Planning for the Upcoming Year (and a Giveaway!)

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We’re at that time of year when I start thinking about the following year and what I hope to accomplish. I am huge on planning — sometimes to a fault. In fact, my husband is more on the spontaneous side and when he mentions doing something that isn’t on my radar, I go into convulsions.

If it is not something that was discussed prior to that moment, I have to make myself readjust. I can be spontaneous when I’m away from home and I’m not in charge of things.

But when it comes to my home and our family’s schedule, I like to know what we’re doing ahead of time.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and I only share things I truly believe in and which may be beneficial to you. :)

That’s why I love the Daily Planner by Sue of

Planning for 2015
This planner is equipped with monthly and weekly planning pages, as well as sections for notes, tasks, projects & events, address book and perforated shopping list pages.

Planner Tasks
It’s an excellent tool for homemakers to plan and keep track of birthdays, daily happenings, extra curricular activities as well as everyday life as a mom and homemaker.

Planning Calendar
There are verses throughout the pages to keep you encouraged and motivated as well as some quotes. It’s really a beautiful planner that is both functional and manageable. 

Weekly Planning
I am already itching to begin planning in it — I love a brand new planner just full of possibilities, don’t you?

Sue is offering Joyful Mothering readers a discount on an already rather inexpensive planner. You can go here to get that discount.

NEW DEAL: Buy one get a second planner 50% off, now through November 17th. Click here.


We’re  giving away one planner to one lucky reader. All you need to do is leave a comment and share a planning tip.


Be sure to leave your email address in the form so I have a way of contacting you if you win.

Open to U.S. residents only (so sorry!)

Giveaway ends Tuesday, November 11th at 11:59pm EST.

Daily Planner (2) 250x250 sales price border (1)

How Many Followers Are Enough?

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How Many Followers Are Enough

A Little of My Story

I remember about five years ago I was hooked to a blogger who seemed to speak directly to me. I followed her for quite a while and she moved from Blogger to WordPress and her following grew.

When I first happened upon her blog, she had about 200 subscribers. As I watched her grow I tried to mimic her methods. Every time I would hit 100 subscribers more, it was exciting! I hit another milestone! But as I continued to watch her blog grow, it grew exponentially compared to mine and before I knew it she had 4000 subscribers and I was hovering around 500. I thought I would never catch up. But, catch up I did.

But by the time I hit 4000 subscribers, she was at 10,000.

So I asked myself, how many followers are enough? What is this really about anyways? A game? A race? A competition?

It really made me rethink my goals as a blogger, because if I kept up this unhealthy pace, I was never going to be satisfied. It’s not hard to get sucked into the numbers game, especially when you’re trying to build a business or write a book. Sometimes, it becomes our sole focus and we fail to see there are faces behind each of these followers. They aren’t just numbers; they are people.

Turn Your Followers Into Faces

Imagine this: take the number of subscribers you have, whether it’s 5 or 5,000 and place them into a room as people. You’re at the front as if you’re going to speak. It could be a small group, it could be a large convention, depending on where your subscriber count falls.

But look out into that room and see, there are people there who are listening to you. Let’s focus on the small group because that’s where so many bloggers are. Are the people in this group any less important than those at a large convention? They each have a story and they’ve come to your house (blog) to hear what you have to say; to see how you can pour into their lives and encourage them. They have given you permission to speak into their lives. This is HUGE friends. What a gift to be honored with!

What are we going to do with that? Are we going to look over their heads, waiting to see if more people will come through the door and as a result offer little of ourselves because we’re too distracted waiting for more people? I wonder, what do those in the room feel when we overlook them because they aren’t enough? When we focus on numbers, we miss the point. I’ve been there and chasing numbers will leave you constantly unfulfilled and dissatisfied; because it will never be enough.

Focus on your subscribers, those little Avatars or pen names, as people. Because there is someone behind that computer reading what you have to say, because for them, it matters.


We need to see subscribers as souls, not stats.



It’s the best thing I could have learned about blogging and the blogging community.

