The Relaxing Room – How to find your space in a busy household

A few weeks ago, I was able to connect with an old friend who is a fellow homeschool mom as well as a pastor’s wife.  She was telling me how she has a parlor room in her home that she keeps free from toys and clutter that allows her a place to sit with a cup of tea and relax.

The concept of having a place you can go to relax may sound like a luxury you cannot afford.  Perhaps you feel your home is too small or your time too limited to allow for space to relax.  But, please, lend me your ear for just a moment…

The Relaxing Room - how to find your space in a busy household | RaisingArrows.net

In other cultures and in days gone by in our own, people took time throughout their day to breathe.  Some countries take long lunches.  Some countries take tea.  Some countries even take naps!  However, in America, busyness seems to be a badge of honor.  Now, don’t get me wrong…we are to be busy at home (Titus 2:5), but taking a moment to drink a little tea or coffee, read a chapter in a book, sit and hold a small child, open a window and breathe fresh air are not marks of laziness.  They are marks of thankfulness.

The Bible tells us to be still.  When we are still, we are able to know God more because we take the time to see His handiwork in the trees and clouds, the shadows and light, fresh air, and our children’s faces.  We are more in tune with the blessings we have been given, and therefore, live a life of thankfulness.

But, what if you can’t dedicate an entire room to relaxing?  No problem!  You can find this kind of space other ways.

The Relaxing Room - how to find your space in a busy household | RaisingArrows.net

The chair above is a hideous orange chair my mother-in-law picked up at a thrift store for me years ago.  It is the THE MOST COMFORTABLE CHAIR IN THE WORLD!  But, it’s orange!  So orange I don’t allow it out in public!  It sits in my bedroom with an end table beside it.  It is a place I can go to nurse when baby needs quiet (or mama needs quiet).  It is a place I can sit while I talk to my husband as he gets ready for work.  It is a place I can go to have a heart-to-heart discussion with one of the children.  It is my relaxing room.

I have a set of red-cushioned patio furniture I purchased a few years ago.  Sometimes my relaxing room is there.  I can sit in the sunlight and watch the children play.  I can read a book or work on my computer in the fresh air.  Sometimes I just go there and sit and do nothing but breathe.

Sometimes my relaxing room is a 15 passenger van with the windows rolled down and music on the radio.  It is the place I find margin in my day.  It is the place I praise the Lord for giving me all the little people in my rear view mirror.

Your relaxing room might be a tiny corner of the living room where you keep a rocking chair and your Bible.  It might be a garden with stepping stones made by your children or a front porch full of plants and flowers.  Wherever it is, it is a place you can go to be thankful.  It is a place you can go to find just a tiny moment of retreat…enough to renew and refocus.

Not sure how to find a relaxing room of your own?  Here are some ideas to get you started…

1.  Choose a place you can keep fairly clear of clutter.  I know in a busy household this can be next to impossible, but if you purpose to have one little space that doesn’t get overrun throughout the day, it really isn’t that hard to keep it clear.  Yes, you will have to be diligent about removing items from the area that don’t belong, but trust me, it’s doable.

2.  Put something there that makes you smile – your favorite quilt, a plaque with a Bible verse, a pretty notepad and pen, even just a nice coaster to set your coffee on!  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.

3.  Teach your children to respect the space.  They should know they are welcome there, but they should also respect the fact that the space is for relaxing and not for horsing around or cluttering up.  Granted, children are children and a stray army man or doll isn’t the end of the world.  I’d also encourage you to allow the children to use the relaxing room for their own breathers if need be…or even help them set up a space of their own!

4.  Find a few moments every day to go there and just breathe.  Even if your relaxing room is just a couple of steps outside your back door on a rectangle of concrete, go there every so often and breathe deep.  Thank the Lord for this day.  Thank the Lord for this moment.  Take a sip of tea and head back to your regularly scheduled life a little more relaxed!

Those Old Posts I’d Rather You Not Read

Those Old Posts I'd Rather You Not Read -- growing in Christ is sometimes painful | RaisingArrows.netBecause I have been blogging for 9 years, I have a lot of old posts hanging out in the archives of my site.  Every now and then someone finds one of those old posts and leaves a comment.  Most of the time, it’s not a big deal, but occasionally, someone finds a buried post I was sort of hoping would stay buried.

