May’s Habit: How Did You Do?

Each month this year I have worked to weave a new habit into the fabric of my days.

After two months of working on the difficult, never-will-be-mastered habit of taming the technology monster, May’s habit was fun: get outside with the children for at least 15 minutes daily.

This is easy in the mild parts of the spring and fall. In the dead of winter and heat of summer it gets harder. However, the effort is worth it.

Little Meg loves being outside in her stroller! 

Here are some of our favorite things we did outside together in May:

  • Play at the fountain park
  • Make mud soup
  • Have a picnic
  • Work in our garden
  • Play “red light, green light”
  • Ride a friend’s horses
  • Go on walks
  • Play in the sand
  • Blow bubbles
  • Go to the park. Again and again and again. (The munchkins have finally mastered their fear of slides. Hurray… maybe!)

How about you? Did you work on a new habit this month? What’s your favorite thing to do outside.  

Linked up at Better Mom & Raising Arrows

Summer Reading Goals

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and [what] you read.” – attributed to Charles Jones

Though a bit simplistic, this quote holds a great deal of truth. The books, blogs, and articles we read have great influence in shaping our character and encouraging (or discouraging) our walk with Christ.

In his article On the Reading of Old Books, C.S. Lewis claims that our reading diet should contain at the very least “one old [book] to every three new ones.”

Why? Not because “there is any magic about the past,” but because “every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes.”

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One of the amusing things about studying history is watching the errors of one generation be disdainfully rejected by the following, only to be replaced by new ones. The trouble is, while you’re living and immersed in an era, it is nearly impossible to fully see the flaws that will be so obvious to future generations.

Fifty years from now, I’m sure history students will laugh at the blatantly-wrong assumptions our generation has made. Reading books from previous generations helps correct (at least a little) for these blind spots.

Taking the principle a bit farther, this summer I also want to read books written by Christians from other cultures and other denominations. It is so easy to get stuck in the white, middle-class, Western mindset and forget that Christ has called us to be part of His universal church. Stepping out of my reading comfort-zone points me back to the basics of what Christianity is about.

Of course, all books must be proved by the Bible. If even Paul the Apostle told us to “test” what he wrote, how much more do we need to test the writing of other authors!

With that said, my first goal is to finish reading through the Bible. I planned to finish in December but got way behind.

Other summer reading (Compiled in part from wonderful suggestions you gave on my Facebook page!):

Chapter book read-a-louds ( now that reading aloud to the kids is part of my lunch routine we’re doing it consistently. So fun!)
This is an ambitious least (at least for me) but I’m working time to read into my schedule and really hope to get through it.
What about you? What’s on your bookshelf for the summer? 
[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

“All Generations Will Call Me Blessed”

Guest post from my dear sister-in-law, Amber.

Elizabeth looked at her cousin Mary with wonder and amazement.  The moment that she had heard her younger cousin’s greeting, the baby within her had leaped for pure joy.  She felt love wash over her in a flood.  All at once her words tumbled out in a great heap:

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  (Luke 1: 42-45 ESV)

Mary, also filled with the Spirit, sang out:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
     For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.”(Luke 1: 46-49 ESV)

Can you imagine this scene?  Can you imagine the pure joy you would have felt had you been Mary and been privileged to carry the Christ within your very flesh?!  Truly she was “blessed among women.”  And just as she prophesied with her song, all generations have called her “blessed.”

This morning as I was reading my Bible, I came across a passage in Luke chapter 11 where a woman called out from a crowd of Jesus’ followers: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” (Luke 11:27 ESV)

Jesus’ reply astounded me.  He said: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28 ESV)

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I love His words, don’t you?

They are said so simply, yet they are laden with a meaning and a depth that I can never hope to truly comprehend here on this earth.  Jesus was saying that it is more blessed to hear God’s words and keep them!

Mary was blessed, to be sure, to have carried the Christ within her womb, but we are blessed when we hear the Word of God and carry it out with joy in our hearts.

I am going to take that thought with me throughout my day (and hopefully throughout my weeks, months, and coming years.)  I am blessed to have God’s word, and even more blessed to keep it!  May you also be blessed this day as you…

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:16-17 ESV)

~ A joyful sister, Amber

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I am so blessed to have Amber as part of our family! She is a friend that constantly points me to Christ, by her words and life. Her and my brother’s love stories is one of those that makes me stand in awe of the amazing ways God leads in our lives. You can listen to their testimony here.

The Power of the Tongue

Bad attitudes tend to rub off. Easily.

The other day, a friend told me about how one of her daughters had mocked something her little sister loved to do. Immediately, the little sister’s attitude started to change. She began to question the activity. Soon she decided she didn’t like it either.

