Thursday, May 31

Good Reading...

If our discussion this week has triggered an interest to implement a 'Sabbath' with your family, you may want to check out these books:
No Ordinary Home by Carol Brazo. She has an entire chapter on creating a Sabbath for her family. It may be more than you want to take on, but it will get you thinking.
Making Sunday Special by Karen Mains is the 'story of her and her family's search for order and rest on the Sabbath'.

Remember, it's about becoming 'resouled' on a weekly basis. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 30

Guard your Sabbath

Could you imagine how different the world would be if we all were intentional about remembering the Sabbath? I think of the impact rest, relaxation and meaningful time together could have on marriages, families, and other relationships we value.

The Sabbath is such a simple concept: take a day to renew your soul. Why then is it so hard to do? Why is it difficult to set aside a day to ponder, rest, be resouled? I don't know why, but I do know that God must have known it would be hard for us because he made it one of the commandments and he led by example resting on the 7th day of creation.

If I am going to be purposeful about my day of rest, my entire week will have to look different. I will have to run errands, do grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, cooking and home projects the other six days of the week. I will have to guard my Sabbath day (whatever day I choose that to be) and not let meetings, to-do lists and 'urgent' activities determine my Sabbath schedule. I will have to be intentional about my time and my choices.

This is quite the challenge for a young woman. But, I know that taking a day to be resouled would benefit me personally - as well as my marriage - so it would be unwise not to guard my Sabbath and make it a priority.

Will you join me in guarding your day of rest? No matter what day of the week you choose, let's begin together!

Tuesday, May 29

Here's a Challenge for you!

Just coming off the Memorial Day holiday may be a good time to bring up this challenge! Hopefully, you are feeling renewed and refreshed after spending a day or two doing something different, enjoying your family and being away from the normal demands of the work-week. The Jewish rabbis' used to called this a time to be 're-souled'...but they were specifically referring to the Sabbath. I would like to challenge you to ponder the impact of 'remembering the keep it holy' over the summer. Think of it as a time for you and your family to be 'resouled' every week! Not in a legalistic or 'holier-than-thou' frame of mind, but rather with the intent that you, as the woman of the house, would to healing and a time of rest to your family in a very intentional way. Announce to your family that one day a week (it doesn't have to be a Sunday), you are going to pull away from the demands and constant busyness to renew and refresh yourself and each other. It doesn't even have to last the whole day, but it does have to have some thought put into it. Here are a few things to consider:

Mark 2:27 says that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath….” It is a day to be set aside to vacation with God!

Preparation is the key…

Plan ahead what you will eat ALL day on the Sabbath. Prepare what is needed ahead of time... you can have the food ready and handy when mealtime comes. Perhaps plan a picnic, a pizza night, cold cereal, or a roast in the oven. Plan to feed your family without last minute stress on your part.

Pick a ‘theme’ for the month that you will talk about on the Sabbath. Use this theme (friendships, faith, celebrations, trust, etc) as a topic around the dinner table, as a craft with your kids, or as a mission to take on (sponsor a child through World Vision)

Accessorize with Details. Plan ahead to have the house picked up enough so you can sit around and play games, talk, read, crochet or do crafts. Vacuum, it will make the whole place feel like company is coming and then realize that God will be present at your table!!

Use candles through out the day...or fresh flowers in the summer.

Sing with your family! Listen to tunes that unite you together

Tell each other how they have been a blessing in your life.

Ask how God was present in your week

Have a special treat or dessert to enjoy while you interact with one another.

Mainly, make the Sabbath a time to reflect, to relax, smile, revitalize your soul.

***Anticipating the Sabbath will also mean you will have to clear out grudges,
miscommunication, unsettled disagreements, etc. before you can celebrate a day of rest. That means every week, your relationships are aired out and restored***.

