Thursday, February 4, 2016

4 Reasons We Don't Start Our Homeschool Early



I realize some homeschool moms are adamant about it:  They need an 8:00 start time for their homeschool or else they feel like they've frittered the best part of their day away.

And I understand some people are super-schedulers.  Schedules make them happy, make them feel secure and at peace.  I'm even a little bit like that myself.  Sometimes.  

And depending on the curricula, some moms may need to get school rolling early if they hope to get it done at a decent hour.  (One of many reasons why I don't use a curriculum like that.)

But it doesn't happen at our house.  I knew 8:00 a.m. would never happen, but I spent a couple of years trying really hard to start at 9:00, only to eventually give that up, too, and accept the fact that 10:00 is a nice, reasonable time of day for us to start school.  Sometimes it's slightly earlier, sometimes it's a little later.  

And I'm okay with that.  

Early on in my homeschooling experience, I spent a lot of time trying to make my homeschool resemble public school as much as possible.  It was the only thing I knew, after all, and I assumed education was supposed to have a certain look and feel and follow a certain schedule.  

But even as I learned to let go of that thinking, I still found myself trying to make my homeschool look like that of other homeschoolers.  Also a BIG mistake.  

Because your family isn't mine.  Your lifestyle and preferences aren't mine.  It's silly to assume that any two homeschooling families will look and act and homeschool alike.  

Around here, an early start time for school just doesn't work.  Here's why:


Our family lifestyle has never been conducive to early bedtimes.  

I hear people talk about putting their kids to bed at 7:30 and I chuckle.  My kids have never seen a 7:30 bedtime.  Never.  Most nights we haven't even finished supper by 7:30, so I cannot fathom having our house settled down enough to put kids to bed by that time!

My husband and I just tend to be night owls and the rest of our daily schedules have come to revolve around that tendency.  Years of being involved in various church and youth ministries that rarely wrapped up before 9:00 and often ran much later no doubt contributed to our bedtime habits.  Then add to it the fact that, particularly in spring and autumn, my husband's work often keeps him out until at least 7-8:00 in the evenings.  If I put my kids to bed early, they would spend very little time with their dad during these seasons.  

Getting the kids to bed early just hasn't worked for us.  Which leads me to my second point.  We don't start school early so...


Our kids get more sleep.

Putting our kids to bed later means they need to sleep later if they're to get adequate rest.  Some kids are better at this than others obviously, but it's nice giving them the option of sleeping in or at least laying around for a while or having some quiet playtime before school gets started.

This has truly been one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling for us.  I've watched other parents stress over bedtimes, often to the point of arranging every activity in their lives around them, just to ensure their children are getting adequate sleep.  And of course sleep is important if they're to do well in school!  But even the Centers for Disease Control has begun encouraging school districts to start school later, simply because the lifestyles of most people today don't lend toward early bedtimes.

For us lack of sleep isn't usually an issue.  Our kids always have the option of sleeping in.

,
It makes my mornings far more relaxed.  

I love mornings.  Truly.  And I hate feeling rushed through them.  I get up fairly early, typically between 6:30 and 7, but that gives me plenty of time to have my devotions, read a little news, check my email, do some writing, and sometimes even fit in a little exercise.  Plus I can do some cleanup and start a load of laundry before beginning breakfast.  I like having the time to do these things at a reasonable pace, instead of rolling out of bed and barreling toward homeschooling at breakneck speed.


I like feeding my kids a good breakfast. 

There's nothing wrong with feeding my kids cereal, yogurt, or fresh fruit for breakfast.  Sometimes I need a quick and easy breakfast.

But my kids, my boys especially, really appreciate a hot, filling breakfast.  And I like fixing it for them.  One of my boys is even learning to be a big help with breakfast, which saves me some time and effort, teaches him a useful skill, and gives us some one-on-one time together in the mornings.

We usually start school over breakfast, which works great for us because it brings us all together for a good meal and some time in the Bible.  And while I realize 10:00 is pretty late for breakfast in the eyes of many, it works great for us, especially since we just follow it up with a late lunch and late dinner!

