book-list-2018

My To Read List for 2018

I love to read. Ever since I was a kid, you could find me with a book in my hands curled up somewhere reading to my heart’s content.

As a mom, my reading time has been significantly cut back (slashed is probably a better word for it), and when I do manage to get some reading time, I am usually found asleep curled up with a book in my hands (or falling out of my hands).

I learned a couple of huge lessons this year as I worked my way through my reading list for 2017.

  • Do not aim to read more books than I actually have time for.
  • Keep my list small, and if I find that I read more books than are on the list, then yay for me!

This year my book list reflects devotionals I want to work my way through, goals that we are working towards as a couple, authors who will encourage me to slow down and remind me that it’s okay to live life in the slow lane, classic books I want to read with my children, and launches I’ll be a part of.

book-list-2018

The List

Spiritual Goals

Financial Goals

Lifestyle 

Classics 

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Book Launches

  • The Eden Concept: Marriage God’s Way by Dana and Kimberly Williams (Book launch coming in February). I’ve had the privilege of viewing Kimberly’s book Home Discipleship: Much More Than ABC’s and 123’s, and I am excited to be a part of her launch team for her newest book which she and her husband have collaborated on.
  • The Revolutionary by Kristen Hogrefe (Coming in March) I read The Revisionary last year and absolutely loved it. The story takes place in a dystopian era United States, but it is written from a Christian world view. The storyline kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, I connected with the characters, and I could not wait to find out what  happened to Portia (the main character and heroine of the story). So when Kristen reached out to me earlier this month, I immediately agreed to review her latest book. I cannot wait share this review with you! If you have teens who love dystopian based literature, this is definitely a series you want to look into.

Do you enjoy reading? What books do you have planned to work your way through this year? Feel free to share your reading recommendations in the comments. We would love to hear which books are on your bookshelf or nightstand. It may even give me a few more titles to add to my list!

book-list-2018

investing

Two Simple Steps for Investing

“She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16

As women, we are always thinking of how we can grow the money we have. Whether we are looking to coupon to use less than we have at our disposal or putting what we haven’t used into our savings account, we women are resourceful at taking what we have and doing our best to grow it.

Someone else who was good at investing what she had was the woman in Proverbs 31. I couldn’t help but notice the two steps she took in making her money grow. (Note: I am not a professional investor. These are just two observations I have made from reading this passage. Any financial actions taken by the reader are done at their own risk.)

  1. Think through an investment before purchasing
  2. Take the earnings and invest them

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Think through an investment before purchasing

Before her purchase, she considers it well. Her decision is not made on impulse. It isn’t done because of a knee-jerk reaction. Her decision has been thought through with reason and logic. She considers all aspects of the purchase.

What is the cost?
Is the return worth the investment?
How much effort on her end will need to be put into this investment?
Does she have the time to put into this investment?
Does she have the know how to enter into this investment?
In addition to the know how, does she have the ability?

take the earnings and invest them

She doesn’t take her initial profit to spend it on a night on the town or a new wardrobe, instead she looks for ways to use her profit to put it back into her investment. She looks for ways to put her profit where it can increase over time. Notice, she plants a vineyard. It will take time to grow the grape vines, for the fruit to ripen, pick the fruit, and either sell them or turn them into another substance for sale.

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Our investment doesn’t have to be a field. There are so many ways to invest the resources God has given to us. Think of what you have at your disposal. How can you take that and invest it?

One young mom I know, who I’ve mentioned before, has taken her ability to sew and uses that ability to provide a supplementary income allowing her to stay home with her little girl.

One of my favorite women to follow on Facebook is Rachel Cruz. She is a woman who not only teaches other how to get out of debt, but how to wisely invest their resources. She has several books which will help you learn to consider your purchases and how to use your money well. I will be sharing more about these books in my upcoming 2018 Book List post.

This week, memorize Proverbs 31:16 and may it guide you as you plan your budget for the new year.

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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warrior-child

Bring Out the Warrior in Your Child

We live in the age of superheroes. Superman, Batman, Captain America, Ironman, Spiderman, and the list just goes on and on.

We like superheroes.

Trust me.

My son has the masks and the shields and the pajamas and the action figures and… well, you get the idea.

But there is something these superheroes have that my son will never have. Super powers. My son will never fly or be bulletproof like Superman. He will never be able to glide through the night like Batman. He will never have a boundless amount of energy like Captain America (although, sometimes I wonder about that one…). He will never have a suit of armor that talks to him, allows him to fly, and save the world like Ironman. He will never be able to crawl up a wall like a spider and shoot webs at people (and we are all thankful on that account).

warrior-childYet the other day, when I told him we would be having a photo shoot with him dressing up like David the shepherd boy, he got so excited and ran around letting Daddy and Sister know. Why?

