Priorities: Make Us or Break Us

Why do you work out?

If I’m being totally honest, I started working out to look good in a bathing suit. I know, I know! But that is the truth. It wasn’t about getting healthier because back then I didn’t care about my health, not really. I mean what teenager/ twenty-something gives a darn about their actual health? Maybe that’s an incredibly large over-generalization, but you get you the point.

It wasn’t until recently (and in my 30’s, how did that happen??) that I started to work out for reasons aside from looks. Do I want to look amazing? Of course! But that isn’t the end goal anymore.

A wise friend told me that looking good is just a side effect of taking care of yourself. I love that thought!

That is where I am at. I am working out to get healthier and stronger. Should I look better in the process, so be it! But my work out game has only gotten stronger now that I have real goals in mind.

It is interesting to think changing the end goal of working out changes the reason to work out from superficial to something genuine. It has allowed me to make exercise a lifestyle.

That offers some introspective. For example, just like working out with the goal of getting healthier allows you to focus on form, flexibility, real training, and being able to live/perform better; changing your goals in your Christian walk can allow you to have a deeper relationship with God and all the people around you.

So, what are your goals? Are you a Christian for the sake of saying you are a Christian? Do you show up to church to merely socialize? How about that small group; what is that to you? Is loving people a real thing in your life or something that is saved for just your family? Or are you truly seeking God with your whole heart, mind, and spirit?

Those are some of the questions that I have been grappling over. I have come to find I needed to change my end goal of my faith too. A total overhaul from my body to my mind!

I am setting a goal to not care about the superficial of Christianity (you know, the dress up and look like you have it all together but really, you’re drowning inside trying to do and be everything kind of thing). I am setting the goal to start really digging into a rooted relationship with God and allowing Him to be my everything.

What does that look like?

It looks like me deliberately taking the time to be with God. I have been so poor when it comes to intimate time with God. I worship on Sundays, read when it dawns on me and sometimes do studies (but really don’t pour into it like I need to if I’m honest). It is time to take the initiative and be with the one who loves me more than anything. Time to date God regularly.

It looks like me not caring about the little things that don’t truly matter. I can waste my day cleaning my house from top to bottom for guests when they come over. But does that matter? Not really. Instead, I will not invest my time execessively cleaning. I will invest it with God which will pour out into my guests. I think they will enjoy that more than a freshly mopped floor, lol! Be a Mary, not a Martha. (Man, that poor Martha sure got a bad rep.). New mantra: People over stuff.

It looks like me being humble. This one is hard for me. But I know that I need to humble myself most days so that I can clearly see God and not my “deeds”. Simply pray a prayer of “thank you” every time I feel I have accomplished something on my own because it isn’t me, it is GOD. Have you heard the Tauren Wells song Hills and Valleys? Soooo good! Watch it! It’s a great reminder that I am not alone and that I did not accomplish where I am on my own either.

There are so many things that can happen when these little changes are made when the end goal is God. Just like working out to get healthier will have the side effect of looking and feeling better, truly walking with God will have the side effect of a fulfilled life. That kind of lifestyle is what I want. That kind of lifestyle pours out onto other people.

Let God be your end goal. He will do the work. You just simply need to allow Him.

 

Top 3 Free Resources to Prevent the Dreaded Summer Slide

It is summer! Praise the Lord. No more crazy in-depth curriculum, no more tests, no more school! If your kids are anything like mine, they are super excited to be free from school for a while.

But what about their progress from the school year? Have you ever heard the term “Summer Slide”? It is coined a slide due to the fact that children lose about 2 months worth of skill levels during the summer. It may not sounds like much, but it adds up. Especially when the kids go back to school and the teachers have to focus on reviewing skills instead of building on the skills they learned the year prior.

In an article by published by John Hopkins School of Education the author stated this about summer education loss “Early summer learning losses have later life consequences, including high school curriculum placement, whether kids drop out of high school, and whether they attend college.” (You can read the full article here: Why Summer Learning Deserves a Front-Row Seat in the Education Reform Arena).

