“The BEST Homemaking Advice”

A few weeks ago, in mid January, I wrote a post titled “Just do the next thing,” and imparted some basic wisdom I’ve gleaned from one of our main Bible study leader women. It was nothing too profound, but sometimes I’m not so sure that what I write is always “right,” and it’s great to have confirmation that someone else thinks the same way.

I’m SO excited to bring you readers another post of the same advice that was just written this morning by an extremely popular blog Keeper of the Home, headed and run by mommy of 6 children, devoted farmer’s wife, Ann Timm.  After I read it this morning, I jumped up and ran to my husband and showed him that it was the exact same advice I gave lol!  Yay for being on track.  I know it’s silly, but I still wonder quite often why anyone reads what I write and if I should actually be writing anything at all.  :)

Here is their post, and I know it could go without saying, but I completely agree ;)

The BEST Homemaking Advice

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By Elsie Callender, Contributing Writer

One of the best pieces of homemaking advice I’ve ever encountered was written in calligraphy and framed above our kitchen doorway. I read it every day of my life from the time I could read until it was packed away before our move to Costa Rica when I was a teenager. The words were simply this: “Doe the next thing.”

And they didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

“Doe?” A deer? A female deer?

“Do,” my mom explained. “Do the next thing. It’s an old spelling.”

Do the next thing. Well, that still didn’t make much sense to me! Don’t we always do the next thing? What else would we do besides the next thing?

Now that I’m all grown up, I get it.

We don’t always do the next thing, even when it’s staring us in the face.

Sometimes we don’t do anything at all.

Sometimes grown-up homemakers like me get so overwhelmed that we over-complicate everything and end up feeling like the only thing we can do next is cry.

There are days when dirty dishes are toppling off my limited counter space, when Little Dude has half a dozen immediate needs, when the dark side of adulthood (i.e. bills and taxes) makes me want to bury my head in a book and only come out for my birthday.

Those are the “this is harder than it should be” days; the days when homemaking gets complicated and I need a simple response.

Do the next thing.

Remembering that little quote can make all the difference between feeling overwhelmed verses feeling purposeful.

It reminds me to keep on keeping on, to be a woman of action, faithfully doing what needs to be done, even if it’s a mundane task I don’t particularly relish.

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Image from pixabay.com

Want to try it? Here’s how you can apply this mantra in your homemaking:

1. Identify what needs to be done

Whether you’re mapping out the week ahead or just trying to get through the next hour of a rough morning, take stock of what needs to happen. This might include housecleaning, meal prep, children’s activities, work deadlines, anything. If you’re one of those list-lovers, like I am, you can write out your to-dos!

2. Prioritize

This is where I (and I suspect many other women) get sidetracked. I can have 10 million “to dos” whirling in my head at once, and all of the options make me dizzy. It’s vital to assess what the nextthing is. It’s not always the easiest thing or the most pleasant thing that needs to be done next. Here are some ways I’ve learned to prioritize in my homemaking, even when I’m in a busy season.

3. Take action

Time to “do!” You’ve accepted the fact that you need to pay that phone bill today, so sit down at your computer and do it. Or you know the house won’t clean itself and company is imminent. Raidyour cleaning arsenal and get busy!

Cleaning the floor

Image from pixabay.com

4. Follow through

Sometimes I don’t finish what I start, even if I began with the best intentions. Don’t trail off on what needs to be done around your home. You’ll waste time and have to summon your motivation all over again.

I have no idea where that original framed quote has gotten to, but I know it’s in my mind for good. When a little disaster strikes, I call it to mind. When I’m feeling depressed and my responsibilities are weighing heavy, I repeat it in my head.

And at the end of another day? I revel when the “next thing” is to snuggle into the couch with a book and a cup of tea.

Sometimes the best advice seems almost too simple, right? Here's some of the best – but simple – advice for homemaking! Being a keeper of the home isn't easy, but this advice will get you through the hard times to the good times.

What is the best homemaking advice you’ve received?

*Note from Ann: I can so relate! What a great quote to carry with you through life. It reminds me of something my mother used to say, “If you pick it up, don’t put it down until you put it where it goes”!! How many times do I handle the same item over and over in a single day? And I’m totally guilty of not finishing what I’ve started and wasting precious time. There is a reason I’m one of this list-lovers:) Thank you Elsie for remembering and sharing the wisdom that your mom shared with you as a child. 