It isn't impossible to have a good breakfast when you start school early, but it's definitely more of a challenge.  Unless maybe you're one of those people who likes to get up at 4:30 in the morning, which I am NOT.


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I like it when everyone is coming to school better-rested, better-focused, and better-ready to take on the day.  We've found our groove, even if it's not everybody else's, and I love our schedule!





You'll find this post linked up with some of these wonderful blogs:

Making Your Home Sing MondayMama Moments MondayThe Modest Mom Link UpInspiration MondayThe Art of HomemakingMonday Musings,  Inspire Me Monday,  Living Proverbs 31Titus 2sdaysTitus 2 TuesdayHip Homeschool Hop, Tutorial TuesdayInspire Me Tuesday, Homemaking Link-UpWise Woman Linkup, The Mommy Club, WholeHearted WednesdayA Little R & R Thought-Provoking ThursdayThursday Favorite Things, Think Tank Thursday, The Homemaking PartyCreate-It Thursday, From House to HomeGrowing in Grace ThursdayFaith-Filled Friday,  Family Fun Friday Weekly Wrap-UpShow and Tell FridayFriendship FridayNo Rules Weekend Blog PartyInspiration SpotlightPretty PintasticGrace and Truth Link UpFaith and Fellowship Blog HopFamily Friendship and Faith Fridays

Thursday, January 28, 2016

11 Household Items that are Better to TRASH than Clean



I've pulled bookshelves and cabinets, picket fences and enamel buckets out of people's trash or away from their yard sales and I've scoured and scrubbed and cleaned and painted to give them new life.  I mean, if something is valuable, or if it could be, then going that extra mile can really pay off!

And I'm all for saving money and making do with less, but sometimes I think this hyper-frugal, minimization-obsessed trend that seems all the rage right now often guilts people into trying to save things that just aren't worth saving.  

So if you're one of those determined-to-hold-on-to-something-until-it-absolutely-falls-apart kind of people, be warned:  I'm about to offend you.

Because, while I used to be more of that thinking, time and experience have taught me better in many respects.  Now I think there are just some things that are better to trash than to clean.  And here are just 11 examples:


Blackened Baking Sheets

I don't care how many miracle cures for tired old baking sheets you may have read about, they do not work.  At least, not on layers of baked-on mess.  I've tried multiple versions of these cleaning methods and only one of them was at all effective, and that involved a lot of time and a lot of effort for only slight improvement.



The truth is, if you want nice, shiny baking sheets, you have to take better care of them.  Line with foil and use parchment paper as often as possible, (use liners in muffin cups,) wipe away excess oils and cooking spray before baking, and be careful not to overcook particularly oily foods.

Take care of them and they'll last a long time, but once your cookie sheet or muffin tin starts showing its age, just toss it and buy new.

It's okay.  Tell them I said you could.


Shower Curtains

Yes, you can wash shower curtains.  And if you're one of those who insists on a $200 shower curtain, it might be wise to try it.

But you know they sell shower curtain liners, right?  And you know you can get them for less than $5 a piece, right?  I mean, even the high-end liners at my local department store, the mildew-resistant ones with metal grommets at the top and weights at the bottom, are still under $10.

Even if you have hard water, a shower curtain liner will usually look decent for at least 6 months.  Give it a quick spray and a wipe when you're cleaning your shower and it will last even longer!  When it starts looking bad, don't bother taking it down except to trash it and replace it with a new one!


Mini Blinds

Dusting your mini blinds will keep them in shape for a while, but eventually the grime will build to the point mere dusting doesn't do the trick anymore.

You can slip blinds out and either submerge them in a soapy bathtub or hose them off outside, but it's not an easy task, since they're sometimes long and heavy and awkward and blind slats can be broken or pulled out of track easily, not to mention a set of mini blinds can take a long time to dry properly.

But honestly, unless your windows are unusual sizes, mini blinds just aren't that expensive.  Discount stores regularly sell them for well under $10.  And brackets are pretty much universal, so a new set of blinds can usually be slid into old brackets without having to drill any holes.  It's just a matter of sliding old blinds out and new blinds in.