With all that said, while it is important to have summer vacation, it is just as vital to continue building the skills your children learn through the summer. So, I have some free (or cheap) resources for you to check out!

  1. Abcmouse.com

Abcmouse.com is an online learning resource (also an app!) for children ranging from pre-K to 2nd grade. My kids absolutely adore it! It is a very entertaining way to help your kids retain skills and learn even more on top of that.

They offer different tracks that teach reading, math, listening skills, science and art skills. Your child can venture through the various levels at their own pace. There are a ton of fun “prizes” for the kiddos to earn along the way.

At the end of their learning track, the kids earn a “graduation certificate”. My daughter was so happy she “graduated” that we had to put the certificate up on our living room wall!

Abcmouse.com offers one free month and then is fairly cheap after that! So, if you’re interested click the link below and check it out:


 

2. Your Local Library

Being a home school family, our library is such an amazing resource for us. Do you get to your library often? You should! Our library offers an incredible summer reading program. This year’s theme is “Building a Better Community”. The kids participate by reading books and marking them down in a book tracker.

Every time the kiddos finish a section, they receive a prize! The prizes range from a sticker to a free pass to a museum. Then, at the end of the summer, the kids that finish the program get to go to a pool party just for them! Not to mention the fun, educational shows the library puts on every week during the summer.

Our kids love doing this program every year and it has been pretty cool to see their love for reading continue to blossom! I highly suggest checking out your public library to see what they have to offer!

3. PBS

PBS is another great free resource for parents to aid in their child’s education. They offer television programming to free apps for devices. They have an entire website dedicated to the kiddos!

The website shares many ways to get involved, including the PBS app, PBS television and printable activities. Here is the link: PBS Kids Summer Adventures.

P.S. if you have a little one that likes to use a tablet (let’s be honest, they all do!) the PBS app is great for educational games that allow your kids to play with their favorite characters and learn skills like math, science and reading.

Those are the three resources we use most during the summer! What other resources do you use? Happy Summer!!

Where is Your Medicine?

Proverbs 28:26,“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool but he who walks wisely will be delivered.”

Can you remember the last time your heart got you in trouble? I can! In fact, just last night my husband and I got into an argument. The argument ended with him telling me to leave him alone and me letting him fall asleep on the couch and literally leaving him alone there.

I was alone in bed half the night.

That may not seem like a big deal to you, but we NEVER do that. We always go to bed together. The next morning, we both felt terrible.  It seems that when I follow the desires of my heart in the moment, I am hurting myself and those around me.

It’s incredible, really, what we can fool ourselves into thinking when we follow the foolish desires of our hearts. Especially when we are fearful of the discomfort that comes from looking in the mirror.

I wanted so badly to blame someone else for my sins. I felt unloved, unwanted, ashamed and guilty. But, surely, none of that could be my fault, because let’s be honest here, no one truly wants to take blame.

We are all victims, right?

That is what I thought until a couple of years ago. I blamed my self-disgust completely on my husband’s struggle with pornography. Hear me, his sin DID do a number on us. On our marriage, him, me and numerous other areas. But, THAT sin did not CAUSE my sin.

Ouch.

His sin was from HIS heart and my sin, well, that was from MY heart. My sins were in place before I even met my husband. We were both following our foolish hearts.

My feelings of insecurity stem from not connecting with God fully in my heart. My feelings of guilt stem from not allowing myself to be forgiven fully in my heart. My feelings of shame stem from not letting God shine his light in some areas of my heart. My feelings of being unloved stem from not fully realizing the price God ALREADY paid.

MY SIN. Not my husband’s. Not anybody else’s. Mine.

I know that all of you are struggling in life somewhere right now. I am here to encourage you, that you are not alone in those struggles. EVERYONE struggles. Look around. Our entire culture brings about struggle.

The standards of the world put insane expectations on us. I mean, women especially. (Not that men don’t have expectations!) We are expected to look like Barbie, cook and clean like Susie homemaker, perform like porn stars, be successful in our careers and be Pinterest-worthy mothers! That is ludicrous. No one can measure up to all of that AND not sin somewhere along the way.

