We started our first day of homeschooling here this week, which has led to a few VERY busy days, but also very blessed days. Our first day was pretty rough, but yesterday was really a great day, and I’m looking … Continue reading
“I’d give up all the brushes in the world and my basic black skirt just to have her back. But some things you just can’t tie down.” – Beth Moore
Skimming through the book “Feathers From My Nest” by Beth Moore this morning. As with all her books, it’s an amazing read.
It’s a dreary day here today, and as I flip through the pages of this book, I’m reminded, even more so than normal, that the days with my girls are so fleeting. At the ages of just 5 and 4, I’m painfully and daily aware that these precious faces will all too soon be leaving our nest.
“Since the first day my children went to Mother’s Day Out, I dreaded the proverbial empty nest like a terminal disease. I literally collapsed on the mailbox when the school bus had the gall to kidnap my kindergartners.” – Beth Moore
And although I’m so achingly aware of the shortness of this season in life, there are still many, regrettably even most, days that I don’t make enough time to really soak up the precious moments offered today.
This past Friday, I wasted away nearly a whole day cleaning my oven. I’ll save you the time and tell you baking soda and vinegar really does not work that well to clean an oven (at least not an oven as dirty as mine).
I did eventually get my oven respectably clean, but the most redeeming part of my day was the hour break I took in the middle of this mess to really spend with my girls.
It’s a constant struggle for my distracted mind, but the moments when I completely detach from the world, and focus all of me on these girls…those are the moments that I feel completely overflowing with the love and grace of my Savior. Ahhh, yes…I can almost hear His whisper in the quiet of the wind.
We did a backyard scavenger hunt on what could arguably have been the best (weather) day ever, and somehow being out in all the glory of His creation made our time together even all the more awesome.
We finished the scavenger hunt with some swinging. Ain’t many things better than watching pigtails blow in the wind and little faces light up after saying “yes, I will push you on the swings.”
It’s never too late to start making more time for what really matters. Start today and then wake up and start all over again tomorrow. His mercies are new everyday. Praise God.
Here’s the scavenger hunt we used. It has a great outdoor hunt on one side, and an indoor hunt on the other side. The girls loved it.
Whatever you do today, keep God at the center, and commit to be all there.
Hugs ~ Sara
For my readers! Through July 4th use the code: 10OFF in my Etsy shop for 10% off any order over $6.99! This includes my complete housekeeping set and this wall art that went up today! Hugs ~ Sara
This week I’ve realized that as I’ve been working on these schedules and plans, I’ve been neglecting to live in the present.
I keep thinking “As soon as I just finish all these schedules, THEN I will be better.”
Unfortunately, we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. We’re only guaranteed the one moment we’re in right now.
SO I’m praying to find a better balance between working on the things that will help me tomorrow, and still giving my very best during every moment today.
I don’t want all this scheduling to become an idol in my life, instead of becoming a tool to help me be better (like I originally intended).
And this is my prayer for you too – that if you are also working on better scheduling and planinng your days, that you too can find balance, and determination to live your very best day today – even if you have no plan.
With Christ’s strength, we can do all things. ALL things. So chin up sisters. Keep your eyes looking up, and your heart in today, while we continue to work together on how we can be better every day.
All that being said, today is the third, and final part of the Essential Family Life Habits series. Today I’m going over the monthly, semi-annual, and annual activities to do with your family. Here they are:
Essential Life Habits for Your Family
- Eat dinner at your favorite restaurant – one night a month, have dinner out (and ice cream too) at your family’s favorite restaurant. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but picking a regular place can be a fun tradition that your kids will look forward to every month.
- Date alone with each child – one day or night every other month, have Dad take one child on a date, while you take your other child out. If you have more than two kiddos, rotate who gets to go on the dates each month. Again, this doesn’t have to even cost money! Be creative with what you take your kiddos to do (something they personally enjoy), but remember that what they will love the most is just getting to spend quality alone time with you!!
- Date alone with each child and spouse – every other month (alternating with the dates alone) try to also take your kiddos on individual dates with both you and your spouse. This could also be a good opportunity for your other kiddo(s) to have a special day or sleepover with their grandparents, if they live close enough.
