Monday, June 29, 2015

Declutter Series Week Three: Kitchen

 
The kitchen is the hub of the home and often one of the messiest rooms in the house. This week, while tackling the kitchen, only take on what you can handle. Work one cabinet or drawer at a time so as to not overwhelm yourself. Below are my suggestions for how to conduct this challenge!

My helper for this project :)

Before starting you may want to gather some baskets, shelf liners, shelf dividers and labels.


Clear off your dumping ground. It may be a counter, center island or the kitchen table. This is where you will do your sorting.


Empty out your cabinets and sort the items into categories. Start with your actual kitchen cabinets first, leave the pantry and fridge/freezer for once you are done otherwise. Only tackle these areas if you have the time and energy as they will be covered during our cleaning challenge.


Quickly wipe down the cabinet doors and interiors.

Get rid of obvious trash. Then go through your items. Ones that can fit, put into bins. Anything that you haven't used in awhile, consider if you really do need to keep it. Then put your bins back into the cabinets and drawers keeping like categories together (labelling may help).


Now move to your counters. Remove all items and clean down the counters and backsplash/walls.

Wipe down you small appliances and large ones too! Removing artwork from the fridge keeps it looking neater, but as moms, maybe just limiting the artwork to a few pieces is more realistic.


Only put small appliances you use daily back on the counter.

Now wipe down your workspace (the surface you were sorting on) and mop down the floors.


Take your box of to sell or to donate items out of the house right away. Dispose of your trash bag as well!

Some suggested categories:

Coffee and tea area
Silverware drawer
Cup cabinet
Dishes cabinet
Storage containers cabinet
Bakingware
Cookware
Pots and Pans
Drawers or hooks for potholders and kitchen linens
Spice cabinet
Vitamin cabinet
Sink cleaning area

Best wishes in your week and remember, go at your pace don't worry about how anyone else will do the job!


Blessings,

Audrey

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Victory Series Bible Study Week 8: Adam's Sin

Greetings Gents!

Last week we discussed the deception of Eve and its implication for male and female relationships. This week, we discuss Adam's original sin and its implications towards male fallibility. Our foundation passage for this week is Ezekiel 3: 16-19:

"16 And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul."

What should be remembered is that, while Eve was deceived by the serpent, Adam willfully chose to sin knowing the wrongness of it. The consequence of this sin was death, as God so clearly warned. Not just physical death that Adam and all his descendants would be forced to suffer, but spiritual death: separation from God. It is important to note that it was Adam's willful sin and not Eve's deception that brought this about. Satan did not force Adam to sin or trick him through his naïveté.

Adam's sin reflects the failure of his descendants (aka me and you) to keep watch at our souls' gateways. Sin was not originally a part of the world, but was granted entry through Adam's disobedience. Adam failed as a watchman for his own soul. This theme is illustrated to later prophets, such as Ezekiel, who were expected to act as watchmen for the souls of the faithful:

"18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." Ezekiel 3:18

The message is pretty straightforward: you're accountable to God if you fail to keep watch against sin and evil. Our duty as watchmen come from our spiritual dependence upon God. We need God in our lives, but we have the choice of trying to live independent of him. We can live independent of God, or we can live with God. Attempting to live independent of God is the nature of sin, and the consequences of doing so are clear: death (Romans 6: 23). The consequence of living dependent on God is constant vigilance. 

Questions we should consider over the coming week:
- Why did Adam choose to sin? Why do we choose to sin in our daily lives?
- How can we be deceived into believing we live righteous lives when we are not?
- What does it mean when it is said that "Everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Romans 14: 23)
- How can we train ourselves to recognize the short-term and long-term consequences of our choices and actions?
- What will be the effect on society when no one suffers the consequences of their choices and actions?

I hope everyone has a great week. Stay vigilant and strong, gentleman!

Bible Study Week Eight: Merchant Ships

The virtuous wife is compared to two different things in Proverbs 31. We already examined one comparison, this week we will study the other.

Philippian Merchant Woman

As always, we will begin with a prayer of understanding. Pray for open hearts and calm minds ready to receive what God would have us learn. Then read Proverbs 31:10-31 and be on the look out for two ways she is compared to other things and make note of them in your journal when finished reading.

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Verse 10 contains the first comparison. Being compared to rubies and jewels feels lovely! The idea of being a ship, especially a cargo ship, is going to require some serious though though. What does the virtuous woman and a merchant ship have in common?

18th Century British Ship

Some questions to consider when trying to answer the above:

What is the purpose of the merchant ship?
What sort of items does it carry?
How busy is a merchant ship?
Does it sit idle in the harbor?
Does it only bring items back from foreign lands?
Whose mission is the merchant ship fulfilling?
Who directs the activity of the merchant ship?
How much planning would be required for a successful trading voyage?
How is the merchant ship powered?
Who benefits from the cargo of the merchant ship?
What hardships does the ship face?
What maintenance would the merchant ship require?