The standards that the world puts on us begin to define who we are if we let them. Trust me, don’t let this world define you.

Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on things above, not earthly things.”

When you set your mind on earthly things, your thought life never ceases to tell you how you have horribly failed in this life!

Guess what? A sinful thought life leads to a sinful way of life.

Your thought life is the first step. The initial sin.

When you continually allow yourself to think sinful thoughts, eventually you are going to act on them. Or medicate them.

I know so many people who go through life medicating all the sadness, guilt, shame, inadequacy that they allow to brew in their thought life.

What thoughts are you allowing to hang around?

Are you medicating? with Alcohol? Sex? Shopping? Gossip? Anger? Resentment? Jealousy? Food?

BUT LISTEN: There is GREAT news! Your sin is not the end of your story. Jesus can be your medicine.

The truth is, God didn’t create you to be so stuck in your mud that you can’t move. You are not destined to sin! Romans 6:14 says “…sin shall not have dominion over you.”

God’s standards, unlike the world’s standards will set you free! God created you to live life to absolute fullest that is possible.

But here’s the thing, you simply cannot live in darkness and stand up in your full potential from God.

I was reading an article the other day called 7 Truths to Help You Triumph Over Sin by Michael L. Jacobson and he brought about this simple but life altering question about sin. Do you believe that sin is inevitable or do you believe that sin conquerable?

God says that, with him, we are more than conquerors. MORE than CONQUERORS. We have the choice.

Do you want to continue down the path of self-destruction or do you want to begin to walk wisely and be delivered?

Are you ready to look in the mirror and face YOUR sins? That is the first step. You no longer need to play a victim. Listen, God already gave us what we need to conquer sin. We have his AUTHORITY. He keeps us upright. We just need to step in the ring.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For the spirit of God does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Pray. Step up.

I encourage you to this week to sit down and dig deep into your thought life. Where are you sinning? WRITE down those sins. All of them. Pray and ask God to forgive every single one of them. Let me be clear here: in asking for forgiveness of these sins, you are not creating your salvation. Jesus already did that. He died on the cross for our sins. Asking for forgiveness of these sins allows you to find closure there. It allows you to find freedom there.

Lastly, start to recognize the triggers that cause you to stumble in your thought life. Recognizing these triggers allows you to take back your thoughts. Once you can recognize and capture the sinful thoughts (guilt, shame, jealousy, etc.) replace them with Biblical truths.

Stop the lies and build the truths.

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

It takes time. There is no overnight fix. Work at it. Work at it because you are worth it. Work at it because you do not have to play a victim. Work at it because you are worthy. Not only in my eyes, but in our Creator’s.

He loves you. He cares about how you are living. He wants you to listen to his word, not YOUR heart.

Let him help you break free from these chains.

Let him be your medicine.

Do You Feel Worthy this Season?

This year, there has been this reoccurring theme of worth. Worth seems to be linked to everything we do. Or don’t do.

According to the dictionary worth means: “sufficiently good, important, or interesting to justify a specified action; deserving to be treated or regarded in the way specified.”

Do you ever feel unworthy? Have you thought that you weren’t deserving?

It isn’t just you. It’s me. It’s all of us. We constantly feel unworthy. In fact, as I write this, I am second guessing every word. Ugh.

Unworthiness is a crazy stronghold. It is time that we, as people, break free from those chains. It is time to remember to whom we belong.

“Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, remember to whom you belong.” Ephesians 2:19-22

I figured, what better season to talk about our worth than right now. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember who we are in Christ because we are celebrating him!

Jesus loves us. He wants us to feel worthy.

Feeling worthy is vital. Feeling worthy allows us to live life better. When we feel that we are deserving, we open up to love and happiness. Guess what happens when we feel loved? We love other people better!

Feeling worthy is a necessity, especially if you love Jesus. Listen, friends, he did not put us here to feel bad about ourselves. Jesus doesn’t look at us that way. He loves us exactly where we are. In the thick of our craziness, his love is there.

So, why do we feel like we aren’t deserving?