A wise woman ’designs’ the Sabbath; shapes the atmosphere; orders the environment; nourishes the souls and the bodies of her family; accessorizes appropriately and provides a peaceful home each week by Remembering the Sabbath...and keeping one day to renew. In doing so, you weekly are using the tools you need to build your home on a long term basis. Life is lived one day at a week at a time. A wise woman recognizes that and lives each day to the fullest.

A wise woman builds her home, but with her own hands, the foolish woman tears hers down.”
Proverbs 14:1

My Sabbath is complete for this I am off to work with renewed energy and focus. I am counting my blessings instead of my worries. Let me know if you will join me in this challenge and how it looks in your home!

Friday, May 25

Good Advice!

I don't think a month should go by without a celebration of some kind...and May offers Memorial Day as a kick-off to summer. What better reason is there to celebrate the outdoors. The Good Advice I received when my kids were little was to never plan a holiday or celebration without my children's help. It complicated things and slowed the preparation down for me, but in the end, it was worth it. The parties and parades were over quickly, but the anticipation and planning extended the fun and the memories.

Get the neighbors involved this weekend in a neighborhood Memorial Day parade...
Encourage your kiddos to wash the wagon for the parade; decorate the big wheels with streamers; put sports trading cards into the spokes of bikes to make the fun sounds.
Walk the route and hang ribbons on the trees along the route ahead of time.
Get out the big water jugs and paper cups to serve water (or Kool Aid?!) to all the participants.
Have your little ones make or color in signs to welcome and thank the parade goers at the start and the finish.
Serve salted peanuts in the shells and then feed the squirrels when you are done. No mess and little clean-up
Of course, take year your kids may have graduated into a bike with training wheels, or out of a stroller and onto a scooter!
Revive fun memories from your childhood to pass on to your children during these celebrations.
But when planning your summer fun, remember this Good Advice: Never plan a celebration without your children's help!

Thursday, May 24

How do you feed your husband?

I am in a monthly wives club that reads one book each year. While that might not seem like much, the books we choose are about marriage and our roles as wives. We usually read one chapter each month and when we're together we talk about how we are challenged to better love the man God has given each of us.

What makes our group unique from other 'book clubs' is that we consider prayer for our husbands and our marriages to be the foundation of our group.

We just completed The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. While some of what Dr. Laura says is hard to digest (and may even be considered controversial), we all agreed that we learned much from this book and appreciated the honesty in which it was presented. You'll find no sugar coated words here - just honest truth about how selfish and disrespectful wives can be at times.

I believe that a wise woman is always seeking to learn new and better ways to love her man. Are you up for the challenge?

Wednesday, May 23

"Closed for Maintenance"

Do you have a sign that says "Closed for Maintenance" that is readily available to hang on your front door when needed? I think it might be something to consider. This morning I was busy in my home office, designing my day when I heard a bunch of clatter in our front entry way. I looked down my two-story stairwell to find my husband taking the windows out of his office so he could wash them. He hadn't mentioned it to me and just proceeded to gather the cleaning supplies. I was glad it wasn't a job I had to 'nag' him to do, so I went down and told him I would help him. We spent the morning cleaning a few windows and catching up in areas that we hadn't taken time to discuss lately. It wasn't anything earth-shattering, it was the normal maintenance a house needs but I found it was the 'maintenance' that we needed to reconnect again through conversation and an unhurried agenda.
I was once again struck by how far my husband and I have come since our early days of marriage. Back then, Dean would never have started washing the windows on his own; I would have nagged him to do so; I wouldn't have given up my schedule to help him and he would have insisted on help from me if the windows really needed to be cleaned. I wouldn't have made use of that time together to 'talk'; we probably both would have been mad at each other and I wouldn't have considered 'maintenance' to be a virtue in sustaining a home or a relationship...I would have considered it hard work...something to avoid. 'Maintenance' doesn't just happen. I have had to work on my attitude and intentionally move toward maintaining my home and my marriage on a regular basis to get it to the place where it has become a habit. Can I entice you to make up a "Closed for Maintenance" sign for you and your home? Write me back in 20 years and I bet you will tell me it's one of the best things you did to build your home!!

