Friday, November 30, 2012

Tranquility in the Home

Readers, you know me. You know that 1) I have a passion for keeping my home and 2) that I am a teacher and that 3) those two things usually don't reconcile. I've been thinking about a dear friend, and reminding myself that much of the feeling of our home can come from us as the keepers of it. There are little things that we can do, that don't include having a spotless house, to promote a feeling of peace and tranquility in our homes. To remind myself and you, especially at this time of year, here is a list of a few things you can do to generate peace in your home.
  1. Light candles. This time of year is so dark, so candlelight can really take some of the shadows away in the evening. Plus, the scents of holiday candles are delightful, calming and welcoming. If you have little ones, like I do, a couple candles high on tables out of reach are all that you need; I'm not suggesting you cover your kitchen table with votives.
  2. Play music (and turn off the TV). I came from a music home; my dad was always playing some kind of music, especially during dinner. On the flip side, our family is not really a TV family. We only have one TV, and it is not on the same floor as the kitchen and dining room.  Playing music allows conversations to occur, it allows your children to imagine and play, and it keeps our senses from becoming overwhelmed. We have many different types of music, even Christmas music, in our collection. If we're stressed, flustered or upset, I'll play something mellow without words: smooth jazz or classical. If we're happy and in good spirits, I'll play something upbeat that the whole family likes. If you don't know where to start, consider starting with worship music. You may be amazed at the impact of worship music playing in the background, both the beautiful melodies and the beautiful words.
  3. Serve graciously. We as wives and mothers often feel drained, like if we don't do something, it won't get done.  That attitude, unfortunately, can sometimes make us bitter and begrudging toward the people whom God has given us to serve.  Pray for humility, knowing that every day is better than we deserve, and serve your family with love and grace. 
  4. Speak kindly. On one of the blogs I follow, a blogger noted that Michelle Duggar said (and I paraphrase because I tried to find the quote and I couldn't) we need to build up our children with kindness twice as much as we admonish them. TWICE! Not that our children don't need correction; they do. But that much more we should be encouraging them, teaching and instructing them, asking them things and listening to their thoughts. That advice is sobering to me, and I think about it a lot. The impact this could have on our homes is extraordinary.
  5. Pray fiercely. This is not a cop-out item. We as wives and mothers must pray fiercely and earnestly for our homes. For our husbands and their leadership. For our children and their salvation/sanctification. For our own spirits of humility, gentleness and realistic expectations. Often, we underestimate the power of prayer, or we forget that prayer isn't for its own sake, but to the Creator of the Universe. If anything can bring peace and rest to a home, it is our Heavenly Father in Whom our souls have found their peace and rest. 
Be encouraged, friends. Soli Deo Gloria!

P.S. Drinking in the Word was not stated, but implied. Look here or here for an Advent Bible study to start tomorrow, and maybe try a family Advent calendar.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Birthday, Birthday

I can officially say, after preparing all week for Charlotte's fourth birthday, that I am exhausted. It was, however, very worth it to make her day so happy and exciting. 
We blew out candles on Tuesday night since we had church Wednesday night. 

 Then, Charlotte woke up on Wednesday and got dressed for school.
 When we got home, we opened presents from Aunt Liz first.
 (The smile for the clothes WAS bigger, I just pushed the button at the wrong time)

There are a couple videos (including one of Jonah fighting with/eating a gift bag) but this one is the best. This is Charlotte opening a present she really wanted: a Lalaloopsy notebook.

Monday, November 19, 2012


We, as Americans, are very conflicted about work. Working. We want to work; we're thankful we have jobs. We go to college so that, eventually, we can work. But it's hard, it's time-consuming and it gets in the way of life. If only we didn't have a job, we would....

I've been pretty convicted about this attitude in myself lately. If you know me, you know that it's taken me about four years (and A LOT of God's grace) to make peace with the fact that, in our family, I need to work outside the home full time. This may not always be the case, but it might be, and that has been difficult for me to come to terms with, to say the least. I am not ashamed to admit that I still struggle with this, though far less than I used to. Too often, I look at my job as something that gets in my way of really living, and no one would blame me: I have two small kids, a husband, a house we're trying to sell, papers to grade, dinners to make, baths to give, you get the picture. The problem is that this way of looking at my job is wrong. So wrong. Instead of seeing my job as something that gets in the way of my life (because, from a time viewpoint, my life gets in the way of my job), I need to switch my paradigm to seeing my job as part of the circumstances God has given me. Something to be thankful for, yes, but not something to be simply tolerated. Not something to try to get out of or get around. Something to be accepted gratefully and completely with open arms, eager for the opportunities God has for placing me there.

God has been convicting me a lot lately about this idea of work. The book of Ecclesiastes, especially, has shown me that God's plans are perfect and mine are futile. His purposes are greater than mine, and it is His will for me to be content with what I have. That means my faith is not determined by my circumstances. I have said this over and over again; I remind myself of this all the time. All of my life is a gift of grace, even the trials. Even the work that I do. Even the fact that I am in the position I am in in the building I'm in, and so on and so forth.

(Caveat: No, my job is not my entire life. If you know me, you know that. But it is part of my life, and a pretty significant part of it. So why would I dread/waste/complain about it when it has been entrusted to me by Almighty God? How foolish would I be?)

And I had forgotten that. I had lowered my vision from Heaven where it belongs to this earth where all of the tiny, dramatic details weigh us down. I have forgotten what I deserve and who I was.
Scripture says in Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." This includes working in the jobs where we spend most of our time (and probably do most of our ministry, whether we know it or not.)
And so, friends, be encouraged. It all comes back to the gospel. And grace. And not our strength.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tales in Infant Mobility

 You see, because of Charlotte's feet, we didn't really have to worry about mobility until she was over a year old. Obviously, we are not having the same problem with Jonah. Just some different problems. :)
 He is into EVERYTHING. Every single thing he is not supposed to get into or have, he finds a way. Stinker.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Spoiler Alert

Family Pictures Preview

Thanks Shannon - With His Light Photography

Monday, November 5, 2012

Messing Around Monday

  Tonight for dinner: Chicken Tortilla Soup that was already prepared and frozen. So I had some time to mess around and take some silly videos.

After dinner, we played Cootie. After much trying not win, I wound up winning. But we still had fun.