Friday, September 28

"Turn off the TV and go outside!"

That's what parents say to their kids but now parents are getting the backing of TV! I had to finish our week by blogging about this article because it is a wonderful move by Nickelodeon and we should let them know what a great move it is! As we have posted our thoughts about reading, Nickelodeon will add to our cause by being off the air for a short time next Wednesday!
"The turn-off is planned for Oct. 2 at noon ET, when Nickelodeon typically has about 1.5 million viewers ages 6 to 11. During those hours, Nick will show a graphic saying it’s time to go outside."
Isn't that fantastic! That is right up there with reading...going outside and playing! So grab a kid, a book and plan a picnic next week to support Nickelodeon's ban on TV! To read the full article, click on the link below.

Thursday, September 27

"You Can't Be Influenced By That Which You Do Not Know"

...umm, is that a perfect endorsement for reading or not! You can't be influence by what you don't know, so pick up a book and start learning!! Women today have such a wonderful opportunity to stretch themselves and grow but I think we take it for granted and fill our days with busyness and our evenings with TV. Cell phones, i-pods, laptops, and DVDs have distracted us from pulling away and spending time to think. My challenge to you is to take hold of the great privilege and the freedom we have to read what we want to read, when we want to. We are great influencers as well. We influence our husbands and we have something worthy to influence them with? Reading will give you something to talk about, something new to try or something to incorporate into your own life. I know we are all busy with kids, extended family, work, friends, church and daily maintenance of everything...but life won't get any less busy as you get older. Now is the time to make reading and learning a priority.

So is that a good enough pep talk? Here are some titles to check out the next time you visit your library or bookstore:

For Women:
A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
Get Out of that Pit by Beth Moore

For Wives:
For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

For Moms:
A Mother's Heart by Jean Fleming
The Difficult Child by Stanley Turecki, MD
The Hurried Child by David Elkind

For your Husbands:
Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald
Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy

I hope you were 'influenced' by what you just go look for something that is worthwhile spending your time on. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 25


Another book I read this year that I highly recommend is "Divine" by Karen Kingsbury.

It's a modern day parable of Mary Magdalene from the Bible. Parts are really difficult to read--her story is filled with abuse, addiction and much suffering throughout her life.

But it is one of the most touching fictional stories I have ever read.

Although Mary is a victim of abuse and suffers at the hands of others, her story is not one of emptiness and sorrow.

Her story is touching and a powerful reminder that God is bigger than all our stories. Her story is about a God who redeems. A God who forgives. A God whose grace is sufficient. A God who rescues. A God who offers sweet sweet freedom from the hurts and pains of this world.

So check it out from the library or order it online. I'd love to hear what you think!

Fabulous Fiction!

I usually don't reach for a fiction book when I get the chance to read. There are so many good books to learn from and to widen my horizons, I am attracted to the non-fiction section of the library or bookstore. This summer I read two fiction books I really enjoyed and if you are a big fiction reader, I would recommend that you check them out!
The first one is well written about 2 different marriages. The author uses a neat technique to write about 2 generations and she does a good job with it. Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty is a sweet novel that played on all my emotions. A young bride learns unexpected lessons from her grandmother's journals and I found myself drawn into both lives. It kept my interest and taught me along the way. It is not a Christian novel, so don't choose this book if you are wanting that perpective.
The other book I just finished this weekend. It is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I had read his first novel, The Kite Runner and was pulled into the action of that book so quickly I wanted to see if this book would be as rivoting. While I liked The Kite Runner abit more, this novel really opened my eyes to 30 years of Afghan history from a woman's viewpoint. It dealt with family, friendship, faith and love. If you are a young mom, some parts will be hard for you to read but it will also give you such appreciation for our freedom here in America. A definite good read for women when we want to complain with the daily load we bear. You will never complain again!

Monday, September 24

Holy....or happy?

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas is a revolutionary book. The premise of the book is: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?"

Almost every talk show, commercial and television sitcom seems to center around making ourselves happy and meeting our own needs.

This book does just the opposite. It is counter-cultural. It reminds me that marriage is not about me. It's not even about me and my spouse. It's about me and my relationship with God. Thomas points out that the celebration of marriage is meant to draw us closer to God and to grow in Christian character. Isn't that a beautiful picture of marriage?

