His Ways Are Not My Ways

His_WaysSometimes this mommy can get a little confused. I’m the one who keeps the home, teaches the children, runs the errands, cooks the food, and more. With all of my responsibilities, on occasion, I fool myself into believing that my way is the only way. When my husband ventures to teach a home school lesson, asks for something to be handled differently, or questions how things are done, this mama needs to remember humility. His ways may not be my ways, but that doesn’t make them wrong.

God, in His goodness, gave each of us different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. He also gave each of us distinct roles to play. In a marriage, we are to use these to build our family. As a wife, I need to remember I am here to be his helpmeet, not the other way around.

My husband is definitely not going to do things the way I do. He is much more laid back. He likes to joke around, play games, blurs limits for bed time, and has a routine which is completely his own.

Sometimes I can get uptight when things are not being done the way I envisioned. In those situations, the problem isn’t my husband, it’s me! I need to remember who the head of our house is and it isn’t this girl. I need to humbly accept that while I might, generally, keep our home, it’s his house too. Our kids aren’t my kids alone; he ought to be involved in their learning, their upbringing, and their activities.

Does this mean he never need listen to my opinion or hear my concerns? Of course not! A wise husband will want to hear what his wife has to say. However, a wise wife will also understand that just because her husband hears her out, doesn’t mean he is necessarily going to do what she asks. She needs to accept this with humility and acknowledge he is doing his best to lead their family.

While our way of handling things doesn’t always align, it is important to remember that these differences are also what make us stronger. My husband is gracious, where I am strict; he blurs time limits, while I keep us on track; and the list could go on forever. There is a time and a place for both!! There are times when my kids need my husband to walk in the room and completely mess up fix our lesson with a few jokes, just as much as they need someone to make them go to bed on time. There are times my ways are going to win out and times when mommy steps aside, letting the man lead as he so desires.

The key is to remember that ultimately I am not in charge here; God comes first and then my husband. So, if my guy wants us to stop in the middle of a lesson and run off to Disneyland; guess what we do? When my man thinks I should be teaching a certain way; guess what we do? If my husband thinks the floor could use one more going over; yup, you guessed it!

Some might say this behavior resembles a certain mat we wipe our feet on, but this is not so. I do not do these things because of my husband, though I love him dearly. I submit because I want to please God and I know He is pleased when I humbly accept my husband’s wishes. On the flip side, I know my husband loves to be good to me. I trust that  he would never purposefully do something to hurt me, humiliate me, or bring our family harm. So, when he wants something done or does things differently than I do, there must be a good reason; even if that reason is just to have a little bit of fun.

Yup; on occasion this mommy needs to remind herself that she is not the boss. God is ultimately in control of our home and family. I trust that He will direct my husband and use my guy’s unique gifts to lead our family in His own way.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
– Ephesians 5:22-24

🔔Time to Chime In: Is following your husband’s lead sometimes a struggle?

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The Lord Giveth, And The Lord Taketh Away

The_Lord_GivethI love when God blesses our families. Don’t you? During those seasons of giving, it’s easy to bless the name of the Lord. But, when the going gets tough, do we still bless His name? Through our struggles, we have the opportunity to teach our children a new lesson: The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord!

Life is never perfect, but it’s lovely when we are able to go through seasons of refreshment. Times of ease and smooth sailing. We have daily mishaps, but overall life is going pretty good. Then, comes those seasons when nothing seems to be going our way. We lose jobs, our cars break down, the house payment is going to be a stretch, our kids are in full rebellion, and more. We recognize God in the giving, but it can be hard to hear His voice amidst the taking.

If I stop and listen, He will speak. What is He trying to tell me? He loves me; knows me better than I know myself; has experienced every feeling I have; He will always be there for me; He will always come to my aid; and He is not done with me yet. God never fails. The truth is, I am still being blessed. Even in the midst of the taking away.

As parents, we have the wonderful opportunity of teaching this to our children. God will neither fail us nor our children.  By our example, our children will learn to bless the name of the Lord no matter their circumstances.

