Standing in a Storm

This past summer I tried my hand at gardening, a hobby I’ve wanted to pursue for some time. I was pleasantly surprised as my tomatoes and peppers begin budding beautifully under the strong summer sunlight. I also had a few potted flowers, some dragon snaps and perennials in the mix. With the change of seasons the vegetables disappeared and the flowers wilted. One Sunday while raking the leaves, I noticed in one of the flower pots there was one pink bud still in bloom. It appeared fragile, a lone survivor in the crisp breeze standing tall. The next day we had a storm, walking to my car I noticed the poor little flower bent over. Oh well, I thought it is amazing the flower lasted this long. The rain was heavy and steady and I knew its’ chance for survival was slim. The rain finally ended and the sun returned peaking through the clouds again. I didn’t think about the flower until I entered my house through the backyard, and there it was the pretty pink flower standing up again. Looking at the flower it made me reflect upon the storms we face in our own lives.

Storms are unpredictable. They arrive fast and furious knocking down everything in their sight. Have you ever been walking along on a perfectly sunny day when without warning the downpour begins? Some storms are blinding, some destroy, and some end just as quickly as they begin. The storms in our life come the same way, don’t they? One day we are carrying on with our daily routine and then boom, the storm rushes in! Maybe the storms are quick or maybe they resemble a monsoon making you question if they’ll ever end. What do you do when a storm hits? Do you hunker down and wait it out? Do you fall into a funk until it is over? How should we handle a storm? We weather it with the help of God.

God knows that we are going to face storms in our lives and he wants us to find refuge in him. God wants us to stand tall even when the wild winds and rains are breaking us down. Our storms are never bigger than God and his love for us. God allows storms in our life to strengthen our faith. It is during the storms that our faith is tested. It is easy to praise God when everything is going well, but when things go sour does your faith wilt just as the flowers do during the change of seasons? I’ve been in storms where I was certain that I’d be washed away. But, just when the lightning was striking, the thunder was rolling and rain was whipping me in the face and I thought I could take no more, the clouds would slowly roll away and the sun would peak out giving me hope for a brighter day ahead. God won’t give you more than you can bear. He is your father and will never forsake you. The message of God tells us this, but if we hear the message, but don’t mix it with faith how can our blessings come?

Hebrew 4: v.2, “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” When you hear God’s message, do you believe in it or do you just hear it? Do you allow faith to work in your life or do you block it with fear? If you plan on weathering the storm find shelter in his word but believe in his word, in his promise, and don’t allow fleshly fear to overcome you. God has a wonderful purposeful path in store for you. Expect the storm, but walk in faith and believe in his will for you! Let the storms strengthen your faith and perseverance, be courageous, and allow the storm’s thrashing to build your character. When the storm ends you too will stand tall just like that one lone, fragile, beautiful flower.

Making Laundry Manageable

Laundry is a continuous chore. In my household, there is only myself and my three year old daughter, but sometimes I feel like I am washing for a family of four. Laundry is a housekeeping responsibility that you want to keep manageable. It only takes a few minutes to wash a load or dry a load, but when you add in folding clothes and putting them away those piles can eat up a whole Saturday. Here are a few tips on how to keep your laundry under control.

  • Give each family member a hamper for their room. When each person has a hamper you are less likely to see piles of dirty clothes on the floor.
  • Create a functional laundry room. Invest in installing some shelves and hooks, then designate an area for your laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, irons and ironing board
  • Schedule your laundry days. Let’s face it you may not always be able to do laundry on the days you plan, but if you can at least try to pick two days out of the week that work for you, your laundry will seem much more doable. I try to do my laundry on Wednesday and Saturdays. I set aside a few hours and then I am not so overwhelmed during the week.

Laundry day is here the clothes are in the hamper, the laundry room is organized and you are ready to go. Why not recruit your kids to help you out? Kids loved feeling involved and it is a great way to teach them responsibility. Even if you have little ones you will be surprised at how much they can actually help you out.

One of the simplest tasks for your child to participate in is separating the clothes. You can purchase hampers that already have a sorter, if not it is just as fun for them to put all of the colored clothes in one pile, the whites and the dark in another. If you have little ones this is a great way for them to practice their colors.

