Making My Life a Little Easier…

It has been a challenging month at our home. From a bout with insomnia to multiple sick bugs. I am always thankful for the little ideas that the Lord graciously puts in my head for making my life a bit easier as I strive to faithfully manage my home and care for my children. When you are feeling stressed…don’t forget to simply pray for wisdom in how you might simplify your life. Our God cares even about the little mundane things in life. He is able to guide you and direct you to simple solutions for your every day needs. He is always gracious to give me little ideas and every little idea helps towards fulfilling the bigger picture of pursuing intentionality in every area of life. Here are just two little ways He guided me in making my life a bit easier this week…

Bring the dishes down to the kids level. I have an awkwardly designed kitchen that leaves me with very little lower cupboard space, so I finally determined to move my pantry stuff around a bit in order to give me a portion of the cupboard that I could move all my dishware and cups for storage. In this manner, the kids can now upload the dishwasher and put all the dishes away because it is all within their reach. This makes the unloading more of a manageable task for them. They can also set the table independently. So my 4 year old and 2 year old can fully participate in our kitchen management now.

Train the kiddos to wash their hands independently with a good step stool. We have had a tiny step stool for awhile now but it was nearly impossible for my littlest guy to wash his own hands independently. I would have to pick him up every time and often would be lazy and not do it at all. ;( Not a recommended practice. This week I found a tall step stool at IKEA for only $15. This stool enables the littlest child to wash their own hands. It also is tall enough for my daughter to help wash the dishes with me.

I love being able to equip my children to work independently and be little helpers at the same time. One less thing for this Mommy to do…;)

Comments { 29 }

A Way Through the Wilderness: Your Home Management Binder

Written by contributing writer, Trina Holden at All That Is Good.

Are you overwhelmed? Are you constantly making lists but never getting closer to your goals? Are you drained by the constant need to prioritize your time, yet fearful that if you let your mind rest, something will leak out?

I’m with you, girlfriend.

By the time I had my third child, I began to fantasize almost daily about hiring outside help. Unfinished projects, unfolded laundry, and dirty dishes filled my time and had me constantly struggling to stay on top of things. I thought, “If I just had help, then I could do it all!” And doing it all was what my prideful heart wanted most.

One day the Lord opened my eyes to how pride was at the foundation of many of the goals that were overwhelming me. In His graciousness, He not only showed me what I needed to let go of, but also led me to some habits and strategies that brought more peace and productivity to each day. One of those strategies was to create a home management binder.

Since I have built my Home Management Binder and been using it daily, I feel like I have space to breathe even in these demanding years of little ones, sleepless nights and tight budgets. Menu planning is simpler when a template waits next to a list of our favorite meals. Big goals are getting chipped away at with small, daily progress. And I’m relishing the satisfaction I have when I live with my priorities in clearly before me.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

If time feels like your enemy or you feel like you are not making progress toward your true goals, I’d encourage you to take your days before the Lord and ask Him to show you what is most important. Then perhaps you’d like to create a Home Management Binder as a place to record what He speaks to you.

Creating Your Home Management Binder

What you need…

  • The Binder – you probably already have one lying around you could re-purpose. Two inches is a nice thickness to start with.
  • Dividers – can be as simple as an old file folder, cut down the spine and hole punched, or you can get fancy with Avery Plastic Dividers with Pockets.
  • Pages – a combination of lined paper in each section, awaiting your notes, as well as plastic page protectors to hold printables.
  • Pens – I use wet erase pens to write on the page protectors.

Time to Build. A binder that actually works for you needs to be custom made to your family’s needs, goals, and schedule It’s best to look around a bit to get an idea of how you want to organize yours. Check out these gal’s binders or my pin-board for inspiration…

I order my binder by my roles (wife, mother, homemaker, writer, etc.) and put them in order of their priority in my day, thus my binder acts as a constant reminder of what I really want to focus on. Within each section, you may jot down goals, books to read, ways to grow in that area, and printables you find to help you schedule and plan.

Printables…a gal’s best friend. I love printables! They take half the brain work out of planning and scheduling, allowing you to simply fill in the blanks.

