Don’t Worry. Just Love People.

In the big scheme of life, Matt’s foot injury this week is not such a big deal. It hurts quite a bit, it is causing some inconvenience, and is preventing him from getting his work done. But we’ve got a friend undergoing major life-threatening surgery for cancer today, another who is getting ready to bury his dad, and many other friends who are struggling with hardships much more difficult than we are facing.

And yet.  This week has been exhausting. I found myself quite weary by this afternoon, after several days of trying to juggle all my work and some of Matt’s too. He’s starting to get around a little bit (on crutches), but it’s slow going. I finally gave way to some tears this morning. I’m fine, really. I’m just tired. :)

At just the right time early this afternoon, there was a knock at the door. There stood my friend Rose, dressed in a cheery yellow shirt, a pecan pie in her hands. I thought I would melt into a puddle. Here’s what she said to me,

“I heard Matt got hurt. I’m so sorry! I wanted to do something, then questioned how I could possibly cook something for you, the one who cooks great food all the time. Then I told myself, ‘well that’s just stupid.’  So I baked you a pie.”  Then she gave me an “I love you with the love of the Lord” sister-in-Christ hug. Oh, it was just what I needed at that moment.

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Friends, I don’t care if she would have brought me a frozen pizza or a bag of nuggets from McDonalds. I don’t care if she would have thrown me a bag of Cheetos out the window of her car. I don’t care if she would have shoved a package of Oreos into my hands. I don’t care if she showed up with nothing in her arms but a hug for me. Her thoughtfulness and care were perfectly timed. She followed the Spirit’s leading, and she loved me. That’s all that matters.

I kid you not when I say that the entire pie was gone in less than 30 minutes. Malachi declared it to be the “best pie he’d ever eaten.”  Mmhmm, it was super good.

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If you hear God calling you to serve, don’t question it. Don’t hesitate, feel intimidated, or worry that what you have to offer won’t be good enough. If God calls you, there’s a reason. Listen and obey. Your best is always just right.

So stop worrying. When you choose to love people, you can’t go wrong.

Free Printable: Caramel Apple Dip Gift Tags

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What I love about so many of these free printables is that while they are cute, fun, and functional – they also encourage us to love on and serve others. Since it’s fall, and typically we can get our hands on lots of apples – I’ve been thinking that it would be fun to make Homemade Caramel Sauce, put it on a jar with a gift tag, then put it into a basket of apples to give to someone. Wouldn’t that be a fun and cute gift?

And so, I gave the idea to one of my designers, and here is what she came up with:

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I love it!

These cards can be printed on white cardstock, cut and folded over. You can write an encouraging note inside to the person you plan to deliver the basket to. The tags were created with both “Homemade Caramel Sauce” on the front, and with a blank front if you’d like to do something else with it.

Fun, cute, FREE – and a great way to bless someone. Download the gift tags below. Then get to work on some Homemade Caramel Sauce! Have fun!

Download the “Homemade Caramel Sauce” Tag here.

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Download the Blank Tag Here.

Looking for more free printables?  Click here to look through what we have so far. Plus, we’d love for you to subscribe to Heavenly Homemakers so that you don’t miss our great recipes and new upcoming free printables. There are many more to come!

 

Serving Trumps a Pity Party

We had finally reached the end of what is typically one of the busiest weeks of the year

It was now finally Saturday, and we had been gone all day long at one of our son’s soccer games out of town. The kitchen was a picture of chaos, with coolers and leftovers from our packed lunch sitting in the perfect place for me to trip over while I tried to throw together a late dinner. The crusty dishes from breakfast were still piled high in the sink. Fruit gnats had found our compost bucket, which, I might add, was beginning to smell nasty and fermented. The tomato sauce splattered all over the stove when I poured it into the pot to make spaghetti. 

In the meantime, I was moving super slowly. I felt very, very tired. Plus, for some unknown reason, my left knee – the knee I’ve had trouble with off and on for 22 years since I injured it in high school – was causing me a lot of pain. I wrapped ice around it while I cut up veggies for dinner and just kept moving. Slowly I focused on finishing dinner, getting everyone fed, and getting the kitchen in decent shape so that I could just go to bed. 

Oh yes, and I also concentrated very hard on feeling sorry for myself. All I could think of was, “I’m sooo tired. My knee hurts. I just want to go to bed.”  I couldn’t have smiled if you would have paid me, and I really didn’t feel like answering questions or talking to my family.

