Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Don't Wait to Be Asked

Helping his sister cross the tightrope
When a mother was sick and father was unwilling to help, grandparents stepped in to care for a tiny baby that was in need of love.

When a student had potential but lacked direction, a teacher pulled him in at lunchtime to give him extra instruction and guide him into being the successful writer that he is today.

When a young woman was consumed with planning her wedding, several ladies invited her to Bible study to teach her how to be a Godly wife. 

When a family was hit by the loss of a job, another family from their church opened their freezer and shared the fish they caught the weekend before.

When a toddler came home from the hospital after an accident, she smiled at the sight of her front door covered with balloons and signs left by friends.

When a little boy needed a family, a girl told her mom and dad that she wanted him to be her brother.

What do these all have in common?  Someone saw a need and met it without hesitation.  No one called and asked for help.  No one received recognition for what they did.  It was simply done.  What can you do today to love someone?

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Infinitely Useful Washi Tape

Being a crafter, I have heard about Washi tape for a while.  It has only been recently that I realized how completely useful it could be. {insert HUGE smile}  If you're unfamiliar with Washi tape, it comes in a million or so colors and patterns and is kind of a cross between masking tape and Scotch tape.  The pattern is usually transparent so you can create lots of different looks with just one roll.  It is inexpensive and is sold at most retailers.  Close To My Heart is my favorite place to find this new essential item (an expanded selection is coming February 1st).

So, let me share some of the places you can find Washi tape in my home (or will soon find it):
  • Why write names on cups when people can decorate them with an assortment of colors?
  • Speaking of parties, give personality to boring cups, plasticware and other party supplies.
  • Give each family member a roll to mark their charging cords, flash drive, toothbrush, whatever!
  • In the living room or for a fun bedroom: create one-of-a-kind photo frames, lamp shades, coasters, furniture, wall art, ceiling fans, mini-blinds & vases.
  • In the kitchen: spice up boring utensils, serving dishes and bowls, cookie jars, and handles.
  • In the dining room: Create a fun place to eat with placemats, napkin holders, and a centerpiece.
  • Create coordinated sets for gift-giving or use it with plain paper to wrap gifts.
  • Electronics: decorate a laptop, keyboard or phone case. Easily identify flash drives, cords, and chargers.
  • Just for fun: Decorate lunch bags, baskets, containers or  watering cans.  Make flowers, jewelry or a card!
So where will Washi tape be appearing in your house?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Turning Chores into Wars

We are the mean parents who make our kids do chores.  For one thing, I learned how to cook and clean after I was married.  I don't want my kids to be that clueless.  If that isn't reason enough, I need help and I'm not afraid to admit it.  There is no way I could the schoolwork, cleaning, cooking and everything else done without everyone else pitching in.  So our kids do chores.  That doesn't mean that we all have to hate them.

From Monday through Thursday, our kids do typical chores - take out the trash, feed the animals, and load/unload the dishwasher.  They each have an assigned laundry day to wash their clothes.  This took some time to figure out, but it's so much easier to get laundry washed and put away this way.  The kids include their towels and washcloths and once a month we add their sheets and blankets on their day.  Friday is family laundry day for me to wash everything else.

Friday is the chore day that everyone looks forward to and it's not because anyone gets the day off.  On Friday we  have Zone Wars.  These are the chores that are more than I want to tackle through the week, such as cleaning bathrooms, dusting, mopping, etc.  Before we start, each chore is rated a 1 or 2 based on the time it should take.  We change up how we choose teams, sometimes it stays the same for the entire day and sometimes it changes for each chore on a given day.  Once the chores have been rated and the teams have been picked, a team chooses the first chore.   The other team must choose a chore with the same rating and I tell them the time allotment.  For example, one team chooses to clean the guest bathroom and the other team chooses to clean the laundry room.  I give them a time allotment, generally 10 minutes for a chore this size and then they run.  Their goal is to get the room as clean as possible before the timer buzzes.  (We've done this long enough that the kids know what I'm looking for, but I coached them when we started Zone Wars.)  When the buzzer sounds, everyone must come back to the kitchen table and wait while I judge their work.  They get up to five points added to their total for a job well done.  Points are awarded to the team if we keep the same team for the day and individually if they will be switching teams.  At the end of the Zone Wars, prizes are awarded based on points.  Sometimes the prize is to choose what's for dinner or what game we play that night.  Other times I have four of something and they get to choose theirs in order of their points ranking. 

