On Recognizing The Good Times

I listen with slight irritation as my son sings his ABCs at the top of his lungs while he is supposed to be napping…

I’m sure any minute, he’ll come out of his room and ask me to tuck him in again.

     These are the good times.

Half-asleep, I swoop my baby girl out of her crib for the 3rd time in one night so she can fill her belly with Mommy’s milk…again.

     These are the good times.

My husband is working overtime again this week. He does what he has to do to make sure his family is taken care of, but I wish he didn’t have to work so much.

     These are the good times.

My kitchen is so incredibly tiny. It only has two drawers. Two! Who in their right mind builds a kitchen with only two drawers? I’ve seen much bigger kitchens in small 1-bedroom apartments.

      These are the good times.

We can’t afford to buy curtains or other decorations for our house right now. New clothing comes in the form of hand-me downs and gifts from others. Date nights are always at home. And I didn’t know it was possible for us to get our grocery budget so tight.

     These are the good times.

I’ve always had a tendency to be wishing for the next stage of life to hurry up and get here.

5th grade is going to be awesome. I wish 4th grade would hurry up and get over!

If only I was 16 so I could get my license and have some freedom!

I can’t wait to go to college. Life will finally be everything I’ve always wanted it to be. (um…not sure what I was thinking on this one!)

I love being your girlfriend and everything, but come on, babe! Hurry up and ask me to marry you already!

If only we had a house full of kids! Oh, how happy I would be!

Maybe you’re not like me, and thoughts like these never go through your mind.

Honestly, since it’s hit me that I’ll be exiting my twenties and entering my thirties very soon, I’ve gotten much better at not having this mind set.

Or at least I thought I had. Until I recently heard this story about a 96 year old man who wrote a beautiful song for his wife who had just passed away. In the song, the man reminisces of the good times that he and his wife had together.

     Oh Sweet Lorraine
     I wish we could do
     The good times
     All over again

I’m sure most of you have heard the story. It kind of went viral and was covered by national news. I’m sure that’s the last thing this dear man ever expected when he penned these special words to his wife of 75 years. But I’m so thankful that it did go viral! (Watch the video here if you haven’t heard the story or the song yet.)

The song is beautiful, and I think I cried for a whole day straight when I first heard it.

You see, I thought that I was finally over wishing for the next stage in life.

But this song hit me like a ton of bricks and made me realize that I really was still looking for better times in future days.

I want my daughter to sleep through the night so I can get some good rest. I want my son to take a nap every day, and obey the first time he’s told. I want to have a pretty house. I want it to be perfect, and I don’t want toys under my feet with every step I take. I want to have enough money that I don’t have to think about every single item that I put in my grocery cart.

These days with little people dependent on me for their every need…they can be hard sometimes. Not having enough money in the grocery budget to buy the food that I want to feed my family can be very frustrating. Looking at my unpainted walls, ugly kitchen counters, and 60′s tiled bathroom can be enough to put me in such a bad mood that I snap at those who matter most.

When are the good times going to get here?

When, oh when, will I finally be in the place in my life where I have arrived at “the good times”?

Hello, self! THESE ARE THE GOOD TIMES!

Cherish them.

Savor them.

No, they are not perfect. Yes, they can be challenging. But perhaps one day, you too will be singing the words, “I wish we could do the good times over again.”

The wet, sloppy kisses from sweet baby lips. The chubby, dirty hands that want to hold mine. The snuggles on the couch while watching Cars for the 24th time. The piles of dishes and loads of laundry that seem to be never ending (am I the only one who just can NOT get to the bottom of all of my laundry?!) The date nights spent at home with dessert and coffee on the couch.

Suddenly the less than perfect house, the almost empty bank account, and the walls without pretty pictures don’t seem to be quite as important as I thought they were.

Thank you, dear 96 year-old wise man, for the beautiful song you wrote to your beloved wife of 75 years. It was exactly what this late twenty something girl needed to wake up and recognize the good times.

——————————————————————–

This post was shared with Fellowship Friday at Intentional by Grace and Christian Mommy Blogger.

10 Ways I Fail at Homemaking (and 97 effective ways to improve)

When I was a little girl, I used to dream about having my own home to take care of. I was going to be a homemaker, and I was going to be a darn good one! Or so that is what I thought.

