Personal Encouragement

Things YHWH has been teaching me this past year

Don't wait to be joyful and content.

I can't wait for more money, more time, or an easier life. I can't wait for my house to be perfectly cleaned, or for everything to be crossed off of my to-do list before I decide to be happy. The time to be content is right now, wherever I am and whatever is happening. I can't keep dreading what is coming "tomorrow" and waiting until "tomorrow" looks comfortable to be joyful. "Tomorrow" keeps getting clouded with unpleasant things, so now I try to be joyful today.

Don't take anything for granted.

I am learning to be thankful every day for little things like a healthy baby, food in the fridge, runing water, and a warm house. None of these things are "guaranteed" to me, and I feel so blessed. I also want to be thankful every day because...

Life can change in an instant.

I don't think I understood this very much until the day that Yehoshua broke his leg. Things had been going okay in my life. Eliyahu was almost 3 months old. Things were settling down, running smoothly.

I thought I had my days all figured out, and I was more than a little upset when my one-year-old fell on a trampoline and broke his femur. Here we were driving around to hospitals and doctors, and then caring for a child in a hip spica cast for 5 weeks.

We were busier than we had ever had been before, trying to care for two children who each required an unbelievable amount of time. (Thankfully, we had someone at our house almost constantly that first week to help us, and we all managed to get a couple hours of sleep each night!)

My life completely changed during that time, and I didn't like that. I didn't want to be staying up all night caring for an injured child. I didn't want all the struggles of dealing with the cast and injury. I just really wanted things to go back to how they used to be. I remember sitting on our couch, thinking of how I longed for how things had been "before", when I could put Yehoshua to bed for the night and only have to care for Eliyahu at night. When Yehoshua could run around... feed himself... take real baths in a bathtub.

But I realised that wishing wouldn't change anything, and life was happening right now, and YHWH never asked my opinion about allowing Yehoshua's broken leg, and the only thing I could do was start enjoying life right then. And I also learned...

YHWH can use "unfortunate" circumstances to bless us.

YHWH blessed us with so much encouragement, and so many supportive and loving friends and family during Yehoshua's injury. We would never choose to go through some things in life, but then we would also miss some really great blessings. I'm not sure how, but YHWH got us through those months (while Joshua was looking for more work, as well) and all I can say is that we're where we are now only by His grace and kindness to us.

It's humbling to receive.

I love to feel like I'm the one helping people... sending a little care package, writing an encouraging note, or blessing someone in some way. When someone does something nice for us, I like to be able to reciprocate right away. When Yehoshua was injured, I had to do a lot of receiving. People sent us cards, and toys, and came to visit, and let us borrow all sorts of things for him, and all I could manage to do in return was write thank-you notes. I felt so blessed, and so humbled... because I had nothing to give -- no time, no money, nothing -- and all I could do was receive.

Just when you get comfortable... along comes a challenge.

At least, that is how it has seemed in our life this year. If we've had a week without needing to take the children to the doctor's, or without any major things breaking down, I start wondering what's around the corner. ;) But I've also learned...

YHWH gives us strength daily, as we need it (not always before we need it), when we obey Him.

I'm learning to lean on Him moment by moment... even when the skies look dark.

YHWH can provide for me in the most unique ways when I need it.

It just might even mean waking up to find a like-new name-brand jean skirt folded and sitting on my front steps. Or someone "just happening" to have something they no longer needed and wanted to give to me. When you really need something, you really pray hard. And when you pray, YHWH answers. I love it even though it's painful. :)

And lastly...

Potty training can last 6 weeks. Or longer. With a 2.5-year-old. But it sure is nice when it's over! :D


Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

Tonight at sunset, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) begins. This is the one day of the year when I never have to cook! However, by the end of our day of fasting, I am usually ready to get back to cooking, with renewed resolution to never, ever complain about having to make dinner again!