Tuesday, May 22

What's your strength?

"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

This verse has been popping up everywhere lately it seems – a friend mentioned it and I've come across it repeatedly. When that happens I start to pay attention (seems like the smart thing to do, wouldn't you say?).

I guess the question I want to ask is, "As a wise woman where does my strength come from?" When the dishes are overflowing, the to-do list seems endless, the floors are dirty, the prayer requests are overwhelming and the bills need to be paid…where does my strength come from?

So often I find myself trying to come up with my own strength to face the day. But according to Isaiah 30, I should pursue quietness and seek after confidence in the Lord for my daily strength.

Strength and quietness? I wouldn't have put those two words together. That's why I know I have a lot to learn on this journey as a wise woman.

Here's a question to ponder: where does your strength come from?

Monday, May 21

If God Cares so Wonderfully for the Flowers...

I spent a good part of the weekend planting my garden. It is an exercise I highly recommend to all 'Homemakers'!! Even if you don't know the first thing about gardening or don't have a yard...a pot will do. Digging your fingers through the rich, black soil and smelling the aroma of the water as it is sprinkled on the fresh dirt will excite all your senses. As I tilled the earth, a small bright green bug scooted across a plant. I marveled at the variety of colors that God painted on the impatients (a type of flower, not my need to hurry!!). They were colors that I never would mix together in my wardrobe, but they blended beautifully. The textures of the leaves varied from thorns to slick and almost plastic-like. I had to exercise much restraint at the nursery (where the flowers are grown and sold, not my baby's room of 30 years ago!). I had to read the label on many of the varieties to see if they could handle sun or shade or maybe a bit of both. Plants of all kinds reminded me of the intricate masterpieces that God has given us just to enjoy. They really are just here to beautify our surroundings. Matt 5:28 says "Why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are." Gardening is truly a humbling experience. I can not make the plants, I can not design their color or even encourage them to grow to a certain height. I can merely plant and water them in the way the label tells me to and then sit back and see the miracle take place. Verse 29 of Matt 5 goes on to say "if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!" (NLT) Do your faith a favor and buy a plant this spring. Plant it in a pot or start a small garden. Really take note of the miracle of growth and see how God treats each plant in its own special way. Realize how quickly the summer passes as your plant grows, blossoms and then quickly fades away. It might help you to pay more attention to each summer day, encourage you to use your senses and realize once again how God cares for each of us so wonderfully.

Friday, May 18

The beauty of the rainbow

Have you ever thought about how the word rainbow consists of the word rain? In order to experience the beauty of the rainbow, first there must be rain.

So it is with our lives. Just when it seems that the rain might never stop, there's a rainbow waiting round the corner. While the rainstorms of life can be difficult and challenging, think of all the good that rain does. Those showers (and sometimes rainstorms) keep things green and growing. Rain saturates the fields and waters lawns, flowers, trees and bushes.

I don't think any of us would truly appreciate rainbows if it weren't for the rain. In Job 2:10 Job says, "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

My paraphrase would be, "Should we accept rainbows from God, but not the rain?"

As women striving to be wise, lets praise God in the midst of both rain and rainbows!

Thursday, May 17

Let the Rain Come Down!

Do you remember the song from your childhood that went like this,
"The wise man built his house upon a rock,
The wise man built his house upon a rock,
The wise man built his house upon a rock,
And the rains came tumbling down.

The rain came down and the floods came up,
The rain came down and the floods came up,
The rain came down and the floods came up,
And the house on the rock stood firm."