Is this a time of giving? We praise the Lord for His gifts, thanking Him for blessings we don’t deserve. We use the gifts He has given to bless others. We ask the Lord to give us wisdom in how to best use our gifts and be good stewards.

Is this a time of taking? We continue to openly praise the Lord for His gifts, thanking Him for blessings we don’t deserve. (Our children need to see that our circumstances do not dictate our praise of God.) We ask the Lord to use this time of taking to grow us and show us truths in His Word. We teach our children to pray specifically over needs to be met, encouraging them to keep a journal as God answers.

The question isn’t whether or not God is blessing us; His love never ends. It’s whether or not I will trust Him through the struggle. The question is, will I still bless the name of the Lord even when surrounded by overwhelming obstacles and a way is not seen. Will I bless His name, when to all the world, there is no blessing evident in my life?

As the verse says, “To everything there is a season….” There will be seasons of giving and seasons when the Lord takes. May we be faithful to trust Him no matter the season we find ourselves in. And, may we praise His name always.

“and he said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.”
Job 1:21

🔔Time to Chime In: Is your family going through a season of ‘taking’, how can we pray for you?

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Customized Curriculum

Customized_CurriculumThere have been times in our learning adventure when our curriculum choices have not always worked. For whatever reason, the curriculum began to grow tedious or lacked enough hands-on application. In extreme circumstances, we’ve even needed to rearrange the entire book to fit our needs. Thank goodness we have the freedom to customize our curriculum!

Just recently, a friend and I were talking about our homeschool curriculum. We’re a little over halfway through our learning year and still making much-needed changes to our routine. While you’d think our schedule would be fairly established at this point, we’re constantly changing because life is constantly changing!

My friend started out the year in her own home, now they are living with family. They started out with certain resources, but God had another plan. We started out with a particular routine in mind, but my children’s learning styles have dictated change. Our budget has been cut significantly and timing has become an issue.

While life certainly can hand us a solid curve ball every now and again, it’s comforting to know we don’t have to break under the stress of sticking to the books. We have the freedom to adjust, dismiss, and build upon our curriculum, making it into something better.

In the past, I’ve customized our curriculum in several ways. I’ve dismissed teachers’ guides, choosing to work through texts at a preferred pace. Other times, I’ve added hands-on activities, side studies, and learning expeditions to enhance a lesson. At one point, I even rearranged chapters in a science book to help my children better work through the text. We’ve skipped tests, added writing assignments, and opted out of reading work for video lessons.

My friend has currently decided to skip science and history altogether, choosing to focus on The Three R’s. With two little ones running around while attempting to school three older ones, scheduling can be a bit rough. She’ll return their focus on science and history over the summer, when life is a little less busy.

Customizing our curriculum is a blessing. We aren’t locked into anyone else’s idea of what learning should look like, and can tailor our lessons to each child’s needs. May we be open to God’s leading, wherever that path may take us.

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
Proverbs 18:15

🔔Time to Chime In: To what extreme have you customized your curriculum?

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Stop Complaining About My Complaining!

Stop_Complaining_About_ComplainingOften, I find myself listening to little people in the midst of fussing about life’s many trials. They complain about having to make their beds, brush their teeth, clean their bathroom, and help with household chores. There are days I wish I had a magic button to push which would allow me to turn the complaining off. Then, the Lord shared something with me.

As often as my kids are complaining, I’m complaining about their complaining. If I would like my children to stop grumbling, I need to first set the example myself. But, how do I do this?

Prayer – Above all, I need to be in prayer. I should also be praying over my children’s hearts and teaching them to pray on their own.  With the Lord’s help, we can beat the habit of whining and have a peaceful home.

Gratefulness – At the heart of our grumbling is a lack of thanksgiving. We are no longer praising the Lord for His goodness and instead choosing to focus on our flesh.  When I choose to stop looking for the good, and instead allow difficulties to cloud my vision, an ungrateful heart root begins to grow.

Refocusing – It helps when we ask the Lord to remind us of all the blessings He has so willing bestowed on us. I am able to make my bed, because He has given me one; furthermore, the home in which the bed resides! In this particular circumstance, I am able to fuss over my children because He has blessed me with the gift of children.

