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All Posts by MaryEllen

5 Things That are Stealing your Time as a Homemaker

If you're looking for more hours in your day, a great place to start is by finding those stolen moments.  Is there time that you are spending on something that you really should be spending on something else?

Not all the things in the list below are wrong things.  Some of them are simply things that we can become so wrapped up in doing that it steals time from more important things.

Take an honest look and see if any of them apply to you:

5 things that are stealing your time as a homemaker

 

1. Social media

We start out innocently enough – hopping on Pinterest to find a recipe for dinner or deciding to post that photo we just took to Instagram.  But all too often, 5 minutes turns to 25 minutes, and before we know it, it's past dinner time before we get off our phone, still half-dazed.

We must be very intentional about the time we spend on our phones or computers.  Turn on a timer when you sit down if you find that you have a bad habit getting lost in the black hole of the internet.

 

2. Work

Many of us work from home, which is perfectly fine, but we must keep in mind that our family needs to come first.  Where do we find the balance between contributing to the family income and keeping our homes orderly, plus having plenty of time for spending with the people we love?  I've not met many people that seem to have the time to do all of it well.  The balance of that is going to be different for different families, and your priorities may be different than mine depending on your circumstances.

Regardless of whether you are in great need for the income or not, the potential for earning “just a little more” is always there, and we must all guard against going after another dollar at the expense of family time and a house that becomes so messy that everyone is stressed and grumpy.

So please hear me when I say that I'm not equating working from home as something that's not worth spending your time on.  It may actually be very much worth your time.  However, when it begins stealing your time from the people you love and from taking proper care of them, it's time to re-evaluate whether you need to cut back on the amount of time you spend working.

 

3. Hobbies

Every homemaker needs to make time for the things she enjoys.  It will bring joy to your life (and keep you a little more sane in the chaos of life!)

However, we need to be conscious of how much time we're spending on those things.  When the housework begins to slip or our children are clamoring for our attention, we need to be honest about whether or not it's because we've become too engrossed in our own interests.  Are we diligently caring for our families or we only looking out for number one?

 

4. Lack of focus

I am pretty bad about this.  Lots of jobs go half-done because I get distracted by another job halfway through.  At the end of the day, I half laundry that's half-done, dishes that are half-washed, and floors that are half-cleaned.  I've done a lot of work but the house is still a mess.

Learning to focus on one job at a time saves time because you're not doing everything twice.

Flylady's book, Sink Reflections, is probably my favorite resource for helping what she calls “SHE's” (Sidetracked Home Executives.) 🙂

 

5. Laziness

No, I'm not calling you lazy.  I have no idea who is reading this, so I wouldn't know anyway.  But if you're struggling with getting things done, just ask yourself honestly, “Could it be because I am being lazy?”  Are you snoozing the alarm multiple times (hey, I have to preach to myself about this too – maybe I should get one of these, haha!) or sitting on the computer (not literally!) when you really ought to get up and do your chores?

I think sometimes wives and moms hate chores every bit as much as kids do.  The problem is that we don't have anybody to with-hold our allowance or tell us we can't have screen time until we get our chores done.

 

 

Some good old-fashioned self-discipline is what we need.  Perhaps we shouldn't complain about feeling overwhelmed with the housework until we first take an honest look at whether or not we can do anything about it.

 

Maybe this article sounded a little harsh.  It's not meant to be; it's just that sometimes admitting that we can do better and be better feels pretty uncomfortable.  But I promise that if you see any areas here that you need to address, it will be so worth it to make the necessary changes!  You'll find more time and feel less frustrated, and those are good things!

How to Use a Prayer Journal to Develop a Consistent Habit of Prayer

“I'll be praying for you!”

How many times have you told that to someone, only to later do a terrible job at keeping your commitment?

Maybe you are actually really good about writing down all those prayer requests, but now your prayer list is a mile long and terribly overwhelming.

That's why I developed My Prayer Journal.

 

I came up with a system that I personally use to keep up with all of the things I would like to pray for without it becoming overwhelming.

Additionally, I now have a lifelong, written record of God's faithfulness to answer prayer!

Play the video below to see exactly how the system works.

 

Do you think this system will work for you?  Feel free to recreate it yourself with notebook paper, or purchase the pre-made, printable version right here.

