Day 10: Encourage someone

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Could someone in your family use some encouragement?

It could be anyone – your spouse, child, sister, aunt, cousin, nephew, parent, grandparent, etc.

Take some time today to call the person (not email or text) and see how he or she is doing beyond the cursory, “Fine, and how are you?”

A few minutes spent encouraging someone who is going through a hard time is time well spent.

Even if you’re not that great at giving out some encouragement, simply offering a listening ear is a thoughtful act that will be much appreciated…

…and will probably make you feel better, too.

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Miss a day? All the rest of the 31 Days to Vintage Living are posted here.

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Published in: on October 10, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Hope for the weary

 

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galations 6:9

I don’t know about you, but I feel weary sometimes (truth be told, I feel weary more often than not these days). In all my roles as a Christian woman, wife, mother, teacher, employee, volunteer, friend, etc., I get weary and weighted down.

But God’s Word offers us encouragement like nothing else. The Lord always keeps His promises. And He promises us a harvest if we keep going and don’t give up. The trick is to keep going with what HE has asked each of us to do. Oftentimes we get discouraged and weak because we are trying to do things He has not asked of us.

Is there anything in your life you need to surrender? What area could you give up or do less in so you will be energized for all your responsibilities?  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

As we are gearing up for our second year of homeschooling, that is the question on my mind.

 

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Note to Moms…Punch Out!

Not as in…

  • punch out your husband when he asks, “What’s for dinner?” after you just walked in the door from work and he’s been home for two hours already.
  • punch out the person talking on the phone while driving who almost succeeds in killing both you and your children.

I mean “punch out” as in set a time to be done with your housework for the day and then be done with it. Simply treat your responsibilities at home just as you would your responsibilities working a job outside the home.

Go here with me for a second.

At a job outside the home, there is a definite start and end time. Even if you don’t punch a physical time clock, you still stop working at a preset time.

So it begs the question, “Why couldn’t you do the same for your housework?”

Please note I’m NOT suggesting that you refuse to feed your baby or read a story to your little one after 5 p.m. Parenting is a 24/7 job.

What I am suggesting is that you plan to be done with the cooking and cleaning responsibilities at a certain time and then walk away.

I recently began finishing up my home responsibilities by a certain time and I have to say I like it.

I like it “ah-lawt”. (Name that movie).

It gives me an incentive to work hard to finish what I need to for the day. After that, I am free to go and enjoy my family

No more thinking, “I’ll just start a quick load of laundry” or “I’ll just handwash these few dishes in the sink.”

Instead, I give myself permission to stop working at a given time and start spending some quality time with my husband and sons.

Let’s face it – there will always be more to do. Laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc., will unfortunately always be there.

But time with my precious family may not.

Hmmm…what do you know? I think it’s time for me to punch out:)

Published in: on July 6, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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What is Love?

My sons usually get along pretty well – most of the time.

Then there are “those days”.

Yes, we had a couple of them last week. The ones where there is near constant bickering and just general nastiness between them.

I took each boy aside and asked him if he knew what love really is. Then I opened up my Bible and asked if he wanted to know what God had to say about love.

He said yes.

I read these verses to him:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Then I asked him if he was showing that type of love to his brother.

After a pause, a feeble little, “no” came out of his mouth. At that moment, I knew that the Holy Spirit was at work in his precious little heart.

I asked him to remember those verses the next time he was tempted to talk to his brother in an unloving way.

He apologized to his brother and then he prayed for forgiveness.

Then I did the same thing with my other son.

Parenting is really, really hard. Scratch that – trying to be a really good godly parent is down right impossible without God.

I wish I didn’t struggle so, but I guess that is what keeps me humble and completely dependent on the Lord. Plus, an added bonus is that whatever I say to my sons from the Bible is also a great reminder for me. Funny how it happens right when I need to be reminded the most.

Father God, please teach me to love others as you do. Help me to be an example of your love every day. And thank you for being quick to forgive me when I mess up. Amen.

Published in: on July 3, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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God Loved Us First

 

 

“‘Tis not that I did choose Thee,

For Lord, that could not be;

This heart would still refuse Thee,

Hadst Thou not chosen me…

 

My heart owns none before Thee,

For Thy rich grace I thirst;

This knowing that I love Thee,

Thou must have loved me first.”

-Josiah Conder, 1836

Published in: on June 26, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Your house is so _____”

A very stylish neighbor of mine stopped in unexpectedly the other day.

As soon as she walked in and looked around she said, “Your house is so…”

Cute? Nope.

Beautiful? Nope.

“…peaceful.”

That was one of the nicest compliments about our home I’ve ever received.

You see, that’s what I what our house to be. Warm. Comfortable. And yes, peaceful.

We don’t have to have the newest and best things, nor the most expensive things, to have a lovely home. In fact, I happen to prefer the stuff that has a history – things that beg to be rescued, made over and loved once more.

Perhaps one reason why is because that’s what God did for me.

He rescued a little girl, abandoned by her birth parents, and is slowly making her into something special in His eyes – a woman of the Word, of prayer and of character.

Though I fall so short every day, He is there to encourage me, guide me and give me His peace. His mercies truly are new every morning.

And He longs to do the same for you, if you will let Him.

Matthew 11:28-29 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Published in: on June 16, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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I did it!

I just finished my first year of homeschooling.

And I didn’t even pull out all of my hair!

I’ve learned so very much this past year…about each of my sons, about myself and, most of all, about the Lord.

Not to mention that I can also rattle off the names of the original thirteen colonies. Aren’t you impressed?

