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.

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worth-more-than-rubies

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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God Moved Our Mountain

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“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (Mark 11:23 KJV) 

Life can be filled with mountains- challenges or obstacles that stand in the way of our dreams or success. While some seem more like hills and a bit easier to conquer, there are others that just don’t seem as simple to plow through. 

Whatever the size of our mountains, though, I find that it’s often much easier for many of us to talk “about” the mountains in our lives as opposed to talking “to” them as the verse above states.

“It’s so hard to lose weight”, we tell ourselves. 

“I don’t know if I’ll get the job. So many people have applied, and I’m sure there are plenty more qualified than me.” 

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get out of debt. I’m having a struggle just paying my bills, and these days we’re living paycheck to paycheck.”

Yes, my friends, you know the mountains. You’ve perhaps climbed a few yourself… And some just don’t seem like they’ll ever go away… 

But what if the words in the above Bible verse were actually true? Could it be possible to see those mountains move by God’s power working through our faith and the words we speak? 

Well, one did for me…

When my husband and I first got married, we decided to start our lives together in an apartment complex beside a beautiful master community. While living in the apartments, together we’d enjoy bike rides into the neighboring community, where we not only had access to a beautiful nature trail but also were able to use the community’s clubhouse amenities for a small yearly fee. Nature-purposeful-moms-image

Over time, my husband and I began to look at buying a home and found a beautiful one right in there. At the time it was on the market as a short sale. When visiting this home for the first time, I felt a strong sense of peace that I hadn’t felt before during our house hunting experience. And it was amazing to see that both my husband and I actually had a unified agreement on this home. 

However, shortly after fixing our eyes on this home, it was taken off the market… as it began to go through the foreclosure process.

I still had my heart set on it and remember one day returning with a good friend and asking her to pray with me over it. Together we touched the door and agreed in prayer that it would come back on the market and be priced. 

After a few months of waiting, it did come back on the market, and we were thrilled. (Hey, and it even came with a jacuzzi! Can’t beat that, right?) So, very soon after, we put in our first offer. 

Yeah….And the bank rejected it.

Hm… Not enough? So, we gave another offer…

And…. Another rejection by the bank.

Not willing to give up, we put a third offer on the home…

And… (Cue the crickets!)

We heard nothing back.

So, we assumed our third offer was also rejected and finally gave up on it, having our first two offers rejected by the bank and our third offer never getting a response.

Still in the market for a home, we ended up house hunting some more.  And, finally, after not being able to find anymore homes in our ideal community within our price range, we made an offer on a home in a different community. It was a nice home and nice community but just not the home we originally wanted… Honestly, even though it was a beautiful place, we felt like we were getting our second pick (of community) and not our first. 

It’s so amazing, though, how although at times it seems as if a dream has died, God has the power to resurrect it…

Hope-restored-purposeful-momsIn fact, it’s funny as I remembered (after the fact) that God had given me a special personal word regarding our house hunting experience, and it was this… “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)

Little did I realize how very relevant this word would be to our situation…

…Because on the morning our offer/paperwork was to be submitted to the owners and as I got ready for work, I began to be reminded of the first home that we loved and that I had felt such a solid peace about. (It was basically out of the picture, though, from our past experiences with the bank and now with us in the current process of putting an offer on another home.)

But as I was getting ready in my bathroom… Something I’d never really done much of before happened. I began speaking directly to my mountain! 

REALLY. 

(Okay, it may sound crazy to you. And if you were a fly on the wall you might have thought it was a bit strange. But it was as if God allowed faith to rise up in me in that moment, and I started confessing out loud in my bathroom {of all places} that the house we really wanted at first would open up and the bank would accept our offer…TODAY!)

Whoa, girl… That’s a big step of faith. How do you know it’s all going to happen? Believe me, that boldness in faith and that word had to come from God because I don’t know if I really realized at the time what was actually going to transpire that very same DAY… 

So, I headed out to work to decorate and prepare my classroom before the beginning of the school year, and a little later I got a call…

It was my husband who told me that a line in the paperwork from our current offer was missing one of our signatures, so it couldn’t be submitted yet. (The fact is… Once an offer is submitted, you can’t put an offer on another home. So this was crucial to what would happen next.) 