Is Being a “Keeper of the Home” Unhealthy & Bad for Children?

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2:3-5

***

What is the purpose and value of a wife that keeps her home well, and sets an example of godly womanhood for her children?

I believe the value of a wife who chooses to focus on her husband and children as the most important people in her life, a mother who creates a wonderful place of peace and serenity for her family, is beyond riches and any success one can find on their own, pursuing their own fulfillment.

Fathers are equally important in their different role and purpose for the family, and there is certainly a time and place to argue the importance of fathers in a feminist society that tries to diminish our need for them and erase the beauty of masculinity.

But I want to focus on mothers today, the various pressures we feel to succumb to what society wants or thinks is best for our families, and encourage women to know their value and worth to their husbands and children in fulfilling that glorious and high calling that is a wife and mother.

Being a wife and mother is such an honor, but ironically, I think we as moms tend to struggle with it feeling much less like an “honor,” and much more of an overwhelming responsibility that we’re failing at.  With a world that tells us that we’re not fulfilled unless we’re making money, or “doing something productive” with our time, it’s no wonder we don’t feel as though we’re doing something of value at times, especially, for the mother who stays at home with her children.

This is for the mothers that feel like they’re failing, discouraged, or overwhelmed.

Your work you’re doing right now is so productive!

It is so important!

And if we do it with a willing, cheerful attitude, it will make a lasting impression on our children!

Raising our children, being available for them when they need something, playing with them, being cheerful and having fun with them… is productive!

Managing a household, helping our husbands be ready and at their best for work, helping our kids to be ready and at their best for school, all the multitude of tasks that go into making sure these things go smoothly and everyone is taken care of (including ourselves!) is productive!

 

“God wants to help you make your life a place of order, peace, and serenity.  

You are helping shape the lives of your children by everything you do and say.  

The job of a mother is a high and holy calling.”

-Elisabeth Elliot

Some things we can all be reminded of in this journey of motherhood:

  • We teach our children by your example, we can’t require them to have qualities in their character that we ourselves don’t have a handle on
  • Self discipline – are we spending our time wisely, limiting computer time so that we can get more important work done?  Are we neglecting our work or be available to our children
  • Restraint – I think as mothers, we have to learn the art of restraint, of not giving in to every emotion or word we want to say.  Our words, when we’re tired or overwhelmed, have the potential to greatly harm our husband and our children.  Being women of restraint, only saying things that build up and are good for those who hear, is part of the santification process of motherhood and wifery.
  • Submission – Are we submitting to our husbands?  How do you speak to your husband?  Do you honor him in the way you treat him?  Do you go out of your way to treat him with respect?  Do you do things he requests you to do and do them with a good attitude?

 

Additional Reading to encourage you:

Thoughts from mothers who wish they could stay home

Homemaking when it’s hard

Christian women shouldn’t be careerists

 

This is not an article trying to diminish the work women are able to do outside the home.  I definitely believe a mom who also needs to be in the workforce in addition to her role as a mother, is still a homemaker and a “keeper of the home.”  It does become harder, though, to balance and organize life around a job or career and proper care and supervision of small children.

Getting Ready to GARDEN!

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I’m insanely excited about starting our garden this year.  Since the winter wasn’t especially cold, a couple of our herbs from last year stayed fairly well.  But this Spring and Summer I’m looking forward to creating an even better garden than last!  There’s nothing so wonderful to me than creating and nurturing a vegetable and herb garden – it’s so much fun to run out barefoot to go get the things you need for a meal you’re creating, and to know that YOU grew them is just so fulfilling.  And I swear the stuff tastes better, but maybe I’m deliciously biased ;)

My mom gave me this book, Rodale is supposed to be amazing, and so far, his book has been so practical and useful.  It’s also organic, so everything that he suggests is healthy, natural, inexpensive, and easy to do for the most part.  Here is a site I found connected with his family name, called Rodale’s Organic Life.  He was a fascinating man, born in 1898 to Jewish family who immigrated to New York City.  He was a playright, editor, and author who basically was the first person to even use the term “organic” to mean grown without pesticides.  He founded an institute to study the link between “healthy soil, to healthy food, to healthy people.”  It’s great that his legacy is still going so strong today through his *son and that we can still learn from his books!

