One of my all-time favorite hymns is Great is Thy Faithfulness.
Every line of the lyrics contains such encouraging scriptural truth. One of my favorite lines, though, is “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”
God gives strength for today
God gives bright hope for tomorrow
It's a new month, which means it's time for me to post some personal stuff about what I've been up to! I'm hearing from a lot of you that you enjoy a taste of “old-school” blogging, so I'll keep it up!
What I've read recently:
1. The kids and I finished listening to the audio version of Never Caught: The Story of Ona Judge. I want them to be exposed to truth, even when it's not always pretty and involves someone that many history books call a hero.
I don't think it's fair to look for ways that we can make everyone out to be a villain, but neither do I think it's fair to present only one side of the facts either. The kids and I enjoyed listening (the book is written specifically for younger readers.)
2. Someone in my Facebook feed shared an article about Claudette Colvin, a teenage girl who stood up to segregation on the Montgomery buses, and I was curious to know more. When I googled, I found this book, and it was included with my Scribd subscription, so I read it on there.
Here's what I wrote about it on Goodreads:
I love learning about people who did courageous things for no other reason than that it's the right thing to do. Claudette didn't do what she did for notoriety, she did it because she could not live a lie. She couldn't pretend segregation was OK, tiptoeing around society in order to get along. She did what was right, and she held her head high even when others (including those who should have been supporting her) turned their backs on her. I've never heard of Claudette Colvin until recently. She didn't make the history books, but it was her courage that spearheaded the lawsuit that would ultimately change history. We don't all have to make the history books, but we can all do the right thing with our head held high. Claudette's story should be an inspiration to everyone.
If you want to read it on Scribd, you can get a free 60 day trial through this link.
From my Goodreads review:
I turned to this book when I found my thoughts getting anxious and my mind swirling with the cares of the day. I loved listening in on Sara's self-talk as she intentionally turned her own anxious thoughts toward God and his word. Her prompts helped me apply the word to my own circumstances and find peace and perspective in the midst of my frustrations.
4. The Great Sex Rescue
From my Goodreads review:
This book is intended to help wives (and husbands too) untangle the lies they've believed about God's design for sex. Lies like, “men are going to look, so make sure he looks at you” or that “sex is a duty that wives owe their husbands men have great needs in this area” can put a damper on whether or not couples can enjoy the intimacy of the sexual relationship. Instead of sex being an obligation and wives being used as drugs to keep their husbands off porn, The Great Sex Rescue will help couples discover the joy that can be theirs when sex is focused on mutual pleasure and true intimacy rather than just the act of intercourse.
Something New I Tried This Month:
I got my second clothing subscription box from Wantable (read my full review of the service here.)
They also have a feature where you can request specific articles for them to send. I got this dress that I requested and it fit well, so now I have a new addition to my spring wardrobe.
A Blog Post I Wrote This Month:
I inadvertently opened a whole can of worms when I asked on Instagram if anyone had read any Christian marriage books that had done more harm than good. When the book Love & Respect came up, I had a whole bunch of questions in my inbox. The book is very popular, and many people had read it and had a good experience, so they wanted to know in what ways it had caused harm.
I promised to answer the question, but I knew it would be a major undertaking. I had over 50 pages of notes that I had taken as I went through the book.
To make a long story short, I am now working my way through a series about the problems with Love & Respect, and the main hub of that series can be found here.
A goal I worked on this month:
I'm carrying a few extra pounds that I'd like to shed. So far I have struggled with this because learning a new plan like THM felt too overwhelming, and sticking to just eating healthy was not actually taking any weight off.
I'm finally doing something differently that is SO EASY and seems to be working slowly and steadily (I'm down 4 pounds within the first 2 weeks.) I'm not trying to be a tease, but I want to wait to share until I give it a long enough trial to know for sure that I recommend it. I promise I'll update you!
Something I've been meditating on lately:
As spring begins its arrival I've been meditating on the faithfulness of God. God has been keeping the seasons in order since the beginning of time. Each morning the sun rises and travels along the same path it has traveled every other day since it was created.
Psalm 104 tells of all the marvelous ways that God reveals himself through creation. I encourage you to read it and see if you can do anything besides thank God for his faithfulness!
If you'd like to keep up with more behind-the-scenes posts, feel free to follow me on Instagram.