Once all the clothes are sorted it is time to put them in, your kids can do this along with dumping in the detergent. My daughter loves throwing the clothes in, so I got her a footstool so that she could reach the machine.

When your first load is out of the dryer, don’t hesitate to fold them and put them away. If you decide to wait this is when the laundry  really piles up. Make this chore go a little quicker by having your children fold their own clothes or at the very least put them away, of course if it is age appropriate.

If you do your laundry at least twice a week you’ll discover that your piles won’t be as daunting as if you do it all in one day. Another good reason to choose two days to do your laundry is that it saves electric and water, rather than doing it every day or sporadically. Try to invest in energy saving washer and dryers, not only is it a great investment, but you will be helping out the environment that God has blessed us all with.

The Season of Giving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the fact that we’re celebrating simply being grateful. It is a time for friends and families to gather together, have good conversation, eat, and reflect upon why they are grateful. Our reflection on gratefulness shouldn’t occur only once a year we should be thinking about how grateful we are every day. It is important that as parents we try to instill an attitude of gratefulness in our children. In this day and age I’m incredibly surprised at how our society feels so entitled, especially our children. Just go into any toy store and you are sure to hear tantrums going on in the aisles. Now, I know children are children and it’s hard for them to grasp the concept that they can’t have everything they want. Heck, it is hard for some adults to grasp that concept. But, it is our responsibility to teach our children about being grateful and the duty we have to give unto others.

Jesus was the most giving person who ever lived. He gave his life to die for our sins. Of course none of us could ever out give Jesus, but wouldn’t be nice if we can teach our children how to at least try to imitate that loving kindness that Jesus so unselfishly dispersed among his children. This season make the holidays memorable for your children by giving them the opportunity to give of themselves. Here are some projects that are great for all ages.

Offer a Helping Hand
Do you know of an elderly person who needs assistance? A neighbor whose yard needs racking? Have your children offer a helping hand, whether it is for someone outside of the family or for a family member. This goes beyond chores, what you want them to do is to thoughtfully help someone in need. Maybe it is grandma who needs help cleaning out her basement, or dad who needs help with a household project, the idea is for them to give their time.

Volunteer at a Shelter
If your children are of age, sign the whole family up for a day of service at a shelter. This is a wonderful way for your children to understand how grateful they should be. If your kids are too young, then let them help you collect canned goods to a food bank. Make sure they are involved in the whole process, the collection and the delivery.

Donate
Get the whole family involved in cleaning out their closets and gathering all those gently worn clothes they don’t wear anymore, or toys they don’t play with and donate them to a charity, church, or shelter.

Write Grateful Cards
Cards aren’t just for Christmas and birthdays. Have your kids create a list of all the important people in their life (family, friends, teachers, coaches, etc.) then have them write a note to them expressing why they are grateful to have them in their life. I am particularly fond of this activity because writing personal letters have become a lost art. Everyone uses technology, which is fine but how nice is it to receive a handwritten note that you can cherish. Writing notes also gives your children time to really reflect on why this person is important to them and how grateful they are. If you have little ones let them draw a picture that expresses their gratitude it will be priceless to the person on the receiving end.

Participate in Fundraisers
I notice an increase in the number of walking fundraisers during this time of year. Check the Internet for walking fundraisers in your area and sign up the whole family. This provides great bonding time while participating in a worthwhile cause.

The activities are limitless! Also don’t reserve saying what you are grateful for only on Thanksgiving day, why not implement this at the dinner table during the whole month of November. Each family member can say something they are grateful for. This season encourage your family to focus on their blessings and to be a blessing to others.

Fall Decorating

Although I am definitely a gal who enjoys summer fun, I am welcoming fall with open arms. I absolutely love the coziness that the fall season invokes. It makes me want to curl up near a fire with a warm blanket, a good book, and hot cup of cider. There is nothing like feeling a crisp autumn breeze on your face, or jumping into a pile of leaves with your kids. I usually wait until September to begin my fall decorating but, each year I find myself wanting to do it earlier. You can bring the warmness of fall into your own house for the whole family to enjoy by doing some fun fall decorating. Here are a few ideas to make fall fun at your house.

