Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Single Income Families: 10 Principles for Success

I originally wrote this as part of the “frugal living” series a long time ago. However, I believe the principles apply whether you’re a stay at home mom or not!

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There are a few principles necessary for most of us to make it on one income. Here are some that come to mind.

Generosity

Yes, you read that right. You can’t out-give God. We shouldn’t give so He’ll bless us, but the bottom line is that when we give, He gives back–abundantly. I’ve seen Him do it! Start with a tithe (10% of your income) given to your local church. Beyond that, look for ways to give money, time, possessions, talents, and resources to others. Even if you don’t receive a tangible blessing as a result, know that you’re laying up treasures in Heaven where it really counts.

Frugality

Obviously our culture is designed for the lifestyles of two-income families. For those of us who have made the choice to be homemakers, it takes a good dose of thriftiness to manage our families with today’s cost of living. We have to learn to be frugal mamas!

Contentment

In our materialistic culture it’s difficult to differentiate between wants vs. needs. If we are going to successfully live on one income, we must learn to be content with what we have. The Apostle Paul learned this lesson. In Philippians 4:11 he said,…I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” We don’t truly need as much as we often think we do.

Thankfulness

Thankfulness goes hand-in-hand with contentment. When we are grateful for what God has given us, we don’t always feel compelled to have more. Let’s remember that if we own a home and a car we’re richer than 95% of the world. That helps put it in perspective!

Patience

Patience saves a lot of money. It’s hard to get past our culture’s must-have-now mentality, but when we do, it’s worth it.

Unselfishness

We have to let go of feeling entitled to certain possessions, luxuries, opportunities, and even our own time. We must put the wants and even sometimes the needs of others before our own.

Sacrifice

When we are unselfish, sacrifice isn’t so hard, and in this wealthy nation I remind myself that my “sacrifices” aren’t that significant anyway. Try to keep the big picture in mind.

Creativity

Frugality doesn’t have to mean spartan living. Be creative! Don’t settle for the bare minimum. Find simple ways to make your life beautiful.

Joy and Laughter

Your family will love having you at home when you are full of joy and make home a fun place to be.

Commitment

If you make the choice to stay home, the only way you’ll succeed is to be absolutely committed to it. Stay the course, even when it’s hard!

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Remember, even if these are qualities you don’t have, God can help you develop them…And the discipline of becoming a homemaker may be the catalyst He wants to use!

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Here’s a little rhyme that was popular during the Great Depression. It’s a good reminder of how to make a little go a long way.

Use it up, wear it out,
Make it do, or do without.


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Frugal Living

Food and gas prices are going up, everyone knows that. I think ways to cut back have been on everyone’s mind these days, especially single income families (and many 2-income families as well).

I’m starting a little series on frugal living. I want to share–and ask for your input–on ways to be good stewards of the resources God has blessed us with. Frugality doesn’t have to be a bad word! Learning to be careful with our finances simply enables us to live as well as possible on what God has blessed us with.

Some time back, I did an informal survey of some stay-at-home moms I’m acquainted with online. Although I didn’t ask anyone to share incomes, most of them volunteered that their families lived on less than $50,000 per year, many of them on much, much less. All had at least two children, most four or more. Most had little if any debt, including car notes.

They shared wonderful ideas on how to save money. But the general consensus was that the biggest factor in making it on one income is attitude. They believe that the sacrifices they make are worth it, and they take care to live with joy and contentment and not fall into a poverty mindset. They’re thankful.

So whether you’re a stay at home mom or not, what are your favorite frugal tips? Do you think that attitude is as vital as what we do with our cash? Any other thoughts?


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Completely Natural Jello

Yep, that’s right. You can make your own jello with no added sugar, artificial colors, or fake flavors.

32 oz. 100% fruit juice (Welch’s White Grape Cherry makes the most “like-real-jello” jello, in look and taste)

6 packets unflavored Knox gelatin

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Heat half the juice in a saucepan till boiling. As it heats, pour the rest into a bowl and stir in the gelatin.

Pour hot juice over juice/gelatin mixture and stir till gelatin completely dissolves.

Chill till set. See, it’s not much harder than making regular jello! And while not perfect, it’s a lot better for you and your little ones than regular jello.

We also like to add fruit, like banana slices or unsweetened fruit cocktail before we chill the jello. You can add whatever you like.