Because he could be like David.

David was a young boy, like him. David didn’t have super powers, and neither does my son (although sometimes he works his cuteness like it is a superpower). David was found doing his chores, which my son can relate because he has chores. His only weapon was a slingshot, and my son has a toy one he plays with and actually pings things with.

My son can relate to David in a way he can’t relate to the superheroes.

And I’m glad.

Because David did amazing things in his life, but God, the same God my son has access to through Jesus, was the power behind the amazing in David’s life. David called on God before he ran towards the giant Goliath on the battlefield. My son is learning how to call on God when he is afraid. David gave God the glory for the victory, a lesson in humility my son will never learn from a TV superhero.

That’s why I love books like author Virginia Finnie’s books in the Hey Warrior Kids! series. They not only showcase the power of God through the life of David, but they teach our children about the armor of God in an entertaining and interactive way that kids will enjoy.

 

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Virginia Finnie has taken her books, Hey Warrior Kids! Put On Your Armor! and Hey Warrior Kids! Grab Your Slingshot! and revamped them. Not only are they larger than before, but now they are interactive!

I previously reviewed both books on Christian Children’s Book Review here and here. One of my favorite aspects of Virginia’s writing is how natural it was for me to read to my children. Her writing style is so close to how I speak when teaching my children, it was easy to read and easy for them to follow along.

The best part of each book is the plan of salvation that is given. It is written in a way that children can easily understand, and a place is provided for children to write their name if they have accepted God’s gift of salvation. A prayer is included in each book that coincides with the story in  its respective book. It takes the principles taught and helps children ask God to help them take what they have learned and apply it.

I especially love the updates made to these books. They have been made larger than before, and coloring pages have been added to the end of the book creating a more interactive experience for children after reading the book.

If you are looking for a great gift or stocking stuffer for the kids in your life, the Hey Warrior Kids! series is a great place to start.

 

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art-of-giving

Teaching Children the Art of Giving

Between commercials and store displays, our children are being bombarded with all of the gadgets, toys, and knick knacks they need to make them happy this Christmas.

But the reality of Christmas is that God gave us His one and only Son. But rather than focusing on the gift that was given, children in general tend to relate more to the gift received. I know I did.

So how can a Purposeful Mom help her children see the beauty of giving? How can we help our children realize the heart of the season, and learn to give the way God gave to us?

How do I teach them?

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My favorite movie and book for teaching these lessons are Really Woolly: The Gift of Christmas and Red Boots for Christmas.

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Really Woolly: The Gift of Christmas is one of my all-time favorite movies. I first bought it when Addie was 10 months old, and it became a fast favorite. The story begins in the autumn (unusual for most children’s Christmas movies) when young Jacob sees a toy he really wants. After asking his parents to buy it for him (and being promptly turned down), he decides to work hard all autumn and winter to buy it for himself. When Christmas arrives, because he has spent all of his time focused on himself and his wants, he finds he has forgotten to get a gift for the family gift exchange. After his very understanding Grandmother explains to him that she has already received the greatest gift of all, Jacob decides to take the one thing he owns and loves and uses it to give gifts to his family the next day.

Red Boots for Christmas by Carol Greene is a beautiful story of a busy man who is visited by an angel and told that he will receive a special visitor on Christmas Eve. He decides to create the most beautiful pair of boots for this surprise guest. When Christmas Eve arrives, several of the townspeople drop by, and the cobbler offers them some of the fancy meal he has prepared. After they leave, the man is visited by the angel again. He becomes angry that his special guest has not arrived. The angel explains that the man’s neighbors were the guests and that he gave them the gift of friendship that evening. The cobbler realizes that the act of giving is a gift itself. He takes the beautiful boots and finds a poor, young girl to give them too.

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What next?

Take the lesson from Really Wooly: The Gift of Christmas and encourage your children to make gifts using their skills and what they have available to them.

Do your daughters sew? Can they crochet? Do they use perler beads? Are they still in the rainbow loom phase? Are they able to bake with a little assistance from you? This is perfect! Have them make a list of relatives and a few dear friends, and then have them work on some simple projects that can be given as gifts.