- Spend time with other family – if you have other family members living close to you (siblings, parents, grandparents, etc.), visit them once a month. You could get together for dinner or an afternoon just hanging out, but make it a priority! If your family does not live close enough for monthly visits, make time to travel to see each other as often as you can.
- Kids’ sleepover with grandparents – my girls love to have sleepovers with their grandparents. It’s fun and important for them, your parents, and you! Occasionally having a night with your kiddos away can really help to refresh everyone!
- Volunteer – once a month, try to find a kid-friendly way or place that you can volunteer as a family. Here are some seriously awesome websites that will help give you a starting point and lots of ideas:
Semi-Annually & Annually
- Make Christ the focus of holidays – start by asking the question – why do we do what we do?? Are you following any holiday traditions simply because it’s what you’ve always done or because it’s just what our society does? Challenge yourself to research and think about why you follow the traditions you do, and whether or not you want to pass them on to your children. Be bold and create your own family traditions that make Christ the center of it all! I hope to someday blog much more about this topic, but for an awesome resource in the meantime, check out: “Creating Family Traditions” by Shirley Dobson – I highly recommend it!
- Give gifts to neighbors – this is an easy way to teach your kids to serve others. This year, the kids made bread and handmade cards at Easter, and fun baskets for May Day. They thought it was extremely fun to run the gifts to all our neighbors, and they got so excited when they saw everyone’s faces. One of the coolest parts was when one of our neighbors dropped off little thank you gifts and cards to the girls a few weeks later – they about peed their pants! 🙂
- Write thank you notes – I am honestly horrible, awful, terrible at this. I don’t know if it’s my short attention span or what for sure, but I just often neglect to write these important notes! There have been several times, in fact, where I’ve written almost all the notes, but by the time I get close to finishing them, I feel like it’s too late to mail them! Anyway, I know it’s important to thank people, and this is an old habit that I want to teach to my kids. I think next time we need to write the notes, I’m going to focus on keeping them simple, and sincere, and letting the kids do most of the work!
- Create regular family traditions – in addition to keeping Christ at the center of holidays, also work to create other non-holiday related family traditions that will create memories for your kiddos to remember when they are older. This can be as simple as having spaghetti for dinner every Friday, or reading books before bed every night. Think through the activities you already do as a family, decide which ones you could commit to do on a regular basis, and make a tradition out of them! Or, again, check out the “Creating Family Traditions” book for many other ideas.
- Go on a mission trip – once a year, try to do some bigger kind of serving/volunteering opportunity with your family. This could be overseas, or down the street…expensive, or free. For a super awesome resource, check out Adventures in Missions: http://www.adventures.org/
- Take a vacation – like a mission trip, you can make this whatever you want. It could be a trip somewhere, or a simple camping weekend in your backyard. Whatever it is, commit to not working for a whole weekend, or week…completely unplug, and spend some important quality time together as a family!
- Kids’ yearly doctor checkups
- Kids’ semiannual dentist visits
Here’s the recap of the complete habit list in case you missed it in the last two posts:
If you’re working on your own list of habits that are important to your family, here’s a blank template you can use.
Once you finish your list, I think the next step would be to use it to make a monthly family habit calendar, and then daily schedules.
I stayed up way too late the last two nights working on all of this (not smart)! I know it doesn’t look like much, but you know how things take WAY longer to finish when you’re half asleep?? 🙂 Here’s our monthly habit calendar for next school year:
And here’s a blank template if you would like to use it to make your own monthly habit calendar.
Then, when you fill out a monthly calendar at the start of each month, include all of your habits on it! Here’s a blank calendar for the month of July.
When I started working on our daily schedule for next school year, I decided our days vary enough that it would be easier if we had a separate schedule for each day. So far I’ve just finished our schedules for Monday. I did one for me, and one for the girls:
Here’s a blank daily schedule for you to use too 🙂
Remember when you do your daily schedule to include time for your daily cleaning chores…here’s a complete list of what to include.
That’s it for today. Remember to take all of this one step at a time. Work on it a little each day, and still make living for Jesus today your main mission.
Hugs ~ Sara
Looking for some Father’s Day gift ideas?!
The girls and I are working on their stuff today, so I thought I’d share some fun ideas.