 

 

If you'd rather read then watch, I've tried to explain the process in writing below:

Though my way isn't necessarily the best way or the only way to keep track of prayer requests and praises, it's works really well for me so I've stuck with it for a number of years.

To keep myself from feeling overwhelmed by such a long list of prayer requests, I divided them up into different categories and I pray for one category each day.

On Sunday I pray for my pastor and his family and for others I know that are serving in various ministries.  I try to keep up with specific requests for those people and not just “Please bless pastor and his family.”

On Monday I pray for missionaries.  I do the same thing when it comes to praying more specifically and not just in a general way.

On Tuesday I pray for those who need to be saved or who have other spiritual needs.

Wednesday is my praise day!  I spend time thanking the Lord for who he is and for specific blessings in my life.

On Thursday I pray for my church family.  Since Wednesday night is prayer meeting at church, new prayer requests from people are fresh on my mind on Thursday morning.

On Friday I pray for friends and extended family.  I try to find out specific requests for each person that I pray for.

Saturday is my personal requests day, where I pray for needs and desires in my own life.


I also have a list of daily requests that I pray for every single day of the week


You could totally use this system with just a simple binder and notebook paper if you wanted to, or if you'd rather, you can purchase a pre-made printable version right here.  (It's gorgeous!)



If you haven't been praying for as many things as you'd like because you feel overwhelmed, I hope my system will help you pray for more people each week!

5 Reasons to Take a Marriage Retreat (And Where to Take It!)

“I'm just so tired!”

“I can't even think with all the kid-noise and clutter!”

“We haven't had a date in months!  We don't talk about anything other than what's on the to-do list!”

If you're feeling burnt out and disconnected from your spouse due to the busyness of life and the exhaustion of kids, it's time to take a marriage retreat!

There are 5 great reasons to take a marriage retreat that I can think of, though I'm sure there are more.

 

1. Time to pray together.

Hopefully you're already praying together with your spouse, at least before you go to bed at night.  But I know from experience that when you're both completely exhausted, it can be hard to think coherently to spend a lot of time in prayer.  Usually by the time the kids are asleep and the lights are turned out, one or both of you is already halfway asleep!

When you get away on a marriage retreat, you'll have plenty of time to spend time in prayer together without waiting until you're both half asleep at night.

What a blessing to come before the Lord together and lay the burdens of your family at his feet!

 

My husband and I were recently blessed to spend several nights away at the Appleview River Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee.  Let me tell you, if you need some quiet time away, you should consider booking a few nights there.

A private condo was just the thing we needed to reconnect with each other and have some quality time to spend with the Lord as a couple.

 

It was all the more special to be there, knowing that the owners were outspoken Christians.  All of their material – brochures, email confirmations, guest information in the cabin, even their text message letting us know our unit was ready for check-in – took every opportunity to tell of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ and of their desire to use their property for his glory.

 

 

 

2.  Time to sleep.

When all the responsibilities at home are weighing you down, it's good to get away and just REST.  You don't need to go, go, go during your time away.  Take advantage of a nice place to stay and just hang out and sleep as long as you need to!  Getting some good rest will do wonders for a marriage.  Not only will it help refresh your spirit and give you a more pleasant outlook on life, it will give you a little more energy for physical intimacy with your spouse too.

I thought the bed at Appleview River Resort was super comfortable!  My husband didn't like it quite as much as I did, but he still slept comfortably.  It was either a memory foam mattress or else it had a memory foam topper.  Either way, I slept long and hard all 3 nights we stayed there!

 

 

 

Of course, maybe I was sleeping so well because I got to soak in this amazing tub every night!  It was so deep, and the water was so hot…oh I'm longing to go back just thinking about it.  My dream house has a tub like this!

3. Time to just be together.

It's nice to be able to just be with your spouse and enjoy them for who they are, with no expectations getting in your way.  No thoughts of household responsibilities can crowd in and ruin your time together.  Getting away lets you just be best friends with your spouse while leaving the cares of life behind for a while!

When we went to Sevierville, we spent time taking walks together, hiking, eating together, and shopping at a leisurely pace.

We didn't have to go far to enjoy a quiet stroll together.  Our condo at Appleview River Resort overlooked a lovely river walk, and we could go right outside and enjoy it any time we wanted to!

 

 

We also enjoyed quiet meals out on the balcony.

