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Andrea Hamilton, Author at Imperfect Homemaker

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How to Turn Your Guest Room into a Haven, Part 2

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Last week I shared some tips to help make your guest room a little more comfortable to the weary traveler.  I have a few extra suggestions that may help you make your guest feel right at home!  These are all little things, but they can be easy to overlook.  Yet when you have taken the time to think through and prepare these things ahead of time, your guest will feel especially blessed to rest in your home!

–Power Strips.  These days, with so much technology, everything needs plugged in at night.  My husband and I each use our phones as alarm clocks, and we each travel with a tablet or laptop.  When you use those items all day in the car, you need to plug in at night.  Make sure the outlet(s) are uncovered and easily accessible, and even add a power strip so there is plenty of room for extra plugs.

–Iron and Ironing Board.  Check with your guest to see if they need access to the iron.

–Laundry Facilities.  Offer the use of your washing machine (if you have one – I don’t!), and try to have it empty or cleared off so the guest has room to wash and fold their laundry.

–Night Stand.  I always appreciate it when there is a table near the bed for my phone and eyeglasses to set on, along with a glass of water.  That way I know right where things are at in the night!

–Empty Drawers.  If your guest will be staying for more than a night, it’s so nice to leave an empty drawer or two so they can unpack their suitcase.  My husband despises living out of a suitcase, so he always unpacks, even for just one night.  But –this is hard to do unless you have a dedicated guest room!

–Wi-fi Password.  Most homes have a wireless network these days.  And if they are careful, the network is password protected.  A guest might feel awkward asking you to share the password.  But at the same time, when you have to pay for the data on your phone plan, being able to connect to a network is money-saving and helpful.  My husband makes a lot of phone calls in the van, and then needs to follow them up with an email when we arrive at our destination.  Its always so nice when the hostess has laid out the wireless password for us in the room, so that we know we are welcome on their network.

–Ask About Allergies.  If you are hosting your guests for a meal, inquire about any allergies or preferences.  We have been blessed to have no allergies and enjoy pretty much any food.  But sometimes when you travel you get the same meal quite a bit (usually it's spaghetti or lasagna).  We haven’t had that happen on this trip!  It just shows thoughtfulness if you ask your guest if they have eaten something quite a lot, or if they have preferences.  Right now with my pregnancy meals heavy on the tomatoes are not a good choice.  But I am not going to tell a hostess that, unless she asks me.

How about you?  Are you a frequent traveler?  What do you love to find in a guest room?  What have you done to your guest room to make it more special for traveling guests?  I'd love to hear your tips, suggestions, and experiences, too!

How to Turn Your Guest Room into a Haven (Tips from an Experienced Traveler)

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How to turn your guest room into a haven – guest post by Andrea Hamilton

 

My family has just completed a three-month road trip.  We are missionaries on deputation to start a church in New York City.  All of this traveling means we have stayed in a lot of hotels, guest rooms, and “Prophet’s Chambers” (guest housing at the church).  The Lord has been truly good to us and we haven’t stayed in any bad or yucky places, but we HAVE learned a few things about what makes an exceptional guest room.

Romans 12:13 tells us to we are to distribute to the necessity of saints, and be given to hospitality.  1 Peter 4:9 says, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”  And Hebrews 13:2 reminds us to “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

I am so thankful for God’s people all across this country who have lived these verses to my family.  They opened their homes in gracious hospitality, and welcomed us even though we were strangers to them.  They have shown us what a comfortable guest room looks like, and I can’t wait to get settled into our field (New York City) and hopefully have my own guest room to share with others!

Would you like to turn your guest room into a haven for weary travelers?  Here are some tips that come from my experience of living on the road.  A few simple things can really make your guest room stand out and show your guests an extra welcome – like family!

