Shielding Your Family from This Season’s Germs

As a family of six, whenever we are exposed to viruses we try to take as many precautions as we can to prevent the spread of germs. We have our routine preventative measures, but we also employ extra methods to prevent the spread of germs. Otherwise, it is going to run its course through our entire home and can take a month or more to leave us.

One thing we do on a regular basis is keep our toothbrushes covered with those plastic covers. I use natural toothpaste that is white and my toothbrush cover is also white so when I see it looking a little dirty, it disgusts me. I disinfect and clean it often, but I always worry about germs that may be lurking on it and jumping onto my toothbrush. I mean, that kinda defeats the who purpose.
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Recently, I was introduced to IntelliDent Toothbrush Shields. They are made of breathable material that allows your toothbrush to dry. These sleeves simply slide down right over the head of your toothbrush. They are actually disposable, so you don’t have to take the time to disinfect them.

My children really appreciated not having to try to turn they plastic covers a certain way to lock them into place. There is no wrong side of the toothbrush shields, so they are able to just slip them over the toothbrush and go.

They are tested and proven to be effective for up to seven days, so you don’t have to use a new one each day. They are compact which makes them easy to store in our already crowded bathrooms, and they work well for travel.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy it when I am able to let go of some tasks and worries. It’s been nice to not have to clean my old plastic toothbrush cover. It’s been even nicer not to worry about germs that might be trapped or growing on the plastic holders and as a result all of our toothbrushes and into our bodies.

They also have mouthpiece shields that work well for retainers. My oldest wears a retainer every night. She attends college and works in the food industry. She brings home lots of germs, so having a mouthpiece shield gives peace of mind as well. Plastic retainer keepers containers can be disgusting.

I highly recommend IntelliDent Shields. If you’d like more information about them, you can contact them directly at info@toothbrushshield.com or on their website.

To prevent the spread of germs, we use preventives and immunity boosters through essential oils and other natural sources. We always keep a safe distance from anyone in our home who is sick. We make sure we keep our children home when they are sick and don’t share germs with others.  We don’t eat or drink after each other. We don’t eat off of the ground or floor. I know everyone says a little dirt never hurt anyone, but that is just disgusting. Do you realize how much animal feces and bacteria we step on outside and then bring inside our home from our shoes onto our floors. You can get hook worms and other parasites from these nasty practices and many times not know it until you become very sick. These can also be spread to your family members. Ultimately, we try to provide a clean environment for our family to prevent as much sickness as possible.

I pray you and your family practice good hygiene, take measures to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs, and that you have a healthy season!

*I have not received compensation for this post, but I did receive IntelliDent Toothbrush Shields to review.

Encouragement for “One of Those Days”

One of Those DaysEver have “one of those days”? Lately, I’ve been having them often. Attempting to balance homeschooling, taking care of my family, and now a business, is taking its toll on me some days. Running a business is a full time job in and of itself, but it’s not my primary calling. Some days I feel like a stretched out piece of elastic that has lost it’s elasticity. I can’t bounce back enough to benefit anyone.

How do you possibly do everything on your list when you have more tasks than there are hours in a day? Other than starting your day with The Lord, giving Him control of your day, and prioritizing, I really don’t have the answer. That’s okay…sometimes there isn’t an immediate and tangible answer. Sometimes we just need hope and encouragement to help us persevere.Keep your quiet moment appointments with The Lord. Read and pray on the scriptures below, and rest in their wisdom and promises. Remember God always keeps His promises.

  • I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
  • The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17
  • God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
  • Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  • Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22
  • I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
  • So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Hebrews 13:6
  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
  • Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
  • In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. Psalm 118:5
  • For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear.  I will help you.” Isaiah 41:14
  • He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29
  • I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Hang in there, my friends! Remember, God is faithful!

Names of Jesus Ornaments with Christmas Devotions

christmas-ornaments-watermarkedIn years past we’ve used a Jesse Tree and devotions during the Christmas season.  A few years ago I was pinning some of my favorite Christmas crafts I came across a picture of some beautifully crafted glass ornaments with the names of Jesus on them.  I repinned the post and read later (like most of us do when we are short on time).  I really liked this idea, because I ADORE anything that reminds me of all of the names of my precious Jesus.  I also liked the idea that each of my children could make their own set of ornaments to celebrate the advent season.  Not only could they use them to decorate their own trees in their rooms, but they could also keep them over the years and share them with their children.

