Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Grandma Verla

I have been working my way through Debi Pearl's Created to be His Help Meet, and some of the reading I was doing yesterday got me to thinking about how so much of who I am and what I know has been passed on to me from the older generations of women in my family.  Whether I have learned from their direct teaching or from my passive observation of them, they have undoubtedly held great influence in my life.

One of these women whose life has impacted me both directly and indirectly is turning 80 today!  It's neat to think about the fact that the 80-year life of my maternal grandmother, so much of which is a mystery to me, is a part of my history, too; because, whether I realize it or not, who she is has affected who I am.

My grandma isn't fond of the camera (although it has always been very fond of her!), but she did happily take a picture with me this past Thanksgiving.

Happy birthday, Grandma Verla!  I am thankful for your life and your legacy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Free Time, Fresh Air, and a Friend

I love my job as a homemaker, and I wouldn't trade it for anything; but... sometimes, especially after a week as big as this one has been, I really enjoy getting out of the house by myself for just a little while.  Yesterday was a beautiful January day here in central Iowa; and with only a few things on my grocery list for the rest of the month, I decided that a leisurely late-night trip to the grocery store was a perfect and timely excuse to get out.

While I was at the store, accomplishing my shopping without the usual hurriedness of a mother of four, I ran into a friend who was also enjoying a little late-night outing.  We got to talking about everything from vaccinations to homemade bread to android applications.  It was wonderful.

When I finally made it home with my handful of groceries, I felt totally rejuvenated.  I was encouraged, I was thankful, I was refreshed.... It's amazing what just a little trip to the grocery store can do for this mama. :-)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kids Say, vol. 11: Baring the Heart

"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart...." (Matthew 15:18)
Raising children is a lot of work for a lot of reasons.  Parenthood requires sacrifice, selflessness, sometimes sleeplessness.  It involves teaching and training, preaching and praying.  From diapers to discipline, nothing about parenting is easy.  Yes, bringing up kids is hard work; but it certainly isn't without reward.  Reward may look like a lot of things--the child's unquestioning obedience, sincere thankfulness, true repentance, happy countenance--and these, among other things, are the results we hard working parents want to see in our children.  We want to see these rewarding behaviors because through them we see the state of that which is really at stake--the heart of the child.  When I catch glimpses of my children's hearts through words like these that follow, I know without a doubt that Travis' and my parenting efforts are paying off....

Abel (pumping his fist and trying to psych himself up):  "Mommy, I really wanna eat all my soup to make you proud.... I'm attempting to do it.... I'm gonna do it...."


Abel (while hugging me):  "I'm so glad God gave you babies.  I love my sisters."


Abel (just after getting reprimanded by me for a bad attitude):  "Mommy, I just want to go pray.... God, please change my mind.  I really want to be nice.  Please just help me, God.  I really want to change.  Please change my mind...."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trusting Now Despite Later

Sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the unknown and even becoming slightly fearful of it.  As a person who has placed her faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, I feel slightly hesitant to admit that the potential realities of the uncertain future trouble me at times.  I know that God has promised to never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) and that He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7) and that He will supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19); and I even know that He has told me not to fear (Isaiah 41:10).  But still I allow myself to think that there are certain "you never know"s that I could never handle.

I was chatting with my sister about some of this a couple nights ago, sharing with her one of my "fears," when she simply and wisely said, "Don't be fearful.  You just have to live with faith."  I hadn't gone into the conversation looking to learn anything; but God, in His marvelous way, was reminding me through her succinct words that I just have to trust Him.  Never has He failed to see me through a trial and never would He.  In a future that is filled with uncertainties, He alone is the constant on which I can rely.  Nothing could ever happen that would separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

What the Lord seems to be showing me is that I need to trust Him not only in the future but also with my future.  I will continue to pray for spiritual and physical protection for myself and those whom I love; but I must also trust God now despite what might happen later.
"'Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'" (Isaiah 41:10)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Becoming a Help Meet

I've just spent most of what is supposed to be my blogging time reading.  Debi Pearl's Created To Be His Help Meet, as hard a book as it is to pick up, can be a pretty hard book to put down.  Because of its challenging nature, I normally limit myself to reading only one chapter in a sitting in order to allow for ample processing time; so now that I've just read three chapters at once, I feel like I need to just sit and stare at a wall and think... and pray.

