Monday, April 30, 2012

A to Z Blogging "Zoo and Other Ideas for Summer Fun"

Zoo…and Other Ideas for Summer Fun”
By Shelly Burke, Editor and Publisher

WOW—I can’t believe today is the last day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge! It has been a lot of fun! I’ve found some great new blogs and made some new online friends. The Challenge forced me to write and blog every day—on two blogs! After doing it twice a day (except for Sundays) I’m getting very good at posting on the new Blogger format and on Facebook as well. I’m thrilled to have more followers, too! I prayed that the A to Z Challenge would be successful for me and my businesses and it has been. I plan to continue to blog on a regular basis (not every day, but 2-3 times a week) so check back often or sign up for e-mail notifications whenever a new post appears.

School will be out in just a few weeks! With the more relaxed rhythm of summer you’re probably planning some family outings—and your kids are probably excited to have time to do activities there isn’t time for during the school year.

Regardless of the age of your kids, start making a summer fun list now! When our kids were young, we put our summer fun list on the refrigerator and added to it almost every day. We listed little things—like walk downtown for ice cream—as well as bigger activities like spending a day at the zoo.

Be sure to include a variety of activities—ones that take just a few minutes and those that take all day…activities that are free and those that have a cost…fun things to do in your own town and some that require travel. Then fit them in during the summer as time and budget allow.

Here are some of our favorite summer fun activities. I’m planning to enjoy some of them this summer with our family! Cody is finishing up his sophomore year of college and Morgan will be going to college in the fall, so I’m planning to make a lot of fun memories this summer.

  • Staying up late and sitting out on the deck with all of the house lights off. As our eyes adjust to the darkness it’s amazing to see the stars, meteors, and so on. (It used to be the kids who got tired when staying up late…now it’s Tim and I!)
  • Sitting outside to watch the fireflies as it gets dark.
  • Getting ice cream and eating it in the park.
  • Spending the day at the zoo.
  • Visiting other Nebraska attractions; check out the Chamber of Commerce in area towns to see what’s available; you’ll be surprised at what you can do close to home.
  • Trying new recipes. I really enjoyed teaching Cody and Morgan about cooking!

Start your summer fun list today—and you’ll make some fantastic memories this summer!

What are your ideas for summer fun? Share them in the comments! 

I’m also blogging today at My post there is titled “Zebras and Other Evidence of God’s Love for Us”

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "You as a Mom, in Six Words"

You, as a Mom, in Six Words”

I’ve seen this challenge in several places and for this blog, here’s the twist: describe yourself as a mom, in six words.

Here are several I’ve come up with for myself:

WOW-Life with kids speeds by!

Graduation soon. New stage of mommy-ing.

Mom loves you no matter what!

Pedicure with Morgan. Another priceless memory! (See picture above!)

And here’s how I describe my life as a mom:

Blessed beyond words after having kids.

Thank You, Lord, for each day!

How would you describe yourself as a mom, using six words? Share in the comments!

I’m also blogging at
Check out my post today, “You in Six Words.”

Friday, April 27, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "X Marks the Spot where Morgan is going to College"

X Marks the Spot where Morgan is going to College”
by Shelly Burke, Editor of the Nebraska Family Times; To inspire, encourage, and motivate you on your Christian walk.”

It’s FREEBIE FRIDAY! Subscribe to the Nebraska Family Times before Sunday, April 29th and you will  receive a FREE copy of my book Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. For only $20 you’ll receive 12 issues of local, state and national news from a Christian point of view. To order go to Nebraska Family Times and click on the button on the right side of the page to subscribe. Please make payment via PayPal to, and leave the address to which you’d like your book sent! Home is Where the Mom Is makes the perfect Mother’s Day gift, and all books will be shipped on Monday, April 30th!

Morgan has been fretting over her college choice for several months. We’ve visited five or six colleges and she’d narrowed her choice to two of them, both very different in size, distance from home, and majors offered.

It was a difficult decision, and only she could make it.

I have been praying that God would give her a sign that would make it very obvious where He wanted her to go, and when my sister Becky talked to her earlier in the week, she suggested Morgan do the same.

Yesterday when she was getting ready for school I heard her laughing in her room. She came out with a piece of paper and said, “I got my sign!” She explained to me that her dog, Jenny, had rolled over on her floor to have her tummy rubbed and Morgan noticed a piece of paper under her.  Morgan unfolded it, and inside found…a check for more than the amount she needed for her housing deposit!

To make the message even more clear, the check was from a cattle show that was sponsored by Colorado State University, one of her choices for college! (Morgan isn’t the neatest person in the world, but she is always very careful with checks she receives—so clearly God put it there on the floor under Jenny!)