Cleaned regularly, mini blinds can look great for a long time.  But when they start looking bad, replacing them really makes more sense than trying to deep clean them.


Hairbrushes

You can spend crazy money on a hairbrush, but most people I know spend a sensible $5-15 for their hairbrushes, meaning they are an important, but mostly disposable tool.

With regular use a hairbrush will see a build up of natural oils and hair product residue, plus all that hair you lose as you brush.  A quick cleaning with a bobby pin or toothpick and an occasional rinse with hot water and even a little dish soap should keep your brush looking good for a long time.  When it starts looking and feeling downright dirty, however, it's time to trash it and buy a new one!


Toilet Brushes

Another kind of brush, though for a very different use...



Not only are toilet brushes used to do some of the dirtiest work in our home, but between scrubbings we also tend to store them in wet little cesspools of bacteria where icky microorganisms can continue to grow and thrive.  Pouring antibacterial cleaner or bleach over a toilet brush on occasion will kill some germs, but it won't remove the overall grossness.

Ignore any deep-cleaning advice you've ever read and just replace your old toilet brush every few months at least.  Or even better, use the disposables.


Furnace Filters

We used to have washable furnace filters, which were supposedly more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly that traditional filters.

But they were a pain in the neck to clean!  Hosing them off wasn't so bad, but waiting for them to dry could take forever, especially on a cold day!  And you can't run your system again until the filters are back in place, which is really inconvenient, especially when it's really cold or hot outside.

Plus they're expensive, especially for unusual sizes.  And some heating and cooling professionals insist reusable filters are actually terrible for your furnace, very inefficient and far less effective when it comes to improving air quality in your home.

So go with the traditional disposables and replace them regularly.


Plasticware

Maybe if I spent more on my plastic food storage containers I would be more inclined to save them. But I don't.  I prefer glass for one thing, but when I do buy plastic containers, they're usually from the clearance aisle or they're the cheap disposable type.



Why?  Because they tend to get lost in the back of the refrigerator where they turn into scary science experiments.  Or, if they're a sippy cup, they get lost under the couch or in the depths of a toy box.  And 3-week old milk smells very bad and can even be explosive.

Don't ask me how I know this.  Just don't open it:  Take my advice and throw it away.



Decorative Pillows

I could bring up the issue of bed pillows, the kind you sleep on, but I'll leave that one alone for now and focus instead on decorative pillows.

These, particularly the frilly, dry clean only kind, can become houses for dust mites and dander and all sorts of allergens.  Surface and spot-cleaning can be effective for a while, but if you can't wash your decorative pillows, and sometimes even when you can, you need to replace them from time to time.

Look for washable pillows or pillow covers, or just buy cheap so you can toss them without much guilt.


Artificial Flower Arrangements

I'm not big on flowers, but I realize some people LOVE them enough to fill their home with them.  Yes, there are cleaners you can use, (but they're expensive,) and sometimes compressed air can be helpful, but eventually dust and grime will take its toll.

Personally, I would recommend not spending big money on artificial flowers to begin with, but if you do, just know they'll have to be replaced at some point.


Tub Toys

One of my most eye-opening moments as a mother came one day when I squeezed my daughter's tub toy and BLACK GUNK ran out of it.  I. Was. Ill.

Listen, those things mildew inside very quickly and there is really no way to clean them effectively.  I recommend avoiding tub toys with the little holes in the bottom, but keep in mind even those that don't hold water will mildew and build up layers of soap scum with time.  Do you really want your kids chewing on something like that while they take a bath?

I know tub toys are fun, but be careful which ones you buy and toss the old and replace with new fairly frequently.


Cutting boards

These kitchen tools aren't meant to last forever.  Whether you have a plastic board or a wooden one, (and there are conflicting ideas of which is safer to use,) a cutting board that is heavily nicked and scratched will become a haven for bacteria.  You should disinfect your board regularly and oil a wooden board from time to time to prevent cracking, but if it has bits of scratched plastic, deep nicks and cuts, and especially if it has cracks where bacteria can sink and hide, you need to throw it away. No question.