Daily To-Do List. Finally, you should be sure to include a daily to-do list. I drafted my own with space to jot down food prep, phone calls, emails, errands, and household chores for that day. I have two weeks’ worth of daily lists printed and slipped into plastic sleeve holders. This way I can jot down something I need to remember to do next Tuesday on that page, and remind myself to take the meat out of the freezer for tomorrow night’s dinner on today’s page. Twice a month I sit down with a wash cloth and wipe down the previous weeks’ activities to prepare for the weeks ahead. Here are some great daily to-do printables…

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Prov. 16:3

Once you’ve created your binder, keep it out where you can see it and use it! After a few weeks, if you aren’t using a printable, ditch it. If the rhythm of your family changes, be sure to update your binder so it continues to be a relevant tool for organization and bringing focus to your days. And regularly take your binder before the Lord and ask Him to help you prioritize. Be encouraged that our God is one who makes a way through the wilderness – He can guide you through your busy day as well!

Comments { 21 }

Screaming Babies & Praying Mommas

by contributing writer Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry.

Finding God’s balance for motherhood and ministry is sometimes a difficult (and continually changing) tug-of-war; but I believe the struggle is healthy. As a homeschooling mother of seven, I place a high priority on God’s calling to care for our own children; however, I also feel a call of God’s heart for the needs of world missions. Multitudes across the globe desperately need God’s salvation and millions of orphan children are in need.

God cares about my kids and God cares about the lost. As a mission-minded mom, how can I keep these two “pulls “on my heart in balance — in a way that will truly please the heart of the Lord?

Most of the time, just doing another load of laundry, or drilling the kids on grammar, or reading a bedtime story . . . doesn’t seem very important. But God sees the big picture. He highly esteems motherhood and He values a faithful mom who is willing to lay down her “big dreams” . . . to serve her family.

At the same time, He sees the lost and the reality of heaven and hell. The blood of Jesus is the only way of salvation and the “unreached” must hear the gospel. Over 1.6 Billion people are still waiting to hear of the cross. According to UNICEF, there’s a minimum of 143,000,000 orphans in the world and many of these children are in desperate need. Unsaved people. Unborn babies. And so many real-life needs.

How can we balance this two-sided pull?

 

“Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”

―Hudson Taylor, Missionary to China

 

The “healthy” motherhood & missions tug-of-war

If you’re a mission-minded mother (a Christian mom with a heart for others), I’m sure you’ve felt this tug-of-war between motherhood and ministry. Our children need to know that we love them; but they also need to know that we have a heart for others. Our kids need to know that we care about their needs, but they also need to know that they’re not the center of the universe, and that others have needs too. Finding the balance can be a struggle; but I believe the process of finding God’s daily divine balance is a healthy evaluation process, both for ourselves and for our family.

We all face this struggle . . .

Perhaps the phone rings, and your friend begins pouring our her heart about a desperate situation. Maybe a fragile marriage is falling apart, or someone at church was just rushed to the hospital. These needs are real, and often urgent. How do we find the right “combo” for each day, and each season of our lives? How do we balance these pressing needs with the ongoing “everyday” needs of our own family?

This personal testimony of “The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies” is from one of our Africa mission trips years ago. The story has continually reminded me to seek the Lord’s divine calling for each day. I have found that the key to finding God’s balance is to stay in communication with God through prayer; however, He sees the full picture of both motherhood and ministry.

God sees the world’s needs, and He also sees the needs of our children. He can help us to see both in His divine daily balance, and God can speak to us . . . as a mom.

The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies

About five thousand women gathered for a week of ministry, teaching, and worship. The accommodations for our East African village conference were humble. Bamboo awnings covered with tarps provided shade from the hot sun, and most of the women simply brought straw mats for sleeping. Many women also brought little children and nursing babies, whom they cared for as they listened to the sessions.

One morning, I got up and took an early morning prayer-walk, and I was blessed (and challenged) to see hundreds of women gathered for a time of fervent prayer.

As I walked quietly behind the group, I noticed a few women who were praying very hard and loud, but then I noticed that these women were totally oblivious to the needs of their little babies–sitting with bare bottoms in wet little puddles in the dirt, screaming at the top of their lungs. As I watched for a few moments, I wondered what God thought about their fervent prayers. One by one I picked up the babies and tried to help them stop crying, handing each one to his or her momma.

Later that day I shared with the women about the importance of balancing our ministry with our family priorities. Yet I was also challenge on a personal level.

How many times does God see my own out-of-balance efforts, like when I’m at work on the computer or busy with a mission project–and my little kids are plopped down in front of one-too-many videos?

