Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow for Christmas

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:31 PM 0 comments



Actually got a white Christmas this year (very rare in eastern Virginia.) My cousin shared this great picture, and it made me smile. So, I'm sharing with you. Hope you have a blessed day, snowy or not.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All Moms

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:33 PM 0 comments
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Luke 2:1-21

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Organization

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:33 AM 0 comments
After



Before





I'm one of those people who is organized in spurts. I hyper-focus on one thing and make sure that's organized, letting any number of other things slip. I don't like things chaotic and in disarray, I just haven't figured out how to keep up with everything.








My most recent neglected item was the closet off of my office nook. My office is a converted closet and had a cubby hole to the side that my hubby opened up and made a new closet. It's great, but didn't have many tools for organizing. And stuff keeps coming in I don't know what to do with. It's really easy stuff things away in a closet. But, recently it had gotten out of control. School stuff, art supplies, Christmas and pre-purchased Birthday presents, videos, books, paperwork, etc., etc., etc.








So, when my mom came up with my nephews (good entertainment for my kids) I asked if she'd be willing to help. It only took a few hours and an extra pair of hands to make the amazing transformation. I feel immeasurably better about the space and that I can actually use it now. I have other things to be tackles and organized, but I've learned, to maintain balance and create a peaceful environment, I don't have to do it all at once. I only have to tackle one project at a time and not give up.








Monday, December 20, 2010

Joy in Christmas

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:41 AM 0 comments
Life is busy. And then the holidays start. And life gets busier. Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration and enjoyment, remembering the birth of Jesus and spending time with family. But often times, the extra stuff - shopping, cards, wrapping, parties, etc. - adds more stress than enjoyment to life.

If this is the case for you, I recommend stopping to catch your breath. These moments are few and far between and won't happen on their own. They have to be sought after and grabbed hold of. These are the moments you do nothing but squeeze, tickle, and play with your child. These are the moments you set aside to take your older child out shopping or for a "date." These are the moments you make cookies simply to spend time in the kitchen together. These are the moments you sit and watch a classic Christmas movie from beginning to end. These are the moments you chase the millions of things you have left to do from your mind and actually enjoy the Christmas musical at church.

We often let the extra expectations of us ruin our holiday season. Are we going to buy something that everyone likes? Did I wrap it just right? Did I forget to send a card to someone? Am I going to offend someone if I don't make it to their party? But, these are not the things Christmas is about. They are fun, or at least they are meant to be, but when they become the pull of Christmas, things have gotten out of order.

In order to find joy in Christmas, Christ has to be put first and mas has to be secondary. Otherwise, you have the proverbial cart before the horse, which will steal your joy. According to one source, mas means festival. We have lots of festivities during the Christmas season, but they tend to take over and take our focus off celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Christ child. Whenever you're not experiencing joy (during the holidays or any time of year), intentionally put your focus back on Jesus and He will give you joy.

Take time to play Christmas music, read different versions of the Christmas story, share what you're thankful for about this time of year, etc. Grab hold of the joy freely given us and go along for the ride of a lifetime!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas gift ideas for People hard to buy for

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:38 PM 0 comments
Sorry for the long title, but I had a hard time trimming it down. Like I sometimes have a hard time finding presents for certain people. These people shall remain nameless because it doesn't matter who they are, and I believe we all have those people in our lives. The ones who buy whatever they want, or don't want much, or plain don't give you a clue what they might want or need.

Over the years I've had to become more and more creative, especially when on a tight budget. One of the things I do for family members (especially grandparents) is create photo albums. I asked for a scrapbook program several years ago for my birthday and use it to make inexpensive gifts. I know there are a ton of websites to do online albums, but I can never get a price without signing up. Also, because we have four albums to produce (3 sets of grandparents and 1 great-grandparent) it's a whole lot cheaper for me to buy the paper and ink and print out the same album four times. Best I can estimate it, it costs me about the same for 4 as I'd be spending online for one. Could be wrong, but it works for me.

Other great ideas can be found a websites like Wal-mart photo and Walgreen's. They have great, inexpensive gift ideas that grandparents, aunts, and uncles love. Pictures on coffee mugs, travel mugs, puzzles, mouse pads, and ornaments. Some items you can even do annually with updated pictures. Others (like a throw blanket) are probably a one time thing, but still great ideas.

This year, I diverted from the photo gifts and started looking for perishables. These are good because they get used up and aren't one more thing to find a place for. There are gift baskets and towers from $20 up - something for all budgets. And something for all tastebuds. at 1-800-flowers I found great options. They have baskets with fruit, candy, sauces, chocolate covered fruit, and mixed baskets. It's a great idea for the hard-to-by-for person(s) on your list.

So, if you haven't finished shopping and don't want to brave the frigid temps outside, let you fingers do the shopping and have it shipped strait to who it's for. Only 7 days of online shopping left!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Helpful Tools for Christmas

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:40 AM 0 comments
I almost wish I hadn't already done my Christmas cards. Or that I had some other great Christmas craft to do. I might just come up with one.

I'm working on photo albums for the grandparents and didn't want to use any of the graphics that came with my scrapbook program. (You know, after you've used the same program for half a dozen years or so, they get old.) So, I had a brainstorm - google Christmas fine art images. And I found a fantastic website that has loads of free Christmas clip art - good quality and variety. And you know me, if I find something worth sharing, I simply have to share it!

So, if you're in need of some Christmas clip art or are looking for gift ideas, head over to christmasgifts.com and check it out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Picture Perfect

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:49 PM 0 comments
Do you take pictures of your children/family for Christmas cards? I do. Every year. And every year, I go into it with expectations that I can take the perfect picture. With all my children (ages 7, 5, 3 & 1). Standing exactly where I want them to stand. Smiling nicely without making funny faces. And all after I've dressed them up perfectly. And once again, my expectations are not met.

This year, after getting the kids dressed up twice, arguing with the sun to go back behind the clouds so the lighting will be right, and taking 47 pictures in 3 different locations, I still didn't get the perfect one. So, I've given up.

I'm grateful for photoshop, and online ordering, and a decent picture, but I've decided to give up on the perfect picture. I feel like one of those Christmas commercials where no one behaves and you end up with crazy pictures. I'm thinking next year I'd like that program where you can steal a good face from one picture and add it to another. Then, maybe all four of my children will be smiling, looking at the camera, and be in perfect light.

But for now, I'm ordering my B+ picture. And I'm sure everyone (especially family members out of state whom we don't get to see often) will love them. I'll take my own advice, not strive for perfection, but for excellence, and have a cup of coffee while I attach each picture to the 250 cards I'll be sending out this week.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Great Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:02 AM 0 comments
Are you scrambling to come up with presents for those you love? Are you on a limited budget? Do you have people who can buy whatever they want, making them impossible to buy for? There are lots of things we can do for our family and friends that they will appreciate without breaking the bank.

One thing I do is bake. Cookies, breads, etc. Not as many people take the time to bake these days and most appreciate homemade items. You can find lots of great recipes at the tips of your fingers at websites like allrecipes and food network, and by simply setting aside one day this season, you can make a miriad of gifts.

Don't have the time to bake? Put together pre-measured, ready-to-bake gift jars. You can use old jars or buy new canning jars inexpensively and fill them with a variety of mixes. Make your own pancake or waffle mix (which won't have all those preservatives of store bought ones). Put together a flavored coffee mix, hot chocolate mix complete with marshmellows, or cookie mix. Find many great ideas and "recipes" at websites like kitchen link.

Not a fan of the kitchen? More of a crafty person? There are many ideas to use cheap supplies or things you have around your house. Gather some pinecones from around your neighborhood. Save/gather items you don't use any more (milk cartons, craft sticks, old CD's and cases) and turn them into something useful. Websites like make stuff have fantastic ideas on the cheap.

Still not up your alley? Or time lacking? Create a personalized gift certificate. Offer babysitting, a homecooked meal, help cleaning, a trip out for coffee. Look at the needs of those people you love and see how you can help meet them.

I've probably missed about a million other great ideas, but knowing how difficult it can be sometimes, I hope I've helped at least stir the creative pot and send you in some helpful directions. Merry Christmas, and happy presenting!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Avoid Stress during the Holidays

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:02 AM 0 comments
I've been fortunate to be asked to speak to a local MOPS group about balance this month. I'm fortunate not only for the opportunity, but the reminders of what I need to do to stay balanced during this time of crazy, busy, extra responsibilities.

As moms, we have a wealth of daily responsibilities - cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework, diapers, potty training, character reinforcement, errand running, and being Mom taxi. Then the holidays come and we add shopping for presents, wrapping those presents, going to and hosting parties, Christmas cards, etc. All these things are fun and great, but we often wonder how to fit those things in on top of everything we do already.

First, allow yourself to let some things go. While your family still needs to be fed and clothed, surely there are some items that can wait until after the holidays. My ironing is currently piled up in the laundry room and has been on my to do list for a while, but truly, it can wait until after the family Christmas party we're hosting this weekend. I'm a homeschooling mom, and we haven't completely given up school, but we're on a reduced holiday schedule. What can you let go?

Second, realize that you can't do it all. It's okay to say "no" - even to good things. If that good thing causes you stress, then it's not ultimately a good thing.

Third, don't forget to take care of yourself. Take time, at least once a week, to do something for you. Watch a chick flick, take a bubble bath, get or give yourself a pedicure, read a novel, get a massage. Most importantly, spend time with God. Ask Him for strength to get through this busy season and follow His guidance in what to do each day.

Which brings me to the last item: focus on one day at a time. It is helpful to plan ahead (I don't need to be going grocery shopping the morning of my dinner party), but once we have an overall plan, we should focus only on today. After all, today's the only day we can live out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top Secret Key to Successful Marriage

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:17 PM 0 comments
I will not make rule number five that marriage takes God. I believe that the best, healthiest marriages are based on a solid foundation in God. I believe that the best way to grow in your marriage is to grow in your relationship with God. But if I were to say that I’ve never seen two people enjoy marriage for a lifetime without God being a part of their lives, we would all know that it was untrue. If I were to say that all marriages where both people are believers are happy and successful, we would also know that this is untrue. I never want to diminish the impact that God can have on our marriage, but as with everything, I want to be honest. God has certain rules for living and those rules apply to everyone. This includes the rules, or principles, for relationships. If we work at it, have the proper perspective, enjoy it, and commit to it, it will succeed almost every time. What God can add to a marriage is basically what he can add to an individual’s life. We can do a fairly good job of filling the God-shaped hole in our lives and in our marriages, but true joy and fulfillment – individually and in our marriage – will only come with Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Working on, having the proper perspective about, being committed to, communicating effectively, being flexible, forgiving, and having fun in your marriage are the pieces of the healthy marriage puzzle. Making God first in your life and submitting yourself and your marriage to Him is the frame which enhances the puzzle and makes it a masterpiece.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage VII

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:15 PM 0 comments
The final “rule” for a healthy marriage is fun. Even though at first having fun may sound easier than the previous rules, it is often just as difficult to maintain. Life gets busy and things happen between two people that distract them from each other and their relationship. Therefore, fun often gets forgotten.

Chances are when you first dated your husband, you had a lot of fun together. Your relationship most likely focused on getting to know each other and having fun together. Even after the wedding takes place the fun tends to continue, at least for a while. However, as life adds responsibilities, stress and tension increase also. As stress and tension build, the distance between husband and wife tends to increase. So, even if you work on your marriage, make the effort to keep a proper perspective, and have made a solid commitment to your husband, if you don’t ever have fun together you’ll be more like partners of a business venture rather than partners a loving marriage.

I don’t know about you, but I desire so much more from my husband than just someone to go through life experiences and share child-rearing with. I want a partner, friend, lover, and companion. Life is not near as care free as when my husband and I were dating, and therefore we must be intentional about having fun together. Some of that fun is as parents. We do fun things at home and away from home with our children. We have fun together as a family. But we also have fun together as a couple. Sometimes this means staying up late to watch a movie after the kids go to bed. Sometimes it means sitting on the front porch alone while the kids watch a movie or are playing nicely. Sometimes it means recruiting a babysitter to go out to dinner. Sometimes it means lying in bed just holding hands and sharing what’s been going on lately. Many couples we know take a few days each year for an adult vacation. Others send the kids to the grandparents’ houses for a few days or weeks. Having fun doesn’t have to take a lot of money or time, but it generally takes a lot of planning and creativity. However, if having fun together becomes a priority in your marriage, it will become more natural. And the rewards will far outweigh any effort that is put into making time for fun.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Sunday, November 28, 2010

YA Book Earns an "A"

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:53 PM 0 comments
Having read several Nancy Drew books with my daughter, I was pleasantly surprised at the caliber of writing in Kathleen Fuller’s The Secrets Beneath. I expected a teen mystery with some Godly perspective thrown in and got so much more. From the beginning of the book, I found myself pulled into the characters and their situations. The characters are well-developed and are easy to relate to, especially for young readers.

The Secret Beneath had me wondering what was going on from the very beginning. It is written with enough intrigue to keep the reader along for the ride without being frustrated that you’re not getting enough information. Also, several times I wanted to scream at the main character, Bekah, to not do what she’s about to do – to me a sure sign that the book has drawn me in. Even though this book (the second in the series) was written as a Young Adult novel, I, as an adult reader, thoroughly enjoyed it and am confident that my daughter will receive the first and next books in the series, after I’ve had a chance to preview them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage VI

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:12 AM 2 comments
Forgiveness. Your husband will irritate you, frustrate you and hurt you. After all, he’s only human. When these things happen, however, you have a choice to make. You either hold onto it and let it build a divide between you and your husband or you let it go, forgive him and add to the bond you have with him. Forgiveness is always the best choice: for you, for him, and for your marriage.

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17: 14

You may be thinking, “but what he did was wrong! And I’m supposed to just forgive him?” Yes. And no. We are called to always forgive, but there’s nothing that says forgiveness is easy or simple. Often it’s not a matter of “just forgiving.” It’s about processing, dealing with, and forgiving.

If the source of conflict is minor (an irritating habit, being late, viewing things differently) then it may be as much about changing expectations so they’re more realistic and accept your husband’s short-comings as it is about forgiveness. There is an element of forgiveness, however. You may need to forgive him for disappointing you. You may need to forgive him for not holding to his word. You may need to forgive him for not being perfect. Although these instances are generally minor, they add up when they’re held on to.

Even small offenses and conflicts it’s essential to your relationship to forgive and let go. You may need to deal with some of these issues together. You may need to decide that things are the way they are, that they’re not that big of a deal, and choose not to let them bother you. At first letting go even of little things takes a conscious effort and practice. But with practice, forgiving the little things and letting them go becomes easier and easier.

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers overall wrongs. Proverbs 10:12

Bigger issues take a little more of a process to forgive. Once the hurt has been acknowledged (which sometimes happens immediately, and at other times happens more slowly), the wrong action that caused the hurt needs to be acknowledged as wrong. Because you choose the past of forgiveness doesn’t mean a wrong action is okay or is to be overlooked. It does mean that you choose not to hold that action against your husband once it’s dealt with and forgiven. If you define who your spouse is by this action, use it to manipulate him, or bring it up at a later time, forgiveness hasn’t occurred. It will likely take discussing the issue with your husband, may take talking it through with a trusted third party (e.g. pastor, counselor), and it will definitely take prayer. The process may be quick, or it may be slow, but it is essential to having a healthy marriage.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Monday, November 22, 2010

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:05 AM 0 comments
Flexibility. Another piece to the healthy marriage puzzle is flexibility. If this piece of the puzzle is ignored, this rule broken, your marriage may not be in jeopardy of dissolving, but the joy and rewards of marriage will be stolen from it. Inflexibility, stubbornness, and general “it’s gonna be my way” attitude lead to frustration and conflict. Flexibility, on the other hand, fosters fun and enjoyment in a marriage.

Why is flexibility so important? Simply because a marriage is made up of two people who have their own backgrounds, their own baggage, their own likes and dislikes, their own way of perceiving the world, and their own ideas about, well, everything. All these things that make us who we are and who our husband fell in love with may also irritate him. And vice versa.
One thing I’ve had to learn to be flexible about is being flexible. I’m a planner and an organizer (which should be obvious from chapter one.) I like to have a plan and follow through with it. My husband likes to keep all options open all the time so he can make the best choice when it comes time. Needless to say, this has caused some conflict. Eventually I learned that he told me about upcoming events to keep that option open and he accepted that some things just have to be planned. We both learned to be more flexible in how we perceived plans and met somewhere in the middle.

The areas of potential inflexibility are endless. What types of things are served for dinner, who prepares it, and when it’s served. The level of expected housekeeping and who’s responsible for it. How money is spent. What types of vacations are taken and when. What type of extra-curricular activities are okay and how much is okay (for adults and for children.) How to hand family functions. Like I said, the issues are limitless. We each have our own issues, some more important than others. In choosing to be flexible, you’re not saying that your perspective isn’t important. Or that you aren’t important. What flexibility says is that your relationship is more important than holding fast to your ideas about this particular issue. Some issues are going to be more important to you and you will stand more firmly on those. However, these issues should be carefully considered, chosen wisely, and communicated effectively.

