Finding Joy in Your Homemaking

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There are many frequent days in my pursuit of passionate homemaking that I have to fight for joy. I get weary from the constant demands of preparing meals, to wiping sweet bottoms, to dealing with cranky attitudes, to reading the same story for the millionth time. From sun up to sun down, a mother’s work is never done.

I know I am not alone. I know that you and I alike must purposefully strive to cultivate joy. You are about an eternal work.

God has assigned you a glorious task, how do we not loose sight of it?

1. Remember, each day is a gift.

“So here it is, another day. I did nothing to deserve it. I just woke up this morning, and there it was. I may have expected it to be there, but I had no right to. Just like Christmas morning, I got up to find a present waiting for me, a brand new day. Yes, today is a gift. And it has my name on the tag. This present from God has been custom-made for me. God has filled it with blessings, some obvious and some in disguise, its difficulties and challenges are tailored to fit my size. It may not be exactly what I asked for, but it is exactly what I need.” Read the full article by Russell Board, World Magazine.

This is a quote that deserves a place over my bed to read every morning. It is a simple reminder that each day is filled with God’s grace to accomplish the tasks assigned to me. Each struggle and challenge is perfectly designed to help grow and strengthen me in my faith, homemaking, and mothering skills. Remember, “this is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Each day, my son or daughter gets a little older. Each moment with them is a gift. Let’s actively pursue joy!

2. Keep an eternal perspective.

I was recently meditating upon this verse: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23). I was struck by these thoughts that I recorded in my journal:

In your mothering and homemaking, Lindsay, this is work indeed, and yet it is valuable work through which you can bring glory to God. Do this work – changing diapers, kissing bruises, training hard hearts, guiding souls – do it for Jesus! This work will bring forth eternal reward. Don’t do it complaining. Don’t run from it. Don’t fret or cultivate discontentment. Pursue it passionately for Jesus! Take control of your thoughts. Think about the things of heaven (eternal souls in my hands), and not the temporary things of this earth (lose of sleep, free time, late nights out, etc).

3. Take a walk.

When you are weary or feel like you need a break, take a walk. It is a simple and practical step, but it does wonders to your physical and mental well-being. I strive to get outdoors frequently, if not daily, to enjoy God’s creation, breath deeply the fresh air, and refreshment pours over my body.

4. Have a vision/purpose for your home.

Do you have a mission statement? This is something I have been praying through lately. What is my mission? What is my purpose in the home? I challenge you to compile a mission statement for yourself using the excellent guide provided by Kat at Inspired to Action. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). A mission statement will help focus you on the priorities, guide you in making better decisions, and keep your view above the changing tide of circumstances.

My mission in my home is to cultivate a simple, peaceful haven or rest for my family and anyone that might enter my home. My mission is to make my home a place of blessing (1 Chron. 16:43), joy (2 Chron. 7:10), learning (1 Cor. 14:35), training (Deut. 6:7), and testifying together of the Lord’s goodness (Acts 2:46). Having this vision behind me continually is a great source of refreshment.

For further help in developing a mission statement, check out The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey, and their online guide.

5. Dig deep into the Word of God.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (Prov. 31:25). How does the virtuous woman have the ability to laugh? She is confident in the Lord. She daily finds her strength and confidence in spending time with Him. Find a method that works for you (listen to a sermon podcast while you work), but don’t leave it out of your day if you want to pursue joyful homemaking.

Your attitude has a powerful effect on the atmosphere of your home.

It can be a place of warmth and rest in the presence of a joyful women, or it can be a place of discouragement and depression in the place of a joyless women.

It’s your choice today.

How can you cultivate a joyful heart today?

Originally published April 5, 2010. Original comments included below.

Comments { 61 }

Digging Out of the Pit of Guilty Motherhood

I failed miserably in my mothering today. Everything from getting coats and shoes on, to going potty in underwear, to getting out of bed before the proper time. Each situation was responded to with an outburst of anger and frustration.

