Family Life

Gather ‘Round the Table: Making It Memorable & Making It Count

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Up until the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I survived off restaurants and take-out food. It was quick and easy because all that was required was deciding if you wanted dessert or not- no preparation, no dishes, no muss, no fuss.  But I knew this way of life was not an ideal approach to dinner with a family.

As a little girl, I can remember the smell of homemade spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and crusty, buttery garlic bread toasting in the oven. The house always smelled delicious around 5 o’clock each evening.  When mom announced dinner was ready, we all came out from all corners of the house to gather ’round the table. We began by joining hands while my dad said grace. We often engaged in conversation about our day while we partook in the homemade meal that was lovingly prepared.

Amazingly, I do not recall how often I made a mess of my spaghetti or how many times my dad had to say “alright, no more talking for the rest of dinner” due to my brother and I’s relentless bickering.  What I remember most was that each day at 5 o’clock, my family ate a meal together.

With a family of my own, I had dreams of nostalgic moments at the dinner table. I lovingly prepared my home cooked meal, which I was sure my family would appreciate. I didn’t envision the inevitable spills, the “she stuck her tongue out at me,” the ” but I don’t like mushrooms…I’m not eating this!” followed by my threats of punishment, yelling, and the familiar parent go-to: “there are children who don’t know when their next meal is. You better be thankful!”

Take these hectic moments, add a couple alert-beeping devices, and a rushed evening of homework, clean-up and bedtime routine– nostalgia somehow got swallowed by craziness.  While I sat at the table the other night, I felt like I was in the middle of a war zone, rather than an opportunity to spend time with my family. My husband was distracted by work emails on his phone. My daughter was crawling under the table to tickle her brother’s feet. My son had food everywhere but his mouth and was busy pushing peas into the straw of his water bottle. I somehow managed to shovel food into mouth (it is my only defense mechanism in order to eat my food while it remains hot) and yell (ok, scream) at the kids to sit still and finish their dinner.

It occurred to me as I stood over my sink and washed the dishes that dinnertime was not going as I had originally pictured so long ago. But it also occurred to me that if I wanted this to change, I had to make it change.  I wanted to make more than just messes at the table- I wanted to make memories. I wanted to cultivate relationships with my family during this precious time.  I wanted to leave the table each evening feeling rejuvenated and encouraged, not frustrated and defeated.

So I decided to bring a strategy to the table.

  • Schedule Dinnertime.  It is important to designate a specific time for dinner each night. This time should reflect when each member of the family can be present (if possible).  The time allotted should offer sufficient amount of time to sit together to talk about your family’s day and learn more about your kids.  Set a starting and end time that is also a realistic expectation that allows your family to complete their bedtime routines and wind down at a speed that doesn’t resemble the amazing race.
  • Remove All Distractions. Nothing but warm bodies should be present at the table- this eliminates phones, iPads, computers, TV, kid’s toys, etc. Dinnertime is when we can talk to each other- it’s not a time to check Facebook, send a text message, or catch the score of the game.  It is especially important that we as parents set this precedent in order to demonstrate the expectations for our children at the table.
  • Engage.  Don’t just be physically present. It becomes too easy to cloud our mind with what still needs done or an item that needs added to the to-do list. Focus on your family. Listen to what they are saying and respond with words that are affirming, uplifting, and edifying.  Ask questions. Ask LOTS of questions!  This cultivates your relationships, while also giving insight to what your family is going through- identify struggles, strengths and situations that you can cover in prayer.
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.  Spills and messes are a common frustration for many parents. While I am not suggesting to to condone a food fight or ignore an avoidable mess, I am suggesting to not freak out! As a type-A, slightly OCD person, I understand how a mess has the ability to send one through the roof. But it’s important to establish an environment that maintains balance between disciplined order with reactions that provide a positive example when things don’t go our way.
  • Give Thanks. Although this is listed last, it certainly does not qualify as the least priority. Give God praise for his provision of the meal and for bringing the family together.  This acknowledges God’s faithfulness and sets the tone for the conversations that follow.  Take time to share with one another what God did for you today  with a heart of thankfulness.

 

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Family Life

Above the Friday Night Lights: A Coach’s Wife’s Perspective

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The stadium spotlights beaming down. Fans cheering in anticipation.  Coaches pacing the sidelines. Sweat dripping alongside the players’ faces under their heavy helmets- hearts pounding to the beat of the marching band drum.  The grind of the weeks practice escalating to this very night on this very field. But amidst from the physical exertion leading up to game night, a different kind of sacrifice is being made from someone not found on the turf. And a higher purpose awaits above the final points on the scoreboard.

