Monday, January 19, 2015

My Bible Reading Goals for 2015

Recently I wrote about the Bible being our spiritual mirror.

Have you ever let that reflection get so foggy, you hardly recognize yourself? If so, you are not alone!

I know as moms, we can get so bogged down with every day life that we get away from the most important thing. The reason we do anything at all: God! His Spirit. His Words.

They are life-giving, and every time I read them, I see myself a little more clearly.

Once upon a time, I wasn't yet a wife, I didn't have children, and I pretty much only had myself to think about. Whoo! I was so spiritual! Can you relate to that? I thank God that I had time to myself early on to dive deep into His Word and get to know my way around the Bible, but thankfully, He had more in store for me!

I was soon married and quickly (really quickly!) became a mother, and then became a mother again...and again, and now I'm expecting our fourth blessing. I can be exhausted sometimes. It can be so hard to get up earlier than everyone. It can be a challenge to get to bed at a decent hour, because I spend time catching up on things after everyone else is in bed. In the most recent times that I've gotten up and have been able to spend uninterrupted time in His Word, it has been glaringly obvious to me that I've become distant from Him.

I don't want that to be the case in 2015! So, I'm pressing on. I mentioned a while back that I had found a great Bible reading plan in the YouVersion app on my phone. Guess what? I'm still plugging away at that plan! Project 345 Plus is a 365 day reading plan, most days having four chapters to read. Needless to say, it's taken me much longer than 365 days to read through it! But that's okay. I was pregnant with my third child when I started it, and that plan has seen me through a pregnancy, a postpartum period, a growing infant turned busy toddler, all while homeschooling my two older children, and now another pregnancy.

My plan is to be purposeful about waking up earlier than everyone so I can have that uninterrupted time to read and soak in His Word. I need that time to replenish my spirit! I need it to give me the mental, emotional, and spiritual energy to keep things going smoothly around here (I plan to do a better job at that this year! Only by His grace).

Will you join me? Pick out a Bible reading plan on YouVersion or somewhere else (even the back of your Bible might have one) and just get started. You won't have to waste time hemming and hawing over your Bible in the morning about what you should or shouldn't read. You'll know what's next. And amazingly, so will God. I'm always astounded that whatever I'm reading is exactly what I need for today. He is so good!

What Bible-reading goals do you have this year? Share in a comment!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014- That's a Wrap!

I've been silent for several months here on Happy Christian Home. And I've been silent before. I realize there probably aren't many people still reading along, but somehow I still feel compelled to keep this blog going. Something in me says to keep sharing, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed in this great sea we call the internet and social media in general. It's a challenge to not compare oneself to everything else happening online. Feeling small here is pretty much effortless.

I guess I don't care about feeling small, per se. I just want to know that I'm called. And doing the thing I'm supposed to do with this space.

It is my goal this year to just be more consistent here, whatever that might look like. Either with monthly postings, or weekly postings- just consistent. Gradual. Realistic.

As you know, if you've been a reader for any length of time, I am a wife and a mom. I have three little ones, and for the past two and a half years, we've been homeschooling. This year, we are expecting a new little one to join our family, so that blessing will add a new dynamic. And of course, when we are busy with finding the "new normal" as a family, things like blogging tend to take a back seat. That's okay. (I'm sure you understand!)

Also, this past August, I teamed up with children's author Donna Perugini to be a contributor on her site. That has been an exciting opportunity for me, and I've really enjoyed working with her, and being sharpened as a writer. So, I guess you could say I haven't been totally silent online.

So, what's ahead for this space? Well, I hope to continue to share things as God places them on my heart, and also follow up with some of my writing from last year. I'd love to reach out to more of you via social media, like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I don't want to spread myself too thin, though since I feel called to focus on writing, but at the same time, I need to go where readers are. I've learned I can't just click "publish" and kick back with my feet up and wait for the people to start rolling through here (if only!) There is a work side to this whole blogging thing! (File that under "things nobody tells you about starting a blog".) ;-)

I hope I can continue to connect with those that come through here as I have in the past, and get to know more of you! 

I hope that you had a wonderfully blessed 2014, and pray that your year ahead is awesome! 

If you're new around here, here are links to three of my favorite blog posts this year, and also links to a few of my favorites on Donna Perugini's site! 

