Unseen Hands

Unseen Hands

As I walked into my daughter’s bedroom, I picked up dirty laundry from the floor.  I carried it to the bathroom chute and dropped it in, then hung some towels and wiped up a toothpaste mess.  I proceeded into my son’s room for some straightening and then to my own.  Downstairs, I emptied 2 trashcans and a laundry basket and a suitcase from my husband’s business trip that week.

Thousands of times, I’ve picked up dirty laundry, straightened towels and emptied trash cans – virtually unseen.

Of course when I don’t do these things – everyone sees the overflowing trash can and laundry baskets and the overflow seems to whisper, “you are failing – you are not keeping up – the whole family can clearly see this.”  and I get discouraged.

And so today as I hung my husband’s pants and thought about how this has happened for 16 years virtually unseen — I am reminded of how often God is at work in my life virtually unseen.

He protects me while I sleep, provides food and friends and fun and a bounty of blessings daily both physically and spiritually too – but then something goes all wrong and I wonder – where’s God.

He’s unseen during the issue at hand.  And I get discouraged.

We are not unseen – God sees every little thing we do to bless and care for our families.

He knows.

And we must practice His presence and His pleasure.  We must know that He is there – and will never leave us or forsake us.  And we must never forget that though he is not showing up the way we would have Him show up, He is in our trials – working.

His hand is often unseen – until time passes and we look back.  It is with perspective that we see clearly His hand.

So mamas, as you serve your families today – you are seen. Jesus knows your hurts and your burdens that no one else sees.  He is there and he wants you to come to him.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

Trade in your heavy burdens for his light load.

Trust in God’s unseen hand to carry you through your weary days.

Chime In: Are you in this place today? Feeling unseen or wondering where God is in the midst of a certain trial? Share your burden in the comment section and let’s pray for one another.  

Walk with the King,

Courtney

The Women Living Well Book Club – Chapters 19, 20 & Conclusion

 

Chapters 19,20, conclusion

Hooray!  We have arrived to the FINAL post of the Book Club.  If you missed a week – no worries – this Wednesday I will post all the links to the archived posts from the book club, so you have easy access to it.

So let’s finish strong friends!

First up – the final video.  In this video I discuss two things – 1.) I have received emails telling me what is missing from my book – so in this video I answer one of these issues (there are more that maybe I’ll consider writing on later) and 2.) I discuss the “Ultimate Homemaker”.

(if you cannot see this video – click here)

Chapter 19

One of the biggest challenges of writing and blogging is being “real”.  While I can’t hang out all the ugly of my family because that would disrespect them –I try to be transparent with my personal struggles.  But even with those attempts, sometimes I fall short and I leave an impression that I have it all together…and I don’t!

I have written on the blog before that I believe this writing thing is my Ephesians 2:10.

Ephesians 2:10 says:  “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Blogging is the good work God created and prepared in advance for me to do.  It does NOT mean I have it all together – it just means I’m a follower of Jesus who loves people and who likes communicating with words (lots of them).

Another struggle I have is giving the wrong impression. For example – some people think I want everyone to live in a box and be just like me. No – a thousand time NOOOOOOO!  You do not have to strive to be a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom to be Godly. I recognize that we all have different puzzles and different hands that have been dealt to us.

I love it when I run into readers around town.  I am always so blessed when a working mom tells me she reads my blog.  I am blessed because this world has created “mommy wars” and says we should have tension over this.  But you have loved me and called me friend. Thank you!!!

Here are two quotes from Chapter 19 that sum up my thoughts on this:

never seek to be someone else you are amazing

(image credit: Biblical Homemaking)

********

“The biblical principles in this book should be the same for all of us, but how we apply them will look different in every home.  We must be careful that we are not followers of everyone online but rather followers of Christ.” ~pg.196

Chapter 20

Chapter 20 is all about the Proverbs 31 woman.   I love her because she is SO inspiring!  I want her discipline, diligence and eagerness to work hard!