He quotes Katherine Anne Porter on her view of marriage and commitment: "This is the reality of the human heart, the inevitably of two sinful people pledging to live together, with all their faults, for the rest of their lives."

Marriage is two sinful people choosing to live life together - which brings many challenges and opportunities for growth. Sacred Marriage encourages its readers to see these opportunities as ways to learn more about God, grow in our understanding of him and learn to love him more.

One last thought from Sacred Marriage that challenged me: "If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there's no question--stay single. Marriage takes a lot of time. But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can't imagine any better thing to do than to get married. Being married forces you to face some character issues you'd never have to face otherwise."

Isn't that true? Six years into marriage and I know that my character is challenged daily in the ways I speak and respond to my husband. Just when I think I've figured it all out, life changes and my character is continually challenged.

Those are just a few nuggets of insight and wisdom from this book. If you read it, let me know what you think!

What's on your bookshelves that you are reading these days?

Friday, September 21

Self Management...

That's what we've been talking about this week. If you haven't felt the need to check out Flylady, it may be that you have this skill pretty much under control. 'Self' management is necessary before 'family' management can take place. Having a clever web site to go to to get inspired or master a new habit, is all part of being pro-active and intentionally improving yourself. Everyone is changing everyday...are you moving forward or slipping back? I know it took me years to really believe this and as long as I was comfortable, I was happy. The years have taught me to be aware of my daily progress, as small as the baby steps may be. Strung together, these baby steps take you into the future and you will eventually find yourself stronger, more organized, cleaner, healthier, friendlier, etc as your habits define you. I think if I shared this at the beginning of the week it wouldn't have made any sense. I hope after checking out Flylady this week, you will see that the 'self' in self-management means YOU. It is up to YOU to take care of yourself and develop habits that will make a difference in your life daily.

Thursday, September 20

Another Flying lesson

The other day a friend mentioned to me that her goal every day was to be dressed and ready for the day by the time her daughter went to school each morning.

Nice goal, but why is that necessary?

Well when your daughter has a meltdown at the bus stop and you have to jump in the car and drive her to school with wet remember why it's a good goal to be ready for the day.

I work from home a few days each week and often times I wait to shower and dress until later in the day. But many times I am rushing around because I waited too long.

FlyLady is a big proponent of getting dressed and ready for the day even if you stay at home. Read about this here:Flying lessons.

Seems to me that FlyLady is a wise woman.

I hope you are learning from her this week!

Wednesday, September 19

"Do Something!"

I wish I had held that mantra when I was a young wife. I threw up my hands in frustration that I couldn't or didn't want to do it I did nothing!

Probably the best advice to hang on to when visiting FlyLady is to consider her Baby Steps. Just move forward abit every day or every week and you will see HUGE progress when put in the context of a year. She has a section on 'habits'. Over the years, I have 'claimed' a new habit every year and made myself pay attention to that one habit until it became 'second nature' to me. I am so glad to see her pass that advice on and I encourage any reader to consider taking on a new habit TODAY! Flylady takes on a new habit monthly. I took on a new habit yearly. Like I said, it was all or nothing with me to begin with. If you can change a habit in a month, go for it. If it takes you a year, that's ok too. Thirty years from now you will have improved yourself by incorporating 30 new habits into your life. Not bad!

Ok, so don't just sit there reading Flylady..."Do something!"

Tuesday, September 18

Swish and swipe?

Just yesterday I cleaned out my suitcase from a trip I took.

No big deal right?

Except that my trip was in July!

Keeping home is NOT one of my strong suits and that includes unpacking after trips :)

What I love so much about FlyLady is that she is exactly what people like me need. She is encouraging, positive and has great systems that others can implement. She isn't about perfection. She is about keeping things simple, getting things done and feeling good about yourself and your home.

For me it seems so overwhelming to keep up my home (I can't imagine what the future is going to be like!), but I am trying to improve one baby step at a time. I've decided I am going to try FlyLady's swish and swipe advice for awhile and see how that works.

I encourage YOU to choose one thing from her web site to work on this month. Share with us what you choose and we'll check back with you in a couple weeks!

