30 November 2015

Making the Most of Family Time on the Weekends

Central Park Zoo in NYC

Family Time is Sacred Time

If I have learned anything about my children it is that quality family time means the WORLD to them.  And if I am honest with myself it's what I look forward to all week.  It's what makes Mondays so hard for all of us.  We miss the sweetness of being all together during Saturday and Sunday.  We have made the weekends a sacred time for family time and even though it's not always easy to make everyone happy we do our best.

One thing I consciously try to do during the week is a chore a day so that Saturday and Sunday are not huge chore days which means more play time.  For us that means an extra load of laundry each day, a thorough sweeping of the house, and constantly picking up after each other so that our home stays in order as much as possible.

Also, we try to do family activities that are low cost if not FREE.  We take advantage of corporate days John has been given in NYC to particular parks, museums, zoos, and aquariums.  The best part is we are admitted free and only may have to pay for parking!  I always pack snacks or lunch for us.

Simple activities like pumpkin picking, apple picking, a trip to the park, a walk in the mall, strolling downtown Princeton, walking through a farm or Rutger's gardens make memories with our kids that they will not soon forget.

I always loved a good movie night with my family growing up, but I am learning that my kids often would rather DO something than just sit around and watch a show.  Besides children are hands on learners and since I have a 1 year old, 2 year old, 6 year old, and almost 8 year old I love taking them to new places and exploring outdoors.


29 November 2015

Find The Gold

Life Giver

Proverbs 11: 27 
He who earnestly seeks good finds favor, but trouble will come to him who seeks evil.

As women, we are life givers, in so many senses of the word.  We can obviously grow and give life with our physical bodies.  But how often do we think about the life we can nurture with our words and our actions?  Just the way the planter plants the seed in the dirt and makes sure it is placed to get the proper light and pours water over it in hopes that a seedling will grow.  We too can build up and edify those people around us that God has so strategically placed.

I think of my four children and just how different they all are, and yet how similar they are when it comes to words of affirmation.  Julia my oldest is a very confident and outgoing girl and she thrives on words of affirmation.  It is amazing to see her flourish and blossom when I just utter a few positive comments to her before giving her a task or assignment.  Mark, my second child has a very negative view of himself, he is always skeptical/concerned about  of what others think of him.  We constantly have to remind him that he is fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image.  Micah is our third born and he is a fire cracker.  Nothing can bother him.  He doesn't care what others think, but if you give him a compliment oh my word you should see his dimples and watch how his eyes light up.  Amelia, our 1 year old we are still trying to figure out, but she loves to hear that she is a 'good girl,' and smiles when we say, 'good job!'.

Think of all the women or men in your life who have used their words to build you up and breathe life into your every day doings just by being uplifting and positive.  Isn't it sad that it is much easier to recall the people who have used their words or attitudes to make you feel small, belittle you or tear you down?

As a life giver you want your word and actions to be truthful and positive.  If you remember that God created the person you are talking to, and you also remember that God doesn't make mistakes, that we all have value and purpose and realize that He loves us with an unending love it is quite easy to use our words to build others up.

"The word encourage means "to inspire courage."  All of us have areas in which we feel insecure.  We lack courage, and that lack of courage often hinders us from accomplishing the positive things we would like to do."--The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I have a mentor that has always been such a positive influence on me because she always had such life giving words to share with me.  When I had my first daughter and I felt like such a failure.  I couldn't breast feed correctly, I was trying to get Julia on a schedule, I was getting no sleep those first 3 weeks and all I wanted to do was give up and cry.  My friend sent me a card that said, "You are the best mother for Julia.  No one else in the world could be the mom you can be for her."  Those words encouraged me so much and they pushed me to be that awesome mom she spoke of!  They gave me the ability to see past my circumstances and see the big picture.

Another sweet sister in the Lord has always found the gold in my life.  Whether it be the fact that I am organized, or maybe say only good things about my husband in public (let's face it, my husband is pretty perfect) or the fact that I try to plan fun outings for my kids so that we don't sit home and watch t.v. all day, she just always compliments me and tells me how she sees me growing in the Lord.  She inspires me and makes me feel so good about myself when I am with her.  After spending a few hours with her I feel like I am on cloud 9!  I feel like her number one focus as a friend has always been to find the gold.  And she is always very honest about things she sees in my life that may need prayer or change or correcting.  But because she has been a safe person whom I know loves me and often finds the positive I take criticism from her very differently than I would say a person who I barely know.

Our words are so very powerful.  I am thankful for the people God has placed in my life to be the inspiring life givers because they have pushed me forward and helped me to get through many challenges I faced as a wife, mother, and friend.

Proverbs 25: 11-13 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.  Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.  Like the cold snow in time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters.

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