I experience guilt on many levels in my motherhood. I feel guilty when my house isn’t clean, organized, or I don’t have the energy to design all these glorious organizing tools (thanks Pinterest! ;) . I feel like a failure when I don’t spend enough quality time with my children or waste too much time on my phone or computer browsing this and that. I feel guilty when we don’t do family devotions as if my children’s salvation was all dependent upon me. I feel like a terrible homemaker when I don’t get anything done on my to-do list. So in response to my guilt, I get frustrated and the cycle continues. It’s a dangerous pit of self focus that destroys my joy.

The only means through which we can find deliverance out of this battlefield of guilt, condemnation, and anger is through the power of the gospel. The only lasting freedom can come through acknowledging what Christ has done on my behalf.

We have to steep ourselves in the power of the gospel. We have to soak it in.

I have to remind myself that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Yes, you and I will surely fail. But we have a glorious Savior who bore our condemnation. He bore our guilt. It was nailed to the cross. So in our failure, we can have hope. Christ Jesus has replaced our sinful record with His perfect righteous record.

As Elyse Fitzpatrick says, “When you are tempted to slide down into a miry pit of self-condemnation, you can remember Jesus’ sinless life and the perfect record that is now yours. Yes, it’s true that you sin heinously and consistently, but you have a perfect record before God, the only one who opinion really matters.”

“Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (Romans 3:24)”

You have a perfect record.

Colossians 1:16-17 says,The Father…has qualified you [past tense; it's finished] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us [past tense again; the deliverance is completed] from the domain of darkness and transferred us [past tense once more: the transferal is already concluded] to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have [present tense; this very moment we possess it] redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

My outbursts of anger were nailed to the cross before I even walked this earth. My fear of failure is a waste of my energy. He paid the greatest price for them. In order to experience true freedom from guilt, I must stop focusing on all that I need to do in order to become a better mother. I must first turn my gaze upon what He has already done for me.

The only way to become a better mom is to preach the gospel to myself every day. It’s not by behaving that makes me a better mom, it’s by believing- believing more deeply in what He has accomplished.

God doesn’t call me to be perfect. He calls me to embrace my standing before him, and to run in that freedom he has already granted to me! I am adored by Christ! I am redeemed! I am accepted!

Ultimately, when I enslave myself by guilt I am mocking what He did on the cross, I am disbelieving the grace and mercy purchased for me through his sinless life. This guilt is witness to the fact that I am depending upon my own strength. I am believing that my children will only grow, flourish, and follow Christ if I do this certain set of practices.

So when you are tempted to put another brick of guilt on yourself, may I encourage you to stop, and declare with me:

“Because Jesus was strong for me, I am free to be weak;
because Jesus won for me, I am free to lose;
because Jesus was someone, I am free to be no one;
because Jesus was extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary;
because Jesus succeeded for me, I am free to fail.” -Tullian Tchividjian

Praise God for the full and abundant life I have in Christ!

Jesus loves me just as much today as He did yesterday!

Many of these insights have been gleaned through Tullian’s powerful book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

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Originally published February 9, 2012. Original comments included below.

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Taking A Weekly Planning & Prayer Retreat

Screen shot 2009-10-25 at 2.06.51 PMPhoto by renmeleon

Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3

Are you feeling overwhelmed or discouraged? I cannot express how much adding a simple weekly planning and prayer retreat has assisted me in maintaining a joyful heart in my homemaking! After feeling completely overwhelmed, physically exhausted, and being prone to be quick tempered with my children, I knew the enemy was trying to attack my joy and make me unproductive. I am realizing more and more how he seeks to attack me by discrediting my role and tempting me to compare myself with others.  After much prayer, the Lord led me to begin adding this time away as a regular routine in my life. Thankfully, my husband been graciously willing to watch the children for an hour or two every Sunday morning so I can get away and pray, refocus and plan. I have been doing this consistently for about a month now, and I have found such refreshment, renewed joy, and encouragement in the journey of homemaking and mothering. It has been invaluable!

I want to encourage you ladies to pray about how you might begin to get away for a short time on a regular basis, if not once a week, maybe once a month. Whatever works for your family. Just getting out of the house and sitting in our car with my Bible, notebook, and laptop suffices most of the time! Occasionally, I will go down to the local coffee shop or drive down to the waterfront and just sit in my car and watch the water. Sitting out in nature really helps me focus on the Lord.