How to Get the Eagerness of the P31 Woman

If you are new to this blog – please be sure to subscribe to get my FREE Proverbs 31 ebook.

Go >>HERE<< to find all the details on how to subscribe and to view all of the free videos (13) that go along with the ebook!

Final Discussion Question:

We’ve come to the close of this book.
What is one major take-away you have learned?

May God bless you as you serve your family and as you continue to walk with the King!

Lots of Love, 
Courtney

The Women Living Well Book Club – Chapters 16-18 {My Struggles With Homemaking}

Chapters 16-18 My struggles with homemaking

Let’s Discuss Chapters 16-18

In today’s video I share my struggle to fit “homemaking” in, in the midst of homeschooling and blogging:

(If you cannot see this video - click here)

you are the key 2

Think back to when you were a child.  Was there a home that you LOVED visiting?  Maybe it was your grandmother’s or an Aunt’s or maybe it was a friend’s house or a neighbor’s.

What made that home seem special through your eyes?  Was it Pottery Barn Furniture (I love Pottery Barn by the way, so I’m not dissing it ;) ) or the squeaky clean bathrooms – or was it maybe the candy dish, the holiday decorations, the scent of food cooking or the hug at the door?

Sometimes I think, we are tempted to believe that we need everything we see on Pinterest or in Martha Stewart’s Magazine to have a home that is warm and inviting.  But it is our heart – the warmth of our heart – that will make our homes a haven.

T.H. Gibbings says “Why do we love certain houses, and why do they seem to love us?  It is the warmth of our individual hearts reflected in our surroundings.”

The most important thing is that we create an atmosphere of love, welcome and peace in our home.  We have the power to create calm in the chaos.  Do you need help getting to this point? Here’s 10 Ways to Change the Atmosphere of Your Home:

10 ways to change atmosphere of home

Discussion Questions

1.) Does homemaking come easy or hard for you?  What responsibilities and activities are you juggling in this season of life that makes homemaking a challenge for you?

2.) When it comes to routines in your week – do you have any regular ones?  Share them.

For Extra Discussion go to the Forum and click on the thread that says “Chapters 16-18″

Walk with the King,

Courtney

Bloggers:  Are you blogging your way through this book club with us?  Then link-up your blog post below.
**
Please note that this link up has changed for the next 2 weeks.{if your linked-up post is not about the book club it will be removed}



When Your Home Does Not Feel Like a Haven

When your home does not feel like a haven

In 2010, after finishing our very first – “Making Your Home a Haven” Fall Series – I wrote this post.

I wrote this post because I know…I know that there are many who lit candles, prayed, tried to plan game nights and prepared cozy dinners …but you are discouraged.  Your home STILL does not feel like a haven.

There is a self-talk that rattles around inside the brains of women – yes, even Christian women who long to live out God’s word in their homes.  I know because my brain does it too…and here’s what it says…

{From the archives}

I turn to Psalm 23…

1 – The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. (want. want. want. I want…)

2. He makes me lie down (lie down…if only I could lie down for just 20 minutes…if only if only if only) in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. (quiet. quiet. quiet…this home is so loud…television, ipods, cell phones, chatter, I can’t get a moment of quiet here).

3. He restores my soul (my soul. needs. restored. …it hurts). He guides me in paths of righteousness. (I am so alone…I have no one who understands…if only I had someone to get me out of this mess. mess. mess. Someone besides me please clean up this mess!).

4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (what if. what if.what if. what if I’m not enough?) for you are with me (you are? why are you so silent God?); your rod and your staff they comfort me. (comfort. who needs comfort. I am strong. I will pick myself up and press on. I am not weak.)

5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (overflows. overflows. overflows. Dirty dishes overflow, closets overflow, my trash cans overflow, my laundry baskets overflow, my calender overflows…if everything is so full – why do I feel so empty?)

6. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. (follow. follow.follow. I feel like difficulties, trials, disappointments, bad relationships and financial problems follow me… goodness? love? follow me?) and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (put on fake smile. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…BUT…I want. I want. I want. if only. if only. if only. my soul hurts. mess. mess. mess. I am weak. no. I am strong. empty. empty. empty.)