I want God to hear my prayers, and I want my efforts to be actions of obedience. I need to keep balanced; but it’s not a one-time solution. Every day, we need to come to God to allow Him to tune each string of our instrument. Each heart-string needs to be stretched to just the perfect sound . . . that will be pleasing to the heart of God.

Let’s pick up our babies and love them.

And together with our kids-in-tow, let’s get a family-vision for world missions!!!

“Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.”

–Proverbs 4:26

Comments { 41 }

The Heavenly Work Before Me

There have been repeated times in the past few years where I have struggled with the “what if’s” of my past. What if I had continued to pursue a college degree and not gotten married so early? What if we had waited longer to have children? What if I pursued an active career? I see other couples waiting five years to have children and feel a bit of discontentment creep up in my heart because I wonder what it would have been like to have such freedom. I’ll be honest and confess that it has been a great struggle in my heart. This job of motherhood is so hard. It’s hard to get up and care for little ones when I am lacking serious sleep. It’s hard to train them with grace and patience. It’s hard to embrace their neediness with joy.

The Lord has been gently working on my heart as I am currently mediating through Ephesians 5:15-17, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

What does God have for you? I’ve found that what God desires me to embrace is often right in front of me. It’s not way out there. It’s these little hands and feet He has called me to nurture. It’s this strong man that He has called me to support, cheer on, and follow. The will of the Lord is for me is to delight in, to embrace where He has me right now. When I doubt that, I am walking foolishly. I’m mocking his plan. He has called me to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. It may not have come in my own timing, but it certainly has been His timing (Proverbs 16:9).

THIS, right HERE…is what God has assigned for me. The fullness of my womanhood is experienced in embracing these tasks with intentionality. We truly only have one life to live, it will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last. To walk any other way is to walk blindly, foolishly.

I’ve experienced such fear, doubt, and lack of value because I’ve focused on what this culture exalts, rather than what God truly values. What did Jesus embrace? Jesus welcome the little children (Luke 18:16). He chose the humble, the weak, and gave them beauty and value (even when his culture looked down upon them and tried to send them away).

THIS WORK…this is heavenly work. He said they were what the Kingdom was made up of. He embraced the weak…not the intelligent, educated, and religious people. Jesus said to love the little children is valuable. It is beautiful. It is His work. Even with all it’s messes and challenges. He never promised it would be easy, but He did promise that this is the work of the Kingdom, and what we do to the least of these, we do for Him (Matthew 25:40). If this is the season He has called you to, then being faithful where you are is the best use of your time.

What you do sisters in your homes has beauty and value. It was what Jesus exalted. Don’t waste another moment thinking about the past, or what you’ve given up. It’s a waste of the precious moment you have in front of you.

Comments { 115 }

Listen to the Quiet :: A Daily Pause for Moms {part 2}

Written by contributing writer, Daniele Evans at Domestic Serenity.

So we’ve talked about just why rest is important and what true rest includes.  A time for reflection and for leisure, this daily rhythm of separating morning work from evening work by a 15 to 30 minute pause is quite beneficial to our days.

I didn’t always practice this.  Like several commenters in the first post, I felt slightly guilty.  But, I was approaching it all the wrong way.  Instead of thinking ‘I deserve this’, my mentality shifted to ‘God created rest for me and wants me to enjoy it’.  The truth of that statement led me to further study God’s example and commands to pause and rest in regular intervals.

The result was a fresh appreciation for God’s design and a new desire to honor His ways instead of my own.  A daily pause is one way to stop the work, reflect upon God’s goodness and refuel a little.

Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:

PREP & PLAN AHEAD

Remember the first step is to believe this pause is a priority!

Assign a time to your rest :: this doesn’t need to be exact, unless it’s helpful to you, but even to the hour such as ‘sometime between 3-4 p.m.’

Decide if anything needs to be adjusted :: what will the children be doing?  are there other chores usually done now that should be moved to morning or evening? Figure out potential hindrances and work at adjusting the routine in order to pause.

A note about children:  I’ve found following the lead of the youngest child’s needs helpful.  Whether you follow a consistent schedule or a more open routine, babies and toddlers usually have some pattern of napping in the afternoons.  Arrange for other children to enjoy quiet time or a nap themselves while you pause for 15-30 minutes.