And then, someone showed up at our door. 

Oh yeah.  I had forgotten that we had told a young friend of ours he could spend the night with us. But there he was, and what could I do but find some sort of pleasant look to greet him with? I pulled a lopsided smile out from way down deep inside my toes, and welcomed him in.

This friend of ours has some disabilities and special needs, which meant that heading to bed any time soon just wasn’t going to happen. But he is incredibly delightful to have around, and he needed to be served.

I invited him into the kitchen with me (scooting the coolers out of the way as best I could) and began to serve him dinner and visit with him. He shared a fun story about something that had happened earlier in the day, which made me laugh in spite of myself.

Several minutes later, as I fed him and helped him with various needs, it occurred to me that I wasn’t quite as tired as I had been. I had forgotten all about my aching knee. The mess in the kitchen didn’t look so terrible. And in fact, I was feeling quite joyful and energetic.

This young man has taught me many life lessons, and this time was no exception:   If you’re down, feeling sorry for yourself, and otherwise choosing to throw yourself a pity party…consider who you might serve. Looking outward toward meeting the needs of others will take the focus off of “self” every time.

Disclaimer:  Obviously, we all need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves before we serve others, otherwise we have nothing left to give. The point of this post isn’t suggesting that you give of yourself until you pass out. The point is to stop feeling sorry for yourself. And if you’re having a hard time doing that, find someone to serve.  It works every time.

Gratituesday: Printing in Progress…

Guess what?! You asked for it…we’ve been working on it…it’s just about to happen!

Ever since we launched our Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve downloadable curriculum, many of you have asked if/when the kit could be purchased in a hard copy. It’s been several months in coming, but it’s allllllllmost ready! Actually…a few are sitting ready to ship! (Always a funny term to me. What…like we have a boat?)

We’ve researched the best way to go about printing and binding our curriculum and finally settled on investing in a nice printer to create the books ourselves. The printer has been humming for a good part of the afternoon and we’re very happy with the quality of the pages. These 240+ full color page curriculum kits are placed in a nice 3 ring binder, making it easy for you to pull out pages for your family’s use. 

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I can’t tell you how exciting this is after so many months of working to figure out what would be the best printable deal and option for you. That’s why this news becomes the Gratituesday post for this week. That, and I’ve done little else but play with our printer tonight so that’s sort of the biggest thing on my mind right now. It is SO exciting! I love how the curriculum kit looks in book form!!!

The Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve Curriculum Kit in Book Form is ready for Pre-Order NOW! As we have four Books completely finished, the first four of you to order should for sure have yours sent within a couple of days, making it possible to have in your hands before Christmas!! Beyond that, all we can say is that we’ll do our best.  January is a great time to begin using this curriculum so we’ll work hard to get the books out in a timely fashion. (Keep in mind that you can buy a downloadable copy and have it immediately in your possession!)

I’m very thankful to all of you for your patience as we figured all of this out. It sure is nice to see our lovely printer, sitting over there in the corner getting a work-out. Woohoo!

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday? Write about it on your blog, then come link up with us here. If you don’t have a blog, be sure to leave a comment letting us know what you’re grateful for!

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please copy and paste the following sentence into your post! Thanks!


Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Reaching Out to Others…Where to Start

Several of you have mentioned to me that you love the idea of using Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve with your children…but the idea of reaching out and doing that many acts of service for people is a bit out of your comfort zone. Or, what if you’re new to the area and don’t really know a lot of people? You’ve asked for advice, so I’ve been brainstorming some ideas to make it (hopefully) a little easier for you and your family to cook “Soup for someone who is Sick” on Ss week, or take a new “Book to B________” on Bb week. 

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The following ideas are simply offered as a way to get you going. To help ease you out of your fears. To gently get you and your family used to visiting others and putting smiles on their faces! 

