Monday, December 31

Keep it Simple...

Happy New Year!!!

Having company for New Year's Eve? Make your table look special, without alot of fuss. I started this tradition with my family when the kids were really young, so if you just have your family sitting down for the festivities, add a little intrique by including the following:

CANDY... for sweet adventures in the New Year!

AN APPLE... for a New Year of smiles!

COAL... for love and warmth throughout the New Year!

PEANUTS (in the shell!)...a New Year of surprises!

Scatter some of the items around the table, putting an apple on each plate. A quick note written on the computer could sit beside each place-setting to explain your wishes for each of your loved ones.
Simple, but it works to stimulate a discussion for everyone's dreams for the New Year!

Have a Happy New Year's Eve!!

Be the Life of the Party Tonight!

Impress your friends with trivia tonight about New Year's! Go to for the answers!

Happy New Year, Everybody!!

1. The Scottish tune Auld Lang Syne is a common song sang right after the stroke of midnight. What is the literal translation of the song's title: Auld Lang Syne?

a.Old Long Ago

b.Always Remembering You

c.Another Year Passes

d.Here We Go Again

2. What is oldest known holiday celebrated by mankind?


b.New Year's Day


d.The day is not really known for sure

3. What is the most common New Year's resolutions made by Americans?

a.Resolve to Find a Better Job

b.Resolve to Stop Smoking

c.Resolve to Save More Money

d.Resolve to Lose Weight

4. Who is mainly responsible for us celebrating New Year's day on January 1st?

a.Pope Gregory

b.Pope Benedict

c.Julius Caesar

d.Alexander the Great
5. Western society's official calendar was generated from?

a.The Julian Calendar

b.The Gregorian Calendar

c.The Chinese Calendar

d.The Solar Calendar

6.Regardless of when a society celebrates New Year's Day, what is one common thread between the all?

a. Good Luck Rituals

b.Everyone Eats a Hearty Meal

c.Outrageous Parties

d.Everyone Attends a Spiritual Function

7. The month January was named after?

a.A Hindu Princess

b.The Roman god Janus

c.The Greek god Januarius

d.A former Roman goddess

8. Which society calendar uses animals to mark years?

a.The Jewish Calendar

b.The Chinese Calendar

c.The Gregorian Calendar

d.The Hindu Calendar

9. What is the most watched parade on New Year's Day?

a.Hollywood Christmas Parade

b.Macy's Holiday Parade

c.Walt Disney World's New Year's Parade

d.The Tournament of Roses Parade
10. Speaking of the Tournament of Roses Parade, during between 1903 to 1915 what was the main event at the Rose Bowl Stadium?



c.Chariot Races

d.Sprint Running

Thursday, December 27

Christmas Shopping Continues...

I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas, full of wonderful memories and good times.
Are you wrestling with other shoppers during the after Chrismas sales now? I just wanted to give you a hint if you are ready to do more shopping. After Christmas is a fabulous time to find good deals on nativity scenes. There are so many to choose from and I don't think you can ever have too many of those to put around your home. Since there are so many colors and styles to choose from, think about buying one a year and see if you can decorate each room in your home with a nativity scene. Write the dates on them as you collect them and it will be a fun decoration to take out each year and review the memories that go along with it. If they are too price-prohibitive, buy a few pieces and add to one scene over the years.
It will be a great way to end this Christmas season and will be a fun way to start next year's celebration!


Friday, December 21

What Do You Treasure?

In an earlier posting, I described having a "Mary's Christmas" this year. A year in which you would 'treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart', like Mary did in Luke 2:19. I focused on the word 'ponder' in that posting. Today, to begin this Christmas weekend, I think it may be helpful to ponder the word 'treasure'! Treasure means to 'cherish or prize'. Mary treasured all the happenings of the first Christmas. May I suggest a way that I prepare my heart to cherish Christmas? I once again need to be intentional in my thoughts and then I find my actions will usually follow. I have made it a practice to list what I am going to give my friends and family early in the Christmas season. The list keeps changing and eventually I firm it up and get the shopping done. Often I am unsure who to give small gifts it an obligation or a true act of love and kindness? This brings me back to the word 'cherish'. I write out beside each name what I cherish about each person I plan on giving a gift to. It sounds rather idealistic to put this in a posting, but it has helped me give with a heart of love rather than of obligation. It is only a short sentence that I write out but it is there to see as I review my list. Each time I refer to my list, I see the character quality or attitude or impact that person has had on my life and I treasure the opportunity to give back. Maybe this comes natural for you. If so, groom that ability. If you find yourself begrudging the money you are spending, the time it takes to shop or the things you would rather buy for yourself, try this habit of mine. I wonder if Mary was chosen by God partly because she could treasure and ponder without practice. For me, this has been a lifetime pursuit.
Once again, have a Mary's Christmas this year. A time to ponder and treasure all that God has blessed you with...beginning with the birth of His son to be our Savior.

Thursday, December 20

The Nativity Story

There seems to be an unplanned theme in our postings....

Last week I wrote about a book called Unafraid based on the life of Mary. Barb wrote about Having a Mary's Christmas. I wrote about the nativity sets I have in my home this year.

Today I want to continue that theme by recommending you ALL go and rent The Nativity Story if you didn't watch it last December when it was released.

While the budget was probably fairly limited, and the acting may not be academy worthy, the story itself is truly so incredible and miraculous (and even so unbelievable at times that I have to remind myself it is not just a story) that there is no doubt it will change the way you read the Christmas story!

Mary is such a brave and obedient young girl. Joseph so courageous. I will not view my nativity sets the same way ever again. I have a greater level of respect for both of them and couldn't help but thank God for choosing the people he did to bring forth the life of Jesus.

So if you are spending some time at home or with family this weekend, go pick it up. It will be well worth your time!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19

Last Minute Gift Idea...

Are you scrambling for one more family gift? Pick up a copy of The Quilt Maker's Gift., by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken. It is a short, COLORFUL book that will capture the interest of everyone and the story line couldn't be better for Christmas. I won't give it away...but you will be GRATEFUL that you shared this treasure with your family during this time of giving and receiving. It may become a regular for you to read around the Christmas tree each year.

Tuesday, December 18

What decorates your home...and heart?

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger." Luke 2:16

This year I set up just two small pieces of Christmas decorations: two nativity sets.

I decided this December that I wanted and needed my heart to be focused on the true meaning of Christmas - Christ's birth. One way for me to do that was to have nativity sets in my home to remind me.

I have nothing against any other Christmas decorations, but I do want to challenge you: Do you have a nativity set in your home? Along with the stockings, Santa decorations, reindeer or elves, a gentle reminder that the true meaning of Christmas is a small baby can be very powerful.

If you don't have a nativity set I urge you to ask for one this Christmas or go shopping as a family and purchase one together.

Then start a tradition of reading the Christmas story together. This precious story of a baby is the reason for the season and I find it difficult to remember that at times with the craziness this time of year holds.

Take some time for yourself, with a significant other or your children to read the story of Christ's birth. Discuss what it may have been like and why we celebrate the 25th day of December each year:
Isaiah 9:6 says, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given."

Now that is reason to celebrate!

Monday, December 17

How Many Christmases Have You Experienced?

I asked that question at Homemakers last week. Think about how many Christmases you remember. You probably remember the one that disappointed you; the one with your first boyfriend; the first one when you were first married and probably a few others. If you have had 25-30 Christmases, shouldn't you remember all of them, if Christmas is as special as we say it is? If Christ gave His son at Christmas shouldn't we remember such a life-changing time each year? My point at Homemakers was that perhaps we need to be more intentional about making our Christmases have more impact in our lives. Not just in December, but all year long. That way, we could look back on 2007 and say, "I remember that year because..." We spend so much time shopping, decorating and baking, and we are so relieved it is over by the time January arrives. How can we make Christmas more memorable? I would like to suggest taking time each Christmas season to write down in a journal or on a calendar what you are expecting Christmas to be like and what you are going to do to make it happen. We have one week til Christmas Eve. It is a perfect time to get away for 10 minutes and write out how you want to affect others during this family time. How are you going to feel if you don't get the 'perfect gift'? What impact are you going to have on making memories and having a good attitude during the busy days ahead? By identifying what you hope to accomplish, you will have a path to move ahead on. After Christmas, take time to access your progress. Did you make Christmas about others or was it all about you? I keep a yearly prayer calendar and I write my 'hopes and dreams' for the Christmas season in that. I can look back and see if I am growing to be more Christ-like, or if I am treading water until next year. If I say Christ is the 'reason for the season' I really living in a way that it makes a difference in my life? I don't remember many Christmases in my 58 years. That is sad. I wish I had documented more and baked less! That would really have changed my focus for Christmas and my anticipation for Christmases in the future. If I can change my ways after so many years, I hope to challenge some of you to start monitoring your Christmases in an intentional way. Experiment this year...keep track of what you learn this Christmas, how you acted, what you gave and how you touched another person. This may be the best gift you can give yourself this year.