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. Proverbs 17:1

There will be a host of things that you’ll discover aren’t worth arguing over. Having a healthy, joyful relationship with your husband is more important. Does it really matter if the kids drink sweet tea at supper? As long as bills are being paid, does it matter if he splurges at the hardware store once in a while? These are some of the small things that provide opportunities for flexibility. As you become more flexible towards your husband, theoretically he will naturally become more flexible to you. Then you have the wonderful, albeit complex, dance of give and take that can enhance your marriage even more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage V

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:03 AM 0 comments
The tools are first to recognize the differences between the way men and women communicate, second to listen, and third to respect what’s being said. Clarification is also important. As the examples I gave before and plenty you can probably think of make it clear, clarification is very helpful. I often repeat back to my husband what he’s said to me. “So..” and I repeat what I heard. It may sound silly, and sometimes he tells me that all I’m doing is repeating what he said, but it works. I tell him, “just clarifying, honey. Don’t want to misunderstand you.”

I statements are also important in communication. These are statements like, “It upsets me when you’re running late and don’t call,” and “I don’t like it when you ignore me.” The alternative statements that are unhealthy include character attacking and blame-placing. They are statements like, “You’re so inconsiderate and selfish. You can’t even take a second to call when you’re late,” and “You make me crazy when you ignore me.” Positive words and encouragement are also essential elements to healthy communication. That doesn’t mean that you lie, or hold back things that bother you, but that you share those things in as positive a way as possible. It also means that you make a conscious effort to speak words of praise and encouragement to your husband as much as possible. Accusatory, negative and bitter words reek havoc on your relationship. Uplifting, positive and loving words will increase affection between you and your husband. It’s your choice how you use your words. [Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage IV

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:01 AM 0 comments
Another piece of that puzzle is healthy communication. We all have communication issues. Sometimes we feel like we’ve said one thing, while the person we’re talking to has heard something completely different. I remember one time when my husband and I were dating and planned on going to lunch together. I went to meet him at the place we agreed we’d eat at that day, but he never showed up. On my way back to the office I got a call to find out what happened. He’d shown up at my office to pick me up to take me to lunch. We made a commitment to communicate better. That was about 13 years ago. Just the other week I told my husband that the kids and I would be going to a friend’s house and he’d have the evening to himself. When I called him at four in the afternoon to hook up with him for supper he was surprised. He understood that he had the whole day to himself. I’d said “evening.” He’d heard “day.” Obviously, we’re still working on communication.

Healthy communication fosters growth and closeness in any relationship, especially a marriage. However, communication within a marriage is quite possibly the most challenging. Not only do you have to communicate more often than in almost any other relationship, you also have to deal with the dramatically different ways men and women communicate. In their book Men are like Waffles Women are like Spaghetti, Bill and Pam Ferrelll highlight these differences. Their research and years of working with couples taught them that when men start a conversation it’s meant to be about that topic and that topic only. Women, on the other hand, process while talking and think of all the things related to the topic the discussion began with. The best way to deal with the different ways men and women communicate and deal with conversations is to listen. You know, the two ears one mouth thing. We should listen twice as often as we talk. This doesn’t accomplish better communication. It only leads to frustration.

If our men truly say very little compared to us, don’t we want to pay closer attention to them? If they say little they’re going to be choosy about what they say and it will hold more meaning. Listening to him is a form of communication in itself. It communicates that we respect what he has to say. It communicates that we believe what he has to say is valid and important to us. If he feels heard and respected, he’s more likely to tell us more and listen to us when we talk. This is important on surface level communication (details, thoughts, and opinions of life) and essential when communicating on deeper levels (the vulnerable issues of life.) As we communicate on those deeper levels there’s a greater chance for miscommunication and conflict. There’s also a greater chance for deeper intimacy and growth if we utilize healthy communication tools.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage III

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:59 AM 0 comments
The next “rule” of a healthy marriage is that it takes commitment. Commitment is a characteristic that is not revered in our culture. It is more likely to be made fun of and attributed to inconsequential items. Commercials constantly encourage people to make a lifetime commitment to a brand of car, or phone company, or even a sandwich. In reality of how we live, however, people rarely stay committed to things that really matter. The divorce rate for first marriages has been holding steady at about fifty percent for several decades now. “Til death do us part” has become “until I don’t feel like it anymore.”

Any time we enter into something without the mindset of being committed to it, we are much less likely to put effort into it and much more likely to quit. I remember planning a group with some co-counselors several years back. We discussed offering the group for free or charging a minimal fee. One of the counselors shared a study that found that participants in programs were more likely to attend more sessions and complete the program if they had something invested in it, even if it was just fifteen dollars. The more you have invested in something, the more committed you are to it. The more committed you are to something, the more you’ll invest in it. It’s a positive cycle that holds true in marriage.

The commitment part it your mindset. Most people have the mindset of being committed to their spouse when they get married, or they probably wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. But somehow over time and through difficult circumstances people begin to lose the “forever” mindset and start thinking that it might be better if the marriage ended. As soon as these thoughts start, the spiral towards divorce begins. Even though there is never a point of no return, it’s better to stop the spiral before it gets started.

Everyone has bad days, arguments, and negative thoughts. The key is to focus on the good days, argue less and more effectively, and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This is an overflow from having the right perspective, but our thoughts about our spouse and commitment to our marriage are closely linked. If we reaffirm our commitment to our spouse with positive thoughts about our marriage (thinking about the good parts of the marriage, the positive traits of our husband, and the fact that we thought enough about him at one time to make the commitment of a lifetime) we are more likely to put effort into our relationship with him. As we put effort into the relationship, we will begin to reap the rewards of marriage and feel more committed to it. Each of these things are a piece of the puzzle which helps to make up the whole picture of a healthy marriage.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:56 PM 0 comments
Another “rule” of a healthy marriage is that it takes a proper perspective. Being aware of our thoughts, words, and actions is a large part of having the proper perspective. In the first chapter the importance of being conscience of and choosing a positive perspective was introduced. In the subsequent chapters the concept of perspective has been expanded on. The importance of perspective that we have in any given circumstance and any given relationship cannot be overstated. When looking at people who crumble under difficult circumstances compared to those who seem to persevere and become stronger, the tangible difference is perspective. The same is true for relationships, especially marriages. Marriages don’t fail because someone had an affair, there are financial troubles, or people just grew apart. Marriages fail because husbands and wives began having thoughts like, “I can’t take this anymore,” “I can’t stand the way she…,” “He’ll never change,” or “I’ll never live up to his/her expectations, so why even try.” Instead of brushing these thoughts out the door with the rest of the trash, they were allowed to take root and cultivated, watered and given light to grow until they overtake the healthy, positive thoughts that used to reside in the minds of spouses.

In his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, John Gottman states it this way. “It’s hardly surprising that what you think about someone often determines how you’ll treat them. But when it comes to marriage, this simple truth has huge consequences. The assumptions you make about your spouse and your relationship can determine the state of your marriage’s health. Marital problems easily arise if your thoughts and feelings are distorted.” So what are distorted thoughts and feelings? How do we know if they’re distorted?

In his book, Gottman gives examples of how given the same situation different people will react differently. Those reactions, whether positive , neutral, or negative, begin in our thoughts. What we think about a person and the situation – what we perceive are the motives and feelings behind what the other person is doing – effects how we will act and react. It’s good to regularly take stock of your relationship with your husband. Are most of your interactions positive or negative? When you think about your husband, do you focus on everything he doesn’t do, or does wrong? Or do you focus on the things he does for you and the kids? When talking about him and to him do you build him up or tear him down? It’s good to ask yourself these questions regularly. As you answer them, measure your answers against a Biblical perspective of marriage. A Biblical perspective can be obtained and maintained through completing women’s Bible Studies and searching scripture for what it has to say about marriage and relationships.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage I

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:50 PM 0 comments
Rules for a Healthy Marriage

The first rule of a healthy marriage is that it takes work. Sometimes marriage takes grueling, sweat-inducing, grimy work. One of the biggest lies that our culture produces and cultivates is that if a relationship is built on true love it will naturally grow and always be wonderful. The problem is that there is only one true love, and that is the love of Christ. Any other love is imperfect. Imperfect people love imperfectly. Times will come when we don’t feel very loved or very much like loving. It’s those times especially that we have a choice to make. We can decide to make the effort and continue to act in loving ways, or we can let our feelings rule our actions. It takes a choice to treat someone in a loving manner when we don’t feel like it. This is when love feels like work. And it is. But just as we are rewarded by other work we do when we don’t feel like it (whether it is actually going to work and getting a paycheck, or cleaning the house and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, or working in the yard and enjoying the beauty of it) we will be rewarded every time we choose to act out of love.

Work in marriage also comes into play because our lives our busy. The first chapter of this book laid the foundation of the importance of prioritizing and focusing on the most important things. In our culture, and especially when children arrive, a healthy, happy marriage will not just happen. It’s very easy to get busy, get distracted and forget to feed your marriage. Working in your marriage, therefore, also means taking time and making time for your marriage. This may mean planning regular dates, turning the TV off once in a while to talk (about big and little things), going for a walk together, sitting down over the budget, giving small gifts, intentionally giving words of affirmation, cooking a favorite meal, or whatever it seems your relationship needs at the moment or on an ongoing basis. Each relationship, just like each person, is unique and has unique needs. But every relationship needs to be cared for and fed.

One additional thing I feel the need to mention in this section is a complaint that women often make. The complaint is: why is it my job to put in all the effort/work into the marriage? The answer is pretty straight forward. It’s not our job as the wife to be the only one working in the marriage. Marriage is made up of two people and takes effort on two people’s part. Contrary to popular belief, however, it is rarely, if ever, a 50-50 venture. When we expect it to be and try to keep score, we generally find ourselves frustrated, upset, and feeling negative about the relationship. We instead would benefit greatly from willingly and joyfully putting effort into our relationship with our husband. This doesn’t absolve him from also putting effort in. But we’re not responsible for what he does. We’re responsible for what we do. We are to make sure that our thoughts, words, and actions are in line with God’s will and word. When we as wives do that, it is amazing how much our feelings and attitude toward our husband will become more and more positive. And as we become more positive in our relationship, invariably, so will our husband.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rewards of Marriage II

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:47 PM 0 comments
The second reward in marriage is companionship. Our husband is supposed to be our companion. Someone to experience life with. Someone to share life with. Someone to hurt when we hurt and rejoice when we rejoice. Someone to hold our hand. Someone to stand in front of us when we need protecting, beside us when we need a friend, and behind us when we need extra support. They are a unique companion, though. Our husband has never been and is never supposed to be a girlfriend. Although we share our lives with him, it is in a unique way. When we marry our relationships with our girlfriends change, which they should. Our husband becomes our primary human relationship. However, we should not try to replace our girlfriends by treating our husband as one. I sometimes find myself sharing something with my husband that he absolutely could not care less about. It’s not because he’s uncaring or callous. It’s just something that doesn’t interest him. This usually happens when I haven’t been spending time with my girlfriends and I’m starved for adult conversation. (So, as you can see, fostering and maintaining your female friendships is actually a benefit to your relationship with your husband.) There are other ways we treat our husband as a girlfriend: in what we expect him to say, how we expect him to act, and some things we expect him to do. Dr. Laura Schlessinger states that the “major mistake women make in communication with their husbands is to imagine that their husbands are supposed to be their girlfriends.” When we do this, we are not respecting who God made this man - as a man and as an individual.

Our culture has become one which consistently demasculinates men. They aren’t respected for their differences, but instead degraded for their differences. Men and women are different. Most people realize this. What they don’t realize is that this is a good thing! I love being a woman and I love that my man is a man. As I’ve learned to accept my husband as he is (not being able to multi-task, not expressing himself verbally, not feeling things the way I do) and celebrate who he is as a man (being really good at concentrating on what he’s doing, wrapping his arms around me when I need it, being steady in almost any given situation) our relationship has grown closer and closer. Because we not only love each other, but also respect each other for who we are, who God made us, the rewards in our marriage have steadily increased.

Marriage can be, and should be, rewarding. However, those rewards don’t come automatically. You don’t have to look far and wide to see marriages in which the husband and/or wife are not reaping the rewards of marriage (even some of those which last a lifetime.) Just as with other things in life, rewards in marriage increase when we follow the plan and the rules. Many of us don’t like rules because we see them as restrictive. But rules, regulations, and laws are put in place for our protection and our benefit. The “rules” of marriage below aren’t meant to be viewed as strict “have to’s” for you to add to any list. On the contrary, they are meant to be keys that will unlock doors to a more rewarding, joyful marriage.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rewards of Marriage I

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:44 AM 0 comments
So what are the rewards of marriage supposed to be? Before that question is answered, I will discuss one thing that is not a reward of marriage. Marriage is NOT supposed to be fulfilling. I’m not saying that marriage isn’t supposed to add things to your life, that’s what this whole section is about – what a healthy marriage adds to your life. What I am saying is that if you approach marriage (or any relationship) as starting with an empty cup, expecting your husband (or anyone else) to fill that cup, and keep it filled for the rest of your life, you will be greatly disappointed.

We all remember the famous line the movie Jerry McGuire: “You complete me.” Sentimental. Sweet. Charming. Completely misguided. And dangerous. The idea of needing another person to complete you will always leave you wanting. This is because we are all human and are therefore imperfect. We make mistakes. We hurt the people we love the most. We will not ever be able to provide everything that our loved ones need. To expect to be able to do so, or expect someone else to do so for us, leads us down a path of disillusion and never-ending disappointments. Instead of looking for our husband to complete us, we need to look to Christ to define who we are, to provide everything we need, and fill us up. We are to see our husband as a wonderful addition to our lives. He’s the icing on the cake.

My husband gave me the perfect Valentine’s card the first two years we were dating (yes, he gave me the same card two years in a row; without realizing it.) It talked about being perfect for each other because we complimented each other. And that’s how relationships are supposed to be. Complimentary. Thus, the first reward of marriage is not completing each other, but complimenting each other. My husband and I balance each other out very well – I have the personality tests to prove it. I am very organized (when my case of mommy brain isn’t too severe) and my husband is very flexible and spontaneous. I feel things very deeply, my husband thinks things through in a very logical way. We both love being around other people, and we both love being alone. As we have learned to appreciate and cooperate with each other in our differences instead of looking at them in a negative light, we have reaped the rewards of living in compliment to each other.

It is sometimes frustrating, however, in instances such as when I want the kids in bed on time and he’s enjoying a romp on the floor with them. On the other hand, he’s also helped me to stop watching the clock and doing chores and get on the floor for a good tickling match, too. We do sometimes clash in how we see things and how we want things done, but those are the things we work out in love. “Wives need to remind themselves that when their husbands do something differently from how they would do it themselves, it does not constitute a breach of sanity or a display of contempt, it is merely a different way to do something.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Great Christmas Book for Kids

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:27 PM 0 comments
The good books just keep on coming. This one is perfect as a Christmas present for the little ones in your life.

I'm always looking for Biblically based Christmas stories for my children. I am thrilled with Little Star by Anthony Destefano, as it gives a fresh and creative perspective on the birth of Jesus.

Tears came to my eyes when I came to the part of the story where the star gets it. "... Little Star was the only one to understand the king's message. His message was love." What a wonderful way to capture the purpose behind this once ever event.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Secrets to a Great Marriage

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:41 PM 0 comments
This is mainly for married women, but not just for married women. There are many things I learned about being a wife that I wished I had learned before I became one. In the more than seven years that I was in relationship with my husband before he became my husband I did and said many destructive things. I am very fortunate (and grateful) that God taught me early in my marriage what His perspective and expectations are about my attitude, words, and actions towards my husband. As with anything, it is a journey. There are days when my heart is in the right place and there are days when it is not. As I strive to follow God’s regulations for my marriage I have seen and tasted the wonderful rewards of having a Godly perspective on my marriage and of my husband. I love my husband more today than I ever thought possible.
Does it really matter? Some people may ask. With the number of single parent families today, is a healthy marriage really important to moms and their children?

The answer, unequivocally, is YES. Study after study has shown that a healthy marriage has a huge positive impact on children.

Rewards of a Healthy Marriage
Marriage is supposed to be rewarding. Marriage is supposed to be fun. Marriage is supposed to be full of love. I am often completely amazed at what God has done in my marriage. Not that it has ever been tumultuous. It’s never been rocky or in danger of ending. I can honestly say that we’ve never been even close to that point. On the contrary, by the grace of God, as good as it was in the beginning, it has steadily gotten better. My heart often overflows with love for my husband and I sit in awe at the increase of love God has added to my marriage. I never imagined that I would love my husband more and more as time passed in our marriage. I’ve seen too many marriages fall apart and studied marriage enough to know that of love does not always increase.

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children.

Don’t get me wrong, however. I’ll never claim that my marriage is perfect. Of course it isn’t – it’s made up of two sinful, imperfect people. There have been bad moments and bad days. There are still times when I’m not really happy with my husband and he’s not really happy with me. But we have learned to work through those moments and those days and grow together. We have learned that it’s more important to focus on what’s going right than what we’re doing wrong. And we’ve learned that it takes work to maintain a healthy relationship, especially with several small children. We’ve also learned that putting the effort into our marriage is worth it. The rewards far outweigh the costs.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A book to buy, read, and give away

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:02 PM 0 comments
As you can tell by now, I’m an avid reader and love sharing great books with others. Sometimes, I wish I could by 20 copies of a great book and hand them out at will. The most recent book put in my hands is one of those. It is “On This Day in Christian History” by Robert J. Morgan. This daily devotional is full of history briefs of saints, martyrs, and heroes. Some of them, you’ve probably heard of. Others will be completely new. All of the stories are interesting, encouraging, and inspiring. The book holds true to its promise.

