A Time to Pray

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
~ Martin Luther

A_Time_To_PrayMore and more, I feel the Lord is prompting me to spend time in prayer. Not only praying in general, but to make my prayer time specific and dedicated. Through His leading the Lord is showing me specific ways He wants to me pray.

I need to be praying for each child individually. I pray for my children; all the time. At times, I will even pray for a specific child. What I don’t normally do is pray for a specific child all day long. The Lord is prompting me to do just that. Become a prayer warrior for each child individually.

I need to be praying for them on a specific day. If I don’t establish a routine for myself, I easily will forget my goal. I need to pick a day and dedicate it to a specific child’s prayer needs. For example: Trinity is going to be Mondays, Noel will be Tuesdays, and so forth.

I need to be praying for specific things. Each of our children has specific needs the Lord is revealing. I want to be lifting these before the Lord. Here are some of the areas of my children’s lives about which the Lord is prompting me to pray:

  • Their walk with Him. (I never want to assume our children are saved or walking right with God.)
  • Their relationships with us
  • Their relationships with their siblings
  • Their current struggles
  • Their maturity
  • Their future
  • Their future spouses. (May the Lord would be working in that other person’s life. Directing them and protecting them.)

I need to be praying for my marriage. One of the best things we can ever do for our children is have a loving marriage which is Christ centered. Our children will learn more about life, love, and forgiveness from us, than from anywhere else. Praying for my marriage is essential.

I need to be praying for my husband. Praying for my husband is not the same as praying for my marriage. Praying for my marriage is important, but so is specifically praying for my man. He has his own struggles, dreams, and needs. Those too need to be lifted before the Lord.

I need to be praying for outside ministries. We serve in a lot of different areas. In order to best serve those ministries, it’s extremely important to be in constant communication with God. If I am not in prayer, I risk overburdening myself and disobedience to the Lord. I need to constantly remember He is the one leading those ministries. I am only there to help, which I cannot do if I am not listening to Him speak.

I need to find creative ways and times to pray. Through the experience of others, the Lord is also showing me creative ways to pray throughout my day. I tend to be very busy, so it helps if I can pray while I attend to the responsibilities He has put before me. Here are some ways the Lord has opened up time for prayer.

  • I pray while washing dishes. (Lord clean the heart of —–. Make them pure before you.)
  • I pray when I cook. (Lord feed —–‘s mind and spirit. May they would hunger for you.)
  • I pray when I clean. (Lord remove anything from —‘s life which doesn’t need to be there. Help them to be organized and have a clean heart.)
  • I pray while I fold laundry. (Socks: Lord keep their feet on your path. Shirt: Lord touch their hearts. Etc…)
See, this could go on forever. There are many ways we can find in which to be creative about our prayer times; we just need to look for the opportunities.

I have begun to notice as my children grow older and life seems to get more complex, I have a tendency to take on the struggles of life instead of leaving them where they belong; at the feet of Christ. My family belongs to the Lord. When I humble myself and give them over to God, I can have peace knowing He is in control. Will you join me in spending dedicated time in prayer for our families? Trust me, you won’t regret it.

📢 Chime In!: How has the Lord directed you to pray for your children?

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$50 or Two Hours?

“I’m sorry, honey. I’ve just got too much to do right now. I’d like to join you, but I can’t. Are you mad?”

$50_or_Two_HoursBeing married to an illustrator who works from home is tons of fun. It also means we sometimes have to make challenging decisions. For instance, which is more important: My husband joining us on that awesome field trip or working to pay for the awesome field trip?

Recently, I listened to a podcast called Building Relationships. On the show, Dr. Chapman was discussing just this dilemma in his own household. He asked his wife this honest question, “Would you rather have the $50 this job will make, or the 2 hours of my time?” While our first response might seem obvious. (Who would be so shallow as to choose money over time?) Life is often not this simple.

Perhaps our family is in need of the finances. Work might be especially slow and the finances would be a blessing. Maybe this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the job is worth the loss of time.

On the flip side, I might just think our time is of more value and am willing to pass on the few dollars this job could bring. But, are there limits to the value I’m putting on our time? What if the job paid $200? Would I be willing to rethink the question?

In our home, this question pops up quite a bit. My husband’s work schedule – chaotic and sporadic at times – must always be taken into account when planning homeschooling events. As much as possible he loves to join in. However, we also understand there are limits.

I love the heart behind Dr. Chapman’s message. Be grateful for both – financial provision and quality time – but learn to evaluate each situation accordingly. Don’t be afraid to choose what’s best for your family!

To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:1

🔔Time to Chime In: Right now, where you’re at; would you rather have the $50 or two hours of your spouse’s time?

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Out With The Old

That time of year has come around again. The time to clean out the homeschooling closet and begin anew. The time to minimize, organize, and prioritize. All summer we have been doing projects, being creative, and having fun. Now it is time to prep for this exciting new year of our learning adventure.