You see, I didn’t want to homeschool. In fact, I’m the last person anyone thought would ever homeschool. (I know because I’ve been told so on more than one occasion)!

But my husband was convinced God was leading our family in that direction.

Me? I didn’t get that message, if you know what I’m saying!

I came up with a list of reasons why it wouldn’t work and I proceeded to tell my husband and the Lord all of them. Multiple times.

So then what happened?

God changed my heart.

I didn’t think I could do it. And honestly, I didn’t think I’d want to.

But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all of the unexpected blessings our family has received. Not so much because we decided to homeschool, but because we were obedient to the Lord and we trusted Him to figure out all of the details. 

Once I yielded my will to His, the idea became more appealing. And things started to fall into place.

Even though I still didn’t think I could do it, I made myself try – and God provided.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)

I still mess up and I still have so much more to learn. But guess what…I actually like homeschooling. And when I’m tempted to give up, I remember that I’m only the vessel that God is using. He is doing the real work. I just have to be willing.

And that is the biggest blessing of all.

* * * * *

End note:  Please don’t misunderstand…my purpose in writing this post isn’t to convince you that you have to homeschool. Or to make you feel guilty if you can’t or don’t.

I just want to encourage you to make yourself available to the Lord and to decide once and for all that you will follow Him no matter what. When you do that, He is able to do “exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20) and He gets the glory only He deserves.

Published in: on May 18, 2011 at 9:26 am  Comments (1)  
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Grace Defined

What is grace? And what does it mean to grow in grace?

I’ve always heard “grace” defined as “unmerited favor” and I thought that was a good definition.

Then I happened upon a quote from The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith, a book that was first published in 1888.

She writes, “It is difficult to answer this question, because so few people have any conception of what the grace of God really is. To say that it is free unmerited favor, only expresses a little of its meaning. It is the unhindered, wondrous, boundless love of God, poured out upon us in an infinite variety of ways, without stint or measure, not according to our deserving, but according to His measureless heart of love, which passeth knowledge, so unfathomable are its heights and depths”.

Wow. I read that over and over again.

I want to know the grace of God like that. But wait, I already do  know His grace and love, I just have to accept it.

Father God in Heaven, thank you so much for lavishing your unhindered, wondrous, boundless love upon us. Please never let us think for one moment that we have done or could do anything to deserve your measureless love toward those you call your own. Help me to humbly accept your beautiful gift. May I always remember that your grace is sufficient for my every need. Amen.

From Moody Publishers:  HANNAH WHITALL SMITH (1832-1911) was born in Philadelphia to a Quaker family. Her life expressed the joy that is found in complete surrender to the Lord. The secret to a happy life, according to Whitall Smith, is to trust implicitly in the promises of the Bible. Her goal was not to impress the scholar, but to elevate the simple man or woman who longed for a more consecrated way of living. Deeply practical, her writings deal directly with the day-to-day struggles of ordinary people. She is author of The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life and The God of All Comfort.

Published in: on May 15, 2011 at 5:00 am  Comments (3)  
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A Gentle and Quiet Reminder

Not too long ago, I read a book by a homeschooling mom of eight children on how to have a gentle and quiet spirit.

Needless to say, I was convicted – in a good way.

So I started thinking about how I could create some kind of visual to remind me to have a gentle and quiet spirit in this busy modern world.

And here is what I came up with:

Here is a close up of those little frames:

This project was so easy. I bought some frames at the dollar spot at Michael’s, spray painted them oil rubbed bronze and hung these words in a random pattern on a wall in our bedroom:

a gentle and quiet spirit

It’s taken from 1 Peter 3:3-5 which says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, 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.”

Now every time I walk by that little corner, I am reminded what is of great worth in God’s sight. Another version says, “precious”.

When I first read that verse years ago, I thought God was saying that women should stop wearing makeup, never do our hair and only wear sweatpants.

Boy, was I wrong.

I heard a sermon that illuminated that verse. It simply means that we are to be more concerned with what we look like on the inside than what we look like on the outside. An the only way we can become beautiful on the inside is to spend time at His feet, soaking in His word.

That makes so much more sense to me – and I can still wear mascara.

God’s word is so magnificent!!

The Cutest Little Apron You Ever Did See

My friend and I attended a sewing class held one night this week at a local small business.

Our assignment was simple:  bring two yards of coordinating fabric, thread and a sewing machine. Little did I know it would be a night of much-needed creativity and encouragement.

Tonya, the owner, is a very sweet woman with a beautiful heart – and the patience of a saint.

She spent a long time teaching us two newbies how to make this adorable apron:

Isn’t it darling?

I learned SOOO much from Tonya about the right way to sew.

Repeat after me:  rotary cutters are GENIUS.

Not only that, somewhere during the process of making this little cutie, the three of us bonded.

OK, so snacking on my friend’s delicious homemade blondies didn’t hurt either:)

I don’t have the pattern to share with you, but I do want to encourage you to schedule some time to do something creative that you enjoy, preferably in the company of other women.

I drove home that night feeling refreshed and encouraged. Plus, I had an adorable little something I made (mostly) by myself to show for it.

The next day, I was noticeably calmer and more peaceful as I returned to my roles as wife, mom, teacher, parent, etc., etc.

My advice? Don’t wait until you are burned out. Take a little bit of time here and there to recharge and you’ll be all the better for it.

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PS In case you are wondering, the store I was talking about is called Tonya’s Totes in the quaint little village of Vicksburg, Michigan. Tonya is one talented lady who happens to make the most wonderful purses and totebags – and they’re all custom-made. I don’t receive any benefit for saying that, other than to encourage someone who I think does excellent work:)

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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