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So did I miss something?  
What household items have you found aren't worth the trouble of cleaning?





You'll find this post linked up with some of these wonderful blogs:

Making Your Home Sing MondayMama Moments MondayThe Modest Mom Link UpInspiration MondayThe Art of HomemakingMonday Musings,  Inspire Me Monday,  Living Proverbs 31Titus 2sdaysTitus 2 TuesdayHip Homeschool Hop, Tutorial TuesdayInspire Me Tuesday, Homemaking Link-UpWise Woman Linkup, The Mommy Club, WholeHearted WednesdayA Little R & R Thought-Provoking ThursdayThursday Favorite Things, Think Tank Thursday, The Homemaking PartyCreate-It Thursday, From House to HomeGrowing in Grace ThursdayFaith-Filled Friday,  Family Fun Friday Weekly Wrap-UpShow and Tell FridayFriendship FridayNo Rules Weekend Blog PartyInspiration SpotlightPretty PintasticGrace and Truth Link UpFaith and Fellowship Blog HopFamily Friendship and Faith Fridays

Thursday, January 21, 2016

3 Reasons to Take a Family Trip in the WINTER


The very word “vacation” conjures up images of flip flops and swimming pools and sandy beaches warmed by a hot summer sun.  Surely summertime provides the most idyllic time for a family trip.

Or does it?  Why do we so rarely consider winter when it comes to planning a family vacation, or even just a weekend getaway?

Now obviously there are a few things that make winter travel a bit more of a challenge:

  • The weather can put a damper on some activities.  I mean, if your favorite vacation pastime is water skiing at the lake, January probably isn’t going to work for you.  (Then again, if you’re into snow skiing…)

  • Schools are generally in session.  Of course, that’s one more reason to love homeschooling!

  • It means traveling close to the holidays.  Unfortunately, a lot of people have spent every extra dollar, (plus some,) on Christmas purchases and holiday travel, meaning there’s nothing left for a family trip of any kind. 


But there are some amazing benefits to traveling in the winter months if the opportunity presents itself.  Here are three reasons why...

Rates are cheaper

Depending on your destination, many attractions, hotels, and even restaurants will offer special winter pricing.  It’s an effort by these businesses to draw people in when tourism revenue is at a low, and it can pay off BIG for families.  Lodging costs can be cut by as much as 50%, and many museums, historic sites, and other attractions will offer winter discounts.  

Many vacation destinations offer plenty of indoor activities to enjoy no matter the weather, but don't be afraid to venture outdoors!  Particularly if you're from the south, you're probably familiar with the old tourism slogan, See Rock City.  Well, we did… in JANUARY!  

Told ya we saw it... ;)

Granted, it was cold, (a toasty 19° when we arrived, which is unusually cold for southeast Tennessee,) but it was a perfectly clear and gorgeous day, we were dressed warmly, and we had so much fun!  Plus we saved $20 with their special winter rate!  

Check out more ways to save money on a family vacation by clicking here.  



Crowds are smaller

If you hate long lines or the large summer crowds at attractions, (I always HATED crowded places when I had small children in tow!) then winter might be the perfect time for you to travel and site-see.  I've read reviews from people who waited three hours to visit a popular attraction in June while we visited with no wait at all in January.  

I have a friend who insists the off-season is the absolute best time to visit the beach, almost like having the entire beach to yourself!  And I've found it's nice to visit museums and aquariums and actually get to see everything we want to see because of smaller crowds.  

We took a ride on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway and had an entire (heated) car to ourselves, so we could be as loud and obnoxious as we wanted to be!  (Not that we're really obnoxious.  We're actually very nice people. :) )


Summer doesn’t have a monopoly on family fun.

I love summer.  No, I ADORE summer!  But it's ridiculous to believe that family fun has to be reserved for the warm, sunny weather of June-August!  

