Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Working Right Now!

It's so easy to think of the things that aren't working for us - but today I thought it would be fun to think about some of the things that are working!

Here are some things working for me right now -

* eating dinner on the early side and then having a longer evening to enjoy and linger over slowly - there is something wonderful about having dinner prepared, served and cleaned up by 6!
* setting my vitamins out the night before: I've had trouble over the summer staying faithful to regularly taking vitamins. One day recently I decided to set the next day's vitamins out the night before and wow, it was so great to reach for them so easily throughout the day. I found a cute tiny dish in my china cabinet that makes it pretty too!
* setting the breakfast table the night before: I've mentioned this one before, but I always have my dinner clean-up helper wipe off the table and then set the table for breakfast. It is such a gift to wake up the next morning with the table ready and waiting!
* emptying the car trash when I get gas: I learned this great trick from my Mom and making it a routine has been such a help - while my gas is pumping, I take a quick peek through the car and gather anything I can get rid of, trash cans are handy too!

* staying home: this is a repeated theme for me, but it holds true. The more we stay home, the more smoothly things run in our home and with school. I know this may not be true for everyone, but I've definitely found it to be true for us.
* salad toppings prepped: I've set a goal for myself to eat salad for lunch on most weekdays. Having the meat measured and in small canning jars, carrots and onions chopped or whatever I'm planning for that week - it makes it super quick to pull together a delicious salad on busy school days. My favorites right now are taco meat and pulled chicken from Wal-Mart.
* using the Bookmobile: I've long struggled with making the library work for me until about a year ago when our local library resumed their Bookmobile service. The ladies who work on it are so friendly and have even taken to coming on our CC days twice a month so I can get my library books picked up and returned without even taking a separate trip.
* Wal-Mart grocery pick up: this has also really helped me. I've loved how it helps me stay on budget and typically pick up our groceries after CC on Thursdays. So, by the time we get home on Thursday, we've had a great school day with our CC Community, had the library brought right to us and gotten our groceries for the week. Definitely working for me. As a lovely bonus: the ladies who work at our WM grocery pick up are so kind and friendly, and since I go so regularly, it has been nice to see a familiar and friendly face when picking up!
* setting my clothes out the night before: are you sensing a theme - I like to work ahead, plan ahead and be prepared for the next day. Just these little things take a few minutes off of my morning tomorrow that is a busy time of getting the household moving and going on a new day.
* chocolate bars: in my effort to eat less sugar, but still wanting a little sweet after lunch - I've been enjoying having a nice chocolate bar on hand. My favorite is Ghiradelli Sea Salt Soiree which has almonds in it and is a nice dark chocolate. I recently bought a bar that was TOO dark - so will save that for pie! One square is the perfect sweet after lunch and is not overly sweet plus only about 60 calories!

* new chore chart: this summer one of my goals was to streamline our chores a bit more. I needed something that offered consequences but also rewarded blessings to those who were willing to work hard and be diligent. This has been a tremendous help in our home and overall has been quite a success. I used paper copies at first thinking I may need to tweak something but now I have one laminated that we just dry erase and use again. Each of our kids help David greet at church on Sunday mornings in rotation, so they rotate through on the chart which has been nice for not always doing the same jobs. We had also had some trouble {ahem} with them deciding who sat where in the car, so I assigned that too. Honestly I tried to think of every problem area and then assign it all on one chart!

That's what I can think of for now and I'm eager to hear what is working for you right now - I hope to learn a new tip that will be a blessing!

* Amazon Affiliate link included above.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Porch Refresh

I woke up one Tuesday morning the week before we started school with a headache. All I really wanted to do was lay in bed and read or even less! Our bedroom window faces the front porch and as I laid here I was thinking about how our porch bugs me.

We don't have a garage after choosing to close it in for more living space in our home - we've never regretted that at all! But, this does pose a bit of a challenge in where to put outside things like bikes and kids toys.

This is made especially tricky by the amount of leaves that get caught on our porch - under things, inside things, leaves everywhere all the time.

On top of all that, my children were having trouble getting along and I wondered if a project to focus our energy wouldn't do us all some good. So, we took half an hour to finish up our morning chores and then met on the porch to purge, clean out, sweep, shovel up leaves, etc.

After all the cleaning and purging, I had Samuel bring the wagon into the front from the screened in porch thinking it would make a cute display for some cheerfulness on the porch. I was having visions of Meg's charming porch and wanting to bring some of this joy our way.

So I shopped our house for the wagon, galvanized bucket, red enamel drink dispenser is from a garage sale {$2} and I recently discovered it leaks so it is better suited to this use! Also, the wooden crate was on clearance for $2 at Hobby Lobby last Fall and I've just been holding on to it. The basket came with the flowers in it.

We hopped in the car and took our trash to the dump and recycle and then went to Lowe's for a few flowers. It is so hard to find things that will bloom on a porch that doesn't get much direct sun at all but we chose flowers from the shadiest section in the store so I'm hoping they will last. If they droop, I plan to plant those in the yard.

What a difference in one morning from a place that I was struggling with to a place that is so cheery and welcoming. And really for fairly little investment. I mean the flowers weren't free but everything else we already had.

We also got some clearance flowers for pots on the other side of the front door and for our yard. It was miserably hot and buggy outside, I was so crabby but in the end - it is a huge difference and I love it!

