Sunday, July 2, 2017

Babies and Books

This is a stack of books I've read or am currently reading in the last 2 months. Because when you have a newborn to feed what better to do than to devour books!

Peter Hessler is a journalist who knows how to keep your attention. While this book would be labeled as non-fiction it truly reads as easily as a fiction novel. Drive deep into China with Peter Hessler while learning about daily life in China. The driving rules are hilarious and scary, the daily life of peasants is sad and eye opening. Two other books by Peter Hessler that are on my shelf waiting to be read are, "Oracle Bones" and "River Town".

Yes, this is the famous Julie Andrews from Sound of Music, and Mary Poppins! She wrote a delightful book about an orphan named Mandy who spends her free time at the orphanage sneaking away to a deserted cottage and fixing it up. I think this is every girls dream!

"Indian Captive" was recommended to me by a friend and will definitely be going on my 'school' bookshelf. It is based on the true story of Mary Jemison's capture by indians and her early years of living with them. After reading the book, I want to know more about her later years of life- she stayed with the indians for the remainder of her life.

 I am presently reading "Caddie Woodlawn" The review on the back of the book by Jim Trelease says "You take Little House on the Prairie; I'll take Caddie Woodlawn." Caddie is spirited and lively and deserves a review like that. This book is based on the true story of Caddie Woodlawn and her life in Wisconsin. She has gotten into more trouble (or adventure) in the first few chapters than my 4 year old has in the past year.

This is a beautiful and large book of Children's poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson. Here is one of the poems from the book. (And the illustrations are gorgeous also!)

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing 
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall, 
Till I can see so wide, 
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the Countryside - 

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown - 
Up in the air I go flying again, 
Up in the air and down!

I've read this book before and even mentioned it here before. It's a wonderful book to read during the newborn days, family changes, and times when you feel overwhelmed with parenting. It only takes a paragraph, a chapter, or a phrase to chew on for the day.

I just finished this book today. It is very short, but so on point. I think it would be a good read even if you weren't planning on homeschooling your child. The Unhurried Homeschooler is only 8 short chapters and my favorite part are the 'think about it' questions at the end of each chapter. It would make a great book for group discussion among homeschooling moms.

What are you reading right now?


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Priorities and Prayer

Last night I misunderstood my husband while he was praying. He said Prioritize, and I heard Prayer-tize. By the end of the word I knew what he had really said, but it made me pause a think a moment. What a perfect way to summarize how we ought to be planning our day.

Our priorities usually get mapped out by what would be the most beneficial, or what would hurt the most if we missed. If you work from 9-5, then you will prioritize your day to make sure you are at your job site from 9-5. Priorities are important. The way we make and keep priorities is apart of our character. Remember this though; God's timing is not the same as our timing. God has a life long perspective and a pure motive. Laying out our priorities should come through prayer. Setting aside time each day to ask the Lord what he would have you do today, could radically change your priorities.

Prioritize prayer and prayer will prioritize your day. 

The Bible has so many passages on prayer, because it is a core part of our relationship with God. We read our Bibles to learn God's will for our lives, and we pray to communicate our needs, rejoicings, and gratitude to God.
I John 5:14, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us."
When our hearts are searching for God's will, God will direct. If you think your day is yours to handle, then you don't understand the personal, and detailed God we serve.
I Chronicles 16:11 "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always."
God desires our attention all day. Not when the going gets tough or unbearable, but each moment, starting from the beginning.

How do you set your priorities for the day? Who is in charge of your day? your world? 


Saturday, January 28, 2017

I Think I Missed Something

When you look inside yourself and realize you have nothing to say. You've turned off your thinking brain, your curiosity brain, and you have turned on zombie mode. You go about your day to day life not making an effort to impact others, or better yourself, but simply to do, move, check off.

Our world is good at getting us isolated, turned off, and whitewashed. If you go with the flow, you don't need to think. You will be told what is fashionable to wear, what the most popular places to eat out are, the hottest new T.V. shows to watch and what time they will be on, you will be coached on what extra curricular classes your child should be apart of and when practice and games are, you will be guided in what foods are "healthiest" to purchase or the fastest to make, the grocery ads will tell you what stores to buy from, and social media will keep you updated on your friends lives and all of the above mentioned as well.

Do you ever get to the end of a day and wonder what just happened? Do you ever get sucked into the social media world and wake up 2 hours later? Do you ever celebrate a birthday and wonder what happened to life and all of the dreams you had?

First of all, most people think this in some way - you are not alone. Second, it's never to late to start fresh, change your mind, and change your life. You can't start over, but you can start fresh. Today! The number one thing people are looking for in life is purpose.

Our purpose comes from God.

 "So, wether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do ALL to the glory of God. "
I Cor. 10:31

Your purpose is to glorify God with your life. Once you find purpose in your life, you are off on a whole new journey. You are working God's agenda, instead of your own, (or the world's). You have a mission, you have instructions, you have the tools you need. 