The next time I pick up Created To Be His Help Meet, I will be beginning Part 2 of the book--what Debi refers to as the "Eight Practical Game Rules" from Titus 2:
  1. to be sober,
  2. to love their husbands,
  3. to love their children,
  4. to be discreet,
  5. chaste,
  6. keepers at home,
  7. good,
  8. obedient to their own husbands.
Sounds good, doesn't it?!  I'm pretty excited to dive in.  I expect that it will take me years to thoroughly understand my role as Travis' help meet--and years more to fully become that--but my heart is ready to learn.    

Monday, January 24, 2011

Battling Discontentment

There is something about Winter that tries to make me discontent.  I think it's the part where I stay cooped up in the house all season long because I don't like to drag my family out in the cold.  When I'm stuck (by choice) at home, I have more time to look around and notice all the things I'd like to change--to think about all the things I'd like to do or to buy--and I start to become discontent.

Discontentment is a hard thing for me to admit, because I neither want to be discontent nor have I any reason to be discontent.  God has blessed me with all that I need and more, and to respond with anything less than utter gratefulness and contentment seems so... ugly.  I have already been given so much more than I could ever deserve.  How dare I seek for more?

As the Bible instructs in Hebrews 13:5a, I want to "make sure that [my] character is free from the love of money, being content with what [I] have."  I know that "the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and [that] some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10); and I know that I must flee these things, pursuing not the things that money brings, but pursuing instead righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness (see 1 Timothy 6:11).  These are the things that profit.

I often instruct my children that when they are about to complain they ought to instead think of something for which they are thankful.  This week, I am going to purposely practice what I preach.  When I am tempted to express a lack of gratitude by longing for a Winter getaway, I will instead thank God for a steady job and a warm home.  When I am tempted to feed discontentment by shopping for new storage solutions, I will instead thank God for a pantry full of food and supplies and closets full of clothing.  ("If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (1 Timothy 6:8).)

Forgive me, Lord, for my grumbling.  Forgive me for my ungratefulness.  Keep me from the love of money, and help me to always be content with what I have.  You know what I need even before I ask You (Matthew 6:8), and You have promised to never desert me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).  In You I trust, and to You I am thankful.  You are all I need.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Mission of Motherhood

Well, I said I was going to start reading more this year; and, thanks to September and the book read she is hosting, I am ready to officially begin working my way through my reading list!

Nearly two years ago, my sister-in-law gave me Sally Clarkson's The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity; but, my lack of time for pleasure reading has kept this book on the shelf... until now!  I was pretty excited when I learned that September is inviting her readers to go through this book along with her.  If you are interested in joining up, there's still time--we start this coming Tuesday!  Just head over to One September Day for the details, and leave a comment for September letting her know you're in!

I'll leave you with this excerpt from the book's back cover....
"No calling is greater, nobler, or more fulfilling than that of motherhood.  Every day, as we nurture our children, mothers influence eternal destiny as no one else can.  Tragically, today's culture minimizes the vital importance of a mother's role.  By catching a vision of God's original design and allowing it to shape your life, you can rediscover the joy and fulfillment that can be found in the strategic role to which God in all his wisdom has called you, for a purpose far greater than you can ever imagine." 

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by God's good favor towards me.  When I step into a hot shower, when I peer out the windows of my warm house, when I pull up to the pump to fill my tank, when I wash the dishes, when I scrub my kitchen floor, when I sit next to my husband, when I look at our children... these are the times that I recognize the favor of the Lord in my life.  And I wonder, "Why?..."