Like mothering, homemaking has turned out to be much different that what I expected. As romantic and exciting as I used to dream it would be, the simple truth is that homemaking has proved to be a challenge to me.

I spent 12 years in grade school and then another 4 years at college learning about all kinds of things. Math, science, music, literature, history…on and on the list goes. I was supposed to be getting an education that would put me ahead once I was out in the real world.

Ironically, in all that time of education, I learned very little about how to practically run and manage a household. You know the life skills that women actually need to survive in this world!

Whether you are a woman who works outside the home, a woman who works from home, or a woman who stays home and takes care of her children (or any combination of these!), the truth is that you are a homemaker. If you are anything like me, then you were less than prepared for managing all that keeping a home actually entails.

As modern day homemakers, we are met with unique challenges of the day and age in which we live. This is a fast-paced world, and we are faced with more responsibilities than ever before!

You might say that as modern-day homemakers we are faced daily with a juggling act that leaves us exhausted and wishing we were better prepared for all that life throws our way.

(This is NOT an exhaustive list, and these challenges are not limited to things pertaining to the house. They include things that I face in all areas of my life as a homemaker)

  • Keeping the house picked up and uncluttered
  • Implementing a cleaning/laundry schedule that I can stick to
  • Planning our menus and not rushing to figure out what to make for dinner every night at 5:00pm
  • Being intentional with fun learning and play time with my toddler
  • Budgeting my time wisely
  • Figuring out the balance of running a small business and working from home while still making my family my first priority
  • Spending intentional time investing in my marriage and loving my husband
  • Taking care of my appearance daily. My family deserves the best from me, and although I think it’s fine to wear sweats some days, I want to show my family I love them by dressing as well for them as I would for others.
  • Using my decorating talents to make my house a home.
  • Taking time to nurture myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. Taking time to rest.

These are just a few of the areas that I struggle in as a homemaker. These are just a few of the areas that I would like to improve in!

If you can relate to any of this, then I have something to share with you that I think will be an incredible blessing.

My friends Erin from The Humbled Homemaker and Stephanie from Keeper of the Home have been working like crazy over the past several months to put together an incredible resource for homemakers. It’s called the Ultimate Homemaking eBook Bundle, but to me it is really so much more than that.

To me it is 97 effective ways that I can educate myself and improve as a homemaker.

What is the Ultimate Homemaking eBook Bundle?

This Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is an opportunity for homemakers all over the world to have access to an amazing library of resources that they would never be able to afford otherwise.

Included in this bundle you will get the following:

There are so many items in this bundle that I will help me in learning how to be a better homemaker (in SO many different areas!). The truth is that I simply would not have been able to afford even half of these great resources without this bundle sale.

That is why I am so thankful for all of the hard work these wonderful ladies put in to put this bundle together. It has blessed me in such an incredible way, and I hope that it will be able to bless you and your family also!

 

 

 

What’s Included in the Sale?

When you purchase The Ultimate Homemaking eBook collection, you will get instant access to any of the 97 eBooks and eCourses listed below.

PLUS over $140 of FREE Bonuses

Each Ultimate Homemaking Bundle collection comes with more than $140 of FREE Bonuses from 10 companies that we know you’ll love. More on these bonuses below.

A FREE Two-Month Membership to Fit2B Studio, where their wholesome workouts for the whole family are tummy safe and particularly target Diastasis Recti (split abs). ($19.98 value. No shipping restrictions.)

A $15 store credit to TruKid. With products like their aware-winning sun care, they are dedicated to providing all natural skin and hair care for kids, babies, and now pets. ($15.00 value. Standard shipping applies. International shipping available.)

Your choice of incredible natural products like sea salt and clay for FREE. Choose from the Redmond Trading Earthpaste Bundle ($24.90 value) or the Facial Mud Bundle ($26.90 value). (Standard shipping applies. Continental US only.)

Your choice of a FREE heirloom sourdough starter or FREE yogurt starter from Cultures for Health, the leading supplier of starter cultures and supplies for making cultured and fermented foods ($12.95 value. US & CAN addresses only. Standard shipping applies.)

Your choice of: a FREE 3-Month Subscription (for new accounts) or 30% off a One Year Subscription. Plan to Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them. ($15.00 value. No shipping restrictions.)