Why?

Because a lot has changed in 9 years.

1.) Some things I thought were essentials are actually nonessentials. 

“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty,
in all things charity.”
~attributed to Augustine

There are a lot of things I used to think required unity.  I had a skewed sense of what the essentials are.  I think this happens to a lot of Christians, and I think it is very prevalent in the homeschooling community.  There are things I am very passionate about, but not everything I am passionate about is a hill to die on.  Not everyone has to agree with me.

As I’ve matured, I find I have a better sense of what things are essentials are what things are nonessentials based on my opinions, my convictions, and the Lord’s leading in my life.

2.) Some of my opinions were borrowed. 

Over the years, I formed opinions based on what other Christians said and did.  I tried to remember to test everything against Scripture, but sometimes I lost my way and held onto an opinion simply because someone else said it was right…or I thought they thought it was right.

This is very much a “new homeschooler” thing.  New homeschoolers, in their quest to do everything right, look to other homeschool moms to emulate.  The problem with this is that we often make assumptions of what a person is like and what that person must believe based on exteriors or passing comments.  From there, we borrow their opinions, never realizing their opinions might be flawed and/or we might have misunderstood what they were really saying.

It’s sort of like the homeschool mom “denim jumper” generalization (you know, ALL homeschool moms wear denim jumpers).  You see a mom in a denim jumper at the homeschool conference every year, so you assume she wears a denim jumper all year long.  You “borrow” this way of dress, assuming this is what homeschool moms do.  Sadly, some of my opinions were wearing denim jumpers they borrowed from someone else.

3.)  I have a better understanding of liberty in Christ.

This is still a work in progress.  I became a Christian in 1999 and spent many years running away from my former life and anything that resembled that life.  I ran straight into the arms of rules.

It has taken a lot of years and a lot of discernment to come to a place where I can sort out what things are essentials and what are nonessentials, what things are harmful and what things are harmless, what things are convictions the Holy Spirit has placed in my life and what things are convictions that belong to other people.

I also feel I am finally understanding what a church made up of hands and feet, eyes and ears all coming together as the Body of Christ actually looks like.  It goes way beyond acknowledging there are no cookie-cutter Christians.  It acknowledges that every single difference we have in Christ allows each of us to do the work the Lord has laid before us.  Liberty in Christ isn’t about us…it’s about HIM.

4.)  I’ve learned better how to speak the truth in love.

There is a time to speak out.  We can’t help how our message is taken, but we can help the heart behind the message.  My goal should be to have everything that comes from my mouth (or from my blog) be said because I truly LOVE Jesus and don’t want anyone to miss His gospel.  My motives haven’t always been the best, and I’m sure this will continue to be one I need to work on.

5.)  I am simply at a different place in life.

You’ve probably heard someone say,

“I was the perfect parent…until I became one.”

Years ago, I made a rather curt comment to a mother with teens.  (If I remember correctly, I used the words, “I would never…” <eek!> )  Well, I wasn’t a mother with teens, and I was wrong.  Things change.  Circumstances change.  We grow and change, and so do those around us.  Grace is a beautiful thing.

Perhaps you are wondering why I don’t just take those posts down.  I guess it’s because I see them as part of the “growing in Christ” process.  If I had the time, I’d put a disclaimer on all older posts that says something like –

Written by an imperfect Christian.

But, I figure people already know that.  And if they don’t, the comments left on those old posts keep me humble.

Seeing Setbacks as a God-Send

So often in life there are things that slow us down.  But, maybe slowing down is exactly what we need. - Seeing Setbacks as a God-Send from RaisingArrows.net

3 weeks ago, Baby Aspen was born.  Usually, I’m ready to get back to our normal routine at 2 weeks postpartum, but at 2 weeks postpartum, my life was in a shambles.  At 3 weeks postpartum, not much has changed.

Besides the fact I am recovering from an unplanned c-section, I ended up catching the bug that ran through my family shortly before Aspen was born.  It was something that started as a stomach virus and then turned into a respiratory bug a few days later.  Because I have asthma, respiratory illnesses really knock me down.  I lost my voice and struggled to breathe.  In fact, I’m still croaky and needing my rescue inhaler on occasion.

