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One Word: Intentional (Part One: Life)

Be Intentional One Baby Step at a Time

When January rolls around, it seems like everyone is making resolutions to lose weight and ready to change their life in the new year. It’s overwhelming at times. Lately I keep seeing people with organized plans for success, including their “One Word” for the year.

I didn’t get it.

Like I said last week, I prefer Lenten challenges/promises to New Year’s resolutions, maybe because they have an end-point. I also feel like it would stress me out to try to focus on “One Word” for the whole year – or even a month! This would be me, in my head:

Uh oh. What was my word?


Oh yeah. I should focus on that. What can I do this week to utilize my Word? I better make a plan. If I write it out, I will forget where I put it though. It should go in the computer. If I ever close the document, I’ll forget about the Word and my Plan completely though, so I’ll have to leave it open. My computer will move like it’s 1999 because I leave everything open so I don’t forget it, but that’s okay – I can’t forget to do my Word, you know!

Um. I don’t think I’m doing this right.

Simple things are hard for me sometimes!

The Funny Part?

Unwittingly, I think I’ve stumbled across my “One Word” for the year though:


It’s only February, so who knows if life will continue to be intentional for ten more months, but since I didn’t set out to have a Word for the year, it’s okay. I’m off the hook. Smile

Thus far, though, this year has turned out to be the time of digging out of the tumbleweed.


I live in Michigan.

It’s okay, I’m not delirious – let me explain.

For the past year…well, maybe a few years…maybe at least since we put our old house on the market, moved in with my in-laws for 5 months and then moved here…I’ve felt like my nostrils are just barely above water and I’m constantly running around putting out the next fire, the closest deadline, the hungriest child, only the messes that cause real problems, etc.

That was in 2010 or so. Forget getting “ahead” in any way since then; I was just focusing on not falling further behind on too many things.

Everything suffered.

My family relationships, my own health (via lack of sleep mostly), the state of my house, my stress levels, my prayer life, the quality of work I could get done here…nothing could be my best work, because it was always my fastest work, my “I’m behind again” push, chasing my tail.

And that tumbleweed?

It was me.

In every area of life, I felt like I was tumbling through the day, tumbling through life, not able to make any real goals or progress because some wind was always gusting me forward, some bump in the path always sending me skyward so my feet were never on the ground.

I needed that to stop, so something had to give.

Having another baby surely wasn’t the way to go about that, although it did help me find more joy, which would probably be the understudy for my “One Word,” except I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed…which is why I couldn’t pick “One Word” in the first place!

First World Problems

forest road landscape G1 K9oc SO

Before I get too far into what sounds like a pity party, don’t worry – I led a pretty cushy life. So don’t feel bad for me one second!

We had enough money for our needs and then some.

Our kids are healthy overall and darn well-behaved.

We have a church and faith we love.

Our extended family is supportive, loving, and some are even in town (free babysitting!).

All my angst was most definitely a “first world problem,” but let me tell you – whenever anyone asked me how I was doing, the answer was always either “behind” or “busy.”

I was tumbling along, and it wasn’t good.

If you follow regularly, you already know we made a really huge change this year to free up some breathing room, and you know what?

It totally worked.

(It was either that or quit blogging, by the way, and I hated the thought of that! Most of the time…) Winking smile

The Benefits of Intentional Life

Kids with Gabe

After about a month of working together with my husband, at home, both sharing the load of parenting, housework, and on-the-computer work, it’s going really well.

I love sharing everything, and something I noticed this weekend that I told my husband was that we are, quite simply, more intentional about every aspect of life.

  • parenting
  • housework
  • time on the computer
  • recreation
  • cooking
  • communication with each other
  • date nights

Maybe it’s simply because we have more breathing room because of our new situation, but honestly, it’s not like we’re suddenly drowning in extra time, sitting around on a Friday afternoon with every item checked off our to-do lists and nothing to do but play with our kids.

No way.

There’s still plenty to do and plenty to be busy with, but it feels more purposeful because we’re doing it together.