Saturday, December 15

The Courage to Be Imperfect

I was reading a book last night while babysitting my six-week-old nephew (I will post some pictures because he is so adorable....and I am very biased!).

The author had a profound point that I want to share. She has a few rules and one of them is to "Renounce Perfectionism." Essentially she says that perfectionism is an enemy. It says wait until you have time to do it properly...

Here's the quote that got me: "The choice is not between doing it imperfectly now and doing it perfectly later. That's an illusion. The real choice is between doing it imperfectly now or not at all."

Isn't that so true? Think of all the activities, projects, to-do things that we want to do perfectly, so we keep putting them off. Often times we never get them done because we are waiting for the perfect moment.

For example - scrapbooking! I have found that many moms have the tendency to believe that if they can't create the perfect scrapbook, with every single picture of the kids, and all the funny comments they say, then we won't do anything at all. I tell many moms: it doesn't have to be perfect. Put the photos in a photo album and journal next to the photos. Your family will appreciate that dearly in the years to come! And when it comes to photo-taking, don't worry about capturing the perfect family photo. If you and your spouse are acting goofy, or if the kids are making faces, capture the moment and share it with the world. We all enjoy knowing that others aren't perfect too!

Our perfection will only end up hurting relationships, our families, our homes. The author mentions in this book that it takes courage to be imperfect. Courage to have the humility to do things imperfectly. So please remember as a wife, mom, daughter, friend, sibling....buying the perfect gift, having our home perfectly decorated, sending the perfect card or letter, making the perfect meals or Christmas cookies, should not be our goal.

Bless your families with imperfection this Christmas. Strive to be humble enough to make imperfection (getting it DONE) the goal.

P.S. I will share the name of this book after Christmas. I need to purchase it for a few gifts this week. If you want to know the name, go to About Us, Stacy and e-mail me!

Thursday, December 13

Hope You Have a Mary's Christmas...!

Maybe that is what we should be wishing each other since 'Merry Christmas' is not politically correct all of a sudden. A Mary's Christmas!? What would that look like? We think we are stressed 13 days before Christmas but just think of Mary, nine months before her first Christmas. She would have just found out that Christ was coming as a baby...her baby. That would have given her reason to be stressed and abit worried. From the very first time the angel spoke to Mary, she responded in such a way that set the tone for her Christmas. She didn't react to the angel or to the message, she just wondered how it could be true that she would give birth to the Christ-child since she was a virgin. Mary may have been young, but she must have had a close walk with God. She didn't react or doubt, she just responded with truth and waited for God's response. The Bible said she 'pondered'. Ponder is a word we don't hear a great deal today. It means to "think deliberately, consider deeply or to ruminate". Mary thought deliberately when she was given the assignment by God. Do we think deliberately or do we jump into a reactive state and begin to worry before we find out God's plan for us? I have imagined over the years that Mary may have used the list of things to think about that are listed in Philippians 4:8..."What ever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praise worthy"...she must have automatically shifted into thinking about 'these things' when faced with such a daunting task from God. How else could she have said so quickly, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."
To have a 'Mary's Christmas', we need to be ready to respond to God not react with our expectations. Ponder whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy during this Christmas season. See if that doesn't get you closer to having a 'Mary's Christmas'! A Christmas that just might change your life as the first Christmas changed Mary's life.

Wednesday, December 12

Unwed...pregnant...mother of Jesus?

I am still amazed at how the life of Jesus came to be...through a young teenage girl?

That is why I highly recommend reading
Unafraid by Francine Rivers. It's part of the The Lineage of Grace Series. Each book focuses on the life of a woman in the Bible. The other books profile Ruth, Rahab, Tamar, and Bathsheba. They are all excellent. And, best of all, they are small books so they are a quick read.

Unafraid presents a unique picture of an unwed pregnant teenager...and what it must have been like from Mary's perspective. It is a wonderful book to read as we head into Christmas. The author takes plenty of liberties, of course, but it definitely challenges the way you think about and view this young girl as the mother of Jesus!

So take a break from the shopping, curl up and allow yourself the pleasure of a good read. If you've already read it, or if you do, leave a comment and let us know what you think of the book.

Happy reading....

Tuesday, December 11

Are You FAT?

Last night we had our Homemakers with Hope Christmas Party! Besides eating our way through the night, doing a craft, and opening gifts, we had a brief time of serious talk. I am blessed to be a part of this group, as the girls are all so passionate about life and making a home that is of value and worth. I shared with them that when I considered putting a group of gals together as a ministry and support system, I had read that I should find myself a group of FAT girls. FAT as in:




Half of these girls have been with the group for 6 years. They are very FAT!

If you desire to grow in any area of your life, check out how FAT you are. Then move ahead with enthusiasm, knowing you have what it takes to develop and grow into a wise woman who builds her home.

Sunday, December 9

Amazing Grace

Ryan and I watched Amazing Grace this weekend. It is a fantastic movie about the life of a man who pushed to end the slave trade in the British Empire. It is a powerful example of fighting for what you believe in and standing up for injustice.

One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is the character who plays
John Newton - the man who wrote the lyrics to Amazing Grace. The web site says, "John Newton was captain of a slave ship for many years, until he underwent a dramatic religious conversion while steering his vessel through a storm."

I recall hearing that the man who wrote Amazing Grace had been involved in the slave trade but the movie powerfully depicts the great sorrow this man lived with due to his previous lifestyle. If you have Real Player you can watch a video clip about the song here.

It is a great family movie (not for young children) that could lead to some wonderful discussions about grace, and fighting for what you know is right. I highly recommend it this Christmas season!

Friday, December 7

5 Gifts for Children

I used to buy 5 gifts for my kids at Christmas:
Gift #1: A doll or stuffed animal...something to love

Gift #2: A book...something to learn

Gift #3: A game or toy...something to play with!

Gift #4: A gift of activity...something that made my child move

Today is gift #5... and that was a gift of creativity. Something that would let my child express his/her own style. A gift of artistic expression.
Keep it simple. It may be a new box of crayons every year; markers; clay; or paints of all kinds. Scrapbooking and card making is perfect as your kids get older. Build into your child's imagination with this gift. Plan an area in your home where this gift can be used so you aren't complaining about the mess and clean up. This gift should allow your child to explore and get dirty if necessary. After Christmas your family may want to go to an art show or museum together. Show them the end results of developing their creativity. Christmas is a time of wonder...let it start in the mind of your child as he/she creates with the 5th gift of Christmas.

This list of 5 gifts gave me a reason for shopping and buying. I hope you find it to be a guide of some sort for your Christmas. Start young, start simple and stay in touch with your child by giving gifts that make sense.

Thursday, December 6

5 Gifts for Children

I suppose you ran right out and bought the first 3 gifts for your children, right?!

Gift #1 Something to hug and love

Gift #2 A Book

Gift #3 A game or toy

Today's gift may be abit more challenging! Both to find a gift to fit this category and to get your children excited about it. This is the gift of activity! Children need to move and build good habits. This gift will accomplish both. The best part is that your child may not be aware that this gift is really a life lesson! More than ever, kids need to be encouraged to explore and enjoy the outdoors. It may be a pair of skates, a sled, hula hoop, hockey equipment, jumpropes, or a new bike. It doesn't need to be expensive...just something to get your children outdoors! It may be coupons for a family bike ride every month or a family canoe trip. This gift may evolve over the years; make it age appropriate and see how the years develop it.
Better get on the move yourself! Get out and find a gift of activity that your child will really enjoy.