But that’s not all.  We just moved.  The house is not fully unpacked and most of our stuff is out of place.  Oh sure it’s in a place, but it’s not the place it ought to be.  And some things are missing entirely.  They are probably in a box in the garage, but the garage is stacked to the ceiling with boxes, so finding the “right” box isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Early last week, I was feeling very downtrodden.  I could see around me all the things that needed to be done, but I was completely helpless to do any of them.  The kids and Ty were doing good just to keep the house running.  No way would they be able to put together new chore charts, school schedules, and menu plans.  No way could they unpack boxes and put things in a place that made sense.  They were doing well to work within the confines of what I had managed to get done before I had Aspen.  The arranging of the house, the reworking of the school schedule and chores would all have to wait until I was fully recovered.

But, when would that be?

Why did I have to get sick on top of having a c-section?  Why did I have to move a few weeks before I had a baby?  Why is everything a mess?  Why, Lord, why?

Philippians 4:6-7 - Sometimes our setbacks are exactly where we need to be | RaisingArrows.net

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to be anxious.  It tells us to present our requests to God.  What it doesn’t say is, “and everything will happen just the way you want it to.”  What it does say is God will give you peace beyond what you can understand and Jesus will guard your heart and mind from the anxiety and cares you are feeling.

When there are setbacks in our lives, they are typically seen as a bad thing.  They are seen as something that holds us back from the way we want things to be.  They cause a lot of anxiety as we fight against them or as we watch helplessly as they happen to us.  We are worn out physically, mentally, and emotionally by them, and we want to get away from them as soon as possible.

All I could think about was how tired I was of being sick.  I had all these plans and the c-section and sickness were messing those plans up.  All I could do was sit and nurse baby and sleep.

And that’s when it donned on me…

All I could was sit and nurse baby and sleep.

Sometimes setbacks help us see exactly what we need to see.

Because of the sickness and the c-section recovery, I wasn’t able to jump back into a busy life.  I had to slow down.  I had to sit and do nothing but hold my newborn daughter.  Sometimes that meant the little boys had to watch one more movie or we all had to eat one more plate of cheese chips.  Sometimes it meant I held Aspen all night as I slept in the recliner in the living room.  Sometimes it meant I couldn’t turn on the computer or answer the phone.

When I let the anxiety of not being able to do the things I thought “needed” to be done rule my life, I was a wreck.  When I gave it all to the Lord, He guarded my heart and mind and I realized the things I thought mattered didn’t.  They could wait and one day He would restore normalcy in our lives (albeit, a “new” normal).  But, for now, the setbacks were His way of healing me, of giving me time with my newborn daughter, of giving my other children time to adjust to a new city, a new house, and a new sister.  The setbacks were truly a God-send.

And it was time for me to rest and be peaceful that everything was exactly the way God planned it.


What setbacks are you experiencing?  How are you handling them?  Are you resting in the Lord?  How can we be praying for you?

Receive a Free Book from Gospel for Asia {and focus your heart on missions}

The other day, Ty and I went shopping for groceries.  I always fill 2 carts and barely have enough cloth bags to pack it all into my 15 passenger van.  I checked on the price of pumpkins to decorate the outside of the house.  Woof!  I’m really hoping the price comes down so I can finish my Fall decorating!  And why in the world did the weather have to decide to heat back up?  I could have done without needing to turn on the air conditioner again.

Boy, do I have problems.

First world problems.

Problems that honestly don’t matter.

It’s easy to get caught up in our every day lives in a country where abundance is overflowing (and often overwhelming).  We have so much stuff we need to organize it all.  We have so much food, we end up wasting some of it.  We have so many clothes, we could wear something different every day of the week…for weeks!  And as the holidays approach, we are thinking about buying EVEN MORE!

Receive a Free Book from Gospel for Asia {and open your heart to missions}

Gospel for Asia Wants to Help You Focus Your Heart on Missions

Gospel for Asia has a FREE book they would like to offer you that will help you go into this holiday season with your heart focused on things that matter…reaching out with the LOVE OF CHRIST.

No Longer a Slumdog, by Gospel for Asia founder, K.P. Yohannan, is a collection of stories and profiles of real people living real life circumstances we really can’t even fathom. It truly is an eye-opener.  And frankly, we need our eyes opened on a regular basis.