I have done nothing to deserve anything good, and yet God has lavished an abundance of good gifts upon me.  Why?...

And, not only has He given me comforts and provisions for this life, but He has also given me comfort and provision for the life to come.  For, while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8), paying the price for my sin that I, believing, might live (John 3:16).  Talk about undeserved favor!

I'm not going to pretend that I understand it.   I don't.  I don't understand why God has given me everything that I don't deserve (life and blessing) while at the same time withholding from me that which I do deserve (death and punishment).

All I know is that the mystery of God's grace drives me to praise.  "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come" (Revelation 4:8b).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Changes for the Better

I knew I needed to get back to exercising, but I hadn't thought about the fact that exercise would affect more than just the way I look (eventually) and feel.  I'm only five days in to my new exercise routine, but already I've noticed some changes for the better.  I've been more motivated--and more successful--in avoiding unhealthy snacks, and I've been going to bed in time to actually get a full night of sleep!  Working out gives me that added sense of accomplishment that I apparently need in order to feel ready to call it a night.  The day just feels more complete, it seems, when "Workout" has been both added to and checked off my list.  (Yes, I am that person who adds an item to my list just so I can check it off.) :-)

Which brings me to another change I've recently made....

In 2010, I discovered both my need for a planner and my love of having one; and earlier this month I mentioned my plan to replace that expired planner with a 2011 one.  I did, indeed, purchase a new planner for the new year; but, after doing so, I decided not to use it.  Why?  Because Travis found a great application for my Samsung Mesmerize called Color Note which allows me to keep various checklists right on the home screen of my phone in a sort of post-it note style.  With it, I keep a note for each day's To-Dos as well as a running projects list, a Costco list, and a grocery list.  So far, this is proving to be for me an even better method than the planner was of staying organized and on task.  And, no more getting to the store and realizing I forgot my list--it's right on my phone (where the rest of my life is...)!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Could I Not?

I worked in our church's nursery this past Sunday with a few other moms, and when the conversation between a couple of them turned to school curriculum, I couldn't help but tune in.  Even though we are homeschooling our children, I am always interested to hear what's going on in our public school district.  With the progression of the discussion of a new math curriculum which neither students nor parents seem to be "getting,"  I found my reassurance of our choice to homeschool growing even stronger.

You see, there are several reasons why we have chosen to homeschool our children; but the primary one for me is this:  When it comes to my kids, I am a control freak.  During these tender years especially, I want to be in control of what they are learning and how they are learning it; so, for me, homeschooling is the obvious answer.  I wouldn't want to be in the position of these frustrated and somewhat helpless parents whose children aren't understanding math simply because of the way it is being presented.  Nope.  I'd rather be in control of the situation.  People say to me, "I don't know how you do it (i.e. homeschool)."  I answer to myself, "I don't know how I couldn't."

I love knowing exactly what my kids are learning--and learning it right along with them.  And, I love knowing that I am not missing the opportunity to build God's precepts into their learning.  The time that I have sitting with my children, giving them my full attention as I teach them with their full attention, is (from a discipleship standpoint) absolutely invaluable.  What a great opportunity homeschooling has been for me to pour God's Word into their lives.

Homeschooling itself has indeed been a blessing in this way, and so has our choice of curriculum.  One of the many things I love about our Sonlight curriculum is that it includes a Scripture memory verse in each week's lesson plan.  The Bible says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16), so why shouldn't Scripture be a purposeful part of our children's education?  It is certainly the subject that effects the most change!

Yesterday, a little while after I had introduced and discussed this week's memory verse, "Only fools insist on quarreling" (Proverbs 20:3b, NLT), I discovered that Abel had left Legos out on his bedroom floor and told him it was time to pick them up.  With neither a word nor a moment's hesitation, Abel ran upstairs to do as he had been told.  When I later praised him for the way he had promptly and happily obeyed, he said, "I did that because I remembered our new verse."