Wednesday, December 5

5 Gifts for Children

We have been talking about 5 categories of gifts you might want to consider for your children as you head out to buy them something.

Gift #1: Something to hug and love like a doll or stuffed animal. This is really the gift that teaches your child to care.

Gift #2: A Book! A book given every year will encourage your child to learn...and spend time with you as you read it together.

Gift #3 is today's topic. For this gift I chose a game or a toy. When my kids were little, a toy was appropriate. It took some educating of myself to realize what toy might be the best for this category. I wanted something for my children just to enjoy. Play is their focus...that is how they learn, so the toy I chose needed to be chosen wisely. To pick a toy based on what a child sees on TV commercials isn't always the best way to go. There are so many educational toys available, but you may need to do some investigating to find the one that meets the needs of your child.

As the kids got older, I always bought a family game to play on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We would add it to our 'game shelf' and play it throughout the year. The kids gave their opinion of what game to buy as they got older. Starting this tradtion early gives the family a cohesiveness about Christmas. We were adding value to the family as we added a game every year. We added memories as we all sat around and played it over and over again! It continues on with adult children as each year we continue to add a game to our holiday fun.

There are hidden lessons in choosing a gift from this category. A child learns to play, to interact and to win and lose. Winning and losing is a skill to teach and best learned in the safety of the family. What a way to teach it...the kids won't even suspect that they are being 'taught' when they sit beneath the Christmas tree, playing a game as a family!

Enjoy your shopping and check in tomorrow for gift#4

Tuesday, December 4

5 Gifts for Children

Yesterday I shared with you the idea of 'giving intentionally' to your children. I shared how my husband and I tried to give gifts that would fit in one of 5 categories as we chose gifts. If we could give 5 gifts to our children, one from each area, we felt that giving gifts had more meaning and a lasting affect on our children.

Gift #1 is the gift of caring. I chose a gift that my child would love and hug and take care of long after Christmas. A stuffed animal or doll would fall under this category.

Gift #2 is the gift of learning. (Don't put that on the tag that hangs on the present...your child might not be so eager to open it!) This gift was a great book! I would search all year for a special book for each of my children! Over the years, our kids came to expect a book and often would give us suggestions as to what book they would look forward to receiving. Books encourage wonder and exploration. It continues to 'give' long after Christmas as well.
Of course the main benefit of this gift is that you, the parent, comes with this present! The advantage of giving a book to a youngster is that he can't read so he will have to climb up on your lap and enjoy a quiet time with YOU!

Perhaps this gift is a perfect example of when you bless others, the blessing comes back to you. Give a book...and then enjoy reading that book to your child!

Gift #3 comes tomorrow!

Monday, December 3

5 Gifts for Children

Do you mindlessly pick things up as you shop, concerned more about how MUCH you are spending rather than how MUCH you are giving? Oh, I know you think about the giving aspect, but when it comes to giving gifts to your children, a little fore-thought can make Christmas MUCH more meaningful. It will also increase your anticipation for Christmas because there will be a real purpose in giving. When my kids were young, I would look forward to giving my kids 5 gifts. Each gift would fit into one of each category that I had identified ahead of time. I would like to pass on those categories to hopes it will make your gift giving more rewarding.

Gift #1 We would shop for a gift that our children could hug or love. It might be a doll, a stuffed animal or a small toy they could hang onto. The purpose of this gift was to encourage our children to care for something (hopefully that would transfer over to people!). It was a gift that would encourage our children to hug and love and express affection.

If any of you have a gift that you have already purchased that fits into this category, pass the idea along. Share what you are giving your child that will encourage them to care for one another.

Come back tomorrow for gift #2!!

Friday, November 30

"What Do You Want For Christmas?"

Tomorrow we will turn the calendar to December...and the rush will be upon us! Are you ready?
Plan now to be proactive with your little ones and get them into the magic of giving! They are going to be bombarded by others asking them what they WANT for Christmas. Encourage your children to include in their reply what they are going to GIVE for Christmas. Make that your conversation around home. By three years old, your child can work with you on preparing a list of what each family member might like. Include your children in picking out items at the store. The best gifts however, are the gifts that you and your child MAKE for everyone on your list. So as you turn the calendar to December, plan a day to bake cookies with your littles ones and deliver some to your neighbors. Pick a day to make simple bookmarks for the readers in your family. Grandmas and Grandpas would love artwork of any kind from their grandchildren. So before your calendar fills up with December's busyness, set some days aside to focus on giving, and let your children experience the blessing that comes to those who give.

Thursday, November 29

Preschool Christmas Pageant Finger Play

Yesterday I offered up an idea for your husband for Christmas. Today you might want to consider working with your preschoolers on this Christmas Finger Play. What a great thing to teach them and a fun activity to show the family on Christmas Day!

This is kind Joseph (hold up one finger)

And this is sweet Mary; (hold up two fingers)

She rides and he walks on their Bethlehem journey (move hand bobbling along!)

Here is the inn- (hands form pointed roof)

Joseph knocks on the door; (knocking action)

But the innkeeper says, "No room for more!" (shake head)

"Because you are tired and 'tis late in the day

You may go to the stable (point to far-off stable)

And rest on clean hay. (rest head on hands)

'Twas there in the stable that first Christmas morn, (hands form pointed roof)

Jesus, our Savior, God's best gift, was born. (rocking baby motion)

Wednesday, November 28

The 12 days of Christmas husband-style

We quickly move from Thanksgiving to Christmas, don't we?

One of my fellow Homemakers has started a yearly tradition that includes the 12 days of Christmas. She comes up with 12 gifts and gives one to her husband each day for 12 days.

I shared this idea with some other friends and now they do the same thing for their husbands. Some buy 1 gift, 2 gifts, 3 gifts etc., some just buy 1 for each day.

I think this definitely reveals how well you know your husband - what he likes, what makes him feel special and appreciated. And it is a challenge to come up with 12 ideas that are economical, yet fun!

The idea is NOT to spend a lot of money. Things like socks, homemade treats, a book or CD....whatever will let him know he is loved and thought of!

I'd love to hear if anyone decides to try this for their husband. Let us know how it turns out!

Tuesday, November 27

Movie Review!

Last Saturday night Stacy and Ryan came over to celebrate a belated Thanksgiving with us. I would share the recipe I served them, but Stacy is eliminating 'wheat' from her diet, so it was a cabbage hotdish (no pasta allowed!). Email me if you really want the recipe!

Stacy recommended we watch The Ultimate Gift DVD. I had heard Chuck Colsom sing its praises too, so I rented it for the evening. Now I am highly recomending it to you! I don't claim to be a savvy movie critic, but I know when I am entertained as well as inspired and this movie did both!
"Perhaps predictable, sentimental and sappy, but who cares, when it also oh so effectively delivers the salient message that much is expected of those fortunate enough to have been born blessed with so much."... a quote from EURWeb's review on Rotten Tomatoes.

What a great way to start the Christmas season.

Monday, November 26

I'm tired

My husband Ryan and I enjoyed a long and incredibly relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. I hope you all did as well.

But here we are on the Monday following and as I sit down to write this all I can think is, "I am so tired." How is that possible when I just had four days of resting?

I think it is called life:
I got up at 6:30 this morning and was at the dentist by 8. I went to work where I stayed until 4. I left to meet a friend who is going through a divorce and is in the midst of a custody battle for his children. It is a heart-wrenching situation. I got home at 7:30 and ate dinner. Then I cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, did the dishes and folded clothes. I just wrote out some thank you notes and it is 10:20 p.m.

I am tired.

Why am I telling you all this? Not because I want sympathy for a long day -- because I know that for some of you your day started earlier and will end later and involved children who needed your attention and energy all day...and that's tiring.

I share this simply because this is life. This is the life of a Homemaker. We work (be it inside or outside the home) and the work never ends. Sometimes we get a break. Sometimes we don't.

This is the reality of life as a Homemaker. When we have a home, we are Homemakers.

And just having come off of Thanksgiving, I am reminding myself tonight that I am THANKFUL for bathrooms to clean, dishes to wash and laundry to fold...even when I'm tired.

Friday, November 23

Post Script to Thanksgiving!

Hello, anyone out there? Are you all shopping? As you head out for Black Friday's specials, here a quote to take along with you:

"When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?"

