I Purged My Kitchen Cupboard

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My kitchen is not too bad in the clutter department. I tend to keep things pretty purged as I go, but I’m not always great with keeping everything organized. Over time, things just get thrown here and thrown there and it makes it harder to find things.

But over the course of the week, I did manage to purge out one cupboard/shelf that I use for homeschool supplies. Now folks, I know this may not look like much, but trust me….




I actually wish I would’ve had time to do more, because I’d like to reorganize my spice cabinet. That’s why homemaking is such an ongoing lifestyle! There is always more to be done, but in and around the nurturing of the family. My expectations almost always run higher than my reality.

In fact, check out this reality: The day I posted this challenge, I cleaned my kitchen (mopped floors even!) I decluttered the counter and microwave. I was having a little birthday party the next day for my 4-year old son. Did I remember to take “before” pictures. No. I didn’t even take “after” pictures (because I didn’t take before pictures). But today? They are cluttered all over again! Gah! This is the reality of it folks!

See? These challenges are just as much for ME as they are for YOU. :D I struggle with the practical side of things. Oh, I have all sorts of solutions, trust me! But,the excitement of a new resource or teaching can only motivate us so far. Once we get that initial “revelation” and begin to act upon it, we must walk with Jesus daily to continue to live it out. We’re in a battle!

The one thing [thus far] I want to do is paint my kitchen. It is all white and from the late 50’s. White + five children = not a good idea! We already bought the paint, I just have to get to work. It’s going to be a Nutmeg brownish. I promise I’ll do before and after pics of THAT. :)

So, how did you do this week? Don’t forget to link up your post on Kitchen Purge {Homemakers Challenge} so I can visit you!

Refocusing My Energy From Keeping House to Keeping Hearts

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I’ve been thinking lately and I realize something. While keeping house is important, I put way more focus and energy into it than I should. Don’t take that wrong. It is very important we keep our homes running smoothly. But I have put more focus on doing that than I have nurturing my children. All my “good” energy has been focused on the wrong thing; on things that are seen.

the heavens 4 by marsha, on Pix-O-Sphere

Just as a profession outside the home has priorities of work/tasks, so it is inside the home as a mother and homemaker. Mother comes first [after child of God and wife]. Mother comes before cleaning. The duties of cleaning never end. I mean never. You work hard and long at scrubbing and wiping and folding and dusting. The next day it comes back again. Cleaning can be very discouraging work, indeed.

But children? Our efforts to keep their hearts and wipe their tears, and dust their knees….it builds upon itself. It builds relationship.  To hold our anger and push aside (not bury) our negative emotions for the sake of training our children; to lead by example, that is what is lasting. That is where I want to put the majority of my energy.  Not in perfecting the appearance of my house, but in building the love of Christ in my children.

Automatically I default to wanting to do those things which others [including myself] can tangibly see—right now.

There are days when my 2-year old follows me around, raising her hands for me to pick her up. She just wants to snuggle and be near, and I shoo her off with the excuse that I’m busy and there is work to be done. And then I feel a check in my spirit. No amount of work can be more important than filling up the [love] tank of my needy child. Her needs go far beyond the physical. She needs me to be present. All my children do.

If you notice why I do not write on this blog everyday, [even though there are days I want to], this is why. My children need me and they get precedence over my blog. It is often a challenge to put up a quality post. Most of the time? I write a post a paragraph at a time, rather than sitting down and producing the whole thing at once.

I share things like this with you to give you a glimpse into my not-so-perfect life. :) My heart desires many things, but I am in a battle for all of it. Sometimes blogging serves more as a distraction than a ministry, so I must be very careful. I cannot have a ministry without first having my home (God, husband, children, homeschooling, and cleaning) in order.

No, I am not quitting blogging. I am merely giving you a peek inside my heart, at some of my struggles and real life experiences. Everyday I wake up and everyday I battle to do what’s right; what’s lasting. Mothering and homemaking do not come without a battle.