Be sure to see what this week’s writing prompt is by going here: Writing Prompt

Today Only – Nativity Hurricane Candle Holders

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I just wanted to quickly share this deal with you since it’s today only (sorry it’s so late!)

DaySpring is rolling out their best sales of the year, and every year I share them here. I love DaySpring and I love Mary & Martha (which are sister companies) and I hope you’ll love them, too.

Today only, they have a deal on their Nativity Hurricane Candle Holders (which I also own and love). This is my favorite Christmas decor and I’m looking forward to pulling them out soon!

Nativity Hurricane Candle Holder Set
They are also offering these year round metal sleeves for only $5. So you can keep your Hurricane candle set out all year long.

Year Round Metal Sleeves

Also, if you are still in need of Christmas cards, they have a Buy 2, Get 1 Free deal going on as well. Stay tuned as I share some pretty sweet deals for the coming Thanksgiving and Christmas season. It’s the only time of year I do this!

Chore Incentives for Children

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When Children Struggle to do Their Chores

Monday’s are often hectic around here as we scurry back into our routine after the weekend. Sometimes we are all overtired or just dragging our feet simply because we don’t want it to be Monday. Who can relate?

Yesterday was certainly one of those Mondays. I felt like a drill sergeant trying to get everyone back on track with their responsibilities. I started wondering what made it so difficult for them, knowing they do the same things regularly. Surely there was a better way to encourage my children to complete their lessons and chores without having to be constantly told.

So, I got to thinking. What motivates me? I mean, as an adult, the reward is being able to live in a somewhat neat and orderly home. It increases peace in our home and offers us space to breathe when there isn’t stuff all over the floors and surfaces. But when I was younger, those things didn’t drive me. But money or prizes certainly helped me move! Who doesn’t like to be motivated with some kind of incentive. Isn’t that why our husband’s often go to work? Even when they dislike their jobs? The reward of being paid (even if it is required to live) keeps them going.

Are Rewards for Chores a Good Idea?

There was a time I also found sense in hearing others say our children shouldn’t be rewarded for something that’s expected of them. But yesterday, it stopped making sense to me.

Because I thought, “Even God rewards His children for running the race. Even God blesses His children when they do what’s right…even though it’s expected of us.” Isn’t THE PRIZE what helps us keep going? So, why would we deny our children that same gift? The gift of a prize or incentive to continue running the race?

I mean, we can’t even get it right and yet we have eternity to look forward to. He tells us to press on toward the PRIZE.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9

He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 1 Corinthians 3:8

What a perfect spiritual lesson built from real life!

As our children continue in their work, day after day, week after week, not only will they see the fruit of their hard work, but they will understand as they continue to press on, there is reward. When they are old enough to understand this as a spiritual parallel, it will make good sense to them.

So, I created a schedule for each of my children, with their particular responsibilities on them.

Children's Schedule

That way there is no question of what they need to do or when. It’s all right there in front of them. This alleviates me from becoming the drill sergeant and them from hearing me. :P

So, I shared my thoughts briefly on my Facebook page yesterday and a commenter shared a link that may interest some of you.

My Job Chart

The site is called My Job Chart and it’s to encourage children to learn work ethic, accountability, and money management. All very important skills for real life.

The best thing about it, besides how wonderfully organized and enticing it is, is it’s FREE.

Children can earn points from taking care of their responsibilities. Parents can convert those points into money AND it’s linked with Amazon so if a child has something they want, they can work toward it. There are also charities they can donate to. They use the Save Share Spend format. So, if that’s something that interests you, you can look into that. I may use that in addition to the paper charts so they don’t have to constantly be on the computer to check things off. Instead, they can do it at the end of the day.

The above chart I made I had laminated so the kids could cross off what they’ve accomplished with a dry erase marker, than clear it for the next day.

Chore Incentives

So, I’d say my mind is changing on offering an incentive for a job well done. The children will quickly and easily learn the consequences of doing poor work or excellent work because it will be evident in more than merely my disappointment. It will effect them more directly, too.