The enemy. Plain and simple. All those self doubts, negative thoughts, feelings of unworthiness, those aren’t from Jesus.

DO NOT listen to those negative words.

Would Jesus love us so much that he died for us so we could spend eternity with him to only then tell us how horrible we are? NO!!!!

Stop listening to those negative words.

The only reason those thoughts creep in is so that enemy can handicap us.

I heard this great quote at a convention I recently attended: “You can only love other people once you love yourself.” Wow. Guys, that says it all.

What is our command from Jesus, friends? To LOVE God and to LOVE one another. How can we do that if we don’t feel worthy enough to be loved?

Trust me here guys, we are worthy. Jesus says so.

Do me a favor, listen to God instead. He loves us. He wants us. We are important to him.

This Christmas season, show other people how much he loves us. Remember to whom you belong and put on your crowns.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

What Now?

Hey Guys,

This election has been pretty crazy. Any way you look at it someone loses.

Let me first say, which ever way the outcome was going to be, I felt the need to write something addressing it. Because, well, let’s face it, both of our primary choices left me wanting to puke.

Here we are. The outcome is Trump. Some are wildly upset, some enthusiastically overjoyed, and some just don’t know what to think.

The most common question I have been hearing is “What now?”.

Well, if you’re a Christ follower, I think it is pretty clear:

Stay the course.

People are watching like they have never watched before because for some reason Trump has been correlated to Christianity. Which means that what he does affects how people view Christianity.

Now, if you truly walk with Jesus, you know as much as I do that Trump is not the face of Christianity. Not my Christianity anyway. Jesus is.

So, listen, continue to trust God, continue to love, continue to be respectful, continue to accept people with open arms because that is our duty. Jesus loves. We need to love.

It is NOT our place to demean or judge other people, especially if they are not Christ followers. It is our place to continue to allow Jesus to mold OUR hearts. They shall know us by our love, right?

So what now?

Trust God. Go out and love. Show people who Jesus really is.

Don’t become Pharisees.

And you know what? God has the rest.

Praying for our President and our country.

Melissa

 

A Day In The Life

Hey guys!

I have received some questions about how in the world we home school. Well, frankly, God. If not for God, I would not be able to do it!

I thought instead of talking about it all day long, I would just show you some pictures of some of our day today! Enjoy 🙂

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We add a number each day to our 100 day caterpillar!
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We are learning about the different meanings behind Jesus’ name!
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Each child adds their own artistic version!
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Our sensory bin is full of rice this week. It is a great way to learn about measurement!
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We LOVE abcmouse.com in this house!
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The table the we mainly use for formal instruction.
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Days of the week!
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We have a timeline for our history curriculum. Jesus is the marker between B.C. and A.D., Leif Ericsson is in a Viking ship and Christopher Columbus is sporting some awesome fashion!
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The little man learns spacial reasoning, colors, and numbers by playing with blocks!

Shout out to Abcmouse.com! They are a great supplemental online curriculum for kids that attend public school, private school or home school! All three of my kids have enjoyed “playing” on abcmouse.com. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it!

Hope you all have a great day!

Melissa

Laundry and Dishes

Hubby and I had the week off from our kids last week. Before they left , I thought that I would be doing all sorts of things from household honey-do lists to shopping for fun. Then the real kid vacation began and I honestly didn’t do much of anything. It was pretty anticlimactic. And, honestly, eye-opening.

Let’s back up a bit. I have been struggling hard with who I am at this point in my life. I keep asking myself what on earth do I have to offer other people; how can I help. I thought maybe going back to school to finish my masters would be the best thing to do, but it just doesn’t work at the moment for numerous reasons. I have been at a loss. Am I really here to do laundry and make dinner? That just seems too quintessential.

With all that on my mind, I thought for sure that I would have a great time catching up on all sorts of things and maybe have some epiphany of who I am supposed to be or what I am supposed to do with this life while the kids were gone. You know, come to see the bigger picture of what God was wanting in my life. (Which is a whole different post to discuss at a later time, lol!)

