31Dec

Thriving Thursday 1/1/2015

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Don’t miss my great list of nearly 40 free books for kindle that you can get right now…all from the best publishers and authors in Christian fiction, so definitely check that out.

Happy New Year!!!

This week on Serving Joyfully…

In honor of the New Year, I decided to share 3 things that should be left behind as we start the new year.

Leave Behind New Year

I also shared 25 family-friendly ways to beat cabin fever…on a budget.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever with Kids | Serving Joyfully

And, speaking of family-friendly entertainment, I also shared a bit about the importance of taking a break from technology and connecting with our families.

Life no regrets

What have you been up to this week?

There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.



31Dec

3 Things to Leave Behind as You Start the New Year

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Leave Behind New Year

I’ve always loved the start of a New Year. I love the possibilities it offers. The idea of a fresh start and a blank slate. So, while articles all around the web today are sharing things you should start doing, I thought I would focus on the other aspect of newness–the things that get left behind.

“One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 3:13-14

I love to read the Bible in context. This is a popular passage, and after these words, Paul goes on to say that all who are mature in Christ should have this mindset, and if not, God will reveal it to them.  So, all of us should have this mindset, but what exactly is Paul talking about here?  What things should be left behind and forgotten?

We should leave behind anything that gets in the way of our moving forward in Christ.

Here are some things I think we should leave behind us as we start the new year.

1. Worldly Pursuits

God’s word tells us that once we are in Christ, we are a “new creation.”  We are new in Him.  Jesus says to follow Him, we should deny ourselves.  When we accept Christ, we become a servant to Him.  Worldly pursuits should be behind us and we should have a focused goal of following Christ.  Worldly pursuits could look different for different people, but I don’t believe they are just sinful activities.  Instead, I believe it encompasses anything we strive for that takes away from or goes against God’s purpose in our lives.  Striving for worldly goals will only result in discontent, and distract us from the ultimate goal that Paul is speaking of here.

As 2015 starts, evaluate your goals–are you chasing dreams, or chasing God? Are your goals God-given ones, or do they interfere with His purpose for your life? This is something for each of us to prayerfully consider.

2. Regret and Condemnation

More than likely, there are things that happened in 2014 that you aren’t proud of. At least I know this is true for myself. I failed at a couple of diets, had some bad parenting days, and didn’t accomplish many things that I could have.  We all have regrets, sins, and failures. I fail as a wife.  I fail as a mother.  I fail as a friend, daughter, and child of God.  Every.single.day, I fall short of who God has called me to be and who my family needs me to be.

Yes, I need to learn from my mistakes and strive continually to be the woman that God created me to be.  But, I cannot live in a place of self-condemnation.  God inspires us with conviction.  Satan paralyzes us with condemnation.  Regret wastes too much energy.  Instead, past mistakes should be forgotten, so that we can move on and move forward in Him.

Leave your mistakes from 2014 in the past. Learn from them and look ahead to the coming year.

3. Grievances and Wrongs against us.

God’s word talks many times about forgiving those who wrong us.  There is a great quote, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”  Holding onto a grudge eats away at our peace, and allows bitterness to take root in one’s heart.  God requires forgiveness from us, just as he offers forgiveness to us.  In addition to that, He realizes the harmful effects of bitterness and holding a grudge.  It will hold you back and prevent you from giving yourself fully to Him and His purpose.

Remember Lot’s Wife…

In the midst of discussing the second coming, Jesus says this simple statement in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.”  We can find her story in Genesis 19:1-26.  I challenge you to read it.  There are so many disturbing aspects to this story, but mostly it shows the dangers of holding on to things that God tells us to let go.  Lot was so caught up in the sinful world in which he was leaving that he had to be physically pulled away from the city (Genesis 19:16), even after being told that it would be destroyed.  In Lot’s wife, we see the dangers of looking back.

If there is something in your life that needs to be left behind and forgotten, I pray that God will help you release it so that you can do as Paul, and forget those things that are behind and press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!

Forgetting whats behind

What other things do you think are best left behind at the start of a new year?

30Dec

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever {On A Budget!}

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25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever with Kids | Serving Joyfully

It’s that time of year. The days are shorter and the children are cooped up due to cold and nasty weather outside, and they are restless! Here are some fun ideas to beat the cabin fever.