Do you hear the self talk? Do you hear what is happening between this woman’s two ears?

She is saying rotten things to herself about her life, about the people in her life, about her circumstances, and even about God. And then she wonders…why? don’t? I? have? peace?

The problem is not out there – it’s inside of her.

Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Do you want to see a change in your home? It starts in your mind.

Are you in a storm? Do you need help?

At the core – I am empty, ugly, self-seeking, insecure, questioning myself to death regularly – even to the point of tears over fears and failures. I hurt. I struggle. I wrestle. But then - I lift my eyes up to the maker of the heavens and the earth and this world pauses for just a moment and all my ugly thoughts and self talk are washed away by his love, grace and peace.

Psalm 121:1 says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

The storms do not disappear but seeing a glimpse of the sunshine that awaits me, lifts me up when I am weak. He is strong. And so I rest. And he restores.

If you are discouraged – I encourage you to get alone with Psalm 23 for 5 minutes today.

The Lord is indeed your Shepherd and you shall not be in want. You must claim these truths. Let him lead you by still waters…are you thirsty? Sit still. Drink a tall glass of his living word! Let him restore your soul. He is with you. He loves you. You will one day dwell in His house- His Haven – forever.

Walk with the King!

Courtney

3D wlwbook cover

 

The book, Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home, is now available in most bookstores and on-line at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

Making Your Home a Haven {Week 4} & A Pottery Barn Giveaway!

Making Your HOme a haven week 4

We are to our final week of our Making Your Home a Haven Fall Series…and the holidays are almost upon us!

First up, Thanksgiving and on the heels of Thanksgiving is Christmas!  And typically with the holidays comes decorating.  I so desire to make my home warm and cozy for the family.

Think for a moment about how God has surrounded us in the fall season with scenery that is just gorgeous! If you live where trees change colors, the bright reds, oranges and yellows on the trees display God’s glory!

Think about the crackle of dry leaves below your feet as you walk – the same crackle sound you heard when you were 5 you hear at 55. There is a continuity about the remembrance of the crisp air and the smell of a bonfire that brings joy and peace. In the same way, our holiday decorations that we pull out year in and year out bring continuity, memories and a warm glow to our homes.

Though heaven is our eternal home, God has given us gifts of beauty here on earth – there is beauty in the fields covered with snow, in the sunset over a chilled pond, the frost in the morning on the blades of grass and smoke rising from the chimneys.

Our homes are temporary but they are an opportunity to reflect God in a small measure. Genesis 1:26 says “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”

We have been created in the image of God and some may be very talented in the area of decorating while others are like me – not the queen of decorating –  but we all have the ability to create something special for our loved ones.

Edith Shaefer says “For the Christian who is consciously in communication with the Creator, surely his home should reflect something of the artistry, the beauty and order of the One whom he is representing, and in whose image he has been made!”

God has given you a home whether it’s an apartment you share, a farm house, a city home, or a home identical to all your neighbors – it is your ONE home to reflect God’s artistry in.

Here is this week’s challenge:

Imagine – plan – Decorate! The holidays are almost upon us.  Ann Voskamp says “Creating is good theology.  In the beginning God created.”  Be creative as you make your home warm, cozy and inviting for the holidays.  Think about ways you can keep Christ in Christmas even in the way you decorate.  Give thanks to God for the home He has given you in which to create a haven for your family.

 

thanksgiving journal

To go along with the second half of this week’s challenge – I’d like to share one of our Thanksgiving traditions.

I started a family ”Thanksgiving Journal” 5 years ago. Every year on Thanksgiving, I sit down with the family and have them list some of the things they are thankful for.  Then I write them into the journal. It is so fun to reflect back over the years and see the blessings God has brought into our lives – year – by – year.

The turkey in the picture above is something the kids make each year.  I have them write on the feathers things they are thankful for and I add them to our journal each year.