The question is, are we fighting for it?

Linked with:

Raising Homemakers

My Purpose As A Homemaker

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breakfastnook by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

I look around my home and recognize a great need for order (no, that is not my house in the above picture, lol). My house is not cluttered (I am so anti-clutter). I would consider it to be a bit unorganized and just plain messy. Granted, I have 5 children and I don’t expect my house to look like a museum. It ought to look lived in, but it should be orderly.

In addition, meal times are chaotic and often left “unfinished”. Dishes left undone, table not completely cleared, floor not swept.

First, I want to clearly define what a homemaker is: A homemaker is a person who manages the household of her own family. (dictionary.com)

A household is defined as the people of a house collectively (dictionary.com)

The Bible defines our role as homemakers in a couple of places [that I found]: [to set] about her work vigorously (Proverbs 31:17) …to be busy at home (Titus 2:5) (NIV)

Defining exactly what we are to do helps clarify our purpose. So not only does a homemaker care for the house, but for the family. Yes, that opens several more doors of possibilities (and responsibilities), doesn’t it? So coupling the above definitions with the needs of my own family, here is my purpose as a homemaker:

To be attentive to the needs of my family, diligent in creating ‘home’, and consistent in the everyday essentials. To serve with joy, purpose, ambition and gratitude.

In a more expanded version, my purpose requires that I attend to the needs of my home and family, that I am active (intentional) about creating a home, and that I work constantly at those things that need to be done every-single-day. I intend to do these things with joy, aim, initiative, and thanksgiving.

My goals include [but are not limited to]:

to wake up before my children, to create smooth and memorable meal times, follow more closely to my schedule, and be intentional about creating an atmosphere of peace.

As these goals are met, new ones will develop. They are rather specific compared with my purpose. My purpose will generally stay the same.

Perhaps it’s a bit simplistic–and that’s exactly the point. I don’t want anything too complex or too hard to reach for. As it stands, this will be challenge enough for me. :)

Here I will expound on my goals and the steps I will take to get there.


To wake up before my children

This is probably one of the most important tools [for me] to running a smooth household. I have seen, consistently, what a difference this makes. It takes me some time to “wake up” and I really need to do this before the children are awake so that I am ready for them. Otherwise, I am dragging my feet, making them wait for breakfast. Apparently, one of my “famous” lines is, “Mommy can’t even see straight yet.” My five year old now asks me when I wake up if “my eyes are still blind”.

  • continue in my HelloMornings group (#hellomornings on Twitter – for accountability)
  • shower in the mornings (to wake me up and keep me refreshed)
  • spend some time in prayer and journaling

Most of this is easy. The hard part is getting out of bed.

To create smooth and memorable meal times.

Meal times are one of my biggest challenges. Everything from being prepared with a menu, to having a tidy kitchen to work in. I tend to rush food out and leave the cleaning for “later”. Later comes when it’s time for the next meal. Who wants to work in a kitchen like that?! Not me! So, it’s time to do something about it. Here are the steps–which are just mini-goals–to get me at this place:

  • menu plan
  • serve buffet style (everything on table), rather than serving each child individually from the stove/counter
  • Read Scripture before or after the meal (while seated at the table)
  • Have everyone take part in kitchen clean-up–dirty dishes to sink, table cleaned off, floor swept, load dishwasher
  • Do my part and clean up counters, stove, sink, etc; have kitchen and dining room ready for next meal.

During meal times I want to have fruitful conversations about life. Create memories.

Follow my schedule more closely.

Yes, I have struggled with this since day one. But when I do follow closely to my schedule, the day is bliss! I feel accomplished because I have gotten done [even some] of what I set out to do. It gives me a sense of fulfillment when I follow my schedule. So this is an important area for me. The question is, how will I accomplish this feat? I go back to my purpose and be consistent in the everyday essentials.

