10 Tips for Making Your Home a Sanctuary

10 Tips for Making Your Home a Sanctuary #homemaking #sanctuary #faith www.ruckusandrubies.com #raisinghomemakers

Sanctuary…

The simple utterance of that very word makes your eyes close, your head lift, and your lungs take in a deep breath of air. A sense of tranquility and peace washes over you.

Today I’m sharing 10 tips for making your home a sanctuary over on the Raising Homemakers blog. Take a minute and stop by for a visit: 10 tips for Making Your Home a Sanctuary – Raising Homemakers.

Will We Answer to God for Our Vote?

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Do you think we will have to answer to God for whom we vote in the next election? Do you believe God even cares about the election? These are some questions I’ve been hearing often lately.

It doesn’t take much time or investigation into the God’s Word to find the answers:

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

This one verse sums up so very much. God’s Word commands us to seek FIRST the righteousness of God. Therefore, in choosing for whom to vote, we are commanded to seek a righteous candidate.

What does righteous mean? God’s people are righteous when they are in a right relation with Him, when they enjoy His salvation; when they humbly admit their dependence upon God. They are considered by God as the Judge of the world as righteous when they are being and doing what he requires in His Word.

That is when inspecting fruit comes in–there is a difference between condemning, judging, and inspecting the fruit of ones life. We must research and study the life of a candidate to see what types of fruit they have produced for God’s kingdom.

We should also pray and ask The Lord for help in choosing a candidate. Many will tickle the ears of the people and say whatever they want to get elected.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. Matthew 7:15

For these reasons, it is not easy to choose a candidate. We shouldn’t just jump on the popular candidate bandwagon. We must do our homework, pray, and seek God’s direction.

What if there are no worthy candidates? Well, that’s when even more prayer is needed. We must ask God specifically to lead us to the right candidate and to let us know if we should even vote at all.

Please, don’t fuss at me–I’ve been scolded by so many for this attitude, but at the end of the day I will answer to God for my vote. Many people believe if they don’t vote for the “lesser of the evils” then that gives more votes to the “evil” one. Not so. I believe God’s Word. He said if we seek Him first, He’ll take care of the rest. He said it, I believe it, enough said! Now, let us live what we believe!

So as we approach the 2016 election, please think and pray fervently. Don’t settle. Don’t give your vote to an unworthy candidate, especially one who does not bear the fruit of the Spirit.

We want to be able to stand before God and hear Him say he approves of our decision.

Summer Activities for Your Homeschool Journey

summer homeschool activitiesSummer break is quickly approaching! I don’t know about you, but I could REALLY use a break. It’s been a busy year of trials and triumphs.

Of course I’m always ready for a break, but there should be a purpose for everything we do and it should always be an intentional and beneficial use of our time. At the end of each year, I take stock of our accomplishments and our shortcomings. I contemplate year-round schooling and other schedule options for our homeschool and implement what is best for our situation at that time.
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Let’s face it, taking a summer break isn’t always the most beneficial option. Sometimes children forget what they’ve learned over the course of three months. Then you spend the first part of the following year reviewing what they forgot.
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Here in South Carolina, it’s miserably hot by the beginning of August. The warm pool water isn’t refreshing. When you jump in you feel more like your boiling in a pot rather than swimming in a pool. There are also those famous last words: “I’m bored” that I sometimes hear after only a few weeks of summer break? That is one of my least favorite sayings ever. As a mommy, I would give ANYTHING to be bored. pool-690034_1280To avoid some of these pitfalls of summer, I thought I’d share some of our scheduling tips, games, and activities we’ve used over our 13 years of homeschooling.
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We take a shorter summer break and allow for mini breaks throughout the school year. We take a take eight or nine weeks off in the summer. Then we take a week off in September, several weeks during the holidays, and then another week off for Easter break. We also plan a few long weekends throughout the schedule. A shorter summer usually gives us time to rest, play, re-organize our supplies, choose and shop for the next year’s curriculum, take a trip, tackle a few projects, and maybe even schedule some appointments to get them out of the way before we resume school.
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To keep our lessons fresh in our minds, we will discuss some of the things we learned throughout the school year. We’ll play math games, thinking skills games, and participate in activities that reinforce what we learned and keep our minds fresh for the next school year.  Here are some amazing activities and resources that will turn your summer break into educational fun without your children even knowing it:
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A swimming pool is always a hit, but we can’t all afford an in-ground pool. This is a great option. We’ve bought a few of these over the course of our homeschooling journey. They’ve each lasted about 4 summers.