Removing – If a complaint is still on the tip of my tongue, it might be time to step back from the situation. A complete change of scene, even for minutes, might be just what I need to reset my thinking. Sometimes this comes in the form of a restroom break, other times I close the door to my room and just breathe. No matter how I choose to manifest the break, removing myself from an atmosphere of negativity helps.

Silence – If at first you don’t succeed, try silence! If the complaining gets too out of hand, when having a moment to myself isn’t helping, or when things have escalated to a fever pitch… it’s time to play the quiet game. Everyone gets a corner. No one is allowed to talk until the timer goes off. Not even mom. Sometimes we play soothing music to help. Sometimes we simply enjoy the silence. During these moments of quiet I’m usually praying hard, asking the Lord to completely change the mood of our home to please Him.

Complaints are like a virus. Without us even noticing, the little things start sneaking into our home. It starts with an unhappy face, and before we know it words are pouring out of our ungrateful mouths. We grumble, complain, and argue when we ought to be cultivating a heart of thanksgiving.

Instead of complaining about my children’s complaining, I need to be setting an example. I need to be praying more often about this issue, encouraging gratefulness in their hearts, and teaching them to refocus their thinking on Christ.

May we do all things, including parenting, without argument or complaint; and to God be the glory.

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”
Philippians 2:14-16

🔔Time to Chime In: Battling complaints while at home is one thing, but how do you manage complaining when you’re on the go and the kids just won’t stop fussing?

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Our January Reads


Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
~Attributed to Groucho Marx

The month of January included some great reads. Some of these were family reads, while others were on my personal list. Here’s a rundown of the books we’ve enjoyed this month:

  1. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (JK Rowling) Ever wonder how to defeat a troll? Want to know what you feed a dragon? Fantastic Beasts is a clever book by the author of the Harry Potter series, written as an encyclopedia of all the fantastical creatures featured in the original series, and more!
    With an upcoming movie release, our family wanted to review this fun read. Short, silly, and full of imagination, this was a great book. If you’re a fan of the Potter series, or plan to watch the upcoming film, this might be a book you’d enjoy.
  2. The Nature of the Beast (Louise Penny) A little boy known for telling tall tales is found dead. The question is, which of his stories was worth murdering for? A retired inspector must find the answer to this puzzling question before their little town is turned upside down by chaos. 
    This was a read from my stack. I had never heard of this author before, but am always willing to try a new read. I was pleasantly surprised. The story was cleverly told, and the characters well-written. The back story was based on actual events, which piqued my interest and taught me something new. While there was some language in the book, it was minimal. Over all, it was a good read. It will be interesting to see if other books in this series prove as well written.
  3. Pulling Back the Shades (Dannah Gresh/Dr. Juli Slattery) Where does God stand on the issue of intimacy in marriage? What is acceptable and what’s forbidden? Pulling Back the Shades is a short read laying out the Biblical concept of intimacy in a Christian marriage.
    This read was suggested to me as a ministry aid. Many women in the church have questions about Biblical intimacy, and just as many are not receiving much-needed answers. I found this book to be incredibly well thought-out and Biblically sound. I loved the authors’ take on the issues, and their encouragement to seek Christ in all areas of life, especially our marriage.
  4. The BFG (Roald Dahl)   Instead of going to bed as she should have, a little girl finds herself being whisked away to the land of giants. There, to her horror, she discovers humans are the giants’ favorite food! With the help of the BFG – the big, friendly giant – she must find a way to stop the giants’ evil doings and save the day!
    This read was part of our Morning Basket for the month of January. This is another book seeing a movie released soon. While I’ve read this story before, this was a first for the kids. It was lots of fun! The kids found the story quite appealing and are anxiously waiting for the movie.
  5. The Flower Recipe Book (Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo) A handy guide to creating gorgeous bouquets for your home, The Flower Recipe Book will walk you through essential elements of flower arranging.
    Yet another read in my stack, this book was brought to my attention by a fellow WP blogger! While we’re encouraged to not judge a book my its cover, it was the colorful front image which caught my attention. The pages between didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed learning about various flora and being a taught a thing or two about the joys of decorating my home with lovely bouquets. I borrowed this one from our local library, but this is one which might be gracing my own shelves at home soon.
  6. Fairest (Melissa Meyer)  What if Cinderella’s evil stepmother wasn’t always evil? Perhaps she has her own story to tell; a tale of sorrow, rejection, and evil sisters who’ve scarred you for life. The newest book in the Lunar Chronicles series, Fairest allows Cinderella’s stepmother a chance to tell her story. Told in a futuristic universe, we’re given a glimpse of what life was like before Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress tried to bring down the evil queen.
    Part of my growing stack of books, this newest installment was everything I expected. Categorized as young adult, this series is fairly clean, but a little dark to pass onto my girls yet.
  7. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making (Valente) Little September is bored with her life. Adventure is what she wants, and adventure is what she gets! Carried off by one of the Harsh Winds in his sporting green jacket, September is taken to a land of fairies desperately in need of help.
    This book was a complete gamble; I had never heard of the series nor the author. However, it proved to be an interested read. Reminiscent of Phantom Tollbooth with its cleverly named characters, this was a fun read to share with my children.
  8. All Dressed in White (Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke) – Laurie is looking for yet another mystery to uncover on her hit TV series, Under Suspicion. She finds it in a missing persons case involving a possible runaway bride. But, is this a case of wedding jitters or murder?
    The most recent book written by Ms. Clark and Ms. Burke, All Dressed in White was another good read.  A great mystery, with well-written characters; this book will keep you guessing until the end.