That song goes back a long time...I bet it is 75 years old or more! It doesn't surprise me because it is based on Matthew 5:24-27. That passage of scripture doesn't say we need to 'pray' for rain. It says the rain 'will come'! Matthew 5:45 says that it will "rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Nobody will stay dry all their life! I've spent a good portion of my life trying to stay out of the rain...always hoping for sunny days. The years have taught me that, of course, rain is necessary to keep the balance. To make the grass grow and become green. 'Rain' is necessary to make me grow and stay supple for life's rigors. We can adapt the song (and verses in Matthew) to read, "the wise woman built her house upon the rock" This blog is hopefully all about building our homes on The Rock. Making sure that our time is used wisely and we are intentional about our choices and our activities. The song and the scripture goes on to say, "The foolish (wo)man built her house upon the sand" and when the rain came, the "house on the sand fell flat." It had no foundation, no reinforcement and no hope to survive the rain. I have found that I don't need to spend my life trying to avoid getting wet from the rain, but rather concentrate on building my life on firm principles, on prayer and Biblical teaching so I am sure The Rock will hold in times of storm. It's a 'counter-cultural' approach to building a home these days, but rain is in the forecast so be wise and choose to build your home upon The Rock.

Tuesday, May 15

"We are not here to dictate to God!"

Ohhh, it's a tough subject this week..."praying that God would bring the rain in order that we might praise Him more fully." I haven't been good with this prayer during my lifetime. I would 'hedge' my prayer in ways that God would hear my desire along with my 'conditions' that would go with my desires. Like when I was in early grade school I would take my New Testament to the dentist office and sit and read it while my palms would sweat waiting for the dentist. I hated the dentist (that was back in the dark ages when kids got cavities and they had to be filled without pain killers). I would read a portion of scripture and pray that God would grant me a 'clean checkup' with out any cavities...I would promise Him that I would read my New Testament every day in the coming year if He would just grant me that one request. I certainly wasn't praying for 'rain'.
Oswald Chambers has reminded me in his writings, that the "only aim of life is that the Son of God may be manifested and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants." This is a lesson I am still bring my requests and concerns to God without 'dictating to Him' what I want the outcome to be. Why do some lessons take a lifetime to learn?

Monday, May 14

Bring the Rain

Do you ever find it difficult to pray certain prayers? A friend recently told me about a song by Mercy Me called "Bring the Rain." It's an incredibly powerful song. You can listen to it on iTunes.

The lyrics of Bring the Rain are very challenging for me to pray. Here they are:

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Are you going through a season of rain? Your home, your marriage, other relationships, your health? Take heart that your pain is not going unnoticed. Your season of rain can be used by God to bring Him glory.

May each of us have the strength and the courage to pray that God would bring the rain in order that we might praise Him more fully.

Friday, May 11

Dear Daughter in Law!

Dear Stacy,
Thank you for the incredibly kind words you wrote in the blog yesterday…that really puts pressure on me to come up with something profound that captures my feelings! That’s easy…I love you!!

We can get really sentimental when we are together, but what I need to write today not only in response to your post, but because I think once again this may not be said enough if at all. There is so much written and joked about the mother in law, but rarely do we hear about the younger woman’s attitude and responsibility in the ‘in law’ relationship. I think it is interesting that the Bible tells the younger generation to ‘honor their mother and father’.

I would like to say that you, Stacy, have ‘honored’ me ever since you met Ryan and that has made our relationship so much easier for me. You listen, you ask questions, you laugh things off, you have a pleasant disposition when you are around the family, and you reach out to extended members of the family…what’s there not to love about you?

What I am saying is that just like every other relationship, it’s a two way street. Age does not dictate the ability to be mature in a relationship. Often times you younger women have much more insight, patience, and fortitude than we older women do and if you would be the first to extend a measure of grace and acceptance to your mother in law, it may surprise you how she may mature in her response to you. We are all human, responding with human shortcomings, but if we are willing to accept responsibility to be the best we can be, the other person may become better.
Age doesn’t bring wisdom automatically. There is wisdom in reaching out to your mother in law on a regular basis and if nothing else you will be blessed with wisdom by God as you age. It says in Prov 2:1-6
My daughter, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,
and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom,and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

There is work to be done in good relationships, but the results make it worth it. I am blessed to have a daughter in law that is mature way beyond her years, but I also thank God that He is blessing her and me because she is faithful in her desire to be a wise woman who builds her home. You can be too.
Have a Happy Mother-in-Law’s Day!!