I've noticed a lot of people land on my blog by searching for Valentine's Day Bible verses. I have a cute little set of Bible verse valentines for kids, but I thought it would be nice to add a set of Valentine's Day Bible verses for adults too!
I wanted all these verses to focus on the love of God toward us. These would be great to use for giving to grocery store clerks, etc. along with perhaps a piece of candy. I think a reminder of God's love along with a thoughtful gesture would brighten anyone's day.
Some other ideas for using these Valentine's Day Bible verse cards:
I'm sure you can come up with even more creative ideas for using these, and I hope they will be a blessing to you.
The verses included are:
These printable Valentine's Day Bible Verse cards are inside my resource library. My email subscribers have access to everything inside the resource library for free.
If you'd like to join, simply enter your email address below, and you'll receive a link to the resource library where you can download these, along with anything else you might like.
I was recently musing over the past 10 years or so, and it is amazing to me how much of it I spent completely overwhelmed by housework and all the other responsibilities in my life.
As I looked through some of my old journals, I saw so much of this type of thing:
“I've gotten so far behind on the housework with the baby teething. I walked around in circles all day because I was so behind and it made me feel overwhelmed.”
“I get overwhelmed by housework very easily when I see how much needs to be done.”
“I feel like I'm always running in circles and not actually accomplishing anything.”
Every day, I receive emails that contain some variation of what I wrote above.
Everyone is overwhelmed!
And oh, how I understand! I understand so well!
But year by year, baby step by baby step, I've learned and grown and changed.
Bit by bit I have made progress until I no longer feel like the word “overwhelmed” is a central figure in my life.
Yes, I have my moments. But I actually wake up excited in the mornings, and I go to bed at night feeling satisfied with my day instead of feeling like a total failure.
Don't get me wrong. I'm in no way saying I'm now superwoman. There isn't usually a massive list of accomplishments I can point to at the end of the day. Life still has a way of throwing curveballs just like it always has.
What I am saying is this – I'm at peace and no longer overwhelmed by housework all the time. (Again, not that I don't have my moments.)
So…what is different? How did I stop feeling so overwhelmed all the time?
1. Life's circumstances change, but God our helper is always the same
I'm not going to lie. My circumstances are easier in some ways than they have been in years past. I have much more energy than I've had in years past. Children who are older are (somewhat) more helpful around the house.
But if you're thinking that the only way you can stop being overwhelmed is for your circumstances to change, you're going to be overwhelmed for a long time, my friend. There will always be difficult things in our lives. Instead of looking for better circumstances, look to the Lord. Without him, we can do nothing. Sometimes it takes hard things to help us remember to depend fully on Him.
2. Knowing my priorities means I am okay with not “getting it all done”
I've learned how to set priorities and keep my focus there. I don't get all the things done, but I am clear on what is most important, and I can go to bed satisfied with my day even when other things are left undone.
My goal setting planner enables me to set big goals and turn them into a daily, bite sized to do list. As a result, I know exactly what I need to do each day, and I also know what things won't be a big deal if I don't get to them.
3. I work with, and not against my personality
I've learned that trying to force myself to fit into a mold that's not my personality only makes me rebel against it and makes things worse. So instead I maximize my time in a way that works for my personality. For example, I might know that having dinner on the table promptly each evening would help with getting everyone to bed earlier, which would in turn give me an earlier morning and more time to reach my goals. However, cooking is not my favorite thing to do, which means I can tend to procrastinate. I keep a list of quick and easy meals that are still nutritious, and I make them very frequently with no guilt. Just because some moms cook a certain way, that doesn't mean I'm a bad mom if I don't make the same meals they do. I just do what works for me. Trying to force myself to make more complicated things or have a certain number of side dishes might allow me to pat myself on the back for feeding my family the “right” way, but in the long run it would contribute to feeling more overwhelmed.
4. I've learned to rest in who Jesus says I am.
I spent too many years of my life feeling like I had to try harder.
The fruit of the spirit felt like something I had to produce…I had to put forth the effort to be kind, to be diligent, to be good.
But if being good is something that is produced from my own effort, then it's not actually a fruit of the spirit; it's a fruit of my own prideful self-sufficiency.
God has lovingly taught me that his invitation is to rest in him.
