Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Instilling Initiative Into Our Children

Getting kids to do their chores, or any work for that matter can often be a pain. We as their parents desire to see them want to help, want to learn, want to grow in maturity, selflessness and grace. We want them to take initiative and be intuitive. We want them to develop good habits. We want to raise willful children into caring, competent adults.

So when they're little, we give them chore lists according to their ages and abilities.  The list clearly states WHAT the chore is and WHEN the chore should be done.

They look at them, understand what's expected and everything is rosy. When they are little, moms tend to remind them when it's time to do a chore.

Even though this works, it's bad training.

Why?

Because the power of a law is only as strong as the penalty of the law. (Keep repeating that until it sinks in!)

If you give your child a list of chores with no deadlines or penalties, where is their motivation to remember to get their rear in gear? It's nonexistent. A nagging mom is not motivating. A nagging mom is a dripping faucet. And worse, it trains them to wait for mom's reminders.

Initiative cannot be exercised in the face of a reminder. It must come from an inner motivation to do right or pay the price.

And as any responsible adult knows, taking initiative is a BIG part of being an adult. So this is an extremely important part of training them up in the way that they should go.

The good news is that this problem can be remedied. :-)

If you train them when they are still little to be responsible for beginning their chores on their own initiative, you are saving yourself the trouble of doing that when they are teens. I wasn't as effective in enforcing the habit of initiative when mine were younger, even though they did do their work well and mostly with good attitudes.

But now that they are teens, I realized they are still dependent upon my reminding them — for far too many things. I decided I'm not going to remind them anymore so they will have to rise or fall on their own merits or pay the piper for their own good!

Last night I laid down one new rule. If the trash is not taken to the curb every Tuesday by 8am, the penalty is $5 payable to mom or dad.

This morning at 7:45am, all signs pointed to me being $5 richer. But then at 7:57am, I heard my younger son trudging in from the front door. He'd made it with only 3 minutes to spare, but he made it! I congratulated him, and my husband ribbed him.  This was a major victory and the first time the trash was taken out without any kind of reminder from me.

The weight of the penalty was motivator enough.

Both of my sons have part time jobs so a monetary penalty makes sense. If they were younger and had some money saved up, or maybe a way they are earning some extra money (I don't believe in giving children an allowance) I suppose I might still recommend a monetary penalty because it's very motivating. They will find the same principles in operation in real life (tickets for speeding, library late fees, late bill payment fees, etc) so they might as well learn it now.

I'm going to make a list of all the things that they need to do without being reminded and the penalty for not doing it by the specified deadline. I'm pretty excited about this. It means freedom for me and maturity for them - win-win!

Take out the trash by 8am every Tuesday or pay $5
Make your bed before coming out of your room in the morning or pay $1
Brush your teeth after breakfast and dinner or pay $1
Pick up your clothes from the bathroom floor or pay $1
Pick up your stuff at the end of the day or pay $1
Feed the cat every morning or pay $1
Feed the cat every evening or pay $1
Clean the cat litter every morning before breakfast or pay $1
Clear your dishes from the table and rinse them or pay $1
Change your bedsheets and trim your nails every Saturday morning or pay $1

If you have younger children, and can't or don't want to use the money penalty, then use an equally effective penalty.

Make your bed by 8am or go to bed 30 minutes earlier that night.
Sweep the kitchen after dinner or miss the next dessert.
Clean up your room before bed or get an extra chore the next day.
Pick up your toys each night before bedtime or no tv the next day.

If the penalty is not strong enough, it will not motivate. If you write it into law, you MUST abide by it or you have made yourself out to be a liar and untrustworthy in the eyes of your child. They have to face the consequence or they will truly never learn.

I'm thinking about trying an alternate course of action for my sons just for fun — a reverse fee system. I would collect for the penalties at the start of the week ($14) and put that cash into a mason jar and label it with their name and the date. Then each evening, if they were successful and didn't "break any laws" they can retrieve that day's fees back into their wallets. Otherwise, the money stays put.

This will serve as a reward or "getting paid" for doing well, even though it's their own money. In real life, I don't get speeding tickets and the $110 fine that I don't have to shell out is a big reward and reminder for me to be a good driver.

I'm adding some bonus reward money to their jars for a perfect record for the week. This represents discounts and incentives that adults receive in real life adulthood as is the case with auto insurance and the bonuses that come with maintaining "good credit".

The other thing I like about this system is that THEY are responsible for retrieving their "fees". In other words, I don't have to say, did you clean the cat litter? Did you make your bed? Nope. They will have to come to me and tell me they did x, y and z and how much they can take out of the jar at the end of the week. More initiative training! I love it. :-)

How about you? Do you have a system that is working initiative into your children? Do share!




Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fix a Sagging Mattress

Shopping around for a new mattress these days can be a pain. Literally. My husband and I both have trouble with back pain occasionally (and increasingly the older we get) and it's important to have a good mattress to sleep on. But the ridiculous price tags are daunting.

When it was time to buy a new mattress last August, we thought we'd give IKEA a try. We spent hours at the store lying on mattresses and studying the differences between the different models. They don't do normal money back returns for mattresses and instead give you a gift card for their store. But their prices were appealing and their claims for superior durability and comfort very alluring.

So after several hours of testing and deliberating in the store and thinking we found a good one we made the plunge and bought one. It was roughly $550. We got it home and within a month, it started sagging. The body grooving was causing us both increasing back pain and sleep loss. We knew that  returning it would only get us the dreaded gift card but it was either that or get no sleep in have increasing back pain. sigh. That was not money that we had planned on "losing" to IKEA. But that's a whole other post! :)

Before we returned it, we had to secure a replacement so we wouldn't be stuck sleeping on the couch. Our first stop was Costco. Amazingly, they happened to have mattresses in the warehouse AND they were on sale! We found a King size mattress and slid it onto the floor and tried it. It was nice and firm and $250 off so we only paid around $500 for it.

Well...after a month or two, THIS mattress started developing body grooves, too! We were pretty disappointed. But I was determined not to play ring around the rosy again with mattresses. The only alternative seemed to be to shell out major money - thousands! - to get a "top quality" mattress.  We couldn't afford to do that, so I scoured the internet for help.

Eureka! Not only did I discover how to fix the sags in our brand new mattress, I found that what we were experiencing is more common than we ever would have thought. Brand new mattresses just aren't made with durability in mind, yet manufacturers and retailers are charging as though they were.

I read literally hundreds of comments from people who have experienced the same problems we were having only with mattresses that were all over the price spectrum. From cheaper mattresses all the way up to three and four thousand dollar ones. Sagging mattresses! And who wants to just chuck their very costly investment? Not many of us!

So what is the solution? Simpler than I ever would have thought. By placing an old pillow underneath the mattress where it sags, you essentially "fill in" the sag and voila! Problem solved. We didn't have any old pillows, so I emptied our pillow shams and used those pillows. But they were a little too lofty, so next we tried using sleeping bags.  We kept adjusting and folding them just right until we felt comfortable. We've been sleeping like babies ever since.

I suppose any soft filler, like a blanket, would work for this. It's amazing that such a simple fix could be such an effective solution.

I also discovered some products sold on Amazon that are made specifically to fix a sagging mattress but they're a bit pricey and after finding such a viable solution at home, I found them unnecessary.

So there you have it! If you suffer from a sagging mattress, now you know the cure. :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Words of The Mouth

I wanted to write today about ways to express ourselves that do not dishonor the Lord. We're going to be accountable for the words we use as well as the actions we take in the Day of the Lord. There are words and expressions that many professing Christians use that are dishonoring God.