Thankfully, her mother was wise and was able to see the problem and correct the attitudes.

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Sadly, it’s not just kids that struggle with defiling attitudes.

Often we adults are more subtle, but in our day and age it’s socially acceptable (and sometimes even “cool”) to complain about school or work or kids. Other times our attitudes take the form of “prayer requests” or “just being honest.”

Granted, there is a time for unburdening our hearts and letting a friend help us carry our load. There is a time to ask for honest help. There is a time to express real grievances.

However, we must be so careful to set a guard over our lips, because our words can defile. The tongue can be a “deadly poison.” Bad attitudes toward work or family rub off and poison our children, our husband, our friends, and our church.

Thankfully, the flip side is equally true.

Instead of a poison, “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life.” (Prov 15:4) Many times a friend’s joyful words have breathed fresh life into my day. The mess of mommyhood instantly seems less overwhelming when a friend happily asks, “Isn’t it just amazing that we’ve been entrusted with little souls to nurture and raise?!”

Our words hold great power.

With David may we pray, ” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

One Habit a Month: Spend Time Outside Daily

As you know, each month this year I’m focusing on one new habit that I want to become part of the fabric of my life. I’d love to have you join me! May is here and it’s time to tackle a new habit.

After tackling a difficult habit the past two months (limiting techy distractions), May’s habit will be fun: spend at least 15 minutes outside with the children each day.

In the early spring when the weather is mild, the birds are singing and the flowers bloom, spending time outside is easy. The warm spring air invites you outdoors with open arms.

As we head into May and the temperature keeps rising, it gets harder. Yesterday was swimming weather and today doesn’t look much cooler. Getting three little ones ready to play in the heat takes longer. The shade disappears sooner in the morning and I need to be more careful to protect sensitive skin from too much sun.

But it’s worth it. Not only are the munchkins much happier when they have time to play in the fresh air and run around in the sun, Mama is much happier too.

15 minutes isn’t very long, but it’s so manageable I’m confident we can make it into a habit. Plus, 15 minutes usually turns into an hour once we actually step outside!

What about you? Are you working on any new habits? Do you want to join me?

 

April’s Habit: How Did You Do?

Instead of Grand Resolutions for 2012, this year I’ve been working on implementing new habits that will help me become a more disciplined woman. For the past two months, I’ve been working on establishing and following technological guidelines.

The more I’ve sought to wisely use my time online, the more I’ve realized that time management is not something I’m going to master once and never struggle with again.


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I was specifically working on three aspects of online time management this month

  • Rework blogging “time budget” since my morning has changed. (Read more about time budgets in Tell Your Time.)

Our morning rhythm has changed, again. Not only are we exercising and eating a sit-down breakfast (which takes more time to make and clean-up!) but little Meg switched to just an afternoon nap.

These changes have been good for the family. Life with little ones is constantly changing. They grow, their needs change and the routine needs to adapt. Again. 

  • Set aside 20 minutes in the late morning while the kids play to do all the “quick” things like answer emails, pay bills, check Facebook, etc.
This makes such a big difference….on the days I can find the time! 
  • Avoid emails/Facebook during the first 30 minutes of “writing” time.

It’s so easy to get distracted rather than focusing on what I should be doing. Choosing to say “no” to the distractions makes the time online so much more productive. If I’m able to follow #2, it makes this last one much easier!

It’s easy to get discouraged. If this was the only habit I worked on for the entire year I doubt I’d have it completely conquered.

However,  it is been encouraging to no longer feel “addicted” to the web.

Yes, the routine keeps changing. Some days I still spend too much time online.

This is an area I will have to keep on working on. An area that needs to continually come under Christ’s dominion.

How about you? Did you do better with your habit this month? 

Linked up at Motivation Monday, Better Mom, Raising Arrows and Handful of Heart

Homemaking: a Noble Calling

As God weaves the threads of His story on this earth, He has given each of us a calling. He has entrusted women with a glorious, but daunting, calling: to build homes for His glory.

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Sometimes making a home is grueling work. The path is strewn with endless laundry, sleepless nights, stretched faith and missing socks.

Sometimes the world derides homemaking, claiming that homemakers are burying their talents and wasting their lives.

This is far from true!

As G.K. Chesterton so beautifully put it, “How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? …a woman’s function is laborious….because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.”

A simple homemaker wears a dizzying array of hats. Among them:

  • Chef
  • “Nurse”
  • Teacher
  • Hostess
  • House cleaner
  • Confidante
  • Baker
  • Missionary
  • Friend
  • Interior designer
  • Hair dresser
  • Nutritionist
  • Household steward
  • Therapist
  • Worshipper

Yes, a homemaker’s task is gigantic!