1. Bundle up. Put on your big girl {long} underwear, mamas, and let your littles go play in the snow! I know many of us would probably much prefer the warmth and comfort of your couch, but the memories are outside in the snow! Enjoy these moments.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever | Serving Joyfully

2. Make Homemade Hot Cocoa. If you do go outside in the cold, nothing warms you up like homemade hot cocoa. And, it’s pretty yummy, even if you haven’t been outside in the cold! The kiddos can help with measuring ingredients or counting out mini marshmallows to add to the cups :)

3. Make Snow Cream. It’s a yummy treat, and as one reader mentioned on my snow cream recipe, it’s like practically free dessert delivered to your door.

Snow Ice Cream from Serving Joyfully

4. Game Night. Our family loves to play board games! There are tons of great games you can play indoors–get creative! We also have lots of made up games like the birthday game, that we enjoy playing.

5. Read a book. Or twelve. I love to read and I have a great desire to cultivate that in my children. Make it even more fun by adding activities–crafts, have a theme meal, etc. We’ve also had fun acting out our own little play of a book. See how I get free/cheap books to read.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

6. Printable Activities. There are tons of great printable activities and games to be found on the web! I have several here on my site for FREE like my fall themed dominoes, and ice cream social pack. I also have some printable packs in my printables store, including my All About Winter fun pack.

7. 365 Things to Make & Do. This is a great book with tons crafty activities! My boys love to make things :)

8. Build a fort in the living room. Pull out some blankets and pillows. If you’re feeling especially fun, make some indoor s’mores to enjoy in there. Read books, tell stories, sing songs. Enjoy!

9. Make cards. Pull out some art supplies–construction paper, markers, paint, even coloring books and crayons and make some cards to brighten someone’s day! .

10. Make Birdfeeders. Lots of birds hang around during the cooler weather and this is a fun activity! (I’ll be having a full post about this soon!) My boys loved watching the birds outside eating the seed from their toilet paper roll + peanut butter + bird seed feeders.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

11. Spring Cleaning. Okay, so this isn’t exactly fun, but if you’re stuck inside you might as well make the most of it and purge some things!

12. Throwback Thursday. It doesn’t have to be Thursday! My boys LOVE looking through old albums and photos of themselves as babies and toddlers. And it’s fun for mom and dad, too. Were they really ever this small???

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

13. Go to the library. Sometimes you just need to get out. of. the. house! The library is a great (and free) choice!

14. Work a puzzle. My boys love working puzzles, and bigger ones can be a great family activity as well!

15. Perform for one another. My boys made up this game. Take turns singing silly songs and dancing while the rest of the family is the audience. Hubby and I like to take a song and sing it rap style, country style, etc. It’s a fun thing for the family.

16. Play with boxes. What is it with kids and boxes? But, they really bring out the creativity. You can make vehicles, or a little town out of small boxes, or a playhouse out of large boxes. They are great fun either way.

17. Cook something. My boys love to help in the kitchen! They can help with anything, and if you plan ahead for an afternoon of baking, you won’t be concerned about them taking too long or making an extra mess. One fun and simple thing they can do is decorate cupcakes. PS–isn’t this little Chef Set the cutest?

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

18. Play dress up. We don’t celebrate halloween, but my boys love to dress up, so they play with costumes all year long. My kids’ favorite right now is Buzz Lightyear!

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

No costumes? Let them dress up in mom or dad’s clothes! My boys love to dress up like daddy.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

19. Make homemade playdough. It’s very simple to make, and they get to have fun making it and playing with it! A quick pinterest search yields lots of great recipes and play dough activities.

20. Build. Build with legos and other building toys. You can also get creative and use toothpicks with cheese cubes, grapes, marshmallows, etc, and let your children build a structure out of food.

25 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

21. Busy Bags. These bags (or boxes) are made up of activities to occupy your children for just such a time as those cabin fever days. I have a post coming up on these, but Money Saving Mom has a lot of great busy bag ideas on her site. And, here is another list to get you started.

22. Kiwi CrateI have shared before how much I LOVE these activity kits! They are very affordable (approx. $20 each) and offer great learning activities as well. You can purchase them individually, or subscribe. For a free alternative, head to pinterest for kids activities and projects.

