Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Goals Update for August

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I'm excited to have settled back into a more regular routine now that school is in session!  Hopefully that will help me meet more of my goals during September.

Here's how August went.

Spiritual
1.  Review two memory verse passages each month.  I plan to start back with this goal tomorrow.
2.  Send a note or e-mail of encouragement to someone every week.  I did this two weeks in August.
3.  Continue writing my "list of gifts" each morning.  Continued in August.
4.  Keep a prayer journal.  Continued in August.
5.  Start each morning listening to good music.  Still not totally consistent, but I've gotten better with this over the last two weeks.

Personal
1.  Read through my 2014 reading list.  I finished four of the books on my list last month, so I have 14 still to read this year.
2.  Take a cooking class.
3.  Devote 30 minutes a week to writing projects.  Did this once in August.

Family
1.  Continue monthly date nights for all.  My husband and I had a date and he caught up on the date he missed last month with our younger daughter.
2.  Do one specific thing to encourage my husband each week.  I only did this twice in August.
3.  Plan one special homeschool day each month.  Now that we are back in school, I'm already planning several of these!

Physical
1.  Exercise at least 20 minutes a day, 4 times a week.  Done in August.
2.  Eat 3 servings of fruits and vegetables at least 4 days a week.  Done in August.
3.  Follow along with Crystal's 12 Months to a Healthier You ChallengeAugust's challenge was to go to bed earlier, and I think I did well with that.  We tend to go to bed fairly early anyway, but we've definitely been more consistent with it lately.

Did you meet any of your goals this month? 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Salutes

Our 11-year-old with this stuffed bunny she sewed

I was moved to encourage my daughters in their relationship with each other by Rachel's words in A Relationship Worth Protecting.

Laura has some creative and inexpensive Activities for Preschoolers.

Susen shares a fun and educational Bottle Cap Letter Matching and Memory Game.

Stephanie has 10 Easy Hairstyles for Little Girls.

I made Katie's Cheeseburger Soup for supper on Thursday and it was tasty!  I'm sure it will become a regular meal for us this winter.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 29, 2014

6 Books I Read in August


My reading slowed down a bit this month, but I still finished four books that are on my 2014 reading list.

  • Not My Will:  How Much Will Surrender Cost?  by Francena H. Arnold.  When I put this title on my list, I thought it was a nonfiction book!  In spite of that, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It somewhat reminded me of one of my favorite books, Stepping Heavenward.  It describes the many challenges that a young woman faces and the effects that her willfulness has on others before she truly surrenders herself to God.
  • When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg.   Most of this book was inspiring and convicting.  Its focus was on living for eternity, not the present.  A couple of sections strayed into areas that made me uncomfortable, but the principles Ortberg teaches are very helpful.
  • What He Must Be...If He Wants To Marry My Daughter by Voddie Baucham, Jr.  While this book had some good content, it wasn't quite as practical as I thought it would be.
  • Becoming Your Spouse's Better Half:  Why Differences Make a Marriage Great by Rick Johnson

I also read two books that were not on my list.

  • The Light In My Window by Francena H. Arnold.  This was the sequel to Not My Will.  I liked the first book better, but this one was good, too.
  • The End of Dieting by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.  Eat vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds and you'll lose weight and feel great. :)

What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Using Descriptive Praise With Our Children

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We all like to be patted on the back.  Recognition for a job well done or commendation from someone who's noticed improvement in us is always appreciated and encourages us to keep doing our best.

As a mom, I need constant reminders to praise my children.  It's so easy for me to get caught up in what they need to correct that I forget to focus on the positive things that they do.

I've been re-reading portions of Different Children, Different Needs by Dr. Charles Boyd.  This valuable book helps parents understand their children's personalities and offers effective ways to interact with them.  One chapter includes the following three steps to descriptive praise.  I'm purposing once again to put this into practice!  Here's how the author characterizes it.

1.  Describe what you see.  "Hannah, you've done a great job cleaning off the dining room table."  My child knows that I recognize exactly what she's done.

2.  If possible, describe how you feel.  "I appreciate your working hard to make the room so neat." 

3.  Sum up the positive strength in one or two words.  "You were diligent about finishing that chore."  This is a big one for me.  It makes the praise about who my child is, not just about what she has done.  I want her to understand that she has specific character qualities that the Lord can develop in her and that she can use to serve others.

Do you use this type of specific praise with your children?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Parenting the Hard Way


Rearing children is one of the most amazing, rewarding, and difficult things we'll ever do.

Every day, we make choices when it comes to parenting our children.  Often, it comes down to choosing the easy way or the hard way.

When I've finally found five minutes to sit down and rest, it's easy to ignore my child's disobedience, but hard to get up from my comfortable seat and discipline her - for the tenth time today.