Spending time with the family is important any time of the year, and, for some families, winter may actually be the best time to take a family trip.  

Perhaps it goes against the conventional thinking, but never underestimate the joy of a winter outing with the family.  If you're like us, you'll find that flip flops and sun-warmed beaches aren't required ingredients for family fun!






You'll find this post linked up with some of these wonderful blogs:

Making Your Home Sing MondayMama Moments MondayThe Modest Mom Link UpInspiration MondayThe Art of HomemakingMonday Musings,  Inspire Me Monday,  Living Proverbs 31Titus 2sdaysTitus 2 TuesdayHip Homeschool Hop, Tutorial TuesdayInspire Me Tuesday, Homemaking Link-UpWise Woman Linkup, The Mommy Club, WholeHearted WednesdayA Little R & R Thought-Provoking ThursdayThursday Favorite Things, Think Tank Thursday, The Homemaking PartyCreate-It Thursday, From House to HomeGrowing in Grace ThursdayFaith-Filled Friday,  Family Fun Friday Weekly Wrap-UpShow and Tell FridayFriendship FridayNo Rules Weekend Blog PartyInspiration SpotlightPretty PintasticGrace and Truth Link UpFaith and Fellowship Blog HopFamily Friendship and Faith Fridays

This post was featured at:


HappyandBlessedHome.com           Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Five Ways to Make Visitors to Your Church Feel Welcome



Have you ever wondered what it would be like if they did online reviews of churches in the same way they do of restaurants and shops?

Scour the internet and you'll actually find a few, but reviews of this type tend to be emotionally or politically-charged rants more often than they are thoughtful, objective reviews.

But do you ever wonder what visitors say when they walk away from your church?  What was their experience there, and was it good enough for them to ever wish to return?

Whether as a part of ministry or just while travelling, my husband and I have visited quite a few churches over the years.  We even go to church on vacation, even if that means we visit a church that (gasp!) isn't of our own denomination!  We've visited northern, southern, eastern, and western churches, some barely bigger than our own family and some that fall into the category of mega-churches.

And wherever we go, I always observe how we are treated.

Listen, you can't get away from the role a visitor's personal preferences may play in the way they view your church.  They may consider the music too loud or too traditional or too progressive, or the service too casual or too formal or too long.

But, generally speaking, people will remember the way they were treated.  We can focus so much on providing beautiful facilities, great programs, excellent teaching, and dynamic music, but, when it's said and done, it's likely to be the way a visitor is treated that stands out in their minds the most.

I can't say I've always treated visitors the way I should have, but becoming a visitor yourself can certainly offer some insight into areas you need to do better!  So here are just a few ideas for making visitors to your church feel welcome.


  • Leave your prejudices behind


I don't care how open-minded and tolerant you claim to be, everyone has prejudices.

As much as we may wish it wasn't true, preconceived notions and past experiences will sometimes taint the way we view people.  It's human nature.  But pushing past our prejudices to treat people kindly is important if we wish to make visitors feel welcome in our churches.

And prejudice can take a lot of forms!  It's about more than skin color, financial status, or nationality.  Sometimes prejudice can even work backwards from the way we think  For example, in some churches a person in more edgy clothing would be welcomed with open arms, while someone in very conservative dress may be eschewed almost suspiciously.  A man in a suit and tie might be as unwelcome in one church as a woman with tattoos and body piercings might be in another.  And both forms of prejudice are wrong and unwelcoming.

We got this Christmas ornament in a gift bag after we dropped in at a church in Tennessee.


  • Greet visitors and tell them you're glad they came


This seems so basic and yet it is so neglected.

Honestly, we're very appreciative if a pastor speaks to us when we're visiting, but we also understand pastors are often pulled in many directions and, particularly if a church is very large, he may not have the opportunity to come greet us personally.

But that's where church members should step in.

We have visited churches where no one came to speak to us.  No one.  Once we even visited a church where we knew a few people, (vaguely at least,) and while a couple of men did approach to greet my husband and I, not a single woman in the church spoke to me.  Not even one.  

