routine-mom-kids

A Morning Routine for Moms and Kids

Have you ever found yourself repeating what you have already said a million times?

“Get dressed.”

“Did you brush your teeth today?”

“Why isn’t your bed made?”

Getting our children (and ourselves) into a routine will not only teach them discipline, but it will also keep your life sane.

Mental fatigue happens when too many choices have to be made in a short amount of time. When our body is trained to function without having to think through each action, our minds are ready to take on the real tasks of the day.

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Right now is a great time to start a morning routine

If you have been wanting to start a morning routine but haven’t known when to start, right now is a great time. We have just entered a time change which has given us an extra hour. If you’re anything like me, your body is programmed to wake up at the old time, which is now an hour earlier. Why not use that extra hour to begin getting into the habit of your routine?

This next step is the most important part.

Discipline yourself to establish and stick with your morning routine

No matter how hard it is, or how much you don’t want to stick with your routine, don’t give up! If you want your children to stick to their morning routine, you need to set the example. Just remind yourself over and over again how much easier your mornings will be once you and your children are set in your routine.

What to include in your Morning Routine

Grab a piece of paper and pen, and write down all of the things that must get done before you head to work, take your kids to school, or begin your homeschool day. Things as simple as devotions, brushing your teeth, putting on the coffee, cleaning up after breakfast, and so on need to be on your list.

Then, write down all of the things your children need to do before heading to school or before their homeschool day begins.

Write it out or type, print, and laminate your list and your children’s list, and begin following it faithfully every day. Pretty soon, you will find yourself automatically “going through the motions” and saving your mental energy for more important decisions.

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A Morning routine example

Sometimes, getting a look at someone else’s morning routine helps in deciding what to include in your own morning routine. Below is the routine I have created for my children and myself. Remember, I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, so my routine reflects the time I have available to me and my children in the mornings.

Morning routine for kids

  • Read the Bible
  • Brush your teeth (be inspected by Mom or Dad)
  • Get dressed (and put clothes in the hamper or fold and put away)
  • Make your bed
  • Brush/comb your hair

Morning Routine for Me

  • Get up a little before everyone else
  • Basic morning bathroom routine
  • Quiet time
  • Make coffee
  • Throw a load into the washer
  • Pack Brian’s lunch
  • Make breakfast
  • Send Brian off
  • Clean up after breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Devotions with the kids
  • Prep dinner
  • Make sure house is in order (quick clean)

Once you and your children are settled into your routine, you will find that your are not asking the “did you” questions as frequently as you once did.

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Till Death Do Us Part | Proverbs 31 Series

“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12

You’ve heard them, or you’ve said them yourself…

“I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith.”

When we say them, we truly mean each and every word, and we secretly pledge together to show the world that our love will withstand the tests of time, money, and life in general.

And then life hits.

Real life hits.

Bills come due. That part of his personality you originally fell in love with and thought was charming now irks you to no end. One of you becomes ill- physically or in another manner. You miss your freedom. Children join your family and, because of the natural order of things, add to your stress financially, physically, and emotionally. (This list does not include infidelity, which would necessitate the use of a good, professional biblical counselor and the advice of a well loved and trusted pastor. Please don’t try to tackle this issue on your own.) 

We are faced with two choices: continue to love and cherish and honor the man God has given you, or don’t.

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Bring him good

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:22     Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25

Our Creator so wisely added into Ephesians the best way for women and men to demonstrate love and respect to each other, so we could better serve each other. As women we tend to equate love with what our men are willing to do for us- that date night he went out of his way to plan, bringing home your favorite flavored coffee creamer (or that might just be me!), or sending flowers to our place of work. Men see love differently. They view love as being respected.

(Remember, my purpose here is to encourage women. Dennis Rainey at Family Life has a wonderful article titled 30 Ways to Love Your Wife.)

Respect

Another phrase we hear repeatedly is, “Respect in not given, it’s earned.”

Yet, God has a different approach to that phrase. Ephesians 5:33 says, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

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God tells husbands to love their wives the way they love and care for themselves, and He tells wives to respect their husbands. 