 

So, we'll be spending time praying, reading Scripture together, and thanking our Heavenly Father for the atoning work of Yeshua's blood. It's a sobering, searching day as we stop everything else to be reminded of Yeshua's suffering and sacrifice.

1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Hebrews 2:17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Traditionally, after sunset tomorrow, we'll be eating a "break-fast" of eggs and toast. I have some thoughts written about the past year, which I plan to post here on my blog after Yom Kippur. :)

Using Online Time Wisely: How to streamline your online activities

We all live busy lives, and spending time online probably isn't at the top of our priority list. However, if we're not careful, it's easy to spend more time browsing the internet than doing things that are high on our priority list.

Here are some of the ways I streamline my online time to get the most accomplished and have more time for my family and other duties!

1. Have a plan before you get online.

Know why you're getting online, and what you plan to accomplish. It's helpful to me when I have a list of things to do online before I even turn on the computer. For example, "Check email, reply to Sarah's email, type up apple crisp recipe, and check the weather." Then when I am online I do only those things, and start a new list for next time I'm online.

Even if you don't want to go to the effort of making up a detailed list, at least have a mental list of what you want to read or do. I know if I just get online and start reading blogs or googling things, I could spend so much time on those things that I don't get anything else accomplished!

2. Do important business online before leisure reading.

This one is really important, and I've learned it first hand. ;) If I have an important email to write, work to do on this website, or need to find some information on something, I make myself finish those important things before I allow myself to start reading blogs or emailing my friends. Often, this means that I run out of computer time before I've gotten to email my friends, and before I've commented on everyone's excellent articles or thoughts in their blogs.

That can make me sad, but it's really a matter of picking and choosing and realising that I can't do everything! I used to always, without fail, read all of my friends' blogs and journals (and even blogs of people I didn't know hardly anything about!) FIRST, before writing in my own journal. As a result, I only updated my journal a couple times a week, and I very rarely found the time to write articles or deeper thought-provoking entries. I realised that I must write before I read, or I will always be too tired to write, and I love writing!

I've also learned this: Don't start chatting with friends unless you really have nothing else you need to get done online. I love to chat with friends, but I rarely even start up my chat client, because I know I could spend hours just chatting!

3. Utilize things like RSS feeds, friends' pages, or update emails.

It takes time to visit a large number of websites each day. And it's a waste of time when you browse from blog to blog, hoping for new updates when there are none. Thankfully, there are some great tools out there which can allow you to access blogs or websites of your choice via only one program.

Feed Reader is a downloadable program that allows you to download updates from your selected websites and read them offline, much like reading your email through Outlook.

Bloglines is an online program that will allow you to make a list of your favorite blogs (or websites with RSS feeds, like ours!) and view their updates through a single browser window. It's amazingly quick to sign up for, too!

If you're blogging through a website that has a network of other bloggers from their site, you may be able to take advantage of adding users to a group of "friends" and view all of their blog updates on a single page through that link.

Various online forums, message boards, and blogging programs also have a feature where you can receive notification emails when someone has replied to a comment or post you have made. Enabling this feature can save you the hassle of going back and looking for replies, while ensuring that you aren't missing replies to your comments or posts!

4. Limit what you read on a daily basis.

Decide who your closest friends are, and what websites are the most edifying and beneficial to you, and limit yourself to a certain number of blogs or websites that you visit daily. Once a week, or even once a month, visiting other blogs or websites outside of your "core"  will allow you to continue benefitting from them without taking too much time. As much as I might like to be friends with everyone, leave comments in everyone's blogs, and get to know lots of great, Godly moms and ladies, it's just not possible to be good friends with everyone.

5. Have a time limit.

If it helps, you can even set a timer. There is a seemingly endless supply of great Christian blogs and literature online, and there will always be another link you could follow, or another website you could explore. You have to stop somewhere! Having a time limit ensures that you won't accidentally spend more time browsing online than you truly want to.

6. Have some basic guidelines.

Some of my guidelines about using the computer (online or offline) include only using it when the children are asleep, and (at night) only after I've finished all my work for the night.