A whole new generation of people are using God's name in vain — as though it were meaningless. They use his holy name to express anything from surprise, joy and amazement to frustration, disappointment and sadness. Some insert filthy words along with it. The current trend has reduced it to mere initials - OMG. They do not tremble now, but they will one day.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Exodus 20:7
What about those who say that when they use OMG, they really just mean "Oh my goodness". God sees their heart and they're not worried about it.  Are they off the hook....because God sees their heart? For one thing, goodness is godliness. When the rich young ruler said "Good Master" Jesus said there is only ONE who is good — GOD (himself!).  So even this is an inappropriate expression. Not only is it inappropriate, it is unnecessary when there are so many other words available to use.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. Proverbs 16:2
Human nature makes us all want to fit in. The Lord calls us sheep and that is a fitting description. But even though we are sheep, we can honor the Lord. Loudly, quietly, steadfastly faithful to him. He gives us the strength to do so.

I suggest Christians start bucking that trend and using our freedom of speech to bring honor to the Lord and shame to the devil and his children. There are many words of exclamation to express our surprise, joy, frustration, etc. You know the people who win the tv dancing and singing contests, game shows, and the people who open their eyes for a big decorating reveal? They all say OMG.

Next time someone near us says "OMG", let us respond with, "Holy is his name!" I actually did this the other day in a store when a woman in the same aisle as me was on her cell phone. I overheard her say "OMG" to the person on the other end of the line. I had been thinking about responding this way for a long time and next thing I knew it just spilled right out of my mouth. (Out of the treasure of the heart the mouth speaks!) The woman didn't hear my response, but God did.

Many people use pseudo-cuss words (words derived from Holy names of God) and don't even realize it. Such as:

Gee (form of/short for Jesus)
Geez (form of/short for Jesus)
Gee-Whiz (form of/short for Jesus)
Dagnabbit (mixes up sounds for d*mn and God)
Doggonit (mixes up sounds for d*mn and God)
Holy Cow (reference to Old Testament animal sacrifice for sin.)
Oh my goodness (only God is good; at the very least, a description of God)

Do we need to use these stupid yet common forms of expression? Certainly with one voice at a time, we can stop the trend of dishonoring/blasphemous utterances and bring some dignity back to the English language. Let's communicate our emotions and reactions in an intelligent and God honoring way. :)

Here are just a few examples:

Wow
Super
Terrific
Isn't that something!?
Just brilliant!
Who'd have thought?
That's amazing
That's fantastic
How wonderful
I'm just amazed
What fabulous news
Incredible
Wonders will never cease
Words fail me
That is disappointing
How sad
Oh dear
I'm so distraught
I'm sorry to hear that

I think that we as Christians should not remain silent anymore when others around us speak God's name in vain. To respond with "Holy is His Name" is neither a rebuke nor a comment. It's praising the Name of the Lord. If a stranger wants to inquire about it, it's an invitation to share the gospel with a lost soul. Let's be ready to Praise His Name. He's coming back soon! :-)

What do you think? Do you have any expressions to add to my list? Are you silent when you hear a casual OMG said around you?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A TV Mother To Admire

There are many, many tv shows to choose from. Many, many tv "family shows" with tv mothers. But I have not seen a single one that was really worth admiring until I found the Donna Reed Show. This little gem of a sit-com stands heads and shoulders above the crowd of all other family shows, in my opinion. To me, there's the Donna Reed Show and everything else. It's that good.

In this show, Donna plays a very devoted and very loving housewife and mother. She is unashamedly respectful to her husband and that alone is awesome to watch. She is loving yet disciplinary to her children and runs her home with efficiency and grace. She displays a generous heart that's too big for her body. She's kind to neighbors, hospitable to guests, generous to the down-hearted, yet she's given a real enough quality that demonstrates her weak sides, too. She's not "perfect". She's just admirable in a way that any loving wife and mother can relate to and admire. I find the graceful way that she approaches life quite inspiring. Now if they'd also made them a Christian family, it would be nearly perfect.

I also enjoy her old fashioned 1950's house and decor. I love her little letter desk by the stairs where she conducts all her business like opening mail, writing letters, paying bills and taking/making phone calls. I love the cheery back patio where they sometimes have meals or a glass of lemonade.

This show is a just a pleasure to watch and really the only show I can think of that I recommend whole-heartedly to anyone. Especially mothers. Things I don't like are the way they portray the siblings sometimes with the typical "sibling rivalry". But even this aspect is mild and often overturned when they are shown devoted to one another or making each other laugh.

I just wish I'd known about this great show when I was a young mother raising my kids. It would have had a much better influence on me than I Love Lucy! :-) The Lucy's are funny and I still enjoy them for their comic relief, but as for admirable wives and mothers, Lucy doesn't make the cut.

No, for my money, if you're going to watch a family sitcom, Donna is the one to watch.

Have any of you watched the Donna Reed Show? Where I live, it is on a station called ME tv in the morning. The series is also available for purchase on Amazon. I've bought three seasons. Does Donna inspire you, too?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

When Your Home is Chaotic

I crave peace like water. So as my kids were growing up, I had to set limits so that our home would not be chaotic. After all, mom lives here too! :-) My goal for my home was happy, peaceful, ordered and normal. Not museum-like. Just flowing and somewhat organized. But a home is only as peaceful and orderly as its inhabitants. That means a self-disciplined wife/mother who is willing to train her children. 

Some key elements to kicking out the chaos: 

Regulate your sleep. 
If you don't get enough sleep, you're setting yourself up for failure and trouble. If you've got infants, it is a trying time because you're losing sleep in the middle of the night.  Work out a plan so that you get at least 8 hours of sleep per 24 hours. Whether that means taking a nap during the day with the kids or getting to bed earlier each night. Don't rely on stimulants for energy. 

Plan your meals.
Pick out 7 breakfasts, snacks, lunches & dinners that are reasonably healthy, quick to prepare and economical. Use your crockpot at least once or twice each week.  

Train your children.
If you're not training your children to obey, your home is undoubtedly chaotic. Children need to know the rules and rules are nothing if they're not enforced. Read To Train Up a Child and No Greater Joy Volume I, II and III. They are worth their weight in gold for the advice and stories they offer. Untrained children are the biggest cause of chaos in a household. Moms, start with yourselves. If you yourself are undisciplined, get your act together. Start slow and work on one thing at a time so you don't get overwhelmed. But DO get yourself together. Cause your children be thankful and obey you. Speak in a normal tone of voice and try very hard to never yell. Spank kids for deliberate  disobedience and calmly insist on their compliance with an unwavering resolve. Be joyful. Do not ever think that the arm of discipline can outreach the arm of love. Love must be firmly rooted, established and flowing in order for training and discipline to be at all effective. Love on those kids and make sure they know and feel loved. Then if they're out of control in any area, slowly begin bringing them into line.

Go outside.
I know it's a challenge when you have a lot of little children, but whenever possible, try to go outside at least once a day. If you live in a cold, snowy climate, then the activity of getting snow boots, coats, hats, scarves and mittens on is a GOOD replacement for what is often meaningless playtime or tv time. It is healthy to get fresh air and sunshine, play in the snow, and run around. They will expel much of their burgeoning energy which will mean good naps and peaceful play indoors. I used to work at a preschool and I had TEN 3 year olds in my class that I had to take outside to the playground everyday.  We went out even in the cold weather and stayed inside only when it was raining or stormy. I had to help each one on with their coats, shoes, mittens, gloves and hats to go out and then again help them off with their things when we came in. Twice a day!