After listing everything you can think of related to merchant ships in your journal, make comparisons between the merchant ship and the virtuous wife. How is she like a merchant ship? How is her purpose similar to that of the merchant ship as she obtains food and other necessities for her household? Answer each of the questions above, this time applying them to the life of the virtuous woman. What kind of shopper do you think she was? Do you think she had good bargaining skills? Was she able to find a good deal?


Claude-Joseph Vernet

We all have some skill or aptitude that can be useful to others. If you don't know what yours might be, ask God to open your heart and mind to what he would lead you to. These skills can be applied in so many ways. Whether it is just helping a friend out or settling a bill through bartering.

Husbands work hard to provide for our families too. As wives, we honor them (and earn their trust) by being creatively frugal. By making the earnings go as far as possible while still delighting the family with healthy and delicious food, a welcoming and lovely home, and all the other little necessities of our families.

Eating matters to God. We are called to dine with him at the Lord's Supper. As we read the Old Testament we see it is filled with feasts. He has created for us an amazing array of foods. Feeding our families well is part of fearing him, worshipping him, and thanking him. 

She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

Pray on this verse, what does God want you to think or do differently?

Children Trading Berries




With Our Children

Before starting, gather some items for the children to "trade". Food items may be traded for other goods (pick whatever you like: clothing, books, toys, etc). Plan ahead so you may use the food items for a lovely picnic or tea time snack.

Then read Proverbs 31:14 with them



She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

Explain how the virtuous woman is like the merchant ships, trading her wares and time for items she could not produce herself. 

Then let them practice trading!

Have one child pretend to be the ship, loaded with items to sell. Another child waits for them with food to trade for the items they would like. 

When the children are done playing, enjoy a snack and conversation about all they have learned.



Blessings,

Audrey

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wrap Up of Week Two: After Pictures of Living and Family Rooms



Our Living Room is the first room you walk into in our home. It's feeling so much fresher!


The bins were cleaned out and the chairs vacuumed.





The bench now holds five bins for movies, blankets, remotes, books and a few toys. The quilt was changed out and folded neatly for the top.





We moved the couch last week, but we moved the cat perch next to it this week. The table to the left of the couch has a bin underneath to hold cords and electronics.





Floors, windows, and trim were quickly wiped down. Rugs and furniture were vacuumed. All was cleaned just enough to make it look clean from when I moved things around, no deep cleaning or stressing out over how it looked.


I mentioned last week to make lists for each room as you clean them to keep them clean. Here's an example:

Every Day
Wipe surfaces down
Put items properly away
Sweep or dust mop
Straighten furniture

Every Week
Clean windows
Vacuum floors and furniture
Mop floors
Find three items to rehome

These lists can be posted on the walls of the rooms and/or added to a binder to begin making a Home Journal.

I hope the week has been productive for you all! Next week, we are tackling the kitchen!

Blessings,

Audrey

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Staying Organized While Packing

In the last seven years I have moved at least once a year. I've tried all kinds of packing tips but today I'll tell you what has worked best for us.

What I use:

Binder
Notebook paper
Dividers
Page Protectors
Markers
Lables



Last week I talked about the lists I make before I even get started packing. I use that list to make a rough estimate of how many boxes I might need and what sizes. I try to use as many boxes of the same size as I can so they will stack well. I rarely use large boxes because I know that while they hold a lot in them, they tend to break, have items get broken, and don't stack very well (mostly because they end up too heavy).

The first things we decided to pack were baby clothing, books and my craft boxes. Baby clothing was sorted into three medium boxes: gender neutral, boys and girls. Craft boxes got put into 2 large boxes and the books are being packed by genre into small boxes.

Janet Kruskamp
 
Then I labelled. Baby clothing goes into our nursery so I labelled the boxes N1, N2 and N3. I wrote these box numbers on a sheet of paper along with their contents and put them into the binder. I like to pick colors for our labelling as well. The nursery boxes are all written in pink. The craft boxes are going into our office, O1 and O2. The books go into our homeschool room H1 and so on (I think we have 6 so far). Keeping each box as simple as possible really helps with packing, labelling and then organizing when unpacking.

Keep inventory as you pack and keep it in a binder so you can find it and the boxes quickly. I like to use page dividers with clear tabs so I can write in my colors on them. Page protectors let me check things off as I unpack as well. The goal of packing like this is to make your life less stressful, so don't worry if you are doing it "right" or not! Enjoy and happy packing!

Blessings,

Audrey

Monday, June 22, 2015

Declutter Challenge Week Two: Living and Family Room

 
Week Two! Living Rooms and Family Rooms can often become our biggest challenge areas as we live in these rooms daily. Don't let any mess overwhelm you! We're going to take it one step at a time, one pile at a time, one area at a time.

