proverbs-31-series

Work with Willing Hands | Proverbs 31 Series

“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” Proverbs 31:13

Sometimes, it is so easy for us to get hung up on the words and miss out on the spirit of a verse. This is one of those verses for me. I used to look at this verse in such a literal sense. But when I began looking at the overall meaning of this passage, it opened up a whole new world for me.

If we think back to the time period this verse was written in, we would see a society based in shepherding and farming. Wool, which was produced by the sheep being raised, and flax, which was a byproduct of the plants being grown and could be turned into linen, were materials easily available to women. They could seek out these materials and turn them into usable goods to benefit their families.

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We may not have access to the same raw materials these woman had access to, but we have access to so much more.

We have computers that give us access to so many online jobs and outlets for us to use the talents God has given us.

Some of us have a musical instrument and the training in order to be able to teach that instrument from home, allowing us the ability to earn some extra money or providing a livable  income for ourselves.

Some women have an amazing talent to use their hands to create beautiful yet functional items based on a need they themselves have experienced.

As I began preparing this post, one young woman came to mind immediately.

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Her name is Stephanie and she owns the Easy shop Emmy and I Designs. As a former teacher with a knack for sewing, she began preparing for baby by making beautiful clutches to be used in diaper bags or on their own, depending on her need for them. She also designed and created beautiful bibs, burp cloths, and simple dresses for her soon to come little girl. As she told me, her shop has been an unexpected blessing and has allowed her to stay home with her beautiful girl. Stephanie is a great example  of someone who has taken raw materials, worked with willing hands, and turned a hobby into a blessing for her family.

We live in an amazing day and age. As women, there are so many ways to use our talents and abilities, not only as a financial blessing to our family, but simply to bless them.

I remember the Christmas when I was seven, my mother made me a life-sized doll and sewed a dress for me to match my doll’s dress. It was one of the best, most remembered presents I ever received from my mother.

Is there something that you are able to do with your hands that can bless your family. Do you have a hobby that you absolutely love and enjoy? Is there a way for you to take that talent and turn it into a blessing for yourself and your family? This week as we memorize Proverbs 31:13, ask God to show you how you can take your hobby and turn it into a way to bless your family.

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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operation-christmas-child

Operation Christmas Child | A Family Christmas Project

We may only be in October, but Christmas is in the air in our home because of Operation Christmas Child.

I’ll never forget the first time I participated in Operation Christmas Child. I was very pregnant with my daughter, and the Christian school I taught at was participating. Brian and I chose to make a box for a 2-4 year old girl in our daughter’s name.

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Four years later, we took our daughter to the store to fill her very own box for another 2-4 year old girl. When we reached the cashier, this woman had a huge smile on her face. “I couldn’t help but feel so happy as I heard your little girl trying to pack the entire store into that little box. Who is this for?” And we were able to share with her about the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

When I served as interim Children’s Ministry Director at our church, I had the privilege of heading up the Operation Christmas Child drive for our congregation, and this time, both of our children were able to participate in helping to serve. We not only built boxes, stuffed them, and organized a packing party, but we were able to help take the boxes to our local drop-off location. We also chose to pay for our shipping online in order to track where our boxes went to really give our children the global perspective of the impact their shoeboxes were having.

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What is Operation Christmas Child?

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry through Samaritan’s Purse which  provides a shoebox filled with practical and fun items for children around the world through the donations of people like you and me. When children around the world are given this gift, they are also presented with the Gospel, providing them with the greatest gift they could ever receive.

Operation Christmas Child is a beautiful way to encourage the hearts of our children to think of others before thinking of themselves. Because Operation Christmas Child kicks off before the Christmas season does, it causes our children to think of others before their thoughts have a chance to turn to what they will receive on Christmas morning. Operation Christmas Child gets our children thinking beyond their own four walls to children around the world and gives them a hands on way to put into practice Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

How can I get involved?

Many churches and Christian organizations around the country are participating in Operation Christmas Child. If your church is not participating in Operation Christmas Child, don’t worry! There are still ways you can participate.

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Where can I get my shoebox?

Many participating locations will provide a cardboard shoebox free of charge, but you can use a large shoebox from your own recent shoe purchase or purchase a plastic shoebox from the dollar store for longer durability. Hobby Lobby sells official plastic Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

What can I put in the boxes?

