Of Hearts, Stinky Stables and Messy Places

“I’ll make my heart a Bethlehem….” So goes a chorus of one song I learned many years ago. It talks about preparing one’s heart to receive Jesus again at Christmas.

I was thinking about this song recently. And usually what comes to my mind is having the home of my heart all spic-and-span. But this time, something else came to mind. And it wasn’t a magical or majestic picture, one we so often see in holiday greeting cards.

It was about stink. And mess. And not being ready…sort of.

(Obviously, these are not the top-of-mind words when we hear “Advent” or “Christmas.” Let me explain.)

Stink (read: animals)
Mess — I don’t think this stable would be featured in a home magazine under the “Organization” category…and imagine all that dust and dirt…
Not being ready — Perhaps the stable was caught off guard… What?! The Messiah is going to be born here?! Um…er…I don’t even have a bed! Oh wait…here’s a manger…

Doesn’t that make you wonder why God chose such a place for royalty to be born?

Could it be that He’s telling us that we don’t have to have it all together for Him to be born anew in our hearts? That He comes to us in the messiness and imperfection of our lives? That even if we’re not 100% ready, He surprises us by accepting whatever little we have to make Him feel at home, and makes us realize that His presence is enough to bring that holy warmth to our souls?

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we don’t make any effort to prepare the best way we can. But it reminds us that even with imperfect preparations and less than ideal circumstances, Christ can still be there. Christ in Christmas — that’s what it’s all about.

Need some room to breathe and encounter Christ amid all the busyness of the season? Then I invite you to a free online Advent Retreat that I’m hosting on my FB page. Click here and request to join so I can add you. 🙂


If you’d rather do your own mini-retreat, then check out my “Stress-free Christmas mini-course” which is on sale now. Click here for the details. Blessings!

Linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee here.

5 Ways to Take Charge of Your Happiness

Hey, there!

This post is related to the previous one. If you read it, then you know how important it is as a busy mom to take charge of your happiness. So I made a follow-up video below where I share with you 5 ways you can do so.

Truth be told, I was planning to post this a few days ago, but I didn’t realize how long it would take to edit the video! (Plus recording this video also got delayed.) So I’m just keeping it real.

OK, some funny things happened. Since the video and the editing software had different specs (if that’s what you call it), the top of my head got cut off, haha! And I’m not sure if I could actually adjust it (if you’re an expert video editor, then please educate me!). And I didn’t mute the notifications, so at one point it kept on ringing. 😛 Anyway, I really just wanted to get the message out in spite of all them imperfections.

So please watch this short video I made for you (pretty please???)…I know it will give you a little more perspective on how you can increase your happiness meter.

Plus, a cameo appearance of a superhero comes out at about the 2:49 mark. 😀

[You can also Watch it here.]

To summarize, here are 5 simple ways you can take charge of your happiness that I mention in the video:

  1. Be grateful.
  2. Find ways to help others.
  3. Have some “me time.”
  4. Get creative and have some fun! <– some superhero appears at this point, haha
  5. Laugh. 😀

Also, as I mentioned in the previous post, I will be opening the doors soon to an online coaching program entitled “Get Your Happy: Take charge of your happiness (so you can have less stress, more peace and more fun!).”

If you are interested — even in the slightest degree, like .05% — then let me know if you would like a little taste of it in a free Facebook group that I could set up. Send me an email at hello@citygirlcountryhome.com with a “YES!” in the email, along with your FB name. And if there are a number of you, then it’s a go. 🙂 (I’ll also be giving out some freebies in the group.)

Hope to hear from you!


Mich 🙂

How Important to You Is Your Happiness?

Several weeks ago, I attended a homeschool conference. There were plenary talks as well as breakout sessions. One of the breakout sessions was about “Carving Me-Time for Homeschooling Moms.” That piqued my interest, because if you have been reading my emails for some time now, you probably know I do encourage busy moms to be proactive about their happiness.