But what if you understand what you need to do, but don't have the will power to do it? What if you want to lose weight, be a better mom, clean your house more, eat at home more, get a different job, take up that hobby again, but you just don't have the motivation? 

1) Learn to say NO. People get pressured into doing, doing, doing all the time. It's not only okay to say no, it's good! 
2) Break it down. I can not acquire a new job tomorrow, but I can find my old resume' tomorrow. Break down big jobs into "next steps" What is the very next thing you need to do to get to the ultimate goal? Do you want to read your Bible more consistently? Step one might be to find your Bible, or print off a reading plan. small goals can take as little as 2 minutes! 
3) Talk it out. Talking out loud about problems will help you get unstuck. If you have to, talk to yourself - out loud. But just talking with people will keep a broad prospective on situations. Talk to your waitress, talk to your grandma, have a debate with your best friend. Get thoughts moving, and your gears working. You can not solve problems on your own. 

You need bookends to keep yourself from burnout. You can not say I will run everyday for the rest of my life. You will fail. 
Instead say "starting on Tuesday I will run for 15min. 5 days a week for 1 month." 
You now have a bookend; a start, and a finish. Place small goals inside of large goals. Set up rewards for yourself. Essentially some people need to place themselves back in the Pre-K class at school. Make a chart, give yourself stickers if you have to. Don't make a big deal out of simple process, there is nothing new under the sun. Take it at it's most basic process and run with it. 

Don't waste your time trying to be different, but expect that life will be different, and you will more than likely be treated different. 

Does this resonant with you at all? Does some small part of you say, I've missed something, somewhere, and I need to wake up to _______? 

Where do I start?
You have already started! You're questioning what you are doing! You might be questioning why you are doing what you are doing, or maybe you are questioning the process in which you are doing it. Next...
1) write down your struggles
2) write down your end goal
3) write down your next step (to reaching that end goal) 
4) find someone to talk to - to bounce idea's off of. 
5) Make bookends (and create rewards if you need them) 
6) Don't forget your ultimate purpose - Glorify God! 


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Reading - What to look for.

How do you read? Speed read for need? Cozy couch snuggle up book for fun? Reading to your kids because they won't stop asking? Whatever you're reading don't zone out - or give up. Look for these things in whatever you are reading.

1) Expand your vocabulary. Wether you already have a large vocabulary or just know the basic slang, you can learn new words. Keep an eye out for words you've never heard, or words you've never quite understood, or even words that you know, but see them used differently. (maybe in a different era of history)

2) History. Speaking of history, we all know that history repeats itself. So anytime you are reading something with history in it, you can learn from what others have learned (or NOT learned) before you. Biographies are a favorite of mine and a great way to watch history cycles and compare them to things I am dealing with today.

3) Life Lessons. Wether you are reading fiction or non-fiction they are all written by real people who have to use real situations. Some can get pretty radical (sci-fi, fantasy) but they still have to pull ideas from somewhere. Ask yourself - what would I do in this situation. What would my attitude and actions be like? Examine yourself and learn.

4) Character Traits. Along the same lines as life lessons, are analyzing character traits of book characters. Learning to place yourself in comparison to them, judging character (good or bad), learning to not make quick judgement of others, asking yourself if you have any of these traits.

5) Take it with you. Write down quotes that inspire you, or help you remember a book or situation. Share them, read them, post them on your walls. Be a book nerd!

What is your favorite genre to read? What is something you learned or a quote you jotted down?


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

3 Helpful Christian Apps

I'm always on the lookout for better ways to use my technology, More ways to go from doing good, to glorifying God. Here are three new apps that I think you will find helpful and enjoyable.

Modern Homemakers 
Here is the website, you can access the podcasts from there or your app store.

Donna Otto runs the Modern Homemakers podcast and reminds me a good bit of Elisabeth Elliot. She was actually friends with and featured on Elisabeth Elliot's radio program. She has a sweet soft spoken friendly voice and wonderful Biblical advice, especially for young mothers.

Below is what the podcast app will look like.

Abiding Radio
Go here if using a website  or look up "abiding radio" in your app store.
Below is what the app icon will look like.

This is a live stream radio broadcast with 5 channels,
Bluegrass Hymns

First 5 - devotional 
You can find it here and directly in your app store
The app icon will look like this

This app is apart of the Prov.31 ministry led by Lysa TerKeurst. In this app you can set a reminder alarm to go off each morning and pop the app on your phone. It is a 5 minute devotional meant for the first thing in the morning.

If you found these helpful, I'd love to hear about it - as well as any other similar apps and websites you use.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Finding Silence

I've been overwhelmed with the noise of life. There is always something to think about, to prepare for, to clean up, to take charge of, to listen to, to be on time to, to mend and heal...There is always something to make noise in my life.

I like noise to an extent, I like crickets and frogs at night, I like the sound of my daughters giggles, the sound of dinner being made and plenty of other things to bring good feelings to a tired body and mind.

