Your Husband and Children Are Not the Enemy

It’s late in the evening.

Your children are crying, refusing to go to bed.

The dishes are sitting all of the kitchen, still waiting to be done.

A pile of laundry covers your bed, keeping you from sleep.

Your husband is late again

And you’re not sure if the bills got paid this month.

You’re tired.

Your feelings are valid friend–embrace them! It is not so important how we feel, but what we do with them. The Bible tells us that our feelings our fleeting and deceitful (link), indeed our hearts and minds can best be described as schizophrenic. One moment we are angry, yelling at our children, upset with our mother, disgusted by something our husband has said or done…..and then we flip. We love our children, our husband is the greatest on the planet and our mother is a saint.

Friends, our husbands and children are not the enemy. Even when they fail us, when they fight us, when they disrespect us–they are not the enemy.

There is only one true enemy and he is named in the Bible.

Do not allow him to ever convince you otherwise.

He and those who serve him will try to tear you down when you are at your most weak.

He will manipulate your feelings and thoughts to serve his purpose if you let him.

Stand firm in God.

Do not waver in your faith.

Love them anyways.

Forgive them anyways.

Help them anyways.

Pray for them always.

But please know—no matter how many arguments you have with your husband, no matter how your children behave in public, no matter how much your family drives you up a wall—they are not your enemy. They are a blessing from God and He will use each of you to grow the others. (Disclaimer: this does not ring true for abusive situations. If you are being abused, please reach out for help. God does not support or condone abuse.)

Ladies, don’t give into the temptation of broken spirit, of bad attitude and poor outlook. God promises that He will crush our adversary if we turn to Him (Romans 16:20).

Surely, again and again, God promises that He will be there for us and give us victory over any problem we give to Him if we only do so with faith, trust and our whole heart (see here).

I personally don’t think that is much to ask, is it?

Ladies, I encourage you to give your whole life, heart and mind to Him. Ask Him to help you to see your life, your family, the world you are living in the way He would have you do so. I promise you, this simple step, this little shift, will radically change your life.

Blessings,

Audrey

When Struggles Cause Us to Stumble

The last four weeks have been a real struggle for me.

After getting transferred, I suddenly lost all contact with my husband.

My heart aches and my mind constantly worries.

I’m constantly checking the news and touching base with other wives to see if anyone has heard anything.

Silence.

And then in the back of my mind I hear a favorite song:

In the calm of your presence
I am listening Lord
I am still
I am quiet
I am yours

His presence is calm, all I have to do is surrender and listen.

Ladies, my faith has been shaken this last year more than it ever has been in my life. I’d like to ask all of you to join me on this journey this year.

A year of getting closer to God and drawing closer to positive influences in our lives. Surrounding ourselves with loving sisters and strong brothers.

I will be the first to admit, I am a control freak—I like things clean and organized, I like having a plan and I like to know exactly what is going on.

That is not His plan though.

Will you join me in letting go and surrendering to His plan?

Blessings,

Audrey

Are We Complaining When We Should Be Praising?

Psalm 34

I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!

Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

It doesn’t say sometimes.
It doesn’t say when it is easy.
It doesn’t say when I feel like it.
It says: I will bless the Lord at ALL times.

When you are in the thick of it:
You have lots of littles
You have lost your income
Your home is a disaster
Life just doesn’t seem to be going right
Stop
Praise Him!
Praise Him for the dirty laundry: you have a family with clothes!
Praise Him for the messy house: you have a roof!
Praise Him for the lack of funds: He is showing you your true needs and teaching you to be creative!
Praise Him in every challenge for the skills He is giving you.
Ladies, He is faithful at all times.
When others fail you, He is there!
He knows your heart better than you do, how could we doubt His providing?
So I challenge you, instead of complaining today, try praising Him and see how your day goes.
Blessings,
Audrey

Facing Life’s Challenges

The last year has been a trial for our family.

My husband came home from a 14 month deployment.

We battled for custody of our little Rho (his bio father is currently in and out of jail for abuse, drug, alcohol and other charges).

We moved to a farm.

We moved to a larger home.

We started the foster to adopt process.

We surprisingly got pregnant with Evie.

We went through a separation.

We faced financial challenges (that thankfully were recognized before disaster)

My husband deployed again.

I had our daughter after 28 hours of labor without my husband.

We moved in with family to pay off debt and save to buy a home to create stability.

We’re still in the thick of it—we’re still facing challenges every day.

Evie has several allergies and Rho has been sick since Christmas (he is now getting tested for autoimmune disorders).

Here’s what I’m learning though: God provides!