That should never, ever happen.  I realize sometimes visitors like to slip in late and slip out again early and there's not always a lot you can do about that, though I recall at least one church where we had people coming to greet us right in the middle of service!  I also realize visitors can sometimes get "lost in the crowd", particularly in a larger church, but at the same time we have been to some very large churches where we thought surely we would blend in and not be noticed, and yet we were immediately recognized as strangers.  Being acknowledged and welcomed like that helped us feel more comfortable for the service.


  • Make them aware of available programs, but don't push


If there is a couples' class, children's church, teen program, or a nursery service you think might interest visitors, by all means let them know, either personally or via church announcements.  But if people seem hesitant or uninterested, let it go, even if you think your youth pastor offers the best teen program ever!

Some people will want to be a part of whatever program you have to offer.  Others may prefer to sit in one place and go mostly unnoticed.  Just be careful that you aren't pressing people to do what they aren't comfortable doing.


  • Send visitors away with a tangible gift


I realize this can involve some thought and expense, but what a kind gesture!  A few times we've been sent away with gift bags filled with little things like candy, pens, bag clips, and key chains with a thank you and the church's name on them.  These are items we keep, and every time we see them, we're reminded of the church where we received them.  And you want your church to be remembered, right?

This cup came with a welcome letter, a really nice pen, a coffee coupon, and mint chocolates inside.  I can't look at it without thinking of the little church in Virginia where we received it.  The pastor offered to answer any questions we had about our planned visit to Williamsburg, and his wife was so kind to me as I peppered her with one question after another. (We were such pesky tourists!)


  • Make contact with them again


Have visitor cards available in the songbook rack or include a perforated section in the church bulletin where visitors can share their names and addresses and drop them in the offering pan or a box provided for the purpose.

Of course collecting names and addresses is only useful if you put them to use!  Sending a brief note thanking them for their visit and inviting them again is a kind gesture.  If they're local, a brief home visit from someone in the church with homemade cookies in tow might be even better!  The important thing is showing a visitor that their visit was appreciated.

Who knows?  They might decide to come back next Sunday!

But even if they don't, it should be the goal of every churchgoing Christian to make visitors feel so welcome and so at home that when the day comes they see their need for God, they know just the church to go to for help.






You'll find this post linked up with some of these wonderful blogs:

Making Your Home Sing MondayMama Moments MondayThe Modest Mom Link UpInspiration MondayThe Art of HomemakingMonday Musings,  Inspire Me Monday,  Living Proverbs 31Titus 2sdaysTitus 2 TuesdayHip Homeschool Hop, Tutorial TuesdayInspire Me Tuesday, Homemaking Link-UpWise Woman Linkup, The Mommy Club, WholeHearted WednesdayA Little R & R Thought-Provoking ThursdayThursday Favorite Things, Think Tank Thursday, The Homemaking PartyCreate-It Thursday, From House to HomeGrowing in Grace ThursdayFaith-Filled Friday,  Family Fun Friday Weekly Wrap-UpShow and Tell FridayFriendship FridayNo Rules Weekend Blog PartyInspiration SpotlightPretty PintasticGrace and Truth Link UpFaith and Fellowship Blog HopFamily Friendship and Faith Fridays

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Taking New Year Inventory of Your Homeschool


There’s something about the New Year that makes you want to reevaluate your entire life:  Your relationships.  Your priorities.  Your diet.  Your checkbook.  Your sock drawer.

But what about your homeschool?  While I realize January isn’t the start of the school year for most homeschoolers, I still think it’s a great time to do some evaluation when it comes to your homeschool.  For many, January falls about mid-year, and that can actually be a good time to take a long, hard look at how things are going.
What’s working?  What isn’t?  Are there products I need to buy?  Are there things I need to pitch?  Doing a little homeschool inventory in the first month of 2016 may be the perfect thing to help bring about a successful end to your school year.
Not sure where to start?  Here is a basic list of questions to ask yourself as you take inventory of your homeschool:

How are our curriculum choices for this year working out?
While I really don’t believe it’s curriculum that ultimately makes or breaks a homeschool, I know from experience the stress and dissatisfaction a poor curriculum choice can bring to the educating process.  A lotof things can contribute to problems in your homeschool, but don’t be so devoted to a certain curriculum company that you aren’t willing to make changes for what is best for your child...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

7 Things Every Mom Should Do More This Year



Whether you're a resolution-maker or not, most of us can look upon a new year and think of at least 100 things we would like to do more and do better in the year ahead of us.  