Each week in my planning season, I start by thanking the Lord for each and every blessing from the previous week. I thank Him for how He has grown and challenged me in my faith. Then I begin to pray over the new week and for anyone in particular that He lays on my heart. What would the Lord have me do this week?

Then I begin writing in my simple spiral bond notebook. I make a basic to-do list with check boxes for the week and then assign the tasks to one or two per day. I keep my to-do list very basic. There is usually no more than 10 items on my to-do list, and they include various housecleaning tasks, errands that need to be done, etc. I then proceed to evaluate how I can be useful for the Lord this week. How can I practically be productive and fruitful not only in my homemaking but also for the kingdom? How can I serve my husband? How can I reach out to one person this week? I try to find one way to serve or express appreciation to my husband (whether it be a note of encouragement on his desk or in an email), and one way I could minister to someone this week. Is there someone that could use a note of encouragement? Is there a neighbor I could invite over to dinner?

After completing my to-do list, I make a menu plan for the week. I base this off my monthly menu plan, but simply choose meals from it to prepare for the week. I will jot down any notes in relation to the meals and any preparation that needs to be made in advance, so I don’t forget! ;)

I also write out a basic blog post plan for the week. Then I take some time to read the Word, pray again over my to-do list to make sure it lines up with the Word of God, my priorities in this season of my life, and to dedicate my week to the Lord. I also like to take time to pray for my husband and children.

Having this time of peace and solitude allows me to refocus on the Lord, what he has assigned me to do, and to acknowledge my complete dependence upon Him. It has been a huge blessing! My weeks in turn have been so much more peaceful and productive. Ultimately, it is not about the to-do list, but more about renewing my soul in the Lord. I want to run in such a way as to win the prize and please my Lord. I want to do my work heartily as to the Lord. If I am stressed, I need to step back and take time to pray and re-evaluate what has gone astray in my life. This simple weekly retreat has accomplished these things for me right now.

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9) The Lord is ultimately in control of all things!

Do you take a retreat on a regular basis? How do you practically plan for the week?

Originally published October 26, 2009

Comments { 59 }

Start Your Day by Getting Dressed

Over the past two days my productivity levels have been miniscule. In fact, it has been nearly 11 o’clock before I even got dressed for the day. The messes around my home have seemed to be unending and the neediness of my children only escalating throughout the day. We didn’t have time for any schooling let alone breather time until naps because I was just in cleanup mode.

I woke up this morning and felt the Lord giving me a gentle prompt: Why don’t you start your day by simply getting dressed? Dress yourself first and foremost with the gospel and then put on your physical clothing for the day.

As Ephesians 6:10-18 reminds us of the importance of putting on the truth, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” The enemy certainly likes to take advantage of my spirit and enjoys overwhelming me with thoughts of failure and discouragement when I have not first equipped my soul with a reminder of the beauty of God’s grace. My Lord loves me despite my failures…He bore them all. He gives the grace for me to embrace the work He has assigned me.

Seems like two basic concepts. I’m sure you have heard them before (I recall flylady encourages this!), but the depth of the impact wasn’t so amazing contrasting to me till today. I just needed that gentle reminder and encouragement from the Spirit. I woke up, spent a few moments in the Word so I could saturate my heart in the gospel before beginning my day (I’m currently reading one chapter in the Old Testament, followed by 1-2 verses in the NT to meditate on), acknowledge my dependence upon the Lord, and then I got dressed from head to toe. This was 30 minutes before my little ones began waking up. But simply getting myself ready for the day increased my productivity immensely. I felt refreshed and ready to go. My soul was happy in the Lord. On the other hand, waking to my children is challenging. I feel like I have to jump into the roller coaster ride without first preparing myself. If I dress myself, my children get a much more joyful momma.

Now I’ll be honest and say that my hair wasn’t tidied up till later in the day, but I was dressed…and somehow just getting dressed was a huge help! (Laying out my clothes the night before would be another helpful step!) There were certainly still challenges throughout the day, messes of yucky attitudes to deal with and hearts to reunite in love for one another, but I was much more peaceful and self-controlled, thanks to God’s amazing grace. We were able to get so many things accomplished today. Praise the Lord!

This is goal #1 for this year!

What’s one thing that you like to do that helps start your day out right?