Then, a little while later Jim called me again. This time, he told me that our realtor (who was not the main listing agent for the foreclosure house) just learned that the bank had dropped the price on the house we really wanted. They had never seen our third offer (possibly due to the main listing agent wanting the full commission on the house), and now our third offer (which the bank had never seen) was $1,000 less than our third offer.

So… Yeah…..!!!!! Needless to say, we got our dream house!

GOD HAD MOVED OUR MOUNTAIN!!!

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Yes, banks have power to say “Yes” or “No”. People have choices to agree or not agree, but something I’ve learned is that when God is in the middle of something, and He wants something good to happen…Nothing can stand in His way.

I will always remember the day God prompted me to speak to my mountain, and the amazing events that happened that day. For me, this story will always remain a encouraging testimony to share with others regarding the mountains they face… Because it’s not just me sharing a positive “reminder”, it’s actually an event that took place in my own life where I saw God at work. 

If you have any mountains in your life, no matter what they are, just know that God is much bigger than them. Take them to God in prayer… and then get ready to start speaking to them about how BIG GOD is….because even though mountains are big, they can still be moved by God’s power.

legacy

The Original Purposeful Mom and Her Legacy

We as mothers hope to one day leave a legacy.

It drives us to do what we do, day in and day out. It’s why we make the choices we make on a daily basis. It’s why we get up every morning to face the challenges of the day again. Because one day our children will grow and become men and women who will either carry on our legacy- the core values we have spent our lives instilling in them in every way we could- or choose a path of their own.

Purposeful Moms would not even be here if not for a woman that God entrusted us to many years ago.

Let me introduce you to the original Purposeful Mom and the legacy she left behind.

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Her name was Ana. And she was gorgeous.

That’s not just my biased opinion either. As a teenager, she was super thin, had long, straight, bottle-blonde hair, and big brown eyes with lashes that went on forever. One day, as she was walking home, a gentlemen with a business card approached her. He told her that he was a modeling agent and his models would be featured on television that evening. He gave her the time, channel, and business card and went on his way. Ana went home that evening and turned on the TV. As she watched, she felt in her heart that she had a turning point choice to make. She could either choose to serve God with her life or choose to live a worldly lifestyle. That night she dedicated her life fully to Christ.

Her legacy taught me to always choose Christ and service to him.

Mom kept her make up very simple. Her beauty made cosmetics pretty unnecessary. But she always wore mascara. The mascara made her long lashes (which our children have inherited) more defined, and caused her beautiful brown eyes to stand out (Faye inherited her eyes). One evening as she was worshipping in church, she felt the desire to weep before the Lord, but she was afraid to because the tears would cause her mascara to stream down her face.  That night she vowed before God that she would never wear mascara again because she didn’t want to allow anything to stand between her and the worship of her God.

Her legacy taught me to care more about my relationship with God than how I look to others as I worship him.

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When she began dating my father, she chose to hold herself to God’s standard of conduct rather than society’s standard. Her purity of conduct not only carried her through her dating years but kept her faithful to her marriage vows.

Her legacy taught me to put Christ at the center of my dating relationship and marriage.

Before she married my father she prayed. She told God that she only wanted to marry my father if that marriage would be blessed by Him. As she prepared herself for her wedding day, she saw a tract in the bridal room of the church. The words on the tract said, “I will bless your marriage.”

Her legacy taught me to take my marriage to God before and after my wedding day.

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As a young couple trying to make ends meet, my parents had a strict budget to live on. They only had so much to spend on groceries per week. But one day, their church was having a get together and asked them to provide the milk and coffee for the evening. My parents knew that by doing this, they would not have enough to buy meat for themselves for the week. But they bought the milk and coffee anyway. The night of the event, the weather turned bad and the event was canceled. Someone from the church called my parents and told them that the meat that had been purchased by the church would go bad before the event could be rescheduled. They were asked if they would like to stop by and pick up some of the meat to take home for themselves.

Her legacy taught me that by giving to the Lord, He would always provide for my needs.

My father played in a band in his younger days. One night, as he my mother and his younger sister were walking back to the car, a man attempted to mug him. The man told the gals to stay quiet and no one would get hurt. My mother pointed her Bible at him and began shouting, “I rebuke you in Jesus name!” The man lowered his knife, took $5 out of my dad’s pocket, and took off running.

