Time and Balance Tuesday – My Favorite Hour of the Day

 

I love to read.  And our curriculum is heavy on literature, so the girls need a lot of time to read as well.  Fortunately, they all like to read, so that helps.  In spite of our universal affinity for reading, I found we were still having a hard time fitting all the reading in to each day, and I certainly didn’t have any spare time to read for pleasure!  That is, until I discovered what has become my favorite hour of the day.

After lunch, I grab my heating pad, a glass of water, and a timer.  We all grab whatever book we’re working through and blankets, and we settle in on the couches.  I set the timer for thirty minutes and everyone reads quietly.  Bliss, I tell you! Pure bliss!  😉  After that thirty minutes, I will then read to them a chapter from a read-aloud book, which typically takes another thirty minutes.  This change in our school routine has been a huge blessing.  We aren’t able to do it every day, but if we go too long without it I get that dry, desperate feeling, similar to missing my quiet times for too long.

This hour has replaced “rest time”, which never was very restful anyway once all the kids gave up naps.  I spent most of that time brooding because I could hear them all upstairs not resting. This way, my ears get an hour of quiet and we all get to do something we enjoy together.

What about you?  Have you found a creative way to fit something you enjoy into your daily/weekly schedule?  Feel free to share in the comments section!

Have a wonderful Tuesday, friends!

~ Sara

Thankful

It’s Monday morning.  I sit here with heat on my lower back and strive to be thankful for the ache that kept me awake most of the night, giving me extra time to think, pray.  Gratitude is a habit that must be practiced, cultivated, worked at.  To find the blessing in something hard.  To remember to stop and say thank you when things go wonderfully right.

Over the weekend, I was reading the newsletter from a medical sharing ministry we participate in.  Ray King, who always writes the closing article says it well –

We have a lot to be thankful for.  Our God richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

The passage above (I Timothy 6:17b) was directed to the rich in this present age, but the basic principle applies to everyone.  We can be so focused on material things, that we turn our attention away from God.  We can end up wanting more and become ungrateful, even though He generously gives each of us everything we need.

Thankfulness is a characteristic of obedient followers of Jesus Christ.  Ingratitude for God’s provision is an early sign of unbelief (Romans 1:21).

We need to gratefully focus on how good God is, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day.”

 

0911.  running with my beloved

0912.  no school

0913.  girls who sleep in

0914.  girls who don’t

0915.  the last (?) five year old

0916.  Pandora on the iPad

0917.  bills paid

0918.  the chance to slow down

0919.  sisters who give generously to each other

0920.  screen door open on the 24th of November

0921.  children who grow like weeds

0922.  making Thanksgiving Day brunch with my favorite

0923.  an over-sized sink

0924.  my dishwasher

0925.  more time with family

0926.  the second born choosing to persevere through something hard

0927.  Rescue Run

0928.  Christmas tree decorated

0929.  achy back

0930.  the Christmas season

May you cultivate Christ this week as you give intentional thanks for His abundant blessings.

~ Sara

Five

Ellie

Ellie – the baby of the babies – turns five today.  She’s funny and charming and goofy and aggravating and quick.  She can make you laugh and make you crazy, all within the same minute.  She’s still hopelessly in love with her “night-night”, she names everything from balloons, to bugs, to furniture.  She has an imagination like I’ve never experienced in a child.  She’s a sponge that memorizes songs and poems and verses effortlessly.  She gives hugs and kisses and doesn’t know a stranger.  She has a temper that we are working on and a smile that can melt away frustration.

Five years ago I was in the early stages of labor while we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws, the night before the real holiday.  Five years ago, she was born on Thanksgiving Day.  And we are thankful for her.

I feel like I have had more time with Ellie, that I wasn’t able to have with the other girls.  I feel like I have been able to watch her grow and change and that I know her better.  I am thankful for these five years.  I am thankful for this child and for all of her sisters.  God is so good.

Happy Birthday, Ellie!