If you ever doubt that God does amazing things with ordinary people, this book will convince you otherwise. These 365 stories, each highlighting a different individual who lived radically for God, are about ordinary people. It tells of people born in every type of circumstance and living during all time periods, dating back to the second century.

The key theme is that anyone can live a life that shines for God. The history that is included in the stories, how individuals fit into changes in the church, reformations, and missions, is an added bonus. This book is well written and the only problem is you won’t want to stop at reading one a day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Addressing our Hubbies

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:38 PM 0 comments
As I write this I want to let you know that I am well aware that there are moms that will be reading this whom are in all sorts of situations. Many moms are married to the man they were married to before they had children. Many moms are married to a man who is not the father of their children. Many moms aren’t married due to divorce, death or other circumstances. Many moms are married but separated for a variety of reasons. Our family and marital situations are as varied as our personalities are. As we begin to talk about our other relationships, especially our most important earthly relationship, my goal is to encourage you in the relationships you have. I hope to help you to understand the importance of relationships built on Biblical principles. I hope to provide a view of relationships that shows they are meant to benefit us as moms, those we’re in relationships with, and our children.

We’ve talked about the importance of friendships with other moms (and girlfriends.) There, I believe, the foundation for the blessings of such relationships was laid. God created us as relational beings and we are to thrive and grow through and in our relationships. Our female friends are an important part of our lives. They help keep us on track, support us, and increase the joy we experience in life. As important and beneficial as our girlfriends are to our lives, our husband should be much more. Our relationship with our husband, for those who have one, should be our highest priority human relationship, but too often it is not.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

It breaks my heart how often I hear women say negative things about and to their husbands. Other women don’t speak badly to or about their husbands, but don’t pay a lot of attention to them either. Many women are so involved in their careers and/or their children that they don’t foster and enjoy their marital relationship. It often seems as if husbands are extraneous, attested to by the attitudes of many wives, the divorce rate, and the number of women choosing to have children without an involved father. Please know that I understand that there are women who really are in bad marriages, women whom have very legitimate reasons to get out of a marriage, and women who find themselves in bad situations. My heart is not to pour condemnation on anyone who has ended up in any of these circumstances. There is just a trend that has happened in our culture which has had severe negative effects on us collectively and individually. And I believe, that one by one, in making sure that we shift our perspectives to be Biblical, we can begin to experience the fruit and blessings of healthy, loving relationships with our husband.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Website for You

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:31 PM 0 comments
I came across another great website last week. I'm always up for educational and fun, and with my 7-year-olds newfound desire to be on the computer, I searched out something new for her. What we found was www.coolmath-games.com. I even got on and quizzed myself on the game where you have to name the states. I didn't do to badly, but next time I'll have to try the hard level instead of easy. :)

I highly recommend this sight for those who have computer-kids. (But always remember, limited time is best, even when the games are educational. Nothing can replace creative and active play!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Children's Bible Review

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:24 AM 0 comments
Did you ever wish there was a Bible for your children that they could read on their own? Not one that is a paraphrase of a selection of stories, but one that is a translation specifically for them. I recently received the International Children's Bible - Big Red - with updated graphics. This Bible is perfect for my seven year old, who's beyond toddler Bibles but not quite ready for adult translations. The updated graphics aren't my favorite, because I don't like the new style of graphics, but they're done well and I can see that they'd attract little ones' eyes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Great Deal

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:38 PM 0 comments
Interested in Busch Garden's Christmas Town? Go to their twitter page to get the promotion code for $5 Christmas Town tickets. That's not $5 off. That's $5 cost! Click, link, and have fun!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Never Enough

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:38 PM 0 comments
Do you ever feel like you're not doing enough? I think this is a common issue for moms. No matter what we do, no matter how much the lie is touted, we simply cannot do everything.

I know this, acknowledge this and believe this. Yet, no matter how much I do, I always feel like I could be doing more. Now, there are times I do nothing (meaning, sit in front of the tv and be a vegetable, usually not eating vegetables.) And times of rest are good to keep us balanced.

Recognizing what you are doing is good for balance, too. I recently had this feeling in relation to what my children are learning. There's a lot of pressure on a homeschooling mom to teach enough and the right things. I often question, Are they learning the right things? What if they don't learn enough about certain aspects of science or social studies or history? What if I'm not that effective of a teacher? Often, doubts reign.

Then, I look at what they are learning. Yesterday I literally did so. We are participating in Classical Conversations and my kids are learning amazing things. This week's lessons included:

History sentence about the Renaissance

Latin 1st Conjugation Future Tense

English - Possesive Pronouns

Science - 6 forms of pollution

Math - 11 & 12 multiples

Geography - European Features

What other 2nd graders and Kindergarteners are learning those things? So, while I recognize that they aren't getting every experience or lesson that are available through other education venues, I must recognize that they're getting unique lessons and experiences.

I think we all work this way. Whether it's in regards to our children's education, our work situation, our house-keeping situation, etc, we all do it differently. There are somethings that should never be comprimized (raising your children in a balanced, healthy, loving environment that holds them accountable, values education, and loves God), but the details in how these things are accomplished are individualized. I can love God and my family and stay at home full time. I can love God and my family and work full time. I can value education and teach my children myself, or send them to public or private school.

I cannot do everything. I wasn't meant to do everything. I don't want to lower my expectations, but I want to make sure that my expectations are in line with what God has called me to do and how He's called me to do it. Then, nothing is impossible. Nothing that's in His will for me. And He'll make sure that the rest is taken care of, one way or another.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friendly Humor

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:17 PM 1 comments
My friend! My friend! Come in, come in.
It's so good to see you again, 10, my friend.

Let's catch up, chat and visit for a while;
Have a cup of coffee, maybe walk a mile.

Sit down, kick your heels up; don't tarry too long though.
My old friend 8 is on her way, and then you will have to go!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

What if

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:12 AM 1 comments
My recent reading of Max Lucado's book OutLIVE Your LIfe has inspired me to ask some new questions of myself. Questions that would be good for all of us to ask. The main one is:

What can I do to make a difference?

In some ways, I've been asking these questions for a while now. I try to share life with others, giving in small ways. Passing on maternity clothes. Donating or consigning at reasonable prices children's clothes. Cooking a meal. Exchanging child care. While I think I have been obedient in serving those in my immediate circle (some days more than others), I am now being stretched to see how I can serve those that would cause me to step out of my comfort zone.

Many of us believe, say, and reinforce that we dont' have time? But is that true? How much time do we spend in front of the television? How much time to we spend surfing the net? How many activities do we sign our children up for? How often do we get together to have fun? We all have time, we choose how we spend it. We can choose to spend it differently.

What if

* We signed our child/ren up for one less activity and instead did some family volunteering each week/month?

*We gave up eating out once a week/month and donated that money to a feeding program for some of the millions of starving children in the world?

*We watered our lawn one less time a week and donated that money to a clean water well drilling program?

*We spent a "ladies night out" serving the poor a healthy meal?

*We used a family vacation to go on a mission trip instead of going to a theme park?

There are probably many other quetions we could as ourselves. Many other ways we can give. Won't giving to others teach our children all the things we wish to teach them? Isn't that what Jesus taught us?

What impact on our personal world and the world at large would we have if we decided to give a little more, and then followed through on it?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Out LIVE Your Life

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:52 AM 0 comments
Sometimes God makes things as clear as the full moon on a cloudless night. Lately, I feel like that's what He's been doing. In several different ways, He has been whispering to me to look to the possibilities of what I can do instead of my limitations as a homeschooling mom of four under 8. There are a lot of things I don't do - including go to the grocery store very often. I can do it, I prefer not to.

However, through two different books, one fiction and one nonfiction, a personal experience, and a special speaker at our church, God has been calling me out of my box that I've firmly planted around me and my children.

Now, there are things I shouldn't do. It wouldn't be wise to try to do every conference, girl's night, and fun opportunity that comes along. Nor would it be wise to be in a different homeschooling group every day of the week. These are good boundaries to have. I don't need to limit myself in what I can do for other people, though.

In reading Max Lucado's newest book - OutLIVE Your Life - I was deeply enouraged to ask what difference I can make on a daily basis. One of the final statements sums it up: "None of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone." Using personal stories and scripture in a way that it becomes relevent to everyday life, Lucado lays the foundation for a life that will be dynamic and full of love. He does so in a way that is entertaining, heartfelt and God-focused. This is definitely a five-gold-star book!

Get it, read it, then live it. You'll be amazed how God will use you. What He will make of your life. I'm excited to see what He does as I strive to be obedient and make the difference He made me to make.

Monday, September 20, 2010

To Balance Me Out

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:19 PM 0 comments
My post last Friday was bluntly honest about one of my most frustrating faults - forgetfulness. As I was walking early in the morning (in the perfect 63 degrees late summer, early morning air), God brought something to my attention. Although I may be forgetful, He is not. He's never forgotten anyone. ANYONE. EVER.

That is a thought that I could sit and mediate on for a while. Instead, this morning, I walked and thought about it. God not only knows each of us, but He knows every hair on our head, our hearts, and our thoughts. And He still loves us. Still offers complete forgiveness for ever time we have sinned either by commission or ommission. He forgave me for forgetting my neighbor over 2000 years ago as His very own blood was flowing from the body He chose to put His Spirit in for 33 years.

He knew each mistake I was going to make before He ever called me to love Him, serve Him, and start my own ministry. He also knew that I would fight my flesh to become obedient to Him. And that's why I think He's allowed me all the priveleges He has.

So, as you look at yourself and those around you - how so very far short we fall from perfection - remember that there is a perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves You. Allow that information to help you gird up your garments and continue to run the race He has set before you, not growing weary in doing good.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mommy Brain

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:01 PM 0 comments
Do you suffer from Mommy Brain? You know - forgetting things constantly. Walking from one room to the other and forgetting what you came in there for. Forgetting that you put a child in time out.

This morning I walked into the kitchen and found a container of pasta that I'd left out on the counter last night. 'Oh, well,' I thought. 'Now it's not tempting me anymore.' Earlier this week I forgot a person. A person! I was supposed to give a neighbor a ride home from church Wednesday night, got distracted in the search for a missing passy and transferring a friend's car seats to her car and didn't remember until I passed her house - a full fifteen minutes later!

How could I forget a person??? My husband laughed. My neighbor forgave me. I am trying to stop beating myself up. In order to help, I'm looking at what I can do to help my poor over-exercised brain.

Have any suggestions??

One thing, I'm going to try to go back to writing everything down. The old adage is true: hear it - remember 10%, say it - remember 30%, write it, remember 70%, practice it - remember 90%. In order to do this, I must pay more attention to what I'm doing.

As a mom, I'm used to multi-tasking. When I'm listening to praise music, cooking, answering a multitude of questions or folding laundry, watching a movie, and trying to get in my water for the day, multi-tasking can be good. But, in many instances, it simply means I'm not paying as close attention to what I'm doing as I should. e.g. Talking on the phone and checking email at the same time is not productive. I miss half of both.

So, I will go back to making lists and try to be more aware of what's going on. I'd be more than happy to hear any other suggestions that have helped other moms suffering from Mommy Brain!

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Week of School

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:22 AM 0 comments
I thought that having school start on a holiday week would be a good thing. A shorter week. Woohoo! But, here it is Friday, the week's almost over and we've gotten almost nowhere. I should add that: I homeschool, missed doing laundry on Monday because of the holiday, started a new homeschooling group {Classical Conversations} Tuesday, had a Dr.'s appt. and shopping for my mom's wedding to do on Wednesday, found out I'm anemic (on top of having low Vit. D - no wonder I crash in the afternoons!), and had a play date for the kids w/some other homeschoolers Thursday morning. I feel like a week in, we're already behind!

I am glad that the onslaught of other activities haven't started, putting more into our schedule. Maybe easing into all the activities (Awana, children's choir, dance, and Ladies' Small Group) is a good thing. Time to get myself organized. So far, I haven't made a good transition back to school.

The factor that makes it all work - we homeschool! I don't have to have it all together all at once (Thank God!.) We can get a slow start, like the tortiose, but if we rev up and keep going steady, we'll still win the race. That rabbit that took off out of the gate sprinting will have nothing on us!

Now, I'm going to go get ready for another day of teaching, running the house, and trying to keep everyone healthily fed! It works for us (even though some days it just works us :).

For all those moms out there working their own schedules and managing their families, I send blessing, grace, mercy, and peace as you lead your children into the world one step at a time - no matter whether that's by way of homeschool, private school, or public school. Take time to drink a cup of coffee (or tea, or smoothie) and keep in touch with your mommy friends as the school year takes off like the space shuttle - on a holiday week.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:08 PM 0 comments
I recently had an opportunity to read "Captured by Grace" by David Jeremiah, one of my favorite preachers. As expected, the book was well organized and thouroughly Biblical. I enjoyed the opening chapters most, as I learned more about John Newton, the author of "Amazing Grace." As the book went on, it continued to expound on essential elements of the grace God gives us, shedding light on many truths found in the Word. I would give this book four out of five stars only because while it is well written and focuses on God and His Word, it is not one that I can't put down. Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend it as a great addition to any library.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ahhh...Quiet

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:02 PM 0 comments
Yesterday I had one of the best gifts ever for a mommy - I had a day off! A true day off. 24 hours with no kids. No demands. No whining. No arguing. No interruptions during dinner, or a good book, or in the bathroom. It was marvelous.

I love my kids, but I also cherish time by myself to recharge. This may sound repetitive (as several of my posts in the last couple of weeks have been about Mommy Time), but it is still true. I tried to think back to the last time I had a day completely by myself and I came up with that it's been 23 months. That would be 9 months of pregnancy and the first 14 months of my littlest one's life. That's a long time. I've had afternoons off and a few hours here and there, but there's nothing quite like spending a whole day in your nightgown uninterrupted.

I also got to go to a Thirty-One party (the night before, after dropping the kids off), which was great gal time. So, I had a little bit of both types of mommy time.

I was very happy to see all my sweet ones when they arrived home around dinner time last night, and was recharged and ready to go again. And today, I am reaping the rewards of my time off in feeling much more capable of doing what is demanded of me day-in and day-out to raise four children under 8, take care of my house, and homeschool.

I had plans to get all sorts of writing, revising and submitting done on my day off. I did a little. However, I don't feel like I wasted my time at all. There is definitely something to taking a day of rest. There's a reason God called us to do so. As moms, we aren't able to get a day off once a week, even if we dont' do anything but parent and throw some cold cereal at them to eat. No, we need to be deliberate about making that time. I am fortunate enough to have a mom close enough and willing to keep all the kids for me once in a while. I know not everyone does. I can think of several other moms I know personally who don't. So, after my wonderful, fabulous, restful day, my main thought is, "Who can I give this gift to?" That's what I'll work on next.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tell Me About It: by Carolyn Hax

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:22 AM 0 comments

I don't always agree with what Caroline Hax says, but this time, she's hit the bullseye.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New ADHD Study

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:54 AM 0 comments
I've long been a studier of ADD/ADHD. As a counselor I researched and taught educational classes on ADD/ADHD. One question I asked was, "How come we see so much of it today?" Did everyone really miss it before? Is there something about our culture that makes it stand out more or causes more of it? Is there anything parents can really do to help children cope with it?

The answers to these questions are simple,yet complex. Before I tackle any of them, I will share that even as an educated, employed, successful adult, I tested moderate for ADD. I could tell when I took the test, however, that I would have answered many of the questions very differently when I was younger and would probably have been flagged had I ever been tested. But I give credit to my mom for creating a very structered environment growing up where I was held to certain standards and consequenced when I didn't meet those standards. That strictness drove me crazy as a child, but I can see now it was teaching me the skills I needed to get my inability to attend to one thing at a time (unless I happened to become obsessed with something) under control. I learned how to sit for a long period of time (not still, no I still cannot do that, but to take notes, make notes, or otherwise occupy my body so that it will not jump out of it's seat.)

I also believe that we restrict children's ability to have great amounts of physical activity. Thirty minutes in a seven hour period is no where near enough time for physical activity for young children. While I believe they also need to learn discipline of a structured learning environment, children are full of energy. Even average, non ADD/ADHD children. But, we have them sitting in school for 6 hours, on the bus for 1-1&1/2 hours, and then give them 2-3 hours of homework. Add in a few structured activities, and there's not much free time left. (This is one great benefit I get from homeschooling.)

In addition, there are many environmental things that contribute to the increase. It has been suggested often that our American diet heavy in fats, preservatives, and sugar is a major contributor. One new study backs this up. As I look into being healthier and am learning more about whole/natural food eating, I find more and more articles such as this one.