There are a few things I think every mom should do a little more in 2016.  I need to do them, and I'm pretty confident you do, too!

Can you honestly tell me you don't need to do any of these things a little more this year?


  • Take care of yourself a little more.

Good moms are notorious for taking care of absolutely everyone but themselves.

STOP it.  Pay attention to those little problems you've been ignoring and make that long-overdue appointment to see a doctor.  Get more sleep.  (Definitely on my agenda for this year!) Try to eat better and exercise more, not in an effort to look like a supermodel, but so you can feel better and bring back some of that energy that has been so lacking.


  • Lay aside the worry a little more.

Life is tough.  Sometimes there are real troubles and serious concerns.  Those things don't go away just because we want them to.

But we can't live our lives in the torment of worry.  Change the things you have the power to change, but learn to lay the rest in the hands of God.  That's easier said than done, I realize, but we spend so much time fretting over things we cannot change.  We worry even more over things that will never come to pass!




  • Invest in your marriage a little more.

Moms, it's easy to get so absorbed in raising our children that we forget about our marriage.  It's a natural thing -- we're nurturers by God's design -- and so we tend to focus most on those who seem to need us most, which doesn't usually seem to apply to the grown man in our lives!

"Investing in your marriage" doesn't have to mean fancy date nights or romantic overnight trips.  The more children you have and the tighter your budget, the harder those things can become.  But never underestimate time together that might seem less than ideal.  Sometimes we just have to be more intentional about making time for our husbands, too.


  • Play a little more.

Wow, we can be really uptight sometimes!  But we need play time, too.  And by "play time" I simply mean taking time occasionally to just relax and enjoy our lives and families.

I know you have a lot to do.  I know the house is a wreck and you're behind on the laundry, but it's therapeutic sometimes to just walk away from it all and enjoy a little time playing a game with the kids or enjoying the great outdoors or burying your nose in a book.


  • Downsize a little more.

The older I get, the more I realize how much stress STUFF adds to our lives.  The more stuff you have, the more time and energy you have to put into maintaining it.  Or cleaning it.  Or just finding a place for it!

So eliminating stuff can really mean eliminating stress.  Honestly, most of us have tons of stuff we wouldn't miss for a moment if it was gone.



  • Say NO a little more.


If there's anything most moms are good at, it's over-commitment.  We can have sick kids and sick husbands and sick selves, have broken down washing machines and refrigerators and family vehicles, be stressed to the max with to-do lists a mile long, and still we will find ourselves volunteering for good, (and sometimes even really not-so-good,) causes.

We mean well, but the truth is there is only so much of us to go around.  While we are busy doing all sorts of meaningful, charitable things for other people, it often takes a toll on our families.  Giving of our time, money, and energy to others is a wonderful thing and it sets a good example for our children, but only as long as it doesn't take the best of our time and energy away from the ones who should matter to us most.



  • Say YES a little more.


We may say YES to every obligation that presents itself, but, boy, are we good at saying NO to our own families!

Remedy that this year.  Find ways to say yes, like when the kids want you to stop cleaning to play a game with them, or they ask you to take them to the park, or hubby suggests an impromptu trip out for ice cream.  We throw out too many NOs, just because we're busy or tired or preoccupied.  By doing so we often miss out on fun family time and some wonderful memories.

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Why I Don't Read My Bible Through Every Year


Sometimes there are posts I'm hesitant to write because I fear how they might be misconstrued.  Believe me, it isn't hard to write something one way and have readers take it quite another.