Does your son love Legos? Is he older and whittles (parental judgement required)? Is he old enough to handle yard work without assistance (parental judgement required)? He can make some Lego creations or create something for family members. He can even offer his services free of charge to older family members who have difficulty doing their own yard work.

For the last few years, Addie has made perler bead items for grandmas and other family members. When she was really small, she made bead necklaces for her grandmother and great-grandma. Great-Grandma still wears her necklace.

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This year, Ian was able to participate in the act of giving by using his handprint to help decorate the gift bags for his AWANA teachers. It is a simple way to get younger children started in the practice of giving.

We also include the kids in the delivery of the gifts. It is important for them to experience the joy of giving to others. I have seen the excitement in my children as they hand their gifts to their teachers, and the look on their faces as their teachers draw them in for a hug.

This Christmas, may your children learn to give, and may they receive the blessing that can only be received by giving to others.

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christmas-resources

My Favorite Christmas Resources

Tis the season to pull out all of our favorite activities, books, and movies!

Every year, as I begin to put the Thanksgiving decorations away and pull out the Christmas boxes, my children begin asking about all of their favorites which have been hidden away for the year. Their excitement gets my creative juices flowing to find new ways to use our time-tested favorites to make new memories.

From activities to books to movies, we squeeze the most out of every moment in December with the ultimate goal being to bring our hearts to the manger as we remember that the reason for celebrating is the birth of our Savior, Jesus.

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Activities

Melk the Christmas Monkey- This little monkey visits us sporadically throughout the month of December with the express purpose of teaching us about the character of God. My favorite aspect of Melk the Christmas Monkey is that he visits us based on our schedule. It does not have to be a daily activity. Because of this, my children are still experiencing new activities because there are still lessons we have not yet learned with Melk over the last couple of years. You can read more about our experiences with Melk here. (Note: The actual monkey is not part of your purchase. The monkey I purchased several years ago is no longer available, but you can find a similar monkey here.)

Little People Nativity– When Ian was two years old, I knew I had to do something that would keep my ceramic Nativity set from becoming an item of interest to him. I decided to purchase the Little People Nativity set. He is now six years old, and he still enjoys playing with the set. This is one set that continues to grow with children, and each year, as their knowledge and understanding of the Christmas account grows, so will their storytelling as they play with the characters.

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Books

Our family has grown a collection of Christmas books over the last nine years, and each year our collection grows by one or two books. For the last two years, we have received copies of Glenys Nellist’s newest Christmas books Christmas Love Letters from God and Twas the Evening of Christmas which have become family favorites and are on my list of “must have Christmas books.” You can read more about them here and here.

My friend, Aryn the Libraryan, who shared her list of Christmas books yesterday, recently gifted us with Max Lucado’s An Angel’s Story. It is a powerful adaptation of the Christmas account through the eyes of the angel Gabriel. My children are currently nine and six years old, but because of all of the discussions we have already had, I felt they were ready for this book. You may want to read it through on your own to decide when your children would be ready for it as it does deal with the spiritual realm.

A few of our other favorites in our book basket are:

christmas-resources

Movies

One of our favorite things to do in the evenings is to gather on the sofa and watch a Christmas movie while eating popcorn (for the record, my husband makes the best popcorn ever!). Movies can be a great visual for our children when depicting the Nativity or a lesson in character or love, just be sure to point out to your children when the movie has taken creative license.

The Nativity Story (upper elementary/middle and high school) is a family favorite. Although it is not an animated film, we chose to show it to our children last year. It can be a bit harsh and realistic, for example, when Elizabeth and Mary each give birth, there is nothing cute and cuddly about it. But it beautifully portrays the reality of the situation. Again, as with any biblically based movie, be sure your children know what the Bible says and can discern the truth from creative license.

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Our other favorite is Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas. (preschool/elementary) This animated depiction beautifully explains to children the truth behind the idea of Santa Claus by introducing them to the real St. Nicholas by creating a story based on one of the legends surrounding his generosity.

Other family favorites are:

As you move into the Christmas season, may the activities, books, and movies you share with your family bring you all closer to Jesus and His gift of Salvation.

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Countdown to Christmas

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This week, an adorable little monkey began creating quite a stir in the Ladouceur residence!

Who is this little Monkey?

His real name is Melchior Noel Yule, but he prefers being called Melk the Christmas Monkey. Melk’s mission in life is to tell children all about God and His great love for us.

Melk is nocturnal, so he is awake while your children sleep. When they wake up, your little ones will find out what Melk has been up to! He is never mischievous, but he is always involved in some kind of activity that your children can join in when they find him.