Here’s what we did for their daddy last year:
We made this as a birthday gift for one of their grandpa’s, but it could also make a great Father’s Day gift:
Here are some of my favorite ideas for this year from other bloggers:
Hugs ~ Sara 🙂
I want to be better at doing the things that matter…better at intentionally living my life, and bringing glory to God in all I do.
I know the only way (at least for me) to have this kind of intentionality is to plan it. SO, I’ve been working away…writing, and praying – for God to show me what’s important – what to plan. I wanted to make a list of the most important activities to do as a family each day, week, month, year…
As I started to write it out I realized that to be better for my family, I have to first take better care of myself. So I decided to break my list into two parts: habits for myself, and habits for my family.
This post is part 1 of these essential habits that I really believe God is leading me to focus on, and I’m starting with the things we should do for ourselves. Even Jesus made time to rest, be alone with God, and take care of Himself, and if we’re going to follow Him, we need to take care of ourselves too.
So here we go sweet sisters. Stick with me…I really believe all these things are important for us…
Essential Life Habits for Yourself
- Bible/prayer time – start your day with a quiet time (alone) before your kids wake up. Study your Bible and pray – for your day, your family, and others. If you start the day with Jesus, it’s easier to stay focused on Him throughout the rest of your day.
- Plan your day – after your quiet time, or the night before, plan your day. Use a daily docket or planner to write out your to do list, daily cleaning items, and a rough schedule for your day. This will keep you on task, so you don’t get lost in distractions. Here is the agenda I use.
- Shower & get ready for the day – get dressed in something other than pajamas and fix your hair. When you get ready for the day, you will feel much more motivated to accomplish the tasks before you. Check out FlyLady for more helpful tips. She recommends dressing to shoes even when you’re staying home all day!
- Feed yourself healthy food – it’s easy to spend so much time preparing healthy food for your kids, that you don’t take time to feed yourself well too. Don’t make this mistake…eat plenty of fruits and veggies, and drink plenty of water!
- Daily cleaning/chores – schedule time everyday to do your daily cleaning tasks. If you run the dishwasher and do one load of laundry (wash, dry, fold & put away) everyday, you won’t get so behind that it feels impossible to catch up! If you missed it, check out my housekeeping post for a house cleaning list, and a schedule that breaks it down into manageable parts.
- Reply to emails/messages – set a specific time or times each day that you will reply to e-mails, calls, texts, etc. Don’t let your inbox become an all day distraction, but don’t procrastinate it either. Like the laundry and dishes – if you keep up with it everyday, it won’t overwhelm you. Here is an awesome article on essential e-mail habits.
- Free time – schedule time into your day to do the things that might otherwise be a never-ending distraction (social media, TV, etc.) It’s so easy to get sucked into these things, and lose countless minutes or hours doing nothing, but if you plan short times throughout your day, then you can still enjoy a little, without wasting your time away.
- 8+ hours of sleep – this is SO important. If you don’t get the sleep you need at night, you won’t be able to give your best to anything else. Go to bed early and without distractions – turn off your TV, and leave your computer and cell phone far from your bed. The radiation from your phone is harmful, and does not allow for a restful night of sleep. Also, try making your room as dark as possible – when you sleep in the dark, your body is able to produce melatonin, which works to prevent cancer and other diseases!
- Exercise – I don’t know about you, but I think exercising sucks. I really dread it, but once I’m done, I feel so much better. It’s crucial for your health, so make time for it – 3 times a week if you can.
- Review your calendar – before you go grocery shopping, take time to go over your calendar for the upcoming week. This will prepare and organize you for what’s coming up, and help you plan your meals.
- Plan your weekly menu – after you go over your calendar, plan your menu out. Here’s a weekly menu planner to print and fill-in each week.
- Update your master to do list – each week, print a new master to do list. Move some of your long-term items to this month, and some of your items for this month to this week.
- Weekly cleaning/chores – in addition to your daily chores, make time to do your weekly chores too. If you follow my cleaning schedule, you will only have to do about 2-4 weekly chores each day.
