The Strategic Homemaker

learning to follow the Father, care for the clan, and redeem the resources


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Home Decorating to the Glory of God

This summer, I decided to do a Bible study on home decor. I had some notes from a Sunday school class I took in high school, and I also looked up every time the Bible talked about furnishings, as well as read all the passages where God describes something he designed (creation, new Jerusalem) or gives instructions for it (tabernacle, temple). Those led me to some other passages too. It was a sort of Biblical scavenger hunt.

I was hoping to do a blog series on what I learned, but I’m having trouble making time to write these days, so here are the quick takeaways with a few of the supporting references:

1. The Bible talks about God’s designs for a place and home furnishings more than many people think. (Gen 1-2, Exodus 25-40, I Kings 4, II Chron 2-5, Rev 21-22)

2. Home decor should be done for God’s glory. (Psalm 19:1, Psalm 29:9, Psalm 115:1, I Cor 10:31)

3. God often directs symbolism or memorials to remind us of His works. (Deut. 27:1-8, Numb. 15:39, Zech. 6:14)

4. We should pursue hospitality in the way we furnish and decorate our homes. (Rom 12:13)

5. God’s Word should have a prominent role in our homes. (Deut. 6:9, Psalm 119:97)

6. We must avoid decorating in a way that dishonors God. (Exod. 20:4, Psalm 49, Prov. 7:4-5, Amos 3-6)

 

The study also led me to make some art for my house by which I could share the good message about Jesus Christ with guests. I got the idea from my friend Dan’s snowflake book that tells the advent story, and then came up with my own designs. TSH made the graphics below for me. Feel free to download the stencils and make your own.

Stencil templates

fall_full

lamb_full

king_full

These snowflakes show the history of man according to the Bible. Adam and Eve disobeyed God when tempted by the serpent, and  “therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. “ (Rom 5:12)

            “Then Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people, [the third day he rose again from the dead” (I Cor 15:4)]…”

               …and will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Heb 9:28)

                  “He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him…and all peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. (Rev 1:7)”

                And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” (Rev 19:9)

Here they are framed on the wall:

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Do you have any ways you have intentionally sought to give God the glory with your home decor? Please let me know and send me a picture! I would love to put an inspiration book together.

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Recent Reading and Brothers and Sisters

I have been reading this summer.

World Magazine

www.challies.com

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies

Nothing in my Hand I Bring by Ray Galea

All really good, fyi.

Today I read this post: http://philipnation.net/2014/08/5-things-you-can-do-for-the-christians-in-iraq/

I tend to read about persecuted Christians, pray for them, and then move on, thinking that there is nothing I can do, but this article points out things we can do to help them. On Sunday night at our church, we prayed for our Iraqi brothers and sisters, being reminded from Hebrews 13:3. to “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

Will you read the article above, and remember them too?


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Giveaway! Some Eggs for Easter…

The TSH and I attended a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway this past weekend. It was pretty great, and I picked up the resource below to use in teaching my daughter the Easter story. Then I thought you readers with young children might like one too, so I picked up an extra. If you know someone who might like one, please share this post with them. They are called Resurrection Eggs, and you can read about them here:

Giveaway starts tonight at midnight, ends Tuesday at midnight, and is available to international entries. If the winner lives in the lower 48, I’ll try to mail it so that it makes it to her by Monday. If she lives in Rhode Island, I’ll try to deliver it next Monday, and if she lives internationally, there is no way it is going to make it before Easter this year, but I will mail it soon.

To enter, leave a blogpost comment sharing one of your Easter traditions, and then click the rafflecopter link below to go to the widget (WordPress wouldn’t let me load it here.) Happy Resurrection Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 


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Teaching Truth to Toddlers

I never got around to posting my new year’s goals for 2014 or summarizing how we did on last year’s (answer: not too bad except on the television show limit–failed there), but one of them is the same–learn a verse a week. I’m sticking with the fighter verses that Bethlehem Baptist is doing for the year, and I bought PG these: the foundation verses.

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They cost me $8 including shipping, but you could easily make your own. I have just been trying to cut down on things I do myself, and I don’t mind spending a bit extra on tools to help us learn the Bible.

We practice our verses at lunch and switch to new ones on Mondays. PG loves her verse cards, and with the picture and first word prompt can say the first six. Still working on the seventh. Pretty good!


