Monday, November 21, 2016

Recapturing My Daily Routines


It is Monday again.

And the beginning of Thanksgiving week. Which means that I don't have school for the next 10 days (I only have classes on Wednesdays so I have a few extra days of 'break') With these days that aren't filled up with the hustle and bustle of getting to and from classes and no assignments due this week I am taking this opportunity to take back my daily routines.

I am a routine person. I am a planner and tend to live my by schedule and my calendar. However, being knee deep in homework assignments, presentations, lectures, and reading topped off with meal planning and prepping, laundry, daily cleaning, and homeschooling children my routines have gotten a bit off track.

But this week I am determined to get things back running smoothly as I push through the last few weeks of the semester.

So what does a weekly routine look like here?

I have read several blogs lately about really crafting a weekly routine and sticking to it to make it work for your family. Most of them have specific days designated to errands, cleaning, meal prepping, and various aspects of their lives. I have a similar situation but it varies just a bit.

Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning is something that, in reality, happens every day. But DEEP cleaning is something I have found really needs to be broken down. I know there are some out there that have one day a week that is set aside just for deep cleaning but I burn out too quickly for that to work. So here is how I have broken down my cleaning schedule:

Monday~Kitchen Day
The kitchen is my happy place. I love being in the kitchen. I love cooking, baking, and creating in the kitchen all the time. I truly feel like the kitchen is the heartbeat of the home. So I like to start my week out in my favorite room.

This is the time I really scrub my counters, wipe down all surfaces, clean out the fridge and prepare myself for the rest of the week. I also use this day and time to wipe down the walls, doors, and mop the floor.

Tuesday~Livingroom
The second day of the week is devoted to cleaning the second most used room in the house. There was a time when we were having our weekly Bible study on Monday so Mon and Tues were switched but now that we have moved our study to another day of the week I have readjusted. On Tuesdays I dust the surfaces, clean off the bookshelves that have gathered various toys and things that don't belong. I straighten the DVD shelf and move the recliners to clean and vacuum underneath them (except my vacuum just died so now I just sweep the carpet. )

The kids tend to like this day because they get to spend more time outside so I can get that room really clean.  Because we spend a lot of time in there it gets straightened up most days so deep cleaning that room doesn't really take long.

Wednesday~Bathrooms
I am usually pretty busy on Wednesdays with classes all morning and one short class in the afternoon. So I tend to focus on cleaning the bathrooms that day since they are small and don't take a lot of time. Trash goes out, toilet, sink, and tub (in the upstairs) gets scrubbed and the mats on the floor get either washed or shaken out. I also sweep, and get any clothes that have piled up in there put in the right places.

Thursday~Kids Bedroom
The kids room takes SO VERY LONG most weeks. This is usually because I try to take the time to sort through their clothes and toys to get rid of anything that doesn't fit anymore or is broken. Then everything has to get put back where it goes. Add to it that they are usually helping me out with the process it takes some time. It's for this reason that have to tackle this feat on the one day I don't have to leave my house. So Thursday it is.

Friday~Master Bedroom
Friday is usually reserved for cleaning up the Master Bedroom. I left this room for last because, honestly, it is the least used room in the house so it takes a bit longer for it to get messed up. We mostly just sleep and change clothes in there. And with our hectic schedules there is very little sleep that actually takes place. I spend time in there straightening up the desk and book shelves, organizing the closet and drawers, and gathering up any trash. Friday tends to be my errand day since I have to go out of the house for gymnastics 2 different times. I tend to use this day as grocery day as well.

Saturday and Sunday
These two days are so jam packed that little gets handled in the home. When we do have a Saturday at home I try to make sure the cars get cleaned out, but that is a very rare occasion. Spending time out doing things with the family or taking care of the responsibilities at the church happen on the weekends . If I can make it work I also like to use Saturday as meal prep day and get everything set for the coming week.

Daily Activities
Laundry and general straightening are tasks that take place everyday. I am still working on getting caught up on the mountain of laundry that managed to pile up however once I get things handled this is the schedule that I plan to follow:
Monday: Dusty clothes
Tuesday: Collin clothes
Wednesday: RaeLynn Clothes
Thursday: My clothes
Friday: Towels
Saturday: Bed Sheets
Sunday: Laundry rest day.

The routines aren't perfect and I know that as my semesters ebb and flow I will have to adjust things and make changes but I know that as long as I can get a basic routine down again changing up the days of which room gets the most attention will be a fairly simple task.  I also think that by getting this routine in order it will make things easy for getting the kids involved, taking the work load off of myself somewhat.

I have also JUST started listening to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on Audible and it is already changing the way I am thinking about how I view my 'things'.  For a while now I have been just feeling smothered by all the material things we have in our house. From clothes to books to toys and any number of other things I have just felt like we have too much but I haven't really known how to go about really getting rid of or letting go of things. I really feel like this book with all the practical information I am already finding in it is going to really help me to laser focus in on what I need to do to find peace and joy in my home. I am truly looking forward to the long break between the semesters so that I can get on to the business of KonMari within my home!

How do you get things done? Do you have a regular routine?




Wednesday, November 9, 2016

She Did What She Could Part 1



The last weekend of October I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Art of Homemaking Conference hosted by the Women's program here at the Seminary.

This is an event that I have looked forward to for a while. Each time I have the opportunity to attend I learn and grow so much in just a few short days.

This year they did not provide a "theme" for the conference but God managed to sew a common thread throughout the message of all the main speakers. That common thread, at least to me, was "Be where God has you in the moment"

There were 5 main session speakers all presenting messages on different topics. The first session was presented by Lorna Reeves, editor of Tea Time Magazine, session two was presented by Dr. Rhonda Kelly, First Lady of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the third session was given by Dr. Candi Finch, a professor here at Southwestern, during the fourth session we heard from Monica Patrick who is the wife of a professor here at the Seminary with an wonderful story to tell, and the conference closed up with a message from Southwestern's very own First Lady, Mrs. Dorothy Kelly Patterson.

