Thursday, July 24, 2014

A to Z Blogging T -- Making a To-Don't List

To-Don’t List, How to Make 

Making a “to do” list is something most of us do on a regular basis. It’s a way to keep track of the regular and out-of-the-ordinary tasks we intend to accomplish on any given day.

But what do you do with your “to-do” list when the unexpected happens? (I’ve heard the question, “Do you know how to make God laugh?” and the answer, “Tell him you’ve got a plan.”) Sometimes God has something in mind for our day besides our plan!

Whether you wake up with the worst summer cold you’ve had in years, or your kids wake you up in the middle of the night vomiting, or a friend needs you to take her to the doctor, or the electricity is off all day or your neighbor has to take her husband to the hospital and needs you to watch her kids…well, the things on your “to-do” list are just not going to happen!

When a crisis hits, instead of stressing yourself out trying to complete your “to-do” list, it’s time to make a “to-don’t” list.

A “to-don’t” list consists of the tasks you do not need to do that day.
  •  Put “grocery shopping,” on your “to-don’t” list by asking your husband to bring home take out for supper.
  • “Cook supper” is a “to-don’t” when you have a frozen casserole you can take out of the freezer.
  • “Pay bills” can be put off when you plan to at least write them out a week before they are due.
  • Vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning out the closet can be put on the “to-don’t” list very easily (I sometimes do that even when I’m not sick!).
  • Obviously meetings and other “out of the house” appointments will probably not get done; just be sure to call the appropriate person to let them know of your change in plans.
If you are the type of person who just cannot go through a day without a list (sheepishly raising my hand), the tasks on your “to-do” list should be: Sleep. Take vitamins. Cuddle with kids. Help my neighbor.

Being able to cross things off your “to-do” list requires planning ahead.
  • Plan to pay your bills—or at least write them out and put them in the envelope with a stamp—a few days ahead of when they’re due, so you don’t have to fit that in on a hectic day to avoid a service charge.
  • Shop ahead and be sure to have the basics on hand. Depending on your family situation, it might be vital to have diapers and wipes on hand. Or if your family seems to catch every bug going through, have over-the-counter medications and comfort foods on hand. If a neighbor is in poor health and often calls you to take her to the doctor or hospital, make a mental note of a few things you can stick in your purse, to do while waiting (for example, keep greeting cards in your purse so you can write out birthday and anniversary cards for the month ahead, or your current knitting project or magazines you haven’t gotten to read yet).
  • When you cook, ask yourself if you can easily double or triple the recipe, freezing the extras for a day when you’re under the weather and don’t feel like cooking, or to share with a sick neighbor.
  • Take inventory of your pantry. Do you have the ingredients to make at least a few basic recipes, in case a crisis of some kind prevents you from going to the grocery store? Do you have some comfort foods, like canned soup or pudding mix, ready to make?

A “to-do” list is vital to keep us focused most days…but a “to-don’t” list can be just as vital on days when “real life” steps in.

Have you ever made a “to-don’t” list? What would be on it?

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Check it out! 

A to Z Blogging S

Songs, My Favorite Christian

I love listening to Christian music (80’s music is my second choice!)! The positive and inspiring lyrics make me feel, well, positive and inspired!

Here are a few of my favorite Christian songs and links to them on YouTube. I pray that you will find comfort, hope and encouragement in them, as I do. 

"Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" by Chris Tomlin

This song reminds me of my grandparents; both had many physical ailments before they died. I miss them, but have joy in knowing that their "chains are gone." 

"He Never Sleeps" by Don Moen

I like to listen to this song when I'm overwhelmed by reminds me that God is always watching, and that He never gets tired of hearing from me. 

"Still" by Hillsong

The beautiful words and music of this song never fail to calm me when I'm in the midst of life's storms--literal and figurative storms. 

"Hurricane" by Natalie Grant

When I feel like my life is a hurricane, these lyrics remind me that I'm not alone--God is right here with me. 

"Write Your Story" by Francesca Battistelli

Even when we don't know where life is taking us, we can be confident that the Lord is with us when we invite Him to write His story on our hearts. 

And for fun, here's a classic like you've never seen it--Pachelbel's Canon in D by The Piano Guys

And one more, for everyone who loved the 80's

What is your favorite Christian song? Please share it in the comments section! 

A to Z Blogging--R is for Rest

Rest--Making Sundays a Day Of 
“And on the seventh day, God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.”
Genesis 2:2-3

God certainly did not need to rest, even after He did the unimaginable work of creating…well, everything! But His Word said that He did rest. He did this to set an example for us; we, too, need to rest. We need a day to rest physically and emotionally from the day-to-day stresses and happenings in our lives. We need a day to focus on Him and His teaching and His blessings. We need (NOT just on Sundays!) a day to worship, to pray, to seek His will in our lives. We need time to relax and refresh ourselves for the next week.