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Protecting Our Children

I like to talk about the happy part of mothering, not the scary, dangerous part. But sometimes it’s necessary to talk about the bad stuff, so here’s something Billy and I have used that might be helpful to some of you. Family Watchdog is the National S*x Offender Registry (word altered to prevent yucky googlers). You can easily search your area–even your street–for convicted offenders. We once decided not to buy a home in a particular neighborhood simply because an offender lived too close to the house we were looking at. I like their motto: “Awareness is your best defense.” There’s truth in that. It’s important to know who’s near you who could be a danger to your children. In a broken world, there are no guarantees that our children won’t get hurt, no matter how closely we watch–but it’s important for us as parents to be as wise and careful as possible.


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Daily Routines

In the comments to this post, Angel asked about routine. I’m flattered that anyone thinks I have a routine, but I’m afraid I had to laugh–at myself. I’m good at putting routines on paper, but sticking to it–not so much. Although when I do, things go so much better. I grew up in a routine oriented home, but my life in recent years has been heavy on transition. I’m in better routines now than I’ve been for a long time. I know routines are essential for the home to run smoothly and kids thrive on structure and predictability. I know I did. So sticking to a plan is something I work on constantly. Since I don’t plan to move or have a baby this year (just did both those things) and I pray fervently that we won’t be struck by any surgeries or major illnesses any time soon, perhaps by the end of the year we’ll be in a good groove.

Here is my basic routine that works for me when I stick to it!!! This is just the bare bones basics, but it’s a guideline for what needs to be done.

Morning—Before 10

Quiet time (personal Bible reading and prayer)

Dress and comb everyone

Make beds/tidy rooms

Breakfast–hard boiled eggs and fruit or granola bars and fruit

Supper in crock pot

Bread in machine

1 load laundry

Mid-morning—10-12

Mid-morning snack-veggies & dip/nuts/goldfish/pb crackers/popcorn—outside!

2nd load laundry

Homeschool lessons

Lunch

PB&J or burritos+fruit, chips, and/or cookies

10 minute tidy

Story time, if possible!

Afternoon

Naps/quiet time

Finish school

2 loads laundry

Finish supper

Evening

10 minute tidy/clean rooms

Eat supper

Wash dishes

Thaw meat for next day

Lay out clothes for next day

Everyone bathe/brush teeth

How do you determine your daily routines? What works for you?


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What’s for Supper?

I’ve had a great request for this week’s question.  Tell us what you make for supper!  It’s easy to get in a cooking rut, and sometimes a recipe from someone else is just the thing to inspire.

We’ve been enjoying chicken salad on these hot days.

Chicken breast, boiled (or whole chicken, cooked and deboned)

Hard boiled eggs, chopped

Sweet pickle, chopped

Mayonaise

Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients to taste.  I make mine so it’s moist but not soupy.  Billy also likes chopped apple in his.  I’ve had chicken salad with halved grapes–yummy!

We also enjoy meatloaf.  This recipe is eeeeaasy.  And it passes the husband test–my husband, anyway.

• 2 pounds ground beef

• 1 cup 2% milk OR 2 eggs

• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce–I put in a lot more!

• 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon dry mustard

• 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

• 2 T. or so minced garlic

• Generous shake onion powder

• Handful dry oatmeal–about 1/2 c.

• 1/2 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce

I also add a good shake of dried parsley. Mix everything together except the ketchup. Put into a big loaf pan or shape into a loaf in a baking dish, pour ketchup or bbq all over the top. Bake at 350 for about 1 1/2 hours or till it’s no longer pink in the middle.


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Got Financial Freedom?

Growing up, my parents were wonderful examples to me in the area of money. My dad, an accountant, has always been conscientious. (He’d worked multiple full-time jobs to pay his own way through college while supporting a family, something my grandmother was endlessly proud of—and rightly so.) But when I was little, they decided to get on a budget and get out of debt completely, even though we were a one-income family. I vividly remember the day they paid off their mortgage, when I was about 8. That’s something most people only dream about, but they planned wisely and sacrificed to make it happen.

I’ve seen what a great thing a totally debt-free life has been for my parents. My mom tells how freeing it was to never have to wonder if that check was going to bounce. My parents are in their 60’s now, and for many years they have owned a home with barns, animals, and farm equipment on 75 acres, along with 2 vehicles, absolutely debt free—and on just one middle class income. They have a life most of us only dream about.