Please note: Ultimately, I want to assure you there is complete grace for whatever season you might be in. Rising early is not a requirement for your Christian faith. This has just been a means of grace for me personally. Practicing this habit of getting dressed before starting your day doesn’t require it to be done before the kids get up, even if you can just get dressed before going downstairs or attending to the kids, you will find it very beneficial!

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Originally published on January 6, 2012.


Comments { 100 }

A New Year to Rest

As I prayed over the new year and the future of this blog, The Lord has been prompting my heart that it is time for a season of rest. 2012 was a very challenging year for our family, from business failure, to insomnia, to over committing ourselves in service. I have been writing and editing here at Passionate Homemaking for over 5 years now and it has been the most amazing journey. I started out as a simple family update blog and it quickly soared into an amazing highly trafficked website as I shared about my passions in natural and frugal living. To this day, there are over 20,000 subscribers. I never planned for it. I never anticipated the income that came with it. It was never my goal. I didn’t plan to have a big blog…but God had other plans for my simple and messy words. I was just an empty vessel desiring to be used by my Lord.

I would have never imagined how God was going to use this site. Day by day, I have received the most encouraging emails and comments from ladies all over the world that have been impacted in some way through this online ministry. It has been a little outlet for me to be able to use my gifts to bless others from my home, which has been my heart and passion for so long. I have seen people come to know Jesus, or simply be inspired in realizing that there are others out there who struggle just as you do. Through the resources we have earned in sponsors and giveaways, we have been able to fully support two different orphan homes first in Cambodia and then in India, in addition to many other giving opportunities. All glory be to God!

I honestly admit that I have struggled for quite a few months now, struggling with lack of inspiration and ideas for posts. It has been challenging to maintain the blog while juggling all my various responsibilities within my home, church, and community. I have struggled repeatedly with my identity and comparing myself with others in the blogosphere. God has used it to prune and refine me and make me more like Himself. I’m tired of this sin in my heart. I’m tired of finding my approval in this stuff rather than wholeheartedly in my Lord. I’m just ready to let that all go once and for all.

I have been sensing that it is time for a lengthy sabbatical. God has been prompting me in this for awhile, but I’ve been fighting hard. It’s been one of the hardest decisions I have made. It’s not something I wanted to give up. I have loved this little world from my computer screen. But I feel like I have loved it too much as well. I want to fully live in the here and now. I want to turn my full attention closer to home, towards nurturing the relationships closer to home, rather than stretching myself too thin in various committments. I do not want to fight what God is leading me to do…even if it means letting go.

I may be back again…but I’m waiting on Gods timing. He may have a new adventure in store. In the meantime, I wanted to share throughout the month of January, the top ten posts that have been written on Passionate Homemaking over the last 5 years. These are posts that I feel God has used in sweet and powerful ways and I wanted to share them with you all once again as a parting present for a time. All the resources here will still be fully available for your use and service. Although comments will be removed as I will not be able to moderate them.

Also, I wanted to share a few blogs that I feel would be very worthwhile to mention for you to enjoy that have served in inspiring me over the years that may effectively take my place. Many of these blog authors have become dear friends over the years:

Girl Talk Home

Inspired to Action

Heavenly Homemakers

Grace Full Mama

Keeper of the Home

You all will remain in my hearts and prayers…thank you for taking this journey with me! Thank you for all your love and support! Thank you for choosing to follow me here in my own little messy world. I love you dearly even if I have only meet a tiny fraction of you. May you be strengthened in The Lord and be empowered to embrace joy and thankfulness where you are, whatever season of life it may be. May you be faithful to bring Him much glory! Treasure the precious moments he has given you. Smell the flowers and rejoice in His loving care of you!

I want to conclude with a quote that has been my life quote:

“Only one life, twill soon be past…Only what’s done for Christ will last.” – C.T. Studd

Comments { 172 }

Book List for 2013

I just love starting a new year with a fresh list of wonderful reads for me to devour! Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, and I have to be diligent to weave in small reading moments here and there, while juggling my various responsibilities, but it is so worth it. My reading moments might be found in a thirty minute window while the kiddos take a quiet rest/nap time, or a brief chunk of time before bed, but the rich nuggets that I take away while reading the inspiring lives of fellow man, biographies, classic novels, inspirational materials, and more, are the fuel that keep me strengthened day by day to live my life to the fullest, and to understand the culture and historical times around me that I might be a more effective ambassador for Christ now. Reading is a little taste of heaven for me. Each year for the past 5 years I have posted my reading list on this blog and checked off the books as I have read them, and it has been a wonderful source of accountability…so here we go again.