Note from Lindsay: With three little ones you may agree that it can be challenging to get them all to nap together. But I can testify that with a little work, it is possible. My two older ones nap/rest between 1-3pm each day (anywhere from 1.5-2 hrs). To get my infant to rest during the same period, I shorten her morning nap and waken her by 11:30am (which adjusts as she grows), so that she has a sufficient awake period before she gets tired again when the older two go to sleep. During the transition period from two to one nap, I try to stretch the baby and endure a little extra fussiness to be able to put them down again together. It’s worth it. Sometimes this might include putting the older ones down 30 minutes earlier. Every day is a bit different, sometimes this rest period is shorter or longer, but overall it is worth the effort when your house is full of little ones. My mom always encouraged me to keep a good nap routine as long as possible (I remember my siblings napping till they were 6 years old!).

Designate a space :: find a spot in your home (or outdoors!) that feels restful; I like going to the same place each day — the couch or kitchen table.  Resist the temptation to clean while you’re there!  Also gather all you’ll need to enjoy:  a pen, journal or other paper, book you’re reading, knitting or other handwork, etc.  Place these in a basket or container and have them ready so time is not wasted searching.

Remove distractions ::  say no to the phone, voicemail, email, social media, etc.

ENJOY THE MOMENTS

Decide on a treat :: a cup of tea or coffee, a sweet…something that feels like a treat to you!  Or maybe resting in itself is the treat?

Light a candle or play relaxing music :: okay, this is not a necessity but simply a way to separate these moments from the rest of the day.  I’ve also found it helpful for my children to know when Mommy’s time is up — when the candle is blown out!  No music handy?  Try David Nevue’s station on Pandora.

Reflect on the morning :: for a few minutes, celebrate 2-3 things that went well; I’d encourage writing these down in a journal or notebook.

Rest!  Either physically by taking a power nap or by enjoying a leisure activity.  You might want to set a timer, most of us can’t take the whole afternoon!

Need some resources for keeping your kids busy during a quiet rest time?

- Check out these quiet time bins (with great ideas for keeping your kiddos playing quietly in their own space after they have transitioned out of taking naps)
- More ideas for quiet time bins
- Invest in a CD player with headphones and allow them to listen to books on tape (many great classic books can be borrowed from your local library for your children’s enjoyment)

So, what you do think — possible?  Feel free to add other ideas or thoughts.

I bless you with restful, rejuvenating daily pauses!

photo credit

Comments { 13 }

How to Wash All Your Laundry in One Day

Yes, it’s crazy. But why not be gutsy and give it a try with me?

With this method, you can get all your laundry out of the way for the entire week. You won’t have to think about it again. It will be folded all at once saving you plenty of time and energy. And your little ones can join in the fun and learn some life skills at the same time.

Things you will need:
A timer (a basic kitchen timer will do or set up a reminder/alarm on your phone)
7 + pairs of clothes for each person in your family (to last a week between washings. We have 7-8 outfits per person with a few extra for the kids for those messes that always come!)
Several sturdy laundry baskets (different colored baskets is nice for sorting for each child or bedroom)
A fun family movie to watch while you fold the laundry together
And the willingness to move quickly

Start first thing on the desired day of chose. I personally prefer Monday morning as it helps give a nice jump into my week. After I am dressed and ready for the day, I get to the laundry room. Begin by hauling all your laundry to your laundry room and sort by colors. Whites (simplify by including white sheets and towels) coloreds, darks (to this jean load I add dark towels) towels (separating bath towels, kitchen towels, and cleaning clothes). I also have a load of cloth diapers. Begin your first load.

This is key: Set your timer for 1 hour. (the Reminders app on the iPhone/touch device works very nice because you can easily change the time with the same reminder throughout the day, but any timer will do).

Continue with your regularly scheduled program.

When your timer goes off, immediately transfer your load into the dryer and add the next load into the wash. Hang any delicate clothes to dry as needed (we hang all my husband and my shirts and dresses and our cloth diapers). Dry clean only clothes can easily be washed in a delicate cycle and then hung to dry.

Include your kiddos in the process. They love transferring clothes from washer to dryer, and sorting clothes teaches them colors and patterns. Plus they are learning basic life skills!

Repeat your timer for 1 hr.