Our marriage did not fall apart thanks be to Him

Our debt will be paid off in full next month

My husband is safe despite being in a war zone

Our children are getting excellent care with the help of a supportive team that God lead us to

And most of all, God has protected us from the dangers of my ex. All the praise goes to God for getting us out of that situation 4 years ago before Rho was born! Rho has known a wonderful and loving father in my husband and will never face the abuse that we could be living in if God had not led me to an amazing woman of faith.

In the times of trial it is hard to see the light but it is always there. God is always there even if he feels distant.

When you are feeling the most down, take a moment to write down all the blessings that God has brought you. Number them and hold them close to your heart. God provides in the darkest of times. If you can’t see the light–be the light!

Blessings,

Audrey

When God Asks Us to Sacrifice

As a little girl, I remember flipping through magazines, dreaming of the life I would have someday as a wife and mother.

The home I would build–the meals I would prepare–the fun things I would do with my children.

But sometimes, God asks us to put all these plans on hold.

God never promised life would be easy, but he does promise to never forsake us.

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Our attitudes when we are met with these challenges and subsequent challenges can deeply determine the amount of time we spend in trial–we are either helping or hindering the process.
Often, it feels unfair when God asks us to sacrifice so our spouse may learn a lesson. 
But who are we to question God’s plan? Do we really know better? Why is it so hard to humble ourselves and say “God, I give this to you, please help me through”?
Because we are human!
We want things to be stable, comfortable and good all the time!
That’s not how this works though, not for anyone no matter how much money or success they seem to have.
What determines our level of success is not our own skill or production, but how we help others in times of need. 
We all know the song: “this is my commandment, that you love one another that your joy may be full!”
God tells us that in our own sacrifices, when we help other, we will find joy!
What a wonderful promise!
Ladies, if we are able to adjust our attitudes and mindset, just think of the blessing we might be to our families, friends and those around us.
Is this something you can commit to? Could you commit to praying for others instead of about them? Could you commit to God’s plan instead of pushing for your dreams right now?
I will leave you all with this thought and prayers for all of you in this week ahead!
Blessings,
Audrey

Creating a Workable Routine

Oh routines

What is it about you that is so complicated?

Before I get further into this topic, take a moment to read my previous post here.

Routines should work for you.

They should be specific to you.

You should not worry what anyone else is doing.

Once you have those three things in mind, you are golden and can work on writing out your own.

Before you start, try to clear your mind–write down everything that is bothering you and put it off to the side.

Find some quiet space, maybe wait until the children are asleep or consider talking with your husband about taking a “Mama Day” once a week. Head to a coffee shop, the library or other favorite place alone with your laptop and notebooks to work on your schedule, menu, shopping list and whatever else you may need to get done.

Use what helps you! I love colored pencils, calendars, plain notebooks and sticky notes to help me organize. Do what works for you. If you haven’t tried this process before, consider trying a few different strategies. Grab a store bought organizer, some different sized notebooks, calendars, note cards, whatever you think may help you! The dollar store is a great place to look for these!

Do another brain dump: jot down the things you want to get done daily and weekly. Write down activities, household maintenance requirements, church commitments and anything else going on in your life. Now is a great time to see where you could scale back.

Then get to work putting your routine together in a way that works for you.

Love sticky notes? Pick one color for daily activities, another for weekly, and another for monthly. You can do this with colored pens or pencils as well.

Like using a notebook instead of a calendar? Experiment with columns, boxes, flow charts, time slots, whatever you come up with!

Most importantly, have fun. Give yourself at least 3 weeks to get into the swing of a new routine. Don’t be discouraged if your first try doesn’t quite work. Go back to the drawing board, tweak and try again.

Blessings,

Audrey

Decluttering

Oftentimes, we tell ourselves “Our home is a mess! I MUST clean this up!”

And then we never start.

Beginning to clean a home can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a good foundation to start with.

This month I will be talking about this foundation starting with how to declutter.

It seems like such a simple concept, but if it were, we wouldn’t be drowning in clutter.

This month, don’t worry about cleaning your home, worry about creating good habits.

Commit that for every one item that comes into your home, three will leave.

Grab yourself a large box or basket that can live by your front door. Items for donation go in this box and as soon as it is full, away it goes!

Basic decluttering shouldn’t be hard or painful. Walk into any room in your house and pick up the first 3 things you see that are either trash or not needed. Put them in your box and you are done!

Do this every day in each room and you’ll find yourself feeling lighter and more organized.

In the next few weeks I’ll be going into cleaning (along with what I use to clean!), deep cleaning, deep decluttering and organizing.

I hope this encourages you to get started!

Blessings,

Audrey

More On Love

Last month, I started our fruit of the month talking about Love.