- Run errands – make a list of the errands you need to run, try to pick one day to get them all done for the week, and don’t get distracted! Go into each store, get what you need, and get out! 🙂
- Stay in touch with your friends – if you have kiddos, it can be so hard to make time for your other relationships, but it’s so important. Call, e-mail, text or Facebook, and connect in person. We weren’t meant to do life alone. If you study the Proverbs 31 woman, it clearly states that she had help! God made us to need each other, so take care of your friendships, and do life together!
- Prepare a monthly calendar – at the start of each month, fill out the plans you know you have, including regular activities like date night and time with friends (see below). Keep your calendar updated throughout the month as new plans are made. Here’s a monthly calendar and one for June if you prefer a paper calendar that you can hand write.
- Prepare your monthly cleaning schedule – print a schedule for the month, fill in the dates, and add your semi-annual and annual chores. For the month of June, try to wash your curtains and windows, clean your oven, and launder all of your rugs, pillows and comforters.
- Date night with your spouse – make it a priority. One of the best gifts you can give to your kids is a healthy marriage, so at least one night a month, get away alone. This could be a good opportunity for the kids to have a sleepover with their grandparents!
- Spend time with friends – make a point to connect in person at least once a month. Get together for a family dinner, a night out without the kids, or even a weekend camping trip. Sometimes it can seem like a big effort, but investing in friendships is so worth the time you put in!
- Finish a long-term to do item – each month, try to complete at least one task from your long-term to do list.
- Enjoy a favorite hobby – don’t forget about the things you loved to do before you had kids. Make time at least once a month to do something you really enjoy.
- Scrapbook/sort & print photos – set aside time each month to sort/file all the photos you’ve taken from the previous month. Print them, share them with family, and hang them up or get them in a scrapbook or album. By the way, my kids are 4 & almost 6 and neither of them have even one picture in their scrapbooks. If your kiddos are still babies, start now! 😉
Semi-Annually & Annually
- Prepare a yearly calendar – at the end of each year, prepare a calendar for the coming year with dates that you already have planned (kid’s activities, birthdays, vacation, etc.) Also, begin to schedule in important activities that you want to make sure you have time for – like dates with your kids (check next week’s post).
- Plan your budget – at the start of each year, make time to plan a budget. Check out Dave Ramsey’s website for tons of helpful forms, and all the info you need to get started. God shows us in the Bible that money is the root of many evils, so take the time to plan and be a good steward of all that God provides.
- Weekend away with spouse – pick one weekend a year to get away with your husband. You don’t have to go anywhere expensive – you could even stay at home and just plan some fun activities together – as long as you’re spending quality time without your kiddos!
- Join a Bible study – make an effort to attend at least one Bible study a year. You will learn new things from your group, and will benefit greatly from the fellowship time. If you have it in your area, I so highly recommend Community Bible Study – an interdenominational and national bible study that has an amazing children’s program, and the most awesome in-depth studies of the Bible that I have ever done.
- Read a book – decide to read at least one book each year – it increases your knowledge, keeps your mind sharp, and helps you improve yourself!
- Yearly doctor visit
- Go to the dentist
That’s it for this week. If you’re ready to start working on your habits too, remember to take it one step at a time. If you try to do it all at once, you will set yourself up for failure. Pray and then prioritize what’s most important for you right now, start there, and then begin to work your way down your list.
Also remember that this is my list because these are many of the things I am not doing. I feed myself terribly, often stay up until 2:00 am, wear the same clothes I slept in, and go months without making time for my friends. Not to mention that I’ve only been to the dentist once since my oldest was born 6 years ago.
So know that I’m doing this right along with you…working on the things that I want to become habits, and eventually change who I am. I want to give my best to God in all I do, to ultimately bring Him glory and praise.
Here is a summary of today’s habits, and a peek at the family habits that will be in next week’s post.
Hugs to you for the rest of your week ~ Sara
Gift tags to attach to a bottle of nail polish and give to teachers on the last day of school! Quick and easy – just cut the tag, punch a whole in the corner, and tie with ribbon!!! 🙂
I am SO sorry this post is late. I’m not sure why I thought I could finish all of these in a week, but boy was I wrong! I have been eating, breathing and sleeping these darn printables, but I’m so excited to finally have them done (after 5 years on my to do list) and to share them with you!
I recommend putting all of these in a home management binder OR on a cute clipboard.