Continue this cycle until all your clothes have made their way through the system. In this manner you can wash upwards of 10 loads a day. I currently wash 6-8 loads every Monday for our family of five.

Lastly, at the end of your day you will have a huge mound of wonderfully clean laundry! Don’t get overwhelmed. Embrace it. It means you are warm and well clothed and God is supplying all your needs.

Have fun with your folding load by snuggling up as a family and watching a fun family movie together (we are currently enjoying Little House on the Prairie). Include everyone in the folding process. Even the little ones can fold towels and help sort into the individual colored baskets. Having a colored basket for each person or room can make the restocking drawers/closets process much easier.

Once clothes are folded and sorted, deliver them to their destinations. You may wish to unload the next morning as we often do. Don’t worry about ironing. That can wait till the next day. If you have a husband like mine, he would appreciate it ironed and hung in a timely fashion. It is just one way to show him I love him without a word.

That is our basic process of washing all our laundry in one day! It leaves us with a clean laundry room for 5-6 days out of the week and our clothes are clean and we don’t have to worry about staying on top of laundry all week long. Just one little way to simplify my life.

It’s really not so crazy after all…do you think? I’ve been following this method since we were married and it continues to work with 3 busy kiddos! A precious moment saved to be used to invest in something more important.

And don’t worry…if it doesn’t work for you, then don’t stress. There is grace for your laundry pile! It will surely get done when it is needed.

Note: We do prefer to hang out all our laundry when possible to conserve electricity, but that is really only doable in the summer months here as it rains throughout the rest of the year. ;) We also usually wash a second load of cloth diapers sometime later in the week for our baby.

Comments { 134 }

The Journey to Becoming Radically Thankful

My kids and I recently discovered a sweet story at our library titled Sweet Beauties by Elvira Woodruff. It is the story of a young girl named Darcy in Ireland in 1845 during a severe famine. She notices the beauty of a spider web dipped in dew across her milk pail and the towering castles formed in the clouds. She stores up little treasures she finds in nature in the hem of her dress, from pebbles to dried flowers. Despite the loss of their potato crops, their home, and their eventual immigration to America, she is the one who continues to treasure the gifts around her and bring hope to her family.

I began a journey nearly 14 months ago to become a radically thankful woman (thanks to the inspiring read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp). In this process, I have recorded over 900 sweet and precious gifts that I have seen in the everyday mundane moments of life. I have witnessed a merciful God display His glory through the simple beauties around me. There have certainly been times when I didn’t feel like recording my gifts. There were many a night when I struggled to sleep, was crying out for mercy, and the Lord gently reminded me to count my blessings. I opened up my list and began again. There have been many a day when everything seemed to fall apart, and yet there was still grace on display to be observed.

I have observed the treasures of…

…the joyful giggles from my little girl

…the ability to dream

…taking a nap in the sunshine

…my daughter’s sweet attempts of catching snowflakes on tongue

…the warmth of a down comforter on cold winter nights

…the blue dawn to awaken my body in the morning

…Daddy snuggling up with little ones reading stories

…The ability to extend nourishment to my child at my chest

…Seeds lying dormant beneath my feet preparing to sprout in a few short months

In the progress of this journey, my heart has been radically changed. I have been less susceptible to discouragement and depression. I am less inclined to a spirit of negativity, which is my destructive pessimistic self. I am enjoying life at a whole new level. I am seeing how precious and sweet this life is. There are gifts to be discovered in this adventure, even amid the trial and pain.

Being a loving mother can be such a challenge, but when I stop and pray for eyes to see the treasures, I will be able to dig deep in God’s goodness, and see the cute dimple on my baby’s cheek even amidst the late night feedings. I can see the sincere blue eyes and gentle reminder “It’s okay, Mommy”, from my daughter’s lips even when I am crying in frustration at my failure. I become more free to throw out the to-do list and romp around with my little ones and treasure the moment.

Being a supportive cheerful wife can be one of the most difficult pursuits especially when you may think he has made a stupid decision or he has thoughtlessly forgotten your request or overlooked your need. But when I stop and pray for grace to see, I see a faithful man who diligently provides for all our needs. I see a man that will love me to the day I die. I see a man who willingly romps around with the kids playing dinosaur, dragons, and hide & seek even after a long day of work.