God has put it on my heart to talk about this further and more in depth.

Over the weekend I watched Fireproof with my son. I was so impressed to see how this movie touched him and the lessons he took away from it.

Beyond the obvious, “fire is dangerous and scary” he, on his own, commented on how the adults were treating each other.

This is what I want to talk about ladies.

How often do we respond with emotion rather than thought?

How many of us still by into the world’s definition that love is a feeling rather than a choice?

Love is not something we fall in or out of. Even God will not force us to love him:

That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Deuteronomy 30:20

What would happen, ladies, if we chose to really love God the way he calls us to? What if we listened to how he says we should love our husbands, family, friends and neighbors? How much change could we bring about? What kind of light and influence would we be?
I hope this has given you something to think about as much as it has for me.
Blessings,
Audrey

Creating a Cleaning Schedule

This week we are discussing everyone’s favorite topic: cleaning!

It has to be done and often we dread doing it.

First, I am going to suggest a change in mindset:

Proverbs 31 says “she works willingly with her hands” (emphasis mine)

Throughout the Bible, this concept is repeated. We are called blessed to be keepers of the home! Why then do we not embrace it with joy?

Because the world tells us different.

The world tells us that this isn’t valuable work. That it’s hard, not fun and just going to have to be done again. The world says we should get a “real” job.

Ladies, do not listen to them!

Know that you are valuable and your work in the home is important.

Today I want to encourage you in your daily, weekly and monthly cleaning.

Daily cleaning should be quick and easy tasks that can be done throughout the day in 5 minutes or less. Here is what my daily cleaning looks like:

One load of laundry (washed, dried, put away)
One load of dishes (washed and put away)
Wipe counter tops in the kitchen and used bathrooms
Wipe out the sinks in kitchen and used bathrooms
Sweep the mudroom and kitchen
Gather trash and take out to the garage
Pick up toys and items laying out (I have a basket I collect the random items in to return to their proper homes)

Doing these simple tasks helps me to stay on top of my home. I can almost always complete these.

Now, more focused cleaning happens in zones once a week. I aim for 2 rooms a day. No more than 15 minutes in each room quickly vacuuming, wiping down surfaces, gathering dirty linens and putting away items. This is what my schedule looks like:

Monday: Entry areas, laundry room and halls
Tuesday: Living room and play room
Wednesday: Kitchen and Guest suite
Thursday: Master Bedroom and Office
Friday: Dining and Children’s rooms
Saturday: Bathrooms, Closets and car

Deep cleaning takes about a week and I pick whichever room needs it the most as I cycle through my list. I spend no more than 30 minutes working on each task. If I can’t finish it in 30 minutes, I pause until the next day or if I’m done early I may start on another task.

Moving furniture to vacuum underneath
Wiping walls, doors baseboards and switch plates
Cleaning light fixtures
Cleaning windows
Shampooing rugs
Washing all linens
Decluttering
Cleaning and polishing furniture
Checking to make sure all electronics are working
Replacing bulbs or anything else that may needs to be replaced

Lastly, seasonal cleaning. It happens 4 times a year the first weekend of the new season. I usually get my husband’s help with this and this is where I will often add extra projects to. Here’s my “must do” list:

Lint traps
Clean the dishwasher, fridge, stove, washer and dryer
Fire alarms
Gutters
Garage doors
Exterior of the house
Drains

When you are looking to create your own schedule and routine, keep in mind how much time you have each day, the size of your home, number of rooms, and people who you may have to help you. Delegating tasks is a great way to accomplish your list! Remember, Proverbs 31 tells us the virtuous woman had help!

Blessings to all of you in this week,

Audrey

Super Simple Veggie Pesto Pasta

In preparation for Pasta Thrusday, here’s a very simple meal you can make!

My style of cooking is experimental and eclectic. I tend to try things and if they work, yay!

This meal is full of good fats, veggies and vegan protein.

To make this you will need

Your choice of pasta (I used spinach fettuccine)
1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
1/2 a small container of mushrooms
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 a small container of cherry tomatoes
1-2 containers of basil pesto
Calamata olives
Pine nuts (optional)
Feta (optional)

Chop veggies except for tomatoes and sautee for several minutes until cooked to desired “doneness”. Meanwhile, boil salted water in another pan. When boiling add pasta and allow to cook.

Drain pasta and fold in your pesto and cooked veggies. Then add halved tomatoes and olives to this mix. Lastly, while serving, top with pine nuts and feta if desired.

(If you want, you could add chicken or sausage to this meal as well)

And that’s it! Done in about 20 minutes and minimal clean up!

I hope you all enjoy,

Audrey