Sweeping Those Cheerios, Again!

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Psalm 127:3
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Matthew 19:14
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.

Today is snowday number 4 in a row for me. My kids have been home much more than usual, and I am left wondering if my life is meaningful enough.

I am a teacher! I teach math, reading, writing, manners, respect, time management,  and responsibility.  When teaching is taken away from me, I am stuck wondering if I am completing the work I am called to complete while here on earth.

Cleaning, laundry, washing dishes, and wiping sticky finger prints off windows does not feel like God’s work. However, I was reminded this week that many women are called to do God’s work inside their home. Some of us are called to do God’s work inside and outside our homes.

Steven Curtis Chapman has a song that compares sweeping up cheerios to mission work. He makes it clear that it doesn’t matter what our daily tasks are. We still do them to honor and glorify God.

My job for this weekend will be caring for my kids and cleaning house. Both of these fulfill the Proverbs 31 way of life.

Proverbs 31:27-28
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

Creating a home where my family is warm, loved, safe, and joyful is as great of a job as any issued by God. It is challenging, rewarding, and honors Him. As I enter our weekend, my focus will remain on doing my best for our family. There will be plenty of time Monday to focus on my students.

Blessings!

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A Woman of Strength

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17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks. (Proverbs 17:31)

Last night I couldn’t open a jar of jelly.  I was trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son, but the jar lid wouldn’t budge.  I had a few options, but the easiest was the hand the jar to my husband.  He laughed.  He loves knowing that he is stronger than I am.  It gives him this boost of feeling needed.

I manage our family without my husband about 90% of the time.  We only see him after church on most Sundays.  He works the last Sunday of each month.  And we see him on Tuesdays, his day off.  Usually he works until 8pm and arrives home around 9pm.  By 9pm, the kids are in bed, and I am not far from it.  (I get up at 5am when I am working. I go to bed early!)

Most of the time I cannot rely upon his strength to help our family with our daily issues.  I learned long ago that I had to be strong enough to guide our family when he isn’t around.  I can’t!  I am not equipped with strength enough to run our family, work full time, raise our kids, cook, clean, shop, plan meals, prepare our kids for school, and keep up with bills.  There aren’t enough hours in the day or enough energy in my body.

The Proverbs 31 woman had a secret.  She had help from God.  That is the only way any woman can have enough strength to complete her tasks!  And we all know how many tasks are required of us each day! We need God to help us!

I pray daily that I will have all the resources, including strength, I need to complete my tasks for the day. Lucky for us, God wants to see us succeed in raising our families and guiding our homes.  He will pull through for us if we trust Him.

This morning, at 5am, I set about my work vigorously.  Today is the first day back to work for me after the summer off.  I will sit in meetings most of the day, but I will be back to work nonetheless.  The maddening dinner rush awaits me when I pick up the kids and return home this evening.  Will I have the strength needed? NOPE!  But I can count on God to pull me through!

Blessings!

My Failures at Clean Eating

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It is an understatement, I’m sure, to assume the Proverbs 31 woman didn’t feed her kids processed foods.  They probably didn’t eat many hotdogs, chef boyardee, or frozen chicken nuggets.  I made a great attempt at clean eating in our family.  I failed miserably!

I am in charge of ALL menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation.  The only exception is Sunday lunch.  We usually go out to a restaurant after church.

This means I choose what my family eats.  I get very little input from my husband, except that he prefers healthy meals.  He means lots of fruits and vegetables, but it isn’t a real meal unless there is meat, too.

I decided back in the spring that our family would make a conscious effort to stop eating processed foods.  Many of our vegetables are garden grown or from the farmers’ market during the spring and summer anyway.  Much of our meat we processed ourselves as well.  I haven’t quite figured out milk yet, but we have been working hard on our changes.  Until Superhero Son and I got Strep Throat!

Once we were diagnosed, we made a beeline for Kroger.  After dropping off the prescriptions, we made our way to the mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and the ice cream.  Through my feverish state, I didn’t know how to fix clean food that we could swallow without howling in pain!  I even tried Ramen noodles, but it was too salty and got dumped anyway!

Lessons learned:  If I am going to commit to clean eating, I have to learn all of the tricks for emergency situations.  I really didn’t like the mashed potatoes or the mac and cheese.  It tasted so much worse than the foods we had gotten used to eating.  The ice cream, however, was amazing!

If any of you have advice on clean eating, please help me out!

Blessings!

Managing a Household

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She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27

I would love to begin this post by saying that I have this one all figured out.  However, I am far from it!  I flip through magazines, surf online, ask friends, and read library books all about how to manage a home without going crazy! I still don’t have a good enough answer.

There are many reasons to love my career as a teacher, but among the top few sits my summers.  I LOVE June and July!  They are amazing months when I can relax and enjoy my family.  Along with it, comes the need to reorganize my schedule.  That is my goal for this week!

Last summer I had a newborn.  I didn’t schedule anything but feedings and naps.  This year has to be different.

First of all, Superhero Son has to step up his preschool work.  Since he is now four, he will have scheduled time to work on preschool skills.  I won’t force this too much, and the activities are all fun.  He already loves his “work,” and he loves reading with me.  I just need to be more intentional with the skills I choose for him to work through each day.  I want this summer and next summer to really prepare him for kindergarten.

Secondly, Darling Daughter is trying to walk.  Very soon, I will have a young toddler and a four year old to entertain!  I need to plan and schedule fun days for us, so I don’t go crazy!