This journey has been hard…but so good. It has been a gift of grace in my life. It has been a gentle reminder that I have only one life to live. I want to make every moment count for eternity. It has caused me to slow down, to observe, to express my thanks, and to see the joy of the Lord abound in my heart.

I cannot stop. I am a work in progress. I still have my days. Today, I am losing my voice due to a cold, my miserable attempt at a craft project with the kids ended in disaster, my little man (who was potty trained 7 months ago) continues to have frequent pee-pee accidents when he gets distracted or excited leaving me beyond frustrated. But when I stop, rest, reflect, and observe, I see the gift of the blessing of staying home to nurture my little ones, healthy food to nourish our bodies, a daddy close by to help in a disaster, and three little munchkins who never cease to make me laugh.

This year my goal is to record 1,000 gifts over the duration of this year on top of my 900+ list. I want to have a record of 2,000 gifts by the close of 2012. Care to join me on the journey? Ready to find true joy among the mundane? I find it works best to record my gifts every morning during my devotions as I reflect upon the previous day. You may prefer buying multiple little journals and scattering them around your house to record the moments.

Check out A Holy Experience every Wednesday where Ann shares her gifts and you can link up with yours too!

Oh that we might be like Darcy, the little Irish girl, who observed the sweet beauties…to be able to stop and think about the gifts that surround us even when life gets difficult. Would you care to join me? Ready to have your mindset transformed?

I love how the Message translation puts Ephesians 5:4, “Let no crude language or foolish joking be on your lips. Christians have better use of language. Thanksgiving is our dialect.”

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening” (Psalms 92:1-2).

“Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord, it is fitting for the pure to praise him” (Psalms 33:1).

Photo credit

Comments { 32 }

Listen to the Quiet :: A Daily Pause for Moms

Written by contributing writer, Daniele Evans from Domestic Serenity.

Alright, I know what you’re thinking.  Maybe you’re even laughing.  Listen to the…quiet?

And you’re wondering just where this post is going.  We could probably agree that a daily spa moment of sorts is helpful to our well-being.  But just how to make this happen may seem a mystery.

So, hear me out and offer your thoughts as well?

I know Mama.  I know.  A household full of little ones, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, ministry, training, teaching, being a wife, a friend, a sister — where in the world does a daily pause fit in!?

May I suggest today that it naturally doesn’t?  At least not all on its own.  This time will not just happen…it must be created.

The WHY

First, we must embrace the necessity of pause, of rest.  Rest is not man’s idea, it’s God’s.  Man takes it farther than ever intended and makes it laziness, but true rest was designed and demonstrated by a loving God from the beginning.  He knew just what people, Moms like you and me would need.

Rest honors God’s way and design; we give glory to Him when we follow His command to rest.

***

The WHAT

True rest includes pausing to reflect upon our work.  For we were also created for purpose-driven Christ-honoring work, yet not without pause.  Stepping back before moving on is simply wise.  It’s not waiting until we’re completely exhausted and burnt out, then finally collapsing.  God’s example in Creation offers a daily rhythm of reflection to think upon and consider our work — to name what is good.

We Moms have trouble with this, at least I do.  I lean more towards thinking on all that still needs doing instead of celebrating what has been accomplished.  But still, we should think on what is lovely, excellent and praise-worthy :: yes, this includes our work!

Because the nature is reflection, a midday or late afternoon break is what I’m suggesting.  A short time of 15 to 30 minutes to separate morning work from evening work, to refuel a little before going on.

Now, no need to cancel vacation plans, a visit with a friend, or digging into a good book.  Rest can and should also include leisure; engaging in pleasurable activities or interests provides refreshment as well.  Jesus often took his disciples away and on one occasion fixed breakfast on the beach for them — sounds nice and leisurely to me!

The HOW

What if you did just that?  Created a space and time for moments of daily pause, of quiet?  With the purpose of reflection upon your work, and for a bit of leisure as well.  But, let’s be very real.  Many of us are in a season of fullness, of numerous responsibilities.  Just how do we accomplish such a task?

I’m sounding like a broken record, but the first step is believing that you should.  Then quickly following up with believing that there is a way, that it is possible.  Before we get to the nitty gritty and some suggestions (that’s an upcoming post!), may I encourage your heart?  Too often, we jump on a band-wagon thinking…

“Yeah, this is just what I need!!  Tomorrow, right now, I’ll start this daily pause thing! WHOOP!, Whoop, whoop….fizzle, fizzle.  Oh, well.  I guess that just didn’t work for me.”