Monday, September 17

"The harder we strive for perfection the farther we get from it"

That's a quote from Flylady...

September always inspires me to do abit of housecleaning. I don't tackle my house with a vengeance, but I do enjoy going through my drawers and filling up my 'Good Will' bags. There is something about the change of seasons that gets us all in the mood to clean, don't you agree?

So visit one of our friendly web sites, for encouragement and tips. Flylady puts everything into perspective and doesn't 'guilt' me into 'doing it all'.

When you visit the web site you may be overwhelmed to begin with. Just spend 5 minutes scrolling the different areas and when you find a tip or recipe or task that you want to work on...take it from there. 'She' is here to inspire and keep your cleaning time to a minimum with the most results possible.
Visit the site once aweek, just for the next month and see if you don't see an improvement around your home.


Friday, September 14

In other words...

This week we've talked about commitments, decisions and choices. Here are a few other thoughts on this topic for you to think about over the weekend:

When one bases his life on principle, 99 percent of his decisions are already made. ~Author Unknown

Indecision becomes decision with time. ~Author Unknown

It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. ~Roy Disney

Thursday, September 13

"It's a Challenge"

That how decision-making was described to me in a seminar years ago. A family psychologist, Carol Travilla spoke at a woman's gathering and shared some good thoughts about the 'Challenge of Choices'.
She encouraged me to first determine:

What is my 'calling' for the season of life I am in?
What is most important to me right now?
How has God uniquely gifted me ?

Then she shared some great questions for me to ask myself:

Is the 'choice' in keeping with the season of my life that I am in?
Have I prayed about my choices?
Am I waiting patiently?
How does my choice affect others?
What really excites me to do this?
If I say 'yes' to this, what am I saying 'no' to?
Do I have the resources to pursue this choice? (money, energy, time?)
What am I afraid of?
Do I have all the information I need to make a good decision?
How do I trust the Lord for what I need in making this choice?

I have kept this list of questions for years and have referred to it often. I 'challenge' you to work thorough these questions the next time you are faced with choices. Decision making is an acquired skill, there is no better time to start acquiring this skill than now!

Wednesday, September 12

Too much temptations

There are many temptations that face us daily: spend too much money, watch too much tv, eat too much food, waste too much time. One of the "too much" temptations I struggle with is doing too much. Scheduling too many activities, saying yes to too many requests, planning too many things on my calendar.

I know this. My friends know this. And my husband certainly knows this. I keep our life very busy. When I go out of town for the weekend my husband sits home and does nothing - and he loves it!

My personality is one that does not sit still. I like to be busy, be involved, be a part of everything. I don't ever want to miss out and I certainly don't want to disappoint.

But I also know that all these good, fun activities or events or commitments can be tiring on my heart, my soul, my marriage and my relationships. Because I know this is an area of weakness for me I am striving to make wise decisions with what goes on my calendar. In order to do that, I need to pray for guidance....and then wait on the Lord for his peace and his timing.

That means not immediately saying 'yes' to requests for my help or 'yes' to invitations - whether that be coffee or a wedding. When I take the time to seek God about my decisions, or be sensitive to promptings from the Holy Spirit, my temptation to say 'yes' might be replaced with a 'no thanks', 'maybe' or 'another time'.

Some weeks I do better than others but these words from
Ruth Bell Graham are a gentle reminder about the consequences of living a too much kind of life: "The definition of traveling light may vary from one individual to another. But most of us need to trim off some excess weight. We have too many social involvements, an overabundance of good but unnecessary meetings. We are on more boards than one person can adequately or usefully serve. Remember the caution: Beware of the barrenness of a busy life."

What are your too much temptations? Are you ready to make choices today to combat those temptations?

Tuesday, September 11

Decisions, Decisions!

My mother used to say 'regrets and indecision' were ghosts that haunted her. In my life, decision making has been a challenge for me but I do not want to have ghosts that 'haunt' me, so I have had to grow through my 'fear' of decision making and learn some techniques about making decisions.

