Saturday, January 31

Be careful...

Be careful little eyes what you see.

Be careful little ears what you hear.

I don't know all the lyrics to that children's song but I was thinking about it yesterday.

Barb touched on being aware of what we put in front of our eyes.

I think being aware of what we listen to is wise as well. What we listen to, we ultimately reigns in our minds and we ponder in our hearts.

As I go about my day I can choose to have the television on or off at home. If it's on, I can choose to listen to talk shows, news, sitcoms or soap operas. Or I can choose to have on the radio or iPod and listen to music or talk shows.

When I am in the car I can choose to have silence, listen to talk radio or other radio programs, worship music, sermons or any other music station out there.

These are such simple choices. They are not life altering. Not one of them. But over time they can be so impactful on my mind and my thought patterns.

These choices can set the tone for my day and my attitude.

For Home Improvement lets strive be intentional about what we listen to. Enjoy a television show you like or a radio station you are a fan of. But be aware of what you are listening to and make it something you choose rather than something that chooses you.

Thursday, January 29

Should You Be Reading This?

"Should I be reading this?"
Lately I have been asking myself that question. Not that I'm reading BAD stuff, but rather that I am side-tracked by all the options I have to feed my mind.

I love blogs, emails, facebook, the whole internet(!), books, ipods, much information, so little time.

This statistic blew my mind: "In 2003 alone, enough new information was generated to fill a stack of books 30 feet tall for EACH of the more than six billion people on earth." (Peter Lyman, "How much information,2003")

How do I decide what to read and what to walk away from?

I have had to return to the basics as all this technology has crept into my life. When my kids were really little, I packed a basket of books and my Bible and moved from room to room for my quiet time. The season of the year often dictated where I would perch.
Later I planted myself in a cozy corner in my walk-in closet to read, pray and THINK.
When my daughter left for college, I moved a comfortable chair into her bedroom and sat up 'shop' there.

My intent was always to find a personal sanctuary of sorts.

I am now back in my cozy closet. It's my place of solitude off away from all the other demands of my day. It is where I feed my mind and allow myself to THINK without distraction.

Did you know that Bill Gates has a modest cottage in a secret location where he goes for "Think Weeks"?

This has been one of my most powerful 'tools' in finding out who I am as a have a place for rejuvenation and a place that nourishes my soul.

The key was to find a place that took me away from all the worldly connections. A place where the computer, cell phones, ipods and the like are not allowed. It is a place that allows me to think and get in touch with who I really am.

It's been a process for me. Finding a place to sit my bum was not the was the beginning of meeting ME!

Wednesday, January 28

Heart, soul and mind

I read recently that the best prayer you can pray for your children is that they would "Love the Lord their God with all their heart, all their soul and all their mind."

That is a very powerful prayer to pray! Not only are we praying Scripture, but we are praying for hearts, souls and minds.

I believe that in order to pray this for my son (and my spouse while I'm at it!), I need to be living it out myself.
What does it look like to love God with all my heart, soul AND mind?

As we know, our minds are a battlefield. Every day we fight battles with what we think about, how we think and what thoughts we allow to enter and take up residence in our minds.

The Greek word Jesus used for “mind” is dianoia, which means: Deep thought, exercising the mind, to think through.

Everything we allow in our minds we need to think through, analyze, consider, weigh the pros and cons. So much attention is given to our hearts and souls in our relationship with the Lord, it is easy to let our minds slip.

The reason? Because it is a daily battle. What worked yesterday may not work today. And may not work tomorrow. As we train our hearts to be healthy, we can train our minds to think on what is good, true, pure, noble and righteous.

But it does take training. It takes living intentionally and being slective with what we allow to enter our minds. This will enable us to love God with our hearts, soul and mind!

Tuesday, January 27

What Did You Learn?

What did you learn yesterday? About anything.

Years ago, at the end of every day I would write down one thing I had learned that day. I may return to that discipline again this year.

There were days I was eager to write down something profound I had heard or read. There were days I was void of anything new. It rapidly made me aware of how little I focused on my mind. Before that exercise, I simply went from day to day not really thinking about my mind's potential.

How can we even begin to call ourselves 'wise' if we aren't aware of our learning patterns?

As we talk about becoming women of God, most of us recognize our need grow in that area.

When we focus on our physical bodies, we are always aware of ways we can improve there.

But do we take our minds for granted?

As we continue to think of ways to take care of ourselves we can't neglect our minds.

What have you learned today?

Monday, January 26

Make a list!