Too many times I would get online as soon as the children went to bed, thinking that I would "just check email real quick" and didn't stop browsing or reading until near midnight. I would walk downstairs and realise that the dinner dishes had never been done and the house was trashed. Of course, by then I was tired (why else would I have gotten off the computer?!) and didn't feel like cleaning. Getting up the next morning to a messy house, with dishes needing to be washed before breakfast, isn't a recipe for a relaxing and peaceful day. I knew I had to do things differently, and so now my rule is that I just don't even turn on the computer until the day's work is done.

Why I Am A Stay-At-Home Mom

1. I'm a stay-at-home mom because of what the Bible teaches, and the results I've seen from obedience

In Titus 2:3-5, the Bible says, "Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored."

Where does the Bible talk about women having careers, or supporting their families? Proverbs 31 does talk about what a virtuous woman would do, and it encompasses a variety of things. All of those things are "support" for her family, but they are home-centered: she is caring for her household. She isn't off working in a factory or waitressing at a restaurant while she pays someone else to care for her children. She isn't sitting in an office while her precious children are being educated at the local public (or even Christian) school.

Instead, she is home. She is working at home... preparing food, seeing that everyone is clothed, working in her field, making things and just generally being productive. Her husband and children call her "blessed", and she causes her husband to be respected and honored by others.

I won't take the time to go into detail about everything the Bible says about a woman's responsibilities, or everything that a good wife does for her family and household. I simply want to say that the Bible portrays a woman as a wife and mother, caring for her husband and children, and NOT as a successful career woman who is a wife and a mom in her spare time.

"Success" as our culture defines it is so different from the "success" that the Bible teaches. The world doesn't really care if your children don't love God; that's "okay" as long as you live in a nice house, wear the latest styles, and drive a nice vehicle. I've seen those families... the ones where the children go through all the "normal" stages of life, where a few of the daughters get pregnant out of wedlock, where a few of the sons use drugs, and where almost all of them grow up to enter unhappy marriages, trying to juggle  careers and maybe one or two children, if they feel they have the "time" to plan a child in there.

On the other hand, I have witnessed close families, with multiple children, where the siblings actually get along and love to be together. Families where the children have learned real skills and exceptional knowledge because they had a personal "teacher", their mom, spending time educating them, long before the "normal" children even got sent to pre-school. Families where the daughters and sons actually remained pure for their wedding day.

I'm not saying that just because a family has a stay-at-home mom, their life will be perfect, or their children will be "perfect". But I have seen how obedience to God's word produces good fruit.

2. Having the wife/mom stay home actually saves money

I was raised in a home where my mother didn't have an outside job. Oh, she had plenty of "jobs". In fact, I think her "job" list is never-ending! Gardening, caring for her children, cooking, cleaning, homeschooling... the list goes on, and what would have to happen if she had an outside job? Well, the children would be in public school. The cooking and cleaning would have to either not get done, or largely be taken over by someone else, whether it meant going out to eat or buying quick frozen dinners, and hiring a maid to clean the house.

But wait, because all of those things cost extra money.

For example, simple cooking can be learned by even grade-schoolers (so a mom has no excuse for "not knowing" how to cook*!), and can save so much money on food. A wife who has the time to pack her husband a lunch for at work, or make dinner every night for the family, will not only be feeding her family healthier things, but saving a lot of money. Eating out even just a few times a month can easily increase your food budget by 20%. If you don't believe me, just keep track of how much you pay for each meal every time you eat out, and add it up at the end of the month. ;)

If you have children, you must calculate the cost of daycare. No one will ever care for and love your children like you would yourself, even if you think you have found the most loving babysitter for your children. And here are so many women, paying money for inferior care for their children rather than staying home to be a mom.