Love ~

~ Mommy

*I won’t be posting Thursday or Friday.  I am planning to “unplug” as much as possible over the next few days and enjoy time with my favorite people.  May you have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend, my friends.  I’ll return Monday to count more of His good gifts.

Time and Balance – Grace

Over the past several weeks we have covered many topics – getting our priorities in line, starting with the first things first, delegating, doing in bulk, multi-tasking, and many others.  If you’re new here, feel free to click the Time and Balance Tuesday tab on the right to see all the posts.  Today is the last “official” post in this series.  The theme today is give yourself grace.

Here’s the deal:  you’re going to fail.  Yup.  I said it.  In the six weeks or so that I’ve been doing this series, I have missed a Tuesday post because I ran out of time.  I have gone to bed with too many things undone.  I have lacked grace and patience with those I love most, particularly my children.  And then there’s this week, when I have front-loaded the week so heavily in hope of relaxing and enjoying the weekend, that I know I’ve been a bear to live with.  😦  We all fail.

But then there’s grace.  It doesn’t give me license to fail, but it does offer me new mercies in the morning.  It gives me hugs from a four year old and tender cards from a seven year old.  It shows me a ten year old who pitches in without being asked and an eight year old who tells me something to make me smile.  Grace – unrelenting, unyielding, unashamed grace.

I’m not perfect.  You’re not perfect.  Only Christ is perfect.  Let us follow hard after Him and trust Him for the means and the ends of each day.

I’ve enjoyed this series.  I hope you have too!  I think I will continue it as I am able, and hopefully you all will be willing to participate through the comments.

By His Grace ~

~ Sara

Surprising

After nearly a year of pain, a year without running, he goes to a doctor.  An MRI is order for the knee, a meniscus tear is assumed.  We are told to expect surgery.  We look at the seasons of his work and what this winter holds and wonder, Lord, how will we fit it all in?

He leaves on Thursday to drive two hours to the doctor and the MRI.  We pray that the tear is minor.

I receive a call in the dollar section of Target.  An injection.  No tear!  No surgery! And I am floored, amazed by how God gives, even when we don’t ask for it.  I am humbled by how, even with all He has been up to in our lives, we completely underestimated Him and His grace.

He gives because it pleases Him to do so.  He answers prayers we don’t even pray because it brings glory to His name.

I count the blessings to remind myself of His goodness, His unrelenting grace, His love.

0902.  not needing the furnace until November 13 and 17th – a new record in seven years!

0903.  no tearing!

0904.  cortisone injections

0905.  a God who answers prayers we’re not even bold enough to pray

0906.  stomach bugs

0907.  2 am

0908.  pizza with friends

0909.  Thanksgiving groceries stacked neatly in refrigerator, on shelves

0910.  a Christmas plan in place

May you find moments in each day this week to count the grace, to record the gifts, to glorify the Giver.  Give Him praise!

~ Sara

Week in Review

It’s Friday….can I hear a woot woot!?!?

Life rolls on like normal filled with grace and goodness and hard days when I seriously wonder if I can just run away.  We’re already here, to the third Friday in November, the Friday before Thanksgiving.  The holidays and all their crazy, busy, wonderfulness are coming fast.

Random Sidenote – As I’m sitting here trying to steal fifteen minutes to write today I am reminded of Law of Parenting #385 – Sit down at the computer and do something productive and it is guaranteed that all hell will break loose.  Or at the very least, a minimum of thirty-seven people will need your attention.  Immediately.  Even though you only have four people in your house at that time.  🙂

Back to the week…..I don’t recall anything outstanding about the week, other than trying to get the girls to take personal responsibility for their productivity during the school day.  So, a chart was made promising ice cream and toppings for each day that a child had her school work done on time.  It was successful.  Not everyone made it every day, but they started to see some consequences for all the goofing around that occurs.  We’ll continue with that a while longer, maybe upping the ante as the weeks go by.