G.K. Chesterton

Take a bit of Thanksgiving with you as you begin the Christmas rush!

Wednesday, November 21

Thanksgiving and Kids!

It's about this time when your kids are probably demanding some answers! "What's in this for me?" If you have been busy cooking, cleaning, or shopping they are bound to feel some stress themselves. Kids have a hard time with Thanksgiving because it is just a 'big dinner'. Every dinner is big to them, so what's the big deal about this one? That's when, once again, mom needs to come to the rescue. Remember:
Never plan a holiday or celebration without your children's help!
Have your 2-4 year old tear pictures from a magazine of things they are thankful for. Make a big collage and hang on their bedroom door

Let your 3-4 year old help make a special veggie dip to take to Grandma's. Let them stir parsley into an already made dip if nothing else. They can chop cucumbers, olives and pickles with a dull knife!

Your 4-6 year old can color a picture for the relatives..."I love my aunt because..." These can be shared at dinner.

Offer to bring 'place cards' to Grandma's that your kids have created.

Just get the kids involved in some way so they will know what is in it for them...they are giving of themselves.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 20

Giving Thanks

We are Homemakers.

With that comes many joys and many challenges. This week lets remember to thank God for the opportunity we have to be Homemakers!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 1 Chronicles 16:8

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:13

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 7:17

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

Monday, November 19

Thanksgiving Week...a Time to Prepare

Are you preparing the turkey this year?

Are you preparing the pies?

Are you preparing your house for your family to come and celebrate?

Are you preparing your heart for Thanksgiving?

When our kids were young, I would have them think of something they were thankful for and we would share it around the table before we devoured our dinner. I would put 3 pieces of corn (I used corn nuts!) on each plate as a meager appetizer and as we went around the table, each person would share what they were thankful for. They could eat the corn as they shared a blessing. It worked fine for many years but was often just 'last minute thoughts'.
I realized we were forgetting so many blessings that we had experienced during the year. That's when I started using the "Blessing Basket". A pretty basket sits by my back door all year long and as I experience different blessings, I write them on a small piece of paper and drop it in the basket. At our Thanksgiving dinner, the basket is brought to the table and is passed around. Every one reads a blessing from the year and this continues around the table until all the notes have been read. Anyone can drop a blessing into the basket during the year. It is fun to hear what everyone is grateful for and to remember forgotten blessings that would have gone unnoticed if they weren't written down.

Gratitude Journals, Thanksgiving Prayers, Tablecloths that are written on every year that tell of family blessings...these are just a few ways to prepare your heart for Thanksgiving Day. How are you preparing your heart?

Friday, November 16

How Do You Read A Book?

That question came up at our Homemakers meeting on Monday! Curious, huh?! We are trying to each read a book of our choice every month and then share a short synopsis at our meeting. This month we were sidetracked by one gal who had 'post-it' notes coming out every which way from her book. She obviously liked her book. She explained that there was a'system to her notes'. The notes sticking out of the top of her book meant she needed to go back and 'do' something that was suggested on each page. The notes sticking out of the side of her book reminded her that she needed to re-read or remember some portion of that page and the notes coming out of the bottom of her book were on pages that had some information she wanted to share with her husband. How clever! Now that is truly getting the most out of reading.
I often will turn down the corners of the pages I read if there is something important on that page that I want to review. When I am done with the book, I go back and copy the important points from those pages onto the extra pages in the front and/or back of the book. I can easily refer to my 'cliff notes' that way when I am sharing about the book to a friend or for my own refresher.
Are you a reader? Any hints you can share about your reading habits. If you aren't a reader, maybe these tips will help. Grab a good book and enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 15

A Thanksgiving Choice

Most things written about Thanksgiving have to do with food, recipes, table decorations, family traditions, and so on.

Martha Stewart shows us how to prepare our homes and tables with Thanksgiving decor.

Rachael Ray tells us how to prepare the best side dishes.

And everywhere ads tell us to prepare our wallets for shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

Today I want to talk about preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving. I got an e-mail from a friend today who is struggling to have a heart of thankfulness this Thanksgiving season. She is going through some tough stuff, has some hard questions and is in a place she doesn't understand right now. She said "I don't feel as thankful as I should."

I love her honesty! Isn't that true of all of us? If we have a roof over our heads and food on a plate, we have so much to thank God for. Yet sometimes our circumstances are so all-consuming that it is difficult to see our blessings.

Are you approaching a holiday that is difficult for you? Are you struggling to have an attitude of gratitude?

Maybe finances are extra tight.
Maybe you are barely surviving a broken relationship.
Maybe your heart hurts every day when you wake up.
Maybe you are missing a loved one.
Maybe you are angry at God and feel like life isn't fair.
Maybe your family is in desperate need of restoration.

As difficult as it can be, make the choice to praise God for the ways in which He has blessed you. Choose to see the small blessings. Choose to thank God for the little things in your life. If nothing else, get on your knees and thank God for who He is.

It might not be the natural or easy thing to do, but it is a choice you won't regret!

Wednesday, November 14

Our First Thanksgiving...the rest of the story!

Our 'Homemakers with Hope's' first Thanksgiving was so special to me in so many ways. It was a night for just girls and we all seemed to appreciate all the work that Betsy put into the evening. As we sat around the table after we had eaten everything in sight, she shared a few tips about baking her 'first turkey' dinner.
'Preparation was the key', she said. She said she had to plan ahead, make lists and make all the details come together. She purchased a large roaster to accomodate the turkey and used it as a buffet server during our meal. She justified buying it because it was on sale and it was an item she would use for many years to come. (I applaud her for seeing the big picture and investing in her homemaking skills!) She said she learned that she needed to allow more time for the 'bird' to thaw out.
I share these comments with you, knowing you can get full instructions about putting on a Thanksgiving feast from many sites on the internet...but what you get on Homemakers with Hope is the 'rest of the story'.
Betsy prepared this huge 'spread' for us, complete with place cards, candles, pumpkin centerpieces, a gift for each of us and so much more. We were distracted as we entered however, because her husband was lying on the kitchen floor surrounded by a turkey carcass in the trash, potatoes boiling on the stove, and gravy waiting to be thicken. Betsy quickly explained that both the disposal and dishwasher was inoperable! Dinner sort of stood still as her husband wrestled with the tools. All of us girls worked around his body trying to get our contribution to the dinner in the oven, in the frig, or wherever it needed to go. At one point I stood aside and looked at all the commotion, only to marvel at how everything was coming together inspite of the blips along the way. Betsy's relaxed mental attitude was the key. She was busy getting us hot apple cider and encouraging us to put our food out on the buffet table.
She was modeling for each of us the difference between hospitality and entertainment. Sure, she provided entertainment for us as her husband laid on the kitchen floor and she stepped over him to make the gravy and mash the potatoes, but her first thought was to be hospitable. To welcome us into her home and make us feel so loved. I bet the first Thanksgiving had many interruptions and unmet expectations too. Our Homemakers 'First Thanksgiving' will be memorable BECAUSE of the interruptions and the lessons we learned from our hostess.

Tuesday, November 13

A Homemakers Thanksgiving

Last night we had our first ever Homemakers Thanksgiving Dinner! It was fantastic. Hopefully I can post pictures later this week.

Our hostess welcomed us with a gift at our place setting. We each received the book I Promise by Gary Smalley. She said it is one of the best books her and her husband have ever read. I am excited to start reading it with my husband!

Our hostess made the turkey and potatoes and the rest of us each brought our favorite Thanksgiving dish to share. I brought Green Bean Casserole. My recipe is a twist on an old favorite (no cream of mushroom soup!).

Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole (from
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans French style green beans, drained
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 large can of French Fried Onions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sautée until soft and clear. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar and sour cream.
  3. Remove from heat and add green beans, and stir to coat.
  4. Add one cup of cheese and once cup of French Fried Onions to green bean mixture.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread rest of shredded cheese over the top.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden and cheese is bubbly. Add onions and bake for 5 more minutes. Best when it is really hot and bubbly!

Please share your favorite Thanksgiving recipe with us. We love to try new recipes!

Friday, November 9

A Dinner Challenge

I am throwing out a challenge to all of you today.