If you're sending your little baby off to daycare, you're either going to have to express breastmilk for them, or do as most working moms do, and feed them formula. Besides the great benefits of breastfeeding that you would be missing, have you ever priced formula? Breastmilk is free, along with being better for the baby AND the mom. Most daycares wouldn't allow cloth diapers, so you can also automatically add the cost of disposable diapers, along with extra trips to the doctor because of all the germs that get passed around from child to child.

Public school is "free", but you should at least know the statistics for how many 14-year-olds in public school aren't virgins anymore, or how many 16-year-olds have smoked marijuana. Homeschooling can produce remarkable academic results**,  surpassing public schools.

With a two-income home, you usually need to have two vehicles, so add up the price of an extra vehicle, the extra insurance, and all the extra gas from running kids to daycare and going to work.

And since you will be adding to your husband's income, you'll both get to enjoy paying higher taxes. One-income homes often pay a lower percentage of the income to taxes, so your husband might bring home more when you stay at home than he does when you work outside the home!

Besides all these bigger things, there are so many things a stay-at-home wife and mom can do to be frugal. Simple mending, cooking from scratch, watching for sales at the grocery store, packing lunches, giving her children haircuts, going to thrift stores or garage sales instead of paying regular price for everything... the list goes on, but this isn't meant to be an article all about thriftiness. ;)

So, add up the costs of working outside the home, and you may find that you're working 40+ hours each week and earning just a dollar or two an hour by doing so. I know of a woman who admitted that she was actually losing money by working at her job, but she just didn't want to spend all day at home with her family.

3. Having the wife/mom stay at home is better for the family

A home where the wife/mother stays home all day can be much more peaceful and orderly. The mom spends all day with her children, teaching them how to run a household and homeschooling them. They do things, fun and educational, all day. The parents know what influences their children are around. They control what their children see and hear. When something sinful is noticed, the parent is there to say, "Do you see that? That is wicked. YHWH says not to do that. We want to obey YHWH, don't we?" :)

Parents who homeschool aren't necessarily trying to shield their children from sin, but rather to equip and prepare their children to respond to sin. A 5-year-old isn't usually ready to be thrust into a group of other 5-year-olds who already have dirty mouths and rebellious ways, and be expected to not conform, especially when they spend every weekday with these same children. Home educations allows for a broad education where the parent is learning right beside the child.***

A wife who stays at home has time to make nutritious meals. She has time to serve her family. She's there when her children need her. She knows that a healthy marriage and an orderly home are worth far more than expensive furniture, entertainment, or luxuries.

But.........    How can you afford to stay at home when your husband only makes ____??

Reduce your expenses. We all pay money for things that we don't NEED. Realise that you CAN live on less. Realise that investing in children is for eternity; investing in "things" is worthless. As a wife, be willing to go without for the sake of your family. If there is extra "spending money", let your husband enjoy it. Stop trying to make more money, and start trying to spend less.

Some people who think they must have two incomes to survive might be surprised if they learned that other families live comfortably on less than half of their budget. Start budgeting, and start figuring ways to reduce your spending.

A friend of mine told me that her husband says, "If we can't live on my income, then we're spending too much." What a great outlook, and so vastly different from what the world tells us.

As for me personally, I just couldn't afford NOT to stay home.

*I am NOT saying that everyone must LOVE to cook. I don't always LOVE to cook. :D But what I am saying is that when a woman dislikes cooking and would rather work outside the home so her family can go out to eat or buy prepared foods from the store, she is being selfish. Being a good mom often requires sacrificing our "free time" and our own desires for the good of the family.

**I am NOT saying that "all homeschoolers are smart, all public schoolers are dumb". But homeschooling cannot be dismissed on a purely academic level.

*** We love to tease my mom about having to take Algebra classes for so many years, since she has taught it to us all. (She currently has two years of Algebra II left, and one year of Algebra I). ;)

My daily schedule, February-August, 2006

Joshua has been working from home since shortly before Yehoshua (2) was born. Since he is self-employed, his hours are based largely on what jobs he's working on and his own personal schedule preference. While we both LOVE having him work from home, it can be challenging to stick to a rigid schedule. :) We've tried a variety of schedules over the months. Here is what we've been doing this year (since Eliyahu was born), which has worked well. :)

6:20 am My alarm goes off, and I start nursing Eliyahu. When he has a full tummy, I get him and Yehoshua ready for our walk. I put some breakfast (energy bars, usually) in a little container and some milk in a sippy cup for Yehoshua to eat on the way.

