Searching for Joy

 Posted by on November 5, 2013  2 Responses »
Nov 052013
 

Hello, there!  I’m back!  I’ve missed being part of this space the last couple months, and I’m excited to join you all again.  My family and I have successfully and safely moved across the country, and seen God’s gracious provision for our family every step of the way.  Rather than tell the stories all over again, feel free to check out my personal blog to get caught up. . .after you read this post, of course.  {wink, wink}

It was raining. . .again.  Not the kind of rain that feels like someone is pouring bucketfuls of water from the sky, but a misting rain that would play for a while and then suddenly disappear. . . only to tease you by coming back again when you were least expecting it.  My four-year-old looked out the window, and said, “Mom, let’s go down to the creek!  We could watch the rain splash into the water and then we could throw rocks on top of the splashes!”  Since it was a bit of a chilly day, I persuaded him and his little brother (who had joined in with a pleading “Go cweek, Mama! Thow wocks!”) that it would be better to put on our rain boots and enjoy the puddles a little closer to the house.

As we played outside that morning, I was struck with this thought.  Jordan could’ve looked out the window at the rain and been sad that it would mess up his day; instead, he looked at the rain for its possibilities.  Maybe he couldn’t go out and roll around in the grass, but he could sure splash around in the puddles!

How are we looking at life right now?  Are we so busy looking at the foreboding rainclouds that we forget that joy can still be found in the puddles the rainclouds bring?

I’ve been reminded before, during a time of testing, by a friend to “Fight for joy.”  What a word picture that is!  You may be in a tough season of life right now, but in the midst of life’s trials, one can always be looking, searching, fighting for the bright spot of joy.

Maybe you’re the little family that has recently gone through a big transition. . .everything is different.  Will you choose to long for what you gave up to follow your dream, or will you choose to look at life with the excitement that starting over brings?

Maybe you’re the Mama who has recently become single, whose dreams of a long, happy marriage to the love of her life have been shattered, and her children’s lives changed forever.  Will you choose to dwell on all you have lost, or will you choose to look for joy despite the ache in your heart that says life wasn’t supposed to be this way?

Maybe you’re the wife praying desperately that your husband will get a job. . . .yesterday would be great.  .  .  Will you choose to dwell on each “no” that comes from interview after interview, or will you choose to look for joy and be the encourager you husband needs?

What is the answer for these. . .and for all of us?  “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”  Fight, my friends, fight for joy.  When we are in the midst of the worst trials of our life, that is an opportunity to glorify God by choosing to rest in Him and wait patiently for Him.

For me (and you, too, I am sure) finding joy begins in my mind.  Am I choosing to think about the negative things in my life, or am I choosing in stead to fill my heart and mind with Scripture and with hope that comes from Him?  I truly want to enjoy my God-given life; so if I am going to do that, I must continually be focusing my mind on my gracious God and the good things he has given me.

Choosing to fight for joy is one reason I post so many happy photos on Facebook and Instagram. Going through my day looking for one beautiful thing to photograph and/or one fun memory to capture helps keep me focused on the positive side of life. I am sure there are those who would look at my social media profiles and say that I am hypocritical for posting mostly the good things and leaving out the bad things. But, I would have to say back to them, that I am choosing to highlight the good and lovely things in my life because God’s Word says to “Think on things that are true, just, lovely, of good report. . .”

Now, looking for the good things, things to be grateful for, may look different for you.  Perhaps you would rather write about it, perhaps you would rather draw or paint a beautiful memory from the day, or perhaps you would rather make something beautiful with your hands.  However that may work out for you, make sure you are choosing to set your mind on things above, focusing on the greatness of your God displayed through the everyday beauties we see all around us.  And, if you do so, you will be a long way down the road to winning the fight for joy.

~ Written by Amy @ JerAmy 

Unequally Yoked

 Posted by on September 17, 2013  1 Response »
Sep 172013
 

Are you married to someone who does not share your faith? Maybe they have never known Christ or maybe they once did, but have drifted from Christ. Whether you married an unbeliever or are married to a prodigal spouse, being unequally yoked can be is a challenge for your marriage.

Unequally Yoked at www.habitsforahappyhome.com Although challenging, I believe God is calling us to be faithful and remain in our marriages. Continue reading »

Sep 052013
 

SONY DSCMy nest isn’t completely empty yet, but one chick has flown the coop and the other stays out on long flights most of the time only coming home at night to roost. So I do experience on a regular basis the empty nest.

When I homeschooled, I planned ahead to the days when I would be finished and what I would do to fill those hours previously spent nurturing and instructing my children. My dreams were to write full time and to develop my writing career. For the last few years, having reached my goal of being a published author and realizing that life is about so much more, I’ve been thinking a lot about the next phase in life—when everyone is out—and what I will do with myself then. I work two regular part time jobs, blog, review books, I’m a freelance editor, work with the women’s ministry at my church, and continue to write Christian Romance. So wondering what I’m going to do with my time now that the kids don’t need me on a daily basis isn’t an issue for me.