Guess what? I did have an epiphany. I realized that, my most important work right now is my family. I am meant to lead those children to become disciples. That is a hard realization. That is an answer which requires me to die to myself daily; to die to my own glory for the sake of God’s glory in them. Ouch.

After being punched in the face with that reality, I felt ashamed of not thinking that I was doing any work worthwhile. I felt guilty for thinking of only me and my life. And then I was brought to my knees with the weight of the task at hand. Hubby and I are our kids examples and leaders to Christ. That is INSANE! That takes my breath away.

So, here we are on the first day of the school year (we home school, yes, we are that family) and I feel more fulfilled than I have felt in a very long time. It has astonished me that serving other people, like my husband and children, actually makes me feel better. All I have to do is give it up to God. Every. Day. Give my life up to God. I wish I would have learned that sooner.

Is God Interested in my Comfort?

What is your version of comfort? I know that when I grab a big fluffy blanket, some hot tea and curl up on the couch, I am comfortable. I will literally ask one of my kids to get something for me (that I could probably get if I reached just a little tiny bit) so that I don’t have to move my body at all. Super lazy! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that is totally needed, especially after a very long, hard day with school and the kids. I get it! But, sometimes it is the sum of being a lazy slug.

In those times, I am reminded of how I am not doing my body or brain any favors by being a couch potato. In those times, I think about God’s purpose for my life. Is it to be comfortable? Did he create me, give me this life with these people so that I can lay back and slide through life comfortably without having to lift a finger? I don’t think that is his plan.

I have never met an athlete that doesn’t push their body to the limit in order to get better. Or a successful writer that hasn’t had to stretch their minds in order to improve their writing. There is not one person that has truly succeeded in their field without stepping outside their comfort zone in one aspect or another. It is plain and simple that people do not grow, get better, reach more people without being uncomfortable first. Growth doesn’t happen on the couch.

As I read through the Bible, over and over again I see people stepping out of their comfort zones in order to obey God. Moses went from a super comfortable living situation in a palace to living in the desert for 40 years. Instead of marrying someone he knew and loved, Hosea married a prostitute that cheated on him numerous times. Jonah, although hesitating the entire time, traveled to a place he definitely didn’t want to go in order to obey God. None of things seem comfortable to me, yet all of them were required by God. So, is God concerned with my level of comfort? Or is it my level of obedience?

I think, coming from an American viewpoint, we have gotten a little off track when it comes to following Jesus. I am reading a book by Jennie Allen (she is just an amazing woman of God and you can buy her book if you click on the title of it!!) called Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul. In this book she talked about Jesus being radical; that following and obeying Jesus is radical. She discusses that somewhere along the lines, we have come to believe that once we give our lives to Christ, life should be easy; in that we pray to God to show us what to do and then think that the easiest possible answer that pops up must be the one from God. This my friends, is not true. Our lives are not going to be easy! Read the Bible if you want proof, lol!

Now, before I get people yelling about how it says that God wants to prosper us and give us hope, let me tell you, yes! Absolutely God wants the best for you. But, I think that what we think is the best for us (or the most comfortable) is often times not what God thinks is best for us or for his kingdom. Often times, in order to receive the best version of our life from God, we have to obey; even the uncomfortable requests.

Jesus also said that we will have trouble in this world. Not if we will, but that we will. But listen, that is ok! Trouble is everywhere. Sin is everywhere, we are not exempt from that. However, God already won. We don’t have to worry about winning that war. That is the best news, isn’t it? Even in our personal struggles or the troubles of the world, God is with us and he has won. All we have to do is lean into him. Even in death, we win!

So, when it comes to my personal comfort, I don’t know that God is too concerned about it. God did tell us to rest; please remember to rest, it is vital to life, but our level of comfort is another story all together. Growth does not come from comfort. If you want to dig deeper, stretch your mind, grow in your walk with God, become better than you were yesterday, get out of your comfort zone and into the world. Spread the love of Jesus the way he did.