7:00 am We're off on our walk; we are usually home by 7:50 am. Sometimes I start laundry before we go. :D

8:00 am Change diapers, nurse Eliyahu, eat breakfast myself, work on laundry, start making granola or energy bars (once or twice a week), play with the children, etc.

Yehoshua's "school" time

9:00 am Yehoshua's "school" -- reading, writing, coloring, puzzles, etc. (Eliyahu plays in the walker or on the floor)

9:30 am Feed Eliyahu again and then hang out laundry (if there is any, and there usually is!) -- the children love being outside while I do this :D

Hanging laundry...

10:30 am Work on putting away clean dishes (I wash them and let them air-dry overnight), plan dinner (and thaw ingredients if necessary) and start lunch preparation, bathe children (every 2 days), change diapers, take mail out to mailbox/get mail, etc.

11:15 am Nurse Eliyahu and put him down for a nap. (I would like him to nap a little earlier, but usually it's after 11 before he acts tired.) Then make/finish lunch.

Making lunch...

12:00 pm Eat lunch with Joshua and Yehoshua. Clear table, put away leftovers, and have Yehoshua help with dishes. A lot of times Eliyahu is awake before we're done the dishes, so I do them while I make dinner.

1:00 pm Nurse Eliyahu and get Yehoshua ready for his nap (includes picking up toys).

1:30 pm Yehoshua starts his nap. Eliyahu and I do various things like paying bills, emptying the garbage, putting in another load of laundry, or dinner prep.

2:15 pm I nurse Eliyahu again and (hopefully) he falls asleep again. ;) Then I have about 30 minutes to use the computer, take a shower, or spend time with Joshua before Yehoshua wakes up from his nap. :)

Yehoshua helps cook 

3:00 pm Yehoshua wakes up, and we go out and hang up more laundry, or work on dinner, If the dishes didn't get done after lunch, we do them while we make dinner. If some of the laundry is dry already, we take it down and fold it. Sometimes we weed the flower beds, or do some other chores like cleaning in the house.

4:15 pm Eliyahu wakes up and nurses.

4:45 pm We finish up dinner.

5:00 pm Joshua, Yehoshua and I eat dinner together. Eliyahu plays in the kitchen in his walker.

Yehoshua eating dinner

5:30 pm Joshua plays with Yehoshua and Eliyahu while I clear up leftovers and start the dishes. Yehoshua comes and helps with the dishes (usually not too many, since we do them while we are cooking dinner if possible). I clean out the fridge quickly.

6:15 pm I feed Eliyahu again. We all go outside and take down laundry/play.

7:15 pm I try to get any "extra" little things caught up around the house... seems there is always something that needs done! I also usually give Yehoshua a snack.

8:00 pm Nurse Eliyahu and hope that he falls asleep. ;) Get Yehoshua ready for bed -- potty, clean diaper, brush teeth, put away all toys, sing or read, etc.

Yehoshua and his Hippo

8:30 pm Yehoshua goes to bed. I take a shower. (Eliyahu plays by himself if he's still up.)

9:00 pm Nurse Eliyahu and put him to bed, sleepy or not! :D

9:15 pm Spend time with Joshua, use the computer, etc. I can "legally" stay up as late as I wish, and I do frequently stay up rather late. :|

12:00 am Nurse Eliyahu and go to bed myself.

