Back to the Family Table

Written by monthly Titus 2 contributor, Mrs. Faye Henry

The family home today is a very busy place.  Perhaps both parents are working outside of the home and the children may be involved in extracurricular activities.  The trend toward either just eating and running or else setting ourselves in front of some entertainment while we gulp down our food is on the rise.

Let's consider the importance of getting back to the table:

Dining together provides so many benefits for helping your family grow into the strong loving unit that the Lord intended.  It can be a special time daily for you as a family to consider one another.  Each day is full of highs and lows and your dinner table can be a place of encouragement and support...A wonderful time of laughing together... It can also be a lovely way of teaching your children manners, etiquette, and even leadership and hospitality skills.

If mama can make at least one meal a day a happy family time then it will prove to be time of blessing and memory making, and well worth the investment of time and effort.

Frugal tips for setting your dinner table:

  • In the photo above are two tea towels which were only one dollar each, divided into two place mats and four napkins.
  • Cut one tea towel in two for place mats and the other one into four napkins.  I did sew the edges but perhaps you don't really need to...smile...
  • The place settings are just thrift store finds.
  • Blending the colors can make an attractive but frugal eclectic table.
  • Cutting off the two sides of this three dollar vintage table cloth made two table runners, and then I divided the middle into four napkins.

The place settings are two small sets of thrift store vintage dishes blended together to make one large one.  We don't need fancy tables all the time, but it is lovely once in a while to have a special family meal.

One last frugal and decorative tip is to collect vintage silverware.  It does not need to match and it will add style to your eclectic table settings!  Check my site HERE for a green and frugal way to clean your silverware.

Children can help make meal times special by helping mama with the preparations.  Helping to cook the food and setting the table can be fun and creative; girls might like to create a centerpiece, and boys can fill water glasses and arrange the chairs or cutlery.

Then, as a family sit down together, holding hands and thanking the Lord for the blessings of food and fellowship.

Remember, sweet mamas, that these lovely days of family pass all too quickly... let's count our blessings and head back to the table!


Mrs. Faye Henry has been married to her sweetheart for over 41 years and together they own a lovely shop in New Brunswick, Canada. She also leads many young ladies, wives, and mothers in "Keepers of the Home" classes that she facilitates in the local community. She has a heart for mentoring younger women and fulfilling the Titus 2 mandate! Won't you pop over and visit Mrs. Henry at The Blessed Hearth? Pour yourself a nice hot cup of tea and stay for awhile. The fire is lit and burning brightly and the candles smell heavenly. Biscuits are in the oven...

 

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How to Have a Peaceful Home During the Holidays

 Peace

photo by lanz-wolfe76

The holiday season is a busy one.  Many families spend more money this month than they did all year, shuffle from activity to another, and end up feeling stressed and burned out.

I love Christmas and celebrating Christ's birth, but amidst all the go-go-go of the season I'm already thinking ahead to what I'd like to accomplish in the next year and making mental notes of goals and setting agendas and...  Whew.

How do we really have a peaceful Christmas and New Year?

Here are a few routines we've implemented that help us stay sane in the midst of beautiful chaos:

• Wake up before the children, no matter what, even if it's just for a few minutes.  This means that if they're in the "wake-up-super-early-in-the-morning" season, I'm still getting up before them.  Yes, there was a time when I would wake up at 4:45, just to have an hour to myself before the children (and no, it's not that early anymore!).   I absolutely have to spend time with God in the morning, reading my Bible and spending time in worship/devotion.  It centers me and anchors my spirit for the day.   I'm a mess without that time (and my cup of coffee!).

Keep hospitality simple.  We are to be "given to hospitality" (Romans 12:13) but that doesn't mean it needs to be - or should be - extravagant.  If mama is stressed all day preparing for guests, how is that a witness to her children?  I've found that if I keep the meal simple, prepare most of it in the morning hours, then set it aside in the fridge until it's time to put it in the oven, things go smoothly.  The last hour or so we'll pick up toys, sweep the floor, etc.   If a meal is too much, how about pie and coffee?

It's okay to stay home.  You don't have to accept every invitation that crosses your desk.  I love this post by Lindsey at Passionate Homemaking, "Enjoying the Simplicity of Staying Home."  Read it; it's worth your time!

Stay on top of the laundry.  It's sounds silly, I know, but as the laundry pile grows, so does my stress level.  Or maybe it's the other way around :)   Regardless, I make it a goal to run one load of laundry a day, from start to finish.