Incorporate Colors of the Season The color pallet of the season is incredible with its rich deep reds, burnt oranges, gold, and yellows which are wonderful colors to incorporate into your home. Depending on the color scheme in your house you may want to swap a few of your pillows for those that have fall colors. Add a soft chenille throw to a couch, chair, or even at the end of your bed to keep you warm on those chilly evenings.

Bring the Outside InsideSome of the best fall decorations are free. That’s right, free and in your own back yard or nearby parks. Look for fallen branches and place them in decorative or clear vases on your mantels or window sills. The leaves this time of year are breathtaking and look great displayed in picture frames. Pick an afternoon, pack a lunch and go leaf picking with your kids. This is a great activity especially, for younger children. Get creative with the camera and take pictures of your kids leaf picking and frame them. Change the tint of the pictures to sepia or black and white to add character.

CenterpiecesMake your dinner table a treat for the eyes by adding a simple centerpiece. Try placing a pretty bowl filled with red, green or yellow apples in the middle of your table. Different color squashes, small pumpkins, acorns, or pinecones in a bowl or tall glass vases are another eye catcher that looks great and is inexpensive. Brighten a room by adding a floral arrangements t such as sunflowers or mums.

Pleasure Your SensesDo you remember how your home smelled when you were a child? What smells make you think of home? I love bringing all those great fall smells into my house. Candles are the most common way to get a house smelling delicious and with all the different scented smelling candles available it is a simple way to get the smell of pumpkins, or apples floating in your home.
If you have a fireplace throw in some logs when the weather gets cooler and enjoy the warmth and smell of a fire burning, while saving some money on your electric bill. Another simple way to have your house smelling great is to place ginger and cinnamon sticks in a pot of boiling water, the aroma is wonderful!

Doors and EntrywaysWelcome your family and guests with a fall wreath on the door. Put a few decorated or undecorated pumpkins outside the door, not only will they add color they scream fall time. If you are feeling extra crafty you may even want to add a scarecrow or two!

Decorating for autumn can be fun and creative. Check your local stores for discounts on fall decorations, do crafts with your kids, and look in your own backyard for free resources. Celebrate fall by having a family game of football, raking leaves on a lazy Sunday, and drink some apple cider by a fire. Get cozy with your family and your home while enjoying the new season. Don’t forget to thank God for the fall season and all the beauty that he has created for us to enjoy!

Scripture of the Day

Phillipians 3:13-14 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Friends, move forward. Your past is valuable because it gives you lessons for the future. But pr…ess forward, learn the lessons, and move toward your predestined purpose! God doesn’t want us in a rut he wants us to THRIVE for him, for you, and for your family! Say goodbye to the past and hello to the fabulous future that lies ahead!

Homemaking Tip of the Day

Are your mornings hectic? Do you forget things? Keep a check list by the door or on a bulletin board, of everything you need, keys, book bag, money, etc. It will make getting out of the house a little easier!

Money Tip for Wednesday

One of the biggest stressors in a single mom’s life is money! Take control of your finances by taking a serious look at your financial status. Start by examining your credit reports. Go to http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.myfico.com%2FProducts%2FProducts.aspx&h=f580b to order or monitor your credit report. If you monitor it, you will …get alerts if your score goes up or down and you can make adjustments accordingly. Get financially fit!

Parenting Tip for Wednesday

Being a single mom can be overwhelming which can make you cranky and impatient. If you feel yourself slipping into anger take a time out. If you have little kids throw a dvd in and find some quiet space in the house. If you have …older kids who can take care of themselves, go for a walk or take a quick 15 minutes drive or even sit in the car. Believe me you and your kids will be glad you did!

Single Mom’s Tip of The Day

Single working mom’s I know how hectic the morning can get. If your child brings lunch to school make lunch the night before, right after the dishes pack the next day’s lunch. In the morning you can grab it out of the fridge and head out the door, saving minutes off of your morning routine!