I'm starting with a question:
How many nights a week do you eat dinner at your dining room or kitchen table? Whether you are single, married, have a small children or teenagers, on average how many nights a week do you eat together at the table?

In this busy world our schedules seem to not allow for family dinner. Sports, evening commitments, work...whatever it might be, it seems our tendency is to eat on the run. Serve food in shifts. Go through the drive through. Or, sit in the front of the tv and be entertained by the tube.

Research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)* at Columbia University consistently finds that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.

I haven't read this book yet, but I am going to put it on my reading list:
The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier.

Family dinners can become a tradition. The time at the table talking, sharing, laughing, and eating home-cooked food will impact the heart and the mind of all family members.

This challenge is one that I need to take on. Ryan and I are lucky if we eat dinner together three times a week....and maybe once at the dinner table. We often turn on the television and laugh our way through dinner while we eat on separate couches. Eating dinner at the table together isn't a habit that we will be able to easily pass onto our children if we don't start it now. Dinner is a great chance to connect. A perfect opportunity to check in. An ideal way to build those healthy habits we are always talking about.

If you aren't convinced yet, read this article: Why Your Family Needs to Eat Dinner Together. It offers five great reasons why eating together is essential to your family.

So I challenge you for the next two weeks - from now through Thanksgiving - eat dinner together as often as you can. Even if it is paper plates and grilled cheese sandwiches...serve it up with a smile, laugh and share at the dinner table, and see how it impacts your household!

Who's up for the challenge?

Thursday, November 8

Whatever you do...

I once heard a woman say, "The choice about what to eat for dinner cannot be made at 3 p.m." Oh those words are so true!

Just like everything else in life, when it comes to meal planning, we need to PLAN ahead. Time is short, energy may be lacking, the day might be busy....and 3 p.m. is no time to look in the freezer or pantry and wonder "what's for dinner?"

Flylady has some great tips on food and meal preparation. Maybe you are a crock pot girl. Maybe you are a pre-prepared frozen meal gal. Maybe you stick to quick-n-easy meals. Whatever your preference, find a system that works for you and your family.

But whatever you do, be intentional about what you eat, when you eat, and where you eat. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

While it may not seem like a ministry, the hours you spend in your kitchen are most certainly hours that God will bless because you are blessing your family. You are caring for your flock. You are peeling, cutting, washing, frying, cooking, basting, broiling, baking, grilling, serving...all to the glory of God.

Wednesday, November 7

My Menu-Planning System...for now!

How long have I been cooking meals and I am still on the hunt for the 'perfect system'? Someday I hope to find that perfect system, but in the meantime, I enjoy trying new techniques to make my meal-planning easier. I used to use a big calendar for planning my meals and record what I would serve daily. My frustration was that often I wasn't home to cook what was on the calendar or we had leftovers that I wanted to use up. It left me with a calendar of good 'ideas' but uncooked meals. Often I would re-copy the menu onto the next week in hopes of using those recipes then.
My new system consists of a 4x6 recipe card that I fill out at the beginning of the week with meals that I could make for the up-coming week if my days went according to plan! I paperclip this card to the bottom of my calendar. If some meals need fresh ingredients to make that dinner, I write that on my grocery list as well as on the 4x6 card. As the week unfolds, I look at the card to see what my choices are to cook. (I usually try to include 2 easy dinners, a harder one, a new recipe to try, and fill in the rest with old stand-bys). After each meal I write on the calendar what I made. Recording my menus after the fact allows me flexibility yet gives me direction. Last night we had leftover lasagne from Monday night's meal. Tonight I can choose a meal from my 'card' according to how my day looks. At the start of a new week, I look back on my card to see what I didn't make and transfer those choices to a new card for the new week if I still want to make that dinner. I toss the old card and can look back at the calendar as a reference to what we actually ate and can plan accordingly for the future. My calendar is accurate without any changes and I am in control of planning my meals around my family life.

Women aren't in the kitchen as long any more to have time to plan and prepare an exact meal everyday. Be wise and keep that in mind as you think about setting up new systems.

Keep evaluating your present systems. Are they working for you? If not, go for plan B. There are so many ideas to be shared, pick a plan that works for you and your family. Try it out and see if life doesn't get abit easier.

Tuesday, November 6

Lovin' my recipes

I love recipes.

I really really love them.

Really, I do.

I look up recipes weekly on my favorite web site:

I clip recipes from magazines. I get them from friends. I love trying NEW recipes and especially those recommended from friends.

But my recipes have always been overflowing....out of my binders, recipe containers,
cupboard, etc.

This past month I've taken on the Homemakers Recipe Organizing Challenge and am loving it!

I have assembled two 3-ring binders. One for main dishes (chicken and beef) along with side dishes and desserts. My other has soups/salads, breakfast/bread, appetizers, sandwiches, and snacks/drinks.

I am typing up an index so I can easily read through all my recipe options. I want to make a hospitality section so I can see quick options for having people over or bringing a meal to someone.

My husband and I created a list of 10 meals that he can make: 5 quick and easy (tacos, grilled cheese, spaghetti) and 5 that take a bit more time (Tater tot hot dish, lasagna, stir-fry). That way he always has a few ideas of meals to make when I'm not home.

This has been SO rewarding.

Anyone want to join in on the challenge? Can we help?

Monday, November 5

Love Those Recipes!

Don't you just love looking at recipes? I have talked with more women who read recipe books before they fall asleep at night!? I haven't got the itch to do that, but my mind does gear up for cooking as the weather gets cooler. Right now I am in the process of organizing my recipes! No small feat. Homemakers with Hope has taken this task on as homework this month, so maybe you would like to join the fun! It is an on-going task, but I have become abit more proficient with practice. Can I pass on a few tips in case you get the bug to organize your recipes before the holidays are upon you?

1. I have 2 big binders for all recipes that I love. The first has A-L category of foods (Appetizers, breads, cakes, cookies, dessert++) The second has M-Z (Meat, Seafood,Vegetarian++)

2. I have a small portable file box for all recipes that I would like to try some day, or recipes I have tasted, just not made. They are in files with the same categories as my binders.

As I try a recipe from my portable file and my family likes it, I transfer it to my binder as a 'keeper! If they don't like it or I didn't like making it, I throw it away.

One tip that has been so helpful to me over the years is that I have a master list of dinner ideas at the front of the first binder in a plastic sleeve. When I am stumped as to what to make, I flip to this list to jog my memory. I recently updated that list as well.

I also have a section for recipes to 'make and take' when I am asked to take a meal to a sick friend or a new mom...I turn to those recipes so I am not agonizing over what to make and if it will turn out.

Lots to share! Have any of you used the software that is available for organizing your recipes? That is intriquing to me. Please jump in here and share what works for you!

Friday, November 2

A Homemakers resume

As a Homemaker your resume might include tasks like:
Menu planner
Carpool queen
Laundry stain getter-outter
Finance guru
Garage sale/clearance seeker

I heard recently of a family who hires a "professional" to clean their home, to do their shopping and to plan all their family activities. The mom asks this professional "What do you have scheduled for my family to do this weekend?"

Can you imagine???

I would venture to say that life is too busy if you have to hire someone to plan your family activities and do ALL the home duties that come with living life.

Many of the duties of a Homemaker are mundane. Some of them are fun and creative. And while the resume of a Homemaker doesn't come with a high monetary salary, it's an invaluable position.

So whether you are single and running your own home, a newlywed setting up your first home or a mom with years of Homemaking experience, remember that the opportunity to be a Homemaker is a gift.

Praise God for our Homemaking boots!

Thursday, November 1

A gentle reminder

Above my kitchen sink I have a easel that is designed to hold 4 x 6 photos. Instead of having photos in it I have typed up verses that gently remind me of my role as a Homemaker.

Some of the verses are as follows:
Proverbs 14:1
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Psalm 101:2
I will walk in my house with a blameless heart.

Proverbs 31:17
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

The last one about working vigorously is such a great reminder when I am weary (emotionally or physically) from my day and I don't feel like cooking or cleaning or doing any other homemaking tasks. I pray for the right attitude and that my arms would be strong for washing dishes or doing laundry.

These verses gently remind me that I cannot succeed as a Homemaker on my own, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, October 31

Happy Halloween...are your wearing your boots?

