Friday, October 19, 2012

more then a name

They are everywhere. On your computers, coming from your TV, seen in your newspaper, polishing your neighbors yard if not your own, and even on your door steps. Yes, politicians are visible and heard loudly these days.  Election day is coming very soon and I see this day as one of our nation's greatest days...the day we as Americans can safely walk to our polling locations and cast our own personal votes. A great privilege in a great country.  

Every dinner table holds its own political conversations and amongst every occasion are listening ears. In our case, three small children hear and see what we represent as we pass one opinion after another across the table. We drive around town and my same three small children can pick out the signs seen from one neighborhood to the next. And when I take my children with me to see me vote and experience the freedom to choose our best candidate, I know they have been watching, listening, and paying close attention to our actions towards all those on that ballot form.

But beyond the names we see plastered everywhere these days, are real people. Beyond the words that come out of our mouths in our home about our candidates, are fathers and mothers and somebody else's son or daughter...just like us. And beyond the ballot forms are local community members brave enough to put their name on that list. So when I walk my children into that voting booth on election day, I want them to know that there is more then a name we are choosing or not choosing.

As we greet contenders at our door, we show our children we welcome each one onto our doorstep with the same respect for what they are doing...because they are more then a name. And when we pass another yard sign, we picture our local running mates standing next to their sign. A real person, not just a name. When another commercial comes on TV, we try to remember that the face we see is doing their best to represent themselves and their community. Why? Because we believe in our country and what our everyday people can do for their communities. Because past every political piece of paper that lands in our mailbox is a real person. 

Our family has had the great privilege of seeing firsthand some of our local community members and even better, dear friends, throw their name into the pool of people willing to stand up and serve us through our governmental system. As our family has watched Walt Rogers and Matt Reisetter give all they can to representing our community and serving a greater purpose, we have found great respect for what the political world could be...for everyone. Here are two very intentional, God fearing, Truth telling, family focused, honest  and integrity filled men fighting a good fight all the way to the end. 

When I watch these guys walk in strides with all the critical and negative things that come their way as they walk through some hard days in the political world, I hope our children are catching some of their core examples of being more then a name. These two men have shown our children that truth matters and accepting the golden rule as a way to live matters and that representing more then a name matters at the end of the day. It is being that person on that ballot, standing next to those signs, and coming through the papers that matters more then hurting the next person's name. These guys are truly being who they say they are and they are showing my family that their intentions to represent us hold the highest respect in how they handle their jobs as a political candidate. 

I hope my children have learned on voting day, that while we are choosing one over the other, that we respect that all names on that ballot are more then a name... they are our everyday people who deserve the same respect from us as the guy getting our votes. And my hope is that all those names on that ballot would do the same...remember, there is more behind a name on a sign then your actions sometimes let on. Speak slowly and gently and show our children that truth truly matters and the golden rule still exists. Because our children are paying attention to more then just your name.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

auto zone

It is October and I am happy to say we actually got into the routine of school this fall with very few hiccups. I remember when I started home-schooling part time last year and another home-school mama said to me "give it a full year before you decide if you like your took me at least a year or two to find my groove". So true for all school aged mothers. This is our fifth year of sending a child off to school of some sort and I am FINALLY feeling like we've got a good rhythm for how we function inside the home with the outside things. And its only taken me 5 years :) I have tried many ways to deal with outside things and all things school related to keep us organized and flowing well. It is October and I am not pulling my hair out, nor am I buried under school papers and meal plans. Here's a few things that worked for me...maybe I can save you some missed assignment papers, the whats for dinner question by the end of the week, or forgetting the next dress up day for your kids. Or maybe that was just me as a parent? If this isn't you...well, congrats. You are super-mom!

These things make me happy when it comes to running this house...and keeps everyone else running smooth and happy as well. Mission accomplished. 

1.) Once you have school aged children in the public school you will be overwhelmed with notes and papers to sign up for everything under the sun. This caught me off gaurd and I quickly got buried with them.  In between that will be newsletters, spelling lists, and math home-work. (yes- plan for your sweet little one to bring home home-work by age 6, at least). I tried a few things and finally landed on this...
This makes my counters much more visible and usable ..for something other then holding papers. Each person in the family gets a slot and papers, bills, notes worth keeping get put in each person's spot. Everything else goes directly from back-pack, mail pile, or car to the garbage can if it is not shelf worthy. Thank you to Dave's cousin Jenny (Junk Revised on Facebook) for using this old school filer to recreate this pretty piece for me! It's doing it's job wonderfully.

2.) We don't have an office and even if we did, I'm not sure we would function out of it very well. I needed an area that was smack in the middle of where we live. This area needed to handle multiple functions, but still look my opinion :) This is when I started visioning my "auto school zone".

With more kids, my memory seems to be less and less. Sad, but true for me. I needed a place to keep everything organized and together and in front of my face. I check in to this area every morning and every night before bed. Here you'll calendar (chalk-board) which holds all dates to not forget. Also holds a list of the kids daily chores...for both our remembering. You will also find a magnet board that holds school menu, school monthly newsletters, weekly spelling list, weekly memory verse (Austin preschool), and any notes I need to keep for school. To the far left is an old window that I use for a white board. I write each days events on there, as well as any to-do's for the day that I can't forget. Above the whole thing is a wire attached for pinning our family devotions as we do them and art work the kids bring home. Below the table is back-pack area for kids to keep their bags stocked and ready for each day. And last but not least...our phone chargers and lap-top plug-ins. I hate cords all over and this keeps them in one spot and off my counters! This has proven to be my sanity spot in the house. Junk, toys, and miscellaneous things are not allowed on here and we all function better with an Auto Zone...where things happen automatically :) Sort of!