I don’t think it’s right or wrong to offer a reward or not. I think it really depends on each family. We are a large family, so we make large messes, and that can be overwhelming for a child. I make sure I pair up children to work on jobs together — especially big jobs. They learn teamwork and it helps get the job done faster. But it still can seem hard to get motivated with no end in sight.

Come on moms, you know we get just as discouraged and overwhelmed! It’s okay to show our children sympathy and tangible appreciation. :)


I modified this chart from Learn With Play at Home. You can download yours from there. :)

Chicken Breast Parmesan Bake

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Ceramic tableware on the worktop. Black and white kitchen design.
So, one of my lovely readers commented and encouraged me not to give up the 31 Days series…even if it takes me beyond October, I will continue writing until I reach 31 days. I will share a closer look at some of our day to days, including how we do devotions and our favorite recipes.

This past weekend I traveled away from home to the Allume Conference in Greenville, SC. It was amazing. But it is good to be home again, too.

So today, I want to share one of my family’s favorite chicken dinner recipes with you.

Chicken Breast Parmesan Bake
This chicken just melts in your mouth and is super delicious! It doesn’t take long to prep either. I am all about keeping things simple, but eating delicious meals, too.

Chicken Breast Parmesan Bake

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 c. Italian breadcrumbs

1 t. dried parsley

1/2 t. garlic powder

1/4 t. salt & 1/4 t. pepper

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. chicken breast

1/4 c. butter

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Combine your cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic powder, salt & pepper into a medium sized bowl. Melt your butter in a separate bowl.

Spray a long 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Rinse your chicken breasts. Dip each piece into the melted butter and than into the breadcrumb mixture until covered. Place in baking dish. Do all pieces the same way. Slide dish into oven for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.


31 Days 2014

Stretching Me Into Hospitality

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Allume 2014

That’s what God has been working in me. Hospitality.

This weekend I went to the Allume Conference and our theme was hospitality. Hospitality doesn’t come natural to me…I don’t often think of unique and creative (or even common) ways to serve those coming into my home. Hospitality is a non-negotiable, but I don’t think it comes naturally to everyone.

That’s not to say I don’t want to welcome people in; it’s just I often freeze with what to do next once they’re in!

Allume challenged me this year; more than any other year I’ve attended (five years now). God is stirring this community and growing it and it has been so beautiful to watch unfold.

I love the web; it is a wonderful tool in many, many ways. It brings connections together and if allowed, can blossom into something tight and not easily broken. The catch is, we have to allow it to go beyond the screen.

There is nothing like hugging the neck of someone, skin to skin, heart to heart. But words are important, too, which is why I feel like I was born to write. But as a writer, we have to stop and look up, and often.

Unfortunately, I haven’t fostered my writing much at all. I haven’t allowed it space to grow and become better. I may write, but I’m not learning how to write better.

After this weekend, I’ve been inspired with a fresh vision and am really looking forward to what 2015 will bring. Not just to my blog, but to my community, my home, my life.

With the holidays upon us, I’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice hospitality among friends, so that when the opportunity arrives to open my door to people whom I may not know very well, I can meet them with a better foundation.

I came home with a stack of fabulous books, signed up to become a Mary & Martha consultant and want to invite you into the next adventure with me.

For the next two weeks, She Reads Truth is doing a devotional series on Hospitality. I would love the Moms in the Word Community to follow along as I gather our next study. That’s where I’ll be reading and studying for the next two weeks. So be sure to head on over there to read Day 1 and follow along.

I met the beautiful women behind She Reads Truth this weekend, and let me tell you, they are a-mazing. Beautiful women with a beautiful vision to help other women dig deep into His Word. Women after my own heart — which is to be after His own heart. ;)

Also, if you’re interested in listening to the keynote speakers from Allume, you can do so for FREE right here. My favorite was Shauna Niequist. And then Sophie Hudson.

So, 31 Days Was a Bust

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Joyful Mothering New Season
I had good intentions, I really did. But real life took over and I’m sorry…but I’m not sorry. As much as I love writing and sharing our day to day with you, I enjoy living it even more. And honestly, I did get some ideas for posts that I look forward to writing!