Could the message be more obvious? Morgan is relieved and so happy with her decision—and I am so thankful that He answered our prayers in such an unmistakable way. Last night made her housing deposit and signed up for orientation this summer. She didn’t stop smiling all evening.

Jenny and Morgan
As a mom, I’m naturally a little worried that she will be so far away (Fort Collins is about 8 hours from home). However, she is absolutely thrilled about her choice and I know that God will be watching over her every minute. We are blessed to have many friends in the area—one of my best friends from college lives just 45 minutes away and her son will be attending CSU as well! Several of Morgan’s friends who show cattle will be attending CSU and she’s received many invitations for home-cooked meals from friends who live close to Ft. Collins.

Thank You, Lord, for answered prayers. Please lead and bless all the kids who are making college decisions at this time. Amen.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

“”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.””
Jeremiah 29:11          

“…Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”    Mark 11:23-24

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
Read about answered prays in my post “Thx, Lord, for Answered Prayers.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A to Z Blogging "Every mom is a 'Working' Mom"

Every Mom is a ‘Working’ Mom!

By Shelly Burke, Editor of the Nebraska Family Times newspaper, and author of Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Moms Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home

I cringe every time I hear the words “working mom.” Why? Because the term is usually used in the context of comparing moms who have a paying job that is outside of their home to moms who work at home or from home. Used in that way, the term implies moms who are at home with their kids are not working.

All at-home moms, and I think (hope!) moms who work outside of their homes realize that all moms are “working” moms.

I challenge all moms to begin using the terms “work outside my home” and “work at home (or from home).” And I challenge all moms to gently correct anyone who uses the term “working mom” by saying, “All moms are working moms. Some of us work outside our home for pay, some work from home for pay, and some work at home for the payment of hugs from our kids.”

If you, as an at-home mom are asked, “Do you work?” you can answer in several ways: “Yes, I work from home,” or, “Yes, I work at home as my home manager and I get to be with my kids full-time. My benefits are the best—hugs!”

If you want to make a point, list your jobs as an at-home mom: “I’m an at-home mom. I’m a cook, nutritionist, entertainment consultant, housekeeper, chauffer, sleep  specialist, secretary…and that’s just in the morning!”

May God bless all moms in their work of raising their children! 

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord.” Psalm 127:3

“Her children arise and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:28, after listing all of the things that “the wife {mother} of noble character” does.

Please pass this post on to other moms who would enjoy it!

How do you feel about the term “working mom”? Leave a comment and let readers know!

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
Today’s post is titled “Wind.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "Instilling Values in Your Kids"

“Instilling Values in Your Kids”
by Shelly Burke, Author of Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home

(Excerpted from Home is Where the Mom Is. To see the Table of Contents, click on the tab at the top of the page. Home is Where the Mom Is makes the perfect Mother’s Day gift for any mom of children who are at home. See ordering information to the right.)

“Values” can be defined as “broad guidelines that can be applied to specific situations.”

When you instill positive values in your children when they are young, those values will help them make the right decisions throughout their lives. But…these values must be ingrained before difficult situations  (like receiving too much change at the store, cheating on a test, stealing, or having premarital sex or using drugs) arise and it’s all too easy to make the wrong decision—possibly with life-long consequences.

Think about your values and consider writing them out and hanging them where you and your kids can refer to them daily. The 10 Commandments will probably be included (Deut. 5:7-21) and the Fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—are also great guidelines. You might include honesty and generosity and anything else that fits what you want to teach your kids.

Remember that the best teacher—negative or positive—is your actions. If you curse when you’re cut off in traffic, or tell your child to lie about his age to get a cheaper movie ticket, you’re teaching a powerful negative lesson.

Point out actions that demonstrate your values: “The checkout lady gave me too much change; let’s take it back to the store because that money is not ours—it is not honest to keep it.”  “I wanted to yell at the man who cut me off, but that’s not what God wants me to do—he wants me to be patient with others.”

Include your kids in value-instilling actions: A few years ago when a neighbor’s house burned down, Morgan picked out a bag of her own clothes to give to the little girl who lost all of her clothes. For months when we walked past the house she remembered, “All of the girl’s clothes burned, so I gave her some of mine.” Say, “Let’s hold the door for the lady in the wheelchair,” and “Let’s buy some groceries and take them to the homeless shelter so people who don’t have a home can have a meal.”

When you ask about their day at school, use their account of activities to talk about positive and negative examples of values. “So the kids got caught cheating—why shouldn’t they cheat? What were their consequences? See how it’s better just to do your own work and study?”

When your child demonstrates negative or positive examples of your own values, it’s an opportunity to talk about these values. Be sure to take the time to do so, even if you’re busy or in a hurry. The “real life” examples will demonstrate values better than anything you say. As 1 John says, “Dear children, let us love not with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
Read my post today about the “Verse of the Year” and how it helps me
when I’m discouraged. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Family Shorthand--“How r U?”
By Shelly Burke, Author of Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home

Code words, nicknames, shorthand phrases, inside jokes that make us laugh—every family has them.

Morgan and I have tease each other with “I love you!” “Love you more!” “No, I love YOU more” “No, really, I insist, I definitely love YOU more!” and so on. She goes to school about 25 miles from home, so every day I ask her to text me that she’s arrived safely (I’ve promised that I will not ask her to do that next year when she’s in college.)

So she doesn’t have to type quite so many letters, her text reads, “Here! Luv U!” and I in turn text her back “TX! LYM!” meaning “Thanks for understanding that I need to know you’re there, for my own peace of mind” and “Love you more!” It’s a small thing, but puts a smile on my face every day. I will miss getting her texts and talking with her every day next year…but I bet when we do talk and text we’ll still share our mother/daughter shorthand.

What code words, nicknames, shorthand phrases and inside jokes does your family have? Consider writing them down so you’ll remember them in years to come. When Cody and Morgan were little, I kept a calendar on which I wrote what we did every day. I included our private jokes and code words on that calendar, and it’s fun to look back on now and laugh about.

Hve a gd dy! Gd bless u & UR fmly 2day!

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times
Today my post is titled “Lifting Up in Prayer” and reflects upon
my prayer list, which has been especially long this spring.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "Time for Yourself--Finding It!"

"Time for Yourself—Finding It!"
by Shelly Burke, Author of Home is Where the Mom Is and publisher of the Nebraska Family Times

In Mark 1:35-37 the Bible recounts an episode in Jesus’ life that happens over and over in every mother’s life. Jesus had been up late the night before, driving out demons and healing the sick (substitute “bad dreams” for “demons” and it sounds like many evenings for moms!). He got up early and went to find a solitary place to pray. But Simon and his companions found Jesus and said “Everyone is looking for you!” Do you sigh when your kids or husband find your hiding place?

How can you find time by yourself, to read God’s Word, pray, exercise, or do something else that you enjoy doing?

First, you must believe that you deserve a little time to yourself. Moms spend so much time “giving” – to their kids, husband, home, church—that it can be hard to change the focus to ourselves. Jesus took time to Himself to pray, rest and be refreshed; shouldn’t we follow His example?  

Most moms find that it’s not the big crises that bring them to feelings of frustration, but the smaller, “never done” tasks and responsibilities of family and home, like laundry, cooking, answering questions, cleaning, grocery shopping…and the list goes on. Moms don’t have built in “break times” or government mandated lunch breaks, and most days keep going and going and going and going until everything is done…which so rarely happens.

Here are some hints for finding time for yourself during the different stages of motherhood:

When your kids are babies, be sure to take advantage of quiet time during nap time. Instead of trying to do the 100 things you “have” to do during his or her nap, think about what would help you the most; a quick nap to recharge your energy, taking a few minutes to just sit and read a devotion or that new magazine, or quickly get a few quick “to-do’s” done? Encourage dad to have time with baby, whether you take a hot bath, undisturbed, grocery shop by yourself, or sit at the park and read.

When your kids are toddlers, encourage naps or at least “rest time.” Explain to your kids that “mom needs some quiet time so she’s not tired later.” Provide them with books, crayons or markers, paper and other (safe, not too messy) craft items. The skill of learning to entertain themselves is an important one! Make early bedtimes a habit. If your kids aren’t ready to sleep, encourage them to read or color, just enforce the rule of “staying in your room.”

One more hint: When you notice the kids are quiet, peek in and make sure nothing is being cut, hit, flushed, or swallowed, and then go to your “quiet place” without another word. If the kids see or hear you they’re bound to need something so just stay within earshot and read the paper or do something else you enjoy, for as long as the quiet lasts. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel after just a few minutes “off”.

When your kids are in school, it’s easier to find time for yourself, but moms are often reluctant to do so because they want to get all of their errands done before the kids get home from school. It’s important to have some of your “quiet time” during the day so that you’re relaxed and ready to spend time with your kids when they get home. During their high school years my kids would come home from school hungry and ready to talk, but the window was small; if they had their snack andwent to do chores or got involved in homework while I was finishing up a task, I’d missed my chance to find out about their day.

During empty nest years you’ll probably find that you’re as busy as you’ve always been, but instead of diapers and homework and teenager worries, you’ll be more involved in a home business, hobbies and church and volunteer work. It’s still important, however, to take quiet time to spend time with God and refresh your mind and spirit so you don’t get burned out always doing for others. Look at you schedule and include “me time” when it’s convenient for you—and then be sure to enjoy it!

(To read more about finding time for yourself and enjoying it, order Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home. Mother’s Day is coming quickly; Home is Where the Mom Is will make the perfect gift for any mom! Click the link on the right side of this page to order.)

(I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
See my post today about “Talents and Tasks.”)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "Shamrocks and Faith"

"Shamrocks and Faith"

I bought a shamrock plant several years ago. I have a rather brown thumb so wasn’t too surprised when a few months later the individual stems and leaves began to turn brown and shrivel up. Despite my brown thumb, I really hate to throw plants away—just in case they might have a little life in them. So I continued to water my dead-looking plant and left it in the sun by my kitchen sink—just in case there was a little life left.

A few weeks later I glanced at my shamrock and was surprised to see a single green stem poking through all the dead leaves and stems. Within a few more days the pot was full of green stems and leaves again!

This pattern repeated itself several times over the last few years—the plant would go from green and full to brown and empty. The last time everything turned brown was over a month ago. When I cleaned the kitchen last week I thought about throwing the plant out—surely it wouldn’t come back after months of looking so brown. Yet I decided to give it one more chance and wait a week or two to throw it out.

Then, several days ago, it happened again—there was a tiny leaf of green sticking through the brown. Now, a few days later, the pot is almost full of those distinctive green leaves yet again.

As I was looking back at my prayer journal for this year, I realized that more than a few of my prayers were answered as I asked for them to be answered. But from the dates in the journal, I saw that I often prayed for weeks or even months—and even when my prayers were not being answered, I continued to pray and read my Bible and go to church.

And just like the shamrock plant, coming to life long after I thought it was dead, my prayers were answered as well.

As I thought about the shamrock plant, I realized that my life is sometimes like it. Even when my life—or issues in my life—seem brown, dead, and hopeless, I continue to pray to the Lord and wait for him to answer my prayers. I try to keep the faith—by reading my Bible, going to church, and partaking of Holy Communion to strengthen my faith.

I know God is always working, sometimes in the light of day, other times beneath the surface where I can’t see Him…but I continue to pray and have faith, knowing that an answer WILL shoot up.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

 Dear Lord, I thank you so much that I know that I can always count on You—You will always answer my prayers. Please give me patience and faith, even when it seems there is no hope. Amen.

Due to lack of time (it’s prom night and I’m on my way
to take pictures!) I’m posting the same entry in both blogs:
My other entry was going to be titled “Sunday, a Day of Rest’, and give
pointers I’ve used to make Sunday my day of rest.
That post will appear one day next week.

Have a great weekend! God’s blessings!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "Break the Shopping Rules"!

Break the Shopping Rules! 

(Excerpted from Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. (There are TEN “shopping rules to break” in the book!) Home is Where the Mom Is makes a great Mother’s Day or baby shower gift! See ordering information in the column to the right.)

Several years ago I decided to start using all of the “shopping rules” I’d read and heard. It seemed so easy! I would only spend $100 on groceries every month and get lots of free things.  I’d clip and use coupons for every single item I bought. I would save soooooo much money! And I’d take my kids along on every trip and teach them all of the shopping rules, too!

Or so I thought.

After several months (and many hours)  of diligently studying sale ads, keeping track of prices, clipping coupons and printing coupons from the computer and following all of the rules…I always seemed to be one coupon short of that really great deal.

My kids became impatient after an hour or so of shopping, especially when it took so much time to match the coupons with the great deals. Many times I either gave up on the coupons or promised them extra snacks if they’d be patient, negating the money I’d “saved.”

I decided to “break the shopping rules”—or at least bend them so they’d better suit my life. My shopping trips immediately became more productive and shorter and less stressful.

Here are the shopping rules I love to break—or at least bend.

Rule One: Shopping is an educational experience for the kids, so take them along to match coupons to items, practice their math, and help you find things. How to break it: Don’t take the kids! Shop while they’re at school or when you can get a babysitter or when dad is home. You’ll save money (no little voices begging for treats and distracting you from comparing prices), have a little quiet time, and get done much faster.

Rule Two: Arrange your list according to how the store is set up. How to bend it: Also list the meals you’re planning to prepare. By doing this you’ll know how much of a particular item you need, and if you can substitute another item if necessary. For example, one day there was only one green pepper in the bin. Chili was on my meal list, and one pepper was enough to flavor it. If I’d have been making stuffed peppers I would have known to change my meal plan. If taking kids is unavoidable, bend the rule in a different way. Review your list so you know which items you need the most. That way if your child throws up, or throws a tantrum, you can quickly gather the most important items and make a quick getaway.

Rule Three: Buy only what’s on your list. How to bend it: If there’s a great deal on something—pork chops for example—add them to your meal list (if you’ve been following the hints to “Never Run Out” you should have the rest of the ingredients for your favorite pork chop recipe at home already) or take them home to freeze.

Rule Four: Don’t buy high-priced items like baby carrots, boneless, skinless chicken breasts and so on. How to break it: Before you pass up these items, remember that they require little or no preparation to make into a snack or meal. There’s also no waste—how often have you thrown away a mushy head of lettuce before you got it cleaned and chopped? The higher price might be worth the convenience, and these items often go on special.

Rule Five: Use as many coupons as possible. How to bend it: Use coupons wisely. Before you use a coupon for an item, consider; can you make the item from scratch for less? Would a (cheaper) store brand work as well? Do you really need or want the item, or do you just want to use the coupon? I find it frustrating to try to clip “all” of the coupons. I have pantry full of necessities and so therefore rarely buy anything that’s not on sale; I’ve found I save as much or more when buying on sale, and spend less time than I would clipping coupons. Note: There are just two grocery stores in our town, and they are very competitive but never offer double or triple coupons. I realize your situation might be different, and coupons may be a huge money saver for you!

Use these rules and other tips and suggestions you find online and in magazines as guidelines. Bend them, break them, throw them out completely—make “the shopping rules” work for you!

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
The post for today is “Are you a Radio Skipper?” Find out what
radio skipping has to do with Bible study. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "Some Days I just want to Quit"

Some Days I just want to Quit

The coffee cup sticky note with
Col. 3:23-24 written on it.
I also keep notes my kids write
me and one of my favorite
pictures of Morgan on my
bulletin board. 
Sometimes I just want to quit.

I can keep up (for the most part) with the laundry and cooking and dishes, but it’s the added stresses that almost do me in some days.

The troubled relationships. The money worries. Wondering what’s going to happen in a week, in a month, in a year. The list of sick friends and relatives that just keeps getting longer and longer. Troubled friends. Families mourning the loss of a loved one. The list of things I want to do…and the list of things I actually get done. The things that just seem to take so much longer than they should.

When I become overwhelmed I try to remember to look at my bulletin board, on which I have a sticky note in the shape of a coffee cup. When I helped with a women’s retreat last year the leader asked me to write encouraging verses on the coffee sticky notes (the theme of the retreat was “My Overflowing Cup” so everything was coffee-themed) We placed the sticky notes around the rooms that the retreat took place in so others could see them and be encouraged.

The sticky note on my bulletin board reminds me, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

Then I remember—I’m not here on earth for myself; I’m here to do the Lord’s work. I need to let Him take care of everything else (especially the things I can’t do anything about…like most of them). He knows about my troubled relationships. He knows about our money worries. He hears my prayers. He knows every single one of the people who are ill, or mourning, or suffering in any way. He knows every single need I have, and every need of every member of my family.

My job is to work for Him. The day will come when I receive my inheritance from Him, and none of the stresses and strains and worries on earth will matter one little bit. And the time I spend wanting to quit will be a millisecond compared to living in heaven with Him for all eternity.

Suddenly, I don’t want to quit any more.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me that what I do isn’t for me, but for you. Please bless me as I work today. Please lead and guide me in my work for You. Amen.  

I'm also blogging at Nebraska Family Times 
Click over there to see what I have to finish 
for the May issue of the Nebraska Family Times
in the post "Not Quite Done."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "Prepare for Sick Days"

Prepare for Sick Days”
by Shelly Burke
(This article is adapted from the book Home is Where the Mom Is;
 A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home by Shelly Burke)

Running out of “sick day” supplies usually means a very inconvenient trip to the store with sick kids, or just as bad, a sick mom. Illnesses rarely come at convenient times, and your first prayer is probably for Jesus to come and heal whoever is sick!

Start your own preparation for sick days, today. Begin by making a comprehensive list of “sick day” supplies for both adults and children in your home.

Your list should include:

  • Over-the-counter medications to treat fever, pain, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, cold symptoms, cough, nausea and vomiting, diaper rash, and so on, in age-appropriate form (drops, liquid, chewable, tablets) for ever member of your family.
    • Keep in mind that some of these symptoms—cough, fever, etc.—may be the body’s way of getting rid of harmful substances, and you shouldn’t always treat them. Ask your doctor or a nurse for guidelines as when to treat them.
    • Learn to read labels. May medications contain several ingredients; for example, cold medications may also contain acetaminophen (for fever or pain). If you give additional acetaminophen along with the cold medicine, you may be giving too much acetaminophen, which can be very dangerous. 
o       Medications to treat any chronic illness like asthma or diabetes. When a child      or adult with a chronic illness is sick, the dosage of medicine to treat the chronic illness might need to be changed. Check with your doctor if you have questions about doing so.

o       If your child gets frequent ear infections, ask the doctor to prescribe a bottle of pain killing ear drops which will help until you can get the child to the doctor. The drops will not treat the infection, only the pain, so it is still necessary to see the doctor.

o       Electrolyte replacement fluid/popsicles (like Pedialyte) for infants or toddlers who have diarrhea and/or are vomiting.

o       Soda and/or juice to sooth upset tummies and replace fluids lost by vomiting/diarrhea.

o       Miscellaneous suppliesThermometer and probe covers, humidifier and distilled water, tissues.

o       Comfort foods like soup, mashed potatoes, rice, applesauce, jello, pudding, popsicles.

o       Activities to keep kids occupied when they’re on the road to wellness but bored, and to keep them busy if you are sick. When they’re on sale purchase coloring and activity books, DVDs, crayons, markers, craft projects, and so on. Keep these hidden until they’re needed!

o       If your mother’s instinct tells you your kids are on the verge of getting sick, or a virus is running      rampant at school, double check your supplies and stock up if necessary.

This list is just a basic suggested list. Personalize it to fit your family. Illnesses usually don’t occur at predictable times or when it’s convenient to go to the store for supplies. Stock up, using the tips in the post  Never Run Out and you’ll be ready for anything!

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
Today’s post is titled “Peace” and is about David finding peace despite
the turmoil in his life. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "Ordering Morgan's Graduation Cake"

 Ordering Morgan's Graduation Cake”

(HyVee had a cupcake tower
on display. We ultimately
decided on traditional cakes
but treated ourselves to a
cupcake after ordering.
Yesterday Morgan and I ordered her graduation cakes. It only took a few minutes to choose the flavors (one chocolate, one white), frosting (buttercream of course), and decorations (bright flowers). I walked out of the grocery store excited but a little sad. As I drove home (Morgan stayed in town with a friend) I began to think about Morgan’s growing up years and the future. Since I knew today’s letter for the A to Z Challenge is “O,” I thought about “O” words that apply to parenting.

  • Only 25 days until graduation. WOW. And YIKES! 

  • Obeying God’s command of baptism (Matthew 28:19-20) and instilling His Word into her as He commanded in Deuteronomy: “Fix these words upon mine in your hearts and minds…Teach them to your children…” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19) Now we pray that she will continue to seek Him and study His Word as she moves on to this next stage in her life. Are you following these commands as you raise your children? 
  • Observing her growing up. What a blessing it’s been to have the joy of watching Morgan grow from a child into a young woman! Years ago at MOPS our MOPS mentor said, “The days with young children may seem long, but the years will seem short.” I have found that to be so very true! Especially since our kids became teenagers, the years have just flown by. Parents, treasure every moment with your kids! 
  • Obedience. Children are commanded to “obey your parents.” (Deuteronomy 20:12) Unfortunately children don’t naturally obey; they have to be taught to do so. It’s not always easy, but it is necessary. There were times that Tim and I had to show both Cody and Morgan that they were expected to listen to and obey us, and that they would face consequences if they did not. Parents: YOU ARE IN CHARGE. It’s part of your job to raise your children to respect and obey authority; you are preparing them for “real life” (which can be very difficult if they don’t know how to respect others). 
  • Obstacles. Morgan has struggled with obstacles—all kids do! She had an especially difficult time when she changed schools in 8th grade. Thankfully, with much prayer and the help of caring people, she made it through that tough time and has loved school since the first hard weeks of that year. It is very hard to watch a child face obstacles, but learning to work through them is a necessary life skill. Don’t be afraid to let your child struggle, whether it’s with a zipper or homework or something bigger. Pray for knowledge as to when to intervene, with professional help if necessary. 
  • Over and over…Tim and I have prayed for our children almost constantly since they were born…praying for their safety as they drives to and from school…as Morgan went through tough times at school…when they were sick…for Cody to make Godly decisions as he is at college and away from us…for Morgan to choose the college that will be right for her. When I am worried about either of them (or anyone else I love) I remember this command: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 God hears our prayers! Consider keeping a prayer journal so you can see His answers to your prayers.   
  • Over and over…listening to “Pomp and Circumstance” on YouTube….hoping to get most of my crying at the song done before graduation day (it worked when I did it before Cody graduated!).
 May God bless you as you raise your children! Remember to invite Him to be your partner in doing so.

