Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Gratitude For the Impossible


First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, 
and thanksgivings be made for all people,  
for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful 
and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, 
and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,  
who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (emphasis added)

Gratitude is one of those things... it is easy to walk out when times are great or something thoughtful has been done for us or we are pleased with the results of a situation.  But walking out gratitude in difficulty... that is another story.

How do we do that?  How do we walk out gratitude when all we are thrown is curve balls?  How do we walk out gratitude when people are difficult?  Sure, I can be thankful for the discount I enjoyed at the grocery store the other day... but certainly I don't have to be thankful for the person who cut me off driving home or the lady I learned has been talking bad about me behind my back.

This past week, we, as Americans, had the awesome opportunity to VOTE.  To cast our voice out there for whomever we felt would be the best fit for our ideals and our states/country.  Maybe 'your guy' got in, maybe he/she didn't.  I know many are frustrated with how things are being ran... have been being ran for a long time.  Anger sparks.  Debates happen.  I know of friendships which have suffered over mere political differences.  Sparks fly and the news is wrought with headlines reflecting the toxicity bubbling over.

As I read 1 Timothy this morning it struck me: God, through Paul, to Timothy says here to make supplications, prayers, even intercessions AND THANKSGIVING for all people.  If we stop there we can say: well, I guess I should pray this way for the person who cut me off in traffic or that gossip spreading lies.  And, yes, that is exactly what this says.  But wait, there is more.

This passage goes on to say these same prayers and these same "all people" also includes kings and ALL who are in high positions.  Yes, even the guy/gal in charge at work as well as in local/state/federal government.  ALLLLLLLL of them.  Seem hard? 

Consider this: when these words were penned the people in charge were....?  Do you know?  Yup, the ROMANS.  I'm not simply talking just toga wearing, road building, chariot driving Romans... no, think in more detail; I'm talking persecution carrying, godS worshiping, 'only Caesar is great' believing Romans... the same guys who would feed the early Christians to wild beasts for sport, burn their bodies to light their dinner parties and persecute to the point that many had to take to living in the sewers and grave 'yards' under the cities. 

These guys are the ones God, through Paul, to Timothy said to Pray for, supplicate, intercede, and THANK God for. 

Does that turn your world upside down?

I know it turned mine upside down.  We want to complain about legislation or walls to be/not to be built, or a boss who won't give us off the time we want or a spouse who is being difficult... or that gossip or rude driver.  But the original hearer of this text would have been grateful for the simplicity of our modern problems.  And what grabs me, just as much as the command and style of prayer here, is why we are to pray.  For this we need to rewind to chapter 1:

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with 
the prophecies previously made about you, that by them 
you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. 
By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,
1 Timothy 1:18-19 (emphasis added)

From here Paul says, in 2:1, First of all, then, I urge that....  why?  Because prayer in this way is how we wage the GOOD warfare and hold the faith in good conscience.  BUT, if we reject God's call for us to lay aside our finite opinions and perceptions and reject the path God has for us to pursue peace, well, in chapter 1, Paul says it will make a shipwreck of our faith. 

BUT, IF we pray in this way, for ALL, God has commanded here, 1 Timothy 2 says we may lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way.  It continues in saying this is not just "good", but that it is "pleasing in the sight of God..."  You could even read more into this passage by noticing how it says He desires that ALL people be saved and come to the knowledge of truth... is this to say our prayers, supplications, intercessions and thanksgiving help people come to that place... especially people in high positions?  

I believe it does.

As prayer warriors, even for those whom we want to spout venomously about, we are fighting a battle on their behalf.  We are hoping for them and trusting for them in a way they are not capable of at the moment.  We are realizing how lost we were without others' intercessions.  How undeserving we were of forgiveness... and in gratitude for our own salvation, we can and should and ought to pray for others'.

So here I confess, I have felt bogged down by all of the political garbage lately.  I see it in the church hierarchy, I see it in the government at every level... it is unavoidable.  My attitude has grown more dower daily.  The pivoting point came when I realized how my frustrations and occasional negativity weren't staying in those realms... it was beginning to leak over into family life and perspective friendships.  I was not living a quiet, peaceful life.  My life was becoming anything but quiet and peaceful.  

I have begun making incremental changes.  I'm reconsidering my inner dialogues and adjusting my focus.  When frustrating situations arise, I'm remembering to pray better.  When someone does something I don't understand or agree with, I'm considering the alternate positive dialogue of possibilities to their drive and thinking.  Most of all, I'm learning to pray much like 1 Timothy 2:1 suggests... interceding, supplicating, and even thanking.  