  • Start with the basics. Follow the schedule for meals and bed time routines.
  • Reorganize tasks to fit into the best time slots and work through them
  • Slowly add in another task — one every 2-4 weeks — ones that are not being accomplished, currently
  • Be consistent. Set hand to the plow.

My fear has been that life will get too redundant, so I resist the schedule. But you know what? I feel myself craving it as the days flutter by with little to show. Ann Voskamp said that fear is nothing to be afraid of–it’s just the door we push through to get to the other side.

Be intentional about creating an atmosphere of peace.

This is a tough one because with 5 children, 4 of them 5 and under, there is a lot of chaos, whining, screaming, fighting…whatever. That’s just life. They are in training and are learning, but in the mean time, I get stressed listening to it. In fact, I tend to react as a result. You’d think after 5 children I’d be used to it by now — but no. Don’t think you can ever get used to it. Maybe not, but I think I can train myself to stop reacting and be proactive on how to cut down on the issues.

  • keep to my schedule, which will cut down on some of this issue
  • teach peacemaking before a problem arises (Young Peacemaker is an excellent resource)
  • have “face time” with each of my children daily (1-on-1 time with each child)
  • don’t allow too much free time

This will be a start. Once I put these into practice on a regular, consistent basis I can reevaluate the situation to see if further action needs to be taken.

{Don’t count. I actually listed 4 goals}. By no means will I be able to tackle all these goals at once. It will be an ongoing process, probably for months before it becomes more “second nature”. But now that I have a clear direction of what my purpose is and some definite needs to fill, I have plenty to do.

Homemaking is not meant to be easy. We can simplify it, but it is still a very challenging role. Resisting and trying to work against our role will only result in more challenges and frustrations. We need (OK, I need) to embrace my role so that I am free to own it and live it out.

Ladies, let’s be the best homemaker ever!


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Spring Reading Thing {2011}

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I have a list of growing books that I’ve bought and haven’t dove into yet. The Spring Reading Thing is about to begin and I thought this would be the perfect time to dig into some of these books!

Now, mind you, this list might look large, but really? If I just read one chapter a day, I can get through each of these by the beginning of summer. If I can’t manage to do that much, I am still doing more than I was! But, this is my goal. Maybe it will change if circumstances change. But for now, we’ll aim for this:



The Bible – Book of Colossians (over & over again) Currently, I am working (and slacking) on memorizing the book of Colossians. Along with this, I am reading through the book of Colossians over and over again throughout the year: for greater depth, greater understanding, and familiarization.

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are I have been squeaking through this book a little at a time and am adding it to my list to finish. I am currently in chapter 6. With only 11 chapters, I can finish this book in five days, reading one chapter a day. This book is changing my soul and I do want to drink it in and highlight; take notes and count gifts. Have you read this? You can visit the author’s blog and be drawn closer to Jesus through her poetic writing.

Discovering Your Child’s Heart with the Flag Page This book goes with a “game” for children to help discover their “bents”. (Review coming soon!)

The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity Author and speaker Sally Clarkson has been a gem in my life. I had the privilege of meeting her at the Relevant Conference back in October. She practically gave away her books, so I snagged all the ones I’d been wanting! I just haven’t made time to really dig into them yet. Now is my chance!

Grace-Based Parenting I admit, when I first heard of this book, I judged it by it’s cover (I know. Classic no-no). But somewhere down the road I ended up borrowing it from the library out of curiosity [and perhaps the need for grace]. I only got a few chapters in, but I really liked what I read. It wasn’t at all what I thought. It was better. I look forward to reading it in it’s entirety and applying it to my life and that of my children.

Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy Yet another title by Sally Clarkson. I am on a joy journey and thought it was only fitting to learn about “how”. Joy and Grace have become my best friends this year. :)

Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids! This book may speak for itself, ahem. Not something I’m proud of, but something that is very real and needs immediate addressing. It’s one of those things that [obviously] I don’t like, but it happens. It is something I need to get a handle on. It has been on my list and I just received it for my birthday (per my request).