What does that look like in practical terms? This is my short list.

  • Thank him for working to support your family.
  • Teach your children to appreciate him for all that he does for your family.
  • Thank him for taking you out to eat.
  • If you are both full-time workers, thank him for being on your team and for sharing the responsibilities in your home.
  • Don’t ridicule or make fun of him… especially in public.
  • Subtly praise him before others for being the best husband for you.
  • Don’t put down his hobbies or interests.
  • Don’t share his faults for laughs with others.
  • Don’t shame him on social media.

Please remember, in the case of needing professional help, you must be able to share your struggles for council sake. It is not being disrespectful in this instance.

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All the days of her life

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed,” Psalm 37:3.

Each day, a choice is required of us. Will we do good to the man God has blessed us with, or will we do what will make us feel better temporarily?

Will we get up and decide to be good to him today, or will we let our emotions (or that time of the month) determine our responses to him?

Will we think of ways to give him respect, or will we remember his infractions from yesterday and serve him with attitude today?

Giving our husbands respect, doing good to him, and doing this for the rest of our lives is a promise we made on our wedding day but must be lived out daily. Some days are easier than others, but I’m sure we can agree that living with us is not always easy on them either.

This week, as we memorize Proverbs 31:12, pull out your wedding video or album, relive the moment you made your vows, and determine to be good to him today when he gets home from work. You may be surprised at how quickly the love is returned in your direction.

You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.

 

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lessons-hurricane-irma

Five Lessons I Learned From Hurricane Irma

Last month Hurricane Irma came through Florida and temporarily disrupted our lives (sadly, many are still recovering from Irma and now, those in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands, from Maria).

Although, Irma is now a distant memory for our family, she taught me a few valuable lessons.  Lessons I will never forget.

Always Be Prepared (MAtthew 25:1-13)

In our Life Group (some churches call it a Sunday school class), our leader had recently given us a scenario which required a “What would you do in this situation?” answer. After sitting through the lesson and joining in the banter and debate, I went home and thought about our home and the provisions I have in case a situation like what was mentioned came up. I realized I would not be prepared.

I immediately began adding items to my regular shopping list that would keep us prepared for any type of disaster. One case of water bottles, a bag of rice, and two cans of beans became a weekly purchase for me. When we heard that Irma was heading in our direction and everyone began rushing the stores for water, I didn’t have to panic. I had several cases of water already purchased, along with plenty of non perishable foods. Instead, I made a bee line to the bottled coffee in case the power went out keeping me from making coffee with my coffee pot… because priorities… really.

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Be Willing to Share What You Have (1 Timothy 6:18)

As soon as Irma became a threat to our area, we immediately called family members who could possibly be in danger and opened our home to them. The beauty of it was that they brought over a generator and precooked foods along with other non perishables and more practical items such as buckets of water for use in the bathrooms (our water comes from a well which needs electricity to run… no electricity means no water in the bathroom), extension cords, and a radio.

By being willing to share what we had to offer, we gained so much more. We now have a memory with family members that we didn’t have before. The long evening talks around the dining room table will forever be a part of my heart. The breakfasts of donuts and Puerto Rican bread with butter will be remembered by my children and talked about for a long time.

Jesus Changes Your Perspective (Matthew 8:27)

A few hours before the eye wall hit us, I sat on the floor of my bedroom with the shades pulled up slightly and stared in awe at the trees blowing in the wind. Because we were on the west side of the eye, we were in a much safer position than those who found themselves on the eastern side of it. Although the threat of a tree falling was still a reality (one which did happen), I was okay for the time being.

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I sat in awe of the power of God. The storm had reached a Category 5 and had hit places like St. Maarten and Barbuda with such force that many people lost their homes and few even their lives. Yet, when I saw the power the storm had hit with, it reminded me that God is even more powerful than the storm. For me, the hurricane was a brief reminder of the power of God.