Plan to have extra cooked meats and breads in the freezer.  It doesn't need to be much, but knowing there's a few cooked, diced chicken breasts in the freezer eliminates the need for last minute outings to McDonalds, which can certainly be a budget-buster this time of year.  Keep sliced bread in the freezer, too, so you can make a simple sandwich in a pinch.  Just add PB&J and you're set!

Shop online.  Some of you love the crowded stores and Christmas decor in the mall, I know.  I prefer to stay home and shop from the comfort of my vintage (read: old) green chenille-padded swivel chair.  Amazon.com has been my go-to source for finding great sales, and many items ship free if you spend $25 or more.  For example, many Melissa & Doug toys are on sale, which means you can find some quality gifts for about $10-$20 each right now.  (I love this latches board; I was thrilled to see Simple Mom share it recently, too.)  Why would I want to suit up the kids, pack snacks and drinks, lift my 40 lb toddler into his car seat, and go out in 30 degree weather to shop at a store that will likely sell the same gift for more money?  Shopping online works for me.

Don't overspend.  Just don't do it.  Deep down, you'll feel awful, you won't be a good steward, and it doesn't make for a peaceful Christmas or New Year.  If your budget is limited, make homemade gifts or give the gift of food.  My cinnamon raisin walnut bread or maple granola (in a jar tied with Christmas ribbon) would be a nice gift.  I just shared my 10 DIY Christmas Gifts on Keeeper of the Home.  Brandy at the Prudent Homemaker also shares helpful links for frugal gifts --- especially if you are on a zero spending budget this year.  You'll love her ideas, too!

And finally, when you've prepared the best you could, just go with the flow.  Things won't run perfectly, plans will change, and you may forget to run a load of laundry.  Stay focused on the Reason for the Season, because it's truly all about Him, not our schedules, routines, and convenience.  He's the only one that that can truly bring peace to your home and family, regardless of the season!

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

 

also shared at Homestead Revival
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How to Have a Joy-Filled Christmas

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Featured guest post by Lori Wagner

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love Christmas—all the sights, sounds and smells that make the holiday cheery and bright. I even love the shopping, though I rarely darken the doors of the local malls the rest of the year. Why? When else can you walk into a department store and hear songs about our wonderful God with us, Emmanuel, Jesus Christ the Lord?

In the grocery or in the middle of Walmart, glorious hymns and silly seasonal songs mingle with a message that declares joy to the world!  The Lord is come! With that in mind, I don’t let aloof cashiers, commercialism or ridiculous renegade reindeer songs deter my holly jolly celebration of the season. Christmas is supposed to be merry, isn’t it?

Joy, Gladness and all that Good Stuff

Festive music accompanies so many of our holiday activities. To me, Christmas activities and Christmas carols are like peanut butter and jelly. They just go together.

In yuletide songs of yesteryear we find messages for today. We hear words like joyful and rejoice, but let’s stop for a minute—“selah”—and think about the significance of these words. Consider for a moment that the literal definition of joyful is “full of joy.” That’s talking about a spiritual delight that reaches all the way to the tippy-tip-top!

When we have the joy of the Lord, we aren’t filled to the rim with grim, but with gladness that’s so full it splashes over from our “cups” into our surrounding “saucers.” I like living with overflow. I call it “sipping from the saucer,” and it brings to mind girlhood memories of my Daddy slurping coffee from the little dish under his cup. That’s what happens when a cup runneth over (Psalm 23:5). There’s extra!

Don’t Wait! Rejoice Now!

Did you ever notice in Luke 1:47 that Mary rejoiced in God her savior before she conceived the promise? Consider, also, the wise men from the East. They rejoiced with exceeding great joy when they had only seen the star (Matthew 2:10). Before they saw the babe in the manger, they celebrated the sign—the direction God had given them to find the promised Messiah.

As we go through our days, many of us likely have promises yet unfulfilled; but Mary and the wise men provide great examples to follow in these times. Rejoice now! We have the promise! We have the Word to show us the way. Hallelujah!

image credit

 

What Gives Jesus Joy?

Living with the joy of the Lord is all well and good for us (and I like well and good, by the way), but did you ever wonder what gives Jesus joy? Jesus “rejoiced in His spirit” when His disciples returned from going out in the land ministering in His name (Luke 10:21). What a wonderful opportunity Christmas brings you and me to reach out to others.

During the holidays many doors open that are closed throughout the year, and hearts may be, even if unconsciously so, more friendly to thoughts of Jesus. He is, after all, the “reason for the season.”