Being a coach’s wife for eight of the nine years I have been married to my dear husband, I have lost track of the many missed family dinners due to extended practices, lonely birthdays, and interrupted weekend plans because of long film breakdown and game planning. I have become acquainted with the term “football widow” and the familiarity of juggling all the responsibilities that title entails.   I have stood in the stands- weathering rain or shine, squelching heat or freezing cold, triumphant win and devastating loss (with the company of small children)to support my husband’s call to coaching.

But I am not here seeking your pity or even your applause. Because beyond the scope of the huddles and the X’s and O’s, I see more than a football field- I see a mission field. I see more than players- I see souls.  I see more than a coach- I see a disciple. I see more than the lights surrounding the stadium- I see the light of Christ shinning through my husband. I see a higher goal than the goal posts. For me, I care about the wins off the field, just as much as on the field, and perhaps even more.

The late, well- renowned College Girl’s Basketball Coach, Pat Summitt, once said “I won 1,098 games, and eight national championships, and coached in four different decades. But what I see are not the numbers. I see their faces.” An even more renowned author commands “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). Coaching is not a career- it’s a calling.  

My husband has a divine opportunity to minister to these young men.  Even though he has limitations to what he can say, he has no limitations to his actions.  His fellow coaches and the team takes notice how he never curses at a player for making a mistake.  They feel more comfortable seeking out his advice and his help for matters even outside football than the other coaches.  They see something in him beyond the Friday Night Lights.  I feel honored to be apart of such a unique and profound ministry.

I would love to encourage all coach’s wives- most times, you feel your part in this ministry is being a living sacrifice- sacrifice you and your family’s time with your husband, lay down your needs and plans- all to allow your husband to fulfill his calling.  Your role is vital! Your husband could not complete his mission with the grace that is required of his family without your help and support.  You are fulfilling your role by helping him live out his purpose.  Lift him up with prayer and encouragement! Be his number one fan! And always “set your hearts on things above” (Colossians 3:1).

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

Family Life

How the 1950’s Housewife Had it Right!

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As opposed to shunning the past and labeling it “old-fashioned,” perhaps we can draw a lesson or two from what is missing in modern-day society.  Despite the progressive advances in practical elements such as technology and medicine, we have somehow regressed in the fundamental nurture and development of the family unit. We have allowed the government to constitute the definition of family and it is no surprise as to why the family unit is spiraling out of control. Busy schedules, not enough quality time, and a generation of children who have a selfish sense of entitlement. What would the 1950’s family say to the family of 2016? Would they gawk at how we are walking zombies to our devices? Would they question why everyone is not present for dinner?  Would they blush appallingly at the sight of a teenage girl’s immodest attire?

What would the 1950’s homemaker say about today’s family? Maybe you’re thinking “She would marvel at the crockpot” or  “I bet She would be proud of how far we’ve come.” Or perhaps maybe you would be too busy judging the depth and intellect of those 1950’s housewives- women who probably would be publicly tarred and feathered by today’s feminists. But these women understood more than just how to serve the perfect meatloaf on their thoughtfully adorned table. They understood the value of family. They knew their role was to take care of the affairs of their household- to honor their husbands and care for their children.

These women embraced who they were and accepted their position with humility and grace.  The family unit was strong, balanced and of solid moral compass.  It’s not about wearing heels and a girdle while vacuuming- it’s about devoting ourselves to lovingly admonish our families.  I’m afraid the 1950’s housewife would have a few pieces of advice for today’s mom. And no, it would probably be more profound than how to polish the silver or her secrets to the most effective method to press a shirt.

I believe the 1950’s housewife would say: “fellow wife and mother- slow down! Take time out for your children and husband. They desperately need you- to encourage them, to help them and simply love them. Carefully monitor and limit what your children are exposed to from their various media outlets (the mom’s of the 50’s did not have to worry about the explicit lyrics of the music or blatant disregard for respect, but propriety was always mindfully enforced). Make sure your family always has the opportunity to sit together for a meal to share their day, make memories and bring each other together in the way only a warm meal can. Respect your husband as the leader of your home. Make time for family devotions and conversations that provide guidance and wisdom. There will always be time for other things. Right now, focus on your family, whom God has entrusted to you. Being a homemaker is a gift and joy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

The family unit is at odds with society.  We are raising our children in an ever-increasing hostile world. Mothers- are we alert? Are we standing guard? Are we teaching our children the ways of God and covering them in prayer? I think women have fought so hard to not be the like the women of 1950’s, that they sacrificed all aspects, all values, all priorities to make room for new ones.  But I think we have made the wrong sacrifices.  Our children’s future and the future of our nation is heavily dependent upon the upbringing they receive. And it all begins at home. Let’s not allow distorted priorities and warped values to continue to dictate our lives and our families.

Abraham Lincoln once said: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”  Destruction within our borders, within our governing body, within our schools, within our communities and ultimately at it’s core- our families.  The root of this problem goes beyond the scope of having more quality family time.  It’s about intentionally fostering our children within a Christ-centered home and equipping them with boldness for what is right in the Lord’s eyes.