This is how I approached the hurricane with my children. We saw the destruction and devastation the hurricane left in its wake by way of the news, but we were reminded that the same God who caused a world wide flood during the time of Noah was also the same God who calmed the storm and told the wind and the waves to stop. This storm was powerful, but only shadowed a portion of the power held by the Almighty God.

God truly does have a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11)

On the night Irma hit, we lost power, yet I can see God’s hand directly involved in every aspect of our lives over the next few days.

Because of the generator, we didn’t hear the wind howling above us, and everyone slept through the most intense part of the storm.

The tree in our backyard that I had been worried about (and never even wanted in the first place) fell into the still unfinished part of our yard and did not affect our home, well, or our neighbor’s property.

Although we lost power, many of our family members did not. My sister, Purposeful Mom Faye, didn’t lose power. With a 3 year old who wouldn’t fully understand why the power was gone, it was a blessing that she never lost power. Our father didn’t lose his electricity, but, because he had evacuated, his home was available for us to take showers and even to stay in overnight if we chose to.

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I gained a deeper appreciation for all first responders (Romans 13:4a)

I have always loved, appreciated, and supported our military, police officers, firemen, and EMT workers and have taught my children to do the same, but one of our other first responders during the hurricane was the linemen. Although the first group keeps us safe on a daily basis, the linemen spent hours trying to restore power to the many sections of the power grid for days on end. These men worked 12 hour shifts 24 hours a day until power was restored to our county and  state, in order to restore us back to the level of comfort we have grown accustomed to. Many times, after working a long shift restoring power to our community, these men and women went home for the evening to a home that had no electricity.

One evening as we were driving to my dad’s home to shower and freshen up, we saw a group of linemen at the end of the main road we live off of. We lowered our windows, slowed our vehicle, and all began cheering for them and yelling “thank you” out the window. These men looked exhausted, barely smiled, but one forced his hand up to wave back in response.

Hurricane Irma was one of those storms that blows into your life, disrupts it for a little while, and then goes away leaving us with the aftermath to clean up and work through- like so many other storms that come into our lives.

These principles can even apply to those storms as well.

When you live your life knowing that God has a purpose in your storm, and you allow Jesus to change your perspective, you will learn valuable lessons, which can only be learned through a storm.

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confidence-value

Confidence and Value | Proverbs 31 Series

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Proverbs 31:11(NIV)

Confidence and value. Those are words that we teach our girls from the time they are born. We encourage them to live with confidence, walk with their heads held high, and if they make a mistake, they are to do it confidently so everyone around them will think they meant to do it.

We walk behind our girls with an imaginary megaphone, cheering for them and remind them that they have value. We boost their spirits by constantly stressing that they deserve nothing less than the best because they are worth it.

Those are both important lessons for us and our daughters to hear and remember. Yet, those qualities also need to describe how others feel about us and our girls.

One of the Dictionary.com definitions of confidence is full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing.

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Total and complete trust

No matter which box you check off under “marital status,” this applies to you.

If you check any category of single, how do others perceive you? If you are married and/or have children, then find out how your husband and children view you. Regardless of where you fall, having the confidence of others is a quality we should all be striving for.

Here are some questions to help you determine your trustworthiness.

Are you a woman others can count on?

Do your friends know if they shared something with you, it will stay with you?

Does your boss know you will complete your tasks in a timely manner and to the best of your ability?

Do people who depend on you for volunteer positions know you will show up and serve when you are scheduled to?

For married women in general, can your husband trust you to be faithful to him?

Can he trust that you will complete your designated responsibilities?

For stay-at-home-moms, does your husband have total and complete trust in you while he is out at work all day?

The list could go on, but you get the idea. We want to be women that others have confidence in.

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“…and lacks nothing of value.”

Value comes in many forms, but we’re only going to touch on two- money and time.

So many times we equate value with monetary issues. It’s easy to. We see how much value something has by checking the price tag. And you’ve heard the phrase, “time is money.” It’s one of the catch phrases of the business world. But how does this apply to us in the here and now?

Money

Do we use our financial resources wisely?