Each Session brought with it a key ingredient I felt lead to the over arching theme I shared above. It felt as if each ingredient was required for the whole puzzle to finally be completed.

Legacy~Lorna Reeves

Lorna opened the plenary sessions with a discussion on legacy. She began by talking about 'traditions'; those elements of a culture passed down form one generation to another. These traditions are, as the definition states 'elements of a culture.' They are shaped and formed by circumstances. For example, in an area where there is a lot of snow at Christmas a 'tradition' might be sledding on Christmas morning where as an area where there is no snow would not share in that tradition. The same day is being recognized but how it is done changes. What we deem as 'traditions' often times have little baring on what is found in scripture. Culture has shaped our lives.

On the other hand, legacy, something also handed down from the past, from ancestors and predecessors, carries so much more. A legacy is what peoples reputations and perceptions are built upon. Families have worked hard to build up their legacies, and unlike traditions, can not easily be changed.

Lorna challenged us to question what type of legacy we are leaving. She encouraged us to strive to leave a legacy of faith.  There are 2 definitions that pop up when you search for the term "faith." The first is "complete trust or confidence in someone or something" and the second is "strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof." The first definition feeds the second. A strong belief in God, a complete trust or confidence.

2 Peter 1:5-7 says:
. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 
Peter gives us everything we need to build that strong legacy of faith. Virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love all build upon each other over time. All are character qualities passed on from one generation to another with a strong and deciding faith at the foundation.

How to Build a Legacy of Faith

One of the absolute best ways to begin building this Legacy of Faith is through Family Meal Times. Families have lost the connection that eating at least 2 meals together at the table used to bring. Busy schedules and over worked parents have lead to breakfasts being eaten as children rush to the bus or out the door to schools and day cares. And dinners have been reduced to the same rushed manner. Children are been shuffled from one after school activity to the next with little time to consume a fast food meal in the backseat. And if that is not the case then meals are being eaten in front of the television set with little to no conversation taking place. 

If families will take the time to slow down and reconnect with genuine conversation the building blocks described in 2 Peter 1:5-7 can be laid. Faith can be seen by children as parents talk with them about daily issues. Knowledge can be shared as parents seek to give their children the counsel they need. and over time self-control, love and affection are learned and passed on. Tradition can then be shaped into true legacy.


Another way that this Legacy of Faith can be built is through making worship a priority. When children see their parents making worship such as reading of the Bible daily, prayer-both personal and together with the family, and attendance of church consistently they begin to make the connection of the importance of worship to the foundation of faith. 

Traditions can be good to pass on. They remind us of where we came from and bring back happy and joyful memories of times past. It is what those traditions that are built upon that develops the Legacy of Faith

How do you build a Legacy of Faith in your family?




Friday, November 4, 2016

What's Rockin' My Socks Off: Gratitude Garland

Happy Friday!!!


It is that time again to talk about what is rockin my socks off. (I know I missed a few weeks! I have been super busy with a lot of things going on here at the Seminary. I look forward to sharing more about that VERY soon!) 

So a few years ago right after we moved here I decided that if I was going to do this whole homemaking thing I was going to really do it up (I still has that June Cleaver/Martha Stewart mindset of homemaking so I was trying to fit into a mold that I didn't belong in).  I had decided that I needed to be one of those people who decorated for every holiday and every season (read that as holiday and seasonal decor should explode all over my home).

The problem with this is that we were (and still are) living on a VERY TIGHT BUDGET. That meant that I didn't have the finances to go buy all the materials to make all the wonderful DIY projects I kept seeing on Facebook and Pinterest. 

But what I did have was 2 kiddos, some brown paper bags, LOTS of crayons, ribbon and scissors. 

And thus the 'Gratitude Garland' was born.

Now to be fair I didn't come up with the idea, it was one of those wonderful ides I found on Pinterest. I did however simplify it just a bit.

The last 2 years I have adapted and changed how we did our gratitude for the month of November but
we have always taken the time to really think about what we are thankful for and why we are thankful for those things as we prepare to go into the holiday season. One year I just stuck our leafs up on the door instead of creating the whole garland, and the next year we just wrote them down in a notebook during our lunch time talks. Last year, I didn't really do anything at all. I was just so busy with school that it never crossed my mind.

This year, however, I decided we needed to bring back the garland. We needed a strong visual reminder of what we are thankful for. My kiddos have a habit of finding one thing and parking on that thing. At night their most consistent prayer is:
"Dear God, Please help daddy have a good nights sleep and a great day tomorrow. Amen!"
They say the same thing, every night, as fast as they can get through it. No matter how hard I try they just don't want to let go of that prayer. And on the second day of November I realized they were falling into that same pattern.

SO I made the decision to recreate the "gratitude garland" so we can see what we are thankful for
each day and realize just how much we have in our lives.

Hearing my kiddos really stop and think about what they are grateful for and how they can incorporate thankfulness into their lives each day is such a blessing.


So that is what is rockin' my socks off for the start of November!

How do you incorporate gratitude in your family? 


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Heart in Hand Scripture Challenge



I can not believe that it is already November! How has this year gone by so very fast.

One of the areas that I have really tried to focus on being more consistent with (my word for 2016) is really digging in to Scripture. I love reading and studying the Bible but as I got further into my Seminary classes I found that I was spending time reading the Bible only to say I did my weekly reading requirements for my classes but I wasn't really learning or growing.

Over the summer months I got involved with the Good Morning Girls Bible Studies. I love they way they go through one book at a time, generally one chapter at a time. Each day (Monday through Friday) a new chapter is read, a Scripture is written out, Observations and Application are applied, and a Prayer to ask God to incorporate these thoughts into daily life is said. There is even a great color-coding highlighting system to help be able to see what is happening in each chapter at a quick glance.