Do you have any suggestions for pretty flowering porch plants? Must be able to tolerate high heat and low sun!

Updated: these photos were taken a little over two weeks ago and my plants are looking very pitiful. We've watered them every day but I think it is just too hot! I'll transfer to the yard in hopes of saving them. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Harvest of Righteousness

Perhaps you can relate, but we've been having some difficulty with sibling peace! I was in a friend's house recently and saw James 3:18 on her chalkboard and knew I needed to come home and look it up and share with my kids!

Actually on our second morning of school, we read James 3:13-18, "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

I don't know about you, but we need this sowing of peace among our children!

We talked a lot about what selfish ambition is and the differences between earthly wisdom and wisdom from heaven. We talked about how sowing other things brings disorder and really how when we plant something we reap more than just one of that thing we planted. If we plant selfishness and strife, we reap a multitude of those things.

We also pondered together how we are each responsible for our own actions and cannot control the outcomes or attitudes of others. But when one is grouchy and unpleasant, it makes it hard to stay peaceful and kind. Even that is sowing.

Oh, how I want order and peace in my home and yes, this harvest of righteousness. I love that phrase and it instantly reminded me of another verse and lesson learned in our home. You can read more about this in three parts here, here and here.

Hebrews 12:11, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces  a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

This prompted me to see if this phrase appeared anywhere else in the Bible. There was one more occurrence in 2 Corinthians 9:10, "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness."

A harvest of righteousness - yes, this is what I want in my heart and in my home, in the lives of my children and to have my talents and treasure used for this purpose.

What do you think of when you hear that phrase? How does it encourage you? 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

He Arms Me With Strength: Thoughts on Doing Hard Things

As we get back to our school year, I always like to start with some food from the Word. What will be our motivation for this year, what will we turn to in times of difficulty and frustration. This year, it is Psalm 18:28-36. Here are some thoughts we talked through on our first morning of school ~

verse 28, "You keep my lamp burning...":

I love how this reminds that God provides what we need. When our "lamp is burning" we can see what we are doing and accomplish what He wants us to do.

I'm reminded of Psalm 119:105, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

What does it bring to mind for you?

"...my God turns my darkness into light."

What could our darkness be? Sin, hard things, struggles, things that are not clear or easy. It could mean that no matter what we are walking through and how dark it is, He is still with us and He is light!

For a visual of this, go in a dark room and light a candle!

verse 29, "With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall."

Advancing against a troop and scaling a wall: how easy do those things sound to you?

What are the things you might face this year that may be difficult? Who can you rely on to help you? What does that look like or mean? How does God help us? Do we have any responsibility in that?

I can't advance against a troop if I'm sitting still or buried in hiding - I have some action that is my responsibility too!

Does this mean I will be good at everything? No! God might help me to do my best or have a good attitude, it doesn't mean everything will become easy!

verse 30, "As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him."

If we only learn one thing each day and that one thing helps us to know and love God more, that is the most important thing we can do.

His Word is flawless - what does that word mean?

So many times, we want to be perfect or do something perfectly: but only God's way is perfect!

What does it mean to take refuge in God? What is a refuge?

verse 31, "For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?"

What do you know about rocks? How do you feel encouraged by this verse?

When I think I can't do something because it is too hard - how can this strengthen me?

verse 32, "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect."

I love this verse, 32-33 are what most stood out to me in thinking about our upcoming school year.

How do you think this verse could help each of us with school this year?

Are we to do everything perfect? Or in our own strength? I think this is the key - that it is His strength and things are only perfected in and through Him.

Do you see that it says He makes my way perfect? I think He is reminding us that He makes Emily's way perfect for Emily and Rachel's way perfect for Rachel and Samuel's way perfect for Samuel and Mama's way perfect for Mama. It isn't a one size fits all way and won't be the same for all of us.

Reminds me of what my friend Jen says: Compare and despair!

verse 33, "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights."

I picture the deer running fast through the woods or up a rocky path; look up a video of a deer if you choose. Are they timid of foot? Do they fall easily?

They are sure-footed and move with speed and confidence; God does that for me too! So that even when my work is hard {uneven ground} or Latin feels impossible {the path is steep} or dangerous - God gives me the strength and confidence to do my best for Him. Having a good attitude is better than getting a perfect grade!

What does it mean to stand on the heights? It is harder to get to, the view is more glorious, good feeling getting to the top of the trail, not down in the dumps, not stuck; we have victory and success through Him and His strength!

verse 34, "He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze."

What does train mean? It takes practice and exercise to work up to strength. It isn't easy, it is hard work, little by little, day by day that all adds up.

How easy do you think it is to bend a bow of bronze? There it is again about God helping us do something hard!

Notice the training is mentioned first and then the bending/display of strength!

verse 35, "You give me Your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great."

More of God's promise to equip us to do the things He has put before us.

verse 36, "You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn."

We recently did two different hikes on our camping trip, one with a very narrow and underprepared trail and one that was wide and gravel lined. Which one was easier? Definitely the wider one. Why?

Think about what it means for your ankles to turn - what would that mean on a hike?

The bottom line is this: God is able! He is enough for us and He has enough strength to help us do hard things!

How can you take this with you into the new school year?

How can we remind each other of these truths?

What challenges should we all commit to Him even now?

What do you hope to learn or accomplish this year?

How do you hope to grow?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Slow Day

* we enjoyed learning a new crochet project with the videos here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018