Do we budget our expenses so we are not left wondering where our money has flown off to?

For stay-at-home-moms, do we appreciate not only the paycheck, but the man who earns and brings it home?

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Time

We have each been allotted 24 hours per day. That equates to 1,440 minutes per day, or 86,400 seconds. In one year, that equals 525,600 minutes! But how we spend our time will determine the true value of our time.

Do we spend enough time with those we love?

Do we really give them our attention and focus when we are with them?

Do we allow ourselves to get distracted by the urgent and waste time that could have been spent on the important?

This week, as we memorize Proverbs 31:11, ask God to show you the areas you can improve your trustworthiness and the value you place on time and money.

You can find other posts in this series here.

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Worth More than Rubies | Proverbs 31 Series

My mother’s favorite passage of scripture when it came to teaching my sister and me about being women of God was Proverbs 31:10-31.  I am always amazed at how we can read the same passages of scripture in different seasons throughout our lives and have it speak to us in various ways as we pass from one stage to another.

At one time in our lives, these verses were just preparation verses for the kind of women and wives we were to be. We were able to put some of the verses into practice that dealt with our character and relationships with society in general, but the verses that dealt with husbands and children needed to be waited on until God brought us into that time.

The verse I have been reflecting on for the last week has been Proverbs 31:10, “An excellent wife who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” (NIV) I love the King James Version of this verse, “Who can find a virtuous woman? because her worth is far above rubies.” Rubies are a beautiful, rare gem, making them extremely valuable.

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How can we as women be rubies?

My Mom used to say, “You can walk outside and find rocks and pebbles anywhere, but you can’t just walk outside and find a ruby.” A ruby must be searched for and does not come cheaply.

For unmarried women, this speaks to character. Are you the kind of woman that is a carbon copy of the others around you, or are you someone that sees yourself as being valuable to God and therefore to others as well? Do you conduct yourself with dignity and modesty? In other words, are you living in a way that will not leave you with regret tomorrow or even later in life?

For married women, the question becomes, how can I be an excellent wife? What changes do I need to make to achieve excellence? I am forever working on the last two questions.

If we are ever to grow spiritually, or just in general, we need to constantly ask ourselves those questions. If we don’t, we will stay in a state of status quo and become stagnant as a woman or wife. If we ever believe that we have achieved excellence, we will come across as being prideful and arrogant.

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I know I will never achieve perfection, but I can strive for excellence in everything I do:

  • laundry… and it keeps coming.
  • housekeeping… do you ever feel like you are putting beads on a string without a knot on the end?
  • childrearing… so rewarding, but so demanding if you are choosing to be a proactive parent.
  • cooking… no burned meals.
  • gardening… sigh… that’s just not my thing, but I can keep the Lantana cut back and the bushes looking neat and in order.
  • grocery shopping… keep those coupons coming!

How will you strive for excellence in the place God has put you for now?

Years ago, I heard a lesson which discussed how everything we do can be an act of worship to God. The teacher brought up all of the mundane, everyday chores and responsibilities we as adults, spouses, and/or parents have- mowing the lawn, cooking dinner, washing the laundry, going to work- and how our view of them needs to change.

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We need to see these everyday tasks as an act of reverent worship to God. 

When we look at our homes and the things we do for the people inside them as an act of worship to the Lord, our attitude and outlook changes. We are no longer doing these things because we have to. We begin doing them as a way to honor the Lord.

When we change the focus of Who we are working for, it will automatically change our attitudes towards our homes, husbands, and children to one of worship and excellence.

Excellence in caring for the homes that God has provided for us.

Excellence in caring for the husband He has blessed us with.

Excellence in raising and caring for the children He has entrusted to us.

Dear woman, as you think about this verse today and throughout the week, I would encourage you to think of yourself as a ruby, a treasure, a woman of great value and allow that to be reflected in everything you put your hands to do.

During this series, I am going to challenge you to memorize the entire section of Proverbs 31:10-31. We will only memorize one verse per week, making this challenge doable for us. It will also give us something to meditate on as we ask God to refocus our hearts to become the woman He wants us to be.