Her legacy taught me to call on the name of the Lord in times of trouble.

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My mother prayed for us before we were born, after we were born, when we were sick, for our future husbands, and for our well being.

Her legacy taught me to take my children before the Lord at all times for everything.

Mom taught us God’s Word on a daily basis. Until the day before my wedding, she would sit with me at the breakfast table and teach me a lesson straight from God’s Word.

Her legacy taught me that teaching my children God’s Word was my responsibility, not the church’s.

Today makes nine years since my mother passed away, yet her legacy lives on. It lives on in her daughters.

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As a Purposeful Mom, I pray that one day I leave a legacy for my children.

A godly legacy.

A legacy that will lead them to the throne of God on a daily basis.

That is a true legacy.

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Needs: Theirs, Mine, and (H)ours

Imagine that you are running a 5K.

You’ve set a steady pace for yourself and you’re doing well. You haven’t spent too much energy, and if things keep going along the way they are you will finish this race with enough energy to pump your arms in the air as you collapse across the finish line.

Suddenly, a hurdle is thrown in your path. You can either keep your pace and expect to run right through it (with horrible results) or you can pick up momentum, leap, and then resume your steady pace. Another hurdle may or may not be thrown in your path, but you never know.

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As a woman, you know that this 5K race is one you run every single day. Some days there are obstacles/hurdles that suddenly appear at any given point and on others days the path couldn’t be clearer while you are trying to reach the finish line in this race of life.

If you are a work-outside-the-home-mom, that hurdle might be the call from school telling you that you have a sick child that needs to be picked up. For the stay-at-home-mom, that hurdle could be the dreaded crayon incident that occurs while you are homeschooling your older child and sends you scrambling for some type of cleaner while saying “no, no, no” and trying to keep your cool at the same time (if it sounds like I know something about crayons on surfaces other than paper….. I do).

There are always going to be little things that come up during your day. Your children and your spouse need you and quite often need something of you. You have needs, too! And there are only so many hours in the day.

 

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So how do you keep from getting derailed but instead ending your day with a semblence of peace?

1. Put God first

It goes without saying. When you put The Lord first in your day, even if it is just having a prayer time with Him first thing in the morning, you are, in escence, handing your day to Him. It could not be in better hands than that.

2. Evaluate your responsibilities for the day

Make a list of what you and your family need to do, and then check it twice! Do you really need to get everything on that list done? What can be eliminated? Is your list overreaching what is even humanly possible to do on any given day?

3. Evaluate what your family’s needs/desires/wants are

If you have small children, mommy/child playtime is high on their list of needs/wants. Keep that in mind. What does your husband want? A nice dinner, a particular favorite meal, couple time? Keep his needs in mind. What do you need/want? A hot cup of tea or coffee during naptime, a chance to put your feet up for half and hour? Keep you in mind, too.

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4. Break up your day into thirds

On a sheet of paper (or open a page on a digital notebook), write down morning, afternoon, and evening.

Then take your list of responsibilities and your family’s needs/wants and fit them within the three parts of your day.

For example, my list yesterday looked like this:

Morning- devotions and prayer, exercice, dress, quick clean, 2 loads laundry, and homeschool.

Afternoon- fold laundry, blog, , begin purging Ian’s room, prep dinner, read, and play games with the kids.

Evening- watch a movie with the family, quick clean, layout clothes for tomorrow (me and kids), pack Ian’s lunch, pack Brian’s lunch, pack Addie’s back pack and lunch, clean the kitchen, and prepare for Classical Conversations Community Day.

For me as a goal oriented person, I like knowing that one of my “things-to-do” is to stop, sit, and play or interact with my kids in a fun way without thinking about what I have to do next.

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I do get “me time”, also. As long as all of the kids’ responsibilities are completed by 2:00 in the afternoon, they have a designated technology time that allows me to sit with a cup of coffee while I read or take care of my online things. For me, that is relaxing.

By getting everything done by the time the kids go to bed in the evening allows me to be available to spend quality time with my husband.

Not having an excessive amount of things on my to-do list means that when hurdles suddenly get thrown in my path during my daily race, I have time to adjust my speed, pray, leap, and keep running.

It’s a new day, Ladies! Lace up those running shoes and let’s hit the pavement at a steady pace today!

