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.

Why Are Women Their Own Prince Charmings?

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Nowadays, everywhere I turn I find a woman who is worn and weary, burned out beyond anything they can possibly bear. We are trying to be everything to everybody and it is just IMPOSSIBLE. Many women these days feel as if they are being thrown to the wolves into this treacherous and despicable world.

In many ways that is true, as women are burdened with carrying the load of more than God intended. We weren’t meant to be the breadwinners. We weren’t really ever meant to put in more hours at our career or job than we do at home. In fact, helping financially was supposed to be an afterthought, something we did after we took care of all of our priorities. Priorities were supposed to be spiritual growth and relationship with God, marriage, children, home, church, community in that order.

Unfortunately, society has pushed the roles of men onto women. Women are just as much to blame as men or society, because many have decided to become present-day Eves. They are hungry for power, hungry to be like God, and they have fallen into satan’s trap.

These women aren’t the only ones suffering, though. All women are suffering whether they have this hunger for power or not. Many women desire to fulfill God’s call in their lives, but they are stuck in the vicious aftermath of this disaster society has pushed upon us.

The world has taken away the responsibility of man, his leadership, his power, his strength, his courage, his ingenuity, his initiative. Society has taken the warrior God created and turned him into a more subservient type of being while women have been forced to become something they were never meant to be: the Prince Charming, the hero, the warrior, the rescuer, the knight in shining armor.

Now that’s not to say that God did not mean women to be warriors. He did, but not in the same way that He planned it for man. Husbands and wives were meant to support one another, to complement the other, to be the strength when the other is weak, to lift each other up spiritually and physically. They are equally important in the eyes of God, but He did not create them to be equal in every way. Women have strengths men do not have, and men have strengths women don’t have.

I’m grateful there are still marriages that model God’s plan. Those are rare and beautiful marriages. Unfortunately, I am seeing in many instances that the wife is the spiritual leader, leading the family in Bible study, worship, and prayer. It’s the wife who spends her nights on her knees before The Lord praying for her family, fighting the enemy for their souls. It’s the wife who is making most of the family decisions. It’s the wife that is picking up the slack.

Married and single women are struggling to balance everything on their plate. I don’t even think we can call it a “plate”, can we? Plates fit neatly in our hands and are usually fairly manageable even when we fill them to overflowing at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Many of us are beyond carrying a couple of plates. We are carrying the plates God has equipped us to carry. Then we are struggling to scoop up boulders God never meant us to carry. And in many cases society is encouraging or even forcing us to do so.

I’m willing to bet this is similar to what your todo list looks like:

todolist

Sometimes I get up earlier too. Notice there’s no exercise or “me time” on the list. And of course the sad thing is that is not everything…

I would just love to say thank you so very much to all of those women who have passed down this idea and this burden, who have emasculated our men, and trained them to be passive and give up their leadership roles to women—EXTREME SARCASM. You are the ones who have buried women in an avalanche of stress, pressure, and burden. Forgive us for not expressing our gratitude…

You have taken away heroes, Prince Charmings, and have trained men to give up their God given roles in the home and in society. In this human world, you have thrown yourselves and your gender to the wolves.

There are a few warriors and Prince Charmings left in this world. I pray they do not grow weary in the roles God has given them, and I pray they will be protected from this destruction.

Thankfully, Christian women have someone bigger than Prince Charming, more powerful than any hero.  God is our refuge, our ever present help in this stressful world. He is our King, who leads, guides, protects, directs, comforts, and rescues. He is the one to which we should ultimately turn.

Do not lose heart, ladies. Turn to The Father. Make a relationship with Him a priority. Let Him rescue and free you. It won’t mean you will not have to balance the busyness of life, but you won’t have to do it alone. You will have someone to walk beside you when you feel like you are on your own.

When I feel overwhelmed, I tend to curl up in a shell. For some reason (probably the work of the enemy), I tend to draw away from encouragement. I don’t always share with my prayer warriors. Sometimes I don’t even draw near to The Lord, but this is what the enemy wants. He desires for me to be so bogged down and overwhelmed that I cannot fulfill my God-given calling and role in this life, which has a ripple effect on my family and those who look up to me.