But it’s not all about me. There’s so much more to life than what I want. And there’s more to it than just the passing of time.

I’m a married woman. That means that I now have the opportunity to go back in time to the days before children. It also means that I must examine my heart to see if I actually want to go back to those “good old days”. Do I want to stoke the fire that I had twenty-five years ago or do I want to move forward in life just being a partner with my husband and making my days be all about me?

I decided that I want to feel like a teenager again. I want to not only love my husband but I want to like him too. I now have time to spend with him uninterrupted, thinking about him when he’s not with me like I used to do before life got so crazy busy, and being his sweetheart. This doesn’t happen without being purposeful though. Why? Because I’m human. I have a selfish human nature. I naturally will fill my time with things that revolve around me and my personal pursuits if I’m not intentional.

064Recently, we took our second ever trip without the children. This trip was for our 25th anniversary. We went back to Gulf Shores, Alabama, where we went on our honeymoon. I decided before we left that I would not spend my time on the computer working on my most recent novel nor would I spend any more time than I had to checking in with work. Although I brought a book or two to read, I didn’t want to hide between the front and back covers of those books and miss out on this time with my husband. 040So what did I do? I spent time with him. And I got him to “re-teach” me how to fish. We spent every evening together fishing into the wee hours of the night. We laughed. We talked. We ate way too many calories. And guess what he did for me. He sat with me for hours at a time on the shoreline, basking in the beauty of the surf. We spent time together without the kids. Do you know what we re-discovered? We like each other. And we still love each other.

So how do women with empty nests (or nearly empty nests) find balance between “me” and “us” when the world is against our Holy unions?

  1. Spend time with the Lord (separately and together). This is most important of all. When you are walking with the Lord and encouraging (not nagging) him to do the same, you will naturally grow closer to one another. This will help you not to drift apart as the years go by.
  2. Make it important to spend time together. Watch television with your husband even if you aren’t interested in the show he’s watching. Chat about something other than the bills or the children. Play games and read a book together. You know what the two of you have in common so start there. What one couple will find fun, another will not. Use your imagination.
  3. Learn how to speak your spouse’s love language. The five love languages are: Words of affirmation, physical touch, time spent together, acts of service, and gifts. What is your husband’s love language? Spend a little bit of time figuring that out and then minister to him that way. Remember that we often love others according to our own love language and then get our feelings hurt when they don’t respond with the enthusiasm we would. If you learn his language and help him learn yours, your spark will be rekindled.
  4. Going back to how I started this post, spend time alone exploring your hobby so you don’t resent his. There is nothing wrong with having a hobby—something that you can call your own. As long as it isn’t contrary to your marriage, that is. But wives can easily become jealous of their husbands and their hobbies if they don’t have some little something they like to do themselves.

004There are many things women can do to make sure that they don’t fly the nest when their children do and that they don’t fill the empty space with things that aren’t God-honoring. This can be a lonely time in a woman’s life or it can be a time that she reaches way down deep into her heart and digs out her “old self” and rejuvenates her marriage, her life, and the lives of everyone around her.

Beach pictures and picture of me (with terrible beach hair) were taken on our anniversary trip.

Bird’s nest: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1209474

 

 

 

 

~written by Sherri

Letting Go. . .

 Posted by on August 15, 2013  No Responses »
Aug 152013
 

Stuff. . .we all have it. . .some of us collect it more than others.  I happen to have my share of stuff I’ve collected and love.  A few months ago, I ran across a couple blog posts where people were selling most of their possessions and making a major move.  At the time, I thought, wow, good for them, but I don’t think I could do that; I have so many things that I truly love.  You see, for me, buying furniture and decorating my house doesn’t normally consist of driving down to the nearest department store.  .  .I love old things. . .things with a past. . .things that look too used up to be good anymore.  I also love taking those old things and fixing them up to make them beautiful and useful. . .a process that includes putting my heart into the pieces in my home.

And then, it happened.  Remember those ladies selling everything?  Well, I’m one of them now.  The upside is that, as I wrote about a while back, we’re not waiting anymore and I get to live near my family (!!!!!!!!), but the nature of our move requires that we sell most of everything we own.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I cried. . .for days.  .  .not minutes over my stuff.  My gracious God kept reminding me gently that it is just stuff.  I get to take my family and those things that are most important to me and difficult to replace. My home wasn’t destroyed in a fire; it wasn’t all stolen from me. What was I crying about?!  Gently, He showed me how much of myself I was wrapping up in my home and my belongings. . .rather than in Him.

And so has begun the process of God revealing another layer in my life that He wants to refine.  And to be honest, selling it all hasn’t been as awful as I imagined.  Doesn’t it usually work that way?  Sure, there have been a few tears here and there as I have watched some beloved items leave my house; but over all, God has given me the sense that this is just stuff that he wants to unburden me with, so that He can take us to the next step of His plan for our lives!