***

The one really big tree we have in our yard was the home to 6 bird nests last year… yes, six!!  I’m looking forward to more birds, their singing, their babies chirping :D and just being in the gorgeous sunlight every day working outside.  Just this morning my boys and I spotted two red birds (a male and a female) both in the tree lol… possibly looking at what the nests have to offer!  One thing is for sure, the cats can’t ever get that high, and the birds are always happy there each year.

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Here’s out garden plot, yes, it’s empty and nothing like last year when I had to clear the entire thing from overgrown and very thickly packed weeds.  This year’s clearing will be very easy, and my older son has already started helping me using the shovel himself (tear! he’s getting so big).

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Working in dirt is SO much fun… seriously, gardening is amazing.

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Our handsome male cat looking outside, I thought it was an intriguing picture with the reflection!

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Like… OMG it feels like Spring already! lol :D

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This was when I was working in the garden and saw he had such a peaceful look on his face.  Babies love being outside.  Our kids have been sick this week, the oldest with an ear infection and the youngest with a cold that turned into a double ear infection.  But this morning was much warmer than it has been, so we bundled up (even though it didn’t really need it) and went outside to get some fresh air after being cooped up the whole week inside.

My gorgeous boy loved it <3

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The beautiful day did me good as well, felt all flushed and filled with happiness.

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So if you’re interested in some great gardening tips and getting outside, order your seedlings NOW before the spring rush and so that you can get a head start in your garden work and play.  That’s what we’ve been doing ;)

Blessings!

 

*Robert Rodale is the author of the book pictured, Garden Answers, and J.I. Rodale (his father) was the founder of the Rodale Institute.

Married Women, Flirting & Loyalty

About two years ago, I wrote a post called How to Turn a Guy Down that was mostly for single women not interested in the man who was asking, or for women already taken in a relationship (or marriage).  It told of my transformation from a 14 year old volleyball player who rejected an older athlete at a summer day camp and thought herself a man-eater, to a 27 yr old woman who realized men have feelings and should be treated with kindness and respect.

After the camp, our parents would pick us up, mine always worked till 5pm so I’d wait outside the immense Gymnasium watching for my mom’s car.  They had other sports camps there, and one day a basketball player that had been eyeing me came over and flirted.  I’m naturally kind so I was polite, but I had no intention of making him a boyfriend, or even a friend (I wasn’t nice to strangers).  He flirted harder, I tried to stay neutral to not lead him on, then my mom’s car pulled up, I was relieved.  He asked for my number and I gave him one, the number my mother always called for time and temperature!  I was bad, I didn’t care much about guy’s feelings then, or honesty in general, so of course I told my mom about it and laughed at him in the car thinking myself a real man-eater.

Fast forward 13 years, whenever I have a man flirt with me or outright come on to me now, I’m kinder & upfront.  It takes a lot of courage and guts for a man (or even boy) to come up to someone they think is beautiful, and actually ask her out.  To be rude to them, or worse, ridicule them for daring to go near you is cruel!  I’m reminded of why my mother always told me that young boys prefer real women… because they’re kinder than young girls.  But even men deserve honesty – and they appreciate you so much more because of it.

The difference between this encounter, and one that happened 13 years later:

We had passes to a water amusement park this past summer, so I would take my son fairly frequently, I suppose I look like a single-mother, a young handsome guy came up to us and started flirting with me.  At first I was so annoyed thinking, really?  Can’t you see I’m a mother?  But I could tell he was a genuinely good man, so I was kind to him and thanked him for his compliments and promptly told him I was married (showed him my ring) and put an end to it.  He was so sweet, he brushed aside his embarrassment and still complimented me, saying I was a very beautiful woman and an obviously good mother to my son, and that my husband must be a very lucky man.  I blushed and told him that I was lucky, that my husband is incredible.  I also went outside myself and became very forward in order to compliment him – and tell him that he seemed like a very good man, a lot like my husband, and assured him that he would find someone amazing to love him – and that he deserved it!