Like I said, I don't know how I could not homeschool.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Turning the Page

When I decided a few weeks ago that it was time to get rid of our storage tub full of baby toys, I had no idea how hard the actual parting with the toys would be.  As I boxed them up this past weekend to give to some friends who are expecting their first baby, my mind was flooded with memories and my eyes with tears.  "It's just stuff," I tried to encourage myself.  But the internal reasoning continued.  "But it is special stuff that reminds me of special people and special times, and... it's okay to keep some of it."

Reassured by my own thoughts, I pulled out the five most special baby toys, and I kept them.  The rooster and the bee that went everywhere the car seat went.  The rattle that all of my children held first.  The teething ring that was a favorite to all of them.  And the keys that I loved as much as they did.
2-month old Abel holding rattle for the first time
5-month old Abel and his rooster
8-month old Abel and "Mr. Bee"
2-month old Amariah holding rattle for the first time
3 1/2-month old Isabel holding rattle for the first time
3 1/2-month old Elliana holding (a different) rattle for the first time (because Isabel had the other one :-))

These well-loved items are far more to me than toys, you see.  They are mementos of times I can never get back--of the infancies of Abel, Amariah, Isabel, and Elliana,.. and of the opening of a chapter in my life which seemed to be finally closing with the giving away of their counterparts.

With a heart full of memories (and a handful of toys), we continue to move beyond the pages of babydom and into the many exciting chapters that lie ahead.  Indeed, though this first chapter may be complete (or so we suppose), the book of Parenthood is far from over!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Action Shots

I talked a lot about exercise here at Eternal Outlook this week, so I thought it only appropriate to share some "action" shots with you today.  So, without any further ado, the Squires household--in action....

Isabel loving on her Mommy on Christmas Day
Elliana (L) and Isabel (R) entertaining themselves while waiting for the doctor at their 18-month checkup
Elliana playing on Christmas Eve
Elliana trying to crawl into her new shopping cart which is tipping over on top of her
(Note: The front of the shopping cart is made for a baby doll.) :-)
Elliana (R) saying, "No no!" while picking up the catfood she just dumped in my mother-in-law's basement
Grandpa Terry (my dad) reading to the kids on New Year's Eve
Isabel catching the blue ball Abel just tossed to her
Elliana (R) throwing the empty chip bag after dumping its remains on the kitchen floor
Isabel (R) and Elliana (L) apparently discovering that stools come in handy for climbing

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It Didn't "Work Out"...

I thought maybe I would be trying out my new Gazelle Edge right about now; but instead of using it, I'm blogging about the fact that it is... unusable.

That's right.  Amazon sent me a defective item.  Travis was preparing to assemble it for me when he discovered this....
The two bars on each side are connected by a hinge in the middle, and, when unfolded, they form the legs and base of the machine.  The bigger bar on the right hooks into the bigger bar on the left, and the smaller bar on the left hooks into the smaller bar on the right.  The problem is that the bigger bar on the right is defective, formed at an incorrect angle which makes the interlocking of the four ends impossible.  The piece on the right should look just like the piece on the left.  See the difference?

I contacted Amazon right away, and they were great about it.  They emailed me a return shipping label for the defective item and are sending a replacement via one-day shipping at no additional charge.  The only thing is, this all happened late enough in the day yesterday that I won't actually receive the new one until tomorrow.  I am, of course, a little disappointed about the delay; but considering that I only started looking at Gazelles on Monday, having a usable one by Friday really isn't so bad. :-)

And... speaking of Friday... I'm going to be posting some "action" shots, so come back and check them out!  (Don't worry... I promise it won't be pictures of me exercising!) :-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Undeserved Blessing

I did it!  I ordered some exercise equipment!  Thanks to Amazon Prime's $3.99 one-day shipping, my Gazelle Edge is coming TODAY!  Who spends their Christmas money on exercise equipment and then gets super excited about using it?... Me, I guess! :-)