Maybe you could argue flaws of the women from the 1950’s, but they got something right-rather than climbing corporate ladders and proving themselves among the business men, they were intentionally rearing their children. The truth is, we don’t live in a “Leave it to Beaver” society and the attack on family has been a scheme of the emery since the dawn of time.  But we can not continue to passively sit back and accept those terms. We must   be watchful of our families, make them our ministry and nurture them through the Word of God.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Time Management

The Busy Mom’s Cleaning Bible

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It goes without saying that all busy moms are huge fans of time-saving methods– whether we’re talking about quick and easy recipes to simple organizational tips. Unfortunately, cleaning is not one of those short-cut areas.  Even though we have managed to make strides in cleaning with dishwashers and self-cleaning ovens, we have yet to tackle more complex inventions like the self-cleaning bathroom or automatic clothes folding machine.  Ah, one could dream, right? Perhaps one day, but in the meantime, how do we continue to juggle all of life’s demands and consistently keep our homes tidy?

Well, like every other problem I come across, I look to the Word for answers. Now, you may recall there is no mention of Jesus ministering with a dust pan and broom- that is correct. But just because the Bible may not discuss cleaning per say, that does not mean we can not use concepts to model.  As I was reading in Genesis, I was reminded once more of my wonder and awe for creation. God created the world in six days. Each day, He conquered a new task. It always fascinated me as to why God specifically needed six days to create the universe. I mean, He is God after all! Couldn’t He speak the world into existence in one day?

I believe God did not do this simply because dividing the day and night was just too draining or parting the waters from land took too much time. I believe He was modeling a way of life and organization to us. Yes, organization! Our God is a God of order, not chaos. So I concluded: what better example to use for a system of maintaining my home!  God demonstrates order by creating something different each day of the six days of the week, therefore, my cleaning schedule also calls for one or two chores each day. This Biblical model offers me the grace to run my home efficiently.  And whether you are a stay- at- home mom or working mom, limiting yourself to cleaning in just a day or two per week  will quickly leave you unmotivated, discouraged and utterly exhausted!

Here is my ultimate cleaning guide.  Chores are broken down by daily, weekly, monthly and annual chores.  This structure is intentionally put into place because there are some chores that require daily attention, while others are not quite so demanding. Yours may vary, depending on the number of bathrooms and people living in your house, but you will get the gist and configure those differences in your own schedule to fit your needs.

Daily Chores:

  • Making the beds
  • Wash the dishes
  • Wiping off kitchen counter and stove after cooking
  • Putting dirty clothes into the hamper
  • General straightening (picking up toys, putting shoes away, etc.)
  • Sort Mail
Weekly Chores:
  • Monday- Dust furniture, clean inside of windows, vacuum, laundry
  • Tuesday- Clean the powder room, clean laundry room, one monthly chore
  • Wednesday- Clean the full bathroom, vacuum, laundry
  • Thursday- Clean the kitchen (clean appliances, organize pantry and refrigerator, clean the floors)
  • Friday- Laundry (including bedding), one annual chore
  • Saturday- Yardwork (weeding, gardening, etc.), two monthly chores
Monthly Chores:
  • Wipe baseboards
  • Organize bedroom dressers
  • Organize bedroom closets
  • Wash exterior of windows
  • Wash shower curtain and liner
  • Test batteries in smoke detectors
  • Wipe inside of kitchen cabinets
  • Wipe and organize bathroom vanities
  • Organize linen closet
  • Organize coat closet & shoe racks
  • Clean inside of oven
  • Wipe ceiling light fixtures and wipe down fan blades
  • Wipe light switches and door knobs
  • Wash mattress covers, pillow covers and duvets
  • Clean inside of dishwasher

Annual Chores: 

  • Clean behind stove and refrigerator
  • Clean out gutters
  •  Deep clean carpets and rugs
  • Clean basement, attic and storage spaces
  • Sort, organize and purge files and documents
  • Sort through toys, clothing and other items to consider for selling, donating or trash
  • Flip mattresses
  • Sweep and clean garage
  • Wash walls, repair damage and touch up paint in necessary areas
  • Vacuum behind and under furniture
  • Polish wood furniture and floors
  • Clean inside of fireplace
  •  Sort and organize medicine cabinet
  • Power wash home exterior
  • Landscape ( mulching, planting flowers, etc.)
  • Clean and organize shed
  • Remove and clean floor heat vents
  • Replace filters ( fridge, furnace, etc.)
  • Clean tile grout

Although cleaning is a bit of a chore ( sorry, can’t resist a good pun), this schedule will help you stay organized and on track to keep your home well maintained! And on the seventh day of each week… Take a load off, give reverence to God’s ordained day of rest and enjoy your family!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker