The Prince Warrior Trilogy - Audra's pick
One of my favorite Bible Study leaders, Priscilla Shirer, has written a trilogy for tweens/teens! It’s very Narnia like and kept my boy wanting to read more. These books are great for individual or family reading time.
The Blue Door - Laura's pick
It is so important for our teens to find their gifting and to know that their role in life is part of God's bigger plan and this is exactly what this book brings to life. It's written by a Christian author that points the reader to God in the midst of adventure and spiritual warfare.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - Rebecca's pick
This is a fun and engaging series for children ages 8 and up. According to my boy, these witty books take you on an adventure through mayhem, mystery and mischief. They keep the reader in suspense until the very last page.
Andrew Peterson's The Wingfeather Saga - Tammy's pick
Songwriter Andrew Peterson penned one of my teens' favorite series, the Wingfeather Saga. The tantalizing titles - On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and North, or Be Eaten and The Monster in the Hollows - afford a glimpse into the marvelous world inside these books. The reader quickly slings on his backpack and joins the protagonists in this thrilling adventure full of twists and surprises.
Best of all, this series speaks to the hero inside of our teens. The hero who longs to fight a good fight and be victorious. So, so good! There are currently only three books in this series, but my kiddos are hopeful he'll write a fourth. Enjoy!
The Giver - Anna Blair's pick
I like this book series because it shows that being yourself and not following the crowds is always best.
Cash System- Audra's Pick
When Jordan and I got married we were on our way to racking up a hefty credit card debt. Once we realized the mess we were in, we had no idea how to fix it. We decided to attend a finance course at our church, similar to a Dave Ramsey class. The class taught us how to not only pay off the debt, but how to divide out the money we had to spend each month into a cash system. This way we could physically see how much money we had to spend. When the cash was gone out of a certain category each month, it was gone...until the next month. This is a plan we still use today. Not only did it help us pay off the debt we had, but it has helped us to save a large percentage of our paychecks every month!
The "Spender" Pays the Bills - Laura's Pick
A couple of years ago we moved to a new town and during the moving process, I was overwhelmed by all of our "stuff". I began a journey of wanting to simplify our life! That's when I discovered a blog called, Becoming Minimalist. One day I stumbled upon "Don't Buy Stuff You Don't Need". In this particular blog, the author Joshua Becker, says to put the spender in charge of personal finances. Y'all this was a game changer for us!
With me being the spender in our marriage (and having no clue of our personal finances), I just could not understand why we were not able to save any money. Once I began paying the bills, I say things to Boogie like, "Do you know how many times we have been out to eat this month?" or "We are spending too much on ______ (whatever it might be)." He would just kindly smile at me, knowing that I was finally figuring it out! Now that I am in charge of the finances, I am much more aware of what's going in and what's going out and we are in a much better place now! I realize this may not work for everyone, but Boogie and I both agree that we do not want any debt, so this works for us.
Show Respect with Every Purchase - Rebecca's Pick
I jokingly like to say that financial wisdom is one of my husband's spiritual gifts. He has a lot of it (and I don't)! I recognized this very early in our marriage. I had a hefty credit card bill when he met me and he insisted that I pay it off before our wedding. Talk about hard core! But, I quickly realized that we were better for it and have since respected all his financial decisions which include not spending what we don't have (no credit cards), practicing prudence and contentment, thoroughly reading customer reviews before purchases, and clipping coupons. Oh, how he loves coupons! I will be walking into a store and a text from him will pop up on my phone with a coupon for that store. No joke!
But, above all, the winning ingredient is clear communication. No lying. No telling him the pre-tax price. No hiding purchases. No justifying purchases because it was a major "Sale". No "extra" purchases without receiving his blessing. This creates trust in our marriage and communicates to him (the sole provider) that I appreciate his hard work and use wisdom in my spending. I may not have many money saving tips but I have learned how to be respectful and transparent in my spending and that has saved us in other ways!
For more on trust and respect with money in marriage, read this.
Kids and Money - Tammy's Pick
Once our kiddos started hitting double digits, we quickly realized their wants were increasing with the years. We implemented a few guidelines.
1. Out with friends - If the kiddos are out with friends, the money they spend comes from their own pocket. No money, no outing. Want money, do a chore or two.
2. Material Goods - We pay for the basics. Anything over and above, they pay for half of the price of the item. As they age, we slowly step back our part. By 18, they'll pay the full amount.
3. Car - We've told our kids if they want a car at 16 or whenever, we will match what they save towards it.
4. Christmas/ Birthdays - We have a 3 gift limit as well as a set amount for each season so as to not over give or over spend.
5. Chores - We choose to pay for extra chores over the typical housekeeping chores.
These are just a few of the ideas we TRY to implement. It's hard with the changing times and pace of life, but it is our desire to prepare them for adult responsibilities during the time they are under our roof.
Break A Money Spending Habit - Colene's Pick
An excellent way to save money is to break a habit that continually costs you money. I have developed the unfortunate habit of buying things simply because they are on sale. Instead of patting myself on the back for finding such an excellent deal, I try to instead focus on the opportunity cost of this purchase. Asking questions like, "What else could I do with this money?" and "Do I really need this?" help me avoid wasteful purchases.