He thanked me, and actually blessed me (well… said God bless you with heart-felt meaning behind the words), and we went different ways.  No time & temperature numbers, no leading each other on,just honesty… it’s amazing how much difference it truly makes!  His dignity was preserved, I wasn’t guilty of being cruel, and we both truly blessed each other with very genuine compliments to each other’s souls.

 

I was reminded of this advice I gave to single women two years ago over the holidays last month.  I was out early in the morning without the boys so that I could do our Christmas shopping without them finding out what they’d get.  I thankfully rarely get hit on now days because I’m almost never without either my kids or husband when going out.  But that morning being alone, even dressed very down and almost shabby, barely any makeup on and hair a little wild looking, there was a man that was also shopping in the toy section and asked me where I thought he could find a certain kind of toy that didn’t appear to be carried there.  We went our separate ways, but then I saw him again in a different aisle awhile later, he looked a little nervous, but came up to me anyway, telling me that he’s been looking for a beautiful woman and wanted to know if I would go out on a date sometime with him.

No he wasn’t a homeless man… he was tall, white, clean-cut and looked military, aged anywhere from 30-45, very well built, and actually handsome.  Being a mom is the strangest thing, and I swear it makes me more empathetic to men of all ages – I instantly felt my heart swell for him in a weird motherly kind of way, I could tell it was so bold and brave of him to approach me like that, he didn’t have the suave of a pickup artist, and yet didn’t have quite the embarrassment level of an adolescent/early 20’s guy, yet it’s not easy to ask out a strange woman – men never know now how she’ll respond.  A man in his age-range and judging by his persona, he probably only cold approaches like that when he thinks he’s found someone that is truly worth his effort, and this made me sorry for him.  I frowned and told him that I was actually married (looked down at my ring), and told him that I understand how hard it is.  I told him my own brother was having a hard time finding a good woman, and that it just sucks in this current atmosphere to find someone.  I encouraged him that I hoped he did find someone, and hopefully that eased the embarrassment of the rejection.

You men have it hard.

Why not flirt a little?  Doesn’t this show a married woman she’s still “got it?”

I’ve read in magazines constantly that married women are encouraged to look at these occasions where they may be flirted with, asked out, or hit on as an opportunity to flirt back and “have a little extramarital fun.”  It’s validation that she’s still “beautiful,” or that she’s still got it enough to be asked out in the middle of a supermarket.

Let me make something very clear that I missed in that old post two years ago:

MEN RESPECT AND ADMIRE

MARRIED WOMEN

WHO ARE LOYAL.

No good man wants to really be flirting with someone else’s wife, and no good man will feel good about himself (or about her) if he does this successfully in the long run.  Men appreciate loyalty in women, because if they have any empathy for their sex, then they understand that they’d want their own wife to be loyal to them.

This is something our secular culture just glosses over as something that is unnecessary.  If she isn’t really cheating, a little flirting when the hubby isn’t there is harmless right?

But it isn’t.

Your husband wants you to adore and respect him so much that you don’t even think twice in situations like this.

Here are some tips for the married woman who is approached or flirted with:

  • Immediately bring it to attention that you are married, I always either look down at my ring, or pull up my hand to show them
  • Talk to them in a kind, respectful way, never in a harsh way
  • Don’t make them feel like they should have known you were married, apologize when you say you’re married, it lessens their embarrassment
  • If you feel comfortable enough, if you don’t think they’re actually dangerous, encourage them a little in their search – single men REALLY need this encouragement, and it helps to redirect the rejection

 

Here are some of my old tips for turning someone down if you’re single or not looking, or in a relationship:

  • Be honest but also kind – don’t say something that’s true but cruel, preserve their dignity, they are a human being
  • Don’t lead them on, tell them you aren’t looking for a relationship of any kind right now
  • Don’t feel like you have to explain why, a kind answer of honesty that you’re not interested is enough
  • Try to imagine that they are a friend or relative, and give them the same treatment
  • Acknowledge their courage & encourage them or compliment them on their gentility
  • If you feel like you might’ve led them on (if they were already a friend) apologize, even if you didn’t mean to

Watching Plants Grow

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like in my spiritual life, I’m just watching plants grow.  I want so badly to do the right thing, to be what God wants me to be, but it amazes me how far off I feel I constantly wander off.