If you have participated in the past, be aware that this year, candy and toothpaste are not allowed for customs reasons. Otherwise, Samaritan’s Purse has a list of suggestions which are allowed, such as a “Wow” item, personal care items (no liquids), clothing (think t-shirts and socks), crafts and activities, toys, and a personal note.

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Where do I take my shoebox when I’m done packing it?

If you are looking for a drop off location, you can find the nearest one to you here, but you need to be sure to drop your box off (with your $9 shipping enclosed) during National Collection Week, November 13-20, 2017, in order for your box bless a child.

Most importantly, don’t forget to add $9 for shipping in your box, either in your box or by paying online and attaching your tracking label to your box so you can find out where your box ends up.

Operation Christmas Child is a tradition in our home, and our children look forward to as just as much as I do. It is a great way to kick off the Christmas season and simultaneously be a blessing at Christmas time to another child somewhere in the world.

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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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twas-the-evening-of-christmas

Twas the Evening of Christmas | Review and Giveaway

Affiliate links may be used in this post. You can view our full disclosure here.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Christmas is coming!

With Christmas comes all the feels and wants of making this the most wonderful time of the year, and in our home, there are three ways we make that happen: books, traditions, and beauty.

Christmas Is a Great Time for Books

When you think of Christmas books, what comes to mind? Go ahead… I’ll give you a second.

I have a list of books, which I will share with you next month, that come to mind for me. But now on that list are two books by author Glenys Nellist.

Last year, Mrs. Nellist wrote a beautiful book, Christmas Love Letters from God, which filled every one of my personal requirements of a good, solid Christmas book. It now has permanent residence in our Christmas book basket. This year, Glenys has outdone herself… again. She has taken a well- loved classic Christmas poem, and created a beautiful version of her own, charmingly retelling the biblical account of the Christmas story.

Twas the Evening of Christmas demonstrates Glenys’s ability for taking a story, setting it to rhythmic poetry, and letting the words paint a picture on their own. As I read the story to my children, the words flowed so easily, and I couldn’t wait to read the next page to see how she would retell each part of the story in the way only she could.

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Christmas Is a Great Time for Traditions

As each Christmas rolls around, I want my children to expect specific recurrences. I want there to be expectations in their hearts that I can fulfill. Reading certain books under the tree during the evenings in December is something I want my children look forward to. Twas the Evening of Christmas is one of those books that will continue to be read year after year, and one day will be read to the next generation as well.

Christmas is a visual treasure

When I think of Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind is what Christmas looks like. Twinkling lights, beautifully decorated trees, full evergreen garlands, large green wreathes, and wrapping paper in every color and print imaginable. The images of Christmas leave as much of an impression as the smells and sounds do.

One of my favorite aspects of Glenys’s books, outside of her skillful authorship, is the illustrators she chooses to tell the visual story. Whether you are looking at her books for toddlers and preschoolers, her Love Letters books, or her newest book, Twas the Evening of Christmas, her illustrators tell the story with artistic beauty.

Elena Selivanova has done an amazing job of illustrating Twas the Evening of Christmas. There is such a nostalgic look to her art, and it fits this book so perfectly. When I asked my children which illustrations they loved the most, each chose something different. Ian, 6, loved the illustrations of the Baby Jesus. Addie, 9, loved all of the illustrations depicting the animals.

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I want to send a huge thank you to Zondervan for sponsoring this giveaway so you can possibly win your very own copy of this visually beautiful, beautifully written book, Twas the Evening of Christmas. I hope you take the time to enter the giveaway below.

Note: This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only, who have a physical street address (no PO boxes).

Next week, Shawn Howell at Prayer Lights will be sharing her review. I look forward to tuning in to hear what she has to say!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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.

You can read the other posts in this series here.

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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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back-to-school

4 Simple Back to School Ideas and Traditions

Back to school time comes with so much excitement and anticipation, but sometimes, also, with a feeling of dread and anxiety.

For some, new classes, new teachers, new clothes, new friends, and a brand new year to grow and learn are reasons to wake up ready to go on the first day of school, while for other kids, those same reasons bring anxiety levels to a breaking point.

Going from 3rd to 4th grade was a bit of a transition for Addie (we homeschool using Classical Conversations). She knew the work load was going to increase as would the difficulty, so she was not particularly thrilled to start school this year. Ian, on the other hand, was starting Kindergarten- seriously, what’s not to love about Kindergarten! He couldn’t wait to start school!