One of my favorite homemaking books that I refer to on this site from time to time is Queen of the Castle. Author Lynn Bowen Walker refers to the book The Sidetracked Sisters' Happiness File in which they suggest starting a list of all the things you love to do, them making sure to incorporate them into your life.

As women it is vital to nurture ourselves by participating in the activities that bring refreshment, joy and relaxation to our hearts. These things not only refresh us physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

A list might include things such as: taking a bubble bath, going shopping, getting a facial, pedicure or massage, going out for coffee with a friend, reading a book, watching movies in front of the fire (with freshly popped popcorn!), taking a nap, working on a craft or hobby, etc. If this lists sounds similar to what Barb suggested last week, it's because we're really trying to communicate that these things are essential - not just optional - for us to thrive as women.

I love to read and last week I read an entire book in two days. Now it wasn't a long book, but it felt SO good to just lay in bed here and there, or sit on the couch while my husband was watching television and let myself read. Reading allows me to take a mental break from life, and escape into the wonderful world of whatever story I am reading.

When you have a few minutes this week, grab a pen and make your list. Put it in your Bible or on your fridge or somewhere you will see it regularly. Let it be a reminder to give yourself a mental or emotional break - you deserve it!

Friday, January 23

Home Improvement...Be a Woman!

HURRAH! This week's home improvement is all about ME! Enjoy it ladies, because the other 51 weeks it will be about serving others!

A woman serves her husband

A woman serves her children

A woman serves her neighbors, friends, co-workers

A woman serves her parents, siblings and relatives

A woman serves...

So a woman has to be in top condition in order to maintain her own strength and availability to serve others.

Use this weekend to take a temperature check of what YOU need to do to improve physically so you can serve others.

Take a bath

Get a free makeover at a cosmetic counter at your favorite department store

Make a doctor's appointment on Monday if you haven't been keeping up with your yearly physicals

Move your body this weekend. Make plans to do that often in 2009

Look through magazines for a new haircut for the New Year!

Paint your fingernails

Use a facial mask...for dry or oily skin, whatever one fits you

Paint your toenails

Buy a new color lipstick

Go through your closet and weed out old clothes, alter clothes that don't fit, buy new clothes if you have a need for some!

Change the purse you are using, buy a fun new one if your current one doesn't keep you organized

Eat healthy...just for this weekend and see if it doesn't improve your disposition by Monday:)

Enjoy yourself!

Thursday, January 22

Where do you turn?

I typed in 'Women's Health' on Amazon today and discovered there are almost 60,000 books on this topic.


In addition to books there is Dr. Phil, Oprah, The View and so many other shows that cover the topic of our health.

There is also Prevention, Women's Health Magazine, Fitness and a slew of other resources to read on a monthly basis.

What resource do you turn to for advice, encouragement or information on your health and lifestyle?

Ever considered the Bible as a resource for healthy living?

A wise woman once suggested that you should have a pink highlighter with you when you read your Bible. Every time you come across a verse that applies to you as a woman, highlight it in pink.

2 Timothy 3:16 says: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

As women we are trying to be taught, we need rebuke about our lifestyles, we are seeking correction and training.

Make the Bible your #1 resource for your health and lifestyle choices.

Now where is that pink highlighter?

Wednesday, January 21

Woman to Woman

When I was 20-something, I was teaching along side quite a few other young teachers. We developed a close bond as we were all were just beginning to 'build our homes'.

Jeanette, the office administrator was like a mother to all of us and was forever giving us tips. She usually had some advice about recipes or cleaning, but one time she said, "Don't forget to put cream on your necks every night, girls."

Since then, I have put cream on my neck! Did it help? I don't know, let's just say I'd hate to see what my neck would be like if I hadn't!

I love advice like that. Often times when I read about how to take care of myself as a woman, it is overwhelming because it makes it seem like a full-time job!

Helpful hints from women who are down the road abit are tried and true and...usually priceless.

Want to hear some more?

I began taking care of the sensitive skin around my eyes after an older neighbor said it was the best thing she did to take care of her face.

I became aware of colors in my clothing when an older friend spent some time with me to show me the impact of different colors against my skin.

When my first child was born, an older mom with 3 kids asked me what I was 'feeding my body' (not what was I eating) and it began a life-long habit of feeding my body healthy foods because she said I would be 'feeding my baby the same stuff I was feeding my body'

A very organized mom told me she got up early, exercised and got fully dressed to start each day, right down to her shoes. This enabled her to 'handle all the interruptions' and helped her be ready for whatever happened during the day. When I follow this advice even now many years later I am a happier woman.

We women love to talk, let's make our words inspiring to one another so we can be the best women we can be in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of expense!

What comment could you share that might impact another woman? Here's your chance!