Don’t make this mistake. This is where God does use you as a warrior. Defeat the enemy by leaning on The Lord and seeking His will before taking on new tasks. Pray and study His Word for the roles of yourself and your husband in your family.

We can’t be surprised that our lives are utter chaos when we our gender has completely disregarded His will. We don’t want to pass these burdens on to our children. Life is hectic enough without messing with God’s natural plan for things. Our daughters and sons deserve better. Give our sons back their warrior status, and give our daughters back their Prince Charmings. Let’s turn things around by prioritizing, leaning on God and our sisters in The Lord, praying for our families, and teaching future generations to turn back to God and His plan for our roles in this life.

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.

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.

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.

10 Parenting Mistakes to Avoid

hands-634363_1920Parenting is the toughest, but most rewarding job in existence. No other job causes the most physical and emotional stress or reaps the most benefits. Parenting is also the most crucial and important job you will ever have, because the choices you make when rearing your children have a ripple effect for years to come.

I’ve made my share of parenting mistakes along the way. Some were early on and others are more recent. I am the type of person who tries very hard to consider the repercussions of my choices and actions. This can be a good thing until you let it cause you to worry.

Once a mistake is made, it’s already out there. You can’t take it back. However, you can take stock, evaluate, study God’s Word, pray for His guidance, and decide how to remedy the situation and what to do differently next time.

Here are 10 Parenting Mistakes to Avoid:

        1. Not following a schedule or routine.  Children crave routine. Early on they need predictability in their lives to give them security. As they get older they need to learn that the world revolves around a schedule. Routines teach children that someone or something bigger than them is in charge as well as guiding them.
        2. Not reading to or talking to children.  It is important even at infancy to talk to your child about things you are doing and to read to them daily. They crave communication even though they may not be able to understand what you are saying. We read to our children from the day we brought them home from the hospital. We talked to them about everyday things bath time, foods, colors, numbers, all sorts of things. You may feel silly, but they absorb like sponges. You would be surprised how quickly their communication and language skills develop simply by reading and talking to them.  Here are some of my children’s childhood favorites:                                                                                                       
        3. No chores or responsibilities. Children need to be given chores and responsibilities early on according to their age and ability. Even toddlers can handle the task of cleaning up their toys before pulling more out of the toy box. As they get older they can help you fold towels, feed the pets, wipe the kitchen table, entertain the baby or bring you diapers and wipes. Children love feeling needed and the crave the feeling of accomplishment. Here are some chore and discipline charts that would be beneficial to help you keep all of this organized:                                         This one is just for one child but I love it!                 This one is for up to three children.
        4. Paying for good grades, personal responsibilities, or other things required of them. I see no problem with paying children for chores above and beyond their own responsibilities, but children shouldn’t be paid to get good grades, make their own beds, brush their teeth, clean their rooms. They should be paid for going above and beyond what should be required of them. It shouldn’t be a child’s immediate response to ask “what’s in it for me” when they are told to take care of themselves and their belongings or to get good grades. Children should NOT be bribed to do what they should rightfully do on their own.  On the other side of the coin, don’t treat your children like slaves. Nothing bothers me more than to see parents say “go get this”, “go do this”, because they are too lazy to get up and do it themselves!
        5. Assuming children are just naturally boisterous. I call it the “boys will be boys” syndrome. Just because society has had a mental and spiritual lapse in good manners and social etiquette doesn’t mean it is acceptable. Too many children these days are not taught manners and decency. I cannot tell you how many children I run into on a daily basis whose main topic of discussion is toilet humor. They assume they are entitled to whatever everyone else has. They don’t even utter the words please and thank you. They help themselves to your pantry. We need to teach children to keep their hands to themselves instead of walking into a public place or someone’s home picking up and touching things that don’t belong to them. Table manners are important as well. It’s one thing to sit by a small child who smacks, but no one wants to sit at the table with an adult who shows everyone their “seafood”. Children shouldn’t invite themselves to join in on activities either. It puts people on the spot and makes them uncomfortable. Children should wait until they are invited. There is a difference between being boisterous and being disrespectful. Please give your children more credit than this. They can have good manners and be respectful of others. They can follow the Golden Rule. If your children are taught these things at home, then they will mimic them outside the home. Of course, if they are spending their days in public schools or daycare, they are learning their social skills from other children who may not have the same rules and values so those are things you will have to deprogram  the poor manners they pick up. Bottom line is it is NOT “cute” when our children are rude.
        6. Negotiating and begging. How many times have you seen a parent in the store trying to negotiate with their screaming child? “Now Sally, please stop screaming at the top of your lungs in the store. If you stop, I’ll buy you something.” There should be no negotiating. When your child is doing something wrong, you need to pull them aside and tell them why it’s not acceptable. Lay out the consequences of continuing the bad behavior and let the chips fall where they may. Don’t stand their begging your child to behave and don’t reward them for misbehaving in the first place. Be the adult. You are creating a vicious cycle you’ll never break.
        7. Not following through. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t threaten your children that they will lose a privilege if you are not willing to take it from them. Children are smart. It won’t take them long to figure out that you don’t really mean what you say.  If you tell your daughter she will lose her favorite toy if she hits her brother, then be sure that toy is taken if she chooses to hit her brother. If we don’t show children the consequences of their actions, then they will continue to disobey. We are in their face every day. If we don’t show them the consequences of disobeying our rules, how will they ever obey God’s rules when He is not in their face everyday and the consequences aren’t as tangible? A good practice is to use God’s Word for instructing our children on right and wrong. They can memorize and write Bible verses that pertain to their actions. We should also pray with our children asking for God’s guidance and forgiveness.
        8. Not choosing battles wisely. Choose your battles wisely. That doesn’t mean don’t ever discipline your children. It just means be sure the battle you’re waging is worth fighting for. Arguing with your child over mismatched clothes really isn’t worth fighting for. However, if your child is doing something that is detrimental to herself or others then it’s definitely worth the battle.
        9. Too much criticism, not enough praise. When you are running around trying to take care of all of your responsibilities, it’s can be hard to remember to praise your children. They deserve to be praised when they make good choices. Many times that is the only reward they will receive. Instead of coming home and complaining about everything they haven’t done, how about praise them for the things they have done. When we are too critical, our children will stop trying altogether. They’ll find that nothing they do is good enough so why bother.
        10. Not including God in your home.  I saved the most important for last. The biggest mistake is not including God in your home. Now I don’t just mean not going to church. I mean not including God in your home as part of your family. A few hours a week at church is not enough. You need to incorporate God in everything your family does. Your children need to see you saying more prayers than just the mealtime blessing. They need to see you praying for them and their struggles. They need to see you turning to God for your struggles.  God’s Word tells us to teach of Him morning, noon, and night. God isn’t an accessory to our life. He should be the center of our life. If you simply seek God first in everything, you will probably avoid mistakes 1-9, because obedience and surrender to God encompasses all of these things and more.  Here are some wonderful devotions to help you invite God into your home:

                                                                                                               

I hope and pray this list of top 10 parenting mistakes to avoid is beneficial to you. Praying you and your family have a 2016 that is abundantly blessed with growth and God’s favor. Hang in there! Don’t beat yourself up about your mistakes. Learn from them, change bad habits, and grow. Parenting is a difficult job, but it is soooo worth it!

New Years Resolutions for Our Homeschool

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New Years Resolutions for Our Homeschool #homeschool www.ruckusandrubies.com

I cannot believe 2015 is coming to an end.  It seems the homeschool years fly by faster and faster with each passing year. Our children are growing up at record speed! There is so much to teach them about academics and life and so little time.

New Years offers a wonderful opportunity for life lessons with reflection and setting new commitments. We typically call them resolutions, but I’m not sure I like the flippant way society treats resolutions these days. These days resolutions are broken all to easily. If we look at resolutions on more of a spiritual level we realize they are more than just goals. They are commitments. Why settle for having just a good homeschool, when you can have the best homeschool? In order to accomplish this, we need to faithfully commit to the New Years resolutions for our homeschool.