There are tons of water toys you can use for learning counting, colors, addition, subtraction, etc:

Math wrap ups are a wonderful way to keep those tables memorized and those hands out of trouble:

There are wrap ups for music and language subjects too!

We all live near historic towns. Take a field trip to one. You can walk through the streets learning history and observing creation. Many towns have wading fountains to keep you cool. There’s always an ice cream parlor nearby so reward your children with a scoop or two of their favorite flavor!

When it’s unbearably hot, have a movie day complete with popcorn and candy. Some local theaters even offer summer movies for a dollar or two.

During those summer afternoon thunderstorms, you could build a blanket fort or set up a tent in the living room, snuggle up and read books all afternoon. Many libraries offer a summer reading reward program.

You can hold a camp out in your own back yard complete with s’mores, water balloons, tent, and nature hunts.

Board games and outdoor games are always a hit with my children, and they don’t usually catch on to the fact that their learning in every subject!

Academics isn’t the only thing we need to teach our children, you know? How about set aside a week or two to learn some life skills? Make it as fun as you can by allowing your children to do some of the meal planning, shopping, cooking, laundry, car washing, yard work, etc. You could even throw in rewards like allowance or prizes for a job well done!

You’d be surprised what educational activities you can find to do over the summer. They’ll turn your summer into a low stress, fun, learning adventure that will benefit the whole family and create memories to last a lifetime!

Honoring God’s Gift to Us–Mothers

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Motherhood—According to Oxford Dictionary, it’s “the state of being a mother”, “a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth”.

What a very boring and unfit definition! It’s so much more than that. It’s unconditional love, unspeakable joy, treasured memories, the most precious time in the life of a woman. It’s ironic that mothers are also the most under-appreciated people on this earth. I’m not just saying that because I am a mother. I truly believe it, and I knew it even before I was a mother. crown-1049927_1920
Read more here at Raising Homemakers.

Fried Chicken Tenders – THM, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Clean Eating

Crispy, juicy, mouthwatering fried chicken – that’s what my sweet grandmama used to make. She lovingly battered each piece and carefully fried them in her pressure cooker. Boy, do I miss that fried chicken. Even more, I miss my sweet grandmama–I wish my children could have known her.

She was an amazing, southern cook. Of course, she didn’t know about Trim Healthy Mama so her fried chicken was not on plan. I love my grandmama more than THM, but I cannot return to my old lifestyle–I’ve come to far and my health is too important. Her recipe also wasn’t gluten free so my oldest and youngest children wouldn’t be able to enjoy it since they are allergic to gluten. My third daughter is allergic to soy, so had my children been born when my grandmama was frying chicken, she would have had to dredge it in gluten free flour and fry it an oil that does not contain soy. I wonder if she would have ever embraced a new way of cooking?

THM Fried Chicken Tenders low carb gluten freeI was craving fried chicken the other day, so I decided to come up with a THM friendly version. I’ll be perfectly honest, it doesn’t taste like my grandmama’s recipe. No matter what I do, I’ll never come close to that flavor perfection. I don’t a pressure cooker, I can’t use regular flour or vegetable oil, and there will just never be another cook like my grandmama.The chicken tenders I fried were the FINEST healthy fried chicken I have ever had. In fact, I don’t know of many recipes for healthy fried chicken, and this is an amazing alternative. The very best thing about it is I can eat it, stay healthy, and lose weight! Not a bad trade off!

Fried Chicken Tenders – THM, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Clean Eating

2 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup almond milk

1 1/2 cups Trim Healthy Mama Baking Blend found here or here

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

salt and cayenne pepper to taste

1.5-2 lbs fresh chicken tenders

Olive oil, organic found here

Whisk eggs, cream, and almond milk in a shallow dish.  In another shallow dish, mix baking blend and seasonings.  Dip chicken tenders one by one in egg mixture and then dredge them in dry ingredients. For extra breading, dip and dredge again. Heat oil in frying deep skillet or frying pan on medium high heat. You want the oil to cover the entire bottom and up the sides of the chicken tenders, or if you are going to watch them carefully and have a very deep pan, you can use enough oil to cover chicken completely. Gently shake off excess flour off chicken, and fry in oil. This is not a time to multitask, so watch the chicken and turn as one side browns.

THM Fried Chicken Tenders #lowcarb, #glutenfree S,

Depending on your frying method, you may want to then put your tenders in a glass pan in the oven to bake on 325 degrees for about 10 min to ensure the center of the chicken is done.

frying chicken low carb THM

This is a Trim Healthy Mama S or satisfying meal, which means the primary fuel in it is healthy fat. To stay in weight loss mode, serve the chicken with sauteed or raw, non-starchy veggies, zucchini fries, another S or FP recipe from the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook, or top a big salad with your yummy tenders.