Thursday, May 10

Dear mother-in-law

Dear Barb,
I don't really know what it's like to raise children. I don't think I truly grasp the long hours, the depth of weariness or the challenges that motherhood brings. I won't understand that until I am a mom myself.

But I want to thank you for the incredible job you did raising your son, and my husband, Ryan. He is affectionate, kind, trustworthy, a hard worker, a lover of God and has a sense of humor that is incomparable. He does his own laundry and knows how to clean the toilet! He's wise with his money and open with his feelings. I am so grateful that he was raised in a home where he learned to love Jesus from a young age. I am blessed to call you mother-in-law and I thank God for you.

Happy Mother's Day!

I love you,

As you've probably guessed from reading this blog, I have a great relationship with my mother-in-law. I am amazed by her wisdom, blessed by her heart and challenged by her example.

Many of you may not be so fortunate. You long for a mother-in-law who understands you better, treats you differently or, quite honestly, was less of a 'mother' and more of a friend. Maybe she's too nosy, too picky, too critical, too willing to offer you advice.

But, she's your mother-in-law. Regardless of where you stand in your relationship with her, I encourage you to praise God for her this Mother's Day for the simple reason that you are married to her son. She carried him for nine months, delivered him, raised him and taught him to be the man he is today. Maybe she didn't do everything perfectly, but chances are she worked hard and loved him a lot.

So today set aside the frustrations, discouragement or annoyances. Send your mother-in-law a card, give her a hug, shoot her an e-mail, tell her you love her and thank her for raising her son so well.

Wednesday, May 9

A Disorganized Mind

Have you ever thought that was your problem? If you’re like me, you blame your busyness and tardiness on ‘too much to do’. To actually take responsibility for it would simply be overwhelming. Many, many years ago I began journaling and it was the beginning of organizing my mind! I didn’t attribute the simple task of putting words to paper as an answer to my physical disorganization, but it became apparent when I STOPPED journaling. My mind became ‘cluttered’ again and it spilled over into my daily activities. I am more convinced than ever that my day needs to start by ‘organizing my mind’ and that means journaling my thoughts and my prayers and seeing my desires and fears laid out on paper. Socrates said that the 'unexamined life is not worth living'. Examining my ‘cluttered’ mind helps me to put my thoughts straight first thing in the morning and then I can handle all my ‘tasks’ as they come along. I have a jump on the day as I talk to God about people who may cross my path, time scheduling, money problems, health issues, relationships …on and on. By writing it all down, I am able to release my prayers to God, and not ruminate over them all day. Bill Hybels book, “Too Busy Not to Pray” helped me ‘organized’ my prayer life, my journaling and my ‘cluttered mind’. He suggested the following format. I write the following letters in the margin of my page. He suggested that I limit my prayers to one page:
Y- ‘Yesterday’. I write several sentences about yesterday, including how God worked in my life.
A – ‘Adoration’. I recall who God is, what he has revealed to me about Himself and I write a few sentences of praise and adoration about God. It focuses my mind on the great privilege of praying to the God of the Universe, my Savior, my Creator, the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace.
C – ‘Confession’. This is when I ask God to ‘search me and know my heart’. I ask Him to reveal any sins I am concealing in my mind. Attitudes, grudges, fears, and all the other bad thoughts that keep my mind from being open to the truth.
T – ‘Thanksgiving’. A few sentences of counting my blessings is the best way to bring out the best in my mind. To write out current things I am thankful for opens up a healthy stream of mental pictures.
S – ‘Supplication’ . Here I write out my prayers for others, often rotating them through out the week.
L – ‘Listen and Learn’ I stop after writing out my supplication prayers and read a portion from the Bible. I read slowly, actively looking for what God wants me to learn that day. I might find a word like ‘peace’, ‘forgive’, or ‘blessed is the
(wo)man who trusts in You’. What I write here, I try to take with me for the day. It is the ‘bar’ in which I hang my thoughts on and tend to return to through out the day as my mind begins to get ‘cluttered’ again.
This technique is taught in different ways, but it is the RESULT that I share with you today. It changed my prayer life, it organized my mind and eventually it has affected every area of my life.
As you spring clean, include the crevices of your mind.