Some of the things listed give me a chuckle –like when 3 year old Alexis gave thanks for sparkling grape juice…a treat we had with our Thanksgiving Dinner or when 5 year old Alex gave thanks for Ohio State Football! lol!  Also, toys like their pillow pets and Wii made the list along with some favorite books and vacations.  The yearly lists bring back memories of friends and favorite teachers and life happenings – everything is recorded so we can rejoice again and again over the abundant blessings God has given us in our lives.

If you are looking for a Thanksgiving tradition and treasure to implement in your home – this is an inexpensive way to bless your family.

And remember – give thanks to God for the ONE home he has given YOU to make a haven for his glory!

Chime In:  How has God used this 4 week series in your home?

Walk with the King,

 

This is our FINAL giveaway in celebration of my book, Women Living Well, releasing . It’s a Pottery Barn Wall Art and Throw Pillow!!!

 pottery barn giveaway 2

Enter to win here.

*The winner must live in the U.S. or Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget – the sixth FREE Webcast is coming THIS Thursday night!!!!!
We’ll be featuring the Janelle from Comfy In The Kitchen on the topic of Your Ministry.
 Women Living Well Schedule 2
The book is now available in most bookstores
and on-line at Amazon.com
3D wlwbook cover

 

 

Making Your Home a Haven {Week 3} Plus a Kitchen Aid Mixer Giveaway


Making your home a haven week 3

 

This week’s Challenge:

 Focus on the kitchen, the heart of the home.  Cook things with pleasant aromas  like homemade bread, pies, and cookies.  Don’t wait to have a reason to make something special – do it simply to show love to your family. Invite your kids and/or hubby to cook along side of you – make memories in the kitchen – test tasting, being creative, laughing and loving. Remember the importance of dinner time around the table as a family. Work on showing love to your family this week.  

This is such a fun time of the year for cooking.  The holidays mean we have reason to be in the kitchen! But sometimes all the kitchen work can be overwhelming. Let’s face it we eat over 1,000 meals a year (that’s counting breakfast, lunch and dinner) - and if you have a family you provide all those meals for – and snacks too – cooking can become a chore.

When I first had children, I dreamed of them cooking along side of me. Then reality set in.  Bringing my kids along side of me in the kitchen was more work than I expected. They were messy and needed constant instruction – “stir slowly”, “stay away from the hot pot”, “be careful with the knife”, “don’t wipe your hands on your shirt”, “stop eating the dough”, “one at a time on the stool” and the list went on.  At some point, I threw in the towel literally and sent them off to play or watch Curious George so I could get dinner on the table in a timely fashion. And my dream bubble popped with the reality that inviting my children into the kitchen would be a sacrifice.

And here’s where “Making our Home a Haven” comes into the equation.

It is only when we as women learn how to lay down our lives for those in our home, that the home will begin to thrive. 

When we learn that creating a culture of love means sacrifice on our part - our homes will transform from being a shell – to being a place of hospitality, the breaking of bread, laughter, training, deep talks, loving embraces and fun memories.

Bringing the kids into the kitchen has been hard for me – but it’s worth the memories!

 

alex cookies

 

It starts with following Jesus – laying down our lives and our desires - so we can bless those who sleep under our roof.  And as we learn to lay down our lives – we model to our children how to lay down their lives for others.

We aren’t responsible for every home on the block…just the one God has given us.

God has given us one home to turn into a haven for his glory.

One home to use to shine brightly for him.

One home to subdue, manage and cause to flourish.

And when one home is flourishing – the souls that pass through that home are forever touched and changed by the work of your hands.

 

Keep your candles going this week  and add in some soft music and tasty treats full of love.

Edith Shaeffer reminds us of how deeply food can bless those we prepare it for:

“Food cannot take care of the spiritual, psychological and emotional problems, but the feeling of being loved and cared for, the actual comfort of the beauty and flavour of food, the increase of blood sugar and physical well-being, help one to go on during the next hours better equipped to meet the problems.”