So, as I have been sifting through our memories and possessions, deciding what to keep and what to let go, I have been reminded that God often asks this of us in other areas of our lives.  You may have something, someone, some job that you am holding on to tightly. . .”No! I cannot let this go!!”  If we change our thinking and let go of whatever our God is asking us to give Him, He will then have the opportunity to show us the next thing, the best thing that He has planned around the bend.

P.S.  If you want to know more about our move, you can hop on over to my blog to read more!

Jul 152013
 

I’ve found that at the heart of schooling, education and teaching is parenting, haven’t you? Our group of writers here at Habits for a Happy Home are offering you, dear readers, resources to equip you in your parenting journey!

Parenting Tool Kit at www.habitsforahappyhome.com We gathered a basket of items we know are trusted parenting books. And we are giving it away! Be sure to enter to win via the rafflecopter widget at the end of this post.

Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. Deuteronomy 6: 7-9

What is included in our Back to School Parenting Tool Kit?

1) 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential by Zan Tyler – I have so enjoyed this being on my nightstand this summer. I’ve soaked up snippets here and there – just when I needed it! “God created the family to be a powerful, life-shaping force in the lives of your children – to be the place where their potential can be energetically and effectively nourished and cultivated. Sadly, in today’s culture, kids and parents alike often view the home as the spot to recharge their cell phones, change clothes between activities, and then crash at night…. learn to use the toold the Master Gardener has provided for tending and teaching all your children. She will help you recognize the signs of potential in each child, signs that are easy to miss yet are ripe for cultivation. As you read, you will find exciting ways to enable your kids to establish a godly identity, discover their purpose, develop a biblical worldview, and build leadership and communication skills.

2) How to Have a Heart for Your Kids by Rachael Carman (read Richelle’s review at The Curriculum Choice) “How well do you really know your kids? What has God shown you about who they are and who they will become? He has sent these children into your home at this specific time for His glorious purposes. Indeed, you have been invited on the adventure of a lifetime, a journey on which you will see walls fall, seas parted, and giants slain. You don’t need special skills or training for this journey – you need only seek God and hold tight to His mighty hand!”

3) Parenting the QBQ Way by John G. Miller author of QBQ! the Question Behind the Question – How to Be an Outstanding Parent and Raise Great Kids Using the Power of Personal Accountability – ” Why don’t my kids do what I say? Who made the mess in here? When will my teen make better choices? The solution: Learn to parent the QBQ way. Ask the right questions to eliminate blame, complaining and procrastination from your family! Bring personal accountability to life within our families.

Just follow the instructions in the rafflecopter widget below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

We invite you to browse all the parenting posts here at Habits for a Happy Home!

iHN-Back-to-School Don’t miss all the fabulous back-to-school took kits by iHomeschool Network bloggers!

(1) Back to School Toolkit from Milk and Cookies
(2)†Back to School Toolkit from These Temporary Tents
(3)†Back to School Toolkit from Spell Outloud
(4)†Back to School Toolkit from Great Peace Academy
(5)†Back to School Toolkit from Gricefully Homeschooling

……

(6) Back to School Toolkit from Raising Lifelong Learners
(7) Back to School Toolkit from WriteShop
(8) Back to School Toolkit from Preschoolers and Peace
(9) Back to School Toolkit from Starts at Eight
(10) Back to School Toolkit from Joyful Mothering

……

(11) Back to School Toolkit from Harrington Harmonies
(12) Back to School Toolkit from Ponder the Path
(13) Back to School Toolkit from Forever, For Always, No Matter What
(14) Back to School Toolkit from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus
(15) Back to School Toolkit from Habits for a Happy Home

……

(16) Back to School Toolkit from Curriculum Choice
(17) Back to School Toolkit from See Jamie Blog
(18) Back to School Toolkit from Beautiful Motherhood
(19) Back to School Toolkit from Sam’s Noggin
(20) Back to School Toolkit from This Reading Mama

……

(21) Back to School Toolkit from Teaching Mama
(22) Back to School Toolkit from Adorable Chaos
(23) Back to School Toolkit from The Pelsers
(24) Back to School Toolkit from Hodge Podge
(25) Back to School Toolkit from Sallie Borrink

……

(26) Back to School Toolkit from The Kennedy Adventures
(27) Back to School Toolkit from Flourish
(28) Back to School Toolkit from Our Journey Westward
(29) Back to School Toolkit from Meet Penny
(30) Back to School Toolkit from On Faith and Coffee

……

(31) Back to School Toolkit from Our Abundant Blessings
(32) Back to School Toolkit from Holistic Homeschooler
(33) Back to School Toolkit from The Encouraging Home
(34) Back to School Toolkit from Motherhood on a Dime
(35) Back to School Toolkit from The Homeschool Scientist

……

 What is your favorite parenting tool and/or advice?

~written by Tricia, Hodgepodge