Today the weather is beautiful and I wish I could be outside, but too much awaits here in the house.  But the girls have been outside reading for at least two hours.  I love the afternoons when we go to the library.  I’m thinking we need to make another trip early next week, before Thanksgiving break.  And then I need to hide the books until the weekend so that we can all enjoy some leisurely afternoons of reading.

Christmas decorations are (mostly) up.  😀

God has been up to something incredible again around here.  I’ll share about that on Monday, when I count His gifts.

Until then, have a glorious weekend!  May you find time to be with those you love most!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Things That Haunt

There are sins and scars that we carry around with us, no matter how often we repent and forgive and make new.  They are sins that were committed against us, against our will.  And they are sins committed against ourselves.  Both leave scars and marks – brandished with a scarlet A – never to forget.

Time fades the marks, but sometimes the demons that created them cut them back open.  There’s no preparing for it.  They follow you everywhere.  Even to tropical, peaceful places, where you think you should be able to escape.

**********

I lay in bed, fighting against the one I’ve hurt, fighting against myself.  I battle the lies in my head and silently ask God why.  The silence answers back.  Perhaps He doesn’t speak because He doesn’t need to.  We’ve hashed this out before.  I know the truth.  But sometimes….sometimes the lies shout louder than the truth.  Too often it seems the truth whispers.

The one I love fights his own battles on the other side of the bed.  His own demons and lies fill his head.

This is not how it was meant to be.  This is not what we were made for.  But broken people in a broken world hurt and in the crucible of marriage where we are laid bare and torn open, we can hurt even deeper.

We sleep.  It’s late.  We’re both tired.  Nothing productive will come of further discussion now.

Wounds still bleed in the morning.  Scars are still raw.  But talk comes more easily.  We know the enemy of our souls, of our marriage, is the one who started this battle.  It is him we rage against, not each other.

We pray and reunite, our hearts still wounded, but our resolve strengthened.  Things of the past cannot be changed and decisions made long ago will follow us forever.  But we serve a God who makes all things new.  He is a God of second chances.  He forgives and never gives up.  And we must be the same to each other.

I was nineteen, you were twenty-one
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much too young
But we did it anyway

We bought our rings for forty each
From a pawn shop down the road
We made our vows and took the leap
Now fifteen years ago

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

“I do” are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard
Is a good place to begin

‘Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price
For the life that we have found

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love’s chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear

‘Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you

Dancing in the Minefields / Andrew Peterson

Time and Balance Tuesday – Get Up

 

We’ve discussed a lot of things over the past several weeks that can be implemented to help find that balance among all the responsibilities that we bear as women.  Today’s suggestion will be one that either already comes easily to you or one that you won’t want to hear….

Get out of bed

I am not, let me repeat NOT, a morning person.  My natural tendency is to stay up late and sleep late.  This worked well the first few years of motherhood.  But as we began to journey of home schooling I have learned that we really need to get an earlier start on our day to be truly productive.  Starting at 10 just wasn’t going to cut it over the long term.  I also learned that if I will, at a minimum, get up twenty or thirty minutes before I expect my children up I can read my Bible, have a cup of coffee, and begin to prepare my heart and mind for the little people that are very soon going to be bounding down the stairs.

Over the past twelve months, I have come to appreciate just how much I can accomplish if I get up early.  I have been able to fit my running in without cutting into school or family time later in the day.  On days I don’t run, I can do school prep and other computer work that must be done in the course of life but steals my attention away from my family and my home.  I can even get a couple of hours of ironing done and watch whatever I want on television in the process.  🙂

The trade off for getting up early is the need to also go to bed earlier.  I can’t stay up until 11 or 12 night after night and get up at 5 day after day and function well for more than about, oh, 24 hours.  Part of growing up for me has been learning to go to bed at a decent time.  Sometimes this means I am going to bed at the same time as the ten-year-old.  But it’s the only way I’ve found to make it all work.