FREE book from Gospel for Asia to help you go into this holiday season with a focused heart | RaisingArrows.net

Gospel for Asia wants to give you this book.  There’s no catch, no gimmicks.

Just a free book.

Except not JUST a free book.

Read it aloud to your family (be aware that some of the stories will need a mother’s editing for small ears).

Give it to your older children to read.

Visit the Gospel for Asia site and look for ways to give and serve.

Refocus.

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas {a 12 week series}

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - 12 weeks to get your heart and home focused on Christ | hosted by RaisingArrows.net with SheriGraham.comKnowing Jesus should bring a peace to our lives that surpasses all else.  Celebrating His birth should be a beautiful time of sharing the Light of the world with others.

Yet, as the holidays approach many people fall apart, Christians included.  We get wrapped up in all the busyness of the season and forget to let Christ’s peace reign in our lives.  We worry about holiday meals, presents, relatives, and keeping sane through it all.

This year, I could easily get “too busy” and lose my peace and focus in the process.  Our family has some traveling to do, some decisions to make, and I’m due with baby #9 just days before Christmas.

Back in 2008, I purchased The 12-Week Holiday Planner. {affiliate link}  Our daughter, Emily, had passed away earlier that year, and I was due with baby #6 on Christmas Day.  Having that planner was such a blessing to our entire family.  Now it has become a tradition at the beginning of every October to get out the green binder that holds my 12-Week Holiday Planner and purposefully plan so I can stay focused on WHY we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, rather than muddying up the season with stress.

This year, I would like to invite you to join me in preparing for Christmas with the peace of Christ at the forefront of your planning as we journey through The 12-Week Holiday Planner together!

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - a 12 week series from RaisingArrows.net and SheriGraham.com

Sheri Graham, co-author of The 12-Week Holiday Planner, will have her Holiday Combo Set on sale today through Oct 10, 2014.  When you use coupon code:

HOLIDAYPEACE

you will receive the entire set for $12.95.  This set includes The 12-Week Holiday Planner, a Holiday Open House guide, Homemade Gift Mixes ebook, a Christmas journal, and a Thanksgiving Planner!  (This coupon code is exclusive to Raising Arrows, so be sure to send your friends and family to this post to get their own set!)

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - 12 weeks to get your heart and home focused | hosted by RaisingArrows.net along with SheriGraham.comThe 12 week series will begin on October 5 and will be hosted here on Raising Arrows, with Sheri Graham as the guest writer.  Sheri is a homeschool mom who loves to blog about homeschooling, homemaking, healthy eating, home business, and more. Her desire is to provide encouragement to the Christian family, touching on matters that are close to her heart. Sheri sells a variety of ebooks on homeschooling and homemaking, as well as publishing books in print and Kindle formats.

Let’s start preparing!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR HOLIDAY PLANNER
and join us on October 5th!

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - Our Experience and How Our Club is Set Up | RaisingArrows.net

If you follow my Facebook page you’ve probably heard me mention Keepers of the Faith.  My girls have been a part of a local group since we moved to the area a few years ago, and we have all really enjoyed the fellowship and projects.

I had a reader ask me to talk more about Keepers, so I thought I’d write a post and explain how our group works and how you can form a group or find a group to participate in.  Please, keep in mind, my experience is unique because all Keepers groups are unique due to their autonomous nature.  Also, keep in mind this post is specifically pertaining to the girls club and not the boys; however, much of the same information applies to the boys club.

How Our Keepers of the Faith Club is Organized

Leadership -
Our group does not have a “leader” per se.  One person always emerges as the organized one, but all the moms in the group have input, as do the girls.

Planning -
The moms get together a couple of times a year to discuss the next 6 months of projects. Typically, we have previously discussed with our girls some of the projects they are interested in doing as a group so we can bring those to the table.  We choose the project, who will lead it, and where the meeting will be held.

The moms have a private Facebook group to send out messages, share photos, and remind people of meeting dates and anything they might need to bring.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

Meetings -
We meet once a month in one of our homes or at a local church.  We open with prayer, the club Bible verse (we have chosen to learn it in another version), and the mission of Keepers of the Faith.