  • Utilize extended family members, even if it means you have to send something through the mail. Family (hopefully) will feel safe to you and will be an easy beginning to getting your family in the mode of making something to give to someone. Plus, I’m pretty sure if your child sends something homemade to a grandparent or aunt…the appreciation and feedback they’ll receive will be pretty huge. Family members LOVE your kids an awful lot. :)
  • Pull out your church directory if you have one. Looking through the directory together may help give you new ideas of people you could serve.
  • Do some of the acts of kindness anonymously. Don’t rely on this one too much, because you will receive such a wonderful blessing when you deliver something to someone and are able to see the smile on their face. But there is something to be said about the gift of surprising someone by leaving it on their porch for them to find when they come home. (I will caution you though that if someone left a homemade goody on my porch and didn’t tell me who it was from…I may not want to eat it. I’m just sayin’. You might want to reserve the anonymous act of service to be something more inedible.)
  • Visit a local rest home to carry out some of your service. Sometimes it’s easier to visit with a complete stranger, knowing that your visit will make their day, than to visit with someone who is, say an acquaintance from church. 
  • Pick some of your children’s good friends. It’s awesome to reach out to people you don’t know as well…and to people in other generations…but WOW it’s fun to knock on your best buddy’s door to deliver a Jar of Jelly beans on Jj week! 
  • Make it a team effort. Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve is meant to be a project for the whole family anyway. Piling in the car all together and visiting your recipient all together is so much easier than going alone with just one child. 
  • Ah, who am I kidding? Your kids are so cute, the person you’re serving will ooh and ahhh over your child and the fact that he/she came to do something kind…and that in and of itself with be a huge buffer in your comfort level. Seriously, if you’re worried about what you’ll talk about when you’re visiting someone…just visit about your project and other things your kids are doing. People love that.
  • On the other hand…be sure to ask the other person questions…especially if they are sick or have been going through any kind of struggle.
  • Don’t feel like you have to stay and visit with someone for three hours. Have your child hand over the goodies (whatever they are that week!), explain your project and maybe tell why your family chose them and then if the timing seems right, you can then be on your way.

Just think of the blessing you are giving your child! By starting them on the journey of service now, as they get older…thinking of others and serving them will become a natural part of who they are.

And I promise (because I speak from experience!) the more you serve with your children…the easier it will be for you too! God does amazing things when he “stretches us” beyond our comfort level a little bit. You know what you alone are capable of, right? So when you do something for someone that pushes you past your comfort zone, you KNOW that you’re doing it only because of the awesome power of God. It’s an incredible feeling.

God is so good. You can do this!

Homeschool Hubbub: Our Five Year Old

I thought I’d take a little time to share with you some of the things we’re doing for school this year with each of our boys. We’re working hard around here, gearing up for a new school year. I figure I need to organize my thoughts and plans anyway…I may as well type them out here and bore you with all the details. Or excite you with the possibilities. Or a little bit of both. ;)

I’ll start with Malachi, our littlest guy who will officially begin kindergarten this year. Of all my boys, he’s the one I’ve done the least “formal schooling” with because there simply hasn’t been time. (Or I haven’t made the time.)  Want to know a little secret? It doesn’t matter. He does not appear to be suffering any damage from the fact that I was rarely able to sit down and talk about colors and shapes with him.  He has somehow learned many of these lessons with or without me as he’s hung out with his brothers while they were learning.

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And yet, I feel that it is important for me to begin to work with Malachi one-on-one for a little bit each day now that he is showing interest in learning to read and do math. In fact, he began to show so much interest in reading early in the summer that I pulled out my very favorite book and started teaching him to read!! Three cheers for getting a head start on the school year with Malachi!! We’ve started going through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Malachi is SO eager and doing SO well, that we’re already on Lesson 48! I’m so thankful that reading seems to be coming easily for him….and can I just give a big shout out for Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons?! 

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This is the book I’ve used to teach all four of my boys to read and I just LOVE it. It doesn’t work for everyone, but somehow it has worked for all of our children. It’s simple, the lessons take just a few minutes to work through, and they are so easy for the parent to guide the child toward reading. The child usually sees success within the first few lessons as they learn to put simple words together. Confidence grows because suddenly they have figured out how to put letter sounds together to make a word!! Oooh, I love those light bulb moments! 

Once we work our way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, I’ll pull out our collection of Bob Books for him to work through.

For math, I’m going to try going through the first Miquon Math book with him. I’ve loved the Miquon Math books for the early grades, simply because they teach math in a way that makes sense. It may appear to be a little bit backward compared to they way we normally see math taught…but it helps the child understand the concepts. I love it.

Beyond reading and math…I’ll be reading some great read-alouds to Malachi and doing some phonics lessons using Explode the Code books.