3.) Along with providing an auto zone for school and life outside the home, I added an auto zone in my kitchen. I totally lost track of my cleaning schedule in my mind this last year with my high-energy baby. It felt really good to claim this again. I know realistically, my home will not be "clean" with young kids. But I try to keep it at least livable right now. A place we all enjoy ending our day at and enjoy coming home to...a blessing to my family  This requires some organization and planning. 

Inside my pantry door lies this little space...small and simple, yet saves me every day. I try to use coupons when and where I can. However, I cut them out and over time forget where I put them or don't remember I have them. I needed a coupon area and now they hang nicely right inside this door...ready for use when the time comes. 

At the far left is a weekly menu. This is where life gets MUCH easier in the kitchen. You can lose a lot of time in the kitchen by not being prepared and I'd rather spend those extra minutes with my kids. I borrowed this idea from a friend and tweaked it a bit for our family. At the start of each month I write in what we will eat for dinner every day of the week...and we have the same thing every day each week. There is a little flexibility, but the same idea each day of the week. Right now I am doing Monday-baked meat, pot, veggie. Tues- Tacos of some sort, Wed- church meal, Thurs- soup and bread, Fri- pizza, Sat- grill, Sunday- left-overs, popcorn night. It makes my life so much easier in the meal making department. I make different soups or change up how we do tacos, but this is what happens each week. I do all my grocery shopping on the same day of the week and never have to run back because I planned a last minute meal and didn't have something. I am loving this and so far nobody has complained about the routine meals. Besides, they are only 4-5 weeks long and then they change! 

The middle and far right columns are my cleaning lists. If I can accomplish one thing each day, I am happy. So each day of the week holds only one thing to be done and for this stage of life, it is good enough. Same idea as my meals...Mondays are bathrooms, Tuesday is laundry, Wednesday is floors, and so on...

4.) And last, but not least...organizing my kids outfits for each day of the week. I used to lay my kids clothes out for the next day every night before bed. Some nights I realized I had no clean underwear for one kid or another...dang, hate when that happens. So now I pack all the clothes on Sunday for the whole week and it saves me a lot of last minute washing and staying up getting prepped for next day. I made a small investment in these great hanging clothes organizers...not attractive, but does the job. 
These just hang in their closets and each days full outfit is laid on a shelf for each day of the week. I stock them on Sunday and don't have to think about it until the weekend. It's been great for me and the kids.
I know these seem like small and silly things, but in my home, they are big. Life here is running smoother then it has in a long time and I am happy to say this is the most organized school year I've had yet! It only took me 5 years :) I decided as much as my life that can run "automatically" right now, the better. Especially since I don't see it slowing down around here any time soon! as the ole commercial says...Get in the Zone...Auto Zone! :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

life verse lessons

As life moves and I stumble through it, my life verse from Jeremiah always stays close. Yet, I tend to drift towards other words from the Truth as I find myself in certain places in life. Whether it be joy or pain, I often find meaning in the only Truth that stays constant through each season of life. My thirties have seen everything from life to death to deep joy and great pain. My sense of understanding has grown and my heart has been stretched into shapes I didn't know were there. And as I stretch and move once again, I have found challenging words from God's truth to give me understanding and peace here in this life, at this moment.

The words from Joshua 1:9 continued to come across my path a little over a year ago and it has become the most recent verse to walk alongside my life verse with me. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." These words speak a similar promise to me that my original life verse does, yet I hear it in a whole new way with new eyes to see, that weren't with me before.

Holding onto God's promise of hope and a future has sometimes kept me in the rosy world happy place. Even though this verse from Jeremiah is from when the people of Israel were being banished from their homeland for being so disobedient,  God used Jeremiah to tell them that He still had a good future in store for them. I have held onto the 29:11 part of Jeremiah....and often forgotten that my ways have probably gotten myself into my own trouble a time or two, like the exiles in Babylons in Jeremiah's time. The words from Joshua have opened my eyes this last year to be okay in challenging places. It doesn't mean God is punishing me or not happy with what I've chosen. Rather He wants me to be strong and courageous wherever I am. Even though only He knows my plans, I can do my part through acting out in strong and courageous ways. He uses weakness to make us strong. I should know, He has done it in me as a regular pattern in my life. He is doing it in yours too.

For these two verses to walk side by side with me this last year is no mistake. I have found these words to guide me and be used in me. Life verse's are not meant to just leave us with a fuzzy, happy feeling about our Savior all the time. They are used to teach us. Our lessons from life woven together through His word.

I love that our family church did a whole teaching series on this. If you haven't today, I strongly encourage you to find that verse that always seems to speak to you. Read it, claim it as yours, and let it leave an imprint on your heart! It will truly be a life-giving lesson of a life-time! I'd love to hear yours feel free to share.