Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back to School for the Mamas {2014 Edt.}



For the third Fall in a row {check out 2012 and 2013 if you missed them}, I'm saluting my love of learning with an educational reading list to fill the gaps in my own education. While I love being a student, I am not in school and probably won't be again for a long time, if ever. So I'm trying to keep myself sharp as the leaves turn and the school buses roll by. Here's this years list.

The Epic of Gilgamesh. I've just started working through the poetry list from Susan Wise Bauer's The Well Educated Mind with a friend, and The Epic of Gilgamesh is first on our list. Our plan is to take one book a month, meeting once at the end of the month to discuss our reading. Why not snag a friend or two yourself and start your own Great Books reading club?

Instructing a Child's Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp. I really benefited from Shepherding a Child's Heart, and am hoping that this title selected from my church's library will be equally helpful.

James and the Giant Peach. Back-to-school reading isn't just for me this year, but something I can share with my three year old.This is the first chapter book I've begun reading to S, and much to my delight, she loves it! It was my favorite as a child, so an easy first choice. If you're looking for more great first read-alouds to share with your pre-schooler, Everyday Reading has a great list here that has given me plenty of ideas for what to read with S next.

That's all for now, because really, how many books can one mom of two small children read at a time? If you're looking for further reading inspiration, check out my pin board on tea and books love. The two definitely go together- a great stack of books sitting on my end table makes me long for a rainy day and a cup of Earl Gray or Darjeeling and plenty of time to just dig into them.

What are you reading for your own educational benefit this year? Any great recommendations to share?

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Be Faithful


Recently I was chatting with one of my best IRL friends, Emily. Speaking of the challenge to read the Scriptures and pray daily as a new mom {she has a four month old}, she shared recent encouragement she'd received from one of our Elders.

"As a new mom, you may only have two or three minutes here and there that are free. Just make it a point to be really faithful in those two minutes."

While I've been a mom for three years, and all my kids are sleeping through the night {for now}, this was so encouraging to me.

It was a reminder to not lament the lack of time I have, but to be as faithful as I can be in the little minutes, seeking the Lord wholeheartedly in them.

That's all we really can do, isn't it? Walk with Him moment-by-moment, drawing near to Him as we remember, coming to repent as soon as we realize we haven't been walking with Him.

Be encouraged today mama- you may not have many moments, but be very faithful in the few that you do have. And remember, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus" {Phil. 1:6}.

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

Monday, September 1, 2014

Gradually

Sometimes in life, we feel the weight of our failures so keenly we're made desperately aware of our need to change. There is a constant pressure and tug for us as wives and moms to do 800 things, all with perfect elegance and ease. Exercise, cook healthy meals, take our vitamins {and make sure the kids take theirs}, read, read to our kids, spend time in the Word, memorize the Word, lose that baby weight, get up early, pray, volunteer, participate in church and school and the neighborhood, and on the list goes.

All of these things are good {to varying degrees of importance}. And we might really, really need to make big changes. But even a person about to drop off the edge of a precipice can only back away one step at a time. Sure, they might go really fast or really slow, depending upon a myriad of circumstances. Nevertheless, one step at a time.

As humans we tend to embrace an all or nothing mentality. While nothing gets us nowhere, all can quickly lead to burn out. The challenge is to embrace gradual, sustainable change. Little steps adopted one at a time, repeated over the long haul, will make a world of difference and cross the longest plain.


I told you recently that I'd dropped my Scripture memory program over a year ago because it had become unsustainable with two small children {note: Scripture memory itself had not become unsustainable, just this particular program. Shame on me for not trying something else sooner}. To gradually ease myself back in, I've been writing out one of my previously memorized passages each day into a new little flip book. Once they're all in there, I can review them at a pace congruent with my life as it is now.

Keeping it in my purse or on the counter, I can briefly go over them in the little minutes. While waiting at the doctors office, watching the kids play, stirring dinner on the stove top, etc.

Just gradual change, one day at a time- trusting it will last a make a difference in the long haul.

What gradual changes do you need to make right now- and how can you accomplish them gently?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Writing Ahead of Myself

Photo Via Walt Stoneburner
A very easy trap to fall into as a blogger {at least for this blogger} is to fill posts with awe-inspiring ideals that look great on paper  screen, but don't translate into my real life. I'm great at making lists and goals and plans, both on and offline, but very poor when it comes to follow through.

I realize that that can paint an inaccurate picture for readers. It might seem like I really have my act together. That I teach my kids and clean my house and have regular devotions that would put Susannah Spurgeon to shame. Ha! So not the case. Not even close.