A FREE Culinary Herbs Assorted Seed Pack Check just in time for spring planting from www.wheatgrasskits.com, a living whole foods company. ($11.95 value. Standard shipping applies to all US states and territories- no international shipping for seeds.)

Get $10 off Union28′s original “my husband rocks” tee. Their marriage apparel lets you celebrate your spouse in style. ($10.00 value. Standard shipping rates apply. International shipping available, but free shipping only available within USA.)

A $10 store credit plus 1 FREE lip balm from Bee All Natural. Their whole body products nourish and heal, and are made using only the highest quality, food grade, organic ingredients. ($13.49 value. Standard shipping applies. International shipping available.)

A FREE 2 oz. bottle of your choice of liquid herbal formula from TriLight Health. They specialize in fast acting, great tasting natural herbal remedies. ($12.95 value or more. Standard shipping applies, within the USA only.)

Your choice of 3 FREE ePlanners OR a 3-Month FREE Membership to ListPlanIt, whose mobile lists will help to organize your life. ($15.00 value. No shipping restrictions.)

The fine print:

Bonus Offers

  • Each bonus offer can be redeemed once only per eBook Bundle purchase.
  • For each bonus offer, transaction numbers or proof of purchase may be required at the time of redemption.
  • All bonus offers are free gifts from the bonus sponsors, are their sole responsibility to provide, and are subject to availability.
  • All bonus offers expire at midnight on May 19th, 2013 (2 weeks from the last day of this sale).

General

  • It is your responsibility to download and back-up your purchase within the 1-month download time-frame. With proof of purchase, we can renew download links up until August 1st, 2013. After this date we will no longer have access to the books and will not be able to provide any new links to download.
  • Due to the nature of this sale, there will be no refunds available. However, we would invite you to read our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about the file types, the download process, how the bonus offers work, etc.

 

 

 

Please note: This collection is only available from 9 a.m. EST on April 29th to 11:59 p.m. EST on May 4th. There will be no late sales offered, so make sure that you get your bundle right away!

Particularly for those wanting to read these ebooks on their mobile devices (iPhones or iPads, Android, Kindle, etc.) you will want to learn more about the file types, how to download them correctly, and how to transfer them to your device.

This post includes affiliate links, and I make a portion of the sale of each ebook bundle. Thanks for your support of this site!

A Surrendered Marriage Challenge

Do you have areas in your marriage that you wish could be improved?  Do you and your spouse have any issues that you just can’t seem to work out on your own?

Well, I am certainly no marriage expert; but I am certain of one thing – every marriage could be improved by the simple habit of prayer.

This is something that has been brought to my attention time and time again lately, but it’s still something that I personally feel I need to work on.  Sure, I pray for my husband, but I could do it with so much more intentional direction and focus.

That’s why I’m joining the Surrendered Marriage Challenge being led by Leigh Ann at Intentional by Grace.

What is the Surrendered Marriage Challenge?

Leigh Ann is teaming up with her husband Mark from Chasing Leadership, Nikki from Christian Mommy Blogger, and Jami from Young Wife’s Guide to bring us this challenge.

According to Leigh Ann:

The Surrendered Marriage Challenge will be a community event that will hopefully gather men and women from all over the world together in praying for their marriages. The Surrendered Marriage Challenge exists to encourage one another and keep one another accountable as we work to develop the habit of praying scripture for our marriages.

This challenge begins April 16 and runs through June 1.  Once you register for the challenge, you will receive a FREE prayer prompt ebook that contains daily scripture and sample prayers for you to pray each day of the challenge.

Why I’m Excited About This Challenge

I am much more likely to stick with a decision or a goal if I’m accountable to somebody else for being faithful.  That’s what I love about this challenge to pray for my husband – I’m going to be in a group that I’m accountable to for sticking with it for seven weeks.  After these seven weeks, I hope that praying intentionally for my husband has become a habit!

How You Can Join Me in the Surrendered Marriage Challenge

I would love to have you join me in this challenge to pray daily for our spouses!  What an exciting opportunity we have to lift our spouses up in prayer every day – an opportunity that I don’t want to miss out on!

If you are interested in joining me, you can read more details about the Surrendered Marriage Challenge from Leigh Ann here.  Also be sure to check out the Surrendered Marriage FAQ page to answer any further questions that you might have.  And, of course, don’t forget to register for the challenge here. The last day for registering is this Friday, April 13, so be sure to register soon!