People from all walks of life, churches of all denominations and secular organizations of all types share kindnesses at Christmas time. While giving a basket of goodies to a needy family or meeting a utility bill are wonderful expressions of compassion and good will, sharing Jesus is the best gift ever. He is the Son given for all mankind—a gift wrapped in swaddling clothes in Bethlehem; unwrapped for all at Calvary. And while we’re talking about joy, remember, it was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the shame and pain of the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus is the forever gift that always fits! He’s never outdated, and He will never become obsolete like the 8-track tape player Aunt Margaret just had to have in the 70s. He’s the gift that can change a life for the better, now and forever.

Woe in the Wassailing

Amidst the carols and celebrations, there’s no denying that some people experience annual bouts of holiday misery. Memories of Christmases past can affect the way we feel about Christmas today. To be honest, not every Christmas in my past holds sweet memories. To this day I cry when I unwrap ornaments and mementos from loved ones—my Dad who died the day before my first child was born, my grandparents, and my first husband who preceded me into eternity after only seven years of marriage.

It’s an undeniable fact that holidays magnify emotions—both positive and negative. If you or someone you know is struggling to find joy, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about the Lord.

Before Mary rejoiced, she first said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” Sure, that was easy for her to say, right? She had just received an angelic visitor and the best news ever. But with Mary’s acceptance of the Christ child in her womb, she faced rejection and ridicule. Her future was precarious, at best. It was a mixed blessing, we might say; yet she chose to be joyful.

Be Mary-like…and Magnify the Lord, not your Worries!

Good Christian women, rejoice! We have been redeemed and have the promise of heaven to celebrate. When we magnify the Lord, instead of our emotional responses to old memories or today’s challenges, I believe we can enter, even now, into the joy of the Lord.

Choose to focus on God’s Word, His character, His faithfulness, His provision, His power, His friendship, His sacrifice, and His great love. If we keep our thoughts on Him, and He’s living in us, joy is part of the equation. It’s a joy that lasts and a joy that gives us strength. It’s the joy of fellowship with God, even in sufferings.

marshmallow joy

image credit

Re-Re-Re-Re-Joy!

When we hear or read rejoice, we know it means “to bring joy,” but let’s also think “re-joy”—as in having joy again. . .and again. . .and again! The prefix “re” indicates repetition. We can’t repeat something we’ve never experienced. If you’ve ever had joy, you can have it again—replay it—re-invite it into your heart and mind. Remember, my friend, Christmas brings tidings of comfort and joy—greetings of peace and happiness for you and me and all humanity!

Joy may seem a long way from where you are right now, but be encouraged! If all you have is a little faded memory of joy tucked away in a dry corner of your soul, I pray that it is renewed—that you “re-joy” as you magnify the Lord with me. Come on. Let’s do it right now! Our God is great! He is mighty! He’s an awesome God! He’s worthy of our praise and He is our exceeding great reward!

Jesus’ Joy—Alive and Well

What does Jesus have to say about joy? In John 15:11, He said, “these things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The joy of Jesus remains for us today. This very moment you and I have access to a priceless commodity. Jesus abides with us as we journey through this weary world. Oh, come! Let us adore Him! Joyful and triumphant!

May the joy of Jesus bubble up in your spirit like a dishwasher loaded with the wrong kind of soap. Have you ever done that? Oh, those bubbles just can’t be contained—they ooze out all over the place!

My prayer for you this Christmas season, as we shop, wrap, bake, decorate and commemorate the birth of Jesus; is that your heart may truly be filled to overflowing with the abiding joy of Jesus. And may we give joy in return to the Lord by ministering to those around us, reaching out in His name with a helping hand, an encouraging word, an impacting prayer. Have a joy-full Christmas!

 

Lori Wagner is a gifted author, communicator and speaker. In 2006, she founded Affirming Faith to provide resources that educate, entertain and encourage Christians of all denominations. In the past six years, she has published twelve books, including the record-breaking "The Girl in the Dress" and two Christmas books: "Insight on Ministry from a Christmas Tree Farm" and "The 8 Days of Christmas."  In addition to Affirming Faith activities, Lori also serves as the Michigan State Coordinator for the National Day of Prayer and as an elected precinct delegate in her community.  She loves to worship and share with others the goodness of God and rich treasures found in His Word.   She and her husband Bill live in Michigan with their children and one spoiled dog.

 

 

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My Thoughts on “The Money Saving Mom’s Budget”

"The Money Saving Mom's Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year" by Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com is due to be released January 10th; I was given an advance copy and am excited about sharing this fantastic book with you! 