Read Colene's excellent post on money and faith here.
This week Americans and Christians worldwide mourn the passing of and celebrate the great life and ministry of Billy Graham. His impact for the Kingdom of God is incalculable. More than 3.2 million people responded to the invitation at Billy Graham Crusades to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. As of 2008, Graham's estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion. Because of his crusades, Graham preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone in the history of Christianity. The ripple effect still continues today.
Audra's pick -
“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion--it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”
Laura's pick -
"What I find disturbing in America is the consuming desire for leisure, convenience, and fun. It seems we, as a nation, have traded God for gadgets. We have traded eternal truth for momentary self-gratification—worshipping false gods of materialism and humanism instead of the Creator of all things."
Rebecca's pick -
“Every day has exactly 1,440 minutes; can’t you find even 10 of them to be with your heavenly Father? Doesn’t God deserve the best minutes of your day?”
Tammy's pick -
“During all my years as an evangelist, my message has always been the Gospel of Christ. It is not a Western religion, nor is it a message of one culture or political system. … It is a message of life and hope for all the world.”
Mitzi's pick -
"The greatest enemy of love is our selfishness, but in marriage you can’t always have your own way, so learn to compromise with grace."
OnePlace app - Audra's pick
This free app includes a list of well-known Bible teachers. I can go here and pick out messages on just about any topic or Scripture that I’m studying. From Kay Arthur to Charles Stanley and from James Dobson to Focus on the Family, it’s a great place to find many inspiring messages from trusted voices.
D6 Family - Laura's pick
A friend of my husband’s started an organization called Parent Ministry and this same friend now does a podcast for D6 Family. After serving in student ministry for 14 years and becoming parents ourselves, we knew the importance of investing inside the home. Taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-7, D6 is a movement intentional about empowering parents, homes, marriages, leaders, and churches to live out the story of Deuteronomy 6. This Scripture paints a beautiful picture for the family and of God’s heart for discipleship at home. The family is God’s original small group. D6 provides resources to align the church and home to accomplish God’s design of generational discipleship.
Living Proof with Beth Moore - Rebecca's pick
This isn't exactly a podcast but rather a recording of Beth's messages at her Living Proof Live events. Beth always lights my fire and her passion for the Lord and His Holy Scriptures has been a heavy influence in my life. My favorite time to listen is when I'm prepping dinner. It makes the time go by faster and the job more enjoyable (since cooking just isn't my thing). And, I had the joy of attending her Christmas session Yet For Love's Sake when she recorded it at our church. Dream come true!
Dr. Caroline Leaf - Tammy's pick
If you know my story, you'll know I suffered from bouts of debilitating depression. It affected everything, my job, my marriage, my parenting, and my friendships. At the age of 40, I had enough. I told God I would do whatever it took to turn this "Titanic of a person" around. I dove into Scripture and radically applied its principles. And by the grace of God, it worked.
This summer, Rebecca introduced me to Dr. Caroline Leaf. I was fascinated with her explanations of what went on in my brain during my transformation. She's a firm believer that when we apply God's Word, we can rewire our brain and our outcome. An added plus, she speaks with a cool accent. Enjoy!
God Centered Mom - Molly’s pick
My ultimate go-to podcast is God Centered Mom by Heather MacFadyen. I have listened to it for 3 years and have never finished a podcast without being both encouraged and challenged, whether it be in my parenting, my marriage, or my own walk with the Lord. Heather has fantastic (and many well known) guests that are knowledgeable about a variety of topics. She and her guests do not talk surface-level Christianity. They go deep into how to be God-centered in everything we do as moms. She has a great website at godcenteredmom.com where you can find resources, show notes, and connect with other moms.
Time with You-Audra's pick
Send the kids to the grandparents for the night or get a sitter to come to your house. If sitters or money is an isssue, send the kids to bed early and organize a dinner date for just the two of you.
Sporting/Concert Tickets- Laura's pick
"Gifts" are at the very bottom of my husband's love languages, so material things just really don't get him very excited. He LOVES experiences though! He is a sports and concert junkie! I am always on the search for his favorite band or his favorite sports team within reasonable distance from us. It makes for a fabulous "date" trip too!
Homemade Coupon Book - Rebecca's pick
My man loves the simple stuff. No matter the occasion - birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day, Father's Day - he always asks for a coupon book. Since this is a frequent request, I've had fun getting a little creative with them. And, if there's a gift that he does want but I'm clueless about it, such as golf equipment, I just make a coupon for it so he can go and pick it out himself.
Lingerie - Tammy's pick
Sweet one - God created your man as a visual creature. All day, pictures scroll thru his head. This was God's good design so man would want to return to his wife after a long hunt or war, etc. Fast forward to today, your man is bombarded with images on a daily bases from society. Why not fill his visual Rolodex with you! While you're searching for the perfect ooo-la-la, don't fall for savvy marketing. Name brand lingerie does not make you any more appealing than Walmart finds. Happy hunting and wearing, my married friend!