A plant doesn't have to try hard to bear fruit. The only way a plant bears fruit is to simply be what it is. The roots do the work of providing everything that plant needs to flourish and be fruitful. Likewise, the fruit we bear can only and ever be a result of simply abiding in the vine. Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us that the same way we received Christ Jesus (through faith, not by our own effort) is the same way we are to walk in him…rooted in him. He is the vine, and I am the branch. It is by abiding in him that my life becomes fruitful (John 15:4-5.)
I am loved by God just as much on the days when my house is clean as I am when it is a disaster. I am just as much “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6) when I make a gourmet meal as when I serve cereal for supper.
When we do not properly understand our identity in Christ we will fall into one of two ditches: Either constant guilt that we're not doing the Christian life good enough, or pride that we're doing it better than others. Either way, the devil loves it because we're living like cats chasing our tails, seeking approval we already have, when the life of Christ could instead be springing up from within us, flowing outward and watering the seeds of the kingdom of God.
(A book that was a particular blessing to me in this regard was The Naked Gospel.)
There are obviously many more details that go into my journey of becoming less overwhelmed, but since I can't fit 10 years of my life into one post, I do hope these main takeaways will help you like they have helped me.
I can't promise to help you become less overwhelmed overnight, because learning to depend on the Lord and learning how to better manage our time is a lifelong journey. We should never stop learning and growing, but I hope that this article will be an encouraging step along the way.
For more information on the goal setting planner that I use, visit this page right here. It truly makes so much of a difference in my life!
With all the pouring OUT that we do, we homemakers can feel empty and burnt out pretty easily.
It's important to keep our own cup full. (Read: 13 Free Ways to Take Care of You)
And while we all can benefit from a cup of coffee drunk in silence, a few minutes of exercise, or a few hours out with a friend, there are some much more important things with which we ought to be filling our cups.
It is certainly true that you cannot pour from an empty cup. However, what is it exactly that your cup has in it?
My point here is in no way to discourage doing things that bring you joy and energize you. However, no matter your circumstances — no matter how difficult it may be for you to spend dedicated time reading a book, sleeping in, or taking a long hot shower — it is still possible to keep your cup full.
Consider the following:
1. When you live in God's presence, your cup is filled with joy.
Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
2. Your life can be full of the fruit of the spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
3. Your life can be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
Philippians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
The fruit of righteousness is a result of knowing your identity in Christ — to cease from striving to follow the law and to rest completely in the righteousness of Christ.
Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
I Corinthians 1:30-31 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
You cannot produce the fruit of righteousness by your own effort. Only when you abide in the vine, Jesus Christ, can his life flow out of you. Any branch that is connected to a righteous vine will by its very nature produce righteousness.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
4. You can be filled with the knowledge of God's will.
Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Ephesians 5:15-17 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Do you know how to understand what God's will is? By renewing your mind with the word of God.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
(Are life's demands so difficult that you're unable to dedicate the time you'd like to reading the word of God? Read How to Find Time For God When You Can Hardly Find Time to Breathe.)
5. Fill your mind with good things.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
As you go through your day, you can fill your mind with scripture on audio, you can listen to Christ-centered music, you can take time to notice the blue sky, the fluffy clouds, and the song of the birds.
No doubt as you continue searching the scripture you will think of more things with which you can fill your cup.
It certainly provides a lift to your spirit when you can take time for an activity you enjoy. But no matter how often there is opportunity for you to do that, I pray you will still keep your cup full — full of the spirit, full of the joy of the Lord, full of the fruit of righteousness.
May you keep your cup full of the love of God, and may it spill over onto every one you meet!
It seems like so much of my update involves books! I promise I do more than read all day. I have made a habit of reading before I go to bed each night, and it is surprising how many books you can get through if you read a little every day.
I finished 5 books last month:
(Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.)
As an advocate for victims of domestic abuse, I try to keep a handle on new reading material I can recommend. This is an excellent book for both victims and for those who wish to be a help. You might be shocked at what goes on behind the closed doors of the homes of families you know. Donna's story is one example among countless that I know. Although she attended a good church, the people there just did not have enough knowledge about how to detect domestic abuse or what to do when they did become aware of it. Would you know what to do? Donna's story can help equip you to be a true friend to a Christian woman in need. Purchase here.