Take a picture of your before space and post it in our group!


Then, gather some bags, boxes or baskets for sorting. Label them so you know what you are looking for and at later (this may be Keep, Donate, Trash, Sell, Move to Another Room, etc)

Then, sort EVERYTHING. Take everything off shelves, out of bins and cabinets, from under furniture, up off the floor, etc.


Once everything is sorted, clean. Dust, vacuum and mop if needed. Don't stress yourself too much over this process, remember, we have a cleaning challenge coming up as well!

Now it's time to put things away.

Containerize as much as possible. Group like items together. This helps the room look less messy. Use bins you already own from around the home, that you pick up at thrift stores or garage sales, or check Target, Walmart or Big Lots (even Dollar Stores have bins sometimes).

Once your room is organized, add decor back in (or decorate for the first time!) and take an after picture.

Can't wait to see all of your spaces!

Blessings,

Audrey

 
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Bible Study Week Seven: Willing Hands

Beautiful, loving, mother's hands.

Fine Art America

This week, we will begin studying the virtuous wife in action as she tends to her many duties.

Begin with prayer. Pray for an open, teachable heart before you read Proverbs 31:10-31

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. 

As you read, draw a small hand over each appearance of the words hand or hands. When you have finished, record in your notebook all that is said about hands in this passage. Record the verses along with each phrase.

Her hands were exceptionally busy weren't they? They are mentioned several times, but this week, we will be focusing on verse 13.

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.


 Flax Processing Wikipedia

Processing wool and flax was no easy task. It was a tedious process that the Jewish women used for making their family's clothing. The flax plant was ripped from the soil, dried, and "rippled" to remove the seed pods. These were then left in the dew or other water to partially decompose, dried again, then "scruntched" to break the flax to remove any remaining chaff and pulled through several different hatchels to clean and align plant fibers. After all this, the fibers are finally ready to be spun into thread. 

Wool was no easier. It first had to sheared from the sheep, skirted to remove the manure covered portions that were unsuitable for spinning (a dirty job), washed thoroughly, teased to spread out the wool and then carded to smooth out the fibers. This was then pulled into strips called roving before being spun into thread or yarn. If you ever get a chance to watch this process or help with it, it is an incredible opportunity. Working with your hands like this feels so deeply rewarding.

Wool Processing Wikipedia

The statement that this virtuous wife works with willing hands is truly significant. Such a great deal of work went into just preparing the fibers for spinning then weaving and finally sewing their family clothing. 

Now let's look at the word worketh. Skim the verses listed and definitions to glean meaning of this word. Note your insights in your notebook. 

Now let's move to willingly. This is where we will need to pause to examine our hearts. Look at the definitions for this word! The valiant woman works with pleasure. She takes delight in her work! 

Why?

She fears the Lord. Everything she does is an act of worship when she does it "heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Col. 3:23)

She Worketh Willingly With Her Hands
Elspeth C. Young

We can take joy in the many repetitive tasks in our lives. God is blessing us over and over! Diapers mean the blessing of children. Dishes the blessing of food. Laundry the blessing of clothing and family. 

We can also take joy in in hunting down God's gifts and investing ourselves in them. The Proverbs 31 woman seeks out raw materials and with her industry, improves them. She takes a plant that God created and caused to grow and she works with it, soaking it, beating it, pulling it, combing it, and preparing it for creating garments for her family. 

What has God placed around us? Diligently using the creativity, skill, and energy which God graciously provides, what can we take a hold of to improve so that it blesses others and glorifies the Giver? A garden space? Our home? A musical gift? A houseful of children? A neighbor's yard? Seize those opportunities and delight in them!

Think about and pray on this verse today. See if it changes the way you see, and do, your work this week. 

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. 

Harmony
Nancy Noel

 
With Our Children

Read Proverbs 31:13 with your children then enjoy the videos below and discuss what you have learned with them

Flax Processing
Flax Spinning 

Talk about how she did all this with delight. How she feared God and all that she did became and act of worship as she served him.

Talk about what God has given them to do. How should their love for and honor of God shape how they think of their work?

Make "She worketh willingly with her hands" your motto for the day. Boys can work willingly with their hands too! They can choose to do their work "heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men". 

Talk about your day before bed. Does a change in attitude affect how you all do your work?



Blessings,

Audrey 

Victory Series Bible Study Week 7: The Deception of Eve

Greetings Gents!

This week's study concerns itself, not with men directly, but with women and our relationship with them. Our passage for this week is 1 Timothy 2: 11-15:

"11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."
The story of Genesis makes it clear in no uncertain detail that it was Eve, not Adam, that was originally deceived by Satan. This deception set in motion the end of Eden and the advent of a sinful existence for all mankind. The question at stake now, what is the appropriate relationship between men and women now?

