losing a child- their only son- is something no parent should ever have to face and my heart hurt beyond words for them. That was the saddest day of my life in my entire 28 years. It feels surreal and was so devastating seeing everyone in my family- my mom, my dad, my sisters, and Michael’s family- Ragan in the kids- in such pain.

But what I can tell you is that even in the pain there was a peace. A peace only God can give.

Several times as we were all together through planning the funeral I prayed out loud for our family- and the only thing I could pray was God’s promises.

I challenge you to dig in the Word, read and understand God’s promises, and meditate on and memorize Scriptures. You never know when you will experience something in your life and those promises will minister to your heart. These are a few of my favorites that have continued to bring me comfort, but there are SO MANY in the Bible. If you are a believer, I encourage you to make up our mind NOW as to what you TRULY believe about God. It’s easy to say you believe it, but it’s difficult to LIVE like you believe it.

  • We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. –Romans 8:28
  • For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
  • Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.- 1 Peter 5:7
  • If God is for us, who can be against us? –Romans 8:31
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. –Deuteronomy 8:31
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. –Matthew 5:4
  • No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper- Isaiah 54:17

As hard as this has been, I appreciate God using this to draw me to Him and to reveal to me where I REALLY am in my walk. It’s not where I would like to be, but thankfully I serve a mighty God who can help me get where he wants me to be.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Getting Organized = More Productivity

I like to read more than one book at a time, and right now I recently finished up Praying for Boys and Women Living Well. Highly recommend them both!

I felt crazy convicted while reading Women Living Well about the way I have been taking care of our home.  Jonathan does a LOT to help out around our house (I am so thankful that he is naturally helpful and enjoys helping with certain chores), but honestly, I had become kinda lazy with meal planning and cleaning.  Don’t get me wrong- our house is not dirty, but there is more clutter than I would like. I also slacked on taking the time to plan meals and meal prep, which translated into eating out more (not as healthy & more expensive). I was not being resourceful and was wasting a lot of time throughout my day on social media. (Yikes! Gotta beware of that trap.) I know that for me, the key to productivity is organization. I’ve always been a “list-maker” and find value in taking the time to organize and plan for the upcoming week.  The house being kinda messy really bothered me (and Jonathan) too. It makes me less productive, feel overwhelmed, and even irritable. It’s crazy how quickly time passes during the day, and that means I have to have a plan to get things accomplished. Not only do I ENJOY cleaning and taking care of our house and providing clean, healthy meals for our family, I thrive in a neat and organized environment. I am not militant about it by any means, but I know that Jon and I both prefer everything to be clean and in its place when not being used in our own home. Chaos, disorganization,  and clutter leads to stress for both of us, and then we are not as effective in other areas of our life. He definitely pitches in and pulls more than his fair share of weight, but I got a little lazy with it a few weeks ago. Women Living Well encouraged me to get organized and back on track, so I wanted to share the plan of action I implemented that has really been helping.

I know there is a whole new ‘movement’ among moms about having dirty floors and happy kids. Well, that just doesn’t fly in the Butler house! (Honestly, don’t we ALL feel better in a clean house?) I get the concept and am all about being in the moment and spending lots of quality time with my family. In fact, if you’re one of my close friends or fam, you might have notices I am not answering texts or calls as readily because I don’t keep my phone near me as often during Jase’s awake time. I can assure you I do not neglect him to clean all day long! Some of my favorite time is preparing meals in the kitchen with him at my feet playing in his drawer. We sing songs & dance & play peek-a-boo. And I clean as I go.

I’m absolutely not judging anyone else’s choice for how they want to manage their home, but I feel as if it is part of my ministry as a wife and mother to have a well-organized home. It is very fulfilling to me personally, and because I know Jonathan genuinely appreciates it as well, it’s rewarding to me in many ways. Lori at Always Learning is one of the few blogs I still read regularly since I’ve made an attempt to use my time more wisely. She speaks such truth and wisdom and her posts add value to my life and challenge my thinking. It just so happened she has a great post about this exact topic today- check it out here!

This is a super simple & very general way to organize my week. If we don’t stick to it perfectly, no big deal…but it has definitely helped to at least have an idea of what each day looks like. Jonathan has his own schedule he goes by and helps me with the chores he enjoys (he likes doing laundry and cleaning floors. I know….husband jackpot!) This helps me stay on top of everything so I don’t get overwhelmed. I typically clean during one of Jase’s naps or during his play time in his pack-n-play (about 30-45 min). He still takes two 2-hour naps a day too, so I can typically knock it out in one nap and have the whole evening to spend with Jon. (Jase is in bed by 8-8:30 every night.)


  • S- church, rest, & family time
  • M- bathrooms (I’ve got it down to a science and can SCRUB all 4 bathrooms in around an hour- that includes the tub, shower, mirrors, toilets, basebaords, floor, etc. Spark helps!)
  • T- laundry
  • W- one area to reorganize/declutter
  • Th- dust, windows/mirrors
  • F- floors (vaccuum, sweep, hardwoods) grocery shopping/pick up produce
  • S- laundry, clean cars, yard, every other Sat wash & change sheets

*daily: make beds first thing in the morning, pick up around the house, put things back in their place, wipe down counters and table in the kitchen, empty trash as needed, dishes


  • S- eggs & waffles after church, soup and some type of sandwich/wrap for dinner
  • M- Mexican (healthy burritos with Ezekial tortillas, ground turkey or bison, homemade taco seasoning,etc.) or Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’
  • T- Grilled Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, & diff types of Veggies
  • W- leftovers or spaghetti squash (I teach Bible study on Wed nights so have to prepare ahead of time because we eat when we get home)
  • Th- Breakfast for Dinner
  • F- Grilled Fish, Brown Rice, & salad/veggies
  • S- New Recipe/grill out

With Jase’s schedule, we have a pretty set daily routine. We still do spontaneous stuff, but babies/children thrive off having a routine and knowing what to expect. I know it’ll get a little tougher as we continue to add to our family, but I’m trusting the Lord to give me wisdom for when that time comes. Honestly, it is also better for your body, even as an adult, to eat and sleep (generally) at the same time’s each day when possible. Starting this new routine has really helped out, and Jonathan has commented and complimented multiple times. There is something very cozy and comforting about a clean, fresh house and I definitely want to set that example for Jase. Jonathan is hard core about taking good care of everything he owns (way more than even me) and I know it’s important to him for me to help him teach that to our children.

I’m sure there are TONS of other resources on Pinterest and blogs of mamas and wives who are WAY more organized than me. In fact, I know there are whole blogs dedicated to this very topic. And you’re probably better off checking with the experts if you’re super serious about it. I’m definitely not supermom and sure don’t claim to have it all figured out, but this is what has worked for us and has been helpful in getting me back on track so I can fulfill the role I love so very much.