I began researching and found an awesome Names of Jesus unit study here from the Easy Fun School website.  It teaches 24 names of Jesus, scripture, handwriting pages, word searches, and activities for each subject which are tied to the lesson.  The study actually includes a list of all of the names of Jesus so you can study even more. We did this study and made these ornaments years ago, but my children still use these today and they plan to use their ornaments in their own home some day.

To create our Names of Jesus ornaments and Bible study, I went to my craft closet and gathered all of my supply bins.  I purchased sets of fillable glass ornaments for each child (and one for myself).  I would get extra in case some break.  You can also purchase acrylic ornaments, but they are more costly.

You could utilize paint pens in black, gold and silver to write the names of Jesus and the scripture reference on the outside of the ornaments or you could purchase vinyl decals here.

There are lots of options for decorating the ornaments:

  1. You could pour a small amount of paint into the inside of the ornament, cover the whole and shake. You can also swirl a few colors into the ornaments to give them a marbelized effect. Then be sure to turn the ornament upside down and put it into a bathroom sized paper or plastic cup to drain for a day or two.
  2. I love the look of glittered ornaments, but glitter on the outside is extremely messy. Polycrylic is a clean and beautiful way to glitter ornaments. Simply pour a little polycrylic into the ornament and immediately turn the ornament upside down into a cup to drain out the excess. Then sprinkle a little of your favorite color glitter into the ornament and slowly turn the ornament around in your hands to coat the entire inside with glitter. Add more if needed. Then turn the ornament upside down into another cup to allow the excess glitter to sprinkle out. Then you can immediately put your top back into your ornament. You can pour your excess glitter and polycrylic from your cups back into their respective containers. e of the ornaments, squirt small amounts of paint inside and shake.  You can swirl more than one color inside as well.
  3. Fill ornaments with trinkets that pertain to the scripture reference. For example, for “Bright and Morning Star” we filled our ornament with star confetti. We didn’t completely fill our ornaments with trinkets as sometimes that makes the label on the outside difficult to read. You can also see the trinkets better as well.

You can easily fill ornaments with sweet trinkets. However, I found that it could be quite pricey to fill them completely so I only fill ours half way to be thrify. It also makes it easier to see the trinkets when there is still room inside the ornament. Be creative with your trinkets. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas:

1. Alpha & Omega–fill with cutouts of the Alpha & Omega symbol.
2. Wonderful Counselor–fill with paint or glitter or beads or filler.
3. Mighty God–fill with cutouts of barbels or gold ball filler or beads.
4. Everlasting Father–fill with artificial pine needles or paint green for evergreens.
5. Prince of Peace–fill with dove confetti or cutouts of doves or crowns or artificial snow filler.
6. The Firstborn of Every Creature– Fill ornament with birthday candles or birthday confetti.
7. The Unspeakable Gift–we made cutouts of gifts using small construction paper or gift-shaped confetti or little bows.
8. Lamb of God–fill with cotton or fiberfill.
9. The Good Shepherd-fill with cutouts of shepherd staffs or mini candy canes.
10. Bright & Morning Star-fill with star-shaped sequins.
11. Messiah–glitter or paint.
12. Immanuel–another filled with paint, glitter, sequins, or beads.
13. Holy–glitter or paint.
14. Light of the World–mini light ornaments or mini light bulbs (just be sure they will fit in the hole of the ornament).

15. Dayspring–glitter or gold, pink, orange paint to represent the colors of a sunrise.
16. The Word–In small font, I printed John 1:1 on paper, cut out multiple, curl, and put inside ornament or Bible confetti.
17. Servant–I printed a small picture of Jesus washing the disciples feet and put inside ornament or paint/glitter.
18. King–Fill with gems or crowns.
19. Rose of Sharon–Fill with real or silk rose petals.
20. Lily of the Valley–Fill with silk lily petals, paint or glitter.
21. Friend–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
22. Savior–Fill with cutout crosses or cross shaped beads
23. Shiloh–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
24. Ancient of Days–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.