AND…we’re very excited because we’ll be using Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve with Malachi (and the whole family) as we pick someone to serve each week, working our way through the alphabet. I’ll be buying Malachi a little notebook so that we can journal about who we serve and what we did. We’ll also be working through the memory verses in the kit and doing various other activities mentioned. I’m so excited to revisit this, since the last time we did something this thorough with our alphabet service was when Justus was three. Justus is ten now. Wow. :)

That about wraps up Malachi’s school year plans. Stay tuned to hear what Elias, Justus and Asa will be working on. And while I’m at it, I may as well “type out loud” as I figure out a schedule for this year. Because somehow, we will get it all done. Or not. Or whatever. ;)

Gratituesday: It’s (almost) FINISHED!!! And I’m Giving One Away!

I am SO excited to tell you that the project I’ve been working on for hours and hours lately is ALMOST (but not quite) finished!!! The only pieces left are the final tedious editing and perfecting of details. In the meantime, I’ve decided that I’m dedicating this Gratituesday to tell you about it because seriously, you have NO idea how excited and thankful I am to be almost finished with this project and to almost be able to offer it to you!

Many of you suggested that perhaps I was working on a book…not an ebook…but a book, book. Oh, how honored I was to hear you say that you’d be so excited if indeed I was working on a book! Thank you so much.  That’s not what I’ve been working on, but someday…someday. It is a goal of mine…one I’ve shared with only a few people. But others in my life have encouraged it…and now you are encouraging it…so yes…someday. When God tells me that the time is right and when He opens all the right doors. Thank you so much for your encouragement. You truly humble me.

What I HAVE been working on though is a little tool for you to use with your kids. And by little tool, I really mean a 240+ page tool. Not at all little, actually. I began this project back in 2008. I had the idea to share with you in ebook form something that had worked very well for us when we had a bunch of little preschool aged fellas running around. It was something that we came up with to help us teach our kids the preschool basics…but more importantly…it was something we did as a family to serve other families and individuals around the community.

We focused on one alphabet letter each week and did all kinds of fun activities centered around that particular letter. But our main focus each week was thinking about people or families we knew whose name began with the letter we were studying. Toward the end of the week, we had a special surprise for several people. For instance, during Mm week, we delivered Mini Muffins to the Millers, to our friend Mark and to Mrs. Moses. We included a nice card explaining that they were a part of our Alphabet Blessings project and thanked them for letting us serve them. Usually we were all able to sit down and enjoy a nice visit together for a few minutes.

It was a HUGE joy to do this as a family and we have so many wonderful memories of our years doing this with our little guys. It was, of course, also a wonderful way to help them learn their letters and letter sounds!

And so, in 2008, I began putting some of these ideas into an ebook for you. Within the past two years, the little ebook grew into something much more. So much more in fact, I got completely overwhelmed with it and felt like it was too huge to ever finish. I would work on it for a while, then put it aside feeling like I would NEVER be able to get it done. It had evolved from a small ebook idea into a complete comprehensive curriculum package full of ideas, worksheets, Bible work, picture tutorials…..oh so much.

My husband is the reason this project is almost finished.  He saw it for what it was…saw how many hours I had put into it…saw how close it was to being completed. He encouraged me to finish, he said he would help. And now here it is, with over 35 recipes, more than 65 crafts, experiments and other projects, Bible lessons and memory verses! It’s full of pictures and instructions. It’s full of games and challenges.  And most importantly, it’s loaded with ideas to inspire you and your young ones to serve others together.

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By God’s grace and with the help and encouragement of my family…this downloadable curriculum kit is almost complete.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  That is why I am sharing this on Gratituesday.

While I’ve never mixed Gratituesday with a Giveaway before…I’m so excited that today I’m breaking my rules!! :)  If you are interested in winning a Learn Your Letters, Learn To Serve Curriculum Kit, leave a comment letting me know of your interest! In addition, you are welcome to leave additional comments if you tweet, facebook or blog about this kit and the giveaway. 

Thank you all so much for your encouragement as I have plugged away at this project. The giveaway will end and the Curriculum Kit will be offered for sale in just a few days…just as soon as the final tweaking is completed. Can I just way…WOOHOOOOOOO!!!! Thank you Lord!

Just so you know, this curriculum kit is not just for homeschoolers. Not even close! My intent was to make it usable for any and every family with young children…or for teachers, grandparents…anyone! There are SO many more details to share…but I’ll wait and share them once it is all complete and in my shop! I’ll even be offering a small sampling of the kit for free, just so you can have a taste of what it’s like.

In addition to leaving comments for chances to win this giveaway, please do let me know what you’re grateful for either by commenting or by blogging and linking up with us here!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!! :)  YOU CAN PURCHASE THE CURRICULUM KIT HERE!