Happy Christian Home posts:


Reflecting on Our First Year of Homeschooling
Read Aloud Chapter Books We've Enjoyed this Year
Unburdened: 9 Ways to Create an Uncluttered Atmosphere

Donna Perugini posts:

A Shiny Reflection for 2015
A Shiny Reflection for 2015
Homeschooling as a Beginner
Hosting a Community Baby Shower
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Five Ways to Show Support for Children's Ministry Workers

Have you ever wondered how you can take care of the ones who care for the children? Today, I'm sharing some ideas about how to do just that! Point number two: "Value their time. If you must have a meeting, be prepared and keep it as brief as possible." CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!
Value their time. If you must have a meeting, be prepared and keep it as brief as possible. - See more at: http://donnaperuginichildrensauthor.com/2014/08/26/5-ways-to-support-childrens-church-volunteers/#sthash.k49RQk2m.dpuf
Value their time. If you must have a meeting, be prepared and keep it as brief as possible. - See more at: http://donnaperuginichildrensauthor.com/2014/08/26/5-ways-to-support-childrens-church-volunteers/#sthash.k49RQk2m.dpuf
Value their time. If you must have a meeting, be prepared and keep it as brief as possible. - See more at: http://donnaperuginichildrensauthor.com/2014/08/26/5-ways-to-support-childrens-church-volunteers/#sthash.k49RQk2m.dpuf
Value their time. If you must have a meeting, be prepared and keep it as brief as possible. - See more at: http://donnaperuginichildrensauthor.com/2014/08/26/5-ways-to-support-childrens-church-volunteers/#sthash.k49RQk2m.dpuf

I'm honored to be featured at Donna Perugini's website (the author who brought you great books like The Flight of Orville Wright Caterpillar), so won't you join me over there and weigh in on the topic? I look forward to hearing your ideas!

Monday, July 14, 2014

K-3 Free (and Inexpensive) Homeschool Resource Round-Up

Are you just starting out with your homeschool planning, but not knowing where to turn? I was like that a couple years ago when we began! I knew we wanted to homeschool, but I didn't have a set "philosophy" to guide me through those uncertain first months. Also? I didn't have the budget to just go out and buy the curriculum that most appealed to me (any of them!)

Here are some of the (free) resources we've relied on for the past couple of years, and one of the relatively inexpensive things we've used too!


Free Resources:

Ambleside Online- This is a website that is based on principles of a Charlotte Mason education. Admittedly, the first few times I explored this site trying to figure out how this might work for my brood, I kinda got a little bit cross-eyed trying to figure out what we were supposed to actually do. Then I started reading about Charlotte Mason and her ideas on education. Ah, it made so much more sense after that! That being said, I don't recommend trying to use this without having read a bit about Charlotte Mason. This is one that you can use for all ages.

Easy Peasy- Easy Peasy has every grade laid out from preschool through high school. It is a site that is put together by a Christian mom of many. She wanted the curriculum to be online to keep track of what her children had done year by year (and also so it could be reused by her younger children), and made it available to other parents and caregivers. I like the concept, and you don't need much more than an good internet connection to use it.

Education.com- This is a great resource for worksheets and projects to do. I believe you are allowed five free downloads per month. I've found it easy to locate a good quality, grade-level worksheet on various topics.

Homeschool Share- Lapbooks and Unit Studies galore! (Also, they have many resources for Five in a Row, if you're using that.)

IXL- IXL is math and language arts for K-12. This is very kid-friendly, and I like that they allow your child to do 20 practice questions per day. You don't have to sign up and pay for their service, though if you want to go beyond the practice questions, you will have to. It is nice to use in addition to another math program just to gauge where your child is at currently.

Khan Academy- Khan Academy is a non-profit that has teaching videos and exercises for math, and many other subjects. For math, it is the most basic arithmetic all the way to stuff I never learned, like calculus and other difficult-sounding mathematic disciplines. (Can you tell I'm not a math buff?) I haven't spent very much time exploring their other resources, but it does look rather extensive.

Lesson Pathways- This is a good one if you want a fully guided custom curriculum (for K-5). I like how you can simply click on certain units to remove them (if say, your child has already mastered that lesson) and you can move the units around to put them in the order you want. You can even combine grade levels in a certain area of study. The only caveat I would offer for this resource is that many of the outside links are no longer good. This makes it a little frustrating, but you can easily find alternate projects or worksheets elsewhere (and you have the option to report any links you find that don't work). It does help when you want grade-level appropriate ideas. We've discovered many favorite books and authors through the ideas on this site. To use it, you only need to register with an email address. (They have never contacted me or sent me emails, in case you're worried about that!)