3:00 am Nurse Eliyahu. If I'm sleeping beside Eliyahu, he moves and wakes me enough for me to switch sides and go right back to sleep. If he's in his own bed, I set the alarm. If he's in the playpen in our room, I usually sleep very lightly and wake up every couple hours and decide to feed him. I know... I just really love feeding my baby. :)


Now, I know I have times written down for all this stuff, but truthfully we rarely follow this to the letter. ;) Everything is give or take probably 15-30 minutes. It's amazing how a messy diaper or cranky, clingy child can throw a person off schedule. ;) Also, Joshua and I frequently converse during the day for short bits. But this is the basic routine we stick to. :)

I know it sounds like I do a lot of cooking, but really it's just little bits here and there... pulling out a frozen chicken, or seasoning some meat, or assembling a casserole, starting some bread, or chopping stuff for a salad... it just depends on what I'm making. :)

Laundry is a daily task, between regular clothes and diaper loads. Hanging it all out means numerous trips down to the basement and out to the clothesline, but I actually love the little "reprieve" from being indoors all day. And of course, the children LOVE to hear, "Let's go hang out some clothes!" Yehoshua says, "Clothesline! Outside!" and today when we got out there, he said, "Run around?" which was his way of asking if he could run around the yard and play instead of helping hand me things. ;)

The photos don't really illustrate our whole day, but they were the ones I found when I was sorting through photos on my computer, since I didn't take "special" ones for this post. :)

Pepper Steak and Tea Pots: another tale of YHWH's blessings

My two teapots

I am particular about my tea. I like it best when it's made just so, and to make good tea, I like to have good water, good tea leaves, and a good teapot. ;)

My personal "perfect cup of tea" is more like a "perfect pot of tea", where fresh water is heated in a tea kettle and the teabag(s) is dropped inside to brew. All of the heated water is made into tea (i.e. no water is wasted or reheated) and the same pot is used to heat the water as well as brew the tea (fewer dishes and things setting around in the kitchen).

This teapot, therefore, needs to be able to be used on the stove top, but also have a lifting lid to make tea in or be washed, and be good for pouring out of.

I had one of these perfect teapots, but it, unfortunately, got damaged and had to be given to Yehoshua to use as a toy. :( So, I resorted to using an old tea kettle (shown on the left in the photo above) to heat water, and made my tea in the cup. The tea kettle leaked water around the spout, and had mineral build-up on the bottom (which I couldn't get off), so it would leave mineral deposits in my tea if I used all of the water. While annoying, at least I could still make tea. :)

So, I was on the lookout for a new teapot, and being particular as I am, hadn't found one I liked... until we went to Amish Country. Not that finding one did much good, since I found it at a store, brand new, costing quite a bit more than the garage-sale-price I was planning to spend for one. ;)

That was Friday. Yesterday (Wednesday) when I got to my mom's house to teach music lessons, there was a teapot sitting on her table. Imagine my shock and delight to find out that she purchased it just the day before, for only $2... and that she had been looking for teapots for me for quite some time! What a blessing.

And, having done without a nice teapot for a while, Yehoshua and I are thoroughly enjoying it. :D

Steak recipe and doctor's office grandma

As we were riding up in the elevator, a nice older couple got on. The lady was commenting on Eliyahu, and another person also commented on the children. I thanked them for their kind words, thinking to myself, "If only things always went this smoothly!!" ;)

We arrived at the doctor's office (it's located in the hospital) and sat down. I immediately got a children's book for Yehoshua to read, because I didn't want him trying to run off into trouble. He wasn't interested in reading; instead he hopped from chair to chair, but was being good, at least.

A man (probably about 60 years old or so) was sitting waiting, and said to me, "It is a joy to watch you interacting with your children." Then another person said, "Yes! You are such a great mom. Your kids are so loved. Awww... look at the baby... he loves riding in that, doesn't he?" I smiled and said, "It doesn't always go this well. But thank you." :D I really needed that encouragement, since lately I have felt very tired and like anything BUT a good mom, and I had been dreading sitting in a tiny doctor's office waiting room for who knows how long until they called us back (it was 45 minutes last time, this time only about 30).