Have a playpen set up in your living area at all times. And use it!
If you have babies, a playpen is an absolute necessity. I used mine anytime I couldn't be in the same room or right there with my baby. It's extremely useful for when mom has to use the bathroom, answer the door, be on the phone, tend to cooking or any time you need to leave the child or the room. If they aren't used to being in a playpen, you need to slowly work up to it. Use it when you're in the room and don't go anywhere yet. Play with them while they're in it. Make it fun. Don't take them out when they cry or you'll be training them that crying is the way to get out! Instead, only take them out after they are playing happily for a bit. Once you've established this as a normal part of life, then you can use it anytime.  

A Sample Schedule 
(These time frames are approximate due to variances with number of kids, their ages and other varying circumstances.)

Morning

  • 6-8am WAKE Wake up, wash your face, brush your hair and get dressed. (Shower at night.) Put a little makeup on if you wear it. You'll feel and look pulled together. All this only takes 5 minutes or less! If you hear your baby crying, remember they will survive until you get there so don't turn it into a 5 alarm fire. When mine were babies, they just made happy morning noises while they waited in their crib.  Wake up the children and bring them into the kitchen with you to help get breakfast underway, feed pets, unload the dishwasher, etc. 
  • 7-9am EAT Breakfast and kitchen clean up. Have your children help with all the kitchen clean up after meals. NEVER send them off to play when you are working. They are your helpers! Give them meaningful work. They can wipe the table, brush the crumbs, put dishes away (I kept plates and cups in lower cupboards when mine were small so they could put them away easily.)
  • 9am WORK Get them dressed for the day. Teaching kids to get dressed by themselves, fold and put away clothes, tidy their rooms, brush their teeth and comb their hair — hear me now — these things ARE THEIR MORNING PLAY TIME.  This is the activity. If it takes an hour, so be it. They are learning FAR, FAR more than they will ever learn from playing with brightly colored plastic or watching Sesame Street. Make this *the* activity of the morning. As the older ones grow more proficient and finish before you're done with the youngers, you can give them tasks to do while you're finishing up. Empty the dryer, put things away, dust the baseboards, sweep a floor. Teach them that morning time is work time. Where is Daddy? Daddy's WORKING right now and so are we! It's fun, it's happy, it's productive and it's training little ones in life. If you homeschool, you could do some homeschooling projects after the morning work.
  • 10:30-11am GO OUTSIDE if possible. After all the mouths are fed, dishes washed, clothes put on, teeth are brushed, beds are made, rooms are tidied, and homeschooling is done, it's fun time! Time to get on coats (if it's cold) and shoes and go outside to play or take a walk. Walk to a nearby tot lot, playground or field and let them romp and run. Bring a ball, a kite, a magnifying glass (to observe tiny critters you may find), whirly gigs and have some fun. 
  • 11-12am EAT Come home, take off coats & put them all away. Time to line up at the sink and take turns washing hands. I would always beam with a compliment when I saw my children standing patiently to wait their turn for anything. They are learning such good manners! Everyone's washed up and it's time to either sit nicely at the table, or help fix lunch. I did both when mine were little. Sometimes they helped with lunch, sometimes they didn't. But they can NOT run wild. Give them options for what to do while you're prepping lunch. Color at the table, read a book quietly, string wooden beads, etc. Lunch was always simple, like a PB & J sandwich, a veggie, fruit and milk. 
Afternoon

  • 1-3pm NAP Every day after lunch, it's time to lay down for a nap. Train them how to stay in bed until you get them up. Try not to let them sleep more than 90 minutes no matter how tempting it is. I know the elation of having a quiet house when you've got little ones and you just want to let it go on and on. You can do so much when they are not underfoot! I know how that feels. :-) But getting them up after 90 min or so will ensure they sleep when it is bedtime! So wake them up after that nap.
  • 3-4pm STRUCTURED PLAY After nap, have a little snack (a graham cracker with a smear of peanut or almond butter, fruit or veggie sticks with ranch dip, pita bits with hummus, etc). Then have a structured playtime. It can be whatever you choose, but make sure you give them ONLY 2 (or 3 at the most) options. "Okay my darlings, now you can either play with your toys or make a sofa fort." Keep it in line with their interests. If you have girls, they might like to play with their dolls, etc. But have a timer set and let this time last for about 1 hour. Alternately, you could do some homeschooling during this time, too. While they are playing or doing some worksheets, you can get a little laundry and housecleaning in. Then sit and do something you enjoy - reading, handiwork, craft, music, etc. After playtime, clean up the mess, change any diapers and get ready to go out again.
  • 4-5pm GO OUTSIDE if possible. You might think you've already done this and therefore don't need to repeat it. But this activity is so needful for young kids. They need the energy release, the fresh air and the unstructured play area. Outside they can RUN, JUMP, ROMP AND ROLL! If there isn't something interesting to do outside, then you'll have to fix that. If you have a back yard, get some slides, swings, a sand box, jump rope, hoola hoop, etc. so they have things to do. Maybe a little table with benches for those interested in doing something at the table (giving mom a place to sit also). Try to keep them out for the full hour if you possibly can.  If you're confident they will play safely in your backyard, you can put the baby in the playpen (or down for a short afternoon nap) and work on getting dinner plans going.
  • 5-6 HOUSEWORK  Houses don't clean themselves. Make a simple list of work that needs to be done each day and do it now. Give each child some work to do, tailored for their ages.  They can also follow you in your work as you show them how to do it. But either way, have the kids WORKING when you are working. They may not last as long as you and that's okay. A 2 year old can give you 5, maybe 10 minutes of work. A 3 year old can give 10-15 minutes. And so on as they get older. Tell them what they can do when their job is finished. Expect and enforce their obedience in all matters. This cannot be stressed enough. For a non-chaotic home, the kids must be caused to be obedient.
Evening
  • 6-7 EAT Start dinner if you haven't already got it going in the crockpot. Have the kids help with setting the table or any other work there is to do. Greet daddy when he comes home with a reasonable amount of fanfare and excitement. Teach them to appreciate all he does while he's away by talking about it and him in high esteem. 
  • 7-8 BEDTIME ROUTINE  Get baths and jammies going. Have a plan of action and announce how it will go. Have the kids go potty before getting into the tub. Get the older kids (2-8) in the bathtub. Always stay in the bathroom when the kids are in the tub. NEVER LEAVE THEM. So that means if you have an infant, they're safely tucked away in a playpen, crib or bouncy seat. You have a phone nearby so you don't leave the room to answer it. If not, let it ring. The phone is for YOUR convenience, not the caller's. Have some bubbles and a few bath boats and toys. Have safe bathtub rules and cause them to be obeyed.  (No BIG splashing, slower movements when moving around in the tub, no standing up, no getting out until it's time.) Announce when it's time to shampoo and wash up. No whining, no sass allowed. Smile and be happy. You've got a family to take care of and you're doing a GREAT job!
  • 8pm PUT KIDS TO BED  I always put my kids to bed by 8pm so that I would have enough time to be a wife sans kids to my husband. We would brush teeth, get jammies on, read them a story, sing a lullabye say a bedtime prayer and tuck them in. No getting up! 
  • 8-10pm HUSBAND & WIFE TIME  It's important when you've got little ones to carve out some time in the day just for yourself and also with your husband. This is your free time so use it however you wish. 
Managing Errands
For your weekly tasks, such as shopping, you have some options. Choose whichever one suits you best. Some mothers grocery shop at night when the kids are in bed. The stores are emptier and she can think better without all the kids in tow. Some moms train all her kids how to behave when they are out and she enlists their help when she shops. Insert your errand runs into a the times allotted to play or outside time. It's important not to interrupt meals or nap times for errands. 