When your ornaments are all dry you can store them in their box or put them in a bowl, etc.  You can begin utilizing them in whatever fashion works for your family.  We started on December 1st and will follow the study daily for 24 days as a family during our night time devotions, but this is a unit study so you could actually use it during your homeschool day.  During our devotions, we study the name and verse.  We have chosen activities from each day to do together as a family.  Then we close in prayer and each of us puts our ornament of the day on the tree.  Sometimes we put them on the tree. Other years we put them in a crystal bowl or wooden box on our table so we can reflect on the names each time we pass through or sit down to eat in the heart of our home.

If you need simplicity this Christmas season, you can purchase a set of 12 Names of Jesus ornaments here. They come with printed scripture reference and prayer focus. I pray your family is able to utilize this and other ways to enjoy celebrating Jesus throughout the Christmas season.

Pressed for Time?

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Who wouldn’t love to add more hours to the day? Twenty-four hours is just not enough time to get everything done. Unfortunately, I don’t have a mathematical equation or a scientific formula to solve this age old problem. There are only 24 hours in a day and there is no way to change that. However, I do know a way to get the most benefit from the 24 hours we are given.

Click here to read more of my post over on Raising Homemakers.

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!

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.

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!

 

10 Things I Desperately Want My Children to Learn

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The other day after we finished a tough homeschool day, I was thinking about our homeschool journey. I was thinking about the importatance of academics, but that there are so many things I want my children to learn that have nothing to do with academics and everything to do with living life: Read more at my guest post on Raising Homemakers.

Overwhelmed by Homeschooling?

Overwhelmed by Homeschooling? Tips and advice for overwhelming the enemy instead of yourself. www.ruckusandrubies.com #homeschooling #faith

I wish I could say that after you homeschool for a while, you no longer feel overwhelmed. Many aspects of the journey do get easier, better, less stressful, but there are always going to be aspects of homeschooling that overwhelm us.

Whether it is Algebra, the science experiment gone awry, meltdowns over writing assignments, the phone ringing off the hook, non-supportive family members and friends, broken appliances, there will always be something that tries to ruin your homeschool journey.

We must remember: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12.

The enemy, satan, wants to steal, kill, and destroy our homeschools. He wants us to throw in the towel. Knowing this gives me a whole new perspective on my struggles. It makes me angry, but most of all motivated. It makes me want to “man up”, stop whining, and fight for my children and our homeschool.

When you feel overwhelmed, use these tips as ammunition against the enemy:

  1. Get into your prayer closet. Encourage your children to pray with you. I know it is an interruption to your homeschool schedule, but math problems can wait. Protecting your home from the enemy cannot!
  2. Reach out to your prayer warriors. Nothing bothers satan more than to hear the prayers of many saints fighting against him.
  3. Seek advice from your homeschool support group, accountability association, or fellow homeschoolers.
  4. Take a break from the overwhelming tasks, pray over them, and do something fun instead. You could take a field trip, go to the library, have a game day, volunteer, perform random acts of kindness in the community, or just take the day off and spend it cuddling and basking in His light.
  5. Speak to the enemy. Bind him in the name of Jesus. Grab your Bible and study scripture. Claim it against the enemy just as Jesus did. Include your children in this maneuver, because they need to know how to recognize who they are battling and how to defeat him.
  • And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant. Genesis 33:5
  • And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Hebrews 2:13
  • Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
  • Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
  • Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The truth is that whether or not you homeschool, there are times of trial for everyone in this life. Hang in there! Remember God’s faithfulness. Seek Him first, and He has promised He will take care of the rest. God never breaks His promises!

5 Tips to Help Moms Juggle Everything

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Ever feel like you are in a juggling act? I know I do–and my house is the three ring circus. Circuses are fun, but your home is no place for a circus. I have not be trained to nor do I even want to jump through rings of fire or walk a tightrope hundreds of feet in the air or juggle a dozen balls. Fire dangerously spreads. I’m afraid of heights. Oh, and did I mention I have carpal tunnel and arthritis. No way I can juggle!

The circus wasn’t even my calling. I was called to be a wife and a mother. That means using Proverbs 31 as my guide to serving God and my family. I am to love and support my husband by being a good steward of all of his hard work. We are a team so while he is working hard all day, I am caring for everything on the home front.

I am to love, nurture and teach my children spiritually, academically, physically. I am also to care for myself in a way that keeps me spiritually and physically healthy so I can serve God and my family to the utmost of my ability.