I'm sharing it because I believe that knowledge is important in making healthy decisions. This is only one way we can learn more that may possibly help us as women and moms.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-foods-linked-to-adhd.html?page=2

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Great Deal at AMF

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:38 PM 0 comments
had a good time at the AMF bowling alley this morning - two moms, 7 kids! (I couldn't have done it without you, Leigh Anne!) kids get 2 games free all summer long. go to: www.kidsbowlfree.com to register.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trade Mommy Time

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:41 AM 0 comments
Invaluable as a mom is other moms. Just yesterday I got to have some good Mommy Time with some wonderful mommy friends and their little ones. These days I cherish, but I also cherish time by myself. Mommy friends can also come in handy for this. For years I have been trading off time with other friends. I will admit, it becomes more difficult with more children (and is almost impossible when they're under 3), but when you have faithful friends with whom you don't mind watching your children and don't mind watching theirs, you can do some trading.

This time can be used to do housework, run errands alone, or catch up on some much needed rest. Your child comes to my house for a few hours today, and mine will come to yours a few hours tomorrow. These play dates occur more naturally as they get older, but it's good to have the foundation set early through some planning and intentional swap time.

So, call a mom, set up a date, and enjoy your time!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mommy Times

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:42 PM 0 comments
Now that we've discussed getting time alone as a Mommy to recharge, we will move to another important version of Mommy Time. That's time with other mommies! These times I relish as much as my time by myself. And there are many ways to do this.

There have been innumerable "Mommy and Me" classes and times popping up everywhere in the last few decades. I think that moms used to get together and hang out, but our current culture is so scheduled and organized, that we now have to schedule this time with each other.

A beautiful picture I have in my head is of cultures such as many of the Native American cultures. The men and older boys went out on hunts and the women worked together and watched the children - together. They was often a central place where the work was done so that women could visit, teach, and encourage each other as they worked. I think we are missing something by being isolated in our personal, family, and work lives. We are missing natural fellowship.

But, there are ways to get it. For me, one of the best ways is joining a women's Bible study. These times of growing in the Lord and in relationships with other women are priceless. There are also Mom's time out, MOPS, and many other groups that you can find in most communities. Lisa Welchel (author of Taking Care of the Me in Mommy) talks about getting together with a group of mommy friends weekly in their house. However it happens (whether you find a good group or start a good group) these times are a wonderful way to encourage and receive encouragement from other moms. We all have different strengths we can play off of as we converse and learn from each other. And, the fellowship is usually awesome.

Romans 1:12 ... that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Mommy Time

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:30 PM 0 comments
For those of you who are not a fan of the early morning hours or who have children who wake up at the crack of dawn or have to be at work too early to make these hours viable, don't give up hope! There are always ways to find Mommy Time. If your children are young enough, nap time is always a good time. Even if they don't all nap, this may be the time to stick the slightly older ones in front of a video (I'm not a huge fan of tv, but it comes in handy the 1-2 hours my kids are allotted a day.) While often our inclination during this time is to start working on the never-ending chore list (as I'm doing at this moment), sometimes it's best to use this time to rest, recharge, and regroup. A 30 minute to hour rest may make you more efficient in your work the rest of the time that you have.

Another option (one I am a huge fan of) is play dates. While everyone doesn't have convenient play dates you would actually want you children hanging out with, we are fortunate in this area. There are also friends we have to schedule and make time for. But it's worth it! This is one of the many areas moms can trade off in. I take your child(ren) today, you take mine tomorrow. Now, granted, with four children and them all being so small, it is a rarity when their all not at home. The one-year-old never gets play dates, the three-year-old seldom. But I know that time will come and I do what I can to create a quiet atmosphere and send as many on play dates at the same time as possible. Sometimes it ends up that I have an extra child and have one of my own out, but it all works out eventually. Well, kind of. I have to be very intentional about creating this haven of time in my chaotic mother-of-four-under-eight-homeschooling-etc-life.

The important thing is to recognize your need for quiet time, to be intentional creating it, and using it wisely (this is not the time to "browse" the computer or fold 6 loads of laundry.) Remember, you need rest. You can pick how you rest, but make sure it's recharging to you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Time for Mom

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:10 PM 0 comments
I'll start off my recommendations for finding Mommy Time that is the least popular. But, especially for moms like me that are home full time and homeschool several small children, it is often the only time I get. That is: early mornings. Don't stop reading! Just because I mentioned the worst way many moms could imagine to get time. I used to be just like you. I was the college student who was in bed by ten and usually slept until about seven, later if I didn't have an early class or have to be at work early. I really loved my sleep. I never realized before becoming a mom how much children would impact that one aspect of my life.

When my first child was about three months old when I remember lay in bed crying because I was exhausted. Not only was I exhausted though, I was tired of being exhausted. And that was only three months in. (I was not one of those fortunate women who got a baby who was sleeping eight to ten hours by two months old. EVER! None of my children slept more than five to seven hour stretches until they were eleven months old.) When my second was about six months old, I was going through it again. Of course, this time I was also at home full time and was watching three other children (making a total of five, with four of them being two and under.) Needless to say, I was not getting any Mommy Time. And I was not getting enough sleep. In my desperate prayers to get more sleep, God provided a slightly different answer: He brought me to Proverbs 20:13. Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare. Wow. That socked me right in the chest. I was loving sleep. Not loving motherhood. And I was seeking the wrong thing to become a better friend with motherhood.

I stopped counting hour many hours of sleep I lost and began to focus more on other things. I also got invited to a Bible Study (that'll be another day's post.) I did sleep through the night again, I did have two more babies and go through two more years of interrupted sleep, but through it all, I began to cherish the early morning hours I ended up awake. Whether it was in the middle of the night and the baby was back to sleep, or the early morning just as the sun was coming up, these times became precious. I don't always get these times. I try to listen to my body and make sure I'm getting enough rest to function at full throttle all day long, but when I get them, they are golden. No other time is the house silent for hours. No other time is there not some distraction of the computer or phone to steal my attention. No other time am I fairly safe from interruption for more than ten minutes. No other time am I not fully engaged in listening for what's going on in the other rooms. No other time can I read and study my Bible and talk to God in the unique way quiet brings.

On those mornings I'm woken up by one child or the other calling me or climbing into my bed, I miss my quiet time. I love those moments, too, it's all about balance. But getting spend some time alone with myself, my God, my exercise video, and sometimes my cup of coffee, is like starting the day with a full tank of gas and a freshly washed windshield. I don't get it every day, but when I do, I can tell the difference.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mommy Time

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:35 PM 0 comments
I have found that one of the most challening things as a mom is to find Mommy Time (okay, I'll admit that my list of challenging things as a mom is fairly long, but this is definitely on it.) Especially having four children under eight. Especially homeschooling. My children, all four of the precious darlings, are home with me all day every day. I've been home full time on and off during my motherhood years, but when I worked it was only one or two days a week, and no, I did NOT see it as a break. For me, for my introverted 50%, I need complete down, uninterrupted time for me to count it as Mommy Time. For the 50% extroverted part of me, I need times where I can be with other adults and talk about, well adult things.

First, let me be clear on one point: I love being a mother. I would not trade it for anything else in the world. That doesn't mean that I don't plan on doing anything else in the world, even while they're little (after all, here I am blogging), but that doesn't mean I don't love being a mother. Even given it's far more demanding than I ever dreamed. Even though it's far more work than I ever imagined. Even though I have more negative emotions than I ever thought possible. I love being around my children, laughing with them, playing with them, teaching them, and guiding them. But, I also love my Mommy Time. It's what recharges me to be a better mom to my children.

I have found, in my years of being a mom, part-time employee, wife, housekeeper, writer, speaker, and women's ministry leader, that Mommy Time doesn't just happen, it has to be created. And, there are almost innumerable ways to create it.

We all have different challenges in creating Mommy Time that affect us: some moms don't have family around, some moms are married to military men who are gone months at a time and/or move frequently, some moms have families they don't trust to watch their children, some moms feel guilty about leaving their children, some moms work part-time or full-time and don't feel they need other time without their children, some moms don't have money to pay a babysitter, some moms live in isolated places, some moms live in dangerous places. Regardless of what your challenges are, there is a way to overcome them. As with anything else, once you recognize a need (and Mommy Time, in one form or another, is a need - it helps us to be better mothers. I can't overstate it's importance) and the challenges to meeting that need, you come to a crossroad: you can either walk away from the hurdle in front of you, or you can choose to back up, examine the hurdle, and figure out the best way to sail over it. It may be more work initially, but the rewards will be well worth it.

Second, I want be clear on something else. Some moms take Mommy Time to extremes. Everything is about them, getting their needs met, being pampered, and not letting their children inconvenience their lives. That is not the kind of time I'm talking about. My children are a huge inconvenience to my life (if by inconvenience you mean interrupting my ideas of doing what I want when I want how I want,) but they are the most blessed inconveniences I've ever been graced with. From the moment I became pregnant with my first child, my main focus for her and the others to come behind her, was to do the job of mothering to my utmost ability. Mommy Time works in that scheme by helping me stay balanced and healthy, not to stroke my ego, make life easy, or reduce my responsibilities as a mom. It is the emotional equivelant to sleep. When we sleep (whether a full night's sleep or a nap to make up for months of interrupted sleep), it recharges our bodies. That is the goal of Mommy Time: to recharge you so you can not just be a good mother, but to be the best mother you can be.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Recharging

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:48 PM 0 comments
Do you need a recharge? Is life crazy? Busy? Draining you instead of reviving you? Can you believe the school year starts back up in a month and a half? Why don't you schedule in a retreat for yourself in the fall, in between school starting and the business of the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season? Just 24 hours can recharge you and fill you with life-changing encouragement.

The Abundant Life Conference for Women is being held November 12-13, 2010 in beautiful Williamsburg, VA. The $75 registration fee includes all sessions, 2 meals, and a snack. Get a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Patriot for $79 (for up to 4 people) and breakfast will also be included. Early registration ends August 31, so click here to print your registration form and send it in today! We look forward to a special time of drawing closer together as women, moms, sisters, friends, and, most importantly, daughters of God!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Travel & Relationships

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:40 PM 0 comments
Once again, I am so inconsistent! But, I have a somewhat legitimate excuse. I've spent 13 out of the last 18 days not at home. I'm not usually a traveler, but things came into play that allowed me some greta opportunities to spend time with friends and family that I don't get to see often. While this may seem completely off topic of health, building and maintaining relationships are a part of being healthy - and not just a part of our emotional health, but also a part of our physical health. As science continues to progress, there is a undeniable connection between our minds, bodies, and spirits, which includes relationships, that has become more clear.

There are some relationships that we are able to maintain regularly - friends we see weekly or more frequently - and some relationships that we are only able to give face time to occasionally - monthly, annually, or less frequently - but all these relationships inpact our lives. In today's age of information and being able to reach out to someone at our fingertips, we can easily take relationships for granted. An email or text can only say so much. If it's true that 85% of communication occurs nonverbally, then it's important to at least once in a while see someone or at least talk to them on the phone to retain good relationships. I love having the easy access to people who are far away, but nothing compares to hearing a loved one's voice or getting to see them with my own eyes and wrap them up in a hug that says, "I love you and am so glad you're a part of my life."

These are the moments that help recharge me and put the sprinkles of the ice cream cone of life.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sharing a Give-Away

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:57 AM 0 comments
Coupon Mom is giving away a copy of: "The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half."

Click here to go to her entry page.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What we do to be Healthy - Part 3

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:08 PM 0 comments
That brings us to portions. I have to say that this has probably been one of the most lifestyle changing revelations I’ve had when it comes to eating better. What Americans often tend to think of as portions are what we get when we go out to eat. And because we look for ‘more for less,’ our perceptions of what portions are are greatly distorted. Proper portions are:
· One carbohydrate serving is 15 grams. This equals to ½ cup of potatoes or pasta and 1/3 cup of rice. It’s often one slice of bread and ½ cup of fruits (although most melons and berries have larger servings, 1 – 1&1/2 cup.)
· One vegetable serving is one cup raw or ½ cup cooked.
· One meat serving is 3 oz (that’s 1 oz. smaller than a quarter pounder!)
While this list doesn’t include everything, it’s a good start. Once you see what appropriate portions are, you will be able to better balance what you eat. But that’s not the end of it. Knowledge is only part of what it takes to be healthy. The other parts of this puzzle are a decision to make healthy choices and following through on that decision. Sometimes there’s a fourth piece of the puzzle: accountability tools.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What we do to be Healthy - Part 2

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:04 PM 0 comments
The second major change is to start reading labels. That is, reading the nutritional information and the ingredients on the prepackaged items you do buy. You will be amazed at how eye-opening this is. I first began reading labels when I started watching my carb intake. First you look at the contents: calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and carbohydrates. Then you look at the serving size. This is where much of the shock comes in. And often the knowledge you need to make healthy eating changes.
I’ve caught myself, more times than I care to count, saying, ‘There’s that many (insert: calories, carbs, fat) in that!’ It almost seems impossible that there could be that much shoved into such a small serving size. But, once you start reading labels, you will understand much more about why many of us are so unhealthy. You can even do this when it comes to eating out. Most fast food restaurants and many other restaurants have their nutritional information on line (although once you read it, it will almost seem ironic that it’s called ‘nutritional’ information.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

What we do to be Healthy - Part 1

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:38 AM 0 comments
For me, the main goals in eating (other than having the proper perspective) are to eat balanced and as natural as possible. As natural as possible is probably the biggest challenge in eating healthy. We have become accustomed to prepared and processed foods. They are convenient, quick, easy, and our taste buds have gotten used to the flavors in them.
I’ll be the first to admit that my pantry still has quite a few processed foods. Crackers, cereal, breads are all staples. However, we also have bowls of fresh fruit and a constant supply of fresh and frozen vegetables. They key is to not look in your pantry and throw out everything that’s in a box or bag. The key is to take it one step at a time and eliminate what you can, and add what you can.
One of the first thing we did in our house was make fresh fruits and vegetables a constant fixture. Study after study shows that Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables. There are a many products available now that tout being fruit and vegetable supplements (made with real fruit, two servings of veggies,) but the truth is, there’s no substitute for fresh, real live foods. If we start eating them and our children start eating them, we will begin to appreciate the flavors and textures that cannot be mimicked in man-made foods.
I have to add a caution here, though. Many fruits and vegetables sold in many markets (grocery stores) are the product of mass-produced items in which pesticides. There are many cautions out about limiting our intake of products with pesticides. The most recent study shows that there may be a link between pesticides and ADD. Whether that (or any of the other specific claims) turn out to be true, it would be wise to be cautious. There are many ways to avoid and limit exposure to pesticides. You can grow your own (although not everyone everywhere can grow everything,) you can buy from local farmers’ markets and stands (where you can ask), and you can buy organic. Don’t let your limited ability to do any one of these things scare you off of making this one important change, however. Fruits and vegetables (and a variety of them) are good for our bodies and provide many needed and desired nutrients.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Health is eating to live, not living to eat

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:37 AM 0 comments
While many of us focus on our weight and size, few of us focus on how we approach food. Food has become a cultural phenomena. It has become about how much you can get for how little. How things are pleasing to our taste buds for the moment regardless of the long-term impact on our bodies. How to make it cheaper, easier, and more fun. In other words, we have learned to live to eat. Instead, our focus in regards to food should be eating to live. Our main goal in eating should be to feed our bodies what they need to thrive. I’m not saying that we should ignore our taste buds. On the contrary, eating healthy can be fun, creative, and taste good.
This is a struggle that many of us have, including me. One of the reasons that I am not content with my weight and size right now are because I made some eating decisions that were not in the best interest of my body, but instead were catered to my taste buds. We are conditioned by commercials and lifestyles to eat for pleasure.
We also eat when we’re sad, eat to celebrate, eat for fellowship, and even eat when we’re bored. Why not? We’re asked. You deserve it. We’re told. In my book, what we really deserve is the opportunity to eat what’s best for our bodies. The answers to why not are almost too much to cover, but I’ll dabble a little in the reasons.
We are what we eat. Garbage in, garbage out. That may make us think that the garbage will come out, having no effect on us, but that simply is not true. The garbage out in the case of what we eat is how it affects us. The reasons not to eat simply for taste disregarding nutrients and health benefits (or detriments) include:
· The effect on our digestive system.
· The effect on our hearts and cardiovascular system.
· The effect on our hormones and endocrine system.
· The effect on our ability to sleep well and restfully.
· The effect on our energy level.
· The effect on our moods.
· The effect on our ability to focus and perform well.
As you can see, even this short list is fairly comprehensive, covering nearly ever aspect of our lives. So, with a multitude of information, much of it contradictory, how do we know how to eat? What diet do we follow? Who do we listen to?
First of all, I encourage you to do your own research. Check out the government’s health website. Look up the effects of preservatives and other chemical additives to our foods. Read and listen to balanced health professionals. Talk to your doctor. Like I said before, I don’t claim to be an expert or to know everything there is to know about health, but I have done a lot of research and can pass along what I’ve found.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Health is not a lack of disease

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:36 PM 0 comments
This is also an important part of understanding health. Many people think that they are healthy simply because they have not been diagnosed with something. Others think that their ability to be healthy is out of their control because they have been diagnosed with something. Neither of these is true.
Much of what I have learned about health (like many other areas) have come through trial and error. And education. Much of that education came after I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy. I had been vowing to lose ten pounds (then fifteen, then twenty) for a long time. I wanted to be smaller, and I guess healthier, but I never really looked into what it would take to do so. When I was diagnosed, however, I was prompted to find out what I needed to do to get healthy. So, ironically, I became the healthiest I had ever been while I was managing gestational diabetes. This came in handy when I dealt with it again in my second and third pregnancies, and especially when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in between my third and fourth pregnancies. Because of this, I have learned that a diagnosis of a life-long disease does not mean that I have to give up on being healthy. On the contrary, for me it was the catalyst I needed to become healthier.
I know the same is true for many other women. I know many moms who cope with illnesses such as fibromyalgia, Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diagnoses who live very healthy lives. They manage their illness and do not allow it to define them or their overall health.
If health is not found solely in the numbers and is not a lack of disease, then what is it? That’s the crux of this chapter. I don’t claim to be a medical professional or an expert in any specific area of health, but I can share what I’ve learned through research, experience and talking with health professionals about what it takes to get and remain healthy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow for Christmas




Actually got a white Christmas this year (very rare in eastern Virginia.) My cousin shared this great picture, and it made me smile. So, I'm sharing with you. Hope you have a blessed day, snowy or not.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All Moms

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Luke 2:1-21

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Organization

After



Before





I'm one of those people who is organized in spurts. I hyper-focus on one thing and make sure that's organized, letting any number of other things slip. I don't like things chaotic and in disarray, I just haven't figured out how to keep up with everything.