If there is one thing I have learned over the years it is how even the out-of-my-control trying situations (and people) have been used by God to grow me and make me more into His image.  He gives me countless opportunities to practice grace and agape love.  Yet, when I fight it, complain about it, neglect to pray over it... the trial feels endless and, at times, I put myself into a peaceless, noisy existence which takes twice as long get out of!

I pray, this Thanksgiving season, if you hear my heart in all of this, that you would join me in supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for all the difficult people, at every level, and situations in our lives which only God can pave the way through and help us to find peace and quiet.

Blessings,




Are you looking for a Gratitude Bible Study?  Look no further!  If you sign up for my monthly newsletter I will send you November's issue which also includes a FREE printable Gratitude Study (and other great FREE printables as well!)  Scroll down to see how.






*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

Monday, November 12, 2018

Managing Holidays: Action Plans

Hey everyone.  I missed "seeing" you last Monday.  My whole blogging schedule has been pretty off since November swung into motion.  Life sort of hi-jacked my time to write.  Holiday season is in swing now and I suppose there are bound to be more impromptu time swallowings!

This month I thought I would swap out my usual "Keepers at Home" heading for a cozy evening snap-shot of my holiday mantel all lit up.  You might have noticed it in the back ground of many of my pictures this past month.  I'm slowly adding turkeys to the autumn decor as a nod to Thanksgiving in a TWO short weeks.

Managing holidays is an exuberant affair for me.  For as long as I can remember I have always loved to transition seasons and wrap myself up with gusto in each celebration as it came.  I'm certain it was my  mother's influence!  She made every season sparkle.  I feel like I honor her memory as decor dons every nook and cranny of my home and holiday place settings to accompany meals are plotted and planned from as early as I am able to start putting pen to paper!

It was in this process recently that I decided to work up some new printables based on my handwritten versions I have developed over the years.  Something I could share with all of you. One already appeared in my monthly newsletter, which, by the way, if you sign up for NOW, I will send you a link to November's issue with not just a dinner organizational print-out but also a Thanksgiving Bible study!  (Details are at the bottom of this article.)


I tend to cook and prepare all month long in order to make the day-of a little less chaotic.  However, I don't just barrel into my need-tos.  Nope, I make a list and get an action plan in motion. 
I keep a binder for the autumn season in order to track all of fall's festivities.  In my November section I tab off different segments for Dinner Plans, Recipes, Arts and Crafts, General To-Dos and so on.  Can you believe I have been tracking for over 18 years?!?!  I know I can't.  I kind of wish I had thought to track back when I first became a housewife over 26 years ago, I can only imagine what the even younger me would have recorded!!


(We disguise turkeys every year as a quirky craft/decoration.  Above is my template I duplicated back when my oldest was in elementary school.  With almost everyone adult age now, they STILL love the annual turkey disguise!)





 As I prep to make my dinner menu and monthly need-tos, I skim notes-to-self from previous years which I leave to myself throughout the month and as a wrap up after the Big Day.  This past week, as I began this annual process, I was inspired to make my next set of printables when realizing how I have a pattern of drawing out my menu and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  It is a simple method, really, and I thought it would be fun to replicate in a PDF so you could use it if you are needing the assistance in organizing your Thanksgiving plans!

click on image for FREE download
I use the large boxes on the lower half to plan dish prep steps, remind myself to iron linens and even to recall my need to sort out place settings and serving dishes during the more critical days leading up to Thanksgiving and then an hour-by-hour draft to field a basic overview of what needs to be happening and when (like, 9am "Turkey In") on the actual day.

The top half with the partial November calendar is used to pencil in general ideas of what pre-prep items can be done those weeks and any major events which I don't want to forget to accommodate as I am working and planning.

I also have a menu line-up and grocery planning list I lead-out with so I know what I am cooking and prepping for all month!!  A PDF of which is available in this month's November newsletter along with printable recipe cards which I will email to all new sign-ups until Thanksgiving Eve!

I believe a good plan in hand helps to save a lot of potential holiday chaos.  Delegating and doing various tasks ahead of time can also help defray the frazzles!

The other pages in my binder were done by hand with colored pens and thanksgiving stickers.  Once I achieved the design I liked I photo-copied with a color printer, keeping the original tucked at the back of it's corresponding section in my binder should I need additional sets down the road.  If you are interested in making your own, here is what you would need:
  • 1" 3-ring binder
  • Tabbed dividers
  • 3-hole punch
  • Fall or Thanksgiving themed scrapbook paper to insert in binder cover
  • Colored pens/markers of choice
  • Fall or Thanksgiving stickers (scrapbook isle at craft store or card isle in other stores)

You may need scissors and/or a paper cutter if you need to cut your scrapbook paper down to fit the cover.