Trim Healthy Mama fried chicken salad

Thorns of Encouragement

Thorns of Encouragement #homeschooling #parenting #encouragement #faithSoon our school year will be just another memory. What began nine months ago is quickly coming to an end. Are you like me, feeling as if each year ticks by faster than the last? I mean there are moments during our school year that seem to drag on forever like fractions, anatomy, pre-calculus… (Did you sense a trend? If you guessed we tend to struggle with math and science, you guessed correctly.) However, for the most part it has flown by. Taking the year as a whole, I feel as if it was a blurred whirlwind of events.

My oldest is wrapping up her freshman year of college. I’m in my third year of denial that my middle child is in high school, and this is pretty bad considering she will be a senior this fall. I don’t even want to think about the fact that in 5 short years my two youngest babies will graduate and most likely leave my nest at the same time–double whammy!pink rose closeupI’ve been reflecting on our homeschool journey a lot lately. I remember when we began. Stepping out on faith into the wild unknown of homeschooling was a frightening experience. Time with my precious children was what I always wanted. I knew it wasn’t always going to be rosy, but I had no idea how much time I would spend fussing about the lack of attention span, worrying about silly state education standards, cleaning up messes from science experiments gone wrong, and sweeping up the hair I pulled out during math meltdowns. I spent a lot of time focusing on the thorns instead of smelling the roses.

Even more valuable and memorable was the quality time I spent with my blessings. I didn’t realize how much time we would spend cuddling up on the couch with a good book, laughing at poems and short stories they’d written, teaching the time-honored but not forgotten traditions, crafts, and life skills of yesteryear, marveling and worshiping God and His creation, honoring our ancestors, hugging through the meltdowns, praying through the struggles, and thanking God for the honor and privilege of homeschooling. I am so grateful for these beautiful blossoms in our homeschool.

Now that I think about it, those thorns lead to some delightful blossoms; those moments were well worth it. I would endure the pricks and thorns one million times over to homeschool my children. After all, you can’t have true roses without thorns. They have a God-given purpose. Who am I to question God’s design and plan? Roses are one of God’s most beautiful creations. I can’t imagine avoiding the soft, delicate petals, the lovely fragrance, or the intricate beauty of a rose simply because of the thorns.

It won’t be long and I’ll be reflecting over our summer break and heading into the 2016-2017 school year. Our homeschool journey is moving way too fast for me.  Maybe you feel the same. It is my prayer for us all to take time to enjoy the roses of our homeschooling journey, thorns and all! Roses don’t last forever.

There Are No Words…

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When you have a blog post to write, it’s not good to be at a loss for words. That is how I feel this week. It’s not a case of writer’s block. It’s not a lack of events of life from which to draw–as a wife and mommy, my life is busy and full. As a Christian, there should always be something God is teaching me that I could share with others. But, I am still struggling with the words today… To understand why I’m struggling, click  here to read the rest of my post at Raising Homemakers.

Peace in the Midst of Yet Another Tragedy

world peaceAs we were riding home yesterday afternoon, we were listening to a news report on yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Belgium. It’s so heartbreaking! Here I was trying to drive, but tearing up about yet another tragedy, more precious lives gone from this earth and sent into eternity.

Sometimes it’s more than we can bear. I know deep down in my heart that the good outweighs the bad, but it seems as time passes we only hear about the negative. It makes a soul grow weary and homesick for heaven. Then God reminds me there is still much work to do winning souls for His Kingdom. I know we have to keep persevering and serving in His name. This is a lot to ponder while you’re driving, but I was paying attention. Don’t worry!

After the report, more music came on the radio. Some time went by, and The Lord revealed something to me. “Listen, daughter. Listen to yourself and your children.” We were all singing at the top of our lungs, praising the one true God, lifting high the name of Jesus. God is so good to send simple, but wonderful reminders of His presence. Then my youngest daughter looked up to see the gentleman in the car ahead of us was singing the same worship song we were. Not only was His presence in our car, but it was all around us.

I am sorrowful, but grateful. I am disappointed in people who say they want peace and goodness, but they still perpetuate evil and sin. I am not happy about the tragic events in this world. However, I am joyful–I have the joy of The Lord which is my strength. No matter what happens, I know I have given my life to The Father. I know that I am no longer separated from Him by my sin, but I am now His child. No matter what the enemy and those who choose his ways may do, I know the end of the story. God wins. Jesus prevails. I know My Redeemer lives!