This is a great way to really dive in and READ the Word. But I found that I was not really 'meditating' on what I had read throughout the day. Especially when the day's reading was focused on the inheritance of the tribes of Israel found in the book of Joshua. Again, I have just been going through the motions for the most part. Of course I am still learning and growing but there was little thinking on the Word once the kids wake up and I move on to the chaos of the day.

Recently I have started following several new blogs and podcasts. I even wrote about my new love of Periscope and the great people I have been following over there. One of the people I follow is MacKenzie Monroe at Bold Turquoise. She is the host of the Cultivating the Lovely Morning Show on Peirscope and the Cultivating the Lovely Podcast.

One of the things she has been know to do is a Bible study with the Periscope community. And a lot of followers had been letting her know they missed that. I was never fortunate enough to get in on that part of her show but I could tell it was something that really blessed the women involved.

That is why I was so excited when she announced that for this month, November, she would be hosting a Scripture writing challenge. Each day there is a new Scripture to think on throughout the day. The goal is to write out the Scripture passage each day to help solidify the passage in the our hearts and minds. The challenge started yesterday and will go throughout the entire month of December.

I was so excited to jump on board I even got my sister to join in with me. I made my own blank page notebook out of printer paper and a blank card, and I had my husband make me my very own Traveler's Notebook (a whole post on its own!) to hold it.


Yesterday's Scripture was Psalm 119:15 and today's passage is Psalm 19:14

I have also decided I want to start learning to be more creative with my writing and get some doodling/art going in my planner systems so I am adding those little touches to my daily Scripture.






You can find your own printable bookmark with the daily Scripture passages in the show notes for the Bold Turquoise Podcast.

You can also follow along with my daily posts on the Life of a Seminary Wife Instagram Page! I would love to have you follow along!

Have you done Scripture writing? Bible Journaling? Hand-lettering and doodling?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Most Frequently Asked Question About My Degree Plan...And Finally An Answer

Back in May I wrote about my degree plan in Homemaking. I shared about the program as well as the instructors.

First of all, I am happy to announce that the program is moving in a different direction. For most 'liberal arts' schools these types of programs are known as Home Economics-Family and Consumer Sciences.

Being under the label of "HE-FCS" opens up the door to papers being published, scholarship opportunities and several other opportunities with the National Honor Society for the Human Sciences. The program here at the Seminary is well on its way to opening up those doors for those opportunities.

Often when I get into conversations about what I am working on in my education the one question I get asked the most is

"What can you do with that degree? What do you plan to do when you finish?"
For a long time I would by pass that question. I would make a comment like, "Well there are a number of things that I can do." Or I would say, "Oh I don't know. I just love that I have the opportunity to learn from a real Titus 2 model."

The truth is the second answer was more along the lines of how I felt. I made the decision to jump into this program so quickly that I hadn't really thought about the plan of what I wanted to do with the degree once I had it. I know I will still be knee deep in homeschooling when I finish my degree so I really had to think about what I might want to do.

And the more I talked with people, watched what was going on around me, and really processed through everything I think I finally figured out what it is I want to do when I finish my degree.

I want to teach others everything I have learned.

I know that I will be teaching my own children the things that she needs to know but I want to be able to share with others as well. I believe that God has given us instructions on how we are to be wives and mothers. I also believe that in today's society our homes are under attack. I want to help to shed light on the Titus 2 model as well as the picture of the Proverbs 31 woman. 

To be honest, sharing this is scary. You see, I have never really thought that I have what it takes to be a teacher of any kind. I know I teach my children every day, and I feel like I am good at that. I am good at teaching children. However, I have never thought I was good at teaching anyone over the age of 8. So to think about teaching anyone older than that is scary.

But that is my dream. That is what I want to be when I grow up. And that is what one of the options for what to do with a degree in Home Economics-Family and Consumer Sciences.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Lessons Learned From the First 14 Chapters of Joshua




At the beginning of this year I made the decision that my "word of the year" was going to be consistency. I wanted to spend this year being consistent in my parenting, my exercising, my education, my writing, and in my daily Bible study and prayer.

While I haven't really managed to be all that consistent with the working out and my writing has been sporadic at best but the one thing that I have managed to stay fairly consistent with is my daily Bible reading and prayer time.

Over the past few months I have been following along with various studies provided by The Good Morning Girls a ministry from Women Living Well

Throughout the month of September and into this month the book that has been studied has been the book of Joshua. 

I just finished reading through chapter 14 and throughout the course of studying and mediating on this book there are 4 things that have really jumped out at me thus far.

We have a bad habit of trying to take matters into our own hands.

Throughout the first half of Joshua the Israelite people are finally being given the land that God promised them all those many years ago. The older generation has all passed away and now God is ready to let them have what He has set aside for them. Time and time again they follow God's instructions, but only part of the way. And then for one reason or another, the get shocked and upset when God doesn't make things easy for them to get what they were promised. 

Isn't that the way it is with us today? Far to often we will follow just the commandments or instructions that happen to fit with what we are doing at the time. We will agree with the things in Scripture that make us feel good or comfortable. The rest we write off as not directed at our current culture. Or that it was just specifically meant for THOSE people, not for us. This is a different time and a different situation. 

Just like the serpent convinced Eve, we convince ourselves that God couldn't possibly mean what He says in the Bible. He would want us to (insert whatever thing goes here), because he is a (loving, hateful, caring, vindictive, whatever goes with your argument at the time) God. When the truth of the matter is, What God says we ought to do. God knows what is going on. He sees the whole picture and He knows the outcome. The more we try to take matters into our own hands the harder things will continue to get down the road. It really is a viscous cycle we live in.

We spend a lot of time being afraid.

Every time a new enemy popped up against the Israelite people Joshua would fall flat on his face before the Lord and cry out for help. And every time God would tell him the same thing.
"Do not be afraid"
I know for a fact that I let fear get to me. I fall into the trap of fearing that there is no way under the sun that God could really handle the mess that I have gotten myself into. It seems like almost every time a new challenge arises my first reaction is to stress and worry about how the situation is going to be resolved.