This week, memorize Proverbs 31:10.

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hurricane-irma

Catching Up After the Emotional Stress of an Event

On September 10, 2017, the state of Florida waited in varying degrees of time as Hurricane Irma made a slow but powerful approach to our coast. She had already spent the previous week moving her way towards us while devastating some of the islands in the Caribbean. Knowing she was approaching gave us about a week to prepare… and worry. No one knew what would actually happen when she hit, but the general consensus was that we wanted her to stay off the east coast of Florida and eventually dissipate in the open waters of the Atlantic.

On the Tuesday before Irma hit, I took my kids to Sam’s Club for a few extra supplies in case the storm actually came in our direction. I decided to join the twenty or so cars waiting in line to top off their tanks with gas and prayed there would still be some when I pulled up. For me, that Tuesday was the day the emotional stress began building.

Over the next few days, Irma changed course several times. We could see the effects of the prayers from many in the state as she decreased in strength by the time she arrived in our neck of the woods. When she finally hit us at 2:00 a.m. Monday morning, God had miraculously changed her course multiple times so that our family only experienced a Category 1 hurricane, sustained no damage of property, and stayed safe during the entire ordeal. We lost a tree in the backyard, but it was one I didn’t want anyway, so even that worked to our advantage.

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While some are having to recover from Irma in a very drastic way- rebuilding their homes, picking up the pieces, receiving government assistance for lost food due to the extended loss of electricity- some of us are having to catch up and recover in other ways.

At our Classical Conversations co-op last week, a mom and I were discussing how hard it had been to get back into the school rhythm we had been in before the storm.

School schedules were thrown off as many kids in the state had school canceled for more than a  week.

Home schedules were tossed out as husbands had to stay home from work due to county wide curfews to keep drivers off the roads in order clear them.

Housework was pushed to the side as our normal changed for a few days.

A hurricane is not the only thing that can turn a home and schedule upside down. Loss of a loved one, a move, a new baby, or a major life event are all life jarring events that can throw a monkey wrench into a schedule for a temporary period in time. How do we get past these moments and come back to our normal?

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Housekeeping

Usually when it is time to get back to our “normal,” things have gotten out of hand- it’s just the nature of a major event to disrupt most areas of life. Don’t let housekeeping overwhelm you. Yes, we want our homes to be clean and back to a sense of normalcy, but after a major event, allow yourself to take it slow. Get back on track by making your home livable again, one room at a time, because life isn’t going to stop or slow down while you clean your house.

Purge

Sometimes, a major event is a perfect time to do a total home purge. I thought I had a pretty simple home until it was time to move things in from outside and move things around inside the house. It was eye opening how much excess I didn’t realize had crept in.

Slow down

The emotional toll taken by a major event is even more taxing than we give it credit for. For weeks after Irma, I found myself exhausted and wanting to sleep but not understanding why. After talking to other women, I found that I wasn’t alone. The emotional toll of a week of preparation, watching to see where the storm would hit, battening down the hatches, long term planning for a projected disaster, and then having to move on was more emotionally tiring than I expected. Take the time to stay home and rest. Don’t feel obligated to pack your schedule and live as you did before your event. Take your time in getting back to where you were. You may even find that you enjoy the rest and peace more than the busy.

Life events will happen. How we choose to catch up after them will determine how quickly and well we are able to resume our new normal. Remember to move at your own pace and speed. It’s not a race. It’s life.

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graduation

Why Every Homeschooling Mom Needs to Attend a High School Graduation

My kids are 9 and 5.

We are a long way off from high school graduation.

Or are we?

This week I had the realization that my daughter is entering 4th grade- the grade I used to teach in my pre-mom life. I used to think those kids were so “big,” and now many of them are graduating college, getting married, having families of their own, and sending their little ones to school for the first time.

I remember these same kids wearing their private, Christian school uniforms, sitting in class, and learning their spelling words using the say-spell-say method. These kids stood just below my shoulders and many of them (especially the boys) now tower above me.