A daily schedule is a highly personalized thing.  The key is figuring out what works best for you and and your family.  You may not need to get up at 5 to accomplish all of your tasks, but I will challenge you – if you feel like you’re having a hard time fitting everything in each day – to consider getting up earlier for one week and see what a difference it makes.  Yes, you will be tired.  Go to bed earlier as well.  Or have another cup of coffee.  But try it for one week and see if you don’t get more done in your day.  And if you do, I challenge you to stick with it.  It took almost a year of regularly getting up early to make it a natural habit for me.  Now I find it difficult to sleep past seven (which used to be considered early), even on Saturday’s.  I also find that consistently getting up early is easier than trying to get up early some days and sleeping in others.  Getting up at approximately the same time every day is easier on both mind and body.

Getting up isn’t about a particular time on the clock.  It’s about knowing what time you need to get up to start your day and then actually getting out of bed at that time.

I’d love to hear how this goes for you if you decide to give it a try!  Here’s to a productive week for us all!

~ Sara

Expectation

The question is what does God expect of us?  Is His love earned by what we do, or freely given because He is Love?  Is ours a work-based faith, or one founded on grace?

My husband gives incredible gifts and as his wife I am blessed to be a primary recipient of his generosity.  Gifts like rockin’ clothes, iPads, and trips to warm places with beaches and palm trees.  He gives me those gifts because he loves me and because he loves to give gifts and he delights in my happiness.  His heart is good.

But what happens when I take those gifts and set them on a shelf?  What if I never wear the clothes he buys, even though they fit and look good?  What if I go on that trip and do nothing but complain about the food and lodging and the texture of the sand and the color of the water?  What if I take that iPad and set it on a shelf and never use it?  What does that say about my heart?  About my thankfulness for the gifts?  And my heart toward the giver?

What about the hard gifts he gives?  Gifts like expectations about how I will spend my time and money.  Gifts like holding me to a high standard with what I do with my day.  Can I be thankful for those gifts from my husband too?  That he loves me enough to desire more out of me than I already am?  That he accepts me as I am now, but that he wants me to become someone even better?

If I know the right response to gifts from my husband, even the hard gifts, should I not assume that my God who loves me even more perfectly, even more completely, would have similar expectations?  Not requirements.  Not obligations.  Not determining my salvation.  But a desire for a right response to His gift of love.

“The real journey of faith requires that our choices, our actions, and everything else in our lives be surrendered to God’s will rather than our own…Yes, we must believe that Christ loves us, but Christ also calls us to demonstrate His love to others through the good things that we do, what the Bible calls “works.”  Faith without works is no faith at all. But authentic faith, rooted in the heart of God, expressed in deeds done to ease the pain of others; it is imbued with personal sacrifice, and it comes with a cost…This is not an argument that salvation comes through works, but rather an assertion that one who has committed his life to Jesus will bear quality fruit as evidence of the lordship of Christ.” ~ The Hole in Our Gospel

At a minimum, how can I not declare His goodness and record His faithfulness?  By practicing the art of listing the gifts, I am reminded daily as I sit down with my gratitude journal of His abundant, generous – and sometimes tough – love.  His gifts are not always easy to accept, but they are always allowed by love and always for my good.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.  God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.

~ Romans 8:28-29 (The Message)

Counting God’s good gifts from recent days and reflecting as He molds me into the image of His Son….

0876.  everything prepared

0877.  five days

0878.  our favorite place

0879.  just us

0880.inconveniences that turn out to be okay

0881.  dreams

0882.  walking to Starbucks

0883.  Juan’s eleven-year-old daughter

0884.  old issues

0885.  never giving up

0886.  home

0887.  new running shoes

0888.  seven year old giving pedicures

0889.   checking for head lice

0890. a beautiful fall day on the front porch with my daughters

0891.  clean floors

0892.  clean bedding

0893.  being outside

0894.  bike rides

0895.  freeze tag at the park

0896.  volunteers to bring in groceries

0897.  four year old learning to control her temper

0898.  rainy, fall evenings

0899.  staying in for family movie night

0900. organized shoes

0901.  my own private Nutcracker performance

May you have a blessed week, giving thanks for His endless gifts.

~ Sara

* photos from a recent – quiet – get away to our favorite place