My most recent neglected item was the closet off of my office nook. My office is a converted closet and had a cubby hole to the side that my hubby opened up and made a new closet. It's great, but didn't have many tools for organizing. And stuff keeps coming in I don't know what to do with. It's really easy stuff things away in a closet. But, recently it had gotten out of control. School stuff, art supplies, Christmas and pre-purchased Birthday presents, videos, books, paperwork, etc., etc., etc.








So, when my mom came up with my nephews (good entertainment for my kids) I asked if she'd be willing to help. It only took a few hours and an extra pair of hands to make the amazing transformation. I feel immeasurably better about the space and that I can actually use it now. I have other things to be tackles and organized, but I've learned, to maintain balance and create a peaceful environment, I don't have to do it all at once. I only have to tackle one project at a time and not give up.








Monday, December 20, 2010

Joy in Christmas

Life is busy. And then the holidays start. And life gets busier. Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration and enjoyment, remembering the birth of Jesus and spending time with family. But often times, the extra stuff - shopping, cards, wrapping, parties, etc. - adds more stress than enjoyment to life.

If this is the case for you, I recommend stopping to catch your breath. These moments are few and far between and won't happen on their own. They have to be sought after and grabbed hold of. These are the moments you do nothing but squeeze, tickle, and play with your child. These are the moments you set aside to take your older child out shopping or for a "date." These are the moments you make cookies simply to spend time in the kitchen together. These are the moments you sit and watch a classic Christmas movie from beginning to end. These are the moments you chase the millions of things you have left to do from your mind and actually enjoy the Christmas musical at church.

We often let the extra expectations of us ruin our holiday season. Are we going to buy something that everyone likes? Did I wrap it just right? Did I forget to send a card to someone? Am I going to offend someone if I don't make it to their party? But, these are not the things Christmas is about. They are fun, or at least they are meant to be, but when they become the pull of Christmas, things have gotten out of order.

In order to find joy in Christmas, Christ has to be put first and mas has to be secondary. Otherwise, you have the proverbial cart before the horse, which will steal your joy. According to one source, mas means festival. We have lots of festivities during the Christmas season, but they tend to take over and take our focus off celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Christ child. Whenever you're not experiencing joy (during the holidays or any time of year), intentionally put your focus back on Jesus and He will give you joy.

Take time to play Christmas music, read different versions of the Christmas story, share what you're thankful for about this time of year, etc. Grab hold of the joy freely given us and go along for the ride of a lifetime!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas gift ideas for People hard to buy for

Sorry for the long title, but I had a hard time trimming it down. Like I sometimes have a hard time finding presents for certain people. These people shall remain nameless because it doesn't matter who they are, and I believe we all have those people in our lives. The ones who buy whatever they want, or don't want much, or plain don't give you a clue what they might want or need.

Over the years I've had to become more and more creative, especially when on a tight budget. One of the things I do for family members (especially grandparents) is create photo albums. I asked for a scrapbook program several years ago for my birthday and use it to make inexpensive gifts. I know there are a ton of websites to do online albums, but I can never get a price without signing up. Also, because we have four albums to produce (3 sets of grandparents and 1 great-grandparent) it's a whole lot cheaper for me to buy the paper and ink and print out the same album four times. Best I can estimate it, it costs me about the same for 4 as I'd be spending online for one. Could be wrong, but it works for me.

Other great ideas can be found a websites like Wal-mart photo and Walgreen's. They have great, inexpensive gift ideas that grandparents, aunts, and uncles love. Pictures on coffee mugs, travel mugs, puzzles, mouse pads, and ornaments. Some items you can even do annually with updated pictures. Others (like a throw blanket) are probably a one time thing, but still great ideas.

This year, I diverted from the photo gifts and started looking for perishables. These are good because they get used up and aren't one more thing to find a place for. There are gift baskets and towers from $20 up - something for all budgets. And something for all tastebuds. at 1-800-flowers I found great options. They have baskets with fruit, candy, sauces, chocolate covered fruit, and mixed baskets. It's a great idea for the hard-to-by-for person(s) on your list.

So, if you haven't finished shopping and don't want to brave the frigid temps outside, let you fingers do the shopping and have it shipped strait to who it's for. Only 7 days of online shopping left!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Helpful Tools for Christmas

I almost wish I hadn't already done my Christmas cards. Or that I had some other great Christmas craft to do. I might just come up with one.

I'm working on photo albums for the grandparents and didn't want to use any of the graphics that came with my scrapbook program. (You know, after you've used the same program for half a dozen years or so, they get old.) So, I had a brainstorm - google Christmas fine art images. And I found a fantastic website that has loads of free Christmas clip art - good quality and variety. And you know me, if I find something worth sharing, I simply have to share it!

So, if you're in need of some Christmas clip art or are looking for gift ideas, head over to christmasgifts.com and check it out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Picture Perfect

Do you take pictures of your children/family for Christmas cards? I do. Every year. And every year, I go into it with expectations that I can take the perfect picture. With all my children (ages 7, 5, 3 & 1). Standing exactly where I want them to stand. Smiling nicely without making funny faces. And all after I've dressed them up perfectly. And once again, my expectations are not met.

This year, after getting the kids dressed up twice, arguing with the sun to go back behind the clouds so the lighting will be right, and taking 47 pictures in 3 different locations, I still didn't get the perfect one. So, I've given up.

I'm grateful for photoshop, and online ordering, and a decent picture, but I've decided to give up on the perfect picture. I feel like one of those Christmas commercials where no one behaves and you end up with crazy pictures. I'm thinking next year I'd like that program where you can steal a good face from one picture and add it to another. Then, maybe all four of my children will be smiling, looking at the camera, and be in perfect light.

But for now, I'm ordering my B+ picture. And I'm sure everyone (especially family members out of state whom we don't get to see often) will love them. I'll take my own advice, not strive for perfection, but for excellence, and have a cup of coffee while I attach each picture to the 250 cards I'll be sending out this week.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Great Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas

Are you scrambling to come up with presents for those you love? Are you on a limited budget? Do you have people who can buy whatever they want, making them impossible to buy for? There are lots of things we can do for our family and friends that they will appreciate without breaking the bank.

One thing I do is bake. Cookies, breads, etc. Not as many people take the time to bake these days and most appreciate homemade items. You can find lots of great recipes at the tips of your fingers at websites like allrecipes and food network, and by simply setting aside one day this season, you can make a miriad of gifts.

Don't have the time to bake? Put together pre-measured, ready-to-bake gift jars. You can use old jars or buy new canning jars inexpensively and fill them with a variety of mixes. Make your own pancake or waffle mix (which won't have all those preservatives of store bought ones). Put together a flavored coffee mix, hot chocolate mix complete with marshmellows, or cookie mix. Find many great ideas and "recipes" at websites like kitchen link.

Not a fan of the kitchen? More of a crafty person? There are many ideas to use cheap supplies or things you have around your house. Gather some pinecones from around your neighborhood. Save/gather items you don't use any more (milk cartons, craft sticks, old CD's and cases) and turn them into something useful. Websites like make stuff have fantastic ideas on the cheap.

Still not up your alley? Or time lacking? Create a personalized gift certificate. Offer babysitting, a homecooked meal, help cleaning, a trip out for coffee. Look at the needs of those people you love and see how you can help meet them.

I've probably missed about a million other great ideas, but knowing how difficult it can be sometimes, I hope I've helped at least stir the creative pot and send you in some helpful directions. Merry Christmas, and happy presenting!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Avoid Stress during the Holidays

I've been fortunate to be asked to speak to a local MOPS group about balance this month. I'm fortunate not only for the opportunity, but the reminders of what I need to do to stay balanced during this time of crazy, busy, extra responsibilities.

As moms, we have a wealth of daily responsibilities - cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework, diapers, potty training, character reinforcement, errand running, and being Mom taxi. Then the holidays come and we add shopping for presents, wrapping those presents, going to and hosting parties, Christmas cards, etc. All these things are fun and great, but we often wonder how to fit those things in on top of everything we do already.

First, allow yourself to let some things go. While your family still needs to be fed and clothed, surely there are some items that can wait until after the holidays. My ironing is currently piled up in the laundry room and has been on my to do list for a while, but truly, it can wait until after the family Christmas party we're hosting this weekend. I'm a homeschooling mom, and we haven't completely given up school, but we're on a reduced holiday schedule. What can you let go?

Second, realize that you can't do it all. It's okay to say "no" - even to good things. If that good thing causes you stress, then it's not ultimately a good thing.

Third, don't forget to take care of yourself. Take time, at least once a week, to do something for you. Watch a chick flick, take a bubble bath, get or give yourself a pedicure, read a novel, get a massage. Most importantly, spend time with God. Ask Him for strength to get through this busy season and follow His guidance in what to do each day.

Which brings me to the last item: focus on one day at a time. It is helpful to plan ahead (I don't need to be going grocery shopping the morning of my dinner party), but once we have an overall plan, we should focus only on today. After all, today's the only day we can live out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top Secret Key to Successful Marriage

I will not make rule number five that marriage takes God. I believe that the best, healthiest marriages are based on a solid foundation in God. I believe that the best way to grow in your marriage is to grow in your relationship with God. But if I were to say that I’ve never seen two people enjoy marriage for a lifetime without God being a part of their lives, we would all know that it was untrue. If I were to say that all marriages where both people are believers are happy and successful, we would also know that this is untrue. I never want to diminish the impact that God can have on our marriage, but as with everything, I want to be honest. God has certain rules for living and those rules apply to everyone. This includes the rules, or principles, for relationships. If we work at it, have the proper perspective, enjoy it, and commit to it, it will succeed almost every time. What God can add to a marriage is basically what he can add to an individual’s life. We can do a fairly good job of filling the God-shaped hole in our lives and in our marriages, but true joy and fulfillment – individually and in our marriage – will only come with Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Working on, having the proper perspective about, being committed to, communicating effectively, being flexible, forgiving, and having fun in your marriage are the pieces of the healthy marriage puzzle. Making God first in your life and submitting yourself and your marriage to Him is the frame which enhances the puzzle and makes it a masterpiece.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage VII

The final “rule” for a healthy marriage is fun. Even though at first having fun may sound easier than the previous rules, it is often just as difficult to maintain. Life gets busy and things happen between two people that distract them from each other and their relationship. Therefore, fun often gets forgotten.

Chances are when you first dated your husband, you had a lot of fun together. Your relationship most likely focused on getting to know each other and having fun together. Even after the wedding takes place the fun tends to continue, at least for a while. However, as life adds responsibilities, stress and tension increase also. As stress and tension build, the distance between husband and wife tends to increase. So, even if you work on your marriage, make the effort to keep a proper perspective, and have made a solid commitment to your husband, if you don’t ever have fun together you’ll be more like partners of a business venture rather than partners a loving marriage.

I don’t know about you, but I desire so much more from my husband than just someone to go through life experiences and share child-rearing with. I want a partner, friend, lover, and companion. Life is not near as care free as when my husband and I were dating, and therefore we must be intentional about having fun together. Some of that fun is as parents. We do fun things at home and away from home with our children. We have fun together as a family. But we also have fun together as a couple. Sometimes this means staying up late to watch a movie after the kids go to bed. Sometimes it means sitting on the front porch alone while the kids watch a movie or are playing nicely. Sometimes it means recruiting a babysitter to go out to dinner. Sometimes it means lying in bed just holding hands and sharing what’s been going on lately. Many couples we know take a few days each year for an adult vacation. Others send the kids to the grandparents’ houses for a few days or weeks. Having fun doesn’t have to take a lot of money or time, but it generally takes a lot of planning and creativity. However, if having fun together becomes a priority in your marriage, it will become more natural. And the rewards will far outweigh any effort that is put into making time for fun.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Sunday, November 28, 2010

YA Book Earns an "A"

Having read several Nancy Drew books with my daughter, I was pleasantly surprised at the caliber of writing in Kathleen Fuller’s The Secrets Beneath. I expected a teen mystery with some Godly perspective thrown in and got so much more. From the beginning of the book, I found myself pulled into the characters and their situations. The characters are well-developed and are easy to relate to, especially for young readers.

The Secret Beneath had me wondering what was going on from the very beginning. It is written with enough intrigue to keep the reader along for the ride without being frustrated that you’re not getting enough information. Also, several times I wanted to scream at the main character, Bekah, to not do what she’s about to do – to me a sure sign that the book has drawn me in. Even though this book (the second in the series) was written as a Young Adult novel, I, as an adult reader, thoroughly enjoyed it and am confident that my daughter will receive the first and next books in the series, after I’ve had a chance to preview them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage VI

Forgiveness. Your husband will irritate you, frustrate you and hurt you. After all, he’s only human. When these things happen, however, you have a choice to make. You either hold onto it and let it build a divide between you and your husband or you let it go, forgive him and add to the bond you have with him. Forgiveness is always the best choice: for you, for him, and for your marriage.

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17: 14

You may be thinking, “but what he did was wrong! And I’m supposed to just forgive him?” Yes. And no. We are called to always forgive, but there’s nothing that says forgiveness is easy or simple. Often it’s not a matter of “just forgiving.” It’s about processing, dealing with, and forgiving.

If the source of conflict is minor (an irritating habit, being late, viewing things differently) then it may be as much about changing expectations so they’re more realistic and accept your husband’s short-comings as it is about forgiveness. There is an element of forgiveness, however. You may need to forgive him for disappointing you. You may need to forgive him for not holding to his word. You may need to forgive him for not being perfect. Although these instances are generally minor, they add up when they’re held on to.

Even small offenses and conflicts it’s essential to your relationship to forgive and let go. You may need to deal with some of these issues together. You may need to decide that things are the way they are, that they’re not that big of a deal, and choose not to let them bother you. At first letting go even of little things takes a conscious effort and practice. But with practice, forgiving the little things and letting them go becomes easier and easier.

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers overall wrongs. Proverbs 10:12

Bigger issues take a little more of a process to forgive. Once the hurt has been acknowledged (which sometimes happens immediately, and at other times happens more slowly), the wrong action that caused the hurt needs to be acknowledged as wrong. Because you choose the past of forgiveness doesn’t mean a wrong action is okay or is to be overlooked. It does mean that you choose not to hold that action against your husband once it’s dealt with and forgiven. If you define who your spouse is by this action, use it to manipulate him, or bring it up at a later time, forgiveness hasn’t occurred. It will likely take discussing the issue with your husband, may take talking it through with a trusted third party (e.g. pastor, counselor), and it will definitely take prayer. The process may be quick, or it may be slow, but it is essential to having a healthy marriage.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Monday, November 22, 2010

Flexibility. Another piece to the healthy marriage puzzle is flexibility. If this piece of the puzzle is ignored, this rule broken, your marriage may not be in jeopardy of dissolving, but the joy and rewards of marriage will be stolen from it. Inflexibility, stubbornness, and general “it’s gonna be my way” attitude lead to frustration and conflict. Flexibility, on the other hand, fosters fun and enjoyment in a marriage.

Why is flexibility so important? Simply because a marriage is made up of two people who have their own backgrounds, their own baggage, their own likes and dislikes, their own way of perceiving the world, and their own ideas about, well, everything. All these things that make us who we are and who our husband fell in love with may also irritate him. And vice versa.
One thing I’ve had to learn to be flexible about is being flexible. I’m a planner and an organizer (which should be obvious from chapter one.) I like to have a plan and follow through with it. My husband likes to keep all options open all the time so he can make the best choice when it comes time. Needless to say, this has caused some conflict. Eventually I learned that he told me about upcoming events to keep that option open and he accepted that some things just have to be planned. We both learned to be more flexible in how we perceived plans and met somewhere in the middle.

The areas of potential inflexibility are endless. What types of things are served for dinner, who prepares it, and when it’s served. The level of expected housekeeping and who’s responsible for it. How money is spent. What types of vacations are taken and when. What type of extra-curricular activities are okay and how much is okay (for adults and for children.) How to hand family functions. Like I said, the issues are limitless. We each have our own issues, some more important than others. In choosing to be flexible, you’re not saying that your perspective isn’t important. Or that you aren’t important. What flexibility says is that your relationship is more important than holding fast to your ideas about this particular issue. Some issues are going to be more important to you and you will stand more firmly on those. However, these issues should be carefully considered, chosen wisely, and communicated effectively.