End of story.  That’s living intensely, not intentionally.

Maybe you’re ready to start now, by all means…move forward!  But, maybe you just need to take a baby step, to consider just how this all might work.  To prepare and plan for making room.

Begin with prayer.  Asking God to convince your heart of this need.  Stretching your faith muscles to believe it can happen.

Take an inventory of your days.  Nothing fancy, just be more aware of how things flow, thinking about when and where a pause would most benefit your schedule and routine.

In the comments, feel free to offer thoughts :: do you see a need for this in your days?  what would you view being a hindrance to taking time for a daily pause — where could you use suggestions or help?  

We’ll seek to answer or address questions in the next post.  I absolutely do not have all of the answers!  But, I’m convinced we can learn and grow together in this community.

To God be all glory….

Comments { 24 }

Paula’s Bread: NutriMill Grain Grinder Giveaway!

Today we are excited to offer a fantastic giveaway from Paula’s Bread, our longtime sponsor and supplier of wonderful kitchen equipment. Paula would like to offer a NutriMill Grain Grinder to one special reader! This grain mill is valued at $269.99 and is a wonderful tool for your natural kitchen.

Paula’s Bread is a sweet family operated business offering a wealth of natural kitchen supplies to equip you for making your own homemade goodies. They have been a longterm distributor of the Bosch Universal Mixer and NutriMill grain grinders which are powerful reliable tools for any whole foods kitchen.

Paula shares, “It has been my passion to help the harried cook feed their family nutritionally while not overtaxing the cook. The kitchen products I carry are kitchen tools I personally use to help/enhance getting the finished food product done. I love helping others make great bread, saving the cook time and saving family’s money with all the wonderful things they can do to stretch their budget with a simple batch of bread.

I have owned a NutriMill for nearly 6 years now and it has served me faithfully in grinding all my grains into fresh whole grain flours to make our own baked goods.

It has a very trim design and is not huge and awkward making it easy to store on my kitchen counter tucked in the corner for easy access. It produces fresh flour very quickly providing me with a nice batch of flour in a matter of minutes. It actually stays relatively clean while grinding flour and does not have a huge off spray, thus providing easy clean up. Its works very well for grinding fresh flours for all your baking needs. It has a twenty cup bowl capacity, so you can prepare a lot of flour at once or any smaller amounts as well. The Nutrimill keeps your flour at temperatures (typically around 118 degrees) that protect the nutrients in your grains. Its new airflow design makes it the world’s coolest-running impact mill. It has a lifetime warranty including the stainless steel blades.

For my complete review of the NutriMill, visit here.

TO ENTER:

1. Visit Paula’s Bread and check out their line of products. In the comments below, share your favorite product that they offer and how you would use the NutriMill if you were to win this product.

2. For an optional second entry, sign up for the Paula’s Bread newsletter (located on the lower right hand portion of the side bar) and let us know in a second comment below.

Giveaway Closed.

AND THE WINNER IS…Therese – Artistta!!! Congrats!

Check out Paula’s Bread on facebook to stay informed on future sales and updates!

Paula’s Bread is offering a special discount of $5 off any order of $25 or more with a stainless steel purchase. Enter “Stainless Steel” at checkout. Expires 1/31/12.

Giveaway limited to US participants only.
Winner will be randomly selected and contacted on the Wednesday following the completion of the giveaway. The end of this post will be updated to announce the winners.
Email subscribers: You must click through to the original post on Passionate Homemaking to be entered into this giveaway.
No purchase necessary.

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Simplifying by Buying Groceries Online

Did you know that it is possible to do the majority of your grocery shopping online these days?

This has certainly be a huge blessing lately while trying to juggle three kiddos and the various responsibilities I have within our home. I have been investigating different options lately in an effort to use my time most productively. Honestly, it is pretty tiring for me to haul all the kiddos to the store. Buying groceries online saves my energy and is a simple way to protect against unnecessary stress.

Additionally, it’s far to easy to buy items that aren’t necessarily on my grocery list when I get in that environment (oh, wouldn’t the kids love trying this? Ahh…coconut milk yogurt, yum!). Surprisingly enough, shopping online has been saving me money!