But writing everyday became a burden rather than a discipline to enjoy. That’s not what I want. I can’t thank you enough for rolling with me and for your grace. I hope that the small picture I provided was a decent glimpse into our lives and I will continue to share some of our days sporadically.

As a mom who has come out of being pregnant or nursing for 12 years, I feel like I’m entering a new season. (And the adoption process is very much a pregnancy; more like a high-risk pregnancy due to all the uncertainties involved and instead of lasting 9 months, the stressful process of it all lasted 18 months).

So here we are, stress levels down, hormone levels down and I feel like a new woman ready for adventure!

I don’t want to forget how hard being pregnant and having a baby and other littles underfoot is because moms, it is HARD. I had a hard time ever wanting to even leave the house just because it felt SO overwhelming. And leaving for myself? I felt overwhelming guilty. I think part of that is just hormones taking over and amplifying everything.

Now I am in a place where I’m getting off the couch, going to the gym in the evenings when my husband gets home and having lots of energy to take care of my family.

And I won’t lie: the computer was a source of comfort and at times escape for me during this time. Do I have regrets about that? Not really because I was still home and available to my children and I was in a place of feeling desperate and in need of a community that felt “safe”, but kept at a distance…know what I mean? I think the thing that may have been neglected the most was the house. And my husband is awesome and never pushed me to clean or made comments about it. He had a few pet peeves I tried to keep up with, but he has always been an amazing support to me.

Do you remember MSN groups? Oh how I was sucked into those! I even started my own group and ran my own community for moms. Sometimes there was so much drama involved from differing opinions that it exhausted me and eventually I gave it up. That’s when I found blogging…way back in 2005 (though I know blogs were around well before then). That’s when I started writing for myself — before I actually knew the powerful potential of the blogging community.

Now, 9 years and 5 blogs later, here I am, at Joyful Mothering. My season of motherhood has changed dramatically since I first began, going from two children to now seven children, two of whom are adopted. Naturally the dynamic of my blogging is going to change, too. How many times can I share the same information about how we do devotions and our morning routine, though?

What is it moms need? When I browse blogs as a mom, what do I look for?

Today I, personally, look for a challenge. I want to be stretched farther and pushed beyond my own limitations. And lately, I have found very little of that among my browsing. Instead I find posts on complacency and being content where we are and I think for some seasons, this is necessary. But complacency on the outside is really a battle on the inside. Sometimes all we can do is hold on and soak in—I get that, because I’ve been there and I want to speak from that place and offer encouragement to moms who are just tired; physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Moms who are too exhausted to take on more than merely getting through the day because that’s simply the season you are in. Moms who need to hear that it’s OK to be tired and that you’re not fighting that internal battle alone.

But not all moms are in the same season–not all moms are exhausted (and I totally appreciate the ones who are). Some moms are in different seasons and need that boost for growing into the next level. This is where I am. I’m ready for some new challenges and I want to invite you along for the ride.

And if you’re exhausted, you will not be left out! As a mom on the other side of exhaustion (at least for now), I want to be the one who pours into you. I want to be someone who understands and encourages you — someone I needed when I was in that place.

I am excited for 2015 because I have some wonderful things in the works and I want you to be in on the planning. So I need your voice to help me.

I have a short poll here that will help me serve you better. It will only take about 20 seconds to complete. What would you like to see me writing more about?  Choose all that would apply to you and even add your own suggestion.

To take the poll: CLICK HERE

I am looking forward to some new adventures — and a new design in this space. Are you with me? :)

Family Workout Weekend

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Day 11 and 12

So, I’d decided a couple weeks ago that my children are getting big enough to need more than the backyard to run around in for exercise—and during the winter months, they need some place to stretch their legs.

Since I have the membership at the gym now and recognize, already, the benefits of working out (other than weight loss), my husband and I also decided to get a membership to our local YMCA.

On Saturday we had our post-placement report done by our social worker. I really love our social worker! She gave us a few tips and suggestions, but overall, the girls are doing well.