I found that these four ideas, which have become traditions for us, help bring a sense of excitement to the first week of school. And, yes, we allow ourselves a week to celebrate.

Photo

back-to-school

I have always taken a photo of the first day of school (like every mother out there!), but this was the first time I printed out signs for it. It will be neat (and heartbreaking) to put Ian’s “First Day of Kindergarten” and “First Day of 12th Grade” photos side by side one day.

We took these photos the day before we began school (because it was Sunday and we were already dressed up) so we wouldn’t take any time away from our actual first day of school.

If you want a copy of these signs for yourself, you can find them here at Homeschooling’ Mama.

Questionnaire

I love the idea of asking kids the same questions year after year. What better way to see their growth than by how their answers change!

back-to-school

This year, I scoured the internet looking for a few questions that the kids could answer, and I posted Ian’s answers on Facebook. These are the questions I chose to ask them:

  • What is your favorite color?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • What is your favorite book?
  • What is your favorite show?
  • What is your favorite sport?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?

Every year, I will ask those same questions. And I am sure that every year the answers will change in some way.

Special dinner

back-to-school

One night during “Back to school” week we make an effort to either go out to dinner or have food brought in. It gives everyone something to look forward to (including Mom), and time around the table always lends itself to opportunities for great conversations.

Special breakfast

My son goes to sleep asking “What’s for breakfast?”

Knowing how important it is for kids to have a great breakfast (especially on the first day of school), I try to make breakfast something they will really enjoy. Some years, I have made their toast look like a bear with cream cheese, a few banana slices, and raisins. but this year we went with cinnamon rolls… because I know it’s a family favorite.

back-to-school

However you choose to celebrate the first day or week of school, be sure to only take on what is comfortable and doable for you and your situation. Then, sit back and know you have added a brick to the foundation of love in your children’s hearts.

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The Simplest Possible Chore System for Kids

Chores… they are a necessary part of life, but they can also be a tedious task… and, in all honesty, sometimes teaching our children to help us can take more time than we are willing- or want- to give.

I mean, really, we can do the job faster and with more skill than they can, but by not taking the time to teach them how to help with the chores, we are depriving our children of the opportunity to learn how to be a contributing member of the family and, eventually, their own home, and in the long run, we are also depriving ourselves of the extra hands needed to make light work.

I am always looking for a good way to give our children a list of expectations for their assistance in our home, but I found that if I make out a nightly list for them, I get a little carried away and add too much to their list. If I print out a chore list online, many times it doesn’t apply to us.

One evening this past winter, I sat down and wrote out a list of the absolute musts that needed to be done on a weekly basis and divided them up between the easy (kid stuff) and the difficult (mom stuff). Then I divided the kid chores between the kids- some I even had them share so they would have to work together (another valuable life skill).

kids-chores

Making these cards was very simple.

I went into the power point program on my computer (Keynote for Apple users), found a layout I liked, and worked from there. I used the complete template and didn’t change anything about it. I added a picture of the child the card would belong to and which 5 chores they would be assigned each day.

Each day has 4 of the same tasks and one different chore. It’s the daily change up that keeps them going… and their picture… and the fact that they can use a dry erase marker to cross off each task they complete (because who doesn’t like crossing something off, right?).

Our daily tasks are:

  • 4 things (which you can read more about here)
  • Empty the dishwasher (Addie handles upper cabinet dishes, Ian handles safe silverware and lower cabinet dishes)
  • Help fold/put away laundry
  • Read & play for 30 minutes

Our daily change ups are:

  • Clean the windows
  • Vacuum the tile/Dust the baseboards
  • Wipe down the cabinets
  • Clean up/organize and area of your room
  • Pull weeds in the flower bed

After creating the files, I uploaded them to Walgreens and had them printed out as 4×6 photos. When I came home, I laminated each photo, and Addie helped me cut them out.

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Do you need to find a chore system that is computer generated or online? No!

Take some index cards, write the day of the week at the top in different colored markers, and list the chores needed for each day. That’s it! As their ability changes, you can easily make a new set of index cards. The important thing is to start small and make your chore card doable for your littles.

Just a little side note for you Mommas who have tiny ones… begin a routine now of things they can do and give it a specific name. For example, have them pick up their toys or clean up their rooms at a specific time every day or evening, and call it by a specific name (toy clean up or room pick up) every time they do the task. As they get older, you will only have to say the task name, and they will know exactly what you want them to do.

What system do you use for keeping track of your children’s chores?