Today I’m sharing with you the New Years resolutions for our homeschool for 2016:

  1. Keep God first in our homeschool. We need to stay committed to prioritizing our day by beginning, ending, and focusing on God through prayer, Bible memorization, reading and discussing His Word, faith-based curriculum, and homeschooling. If we seek Him first, He’ll take care of the rest.
  2. Be more like Christ. We are planning  to study our Bible more and plan more service opportunities for the second half of the year. We want our homeschool journey to be one of growth, outreach, and blessing to us and others. We can spend all the time in the world learning academics, but it won’t do our children any good in this life if they haven’t learned to be like Jesus. True success is measured by how many lives we change.
  3. Smell the Roses. The beginning of the year seems to be so rushed. We jump in with both feet and sprint through the first semester. Many times we miss opportunities for life lessons, cuddling on the couch, sweet discussions with our children. It’s true that they will be grown before you know it. We are so stressed and rushed.  We don’t want to pass these bad habits on to our children.  So take a slow down, take a deep breath, and smell the roses.
  4. Stay up-to-date on paperwork. Oftentimes we get lazy and push aside things that need to be done because we are just too tired. We fit our homeschool schedule around everything else in our lives. It should be the other way around so we are committing to keeping our grading and paperwork current.  That may mean we will need to say no to some opportunities, but it will be worth it in the end because we won’t have a pile of paperwork to do.
  5. More hands on activities, less seat work. By this time of the year, we are becoming weary and are ready for summer break. Livening things up a bit with activities will help us stay motivated during the second semester. Shake up the hum drum a little bit with games, crafts, and field trips.

If you are in need of an overhaul on your homeschool this year and want to start the New Year organized and prepared, check out this wonderful faith-based curriculum:

Sit down with your family and set some New Years resolutions for your homechool. I’m praying for you and your homeschool journey in 2016. May it be successful and fruitful! It is my hope that when summer break arrives, you’ll be able to look back on 2015-16 with little or no regret and an overabundance of blessed memories!

Christmas Break Activities

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There are no words to describe how grateful I am that we are on our Christmas vacation. Don’t get me wrong–we love homeschooling, but we are in desperate need of a break! We start school much earlier than most families, so that allows us to take a little more time off during Christmas. However, it makes for a loooong first semester.

For the first week we usually spend our days catching up on anything around the house that has been neglected or fallen by the wayside while we’ve been busy with school.  Then we spend some time mailing Christmas cards, making gifts, shopping, wrapping gifts, and serving others until Christmas day. After Christmas, we are busy taking down decorations and cleaning while we still have the time. Then we try to spend some more fun time together before resuming school.

I try not to keep my children busy with extracurricular activities outside the home.  I believe it is important to have the family together for dinners and quality time in the evenings as much as possible. We don’t want to spend valuable time running the rat race.  During our days and sometimes evenings, we make crafts, gifts, bake, and play games, and of course we attend church as well. But it doesn’t take long before you start to here the dreaded, “Mom, I’m bored!” I always tell my children that I would give ANYTHING to be bored!

Here are some wonderful resources to keep your blessings entertained during Christmas vacation or any time of year:

It’s never too late to begin Advent or Jesse Tree activities and this is the perfect book. There is a link in the book for free printable ornaments:

Ann has also written a parents’ version of this book:

This is one of our beloved favorites:

Easy recipes for kiddos 4-16

This one is FREE on Kindle!

Gluten Free for the Holidays

Paleo Christmas Treats (easy to tweak for Trim Healthy Mama)

This is another geared specifically for children.

Here’s another FREE one on Kindle:

Nothing teaches the true meaning of Christmas like a nativity, and for these yummy goodies you’ll may need some nativity Christmas cutters:

Or nativity cupcake toppers:

One of our very favorite traditions is viewing Christmas lights. We check the newspapers and websites for lights displays.  We all dress in our sweats or p.j.s., bring blankets, get comfy cozy.  We make cocoa or peppermint shakes, hop in the car, and travel from home to  home viewing the lights and listening Christmas carols.

I hope you find these Christmas break activities helpful. I’m praying your season is filled to overflowing with the real meaning of Christmas, the peace and joy Christ brings.  Merry and Blessed Christmas from our family to yours!