Here we go…
Weekly Menu: the day before you go grocery shopping, plan out your menu. This will save you considerable time and money. Plan breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day of the week. Note any plans/events you have for each day, so you know what meals to prepare (i.e. if your kids have a sport/activity until late one night, you may want to plan something quick and easy OR have take-out).
Shopping List: add to your home management binder or clipboard, and keep track of items as you think of them. Here is the Word file, so you can customize your store names: Shopping List
Master House Cleaning List: I included every chore I could think of, and divided them up by frequency. Note the colors at the top, as they coordinate with the next printable. 🙂
Monthly Cleaning Schedule: print each month and write in the dates/month. This took me the absolute longest to finish, but I’m so excited about it! Each chore is underlined in a color based on frequency (see above)…the yellow underline indicates a once-weekly chore, and the blue a once-monthly. There are also purple and pink blanks for you to fill in 3 semi-annual and/or annual chores. At the bottom, I listed the daily chores to complete every day, and the annual chores broken down by suggested months. I put a ton of thought into how to split everything up, and make it the most manageable – I hope you like it 🙂
My Daily Agenda: fill one out at the start of every day, OR the night before. Copy over your meals from your Weekly Menu, and your Daily Chores/Other Cleaning from your Cleaning Schedule. Make your to do list, set a schedule for your day, and get to work! Stay focused and work as well and quickly as you can on each chore, so you have more time to do the most important stuff (like spending time with your kiddos). “Wherever you are, be all there!” ~ Jim Elliot
Master To Do List: this goes a long with your Daily Agenda. Print a new page each week, and try to move at least one item from your ‘Long Term’ list to ‘This Month,’ and a couple of items from ‘This Month’ to ‘This Week.’
Responsibility Chart: this one’s for the kiddos! Instead of paying them, have them complete chores simply because they are part of the family! Then you can also give them an allowance just for being part of the family. For my 3 & 5-year-old we do $0.25 for tithe, $0.25 for give, $.025 for save and $1.75 for spend each week. You can indirectly attach the chores to their allowance by paying yourself (with their money) for any chores they don’t complete. This is a blank chart for you to print, and write in your child’s name and chores!
Here is the Responsibility Chart we use for our girls. For age-appropriate chores for your kiddos, check-out this awesome list from Focus on the Family.
I hope to eventually share more printables for a home management binder, but this is all I could muster up for this week…I need to go take a shower AND a nap! 😉
If you’d like more custom options for any of these printables, visit my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/GraceByFaith
And Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there!!
*NEW UPDATE 9/12/15*
Monthly Cleaning Checklist: similar to my monthly cleaning schedule, but this checklist groups the chores by week instead of day, which allows for more flexibility in your routine! Pick which one works best for you and your home!
Hugs ~ Sara
Like it? Share the love!
“What I do know a lot about is why kids in Christian homes rebel. And although there are other reasons, one of the main reasons has to do with the way the average family goes about living the Christian life.” – Dr. Tim Kimmel
My bible study is having it’s last meeting tomorrow. We’ve read through the book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? by Lysa TerKeurst, the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries. The study is amazing, and I highly recommend the book. I have learned so much about how my relationship with God is what will determine my “success” as a mom. Even more so, I’m starting to grasp the fundamental truth that if my motherhood attitude does not absolutely reflect my love for Jesus, there is little hope that my faith will be passed on to my children. If my life does not look different than the world, how can I expect my kids to meet the reality of Jesus? To take hold of Him in their own lives?!
Lysa says that “In the book Why Christian Kids Rebel, Tim Kimmel explains that the number one reason children walk away from the faith is that they never see it make a real difference in the lives of their parents.” Wow. How amazingly convicting. So what do you think? Is our faith making a real difference in our lives? Do we look different than the world? Is Jesus just a part of our lives or IS He our life? Jesus needs to be the center of every single thing we do. We need to read our Bibles, pray in ALL things, relate our everyday events back to Him, and most importantly let our attitudes be a reflection of His life. What would Jesus do? Ask it throughout the day, and when we feel that desire to succumb to the sin inside us, we have to humble ourselves, stop, and ask Jesus to take control of that moment.