Activities Outside the Home
I am not a proponent for activities and classes outside the home when you have younger kids. For me, it just seems like a mother and her children should be home most of the time in order for all the children's basic needs to be met. I think occasional, non-recurring activities and get togethers are normal part of life. But when you have regular clubs, or classes etc, it is going to tax a new mother beyond her capabilities and it sets her up for a chaotic home. 

Adjusting As They Grow Up
As children grow older, they are naturally moving further and further into autonomy and away from home. It's a gradual process. So when they are 12 or so, it's nice to have a couple of activities they can look forward to each month. This is the stage when outings should become more common. A good base in home life until then will establish many, many things. Good behavior, discipline, good attitudes, etc. They should have a handle on life by that time. 

And of course all of your housekeeping, meal, nap and bedtime routines will evolve and change and adapt to life with older kids as well. Do your best to make the transition slowly and sure-footedly. Keep planning your meals, keep your bed times early and your household orderly. Our whole house shuts down by 9pm even though we have teens. Teens actually need a LOT of sleep because they are growing and transforming from kid to adult. All those teen hormones, you know. :) So they get at least 8-10 hours of sleep every night. 

I hope these ideas will help you smooth out the bumps in your housekeeping and homemaking. It's a daily process and much of it is routine, so make sure you don't "lose" yourself in it all. Make sure your interests do not suffocate underneath the mound of children, cleaning, cooking and wife-ing! Keep your sense of humor and motivate your children with your OWN zest for living. Be fascinated with the world around you. Keep learning new things and share them with your kids. 

It all goes by fast! People used to tell me that and I'd wonder why they said that. At times it felt so very S L O W to me! After all, time moves at the same pace whether you're just beginning your parenting/homemaking journey or you're near the end of it. But I guess when you're near the end of a journey looking back, it just SEEMS like it went by so fast. Theory of relativity, doncha know!

You can do it. Make your home a place of creativity, peace, joy, order and love and you will find that you have a life that is sweet indeed to look back on one day. Get rid of clutter, too many toys. Set limits. Write out a master plan for how you would like to design your best life and home and pray that God would help you do it. 

May God bless you in your journey!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Girls Night Out Vs. Mr. Mom

A few months ago I watched the new movie, "Mom's Night Out" with my husband. There were definitely some comedic moments I enjoyed, but I actually thought the main point of the story was a bit pathetic...embarrassing...disconcerting. Why? This movie was made to represent modern mothers and how things really are at home for her. The mom in the movie with younger children clearly loved her husband and children. But her life was depicted as stressful, chaotic, disorganized, and at times, a little depressing. (She curls up in a ball at one point in numb disillusionment and despair.) There's no doubt about the fact that she was completely overwhelmed and for valid reasons.

But here's the thing: no one is asking why. What is the root cause for the sad state of affairs that this modern generation of mothers is experiencing and this movie represents? Why these moms needed a night out is the main point of the movie. Nothing wrong with a break from the routine and the kids and the dishes and all. But that wasn't what was happening.  For these moms, they were barely hanging on. Their home life was not abusive and I don't think they were living in the ghettos. They just had chaotic stress and mayhem. Kids are represented as little whirling cyclones with nonstop energy and needs. The mom of young ones did not know the first thing about bringing any order or peace to her home. In a nutshell she didn't know what she was doing. And this movie was simply depicting that this is the reality for most modern mothers today. So much so, that most mothers could relate to that overwhelmed mother.

Okay let's just take a step back from "Mom's Night Out" and contrast it with another movie.

It was made in 1983 (32 years ago) called "Mr. Mom" starring Michael Keaton and Teri Garr. This movie depicts a housewife and mother of young children also. Three very young children.

The movie opens as the mother (Teri Garr) is waking up with an alarm. Love it. She promptly gets up, goes to the bathroom and pins her hair back. Next she gives her face a peppy splash of water and  smiles in the mirror.

Observation: This woman is happy and content. She is the confident manager of her home. AND let's take note of one of the secrets to her success - she's the first to wake up. ("She riseth also while it is yet night" Proverbs 31).

Next we see her wake up her husband with a kiss and softly tell him his shower is ready. Perhaps she ran the water so it would be hot when he stepped in? How cool is that? Then she pads into her sons room, stepping carefully over the mess and toys (realistic touch there), feeds their fish, and cheerfully wakes each boy up. She smiles into her baby's crib and greets him good morning. (The baby has a bottle that he was probably put to bed with which was a not a good trend of that time, but it's insignificant. We're focusing on the main point depicted - a happy, well ordered home.)

She then buzzes merrily, contentedly and confidently around her kitchen as her family eats a nutritious breakfast at the table. Her husband tells a clean joke to his boys during breakfast and then has to go to work. The wife stops what she's doing and walks him to the door, kisses him goodbye and watches him leave.

Observation: Everyone eating together is illustrated as a normal part of life. (Proverbs 31..."and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens"). She doesn't neglect her husband while taking care of her housework and the kids. She makes him feel loved and special.

Later, she gets herself and her kids all dolled up and greets her husband at the door as he comes home from work. She heard he'd been layed off work and wanted to cheer him up. She had a meal all set on the table (KFC) for a special dinner. (Proverbs 31 "She is like the merchants 'ships;
she bringeth her food from afar",) She diffuses her husband's annoyance and provocation to a bet to see who could get a job first.

Observation: Her gesture was offered to make sure her husband knew how much she supports and loves him. Her meals were planned in advance. She is not easily provoked. She asserts she doesn't bet, lets him know it's silly, but remains pretty refined and elegant. She does not let her feathers get ruffled at her husband's playful attempt to rile her. Very classy.

Next while she clears the table, she mentions to her husband that she put out the word for getting a job to help out while he's layoff. (Proverbs 31 "She considereth a field, and buyeth it:with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.")

Observation: She's not plopping on the couch after a meal. She calmly and routinely clears the table because she knows that the kitchen is her "office". She keeps it prepared for the next meal by cleaning up right after each meal. This was considered commonplace homemaking 101. Notice that her children are not running around creating mayhem and foolishness. Dinner is over and it is implied that they are off getting ready for bed or otherwise happily occupied.

So, per the title of the movie, now comes the fun part. She gets hired as an ad exec and as she's leaving for her first day of work she goes over "the list". Everything her husband needs to know to run the household smoothly while she's away. She knows everything about her children and has somewhat of a schedule for them, their naps, the needs, etc.

The comic part of the movie is when the husband tries to do his wife's job, which is completely foreign to him. Hilariously funny stuff. The chaos that ensues as he takes on the kids and the house reminded me of the chaos depicted in Mom's Night Out. Only in the latter, it was the mom wreaking the chaos. (This is what raised red flags for me in Mom's Night Out. They depicted household chaos as normal for today's mom to have a disorderly household and be overwhelmed by motherhood and homemaking. Overwhelmed by God's design. But 30 years ago, this was not the case.)

Throughout the rest of the Mr. Mom, we are introduced to his wife's friends who were also moms who come along and cheer on the fumbling husband who's "doing it wrong".  After a few months of housekeeping and homemaking, he grows accustomed to the chaos and lets himself go. He gets depressed (a man's natural domain is out fighting the dragons not playing house) but then he pulls himself up by the bootstraps and dives into the challenge with renewed vigor. He starts little remodeling projects, gets the routine down and does really well. Even learns to do a little cooking. (Disclaimer: there are some inappropriate parts to this movie, per the era. I'm not condoning those, but again, just focusing on the main point of the movie.)