I decided to make Sunday a “day of rest” for me and my family about 15 years ago. We attend church every Sunday, and when we lived 25 miles from the grocery store I usually did some grocery shopping on Sunday. But I did not cook or clean or do any other projects; I spent time focusing on the Lord and His Word, spending time with my family and maybe indulging in a rare nap. I still do this as much as possible and find that it does prepare me for the following week. (If, for some reason, I can’t take Sunday as a day of rest, I try to take another day, or at least part of the day, to focus on the Lord and rest.

Please note that I do not view Sunday as a day full of rules as to what I can or cannot do. The ancient Jews debated over how far they were “legally” allowed to walk, or if they could pull an animal out of the well on Sunday, or had to let it die, as pulling it out was “work.” Some Sundays I do more than others; the important thing is that I focus on the Lord on that day and do what refreshes and renews me for the week ahead.

How can you make Sunday a day of rest for you and your family?  

  First of all, talk with your family about the new Sunday routine. The kids won’t have any chores (yay!) besides taking care of animals. No “honey-do’s” for your spouse either (yay!). Remind them that you won’t be cooking (yay!); they can eat leftovers or maybe it will be a day to order pizza.

·         Talk with your family about what a “day of rest” means. It’s not just a day to relax, but a day to spend more time with the Lord, praying, in Bible study, worshiping Him. Help your kids to plan how they will spend the day; maybe an hour of Bible study and journaling, writing out Bible verses to memorize, making a prayer list, making a list of things God has done for them, etc. Small kids will need more direction; you could read and discuss a Bible story together and then ask them to draw a picture about what you read and talked about.

·         Plan family activities, too. Maybe you’ll prepare a meal together or take a walk or visit members of your congregation who cannot get out. Just remember your goal to honor the Lord and refresh yourself for the upcoming week.

·         Plan ahead for what you will do! Gather your Bible and other study tools, or a devotion book. Will you update your prayer list? Journal about how God has spoken to you? List the things that you are thankful for?  Take a long walk by yourself, photographing evidence of God’s work? Take a walk or a long bubble bath?

·        Prepare your home. On Saturday, make sure there are clean towels and something in the house to eat, even if leftovers. Clear out the dishwasher and take out the trash, so it’s easy for everyone to pick up after themselves on Sunday.

·         If waking up to a messy house on Monday gets your week off to a bad start, spend a few minutes on Sunday night picking up—make it a family activity, maybe before you enjoy a treat together and talk about the day and the upcoming week.

·         If making Sunday a “day of rest” is a major change for your family, be prepared for some rough spots. You might get requests for supper or complaints that a favorite shirt is not clean. Gently remind your family of the “day of rest” rules; maybe they’ll decide to do their own laundry or cook for themselves, or maybe they’ll make do. Don’t give up! After a few weeks everyone will adapt, and I bet you’ll come to cherish your day of rest as I do.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.”
Exodus 20:8-10

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times . Check it out! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A to Z Blogging--Q is for Quirks

Quirky Things about Me

"For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Psalm 139:13-14

I’m glad God made us all different—and that includes our individual (sometimes weird) quirks. Here are some of mine.

 Bananas must be at the perfect state of ripeness for me to eat them; they can’t be green, but can’t have too many brown spots either. I think, in my eyes, they are at that “perfect” state for about an hour. When I get them at the grocery store I take one or two bananas of various states of ripeness, off of several bunches, so their “perfect ripeness” time is staggered. I found out recently that my sister Deb shares the “bananas must be at the perfect state of ripeness” requirement, so maybe it’s genetic.

Eggs. I do not eat eggs if I can recognize them—scrambled, hard boiled, omelets., etc. The reason? When I was about seven years old my dad told me that eggs were “unborn baby chickens.” He is, of course, correct…but that concept grossed me out so much that now I cannot eat them. I really wish I could because they are cheap, nutritious, and can be prepared so many ways…but I just can’t.

Swimming in a lake. When I was a kid our family vacationed with my grandparents at a lake resort in “fish go to the bathroom in the lake.” Well of course they do…where else would they? But in my mind, I didn’t want to swim in fish pee.
northern Wisconsin. I LOVED swimming in the lake…until my grandfather told me that

Color coded calendars. I have several calendars and color-code them all; green ink for my work hours, red ink to note birthdays and anniversaries and blue or black for everything else. When my kids were home I had a color for each of their activities, and for family activities as well. It really helps me keep track of things with only a glance at the calendar!

Sticky notes. I love sticky notes of every size, shape, color and design. Trouble is, when I want to write something on one it has to be written on the “perfect” one—so I usually have to search for one of the perfect size, color and design.