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God This book my husband picked up in a book store based on it’s excerpt. At the time we hadn’t ever heard of Francis Chan (just bought the book like 6 months ago). Now my husband is reading his second book, “The Forgotten God”. We have also watched his sermon Lukewarm and Lovin’ It and it has begun to transform us. I look forward to seeing what He says in this book.

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends Well, I think this one speaks for itself. Besides the fact that it has come highly recommended, I have 5 children–’nuff said.

Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl: Guiding Your Daughter from Her Tweens to Her Teens (Secret Keeper Girl) Now this book–well, after skimming the table of contents, I realized much of it I know. However, I thought it would be a good idea to read it anyways in order to get insights I may not receive from the headings alone. My eldest daughter is 8 years old (8 1/2 to be exact). She is on the brink. I also have a 2 year old daughter and want to be sure I don’t forget anything vital through the gap. Based on what I did see, though, I already recommend it, just to be sure you know, too. :)

The Prodigal God
Yet another book that came highly recommended by a few close friends. Not really sure what it’s all about yet, but I look forward to digging in.


Now, whether or not I read in this order depends upon the need at the time. If I finish one book and feel the need to begin a book I could really use insight on, I will probably do that. The order isn’t important anyways. :)

I will also post reviews of the books as I finish them. :) I’ll create a page that will have all my favorite recommendations.

Interested in joining in? Visit Callapidder Days to find out how! :)

New to Joyful Mothering? Consider subscribing via RSS or through email, so you don’t miss a post!

{Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means if you click and purchase an item, I will receive a small percentage, at no cost to you. Please read my full disclosure policy. I have, and will only recommend products that I personally use or those that I see as bringing further value to you, my reader.}

Bible Stories and Building Up {Tommy Nelson Giveaway}!

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Winners chosen by Random.org are commenter #7 — Terri G. for the Max Lucado gift set & commenter #12 Auriegood for the Bible Stories book. Check your emails to see what to do next! :)

Thanks so much for entering! Next week I’ll have another Tommy Nelson giveaway so be sure to check back! :)


I want to share with you a couple of neat resources from Tommy Nelson.

The first is Really Woolly Bible Storiesby DaySpring. My toddler has really enjoyed the short, rhyming stories in the book. I have found her thumbing through the pages when she thought nobody was looking. Her favorite story is “baby Jesus” and it’s the first story she always asks to read.

As a mom, I like the rhymes because they are engaging to my little ones. The rhythm of it keeps their attention a bit longer. It lays an extremely simple foundation of each story.

The second resource that is great for character building and helping our children understand they matter for who they are, is Max Lucado’s You Are Special and 3 Other Stories: A Children’s Treasury Box Set. They include You Are Special, Just In Case You Ever Wonder, The Tallest of Smalls, and Hermie: A Common Caterpillar.

My children really enjoy Hermie and The Tallest of Smalls the best. This is a wonderful gift set to give, and it is really affordable. Having these in our library is a breath of fresh air, honestly. Because of all the garbage that is being produced for children, it is so important for us to guard our children’s hearts. Tommy Nelson helps us do that.


Now for the giveaway!!

We’ll keep it simple. Tommy Nelson has agreed to give away one of each of these to two readers.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me which one you’d like to win and why. What makes that resource special to you (or your child)? (Note: I cannot guarantee you’ll win the resource you particularly want)

For extra entries you can:

Remember to leave one comment for each thing you do, for a total of 3 entries. A winner will be chosen Friday at 4:00pm EST. Good luck!

Are you new to Joyful Mothering? Consider subscribing via RSS or by email so you won’t miss a post!

{Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means if you click and purchase an item, I will receive a small percentage, at no cost to you. Please read my full disclosure policy. I have, and will only recommend products that I personally use or those that I see as bringing further value to you, my reader.}

The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

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The other day I was just pondering my children. I was thinking about how fast the years are going by. While I have a lot of years ahead of me with my children, have I taken care with the years that are behind me? It some ways yes, but in many ways, no.