This challenge is open for both women and men, so if you feel like this is something that you would like to do with your spouse, why not ask them to join too?  There will be men specific prayer groups where your husband can join if he is interested.

So how about it then? Won’t you join me in this seven week challenge to pray for your spouse?

 

When Life Hands you Lemons…God’s Making Something Beautiful

Sometimes life isn’t easy.  Sometimes “life” hands us more lemons than we can handle on our own.

We are always told that when “life hands us lemons, make lemonade”, right?  Well what happens when you don’t have the strength to make lemonade.  What happens when life hands you so many lemons that all you can do is sit and cry.  At times like these, it’s time to hand your lemons over to God.  It’s time to let Him take the lemons and make something far better than lemonade.

When we are overwhelmed…when our minds can’t comprehend what we’re facing…when nothing makes sense and crying our eyes out seems like the only available option…let God have your lemons.  Let God make something beautiful.  Because that’s what He does.

My Story

In January of this year, my husband and I learned that we were expecting our second child, due to arrive in early September. We were so excited and thankful for this blessing that God had given us!  We visited the birthing center where we were planning on delivering the baby and had a great first visit with our midwife.

Everything was going very well, but at thirteen weeks along I started having some signs that indicated a possible miscarriage.  Because of this, we went in for an unplanned ultrasound to make sure everything was okay.

As soon as I saw the screen from the ultrasound, I knew.  I knew that I should have been able to see more than what appeared on the screen.  I knew that I should be able to see something that resembled a baby.  I knew that I should see some movement going on.

But instead I saw no movement, nothing that resembled a baby, and nothing that resembled life.  My baby was already in the arms of the Heavenly Father.  Safe, sound, happy, and forever protected from the pain of this world – the very real pain that I was feeling so vividly at that very moment.

The tears started flowing as I tried to accept the reality that I would never get to meet our little baby this side of heaven.  They’ve flowed many times since that moment and they are flowing very freely now as I type these words.

As my husband and I have been grieving over the past month, I’ve realized, sadly, that nothing I or anybody else can do will ease the pain that we feel.  The only comfort that we can receive is from above.

As hard as it is to understand, I know that this is part of God’s plan.  As hard as it is to believe sometimes, I know in the bottom of my heart that God is in control.  As hard as it is to let go and let God do His thing, I know that He is making something beautiful. Out of my life.  Out of your life.  And out of all the hard things we just don’t get.

We may not understand what God is doing at times.  I admit that this is one of those times in my life.  If I had my way, my sweet baby would still be growing and thriving inside me right now.  But His ways are not my ways.  So I choose to believe.  I choose to have faith.

Because when life is hard and difficult to understand…when we feel like we’ve been dealt more lemons than we can handle…He’s at work…He’s busy making something beautiful.  Because that’s what He does.

(If you can’t see the video, please click here to view.  This is a beautiful song that encourages my heart every time I hear it.)

When You’re Feeling Love-Dry {A Date with Jesus}

Written by Ashlie, Contributing Writer

We all crave, want it, and need it – unconditional, unabashed and crazy love.

But, let’s be honest. Despite our best efforts, many times we come up dry. Even the most doting husband or most romantic Valentine’s date can’t fill us in a way that lasts. Life rolls in, bills pile up, trials ensue, and it becomes difficult to uncover the glorious in the mundane.

There have been times in my marriage when I have been up to my eyeballs in scripture, marriage books, and prayer trying to bring the spark back into our relationship. During one of those times, I felt the Lord gently whisper to me,

“If you would put even half of that energy into your love journey with me, you’ll have so much love you won’t know what to do with it!”

Since then, He’s slowly been transforming my perspective into a sweet love relationship with my Savior. He began to show me that the other relationships in my life, including with my sweet hubby, could only thrive if He and I are thriving. Because He is love Himself, and without Him, I have no love to give - I’m dried up and empty.

The past year has been a journey of truly allowing Him to not only be my Savior, but the One true Love of my life. Viewing my relationship with Him as a love story has changed my world. He is the author of romance, He rescues, sweeps me off of my feet, and there is always an exciting adventure!