Despite the long subtitle, you still can't begin to assume every essential principle that weaves through this transforming book.  It's a must-read.  No, it is not a complete re-packaging of the Money Saving Mom blog.  No, it is not about spending countless hours each week cutting coupons.  And no, it's not about creatively surviving on beans and rice.

When I began reading the book, I didn't really expect to learn anything new; I only expected to be encouraged in the money saving principles I've already embraced for the last 10+ years.  After all, we've already paid cash for a home, bought several vehicles with cash, and lived off a budget since before we were married. 

But then I read her first rule for financial success, "Set big goals and break them down into bite-size pieces"  and I thought to myself, "Oh, yes, we did that, too."  We DID that.  DID.  As in, past-tense. 

And then I had an epiphany: it has been awhile since we sat down and written out our financial goals.   We need to sit down and set new goals, break them down, and begin working towards them.

Thanks, Crystal.  I'd forgotten.  I'd become a bit too comfortable

And So It Continues

It wasn't just the first rule that impacted me, but many others as well.  Create a "time" budget so I can be more productive?  The thought never occured to me!  Price match competitor grocery sales at my local SuperTarget?  Hmm... I knew Walmart allowed that, but it's on the other side of town.  SuperTarget is just around the corner.  

As I continued through the book, I re-learned what I'd forgotten, discovered new ways to save, and, most importantly, was inspired to think creatively about our financial future.  It's not just about us or our stewardship, it's about doing more, giving more, living more. 

It's about being able to bless others, live beneath our means, and find contentment and joy in the journey.

Quotable Thoughts

"I know that many experts suggest doing fifteen minutes of clutter reduction on a daily basis for weeks or months until you've cleaned out your home.  This might work for some, but I think it's better to just get it all over within one big sweep.  You'll feel better, your house will show immediate improvement, and you won't be dragging it out for months on end."  p. 30

"Many people feel like they need a bigger home for all their stuff, but most people just need less stuff."  p. 33

"A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less than ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses that bloom in their midst."  p. 170

"Contentment is a choice.  You can choose to be miserable in your situation or you can choose to bloom where you are planted.  You can choose to stop focusing on what you don't have and start being thankful for what you do have... it's all about perspective.  Choose to bloom where you're planted --- even if it seems like it's among thorns!"  p. 172

How Would It Change You?

It's true, I found myself moving quickly through the middle portion of the book --- the chapters dealing with creating a written budget, getting rid of plastic cards, and couponing.  I've been there, done that, and God has graciously allowed us to reap the fruits of those practices.

But, those first couple of chapters and last chapter contained wake-up calls I really needed to hear.  They shouted at me, tugged at my heart, showed me changes we needed to make in our own lives.

It's not all about budgeting and coupons.  It's about so much more.

I wonder --- if you read the book --- which chapters would tranform your thinking and the way you were living your life?

 

You can pre-order "The Money Saving Mom's Budget" here.

 

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I was given a free copy of this book in exhange for my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any way other than receiving the one free copy.  This post does include my Amazon.com referral link.  Read my disclosure policy here.

What Do We Really Deserve?

 
I'm thinking of Mary today.

How, just a few days before Christ's birth, she must have been feeling stretched and sore, not only from being so heavy with child, but from her time of distant travels.

How I might have felt, in her place, after such a journey.

How, in my humanity and utter imperfectness, I would have felt when my husband could not find an inn with room for us.

No room? In any inn? Can they not see that I am in desperate need of a warm room, midwife assistance, a soothing hot drink? My child is coming. How could you not make room for me? For my little one? Sir, what about you, would you give us your room, if even for one night?

My flesh cringes. I'm ashamed. Any ounce of righteousness I think I have is truly... filthy rags. They cling to me, and I want to rip them off.

Oh, who am I to think I would deserve such things, such luxuries, such compassion?

And yet sometimes we go about life that way.

        ...Read the rest of this post from last year here.

 

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To Live Contently

To live content with small means,

 to seek elegance rather than luxury,

and refinement rather than fashion,
 
to be worthy, not respectable,
 
and wealthy, not rich,
 
to study hard, think quietly,
 
talk gently, act frankly,
 
to listen to stars and birds,
 
to babes and sages,
 
with open heart,
 
to bear all cheerfully,
 
do all bravely,
 
await occasions,
 
hurry never,
 
in a word to let the spiritual,
 
unbidden and unconscious,
 
grow up through the common,
 
this is to be my symphony.
 
 
- William Henry Channing
 

Just wanted to share this thought with you today, sweet mamas.

Have a wonderful and blessed Sunday!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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 [also shared at Homestead Revival]