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what to do with kids Christmas break

Things to Do with Your Kids This Christmas Break

It will be here before you know it…

Christmas break!

And I just heard it…. the cheer of little ones embracing their upcoming freedom, and the gasp from moms who are looking for ways to fill their children’s time for the duration of the break.

If you are going away for some of the break, then half of your battle is already won, since leaving home is an adventure all its own and comes with its own entertainment for young ones. But if you are staying home during your break, then filling the hours of your days is a daunting challenge.

Because I homeschool my children, I am always looking for ways to keep my kids on their toes after our schoolwork is done with fun, meaningful activities that I can plan and prepare for the night before. They are not stress inducing activities or even complicated in their preparation, but my children feel as though they have been thought of and have even expressed their appreciation of these planned times.

what to do with kids Christmas break

Each activity comes with a time limit so the activity is ended before boredom sets in and leaves anticipation for the activity to be repeated in the future.

We do not do all of these activities each day. This is just a list that I use to choose from when planning our day.

At Home:

  • Silent reading (30 minutes)- My son who recently turned 5 has been doing this for a while now and can sit for the duration of the time. He cannot read a full book at this point, but he is a pro at looking at pictures and even doing some picture search books.
  • Read aloud (30 minutes)- This does require Mom’s involvement, but that’s okay! Choose books that are related to the season you are in (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.). Having a book basket helps with this. This would also be a great time to begin a classic or novel with them (we have read the Winnie the Pooh collection together).  You will be amazed at how their understanding and communication skills grow with this simple activity. During this time, I pull out the blocks and perler beads and my children quietly create while they listen.
  • Color/Draw (20-30 minutes)- Coloring and drawing is an important childhood skill that our kids need in order to develop fine motor skills among other things. [source]

what to do with kids Christmas break

  • Play-doh (20-30 minutes)- Kids love play-doh, and moms can easily use this time for some therapy. Squishing play-doh is relaxing and has the ability to keep kids entertained without any effort on our part.
  • Bake cookies (30 minutes)- This one requires a little bit of work, but there is no hard and fast rule that you have to make your cookies from scratch (we don’t always). Kids love the process of mixing and seeing their work turn into something they can actually eat.
  • Play games (30-45 minutes)- This is a fun one! Grab all of those you have hidden away in a closet and play a few. Depending on ability, the games may even get a bit competitive. A few of our favorites are Shopkins Uno, Candyland, Dominoes, Go Fish, Sorry, Guess Who, and Connect Four.
  • Watch a show (30-120 minutes)- This activity is great when Mom just needs to sit with a cup of coffee in a quiet room for a bit. Pull out a video (your children’s ages and attention spans will dictate the length of your movie), put your feet up, and enjoy the quiet. If your children know that movie time only comes at a specific time of the day, they will appreciate that time even more.
  • Play outside (30-60 minutes)- This is the stuff of childhood and the maker of good naps for little ones. Fresh air, sunshine, and the ability to run unrestricted are all great for a child’s well-being and also is important for Mom. Pull out the bicycles, roller skates, scooters, hula hoops, and sidewalk chalk or let them enjoy your personal jungle gym. No matter what they do, it will be a win for everyone. Need more ideas? 15 Minutes Outside by Rebecca Cohen is a great book with 365 outdoor ideas.

what to do with kids Christmas break

  • Video games (30-60 minutes)- Kids enjoy video games and technology is the wave of the future, but that doesn’t mean our kids should have unlimited access to it. Schedule time for your kiddos to play some of their video games. By scheduling time for this activity, your kids won’t spend too much time in front of a screen, they won’t tire of their games too quickly, and video game time will become a very special time for them.
  • Free play (1-2 hours)- Free play is so important for children.  Not only does it give them the ability to decide for themselves what they want to play, but it gives them a chance to pull out the toys and stretch their imaginations. And with Christmas just around the corner, it will give them a chance to really play with their new toys.

Quick trips

Sometimes, you just need to leave the house, but you don’t want to spend a lot or be out all day. Here are a few ideas for taking quick trips that don’t involve shopping or stores. Don’t forget to schedule in travel time.