Living debt-free wasn’t just a gift to themselves, though. I can’t stress enough what an amazing thing it was for us, their children. Not only did they give us a wonderful example, but we had the joy of living with parents who weren’t stressed about money, who didn’t fight or have tension about money—in short, who were at peace with their finances.

I’m so excited that First Baptist Church is now offering the tools each of us needs to have financial freedom! Dave Harris is (for the second time) leading Financial Peace University, “a Biblically-based accountability curriculum that teaches you how to make the right decisions with your money.” The reports that came out of the last FPU class were absolutely awesome. Just over 20 families paid off around $82,000 in debt and saved $56,000 in only 13 weeks!!! FPU teaches you how you, too, can be debt free and save money so you can experience financial freedom.

Anyone (local, of course) can participate in Financial Peace University, whether or not you belong to First Baptist Church. Orientation is Sunday, August 3 at 11:00am or Wednesday, August 6 at 6:00pm. The classes begin Wednesday, August 20 at 6:00pm. For more information, call the church office. (Contact info here.)

Do it for yourself, or do it for the sake of your kids, but I know you’ll be glad you did.


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Sons

I have 3 daughters and 1 son. It’s hard to raise girls in today’s twisted culture, but it’s equally challenging to raise boys. Consequently, Billy and I are on a quest to find out what it takes to raise a strong and godly man of character. Here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful (not all Christian, but all insightful).

The Bible book of Proverbs. Many chapters of Proverbs are written to young people, specifically giving counsel to young men. If every Christian boy knows Proverbs backward and forward by the time he’s a teenager, I believe that he’ll have an amazing foundation in godly character. If you’re looking for a good Bible to read with your son, The Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation is an excellent choice.

Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson. It’s been awhile since I read this and it’s time for a refresher. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent manual for raising sons. Dr. Dobson candidly points out the strikes our boys have against them, while at the same time giving parents tools to raise godly sons. I can’t find my copy at the moment, so that’s all I’ll say for now.

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D. This is a secular book, and I can’t advocate its every word 100%, but Dr. Sax has great common sense. I found it a fascinating read. Dr. Sax contends that five major things are contributing to the epidemic of unmotivated boys in our culture. They are: video games, which disengage boys from the real world; modern teaching methods, which unintentionally turn a lot of boys against learning and school; the overuse of ADHD medications; endocrine disruptors in our environment which may lower boys’ testosterone levels; and the devaluation of masculinity in our society, which has caused many boys to not have a solid understanding of manhood. Although apparently not a Christian, Dr. Sax is a gender traditionalist in many ways, and this strongly flavors his book. I appreciated that although his theories and findings go against the societal flow, he manages to present his case fairly and in a well-researched manner, without coming across as an alarmist Chicken Little. Use discernment as you read, but I think you’ll find this book very insightful.


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The Dangerous Book for Boys. I’m not a boy, but I love this book! (A mini aside: The Daring Book for Girls, a companion book but by different authors, was a great disappointment.) It’s like an old-fashioned manual for all kinds of adventures, like building a tree house, making a bow and arrow, great paper airplanes, knot tying, how to play soccer, and even how to treat girls. I’ll let this video speak for itself:


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Question of the Week: Laundry

Laundry is on my mind since our 17-year-old washer and dryer both broke last week. Till the past few months, laundry has been my biggest homemaking challenge. I think I finally have a system that works. So, the question:

What’s your favorite laundry tip?

Here’s mine. It actually came from Melissa, our preschool director at First Baptist Church, and I’ve used it successfully ever since.

Each child has a basket on a shelf above the washer. When the clothes come out of the machine, they are immediately sorted into each child’s basket. When the baskets are full, the kids get to put their clothes away (theoretically–we just as often use out of the basket, but at least they are sorted).

This is my old system:

Now that I have four, I’ve had to modify it a bit.


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Make Your Own Play Doh

The kids and I have enjoyed making our own play doh lately. It only takes a few ingredients and a few minutes, and it keeps them busy for hours. They add food coloring and glitter so they can each personalize their own little bit. Here’s a good recipe. It takes boiling water but doesn’t actually require cooking.

The first time I made it, it was perfect. The other day it was raining and it came out a bit sticky (I guess from the humidity in the air), so I added flour a tablespoon at a time till it felt right.

1 c. flour
1 c. boiling water
2 tbsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. salt
1 tbsp. oil

Mix and knead together.

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