Here is an excerpt from Why Christian Kids Rebel:
“Unfortunately, we can experience a safe and successful Christian life without being passionate about the Lord…But our kids, especially our most honest ones, are looking for something more authentic. When it isn’t there, it’s easy for them to be drawn to other options that work against everything we’ve tried to teach them.” – Tim Kimmel
Going to church once a week is not enough. Believing in God is not enough. Even having all the answers – being a Biblical scholar – is not enough. These things do not describe a life of faith or salvation, and they simply will not impact the lives of our children. Take a look at what God’s word says our lives as Christian parents should look like:
Our church sermon a couple weeks ago was about parenting, and we were asked to think of the person who most influenced our walk with Christ. Most of the time, the people who impact us the most are the ones who are walking the walk…people whose actions match their words, whose lives reflect the beliefs they profess. So the question is, who will be the most influential person in our kids lives? Will it be us or the world?
During worship following our sermon, one of the men in our church came forward to bow in praise before His Lord, and shortly after, his teenage son came and sat next to him…put his hand on his dad’s shoulder, and worshiped with him. I wept uncontrollably. This is a family who is doing it right. A dad whose character and actions completely match his words. Because of the consistency in the lives of his parents, this boy has come to know the reality of Jesus in his life. This is the kind of parent I want to be. So that someday, if my kids are asked to recall who most influenced their walk with Christ, they might answer by saying their parents. This is my prayer…for my family, and for yours as well.
Certainly we won’t always get it right, and our words won’t always match our actions. We aren’t perfect, and we will mess up, but when we do, we still have the opportunity to show our kids the reality of Jesus by humbly confessing our mistakes, and asking for their forgiveness.
I’ll end with a quote by Lysa from our book, “I pray for the bad days to be erased and for the great days to be magnified. But most of all I pray that it is the reality of Jesus that becomes the bedrock of their souls.” Amen friends. Amen.
Prayer requests? Thoughts? Share them below!
We’re half-way through April, so I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite craft and gift ideas for the month of May 🙂
I love to do crafts with my girls, but I have to tell ya that it can also be a huge struggle for me. I constantly battle with perfectionism, impatience, and control, and none of these things are very helpful when you’re crafting with a 3 and 5-year-old. Thankfully, God is teaching me more and more everyday how to release these sins to Him, and focus on what brings glory to Him alone. Do our neighbors care or notice if their May Day baskets are perfectly cut out by a control freak mom? Do the girls’ grandmas want me to be the one making their Mother’s Day gifts? How about the kids’ teachers – do they want gifts made by me? No. Gifts from the kids are much more special if they’re actually from the kids. More importantly, whether or not every piece of paper is precisely cut into a perfect shape does NOT matter for eternity. Things like this do not glorify God, and so they simply should not matter to me. So this year I am resolving to let my kids help, to praise them for their hard work…and most importantly to enjoy their creations, and our time spent together…time that will all too quickly be gone.
This process of choosing joy over frustration, patience over perfection, and grace over control is not easy for me. I continue to take two steps forward, and one step back…but over time, God is leading me up an ever slow hill, that keeps bringing me closer and closer to Him. We made cookies this weekend. I started out with a great attitude, but as soon as I lost focus on just enjoying time with my kids, my patience began to quickly fade. Allison was licking flour off the counter, Kate spilled a 4 1/2 pound bag of chocolate chips, and I was giving in to my strangely irrational fear of raw eggs. I wish I would have taken pictures of these now funny and sweet moments, but instead I chose to feel frustrated and out of control. If I would have chosen instead to focus on glorifying God by extending grace to my kids, I could have created a time for all of us to just laugh and have fun, and for my kids to see Jesus in me. Next time, I’m going to start out with my camera, and just go into it knowing it might be a bumpy ride, but one that I want to end by taking two steps froward instead of that one step back.
Do you struggle with any of these issues? Take heart my friend, you are not alone. And praise God that His love is higher than any mountains that we face…it never fails, gives up, or runs out on us. Amen!
I’m excited to do some of these crafts over the next month with my kiddos, and I hope you might enjoy some of them too. 🙂 These are our photos from last year (when I was still hung up on cutting perfectly shaped flower petals).
End-of-year Teacher Gifts
Hope you enjoyed some of these ideas 🙂
Hugs ~ Sara