I have learned that decision making is an acquired skill. It can be acquired at any age. Once I realized that I was entitled to think for myself and to act on my own ideas I could decide easier. The squeeze has come when I have had to accomodate my husband and family in my decision making process! 'Servanthood' often made me set my choices aside in the best interest of my family.

Decisions sometimes lead to mistakes, but if I saw the mistakes as a step in learning how to make BETTER decisions, the fear was lessened.

I have learned that when I make a decision, I am choosing against something else. I can't have it both ways. I have had to learn how to give up what I least minded sacrificing.

I am still learning not to 'second guess' myself. This is a big struggle for me. Second-guessing has always helped me see things from both sides and has been an asset as I have trained my kids and interacted with my husband, but at some point, I have had to say 'yes' to a decision and not look back. Taking time to process my decisions has helped me to not second guess myself once I decide to move forward with a decison.

Good decision making has allowed me to get on with life. Sitting on the fence has only left me on the fence and that was not the way I wanted to live my life. I have found I am comfortable to sit on the fence at times to process both sides, but once I made the decision, I would visualize myself climbing down off the fence and moving forward with my life. That was a success in itself.

I didn't value decision-making when I was younger. I would encourage any reader today to begin with small decisions and let your kids make decisions where the consequences aren't devastating.

These are just tips for basic decision-making hurdles, what about the really important life decisions...continue to check out our blog in the days to come :)

Monday, September 10

Good....or great?

For the past few weeks my husband Ryan and I have been making decisions.

Decisions about the fall. Decisions about the future. Decisions about our time. Decisions about our money.

We look at our calendar, we look at the myriad of opportunities before us and we discuss:
What commitments will we make? Where should we volunteer? What small group will we participate in? What groups and organizations will we be a part of this year?

We want to make intentional choices and decisions. It is so easy to over-commit ourselves and later regret putting too many things on our plate. All the opportunities before us are good, but which ones are best for us in this season of our life?

It is also very easy to decide not to commit to anything, and therefore live a comfortable life that is focused on our own needs and desires. I recently read this quote: "The enemies to a great life are not tragedy, heartbreak and hard times. The enemy to having a great life is to simply lead a good life. A life where you seek comfort and ease above growth." - What Happens When Women Walk in Faith.

That quote has been weighing on my heart. It is SO easy to lead a good life. Comfort and ease are appealing and our culture supports that 100 percent.

But to live a great life I need to go beyond comfort and ease.

How do we live this out as we strive to be wise women and Homemakers with hope?

Just this morning I got an invitation on e-mail to visit a low-income apartment building where our church is going to be serving dinners this year. The invitation was to eat dinner there this Thursday to see what the experience will be like.

My first reaction:
Ryan and I have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night open this week and I am so excited about spending time together, being at home and just hanging out. Maybe even work on some house projects!

My second reaction:
I am going to be serving dinners all year, I really don't want to take up an extra night this week to 'experience' what it will be like.

My third reaction: The hard realization that I'd rather choose a life of comfort and ease than a life of growth and service.

This realization is another reminder that I need to look at every opportunity before me, every invitation, every activity, every commitment and determine: Am I choosing a life of comfort and ease? Am I being intentional with my time and energy? Am I striving for greatness?

Friday, September 7

The Tried and The True...

Boy, after so many years of parenting, I think I tried just about every idea I ever heard and thought was worthwhile...some worked for me and others just didn't fit. When it came to celebrating the new year of school for my kids, I went through many 'traditions'...often wearing myself out, trying to do the 'perfect' thing...and getting too overzealous. Keep that in mind when you are endlessly trying to 'remember the moment'.

making a special dinner on the first night of the first day of school. That went by the way-side as the years progressed because life got busy with other babies and other demands. I also tried to make fresh chocolate chip cookies that first day, but that didn't last

what I found was true was that something special needed to be done to commemorate that first week of a new year of school. I settled on rice krispie bars! I didn't win the mother of the year award, but I was there to hear about their first day and I had a treat for them. The 2 essentials!

I tried writing letters to each child. I LOVE the idea and know friends who did this with HUGE success. I never carried through with the plan

what I did instead of ME writing a letter was to have each child write/print out their name, teacher, and grade for a small album I had for each child. That recorded their handwriting and maturity in what they wrote. At Christmas, they added highlights from the year so far (activities they were in, etc) and at the end of the year, they listed their friends, books they read, etc. It is nice to have that to look back on, but a letter from mom would have been priceless. Again, do something to mark the passing of time.