Simply Charlotte Mason- Can you guess what we're doing this year? Yep, we're inspired by Miss Mason and her excellent ideas concerning education. I actually have found this to be a great deal simpler than using Ambleside- at least for the way my brain works! If you want to incorporate her method into your homeschool, you just need to figure out what works better for you (whether Ambleside Online, Simply Charlotte Mason or any other Charlotte Mason website). I like the more modern books recommended here, and I like their free curriculum planner. Yes, it still takes planning, but it is totally guided and they offer sample schedules as well. (Also, both Ambleside and Simply Charlotte Mason have online forums for all of your questions!)

Inexpensive:

Five in a Row- I wanted this list to be full of FREE resources, but I couldn't leave this one out. It is not free, but you can find the volumes of this book at Amazon for relatively cheap and find most of the recommended books at the library. So it's almost free. We love using Five in a Row, because, well...we love reading. It is not intended to be a full curriculum, but it does open the door to many cool educational things to share with your little ones!



(If you like these resources, feel free to follow my Homeschooling Ideas and Resources board on Pinterest!)

*Contains affiliate links

Have you used any of these resources? Which one is your favorite?
Linking up with these fine blogs:

A Little R & R



GospelHomemaking.com

  



 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Unburdened: 9 Ways to Create an Uncluttered Atmosphere

Recently, I started writing about my word for 2014, "unburdened." God laid this word on my heart, and it filled me with so much hope, showing me so many possibilities for the new year.

One way that He is unburdening me, is through the physical decluttering of our home. I don't know about anybody else (actually, I do, because I watch Hoarders!) but I have way too much stuff in my life! A few years ago, we moved from a small apartment to a smaller apartment, and I think now, we're rocking about 700 square feet! In the mean time, our family grew larger, and our surroundings...didn't (or haven't yet).

Over the past seven months, I've really begun to question my relationship with things. I know for me, personally, my relationship to my stuff was influenced in part by my upbringing, and the fact that we moved about every year or so when I was growing up. When I turned 18, I realized that I had moved more times than I had had birthdays! So, stuff was the constant in my life. Usually. (Things tend to mysteriously disappear when you move frequently, and you're a child and you don't pack all your own things, but I digress!)

I came to understand that I had a tendency to hang on to things because I didn't have roots anywhere- I think I was just grabbing on to whatever was in my reach! Crazy, right? Plus, I have also confronted the fact that I struggle with attention issues (but that's a whole 'nother blog post!) and don't always have the focus to realize when objects are overrunning my life.

I'm on the path to a decluttered lifestyle. I've made a lot of progress over the course of this year, but I'm not yet where I want to be. I'm encouraged because of how much I've unloaded, and I've learned a lot in the process and had many "a-ha" moments. I'm getting there!

Are you also struggling with the amount of stuff (or the wrong kind of stuff) in your life? Here are some ways to help you get started on the journey of unburdening yourself via your environment.
  1. Confront your junk! Literally and figuratively. Reflect on why you have so much stuff. Have you recently downsized and now your belongings don't fit your new environment? Do you, like me, have any deep-rooted reasons for hanging on to things you don't need any more? Figuring out the why will go a long way in helping you declutter and actually stay that way.
  2. Get inspired: Peruse Pinterest for decluttering tips, join a Facebook group with people who are also on a journey of decluttering, read blogs about minimalism. Minimalism is a good key word- don't be intimidated by that word, either. It's not just about sparse decor and furniture, but more like a way of life!
  3. Set a goal for yourself: Setting a number of items you wish to get rid of helps. FlyLady has some great pointers- like using a timer everyday to keep you on track with daily decluttering. Or set a lofty goal like 2014 in 2014 where you get rid of (you guessed it) 2,014 items in one year (that's what I'm doing, by the way).
  4. Get real: Do you really need a certain item? Does it get a lot of use in your home? Is it something you're hanging onto because it was a gift, and it never really worked for your particular style or needs? What would it take to replace it if you ever needed it again? Just being honest with yourself will really help you in the long run to get your space under control.
  5. A place for everything, and everything in its place! I keep saying this to myself when I'm organizing. If it doesn't have a place, maybe it's time for that item to go! Or maybe you really need it, and something else needs to go to make room for it.
  6. Keep it movin'! Pack up a box or bag, and immediately put it in the car to be donated. Don't let the stuff pile up in boxes or bags, or worse, keep them around so that you can reconsider getting rid of it. Trust me, you will feel awesome once you start doing this.
  7. Stop bringing stuff into your home. This one is so hard to do, but you must learn to become disciplined with yourself and your family. This is one area I'm struggling with too, especially since the children seem to attract stuff from every corner of the Earth (I'm totally being silly, but sometimes it seems every time we leave the house, they come back with more stuff!) Learn to say no to yourself and others sometimes! You have to figure out what this means because everyone is different- but don't shop for unnecessary items, and if you go to places where the children accumulate stuff (like little toys), develop a system for dealing with it right away to keep it under control.
  8. Get your children on board. You don't have to completely clear their room of toys and have them play with sticks (though this might appeal to some, ha ha), but explain to them why they should pare down their possessions. They will have more space to play with the things they love, and more time to play with them since they won't be spending so much time cleaning up their belongings. I had my three children each select 10 things (or sets of toys, like train tracks or blocks, for instance) that were most important to them. We managed to get rid of so much this way. When Christmas or birthdays come around, re-evaluate. If people ask what they want or need for gift-giving occasions, point them in the direction of adding to existing collections- it's much easier to organize toys that are related than to have to find a way to store some completely new kind of toy. Maybe even ask for experience gifts like passes to the zoo or the movies.
  9. Don't get frustrated. Remember that you didn't accumulate so much stuff overnight, so it might stand to reason that it will take time and changing perspective to really declutter your life. Every little bit of progress helps! And if you lose momentum, just get going again.