I already know who's going to assemble it (Travis!  Right, honey? ;-)) and when (Tonight!  Right, honey? ;-)).  And, I have a pretty good idea where it's going to sit (behind the couch in our basement family room).  But... what I haven't decided for sure is when I'm going to use it.  I'm currently not in the habit of getting up early enough to exercise before the kids awake--although, I could get in the habit.  The excitement of using my Gazelle for the first time might just be the motivation I need to start a morning workout routine! :-)  A lot of people say they workout while watching TV, but we really do very little of that.  My computer and reading time is at night after the kids go to bed, so that may not be the best time to exercise, either.  Maybe naptime.... Abel doesn't nap every day like the girls do, but I do require him to stay quietly busy so that I can have some time to myself....

Anyway, I'm rambling.  Maybe it seems silly for me to be so excited over such a simple thing, but it just feels good to make a smart, practical purchase.  I am truly thankful for this package that could be arriving at my door at any hour.

In fact, every time I get something new, be it clothing, household items, electronic gadgets, exercise equipment... I am sincerely thankful, because I am reminded of how truly blessed I am.  I don't need that new shirt or this new colander or those new throw blankets or that smartphone or this Gazelle to survive.  And yet, for whatever reason, God has chosen to bless me with such things.  It only takes a second of reflecting on how much I've been given to make me humbly and fearfully ask God how much is required of me.  He has given me these blessings, and He could take them away.  It's all His in the first place, and I deserve none of it.

Maybe that's part of why I get so excited over every little thing that comes into my possession--because I recognize it as an undeserved blessing.

How indebted I feel when I think of all my God has done for me.  Never could I repay Him; and, isn't it a relief that I don't have to.  Freely He has given to me that which I so desperately needed and then so much more.  And all He asks is that I love, trust, and obey Him.

Undeserved blessings, as all of them are, drive me to praise the One from whom all blessings flow.  I mean no sarcasm when I say that I will be thanking God when the FedEx man rings my doorbell today.

Who would have thought.  Christmas money spent on exercise equipment, an "undeserved blessing."... Me, I guess.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Overcoming My Exercise Obstacles

For many people, a new year means new intentions for healthy living.  A new beginning of sorts gives us the opportunity to realize that maybe we should "lose weight," "eat healthier," "exercise more."  I am not a person who ever sets New Year's Resolutions; but even still, this time of year tends to find me in thought about my health, my eating habits, and my exercise habits.

I think most of the reason a new year causes me to evaluate the former two things--my general health and my eating habits--is that the holidays and their not-so healthy-eating-friendly nature are finally over, allowing me to once again restrengthen my resolve.  But, I think the major reason that January finds me longing for exercise is not because of the new year itself but because of the fact that Winter finds me exercise-less.  Without a gym membership, home exercise equipment, or a warm outdoors to run in, I begin to feel a bit like I am helplessly deteriorating during the coldest months of the year.

Travis and I did have a gym membership a couple years ago--just before and throughout my pregnancy with the twins--but because we had small children and didn't want to pay extra to bring them along to the gym with us, we found that we simply weren't able to be consistent in going.  So, having learned from the "stupid tax" (another Dave Ramsey term :-)) of a years' worth of mostly wasted gym membership dues, we really aren't considering another gym membership at this stage in our lives.

That leaves us with the option of running outdoors (which I won't do in cold weather) or exercising at home.  I despise the idea of working out to videos, so, for me, implementing a plan to exercise at home means purchasing some equipment.  As I mentioned in another post, we are working to become debt-free (besides our home) within the next couple months, so the nice and pricey treadmill I'd like to have also isn't a good option right now.  (It's beginning to sound like a hopeless cause, right?  I know!)