I’m still in process, and His grace overwhelms me day by day as I stumble. But here are a few things I’m learning that help to keep that love ignited:

Read Your Love Letters

Have you ever thought of the Bible as a love letter straight to you? Sometimes it’s easy to read the Word as a message to the masses. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, God means for it to speak straight into my heart and yours in a personal way.

He could have left us in this life without anything to go by, but we are given an entire book of His very words. There have been many times I’ve complained about hearing nothing when I pray, when in fact, He’s given me pages and pages of His Words for me. Reading it with the same care and treasure that I would a love note from my husband puts things in a whole new light.

Write a Love Letter Back

Have you ever considered pouring out your heart to Him in writing? I’ve often told my husband that I love the notes he has written me because I know it took extra thought, and they are something I can go back to in reflection. We are made in God’s image, and He has emotions and feelings, too. He loves to hear from us!

Go On Regular Dates

 

I firmly believe that God’s grace and love towards us is so vast and wide that there isn’t a perfect “formula” for a quiet time. Yes, we should all read our Bibles and spend time in prayer, but that might look different for you than it does for me. But there’s one thing that is sure – He wants to spend time with us.

I like to view it as my own personal date with Jesus. What time of day are you at your best? What helps you to relax and connect? Perhaps it’s on a run with an iPod full of worship music, sitting quietly on your deck with a cup of coffee during the sunrise, on a drive to work, or while you’re doing dishes. Whatever it is – do it regularly. Pencil it into your daily routine – set the date, be there, and enjoy it.

Share Your Heart

I’m a very visual person, so one thing that has helped me tremendously in sharing my heart with Jesus is just to picture Him sitting in my living room on the couch across from me. We serve a God that is so holy and magnificent, and yet so up close and personal. He wants to hear our cries, our desires, our praises, and the deepest groanings of our hearts. Tell Him.

Be a Good Listener

Having a healthy love relationship means just that – a relationship. It’s difficult to keep things close when there’s only one-sided communication. Just as it wouldn’t last very far with my hubby and I, it’s hard to keep things fresh with God if I’m the only one talking.

Take time to sit, listen, and just bask in His presence. If you struggle with mind wandering (tell me I’m not the only one!), turn on your favorite worship music or go into a room with few distractions.

Trust and Don’t be Afraid – Come as You Are

Though we may not think of it in this way, many times we shy away from the throne room of grace because of fear. Fear of failure, fear that we aren’t good enough, fear of “doing it wrong”, or fear that we won’t hear or discern what the Lord is saying.

But when we meet with Love Himself, fear has no place and is totally irradicated. Can we embrace that? Can we trust that we don’t have to have things figured out or perfectly in place, but that we can just come as we are?

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us. ” – I John 4:18-19

I pray that if you’re feeling dry, you’ll step into the first date of a beautiful love journey with Him today. He always fills, and He never disappoints!

What do you do to keep your relationships with the Lord strong and fresh?

Ashlie is a wife to her high school sweetheart, mommy of two little girls, dreamer, thinker, thrift store shopper, recovering perfectionist, and sinner saved by grace.

Ashlie’s heart is to encourage fellow sojourners in the midst of her own struggles. Seeing others discover His vast love and grace makes her do a happy dance! She endeavors to seek God’s truth in the journey while finding His grace in the mess, knowing that at the end of the day, it really is all about Him.

She loves winding gravel roads, muddy romps, and country life, yet Starbucks, skinny jeans, and pedicures hold a special place in her heart, too. This creates a bit of a conundrum that she is still trying to figure out. Lovely word pictures, insane amounts of coffee, silly times with her family, and chocolate make her world go ’round.

Visit her at One Small Town Girl, where writing through her journey gives her a place to breathe. She tweets as @AshlieWrites and can be found on Facebook as well.

‘Tis the Season to Sing and Let Your Heart Be Touched

'Tis the Season..

As I sit here listening to a favorite Christmas song of mine by Steven Curtis Chapman, I am finding it very difficult to put into words what I am feeling.

The song is called All I Really Want for Christmas, and it has always touched a very soft and tender spot in my heart.  I honestly can’t listen to it without tearing up and feeling a hurt in my heart for the millions of children who will spend Christmas day (as well as every other day of the year) without a family to call their own. 

Listen and Let Your Heart Be Moved

Please listen to this song and let your heart be touched for the approximately 143 million orphans in this world.  Imagine yourself in their position.  Be thankful for your family.  Hug your children.  And maybe…reach out and change the life of a child who doesn’t have a family to call their own.