  • Library (1 hour)- Libraries are so much more than warehouses for books. They are now being upgraded with play areas, puzzles, learning games, and story time. Take advantage of these amenities that your library has to offer and spend an hour in a quiet but fun atmosphere.
  • Local park (30-60 minutes)- If you don’t have a swing set, your local park is guaranteed to have a great jungle gym (take proper safety precautions). From playground equipment and open areas for unhindered running to walking paths and  bike trails, your park has much to offer that a backyard can’t. Pack a lunch and make your adventure last a little longer.

what to do with kids Christmas break

  • Donut/ice cream run (30 minutes)- Have the kids been really good for you on a particular day? Why not treat them to a donut shop or Ice cream shop run? Encourage their good behavior with a small treat and a quick adventure outside of the house.
  • Visit a friend (1-2 hours for littles 3-4 hours for bigs)- I am a firm believer that visits with friends need to fall into a reasonable time frame, especially if you are spending time in their home with little ones. Your visit has time to end on a good note before little ones begin to get too antsy.
  • Bounce house or kids gym (1-2 hours)- Do you live in an area that has a bounce house or kids gym? Take advantage of these. Purchase a membership if it is something that can be used quite often by your family. This is a great way to fill a couple of hours of your day, give your kids ample space to exert plenty of energy, and give you a fun place to escape to on rainy days when a park visit wold not be possible.

What are some other ways you can inexpensively provide meaningful activities for your children during a school break? Feel free to share them with us in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Comparison: A Recipe for Unrest

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There are days when I feel so joyful and proud of the job I’ve been doing, with God’s help, as a mom….

And then there are days when I stumble across an impressive video on social media of young elementary school aged prodigies playing violins and woodwind instruments like miniature professional musicians and begin second guessing myself on how well I’m doing compared to these children’s moms.

Oh… Days before this, I was so proud of the fact that I had taken my son for a fun time of play at a local bounce house, that we had enjoyed a great time together on the playground, that he had helped me make muffins one afternoon, and that he had even helped me make a veggie-fruit “juice” one morning…

playground-purposeful-moms

But now….?

No.

Instead of celebrating all we have been able to do together, I begin doubting myself and the job I’m doing as a mom…

And all this because I set my eyes on someone else’s level of parenting.

So now in this moment I allow myself to believe that who I am and what I’ve been doing as a mom just simply isn’t “good enough” compared to these other parents…

(Okay…So, my little guy’s only two and a half, but still…. You know where I’m coming from.)

Whether it’s things like these that drive you to comparison or not, I’m almost 100% sure there are things in your life that have a way of pushing your own comparison buttons as well.

And it can happen across so many spectrums… Not just in mothering.

For example… Have you ever found yourself so joyful in one moment- content with your possessions, your home, and your way of life….

And then your joy suddenly comes to an abrupt halt after visiting the newest community of model homes?

You return to your own home later that afternoon wondering, “How long were we planning on living in this house, again?”

Oh, if only things were bigger…more elaborate, more spacious, and new… Right?  (Hmmm….)

home

Joy goes out the window along with contentment as we allow comparison and discontent to set in.

On another specturm, perhaps you’re a working mom. You feel proud of all you’ve accomplished and are doing to help your family make ends meet. God gave you a great job, and things are going well. You’re able to contribute to the family’s needs and help put food on the table.

But… Any time you scroll through social media and see your stay-at-home mommy friend, you find yourself comparing yourself to her, feeling as though your life should in some way mirror hers. “Maybe I’m not doing that good of a job as a mom…compared to her,” you think to yourself.

Oh, how comparison beats us down.

Or put the shoe on the other foot. Perhaps you’re the stay-at-home mom, viewing the working mom and her family. You see all that she’s accomplished outside of the home, all her family can afford, and all of the places they can go because both parents are working.

So you also begin to doubt yourself, wondering whether you’re doing a “good enough” job staying home with your children and daily managing the chores in your home. Am I as successful as  her?

comparison

Yes, you often feel fulfilled in your role as a stay-at-home mom, but  every so often when you catch a glimpse of the grass “on the other side”, comparing what she’s accomplished in the workplace  or what she is able to afford compared to you and your family, those “happy and contented feelings” begin to evade you.

Comparison will always leave you feeling “down” and “discontent” or “less than”.