It was the same way with Joshua and the people. Each time a new king (or group of kings) began the attack the fear set in. The were sure there was no way they could handle all those invading forces. And every time God reminded them they had no reason to fear.

With the fear comes the discouragement.

Fear leads to a lot of other emotions, but most of all it seems that fear leads to the discouragement that we just can't get though this storm. Then comes the defeated attitude and the desire to just quit trying all together.  The Israleites were ready to give up and just settle for the little bit that had already been handed over to them. This would be enough, lets not upset anyone else guys,

But God reminded them that along with letting go of the fear the needed to let go of the discouragement. Every time He said "Do not be afraid" he also said:
"or discouraged."
The definition of discouraged is this: 'having lost confidence or enthusiasm.' When we become discouraged we loose confidence in the Lord. The God who created everything, who makes the world go around and we loose our confidence in Him!  We loose our enthusiasm for the God of all creation. Isn't is great that He doesn't loose those things in us?

No matter what happens, God is always in control.

More often than not, that sentence in the first half of Joshua ends with:

"For today I will hand over to you (insert enemy name here)"
God always had it under control. And God always came through. Each time it looked like the invading forces were just too much for the small nation of Israel to take on God stepped in and the damage was done. There was never a fighting chance for anyone making the mistake of going up against God.

The problem is it is way too easy to forget that God is really in control. In the world we live in today it is easy to look around and think that God has just thrown in the towel and said "forget it, they aren't worth it anymore." When the sad reality is that we are the ones who have done that. We have decided that by taking matters into our own hands, and giving into the fear and discouragement we can handle any situation. The truth of the matter is we just need to hand it all back over to God and let Him do His job. Ultimately, He is going to prevail anyway and us just trying to do it on our own first is just going to prolong the plans He has.

Joshua 1:9 states:
Have I not commanded you: Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid? For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
We have been given a command to stand strong and to be courageous, not to be afraid and discouraged. The Lord will be with us wherever we go, whatever we do.  It is up to us to trust that..

The first half of Joshua has been the not so gentle reminder that I have needed to let go of my fear and put my faith back on the One who has it all under control.

Have you read through the book of Joshua? What take away have you had?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Introducing: What's Rockin My Socks Off




I recently started following a blogger by the name of Stacy. She blogs at Humorous Homemaking and I have just fallen IN LOVE with her.

She is funny (hence the title "Humorous Homemaking), real, and give WONDERFUL  advice, tips and trick for mastering all things homemaking. She doesn't claim to be an expert she just simply shares what is working for her and how we can try those things out in our own homes.

She is also very active on Periscope (a live video sharing platform provided by the people responsible for Twitter) and she has recently started sharing live videos on Facebook Live.

One of the differences between Periscope and Facebook Live is that it takes a bit more time for people to get the notification that she is sharing on Facebook. So in order to combat that and not have to repeat the purpose of the content over and over again she has started her Facebook Live videos with a little segment she calls "What's Rockin My Face Off"

What is "What's Rockin My Face Off"


This is simply something that she uses in her own personal life that she just really loves. She has shared hair accessories, baby accessories (she is a mamma as well), homemaking resources, and several other things. She takes a few minutes to talk about what is rockin her face off before she jumps into the meat of the topic for the day.

The first time she did this I LOVED it. I love knowing what others are using in their life to make things just a little bit easier, pretty, or functional. So I decided that I am going to be incorporating that here on the blog.

 Every other Friday I will be sharing "What is Rockin MY Socks Off" with all of you and I hope you find it to be enjoyable just as much as I do. Or maybe not. I say that rocks my socks off often so I thought I would go with that instead of "face".


What is Rockin My Socks Off This Week

This week what is rockin my socks off is Periscope. I have not ever really gotten into the whole Twitter thing but I am really enjoying Periscope. 

What is Periscope?

Periscope is a social media platform that allows the user to "go live" and broadcast whatever they would like to the world. Broadcasters can also interact with viewers through comments and likes.

How Periscope Works

The first thing you have to do to use Periscope is download the app. It is available for both iOS and Android devices and can be found in the app store for your respective device. And its free, so that's a bonus.

Once the app is downloaded you will be asked to sign in. If you don't have a twitter handle that's fine you can use a phone number but it is recommended to use a twitter handle for optimum social interaction.

Once you are logged in you will a home screen which shows you a list of the people you "follow" who are currently live as well as a list of recently live posts that you can replay.

You can then see who else is live all around the world, or broadcast your own video. There is also an option to search for and follow other broadcasters.

When you decided to view a broadcast there are 2 ways you can interact with the broadcaster. One way is to type in a comment. These comments then pop up on the screen where everyone can read them. Often times the person broadcasting will be following those comments and will respond. I really like this part because it is like you can almost have a conversation with the broadcaster.  Viewers can also show their approval of the broadcast by tapping on the right side of the screen. Little hearts will appear. The more hearts the more people like the broadcast. There is also a little counter that displays how many people are viewing the broadcast.

I haven't crossed over into the realm of broadcasting my own shows yet but I have considered trying it out. 

So that is what is rocking my socks off this week.

Have you tried Periscope? Who do you like to follow if you have?


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Preparing for the Holiday Season




October.

How did we get to October so quickly. It truly feels like just yesterday I was sitting down to write out my goals, plans, hopes and dreams for 2016 and her we are just a few short months away from 2017.

October marks the beginning of one of my favorite times of the year. I just love the fall season. I grew up in a place where the changing of the seasons was always clearly visible in the changing of the leaves, the cooler temperatures, and the festivities in my small home town starting up.

It was always a time for friends, family, and lots of fun.  A time where, while there was busyness happening, it was a different kind of activity.