If you can’t view this video in your email or RSS feed, please click here to watch and listen.

What the Bible Has to Say

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.  Matthew 25:40

For more information, stories, and resources, visit 143million.org

Be sure to visit the other two posts in this series:

‘Tis the Season to Sing When All You Hear is Silence @ The Humbled Homemaker

‘Tis the Season to Sing Really Loud Even if You Can’t Carry a Tune @ Intentional by Grace

And lastly, this is not a post in our series, but it is a wonderful real-life story of adoption that I read this morning with a lot of great resources and tips. Adoption: Our Family’s Story

Come back next week for the last post in this series: ‘Tis the Season to Submit!

Do you have a favorite song that touches your heart every time you hear it?

‘Tis the Season to Celebrate His Birth

'Tis the Season..

Joy to the world!  The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and heaven and nature sing.

What is Christmas? Is it decorating trees with bright lights and shiny ornaments?  What about the catchy Christmas music that plays in all the stores?  Is it exchanging gifts with those we love?  Could the true meaning of Christmas be something more than all of this?

The funny thing is, I’ve known from a young age what the true meaning of Christmas is – a time for us to celebrate the birth of our Savior!  And yet, if I am honest, I’ve always placed the emphasis of Christmas on other things.

As a child, it was about the presents.  I’m ashamed to admit this now, but Christmas usually brought out the selfishness in me.  Every year I was always thankful for all the gifts I received…but if anyone could have see my heart, they would have seen wishes for more toys, more clothes, more gifts, more things.

Once I became older and I was married, my emphasis moved away from me and what I received on Christmas.  The desire that I had to receive so many gifts disappeared.  I mean that’s not what Christmas is about, right?  I was old enough to realize this now.  Instead it became about spending time with loved ones and giving gifts to them.

However, even though I no longer had selfish desires to get, get, get, and was focusing on love, family, and giving – my focus still wasn’t in the right place. It still wasn’t on Christ.

As a Christian, I know what the true meaning of the season is, yet how were my actions showing that?

My husband and I have been talking a lot lately about Christmas and what it will mean to our family.  It is the birthday of our Savior. How will we celebrate?

We’re still trying to sort through the details of how we will celebrate as a family.  We want to prepare our hearts for Christmas with things like Advent and the Jesse tree.  But until we get it all figured out, here are four ways that we have decided to celebrate His birth.

Worship Him

True, sincere worship is such a sweet thing.  It brings me closer to Him.  It makes me aware of Him. It opens my eyes to my depravity and to His grace and glory.

I want to celebrate Christmas by worshipping the King. I want to sing to Him, praise Him, thank Him, and open my heart and my life to Him.

Love Him

“Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.”  How true this is!  Christ loves us without condition. He’s always loved us and showed that love to us by coming to the earth and dying for us.

I truly cannot comprehend this love, yet the more I become aware of this amazing love, the more my love for Him grows.  It’s a contagious kind of thing!

I want to celebrate Christmas by relishing the fact that Christ loved me enough to come to this earth.  I want to celebrate Christmas by receiving His love and letting that love grow in my heart.

Serve Him

What better way to celebrate the birth of Christ than to serve Him.  He allows us to serve Him, by serving others.

This Christmas I want to celebrate with service.  I want to slow down from my busy life and schedule and show the love of Christ to others.  I want to step out and find practical ways to serve others this Christmas.

Give to Him

When others have birthdays, I give them presents.  When Christ has a birthday, what do I give Him? I read an article this week by Ann Voskamp that spoke to me and convicted me:  Whose Birthday is it Really? It’s worth the read.

I want to celebrate the birthday of my Savior, by giving to Him.  It is His birthday after all.

Be sure to visit the other two posts in this series:

‘Tis the Season to Celebrate – In Heaven @ The Humbled Homemaker

‘Tis the Season to Celebrate When You Don’t Feel Like Celebrating @ Intentional by Grace

Come back next week for the second installment: ‘Tis the Season to Sing!

This post has been shared with Raising Homemakers and Making Your Home Sing Monday.

How do you celebrate the birth of the Savior?