The exciting thing about a new year is all the possibilities to implement any new changes that need to be made.  Looking back on my failures and mishaps in 2015, a year I thought would be a relatively peaceful, quiet year, I’m so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, but also sad that it took me so long to learn them.

I’ve been reading several books and learning and growing so much!  It’s incredible to be so convicted, work to make changes, but then to feel constantly like one cannot attain that perfection of spirit.  Just as I think I’m making great progress, I find myself sliding back down again and acting in pride or getting irritated by things that are trivial and don’t matter!  It’d be comical if it wasn’t so annoying and sad.

I’m learning that I can’t do this on my own – it’s God who works in us, and in His own time, and that the more I submit myself to His will, the more He works in my spirit to make me into the creature He wants me to be.  In contrast, the more I spin my wheels trying to perfect my own spirit, the more frustrated I’ll grow and discouraged.

So I’ll stop watching plants grow, and trust that He’s doing His work and finishing what He’s started in me nearly 25 years ago.

A Screwtape Letter for the Unappreciated Mom

My Dear Wormwood,

I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother.  You have a good lead, from what I hear.  She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged?  I’m so glad to hear it.  If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity.  With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage.  A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

I do have a few tips.  First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.

As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage.  Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that.  We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married.  Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most.  When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper.  When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her.  Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible.  Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on her troubles and pains.  Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her.  Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching.  Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy.  If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch.  It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else.  Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime.  If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors.  Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband.  Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well.  Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting.  Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

A word of caution here.  Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause.  If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection.  This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom.  Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”.  Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives.  If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved.  As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part.  Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list.  It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening.

Now, onto the children.  Lovely little opportunities for us, the children, especially the little ones.  We all know that children are a favorite tool of the Enemy.  He calls them Blessings and Gifts and calls parents to lay down their lives for them, just as his Son did.  Insane, I know.  We must convince her that the obnoxious little people she has charge of are not really worth her sacrifice.  When the Mother first dreamed of having children, she probably imagined large, innocent eyes and chubby, happy grins taking up the majority of her days.  Do your best to shatter those expectations.

Instead, draw attention to how much they take from her.  Let them take and take and take…  And need and need and need, until the Mother feels totally spent.  Let them start crying at the same time for the most irrational of reasons.  Let the noise bother her.  Let their bad behavior surprise her.  Do your best to make the day-to-day monotony of diaper changes, meals, and baths seem simultaneously overwhelming and beneath her.  Let her think of all the better, more important things she could be doing with her life, if only she didn’t have the children.

Don’t let her think about the future responsible, faithful adults she is raising.  Society changers, friends, workers, husbands or wives…  Don’t let her think of them as life-long companions who will love her, converse with her, and care for her in her old age.  Oh, and definitely don’t let her think about the grandchildren she might be able to see in their little grubby faces if she looked hard enough now.  No, no, no…  Thinking ahead to when her work bears fruit, as the Enemy calls it, is always a bad idea.  Keep words like ‘heritage’ or ‘legacy’ far away from the runny noses and jelly stains of the day to day.

If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort.  We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten.  Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation.  Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment.  Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies.  Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

Your Malevolent Uncle,

Screwtape

 

By Kelsey Shade, the beautiful, young wife and mother of three boys that blogs at Organizing Life with Littles!

Just Do the Next Thing

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Something our main Bible study leader has repeatedly told us, and that originally came from the teachings of Elisabeth Elliot, is that no matter what happens, just do the next thing.

It’s such a beautiful lesson really.  It’s so easy to get distracted with worry over how we’ll get all our tasks done in the day, or what needs to happen this week, or caught up in feeling overwhelmed when our families are going through a particularly busy time.

I’ve even heard this advice applied to when we’re caught up in our own or our family’s crisis, when we wonder how we’re going to survive this heartache and feel as though we can’t go on.

Just do the next thing.

Don’t let yourself give in to worry, it doesn’t help anyway.

Just do the next thing.

When you’re exhausted and there’s still so much to do, and you feel like giving up because it seems impossible that you could manage to get everything done,

Just do the next thing.

Don’t worry about all the things you’ll have to do after you finish one task, just focus on the one thing you’ve decided is next and get it done.