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. Proverbs 17:1

There will be a host of things that you’ll discover aren’t worth arguing over. Having a healthy, joyful relationship with your husband is more important. Does it really matter if the kids drink sweet tea at supper? As long as bills are being paid, does it matter if he splurges at the hardware store once in a while? These are some of the small things that provide opportunities for flexibility. As you become more flexible towards your husband, theoretically he will naturally become more flexible to you. Then you have the wonderful, albeit complex, dance of give and take that can enhance your marriage even more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage V

The tools are first to recognize the differences between the way men and women communicate, second to listen, and third to respect what’s being said. Clarification is also important. As the examples I gave before and plenty you can probably think of make it clear, clarification is very helpful. I often repeat back to my husband what he’s said to me. “So..” and I repeat what I heard. It may sound silly, and sometimes he tells me that all I’m doing is repeating what he said, but it works. I tell him, “just clarifying, honey. Don’t want to misunderstand you.”

I statements are also important in communication. These are statements like, “It upsets me when you’re running late and don’t call,” and “I don’t like it when you ignore me.” The alternative statements that are unhealthy include character attacking and blame-placing. They are statements like, “You’re so inconsiderate and selfish. You can’t even take a second to call when you’re late,” and “You make me crazy when you ignore me.” Positive words and encouragement are also essential elements to healthy communication. That doesn’t mean that you lie, or hold back things that bother you, but that you share those things in as positive a way as possible. It also means that you make a conscious effort to speak words of praise and encouragement to your husband as much as possible. Accusatory, negative and bitter words reek havoc on your relationship. Uplifting, positive and loving words will increase affection between you and your husband. It’s your choice how you use your words. [Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage IV

Another piece of that puzzle is healthy communication. We all have communication issues. Sometimes we feel like we’ve said one thing, while the person we’re talking to has heard something completely different. I remember one time when my husband and I were dating and planned on going to lunch together. I went to meet him at the place we agreed we’d eat at that day, but he never showed up. On my way back to the office I got a call to find out what happened. He’d shown up at my office to pick me up to take me to lunch. We made a commitment to communicate better. That was about 13 years ago. Just the other week I told my husband that the kids and I would be going to a friend’s house and he’d have the evening to himself. When I called him at four in the afternoon to hook up with him for supper he was surprised. He understood that he had the whole day to himself. I’d said “evening.” He’d heard “day.” Obviously, we’re still working on communication.

Healthy communication fosters growth and closeness in any relationship, especially a marriage. However, communication within a marriage is quite possibly the most challenging. Not only do you have to communicate more often than in almost any other relationship, you also have to deal with the dramatically different ways men and women communicate. In their book Men are like Waffles Women are like Spaghetti, Bill and Pam Ferrelll highlight these differences. Their research and years of working with couples taught them that when men start a conversation it’s meant to be about that topic and that topic only. Women, on the other hand, process while talking and think of all the things related to the topic the discussion began with. The best way to deal with the different ways men and women communicate and deal with conversations is to listen. You know, the two ears one mouth thing. We should listen twice as often as we talk. This doesn’t accomplish better communication. It only leads to frustration.

If our men truly say very little compared to us, don’t we want to pay closer attention to them? If they say little they’re going to be choosy about what they say and it will hold more meaning. Listening to him is a form of communication in itself. It communicates that we respect what he has to say. It communicates that we believe what he has to say is valid and important to us. If he feels heard and respected, he’s more likely to tell us more and listen to us when we talk. This is important on surface level communication (details, thoughts, and opinions of life) and essential when communicating on deeper levels (the vulnerable issues of life.) As we communicate on those deeper levels there’s a greater chance for miscommunication and conflict. There’s also a greater chance for deeper intimacy and growth if we utilize healthy communication tools.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage III

The next “rule” of a healthy marriage is that it takes commitment. Commitment is a characteristic that is not revered in our culture. It is more likely to be made fun of and attributed to inconsequential items. Commercials constantly encourage people to make a lifetime commitment to a brand of car, or phone company, or even a sandwich. In reality of how we live, however, people rarely stay committed to things that really matter. The divorce rate for first marriages has been holding steady at about fifty percent for several decades now. “Til death do us part” has become “until I don’t feel like it anymore.”

Any time we enter into something without the mindset of being committed to it, we are much less likely to put effort into it and much more likely to quit. I remember planning a group with some co-counselors several years back. We discussed offering the group for free or charging a minimal fee. One of the counselors shared a study that found that participants in programs were more likely to attend more sessions and complete the program if they had something invested in it, even if it was just fifteen dollars. The more you have invested in something, the more committed you are to it. The more committed you are to something, the more you’ll invest in it. It’s a positive cycle that holds true in marriage.

The commitment part it your mindset. Most people have the mindset of being committed to their spouse when they get married, or they probably wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. But somehow over time and through difficult circumstances people begin to lose the “forever” mindset and start thinking that it might be better if the marriage ended. As soon as these thoughts start, the spiral towards divorce begins. Even though there is never a point of no return, it’s better to stop the spiral before it gets started.

Everyone has bad days, arguments, and negative thoughts. The key is to focus on the good days, argue less and more effectively, and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This is an overflow from having the right perspective, but our thoughts about our spouse and commitment to our marriage are closely linked. If we reaffirm our commitment to our spouse with positive thoughts about our marriage (thinking about the good parts of the marriage, the positive traits of our husband, and the fact that we thought enough about him at one time to make the commitment of a lifetime) we are more likely to put effort into our relationship with him. As we put effort into the relationship, we will begin to reap the rewards of marriage and feel more committed to it. Each of these things are a piece of the puzzle which helps to make up the whole picture of a healthy marriage.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another “rule” of a healthy marriage is that it takes a proper perspective. Being aware of our thoughts, words, and actions is a large part of having the proper perspective. In the first chapter the importance of being conscience of and choosing a positive perspective was introduced. In the subsequent chapters the concept of perspective has been expanded on. The importance of perspective that we have in any given circumstance and any given relationship cannot be overstated. When looking at people who crumble under difficult circumstances compared to those who seem to persevere and become stronger, the tangible difference is perspective. The same is true for relationships, especially marriages. Marriages don’t fail because someone had an affair, there are financial troubles, or people just grew apart. Marriages fail because husbands and wives began having thoughts like, “I can’t take this anymore,” “I can’t stand the way she…,” “He’ll never change,” or “I’ll never live up to his/her expectations, so why even try.” Instead of brushing these thoughts out the door with the rest of the trash, they were allowed to take root and cultivated, watered and given light to grow until they overtake the healthy, positive thoughts that used to reside in the minds of spouses.

In his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, John Gottman states it this way. “It’s hardly surprising that what you think about someone often determines how you’ll treat them. But when it comes to marriage, this simple truth has huge consequences. The assumptions you make about your spouse and your relationship can determine the state of your marriage’s health. Marital problems easily arise if your thoughts and feelings are distorted.” So what are distorted thoughts and feelings? How do we know if they’re distorted?

In his book, Gottman gives examples of how given the same situation different people will react differently. Those reactions, whether positive , neutral, or negative, begin in our thoughts. What we think about a person and the situation – what we perceive are the motives and feelings behind what the other person is doing – effects how we will act and react. It’s good to regularly take stock of your relationship with your husband. Are most of your interactions positive or negative? When you think about your husband, do you focus on everything he doesn’t do, or does wrong? Or do you focus on the things he does for you and the kids? When talking about him and to him do you build him up or tear him down? It’s good to ask yourself these questions regularly. As you answer them, measure your answers against a Biblical perspective of marriage. A Biblical perspective can be obtained and maintained through completing women’s Bible Studies and searching scripture for what it has to say about marriage and relationships.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rules of a Healthy Marriage I

Rules for a Healthy Marriage

The first rule of a healthy marriage is that it takes work. Sometimes marriage takes grueling, sweat-inducing, grimy work. One of the biggest lies that our culture produces and cultivates is that if a relationship is built on true love it will naturally grow and always be wonderful. The problem is that there is only one true love, and that is the love of Christ. Any other love is imperfect. Imperfect people love imperfectly. Times will come when we don’t feel very loved or very much like loving. It’s those times especially that we have a choice to make. We can decide to make the effort and continue to act in loving ways, or we can let our feelings rule our actions. It takes a choice to treat someone in a loving manner when we don’t feel like it. This is when love feels like work. And it is. But just as we are rewarded by other work we do when we don’t feel like it (whether it is actually going to work and getting a paycheck, or cleaning the house and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, or working in the yard and enjoying the beauty of it) we will be rewarded every time we choose to act out of love.

Work in marriage also comes into play because our lives our busy. The first chapter of this book laid the foundation of the importance of prioritizing and focusing on the most important things. In our culture, and especially when children arrive, a healthy, happy marriage will not just happen. It’s very easy to get busy, get distracted and forget to feed your marriage. Working in your marriage, therefore, also means taking time and making time for your marriage. This may mean planning regular dates, turning the TV off once in a while to talk (about big and little things), going for a walk together, sitting down over the budget, giving small gifts, intentionally giving words of affirmation, cooking a favorite meal, or whatever it seems your relationship needs at the moment or on an ongoing basis. Each relationship, just like each person, is unique and has unique needs. But every relationship needs to be cared for and fed.

One additional thing I feel the need to mention in this section is a complaint that women often make. The complaint is: why is it my job to put in all the effort/work into the marriage? The answer is pretty straight forward. It’s not our job as the wife to be the only one working in the marriage. Marriage is made up of two people and takes effort on two people’s part. Contrary to popular belief, however, it is rarely, if ever, a 50-50 venture. When we expect it to be and try to keep score, we generally find ourselves frustrated, upset, and feeling negative about the relationship. We instead would benefit greatly from willingly and joyfully putting effort into our relationship with our husband. This doesn’t absolve him from also putting effort in. But we’re not responsible for what he does. We’re responsible for what we do. We are to make sure that our thoughts, words, and actions are in line with God’s will and word. When we as wives do that, it is amazing how much our feelings and attitude toward our husband will become more and more positive. And as we become more positive in our relationship, invariably, so will our husband.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rewards of Marriage II

The second reward in marriage is companionship. Our husband is supposed to be our companion. Someone to experience life with. Someone to share life with. Someone to hurt when we hurt and rejoice when we rejoice. Someone to hold our hand. Someone to stand in front of us when we need protecting, beside us when we need a friend, and behind us when we need extra support. They are a unique companion, though. Our husband has never been and is never supposed to be a girlfriend. Although we share our lives with him, it is in a unique way. When we marry our relationships with our girlfriends change, which they should. Our husband becomes our primary human relationship. However, we should not try to replace our girlfriends by treating our husband as one. I sometimes find myself sharing something with my husband that he absolutely could not care less about. It’s not because he’s uncaring or callous. It’s just something that doesn’t interest him. This usually happens when I haven’t been spending time with my girlfriends and I’m starved for adult conversation. (So, as you can see, fostering and maintaining your female friendships is actually a benefit to your relationship with your husband.) There are other ways we treat our husband as a girlfriend: in what we expect him to say, how we expect him to act, and some things we expect him to do. Dr. Laura Schlessinger states that the “major mistake women make in communication with their husbands is to imagine that their husbands are supposed to be their girlfriends.” When we do this, we are not respecting who God made this man - as a man and as an individual.

Our culture has become one which consistently demasculinates men. They aren’t respected for their differences, but instead degraded for their differences. Men and women are different. Most people realize this. What they don’t realize is that this is a good thing! I love being a woman and I love that my man is a man. As I’ve learned to accept my husband as he is (not being able to multi-task, not expressing himself verbally, not feeling things the way I do) and celebrate who he is as a man (being really good at concentrating on what he’s doing, wrapping his arms around me when I need it, being steady in almost any given situation) our relationship has grown closer and closer. Because we not only love each other, but also respect each other for who we are, who God made us, the rewards in our marriage have steadily increased.

Marriage can be, and should be, rewarding. However, those rewards don’t come automatically. You don’t have to look far and wide to see marriages in which the husband and/or wife are not reaping the rewards of marriage (even some of those which last a lifetime.) Just as with other things in life, rewards in marriage increase when we follow the plan and the rules. Many of us don’t like rules because we see them as restrictive. But rules, regulations, and laws are put in place for our protection and our benefit. The “rules” of marriage below aren’t meant to be viewed as strict “have to’s” for you to add to any list. On the contrary, they are meant to be keys that will unlock doors to a more rewarding, joyful marriage.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rewards of Marriage I

So what are the rewards of marriage supposed to be? Before that question is answered, I will discuss one thing that is not a reward of marriage. Marriage is NOT supposed to be fulfilling. I’m not saying that marriage isn’t supposed to add things to your life, that’s what this whole section is about – what a healthy marriage adds to your life. What I am saying is that if you approach marriage (or any relationship) as starting with an empty cup, expecting your husband (or anyone else) to fill that cup, and keep it filled for the rest of your life, you will be greatly disappointed.

We all remember the famous line the movie Jerry McGuire: “You complete me.” Sentimental. Sweet. Charming. Completely misguided. And dangerous. The idea of needing another person to complete you will always leave you wanting. This is because we are all human and are therefore imperfect. We make mistakes. We hurt the people we love the most. We will not ever be able to provide everything that our loved ones need. To expect to be able to do so, or expect someone else to do so for us, leads us down a path of disillusion and never-ending disappointments. Instead of looking for our husband to complete us, we need to look to Christ to define who we are, to provide everything we need, and fill us up. We are to see our husband as a wonderful addition to our lives. He’s the icing on the cake.

My husband gave me the perfect Valentine’s card the first two years we were dating (yes, he gave me the same card two years in a row; without realizing it.) It talked about being perfect for each other because we complimented each other. And that’s how relationships are supposed to be. Complimentary. Thus, the first reward of marriage is not completing each other, but complimenting each other. My husband and I balance each other out very well – I have the personality tests to prove it. I am very organized (when my case of mommy brain isn’t too severe) and my husband is very flexible and spontaneous. I feel things very deeply, my husband thinks things through in a very logical way. We both love being around other people, and we both love being alone. As we have learned to appreciate and cooperate with each other in our differences instead of looking at them in a negative light, we have reaped the rewards of living in compliment to each other.

It is sometimes frustrating, however, in instances such as when I want the kids in bed on time and he’s enjoying a romp on the floor with them. On the other hand, he’s also helped me to stop watching the clock and doing chores and get on the floor for a good tickling match, too. We do sometimes clash in how we see things and how we want things done, but those are the things we work out in love. “Wives need to remind themselves that when their husbands do something differently from how they would do it themselves, it does not constitute a breach of sanity or a display of contempt, it is merely a different way to do something.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Great Christmas Book for Kids

The good books just keep on coming. This one is perfect as a Christmas present for the little ones in your life.

I'm always looking for Biblically based Christmas stories for my children. I am thrilled with Little Star by Anthony Destefano, as it gives a fresh and creative perspective on the birth of Jesus.

Tears came to my eyes when I came to the part of the story where the star gets it. "... Little Star was the only one to understand the king's message. His message was love." What a wonderful way to capture the purpose behind this once ever event.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Secrets to a Great Marriage

This is mainly for married women, but not just for married women. There are many things I learned about being a wife that I wished I had learned before I became one. In the more than seven years that I was in relationship with my husband before he became my husband I did and said many destructive things. I am very fortunate (and grateful) that God taught me early in my marriage what His perspective and expectations are about my attitude, words, and actions towards my husband. As with anything, it is a journey. There are days when my heart is in the right place and there are days when it is not. As I strive to follow God’s regulations for my marriage I have seen and tasted the wonderful rewards of having a Godly perspective on my marriage and of my husband. I love my husband more today than I ever thought possible.
Does it really matter? Some people may ask. With the number of single parent families today, is a healthy marriage really important to moms and their children?

The answer, unequivocally, is YES. Study after study has shown that a healthy marriage has a huge positive impact on children.

Rewards of a Healthy Marriage
Marriage is supposed to be rewarding. Marriage is supposed to be fun. Marriage is supposed to be full of love. I am often completely amazed at what God has done in my marriage. Not that it has ever been tumultuous. It’s never been rocky or in danger of ending. I can honestly say that we’ve never been even close to that point. On the contrary, by the grace of God, as good as it was in the beginning, it has steadily gotten better. My heart often overflows with love for my husband and I sit in awe at the increase of love God has added to my marriage. I never imagined that I would love my husband more and more as time passed in our marriage. I’ve seen too many marriages fall apart and studied marriage enough to know that of love does not always increase.

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children.