From making paper chains and gingerbread houses to taking family photos and making tree toppers, Melk engages your children in activities which ultimately teach them about the character of God.

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Some reasons I prefer Melk as a daily Christmas visitor

I love Christmas, but sometimes, the act of preparing so many different activities can become overwhelming. Melk is our only daily activity for Christmastime. Katie Hornor (the author of Putting on the Spirit devotional and the new book In Spite of Myself) has already done all of the planning. All I have to do is follow her directions. She has given a list of what is needed, links to the downloads of the crafts suggested, and what activity Melk should be working on when the children find him in the morning.

I appreciate that Melk is never found getting into mischief. He is always doing something sweet, fun, productive, or enjoying Christmas with the innocent wonder of a child (like the morning my children find him sleeping under the tree).

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Rather than being someone who reports back to Santa about how the children are behaving, Melk points children to God and explains Biblical truths in easy to understand ways.

Melk, the Christmas Monkey: Teaching God’s Character through Bible Lessons and Activities the Entire Family Can Enjoy is available through Amazon as a paper back book or Kindle edition. (Note: The actual monkey is not part of your purchase. The monkey I purchased several years ago is no longer available, but you can find a similar monkey here.)

You can follow our family’s Melk adventure on Instagram.

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Redemption of the Picture-Perfect Moment

With Halloween over and the Christmas season beginning basically the next day, it means I have to mentally prepare myself now for the supposed “picture-perfect moment.”

For all you Dads out there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Everybody is having a great time, the kids are content and you finally have a moment to sit and relax. Out of nowhere, you hear the words, “Alright! Time for a picture!”

If I’m your typical guy, I gladly volunteer to take the picture of everybody else. If I get stuck in the photo, I reluctantly give a half-hearted smile and rush to get it over with leaving everyone a little frustrated.

But what if you could redeem the picture-perfect moment? What if there was a way to take the typical guy response and transform it into a moment for the purposeful dad?

Here are three things to help you get through the infamous picture-perfect moment.

  1. Prepare yourself ahead of time. Mentally prepare ahead of time knowing you will have to take some pictures as a family. Be proactive and be ready to take the picture. Ask your wife ahead of time when the photo will happen so you can plan accordingly.
  1. Smile and have fun with it! If everybody smiled, posed and participated for the picture, it would literally be over in less than 90 seconds. Have fun with it! Think of something fun to say that’ll make the kids laugh. Tickle your wife (after the good picture was taken!) and have a blast with your family. Don’t let a picture get you down or ruin the rest of the day. Let the kids see you having fun… this may even condition your kids to be okay with taking pictures!
  1. Think about the picture-perfect future. This last one is the most important one.

In the age of social media, I originally titled this post, “The Curse of the Picture-Perfect Moment.” I feel like almost anything we do has someone’s smartphone capturing the moment rather than being in the moment. The five minutes following are spent on creating the right caption with the perfect filter. Then, I realized it really isn’t a curse after all.

Just a couple weeks ago, I pulled up old pictures on my phone and my 4-year-old daughter started looking at them with me. She would laugh and look at specific photos more than others. Anytime Halloween costumes came by, she would snicker and talk about how much she loved her outfit that year.

As we continued looking at pictures of our family, (you know, those picture-perfect moments that drove me nuts at the time?), my daughter looked up at me and said, “Daddy, I love our family!” Does she remember what we did that day? Probably not. Does she see our family having fun together? Absolutely.

Redemption! It all made sense now. She now associates those pictures with the love for our family and the time we spent together. All because of a “picture-perfect moment.”

That’s when I discovered my purposeful dad perspective on pictures.

The pictures weren’t for benefit in the present. The pictures were meant for the picture-perfect future. A future looking back on the past and remembering the good times we had as a family.

And that’s why, as a Purposeful Dad, I choose to be a part of the picture-perfect moment.

This post is a part of the Purposeful Dad series. If you know someone you can encourage with this post, feel free to share!

rise-shine

Rise and Shine!

“She rises also while it is still night, and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.” Proverbs 31:15

Do you ever wish you had a bit of a head start to your day?

There have been mornings when I have woken up and opened my eyes to a little person standing at eye level to me with a huge smile on his face. And when his mouth starts to move, the words that come out are not, “I love you,” as one would hope, but instead the words are, “What’s for breakfast?”

It’s moments like that which make me wish I had woken up early.

For the woman of the home, whether you are a single, wife, or mom, it’s important to wake up with plenty of time to give you a margin of breathing room before it’s “go time” or to get the basics done before the rest of the house starts moving.