If you’re overwhelmed with housework because you’ve had a busy couple of days, running errands that needed your attention, taking your children to their extra-curricular activities, and you step in your house and suddenly see the tornado-like disaster, stay calm and,

Just do the next thing.

It’s true that a lot of housework can just be managed by being proactive, but there are also times when we’ve just been busy.  Don’t be overly critical on yourself, if you need a quick nap to feel recharged for the day, by golly take a nap!  I have a scheduled nap time for our household everyday that is a wonderful time for me to either catch up reading online or curl up and nap along with the baby.  Our older son doesn’t usually like to nap anymore, but we still make him have this quiet time so that he can relax and learn how to have time to himself to re-charge.

It’s normal for wives and mothers to feel overwhelmed with all the things that depend on them to get accomplished, but the wise woman chooses not to stress out, and instead she will just do the next thing.

 

A great blog post from Lisa at Club31women.com that goes with this topic is 5 Steps to Follow When You’re Overwhelmed with Housework !

She Can Laugh at the Days to Come

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25

Our Fall Bible study touched lightly on a word I’d not thought much about, mirth, which means happiness, especially laughter.  

What is the value of to us as women of God to be able to “laugh at the days to come?”  When we’re suffering through something difficult, when nothing seems to be going right, or when our mental or physical strength seems to run out, the last thing we usually want to do is laugh at the trials, the uncertain future – this ability to laugh and remain joyous means we’ve found a treasure for sure!

It’s possible to live happy and joyous,

even when life is painful and we experience suffering, trials, or rejection.

 

The Proverbs 31 woman is packed full with admirable qualities, but I want to zero in on this one little verse and unpack what is so special about phenomenon and what it means.

She can laugh at the days to come because…

She has fully accepted grace.  She’s a sinner and knows it, she knows her failures intimately, but instead of being devastated, unable to move on, or guilt-ridden, she receives grace from God who makes beauty from ashes, and she is able to press on in strength and dignity, with her head held high because she’s been forgiven.

She doesn’t sweat the small stuff.  She sees the trivial things for what they are: insignificant in the big picture.  Instead of getting distracted with unnecessary worrying or drama in her life, she just focuses on living a life that pleases Him.  She is not easily moved or affected by emotions or feelings that are not rooted in Truth.

She goes through trials and suffering, but they are never bigger or more powerful than her God is.  Her faith has reached a maturity where even heartaches and crises don’t shake it, but instead prompt her to cling to God even tighter – oh that we may also have this kind of confident faith!  She is able to “stand firm,” confident that God is for her, and is not moved.

She isn’t worried about what other people think of her, but seeks the approval of God.  When we are overly worried about what others are thinking of us, if they are approving and accepting us or not, it tempts us to do things so people will like us, instead of focus on the things that please God.  It also tempts us to try to control or protect an image that we perceive we have – we’re not able to “laugh at the days to come” because we take them (and ourselves) way too seriously.  When our image depends on us protecting it, instead of trusting in God to defend us against the Enemy’s accusations, we lose our valuable mirth and become controlling, demanding, and unhappy.

She doesn’t let the Enemy play mind games with her.  She doesn’t get stuck in self-hatred, pity, or discouragement, she doesn’t dwell on these negative emotions or feelings.  She goes to God freely with her weakness and brokenness, because she knows that in her weakness, she is never stronger!

She doesn’t just strive to get by begrudgingly through life, she thrives and flourishes in God’s love and acceptance for her.  She may know the pain of suffering rejection like Christ also suffered rejection, but her heart finds it’s JOY in flourishing in God’s love.  She is no longer a victim of others’ misuse, mistreatment or rejection, but is a victor, and because of that confident victory, is able to laugh and have JOY.

She is strong and courageous, and is not afraid of people or battles she’ll have to face because she knows the Lord goes with her, and will never leave her or forsake her (Deut. 31:6).

 

 

8 Reasons Police Families are Stronger than Your Average Family

This was a beautiful post I found from Melissa Littles, one of my favorite bloggers and author of Bullets in the Washing Machine.

She can be found at The Police Wife Life:

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I’ll address those lingering in the “offended by everything” category of 2015 first: The acknowledgment of one is not the equivalent of diminishing another.