Don’t get me wrong, however. I’ll never claim that my marriage is perfect. Of course it isn’t – it’s made up of two sinful, imperfect people. There have been bad moments and bad days. There are still times when I’m not really happy with my husband and he’s not really happy with me. But we have learned to work through those moments and those days and grow together. We have learned that it’s more important to focus on what’s going right than what we’re doing wrong. And we’ve learned that it takes work to maintain a healthy relationship, especially with several small children. We’ve also learned that putting the effort into our marriage is worth it. The rewards far outweigh the costs.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A book to buy, read, and give away

As you can tell by now, I’m an avid reader and love sharing great books with others. Sometimes, I wish I could by 20 copies of a great book and hand them out at will. The most recent book put in my hands is one of those. It is “On This Day in Christian History” by Robert J. Morgan. This daily devotional is full of history briefs of saints, martyrs, and heroes. Some of them, you’ve probably heard of. Others will be completely new. All of the stories are interesting, encouraging, and inspiring. The book holds true to its promise.

If you ever doubt that God does amazing things with ordinary people, this book will convince you otherwise. These 365 stories, each highlighting a different individual who lived radically for God, are about ordinary people. It tells of people born in every type of circumstance and living during all time periods, dating back to the second century.

The key theme is that anyone can live a life that shines for God. The history that is included in the stories, how individuals fit into changes in the church, reformations, and missions, is an added bonus. This book is well written and the only problem is you won’t want to stop at reading one a day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Addressing our Hubbies

As I write this I want to let you know that I am well aware that there are moms that will be reading this whom are in all sorts of situations. Many moms are married to the man they were married to before they had children. Many moms are married to a man who is not the father of their children. Many moms aren’t married due to divorce, death or other circumstances. Many moms are married but separated for a variety of reasons. Our family and marital situations are as varied as our personalities are. As we begin to talk about our other relationships, especially our most important earthly relationship, my goal is to encourage you in the relationships you have. I hope to help you to understand the importance of relationships built on Biblical principles. I hope to provide a view of relationships that shows they are meant to benefit us as moms, those we’re in relationships with, and our children.

We’ve talked about the importance of friendships with other moms (and girlfriends.) There, I believe, the foundation for the blessings of such relationships was laid. God created us as relational beings and we are to thrive and grow through and in our relationships. Our female friends are an important part of our lives. They help keep us on track, support us, and increase the joy we experience in life. As important and beneficial as our girlfriends are to our lives, our husband should be much more. Our relationship with our husband, for those who have one, should be our highest priority human relationship, but too often it is not.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

It breaks my heart how often I hear women say negative things about and to their husbands. Other women don’t speak badly to or about their husbands, but don’t pay a lot of attention to them either. Many women are so involved in their careers and/or their children that they don’t foster and enjoy their marital relationship. It often seems as if husbands are extraneous, attested to by the attitudes of many wives, the divorce rate, and the number of women choosing to have children without an involved father. Please know that I understand that there are women who really are in bad marriages, women whom have very legitimate reasons to get out of a marriage, and women who find themselves in bad situations. My heart is not to pour condemnation on anyone who has ended up in any of these circumstances. There is just a trend that has happened in our culture which has had severe negative effects on us collectively and individually. And I believe, that one by one, in making sure that we shift our perspectives to be Biblical, we can begin to experience the fruit and blessings of healthy, loving relationships with our husband.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Website for You

I came across another great website last week. I'm always up for educational and fun, and with my 7-year-olds newfound desire to be on the computer, I searched out something new for her. What we found was www.coolmath-games.com. I even got on and quizzed myself on the game where you have to name the states. I didn't do to badly, but next time I'll have to try the hard level instead of easy. :)

I highly recommend this sight for those who have computer-kids. (But always remember, limited time is best, even when the games are educational. Nothing can replace creative and active play!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Children's Bible Review

Did you ever wish there was a Bible for your children that they could read on their own? Not one that is a paraphrase of a selection of stories, but one that is a translation specifically for them. I recently received the International Children's Bible - Big Red - with updated graphics. This Bible is perfect for my seven year old, who's beyond toddler Bibles but not quite ready for adult translations. The updated graphics aren't my favorite, because I don't like the new style of graphics, but they're done well and I can see that they'd attract little ones' eyes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Great Deal

Interested in Busch Garden's Christmas Town? Go to their twitter page to get the promotion code for $5 Christmas Town tickets. That's not $5 off. That's $5 cost! Click, link, and have fun!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Never Enough

Do you ever feel like you're not doing enough? I think this is a common issue for moms. No matter what we do, no matter how much the lie is touted, we simply cannot do everything.

I know this, acknowledge this and believe this. Yet, no matter how much I do, I always feel like I could be doing more. Now, there are times I do nothing (meaning, sit in front of the tv and be a vegetable, usually not eating vegetables.) And times of rest are good to keep us balanced.

Recognizing what you are doing is good for balance, too. I recently had this feeling in relation to what my children are learning. There's a lot of pressure on a homeschooling mom to teach enough and the right things. I often question, Are they learning the right things? What if they don't learn enough about certain aspects of science or social studies or history? What if I'm not that effective of a teacher? Often, doubts reign.

Then, I look at what they are learning. Yesterday I literally did so. We are participating in Classical Conversations and my kids are learning amazing things. This week's lessons included:

History sentence about the Renaissance

Latin 1st Conjugation Future Tense

English - Possesive Pronouns

Science - 6 forms of pollution

Math - 11 & 12 multiples

Geography - European Features

What other 2nd graders and Kindergarteners are learning those things? So, while I recognize that they aren't getting every experience or lesson that are available through other education venues, I must recognize that they're getting unique lessons and experiences.

I think we all work this way. Whether it's in regards to our children's education, our work situation, our house-keeping situation, etc, we all do it differently. There are somethings that should never be comprimized (raising your children in a balanced, healthy, loving environment that holds them accountable, values education, and loves God), but the details in how these things are accomplished are individualized. I can love God and my family and stay at home full time. I can love God and my family and work full time. I can value education and teach my children myself, or send them to public or private school.

I cannot do everything. I wasn't meant to do everything. I don't want to lower my expectations, but I want to make sure that my expectations are in line with what God has called me to do and how He's called me to do it. Then, nothing is impossible. Nothing that's in His will for me. And He'll make sure that the rest is taken care of, one way or another.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friendly Humor

My friend! My friend! Come in, come in.
It's so good to see you again, 10, my friend.

Let's catch up, chat and visit for a while;
Have a cup of coffee, maybe walk a mile.

Sit down, kick your heels up; don't tarry too long though.
My old friend 8 is on her way, and then you will have to go!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

What if

My recent reading of Max Lucado's book OutLIVE Your LIfe has inspired me to ask some new questions of myself. Questions that would be good for all of us to ask. The main one is:

What can I do to make a difference?

In some ways, I've been asking these questions for a while now. I try to share life with others, giving in small ways. Passing on maternity clothes. Donating or consigning at reasonable prices children's clothes. Cooking a meal. Exchanging child care. While I think I have been obedient in serving those in my immediate circle (some days more than others), I am now being stretched to see how I can serve those that would cause me to step out of my comfort zone.

Many of us believe, say, and reinforce that we dont' have time? But is that true? How much time do we spend in front of the television? How much time to we spend surfing the net? How many activities do we sign our children up for? How often do we get together to have fun? We all have time, we choose how we spend it. We can choose to spend it differently.

What if

* We signed our child/ren up for one less activity and instead did some family volunteering each week/month?

*We gave up eating out once a week/month and donated that money to a feeding program for some of the millions of starving children in the world?

*We watered our lawn one less time a week and donated that money to a clean water well drilling program?

*We spent a "ladies night out" serving the poor a healthy meal?

*We used a family vacation to go on a mission trip instead of going to a theme park?

There are probably many other quetions we could as ourselves. Many other ways we can give. Won't giving to others teach our children all the things we wish to teach them? Isn't that what Jesus taught us?

What impact on our personal world and the world at large would we have if we decided to give a little more, and then followed through on it?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Out LIVE Your Life

Sometimes God makes things as clear as the full moon on a cloudless night. Lately, I feel like that's what He's been doing. In several different ways, He has been whispering to me to look to the possibilities of what I can do instead of my limitations as a homeschooling mom of four under 8. There are a lot of things I don't do - including go to the grocery store very often. I can do it, I prefer not to.

However, through two different books, one fiction and one nonfiction, a personal experience, and a special speaker at our church, God has been calling me out of my box that I've firmly planted around me and my children.

Now, there are things I shouldn't do. It wouldn't be wise to try to do every conference, girl's night, and fun opportunity that comes along. Nor would it be wise to be in a different homeschooling group every day of the week. These are good boundaries to have. I don't need to limit myself in what I can do for other people, though.

In reading Max Lucado's newest book - OutLIVE Your Life - I was deeply enouraged to ask what difference I can make on a daily basis. One of the final statements sums it up: "None of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone." Using personal stories and scripture in a way that it becomes relevent to everyday life, Lucado lays the foundation for a life that will be dynamic and full of love. He does so in a way that is entertaining, heartfelt and God-focused. This is definitely a five-gold-star book!

Get it, read it, then live it. You'll be amazed how God will use you. What He will make of your life. I'm excited to see what He does as I strive to be obedient and make the difference He made me to make.

Monday, September 20, 2010

To Balance Me Out

My post last Friday was bluntly honest about one of my most frustrating faults - forgetfulness. As I was walking early in the morning (in the perfect 63 degrees late summer, early morning air), God brought something to my attention. Although I may be forgetful, He is not. He's never forgotten anyone. ANYONE. EVER.

That is a thought that I could sit and mediate on for a while. Instead, this morning, I walked and thought about it. God not only knows each of us, but He knows every hair on our head, our hearts, and our thoughts. And He still loves us. Still offers complete forgiveness for ever time we have sinned either by commission or ommission. He forgave me for forgetting my neighbor over 2000 years ago as His very own blood was flowing from the body He chose to put His Spirit in for 33 years.

He knew each mistake I was going to make before He ever called me to love Him, serve Him, and start my own ministry. He also knew that I would fight my flesh to become obedient to Him. And that's why I think He's allowed me all the priveleges He has.

So, as you look at yourself and those around you - how so very far short we fall from perfection - remember that there is a perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves You. Allow that information to help you gird up your garments and continue to run the race He has set before you, not growing weary in doing good.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mommy Brain

Do you suffer from Mommy Brain? You know - forgetting things constantly. Walking from one room to the other and forgetting what you came in there for. Forgetting that you put a child in time out.

This morning I walked into the kitchen and found a container of pasta that I'd left out on the counter last night. 'Oh, well,' I thought. 'Now it's not tempting me anymore.' Earlier this week I forgot a person. A person! I was supposed to give a neighbor a ride home from church Wednesday night, got distracted in the search for a missing passy and transferring a friend's car seats to her car and didn't remember until I passed her house - a full fifteen minutes later!

How could I forget a person??? My husband laughed. My neighbor forgave me. I am trying to stop beating myself up. In order to help, I'm looking at what I can do to help my poor over-exercised brain.

Have any suggestions??

One thing, I'm going to try to go back to writing everything down. The old adage is true: hear it - remember 10%, say it - remember 30%, write it, remember 70%, practice it - remember 90%. In order to do this, I must pay more attention to what I'm doing.

As a mom, I'm used to multi-tasking. When I'm listening to praise music, cooking, answering a multitude of questions or folding laundry, watching a movie, and trying to get in my water for the day, multi-tasking can be good. But, in many instances, it simply means I'm not paying as close attention to what I'm doing as I should. e.g. Talking on the phone and checking email at the same time is not productive. I miss half of both.

So, I will go back to making lists and try to be more aware of what's going on. I'd be more than happy to hear any other suggestions that have helped other moms suffering from Mommy Brain!

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Week of School

I thought that having school start on a holiday week would be a good thing. A shorter week. Woohoo! But, here it is Friday, the week's almost over and we've gotten almost nowhere. I should add that: I homeschool, missed doing laundry on Monday because of the holiday, started a new homeschooling group {Classical Conversations} Tuesday, had a Dr.'s appt. and shopping for my mom's wedding to do on Wednesday, found out I'm anemic (on top of having low Vit. D - no wonder I crash in the afternoons!), and had a play date for the kids w/some other homeschoolers Thursday morning. I feel like a week in, we're already behind!

I am glad that the onslaught of other activities haven't started, putting more into our schedule. Maybe easing into all the activities (Awana, children's choir, dance, and Ladies' Small Group) is a good thing. Time to get myself organized. So far, I haven't made a good transition back to school.

The factor that makes it all work - we homeschool! I don't have to have it all together all at once (Thank God!.) We can get a slow start, like the tortiose, but if we rev up and keep going steady, we'll still win the race. That rabbit that took off out of the gate sprinting will have nothing on us!

Now, I'm going to go get ready for another day of teaching, running the house, and trying to keep everyone healthily fed! It works for us (even though some days it just works us :).

For all those moms out there working their own schedules and managing their families, I send blessing, grace, mercy, and peace as you lead your children into the world one step at a time - no matter whether that's by way of homeschool, private school, or public school. Take time to drink a cup of coffee (or tea, or smoothie) and keep in touch with your mommy friends as the school year takes off like the space shuttle - on a holiday week.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review

I recently had an opportunity to read "Captured by Grace" by David Jeremiah, one of my favorite preachers. As expected, the book was well organized and thouroughly Biblical. I enjoyed the opening chapters most, as I learned more about John Newton, the author of "Amazing Grace." As the book went on, it continued to expound on essential elements of the grace God gives us, shedding light on many truths found in the Word. I would give this book four out of five stars only because while it is well written and focuses on God and His Word, it is not one that I can't put down. Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend it as a great addition to any library.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ahhh...Quiet

Yesterday I had one of the best gifts ever for a mommy - I had a day off! A true day off. 24 hours with no kids. No demands. No whining. No arguing. No interruptions during dinner, or a good book, or in the bathroom. It was marvelous.

I love my kids, but I also cherish time by myself to recharge. This may sound repetitive (as several of my posts in the last couple of weeks have been about Mommy Time), but it is still true. I tried to think back to the last time I had a day completely by myself and I came up with that it's been 23 months. That would be 9 months of pregnancy and the first 14 months of my littlest one's life. That's a long time. I've had afternoons off and a few hours here and there, but there's nothing quite like spending a whole day in your nightgown uninterrupted.

I also got to go to a Thirty-One party (the night before, after dropping the kids off), which was great gal time. So, I had a little bit of both types of mommy time.

I was very happy to see all my sweet ones when they arrived home around dinner time last night, and was recharged and ready to go again. And today, I am reaping the rewards of my time off in feeling much more capable of doing what is demanded of me day-in and day-out to raise four children under 8, take care of my house, and homeschool.

I had plans to get all sorts of writing, revising and submitting done on my day off. I did a little. However, I don't feel like I wasted my time at all. There is definitely something to taking a day of rest. There's a reason God called us to do so. As moms, we aren't able to get a day off once a week, even if we dont' do anything but parent and throw some cold cereal at them to eat. No, we need to be deliberate about making that time. I am fortunate enough to have a mom close enough and willing to keep all the kids for me once in a while. I know not everyone does. I can think of several other moms I know personally who don't. So, after my wonderful, fabulous, restful day, my main thought is, "Who can I give this gift to?" That's what I'll work on next.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

New ADHD Study

I've long been a studier of ADD/ADHD. As a counselor I researched and taught educational classes on ADD/ADHD. One question I asked was, "How come we see so much of it today?" Did everyone really miss it before? Is there something about our culture that makes it stand out more or causes more of it? Is there anything parents can really do to help children cope with it?

The answers to these questions are simple,yet complex. Before I tackle any of them, I will share that even as an educated, employed, successful adult, I tested moderate for ADD. I could tell when I took the test, however, that I would have answered many of the questions very differently when I was younger and would probably have been flagged had I ever been tested. But I give credit to my mom for creating a very structered environment growing up where I was held to certain standards and consequenced when I didn't meet those standards. That strictness drove me crazy as a child, but I can see now it was teaching me the skills I needed to get my inability to attend to one thing at a time (unless I happened to become obsessed with something) under control. I learned how to sit for a long period of time (not still, no I still cannot do that, but to take notes, make notes, or otherwise occupy my body so that it will not jump out of it's seat.)

I also believe that we restrict children's ability to have great amounts of physical activity. Thirty minutes in a seven hour period is no where near enough time for physical activity for young children. While I believe they also need to learn discipline of a structured learning environment, children are full of energy. Even average, non ADD/ADHD children. But, we have them sitting in school for 6 hours, on the bus for 1-1&1/2 hours, and then give them 2-3 hours of homework. Add in a few structured activities, and there's not much free time left. (This is one great benefit I get from homeschooling.)

In addition, there are many environmental things that contribute to the increase. It has been suggested often that our American diet heavy in fats, preservatives, and sugar is a major contributor. One new study backs this up. As I look into being healthier and am learning more about whole/natural food eating, I find more and more articles such as this one.

I'm sharing it because I believe that knowledge is important in making healthy decisions. This is only one way we can learn more that may possibly help us as women and moms.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-foods-linked-to-adhd.html?page=2

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Great Deal at AMF

had a good time at the AMF bowling alley this morning - two moms, 7 kids! (I couldn't have done it without you, Leigh Anne!) kids get 2 games free all summer long. go to: www.kidsbowlfree.com to register.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trade Mommy Time

Invaluable as a mom is other moms. Just yesterday I got to have some good Mommy Time with some wonderful mommy friends and their little ones. These days I cherish, but I also cherish time by myself. Mommy friends can also come in handy for this. For years I have been trading off time with other friends. I will admit, it becomes more difficult with more children (and is almost impossible when they're under 3), but when you have faithful friends with whom you don't mind watching your children and don't mind watching theirs, you can do some trading.