I procrastinate about the weirdest things. I’m almost compulsive about being on time or even early to appointments, church, and so on. However, I procrastinate about the silliest things. A few weeks ago the lightbulb in my closet burned out. Dreading the process of finding a screwdriver to get the light cover off, finding something to stand on (I’m really short and my stepstool wasn’t enough), getting the old lightbulb out, new lightbulb in, screwing the light cover back on…I put off this *very difficult and time-consuming task* for…at least 17 days

The time it took me to complete the task, including locating the screwdriver, finding something to stand on, getting the light cover off AND back on, taking the old lightbulb out and putting the new one in, putting the screwdriver away…literally, less than 3 minutes. Another example—I’m also doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge atNebraska Family Times. I started in April (as I did on this blog) but put off finishing until today. When I went to the blog to see what letter I was to, and how many letters I still had to blog about, and found that the ONLY entry I needed was…”Z”. I put off doing the very last letter for almost 3 months. Yep, that’s part of being Shelly, I guess!

What makes you unique? In the comments below, share one of your favorite quirks!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A to Z Blogging--Prepare for Sick Days

(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. Click on the sidebar to order, or click on the tabs above for more information.)

 It’s inevitable—someone in your home will become sick, probably at a most inopportune time. Developing a
strategy for sick days—whether the sick person is a child, your spouse, or yourself—will make enduring them much easier.

Here is a list of “sick day supplies” to always have on hand.

Medications, in age-appropriate form, to treat:

Be aware that some medications are combination medications—they contain more than one medication. Read the label carefully to avoid giving too much of any medication. For example, many cold medications also contain acetaminophen (Tylenol). If you give the cold medicine and acetaminophen, you might be giving too much acetaminophen.

Make it a habit to check the expiration date of your medications several times a year.

Other Hints for Preparing for Sick Days

Other items to have on hand:
  • Electrolyte replacement fluid for infants (check with your doctor as to when you should use this)
  • Juice/soda to sooth upset tummies and replace fluids lost through vomiting/diarrhea
  • Thermometer and probe covers
  • Humidifier and distilled water
  • Your family’s preferred comfort foods; soup, crackers, popsicles, jello, applesauce, pudding, juice, etc.
  • Activities to keep the kids occupied when they’re on the road to health but bored, or when you are sick and need to keep them occupied. When they’re on sale, purchase (and hide!) a supply of coloring books and new colors or markers, DVDs, simple craft projects, card games, art supplies, etc. Keep hidden until needed!

Other ways to be prepared:
  • Ask your doctor or nurse for guidelines as to when certain medications should be given; for example, how high should your child’s fever be before you give medication? When should you call the doctor about a fever/vomiting/diarrhea, etc?
  • If anyone in your family has a chronic illness, like asthma or diabetes, his or her medication needs may change with illness. Talk with your doctor about this before illness strikes, and call while the person is sick if you have any questions.
  • Never let your supply of diapers, wipes, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc. run critically low; you don’t want to have to shop for these items with a sick child or when you yourself are sick!

What sick day supplies do you have on hand at all times?

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
(She is prepared for the future.)
Proverbs 31:25

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times. Check it out! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A to Z Blogging {Still catching up!}; Other Ways to Bring God into Your Kids' Lives

(Click here to read part one of this post; Kids--Bringing God into Their Lives)

To instill a love of God in your child, God must be a part of your life every day—at home, at school, wherever you go and whatever you’re doing. Here are a few tips to make God an integral part of your life every day.

  • When you read to your child, include Bible narratives. When your child is old enough to read, provide Bible stories; give tweens and teens Christian fiction to read. (Caution: read the books first, to be sure they are really “Christian” books.) Consider subscribing to faith-based magazines; again, preview them first to be sure they give the message you want your kids to read.
  • Give each child a Bible of their own; consider a study Bible so they can learn even more from the study notes. Give them highlighters so they can mark in their Bibles too, and encourage them to write down what they’ve learned and questions that come up as they read.
  • Have Bible-study/devotion time as a family. Teach what you learned in Bible study, or read and discuss passages from the Bible. Many Bible study and devotion books are also available.
  • Write Bible verses on note cards and post them around the house. Encourage your kids to do the same so they memorize verses or are reminded of God during a tough time.
  • Pray for your kids…and with your kids. Ask them what they would like you to pray for, for them. Pray that they will desire to have God in their lives and follow Him. Encourage them to start a prayer journal, recording their requests and God’s answers.
  • Set a good example of showing Christ’s love wherever you go. Be polite even if the checker is rude. Return change when too much is given. Give to charity as you feel led. If you lose your temper with another driver, apologize, explain why what you did was wrong, and ask God’s forgiveness out loud.
  • Bring God into situations in your child’s life. When she talks about a new child at school, encourage her to talk to him and explain how Jesus was kind to everyone. If a teen at her high school gets pregnant, talk about the consequences of not obeying God’s laws and the impact on the rest of that teen’s life. You can also use this as an opportunity to talk about choosing life, and God’s forgiveness.  
  • It’s normal for teens to ask questions about faith and your religious denomination. Allow them to ask these questions (I think God is glad when we think about Him and His Word and ask questions!). Discuss them as a family; find the answers if you can, or ask your pastor or priest. Even if kids are questioning their faith, make attending church a rule.

How do you make God a part of your kids’ everyday lives? Please leave your comment below! 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

The Morning Blues—and how to Beat Them!

Mornings can be hectic—whether you have kids at home or are just getting yourself ready for the day. Here are some tips to take the “blues” out of the morning.
  •  Start the morning on a positive note with the Lord’s words: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) and “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it!”  Psalm 118:24).
  • It’s hard to start the morning facing a sink full of dirty dishes or overflowing garbage can.  Every evening take a few minutes (it takes less time than you think!) to clear off the counter and start the dishwasher and take out the trash if needed. Pick up dirty towels in the bathroom and toys and shoes and books scattered around the house. This is not deep cleaning but a quick pick-up so you don’t have to face chaos and clutter in the morning.
  • Plan breakfast the night before and have a back-up in mind in case the bread is green or last bit of milk is spilled in the morning. It’s OK to eat supper for breakfast, too! Cody’s favorite supper/breakfast was meatballs and mashed potatoes. String cheese and baby carrots are another alternative. Have breakfast bars on hand in case breakfast has to be eaten on the way to work or school.
  • Before bed, choose clothes for the morning; lay them all out, including underwear and shoes. If it’s the first cold spell of the fall also hunt down gloves and hats.
  • Gather your purse, library books, backpacks, and everything else that needs to leave the house with you. If something needs to stay refrigerated until the last minute, put a sticky-not reminder on the door or your purse.
  • Make a checklist for your kids (and maybe yourself) of morning “to-do’s”. This will also teach your kids accountability and time management.
  • Make it a priority to start the day on a positive note. Grit your teeth through spilled milk or lost library books. Send your family off with a smile; the time to discuss changes in the morning routine is not when you’re in a hurry, but when you have time to discuss it calmly.

 How do you beat the morning blues? Share your ideas in the "Comments" section! 

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
Psalm 90:14

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times. Check it out! 

Life Skills to Teach Kids (Catching up on the A to Z Challenge!)

By Shelly Burke

Our main job as parents is to work ourselves out of a job…that is, teach our kids how to live productive, independent lives—on their own! Along with teaching your kids to do their own laundry and cook ramen noodles, here are some less-thought-of skills that will be even more valuable in “real life.”

Teach your kids to: 
  • Say “HI” to the janitor. And the waitress. And the check out lady. And the maid at the hotel.
  • Request an extra pillow from the lady at the front desk. Call and order pizza. Check their bank balance by calling the bank. Making a dentist appointment. Ask the produce man how to choose a ripe pineapple or avocado.
  • Make an exchange or a return at the store, or renew a car license at the courthouse. Politely, even if the person behind the counter is not polite.
  • Make small talk. (“Tell me about your job.” “How about those Huskers!” “What about this weather?”)
  • Know when not to talk, but to listen and observe.
  • Introduce people to each other.
  • Know when to apologize and how to apologize, without making excuses.
  • Estimate how much groceries will cost. (As you’re checking out, ask each child to estimate what the final bill will be and write it down without letting anyone see. The one who has the most accurate estimate doesn’t have to help take the groceries in.)
  • Comparison shop.
  • Read a map. A paper map (maybe in a book called an “Atlas”).
  • Pound in a nail…without a hammer. Screw in a screw…without a screwdriver. Pull out a nail…without a hammer. Hem a pair of pants…without a needle and thread. (Answers: hard heel of a shoe, knife, fork, duct tape.)
  • Play a record on a record player. (When Morgan’s pre-school teacher did this, Morgan came home excited about huge “CD” her teacher had that was “this big!”)
  • Write a letter. By hand. With a pen.  Look up the address in the phone book. Address the envelope and stamp it. Take it to the post office and mail it.
  • Use the Yellow Pages. The ones made of paper, not on a screen!
  • Check the oil level in a car. Jump a car battery. Change a tire.

 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

What practical skills do you have to add to this list? Please leave your suggestion in the "Comment" section below!

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times Check it out! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Catching up...and...{Drumroll}!

The winners of the gift basket (pictured below) are: 

  • Marcy, for your comment on the Nebraska Family Times blog on 4/18
  • Buffie, for your comment on the Nebraska Family Times blog on 4/16
  • Melanie Schultz for your comment on the Home is Where the Mom Is blog on 4/16
  • Multi-Tasking Mama for your comment on the Home is Where the Mo Is blog on 4/8
Please e-mail me your mailing address to me at by Wednesday and I'll get your gift in the mail!

Thank you to everyone who commented! I appreciate your taking the time to do so and I appreciate your comments! Keep commenting because...

The next giveaway will be announced later this week;
sign up to receive these blog posts in your e-mail so you can sign up
for the next gift giveaway! {HINT: It will contain CHOCOLATE!)

And stay tuned...I'll be catching up on posts for the A to Z Blogging Challenge on both blogs this week! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wild Week! And Your Chance to Win a Gift Basket Extended!

Yes, I know it's not the day for "W" yet...

Please accept my sincere apologies at falling behind on the "A to Z Challenge"! On Sunday I was invited to go with a friend to a little town in western Nebraska; she gave her "Chocolate" talk there. After, as she was talking with people who attended, we started hearing that the Interstate was closed...because of snow! We did NOT expect that but after checking with family and friends realized that we'd be spending the night in North Platte (where there was no snow, by the way...). After a trip to WalMart for pajamas and a few other necessities, we treated ourselves to a nice supper out and talked until almost 2 AM, discussing everything from our kids to the theology of heaven to our future writing plans and goals to the kind of toothpaste we used...

Needless to say I didn't get any blogging done that day or Monday...we left mid-morning to come home and within 5 or 6 miles saw the first semi jack-knifed in the median. We saw numerous other cars and semis on their sides or completely overturned as we made our way home. We were very thankful to get home safely!

The rest of my week was spent putting the May issue of the "Nebraska Family Times" together (for more about the "Nebraska Family Times" go to "Nebraska Family Times" ; if you'd like a FREE copy of the June issue e-mail me at with your mailing address), working, going to church, welcoming Morgan, my daughter, home, seeing the movie "Heaven is for Real", planning and shopping for Easter dinner...and basically, well, not blogging.

I have my posts planned out and WILL catch up within the next few days.

To make it up to my readers I will be giving away 4 gift baskets instead of just one (see this post ) and have decided to extend it until Easter Monday; everyone who comments between now and then will be in the drawing for one of the gift baskets.

May God bless you and your family this Easter!

"He is risen!"
"He is risen indeed!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to say "NO!"

(adapted from “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home.”)

It’s tempting to say “yes” to any request you get—after all, you want to make people happy, help out when you can, and do good deeds. But sometimes, for your own good, you have to say “NO.” Unfortunately it’s not an easy task, especially when you’re turning down a request to do a “good” thing, like teach Sunday School, buy your child the latest fun toy, or head up yet another project.

Here are a few tips for evaluating requests: 
  • Make it a habit to say “I have to check with my spouse/look at my calendar/see if I can find a babysitter” whenever someone asks you to do something. This gives you time to decide if you should do the task or not.
  • Find out all of the details—date, time, time required to complete the task, and so on—before you decide whether or not to say “yes.” You might be surprised to find the task is minor and will fit into your schedule—but you might find a seemingly quick task will require much of your time.
  • Will saying “yes” ultimately help, or hinder the situation? For example, if your child asks for help with his homework, does he truly need help or is it just easier to ask you? Are you being asked to work overtime to fill in for someone who is sick, or is the organization chronically understaffed?
  • Prayerfully consider the request and open your heart to God’s direction. He might urge you in a new direction…or He might prompt you to say “no”.

Principles to saying “NO”:
  • First, have it set in your mind that your “no” answer is the best one for you and your family, and that you will not change your mind.
  • You do not have to give a reason for your answer. Of course if it’s a close friend or family member you might want to explain, but in some cases your explanation will just lead to the other person arguing with you about your reasons, trying to talk you into saying “yes.”
  • The person who is asking might wait silently after you’ve given your “no”, hoping you’ll offer more information or change your mind and say “yes” if she waits long enough. Outwait her. If she is bold enough to question you or try to change your mind, simply repeat your answer, as many times as necessary. Don’t be intimidated. You gave the request thought before you answered; remember how you’ll feel if you’re bullied into doing something you don’t want to do.

How to say “NO”:
  • “I’m sorry, I can’t.”
  • “It just won’t work for me and my family.”
  • “If I do that it won’t help you in the long run.”
  • "Doing that for you will just keep you from learning..."
  • “I have other plans” (even if it’s a plan to take a nap or work on a project at home)
  • “I know I helped last year, but I just can’t this year.”
  • “That’s not one of my skills or interests, but I would like to help by…”
  • “I can’t help you with this fund raiser but I would be willing to help next year.” (Do not say this unless you are really willing to help next year; you WILL be asked!)

 Sign up in the sidebar on the right side of this page to receive these posts by e-mail; 
the post for the letter “Y” will be titled, “When to Say YES!”
(I'm also blogging at Nebraska Family Times. Today's post 
is based on Hebrews 4:16 and titled "Near".)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kids, Bringing God into their Lives

(adapted from the book “Home is Where the Mom Is;  A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home”)

Our main job as parents is to make our children, children of God. Jesus clearly treasured children; in Matthew 18 He tells His disciples, “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for Him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:5-6

Here are some suggestions for bring God into your children’s lives.

Take them to church. This is one of the most fundamental things you can do to make God an integral part of their lives, but arguably one of the most difficult as well. Here are a few tips, from moms who have been there.
  • Make going to church a regular routine from the time your children are babies.
  • Explain, as age appropriate, what is going on during church.
  • Some parents find kids listen and pay attention better if they’re sitting toward the front of church, where they have a clear view of the pastor or priest and can better see what is going on. Other parents prefer to sit near the back, where they can easily “escape” if their kids are acting up.
  • Be conscious of any noise your kids might be making. While it’s important for kids to remain in church if at all possible, if they’re disturbing those around you, clearly the kids are not paying attention and others aren’t getting anything out of church either. Consider taking your kids out if they’re disrupting the service; to make sure this doesn’t become a habit, impose a consequence later.
  • Take quiet snacks and activities to occupy small children. Consider taking faith-based books, coloring or activity books so that kids are still learning about God even if they’re not paying close attention to the service.
  • Consider asking older kids to take “sermon notes” or write down questions or observations about the service to discuss later. Doing so might encourage them to pay attention.
  • Be very discerning about missing services for school or sports activities. You are sending a message when these things take precedence over church. Check for services on Saturday evening, or investigate churches in the town to which you will be traveling, if appropriate.

Advice for those who don’t have small children in church with them:
  • Remember how you felt when you had young kids in church, and remember the importance of kids being in church. If their noise disturbs you, sit in the area of church where the kids aren't.
  • Encourage moms and dads who bring their kids, with a smile and a word of encouragement after the service.
  • I recently bought a few Bible activity books that were on clearance; I plan to put them in my church and give them to kids (if their parents ok it) if they’re restless. Could you do something like that?
  • In our church, activity bags are available. Parents can grab them before church, their kids keep occupied with what’s inside during church and they’re returned after church. Would this be an option in your church?
  • If a mom or dad have a particularly difficult time during a church service, make a point of talking with them after church and telling them how much you appreciate them bringing their kids to church. I will never forget something that happened years ago in our church; during a baptism, the older sibling (who was about 3 years old) escaped her grandma’s grip and ran to the front where her parents and baby sister were. The toddler ran around the altar area and made a fuss. The mother was clearly embarrassed. After church, in the narthex, the lady was talking about how bad she felt about what had happened. An elderly lady went up to her and said very clearly, “We LOVE the sound and activity of children in this church!” I've never forgotten the mom’s expression of relief and gratitude at hearing that.

 (This post will be continued on “O” Day, “Other Ways to Bring God into Your Kids’ Lives”)

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Just Five Minutes? Here are 25 Things You Can Accomplish

(adapted from Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family and Her Home)

You're waiting for your kids to gather their homework and find their shoes. Or your husband is just finishing a phone call before you leave for an evening out. Or your kids are engrossed in the last few minutes of Dora the Explorer. Or your coffee is heating in the microwave. You probably have the niggling thought, "I should be doing something...but what?" 

Here are a few things you can accomplish when you just have a few minutes--you'll be surprised!

In your bedroom: 

  • Organize one dresser drawer.
  • Sort the stuff on your bedside table. 
  • Give your spouse a long hug and kiss.
  • Sort the laundry.
In the kitchen:
  • Clear out the dishwasher.
  • Discard the scary leftovers from the refrigerator.
  • Take inventory of the cupboards and start a grocery list.
  • Straighten one cupboard.
In the living room:
  • Straighten the DVDs
  • Pick everything up off the floor so you can quickly vacuum later (or make your kids do it!)
  • Give your spouse a back rub. 
  • Give your kids a hug and talk to them--no looking at the phone allowed!--about their day.
At your desk: 
  • Write a thank-you note or note of encouragement, or write a note in a birthday card.
  • Clear e-mails.
  • Sort through and file a few papers.
In the car:
  • Read a magazine article
  • Gather all the empty water bottles, miscellaneous scraps of paper, sippy cups, etc., etc., etc. 
  • Take a few breaths and just relax!
For your health:
  • Do a few stretches.
  • Find your exercise DVDs and choose one to do today or tomorrow.
  • Walk to the corner and back.
For your spirit:
  • Read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the date; today read Proverbs 11. 
  • Pray.
  • Update your prayer list. Or start a prayer list!
  • Close your eyes and ask the Lord to speak to you. Listen. 
Make your own list of things you can do in 5 minutes. What will you do the next time you have five minutes to fill? 

I'm also blogging at Nebraska Family Times. Don't
forget to comment on a post today or tomorrow so you're entered to 
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Can Do All Things Through Him Who Strengthens Me

By Shelly Burke

"I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

~I~ I am the one who has to take responsibility for the things I need to do—no one else can.