A few minutes later, the nice couple from the elevator came in! The lady immediately started talking to Yehoshua and asking him questions, and then told him she would read the book to him. They read stories and looked at pictures, and he just LOVED all the attention. She was such a nice grandmotherly type of woman, (and I found out that they're Christians, too) and I was thinking, "God sent you here at the same time so you could entertain Yehoshua!" :D Turns out, the first man who complimented me is a Christian also, because they all seemed to know each other and made references to prayer, and the one grandmotherly lady was saying that she had a son who lived in Ashland, Ohio, who had 7 children.

Then she asked Yehoshua if he wanted to look out the window. We were on the third floor, so he thought that was neat. She pulled up a chair for him to stand on, and they watched cars out the window for probably 15 minutes, at least. She told him the colors, and all sorts of things, and he so quietly and sweetly talked with her and responded to her questions.

And then, finally, we were called back. That lady had been such a help to me... and she probably didn't even know it! I'm so thankful that YHWH put her there, waiting in the waiting room with us today. :) And her grandchildren sure are blessed with a nice grandma. She was just SO GOOD with Yehoshua, and also very polite, asking me if it was okay for him to look out the window and stuff.

So. my dreaded long trip to the doctor's turned out to be fun and refreshing!

Eliyahu watches us hang out laundry

Here's a photo I took yesterday of Eliyahu watching us hang out laundry. It was a beautiful day and I decided to let him lay on a blanket instead of having him sit in his car seat. He loved the blanket! I don't know if I mentioned it, but last week the neighbor lady mowed the lawn for me. That's why it looks so nice! What a blessing! :)

Exercise Ideas

It is so hot outside today! I guess I am spoiled, being in an air-conditioned house during most of the hottest hours of the day. I am so thankful for a cool house! It's so much easier to think about doing dishes or cleaning when the house is a comfortable temperature. :)

Today we were blessed with a visit from my friend Sheri and her two boys, ages 6 and 2. Sheri is a dear "older sister" friend to me. Several of the recipes on this website are ones she passed down to me, like her cream cheese brownies, baked beans, and even this week's recipe of the week, Oriental Chicken Salad. I owe a number of our favorites to her. ;)

We had a good visit, as always, and perhaps there will be some good photos to share when time permits.

Anyway, Sheri and I were talking about exercise, and it reminded me that I wanted to post about exercise on here sometime, and hadn't done it yet. :)

So, here are some thoughts and ideas for those of you who either want to exercise more, or already do and enjoy reading about exercising. :)

Yehoshua and Eliyahu, waiting for our walk

Here are Yehoshua and Eliyahu, waiting in the stroller for our morning walk. We've been walking at 7 am every day for several months now, and it's really the only way I could bear to take walks all summer long! I'm not sure what we'll do when winter comes... but maybe by then Eliyahu will be big enough that I can bundle him up and we can still walk. :)

My exercise routine is (if at all possible) done every day. I found that when I took "a day off" for whatever reason, that day turned into several days or even a whole week. Making sure I get out every day (even if it's only for 5 or 10 minutes!) helps me keep going.

Right now my exercise is walking. I walk at least 2 miles every morning, but usually 2.5-3 miles. This takes about 40-60 minutes, depending on how quickly I walk.

This is, admittedly, a large chunk of precious morning time. It is, however, the only way I can "make time" for exercising. Later in the day, it's hotter, or I have ten things going on all at once...

It's actually never "convenient" for me to exercise; I'm always sacrificing sleep or work-time. I have found it to be worth it, though. Besides the benefits from exercising, I enjoy getting out in the mornings (even though sometimes I feel half-asleep while I'm pushing the stroller!) and thinking about the day ahead of me. It's a quiet and relaxing start to the day. I plan what needs to be done when I get home, and talk with Yehoshua and Eliyahu. (I have even repeated simple addition and subtraction problems to Yehoshua on our walks, hoping to help him memorize them.)