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
Today you’ll find my thoughts about a song that kept going
through my mind, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blogging A To Z Challenge "Never Run Out"

"Never Run Out!"
by Shelly Burke

(Adapted from Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. See the 
to see what else is covered in the book!)

 It happened again as I was preparing homemade pizza for Saturday supper. I was out of tomato sauce. As I searched the grocery story for that crucial ingredient my cart magically filled…and 45 minutes and $45 later I was back home wondering how “just one thing” had taken so long and cost so much.

As well as being inconvenient (my sister had to go to three all-night gas stations when she ran out of children’s cold medicine in the middle of the night) and expensive (the medicine she found was VERY overpriced) running out of anything can be very frustrating.

Through trial and error I found a way to “never run out” again. I hope the tips will help you too.

  1. Make a meal list. List about 20 meals that you like to cook and your family likes to eat. List all of the ingredients needed to prepare each meal. 
  1. Make Master Shopping Lists 
Master Grocery List. Include all of the items for your favorite meals, plus staples like margarine, canned products, and other things your family uses on a regular basis. List everything you use on a regular basis as well as what you use occasionally. Print out several copies of the list and post it on your refrigerator. Ask your family to circle an item if they use the last one (I circle peanut butter, vegetable oil, etc. when I open the last container in the cupboard).

Discount Store List. List pet food, paper items like paper towels, toilet paper and tissues, cleaning items (including dish and laundry soap), over-the-counter medications your family uses regularly, office supplies, and so on. Again, print out a list and post it in a central area.

  1. Prepare for shopping trips. Before you shop, check the lists for items you’re low on. Also check your pantry, laundry room, etc. for items you’ll run out of before your next shopping trip. By shopping for items proactively, before you’re all the way out, you won’t have to buy items when you’re completely out, in a panic, and will pay way more than necessary. 
Before you grocery shop, plan meals for the next week or so and check to make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. (I didn’t realize how quick and easy it is to plan meals ahead…and it makes the days and weeks run so much easier!) On your master list, circle the items you’re out of.

When you have just two or three containers of frequently used items left (in our house that includes catsup and BBQ sauce) or open the last of a less-frequently used item (like lemon juice), circle it on your list and mark it with an “*”. That means you don’t need it immediately but will soon; but several if the item happens to be on sale. If you have a coupon for a circled item, put a “C” by it so you don’t forget to use the coupon.

  1. The shopping trip. Your goal is to gradually build up a stock supply of items your family frequently uses—when they are on sale. For example, when BBQ sauce is on sale I buy 10-12 bottles—enough to last until the next time it’s on sale. Even if your budget only allows you to purchase 1-2 extras, do so! You’ll gradually build up your supply and eventually only have to buy those things when they’re on sale. And if you’re just starting to buy ahead, consider buying two of everything, even if it’s not on sale. An extra jar of mayonnaise or can of soup in your cupboard can still save you a last-minute trip to the store. 
Be discerning; don’t buy a dozen bottles of a new brand of taco sauce; what if your family doesn’t like it? It’s also not saving money or making good use of your finances if you buy a large amount of perishable items and end up throwing them out because they’re spoiled.

What about things that usually don’t go on sale, like over-the-counter medications and soap? You’ll still save money by buying several of these things as your budget allows, because you won’t have to make a trip to the store for “just one thing.”

“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 13:23

What tips do you use so you never run out? Share them in the comments.

I’m also blogging at
Today you’ll read about the “Lessons of Nehemiah.” 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge "Making Preparations for Severe Weather and Spiritual Storms"

Making Preparations for Severe Weather and Spiritual Storms”

“He stilled the storm to a whisper…they were glad when it grew calm…” Psalm 107:29-30

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9

Storms make me very nervous. The TOR:CON rating (which indicates the probability of severe weather—including hail, strong wind, and tornados in the area) was just raised to a 9 out of 10 for our area of Nebraska. (See more about the TOR:CON rating at The Weather Channel )

As soon as I’m done with these blog posts I’m going to go clear a way to our “safe room” in the basement and put together some things to have down there should we have to take shelter. Here are some of the things that are on my “storm shelter” list every year.