Each day this week, we have assigned ourselves one organizing project that needs to be completed in order for us to be ready next Monday. Today, it was minimizing the amount of items we kept from last year’s schooling and filing what we wanted to keep. 

So, off to the homeschooling closet we went. We pulled all our files out and got to work. We went through our binders and set aside only our main tests, our writing assignments, and work that was special to the kids. We looked at any projects that were sitting out and took stock of them as well. All items that we wanted were carefully labeled and filed in the garage, in mommy’s handy filing bin.

Our closet is now emptied out of anything unwanted or not needed. Ah, that feels nice!

 

The High School Handbook

Our oldest daughter is in sixth grade this coming August. Not one to wait until the last-minute, I wanted to spend some time this summer reading up on Junior and Senior High. I want to be fully prepared for what lies ahead. I want to know what I need now so that I am not panicking at the last-minute, worrying if I am doing something correctly or not.

To this end, our ISP principal highly recommended The High School Handbook by Mary Schofield. In The High School Handbook, Ms. Schofield does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for Jr. and Sr. High. She provides a helpful, step-by-step process to organizing your students workload, as well as ideas on how each can be implemented to their fullest. She explains, with clear reasoning, why each step is taken and how it benefits both your student and yourself. To further assist you with each step, Ms. Schofield has graciously placed helpful sample forms throughout the book, showing how her family has organized each area. She has also included blank forms for you to copy and use at your own disposal, making your job even easier. 

Ms. Schofield covers every area of Jr. and Sr. High that you could possibly imagine. If you are unsure of how to organize your classes, this book will help. If you are unsure which classes are needed to attend a university, this book will help. Need tips on grading, courses standards, transcripts, and college? This book is definitely the one for you. From Language Arts and Arithmetic, to Driver’s Ed and Work Permits, this book has something for everyone.

On a personal level, I am extremely grateful that I chose to read the book this summer. Our daughter is still in elementary school (being that we are not including sixth grade as part of “middle school”); had I waited until the summer before junior high, I might have stressed myself out with the amount of paperwork and organizing that needs to be done. However, having read the book a full year in advance, I have plenty of time to prepare whatever forms might be necessary. I have the time to systematically lay out classes and to talk with my daughter about where she feels the Lord is leading her. I very much appreciated the sections on Missionary Opportunities, Apprenticeship, and College at Home, as each of these areas are of particular interest to our family.

Our HS Outline

The High School Handbook is highly recommended for everyone with a child going into Jr. and/or Sr. High. Even if you don’t homeschool, it will help you to better understand what classes your child should be taking in their studies. It will help you prepare them for ACT and SAT exams, College Applications, and other areas common to all students. I highly recommend this book. Don’t wait until your child is about to start their higher education, help them now. You won’t regret it!

For those of you with children already in Junior or Senior High, was there a particular book(s) that you found helpful in organizing the chaos? I would love to delve into a few more books. The more ideas, the better!

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Five

Fail-to-planI love it when a plan comes together. That is how I feel when I set about planning my routines. Once we put them into place and they start working for us, it is a beautiful thing.

Now that I have my chores, events, and schooling organized; I need to put them all together and get moving. Once the school year starts, I will need to put all of my organizing together and make these separate schedules work together smoothly. This will help me, once again, see where I might need to do some last-minute rearranging and restructuring. It will also help to see where I have some flexible hours, in case anything should come up.

The first things I want to combine are my chores and my schooling. As I mentioned in Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part One; my first ministry is to be a keeper of my home. If the house and my kids’ education cannot be merged smoothly, events need to wait. My weekly schedule with both chores and schooling combined usually looks like this:

Monday:

  • Start load of my laundry right before Bible
  • Do Bible lesson and start kids on core curriculum
  • Change loads of laundry at breaks or between subjects
  • Finish Core Subjects and begin History & Science
  • Lunch Time and Finish Laundry
  • Family Chores
  • “Rotations”
  • Remainder of the Day Free

Tuesday:

  • Start load of kids’ laundry right before Bible
  • Do Bible lesson and start kids on core curriculum
  • Change loads of laundry at breaks or between subjects
  • Finish Core Subjects and begin History & Science
  • Lunch Time and Finish Laundry
  • Family Chores
  • “Rotations”
  • Remainder of the Day Free

Wednesday:

  • Start load of linens right before Bible
  • Do Bible lesson and start kids on core curriculum
  • Change loads of laundry at breaks or between subjects
  • Finish Core Subjects and begin History & Science
  • Lunch Time and Finish Laundry
  • Family Chores
  • “Rotations”
  • Remainder of the Day Free

Thursday:

  • Do Bible lesson and start kids on core curriculum
  • Finish Core Subjects and begin History & Science
  • Lunch Time
  • Mommy does grocery list and menus
  • “Rotations”
  • Remainder of the Day Free for kids
  • Grocery Shopping for Mom

Friday:

  • Testing on all core subjects (All of our testing is done Fri.)
  • Collect Library Books and Straighten up House
  • Library
  • Errands
  • Lunch
  • Homeschool Co-op or other Homeschooling Event
  • Remainder of the Day Free for kids

Normally we are finished with school anywhere from 2-3pm each day, with the exception of Friday. Friday is quite a bit shorter, but I plan it that way on purpose; counting our library time and our homeschooling events as part of their education.