Tuesday, January 20

What worked then...

doesn't work now....!

That's something that I've learned over the last couple years

When I worked full-time in the corporate world I took a class during lunch where we stretched, lifted light weights and did exercises with a big ball. I was toned!

When I worked from home and lived just a couple blocks from a Snap Fitness my husband and I would work out on a regular basis. Or I would work out during the day. We had no kids and our schedule was our own.

Now I am at home full-time as a mom. I work part-time from home. I don't belong to a club. My time is not my own.

What worked for me in the past will not work for me now. It's not an option for me now to go to the club or take exercise classes whenever I want.

So what's a mom to do?

That's what I'm here trying to figure out. What does my day look like now? Where do I fit in exercise and healthy cooking? It's freezing here in Minnesota so I can't even take my little guy out for a walk.

I look forward to warmer weather and getting out doors but that is months away (unfortunately!).

I'm not sure what healthy living looks like for me in this new season of life. But I'm committed to figuring it I can be the best mom possible.

Monday, January 19

I Am Woman!

Last Wednesday I took a bath! A nice hot bubble bath.
I remember things like that because they happen so rarely.

I suppose I should preface that by saying that I shower daily, but I don't treat myself to a long, steamy bubble bath often.

I loved just sitting among the bubbles pretending I was a young girl without a care in the world. It was good to escape reality for abit.

What do you do to take care of YOURSELF? The first 2 weeks of this New Year, we have talked about our spiritual health and our role as a woman of God. For the next 2 weeks, we would like to focus on taking care of ourselves. As a woman, no matter where we are in life we all serve others. That is just how we are made. But we can't keep serving others without making sure we are strong and healthy ourselves.

My mom was a great role model for staying active. She loved to walk and swim. I have benefited from her example and if I am asked by a younger woman what I have learned over the years about my body that I value, moving my body would be at the top of my list. My body is the vehicle that I use to serve others so I need to keep it in moving condition. That doesn't mean long, sweaty workouts, it just means walking the stairs instead of taking the escalator, it means parking at the back of a parking lot and walking into a store.

It would be great to get feedback from all of you reading this blog about what you do to take care of yourself as a woman. What advice did you hear when you were younger that you have found to be valuable? What advice would you like to hear?

We are all striving to be HOMEMAKERS with do we stay healthy as we are trying to be all things to all people? Let's share and learn together...

Thursday, January 15

How Many Bible Verses Do You Know By Heart?

Last year I had the Homemakers write down all the Bible verses they knew by heart and where they were found in the Bible. For example, they couldn't write down "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life," if they did not know that it was found in John 3:16.

I did the same exercise.

I was amazed how few verses I could tally because I didn't know where they were found in the Bible. I knew the verse "Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind" by I couldn't find it in the Bible if I were asked where that was.

One verse I did know was "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is---his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

As I looked at my short list, I knew what my 'theme' needed to be for 2009. I needed to commit a year to 'renew my mind' by "hiding God's Word in my heart".

I hesitate to share this in a blog because usually I take some time with my new theme to see exactly what direction it will take me. I let the year unfold as I see how I will evaluate and measure my theme. This year it is pretty evident. I need to memorize. Not for the sake of making a long list to flaunt. Not to mindlessly memorize the words. But to really see a transformation in my mind and ultimately in my life because I am 'delighting in the law of the Lord, and on His law I meditate day and night."

I feel like I am stepping into a reality show to see if it really can be done. That it really will make a difference. I wonder if it wouldn't be easier to eat a plate of live beetles in front of a camera then to memorize scripture...and then remember it...and then apply it.

Check in with me next year...I'll let you know.

Now I need to find where this verse is in the Bible:"Be still and know that I am God"

That is a good place to start.

Wednesday, January 14

All my heart

I have found that there are others who can say what I want to say, much better than I can say it. Here goes:

"Oh how we need those in this day and age who will pay the price in time and energy to draw near to God." - Catherine Martin

"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."
- Jeremiah 29:13

I believe that sums it up for today.

Tuesday, January 13

Is God Enough?

Titus 2:4 instructs the older women to "train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

Sheldon Vanauken says, "The best argument for Christianity is Christians; their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians--when they are somber and joyless, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths."

I think all women strive to be good at what they choose to do. As business women, moms, wives, friends or whatever. When a Christian woman lets other 'gods' like money, approval, success, career, or possessions meet her needs, she is really saying that "God is not enough". She maligns the word of God.

As the older woman, can I challenge you to become a woman who is the 'best argument for Christianity.'

Be a woman who seeks God. Be a woman who is known for her joy, her certainty and her completeness...because she puts God and His glory first in her life.