It's Halloween, if you are wearing your boots, I hope you are on your way to a costume party!
It's a perfect example of what 'wearing your boots as a homemaker' means. Tonight is a night to spend with family and neighbors. It is not the time to wear your heavy-duty cleaning boots. When I was in college and studying for finals, I always had an overwhelming desire to clean my drawers, organize my closet, re-arrange my furniture...anything but study. As soon as the pressure of finals was over, my desire to clean was over as well! I had to learn there was a proper time to do different tasks and during finals wasn't the time to do major cleaning of my room.

Halloween isn't the time to be cleaning your home. Enjoy the moment!

Another thought...

Some women don't own a pair of boots for household chores. They have cleaning ladies. My opinion is that a pair of boots is still needed. Wear those boots occasionally and teach your children the basics of cleaning and organizing for when they keep house in the future.

Other women wear their boots with pride and often forget to take them off when the house is spotless. They stomp right over the family in their effort to keep the house perfect. Boots aren't meant for long-term isn't non-stop. You need to ease up and enjoy the people in your home, not just the home itself.

Well, I am off to find my Halloween boots, my broom and my pointed hat...

Tuesday, October 30

Who has time for homemaking?

This is my schedule from today and for tomorrow.....

Get up
Go to work
Go buy dress for husband's work party this weekend
Go to hospital to see new baby nephew (yeah, I'm an aunt!!)
Get home at 9:15 to see my husband who just got home from traveling

Get up
Go to breakfast meeting
Go back to hospital to visit baby nephew again with my husband
Go to appointment
Go to the club (need to fit into the dress I just bought!)
Get home late afternoon
Small group coming over at 6:30

We are women. We are wives. We are moms. We are siblings. We are aunties (yeah again!). We are business women. We are busy women.

Very busy. And I don't even have kids!

So how does one fit in the role of being a Homemaker? I looked up the definition of Homemaker just to see how it was defined and this is what I found:

[hohm-mey-ker] Pronunciation Key –noun

1.a person who manages the household of his or her own family, esp. as a principal occupation.

A Homemaker is a person who "manages" a household. I get easily overwhelmed at the idea of managing my home. I live in a town home with just two people and it has taken me six years to grow into this role of being a Homemaker -- and I am still growing. I have so much to learn about pulling on my boots and getting to work. I'm learning to balance my time, my schedule, my busyness and my priorities.

I'm do you all view your role as a Homemaker? Overwhelming, exciting, a blessing, a lot of work? How are you learning to balance your roles? Please share!

Monday, October 29

These Boots Are Made for Working!

In my quest for prioritizing all the different responsibilities in my life, I found it to be helpful to think of my roles in terms of the shoes I wore daily. (Read the past few postings to get a flavor of what Stacy and I have shared about barefeet, socks, slippers and sneakers). This week we are on to the one-of-a-kind, muscle shoe. Only a boot would fit my role as a homemaker. As I trudged out to the garden with fertilizer, washed windows, painted bedrooms, hauled in groceries or moved furniture, I needed all-purpose, heavy-duty boots! Durable, indestructible, not necessarily pretty, but somebody had to do these jobs, right? The role of a homemaker used to consume me. Taking care of the home was so relentless it often discouraged me. There was always more that could or should be done. When I would visualize myself slipping into my boots for a period of time, I could scoot around and get jobs done, knowing I could change my shoes later and get on with what I really wanted to do. Keeping the house in good repair was a priority for me...I needed to realize that when I put on my boots... they were made for working!

Wearing a interesting topic for this week.

Friday, October 26

Become an Expert

"When you love someone, become an expert of them" That is exactly what 'changing shoes' will allow you to do when raising kids. (Refer back to the earlier postings this week to clarify 'shoes'!) As a mom, if I put on a different pair of sneakers daily to represent my intentional interaction with each child, I would be assured that I was building a relationship with my child. I was on my way to become an expert of each child that I loved so dearly. So to end this week, I would like to challenge you to take the "Sneaker System Challenge" and set up a way to learn more about your child as he/she ages.
Get a small journal, or spiral notebook. Just a small one and have one for each child. Label it with your child's name and if possible put a picture of the sneaker that represents that child on the cover (the sneaker picture is extra credit, don't get discouraged trying to find the perfect representation!) As often as you can, record what you are learning about your child. Just small, quick entry journals that will be fun to pass on to your child someday, but more importantly be a reminder to you who your child is.
When my children were growing up, my daughter was the only one who HATED mustard. Not a dislike, but a true repulsion of that food. I would make sandwiches for the whole gang and mindlessly put mustard on all of the sandwiches. I wasn't seasoned enough as a mom to realize I should be noting these differences down and taking it to heart...but I am hoping to redeem myself by passing this option on to you. Once I caught on to the need to individualize my parenting, I began noticing how each child learned, what caused them to act out, what their love language was, etc.
It is a marathon you are in as a mom, so get those sneakers positioned on the starting line everyday and put them to the test of allowing you to become an expert of each of your children.

Thursday, October 25


"God gives us the strength as mothers to do what is "unnatural." It is against our nature to get up three or four times a night, yet we do it. It is against our nature to wipe dirty bottoms, clean up vomit, wipe runny noses, wash piles of dirty laundry, yet we do it. It is against the natural to be unselfish, yet, as mothers, we have to be." - Ruth Graham Bell

So it would seem from the quote above that it is unnatural to pull on your tennies. It is unnatural to spend dedicated time with each child. It is unnatural to set aside your needs (and your other roles), but yet it is so important.

Ask God for strength today to do what is unnatural...then put on your tennies and be what no one else can be for your children....their mom.

Wednesday, October 24

Are those words ringing in your ears? Do you have to catch yourself so you don't answer in an impatient way, or worse!
I remember as a mom of young kids, there were so many times I fell into bed with those words haunting me as I thought I hadn't quite fulfilled my days duties, I hadn't met everyone's needs. What's a mother to do?

Try the sneaker test and see if that won't help you this week. Put out one pair of sneakers for each child that you have. To begin with, actually change shoes during the day as you interact with each child. (Now use some common sense and don't go jumping from one pair to another with each sentence you say to each child)! Just plan a simple activity with one child and put on the shoes you have designated for that child. Then be mindful of another interaction of some length with your other child, and so on. I think you may find the hollering for 'Mommy' diminishing abit when you are proactive and reach out to get into your child's life daily. It may just be to look at a picture book, color a poster, build with legos, rake the leaves, have a tea party or rock your little one before naptime. Kids just need abit of one-on-one time with mommy.

Have you ever put on your running shoes in the morning and they feel great and you head out for a full day? By the time you take off your shoes at night however, your toes are crinkled and sore and your feet are hot and stinky. As much as you love those shoes it feels so good to wiggle your toes and let your feet breathe. Well, if you are a mom full-time, everyday with no break or breathers, that's when the call for "MOMMY" starts to wear you down. Try this exercise of changing your shoes sometime during the day and see if that doesn't make you and your kids abit more comfortable!

Of course, I don't need to tell you that the cry for 'mommy' is just for a season. All too soon you will find yourself longing for those words to be directed at you again. So make the most of this season of your are a mommy and someone is just calling out to tell you that you are loved!

Tuesday, October 23

Sneakers = Sacrifice?

I have had the neat opportunity to see friends recently who have made the wise choice to pull on their sneakers as new moms. They probably didn't even realize they were putting on their sneakers, but they were!

Ryan and I went to visit some family near Chicago recently. We went to see an amazing musical with his cousins who have a four-month-old daughter. Our plan was to go out to dinner after the musical. Instead of going out, Ryan's cousin made the wise choice to go home and order Chinese take out for us all so that she could be there to feed her daughter and put her to bed for the night.

Now which would have been more fun: going out to dinner in a fun restaurant in downtown Chicago or eating take out at home?

The answer: it doesn't really matter. It wasn't about which would be more fun. It was about the reality of motherhood and the sacrifices one has to make as a mom. Rather than keeping on her fancy shoes for a night out on the town, this wise mom (of only four months!) made the sacrifice to slide on her tennies and fulfill her calling as a mother.

I have a friend who recently made the decision to turn down an invitation to a party because her daughter's bedtime conflicted with the get together. She could have possibly found a baby sitter or she could have kept her daughter up a bit later. Instead, she too made the motherhood sacrifice of choosing tennies over her friends.