It must be remembered from all our previous lessens that the relationship between men and women was intended to be complimentary. Eve was created from Adam's flesh in order to serve as his helper (Genesis 2:18). Adam and Eve originally shared a perfect relationship awash in each other's and God's love. However, now that the perfect relationship is shattered, an imbalance seems the result. But this is not the case.

1 Timothy 2: 11-15 does not mean that women are inferior to men. Rather, it concerns itself with the structure of authority within the church. God has given abilities and talents to everyone regardless of gender and expects us to use them to the best of our abilities. Men maintain the role of authority within the church as a reflection of God's authority over us. Men are expected to lead the church in the same way they are expected to lead the family unit. Men are not expected to dominate women, but to lead. Male leadership is meant to nurture in the same way that God intends to nurture humanity with his leadership in our lives.

As study author Neil T Anderson points out, this misinterpretation has resulted in undo hardships and abuse for women in many churches throughout the centuries. However, Christianity has resulted in greater gender equality than any other religion in spite of this. This is precisely because of God's directive for men to assume authority and leadership in their relationships with women, not domination. The same cannot be said elsewhere. Women being submissive does not imply inferiority, nor should it ever be treated as such. The image of God is equally present in women as it is in men. In terms of relationships, it should always be remembered: "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour." (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

Questions we should consider over the coming week:
-How can we use our abilities and talents within our relationships to bring out our full God-given potential and help encourage this in others?
-What has shaped your perception of the opposite gender? How has that affected the way you relate to them?
-Why has the Church not always treated women with equality? How does this compare with the domination endured by women in the non-Christian world? Why is this the case?

I hope the coming week finds everyone happy and healthy. Stay strong and take care, Gents!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wrap Up Week One: After Pictures of Entry Ways, Mudrooms and Laundry Areas


How did you week go ladies? Hopefully you are feeling encouraged and a few spaces in your home are feeling less overwhelming. Here are some after pictures of my home. Share yours in our group!






Our Entry Way leads directly into our living room. We moved our couch to make space for a bench and a bin for shoes. The dresser was re-purposed from our dining room and is holding jackets, shoes and other accessories. On top of the dresser are bins for keys, change, and sunglasses etc. We added a new entry mat to better match the rest of the room.


In our Mudroom, we packed up our out of season items, added labels and a bin for purses. Coats were hung, shoes put into the bin in the bench or on their shelf, and a basket for keys etc added.


We also added a rug to freshen up the space.


Our Laundry Area is a bit more of a challenge.


We put our laundry soaps in the metal bin to make it easier to move. The laundry basket is for clean laundry and the divided bin on the right for dirty. The white container behind the laundry basket is what we are using as a washer right now (teeny tiny loads). Up above, we reorganized our cleaning items into labeled bins.


I can't wait to see all your spaces! Next week, we are working on Living Rooms and Family Rooms. Get ready with your before pictures for Monday!

Blessings,

Audrey

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Preparing for a Major Move

Many of you know that my husband is transitioning into the Reserve after serving our country in the Army and then as a military contractor for many years. We are moving into a new season of life in our family and are preparing for a possible move across the country.

Fred Swan

How do we prepare for such an event that isn't certain yet? Especially while pregnant and with a small child at home? (And good gracious how do you prepare when your home already feels overwhelming?!?)

Here is what I am doing.

Many of you know I love simplicity and bite size projects, I'm taking the same approach for this move and packing.

My first goal was to make a list of all the rooms here I had to pack up (if you know how many rooms you will have in your new home list them to give them purpose). In our home we have:

Master Bedroom
Nursery
Family Closet
Guest Room
Bathroom
Dining Room
Kitchen
Laundry Area
Office
Mudroom
Play Space
Living Room
Craft Room

Susan Rios

For each of these, I began listing categories within them. For instance, a bedroom will have decor, linens and maybe books. Our family closet has clothing for the each of us, seasonal clothing items, and baby clothing by gender. I try to be as detailed as possible listing these categories as this will be my base for figuring out boxes.

Once I finished this, I made a phased plan. I have three phases. The first is basically packing up everything we don't use on a regular basis. The second is packing up our garage and storage areas. The third is everything else including packing for our actual trip (ie. items we may need right away or while we are on the road). Based on our home I think the first two phases will take about two weeks each. This kind of plan and timing will look different for every family, but having the plan will help you stay on track.

Since we are decluttering the Entry Way and Laundry areas this week, I packed up what I could in there like out of season items. We've also been working on packing up items that already live in boxes (like my craft supplies) as well as books we don't use every day.

I hope this is helpful to some of you and inspires you on your journey!

Blessings,

Audrey



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