Silence is one thing that humans struggle with. We like action films, active sports, parties full of people, background music, podcasts, etc... we like things to be happening, it makes us feel accomplished, and brings "happiness" to our lives long enough to make us want more noise. Essentially we think that noise = happiness.

William Penn said... "True to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment." 

I think we have a hard time understanding true silence because we look for it in the wrong places. We think zen, or meditation. We think new age music and candle light. Or maybe we think of complete silence and maybe a dark room, but have a brain that won't shut down or focus. When we get to the point where our brain is no longer under our control to turn it off when it's time to sleep or mediate we are in grave danger.

Most people wear many different hats. I know I do...
I am a:
Mother to a toddler
Daughter to my parents and my husbands parents
Lawnmower, dishwasher, laundry doer, household CEO
Grocery shopper, mealer planner, and maker
Direct Sales Consultant for Usborne Books & More
Sporadic Blogger
Even more sporadic seller of crafts
church and Bible study participant
Gift buyer and wrapper
animal feeder
bill payer, mail getter,

So when I lay down at night I understand the meaning of " I just can't get my brain to slow down". I make lists that never seem to hold all of the information, I work all day but never finish the work, and by the end of the day there is still plenty to remember and plan for.

When I am in charge of the day I have a lot to plan, do, and control, when night rolls around I can be frazzled, worn out, and grumpy, BUT, when God is in charge of my day, I go about what I feel is necessary and turn when God chooses a different path for the day. When night rolls around I have accomplished everything I needed to.

The inability to turn off your brain at night or even put it in order during the day is a lack of trust in God. You are worried you will forget something important. You are worried that you won't be able to sleep and you'll be too tired tomorrow. You are worried that you've let someone down today because you didn't get everything done on your list. You are worried that you won't have enough time tomorrow to do all the urgent stuff and then what about all the other stuff?

Phil. 4:19 "And my God will supply EVERY need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

First off, we need to recognize our needs. I need God, I am dependent on God, I need food, sleep, and water to survive, I need to trust in God, and give him glory. Anything past that is not a requirement for the day. So when I worry about keeping other people happy, and checking things off my list I am bringing unneccesary hardship into my life. Yes we have responsibilities in life, yes we have children to take care and jobs to clock into, but those fall under trusting in God and giving him glory. Going to work with a smile on your face and doing your best is giving glory to God. Making food for our family, and hugging scraps and bruises fall under giving God glory. Caring for what God has put into my possession with a happy heart and good attitude is glorify God. Living up to other's excpectations, keeping up with the latest craze at work, fashion, or child training is not. Adding pile upon pile of work, worry, and noise is not pleasing to God, or healthy for you.

I think William Penn founder of the Quaker lifestyle has some good points to consider...
Principles of living a simple life:
1) Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status
2) reject anything that is producing an addiction in you
3) develop a habit of giving things away - de accumulate
4) refuse to be propagandised by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
5) learn to enjoy things without owning them.
6) develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.  (and the Creator I would have to add) 
7) Look with a healthy skepticism at all 'buy now, pay later' schemes
8) obey Jesus' injunction about plain, honest, speech
9) Reject anything that will breed oppression of others.
10) Shun whatever would distract you from your main goal.

I think you could take some of these the wrong way in life, but you could also use them to benefit yourself in the area of "noisy living".

What are going to do today to Find Silence?


Monday, July 18, 2016

T.V. Time

Electronics are taking over the world. We play with them, work with them, talk on them, text on them, video chat on them, make money on them, lose money on them, watch them, ignore them. So unless you've given up your t.v., cell phone, iPad, radio, and everything else in this large category you might enjoy this reminder.

1) Never make yourself/child finish a movie.
  - if it's stupid, inappropriate, or you've run out of time, just walk away.

2) Do something during the movie
  -  play with toys/ do handcrafts/ color a picture/ fix something that's broken.

3) Set time limits/ turn off a show before the next one come on.
 - we all know that T.V. shows are geared to pull you into the next one! Don't fall for it!

4) Make "no electronic" zones...(ex. dinner table, vacation, bedrooms)
 - T.V. time is not bonding time anymore. (if ever).

5) Don't watch T.V. alone (whether it's on your phone or on the big screen)
 - you watch more T.V. when you are watching alone, and will turn off inappropriate material less often when no one is there to keep you accountable.

6) Make yourself/child step away from the T.V. when something necessary comes up.
 -  Don't cater to the commercials or the show, keep people and priorities first.

7) Turn the T.V. off when company comes. (unless they're there to watch it)
 - This is especially important for children - to teach them respect and priorities.

I tend to use movies as a babysitter, while I'm working on the computer or need some alone time. But it's better to teach your children to work along side you, and to have a quiet time of their own (Even if they don't nap anymore) Like usual it boils down to our consistency and our perseverance in teaching our children, and the continual battle of  discipline for ourselves. There are plenty of research articles out there that prove that watching T.V. or using electronics to zone out are not relaxing or beneficial for us mentally, emotionally, or physically.