I think we’re more intentional about everything because we chose to be:

  • We started using a shared to-do list that shows up on all our devices, Todoist, for both work and home tasks (not as important for me, but so nice to be able to share the load with the guy who carries the bonging devices everywhere…) Winking smile
  • We make date night a priority, every week.
  • We planned some meals together, at least as much as looking at Whole30 recipes online for my husband’s Lenten challenge.
  • When I get “at home” times, I’m so much more intentional about playing with my 3yo and checking off chores on my list, in part, I think, because it’s not the whooooole day dragging on with just me as the adult at home, and in part because I know my husband is counting on me to share the load. I like my time more.
  • We set up a system – complete with technological reminders to do it every month – where each parent takes a child out on a “date” once a month. So far he’s gone rollerskating with the 3yo and I’ve spent one-on-one time at the library with the 6yo, and next month he’s taking the 9yo to a hockey game and I’ll set aside a special time for the 3yo (all free).
  • We took purposeful, intentional steps to have household meetings (every Monday morning at 8:15 a.m., after the big kids get on the bus and before I go to “work” in the office at 9). We talk about our schedule for the week, mail and stuff that comes through that needs our attention together, any shopping or meal prep that needs to be shared, and even reinvigorated our family prayer in a new way, all because we took the time to sit down and talk.
  • We are making it a point to be on the same page with parenting, and we’ve implemented some new changes in what we expect of the kids (chores and responsibility) and what we do with them.

Why I Got to Watch Harry Potter 2 with My Son

Will Paul clean the table

Does this look like a kid who wants to clean the table?

Because we intentionally meet with each other, we could talk about discipline issues with our kids and make intentional plans.

One example is that we tried a few times to get our oldest, 9-year-old Paul, to regularly wipe down the table after dinner. We might remember to remind him for a few days, but it always fell off the radar and was missed.

We were frustrated with him, we were frustrated with ourselves for not sticking with it, and the table was often full of crumbs and smears at breakfast, so we were rushed at that point. (Tumbleweed!)

With just a little breathing room and this new spirit of “we’re in this together and we can make it work,” all we had to do was make a simple piece of paper with his four tasks on it “To Get Done Between Dinner and Bed.”

If he accomplishes washing the table, practicing piano, getting his homework planner signed, and brushing/flossing his teeth without reminders before his 9 p.m. bedtime, he gets a checkmark on the day. All or none. On Friday or Saturday, if he has the whole week checked off, he can do something fun between the little kids’ bedtime at 8:00 and his own. Sometimes he and his dad will play a video game; this weekend we watched Harry Potter 2 together.

No nagging, no whining, no complaining, a big reward that’s a win-win for everyone – and a clean table.

[insert sigh of relief]

We also get the table cleared regularly now by all 3 kids because of another intentional parenting move – we noticed that they weren’t doing their table-clearing “habit” or consistently taking their dishes in from the table. What could we do about it other than continue to remind, nag, beg, and forget?

We decided that any kid who goes for a dessert in the candy drawer before they put their dishes in the dishwasher would, immediately, without a single reminder, lose that dessert. (We did give a little slack to the 3-year-old because of his age, but only on the reminders, not on the actual task. And he still has lost a dessert because he didn’t clear his plate.)

It took less than a week of the new system before the thing we called a “habit” actually became one.

It’s a beautiful thing to be intentional.

Your Monday Mission: Be Intentional

help word sinking as symbol for needed support zytp Wwd

This is the long way of getting around to your mission, if you choose to accept: Be Intentional in some aspect of life (not food – we’ll cover that next Monday).

Why do I think my silly “Word” should now be yours?

I don’t. I don’t think you should focus on One Word.

That’s silly. And hard.

But I do think you should take the opportunity to be a little inspired by our family’s story, and to think of one areajust ONE part of your life – in which you’d like to be more intentional. (Again, we’ll talk about diet and food and intentionality next Monday, so this week, go ahead and keep your baby steps out of the kitchen for now.)

I know you can’t all change jobs to free up breathing room in your life. But I’m willing to bet that most of you aren’t quite tumbling along the same dangerous way I was (I hope!). For those who are, what needs to be dropped, even if it’s hard???

I also know that a lot of us end up “tumbling” along with the status quo, doing things the way we’ve done them for a while simply because we don’t notice they’re broken, even when they could use improvement.

So the challenge today is to examine various areas of life and take a step back:

  1. Am I happy with how I am _________?
  2. Do I feel good about the results?
  3. If not, what might need to change?
  4. Have I been doing the same thing for a really long time?
  5. If so, is there anything new I could read or try to breathe new life into this area?
  6. Even if something is working – is it the best that I personally can do with the gifts and talents I’ve been given?

You might consider how you feel about the following:

  • sleep
  • parenting
  • marriage/relationships
  • job
  • volunteering
  • church attendance/participation
  • housework
  • home decorating
  • What else do we interact with daily, so often that we don’t notice when it gets a little outdated?