Monday, January 12

First things first

In 2009, before we can be a friend. Or a sister. Or a mom. Or a wife. Or a daughter. Or a business woman....

We must remember what we are first. We are women of God. And as women of God, seeking to be wise, we must live intentionally and with purpose.


We have been discussing themes a lot and my theme for 2009 is Daily Bread. "Give us this day our daily bread...." I ask for so much. I seek so much. I desire so much. But all I REALLY need is my daily bread. No more. No less.

But in order to get my daily bread I need to ask myself questions like these (I've copied them from a great blog - check it out here):

  1. How much time did you spend in God's Word this week?
  2. When was the last time you memorized a verse from God's Word?
  3. When was the last time you taught someone else a verse or lesson from God's Word that you had learner?
  4. What do you know about God's Word that you didn't know a year ago? How is this knowledge changing behaviors in your life?
  5. What could you eliminate in your life in the next 45 days to make time to insert time in Word of God?
If you read beyond the questions, you'll see that Kim references a pastor who doesn't put any "bread" in his mouth until he has sought his "daily bread." What a challenge that is to me!

As a new mom, a part-time writer, a full-time housekeeper (yuk, yuk, yuk!), a volunteer, a leader, a wife, a sister, a friend.......I can feel overwhelmed, burned out and desperate for a break. And that's when I know without a doubt I'm taking time for everyone else but me.

I strive to meet with the Lord regularly. But in order to do so I need to ask myself question #5 regularly. I fail miserably many times but thankfully God's grace is part of my daily bread that I eat up quickly!

If I am to be a woman of God I must start each day with me and God. No one else. No other person. No other ministry. No to do list. No work. Nothing else.

So here's to a brand new slice at a time.

Friday, January 9

New Year's Resolutions-Home Improvement

In 2008, I focused on the verse in Ps 37:5 that says "Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

That prompted me to think of what my existing desires were?

I desired to be a good wife and know what pleased my husband
I desired to be a listening mom to all of my kids
I desired to be a friend that could be trusted and had truth to share
I desired to be a grandma that really was interested in her grandchildren
I desired to find out what it meant to 'delight in the Lord'!
I desired to keep a nice home
I desired to have energy to get through my days
I desired to keep my wardrobe in good repair
I desired to know more Bible verses by heart

On and on the list went, until I realized that what I had written was really a great list of resolutions, but put in a more energizing way. Rather than telling myself I had to do something in the New Year, I re-phrased it in a way that made the tasks something that I WANTED to do. These were the desires of my heart.

Then I had to back-track and ask myself if God saw that these were His desires for my heart. I was surprised to find out that they probably were! The desires were in line with His Word. I prayed that He would change my desires if He wanted to but otherwise, I was just going to move forward making those desires my 'new-found resolutions'.

I found these 'resolutions' are so user-friendly, because they are really my life-priorities.

So our Home Improvement assignment is this:
Pick a theme for 2009 if you haven't already and make a list of the desires of your heart. Will they become your New Year's Resolutions?

Thursday, January 8

Finish Fully in '09

I counted the books in my bedroom this week. 42.....42?! How does one have 42 books in their bedroom without a bookshelf to store them on?

The answer is piles.

I love books and I have piles of them.

It drives me crazy and I am certain it drives my husband crazy as well. But I cannot stop myself nor limit my infatuation with books.

I couldn't agree more with the following quote:

"For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die."
Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)

My reading material lately has been focused on parenting and baby sleeping and good stuff along those lines, but it still gives me my reading fix.

I've been thinking of some things I want to commit to in 2009. One of those commitments involves books. I can't be so bold as to say I won't buy another book in 2009 or check one out from the library (there are three on hold for me right now!) but I will strive to finish what I start.

Finishing Strong or Finishing Well is a character trait that I admire. When it comes to books, I often skim, read certain chapters or get about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through and move on the next one.

I am going to work on that in 2009.

Now I just have to decide which pile to start with.

P.S. If you have something you'd like to commit to Finish Fully in '09 please share. We're always inspired by our readers!

Wednesday, January 7

A Theme: Delight in the Lord

My 'theme' for 2008 was to 'Delight in the Lord'. I wanted to learn what that meant. During the year, I wrote down verses that instructed me to delight in God and verses that told me that He took delight in me. It wasn't until I came across a paragraph in a secular book about art however, that I realized the power of delight.

"The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention." (italics are mine) Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way

I began paying attention to God in my life. As I paid attention, I began 'delighting' in small things that came my way. I 'delighted' in big things that came my way. I found that the quality of my life was indeed in proportion to my capacity to pay attention.