Now that I am grown and have a family of my own the fall is still one of my favorite times because it marks the beginning of the holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year are all times that hold a special place in my heart, and while we don't do things the way we used to when I was a kid there are still plenty of reasons to look forward to the holiday times.

Over the last 4 years of living here in Fort Worth how we handle our holiday season has changed in a pretty big way. When I first got here I was so set on making the holiday time feel just like it did back home that I really stressed myself out more than was necessary. Add on top of that homework assignments, a crazy work schedule, and a baby and toddler adjusting to life in a new place. I very quickly managed to make the holidays into somewhat of an idol for myself and I caused a lot of heartache for me and my husband along the way.

Here we are 4 years later and I can say that we do things much differently now. But the biggest thing I have changed up is in the way that I begin to prepare for the holiday season. Here are a few ways I prepare for the upcoming busy season of life to ensure the smoothest holiday season possible:

Prayer
The first thing I do, starting at the end of September, is to begin to wrap my holiday season in prayer. Dr. Pat Ennis, Distinguished Professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary shared on her blog The Everyday Homemaker a list of reasons why we should consider wrapping our holidays in prayer.

I wrap the holidays in prayer because I
  • should have a sincere heart when I begin to make holiday plans (Phil. 1:10).
  • know that for the holiday to bring glory to my heavenly Father, I must have his strength (Phil. 4:13).
  • want to have a heart that submits to my heavenly Father’s instructions (Rom. 12:13b).
  • need to approach any opportunity to minister with a "hearty attitude" (Col. 3:23).
  • have a desire to wear "the garment of humility" during the season (1 Pet. 5:5).
  • desire to have a gracious spirit in the midst of unforeseeable circumstances (Prov. 11:16).
  • long for my extension of hospitality endeavors to have far-reaching implications (Heb.13:2)
  • need to be excited about allowing others to catch a glimpse of my character where it is most graphically displayed—in my home—especially if I am in a position of leadership (1 Tim. 3:1–2; Titus 1:7–8);
  • desire to stimulate conversations that are edifying (Rom. 15:1–2) and encouraging (1 Thess. 5:11) to my guests.

If you continue to read though the blog post on wrapping your holidays in prayer there is a weekly challenge added in to help begin to be intentional with our prayer for the upcoming holiday season.

Planning
The second thing I do when it comes to preparing myself early for the holidays is to begin planning. I take the time to sit down with my calendar open and I write down all the things that I know for a fact along with the dates that I need to be prepared for in the coming months. This means church functions, family gatherings, and any other outside engagements that might be coming up. I get it all written down in my planner so that as new things begin to pop up I can easily go to my calendar and know where we are free to join in, where we are already engaged, and what things we can take off our plate because it just doesn't fit with the season of life we are in. When I know what is going on ahead of time I don't have to feel guilty for saying no to someone or overwhelmed for saying yes too many times. I am also able to know if I need to bring anything along with me, a gift, food, or anything along that line and I can prepare adequately.

By taking the time before hand to do those 2 simple things I can set myself and my family up for a fun, enjoyable, and somewhat relaxing holiday season.

What do you do to prepare for the holiday season? Do you get a head of things or just let them happen as they go?

Monday, October 3, 2016

25 Random Facts About Me!





Hi! It has been a few weeks since I had the time to sit down and write and MAN I have missed it! School is in full swing so that means that homework assignments and LOTS of reading have been taking up more time than I would like for them to. 
However, my heart and mind is never too far away from this blog and what I can be sharing next. 
This week is Fall Break here at the Seminary and that means that I don't have to rush around getting to and from classes or worry about getting an assignment done by Wednesday and because of that I decided to share 25 Random Facts About Me that you may know or may not know. But either way we are gonna have some fun!
So here we go:

25 Random Facts About ME!


What is your middle name?: Diane
What was favorite subject at school?: English, Home Economics, and Band
What is your favorite drink?: Vanilla Chai Hot Tea! YUM!
What is your favorite song at the moment?: "Fix My Eyes" by For King and Country
What is your favorite food?: Cake always cake
What is the last thing you bought?: Groceries (Family has to eat!)
Favorite book of all time?: Little Women (I really need to read this one again! It has been far too long)
Favorite Color?: Yellow
Do you have any pets?: Nope (Not anymore. We used to but had to give them up to move to Ft. Worth.)
Favorite Perfume?: The perfume that my mom had created just for her at Disney Land when I was a kid (We can't get it any more sadly.)
Favorite Holiday?: Christmas. I love everything about the Christmas Season.
 Married?: Absolutely!
Have you ever been out of the country, if so how many times?: Yes, once
Do you speak any other language?: Nope. I hope to be able to one day.
How many siblings do you have?: 1 Sister, Abby and 2 Brothers, Sam and Malachi
What is your favorite shop?:  Target. Love me some target
Favorite restaurant?: Olive Garden 
When was the last time you cried?: Some time last week when I was sick and I just wanted to sleep but had too much to do.
Favorite Movie?: The entire Harry Potter Series and 10 Things I Hate About You
Favorite TV show?:  I don't watch much in the way of TV lately because of school but if I need background noise I will turn on Veronica Mars on Amazon.
PC or Mac?: PC
What phone do you have?: White Android Galaxy s5
How tall are you?: 5ft 5ish 
Can you cook?: Yes! My happy place is in the kitchen. I love cooking for anyone and everyone!

Ok! There you have it. Just a few fun things about me to get your week going. I will be back on Wednesday sharing how to begin to prepare now for the busy holiday season now. 


What are some fun facts about you? I'd love to know. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Quick and Easy Lasagna Roll Ups


I my house Italian food is always a going favorite. When we manage to have a little bit of extra money set aside and we are wanting a meal out often time a nearby Italian food restaurant is on the list of places we might want to go.

Unfortunately, meals out are less frequent while we focus on getting our budget back under control and work toward some financial goals.