How do I pick which books to read? Well, I try to balance my reading with classical literature for the purpose of continuing to train and teach myself so that I might be an effective teacher to my own children. I love learning and want to inspire my own children in this way. I participate in a classics book club for accountability and deeper discussion in this area. Classics are balanced with biographies so that I might be challenged to grow from the lives of courageous people (especially fellow believers) that have gone before me. Along with these, I pick a few inspirational reads from times gone by as well as contempory authors. And lastly, I pick a few titles that simply apply to my current roles as wife and mother so I might be continually encouraging my soul in my mission. So you’ll see I pick 2-3 or more from each of the above categories.

A Little History of the World - E. H. Gombrich – a solid overview of history written actually for children but a great educational tool for this mommy too!

Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis – I love reading from the old great theologians, so Lewis’ work on understanding the purpose of pain and suffering will surely get me thinking.

Amazing Grace – bio on William Wilberforce – Eric Metaxas – it’s truly valuable to read at least one good biography each year to help inspire us onward through the lives of men and women of faith.

The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky- I read Crime and Punishment this last year and really loved the redemption protrayed in Dostoevsky’s works, so I knew I must attempt the big one.

Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by being Different – Tullian Tchividjian – I read Tullian’s Jesus + Everything = Everything this past year and have deeply challenged by his call to keep the gospel the main thing. I wanted to read this book to continue reminding me of my purpose to live intentionally for the Kingdom.

Instructing a Childs Heart – Tedd Tripp – Tripp’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart has always been one of my favorite books on child training, so this companion/sequel volume is a great resource for really getting to the heart of the matter.

Rich Mullins: A Devotional Biography - James Smith – this biography has been on my list for far too long. I’m going to actually read it this year!

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of your Child – Anthony Esolen – a discussion of ten points on the cultural trends of education, technology and overscheduling of activities hinder the imagination development of our children and what we can do about it.

Keep a Quiet Heart - Elisabeth Elliot – it’s time for a re-read of these short inspirational writings from a dear women of faith.

Discipline: the Glad Surrender – Elisabeth Elliot – lacking self-discipline? I sure am. This timeless volume of truth will surely be a wonderful tool.

Reflections on Joan of Arc - Mark Twain – we studied the life of Joan of Arc recently with the kids during our study of the Middle Ages, and I was really curious to learn more about her life. When I discovered that Mark Twain had written a book on her, I knew I had to check it out.

At Home: a short history of private life by Bill Bryson – This looks like a fun read detailing the history of every room in the house, and the domestic story behind each artifact.

Joni & Ken : an untold love story - Joni Eareckson Tada – the beautiful love story to be released this April on the life of quadriplegic Joni Tada and her husband Ken of thirty years.

Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching & Appreciating Boys – this book comes to me highly recommended as a wonderful resource in raising boys who will be men of faith and courage.

The Gospel for Real Life: Turn to the Liberating Power of the Gospel…Every Day - Jerry Bridges – We so easily forget the beauty of the gospel and how to live it out in our daily life. Jerry Bridges is a wonderful author and a long time favorite of mine.

Fit to Burst: Abundance Mayhem & The Joys of Motherhood - Rachel Jankovic – Rachel has written some truly powerful articles on motherhood over at the Desiring God blog, alongwith her first book, Loving the Little Years. I anticipate another good read from her soon to be released book.

Desperate: Hope for the Mom who needs to Breath by Sally Clarkson & Sarah Mae – I highly recommend any of Sally’s books as the best materials out their to inspire you in your motherhood, and her newest book, Desperate, is sure not to disappoint.

In My Fathers House -Corrie ten Boom – Corrie ten Boom was placed in a concentration camp during World War two after her family risked their lives to hide Jews. This incredible story is told in the Hiding Place. This book tells the story of Corrie’s childhood.