Finding good, non-Christian fiction is definitely a challenge. Even when it comes to young adult fiction, clean literature is a needle in a haystack. We also understand the Lord has given each family different convictions about which books to read. Some enjoy fairy tales and fantasy, while others find such literature an issue.

We read a lot. To the best of our ability we keep our reads clean. While we’ve enjoyed this month’s reads, we highly recommend doing your own research before picking up a book. Ask the Lord to guide you in picking literature for your family.

February’s stack of books is already piled high and we’re ready to get moving. Here’s to good books and comfy chairs to read them in.

🔔Time to Chime In: Fiction or nonfiction, do you have a book suggestion for us? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this month’s reads, and ideas for our 2016 book list.

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Aromatherapy Sewing Fun!

Lavender-Aromatherapy_pillowI would really enjoy an electric blanket. Truly. However, we don’t own them. The idea of sleeping next to an electrical current doesn’t sit well with us. Instead, we use aromatherapy pillows!

In the past, I’ve purchased my pillows, paying quite a tidy little sum for these bundles of sweet-smelling warmth. When my children decided they wanted them too, we figured it was high time we learned to make our own.

Flaxseed and Lavender Neck Pillows

Directions – 

  • Choose your fabric. Something heavy but not too stiff, like brushed canvas or cotton ticking, works well.
  • Decide what size you’d like your finished pillow to be. Customize it to suit your needs, but a rectangle about 6 inches by 18 inches is a good place to start. (This is long enough to drape around your neck.)
  • Cut your fabric. You can cut two pieces of cloth, adding about half an inch for a seam allowance all around. Or you can cut one piece of cloth that’s twice the width you want the finished pillow to be plus half an inch seam allowance on each side. (In this case you’ll fold the fabric in half lengthwise and sew three rather than four ends closed.)
  • Place right sides of the fabric together and sew, using a half-inch seam allowance on each side. Leave one short side open for filling.
  • Turn your pillow right side out.
  • Fill your pillow about two-thirds to three-fourths full of flax-seed. Add about 1/4 cup of dried lavender flowers. Don’t overdo the flowers, because the scent will become stronger when heated. And don’t overfill the pillow or the seeds won’t be able to move around and the pillow won’t drape comfortably.
  • Sew the last end closed. (You can fold the ends in and sew by hand or by machine.)