  1. Invest in a good mattress. Don’t just throw a really old mattress into the guest room.  When someone has been traveling all day (or all week, or all month), their body is road weary.  Nothing feels better than a really comfortable night's sleep, and nothing is worse than lying there all night trying to get comfortable.  One less expensive way to give an old mattress a boost is to use a memory foam topper.
  1. If possible, give the guests their own designated bathroom. If you have to share, make it clear when your family members normally bathe so there’s no conflict.  Let them know where extra towels are located.  Make a space in the tub for the guest’s toiletries so they don’t feel like they are invading.  (It also keeps guest children from using the wrong product by accident).
  1. Use nightlights liberally. If nightlights are in place, the guest can always unplug them if they want more darkness.  But if there is no nightlight ready to go (in the bedroom, hallway, and bathroom), the guest has to search around for the outlet.  Even if they find an outlet, it only works if they have their own nightlight along!  This is particularly helpful if there are children in your guest party.  It really makes them feel more comfortable in a strange place!
  1. Make sure there is plenty of bedding – blankets and pillows. Sometimes we come in as a family of six, and there are only pillows for four of us.  Sometimes I’m feeling congested and wish I could grab another pillow to prop up.  Sometimes I just get a little cold and want to throw another layer on the bed.  It’s always a blessing when the hostess has placed extra pillows and blankets in the closet, or has shown us where to find them.
  1. Make space in the closet. I know that if you have a spare bedroom with an entire empty closet, you want to use it for storage.  And that’s great – but leave a space for the guest to hang their clothes.  If there is no closet available in your guest room, consider placing a hook over the door.  We travel with a clothes bar in the van, so all of our clothing is on hangers, but sometimes its hard to find a place to hang them inside the guest room.

 

To be continued next week…

 

Have you ever stayed overnight somewhere that was extremely comfortable?  What were some of the things that made it that way for you?

 

 

Teaching Our Children About Broken Fellowship

Guest post by contributor Andrea

 

Last year when I was struggling as a mother of four kids under the age of four (including newborn twins), a dear friend gave me a book called “Loving the Little Years” by Rachel Jankovic.  That little book has been read several times now, as well as the sequel, “Fit to Burst”.  I love these books because they are short, and the chapters are short.  They are random thoughts on motherhood in no particular order.  I could usually finish a chapter while nursing the babies.  It is chock full of humor, practical suggestions, encouragement, and lessons on motherhood – specifically in mothering little people.

Perhaps one of the reasons I “connected” with the author so well is that our children fall into the same birth order, two toddlers, then twins (and now she has two other children).  So many times I wondered if Rachel had been sitting in my living room watching me mother my children, and then gone home to write a chapter about it!

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One of the biggest things I took away from this book was how to teach my children to restore fellowship.  I’m sure you’ve been there – the kids are fighting over that same toy, again.  One child gets mad and hits his sister, while the sister spouts off unkind names to her brother.  And there you are, trying to figure out who had the toy first, who did what, and who gets the discipline.

I am always frustrated when this breaks out in our home!  {And it happens quite often…just saying.}  But now I approach my teaching and discipline from a different perspective.  Instead of dealing with who had the toy first, we talk instead about broken fellowship.  You see, my children had both decided that the toy was more important than the fellowship with their sibling.  They assigned more value to the item that to the relationship.  They don’t realize they are doing that, but it provides a great opportunity to counsel them about sin and relationships.

We now go through questions something like this:

What is more important, your brother, or that toy? 

What did you act like was the most important? 

What should we do to show your brother he is most important? 

How can you restore the fellowship? 

It takes several counseling sessions to help your children understand the concept of fellowship.  You want them to understand that relationships (people) are more important than things.  If the rift in the fellowship is really bad, I do take away the toy.  I explain that it would be better to throw the toy away than to have it in our house if we are going to break fellowship because of it.  And when push comes to shove, the kids usually find a way to share the toy rather than have it thrown in the garbage.