It has been two year now since I shared my initial real food budget and what food purchases we make at our home. It has certainly changed and been tweaked over this period. With food prices continuing to rise, we have had to adjust and re-evaluate as necessary. I used to shop primarily at our local Trader Joe’s but have become more and more dissatisfied by the lack of freshness and packaged nature of their produce. I also found I had to make multiple stops to get everything I needed because TJ’s doesn’t have that large of selection.

Currently, our food budget is $500-$525 per month and these are the majority of the purchases we make.

Amazon.com 

I am finding myself using the Subscribe & Save feature on Amazon more frequently for finding huge savings on many food items in their Natural & Organic Grocery section. Their selection is growing each time I look. Most of the items are more bulk purchases, but they are non-perishable items, which makes it very possible to spread out their use over a 2-3 month period. With the subscription option, you save an additional 15% and have scheduled deliveries every 1-6 months as you desire. We have prime membership which provides wonderful quick free delivery (even without prime, most items are also available for free shipping if you spend over $25). In this manner, I don’t have to think about it and there is still flexibility to change as you need. You can also cancel at any time. I love food being delivered to my door!

We purchase the following via subscriptions. I have compared them extensively with my other food sources and found Amazon’s prices to be the best: Organic peanut butter, organic raisins, organic coconut milk, vanilla extract, organic coconut oil, maple syrup, gluten-free honey rice cereal (our Sunday morning breakfast), chicken broth (I prefer making my own chicken broth, but I also forget to pull it out of the freezer a lot, so I like having small portions of chicken broth on hand for easy access), toilet paper (yes, you can even save on the basics!), charlie’s laundry soap, mac & cheese (I like having Annie’s on hand for an easy lunch). Amazon also has a growing selection of quality dry goods, including beans and grains.

Safeway Delivery

I am starting to order many random food items (that are not available through my other sources) via Safeway delivery lately. Our budget is $100 per month. The time it saves is worth the slightly increased price. You can save on shipping simply by being flexible as to delivery time or they often offer free shipping if you purchase a certain number of items from their specials list or on orders over $150. I pay no more than $6.95 for delivery in our area. I try to purchase most of my produce organically, and use the Dirty Dozen as my guide. In the summer, I love to use Organics to You for fresh local produce delivered to our door.

Here are the items I purchase through these sources: Organic Milk for making yogurt (1/2 gallon twice a month), lunchmeat, pepperoni, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, fresh organic produce (bananas, oranges, salad mixes, etc), various other food needs not available through other sources.

Azure Standard 

I appreciate Azure Standard and the bulk natural foods that they offer. We spend about $100 per month through Azure. They deliver to drop spots all over the Northwest and moving more into the Midwest of the US. I buy the following: Brown rice pasta, natural soaps and shampoos, organic crackers, mayonnaise, organic produce, tortillas, raw cheddar cheese, sour cream, soy sauce, olive oil, vinegars, raw honey, spices, condiments, sucanat, oats (other bulk grains and beans), canned wild salmon, tomato soup.

In addition to these purchases, I buy local raw milk & eggs  (1 gallon per week, 2 dozen per week – $68 per month), and we also set aside $100 per month for bulk meat and fruit purchases throughout the year to stock the freezer. We buy 1/4 cow, 1 pig, and about 40 lbs of chicken breasts annually. We buy a dozen loaves of sprouted wheat bread from Dave’s Killer Bread/Healthy Bread Store warehouse (they offer a frozen dozen of sprouted bread for $25). We consume this amount of bread in about 2 months. I continue to make my own jam, salsa, kefir, yogurt, and various pastries as we desire. That’s pretty much it…

Other excellent food delivery sources:

Beyond Organic (this online store has recently been launched birthed out of Jordan Rubin’s book)

U.S. Wellness Meats (find quality grass fed products)

Vitacost (this is another growing option that has a great selection of real foods, vitamins, herbs, and more at deep discounts! I found Eden Organics, Nutivia, Bob’s Red Mill and many other quality brands available here. Many of their products are very comparable to Amazon and Azure Standard too. I just made an order because they sell cod liver oil and other good supplements.) Refer a friend and you both get $10. A fun way to save!

Be sure to search google for specific grocery delivery companies in your area!

Found any good natural food deals lately? Please share!

Note: There are affiliate links in this post for Amazon, so we receive a small percentage of any purchases made through these links. Through your support, we are able to sponsor an orphan home in India.

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