Usually, we have a Character Lesson that fits well with the skill we are learning.  When we worked on American Sign Language, we had a Character Lesson on Attentiveness.  At Christmas time we worked on Charity.  Keepers of the Faith have their own booklets for each Character Lesson, but we don’t always use theirs.  There are a lot of resources online that can be used for free.  Typically, the mom leading the project also leads the Character Lesson.

After that, we start the monthly project.  Each project has a certain set of skills the girls are to learn.  Sometimes all of the skills can be learned in a meeting, and sometimes the girls have to go home and finish up.

For instance, a few months ago, we did Plastic Canvas.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

The mom in charge taught all the stitches, but to finish the project, each girl had to finish 2 different plastic canvas projects.  We only had time for 1 that day, so it was up to us to finish at home.

I will talk more about this in the next section, but I also want to mention here that because Keepers of the Faith is parent-led and autonomous, each family has the choice of what equates completing a project.  I could have chosen to make that one project the fulfillment of the requirement to complete the Plastic Canvas badge, but I knew my girls were capable of doing more, and my 9 year really enjoyed it!  (In fact, she received MORE plastic canvas and project books as a birthday present!)

Meetings last about 2 hours.  The girls ages range from 6 to 14.

How We Handle Multiple Ages -
We are a small group, so we haven’t seen much of a need to separate the girls out by age.  Yes, we have different skill levels, but we really haven’t had much trouble coming up with activities that are suited to all age levels.  The girls are welcome to work on other badges at home, so we try to keep the monthly meetings to projects that are good for everyone.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

Some of the moms have chosen to award their younger girls with the silver badges and then work through the book when they are older and receive a second badge in gold.  This means the younger girls can work at their level and still be rewarded for their effort without needing to complete the entire project at the same level as the older girls.

Awards -
We have chosen to buy the actual pin badges and put them on the sash.  There are sites that have patches that coincide with the different KOF projects, but I wanted the ease of pins, so that’s what we went with.

You don’t have to award with badges, but I’ve found the girls are highly motivated by the badges and the Awards Ceremony we have a couple of times a year.

Our Awards Ceremony is not a huge to-do either.  We just can’t seem to coordinate a night that allows for a major celebration, so we will often do it at the same time as our monthly meeting and have snacks afterward.  We only do an Awards Ceremony when all the moms feel it is time.  Each mother is responsible for tracking and purchasing badges to hand out at the Awards Ceremony.

Cost -
Our club itself has no dues.  If an individual project requires an investment in supplies by the hosting mother, then she lets everyone know the cost for that project (usually via the Facebook group), and we come prepared to pay that amount per child participating.  I don’t think it has ever been over $3.

You will need a handbook for each girl.  There are also Companion Notebooks, but we have chosen not to purchase these.

The badges also cost, but you only purchase those on occasion, and you can choose to cut costs by going through a 3rd party that sells the project patches at a cheaper rate.  You will probably want to purchase or make a sash to put the badges on.

You can buy a Keepers t-shirt, but it isn’t necessary at all.  We do not require our girls to dress alike at meetings.

There are Leadership Materials you can purchase if you would like to start up your own club.  These are good to have if you’ve never been a part of a Keepers Club and need some help figuring out how to get it off the ground.

You might also want to check out the Club Locator to see if there is a KOF club near you, but keep in mind, not all clubs register, so there might be one near you that isn’t on the map.  Ask around!

Can’t find one?  Start your own!

How to Start Your Own Keepers of the Faith Club

At Home, On Your Own -
Buy the handbook for each of your girls, and work through them on your own.  This would be a great addition to your homeschool!

Find Others to Join You -
Look to your local homeschool group or your church to find other moms and girls interested in joining you in a more club-like atmosphere.  Purchase the Complete Starter Kit, set a meeting with the moms, and start planning!

Remember, this is YOUR club!  You can make it as structured or unstructured as you like.  Our group has done very well with a more low-key approach, but your group may need something different.  You may get large enough to split off into age groups, or you may want to meet more than once a month, or you may want to have a more structured meeting that is planned out more than 6 months in advance.  Any or all of these are totally appropriate!

Have more questions?  Feel free to ask me (I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability), check the FAQ at Keepers of the Faith, or contact Keepers directly for more help and information.