I know they will both be blessed for their wise decisions!

Monday, October 22

Now for the REAL Shoes...

In talking about priorities for women, we have spent 3 weeks sharing about how our 'feet' help to visualize what tasks we take on daily. Please go back and read earlier posts if this doesn't make sense to you because today we are moving onto 'real shoes'... hoping to relieve some of the stress that women feel as their daily tasks mount up.

Many years ago, I was struggling with how to prioritize my days. After identifying my role as a child of God, a woman and a wife, I looked into my closet to see what choices I had to pick from as I reviewed my daily plans. It didn't take long to realize as a mom of 3 young kids, that my day would be mostly spent as a MOM. Right away I reached for my sneakers, knowing they would be the perfect 'first' shoe to wear as my day would be filled with the busyness of children. Choosing the sneaker, I knew I would be comfortable, ready for the long haul and my foot would be supported and able to take on another marathon of a day. A sneaker would go with just about any of my outfits, was acceptable most places and could be worn year round. I was stopped in my tracks, however as I put on a pair of sneakers, knowing I would be wearing them all day. How would this prioritize my day? I would just wear sneakers, attend to my kids and the day would be over. That's when I experienced an 'aha' moment, because I realized I couldn't wear one pair of sneakers all day...I had 3 kids. I needed a pair for each child! By identifying my need for individual sneakers, I would be giving each child individual attention daily. Just as I 'visualized' wearing slippers when I interacted with my husband, I could 'visualize' wearing a different pair of sneakers with each child and really giving them quality time daily. Being a mom doesn't mean I can jump into a pair of shoes and I am off to do my duty. It means being intentional with each child and really getting into each life. That's a challenge, but it also the reward of motherhood. We'll talk more this week on sneakers...but for now, go gather a pair of running shoes or cross-trainers, one for every child you have and be ready for a good week of mothering.

Friday, October 19

You Choose the Ending...

Remember those stories you read in Junior High where you could choose different endings to complete the book? You had several options and depending on what you chose, the heroine might die or live happily ever after. Well, here's a chance for you to choose your ending...

You are busy in the kitchen, preparing a meal to take to a sick friend. You aren't too skilled at pulling together a 'make and take meal' so you are trying your best to make it work. You got up early to get a stew in the oven, a jello in the frig, bread baking in your bread maker and you have all the ingredients out on the counter to make an apple cake. You take a quick break to make a few business calls and get some bills in the mail by noon. Just then, your husband walks in the kitchen running late for an appointment. He seems oblivious to what you have going on and he asks if 'you could help him out with some things today?' You turn to him and....(you choose the ending)

a. Throw a cup of flour at him....he goes off to work looking like he's married to quite a chef

b. You scream, "can't you see I am like Martha Stewart/Mother Theresa, making a dinner, only to give it away? You are married to such a wonderful woman, how can you ask anything more of me?" Your husband heads off to work, wondering why he would marry Martha Stewart/Mother Theresa

c. You smile a minute, count to ten, look down and pretend you are wearing your slippers and politely ask him what those 'things are that need to be done today' before you give him an answer. Your husband mentions 3 things that aren't too outrageous so you tell him you can fit it in after you are done cooking. He heads off to work a happy man and you continue with your day, knowing you slipped into your slippers for a moment as you listened to your you responded in a helpful way.

Doesn't take a rocket scientist to evaluate what ending would be most beneficial to a marriage, does it? I share this scenario with you as an example of how an everyday occurrence can turn into a victory for you. Each day you are writing your life story. Each day you can choose what shoes to wear. By choosing to listen to your husband, respond in a gentle manner and be willing to help him for a short time during the day, you may have changed your story from a tragedy to a real-life love story! It may mean that you, the heroine of your story, can live happily ever after with your hero!

Thursday, October 18

The power to choose

Every day we are faced with the opportunity to make choices.

Pastor and author Erwin McManus says, "The most spiritual activity you will engage in today is making choices."

If you are like me, you haven't thought about choices as spiritual decisions. But it is true - choices are spiritual decisions!
I choose every day how I spend my time, my money, my energy. I choose my attitude. I choose my actions.

In my relationship with God I can make choices that move me closer toward Him (prayer, Bible study, worship). If I choose the wrong I did earlier this week when I chose vacuuming, dishes and laundry over spending time with the Lord....I suffer the consequences.

So it is with marriage.
When I said "I do" I made an initial choice. But I also have to make a daily choice to "choose slippers." In doing so, I will grow in my relationship with Ryan.

But choosing slippers is not easy. My natural reaction is to be selfish, impatient and lazy. My natural focus is me - my needs, my preferences, my desires.

Isn't that why marriage is so good for us? It forces us to think beyond ourselves. It forces us to slow down, take time and pull on our slippers for the sake of our mate.

That is, if we so choose.

Wednesday, October 17

Homework on the Blog?

Now we will see how serious you are! Here's a quick homework assignment that will encourage you to wear your slippers daily. For the next 5 days:

1.Pay Attention to you husband in a very intentional way. Visualize that you are wearing slippers (if just for 5 minutes). Stop and really listen to your husband as he talks about his day, or asks a favor of you, or shares some dream with you. Give him eye contact during this time.

2.Show Appreciation to your husband...thank him for his hard work, his help around the house, how he treats your mom. Watch for something he does that just makes you want to say 'Thank you!'

3. Express Affection to your husband. Not in a hot and heavy way, but in simple acts of kindness. Picture yourself wearing slippers when you walk by him and reach out and touch his arm or tousle his hair. Give him a backrub when you watch the news together. Hold his hand when you walk into Target. Everyday affection becomes magnified when you see yourself wearing slippers

Try this homework for 5 days, and see if it doesn't awaken your relationship with your husband. Share some ideas with the rest of will be extra credit for homework well done!

Tuesday, October 16

Think slippers

I love my slippers. In the summer I wear flip flop slippers and now that the weather is turning cooler I like slippers that keep my feet warm and cozy.

I think of slippers when I read this marriage advice by author Lynn Bowen Walker (she says a friend shared it with her years ago)...

Her friend asked her: "Have you ever thought about the difference between goals and desires?" "Your desire may be to have a happy marriage. But you can't control that; that takes two people. The only thing you can control," she said, "is you. So even though your desire is to have a happy marriage, you have to make it your goal to be a good wife."

While 'good wife' can sound very beaver cleaver-like, I think the point is that desiring something doesn't really get us anywhere.... It is up to us to set goals to achieve our desires. And when it comes to marriage, we control whether or not we slide on our slippers each day (mentally or physically).

Maybe one simple goal for us as young wives is to make sure we have some slipper time each day. That might be one-on-one focused conversation, that might be cuddling on the couch and rubbing his back, that might be pursuing intimate time together, or it might just be responding patiently and respectfully when everything in you wants to respond differently.

Our marriages are too important ladies to not set goals for ourselves as wives.
So make it your goal to 'think slippers' today!

Monday, October 15

The Wife You Always Wanted To Be

Two weeks ago, we started a new discussion on women and priorities. How do we keep everything in balance, how do we keep from 'going under' with all the demands put upon us? I shared about a time in my life when I needed to take a serious look at how I was prioritizing everything in my life. I categorized my activities by visualizing what shoes I was wearing! I could only wear one pair of shoes at a time and I could only handle one major task at a time, so putting the two together seemed to keep me in balance.
The first week we talked about looking at our feet. If I started each day barefoot...meeting with God and asking for direction, my day had a sense of purpose. The second week I was ready to reach for a deal with all my issues as a woman and get that in order before I reached out to help others all day long.
So this week...I recall looking into my closet as a young wife trying to decide what shoe would represent my role as a wife. This was a priority I wanted to take on, it was a role I wanted to fulfill with enthusiasm, but somehow with 3 kids, it was not one I put out in front very often. As I envisioned myself putting on shoes, I knew a shoe was not the appropriate covering for my foot just yet. Instead, I chose slippers to represent my role as a wife. My slipper would slow me down before rushing out into the world to conquer all my tasks. My slipper would make me mindful of the soft touch I could bring into my husband's world and it was the slipper that would remind me that I was the only one who had the privilege to wear slippers as I interacted with my husband. This exercise wasn't to be cute or creative, it was to help me pay attention to what I was doing at every minute of the day. If I had on my slippers (or at least imagined I was wearing slippers) as I talked with my husband, I would hopefully talk in a way that was respectful to my husband. I would talk in a tone of voice that would appeal to my husband rather than let anything fly out of my mouth. A slipper put the sacredness back in my relationship and would cause me to talk kinder, touch more often, smile with appreciation and listen with care. Wearing my slippers daily didn't mean I was sexual all the time, it meant that I was giving my husband attention in all areas in a respectful, purposeful way. I was being the kind of wife I wanted to be. The good news? I found when I became very intentional about being a wife who paid attention, showed respect, listened and enjoyed my husband, my husband began acting more like the husband I wanted him to be!
Don't own a pair of slippers? Better stop by Target and pick up a pair as we talk further this week about being a wife amidst all our other obligations. Hopefully, it will slow you down to think about being the wife you always wanted to be.