To restore fellowship, the kids need to say something like, “I’m sorry I wasn’t kind and I broke fellowship with you.  Will you please forgive me?”  Then they hug, and make-up.

This has not only been very helpful in solving fights, but it is also a valuable opportunity to teach them about the Gospel.  Every one of us is born into broken fellowship with God.  The only way to restore fellowship is to ask Him to forgive our sins through the blood of Jesus, and to come into our life and be our Savior.  Even as Christians, we experience broken fellowship with our Lord on a daily basis every time we sin.  But the fellowship is easy to restore when we ask for forgiveness.

Good thoughts on teaching children why they should be kind to one another

Every time my children my children experience broken fellowship with each other, I get to illustrate their broken fellowship with God.  I am praying that one day soon my oldest will understand more completely and choose to accept Christ and the restored fellowship He offers.

Travel Tips for Toddlers

Packing for the first deputation trip

Last year I would have told you I am no expert on traveling with little ones.  I would still say that I am not an expert, but being a missionary on deputation has afforded me lots of practice!  We are gone every weekend and many weeks in between.  Next year we will be gone for several months at a time.

When we began this journey I asked several missionary friends for suggestions.  Many of their tips have been lifesavers as we travel the country with four little people.  Some areas are still being tweaked to find out what works best.  These are a few of my tips for traveling with toddlers…

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1.  Keep Your Routine – even when away from home. I know that it is not always possible, but stick to what is “normal” as much as possible.  Observe the same nap times.  Eat the same foods.  Keep the same bedtime routine.

2.  Bring Favorite Items. There are enough “strange” things on any trip – a different bed, a new house or hotel room, and possibly a different climate.  Try to keep some things the same. Liberty is attached to her blanket.  We bring it on every trip.  Elaine and Nolan are older and have lots of favorite “friends”, so they have to select one friend to bring in the car.  We also bring a couple of family favorites for bedtime stories.  This gives the kids something familiar in an unfamiliar environment.

3.  Switch Things Up. We have several different entertainment items to keep the kids happy in the car.  But we try to keep them varied so that the kids don’t get bored of any one thing.  We use a DVD player, books on CD, reading chapter books aloud (I love my Kindle because it takes up so little space), independent playtime (with items from their backpack), family games such as “I Spy”, Bible stories from Daddy, singing, and nap time.  We do one thing for a little while, and then move on to another.  During nap time they can't hold any toys and they have to close their eyes and stop speaking.  They almost always fall asleep.

My bigger kids are allowed to pack their own little backpacks, but I limit the number of toys.  I usually let them have “five small toys”.  They usually pick things like zoo animals, Little People, etc. and play make believe in their car seats.  I have found that crayons/markers/stickers are not good in the car for little people.  I spend most of my trip retrieving them from the floor.  For drawing, Magna Doodles work great!

 4.  Travel at Night. It may be helpful to travel at night when your little people will naturally sleep.  You don't have to plan as many stops, so the traveling goes faster.  We have done it several times for very long trips.  It is hard on Mom & Dad the next day, though!

5.  Stop frequently. We stop about every three hours, and usually for an hour.  By the time we change diapers, take a potty break, eat lunch, and let the kids run off the wiggles, it is usually an hour.  But then the kids are much more content  to get back into the car.  We have found it very helpful to pack a lunch and stop at a park, playground, or rest stop to eat.  This gives us fresh air and more room for the kids to run around, and it’s much easier on our wallet!

 

Packed & Ready

 

Packing Tips:

1.  Pack Light. Almost everywhere we go there is a washing machine.  I usually pack three days of clothes, and then wash.  This means less stuff to load and unload into the car, and it is also less items to keep track of at the home/hotel where we are staying.  For a family of six we can travel with only two suitcases, a bag of shoes, and a family toiletry bag.  It means less to get ready, too.  I can have us all packed in about two hours or less!