 

One day we went to Foxfire Mountain adventure park and took a hike through the property.  It was a beautiful hike, just difficult enough to be good exercise, but not so difficult that it was miserable.  We walked across America's longest swinging bridge and hiked up to a refreshing waterfall.  You can see a video of our day there below:

 

 

We also went out to breakfast a couple times!  We NEVER get to do that!  (It's kind of hard to get babysitters in the morning, you know?)

One morning we ate at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant.  It was right by our condo, and 2 complimentary meals came with the our room.  This is such a nice place to eat.  It's such a cozy environment, and the food is good too.  Applewood is definitely on our “must take a return visit” list!

 

Another morning we ate at Flapjacks Pancake Cabin.  My husband is still talking about the food he ate there two weeks later.  “Any time we are back in that area, we are eating there.  No if's, and's, or but's about it.  That is the best breakfast I have ever had.”  I'll have to agree with him that it was quite good.  I was super excited that they serve gluten free pancakes too!  The helpings were generous enough too that we had enough left over for breakfast the next day.  I highly recommend it!

 

 

We spent one evening walking around the Tanger Outlets, holding hands, browsing the stores.  It was nice to shop just for the sake of shopping and not have to worry about keeping track of kids or taking them potty.

There was a lot of evidence throughout the city of Sevierville of the respect they show for our veterans.  I thought that was really great.

 

My husband needed a new pair of work shoes.  He found a fantastic deal on some at the outlets.

 

4. Time to Plan

No matter your circumstances, you and your spouse no doubt have things you hope to accomplish, things that need to be done around the house, parenting and family goals you'd like to meet, etc.  The biggest obstacle we've found to meeting those goals is just finding the time to sit down an plan out how to get from point A to point B.

If you have family projects that are needing to happen or if you just want to re-evaluate how you're doing on your marriage or parenting, you need to take a marriage retreat and spend some time talking and planning together!

Here we are at our condo, getting a nice dinner prepared so we could have a planning session over dinner.

 

 

 

5. Time to have fun!

 

When is the last time you did something fun together?  When you go on a marriage retreat, you'll have all the time you need just to laugh and have fun!  There is something about having fun that is good for both the soul and the body!  (“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”)  Plan some good old fashioned fun into your marriage retreat and it will benefit you both!

We went out to Ripley's Old MacDonald's Farm mini golf one evening and had a blast trying to beat each other!  (I won't say who won, but it wasn't me. 🙂 )  We laughed when I knocked the ball completely off of the course we were on.  We laughed at how seriously my husband took his shots, measuring the exact trajectory and speed he would need.  He cheered for me when I followed his suggestions and got a hole in one.  It was just plain fun.

 

One day we drove around looking for the cabin we had stayed in on our honeymoon, which was near Sevierville.  We had no clue which road it was on, but we had a vague idea, so we went hunting for it.  We never did find it, but we had a ton of fun getting lost in the mountains together, and we ended up being rewarded with a beautiful view!

 

 

If you're feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and disconnected from your spouse, I encourage you to make the effort to get away and spend some time with your spouse praying, resting, playing, planning, and spending quality time together.

As you can see from the getaway we took, Sevierville, Tennessee is a fantastic place to do that.  It offers the quiet you need to recharge right along with plenty of options for having fun together.  I hope you'll consider investing in a trip for the health of your marriage!

 

Many thanks to the city of Sevierville as well as the places mentioned in this post for providing complimentary lodging and meals to facilitate this article!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Mistakes Christian Parents Often Make

“We're done, mom!”  Three children stand beaming at me from their version of a clean kitchen.

One glance around the room tells me they are far from done.

Now I have a choice.  Do I berate them for being lazy and doing a sloppy job?  Or do I calmly and kindly say, “Well,  I can tell you all have been working hard, but mommy's going to show you a few things that can make the kitchen even cleaner, okay?  First, you want to make sure you squeeze the water out of the cloth really hard so there won't be water dripping all over the table when you wipe it…”

I think we would all agree that it is only fair to remember that little children must be taught how to do things before they should be expected to do them the right way.

And yet, so often, we as parents forget that children are learning so many new things every day, and we could stand to cut them a little more slack.  (Read: The Thing Most Parents Forget About Their Kids)

I have noticed some additional deficiencies in Christian parenting skills that most of us could stand to improve (myself included for sure!)