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Now my daughter is entering 4th grade. If these last 9 nine years have flown by so quickly, how quickly will the next 9 years go? Because when she’s 18, she will graduate.

A few years ago, I attended a our local homeschool graduation ceremony. As I looked around at all of the families attending, I knew these parents had thought graduation was a long way off for them, too.

I was there for one particular student. I had known this young lady through church since she 4 years old and had the privilege of being her fifth grade teacher when I taught at the Christian Academy. When she was entering 9th grade, her mother began homeschooling her.

From the moment the processional started and she walked in, the tears began. In my mind, I could see the little 4 year year old her with two pigtails walking down the aisle…. and then I envisioned a grown Addie and Ian making that same march.

Right now, the graduation of my own children seems to be a long way off. I am still very deep in the trenches of homeschooling. Ian is entering Kindergarten, and Addie is going into 4th grade.

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There are days when I wonder why I have chosen to homeschool my kids and take on myself a responsibility that others actually get paid for.

There are days when it takes my super smart nine year old five minutes to give me the answer for a simple division problem…. not that she doesn’t know it. Her mind takes little trips and she asks me a million unrelated questions in between finding the answer and writing it on her paper….. like “Mom, why do mosquitoes bite? Is it because of Adam and Eve?”

There are days when being wife, mom, teacher, home-keeper, cook, and launderer are overwhelming.

There are many days when I have to remind myself that my goal is not to have super smart children but to raise godly people.

Attending that graduation ceremony gave me the long term perspective I needed.

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I was able to see the tape across the finish line as each parent handed their student a diploma.

I was able to remember all of the answers to my “why’s”.

I was able to picture Brian and myself handing our children their diplomas and sending them into their next life adventure knowing that we had completed our purpose in the first part of their lives.

I was able to celebrate with these families who had once been in the trenches and had now reached the end of their race.

At one point in the ceremony there was a recognition of the families who were not only celebrating their child’s graduation but the end of their homeschool journey because this was their last child to be homeschooled.

I cried… again!

It dawned on me that homeschooling does not last forever.

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This race has a finish line.

My children will not stay little forever.

I will have to let them go at some point.

I am so glad I attended that graduation. Sometimes, you need to see the bigger picture to appreciate the small strokes you are making in canvas of your child’s life on a daily basis. These strokes can add beauty or can ruin the overall portrait.

As my friend Kristi often says, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

I’ll rephrase it: the school days are long….. but the school years are short.

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superwoman-had-a-team

Superwoman Had a Team

I am not Superwoman.

In fact, if I hadn’t been her daughter I would have thought Superwoman was a myth.

But when I look at my mother and all that she was able to do within the course of her day, I realize that she was not alone.

Superwoman had a team!

Her team Leader was The Lord, and her daily quiet times with Him gave her the recharge she needed to attack the challenges in her day.

Her partner and supporter was her husband (my father). He supported her and backed her and provided so that she could do what she did best.

Her two side kicks were my sister and me.

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My mother delegated some of the jobs within her home to us so she could homeschool us, be an assistant to my father who was serving as an associate pastor, lead a women’s Bible study, disciple one on one with women in our church, host gatherings in our home as part of my father’s ministry responsibilities, and cook and grocery shop and do the other things that “normal” wives do day in and day out.

My jobs were to keep my room clean, take care of the laundry, and kitchen cleanup after each meal. My sister had her own set of chores and responsibilities.

I don’t remember when our training as sidekicks started because helping was just something we always did. Our jobs were always age appropriate, and the older we got our jobs changed to meet our level of responsibility.

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Now I am the woman of my own home and I am finding that I don’t have enough hands (or enough of me) to do all of the jobs that need to be done. Yet I have the same resources at my disposal that my mother had.

I have The Lord, and my daily time with Him is an absolute must. It recharges me so that I can tackle the daily challenges I face. (A little secret I found is to just get up for a bit when I wake up in the middle of the night and spend my time in the Word or wake up just a little bit earlier than my family does.)