This time can be used to do housework, run errands alone, or catch up on some much needed rest. Your child comes to my house for a few hours today, and mine will come to yours a few hours tomorrow. These play dates occur more naturally as they get older, but it's good to have the foundation set early through some planning and intentional swap time.

So, call a mom, set up a date, and enjoy your time!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mommy Times

Now that we've discussed getting time alone as a Mommy to recharge, we will move to another important version of Mommy Time. That's time with other mommies! These times I relish as much as my time by myself. And there are many ways to do this.

There have been innumerable "Mommy and Me" classes and times popping up everywhere in the last few decades. I think that moms used to get together and hang out, but our current culture is so scheduled and organized, that we now have to schedule this time with each other.

A beautiful picture I have in my head is of cultures such as many of the Native American cultures. The men and older boys went out on hunts and the women worked together and watched the children - together. They was often a central place where the work was done so that women could visit, teach, and encourage each other as they worked. I think we are missing something by being isolated in our personal, family, and work lives. We are missing natural fellowship.

But, there are ways to get it. For me, one of the best ways is joining a women's Bible study. These times of growing in the Lord and in relationships with other women are priceless. There are also Mom's time out, MOPS, and many other groups that you can find in most communities. Lisa Welchel (author of Taking Care of the Me in Mommy) talks about getting together with a group of mommy friends weekly in their house. However it happens (whether you find a good group or start a good group) these times are a wonderful way to encourage and receive encouragement from other moms. We all have different strengths we can play off of as we converse and learn from each other. And, the fellowship is usually awesome.

Romans 1:12 ... that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Mommy Time

For those of you who are not a fan of the early morning hours or who have children who wake up at the crack of dawn or have to be at work too early to make these hours viable, don't give up hope! There are always ways to find Mommy Time. If your children are young enough, nap time is always a good time. Even if they don't all nap, this may be the time to stick the slightly older ones in front of a video (I'm not a huge fan of tv, but it comes in handy the 1-2 hours my kids are allotted a day.) While often our inclination during this time is to start working on the never-ending chore list (as I'm doing at this moment), sometimes it's best to use this time to rest, recharge, and regroup. A 30 minute to hour rest may make you more efficient in your work the rest of the time that you have.

Another option (one I am a huge fan of) is play dates. While everyone doesn't have convenient play dates you would actually want you children hanging out with, we are fortunate in this area. There are also friends we have to schedule and make time for. But it's worth it! This is one of the many areas moms can trade off in. I take your child(ren) today, you take mine tomorrow. Now, granted, with four children and them all being so small, it is a rarity when their all not at home. The one-year-old never gets play dates, the three-year-old seldom. But I know that time will come and I do what I can to create a quiet atmosphere and send as many on play dates at the same time as possible. Sometimes it ends up that I have an extra child and have one of my own out, but it all works out eventually. Well, kind of. I have to be very intentional about creating this haven of time in my chaotic mother-of-four-under-eight-homeschooling-etc-life.

The important thing is to recognize your need for quiet time, to be intentional creating it, and using it wisely (this is not the time to "browse" the computer or fold 6 loads of laundry.) Remember, you need rest. You can pick how you rest, but make sure it's recharging to you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Time for Mom

I'll start off my recommendations for finding Mommy Time that is the least popular. But, especially for moms like me that are home full time and homeschool several small children, it is often the only time I get. That is: early mornings. Don't stop reading! Just because I mentioned the worst way many moms could imagine to get time. I used to be just like you. I was the college student who was in bed by ten and usually slept until about seven, later if I didn't have an early class or have to be at work early. I really loved my sleep. I never realized before becoming a mom how much children would impact that one aspect of my life.

When my first child was about three months old when I remember lay in bed crying because I was exhausted. Not only was I exhausted though, I was tired of being exhausted. And that was only three months in. (I was not one of those fortunate women who got a baby who was sleeping eight to ten hours by two months old. EVER! None of my children slept more than five to seven hour stretches until they were eleven months old.) When my second was about six months old, I was going through it again. Of course, this time I was also at home full time and was watching three other children (making a total of five, with four of them being two and under.) Needless to say, I was not getting any Mommy Time. And I was not getting enough sleep. In my desperate prayers to get more sleep, God provided a slightly different answer: He brought me to Proverbs 20:13. Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare. Wow. That socked me right in the chest. I was loving sleep. Not loving motherhood. And I was seeking the wrong thing to become a better friend with motherhood.

I stopped counting hour many hours of sleep I lost and began to focus more on other things. I also got invited to a Bible Study (that'll be another day's post.) I did sleep through the night again, I did have two more babies and go through two more years of interrupted sleep, but through it all, I began to cherish the early morning hours I ended up awake. Whether it was in the middle of the night and the baby was back to sleep, or the early morning just as the sun was coming up, these times became precious. I don't always get these times. I try to listen to my body and make sure I'm getting enough rest to function at full throttle all day long, but when I get them, they are golden. No other time is the house silent for hours. No other time is there not some distraction of the computer or phone to steal my attention. No other time am I fairly safe from interruption for more than ten minutes. No other time am I not fully engaged in listening for what's going on in the other rooms. No other time can I read and study my Bible and talk to God in the unique way quiet brings.

On those mornings I'm woken up by one child or the other calling me or climbing into my bed, I miss my quiet time. I love those moments, too, it's all about balance. But getting spend some time alone with myself, my God, my exercise video, and sometimes my cup of coffee, is like starting the day with a full tank of gas and a freshly washed windshield. I don't get it every day, but when I do, I can tell the difference.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mommy Time

I have found that one of the most challening things as a mom is to find Mommy Time (okay, I'll admit that my list of challenging things as a mom is fairly long, but this is definitely on it.) Especially having four children under eight. Especially homeschooling. My children, all four of the precious darlings, are home with me all day every day. I've been home full time on and off during my motherhood years, but when I worked it was only one or two days a week, and no, I did NOT see it as a break. For me, for my introverted 50%, I need complete down, uninterrupted time for me to count it as Mommy Time. For the 50% extroverted part of me, I need times where I can be with other adults and talk about, well adult things.

First, let me be clear on one point: I love being a mother. I would not trade it for anything else in the world. That doesn't mean that I don't plan on doing anything else in the world, even while they're little (after all, here I am blogging), but that doesn't mean I don't love being a mother. Even given it's far more demanding than I ever dreamed. Even though it's far more work than I ever imagined. Even though I have more negative emotions than I ever thought possible. I love being around my children, laughing with them, playing with them, teaching them, and guiding them. But, I also love my Mommy Time. It's what recharges me to be a better mom to my children.

I have found, in my years of being a mom, part-time employee, wife, housekeeper, writer, speaker, and women's ministry leader, that Mommy Time doesn't just happen, it has to be created. And, there are almost innumerable ways to create it.

We all have different challenges in creating Mommy Time that affect us: some moms don't have family around, some moms are married to military men who are gone months at a time and/or move frequently, some moms have families they don't trust to watch their children, some moms feel guilty about leaving their children, some moms work part-time or full-time and don't feel they need other time without their children, some moms don't have money to pay a babysitter, some moms live in isolated places, some moms live in dangerous places. Regardless of what your challenges are, there is a way to overcome them. As with anything else, once you recognize a need (and Mommy Time, in one form or another, is a need - it helps us to be better mothers. I can't overstate it's importance) and the challenges to meeting that need, you come to a crossroad: you can either walk away from the hurdle in front of you, or you can choose to back up, examine the hurdle, and figure out the best way to sail over it. It may be more work initially, but the rewards will be well worth it.

Second, I want be clear on something else. Some moms take Mommy Time to extremes. Everything is about them, getting their needs met, being pampered, and not letting their children inconvenience their lives. That is not the kind of time I'm talking about. My children are a huge inconvenience to my life (if by inconvenience you mean interrupting my ideas of doing what I want when I want how I want,) but they are the most blessed inconveniences I've ever been graced with. From the moment I became pregnant with my first child, my main focus for her and the others to come behind her, was to do the job of mothering to my utmost ability. Mommy Time works in that scheme by helping me stay balanced and healthy, not to stroke my ego, make life easy, or reduce my responsibilities as a mom. It is the emotional equivelant to sleep. When we sleep (whether a full night's sleep or a nap to make up for months of interrupted sleep), it recharges our bodies. That is the goal of Mommy Time: to recharge you so you can not just be a good mother, but to be the best mother you can be.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Recharging

Do you need a recharge? Is life crazy? Busy? Draining you instead of reviving you? Can you believe the school year starts back up in a month and a half? Why don't you schedule in a retreat for yourself in the fall, in between school starting and the business of the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season? Just 24 hours can recharge you and fill you with life-changing encouragement.

The Abundant Life Conference for Women is being held November 12-13, 2010 in beautiful Williamsburg, VA. The $75 registration fee includes all sessions, 2 meals, and a snack. Get a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Patriot for $79 (for up to 4 people) and breakfast will also be included. Early registration ends August 31, so click here to print your registration form and send it in today! We look forward to a special time of drawing closer together as women, moms, sisters, friends, and, most importantly, daughters of God!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Travel & Relationships

Once again, I am so inconsistent! But, I have a somewhat legitimate excuse. I've spent 13 out of the last 18 days not at home. I'm not usually a traveler, but things came into play that allowed me some greta opportunities to spend time with friends and family that I don't get to see often. While this may seem completely off topic of health, building and maintaining relationships are a part of being healthy - and not just a part of our emotional health, but also a part of our physical health. As science continues to progress, there is a undeniable connection between our minds, bodies, and spirits, which includes relationships, that has become more clear.

There are some relationships that we are able to maintain regularly - friends we see weekly or more frequently - and some relationships that we are only able to give face time to occasionally - monthly, annually, or less frequently - but all these relationships inpact our lives. In today's age of information and being able to reach out to someone at our fingertips, we can easily take relationships for granted. An email or text can only say so much. If it's true that 85% of communication occurs nonverbally, then it's important to at least once in a while see someone or at least talk to them on the phone to retain good relationships. I love having the easy access to people who are far away, but nothing compares to hearing a loved one's voice or getting to see them with my own eyes and wrap them up in a hug that says, "I love you and am so glad you're a part of my life."

These are the moments that help recharge me and put the sprinkles of the ice cream cone of life.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sharing a Give-Away

Coupon Mom is giving away a copy of: "The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half."

Click here to go to her entry page.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What we do to be Healthy - Part 3

That brings us to portions. I have to say that this has probably been one of the most lifestyle changing revelations I’ve had when it comes to eating better. What Americans often tend to think of as portions are what we get when we go out to eat. And because we look for ‘more for less,’ our perceptions of what portions are are greatly distorted. Proper portions are:
· One carbohydrate serving is 15 grams. This equals to ½ cup of potatoes or pasta and 1/3 cup of rice. It’s often one slice of bread and ½ cup of fruits (although most melons and berries have larger servings, 1 – 1&1/2 cup.)
· One vegetable serving is one cup raw or ½ cup cooked.
· One meat serving is 3 oz (that’s 1 oz. smaller than a quarter pounder!)
While this list doesn’t include everything, it’s a good start. Once you see what appropriate portions are, you will be able to better balance what you eat. But that’s not the end of it. Knowledge is only part of what it takes to be healthy. The other parts of this puzzle are a decision to make healthy choices and following through on that decision. Sometimes there’s a fourth piece of the puzzle: accountability tools.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What we do to be Healthy - Part 2

The second major change is to start reading labels. That is, reading the nutritional information and the ingredients on the prepackaged items you do buy. You will be amazed at how eye-opening this is. I first began reading labels when I started watching my carb intake. First you look at the contents: calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and carbohydrates. Then you look at the serving size. This is where much of the shock comes in. And often the knowledge you need to make healthy eating changes.
I’ve caught myself, more times than I care to count, saying, ‘There’s that many (insert: calories, carbs, fat) in that!’ It almost seems impossible that there could be that much shoved into such a small serving size. But, once you start reading labels, you will understand much more about why many of us are so unhealthy. You can even do this when it comes to eating out. Most fast food restaurants and many other restaurants have their nutritional information on line (although once you read it, it will almost seem ironic that it’s called ‘nutritional’ information.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

What we do to be Healthy - Part 1

For me, the main goals in eating (other than having the proper perspective) are to eat balanced and as natural as possible. As natural as possible is probably the biggest challenge in eating healthy. We have become accustomed to prepared and processed foods. They are convenient, quick, easy, and our taste buds have gotten used to the flavors in them.
I’ll be the first to admit that my pantry still has quite a few processed foods. Crackers, cereal, breads are all staples. However, we also have bowls of fresh fruit and a constant supply of fresh and frozen vegetables. They key is to not look in your pantry and throw out everything that’s in a box or bag. The key is to take it one step at a time and eliminate what you can, and add what you can.
One of the first thing we did in our house was make fresh fruits and vegetables a constant fixture. Study after study shows that Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables. There are a many products available now that tout being fruit and vegetable supplements (made with real fruit, two servings of veggies,) but the truth is, there’s no substitute for fresh, real live foods. If we start eating them and our children start eating them, we will begin to appreciate the flavors and textures that cannot be mimicked in man-made foods.
I have to add a caution here, though. Many fruits and vegetables sold in many markets (grocery stores) are the product of mass-produced items in which pesticides. There are many cautions out about limiting our intake of products with pesticides. The most recent study shows that there may be a link between pesticides and ADD. Whether that (or any of the other specific claims) turn out to be true, it would be wise to be cautious. There are many ways to avoid and limit exposure to pesticides. You can grow your own (although not everyone everywhere can grow everything,) you can buy from local farmers’ markets and stands (where you can ask), and you can buy organic. Don’t let your limited ability to do any one of these things scare you off of making this one important change, however. Fruits and vegetables (and a variety of them) are good for our bodies and provide many needed and desired nutrients.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Health is eating to live, not living to eat

While many of us focus on our weight and size, few of us focus on how we approach food. Food has become a cultural phenomena. It has become about how much you can get for how little. How things are pleasing to our taste buds for the moment regardless of the long-term impact on our bodies. How to make it cheaper, easier, and more fun. In other words, we have learned to live to eat. Instead, our focus in regards to food should be eating to live. Our main goal in eating should be to feed our bodies what they need to thrive. I’m not saying that we should ignore our taste buds. On the contrary, eating healthy can be fun, creative, and taste good.
This is a struggle that many of us have, including me. One of the reasons that I am not content with my weight and size right now are because I made some eating decisions that were not in the best interest of my body, but instead were catered to my taste buds. We are conditioned by commercials and lifestyles to eat for pleasure.
We also eat when we’re sad, eat to celebrate, eat for fellowship, and even eat when we’re bored. Why not? We’re asked. You deserve it. We’re told. In my book, what we really deserve is the opportunity to eat what’s best for our bodies. The answers to why not are almost too much to cover, but I’ll dabble a little in the reasons.
We are what we eat. Garbage in, garbage out. That may make us think that the garbage will come out, having no effect on us, but that simply is not true. The garbage out in the case of what we eat is how it affects us. The reasons not to eat simply for taste disregarding nutrients and health benefits (or detriments) include:
· The effect on our digestive system.
· The effect on our hearts and cardiovascular system.
· The effect on our hormones and endocrine system.
· The effect on our ability to sleep well and restfully.
· The effect on our energy level.
· The effect on our moods.
· The effect on our ability to focus and perform well.
As you can see, even this short list is fairly comprehensive, covering nearly ever aspect of our lives. So, with a multitude of information, much of it contradictory, how do we know how to eat? What diet do we follow? Who do we listen to?
First of all, I encourage you to do your own research. Check out the government’s health website. Look up the effects of preservatives and other chemical additives to our foods. Read and listen to balanced health professionals. Talk to your doctor. Like I said before, I don’t claim to be an expert or to know everything there is to know about health, but I have done a lot of research and can pass along what I’ve found.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Health is not a lack of disease

This is also an important part of understanding health. Many people think that they are healthy simply because they have not been diagnosed with something. Others think that their ability to be healthy is out of their control because they have been diagnosed with something. Neither of these is true.
Much of what I have learned about health (like many other areas) have come through trial and error. And education. Much of that education came after I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy. I had been vowing to lose ten pounds (then fifteen, then twenty) for a long time. I wanted to be smaller, and I guess healthier, but I never really looked into what it would take to do so. When I was diagnosed, however, I was prompted to find out what I needed to do to get healthy. So, ironically, I became the healthiest I had ever been while I was managing gestational diabetes. This came in handy when I dealt with it again in my second and third pregnancies, and especially when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in between my third and fourth pregnancies. Because of this, I have learned that a diagnosis of a life-long disease does not mean that I have to give up on being healthy. On the contrary, for me it was the catalyst I needed to become healthier.
I know the same is true for many other women. I know many moms who cope with illnesses such as fibromyalgia, Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diagnoses who live very healthy lives. They manage their illness and do not allow it to define them or their overall health.
If health is not found solely in the numbers and is not a lack of disease, then what is it? That’s the crux of this chapter. I don’t claim to be a medical professional or an expert in any specific area of health, but I can share what I’ve learned through research, experience and talking with health professionals about what it takes to get and remain healthy.
 

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