Thirdly, teachers do not EVER truly take the summers off.  I still have a lot of writing projects to work through this summer.  I have several days when I am working with curriculum supervisors for my school system.  I have three days I have to work in my classroom, and I need to rethink my reading and writing class structure to account for the increased difficulty we saw this year with our state tests.

Finally, this house is for sale!  We have to manage all of this AND keep this house “show-ready!”

I am not listing my summer plans here for you to read and think, “This girl has lost it!  She is crazy!  It won’t happen!”

The reality is that it can only happen if I get my life organized!  For those of you who know me well, you know organization is NOT my strong point!  If I sit and listen well enough, I can probably hear you laughing right now!

Here are my thoughts and ideas:

1.  Use Flylady for organization and cleaning.

2.  Use Cozi for scheduling.

3. Use 1+1+1=1  for preschool planning.  Superhero Son will work his way through the Raising Rock Stars preschool program.

As we move through summer, I will try not to bore you with all of the details.  However, I will use the Housekeeping category to post updates.

Wish me luck!

Blessings!

Not Perfect, But With a Purpose

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I sat down and reread Proverbs 31.  Since I began writing for this blog about two months ago, I think I have read it at least one hundred times.  I finally realized this time that the Proverbs 31 woman was NOT perfect. Instead, she lived her life with a purpose.  That is a much more attainable goal! I need to stop striving for perfection.

My laundry will NEVER be caught up. There will be dirty dishes in my sink within an hour of starting the dishwasher.  As soon as I mop the floors, someone will spill something.  I live with a grown man and a four year old boy.  The floors around the toilets always need to be cleaned!

My kids are great, but they still fight.  Superhero Son will need me to help him academically for years to come.  Darling Daughter is constantly doing something she shouldn’t do.

My marriage will always need me to put in the hard work it takes to be a good wife.  I will always have a career that demands my attention.  Finally, I will always have God to serve.

I cannot accomplish everything every single day.  It isn’t possible!  I may be created in God’s image, but I do not have God’s power.  I will never be perfect!  There!  I said it!  You should say it, too!   You will feel much better once you realize that there is a better way to live.

From now on I will strive to live my life with a purpose instead of with perfection!

Blessings!

A Bit Distracted: Watching the Rain Fall

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Springtime brings the terrible thunderstorms with it.  Usually we have hard winds accompanied by hard rains.  These storms can shred my hostas, rattle my windows, rip the blossoms off of the trees, and cause power outages.  Those really bum me out, especially when I have a book deadline approaching!

Tonight was different.  Instead of working on the manuscript of this book, I found myself staring out the french doors leading to my back deck.  The dark thunderclouds of the spring storm broke enough to see the sun setting behind the trees.  The winds died.  The torrential downpour turned into a gentle summer-like rain.  For a few moments I sat here, already in my pajamas, and enjoyed watching the rain fall.  Darling Daughter was already asleep, Superhero Son was watching Bubble Guppies, dinner was over, baths were finished, the laundry was caught up (sort of!), and I was distracted from my work by the rain.  So I just stopped and watched it fall.

Yeah, I know!  It sounds ridiculous, but I just needed some time to watch the rain fall.  I didn’t worry about the fifth grade trip tomorrow.  I didn’t spend my extra time folding clothes, mopping floors, or washing dishes.  I allowed my eyes to stray from the computer screen and my brain from the mountains of work.

I bet the Proverbs 31 woman took time to watch the rain fall.  She probably didn’t do it often.  She may not have told anyone about her quiet moments.  In fact, her “quiet moments” may have been similar to mine, filled with background noise.  However, I bet she savored them, treasured them, and used them to refuel her spirit!

Enjoy your quiet moments.  Take a few moments to just watch the rain fall.

Blessings!

Remembering Days That Just Weren’t This Busy!

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She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27

 Memories seem to be following me lately! I was rolling stain onto the back deck today and began to reminisce.  Earlier this morning I told my husband that it would be nice to be a college student again. At another point this weekend I recalled what it was like to pack up when I left Radford to move up to central Virginia.  

Times have changed since I lived in a dorm, then apartment in Radford.  I was in Radford for eight years, four in college and four teaching while I worked on my masters degree.  I loved living there, and life was definitely simpler than it is today!

If I were still in college, I would either be out for summer or getting ready to get out.  As a teacher, I have another 51/2 weeks.  

When I lived in Radford, I only worried about myself.  I lived alone, except for a cat who wandered.  I would come home from work, fix a fast dinner, kick back, and watch tv.  Granted, I was working on my masters degree while teaching.  I did a lot of homework in the evenings, but I only worried about myself.  No husband! No kids!  

When I packed up my apartment to move, it took about a day and half.  That’s is it!  All of my belongings came in one trip.

Today my life is so different!  Instead of coming home from work to fix my dinner, I have four people to feed.  Instead of doing my homework, I work on preschool skills with Superhero Son, read to both kids, give baths, play games, do laundry (way more than before!), and clean up everyone’s messes.  

Idleness is not an option today.  If I don’t do my work around this house, the house doesn’t run smoothly!

However, there is another HUGE difference!  When I lived alone, I didn’t feel complete!  I knew God was calling me for a greater purpose!  Sure, I went to church.  I sang in the choir.  I volunteered to help with different events.  But I wasn’t truly living my life as God had planned.  

I am crazy busy these days.  Many of us are!  Thankfully, in the midst of that busyness, I can recognize that I am exactly where God wants me.  I am doing exactly what He wants me to do!

Are you?

Blessings!