Tramp for The Lord – Corrie ten Boom – a sequel to the Hiding Place. Tells the story of Corrie’s travels around the world and her incredible testimony following her imprisonment.

The Scarlett Pimpernel – Baroness Emmuska Orczy – This book follows the adventures of Sir Percy Blakeney as he seeks to help French aristocrats escape the guillotine during the French Revolution. We have loved the movie adaption of this book many times over the years, so I am excited to read this classic.

One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp – I have been an enthusiastic of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and the practice of numbering all of God’s blessings day by day. Her newest companion devotional has been a fabulous read for short inspiration to accompany your Bible study.

What are you looking forward to reading this year?

Comments { 38 }

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from our home to yours! We are enjoying a peaceful holiday season, embracing some madness while we organize and deliver Angel Tree gifts to children in our community, but otherwise, we are treasuring sweet moments doing our advent celebrations together, reading A Christmas Carol with the kids, snuggling in and watching Christmas movies, caroling with the elderly, and anticipating the birth of Jesus and a time of rest with family and friends! Now to go make some traditional Cranberry Candy Canes and venture out to enjoy Christmas lights!

May your homes be filled with the joy of our Savior’s birth and be renewed to jump into a new year with the strength and courage that He supplies! Thanks for sharing life with us here at PH!

Merry Christmas!

The Edmonds Family – Aaron, Lindsay, Karis, Titus & Eden

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Our Top 10 Classic Christmas Movies

It’s not too late to enjoy the joys of the holiday season with a fun family Christmas movie. This is one of our favorite things to do during the holidays. Snuggle up with some yummy white chocolate peppermint popcorn (yes, this was sooo yummy!), or maybe a cup of hot chocolate stirred with candy canes. We love adding to our Christmas movie collection with a new title each year and pulling them out for the holiday seasons. Here are some of our favorite classics (in no particular order):

1. The Bishop’s Wife - A sweet Christmas story emphasizing the importance of treasuring the gift of family (Watch instantly through Amazon rental here).
2. Christmas in Connecticut - I love this one for a good laugh! A young woman writing about her made up farm and family life has to entertain for Christmas without any true. experience. (Watch via Amazon Instant Video here).
3. Going My Way (watch via Amazon Instant Video here) – Bing Crosby plays a bishop seeking to minister to poor boys.
4. Belles of St. Mary’s (sequel to Going My Way)
5. White Christmas (watch instantly here) – another great Bing Crosby film full of fun, singing, dancing, and a sweet story line.
6. The Nativity Story (watch instantly here) - Enjoy the story of the birth of Jesus in a beautiful realistic way/
7. Holiday Inn (watch instantly here)
8. A Christmas Carol - this Patrick Stewart version is by far the best rendition and most accurate to the original story of Charles Dicken’s Ebenezer Scrooge. Use caution when watching with little ones because of the spirits.
9. It’s A Wonderful Life (this one is surprisingly not available to rent instantly, but I have seen it available to watch on YouTube.) – What would Christmas be without this sweet family film?
10. Miracle on 34th Street (1947 edition) (Watch instantly here)

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Comments { 27 }

Helping Give Other Mommies the Day Off

1 Peter 2:17 calls us to “Love the brotherhood.” I was recently praying for a practical way that I could serve other sisters in Christ in my church and community without taking me out of my home and away from my primary responsibility of nurturing and discipling my own children. I want to be intentional with every moment that the Lord gives me without over taxing myself by dragging my little ones here and there.

One of my personal favorite birthday events is to have a mommy’s day off. This means I drop off my children at the grandparents and just have some alone time to plan and prayer over the upcoming year, do some fun shopping, or whatever my heart desires. I am so thankful to have relatives close by that enables me to do this. But I know many of my friends, sisters, and neighbors, do not have this blessing. So…why couldn’t I offer to watch their little ones so these Mommy’s could get out for a little while and even get a date in with their hubby’s?

So this is exactly what I decided to do. When a friends birthday comes around (and thanks to Facebook syncing with my calendar, I always have these birthdays on my calendar), I will look for the opportunity to watch their little ones for a few hours so the Mommy’s can have some personal or date time (whichever they choose). I’ll invite the children to come over after our nap-time and stay through dinner time. I’ve done this on two separate occasions now, and it has been such a simple way to serve and a fun way to bless the recipients. It doesn’t require too much extra work because the children play together with my own. It’s also easy to let them watch a little movie if things get a little too wild or read books together or organize a little craft.