I could go on and on…

Moms of public school children doubting themselves as they compare themselves to homeschooling moms…

Moms who wish to lose a few pounds comparing themselves to women who are more fit…

The opportunities for comparison are endless…

And yet, this was never the kind of life God intended for us to have as moms- always looking at some other woman as the standard and either seeing how little we measured up or defending ourselves to prove we were “enough” or “better” in some way compared to “her”.

No, my Friends. Comparison is the enemy of contentment, peace, and rest.

And if you want to know the truth… God wants you to stop comparing yourself to others.

A great Bible verse that reminds us of this fact is 2 Corinthians 10:12 which states, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”

bible

Comparison is a losing battle.

It will either cause you to lose heart or feel “beneath” someone else, or it will cause you to feel prideful and “better” than someone else.

Comparison does not in any way foster comradery but competition. (And unless you are looking to win a legitimate prize, it would be best to avoid it at all costs.)

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe it is important to learn from those we admire and desire to emulate. I’m not suggesting we plateau and fail to make efforts for improvement or positive change. We most certainly should work towards goals in our lives that will help us, our children, and our families find success.

However, the important thing to remember is that comparison should never be the driving force.

Instead, when desiring success and positive change, we should be willing to ask God for the wisdom and help to accomplish and be everything He intended and planned for us to do and be in this life. 

What if my son was never intended to be a professional instrumentalist like the children in the video? What if he was meant to be a professional tennis player? A coach? A businessman? Or a pastor?

If my eyes are on someone else’s parenting, I may end up steering my son in the wrong direction.

But if my eyes are on the One who created me, my husband, and my son…

The One who has the best in store for us and who knows the best ways to help us reach the goals He has in store for us…

comparison-couple

Then I can rest in the assurance that He will give us the wisdom and direction we need in life…and as parents. And I wil also be able to live in confidence knowing He will direct us to those instrumental individuals that can come along side to offer the wise counsel and advice that will help us in our journey.

This is the kind of life, I’d rather live…

My eyes confidently looking to the  One who holds my future rather than comparing myself to others who are also learning and still growing in their journey through this life as well.

comparison and unrest

lesson-termites-nest

The Lesson from the Termite’s Nest

Song of Solomon 2:15- Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

A few years ago, my husband and I went on a cruise. One of our stops was Playa de Carmen, Mexico.

As we walked for what seemed like forever to the bus that would take us to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, Brian and I noticed that all of the trees were painted white from the ground to part of the way up the trunk.

lesson-termites-nest

At first I didn’t think anything of it, but as we drove through the city, we noticed that EVERY tree had been whitewashed. I just chalked it up to “that’s just how they do it here” and didn’t think anything else of it.

Until……

We finally reached our destination a little more than an hour later. As were walking the mile and a half from where our bus dropped us off to the entrance of the ruins, Tour Guide Juan stopped us and had us look over into the trees.

He continued, “Did you notice that all of the trees in Playa de Carmen were whitewashed from the ground to halfway up the trunk? There is a reason for that. You all know termites eat wood, but something happens to their bodies when we take a mixture of limestone and water and paint our trees. As the termites begin climbing up a whitewashed tree, the temperature of their bodies rises and they burn up. If we didn’t whitewash our trees in Playa de Carmen, you would see termite mounds like this one everywhere.”

We went on into the ruins and I forgot all about the termites, whitewashed trees, and the vendors we would have to push through a second time as we made our way back to our bus.

lesson-termites-nest

As we were leaving the ruins, I saw this termite nest (pictured above) and something hit me. With all of the green around, the tree hosting this nest had no healthy foliage on it. The tree itself could not grow while something was sucking the life out of it. It could only die.

Our homes, families, and lives are living things. Satan wants to destroy those things. If he came with a hack saw, motorized saw, or ax, we would recognize him immediately and protect those things that are so precious to us.

Instead he comes into our lives as a termite- something so tiny that we would not even notice it or recognize the harm it could do (overly busy schedule, television, Internet, food, harmful relationships, etc.). He comes as a termite that doesn’t mind how long it will take to suck the life out of us. He comes in the form of a thousand little things that slowly drain our will, desire, and ability to fight back. Before you know it, there is no life left in you.

We need a whitewash!

We need to take preventative measures before those little termites even have a chance to climb into our lives.