On Saturday we do other bigger chores like cleaning my car or helping work on dad's semi and Sunday is a day of rest so each kid does one chore (load dishes, unload dishes, empty trash and feed the animals).

I'd love to hear how you get chores done in your house.

Friday, January 3, 2014

What is Your Why?

As part of my focused new year, I'm participating in a group called 30 Days of Hustle.  It's the brainchild of Jon Acuff.  On Day 1 we each listed our "what."  What are we planning to hustle?  Most of us know that we need to set goals (often called resolutions at this time of year) and then throw everything we have at them.  In the group, our "what" must be concrete and measurable.  With my kids, I tell them to make SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, rent, time) and it's the same basic idea.  While I want to be more organized, that's not a good goal.  I will have more success with a goal such as spending ten minutes per day filing and purging because I can know exactly when I've achieved this.  It's not ambiguous. 

Jon takes this a step farther to point out that we need to identify why we set these goals.  This is another tool to help us be more successful in achieving our "what."  If I identify why I'm doing it, then I'm more likely to continue doing it.  Back to my organization goal, I probably will not work towards that goal long if I'm only doing it to check it off of my list.  Remember, our goals are usually not things that happen naturally for us or they would already be happening.  When I identify that keeping my papers organized will help me at tax time, prevent losing things and save me from the rushed cleaning when company is coming, then I'm more likely to stay with it.

As you think about your resolutions, goals, words, themes, and the new year in general...take a moment to identify your why.  If you keep a journal or jot notes in a calendar or app, write down your why.  Go back to it when you are struggling or need to refocus.  This one extra step may be just what you need to stay on track.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Focused Year

Resolutions.  Goals. Themes.  Words.  It seems that every new year brings new demands.  Some with good intentions such as setting resolutions and goals or choosing a theme or word to guide us through the year.  There is something about starting new and having expectations of how it's going to go that brings out the ambitious spirit in us.  But sometimes it doesn't feel as good as it looks on paper.  Often it drags me down. All of these resolutions and goals and themes and words get muddled up into a mess of failure.  On January 2nd.  Maybe even January 15th if it's a particularly successful year.  Why does this happen?  Because, as wonderful as they are, these goals and resolutions and everything else are not usually cohesive.  I set goals for work and school and our house that do not work together. 

This year I decided to try something very different.  Before doing anything else, I chose a word.  Not a phrase or even a hyphenated word.  Drumroll, please....my word is FOCUS.  I have a few, very specific goals for all aspects of my life that work together in 2014.  To do this, I chose the one area of my life that I want to focus on and the goal in that area is my number one overall goal.  The goals in all other areas of my life must work towards that one main goal to help me improve in that one area.  In doing this, I found that something that would have been a goal in other years hasn't gone away, but has a new place in my life.  A more appropriate place.  This new layout helps me become more FOCUSED and more productive in the coming year. 

When I latched onto this idea of having a word to guide me through the year, I didn't stop with me.  My kids and husband have also chosen words.  They chose grace, self-image, joy, and listen.  Here are some ways to help us FOCUS on our words throughout the year:

  • Prayerfully choose a meaningful word.
  • Keep a journal of your word.  Jot down scriptures, quotes, and sayings that use this word or remind you of the word.  This is a place to record anything that comes up regarding this word. 
  • Create a visual representation of the word and put it somewhere you will see it often.  Create several if you like for your car, desk, bathroom mirror, fridge, etc.
  • Invite someone to join with you on your journey.  Even if they choose a different word (there are countless choices, after all), you can encourage each other.
  • To get our journals started, we wrote down the definition, synonyms and antonyms.
  • Be on the lookout for your word throughout the year.

Here's to a focused new year!