I label my tabs:
Calendar/To-do lists
Decorations/Crafts
Menus/Recipes
Memories

I use the "Memories" tab to record everyone's favorites from the year: old traditions, new traditions, craft/decorations, food, and favorite book (we had a TON of children's Thanksgiving picture books when my kids were growing up). 

Under the Menus/Recipes tab I will keep the Menu Worksheet (FREE printable in my newsletter). At the end of the season I tuck each completed one along with any notes on recipes and magazine or internet recipes (printed off) we tried and/or might like to do again. 

I keep all my old to-do lists under the Calendar/To-do list tab.  It may seem irrelevant when the holiday is over, however, they help me remember what worked and what didn't.  I also keep the printable in this article in this section.

My "notes to self" I actually store at the very front of all of this.  Seeing them when I first open my binder for the year helps me recall to sit and read.  (I can be seriously that forgetful!)

If you want to do a section for each month between September and November, the process is the same.  I use sheet protectors with relevant scrapbook paper inserted at the beginning of each monthly section so the divides are clear.  You could just make this for Thanksgiving though, which is what I have considered down-sizing my binder to since my kids are almost all grown and September/October hold much less planning need as a result.


I pray, however you choose to organize and celebrate Thanksgiving, that it is a blessed one and, regardless of your season of life, this season produces a multitude of gratitudes, even if only in the small things!

Blessings,









*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

HMJ: The Week That Almost Wasn't

Thanksgiving Break is ALMOST HERE!!  That is what I reassured Brooke as she begged to have Monday off.  It was just an off day.  And as the week progressed, she pleaded, just one week off wouldn't hurt... would it?  It was tough being the persistent mom.  Knowing we would be enjoying 9 straight days off beginning after next Friday, helped me stay the course.  Thankfully there were no tantrums or pouting fits... just simple attempts to request some slack.

I can't blame her.

Not at all... I confessed, in return, how I LOVE love love the start of the school year but, as the days wear on, I just sort of want to be done with the whole thing!  I love teaching.  I love spending my days with my kids (now ONE 'kid').  But sometimes even a mom just wants to do anything but educational stuff!  So.... even after a Sunday afternoon hanging out at Michael's all chill like this:
 
 ... and our Monday starting like this...
... it ended up like this...
We called it a "Consumer Math field trip" and it sort of was.  My teacher mom hat went on as we discussed budget and reasonable spending, reviewing our family budget before we left the house. Our first stop was Brooke's idea of decompression where she dreamt of a some-day job from which she could use 10-20% of her paycheck to boost her shoe collection.... while I suggested some of that potential budget be used on a shoe storage solution as well!

After frivolities we headed to the grocery store where I put her in charge of the list and budget we had discussed before we headed out.  Thankfully she likes math so she found this fun, even if the grocery budget couldn't buy her new shoes!!

After our Monday excursions and my projected plans to make up the difference in the coming weeks, I did keep my foot down on finishing the rest of our week strong.  Instead of taking our usual Wednesday off this week we pushed through and took Friday off instead... which she spent trying a new P.E./potential hobby..

You can tell she's nervous, she was playing with her hair!!  She climbed for about 30 minutes and then decided it wasn't her 'thing'... sadly.  I thought it was pretty neat but it does require a lot of upper body strength and fearlessness... which I forgot, when I authorized the excursion, she is afraid of heights!!!! ha.  Onto other prospects.

Halfway through the week we enjoyed a beautiful dusting of snow...
... and here I confess that most of my writing is being done to soft piano music tinkling out Christmas tunes!

At this point in the week we also made the judgment call to pause Astronomy and French videos/bookwork until January.  This will give her time to focus on finishing her one-semester course of Consumer Math so her daily schedule isn't as overwhelming.  Even though we won't be doing the videos and book work, she will keep at her self-paced French studies with Duolingo and Mango.  

All-in-all, I am pleased with how our week turned out, even if it almost wasn't a school week!  I hope the drive through till this coming Friday is fruitful knowing our break is almost here!!

How has your week been?  Do you take off a full week for Thanksgiving?


Blessings,









By the way.....


*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

Also, with your new subscription, I will send you November's newsletter which includes a FREE printable Bible Study and bonus PDFs to help with Thanksgiving planning!