 

Chime In: What are you cooking this week? And do you bring your kids into the kitchen with you? Do you have any tips to help other moms manage little ones in the kitchen?  We’d love to hear them!

Walk with the King,

 

This week’s giveaway in celebration of my book, Women Living Well, releasing is a Kitchen Aid Mixer!!!

kitchen aid mixer giveaway

Enter to win here.

*The winner must live in the U.S. or Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget – the fifth FREE Webcast is coming THIS Thursday night!!!!!
We’ll be featuring the Clare from Peak 313 on the topic of Your Health.
 Women Living Well Schedule 2
The book is now available in most bookstores
and on-line at Amazon.com
3D wlwbook cover

 

 

Making Your Home a Haven {Week 2} Plus a 10-Pack of Games Giveaway


Making Your HOme a haven week 2

Welcome back to the 4th Annual “Making Your Home a Haven” Fall Challenge.

You all are doing great!!!  Let’s keep the candles and prayers going this week and add in this challenge.

Week 2 Challenge: - Plan a Family Fun Night.   Have a pillow party in the family room and get out every blanket and pillow in the house and be cozy with the kids and your hubby! Even if you live alone you can do this. Enjoy a cozy evening of hot cider and caramel corn.  Bust out some old fashioned games and take the time to savor these moments with your loved ones.  Work on gentleness this week.

Game night
J.R. Miller says “The richest heritage that parents can give is a happy childhood, with tender memories of father and mother. This will brighten the coming days when the children have gone out from the sheltering home, and will be a safeguard in times of temptation and a conscious help amid the stern realities of life.”

 

~An excerpt from the book titled Women Living Well~

In our home, I’m the family night coordinator.  If there’s going to be a game night, pizza night, movie night, or a social happening, it’s because I planned it.  I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.  Growing up, my mother did a great job of creating fun family memories.  They weren’t complex or over the top, but they happened!  They happened year in and year out, and now the memories of those fun moments give me security, comfort, joy and a bond with my family that will never be broken.

My children enjoy long evenings of playing Monopoly, watching re-runs of The Brady Bunch, lots of Chex mix, and enjoying lots of cuddles and back rubs, and even wrestling and nerf gun wars (my husband loves to flip couches and make forts).

A wise mother knows how to have fun and how to be tender. She knows the healing touch of her hands. Jesus used his hands to touch and heal many. There is power in the gentle expressions of love through warm embraces and cuddles.

Mark 10:16 says that Jesus “took them {the children} in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” 

Bless your family with tender, physical love.
~Page 178

4 Ways to Pursue Gentleness in Your Home

1. When you feel tempted to raise your voice, use a child’s name in a snarl, furrow your brow into a scowl or speak rapidly in anger…purposely lower your voice to just above a whisper.

Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Focus on gentle words, facial expressions, and touches.

2. Purpose to not let someone else’s anger make you angry.

Many times as a wife and mom, I find myself responding to other’s emotions. Someone in the family is grumpy and two minutes later I’m grumpy too. Someone in the family is speaking harshly and two minutes later I’m speaking harshly too. Purpose to stay in control of your emotions and not let the other members of your family dictate your mood.

3. Yelling at a bud won’t make it bloom.

Your home will not blossom into a haven, if you are not controlling your temper.

4. Continue to light your candle and pray for peace in your home.

Persevere in prayer for your family. James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

**Chime In: Share with us what you have planned for your family fun night. What is your favorite game to play as a family?

Walk with the King,

 

 

This week’s giveaway in celebration of my book, Women Living Well, releasing is a 10 Pack of Games including – Checkers, Scrabble, Monopoly, Uno, Battleship, Pictionary, Apples toApples, Candy Land, Risk, & Life.

10 pack giveaway of games 2

Enter to win here.
*The winner must live in the U.S. or Canada.

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Don’t forget – the fourth FREE Webcast is coming THIS Thursday night!!!!!
We’ll be featuring the Ruth from The Better Mom on the topic of Parenting.
 Women Living Well Schedule 2
The book is now available in most bookstores
and on-line at Amazon.com
3D wlwbook cover

 

Making Your Home a Haven {Week 1} Plus a Year Supply of Yankee Candles Giveaway!