And, if you're like me you often have the idea that making any good Italian dish other than Spaghetti and Sauce is just too much work. All the boiling of noodles, mixing and grating of cheeses, and layering into the pan takes more time than a busy wife and mom has to give.

Recently I have been really working toward adding a few more meals into our menu rotation and as I was flipping through one of my many cookbooks (when I say I have many cookbooks I mean MANY! I might need an intervention!) and I came across a recipe for Manicotti. I thought why not. I can make that meal work out this week.

And boy was it good.

However, Like I almost always do, I over bought on some ingredients and bought just enough of some other ingredients. So as I was working on my next weeks menu and I was shopping through my own fridge and pantry I realized I had everything I needed except a bit more cheese to try out another Italian recipe I have seen come across my social media news feeds several times.

Lasagna Roll Ups

I have seen this recipe or a variation of such several times and I had never taken the time to try it out. Finally, almost out of desperation, I made the decision to give it a shot.

Man I wish I would have done it so much sooner! This meal was so yummy!

Step 1:


I started with preheating my oven to 350* ( That is basically what my oven lives on all the time. If a recipe calls for anything higher or lower it throws me off.)

I started with boiling the Lasagna noodles. Then I laid them out to cool just a bit.















As those were cooling I was busy mixing up the filler.

1 15 oz container of Ricotta Cheese
1-2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
Italian seasonings.
You can also add shredded Parmesan cheese but I was out and didn't realize I was out until it was too late.

Step 2:

I took just a bit of the sauce and spread a thin layer of it along the bottom of the pan. The more sauce the better right!
My poor baking pan has seen better days!

Step 3:

Once the noodles were cool enough to touch I scooped a bit of the filling out and spread it across one of the long noodles. Then I carefully rolled it up. I was pleased that very little of the filling squeezed out. Once it was rolled I carefully laid it in the pan on top of the sauce.








Step 4: 

Once all the rolls were made up I poured the rest of the sauce over the top. I spread it as evenly as I could get it and then topped it with more shredded mozzarella cheese. In my opinion, the more sauce 
and cheese the better! 










Once the sauce and cheese are on there just right its time to stick it into the oven. Let that hang out in there until that cheese is good and bubbly and melted. 
This finished product could have used more cheese but I
used what I had.


Step 5: 

Serve this yummy, melty goodness to your friends and family. Or eat it all yourself!
Lasagna Rolls with Oven Roasted carrot chips.

And there you have my quick Lasagna Roll Ups. I was really surprised at how quickly and inexpensive this was to make so I can tell you this is something that will be on our menu again real soon!

What are some of your favorite quick and easy recipes? Share them in the comments!



Friday, September 9, 2016

What's in Our Morning Basket





Last week I shared how we started a new routine in our home for the start of our school day. Starting Morning Time in our home, even in just 2 weeks, has changed the tone and atmosphere in our home. It has really changed how we interact, react, and engage with each other, not only at "school time" but during the whole day.

To say I am hooked would be an understatement.

So what exactly goes into a "Morning Time Basket?"

That is a great question. Take a look at what we have in our Morning Basket!

Items in the basket.

Devotional

The first thing that everyone I have listened to, read, or talked with has said that the first and most important part of their morning time is their Bible time.

Every morning I get up about an hour (sometimes more) before the rest of the house. It is calm and quiet. Its the perfect time for me to open up my Bible and just spend time with God. I read, journal, and pray through what ever passage I am studying. I get my day, before the rush of activity, started on the right foot.

If that is good for me to do to ensure my day starts out on the right foot what makes me think it wouldn't be the same for my children?

That means the first thing we do is start our day with God. Recently we were given a copy of a children's devotional titled Relentless, Too: A 40 Day Journey for Kids. This is 40 day devotion walking the kids through Psalm 119. Each day we read through a section of the Psalm and the story that brings that concept into terms they can understand. Then we take some time to talk about what that particular section means in our own lives and in our neighborhood. It is so FUN to hear how these kids are processing these concepts and ideas.

This particular devotion book is designed in the way that in the morning you read though the devotion in the morning and then at night before bed there is a prayer to pray through with your children. We actually have taken that and put it together in the Morning Time.







Prayer Time

Once we finish with our devotional reading but before we read the prayer at the end we move on to our own prayer time. When we pray at bedtime with the kids its always the same prayer and for the same person (generally for daddy). I really wanted to find a way to teach them to start thinking outside of our home and our family. I came across a Prayer Pail Tutorial on Pinterest and I knew this was it for us.

With a mason jar, some cute scrapbook paper, and large Popsicle sticks our Prayer Jar was born. Each stick has a name written on it. When prayer time rolls around each child gets to pull out one of the sticks and they get to pray for who ever is written on the stick. I also pull out a stick. We take turns going around and we pray for who is on our stick then I finish up prayer time by reading the prayer at the end of the day's devotion. The kids have enjoyed this so much they beg to pull out more than one stick at a time and ask if we can use the prayer jar at meal times and before bed prayers!

Memory Verse

I just love the bright colors of the dividers!
I will be working on cleaning up those tabs SOON!
The next thing we move on to is memory verse time. This is a fairly new thing for us so we are starting off small. Each unit in the Sunday School material at our church comes with a key verse. Collin has just moved up to the "big kid" class. In that class if they learn the memory verse they will be able to get a sticker on the chart to earn their way to a prize. Collin has looked at that prize bucket for 4 years, not so patiently waiting for his turn to get to dig in. I decided that since he needs to be learning those verses anyway we will start there. Slowly we will begin to add more but for now this is what we are going to start with. 

I created our memory verse box following an example on Simply Charlotte Mason. Luckily, we had a extra card box and the dividers.  I will take some time soon to walk through how that system works, but for now here is what we have going.