This is a new author to me, but I was so very encouraged by this book! The book begins by presenting some premises that you may react strongly toward or think that you completely disagree. However, I encourage you to keep reading. This book took me a good while to read, because I did a lot of stopping to look up every scripture in its context, ponder the author's points, and jot down counter-arguments and questions. Sometimes something that seemed contrary to what I believed was simply a matter of semantics or a different (usually more clear) way of explaining it. Sometimes it was as if he had anticipated my question ahead of time and gave his answer to it within the next page or two. My encouragement to the reader is not necessarily to come to every exact conclusion the author leads you to, but rather to use what you read to provide a springboard for your own thinking and studying, allowing the spirit to guide you into all truth. This is a book about the gospel and its power – not just to provide us with eternal life, but to give us abundant life in the here and now. Purchase here.
Perhaps you are familiar with the story of Richard Wurmbrand, who wrote the book Tortured for Christ, which was about his experience being imprisoned and tortured for his faith in Communist Romania. The Pastor's Wife is his wife Sabina's story, who was also imprisoned for her faith. The entire family, including their son, suffered in unspeakable ways; however they never lost their faith and their joy in the Lord. While Sabina's story is a narrative account of everything she went through, I found myself picking up nugget after nugget of spiritual wisdom that could only have been obtained when one has had their faith stretched to its maximum capacity as Sabina did. I was encouraged to live my life wholly for Christ, to love the brethren with a pure heart even when I do not always have the same opinions or methods of doing things as they do, and to pray fervently for those who are in bonds and who are actively suffering as followers of Christ. Purchase the book here.
I was encouraged by Bob's testimony of God's faithfulness in his life. The circumstances of how God drew Bob to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and how He directed Bob's life in so many ways was a blessing to read. This book will make you grateful to live in a country where we have to freedom to believe what we like and to share Jesus with others without fear of imprisonment or death. It's important to be aware of what Christians in countries like China go through in order to bear the name of Christ, and I am driven to pray that I too will have the same devotion to Him as they do. Purchase this book here.
I never tire of reading testimonies of God's goodness in the lives of others. Although Kim Phuc (“the Napalm girl”) suffered the horrors of war, God never ceased to draw her toward himself with his marvelous love. He protected her and He directed her step by step, allowing others to help meet her needs, and in turn she has been a blessing to many people all across the world. Purchase the book here.
Where I get books to read
I read 90% of my books on the Scribd app. I pay $9.99 a month, and I can read or listen to whatever I want on the app. (You don't own the books permanently, but you can read or listen to anything as long as you have a subscription.) They have just about everything on my book list available. Rarely do they not have a book that I'm wanting to read or listen to. I really love it because I spend far less than I would to purchase new books, while at the same time keeping my home clutter free. (Click here to try it free for 60 days.)
Other things I did this month:
I busted out my huge 10 qt. Instant Pot for the first time. I have two 6 qt. pots that I use daily, but I had been wanting a larger one so that I can make enough food for our family of 7 to actually have leftovers!
I was able to fit 35 potatoes in here and make a humongous batch of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. The 10 qt. is definitely going to be a welcome addition to my kitchen (even though it is a beast to find a place for!) Get the 10 qt. Instant Pot here.
I also loaded up my freezer with another huge haul of meat from ButcherBox.
The longer I have my subscription, the more I love it! I've been able to try more and more types of meat, and have been impressed with every single thing. This time we filled our freezer with:
We are not well off; however, with Butcherbox we can afford to purchase quality, grass-fed/pasture raised meat. I posted all the details about how to get the best deal on a subscription. Read that here: How to Get the Best Deal on a Butcherbox Subscription.
Homeschooling has been taking up more time than ever lately. On one end I am trying to get my middle schooler ready for high school, and on the other end I am doing preschool with my youngest.
Fun fact: I made this set of flashcards for my oldest child nine years ago, and now here I am using them for the last time. It's amazing how quickly time goes by.
Goals for this month:
Honestly I just want to enjoy the month of December with my kids, while still being consistent with our homeschooling, and all of the daily routines I already try to stick to (eating healthfully, spending daily time with God, etc.)
Christmas is all about Jesus (LIFE is all about Him!) and I want to have plenty of room in my mind to keep my gaze upon Him.
View this post on Instagram