So how come I find myself feeling like an act for Ringling Brothers? How did I end up here? How do I get back on track?

I’ve been studying scripture and The Lord has really been speaking to me. He pointed out the fact that as a wife and mommy, I wear at least 50 different hats every day. Have you ever seen one of those mom job descriptions that is a mile long list of duties? It’s true. At some point I do have to multitask or adjust tasks which means I may need to do a little juggling. But in His faithfulness He reminded me that if I seek Him first, He will help me do so with grace, joy, peace, and a servant’s heart instead of looking like a fumbling clown.

He also pointed out that sometimes in my quest, I get too busy trying to meet the world’s standard of a woman rather than God’s standard. That’s when I start feeling like a Bozo, because my priorities have gotten so mixed up.

Below are 5 tips to help moms juggle everything:

  1. Tend your garden. I’m not talking about the one out in the backyard. It’s the garden of our heart that needs attention. We need to surrender and give Jesus our hearts. We need to tend our garden by studying His Word, communicating with God in prayer, and regular worship in His house. Through these things, He can change the condition of the soil of our hearts so that the seeds of His Word will take root, grow, and bear fruit. Luke 18:14-15–The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.                                    
  2. Relinquish control. If we are ever going to find balance, we’ve got to “let go and let God”. He will guide us to what should remain in our hands. When we seek Him, we’ll have the freedom to stop juggling some of the balls, but don’t worry–they won’t drop. When we give them to God, they float upward to His mighty hands. The hands that control everything. Let’s face it–we aren’t Superwoman. We cannot do EVERYTHING. Why not let your loving Heavenly Father carry the burden? He desires to do this for us. 1 Peter 5:7–Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.
  3. Stop chasing the wrong dream. We’ve got to get our priorities straight. We’ve got to stop worrying about how the world tells us school, sports, and other activities are the top priorities in life. Don’t get me wrong–they are important to a degree. However, they won’t get your children into Heaven. They have little to no eternal value. Our relationships with God, His church, and our family should be the top priority. Everything else will fall into place once that is established. What good is it going to do if little Johnny can hit a home run, if he thinks baseball is more important than his relationship with God and The Church? What good is it if we have all of the material possessions in the world, can eat out every night, and have a huge savings account, but our family is worshiping at the idols of television, iPads, and sports cars? Physical health is so important to serving God and our families, but not to the extent that we spend more time exercising and counting calories than we do in His Word. Those things become our gods.  Exodus 20:3–“You must not have any other god but me.  If you need help prioritizing your schedule, these books are extremely helpful:                      
  4. Don’t worrying about your needs & just be grateful. There are people who spend hours worrying about money, planning how to pinch and squeeze every penny they have. It is important to be good stewards of God’s blessings, but it they not ours to hoard and obsess over. Money is a tool God gives us to use for His glory. Many parents preach to their children to be grateful, yet they don’t exhibit that themselves. They are hoarding every dime. The children see them using and abusing others for what they have instead of working hard and buying their own. People lie on their taxes, cheat others so that they can save money, and they develop an entitlement attitude. They expect people to cater to their needs. That’s not a life of gratitude. If we get our spiritual life on track, then we won’t have to worry about meeting our physical needs. We will trust God to take care of them. He will change our hearts, shape our attitudes about money, and we’ll stop struggling to juggle those pesky finances. We will live as God as our Provider. He will pour out His blessings. We will use it for His glory and share it along the way. Luke 12:22-31–And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”                                             
  5. Glorify the Lord. Our lives are not about us. We need to realize that the meaning of life is to glorify The Lord not to live for self. That is why we need balance and why we drop the ball. We have a God-given purpose. If we live that out, then we will bear fruit for The Lord. Are your hands too full and too busy juggling balls?  Ask yourself what fruit you are bearing. Your hands weren’t meant to juggle, but they were created to be branches that bear much fruit. We are to be the hands and feet of Christ and bring glory to The Father. You can’t do that when you have your hands full of a million different things. John 15:8–When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.  I would encourage you to hang a note or a sign up as a daily reminder of God’s purpose for you.

Juggling takes a lot of hard work. There will be times when we will drop a ball or two, but I am so thankful that I don’t have to juggle all of the balls alone. I’m grateful I have a Father who turns my chaotic circus into an amazing work of art.