2.  Prepare for Accidents. We have two kiddos in diapers, and one potty training.  I keep an extra outfit and socks in the diaper bag for these kids.  That way if there is an accident on the road, we don’t have to unload the whole suitcase.

3.  Stay Organized. I bring along a laundry bag to set up in our destination home.  This keeps the suitcase organized.  I pack the “little” stuff for each person in a Ziploc bag with their name on it.  All undies, socks, ties, belts, hair bows, etc. go into that person's bag to stay organized.  I bring a mesh laundry bag to put dirty socks into, so that they are not lost in the dirty laundry.  When you’re only packing for three days, it’s hard to lose a pair of socks!

4.  Pack a Community Bag. Since there are six in our family, we have found a “community bag” to be helpful.  All of our shoes go into one bag.  This keeps dirt out of the suitcases and makes it easy to keep track of everyone’s shoes.  We also have a family toiletry bag.  All toiletry items for the whole family go into one bag, and then there is only one bag in the destination bathroom, instead of six individual bags.  This makes it easier to be sure we have everything packed, too.  I can easily glance through the toiletry bag to know we have all the necessary items, and my husband knows he only has to worry about loading one bag into the van.

 

Do you travel often?  What do you do to make it fun instead of stressful?

Feed My Lambs

Our pastor just finished preaching through the book of John.  I love the end of the book – chapter 21 – when Jesus meets His disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  He gently restores Peter by reaffirming his call three times – the same number of times which Peter had denied Jesus during the crucifixion.  Jesus states His mission for Peter – “feed my lambs” one time, and “feed my sheep” twice.

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We know that Jesus was calling Peter to be a leading force in the newly formed New Testament church.  The reference to lambs likely refers to new believers.  Jesus wanted Peter to gently care for those who were new in the faith.  “Sheep” could refer to more mature believers.

As my pastor was preaching through these verses he mentioned how lambs have to be fed more often.  Sometimes the shepherd might have to get up in the night to care for these vulnerable little ones.  On a recent missionary deputation trip we stayed with a family who has a hobby goat farm.  One of the goats died giving birth to twin kids.  The family members alternated who got up every four hours during the night to give the goats a bottle of milk.

My mind wandered to mothers of newborns and young babies.  We get up in the night to meet the physical needs of our children by nursing them or giving them a bottle.  We comfort them when they are sick, hold them when they are teething, and soothe them after a bad dream.  We don’t tell them to feed themselves or to go back to sleep – we deal gently with them, even though we are weary. 

Though there could be many applications from this passage, one was important to me, and I have meditated on it many times over the last couple of weeks.  As mothers, we have an important role to take care of the physical needs of our young children.  Sometimes we feel alone, home-bound, weary, lost in the monotony of routine tasks, and even unimportant, unaccomplished, and unappreciated.  But our efforts are not lost to the Savior.  He recognized that those who are young or immature need more care.

Yet our responsibility to feed our young children extends far beyond the tasks of meals, laundry, cleaning the home, etc.  As Christian parents we are responsible to spiritually feed our children.  They should hear the Word of God from our lips, and they should see it lived out in our daily choices.  It is not the Sunday School teacher’s job to teach our children the truths of God’s Word.  Their ministry is reinforcing what our children should be learning at home…from us.

We “feed the lambs” by teaching them God’s Word, living God’s Word, explaining God’s Word, helping them memorize God’s Word, and applying God’s Word to everyday situations in the lives of our children.  We feed the lambs when we pray for our children, and refuse to let the enemy get a stronghold in their lives.

Sometimes I get tired of going through the same lecture, the same discipline, the same scenario with my little ones.  Are they bickering over that toy AGAIN?  Did he just hit his sister AGAIN?  I want to say, “I shouldn’t have to tell you this again!”  But just as there are times physically when I don’t think I can squeeze another ounce of energy out to pry myself out of bed and nurse the baby, so there are times spiritually when I don’t think I have the strength to shepherd these little lambs and their delicate hearts to the Savior.  And do you know what?  I don’t have the strength.  I can’t do it alone.  As He gives me strength to meet the physical needs of my children, so the Lord gives the wisdom and the strength to go over that lesson on kindness with my children one more time.