‘Tis the Season to Serve: 7 Practical Ways to Serve Others This Christmas

I’m so excited to announce a 4-week series for each Monday until Christmas: ‘Tis the Season! I’ll be joining Erin @ The Humbled Homemaker and Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace in discussing the true meaning of Christmas. Today our topic is ‘Tis the Season to Serve. 'Tis the Season..

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year.  On top of the normal, everyday duties, there is also extra shopping to do, gifts to wrap, food to make, decorations to put up, and parties to attend. Whew…just thinking about it can wear me out!

With all of the busy-ness of the season, it’s no wonder that serving others can often get put on the backburner.  But I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Messiah’s birth, than to show His love and humility to others!

Serving others doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or even a lot of time.  Although both of those things are ways that we can express the love of God to others, we can still show His love without being rich or having tons of extra time to give. 

As with all areas of my life, I find that if I am intentional about serving others and have a plan of action, it is much more likely to actually happen

That’s why I am planning on doing several of the things of off this list of seven practical ways to serve others this Christmas season (or any season!):

1. Offer to babysit someone’s children while they are preparing for Christmas.

Give a friend a time that you would be able to watch her children, so that she can shop, cook, wrap presents, decorate, whatever.  A set block of time with no little ones in tow will allow your friend to get a lot accomplished.  This is a great way to be a big blessing to someone without spending any money.

2. Keep small gift bags in your car to give to homeless people at intersections.

Buy small gift bags and fill them with personal hygiene items, food items (such as nuts, granola bars, dried fruit, etc.), and small clothing items (such as mittens, socks, scarves, etc.).  When you see a homeless or needy person out on the street, you will be prepared to give them something that they can actually use and will be so grateful for.

It is very easy to pass judgment on these type of people that we see walking on the street or standing at the intersection.  I’ve done it myself, unfortunately.  But we have to remember that they are real, live people with feelings, needs, and emotions just like you and me.  And when we reach out and show love to them, it’s the same as though we were doing it to Jesus!  Wow – what an opportunity and an honor!

3. Replace one present to each of your immediate family members with a donation to your favorite charity on their behalf.

We, as a nation, are struggling economically right now – that’s no secret.  Yet, we still are richer and have more than most of the world’s population could ever dream.  Most children will receive more presents this year at Christmas, than other children in the world will receive in their whole life.

What if we replaced one present to each family member with a donation to a charity.  Compassion International is a wonderful organization that does so much to care for and help so many people.  Maybe as a family this year, you could pick a child to sponsor

You could still wrap this present of a donation up and have your children open it on Christmas morning.  Children are very giving people, and they will love this – especially if they have pictures of another child that they know they are helping.  This is a great opportunity to teach your children about loving and giving to others.

4. Pick out a missionary family or soldier overseas to send a care package to for Christmas.

I can imagine that if I were in another country with a strange culture at Christmas time, I would feel a slight tug at my heart, longing to be home with family and friends to celebrate Christ’s birth.  Do you know any missionaries or soldiers who are overseas this Christmas? 

Put together a small box full of small gifts, food, cards, and pictures.  Let them know that you are thinking about them and praying for them.  This might seem like a small act of kindness to us, but it will be so big to the ones receiving the boxes.  It may be the only thing they receive this Christmas, and it will be more encouraging than we could ever think.

5. Deliver a nice, prepared dinner to a needy family.

Lately, I have been trying to make an intentional effort to make a double portion of our dinner every so often, and then deliver the extra portion to a friend, neighbor, or someone I know is in need.

Sometimes, I complain to myself that there isn’t enough money in our food budget, when in reality, we eat better and more often than most people in the world.  How selfish of me!  Reaching out and sharing what I have with others does wonders for making me thankful and grateful to God for everything that I do have. 

Knowing that a delicious, healthy, already prepared dinner will be the highlight of some people’s Christmas season, really puts things into perspective for me.  It also fills my heart with love and compassion for those less fortunate than myself.

6. Write letters of love and encouragement to your friends and family, as well as those who are lonely and hurting.

To receive a handwritten note in this day of email, facebook, and twitter is a rather rare thing.  And even though I love receiving encouraging emails from others, it still doesn’t compare to when I receive a handwritten note or a card full of loving and encouraging words.  There is something special about holding a letter in your hand, written by someone who cares for you.