Okay, so the husband in Mr. Mom who was thrown into a "mom" role, figures it all out fairly quickly. Contrast that to the sea of mothers today who are fumbling the ball. They are not keeping their homes. They are spending more time on Facebook and twitter than they are on housekeeping, meal planning and child training. They are raising self-willed-tyrants-in-the-making and it's all a big joke in Mom's Night Out. It's funny. Supposedly. Well, call me a Debbie Downer, but I think it's sad. Tragic even.

Please note: I'm focusing on the mothering/homemaking issues here and nothing else so please bear that in mind. Both are movies and not real life so there are obvious concessions made for the sake of comedy, story flow, etc. But the point is — they were both made to reflect the current status quo of mothering and homemaking.

The end of Mr. Mom eludes to the wife considering working part time which reflected the Feminist movement of that era. Mom's Night Out depicts stay home moms, reflecting an attempt at returning to homemaking roots of this era (a very good thing!). The reason I am contrasting them is because I feel that moms today need to retrieve something. They need to go back to the roots. They need to learn homemaking skills as they were once taught, known and lived many years ago. Homemaking and mothering require a multitude of skills. It's an art, a science, a joy and a challenge all rolled up into one.

I'm not disparaging a mom's bad days. We all have them. But in the old days, they were not the norm, but rather the exception. Today's wife and mother is unacquainted with child training. They are over-acquainted with arm chair and tv psychobabble though. They are are familiar with most all the trends in parenting. Time outs. And giving lengthy, bordering-on-whiny explanations to their little ones. Justifications for every little decision they make and indulging in emotional rants is not completely off limits. They are unfamiliar with running their household with confidence and with a firm but loving hand.

What can be done? Perhaps proficient successful mothers should give seminars and Godly parenting and homemaking classes? I know there are some reeeeaaallly good homemakers out there reading this and you may not be "perfect" but you've got a handle on things. Your home is loving, orderly, peaceful, vibrant, and somewhat (or very) organized. You have a plan and you are managing your home. I think those who are running smooth and happy homes should consider sharing that knowledge with a generation of mothers who are desperate in the local community.

Chime in! What do you think? Do you think that today's SAHM have more in common with the mother or the father in "Mr. Mom"? What do you think of the idea of giving classes on mothering, home management and housekeeping?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Brand New Year

Baby New Year is here - 2015! We have already been so busy this year! Our teens just finished competing in a 4 day state wide Speech and Debate tournament. My husband arranged his work schedule so he could be with us. The temperatures and weather were icy and freezing every morning so it was a bit of a treacherous trek to get to and from the tournament each day. But the Lord kept us safe and we made it without incident every day. Truly praising the Lord for that because there were a lot of accidents both in and out of vehicles. Some of the people at the tournament were slipping and falling on the ice just walking around.

So my honey bear not only drove us there and back each day in his 4 wheel drive truck, but he stayed and helped judge the rounds all day every day with me! We actually won prizes at the awards ceremony last night for being among the four people who judged the most rounds (33 between us!).

We were so proud of our kids for their hard work and efforts. They broke in the first set of outrounds but didn't make it to semi-finals. However they handled it with such grace and dignity! I am bursting with respect and love for them. They are winners in my book for that! I think they will do much better by the next tournament as they hone their speaking skills and refine their contentions.

We hosted a tournament family of 3 from out of town during the tournament also, which made things run a little tighter than they would have been on the home front, but I'm glad we could help. We gave them our older son's room (all cleaned out and ready for their luggage and stuff), a couch in the living room and the main bathroom all to themselves.

Our sons doubled up in my younger son's room and my older slept in a sleeping bag on the floor and they never complained once. In the wee hours of 5am each day, they came into my husband's and my room and we watched the news and took turns getting ready in the master bathroom. It felt very much the same as when we stay in a hotel since we were all together in one room trying to get ready and share a bathroom. I liked it because it is one of those things that ends up bonding us closer. :) I love my family!

Next I am going to try have a game night party for my younger son whose birthday is this month.

I thought life was busy when they were little and now I'm feeling like that was a cake walk compared to the business of their teen years. Or maybe it's just that I'm older and slower? Or a combination of both? I don't know. What I do know is that I love them more every day and they are worth every effort I can give. :-)

I've got some definite plans and goals I want to reach this year — fitness goals, travel plans, anniversary hopes, tournament wins, and more. Each one I leave in the Lord's hands for his direction and guidance with. But I am excited for the new year. I LOVE new beginnings!

How about you? Are you excited about the new year? Do you like new beginnings or are you more of a status quo type? I love hearing what's on your heart.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Happenings

Hi to all of my sisters in Christ! I can hardly believe Christmas is near. My family and I had a very nice Thanksgiving and I hope yours was blessed, too. We have so much to be thankful for! Whether in plenty or in poverty, the Lord provides for his own. I love this wonderful bible verse:
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed. Psalm 37:25
Since we have no extended family near where we live, some good friends of ours invited us to spend Thanksgiving day with them. They provided a delicious turkey, dressing and potatoes we brought green bean casserole, 3 pies, and some Jalapeño poppers (for later in the day). After our meal, we watched a little football and then played some games until everyone got hungry again and then warmed up some leftovers for a little dinner. We had such a nice day with our friends and thanked the Lord for bringing them into our lives.

We got to see the real Nutcracker Ballet performance for FREE again this year. What a spectacular show it is! Last year was our very first time seeing it and we were so excited when it was offered to our homeschool group again this year. It was a matinee performance. My husband was able to shift his work schedule so he could go with us, but my oldest son was scheduled to work that day and couldn't get the time off. We missed being with him so much but were so proud of the way he handled his responsibility.  He's becoming a man! And a good man at that.

We have a couple of Christmas parties to attend and some more shopping to do. God has been so good to us. Our bills are paid, my husband's been working steadily and no one in our family has had a single cold yet this season! Praising God!!

I hope you're having a blessed Christmas season and finding just the right thing for those on your Christmas list. I'm so thankful for Jesus coming to be born into our world to save us. Thank you, Lord! He is so worthy to be praised.

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him. — 2 Samuel 22:31

When A Christian Experiences Slander

slander |ˈslandər
noun the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation;a false and malicious spoken statement.verb [ with obj. ] make false and damaging statements about (someone): they were accused of slandering the head of state.
If you've even been slandered, accused falsely and generally been given a bad rap, you're not alone. It's painful. It's sad. But the one thing you must remember is that the person doing the slandering is the one who is really the one to pity. If American court systems judge it criminal to accuse someone falsely, just think of what God thinks of it. 

People who slander others are winking at sin and show clearly that they are not walking with the Lord.  This is an important piece of the puzzle. What does the Bible say about the person who cannot bridle their own tongue? Their religion is vain.  Can you judge a Christian based on their works (speech/slander)?

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. James 1:25

What you do, what you say and how you live, speaks of whom you obey. The life of a Christian is lived out through the evidence of faith.  Faith is believing that God is to be feared and obeyed and that he is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him. Faith without obedience (good works in Christ) is questionable.
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
So when a professing Christian's "works" (their words, actions, behaviors) are "worldly" their faith, according to the bible, is phony.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Phillipians 2:12
Salvation is by grace, but it is evidence or "worked out" by walking in holiness and walking obediently to God no matter what others are doing around you. Anyone not walking in obedience to God needs to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

The word from many pastors in the pulpits is that after you say a little prayer, you're all set.  But the Bible says - in a myriad of ways - that we are to examine our faith to make sure it is true.  There are a lot of unsaved Christians walking around trusting in their Pastor's assurance. That is building their house on the sand. One way to inspect your faith is how you deal with hurts and injustices.  What does the Lord Jesus Christ say we are to do when we are falsely accused and someone slanders us?
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 5:44
What ARE you when you're persecuted? 