Coupon Book/Words of Affirmation- Cheryl's pick
My husband’s love language is words of affirmation. Last year I bought a book of coupons that had various things written on the back such as I am praying for you today or you are such an amazing husband and father. Each of them has a special Bible verse on the back or it may be a coupon card where he could trade it in for various things like a coupon in for a free night off or free pass to go hang out with the guys. There is some space to write in a special message. I will occasionally leave one in his car or maybe type one on the bathroom mirror for him to say when he wakes up.
Fun Ideas to Show Some LOVE This February
Mailboxes- Audra's pick
At the beginning of February each year we pull out these adorable mini mailboxes that I found in the dollar section at Target several years ago. There’s one for each family member. For the first half of February, up until Valentine’s Day, we “mail” love letters to each other. The kids are thrilled every time they receive a new letter and it’s so sweet to receive them from them!
Chocolate Covered Strawberries - Laura's pick
I think chocolate covered strawberries scream Valentine’s Day! I have spent many years making them as gifts and I always spoiled my youth Bible study girls with them! Last year though, our daughter was preparing to go on her first mission trip and we had the idea to use strawberries as a fundraiser. It was perfect! She assembled the boxes, washed all the strawberries, wrote an individual “thank you” card to each person, and I dipped all of the strawberries (I’m a little OCD about that). She raised over half the money for her trip! What a blessing it was!
Crafts - Rebecca's pick
Valentine's Day has always been my favorite holiday for crafting! All the pretty pinks and reds and messages about love are so fun! My daughter is at the perfect age for crafting so I lug a Valentine craft box down from the attic every year and set it out on the table. We dabble in it whenever creative inspiration hits. Sequins and buttons and doilies litter my table the first half of February and I love to read all the heartfelt messages and ooh and aah over the things she creates. And, we love making Valentine boxes, too!
Valentine Coupon Book - Tammy's pick
I always have the best intentions to be more intentional with my kiddos but life gets in the way. A couple of years ago, we tried a coupon book with monthly date ideas. It worked. The kids loved cashing them in, and it gave us the one on one time we longed for. With two teens and a tween in the house, one on one time grows more scarce. Therefore, a coupon book is just the gift! Here are some great sources for ideas and printables.
Celebrating Sam- Joy's
Mine may be a little different. My son, Sam, was born on Valentine’s Day so we are celebrating him! Birthday celebrations begin first thing in the morning with waking up to the Happy Birthday song followed by a special breakfast. It’s a day full of celebrating his special day! 💕
Cubes and Cups - Audra's pick
Organizing is a hobby of mine. You wouldn’t be able to tell it by looking at my house right now, because it’s in need of an organizational makeover. But for me, so much peace comes from being organized. With kids, sometimes it’s easy to get there, but much harder to keep things that way. So I’ve learned when it comes to materials they will be using and putting away by themselves, to keep it simple. They probably won’t take the time to put each crayon, pencil, marker, eraser...back into the original box one at a time. But, it’s not too much to expect them to throw all of the markers together into a big box. I actually use this same method for bathroom drawers and kitchen drawers as well. Yes, I could go behind my kids and constantly clean up after them and make sure everything was done perfectly. But, what would they be learning from that? And, truthfully, when am I gonna find the time???
Here are some pictures of our school/craft supplies:
Bill Organizer - Laura's pick
I must be honest, when they told me today’s top pick was organization, I knew I was in trouble! Organization is not my expertise by no means! The best organizational skill I have is with paying our bills, which I guess is an important one! Every Christmas my mother-in-law puts a file folder bill box in my stocking. We label each folder by bill and file them this way. I have found that is easier than by month because I know exactly where to go if I am in need of something. It’s especially helpful when tax time comes! We just grab the box and head out the door, no searching for documents that we need.
Flip Top Canisters - Rebecca's pick
I have a tIny kitchen so every cabinet and drawer is valuable real estate. Since I follow the Trim Healthy Mama plan, I use A LOT of ingredients. The only way I can make it all work is by being super organized in that tight space. The Better Homes & Gardens flip top canisters from Walmart have been a space and time saver! Also, hanging my sets of measuring spoons was a rare stroke of genius! The spice racks pictured have since been hung on the backsplash to help maximize counter space. It’s a tiny but efficient space!!
Wall (desk) Calendar - Tammy's pick
I know this isn't anything spectacular, but without a doubt, it simplified and organized my life in 2017. One of my crafty friends created a beautiful communication wall for me complete with a desk calendar hung in a key location. Now whenever someone has an appointment or activity, they grab the handy pen next to the calendar and write it down. Each person is responsible for adding their event. I now know by a glance at my desk turned wall calendar who is where and when. I LOVE it! An added bonus: The children chart their completed chores on it.
2018 Weekly Planner - Shannon's pick
I could not survive without my planner! I am not an electronic girl. I am all about making lists and checking things off and writing things in my planner. I carry it everywhere!! My phone may crash but I always have my planner!