So off I went to look for the room where the talk would be held. When I entered, lo and behold, only a few of us mommies were there. Meanwhile, we could hear the noise from the chitchat going on in the other rooms, which were filled. Topics in the other breakout sessions were about various ways to teach and engage children; this was the only one about taking care of oneself. When one of the organizers (a man) entered the room to check on us, our speaker/facilitator said something akin to how we, moms, tend to put ourselves last as we serve everybody else.

It was interesting and funny at the same time. But it’s true. It’s natural for us to care for and nurture our loved ones. God wired us that way. But many of us need help on the self-care spectrum. We can easily neglect ourselves, whether incremental or to the extreme, to the point where we can be on the side of all the negatives. And trust me, it can get ugly. The ugly rears its head in many forms —complaining, blaming, comparison, envy, discontent, impatience, self-pity and sadly, even yelling at your kids. And when these are your companions, guess what? You think you’ll be happy? Nope.

How do I know? Well, I’ve been there. One of the major changes in my life caught me off guard. When I relocated several years ago, I was uprooted from all that was close and familiar to me. This uprooting was painful, and I struggled immensely, crying out to God through my tears. Two weeks in, I made a decision that began to help me take charge of my happiness.

I remember it well. I was wearing a bright green sportshirt, with a white collar and thin, white stripes. It was morning, and my husband had gone off to work. I was sitting on the couch, all alone in the living room. And while hearing the whiz of vehicles passing in front of our apartment, I prayed to the Lord and told Him that I would be grateful, that I choose gratitude.

Gratitude was the first decision I made regarding my situation. It was simple yet powerful.

Only later did I realize that this was a step in taking charge of my happiness. Because it made me see what I had instead of what I didn’t have. I came to appreciate the blessings that surrounded me instead of harping about the blessings I wish were mine.

It has been a long process, and I’m still journeying. But I’ve learned so many lessons along the way, and I’d like to share this with you.

I’d like to help you break out of just going with the flow of your circumstances to being intentional and taking charge of your happiness.

I know, I know, there’s that mommy guilt. You feel you might be selfish. Or maybe you think you’re not worth it. Or that you’re too busy so there is absolutely no time to spend on yourself. Or it seems there is no way you can do that, above all your commitments and responsibilities. You might even describe your life now as “toxic” or you keep telling others, “I’m swamped.”

But has it ever occurred to you…

  • To actually commit to yourself?
  • To recognize that your happiness is important?
  • To become a better version of yourself?

Why, you ask? When you are a happier you, and a better version of yourself, then you will be able to serve others in a better way and fulfill, in a better way, the responsibilities God has entrusted you with in this season of your life.f

So here’s an invitation…

I am looking to welcome, serve and journey with 10 moms in a 4-week online group coaching program. The program is entitled —

Get Your Happy!

Take charge of your happiness

(so you can have less stress, more peace and more fun!)

This program will be in beta version, and if you choose to enroll, you will be one of the founding members. Your input will also be invaluable for the next version.

OK, now you might be thinking…

  • Whaaat? 4 Weeks?! I can’t even get a few minutes for myself. Are you kidding me?
  • This is one of the busiest seasons of the year. I am waaayyy too busy, and putting this in my to-do list will just add to more overwhelm.
  • Why should I even spend for a program when I can spend it on more important things…like Christmas gifts?

Let me help you dispel these concerns:

  • The time frame for the program is 4 weeks, but the training will come in bite-sized portions, and will only require several minutes each day. They will be delivered via email and a private Facebook group. (If you are used to scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms each day, then no need to worry — you will have time for this.)
  • I think we’re all in the same boat of busy. Which is why this program is designed for busy moms like you. Instead of adding to the overwhelm, it will actually help you stop and give you room to breathe. It will help clear your mind. And oh, just to put it out there — when you join, you’ll also get my “Stress-free Christmas mini-course” for free!
  • About spending on more important things…what about considering yourself as important? How about giving yourself a Christmas gift? Maybe it’s time to invest in yourself…the ROI being a less stressed, a more joyful, peaceful and fun you…a HAPPY YOU! [Not to mention happier loved ones because things are happier when you’re around. ;)] <– This matters, right?

I will be posting more details in the coming days. In the meantime, ask yourself this question:

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, where are you now when it comes to taking charge of your happiness?