Making Your Home a Haven week 1

Welcome back to the 4th Annual “Making Your Home a Haven” Fall Challenge.

Edith Shaeffer says:

“We are an environment, each one of us.

We are an environment for the other people with whom we live, the people with whom we work, the people with whom we communicate…our conversations, attitudes, behavior, response or lack of response, hardness or compassion, our love or selfishness, joy or dullness, concern for others or self pity – all these things make a difference to the people who have to live in our environment.

Enthusiasm and excitement infect other people: expectancy that God can intervene and do something in this moment of history and doing something practical to show that expectancy in prayer, affects the attitudes of other people.”

Have you ever considered that you are an environment?

What type of environment are you?

Do you lay in bed, with clothes in a heap on your floor, sighing and moaning about all the work that has to be done in your day or are you cheery in the morning, welcoming your children to the breakfast table, praying with them as they enter their day, tidying up morning dishes without complaint…

Life is certainly not all butterflies and roses…but because we are Christians – we are to reflect Christ in our environment.  And the only way we can reflect Christ and his peace is by going to him and asking for it.

Seeking it.

Pursuing it.

It won’t happen by accident.

Here is this week’s challenge:

Go buy an extra large candle and light it everyday in your home. I will be starting mine in the morning but if you work – you can start yours at dinner time and let it burn until you go to bed. Do what makes sense for your family. I will be placing mine in the kitchen – the main hub of my home.

Each time the candle catches your eye, say a prayer for peace in your home.

Philippians 4: 6,7 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

Prayer brings peace.

I love vaccuum cleaner lines on freshly vaccuumed carpet.  I love the sound of the dishwasher running at the end of the day – signaling the kitchen is clean and closed.  I love warm towels fresh out of the dryer.  I love the way the house is sparkling clean ALL at once right before guests arrive.  And I love a flickering candle on my kitchen counter.

I simply enjoy these gifts in life.

But…

They are momentary.

Soon the kids will come running into the room and wrestle around and the vaccuum cleaner lines will be gone. The dishwasher will stop running and need emptied – that’s not so fun! The towels – they’ll be cold and wet soon. And most likely, left laying on the floor somewhere. After the guests leave, the house will need cleaned all over again.

It’s the cycle of life.

But my candle.

My candle just keeps on burning.  Morning, noon and night it serves me.  It serves me with a flickering warm light, a pleasant scent, and a reminder to pray for peace in my home.

I remember long ago when I first started daily lighting my kitchen candle.  The kids came down for breakfast and asked -

“Who’s coming over today mommy?

No one“, I answered.

Then why is there a candle lit in the kitchen?” they asked.

For us!” 

I light the candle for us - to bless my own family.

Let’s make our homes feel more like a warm hug than a cold shoulder for all those who find refuge under our roof.

Light a candle and begin praying over your home every time the glimmer of the candle catches your eyePray for peace.  Peace with each other and peace within your soul.

Thank you all so much for your accountability. I appreciate you joining me on this journey!  To see the list of upcoming challenges and giveaways -> click here.

**Chime In: Have you begun to light your candle?  Did your family ask “what’s up with the candle?” :) What scent is your candle?  And have you found a deal on candles?  Share it!

Walk with the King,

 

 

 

This week’s giveaway in celebration of my book, Women Living Well, releasing is a Year’s Supply of Yankee Candles (12 Large Jar Candles).

Giveaway 2 Yankee Candles

Enter to win here – (for extra entries facebook or tweet about this giveaway!)

*The winner must live in the U.S. or Canada.
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Don’t forget – the third FREE Webcast is coming THIS Thursday night!!!!!
We’ll be featuring the Time Warp Wife on the topic of Marriage.
 Women Living Well Schedule 2
The book is now available in most bookstores
and on-line at Amazon.com
3D wlwbook cover