And never... I mean NEVER would I want to do anything to upset good, established devotional habits, or to say anything that might imply that I think a structured Bible reading plan is a bad idea.  It isn't.  I know many churches and church groups that annually distribute Bible reading schedules.  And I know well that many people like and even need the structure of a set Bible reading chart.

I am also a die-hard advocate of daily Bible reading and study in the life of a believer.  Time spent in God's word is essential to proper growth and I believe all scripture is inspired by God and "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16)  

But I have to confess I'm not a big advocate of the Read Your Bible Through in a Year concept.

Now if this was something I'd never done, I don't know that I would try to offer an opinion on it.  But I have done it.  In fact, I did it for several years, which is exactly what brought me to realize it wasn't the best way for me (personally) to read my Bible.  And I share this only because I'm sure there are others who have struggled with it as well, and it can really do much to discourage a person in their personal devotions, particularly if they keep feeling like they aren't reading the Bible the "right way" or reading it enough just because they can't seem to read Genesis to Revelation in the course of one year.  Sadly, when people get discouraged in something they're doing, they often QUIT IT altogether.  And what could be worse than that?


Trying to read my Bible through yearly often rushed my reading

I've mentioned before that I'm a slow reader.  Not a poor reader, mind you, but definitely a slow one.  It takes me time to digest the things I read and when I rush, I don't comprehend.

Most Bible charts are set up to require anywhere from 3-6 chapters of Bible reading per day.  Depending on the subject matter or the length of the chapters, that was sometimes completely overwhelming for me.  Even before I was a wife and a mom there were many days I found it very difficult to get through four or five chapters without skimming, WHICH IS NOT READING.  And Lord forbid I miss a day and then had EIGHT chapters to read in order to catch up!  Needless to say, I didn't end up comprehending most of that reading.

It made it harder to spend adequate time in Bible study

It makes no sense to me to merely read over things I don't understand in the Bible, or to ignore my own curiosity about a person, place, or even a word in the scripture that I could very easily study further.  All of that is part of the process of learning from and applying the scripture to my life.  If we can't take the time to learn from what we're reading, how can we have full understanding of the Bible and how can it really impact our lives?

When I was trying to get four or more chapters read every day, I was less inclined to stop and study something out when I had a question or an interest.  Reading less per day gives me the time to check what a commentary has to say about a verse, to read it in multiple translations, or to look up a word in the original Greek and study every place it appears in scripture.  When I can take the time to do those things, I can learn so much more.

It placed equal emphasis on Old Testament geneaologies and New Testament passages vital to Christian doctrine

Don't get me wrong:  I believe the scripture I quoted earlier, the first part of which says, "ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable."  But there was something a little unbalanced to me about focusing the same amount of time on 1 Chronicles 9 as on Romans 5.  Some areas of the Bible need more time from us than a once-a-year reading.

A couple of years ago I felt compelled to read the book of Romans not once, but over and over again until I lost count of the times I had read it consecutively.  But I learned so much from focusing that time on a book that is cram-packed with essential Christian doctrine.  I read in other places as well, but Romans was where I centered my attention and that time of study was wonderful for me.  Had I been committed to a Read Your Bible Through in a Year plan, that might have been harder for me to do.

Reading, studying, and fully comprehending ONE chapter was better for me than skimming SIX

While I strongly encourage every Christian to read their Bibles as much and as often as they can, more may not always be better.   Though I would never want to give someone an excuse for reading their Bibles less, if having to read four chapters makes you more inclined to not read at all, then obviously you're better off reading less.

I'm amazed sometimes at the lifelong Christians I know who have never developed a daily habit of Bible reading.  To me, it makes far more sense to encourage them to read one chapter a day or even less, rather than push them toward four or five!  Once the habit is developed, then the amount can be increased, but until then, I don't think it's wrong to start out small.

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If you love reading your Bible through every year, in no way would I wish to discourage that.  I strongly believe every Christian should make it a goal to read the entire Bible.

But reading it through every year just wasn't the best thing for me.  And I encourage every Christian to find a Bible reading plan that works for them and then DO IT in every day of 2016!




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