After she left, we went to the Y for a tour and signed up for a family membership. It gives us full access to the pool all year round plus the open gym where we can go and play dodge ball or other kinds of games. We also get discounts on programs such as swimming lessons and gymnastics–so we are sure to stay active throughout the winter!


Sunday we had church and we host home group 1-2 times per month and this was our week to host. So we came home, I made spaghetti for lunch/dinner, the girls made cookie bars to add to the snack for our group, and we finished cleaning. Then we rested for a couple hours before people arrived.

We had a wonderful time studying and discussing Romans 15:1-2. We always have great discussion! We were pretty tired once everyone left (just before 10pm) so Monday was a little rough.

31 Days 2014

Last Full Day

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Day 9 and 10

October 8

Thankfully, Wednesday was better. I woke up feeling better and went downstairs to get my coffee. And because I’m writing this on Friday morning rather than Wednesday night, I honestly don’t remember that far back. So on to Thursday!

October 9

Regular routine of wake up and have coffee. Felt quite well though the kids were a little slow getting moving. We started our devotions about 9:2oAM.

I pulled out Aesop’s Fables and worked on training my Ghanaian daughters how to narrate. They read English well and understand spoken English very well, but they struggle to say back what they have read or what’s been read to them. They are catching on and these little stories are just perfect to hold their attention for a short narration. My goal is not to make homeschooling overly complex for them, but to strengthen some things they already know and then expand from there.

Branching out too quickly will only spread them too thin before they are ready.

We worked through math and had lunch. My other children were keeping busy with independent work (history and literature readings, mostly)

And this is the day I realized writing about my life everyday is getting rather boring. So, in my next “day” I will share how we do devotions, specifically, since many of you have asked.

I will also share some of our dinner recipes, especially some of the new ones we’ve tried that have turned out awesome and don’t take forever to prepare.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Let’s shift the angle a bit and get in a little close in the coming days, shall we? :)

31 Days 2014

Terrible Tuesday

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October 7

To put it bluntly, I woke up exhausted Tuesday. In fact, I just didn’t feel like myself. You know what pregnancy exhaustion feels like? Yea, it was beyond that. (No, I’m not pregnant). I drank a cup of coffee. Then another. Still felt exhausted. I felt so heavy. I wondered how in the world I was going to homeschool. My brain just felt so foggy and unfocused.

My husband and I think my workout on Sunday caught up to me. Apparently it’s going to take some time adjusting my body to this new routine. In the mean time, though, I had to deal with this day. This day, my responsibilities felt so very heavy on my shoulders. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel awful, I have too much to do!

I made the best decision for all of us — I let the kids watch movies. And you know what? It was refreshing for them as well. They needed the break as much as me. We turned on Netflix and, to my delight, they had just added one of my childhood favorites: Pippi Longstocking. On it went…and the kids loved it!

Once dinner time rolled around, again I felt overwhelmed. I just wanted to crawl in bed and sleep. What to do. What to do. “OK children. It’s ‘fend for yourself for dinner’ tonight. Whatever you can whip up in the oven or microwave is yours! Older children, help the younger ones.”

I had a phone meeting at 6pm and my husband still needed to eat. When he got home, I gave him my Paypal card and told him he could buy the two of us fast food. (I know, it’s a problem).

So, I went upstairs to my room with my laptop and phone and did my 30-minute phone meeting. Then I got ready to leave because I had hip-hop practice to go to, but first needed to attend another meeting on Google Hangout right before class. So I just carried my laptop along with me to do the meeting there. I still wanted to crawl in bed and sleep at this point.

I arrived at the dance studio and set up my laptop and had about a 45 minute meeting. Then went to hip hop class and pretended I knew how to dance hip hop — with my two left feet.

I came home really tired, but after a full day, even an exhausted body needs to wind down from the day before trying to sleep. So, on goes Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. And I fell asleep. With my mouth open. Hubby said I snored, too. Nice, huh? :P

I made my way up the stairs and fell into bed, worried the next day would be just as bad…I felt like I could sleep for two days.

31 Days 2014