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When does your home start stirring?

Figuring out when your family begins to stir will give you an indication of when you need to wake up to give yourself a head start. For example, my son is the earliest riser in our home, so I take his wake up time and wake up an hour before he does to give me the time I need in the mornings.

If you don’t have kids, base your wake time on how long it takes you do everything in the mornings that you have to get done: exercise, pack lunch, maybe clean one room so you don’t have to when you get home from work, dress, and do your hair.

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What can you get done in the morning?

I love how Proverbs 31:15 says “and gives food to her household and a portion to her maidens.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have “help” if the form of a maid or outside help that comes in to relieve me of any of my duties, and you probably don’t either.  We do, however, have other “maids.”

I love looking at my washing machine, dish washer, and coffee maker as my “maids” and putting them to work. Change your view of what “help” looks like in our modern world and find ways to put them to work during the early morning hours.

Mornings are a great time for:

  • Devotions
  • Putting the coffee on
  • Getting a load of laundry started
  • Folding a load of laundry
  • Cleaning one room in the house
  • Preparing dinner (taking food out of the freezer to thaw or put it together for quick preparation later in the day)
  • Getting in a cup of coffee with some early morning reading
  • Completing your morning routine without interruption

By getting some time alone in the quiet of the morning, we are able to get in some much needed alone time which will help us mentally prepare for the day ahead and possibly help us get some of our responsibilities out of the way.

Memorize Proverbs 31:15

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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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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May the Sales Be Ever In Your Favor | Proverbs 31 Series

“She is like the merchant ships; She brings her food from afar.” Proverbs 31:14

Shopping can be fun! But sometimes (especially during the Christmas season), it can feel like you are participating in some warped version of the Hunger Games. How many of us have gone out on Black Friday and prayed that we would be the one brave warrior to make it home alive?

Shopping doesn’t always need to feel like we are entering the arena, especially now that we have officially entered into the holiday, gift-giving season. Not only are we trying to survive the crowds, but we are also trying to get the best price on our merchandise. Make it home alive and lose as few of our resources as possible? Is that realistic?

There are ways to survive the crowd and find the best prices and deals to maximize our dollar, but sometimes it means being willing to drive to that out of the way store that has the best prices even if it’s not an all-in-one-stop shop.

What does this look like in real life?

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Grocery shopping

One of the most important methods to saving money on groceries is meal planning.

Meal planning, simply stated, is the process of planning your family’s meals so you aren’t left wondering at 5:30 p.m. what you are feeding your family for dinner that night.

It begins by looking through your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what you already have on hand. Once you have decided which meals you can start with the supplies you already have, make your list based on what you still need. Fill in with breakfast and lunch staples and few snacks (or better yet, try making your own), and you will be surprised at how little you spend… if you stick to your list.

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Christmas

Black Friday is know for its great sales, but many times items end up in the shopping cart just because they are on sale, not because they are things that would have purchased anyway. Instead, start early in the year, and take note of what your family members are actually interested in. Then as you begin to notice items go on sale, you can pick them up.

In our home, we ask the kids to write down or tell us items in four categories:

  • something they want
  • something they need
  • something to wear
  • something to read

They can write down or name as many items as they want under each category. They know they will not receive every item on their list, but at least we have a better understanding of their interests and expectations for Christmas. It also gives us a head start on looking for gifts they actually want instead of spending money on items just so the base of the Christmas tree looks full on Christmas morning.

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Clothing

In style clothing is something that all women want, but who says you have to pay full price for them? Early on, my mother taught me to shop the clearance racks before checking out the retail priced racks. Shopping clearance racks for children is also a great idea. Rather than purchasing clothes in their current sizes, purchase clothes in the next size or two up. You will save a significant amount on clothes if you aren’t having to purchase them at full price.

Couponing websites and apps

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Another way to save, which takes a little extra effort on our part but is completely worth it, is to use coupon apps. Not all stores participate in these apps, but the ones that do help us save significant amounts of money. Ibotta is my go to app. Just for making a purchase, I can earn $0.25. If I purchase items that have rebates in the app, I can make significantly more. The money earned back can be turned into gift cards for a whole host of stores, and if you use your gift cards to purchase items with rebates on the app, you can not only earn more money back, but you can do it without spending a dime of your own money.

As we add Proverbs 31:14 to our memorization list, let’s think of ways to stretch our dollar, save on groceries, keep our Christmas expenses low, and use technology to our advantage. And may the sales be ever in your favor.

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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