Activities to Keep Children Busy During School Break

Activities to Keep Children Busy During School Break #children #parenting www.ruckusandrubies.comI don’t know about your children, but mine tend to get bored easily during Christmas and spring breaks as well as summer break.  Boredom leads to lots of whining and loads of trouble. It’s times like those that make this homeschooling mommy schedule all year round. The problem with that is I NEED A BREAK! Skipping break is a punishment for me in many ways!

I need time to catch up on all of the other things that get placed on the back burner during our school year. I need a break from grading, paperwork, record keeping. Homeschooling knits us close together, but I need time with my children without any hindrances or pressures this world tries to heap on us.

Let’s face it–every endeavor in this life takes some sort of effort especially if you want it to be successful. With a little planning, your children can have the excitement they need while you get the vacation you so desperately deserve!

A few things you’ll need to remember: there will be times when you’ll have to let go and let the children make a mess. Have them help you clean it up, but allow them to just be children and have fun. Also, be sure to the age appropriateness and level of maturity of your children for each activities. Now, check out these awesome activities to keep your blessings busy:

  • Let your children build a fort over furniture.
  • Have a camp out in the backyard or inside your home complete with flashlights, pup tents, campfire or microwave s’mores.
  • Bake cutout sugar cookies.
  • Decorate and eat cupcakes.
  • Have a bubble blowing competition.
  • Play Twister in swimsuits with colored shave cream.
  • Purchase pom poms, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, glue, construction paper, popsicle sticks, or craft kits. Put down lots of newspaper or an old sheet, and have a craft day! Children can gift their crafts to grandparents, aunts, uncles, church family, the elderly, etc.
  • Make or purchase play money, set up a cash register or calculator, have children use stickers to put price tags on toys or other items, and let them play store.
  • Allow children to use cooker cutters and plastic knives to play with play doh. If you’re worried about mess, set it up outside at a table or on a blanket.
  • Buy random, inexpensive food ingredients and let children make their own snack creations whether or not the foods go together.
  • Blind-folded gourmet jelly bean challenge; have children guess flavors.
  • Keep old broken appliances and electronics. Be sure to check them for any safety precautions, remove old batteries, etc. Let children take them apart and put them back together (this was a favorite and very educational past time of my son).
  • Play board and card games. Here are some of our favorites: Sorry, Ticket to Ride,  UnoCandy Land
  • Set up minute-to-win-it games.
  • Fill a jar with random acts of kindness written on small pieces of paper.
  • Run through sprinklers.
  • Sidewalk paint and chalk.
  • Go for a nature walk.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Have a picnic lunch.
  • Utilize activity books like this one for more ideas: The Instant Curriculum: Over 750 Activities Developmentally Appropriate Activities.
  • Finger painting with paint or food.
  • Swimming.
  • Water balloons.
  • Have a Lego building challenge choosing themes for the projects like holidays or a topic you are learning in school.
  • Volunteer at a nursing home or children’s hospital.
  • Plan a sleepover with another family and trade off the following week, giving both sets of parents a break.
  • If you  have to run errands or take care of things during your break, take the children along but plan ahead by making a way to involve them in the process.  For example, allow them to help with grocery shopping by letting them grab things off shelf, push cart, or scan items at the self checkout. You can even teach them couponing.
  • Make popcorn, rent or stream movies, and have a movie afternoon.

With a little planning ahead, you can plan an exciting activity each day. Depending on the age of your children, many of these can be done without much involvement from you. That means you can utilize these activities to keep your monkeys busy while you enjoy a productive and hopefully restful break!

 

Need Help Teaching Science?

Need Help Teaching Science? www.ruckusandrubies.com #homeschooling, #science
Need Help Teaching Science? www.ruckusandrubies.com #homeschooling, #science

Science was one of those subjects that did not come naturally to me when I was in school. I have to be honest–I detested science. Now that I am homeschool mom, I do enjoy participating in hands on science experiments and activities with my children.

Sometimes I still struggle with teaching science lesson plans and activities. My sweet husband really enjoys science so I love it when he is able to come home and help me with experiments and activities that go along with our lesson. It’s good for children to see their fathers get involved with learning. After all, homeschooling is a family journey!

I am also grateful for science kits like these that I can pair with my curriculum to reinforce what my children are learning:

I can always use help in the subject of science, and kits like these come in very handy if teaching science is a challenge for you. Children shouldn’t miss out on the complex and wonderful creations of God. It’s always important to show them just how magnificent is the power of The Creator of the world.