Poetry and Read Alouds

The next activity on our Morning Time schedule is Poetry. To be honest this wasn't something I had ever even considered adding into our school schedule. But I am SO glad I discovered it. I have a copy of the "Core Knowledge: What Your Preschooler Should Know" and "Core Knowledge: What your 1st Grader Should Know" I am not a fan of the "Common Core" curriculum they use in the public schools (one of the many reasons we home-school) but these books have several fun poems to start out with. Eventually I hope to get one of the lists I have found on line printed out and start working our way thought that. I am still getting into the swing of a "poetry study" but for now we are enjoying learning and memorizing new poetry.


Once we are done with our poetry we move onto our read aloud time. I have been picking a short story that goes along with the units one of the kids are studying and we read though then talk about them. Again, once we get more into the swing of this we will probably pick one of the longer books on one of the recommended reading lists that are floating out there. For now we are just enjoying hearing some of our favorite stories that I haven't taken the time to sit down and read in a long time.

Once we read through the story then we discuss it. We retell the story in our own words, we talk about the characters and what they are like, and we just really get into what the story was all about. It is SO MUCH FUN to hear how their little brains are processing through the stories. It will amaze you at how much they really understand and what they get out of each story.

A Few Extras Here and There

That is all we do for the time being but every once in a while we will toss in some doodling, play-dough time, or a nature discussion if we feel like it. That is the joy of homeschooling.

Morning Time has changed the way we learn, grow, and thrive here at Mars Hall Legacy Academy, just another step in making our family Our Greatest Adventure!

What part of "Morning Time" sounds most exciting to you?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Inspire




I have a cabinet full of coffee mugs and tea cups. I have them placed all around my house as useful decorations. Some have cute pictures on them, some have words printed across the front, and some are just plain, functional cups.

I tend to go through phases where I will latch on to one particular mug and that will be the one I use for every glorious cup of hot tea that I drink in the mornings while I get my day started.

Recently it has been this one:
I got this one at our church's ladies retreat back in April. I have used it off and on but over the past few weeks this one has been my go to for my morning cup of tea. I love the size and the shape because it is easy for me to wrap both of my hands around.

But the real reason that I like it is because as I sit down to read my Bible, go over my schedule in my planner, look at kids lesson plans, or whatever else I might need to do first thing in the morning I am able to have this gentle reminder to INSPIRE.

Dictionary.com defines the word inspire in this manner
"To fill (someone) with urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative"

 I want to inspire.

I want to inspire my children to learn and to grow.

I want to inspire my husband to be the best of himself that he can be.

I want to inspire my friends and my family to live the life they were designed to be living.

But I don't want the inspiration to come from me.

I want to be the type of person that other people see and they think to themselves "I want what she has" because of the life that I am living through Christ.

I want others to see that no matter what life might throw my way I have the hope of eternity in my Lord. 

I want them to stop me when things are getting hard and ask "How can you have such a good attitude about this?" or "How do you do it?"

I want them to ask these questions so I can say "I DON'T" 

Only Jesus Christ through me makes the hard times a little less hard to walk through. Only Jesus Christ through me makes the sun shine brighter each day. It is only through Jesus that I am able to get up in the morning and put my feet on the ground. 



What I want my kids to know

These are the lessons I want to tech my children. I want to inspire them to find their own fulfillment in Jesus Christ. I want them to watch me deal with real life situations and always turn back to the promises of God before relying on the broken promises of man. 

I want to inspire my children to be the people that GOD intended them to be and not fall victim to the falls impressions of the world. 

I want to inspire my son to be a man of honor and integrity. I want him to know what it means to trust God fully and completely. I want him to want to be in the light each and every day.

I want to inspire my daughter to be a woman of grace and beauty. I want her to know that her worth is found in Jesus Christ and not in the latest hair, make up, or clothing trends. I want to inspire her to run so fast toward Jesus that the right man for her has to run hard and fast to catch up.

I want to inspire our children to allow our family to be our grandest adventure.

And I want this inspiration to come not from the things I am doing but from the way Christ is shining through me.

What I want Dusty to know

I want to inspire Dusty to be the leader that God has designed him to be. I want to inspire him to continue to study and grow in God's word. I want him to be so fired up he can't wait to teach and train our children in all the things God has to offer. I want to come along side him in life and be his biggest champion and his best friend. I want to be the helper to him that I was designed and called to be.

And I want it all to be Christ living through me!


What I want my friends and family to know

I want to inspire my friends, family, and anyone else who is watching me to be better. I want people to want to be a better version of themselves today than they were yesterday. I want people to know that if they have dreams or aspirations I will do everything I can to help them achieve those dreams or meet those goals. I want to inspire creativity and adventure. And I want Christ to shine through all the more for it. 


Inspiration can and most often does come in many different ways. My desire is that no matter who might be watching I am able to inspire them. My prayer is to live my life so that in each and everything I do Jesus is shinning through and it will be for that reason only that  others around me are inspired too.


What inspires you? How do you want to inspire others?




Friday, September 2, 2016

Making Morning the Best Time



Once upon a time I was a morning person. I would be the first one up bright and early. I would shower and be dressed, complete with hair AND make-up done well before anyone in the house was even considering moving a muscle. I would sit and wait impatiently as I waited for everyone else to get moving and be ready to leave the house. I would feel like I was running late while everyone else was glad they would be making it on time.

And then I graduated high school.

I went off to college, I started to have classes in the evenings rather than first thing in the morning, and I didn't have a single commitment or place to be before 11 AM.

And I learned the beauty of sleeping in. Or just sleeping in general. And I was hooked!

Fast forward 12 years of life, 8 years of marriage, and 2 kids later and I still LOVE my sleep. Longer days, later nights, and choppy sleep patterns due to kids not resting or crazy work schedules for the hubby have all had a hand in the change in my sleeping patterns but no matter what the reason mornings have not been my friends.