We need to set time alone for ourselves with the Lord and His Word.
We need to set boundaries.
We need to learn to say “no” to things that take our time away from what is important.
We need to invest time in our marriages and children.
We need to let go of the desire to have more and be content with what we already have.
We need to be willing to let go of some of our material possessions that bog us down.

It is possible to remove the termites once they have made a nest, but it is hard work and, in some cases, can be costly. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

lessons-termites-nest

That day, Brian and I made some wonderful memories at the Mayan ruins, saw some amazing structures that have lasted a thousand years, saw the bluest water on the coast of Tulum, and took some amazing photos.

But I think the one thing that will never leave my heart from that day was the lesson I learned while looking at a termite’s nest.

I pray I never forget what it looks like. I want it to be a constant reminder to me that I need to keep my “tree” whitewashed.

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

Hosting Is Where My Heart Is

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Give me a reason to host friends and family in my home for the day…and if I have the availability and the resources, I’m excited and ready for the opportunity.

Hosting a luncheon or special celebratory event is just something I enjoy.

Yes, there is always dusting, some cleaning, and preparation to do before everyone arrives, but to me, there’s nothing like the wonderful sense of satisfaction I feel as I look around and admire a clean and organized home before the first guests arrive.

host-a-house-party

And while I may not have the largest home in the neighborhood, I know that’s not really what matters during these occasions.

What is important to me is that our home resonates with the love and peace of Jesus, so that all who enter feel loved, welcomed, and at home when visiting.

And this is just how it should be.

Recently, I was so pleased to have the opportunity to host a sponsored event in our home through HouseParty.com. This website gives people like me- who enjoy hosting- a reason to have people over beyond just the normal holiday parties and get-togethers.

When checking out the site about two months ago, I noticed that there were open applications for a Peter Pan sponsored Simply Ground peanut butter party. And although I had never done one of these before, I was excited to apply.

Yes, I would create a party centered around peanut butter, asking my guests to all bring in a dish, appetizer, or dessert featuring this delicious, popular ingredient!

food-house-party-simply-ground

While it took a couple of weeks to find out if my application was accepted, once it had been, it was only a matter of time before I received my box of free Peter Pan sponsored party supplies from HouseParty.com!

simply-ground-peanut-butter-house-party-pack Inside of the box, I was so thrilled to find basically everything I would need to decorate, sample, and promote the Simply Ground peanut butter products.

My free party pack included a jar of Simply Ground Original peanut butter spread, a jar of Simply Ground Honey Peanut peanut butter spread, a cutting board, a bag of Simply Ground balloons, silver plastic spoons with the sponsor’s name, small snack cups, a lot of coupons (1 for a free jar of peanut butter and several others for $1.00 off), an apron, and tote bags to give away.

house-party-simply-ground-collage

All that was left to do the morning of the party after the previous day’s cleaning was to decorate the house, set up the food and beverage areas, and cook my main dish of Spicy Peanut Chicken, a recipe I found on the Betty Crocker site via my search engine inquiry.

Prior to the party, I had  thought I would need to have games, putting a little pressure on myself to make it oh-so perfect.  But with all of the regular demands and busyness of life and preparation, I never had time to really get any games together…

And you know what?! No one even seemed to notice.

Everyone just enjoyed sitting and chatting together. It was just beautiful how everyone got along so well together.

Simply ground partyFrom family to friends from church to my sweet neighbor (who helped me perfect my spicy peanut chicken recipe which did not originally include peanut butter), everyone just hit it off.

And that’s one thing I love so much about these kinds of times together. It gives everyone the chance to get know each other…People who probably would never even cross each other’s paths in normal life… And even more so, it gives those of us who do know each other the opportunity to become more than just passing acquaintances, giving us more time to get to know each other on a personal level.

simply-ground-house-party-blog-post

Yes, hosting is definitely something that brings me a lot of joy.

The ability to share my home and a sweet experience with the wonderful people the Lord has surrounded my life with enables us all to get to know each other better, and we can find so much encouragement from each other during these times as well.

Yes, hosting definitely opens up opportunities for building beautiful relationships with others.

And you’ll quickly realize after get-togethers like this that these were definitely important times worth opening up your home for…

Even if it’s an event simply prompted by an opportunity to sample free and delicious Simply Ground peanut butter!

peanut butter party