 

 

1.Laziness/inconsistency – We've all done it.  We call our child and they don't come, so we call them again.  They still don't come.  We call a couple more times, more loudly each time, until finally they hear, “GET IN HERE, NOW!!!!”

If we would get up the first time they don't come and take care of the problem immediately, our children will never have to wonder if we mean what we are saying.  We will never work ourselves up to the point of anger due to repeating ourselves and continuously being ignored.

We can more honestly teach our children that they ought to obey because God says to, rather than by our actions teaching them to obey because mom or dad will eventually get angry if they don't.

 

2. Lack of Thoughtfulness – Does God clearly teach children to obey their parents?  Certainly.  But never does God give parents permission to be slave drivers, never giving heed to the fact that the little person you are teaching is also a fellow human being.

What tone of voice do you use when speaking to your children?  Would you speak to another adult that way?

Does “Be ye kind one to another” apply only to other adults?

Yes, we need to teach our children to obey.  But we must remember that we have other jobs besides teaching – nurturing, comforting, helping.  When too much focus is placed upon obedience, it's easy for things to get out of balance.

 

3. Lack of clarity –  When you are giving a command that you expect your child to obey, don't phrase it as  “Why don't you…?” “You should…”  “Can you…?”

I've been reading Parenting is Heart Work (affiliate link), and they say that you need to phrase commands in a way that the child is positive it is a command and not a suggestion.

Use phrases like, “You need to…” instead.

Once again, if a child is not clear about the command, the child is not likely to obey, and the parent is likely to become angry – neither of which are the desired outcome.

 

4. Lack of Follow-through – Ouch!  This is the area where I have the hardest time.

I tell the kids to clean their room and later see them playing.  “Did you clean your room?” I ask.  (Of course they answer yes!)  At bedtime, when I see that their room is not thoroughly clean, I get irritated because their room is a mess, but I don't want them to stay up any later to clean it.  I should have gone to check it immediately when they were finished.

Parenting is Heart Work makes it clear that there are 2 sides to the responsibility when a command has been given.  The child has a responsibility to report to you when they are finished, and the parent has the responsibility to follow-through with making sure the job is done and done correctly.

 

5. Forgetting to teach them how to do a job – This goes along with what I was talking about at the very beginning of this post.  We must remember that they are children, that they are learning lots of things, and that we must invest lots of time teaching (and reviewing) things before we can expect them to do it perfectly.

Sometimes teaching children is as simple as playing a role-playing game where they come to you when you call them.  Parenting is Heart Work explains in detail how to do this.

 

6. Praise for a job well done – Should children be expected to obey?  Certainly!  But I think that because many parents expect just that, so when the job has been done they say no more about it.

I don't know about you, but I love it when someone acknowledges my hard work, whether it was something I was supposed to do or not.

Is it my part of the family responsibilities to put supper on the table every night?  Sure, but it's so nice when people tell me thank you and that they enjoyed it.

Our children have emotions just like us, and we can provide so much encouragement to do right just by giving them some positive reinforcement.

 

 

 

Which of these mistakes do you need to work on the most?

 

 

 

 

One Simple Way to Get More Out of Your Bible Reading

Have you ever arrived at the end of a chapter in your Bible reading and realized, “I don't remember one single thing I just read”?

I do that all the time!

My mind gets so preoccupied with remembering everything I need to do that I'm reading the words but not really processing them.

Or sometimes I'm just flat out tired and my brain isn't exactly functioning very well.

One simple way to get more out of your Bible Reading

Here's a tip to help you focus better as you read your Bible:

Read out loud.

It feels a little awkward at first, but once you start it's easy to keep going.

It amazes me how much easier it is to focus on what the verses mean.  And quite often, even on days where I don't feel like my brain is fried but I'm just having a little trouble understanding the passage, it suddenly makes more sense once I read it out loud.

Reading your Bible out loud also works well if you have little ones clamoring for your attention.  You get your time in God's Word, and they get to benefit from hearing you read it too.

Oh, and one last thing.  You can use this tip for prayer too!  When  you're falling asleep, just start praying out loud and you won't have that problem any more!

Would you like to be more intentional about spending time in the Bible and prayer?

I've put together a 7 day email challenge where I share how to keep a spiritual journal, how to study the Bible, and how to have a more meaningful prayer life.

Care to join me?  Just click the button below!

 

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