Heart Necklace by lacybekah, on Pix-O-Sphere

I wake up each morning, living each day as it comes. I go about our routines of meals and chores and lessons and sleep. I get up the next day and do it all again, and I realize, I am missing it. In living the robotic life I forget to play and enjoy the lives of these children—I don’t invest as much in them as I should because I mistakenly think they will always be there. The long days cloud my mind and I wrongly think I have plenty of time.

When I stop, and I let the house run fast without me, and I, sit there in the viewing of my children, them playing, and smiling, and running, and beckoning me to join them and read them stories, and piece together puzzles, play games. But instead? I jump in with the house running fast because I have to keep up — I have to keep going because, I reason, I don’t have time to live. I have to keep up with those living.

I have been challenged by a few much more wise then me to slow down, live intentionally, and have a plan for my life. I don’t want to look back and say, “Man! I wish I would’ve listened to those people.” I’d much rather look back and say, “Wow! I’m so glad I listened to those wise people!”

Even with my blog I don’t really have a “plan of action”, other than the Homemaker’s Challenge each week. (And in case you haven’t heard, this week’s challenge is along this same line. “Homemakers with a Purpose“.)

Everything I do must have a purpose. Even my blogging. What purpose does it serve? My time online must be intentional for it to be fruitful and not rob me of other precious moments.

Joyful mothering requires some action. It requires living by design, not default. It begs the question, “What would God have me do today?” Obviously, He would have me care for my family and home. But the bigger question is, am I meeting the needs of nurture and spiritual growth? That is where peace and joy are found.

I’ve noticed I keep turning full circle back to the same conclusion. I must live with purpose; not wait to see what the day holds for me, but rather tell my days what they are going to do. Because life truly is a vapor, and God has given us a great gift. Are we using it for His glory? Am I using it for His glory?

Let us begin. I will first complete this weeks homemaker’s challenge.

Are you living intentionally–with purpose? Journey with me so we can learn together.

If you are new to Joyful Mothering, consider subscribing by RSS or email so you will not miss a post!

Reflecting on 30 Years of Life

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Today I celebrate my 30th birthday. It’s kind of surreal, even though I’ve been dreading this day since i turned 25–more so when I hit 26. But no, I don’t feel any different. In fact, do you remember when you were a kid and your birthday–the day–just felt different? It just wasn’t a “normal” day. Yea, I don’t have that feeling anymore. As kids we were always happy to get 1 year older. As adults, we tend not to celebrate as much. Getting older is no longer fun or welcome.

But I don’t want it to be like that. I want to celebrate life as long as I’m alive. I want to celebrate that I made it to 30 years old! Woo hoo! Thank you Jesus for such a gift!
106_7896 by abigailqueenbee, on Pix-O-Sphere

I spent my 20’s carrying and birthing 5 children. It has been a productive (or REproductive) decade for me! :D

So what of my 30’s? Well, I don’t think we are done having children yet. I am not entirely certain how many more we plan on having. We are (and have been) taking it one child at a time—just waiting on God to tell us what to do next. In the mean time, I will focus on training up these children for the Lord. Blogging is a hobby, not a career or supplemental income of any sorts. It’s a hobby and it’s a way for me to connect with other women (so thank you for being here!).

Like Ann, I want to celebrate life in the everydays. I want to be thankful for all the small, seemingly mundane things that go with our everydays. She said she is convinced that the most important day is everyday. “For the way we live our everydays is the way we live our lives”, she says. How true that is.

If everyday, I choose to flurry away my time and not do anything significant, I won’t live a significant life. But, if I live intentional, with a purpose and goal in mind, and I choose to live fully in each moment, I will live a full, purposeful life. That’s what I want.