I tried to catch the kids each year going into their classrooms in a photo. As they age, they didn't appreciate me showing up everywhere with a camera.

Instead of photographing their classrooms each year, I ended up taking pictures of each child in their bedrooms. It captured the color that they surrounded themselves in for that year, the posters, memorabilia and each child would stand wearing their back-to-school outfit showing what the style was like.
I took a picture of all 3 kids by a small pine tree as well. Same kids, same tree...different year. Boy, the tree grew tall, the kids grew tall and I remained behind the camera...growing older!

All this is to say, make this week special and lasting for your kids. If you can't keep on doing what you chose to do, change up and try another idea. You will land on something that will be special and will speak volumes in the years to come.

Thursday, September 6

Looking back...looking ahead

I was reading one of my favorite 'homemaking' books this week and was touched by a yearly tradition the author participates in. Every year after her kids go back to school she writes them each a letter. She writes about her feelings as they head off into another year. She writes about her hopes and prayers for them as they go into another year and she tells them how proud she is to be their mom. She plans to give them the letters sometime in the future when they go to college or have their own school-aged child. It's also her way of helping to let go a little more each year.

She sums it up best here:
"Don't let the first day of school go by without somehow marking it in highlighter. Even if you're not the type to weep on the couch writing sappy letters, snap your child's picture as he leaves the house. Plan a special dinner or a favorite dessert. Serve sparkling juice in goblets.

Because your child is growing up, and before you know it, you'll have run out of first days to celebrate." - Lynn Bowen Walker, Queen of the Castle

I love this idea because it is about intentionally reflecting on the past and anticipating the future.

If you have pre-school aged children you can start this tradition now as fall arrives. Reflect on their growth and change this past year and what you are looking forward to sharing with them this coming year. Tell them why you love their current age and why you love being their mom.

If you are like me and are not yet a mom, I still think it would be valuable to write a letter. Write a letter to the Lord about whatever is on your heart. Pour out your hopes and dreams for the coming year. Reflect on the many things you have to be grateful for. These letters will be priceless in years to come.

As this first week in September comes to a close, start a new tradition that encourages reflecting on the past year and anticipating the coming year. You'll be so glad you did!

Wednesday, September 5

First Day of School...

Did you make it through the day, Mom? There is a tug on the old heart when you see your first child (or any of your children) march off to school, climb on the school bus or get out of the car without you. The first day of school always seemed like the start of the New Year for me, more than New Year's Eve ever did. All the preparation, planning, new clothes, new supplies and new schedules always gave me time to process that my were kids growing up.

Many of you only have small babies so it's not too late to remind you once again to take these pre-school years a day at a time. It may seem like the days are long, but the years will seem short when your child reaches school age and you look back. Take time today to enjoy, hug, play and laugh with your kids. You will only have them around for a short time and then they will be widening their world. Make it a point to live in such a way that when the first day of school comes around for your little ones, there will be no regrets. You will be sad, you will miss them, you will want to repeat some of the good 'ol days, but deep down you will know you gave of yourself to your little one and now it is time to loosen the apron strings abit and celebrate what a fine child you have raised (so far).

Tuesday, September 4

Family fun night

I have a friend who schedules weekly 'family fun' activities with her family. They might go out for dinner, ice cream, a walk, a visit to a zoo or any number of fun activities. As I think about her children I can only imagine the memories they will have from their family time together.

As kids go back to school this week in Minnesota, or to kindergarten for the first time, here are some creative ways to celebrate a monumental time in your family's life. Pick one idea and create it together as a family. Have fun, make memories, take pictures and enjoy the time you are spending together!

Pencil cake

School bus cake

Many different kinds of cakes

Monday, September 3

Happy Labor Day

A few wise words to consider this Labor Day:

Colossians 3:17 (Amplified Bible)

And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3:23 (Amplified Bible)

Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men

Contemporary English Version:
Do your work willingly, as though you were serving the Lord himself, and not just your earthly master.

Enjoy the holiday!