However... I'm not giving up on my desire to get some exercise yet!  Thanks to my friend Kathleen, my newest idea is to purchase the inexpensive Gazelle Edge.  I've never had the opportunity to use one, but I am intrigued by the low price and the fluid, no-impact movement.  Actually, I was pretty much ready to order one yesterday, but I had to wait for an opportunity to discuss it with my husband. :-)

Kathleen loves her Gazelle Edge.  What about you?  Have you used one?  If so, what do you think of it?  Could this inexpensive machine be the means to me gaining an "edge" over my exercise-less self while still remaining "'gazelle' intense" in our Total Money Makeover?... I'd love to read your comments about this piece of equipment or any other suggestions you might have for my exercise-deprived self! :-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Just Thinking...

I am a thinker.  One of my favorite things to do when I get some quiet time to myself is to just think.  Actually, my preferred and best time to think is while lying in my bed at the end of the day.  As a mom, I usually don't feel that my day is over until the darkness of my bedroom and the warmth of my covers envelops me.  It is there with a sense of accomplishment and finality that I can finally relax my body and exercise my mind.

I don't mean to say that a day in the life of a stay-at-home mom doesn't afford the opportunity to exercise the mind--it certainly does.  A mother, wife, and keeper of the home is constantly faced with such "thinking" opportunities as child training, school teaching, wisdom imparting, problem solving, schedule forming, menu planning, list making.  A day as Mom requires that the mind be on task at all times, and that leaves little to no time for freedom of thought.

Now, I must admit that even in the midst of my mentally busy day as Mom, I do accidentally get lost in thought at times.  My husband, my parents, and probably even my children can testify to my not-so admirable ability to get so lost in thought that I completely tune others out.  This is a tendency I try--and sometimes fail--to keep in check; for in my thinking-induced unresponsiveness to those in my presence, I can inadvertently make them feel unimportant and ignored.

Indeed, the quiet darkness of bedtime is the most appropriate time in my day to freely think.  I would say that the busyness of my Mommy mind is what leads me to utilize--and need--the chance to let my mind drift to thought as my body drifts to sleep, but the truth is that I have been a "bedtime thinker" for as long as I can remember.  It is often there, in the still, responsibility-free environment of bed that my best thoughts, reflections, and prayers come and inspire the things you eventually read here at Eternal Outlook.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kids Say, vol. 10

Amariah (saying her bedtime prayers):  "Dear God, thank You for my bed and my pillow... and my dollhouse... and my new purse... and my Woody and my Jessie... and my walking dog.... But, God?  It doesn't work anymore.  Please change the batteries?  Amen."


Elliana (singing):  "If you're happy and you know--Amen!  If you're happy and you know--Amen!  If you're happy and you know--Amen!..."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Defeating Debt

In November of 2007, Travis and I read a book that changed the course of our lives.  When Dave Ramsey's bestseller The Total Money Makeover made us realize that--get this--debt doesn't have to be a way of life, we immediately began changing our financial behaviors and started our journey to becoming debt-free.

We are now just over three years into that journey, and the destination is finally in sight.  I wouldn't say that we've followed all of Dave's advice exactly to a T--and we haven't been as consistently "gazelle intense" (to use Dave's lingo) as many of Dave's most successful "students"--but with a little common sense and a lot of resolve, we have kept the vision and are on our way to finally becoming financially free.  ("The borrower is the slave of the lender" (Proverbs 22:7b, ESV).)

Our spending behaviors have certainly played a role in the progress we've made; but most of our success I chalk up to my hard-working husband and the job God has blessed him (us) with.  I never cease giving thanks to God for placing Travis in a position that provides well for our family of six and that doesn't necessitate a supplemental income from me or a second job for him.  Through this job, God has supplied not only all of our physical and material needs but also our ability to defeat debt; and, for that I am extremely thankful.

Travis is scheduled to have his annual review today.  As we look back over the past year of his career and ahead to the next, we recognize that every good thing that we have--including Travis' job, his ability to work, and his ability to succeed--is from God (James 1:17).  How thankful we are that He is faithful to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19).  May our trust always be not in a job but in Him "with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow" (James 1:17)!