For example, this post on educating my toddler? Yeah, that one. While we go to the library most weeks and still read a ton, I'm still terrible about planning crafts for S to do. Maybe once a month? Or every other month?

Slow and Steady Get Me Ready? I used the activities in that for about a month before it got buried under a pile of good intentions and sat dusty and alone for the rest of the year. I pulled it out again towards the middle of June with the best of intentions. Three weeks later it was once again forgotten. I still find it to be a great tool and still hope to make it a regular part of our groove... but, we'll see.

Or this post, originally written for A Biblical Marriage, on my plans to start praying more... to my shame, it is nothing more than a plan that I still need to be reminded of {note to self: must print it out and post where I will see it often} and still desire to implement. But heavens, I cannot claim that it is a regular habit of my life yet.

I also want to note that life changes. With the ebb and flow of seasons, children added to the family and life and work changes, my routines and habits are constantly changing. Recently one of you asked about my scripture memory program and if it was still working out for me. The answer to that would be... no.

For five years I loved that system... but after five years, I had quite the stack of review verses. It was taking me an average of 30 minutes a day to get through the program, and after W was born I just quit trying to keep up with it. Now, one year later, I am trying to ease back in and figure out where to go from here.

Please don't look at all of my past posts and imagine I'm still successfully spinning all of these plates. I'm not.

All this to say, I sometimes write ahead of myself. Instead of waiting to write from real experience and what I know, I write of what I want and aim to be. In an effort to be more authentic, I will be posting bold disclaimers when content I'm sharing is an ideal and not for real. More importantly, I'm committing {yikes is that a scary word to type out} to write mainly about what I know from my daily grind experience. Tips and tricks that I've found to be tested and true.

Hang with me while I grow in grace? And please remember, I'm just a fallen woman who makes a heck of a lot of mistakes. A woman who is trying to stop writing ahead of herself.

Monday, August 11, 2014

How to Live Up the Last Days of Summer


Hard to believe, but Fall is coming.

In many parts of the country students are already back in school. The days are growing cooler and shorter.

While my own kids aren't school age yet, I look forward to the changes Fall will bring- less crowded library story hours, cooler days spent at home or out enjoying autumnal colors, scarves and boots, and pumpkin everything {especially pumpkin spice lattes! amen?}. By far, Fall is my favorite season.

Yet for all that I'm in no rush for the summer to end. Fall means that Winter is coming, with its long cold days and cooped up kiddos. While I'm excited for Autumn, I'm sensing the need to soak up these last summer days.

What's my plan? I'm glad you asked!

1. Get outdoors as much as possible. My kids love going outside, but many times I allow my screaming To Do list to keep us holed up indoors. I'm trying to use nap and bed times more productively, and selectively overlooking chores that can wait in order to maximize our outside time. Soon enough we'll be packing up the sidewalk chalk, water toys, and kites. When that day comes we'll all be sad. Best to make the most of these warm sunny days!

2. Make a last minute summer bucket list. If you're anything like me, you still have a handful of activities you'd like to get to this summer and haven't touched. It isn't too late to write your summer bucket list and make a plan for executing it! I'd still like to get my kids out to our local parks and water play place a few more times, visit the zoo, go to the Farmer's Market, and hit up the pool. It won't happen without a bit of planning on this Mama's part.

3. Move indoors stuff outdoors. This coincides with number one- any indoor activity that can possibly be done outside, should be moved there. Reading together, craft projects {bonus: easier clean-up}, handiwork and even computer work {provided you have a laptop} are all nicer out of doors. My kids outside play time is one of my favorite multi-tasking opportunities. I catch up on my podcast listening, read, write thank you notes, and make phone calls all while watching them play. It's actually a very nice break from housework!

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is eat outside. Whether we have a picnic-style lunch or a sit down dinner at our patio table, enjoying the fresh air and summer scenery is such a pleasure.

4. Eat more summer food. Watermelon, ice cream, funnel cakes at the fair, colorful fresh produce at the Farmer's Markets... these are the tastes we'll long for come January. So I say eat up now- as often as you can! Schedule a couple more barbecues with friends, get to the fair, take advantage of seasonal sale prices. Now is the time my friend. Don't miss out!

5. Slow down and savor. Life is moving way too fast. If we don't stop to smell the roses we may miss out on many of life's most beautiful moments. Take time to breathe. Get a break from the air conditioning and enjoy soaking up some sun with your babes. Make a big old mason jar of iced tea {my favorite summer beverage} and drink deep. This summer will be over before we know it, and our chance to enjoy it is now.

Photo Via Andrew
Here's to a delightful last few weeks of summer!

"This is the day that the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!"