Friday, October 12

Dare to Dream

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to daydream? Was it when you were painting your fingernails, sitting in the bathtub, organizing your closet, or wandering through a bookstore looking for a book on travel? I have found it difficult to daydream when I am so pre-occupied with others in my life. I get into a mode of 'doing' rather than 'dreaming' and that is healthy for most of my day, but I have had to make myself return to moments of dreaming to monitor how I am taking care of myself. I can't continue to pour myself into the lives of others without filling myself up first. If I can't bring a dream into my mind's eye or calm myself down enough to conjour up a peaceful idea, I am probably operating on nervous energy and obligation rather than God's leading and love for others. Putting on my socks in the morning is a visual for me to acknowledge my need for 'margin' in my life. Right after meeting with God is a good time for me to sit for a moment and choose one 'dream' that I will allow myself for that day...or at least fit in during the week sometime. I acknowledge it as a priority and then I work to have that daydream come true. I paint my nails or take a bath. I exercise or I make a doctor's appointment for myself! Some 'socks' I reach for are the heavy-duty ones and others are the colorful, feminine style. Taking care of myself happens in alot of ways, it is the wise woman who sees this and is able to fit in a dream or two for herself. See if monitoring your daydreams doesn't help in balancing your priorities and busy calendars while giving you more energy and enthusiasm for everything else you have to do. Day-dreaming too much? Well, just wait until we reach for those shoes next week. That will re-focus you on reality:)

Thursday, October 11

What's That Smell?

One of the biggest challenges I had as a second grade teacher came my first year when a little girl was assigned to my classroom...and nobody liked her. From the first day of school, they made fun of her and everyone tried to avoid sitting by her and no one made any attempt to be her friend. It didn't take me long to figure out why...she had terrible body odor. She was only 7 years old, but it soon became apparent that she didn't change her underwear often enough...if at all! She really smelled and her feet were the most obvious. Her socks were dirty, worn out and stuck to her feet as if they were her shoes! I knew I had to confront her parents with this dilemma at conference time. The problem was finally resolved but not without me wondering how her parents did not pick up on their daughter's neglectful habits.
Well, we are talking about socks this week, so you know where I am going with this! I have had to be very mindful over the years of my smelly feet. Have I worn my socks too long because I am taking care of everyone but myself? Many times even my family fails to tell me that my attitude stinks or my energy needs improvement because I become defensive. "I have too much to do!" I am busy helping everyone else, but I am not paying attention to my needs and I begin to smell in many different ways if I am not caring for myself. I eat poorly, I don't rest enough, I over-commit, I skip doctor appointments, I fail to exercise, I don't pay attention to how I dress, I forget to take time to read, enjoy my hobbies or go to my favorite places. I only have one life, I need to find time for myself along the way and pass on a fragrance rather than foot odor!

Wednesday, October 10

Choose socks today

"To avoid burnout, treat yourself well. You are not only the anchor of your family; you are an important person in your own right. You count, and your needs are important. When you feel irritable, anxious, or depressed, stop and ask yourself an important question: What do I need right now? When you identify the need, plan a way to meet it." - Debbie Barr, A Season at Home

I don't know about you, but I find it really hard to take care of myself as a woman. As Barb mentioned, we have a lot to take care of: our physical needs, emotional health, and personal care. Not to mention any combination of family needs, home needs, career needs, children needs, etc. Sometimes it is easier to not put on the sock and go straight for the shoe.

But eventually we will suffer -- and those we are striving to take care of will suffer -- if we don't first make the choice to take care of ourselves. If you are having a hard time doing this, ask the Lord for help! You don't need to do this alone.

Let's us know how we can pray for you!

Tuesday, October 9

Ready to Start Your Day?

When I was trying to sort out my priorities when I was a young wife and mom, I was always quick to get a jump on the day. I liked to make 'lists' and check off my 'to dos' and move onto the next task. It appeared to be a good system if I was evaluated on paying attention to the 'urgent', but I could easily leave the 'important' behind because I didn't know how to prioritize my life. Using the 'shoe' analogy helped me sort things out in a visual way.
My barefeet needed to be attended to first, we talked about that last week. As I reached for my first pair of shoes, I realized I was skipping over the 'important'...and that was a pair of socks. As Stacy mentioned yesterday, socks are necessary as a buffer between the shoe and my foot. It is important. I liken the sock to taking care of myself as a woman. Taking care of my physical needs, my emotional health, my personal care and grooming were all important if I was going to spend the rest of my day serving others. So for many years I have paid attention to taking care of myself FIRST. That was a real switch for me as I was so used to hopping out of bed to get my day started and meeting the needs of my family.
What are some of the things I have made a priority? Well, for starters, I have been pretty diligent in getting some sort of exercise daily...walking, biking, gardening, etc. Just to get my body moving and the blood to my brain. About 30 years ago, I was talking with a CEO of a company I was working with. To this day, I remember his comment. He told me that he got up early and ran every morning if for no other reason than if his day was a complete mess, at least he got in a good run and was taking care of himself. I have thought of that statement alot since then because I have found that to be true. If my day gets no further than meeting with God (barefoot) and getting some exercise (wearing my socks)I feel fortified to get through the rest of my day. Ready to start your day? Remember the important stuff...put on your socks first!

Monday, October 8

A buffer

Last week we talked about our role as a child of God. We need to go barefoot before God daily.

This week we will touch on another role - our role as women. Barb chose socks as the appropriate covering for our feet to remind us to take care of ourselves as women.

The sock is our buffer from the world.
Visualize yourself slipping on a comfy pair of socks. They are your daily Because when you slide on a silky pair of stockings or a cozy pair of socks, you are taking care of your feet. And we need to take care of ourselves every day for the purpose of taking care of order to serve others.

Daily life gives us blisters, callouses, and tired, weary feet. We go before God to get them clean. To be refreshed. To be authentic.

And then we can grab our favorite socks and be ready to face the day as women in whatever role he has us in.
So go find a fun pair of socks and slip them on!

Friday, October 5

Oh, My Aching Feet!

I just took off some new boots I bought for this fall season of fashion! They look great, but boy do I need to break them in! I was reminded of a doctor's appointment I went to years ago. He was a podiatrist, a foot doctor. My feet had been really hurting and I couldn't really tell where the pain was coming from. It didn't take long for the doctor to see I had 'bunions' and they were the cause of my discomfort. He went on to tell me I was wearing shoes that were too small and to be mindful that as I aged, my feet would grow and I would need to increase the size of my shoes over the years.

Well, as I talk about barefeet as an analogy with starting the day with God, I could use many 'cute' comparisons, but I just want to end the week with this last one.

I can impress alot of people I meet on a daily basis with what I wear, how I act or by what I say. I can keep up an image on the outside, but if it doesn't match up with who I really am on the inside, my 'life bunions' will cry out. Life will become too painful. I need to acknowledge that just as my feet continue to grow, so do all the circumstances in my life and I need to adjust accordingly. Meeting with my Creator at the start of each new day will keep me mindful of all the changes in my life.

Stacy and I hope you will continue with us as we share our thoughts about 'priorities for women' in the weeks to come. Shoes will be our visual...but we can't talk about shoes without talking about the importance of taking care of our feet. Our first priority then, is our relationship with God...coming to Him daily in our barefeet, discovering who we really are and the plans that God has for us.