Tuesday, May 8

Clean home...clean heart

It's spring and as we all know, along with spring comes spring cleaning. I groan just thinking about it because I'm not a cleaner! If you're not naturally a cleaner I hope you've enjoyed the tips and resources we've posted this past week.

I started thinking today that spring cleaning should be about more than just cleaning our should be about cleaning our hearts as well. Psalm 51:10 says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."

What's piled up in the corners of your heart? What have you crammed into the crevices?

As we go about our days, cleaning, organizing, and airing out our homes, let's be sure to take time to to ask God to create in us a clean heart.

Monday, May 7

One Quick Tip That Still Works...

I was told years ago to make it a habit to 'clean one drawer a week'! Simple, huh? Too simple in fact that I didn't make it a priority. I have found, however, that there is great energy in this tip. 'Clean one drawer a week' doesn't matter in which room, and it will empower you to continue to pick away at other clutter. I keep coming back to this tip in my own quest for organization and every time I see success. So my tip of the day: Clean one drawer this week!

Thursday, May 3

Spring Cleaning...Be Wise...

"Clutter Wise"!
Here's a web site you might enjoy!
" is a resource for those seeking the strength to tackle the clutter of the heart and home."

Ten Top Ways to Declutter:

Another book to read:
"Too Much Stuff: Decluttering Your Heart and Home"
by Kathryn Porter

Now who has time to clean when you have all this good stuff to check out! Enjoy:)

Wednesday, May 2

Our duty

"One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement.... It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word." - William Barclay

Lately I have discovered so much about the power of encouragement. I love to encourage, motivate and inspire. I love it when I am encouraged, motivated and inspired – whether that's a Happy May Day to brighten my day or a card in the mail or a message on my phone.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 we are told “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” I agree with William Barclay above when he says that the world is full of discouragers. Celebrity magazines, talk shows and even politics thrive on tearing others down and making others look bad. 1 Thess. 5 goes against the grain.

There’s so much power in encouragement. I believe it can change lives, change the course of a marriage, or change a friendship. But it’s a daily choice we have to make. Every word out of our mouths can build up or tear down co-workers, spouses, classmates, friends, parents, or children.

May we all take the duty of encouragement seriously as we strive together to live out 1 Thess. 5.

Tuesday, May 1

"Happy May Day!!"

That's been a fun greeting on May 1st since I was a kid! As far back as I can remember, May 1st was a day to make hand-made paper baskets of some sort, fill them with goodies and hang them on a neighbor's front door. Sometimes we would ring the doorbell and run and hide, watching our friends open the door and be plesantly surprised to find our May basket. I continued that tradition with my kids when they were little. It was the warmth of spring and the early budding of trees and flowers that enhanced the fun time. As our children grew older and we were busy building our business, my husband and I began incorporating the May Day tradition into a business promotion. We enlisted the kids and their friends to deliver little vials filled with water and several flowers door to door. Attached to the vials was a small flyer advertising our business. It became a popular neighborhood tradition that neighbors even anticipated. We delivered over 600 vials again today and every year I am encouraged how the simple greeting of "Happy May Day" just brightens everyones mood, even when I interrupt them mowing their lawn. It made me think how a simple, gentle greeting to someone can brighten their day. Just like Christmas can be held in my heart all year long, I need to hold "Happy May Day" in my heart and brighten someone's life every day with an encouraging greeting.
"Happy May Day!"