We just started homeschooling for kindergarten last week, and I am very weary.  It seems like things are grating on my nerves more quickly than normal.  Each task seems to take more energy that I have.  But I have been encouraged from this passage to continue on feeding His lambs.  He has entrusted four of them to me, and I don’t want to fail the Savior in my task.

 

 

Happy Grandparent’s Day: Giving the Gift of a Godly Heritage

Guest post by Imperfect Homemaker contributor Andrea.

Godly Heritage jpg“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” (Psalm 16:6)

I am very blessed to come from a Christian home. My parents are Christians, my grandparents are Christians, and even most of my extended family are believers in Jesus Christ. As a third generation Christian, I thank God for my grandparents and their godly influence on my life.

On my mom’s side, my grandmother was saved at a Youth for Christ crusade prior to marrying to my grandpa. After they were married, and she wanted to be baptized, the pastor led my grandfather to the Lord. Shortly after my mom was born (she is #5 of 6 kids), the family moved from Iowa to Denver, Colorado. Since I grew up in Colorado also, I was very close to my grandparents. They were there for every “major” event in my life – from piano recitals, to birthdays, and everything in between.

Now there are 12 grandkids and 14 great-grandchildren on my mom’s side. Many of us are in vocational ministry. I know that my grandparents pray for us all, and they also give financially to the different ministries in which their children and grandchildren are serving.

Grandpa's 80th Birthday

My Grams and Gramps are on my dad’s side. I didn’t get to see them as often when I was growing up because they lived in Oklahoma. My Gramps had several health issues and went home to be with the Lord in August of 2010. As we sat around the living room sharing memories after the funeral, Grams told us that Gramps prayed for all of his grandchildren by name every morning. Now my Grams keeps a picture of all her “grands” and great-grandkids inside her quiet time briefcase. She often sends us a text as she updates the pictures, reminding us that she is praying for us. Many of her children and grandchildren are in full-time Christian ministry also.

Godby Family Reunion in Arkansas

Now that I have children of my own, I am getting to watch my parents and in-laws interact with my children. I see the excitement on Grandma’s face when my kids Skype her to say a new memory verse or sing the Countdown song together. I watch my kids playing in the backyard with Grandma pretending to be scared, and I hear Grandma tell them to pray. These interactions from godly grandparents are re-enforcing what I am teaching my children on a daily basis.

Great Grandma & Grandpa Paul

When I think about Grandparent’s Day, I think of the godly heritage that has been passed down to me.

I think of the Scripture readings on Christmas Eve.

I think of sitting on the porch with my grandpa and discussing Bible prophecy and Israel in the End Times.

I think of the prayers – so many countless prayers – that have been offered on my behalf by four praying grandparents.

I think of praying parents and in-laws holding me up as I shepherd my children (their grandchildren) to the Savior.

I think of the spiritual investment in my life and the lives of my children.

And then I think, “That’s the kind of grandparent I want to be.”

I won't wake up one day as a grandmother and decide that I am going to be a godly grandparent.  I am making the decision now what kind of grandparent I will be then through my daily choices as I influence my children in their youth.  By pouring the Gospel and the Word of God into my children now, I can reap the reward of godly grandchildren later. By giving up my own desires now in order to mother my children, I can rejoice in the future as my children and grandchildren are serving the Lord. By praying for my children and their future spouses, I can influence the next generation for Christ.

Yes – I feel so blessed to be from a Christian home. Maybe you are a first generation Christian. You don’t have that godly heritage to look back on, but you do have the opportunity to start passing it on now to the next generation. Give your grandchildren the gift of a godly heritage.  << Click to tweet that!

Happy Grandparent's Day!

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