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

What should you DO? 

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:for great is your reward in heaven:for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matthew 5:11

You read that right - rejoice when you're persecuted! It's backwards to our natural way of thinking. When you are able to do this - rejoice when you're persecuted - it's the Lord's strength that is making it possible.

Human instinct is to fight back or get revenge when you're wronged. While speaking the truth is certainly a viable option, there is a time and season for it. If it increases discord or fury, it's wise to back off. Proverbs says "a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold." But Ecclesiastes says there is "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak." So when you open your mouth in your own defense, make sure it is God's timing and not your own. In all matters of great consequence, making sure of God's timing is critical.

When you're patient and you wait on God for HIS timing, you grow stronger. I've found this to be true. Waiting on God makes you strong! I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and the Word of God is true.

So if there is someone in your life that has slandered you even when you are "right", don't act in haste.  Even when they hurt you and say all kinds of wrong things about you! Jesus knows what this feels like, and he says:

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath:for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21

When you wait on the Lord to bring you justice, you will rise up on wings as eagles. I rejoice in the Lord. He's my portion. He's my rock. He's my deliverer. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sabbath Keeping

Some people, women in particular it seems, have really gotten into trying to keep the sabbath. Trying being a key word there. After all, they will say, it's one of the ten commandments, right? Or is it?  What exactly does it say in the ten commandments about the sabbath?
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. — Exodus 20:8
Notice that God doesn't say to observe the sabbath, or to keep the sabbath. He says to remember the Sabbath. How did Jesus legally break the Sabbath?

Because he IS the Sabbath.

So when we remember the sabbath, we are remembering Jesus. Who he is, what he's done, what he's doing and what he's going to do. Remember him. And who we are IN him. Remember what he did in Egypt. Remember without him you are nothing. Remember him. Call upon him. Sup with him.

Another way of saying remember is "don't forget" or, as it's written in the KJB, "forget not". This phrasing is used 24 times in the Bible.

One of my favorite Psalms expounds on why and what we need to remember or "forget not". It's really good stuff, too. Check it out:

Psalm 103
Bless the Lord, O my soul:
and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
who healeth all thy diseases;
 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;
so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
 The Lord executeth righteousnessand judgment for all that are oppressed.
 He made known his ways unto Moses,
his acts unto the children of Israel.
 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
 He will not always chide:
neither will he keep his anger for ever.
 He hath not dealt with us after our sins;
nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
 For as the heaven is high above the earth,
so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
 As far as the east is from the west,
so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
 Like as a father pitieth his children,
so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
 For he knoweth our frame;
he remembereth that we are dust.
 As for man, his days are as grass:
as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone;
and the place thereof shall know it no more.
 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,
and his righteousness unto children's children;
 To such as keep his covenant,
and to those that remember his commandments to do them

Um, that is an AWESOME list of benefits!! We need to remember how our heavenly father pities us and remembers that we're just dust. We need to remember that his mercy is GREAT toward them that fear him.

So while I don't keep the Sabbath, I do remember the sabbath. I remember Jesus and don't forget his benefits. Remember what Jesus said would happen when we "Come unto" him?
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus is our rest. He's our portion. He's done all the work and has asked us to remember him. And to rest in him. Our work is to believe in Him.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Move & Sweat

This week I got back into the habit of exercising each day and I am feeling better. Exercise is good medicine. :-)

I wrote out my fitness goals today and how to achieve them. Creating a calorie deficit each and every day through diet and exercise will result in weight loss.

So a deficit of 1,000 calories per day (burning off 300-500 in exercise, reducing calorie intake by 500-700 per day) will result in a 2 pound weight loss per week. I'm focusing this week on just getting some exercise each day. So far, I have made time to workout each morning for 45-60 minutes. I've "walked" the equivalent of approximately 13 miles so far and plan to walk another 3 tomorrow.

I love the Leslie Sansone videos. She makes them fun, gives great motivation and encouragement throughout and they are not wimpy workouts. I'm always sweating good by the end.

I also like The Firm workout videos. Their aerobic routines are a too little complicated for my taste, but the overall workout is very, very effective. They incorporate several sets of strength training all the major parts of the body and do little stretches throughout the workout which is nice.

One thing I learned this year is that when you sweat, you lose minerals. So supplementing with vitamins and minerals is super important when you begin a fitness regime.  I'm taking Youngevity's Mighty 90 liquid vitamin/mineral supplements and they are awesome.

Another goal is to begin increasing my fruit and veg intake each day.  Adding just a cup or two of a vegetable to lunch and dinner dramatically affects weight loss. It fills you up and provides good fiber (helps with bowel regularity and cleansing).

Losing weight is often like trying to knock over a Coke machine. It's rare you'll knock it down in one push. You have to rock it back and forth a few times and then it goes over.  I've tried a few times in the past to lose my extra weight and got discouraged and stopped trying.

This time, I'm quite determined to succeed. I'm also relying on the Lord this time and acknowledging him in all my ways. That includes my fitness goals.

A couple of my girlfriends are on the same journey so we are helping one another with support and accountability. We're trying to come up with a penalty/reward system but haven't really had any good ideas yet. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment below!

Chime in! Do you workout with exercise videos? Which are your favorites?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cast Your Care

On any given day, stress can come and hit us between the eyes rather unexpectedly. I'm sure you know how that goes. You're going along in your normal routine and them, wham!, an issue arises out of thin air and you feel the stress mount. It's the stuff of life. It isn't always possible to fix it or make it stop. Sometimes we just have to get through it. How does a godly woman cope with life on life's terms? Read the instruction manual.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  1 Peter 5:6,7
Humble yourself. It's very humbling to admit fear, defeat, incompetence and failure. We have to rely on the Lord and cast ALL our care upon him.

Does this mean that he'll fix everything up for us? Not always. Not even very often. Because he knows that we learn and grow best in times of frustration. He wants us to learn to turn to him, trust him completely and humble ourselves under his mighty hand. But he gives us great hope:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation:but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Being a stay at home wife and homeschooling mother can feel like walking a tight rope at times. It can challenge us right down to our core. We are completely responsible for our children's day in and day out lives, the upkeep of home and hearth and guiding what can sometimes feel like a three ring circus. And if we're doing so without the support and help of extended family as many of us are, the challenge is intensified.

But we have an ally, a friend and a high priest who knows all about our struggles and he's there 24/7. Get to know him intimately. The One who made the earth, the stars and everything that is, cares for you and me and is ready and willing to be our comfort, our joy and the lifter of our heads.

Life is hard sometimes. But God is good.

Have a blessed day, sisters in Christ.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Did you know that the bone disease, Rickets (soft bones) is on the rise?

When I was a new parent I actually got a lot of my health information from tv news. Crazy I know. They would have "experts" come on and give the latest greatest health trends and I'd actually believe them! ha. Until I began reading about health for myself and found much of their advice faulty.

One thing they have been far, far too officious about is sunscreen. The result is many parents have been afraid of letting their children get a drop of sunlight on their skin without a layer of sunblock on first.

The problem is that sunshine is good and produces vitamin D in the skin on contact. We all need that  necessary bone building vitamin and a little sunshine is not going to cause skin cancer as we've been made to fear that it would.

As little as 20 minutes a day of sun on your face and arms is more than enough. You can also boost vitamin D by eating fish, eggs and cod liver oil.  The time to bring sunblock into play is when sun exposure is prolonged between the hours of 10am and 2pm.  But before 10am and after 2pm, the risk for sunburn decreases quite a bit so those are safer hours for prolonged sun exposure.