And, contrary to what the world says, the homemaker’s career is one of the most unique and freeing callings in the modern world. What other callings have the breadth of creative freedom that we homemakers enjoy as we build our homes?

Though God has laid down principles in His Word, homemakers have so much liberty within those bounds, from the activities we join to the menus we plan. From the skills we pursue to the decor we use.

Just like there are ten thousand types of flowers that uniquely showcase the wonder of God’s creation, so each “wisely-built” home is a unique mirror of His glory.

Each woman paints the strokes in the culture of her home. Your home and mine are gloriously distinct.

When blessed with marriage, we are called to be the glory and delight of our husbands. How that dance plays out from one godly home to the next is dramatically different.

When the patter of small feet fills the home, we are called to open a new world before the breathless delight of childhood. Yet the methods and materials we use to raise our little arrows in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” varies widely.

Building a home is no easy task. But as we seek God’s wisdom, let us embrace the incredible freedom He gives as we joyfully make our homes.

Linked up at Encourage One AnotherHomemaking Linkup & Women Living Well

One Habit a Month: [Continue to] Establish Technological Guidelines

Following technological guidelines was the habit I sought to cultivate in March. As I shared yesterday, I’ve still got a lot of work to do.

Blogging takes time.

When I first started to blog, I thought writing a post and hitting “publish” was about all there was to it. (Experienced bloggers, feel free to laugh with me!)  It didn’t take long to realize just how untrue that is.

Some days I’ll sit down to write and realize that there is a WordPress error that needs to be addressed immediately, a backup that wasn’t complete, a dozen encouraging comments I want to answer and two urgent emails. By the time I’m done, nap time is over and I have yet to type a title for a post.

I also started exercising more regularly in March and making a bigger breakfast, which changed my morning routine.

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In April, I’m going to keep on working on technological boundaries for myself. Much as I love blogging and the online community, my family and my home are my first callings. 🙂

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things,” said Peter Drucker.

These are a few ways I am going to try to make sure I’m doing “the right things” in my online time this month.

  • Rework blogging “time budget” since my morning has changed. (Read more about time budgets in Tell Your Time.)
  • Set aside 20 minutes in the late morning while the kids play to do all the “quick” things like answer emails, pay bills, check Facebook, etc
  • Avoid emails/Facebook during the first 30 minutes of “writing” time.

What about you? Will you join in our “One Habit a Month Challenge”? If so, add a link below or share in the comments. 

Linked up at Titus 2sdaysTeach Me Tuesdays Thankful Homemaker, Encourage One Another & Women Living Well Wednesdays 

(Full disclosure: Links to products in this post are my referral links)

 

March’s Habit: How Did You Do?

Once again, this is late. I’d like to think that the fact I hardly checked my email let alone blogged this weekend meant I was strictly following technological guidelines. It really just means we had a fun and very busy weekend! 

 Rather than focus on grand resolutions in 2012, my goal has been to work on one habit each month that will help me better fulfill my calling as a woman, wife, mother and/or homemaker. March’s habit was challenging: establish technological guidelines (i.e. stop checking my phone/email constantly!) 

Many of you joined me on that challenge. How did you do?

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This was by far my most challenging habit to establish so far. I failed multiple times.

I  wish I could say I’d fully tamed the techy monster. I haven’t.

Though it wasn’t a stunning success, looking back on the month, I realized it wasn’t quite as much of a failure as I thought either.

  • Following Amy’s advice, I’ve unsubscribed from dozens of email updates, which dramatically cut down on distractions.
  • Even when I know there are emails waiting, I don’t “have” to check them immediately anymore.
  • I’ve been more careful to make phone calls at good times of the day.
  • If I have “just a minute,” I more often color with Will, do a load of laundry, show Rose how to write a new word, or look into baby Meg’s eyes, instead of using those moments to “quickly check _____ online.”

Technology is a wonderful tool, but can so easily become a major distraction. March’s habit helped highlight ways that I could use the internet more wisely, without letting it control too much of my time. Since I still have so much to work on, I’m going to keep working on this habit in April.

What about you? Did you work on a new habit in March? Did you do better at it than I did? 🙂 

Linked up at Motivation Monday, Better Mom, Raising Arrows and Handful of Heart

Recommended Friday: Audio Lectures

Today I’m guest posting for my dear friend Jessica while she prepares to take her very first CLEP exam. She’s chronicling her distance learning journey on her blog Uncommon Student

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The ability to study when and where you choose is one of the many benefits of a distance education.  A resource we found invaluable for “redeeming the time” was audio lectures.

Audio lectures allow you to study while cleaning, driving, exercising or crafting… Follow me over to read the rest