Once this list of chores and schooling as been combined onto one master schedule; I can now add my events. Knowing that I am pretty busy Monday through Thursday, I usually avoid planning events on those days. Should the need arise though, I am free after 3pm and know I am available. Fridays are usually the days that I try to plan anything special or extra.

With life more organized, we are free to have fun events like this one… Renaissance Night with the homeschool group!

As with most things in life, this schedule isn’t perfect. There are days when we take longer to school or there is an unexpected event which causes us to rearrange our schedule; field trips during the week can cause a temporary change for example. This schedule isn’t meant to be concrete and final, simply a structure that I put into place; one that I am free to move around and fit to my family’s needs.

1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “But all things should be done decently and in order.” I pray that the Lord would find me faithful in having obeyed His Word; that my family would be a living example of what He has commanded us to do; that He would be glorified and honored through the keeping of my home, the education of my children, and the ministry we accomplish in our free time. It is not for our own name that we do these things, but His.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part One

Fail-to-planRecently a friend who is fairly new to homeschooling gave me a call. She had a lot of questions regarding homeschooling, but mainly her problem seemed to be this, “How do I do it all? How do I clean my house, do my laundry, school my kids, do a million other things, and still remain sane?” My one resounding answer was this: organization! As the old adage goes, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Now, let me be very clear. I am not perfect, nor do I always plan perfectly. There are many times that I have had to restructure my plan. Things change and so do my family’s needs, but the saying still stands true; I will not accomplish anything if I don’t at least have the building blocks set in place.

That being said, how do we go about setting up our schedules? First things first, know what your priorities are! Being a Christian wife and mom, my priorities are thus: Being a Godly woman, being a Godly wife, and then being a Godly mother. Taking this into account, the first thing I want to do is sit down with a calendar (daily and monthly) and start putting things in place.

The first thing I want to schedule in is my time with God. Some women prefer to do this at the beginning of their day. Great! Some of us prefer lunchtime or when the kiddos are finally in bed. No matter when you decide to do it, make a point of putting it down. Your relationship with God must be firmly in place; from Him will you gain the wisdom and peace to proceed with the rest.

The next thing I might want to schedule in, is chores. The first ministry that I have been given is to be a Keeper of the Home. The Lord has shown me this must come first. If my home is not in order, I have no business being outside of my home doing other things. My chore schedule is as follows (I use this as an example, by all means do what fits your lifestyle, not mine!):

Monday: adult laundry/bathrooms                                                                           Tuesday: children’s laundry/floors and dusting                                                      Wednesday: linens/bathrooms                                                                                  Thursday: grocery list finalized/menu                                                                            Friday: library/errands

Being that it is currently summer time, now is my opportunity to put this schedule to the Fail to Plan: Part Onetest. Is this working for me? Perhaps I need to change some days around to make things work better. I also want to start taking notice of when is the best time to do my chores. I don’t necessarily set a specific time, but setting up blocks of time gives me a general idea of where I might have “free time”.

Chores being designated and set in place, I now want to start having the kiddos get in on the game. Even my youngest who is only five helps out the family. Each of my kiddos is given a task and we all work until the job is done. Our kids need to learn the value of a job well done, working together, and being responsible. Mommy handles the washing of the laundry, but the kiddos help fold and put their own laundry away. Mommy cleans the basins, but the kiddos do the mirrors, floors, and counters in the bathrooms. We have the joy of working side by side and encouraging each other in doing a good job. They will often hear me saying, “Good job, Joseph! Keep it up honey, you are going to be a pro at keeping your home when you are a mommy, Trinity!” The kids will learn to enjoy their chores, have fun working together, and take pride in their work.

Two things I should point out though. One; while the kids are young, they are going to make mistakes. Try not to clean up their messes in front of them. Wait until they are out of sight and preoccupied, then straighten things up. This will prevent them from getting discouraged, but still keep your house to the level of clean you might like. The second is this, be prepared that the kids will complain from time to time. Let’s be honest; work is work! Don’t give in and do the chores yourself! You are only making your job harder in the long run and robbing them of the joy of responsibility.

Once I have my chores pretty much down, then I will be free to start adding other events onto my calendar; slowly and with much prayer.