I have a partner as well. My loving, supportive husband who provides for us so that I can be home and do what I do. He encourages me in each and every endeavor, and I in turn want to do the same for him.

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I also have two little sidekicks in training. They are both learning how to help around the house by doing chores that are not only age appropriate, but are also suited to their personalities. Their help is invaluable.

With the big help my little sidekicks offer, I already feel the sense of relief that comes with delegating some of the smaller jobs that can put big pressure on me.

Sweet Mama, you do not have to do it alone. You have a team.

If you haven’t already, start getting your team in shape. Start them small. Be consistent. And remind them that they are an important part of your team.

Superwoman had a team.

I have a team in training.

You have a team.

Maybe one day our kids will think we were Superwoman.

But more importantly, our children need to know they have an important role on our team.

This post was originally featured on my blog The Joy of Homemaking.

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mom-ready-to-give-birth

To the Expectant Mother Soon to Give Birth

Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 30:5b- Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Dear Mom Ready to Give Birth,

Motherhood is hard. There are so many challenges in a single ordinary day. But there is also beauty with each challenge we face. So many will be ready to remind you of each new challenge you will face- “war stories” of births and raising children. But many will fail to remind you of the beauty hidden deep within each challenge, and the treasure that you will find if you look hard enough.

I want to remind you that within each challenge hides a beautiful treasure.

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Two weeks before I gave birth to our daughter, my mother went home to be with the Lord. I thought I was going to have to walk through motherhood alone. I hadn’t read any books or listened to the “experts” because I had assumed my mother would be there to guide me down this road called motherhood. And yet as hard as facing motherhood without my own mother was, God brought beauty in a way I had not expected it.

God brought women along side of me to help walk me through the early stages of motherhood. Some of those women were there for a season and some have continued to walk beside me. God has used my aunts, mother-in-law, and other godly women to come along side me and encourage me with God’s Word. I also had the chance to see how awesome my husband really is. From changing diapers- I’m talking the really dirty ones– to quieting a colic-y baby, I was able to see the true man that he really was but had never really noticed or given him credit for before.

The beauty of discipleship from seasoned, Christian women and the hands on love from my husband were a treasure I discovered during those difficult first few months.

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Five days before I went into labor, a senior saint decided to tell me every painful and gory detail about her birth and delivery story. I listened wide-eyed and I began to dread this fast approaching event that according to her would take 3 days with no medication.

Yes, the contractions came, and I experienced more discomfort than I have ever felt, but there was something beautiful about that period of discomfort. My room was filled with those who I loved and loved me. My husband, sister, in-laws, 2 aunts, an uncle, my cousin and her family, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law surrounded me. They breathed in with every contraction that showed up on the monitor and exhaled as each one dissipated.

That was the beauty in that moment of challenge. The community that God knew I so desperately needed at that very moment. He knew that I needed to know I wasn’t alone. I was watching and hearing my family and extended family feel my pain with me. The send offs and joyful laughter as I was wheeled away to deliver my daughter followed me down the corridor. The rejoicing that went on in that room when my daughter entered the world was God’s reminder that when His people “Rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep (Romans 12:15)” His love is visibly evident in the real world.

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I had to have an emergency C-section, and I was faced with having an extra set of bills I wasn’t anticipating, not having the type of birth I had hoped for, and now I would have a life-long scar.

Yet, the beauty came when I realized that my husband and I would have this moment to share all to ourselves. No one else would be able to impose on this moment that was going to turn us from a couple into a family. God allowed our insurance company to not only cover the c-section, but to also reimburse us for the entire pregnancy, reminding me that “my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory.” (Phil. 4:19) And my scar is a constant visual reminder that I would do anything for the sake of my children.

As we moved our new family home from the hospital, I began to experience the sleepless nights and midnight feedings that everyone “warns” you about with dread and gloom. As I would get up for each feeding, I would plead to God to let my baby sleep through the night. I was tired.