Use – 

To use your pillow, warm it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Shake and warm for another 30 to 60 seconds, until the desired warmth. Note: Be careful not to overheat the pillow! It can get hot enough to burn you or even start a fire! For further options, take a look at THIS website. In addition to the instructions found above, you’ll find helpful ideas on how to customize your pillows.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 5.38.35 PM

In our home, we use these pillows as bed warmers. Even in California the nights can get pretty cold. A heavenly smelling, warm pillow is just the thing to help the kids fall asleep. And when mommy feels a little sore at the end of a hard day of yard work, these little pillows are wonderful on aching muscles.

Sewing is fun. Sewing with my kids is even better. Know what’s best? Finding projects which not only save us money, but serve an everyday purpose. This project was an answer to all three!

“Mint and lavender, and all herbs aromatic;”
Song of Solomon 4:14

🔔Time to Chime In: Which herb would you include in your aromatherapy bag and why?

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Move Over, Paper Planes!

MoveOver_PaperPlanesOn occasion, I struggle with finding just the right hands-on application for particular studies. When our children were little, I would pass out coloring pages. We’ve also used Legos and Minecraft to assist our lessons. And, while videos are fun, they aren’t exactly hands-on. However, I recently came across a paper crafting website which is becoming a fun addition to our lessons.

At Paper Toys, we found an array of paper structures which can add hands-on application to our homeschool lessons. Studying cars? Create one out of paper! Learning about the Taj Mahal? Make one! Paper Toys is easy, quick, and free.

Here are just a few of the many paper toys our family can print and enjoy:

Alfa Romeo
Big Ben
An Apache Helicopter
Brooklyn Bridge
Boggs’ Hill
Chrysler Building
Dubai Clock Tower
Eiffel Tower
Empire State Building
Formula One Race Car
Frank Lloyd Wright House
The Human Body
and many more!

With new ‘toys’ being added continually, there is a multitude of activities to keep us occupied, and our learning hands-on fun.

I probably should note, this website is a work in progress. As all ‘toys’ are free, their list is not endless and is being updated regularly. But, if there is something we’d like to see, which isn’t already listed, we are free to contact the site organizer and make suggestions. It’s also a good idea to check back often for new toys and fun.

Thus far, we’ve enjoyed exploring Paper Toys. They have been a great addition to history lessons, giving the kids an opportunity to recreate a few of the famous structures mentioned in their lessons. We can’t wait to see what Paper Toys creates next.

🔔Time to Chime In: When was the last time you made paper planes?

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10 Websites You’re (Probably) Not Reading, But Would Love!

10_WebsitesThe internet is full of websites and blogs with helpful information to inspire your homeschooling family. Everyday you come across exciting new things to explore. On occasion, you find a few which keep you coming back time and time again for more.

Here are a few of our favorite websites. Some provide encouragement in prayer, while others are meant to edify our home. And, who doesn’t love a good book? All build our relationship with the Lord!

31 Days to a Better Marriage – Marriage is always a priority. Here you’ll find inspiration to keep the two of you in accordance with God’s design for a healthy relationship.

Rhonda Stoppe (No Regrets Woman) – No holds barred, this lady has a heart for her God and her man. I love her enthusiasm for all things marriage, and for speaking the truth in love. She’s open, honest, and lives with no regrets; all for God’s glory.

Prayers For Girls – If you aren’t already, start the habit of saying daily prayers over your children. Better yet, pray Scripture over your children. This website focuses on praying specifically for our young ladies.

The MOB Society – Second verse, same as the first. Let’s be praying over our fellas as well. Daily inspiration in prayer can be found on behalf of our guys with the MOB Society.

The Better Mom – Dedicated to edifying mammas everywhere. From daily devotions to positive posts, you’ll step away from The Better Mom filled with the Spirit.

Believe With Me – I love this homeschool mama’s heart, both for her family and her Lord. Read, you’ll love it!

Your Vibrant Family – Yet another awesome homeschool mama. Vibrant Family focuses on homeschool helps, as well as inspiration to keep us moving forward with God’s plan.

Modern Mrs. Darcy – You know us and books! I love this lady’s heart, and her endless books lists. Looking for a good read? This is the place to start.

Well-Read Mom – An online book club for Christian ladies. Incredible lists, resources, and more await you.