I just want to make my home available to serve and love on the lives of others! Are there friends and neighbors in your community that could use a day off? Invite these children into your home and serve in this simple tangible way. This could be a powerful way to reach out to an unsaved family in your community as well. Of course it may take time to build trust in the relationship, but it is worth the effort to share the love of Christ.

Matthew 5:16 states, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

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Fun Educational Gift Ideas for Little Ones

My goal this year was to focus on simple educational resources for my little ones that would be fun, could be enjoyed together or independently, and would help stimulate their brains and critical thinking skills. We have more than enough toys in our house and find they get old very easily. I grow tired of the clutter of toys anyway, so even with gifts from the grandparents, we ask for family memberships to a local museum that could be enjoyed again and again, or gift certificates to local children’s plays or musical performances. These are some of the best gifts that I have discovered that really build the thinking skills but are tons of fun at the same time, most appropriate for 2-6 years of age (although many are suitable for older children as well)!


Day and Night - this is a great little smart games toy perfect for 3-5 year olds in which you try to copy the picture by using the included blocks in a stacking pattern on the stand included. It has two different levels so can easily extend its use as your child gets older. I got this for my 3 year old son this year for his quiet time learning bins time.

Camelot Jr - another logic puzzle similar to Day and Night in which you build different road patterns to join the knight and the princess together but more advanced for ages 4 and older. Both are appropriate for boys and girls!

Wedgits - We bought these blocks for our learning bin time and the kids have had a blast creatively nesting, stacking, and linking these blocks together! This 30 piece set has a wealth of different creations you can make! Tons of fun! You can also get Wee Wedgits which are suitable for 12 months or older.


You can’t go wrong with a good collection of puzzles! We enjoy the huge collection of Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles with 12 to 24 piece collections. While recently studying the solar system, we bought the Solar System floor puzzle and had hours of fun and learning time building it together. The GeoPuzzle collection (pictured above) is a wonderful resource for teaching geography and have fun assembling these continent puzzles at the same time.


Candyland and Chutes and Ladders are fun but not very stimulating in my opinion. Here are some really fun games that are educational as well!

Spot It! - my kids loves this simple game in which you have to find the matching items between each card. There are many different variations to this game, but its fun to know that every two cards have some similar item to spot. Once you find it, you yell, “Spot It!” My daughter is actually quite superior at this game then myself.

Hiss – this is a new game to our collection this year! As the description states, as each Hisss snake slithers its way across the playing area it introduces color identification and visual logic: Does it make sense to have a snake with two tails and no head? Are those two colors the same or not? Even elementary counting skills come into play during scoring at the end of the game.

My First Uno – a fun stocking stuffer! Learn color and number identification with this fun and simplified version of Uno for ages 3 and up.

Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks Game - another fun stocking stuffer game for your little guy that reinforces numbers and counting with a favorite book theme that we all love! Classic Memory Game – you can’t go wrong with the fun game of Memory in this classic and beautiful edition. Eeboo makes multiple different memory games that are all colorful and of high quality. My 3 and 5 year olds both love this game and I have been amazed at how well my little guy does at it!

Richard Scarry’s Busytown - Before we take our annual vacation every year, our tradition is to buy a new board game that we can enjoy together on the trip. This year we picked up this Busytown game (because we love the book!), and had a blast using the magnifying glasses to find all the items hidden throughout the town. Great teamwork, matching, and object identification game!

Zoologic - An addictive game of deduction and logic. Players fill in the grid with the animals and food tiles, while avoiding chaos. Can be played together or independently.

Brain Quest - these learning card stacks are a favorite at our house! I love cuddling up with my little ones and looking at the pictures and answering the questions of each set in this collection that teaches essential learning skills advances with their age. I’ve been using the My First Brain Quest & Brain Quest for Threes as part of our preschool one on one time with my 3 year old son and the Kindergarten set with my daughter. Great stocking stuffer!

For other ideas, check out our Tools Instead of Toys post for a collection of wonderful real life tools and resources to invest in for your children’s development and education.

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