Talking about what makes police families stronger is in no way suggesting any other type of marriage or relationship is “weaker.” I’m simply discussing some commonalities amongst many LEO families which make the bond of togetherness uniquely special.

1) We learn early on that compromise without resentment is fundamental.Police Families Are Stronger Than Your Average Family. Compromises are needed
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Officers are sworn to answer the call. They do not have the luxury of handpicking their duties. All LEO relationships encounter the end-of-shift call, and those middle of the night call-outs. Those calls (which extend an LEO’s regular service hours) typically come on days most inconvenient for the family — your daughter’s recital, an anniversary dinner date, your son’s basketball tournament, etc.

LEO families must learn to assign frustration where it belongs — outside the marriage and not within the control of the LEO. Tossing around blame and resentment for the uncontrollable soon becomes a moot point in the marriage. Rolling with the punches and approaching marriage as a joint effort with mutual respect leads to LEO couples that can withstand any hurdle LEO life sends their way.

2) We don’t keep score.

 

Marriage, life, raising children, jobs, self-fulfillment — it all takes constant effort. In LEO marriages there will be times when an LEO spouse will be responsible for much of the daily life tasks. Getting kids to school, the doctor, sporting events, handling finances and household duties — you may be on your own. This happens when an LEO is assigned a special detail which requires more hours, or when extra jobs or overtime is needed to make ends meet. It happens when manpower is short and shifts are long.

We have a saying in our home — “Dad may not be here as much as we would like, but when he is here, he’s ALL here.” He gives his all whenever he’s here to give it. He gives his all to his community when he’s not able to be here. He’s in no way choosing his duty over his family. He’s giving his all in every aspect of his life.

In an LEO marriage you learn quickly that the “my day was worse than your day” game is pointless. We learn to look at the entire big picture of our lives, as a team, and not as two individuals with a “who’s a better spouse” chart. If you are each giving all you have available to each other and to your marriage as a whole, there’s no need for points.

3) We know that little efforts carry the equivalent of substantial memories.

 

LEO families have the unique opportunity to make memories out of moments. Those moments turn out to be some of the memories that last a lifetime — dinners at midnight in parking lots, drive-by visits at gas stations, loading up the kids to take drinks or donuts to mom/dad and their shift buddies. We have many a memory of dad rolling by on his break so we can pass him an order of fries out the window. LEO families really understand that those small moments can make a big difference.

4) We know that family time means SO much.

 

Just as those little moments mean so much, I’ve never seen a child smile like our son when we tell him, “Dad is off for ten days, and we’re going on vacation.”

LEO families make the most of true together-time, because the daily together-time is always full of compromise and last minute changes. When the opportunity arises for a good stretch of togetherness, we make the most of it.

5) We forgive quickly, let go of grudges, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

 

Don’t think there’s not a bunch of hot-headed LEOWs and LEOs out there trying to make it work at home. All this “Loved Deeper, Spoke Sweeter, Tim McGraw diatribe” is not a suggestion that there are not conflicts like every other marriage; however, when you’ve dedicated yourselves to working as a team for the good of the big picture, there’s no point in harboring negativity toward one another.

We learn quickly that anger won’t change the meth heads and drunks and criminal minds that keep our lives on the ups and downs like a roller coaster. We can yell and fight, or we can commit to loving and respecting one another and venting our frustrations without being hurtful.

6) We take immense pride in our blue family, and we are fiercely loyal.

 

Nothing is deeper than our love of the blue family — the pride we take in honoring our heroes, the lengths we will go to help another LEO family, and the sacrifice an LEO family will make for another. An LEO will give his life for his brother/sister in blue.

An LEO’s widow will comfort a blue family during their darkest hours and a blue family will stand beside the loved ones of the fallen…forever. There is nothing deeper than the loyalty of those who truly live with blue blood.

7) We know tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

 

The LEO marriages that are most successful are those that live each day to the fullest. We do not live in constant fear that today might be the last day we have together. We live each day with no regrets, no “I love you’s” unspoken, no “I’m sorry’s” lingering in the air, no “I wish I would have’s” at the end of the day. Fear of loss does not inspire us. Appreciation for the day we have been given empowers us to make the most of each moment.

8) We love deeper.

 

Not because every shift could be the last, but because each day we love the most is another day of memories that will never be lost.