On top of our friends and family, who would love a sweet note of love from us this Christmas, there are also so many people out there who are lonely and hurting.  Think of widows/widowers, orphans, the elderly…those who have lost a loved one.  A sincere note of love would do more to encourage their lonely hearts than we might think.  The power of kind words is very real.  

7. Invite someone who doesn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with, to spend the day with you and your family.

Do you know anyone who is going to be spending Christmas alone this year?  A college student away from home?  An elderly person with no family?  While they might act like it’s okay and it’s no big deal, the truth is, they would probably love to be around others and share in your celebrations and traditions.  Invite them to spend the day with you and your family!

When Christmas day arrives, and they are at your house, treat them just as if they were a part of your family.  Make them feel welcome and at ease.  If you exchange gifts, have some small but meaningful gifts for them as well.  Love them, serve them, and have fun with them.  This will be one of the most special Christmas years that they ever look back at.

________________________________________________________________

This is just a little list of seven practical ways that were laid on my heart of how I can serve others this year at Christmas time. Most of these things can actually be done all year round.  Letting Christ show His love through me, is such an amazing thing that continuously fills my heart with more and more love for others.  I don’t reach out nearly as often as I should.  But the more I do reach out and give, the more I have a burden to love and help others.  That is a vicious cycle that I want to be a part of!

Be sure to visit the other two posts in this series:

‘Tis the Season to Serve with Little Ones @ The Humbled Homemaker

‘Tis the Season to Serve Like Saint Nick @ Intentional by Grace

Come back next week for the second installment: ‘Tis the Season to Celebrate!

Do you have any other ways to serve others this Christmas?

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours

On this day that our nation has set aside as a day of Thanksgiving, I pray that you will find true joy in all of God’s blessings.

I am fortunate enough to be able to spend the day surrounded by my amazing family.  We’re starting the day out with our traditional pumpkin pancake breakfast, enjoying a lazy afternoon, and then having a feast tonight with extended family.  I am so thankful for all that I have been blessed with!

No matter how you are spending your Thanksgiving, I hope that you are able to feel God’s blessings and give Him thanks!

So, from my family to yours…HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Finding Fulfillment in Everyday Tasks: The Most Important Little Things

Sometimes, I get very discouraged with how my days are spent.  I spend the majority of my time each day changing diapers, cleaning up spills and messes, playing peek-a-boo, cooking, and cleaning.  I’m sure you know the drill.

All of these “non-important” jobs often seem tedious and almost meaningless to me.  Mundane tasks have a way of wearing on me, and to be honest there are days that I have a hard time getting through my everyday chores. 

I would rather be out changing the world, than wiping little handprints off the coffee table.

I want to make a difference in this world.  I want to help others.  I want God to use my life!

I desire these things so strongly, that I am sometimes left feeling unfulfilled by my current role as wife/mother/homemaker.  Do you ever feel this way?

The Truth About “The Little Things”

This type of thinking that I am prone to – that what I do as a stay-at-home mom doesn’t matter – is quite dangerous and couldn’t actually be farther from the truth!

The truth is that I am making a difference in this world.  I am helping others.  And God is using my life!

I must realize that when I spend my days doing the dishes, cooking for my family, and cuddling with my son, that I really am doing the important things.  These little things do matter.  These little things are for God’s glory, and they actually matter a lot.  Especially to the little life that God has trusted to my hands.

The following is one of my favorite quotes.  It brings tears to my eyes and really helps me to put things into perspective and have a better attitude.

“To the whole world you’re only someone,
but to someone you’re the whole world.”

Wow.  I need to be reminded of this daily.  My child’s world is much smaller than my world.  The impact that my life has on his is real.  To have such a great influence over another life is exciting, humbling and overwhelming all at once.

The little things that I do everyday are huge to this young child.  I am his only mother.  I can choose to resent that role or I can choose to embrace it.  The choice is up to me.

I want to share this song by Steven Curtis Chapman that has been so encouraging to me when I feel like what I do doesn’t matter.

I continually pray that God will keep my perspective right in this matter.  I certainly need His grace as I spend my days doing the little things that really, truly do amount up to big things!

*Note: If you are reading this in an email or feed reader, you may need to click over to the site to view the video.

Do you sometimes feel like your everyday tasks don’t matter?  Isn’t it great to know that they really do!

This post has been shared with Simple Lives Thursday.