Kiwi Crate Open

23. Make paper airplanes. Here is a great post with some tips and ideas.

24. Play Hopscotch. Use masking tape to create an indoor hopscotch board. Something about playing outside games inside is always fun for my boys.

25. Science Experiments. Since you’re stuck inside, it’s a good time to pull out those fun science activities from pinterest! Homemade slime anyone? If you’re not feeling creative, you can also get some great science kits like this one or this one.

And, of course, it’s always a fun treat to have a movie party with PJ’s and popcorn in the middle of the afternoon!

What are your favorite winter activities for kids?

24Dec

Merry Christmas!

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Unto you is born

Merry Christmas!

I pray you’ll enjoy a blessed Christmas Day with your family!

The Thriving Thursdays link up will resume next week (next YEAR! lol), and you will be welcome to link up this week’s posts then as well.

22Dec

Our Kids Deserve Our Time and Attention {Tech Timeout Challenge}

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Serving Joyfully.

I am honored to partner with Foresters to bring you this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Life no regrets

A few years ago, a mom wrote a post that went viral. I know, I know, this happens every day. But this one has stuck with me. This particular mother was frustrated at being told by older mothers to “cherish every moment”. She felt that her frustrations were valid, and should be treated as such.

As a mom with 2 young boys, I can appreciate her frustrations to an extent. Some moments certainly don’t feel worthy of being particularly “cherished.”

However, I also believe that when older women who have gone before us express their regrets, things they wish they’d done differently, we should take note. No, we can’t take every piece of advice that comes our way, but we can and should pay attention. It’s prideful for us to think we have everything figured out and can’t learn from older generations, especially when the same theme comes up over and over.

So when I speak to older women around me and nearly every single one of them expresses a distinct regret over not spending more time with their children when they were younger, I need to stop and pay attention to that.

As I think on it I have never met a single person who has said to me, “My biggest regret is that I spent too much time enjoying life with my kids when they were young.” Never.

On the other hand, I have heard countless women regretting that they spent that time on everything else–being everything to everyone, but often forsaking quality time with their family. This world offers us so many distractions. Jobs, careers, friends, hobbies, twitter, facebook, internet, computers…technology.

Our lives are but a vapor. So short and fleeting. And our time as mothers with small children is even shorter. (<–a beautiful post about the time we have with our children). We never know when that time will be violently taken from us. I would never promote living life fearfully, but it is my deepest desire to live with no regrets as much as possible. And that means pouring into my family, spending quality time with my children.

Sometimes it means turning off the television, shutting off the computer and just being together.

With the exception of myself and my blogging responsibilities, our family is very low-tech. We love it, but sometimes my blogging responsibilities still creep in and tie me to my computer more than I would like. So, this past week, I took the Foresters tech timeout challenge.

The pledge is simple–commit to 1 hour per day of technology free time for just one week.

Tech Timeout Pledge Wall

So many of us know that we need to engage with our families more. We have a desire for lives that are less connected to cyberspace and more connected with real life. But sometimes, it’s hard to put that into practice. It becomes an empty dream, a hope, an empty and meaningless “one day” kind of thing.

Unless we get intentional with it. Sometimes we have to be intentional to break those bad habits and institute new and better ones. One hour a day of technology free time with your family.

Take the pledge for one week, and then don’t stop. Just one hour a day.

Our Pledge

As I said, we are generally low-technology, but life can still get busy, so we aren’t always engaging with one another and away from technology for an hour at a time all together every day. So, we had a lot of fun this past week being intentional about spending one hour together each day as a family. We had a lot of fun making holiday memories together. Some of the things we did:

  • We drove around to look at Christmas lights
  • We wrapped our Christmas gifts together (we did listen to Christmas music during this time). My boys are 5 and 7, so their gifts aren’t that “pretty,” but they love doing it and our whole family had such a great time doing this!
  • Playing board games (we love board games!)
  • Making gingerbread ornaments for our tree
  • Making paper garland for the tree
  • Reading books–we LOVE to read books!

PS–See my instagram for some of the photos!

I have a list of winter-friendly activities here (not all are technology free, but most are)

You can get lots of other great ideas here, and on the Tech Time Out facebook page.

Will you take the pledge?

 

 

 

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