And, in a couple months, when we expect to be screaming, "WE'RE DEBT FREEEEEEEE!!!", we will recongize that it is only because of Him whom we serve.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Post-Christmas Toy Purging

January seems to be a natural time for a purging of toys, doesn't it?  Christmas means new toys come in, so after Christmas means old toys must go out.  After all, there is only so much space in a house that can be devoted to toys--and only so much attention from a child that can be given to each one.  Too much of anything isn't good.  Isn't that what they say?

It's funny.... I can remember when the sum of the toys in our household was little more than what would fill a small plastic bin.
8-month old Abel with his entire toy collection (Picture taken 11/8/06)
Four years and three more children later, our toy collection fills four 21-gallon storage tubs--and that's just what's in storage... after this January's toy purging....

I have filled one 21-gallon tub, one medium-sized box. and one trash bag with toys to be donated/given away; but the truth is that another 50% of what's in storage could probably be eliminated without interfering with my childrens' quality of play.  Like most of us Americans, they certainly have more than they need.  But, unlike many Americans, they certainly are thankful for what they have.

At bedtime last night, we and the kids, as usual, took our turns praying; and it was Amariah's prayer that stood out to me the most.  As she, without prompting, thanked God for specific toy after specific toy, I couldn't help but smile.  My heart was made glad at the sound of such a simple, innocent, yet important prayer.

Amariah's grateful, loving, and content attitude toward her toys makes me think of Paul's statement in Philippians 4:11b-12a.
"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity."
I believe that my sweet little Amariah would be just as content to have the number of toys that Abel had in the picture above as she is to have all that she can play with and more.  What a sweet example of thankfulness and contentment she sets unawares.

As for the excess of toys still sitting in my storage area?  Well, I think another purging session may be in order sometime before next January. :-)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Laundry... Solution!

Remember when I shared a couple of my laundry problems with you?  Well, thanks to Travis and his Christmas gift to me, one of those problems has officially been solved!
My old drying rack (left) has served me faithfully since my college days, but... my new, huge, Amish-built drying rack (right) is much more appropriate for the amount of laundry I process for my family of six.

No longer do I have to deal with an over-crowded drying rack full of clothes that take too long to air dry.  My new, super big and super sturdy Amish-built drying rack provides more space and more air circulation; and as a result, my clothes require less drying time!
Upon our return home from Christmas travel with a week's worth of dirty laundry, I was able to fit all of the items I wished to hang-dry on my new drying rack--without having to scrunch and crowd!

Who would have thought I could be so excited about such a practical Christmas gift!  I am certain I will use it more than any other thing I thought to ask for. :-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Returning to Normalcy

During my absence from blogging this past week, Travis and the kids and I were enjoying a nice break from the usual routine as we both visited family away from home and hosted family in our home.  But, now that the Christmas celebrations are officially over for the Squires family, life returns to normal today.

Returning to normalcy is always a good thing, though there are admittedly some aspects of normalcy that I dread.  The hardest part of resuming life post-holidays is probably going to be restoring a normal sleep schedule for myself and my kids.  Over our Christmas "break," Travis and I got into the habit of staying up late and letting the kids stay up late; and as a result, we have all been getting up late.  Disciplining myself to return to an earlier bedtime will be difficult but necessary if I am to have happy mornings and productive days!

And, speaking of productive days, I must admit that I feel a little lost as I face this first "normal" week of 2011.  My planner expired, and I don't have a new one yet!  I suppose I can resort to a random slip of paper to create my "To Do" list for a few days, but I think it will be in the best interest of everyone involved if I add the purchase of a 2011 Daily Planner to that "To Do" list. :-)

Ready or not, the holidays are over and the new year is here; and, so, I welcome you back, Normalcy.  I wonder what you will consist of in 2011....

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