I always had the mentality that exercising was one of those "extra" things, like computer-time, talking on the phone, letter-writing, that sort of thing. I couldn't pull myself away from the housework, meal preparation, and hustle of the household to go for a walk. There were (and are) constantly dishes to be done, laundry to be hung or folded, or meals to be made. I finally realised that the work would never be caught up to my satisfaction, and that it was all right to leave the kitchen a mess and get out for a walk and clean up later.

There was also the "weather" excuse. Too hot. Too cold. And with children, I can't just go walking when it's raining outside, now can I? ;) When I made a commitment to walking, I realised that I was using the weather as an excuse far too often. There have been days when it rained off and on all day, but I managed to get out during a 20-minute dry spell. We've gotten poured on a couple times, but we arrived home and dried off. :) I was amazed at how good it felt to know that I had gotten out 10 days in a row, and then 20...

I originally started exercising for the first time in my life when we had been married about a year. I had gained over 20 pounds in that year, and my clothes were getting tight. I successfully lost all 20 pounds by doing a lot of walking and not eating too much.

Then, I got pregnant and had Yehoshua. I walked a lot during pregnancy, but after having Yehoshua, had difficulty getting back to walking. I had Eliyahu and pretty much didn't exercise at all during my pregnancy with him. :|

I determined that after I had Eliyahu I would start walking again. Joshua's mom gave us a double stroller (seen in photo above) which helped a LOT. :) So, with 20 pounds to lose again, I started walking this spring.

I haven't lost much weight (yet; maybe I won't, I don't know) but I feel so much better. My clothes fits me again, even though the scales says -2 lbs for the whole past 3 months of exercise. I feel healthy, my arms actually have some muscle (that stroller is heavy to push!), and I can walk 2 miles briskly without getting out of breath.

So, a quick overview of what has helped me:

Get out every day, even if only for 5 minutes. Skipping days makes me lose my resolve.

Don't wait for "everything" to be done before you exercise.

Have a support system: someone (a spouse or friend), or some people who know you're trying to exercise consistently, who can help you monitor your progress, give encouragement, etc.

If possible, have an exercise partner. This is really motivating to me when the alarm goes at 6:30 am and I feel like rolling back over and going to sleep. ;)

Don't over-use the scales. Weighing (or measuring, if you're doing that) once a week is plenty. And don't put too much emphasis on what the scales says. If you're exercising and eating fairly well, it's okay if you don't lose 5 pounds all in one week, or even one month. Exercise isn't a quick-ticket to weightloss, but a consistent exercise routine will improve your overall health!

And for some fun, map out your walking (or running!) path using this free online pedometer! :)

Enjoying my little ones...

So often, as I am caring for Yehoshua or Eliyahu, I marvel at how blessed we are by our children. They are so, so precious, and I just don't know where the last 2 years has gone... how could I be the mother of a 2-year-old, and how could my baby be 6 months old already?! I want to cherish every moment I have with them, whether it's nursing Eliyahu, playing a game with Yehoshua, making Eliyahu giggle, having a "conversation" with Yehoshua (who is just starting to talk!), or getting some sweet spontaneous kisses and hugs...

I have learned so much and grown so much since becoming a mom. I honestly never imagined how much my life was about to change when Yehoshua was born. I was probably just a little too confident, partly in reaction to most peoples' "horror stories" about how parenthood "really" was going to be. The horror stories didn't come true for me, but I did learn a whole lot, grow a whole lot, and mature a whole lot (and still am!!).

Yehoshua's innocence and sweetness makes me realise how often I harbor resentment, or hold back from being loving. When we take an homest look at our hearts, there's so often wickedness hiding there, disguised as piousness. I feel so unworthy and incapable of being a good mom to my little blessings... but I am also thankful for YHWH's goodness and grace. We're never worthy of the blessings He gives... but He blesses us abundantly in spite of our weaknesses.

Just a few thoughts from a Very Thankful Heart tonight. :) 


Yehoshua was entertaining Eliyahu this morning and I just had to take a picture! :)

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