~Can Do~   Can. Not “might” or “possibly could” or “can do the easy things” but can take the actions necessary. I might not like it, I might not want to do it, but I can do, with God’s help.

~All Things~ Not “some things” or “most things” or “the easy things;” not just “fun things” or “pretty things” but all things—the ugly things, the things that I never imagined I’d have to do, the sad things, the unfair things—all things that I need to do.

~Through Him~ Not by myself, but through Him, with His help—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We—God and I—will do it together. He will be with me every single second. 

~Who Strengthens~ I don’t have to feel strong; I don’t have to be strong. He will do the strengthening that allows and enables me to do what I need to do.

~Me~ He strengthens me when I need it. He cares enough to help me do what I need to do, when I need to do it.

Thank You, Lord, that You care enough about me and what I’m going through to give me the strength to do what I need to do. Thank You that I am not alone in anything I need to do. Amen.

What are you asking the Lord to strengthen you to do today? 
I'm also blogging at Nebraska Family Times
Today's post is based on John 14:6, and gives us the ONLY way to eternal
life with the Lord. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Health, Small Steps to Improving Yours

If you pay the least bit of attention to the “news” or current magazines, you've realized that health advice abounds, and is different almost every time you turn on the TV or read a newspaper or magazine headline or article. It can be overwhelming to even think about improving your health, especially if your exercise and eating habits aren't the best to begin with!

Whether you’re just considering thinking about maybe taking some steps to improve your health, or already  have pretty good health habits, here are some things you can do to bump it up to the next level. 

Here are a few are simple, proven tips that you can start to use immediately. Choose one—or all!—to begin doing today. Your body and your mind will thank you!
  •  Decrease your intake of soda, coffee, or sweets by just one serving/day.
  • Drink an extra glass of water every day.
  • Eat one more serving of fruits or vegetables every day. If you regularly eat plenty of fruits and veggies try one new fruit or vegetable this month.
  • Exercise—even a 10 minute walk around the block or a few stretches are beneficial. If you exercise regularly, challenge yourself to add a few minutes of exercise or try a new DVD or routine.
  • If you haven’t seen a doctor for a few years, make an appointment today! If you are a woman between the ages of 40 and 76, check out Every Woman Matters You may qualify for free screening tests, including mammogram and Pap smear.
  • If you have a habit that has a negative effect on your health, consider changing it just slightly. If you smoke, challenge yourself to smoke one less cigarette a day. If you eat several servings of junk food every day, limit yourself to just one snack a day. If you frequently eat out, consider going one week without eating out at all (your wallet will thank you too!). Make your servings just a little bit smaller.

 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

What is YOUR favorite health tip?
I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times.

 Today’s post is titled “Hope” and based on Romans 15:13

***Remember--comment on any post between now and Saturday
evening and you'll be eligible to win this  gift basket!***  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

10 Great Things to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

No matter what the situation or circumstance, one or more of these statements are the ‘right’ thing to say. 

  • “I’m so sorry!”
  • “You are in my thoughts and prayers.”
  • “What can I do for you?”
  • “It’s OK to cry/scream/laugh.”
  • “It’s OK to be mad/sad/upset/confused.”
  • “There are many people who love and support you.”
  • “This is a terrible time for you, but I know you can do what you have to do.”
  • “I am here any time you want to talk/e-mail/cry.”
  • “I am your friend and I will support you and be here for you no matter what!”
  • NOTHING--just give a hug or sit quietly and listen. 

“Do not be anxious about…what you ought to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:12
I'm also blogging at Nebraska Family Times. Click to 
read the post "Gifts", based on 1 Peter 4:10

Monday, April 7, 2014

Financial Sites and Advice, My Favorite

My Favorite Financial Websites

Dave Ramsey  offers practical financial advice from a Biblical point of view. On his website you’ll find many articles, forms, tools and step-by-step advice so you can start getting control of your finances right away! You can also listen to his radio show and get information for classes (offered through many churches) and live events.

Money Help for Christians is written by Craig Ford, who says on the blog, Each day I’m searching for new discoveries about debt-free living, frugality, generous giving, and simple living.”  The site contains many Bible-based articles as well as the offer of a FREE download of the book “The Bible and 21st Century Finances” when you subscribe to receive free e-mail articles. Several other downloadable books are also available.

Bible Money Matters is  a Christian personal finance blog that helps regular people gain control of their finances and live financially free. Peter Anderson writes about finances, faith and family. Sign up to receive articles by e-mail.