It's easy to turn on the television and let my children be entertained by whatever's on; it's hard to actively monitor our media choices and limit them to those that meet our family's standards.

After a long day, it's easy to get up from supper and hurry through the evening to bedtime.  Sometimes it's hard to be consistent with pulling out our family devotional book and taking the time to study God's Word together.

It's easy to excuse away my daughter's grumpy attitude, but hard to patiently correct her - especially if I'm feeling grumpy myself.

Perhaps it's easier to just raise my voice to get my children moving instead of taking the time to teach them what I need them to do.

It's easier to clean up their rooms and do all the household chores myself, but harder - in the beginning - to train them how to do it.

It's easy to put their happiness above making the difficult decision that's best for them, but will make them unhappy.

It's easier to let their disrespect slide than to confront them about it.

It's easy to let them go along with the current culture, but sometimes very hard to teach them to stand alone.

In America, it's easy to let them fall into a spirit of entitlement and ingratitude, but hard to show them how to be thankful.

It's easy to get discouraged at the challenges we face as moms and dads....but as we learn to bring our struggles and failures to God, seeking wisdom from His Word to lead our children, we can know that many times, the difficult choices are what is best for our children.  By His grace and power, we can have the strength to raise children who will bring glory to Him - even though the process is not always an easy one.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday Salutes

Our younger daughter on her first day of 6th grade

We don't host elaborate birthday parties for our girls, but even for a simple party, I thought Chris' 5 Basics for Throwing Your Child's Birthday Party were helpful.

Melissa tells us How to Decorate:  The Slow Process to a Style You'll Love.

Elsie shares Rule of 10:  An Easy Formula for Simplifying Your Wardrobe.

Kathie wrote a sweet letter to her daughter in 8 Tips for a New Mom.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 22, 2014

7 Tips for Speedy Suppers

Our older daughter on her first day of 8th grade

As we come to the end of this first week of school, I'm finding that the time between our arrival back home after picking up my daughter from school and our supper time - especially on days she has after school activities - seems very short!

While I've practiced these seven tips off and on over the years, I think I'm going to need to use all of them to keep our schedule running smoothly (unlike last night, when I underestimated the time our food needed to cook, which meant that we were all pretty hungry by the time it was ready!)

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1.  Plan ahead.  I was slack this summer about planning out a weekly menu.  No more!  My goal is to sit down on Saturday and write out all of our breakfasts and suppers for the coming week.

2.  Use the slow cooker.  This is one of my favorite kitchen appliances.  Here are some of my favorite slow cooker recipes.
Italian Pot Roast
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Chili
Spicy Shredded Pork
Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings
Crock Pot White Chicken Chili
3.  Allow yourself some shortcuts.  I'm feeling okay about using a few shortcuts while we get back into our school year routine.  For example, I normally like to make my own cream of chicken soup, but I'm using the canned version right now.

4.  Keep it simple.  This week's menu included hamburgers and BLT's - both meals that are liked by the family and easy to prepare. My goal right now is to serve a main dish along with a vegetable and/or fruit each night.

5.  Take a couple of minutes in the morning to look over the night's menu.  See if you need to defrost meat or chop an onion; do anything that will make it faster to put the meal together that evening.

6.  Multitask.  While I'm waiting for water to boil, I might slice some cucumbers to put in my daughter's lunch the next day or brown sausage for tomorrow's breakfast casserole.

7.  Factor in cleanup time.  One pot dishes (like Red Beans and Rice or One Dish Mock Chicken Pot Pie) mean easy clean up.  I also try to clean up as I go so that there's less to do after supper.  And it's yet another reason I love the slow cooker - I get most of my clean up done ahead of time!

What other tips do you have for getting meals on the table quickly on a busy night?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Through It All


As I wrote about way back in January, my word for 2014 is trust.

It's amazing when I consider the many situations in which I've found myself needing to trust God this year.  There have been "big" ones, like my husband's back surgery and our 8th grader returning to school this week.  (I've been praying throughout the day and trusting God to bless her.  I remind myself that He loves her even more than I do.  While I would wish a rosy path for her, I know that we usually learn more when we encounter struggles.  I don't want her to be weak in her faith, but to grow.)

There have been plenty of those small, daily challenges in which I'm trying to learn to trust God also.  He is faithful to give me opportunities to develop that trust!  Studying God's Word and planting His promises in my heart and mind are the best ways I'm finding to continue to grow in this area.

The words of this song remind me that it's often through trials that we truly learn to trust our Lord.

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave blessed consolation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.
 

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I’d never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know that He could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.


Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.


 ~Andrae Crouch

May the rest of 2014 find us continuing to trust God through the "ups and downs" of life!