Are you on a journey of decluttering, too? Share your experience in the comments! 

Linking up with these fine blogs:

A Little R & R



GospelHomemaking.com

  



 

Monday, June 16, 2014

15 Love-Inspired (Non-Fearful) Reasons to Homeschool

Once while reading a Christian parenting book, I realized how many of my parenting decisions were based on fear. It was kinda crazy to think about, but many choices have been made because I didn't want a certain thing to happen! I was afraid.

The Bible has much to say about fear. One thing I've read said that the Word addresses the issue of fear 365 times! A daily reminder from God to not fear (by the way, I've never counted references to fear in Scripture, so I don't know for sure if that estimate is exact- does anybody want to confirm?)


When we made the decision to homeschool, I'll admit, much of it was due to fear. (Some fears can be healthy, though, so I'm not saying the reasons aren't valid!) Fear about bullies or other negative social influences, fear about (for us) our son getting a hold of some kind of problematic food (he is outgrowing a few minor allergies), fears that his educational needs would not be met and he would grow to dislike school. There are more, I'm sure, if I really think about it.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

As homeschooling moms, we need to look to love for our motivation in everything! Here are some of my favorite love-inspired reasons to homeschool. Some of them fun, some of them serious. What reasons can you add to my list?

  1. I get to be with my babies all day!
  2. I get to learn alongside my children (yay, me!).
  3. My children have the opportunity to experience the real world as we move through our day together, rather than only interacting with their peers.
  4. No alarm clocks! (Unless we have some place we need to be).
  5. Our mornings are calm, and we all (usually) get as much sleep as we need.
  6. Education is tailored specifically to my child's needs.
  7. If they have mastered certain material, we get to move on- no waiting for others to catch up.
  8. If they need (or want) more time with certain concepts, we can "camp out" there for as long as we need (or want) to.
  9. My children eat home-cooked and lovingly prepared meals all day.
  10. We have a ton of freedom to explore our community resources (parks, museums, libraries, etc.) while they are not busy.
  11. I get to read (and re-read) lots of favorite books with my children!
  12. We can learn in our pajamas!
  13. Nobody has to raise their hand to use the restroom. :-)
  14. More time for (godly) character development!
  15. Time! Time to be together, time to develop our relationship, time to explore their interests and hobbies, time to be creative!

I'm sure there are many more love-inspired reasons to homeschool! What are your favorites? Share in a comment!

Linking up with these fine blogs:

http://http://christianmommyblogger.com/fellowship-fridays-underdog/A Little R & R



GospelHomemaking.com

  

Inviting Cooperation from Young Children

I just celebrated my youngest guy's second birthday this month! Could it already be? I swear I was just telling you all that I was expecting him!
At any rate, he is quickly gaining independence and communication skills and reaching other important milestones so fast. It can be hard to keep up with all the changes, am I right, moms? I feel like I was just getting the hang of mothering this baby, and now he's already into "young child" territory!

Are you in the same season with your little one(s)? Or maybe you work with toddlers or preschoolers on a regular basis. Whatever the case, we could all stand to take a minute and see things from a young child's perspective for a minute to figure out ways to best communicate with them to make our days run a little more smoothly! Today, I'm revisiting some of the ways that have helped me deal gently, but effectively my little guy (and that I still frequently use with my older children now ages 4 ½ and 7).  I'm honored to share these tips as a guest on my friend Jenni Mullinix's blog! Join me over there today and share any additional ways you know of to invite cooperation from toddlers and preschoolers! (Click the link to continue reading!)


http://http://christianmommyblogger.com/fellowship-fridays-underdog/A Little R & R



GospelHomemaking.com