What did people do in days before sunscreen?  They wore long sleeves, brimmed hats, skirts and pants and sought shade in the heat of the day.  But today we're so all accustomed to immediate gratification that we seek to blur out old-school rules like wearing wide brimmed hats. (Unless they're in fashion, of course. :-)

I kicked myself for not getting outside in the beautiful fall weather yesterday. I had so much to do inside that I never did make it outside. One of the drawbacks of living in suburbia is a lack of fields and natural surroundings to meander on.  When I step outside, it's sidewalk city.  I'm not complaining, just explaining. There is just less incentive to get outside. We live in a lovely quiet and peaceful neighborhood, and I'm so thankful for that. But I do hope to have a nice peace of land to putter around on one day. ;-)

So what is the point of this post today? Get yourself and your kids outdoors without sunblock at least a 2-3 times a week so they can make vitamin D. The kind our bodies produce is much better than any pill you we take. It's ideal and straight from our Creator! Supplementing with cod liver oil during the winter will help when it's too cold to get outside.

I plan on making a habit of walking the block in the morning and getting some sunshine on my shoulders with my boys. It makes me happy. :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Keep Your Perspective

If you were to be offered a glass of water OR a thousand dollars in cash, which would you choose? Most of us would choose the cash. But what if you were were lost in the dessert, dying of thirst? We would not think twice about choosing the water.

Our perspective is relative to our circumstances. When we keep our perspective fresh, our attitude and viewpoint will reflect gratitude. Are you happy in your homemaking? Do you wake up smiling, glad you have the privilege of loving your husband and children and guiding your home today?

I believe that homemaking is the most important job there is.  Even above science, politics, medicine, engineering, and so forth. Why? Because homes are where little people are brought up and shaped into what they will become. It is where we nourish the soul and train the spirit.

Today, there are far, far too many women who have foolishly exchanged their most high calling for a bag of tin. Some children begin their latchkey careers as soon as five. I see them every day walking down the street, backpacks strapped on almost as big as they are, heading for the elementary school. My heart breaks for them. They do not know what it's like to cuddle in the morning with mama as she reads them a story.  They'll miss out on learning about real life because their day to day life is a classroom with 2 dozen other kids their ages, force fed information.

I speak from experience.

I was a single mother before I came to the Lord and I supported my first child by myself until she was in 2nd grade. I was blessed to be able to send her to a private Christian school, but it was still heart wrenching to leave her with other people to care for so I could earn enough to pay the bills. I lived conservatively, quietly and clean and tried in my own strength to do it all.

Then one exhausted day, I gave my life to Jesus and prayed. I asked the Lord in faith for exactly what I wanted and needed: a godly husband, a loving home and a happy future. Within weeks, the Lord miraculously brought a wonderful man into my life who swept me off my feet. We dated in total purity, grew in our childlike faith together and were married a year later. The Lord had answered my prayer and I became the stay home wife and mother I'd dreamed of becoming. In this way, Jesus Christ had come into my world, showed himself strong and that he was my only source and portion.  I've been His ever since.

Has every day since then been homemaking bliss? Nope. Did I always emit gratitude, patience and love? No, sadly I did not. Mainly because, coming from a broken family, I did not have a base of homemaking skills and examples to draw from.

But with keen eyes, I watched every other homemaker I came in contact with and put myself on a speed track for on-the-job homemaking training. I learned as I went and made mistakes along the way.  Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman has been a process, just like anything else.

But it starts with the heart. No matter how tough your circumstances start out with, you can become a virtuous woman if you desire to be. You can make your home a haven no matter how small it is. God made us with nurturing and nesting instincts for this purpose.

So look at your home as a canvas that you can paint a lovely picture on. Read the manual — the King James Bible. Within its inerrant pages, you will find light for your path and perspective for your journey.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Daily Routine

The Lord calls us to be temperate. Many people think this must mean self-control, but it does not have much to do with self. The word "self" is not found in the Greek translation of the King James Bible.

From kjvtoday.com —
The word for "self" is not in Greek.  The Greek "εγκρατεια" is derived from the word "κρατος," which means "strength" (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary).  εγ-κρατεια literally means "in-strength" or "strength within" (as opposed to outward physical strength).  "Self-control" gives the wrong impression because it is not the "self" that gives this control.  εγκρατεια is a fruit of the Spirit, which means the Spirit is the one who does the controlling.  Many Christians who struggle with temptations soon realize that the "self" cannot provide this control.  Thus a focus on "self-control" is futile.  What we need instead is "Spirit-control," which is the very point of the passage in Galatians 5.  A Spirit-given "self-control" is inherently contradictory.  Temperance is an accurate translation because the word does not focus on the self.

Isn't that interesting? The Lord himself gives us the Holy Spirit and it is in HIS strength that we are strong. Not our own. Our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. So we musn't rely on our"selves" for the strength to do what must be done. We need to look to our Saviour for strength. Most of us can physically do what we need to do in a day. But we don't, not because it's physically impossible, but because our will is selfish and weak.

We need to turn to the Lord in faith and he gives us his faith, his will, his heart, his mind, his STRENGTH. Through Christ Jesus, we CAN.

I'm embarking on a journey toward better health, fitness and strength and making more room in my daily schedules and routines to do what is necessary in order to achieve my goals. I have done this in the past, but I think I did much of it in my own strength.

Is it possible to do what I need to do?  Can I rule my own spirit (cause it to come under subjection to the Lord's)? The Bible says I can.
Proverbs 25:28 - He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. 
Is it possible to be moderate in exercise, food choices and finding time to spend with the Lord each day?
Philippians 4:5- Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
What do I need in order to make this into a habit? Should I expect it to be instant or gradual?
I Peter 1:5,6 - And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.  
Should I take my actions and choices seriously —  as though my life depended on it?
1 Peter 4:7 - But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
 Does temper (anger) have anything to do with temperance (restraint)?
Proverbs 16:32 - He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
There is a soft gospel being preached all over these days. A very hedonistic, self-indulgent doctrine that is leading many astray. It is contrary to the word of God, but many people don't know that because they are not in the word of God enough to be able to spot discrepancies when the hear them. The cure for this is to study and read the Bible daily. Every single day. It doesn't have to be a loooonnngg time. It can be a few verses that you read and then meditate on throughout the day. This is what I do.

But in addition to this, Christians must be moderate, patient and temperate and we must do it in the strength of the Lord. This means that all I do and say must travel through a filter. Because I am not my own; I was bought at the highest price imaginable.

Should we as Christians check with the Lord about every aspect of our lives?
Proverbs 3:5,6 - Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy path. 
I want to acknowledge the Lord in all my ways more and I've written out a schedule for myself that seems like it will incorporate the areas I seek to strengthen - on paper anyway. :)  But with the Lord, all things are possible. When we trust in the Lord with ALL our hearts and acknowledge him, he'll direct, lead and guide.

So the schedule I've written out below is a run down of an average day at my house and the various tasks that could come up any day of the weak.  But the main thing is that I have inserted the things that were lacking - time for prayer, reading, shopping for healthy food and exercise. The part that I need the Lord's strength and help on is that the only time they fit into my day is early!

In Proverbs 31, these are all areas of a virtuous woman, which I didn't consider or think about until after I made my list! ha.

Get up early to get things done:
5. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
Get some exercise:
7. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
Get groceries (the early bird gets the [best deals, etc]"worm"):
14. She is like the merchants 'ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

Okay so here's my schedule that I pray the Lord will strengthen me to perform.