As another year approaches, and I live it, what will I do with my everydays?

What do you do with your everydays?

Youth Ministry – A Synopsis

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I bet you didn’t know I work in youth ministry, because, well, I didn’t tell you. ;) I didn’t think it was really relevant to mothering, but you know what? It is. After all, most who have children will be somehow effected, at some point, with the youth ministry at their church.
teen girl by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

While I don’t consider myself an expert by any stretch, I think most of us know that today’s youth culture can be a dangerous place of peer pressure and rejection. For Christian teenagers, the struggle still exists, and many parents don’t even know it. We often believe that if we raise our children in the “right” environment, they will somehow be immune to temptation, peer pressure, and the ability to “fit in” [even though we are called to stand out].

I am not going to sugar coat it, friends. Kids can be cruel. :( And trying to live out their faith upstream, is a double challenge. These students need their parents and adults in the church to rally around them and support them; giving them strong leadership and a firm foundation. Just like we cannot stand up on our own, neither can our teens.

My husband is the youth pastor at our church and I am his support in ministry. We have been doing youth ministry together, on a volunteer basis, for 10 years. I work to develop relationships with the students as well as offer a voice into my husbands lessons (he writes his own curriculum). Our goal is to come alongside the parents in a support fashion to help spiritually charge the teenagers with fresh passion for Christ. Our vision is to build lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.

Something vital we need parents to understand is that we cannot replace what they do at home. Their home must be the foundation for spiritual growth–it must come from the parent. Youth ministry is simply a support to continue encouraging that.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. My husband and I did not grow up in the church and both gave our lives to Christ in a youth ministry setting. I believe, based on the needs of the church, each youth ministry is going to function differently.

The youth ministry we are currently in, every teen has grown up in the church. As a result, what we teach might be considered rather in depth for your typical youth ministry. We are also a small group and have the opportunity for open discussion throughout the lesson.

We came out of working with a large youth ministry and can see the cons of the large ministry compared to a small group. In a small group, it is easier to meet the needs of the students [because we know them]. In a large group, it is much harder to accomplish this because the group is so large, thus the needs are vast. Typically, the message is kept as “milk” in order to not lose those who are new in their walk, or have not yet given their hearts to God. Unfortunately, we then lose the Christian teens who are in a deeper walk with God. It is a very hard balance.

My goal here on Joyful Mothering, is to occasionally offer some insights to today’s youth, and how we, as parents, can step up and meet the needs of our teenagers (or eventual teenagers). Below you will find a series of articles I highly, highly recommend reading, whether you are the parent of a teenager or of small children. It is very important we open our eyes.

Saddest Letter I’ve Ever Read

Response #1 to The Saddest Letter (general response)

Response #2 to The Saddest Letter (a response to parents)

Response #3 to The Saddest Letter (a response to the young lady who wrote the letter)

A Wrap Up to The Saddest Letter

I will be addressing these in more depth in the coming weeks.

Question: What is your greatest concern surrounding church youth ministry today?


Tips, Projects, and Homeschooling {Links}

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Good Monday! This weekend was overloaded for me! I am busy working hard on getting my home back in order and commencing lessons for homeschool. Please feel free to browse the archives today and take a look at these worthy reads from places around the web I love to visit:

Tips for Moms: How To Get Things Done from Inspired to Action

The Verdict is in: Homeschooling is Hard from Like a Warm Cup of Coffee

Project: Simplify: Hot Spot #2 Revealed at Simple Mom

Tell me, what did you do this weekend?

A Mother of Prayer

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My becoming a mother began with a simple prayer. A simple, yet specific prayer.

Journaling by LN by ekhum, on Pix-O-Sphere

Lord, please use my body this day to bear a child for your kingdom~this I pray in Jesus’ name. ~Amen~

I wrote this prayer down on June 14, 2001. On June 14, 2002, I gave birth to my first child.

Visit me at Raising Homemakers to read the rest of the article.