I made a 'daily delight' list where I would write down what caught my attention that day. It was a fun exercise, just to pay attention to God!

I haven't mastered this concept, but I am much more conscious of God in my everyday activities because I chose this theme.

Have you picked a theme for 2009? Share it with us:)

Tuesday, January 6

A theme and a heartbook

I just found a post from last January when I wrote about the theme I was choosing for 2008. You can read it here. When choosing your 2009 theme I encourage you to think about these three things:

1. Why are you choosing this theme? Answer that question and write out your response.

2. Scripture: what Scripture affirms your theme? What Scripture will you refer back to when remembering why you chose your them?

3. Quotes/poems/songs: are there any other items that encourage you in your pursuit of your theme? A song that inspires you? A quote that challenges you? Write them down.

Also, as you plan your theme, consider creating a 'Heartbook.' We blogged about this last January as well - check it out. A heartbook is a 3-ring binder that you use to study. The first page of my 2008 binder included my theme, my why, my Scripture references and my quotes. Every time I opened my book, I could see what my theme for the year was.

The heartbook is a place to write out what you are learning about your theme. It is a place to write verses you come across. It is a place to look back at the end of 365 days to see how you grew.

I am so grateful for my 2008 theme and my 2008 heartbook. And I'm thankful that Barb encourages me each year to continue to pursue becoming a wise woman.

Monday, January 5

'First Things First'

C.S. Lewis said,
"Put first things first and we get second things thrown in:
put second things first and we lose both first and second things."

How many years has it taken me to see the wisdom of putting first things first?

For so long I was eager to forge ahead with my own agenda, I forgot that God has a plan for my life and it might be helpful to check in with Him first!

I've learned that the 'first' thing I need to get into place at the start of every year is my relationship with God. January is a good month to take stock of my spiritual life. January is a good month to organize my thoughts about what I might learn about God. The cold weather(in Minnesota) is a perfect time to spend the long nights reading a book that stretches me in my understanding of God. It is a good month to lay out my plans for the year for my spiritual growth and then all the 'second things' will be thrown in!

If I want to be a wise woman, I need to be a healthy woman in all areas of my life. That means I must put the health of my soul first before I charge ahead and take care of other areas of my life.

Choosing a 'theme' for each year has been a spiritual discipline that has encouraged me to grow spiritually. Having a 'theme' each year allows me to focus on one topic all year long. See Stacy's posting from Dec 31,08 to give you an idea how a 'theme' impacted her life last year!
A theme needs to be measureable so I have something to evaluate at the end of the year. Then I will know if I have grown spiritually or I will know why I have not!

Put 'first things first' this month. Consider choosing a theme for 2009. January is a good month to talk about what it means to be a Godly woman.

Friday, January 2

The New Year--Home Improvement

My house is a mess, left-over Christmas goodies, crushed decorations, boxes all around needing to be packed and put away. Christmas cards yet to be read and thank you notes needing to be written.

The New Year is just dawning and I am already behind!

Building a home is often based on taking care of the urgent because that is what we can see, but really building a home that works means that we pay attention to the important things.

This weekend, I am going to let a few of the urgent tasks set awhile as I review year 2008 and consider what I need to do that is important to make my home and myself thrive in the New Year.

This Home Improvement assignment will be a year-long project...share this blog with others and add your comments so we can all become Homemakers with Hope. Wise women who are building our homes-Proverbs 14:1

Thursday, January 1

2009 Planning Guide Tool

For a number of years Ryan and I filled out a worksheet as we started each year to help us set goals and discuss our plans for the year. This enabled us to get on the same page and be realistic and honest about what we hoped and desired for the upcoming year.

Some years, we wrote the same thing over and over because we couldn't afford our desired purchases or we didn't achieve the things we hoped for.

Especially early in our marriage this tool was incredibly beneficial, but I think it might be a useful tool for us to consider again this year with all the changes that took place in 2008.

Here is the very simple and straight-forward Planning Guide Tool. I suggest each of you fill it out yourself and then come together to discuss time, finances, dreams, etc. I included examples to get you thinking. Please share if you fill it out and how it works for you!

1. Things to do (e.g., take two weekend trips, go on regular date nights, plan weekly family fun nights, pay off credit card debt, find a church we like, call parents weekly)

2. Things to become
(e.g., more fit, a healthier cook, better steward of money, more Bible literate, more educated about...)

3. Things to acquire
(e.g., bikes, rollerblades, dining room table, patio furniture, grill)

4. Things to achieve/complete
(e.g., MBA, read Bible in one year, certifications, marathon, bike race, painting course)