  • Shoes, sweatshirts, for each family member (in case we have to go downstairs in the middle of the night and don’t have time to get dressed, or if there’s damage during the storm).
  • Bottles of water and snacks (in case you’re hungry or kids need distraction).
  • Magazines, cards, etc.—again, distractions for nervous kids (or adults!).
  • Blankets for warmth and protection.
  • Cash, social security cards and other valuable paperwork; lockbox if you have one that’s small enough to carry downstairs.
  • If anyone is taking medication, consider putting several days’ worth in your purse in case your home is damaged and you can’t get in for a few days.
  • Car keys.
  • List of phone numbers (in case cell phone towers are knocked out and you have to dial on landline).
  • Flashlights w/extra batteries; we have several in the basement and several near the basement door.
  • Weather radio or radio w/batteries (our weather radio will fit into my purse and we have a regular battery-operated radio in the basement).
  • Remember that pets can get scared during storms and might hide rather than come with you to a safe place. Be prepared!
    • We keep Jenny’s leash on the knob of door to the basement so we know where it is; she sometimes hides rather than comes with us when she’s scared.
    • A small container of food and a few treats, to keep her distracted too.
    • Kennel; sometimes pets feel safer when they’re confined.
 As well as preparing for “weather” storms, we need to prepare for spiritual storms. Spiritual storms are usually not as predictable as severe weather storms; they can pop up unexpectedly in the illness or injury or death of a loved one, betrayal by a friend or family member, the diagnosis of a severe disease, financial problems, and so on.

We can prepare for spiritual storms, just as we prepare for severe weather storms. 

To prepare for spiritual storms:

  • Read and study your Bible every day. See what God says about dealing with difficult situations in your life, and read His encouragement and promises.
  • Faithfully attend church. Again, you’ll learn about God’s encouragement and promises and make friends who can help you through those spiritual storms.
  • Record God’s promises and encouragement. Write Bible verses that are meaningful to you on note cards so you can read them frequently and be reminded that you are not alone, that God loves and cares for you.
  • Pray. Talk with God about your life—things you are thankful for, things you are sorry for, things you want, things you are unsure about. He will listen to you any time, every time you need Him. When you talk to him frequently you’ll be able to discern His “still, small voice” during the tough times.
 Storms themselves are not predictable, but I can predict that you will experience severe weather storms as well as spiritual storms during your life. Spend a little time and you’ll be as prepared as you can be for any type of storm.

“He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 144:2

I’m also blogging at
Check out the post today, “Monitors.”

Friday, April 13, 2012

A to Z Challenge, Book Review, "A Chocolate Life; Savoring God's Sweet Grace"

“A Chocolate Life; Savoring God’s Sweet Grace”
By Deb Burma

Review by Shelly Burke

Who doesn’t love at least a bit of chocolate once in a while? Deb Burma’s new devotion book, A Chocolate Life; Savoring God’s Sweet Grace, shows readers how life can be like chocolate—sweet, bitter, light and smooth, or dark and lumpy. In devotions with titles that include Chocolate-frosted Grace, Hot Cupcake Aromatherapy, Chocolate Gifts, Choice Morsels, and Not by Chocolate Alone, Burma takes examples and illustrations from her life and shows us how we can apply them to our own lives. In every devotion (there are 30 devotions in the book) she shows us how God sustains us, forgives us, and provides us with His endless grace. As an extra treat readers will find nine chocolate-based Burma family recipes in the book. YUM!

One of my favorite devotions is Chocolate Gifts. In this devotion Burma relates how her kids sometimes hoard the chocolate gifts they’ve received…only to find later that the months-old stash is stale and hard. She reminds us to not to do the same with God’s gifts to us, but to use them and share them! God’s gifts will never spoil but, as Burma points out, “if we don’t use them, other people will miss out on the rich blessings and grace of God that they could receive through us.”

The devotions are quick to read and packed with God’s Word and meaning. Burma encourages us to take in “nuggets and morsels of God’s Word (and chocolate)” and make Him a priority in our lives—just as each of us is a priority to Him. She encourages us to make God’s Word available at all times—by having a Bible handy, written verses or passages posted around our homes, and a devotion book in our car or purse to read while waiting.

A Chocolate Life; Savoring God’s Sweet Grace  is the perfect size and price (quantity discounts available) to wrap up with a candy bar or other chocolate treat, or tuck into a greeting card and give as a gift on a special occasion or “just because.” Every reader of A Chocolate Life will “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

To read more by Deb Burma, check out her blog at Fragrant Offerings .

(Now that I’m done writing this review, I’m going to go find…some chocolate!)
To purchase A Chocolate Life; Savoring God’s Sweet Grace devotion book, magnets, or Scripture cards, ask at your Christian bookstore or go to (Concordia Publishing House).

To win one of three FREE copies of “A Chocolate Life,” just
Leave a comment on this blog or at the Facebook page “Home
is Where the Mom Is”! Three winners will be randomly chosen and
you’ll be contacted for your mailing address.