Back in February I went through the online course created by Crystal Paine (author at author at Money Saving Mom) called Make Over Your Mornings. I blogged my way through that and you can read more about it here. I did really well with it and I have kept most of those patterns going but the summer got some of that out of habit. I have picked back up on those routines now that my semester has started but I quickly began to realize that while I was having a wonderful and peaceful morning of mental and spiritual preparation for the day the rest of the family wasn't.

I started looking for ways that I could better prepare my kids for the day to come. Breakfast in our house has always been a bit lax. The kids usually have something like cereal, fruit, or toast/English Muffin with peanut butter on it. I just nurse my one cup of hot tea and hope that I could get enough from that to make it through until lunch because I am not really a fan of breakfast foods. And Dusty would cook himself some type of hearty breakfast before heading off to work. As the kids were eating and usually watching something on TV I would shout out various warnings such as "We will start school in 30 minutes" only to realize it was going to take me longer than that to finish getting everything prepared for the daily lessons.

The rest of the day would run pretty much similar to our chaotic and uninspired mornings.

And then I discovered the "Your Morning Basket" podcast. While listening to this podcast I discovered "Morning Time"


Insert light bulb over my head turning on HERE!


This is a concept that I wasn't unfamiliar with. When I was teaching preschool we called it "Circle Time" It was the time of the day that we read our story for the week, went through our alphabet and number memory, sang fun songs, and went through our calendars each day. It helped to get all the kids on the same page and we were able to learn together as a group. We would have a TON of fun during Circle Time.

So why had I never thought of incorporating that same concept into our daily home-school time? That's easy. Because once kids got past preschool or maybe kindergarten if they are lucky, circle time stopped. It was all about sitting in a desk listening to the teacher talk and you following directions from there.

And then I realized something else.

My goal is to HOME-SCHOOL. Not to recreate SCHOOL AT HOME


So why couldn't we do things a bit different? Why couldn't my 1st grader start the day with a bit of music and movement, and getting our heads and hearts in the right place?  So I jumped at the chance to begin incorporating "Morning Time" into our home-school day.


Now each morning, right before we get ready to go outside, we have our Morning Basket Time.

We go through a family devotional, we pray for friends, family, and our country. We read and recite some poetry, and we read aloud and discuss the story.

All together we take about 15 to 20 minutes to get through our morning basket time and then we are done. We are prepared for learning and we are ready to take on the day.

Next week I will break down what our Morning Basket Time looks like and all the fun things that I have planned to incorporate in the coming weeks and months!

What do you do to start out your day? Do you have any fun rituals or traditions?


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Letters to Our Children




"The word that is heard perishes, but the letter that is written remains." 

Imagine there was someone out there that loved and cared for you so much that they wanted you to know everything about them. How they thing, how they feel, why they do what they do. So they take the time to sit down and write it all out. This person pours it all out onto the page there for you to read at any time. If you feel alone and sad they have advice on how to handle it. You are worried or afraid? No sweat just look to the letter. Having a great day and want to celebrate? Sure! Read through the words of cheer, and happiness, and love. This is the ultimate guide book for everything you might experience in life. The only thing that would better than this letter would be to have that person right there physically with you.

That is a great picture right?

The funny thing is that we DO have that. Its called the Bible. It is God's amazing love letter to us, those who choose to put our faith and trust in Him and His plan.

This is the way that I have always heard my husband explain the Bible. It's more than just a book of stories, poetry, history, and songs. Its a living thing packed full of valuable information given to us by a Father who LOVES us so much He gave us the ultimate sacrifice; His One and Only Son's life for the sake of all the rest of his creation.

For someone who grew up without a father or that strong male influence in his life, over the past 16 years this is a concept that Dusty has really clung to.

It is also the reason that he made the decision when we found out we were pregnant with our first child to begin writing letters to our kids.

In 2009 for Christmas Dusty gave me a journal. It wasn't anything fancy. He probably picked it up in the notebook isle at Wal-Mart. But the meaning behind it was wonderful. This would be Collin's love letter from us to him. From before he was born up until he is 18 and ready to leave the home we would take the time to write to him. We would write down his accomplishment, share some of his struggles, and provide as much guidance and wisdom as we possibly could. Then when he is grown and ready to leave home and start out in the world that book would become his to take. He can add to it, or leave it as it is with the words we felt God was laying on our hearts to share with him.
Collin's journal is the green one on the bottom
RaeLynn's is the purple one on the top.

Of course we picked out a beautiful journal for RaeLynn when we found out we would be having a little girl. The plans are the same for her as they are for her brother. Write, share, and love through the words God gives us to share.

Life has a way of getting busy and we have not been as consistent with writing in the journals like we would like BUT we plan on changing that now. So starting today (only because it's the last day of the month) we plan to be writing in their journals at least once every month. It may not be the same day for each kid every month but at some point we will be sharing each month.

This is something that we have felt is really important for us to build the legacy for our kids. Sometimes actually sitting down and writing isn't your thing but you would still like to begin some type of keeping track of your kids as they grow. Here are a few other suggestions:

Create your child individual e-mail accounts.

This is a suggestion I have heard being done several times. Parents will create each child an e-mail account. They will then send e-mails to their kids and once they get to a certain age they will be given the account and password. Then they have not only all the e-mails you sent to them as they were growing up but they also have a way to continue to communicate with you when they grow up and move on. Another great feature on this one is that you can use your digital photos from your phone or tablet and send them in the emails and the kiddos will have access to childhood photos.

Create a Scrapbook for your child.

My mom and I LOVE to scrapbook. It is always fun for us to look through the different albums that we have created and see all the pictures. The old saying is that "a picture is worth a thousand words" so why not give your child thousands and thousands of words though picture scrapbooks. These are fun because you can really create something that fits with each child's individual personality or based on a particular event.


No matter what you do take time to pour into your legacy. You children are the mark you are leaving on the world. Leave them a love letter, tell them who you are, so that they can then tell their children and their children's children, and so on down the line.

What do you do to pass on your thoughts to your kids as they grow? Share your ideas in the comments!