But the beauty came as I began to use those middle of the night times to have my quiet time. I had no room for distraction- nothing could be cleaned without waking anyone up. No one needed me once the baby had been put back to bed. Those middle of the night feedings turned into a nightly “meet-up” with God, and I began to look forward to it. When our son came along, his middle of the night feedings allowed me to continue having my time with God since I would be waking up to an energized preschooler and my day would get away from me.

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As your life changes in the next few weeks and you add this new little person into your home and family, with each challenge, look for the beauty. It will be there. Sometimes you won’t recognize it right away. But as you look back at the early days with little one, the moments filled with the most challenge are the moments you will remember most and miss once they have passed. And it is then that the beauty will start to become evident.

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evening-routine

Year of the Purposeful Woman: The Evening Routine

Do you ever wake up in the morning wishing you had gotten some of your tasks done the night before?

It is so easy to have that hindsight regret. But by establishing an evening routine, you can easily avoid having rough mornings and instead set sail into your day smoothly.

Establishing an evening routine is not as easy as it sounds. You’re tired. You’ve just completed a long day. You want to put your feet up and just rest.

But by disciplining yourself to establish and stick with your evening routine, in time, your evenings will be something you look forward to and not dread.

My evening consists of two things that help set the stage for my day- planning and setting up.

Planning entails looking over the calendar/planner and seeing what my day will consist of and having a mental idea of what dinner will be and how early I will need to prepare or start it.

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A good day starts the night before

There are several reasons why planning the night before is key to having a good day.

  1. You are too tired to be unrealistic– You have just completed your day. You are too tired to make unrealistic demands of yourself. Keep your “must do’s” limited to three items that can realistically be done with the amount of time your day will afford you.
  2. When you wake up you know what to expect… for the most part. Do you have a dentist appointment scheduled for your kids? Is there an important meeting you need to be at? Is tomorrow a day you can just relax and stay home? Having looked at your calendar the night before gives you a heads up on what to expect the next day. But keep in mind that the best laid plans are subject to change at a moment’s notice. A call from school. An emergency doctor’s appointment. You son jumping on the bed… (true story…)

Going over your plan for tomorrow is not enough to make your day run smoothly, though. By doing some of the leg work in the evening, you will save yourself some steps in the morning.

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Some ideas for setting up your day can be some or all of the following:

  1. Lay out clothes for you and the kids- By laying out the clothes down to the socks and shoes, I know that we have everything we need in the morning. Have you ever spent ten minutes looking for that one lost shoe in the back of your daughter’s closet? So have I, which is why I began laying every item out. The time and sanity it saved us on busy mornings was priceless.
  2. Quick clean (make sure the main part of your home is in order/ not a time for deep cleaning)– Taking a few minutes to pick up your main living area will go far in your attitude in the morning.
  3. Clean the kitchen (dishes in dishwasher, counters wiped down)– I love waking up to a cleaned up kitchen. Admittedly there is usually a coffee mug or two in the sink and a pot from my husband making popcorn as a snack, but otherwise, clear counters and a dishwasher filled with clean dishes greet me in the morning. Waking up to clean yesterday’s mess is no fun for anyone, so take a few minutes before putting your feet up to make your kitchen greet you with a smile.
  4. Prep the coffee pot- The sound of a nice, hot pot of coffee percolating in the morning is enough to make anyone smile before they even open their eyes. For me, a mom who has learned to hear every sound in the house while asleep, waking up to the sound of my coffee pot is so much nicer than hearing the annoying BEEP BEEP of the alarm. And because it has such a soft sound, it doesn’t wake my husband at all. It is also helpful on those busy mornings when we all need to be out of the house by 8 o’clock to not have to remember to do one more thing and make the coffee.
  5. Prep all lunches- Are you making sandwiches for lunch? Is it something that won’t leave the bread soggy? Can you set all lunch box snacks on the counter or in the boxes for easy packing in the morning?

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Mornings are hard. Having an evening routine can make your morning easier. Be sure to give yourself time and extra grace as you work on establishing a routine that works for you and yours. You will be glad you did.

To read more in this series:

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