Sonoma Christian Home – An online, Christian magazine offering encouragement and tips for a grace-filled home. Everything from how to set a table to daily devotions.

We love finding resources that inspire us. Better yet, are the ones which encourage us in our walk with the Lord and living righteously. Thank you, Lord, for these wonderful websites which constantly point us to You!

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
I Thessalonians 5:11

🔔Time to Chime In: What top websites are we not reading that you’d highly recommend?

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Spelling Trouble

Spelling TroubleThere comes a time when you just have to face facts. What you’re doing just isn’t working, and it’s time to move on. For two of my children, spelling is getting the best of them. I think we need a new game plan.

We’ve tried various lists. We’ve tried games. We’ve tried many methods of learning spelling words. All to no avail. My two youngest children are still struggling with their weekly lists. (sigh)

I’ve come to that point in time when I need to ask myself a question. (One which goes against my innermost person, who loves tests.) What is more important? I could force my children to continue testing each week, growing more discouraged with every exam. Or, I could remove the exams and focus on exposure. 

Perhaps if we removed the stress of tests and instead spent more time naturally introducing new vocabulary we would make better progress. So, we’ll read more and vary our reading to include increasingly challenging words. We might also focus on writing, as I’ve noticed they give greater attention to their spelling when they understand the words have purpose. 

Does this mean we will abandon our lists altogether? Not likely. We will still review our spelling words, encouraging our children to develop new vocabulary. However, for these two, we’re going to remove exams for the time being.  

The voice in my head wants to tell me I am failing my children by not continually quizzing them on these arbitrary words. But, wisdom is telling me differently. My children will learn these words. At the right time, and when they are ready. 

🔔Time to Chime In: At what age did your children begin formal lessons in spelling, and was testing a problem for them? 

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May I Take a Break Now?

May_I_Take_A_Break_Now?Who said you could sit down? Just look around you. I’m sure there is laundry you could be doing. Surely there are floors you haven’t mopped, messes which you could be cleaning, and activities you should be planning. If you must sit, I should see a planner in front of you, or, at the very least, a piece of curriculum you’re reviewing. Didn’t you know you aren’t allowed to take breaks?

I wonder what gave my brain the idea that sitting was unacceptable. Why must I always feel the need to ‘produce’ something, and constantly be on the go? It’s taken me quite some time to realize that relaxing can be just as valuable as working. In fact, sometimes, doing nothing is the best thing I could be doing.

When I am constantly on the go I run the risk of overworking myself; making myself of use to no one. It is when I sit in quiet contemplation I am better able hear the voice of the Lord, renewing my strength and increasing in wisdom. I return from a place of rest prepared to serve my family and continue in the ministry to which I have been called. 

The most difficult challenge is taking breaks when my husband is present and working hard. When everyone else is resting, I am less inclined to push myself as hard. But, if he is going to be working, shouldn’t I be working, too? Ironically, my husband often thinks I do too much and ought to relax more often. If left unchecked, my lack of rest can become a point of frustration. Why can’t I just sit and enjoy the movie and leave the dishes for later? If the kids are finished with school, why don’t I keep him company while he’s illustrating his latest project?

Speaking of my kids. What am I teaching them by constantly being on the go? They learn by watching me, and I don’t want them growing up with the mindset that constant activity is a necessity or that their value lies in what they are doing. In order to learn the benefit of rest, I need to set an example.

Please note: I am not advocating a breakdown of the home. If you have read our page for any length of time, you know I highly recommend maintaining a clean home, home-cooked meals, and an organized lifestyle. What I am advocating is balance. There is a time to clean, and a time to rest. There is a time to organize, and a time to relax. In order to better serve in these capacities, we need to make a point of taking daily breaks.

The next time you’re tempted to put off that moment of rest for the sake of ‘doing something productive’, remember that renewing the soul and mind is profitable. Stop, take that break; then return to life’s never-ending responsibilities, ready to rock!

I hereby give you permission to take a break. Rest well!

 “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”

Psalm 116:7

🔔Time to Chime In: When you do manage time for breaks, how do you relax?

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