My Favorite Advice ( From experience; I do all of these things) 
  • Save change in a change jar
  • Save dollar bills
  • Use the envelopes system (outlined at Dave Ramsey); I label envelopes with categories of spending (groceries, personal items, gifts, clothing, etc.) and place the budgeted amount of cash in the envelopes every month. When the cash is gone, I don’t spend any more in that category. Using cash makes me very conscious of what I spend and if I really need that item.
  • Avoid going in the store if at all possible, since I inevitably “have to have” more than just that one item. 
  • Shop ahead; I purchase 3-4 deodorants, boxes of cereal, cans of tomato sauce, bags of dog treats, etc. at one time, when I have coupons and they’re on sale. This way I never run out and have to buy when they’re not on sale or I don’t have coupons, and I don’t have to go into the store as often.
  • If I do go in a store for “just one or two things” I do not get a cart! When I have to carry everything I’m much more discerning about what I buy.
  • Make and use my own dishwasher soap and clothing detergent. It is MUCH cheaper than, and works just as well as the much more expensive chemical-filled products!

What are your favorite financial websites and money-saving tips?

I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times .

Today’s post is titled “Fall Down” and based on Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Saturday, April 5, 2014

E-mail…More Productive Things to do than to Check…Yet Again

Sometimes I check my e-mail…for the umpteenth time of the day, out of boredom or just for something to do. I’ve tried to become more conscious of how I spend my time, and I’ve found that when I have “something” in mind to do, rather than a mindless task (like checking e-mail), I’m more likely to spend that time productively.

Here are some things to do besides checking e-mail... yet again.

  • Read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the date (today, for example, I’ll read Proverbs 5)
  • Clear out the dishwasher and wipe down the counters
  • Say a prayer for someone you’re concerned about (I keep a prayer journal so I can easily see who I’m concerned about, and why)
  • Clear off the bathroom counter and wipe it down, as well as the mirror
  • Find, address and write a note in an encouraging card for a friend going through a hard time
  • Call my mom for a quick chat
  • Take the dog for a quick walk
  • Lift weights or do a quick cardio workout (a few minutes of exercise several times a day has been found to be just as effective as an extended time of exercise)
  • Update your monthly or weekly calendar
  • Page through a new magazine and enjoy a piece (or two or three!) of chocolate

What will YOU do today instead of checking e-mail…yet again?

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at
Today’s post is titled “Every Thought” and based on 2 Corinthians 10:5b

Friday, April 4, 2014

Deepening Your Relationship with God

Do you want to become closer to God? Do you feel a desire to deepen your faith? The suggestions below will help make your faith an integral part of your life, every day.
  • Pray that the Lord would cause you to thirst to learn more about Him, to want to read His Word. 
  • Read the Bible. There are many translations available;consider a study Bible, which has notes that will help you better understand the readings. Start in Genesis, and read straight through. Or start in Matthew, and read the New Testament first. Or read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the date; read Proverbs 4 today, and Proverbs 5 tomorrow, for example. A Chronological Bible will allow you to read through the events in the order in which they happened. Whatever you read will increase your knowledge of God and His will, and what He wants from us. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105
  • After you've chosen a Bible, make daily personal Bible study an absolute priority. You cannot develop a relationship without the Lord without spending time with Him! Write in your Bible, or use a notebook to journal what you learned and your observations and questions during your Bible study. 
  • Begin your day with prayer. Thank Him for the blessings He has given you and ask Him to bless your day. Philippians 4:16 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."   1 Thessalonians 5:17 commands us to "Pray without ceasing." 
  • If you haven't already, find a church home. Talk with friends, or local pastors or priests, about the beliefs of their church, and choose one to attend. Ask questions so you know what the beliefs of that denomination are. If you have a church home but haven't been regularly attending, attend church every week. Yes, you can be a believer without attending church, but worshiping with other believers strengthens your faith, teaches you about your faith and your Lord, and encourages you in your daily walk. 
  • Become more involved with your church by attending Bible class, teaching Sunday school, or volunteering where needed. Being with other believers will deepen your faith. 
  • Take sermon notes. It will help you remain focused during the service and give you a study reference. 
  • Keep a prayer journal. List what you are thankful for as well as your requests for yourself and others. Date your list and record God's answers so that you can look back and see how He answered your prayers.
  • Listen to Christian music. The encouraging messages and uplifting music will put a positive spin on your day, no matter what is happening. 
  • Post Bible verses, written on notecards or sticky notes, around your home (on your bathroom mirror, on your refrigerator, and so on), so you'll read them several times a day. 
  • Proceed with caution in choosing devotion books, websites, TV shows to watch, or programs to listen to. Many "Christian" authors and speakers seem to use the right buzzwords, but be very discerning--test everything you read or hear against the only Authority--the Bible. Subscribe to the Nebraska Family Times and you will receive a truly Christian newspaper in your mailbox every month!  
How do you make time with the Lord a priority? How have you deepened your relationship with the Lord? What's your favorite way to study the Bible? 
This entry 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. To read more about "Home is Where the Mom Is" click the "Table of Contents" tab at the top of this page; to order, see the sidebar of this page.