Maybe it’s time to download a productivity app, clean our our inboxes once and for all, set some reminders to take dates with our spouses (even if it’s just Wii Dance after the kids go to bed!), commit to being in bed for 7+ hours, find something new to participate in at church or in the community, paint a room, hang something new on the walls, or take a parenting class/read a good book that fits our kids’ ages.

Just. One. Thing.

I had the luxury of tackling a lot at once, because we had a major, major change in how our household ran.

But if you could just tackle one thing this week, what would it be? Just one.

Maybe you’ve been frustrated with the way your kids do (or don’t do) chores, or you feel, like we did last year, that all the joy gets sucked out of family life because of all the yelling, nagging, whining (adult and child sometimes!) and complaining that goes on.

If that might be your One Thing to be intentional about, then I’m very excited to share with you one of the catalysts that breathed life into our intentional parenting, starting last summer.

I hosted a free webinar with Amy McCready at Positive Parenting Solutions, and what I learned really got us talking as a couple. We’re still using some of the “5 R’s of effective discipline” and consciously focusing on the “when-then” system.

There’s so much information in the one-hour session that I kept thinking I wish I could watch it again.

How ’bout next Thursday?

There was so much energy in the chat on the live webinar last summer, and I so much enjoyed chatting with readers and hearing their parenting stories – and of course the information is so awesome – that I asked Amy if she would host another webinar just for the KS audience.

UPDATE 3/10/15: The webinars are over via KS, but other bloggers periodically co-host the same topic with Amy. You can check to see if one is coming up right HERE.

Positive Parenting Solutions Free Webinar

How to Get Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling

If the title alone reminds you unfortunately of your household (raises hand), you’ll definitely want to sign up to attend next Thursday, March 5 at 9:00 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST. Be ready to take notes! I remember some moms even watched with their husbands or children last time and loved the experience.

Register for free

The register button will redirect to the page where you can find other webinars coming soon…

HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS ON THE WEBINAR and Amy’s great parenting info, including some of my kids’ button-pushing behavior, why parenting takes two (and it’s not dad and mom), the results of my (gulp) personality survey and what I want to become “reformed” of. Still working on that one, but I think I’m making improvements – and I celebrate each victory, you better believe it!

if you’ve ever said something like:

  • “I’ve tried everything and nothing works.”
  • “They never do anything the first time I ask.”
  • “My child is strong-willed…”
  • “Time outs just don’t work, and they’re exhausting me.”

…you might want to see if you can fit in the free webinar this Thursday, March 5 at 9:00 p.m. EST with Amy McCready.

All you need is your computer – no webcam required. You’ll see and hear Amy on your screen, and you can even ask questions and she’ll make them part of the presentation. (So kids can be playing in the background and you can take 5 minutes to be a parent if you need to; no one will know.) Parents rave about this session!

Free Report Backtalk Web Graphic-2

Everyone who attends gets a copy of Positive Parenting Solutions’ free report: Backtalk Battles: 5 Must-Have Tips Every Parent Needs. Only to attendees, so register to give yourself the best chance of remembering to come!

Register for free

The register button will redirect to the page where you can find other webinars coming soon…

The one hour webinar actually covers quite a bit:

  • why kids really misbehave — it’s probably not what you think! Amy McCready
  • how your personality may actually fuel misbehavior
  • the 5 R’s of Fair & Effective Consequences so kids listen the first time you ask (and no, no magicians come with the class)
  • training resources to reduce your parenting stress & stop nagging, reminding & yelling
  • The webinar is geared for parents with children ages 2.5 to teens.

And the presenter? Not just another mommy blogger. Amy McCready is a regular parenting contributor on the TODAY Show and has also appeared on Rachael Ray, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Steve Harvey and elsewhere. In her most important role, she plays mom to two teenage boys.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Positive Parenting, and if you end up becoming a member of Amy’s regular classes, I’ll get a kickback – but it doesn’t affect your price at all, and it doesn’t change the fact that this FREE webinar is totally packed with amazing information. I’m so pleased to be able to share the opportunity with you!

Positive Parenting Solutions Free Webinar

Register for free

The register button will redirect to the page where you can find other webinars coming soon…
Images used from with permission.

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

2 thoughts on “One Word: Intentional (Part One: Life)”

  1. I really needed this today. Usually, leading up to Lent, I become aware of at least a few areas of my life that I need to work on. This year I’m just floundering, or tumbling, really. And here in dry, windy Southern Colorado, a tumbling tumbleweed ends up stuck to a barbed wire fence along with thousands of others. I don’t want to end up like that. So thank you for writing this and helping me out.

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