Basic Daily Routine

5:45   Coffee, wake up, Bible reading, prayer
6:10   Grocery Shop (quick trip to Sprouts 2 mi. down the street)
6:30  Workout, lift weights, stretch, invert
7:30   Shower, dress
8:00   Breakfast, vitamins, herbs, fiber, lecithin, plexus
8:20   Make bed, start laundry, tidy kitchen
9-11   Homeschool/projects
11      Lunch, 2nd dose herbs & vitamins
12-4   Homeschool/housework/Co-op/P.E./Debate/field trip
5-7     Make/eat dinner, clean kitchen
6:30   Prep coffee and lunches for next morning, time with family
7        Take a Bath 
          OR 
7        Have a cup of herb tea/reading/sewing/drawing/newsletter
8        Kids Bedtime

8-10   Time with my husband
10      Lights out

I'm excited to lean on the Lord for strength to accomplish all that he would have me to do. I know he's plenty strong enough and will show himself mighty in this area of my life. Praise his name!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Says Who?

Our culture today is thick with judgment. It is everywhere we go and the irony is startling. Heathen people proclaiming what is right and wrong, what is correct and incorrect, what is tolerant and intolerant.

Newscasters will freely offer their 2 cent frowning comments after a story that has political correctness overtones. They will chime in to reinforce the cultural shift toward tolerance. Tolerance toward what exactly? Where is the universal meter that guides their views on what is right and what is wrong. When confronted with the P.C. police, we need to humbly yet boldly ask, "Says who?". Who is the one making these broad sweeping judgments of what is right and wrong?

For those whose faith is in Jesus Christ, our final authority is God and his word. That is "who says". That is why and how we know right from wrong. That is why we can call certain behaviors wrong. That is why we can call sin, sin.

But for the ungodly, this is not so. They do not acknowledge God, but in fact hold his statutes and judgments in unrighteousness.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20
The Lord said that we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Our walk with the Lord is on display to those around us daily.

We are a witness to the One who lives within us:
when we give a loving response instead of an angry one.
when we give a soft answer that turns away wrath instead of a smartalick remark.
when we give generously to someone in need instead of pinching pennies.
when we speak the truth in love, instead of saying it bitterly or staying quiet to "keep peace".

Our behavior and conversation reveal who we are trying to please. Is it our hero, our brother, our Saviour, our King, our Messiah our deliver, our redeemer, our GOD? Or is it people. We fear what people can do to us.

They might fire us from a job.
They might talk bad about us to others.
They might remove us from their group, clique, club, or "circle'.
They might flat out reject us.

But there is only ONE whom we must fear:

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Hebrews 13:5,6
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear:
what can man do unto me. Psalm 118:6
We have a reason and a measuring stick for right and wrong. Says who? God.
We must be bold in our culture today. We must ask those who cry, "intolerance!" one question.

"Says who?"

Friday, October 17, 2014

Halloween — Evangelism at Your Door

For years my family has been like most Christians at Halloween — we simply avoided it.  We turned of the porch lights, the front room lights and even posted a sign saying "No tricks or treats".  Halloween and all it's gruesome origins represent is evil and should be avoided.

However, Ray Comfort (Living Waters ministry) introduced a different approach to Halloween - evangelism. After all, you've got heathens coming right up to your door every year — why not turn the devil's day on its head and spread the gospel?  Why indeed. So that's just what we did last year.

It was quite an different experience keeping our lights on, buying bulk candy and most importantly, stocking up on great tracts. We took turns answering the door and simply said hello, smiled and put the tracts and the candy in each bag. A bit of a weak approach if you ask me, but we're just starting out. :-)

I hope that this year we'll be bolder and speak more as we have opportunity.

We bought two sets of tracts from Living Waters this year that were specially designed for Halloween. I think they are great and I hope you'll consider, as we did, reaching out to the lost who will be coming to your door in a couple of weeks.  Unless you live in the boonies like we did a few years ago and then no one came to our door which was nice, too.  If you want to to get these special tracts, they are sold on www.livingwaters.com.  There is still time to order them and get them before Halloween! We also love Chick tracts, especially This Was Your Life. Very effective and powerful presentation of the gospel!

Be bold in your faith and in speaking to others about their eternal destination.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Creativity

When I was a kid, I used to sketch and draw for fun. My favorite subject to draw was people. It was fascinating to put pencil to paper and watch someone "come to life" right there on the page. Especially once I got  their eyes right and it was as if they were looking right at me. Weird but cool!

But as I got older and life's responsibilities descended upon me, I stopped doing much of anything in the way of art or creativity. I found tiny outlets here and there but nothing substantial. I felt like I was wasting the talent God gave me. But I had little ones to raise and a whole bunch of home keeping skills to learn that I hadn't learned growing up, so my focus was definitely not on myself.

But now that my children are older, I'm revisiting my creative side. There are lots of great helps on internet and I've had fun poring over the beginner paintings.

Creativity is not just about art, however. We're all born with the innate ability to create and I think we are happiest when we allow ourselves time to develop creatively. To dip our brush in some paint, sculpt something with clay, design a room, capture a beautiful moment behind the lens, etc.

There are a multitude of ways to express creativity, but the important thing is to take some time to express it. With the internet you can explore all kinds of different methods - art journaling, scrapbooking, painting with acrylics, oils or watercolors, quilting, needlework, knitting - there are so many outlets.  Blogging is a verbal creative outlet for some. And while I'm not a very "creative" writer, I do enjoy writing as a form of creative expression and an outlet for the thoughts on my heart.

But currently, I'm exploring painting. I've always been fascinated by it but too afraid to really try. Paint can be very expensive and I've never really known what I'm doing. There are a half dozen unfinished canvas paintings in my basement that sneer at me whenever I happen by them.  But no more.

My dining room table is cheerfully covered with all sorts of goodies - canvases, sponges, brushes and acrylic paints. I'm going to do a painting today with my younger son and I'm so excited. :) It's a composition I found on the internet that looks impressive but seems simple to do.

How about you? Do you make time in your busy life to express your creativity? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Woman's Thoughts

If we want to have good attitudes on a daily basis, then we need to take a good look at the thoughts we think on a daily basis.  The Bible says:
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23
What you think about is who you really are. If you're in the habit of letting your thoughts dwell on the negative — how hard something is, how mean someone is, and so forth — that habit will manifest itself in many ways that will eventually shape you and lead to a life you didn't plan on.

Many people "end up" in situations and with dispositions that they never dreamed of — and it all started with their thoughts. The thoughts we think in our heart, are revealed in the choices we make, the words we speak and a the attitude we keep.

The good news is that we have God's Word and it tells us exactly how we can regulate our attitude. How can we make it more consistently pleasing to God and others?
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:6

The Word of God also tells us what to think about.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phillipians 4:7,8
God is giving us basic directions for life here.
  • What should you do when you're frustrated, upset, sad made, defeated, overwhelmed, angry, etc: pray, give supplication (asking humbly) with thanksgiving. The result? The peace of God keeps your heart and mind through Christ. 
Notice the "hearts and mind" part of that passage? It all starts with our thoughts — our command and control centers.
  • God expects us to choose the thoughts we think about not just think about whatever pops in there. People filter their water more than their thoughts. 
When we get into the habit of running our thoughts through God's filter, we will have His peace:
  • is it true?
  • honest?
  • just?
  • pure?
  • lovely?
  • good report?
  • virtuous?
  • praise worthy?

When our thoughts are soft and in accord with God's plan for peace and joy, our daily habits will reflect his glory. Our frame of reference will be on the awesomeness of God and not the nothingness of man.

Let's think on good things today.