 

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Ode to Laundry

Hello there load of laundry that I have washed three times in a row,

I keep forgetting about you, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make you feel unwanted or forgotten. I swear that I want to dry and fold you. Here’s the deal, there is just too much to do every day and unfortunately you are my least favorite chore.

My kids must think that you get washed and folded by some glamorous glittering flying laundry fairies because I obviously can only have time for them. It seems that if I pay attention to anything or anyone else, meltdowns are eminent and the world is ending. They wake up yelling for milk, then breakfast. Before I know it it’s lunch time, then, poof, dinner! As if making all the meals wasn’t enough, we need to do school work (homeschooling is a tad bit time consuming), clean house, play, brush teeth, wipe butts, break up ridiculous fights, attend to the hubby and find time to write.

Amidst all the chaos, there you are load of laundry, just waiting to get some attention. I promise that my intentions are good, I mean to get you clean and put back in your place, but somehow still I am always searching for clean underwear. I really do enjoy clean underwear.

Then, there’s the hubby. He loves you too. Well, at least the clean version of you that has already been put in his drawer. He once tried to attend to you, but alas, you gave him such trouble that he hasn’t dared to venture in the laundry room ever again.

I know, I know, his side of the story is not very likely. You must have told him that you would shrink down from a woman’s size large to a tiny toddler size. Surely, you told him not to put you in the dryer at all. I bet you even kicked and screamed as he pulled you from the washer to the dryer. Yet, here we are. And there he is not.

Again, I apologize, lonely load of laundry that has to be stripped of all your color by now and probably smells a bit musty. But, I am your sole provider and the pressure is just too much. Sometimes it is just easier to pour in a little more detergent and run the wash cycle one more time. So, please forgive me as I ensure that while you may not be dried and put away the first time around, you will be super clean!

Signed,

Not the laundry fairy

3 Ways Not to Become a Mommy Monster

I have recently discovered something about myself. I reach a certain point in the day and totally lose all my cool when anything goes wrong. I HATE that about myself and want to change it. So, I am working towards that goal. Here are three ways that seem to help me not be a mommy monster:

  1. Set a Schedule

There needs to be a schedule. I am learning this the hard way. Our family is the type of family that mostly flys by the seam of our pants. We like to be spontaneous and that is ok for some things, but not all things every day.

I have learned that when I have a schedule laid out for the day, everything goes that much more smoothly. I am at the point now where I have made a daily schedule. When we stick to the schedule, everyone knows what is expected and can anticipate the days activities, leaving less room for melt downs and crazy mommy episodes.

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2. Follow Through

Saying what you mean and meaning what you say has taken on a whole new interpretation now that we have kids. They remember EVERYTHING! When we tell them that we are going to do something, we better mean it. When they do not listen and we say we are going to discipline them, we better mean it.

There have been numerous times when I say that I am going to discipline them in this way or that if they do not listen and then don’t follow through. My behavior has led to them not believing that I will follow through with the discipline. When they don’t believe that there is going to be a consequence to their action, guess what, the action doesn’t stop.

On the other end, there have been a handful of times when I have said that we are going to do this or buy that and then have not been able to follow through. My behavior in that area also causes problems because the children start to not believe what I say. Who is going to listen to someone they don’t believe?

In both cases, I need to always follow through with what I say, whether it be discipline or something fun. I am learning to only say what I mean and always mean what I say. When I am conscious of that, the inner monster doesn’t pop its ugly head as often.

3. Take Mommy Time

I cannot even begin to tell you the importance of taking time for yourself. Taking time to do something that you enjoy, eat food that fuels you, exercise, read, dance, whatever it is that you love, will only benefit every aspect of your life.

When I learned that me time wasn’t selfish and stopped having guilt about it, I was able to fill my cup up. What can you do with a full cup? You can pour it out! Taking time for myself allows me to better pour into my husband and children.

You know those times when you feel like there is not one more thing that you can handle and want to explode? Well, when you have taken time for yourself, there is a way better chance that there won’t be an explosion because you’re not drained. So, fill your cup up!

I am hoping that consistently doing these three things will help me be a better mommy, wife and friend.

How do you avoid Mommy Monster Moments?