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Advent for Preschoolers and Very Pregnant Ladies

Last year, I mentioned that I had prepared a calendar of activities to help us look forward to Christmas. One of my friends commented on that post about Truth in the Tinsel, an advent plan specifically for preschoolers, and totally focused on Christ’s coming. We have been doing that this year, and we LOVE it. Basically, there is a Bible passage for each day, and then a simple ornament to make that emphasizes part of the passage. Below are some reasons why I love it.

–It is free. (Well, you need to buy the E-book, but I haven’t spent any money on the crafts.)

–It is flexible (as opposed to trying to schedule activities into a calendar destined to be thrown up-side down with a newborn).

–It doesn’t take much time each day.

–It repeats the same Scripture a couple different days with a different emphasis on the ornament, which is really good for helping a preschooler learn a story with a lot of details.

–It focuses on Jesus.

–PG looks forward to it every day, especially making the craft and hanging it on the tree, and she remembers the significance of most of the ornaments.

Here are some of the ornaments we’ve made for it so far:

1-IMG_7630A candle (symbolizing that Jesus is the light come into the darkness)

2-IMG_7631a crown (symbolizing that Jesus is king)

3-IMG_7632Zechariah (with tape over his mouth).

4-IMG_7633Mary and Elizabeth with pregnant bellies.

We’ve also been using the advent wreath my brother-in-law made me for my Christmas present last year, but we’ve only been using that on Sundays, and doing a more adult-appropriate reading with that (from John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy).

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Anyway, it has been a low-stress Christmas season for us thus far, but with a definite emphasis on Christ, both aspects of which I have really been enjoying.

Let me know if you’ve been doing anything for advent that you really love!

Next post, we hope to have a new member of the family!


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Six Strategic Gift Ideas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent the day with some good friends, and enjoyed celebrating and thanking God for our many, many undeserved blessings over the past year.

And now it is almost December! I mentioned last year, when talking about PG’s Christmas presents, that I don’t want our Christmases to be all about stuff. However, I do appreciate meaningful gifts, and I have 6 strategic gift ideas for you. I love all these things, and have been blessed by being gifted with two of them in the last 2 months.

  1. SEEDS CDs. I mentioned these before, but I really do love them, and my sister-in-law randomly sent us a first of October gift with all the ones we didn’t have. They’re in the car, so whenever PG and I go anywhere we listen to them, and I’ve basically had verses stuck in my head the past couple of months. Each is a pack of two, so you can give one away or split with someone, and if you buy the seven pack, the CDs are only $5 each.                                                                                                                                              
  2. Verse Wall art. I was wanting to make one of these signs like on the Between You and Me Etsy Shop for the last year, and a differently sister-in-law randomly decided it would be a good graduation/housewarming/birthday gift for us, which was awesome, especially because I had no idea when I would get around to it. ( I think she may have looked on my Pinterest Boards, because seriously this and the above were the perfect gifts for me, and I didn’t even request them!) We had to do some serious warp control after it arrived, because going from Georgia to Rhode Island was a crazy weather difference, but after some steaming and re-drying it is looking good. Plus the Etsy owner was willing to re-make it if we couldn’t fix the warp. Talk about great customer service!1-IMG_7608
  3. Gourmet foods. If you’re giving a gift to someone who avoids splurging on their groceries, this is a great gift. Summer sausages, fancy cheeses and crackers, chocolate, gourmet teas or coffees, nuts, etc. will really be considered a treat.
  4. Photo gifts. For the past few years, I’ve gotten us a package of family photos and a package of PG photos at Target, Sears, Olan Mills, etc. and distributed them to family members.  All the grandparents are happy, and it is really cheap. This year, my package of PG’s photos was $7.99 at Target. (Go online for coupons.) It had enough pictures for us, two sets of grandparents, two sets of great-grandparents, two great-great grandparents, and wallets for all the aunts and uncles. I am waiting until the new baby comes to get family pictures. TSH’s parents request a photo calendar every year with pictures of all their children and grandchildren, so those duties get rotated around. I do not recommend the blanket photo gifts however, as one year, TSH’s parents were given a giant blanket with a huge picture of them on it. It was kind of hilarious, especially because they were wearing the same clothes as in the picture, but I don’t think they figured out where to use it. TSH’s Dad, who has recently gotten into the Ebay business, says he will sell it to the highest bidder…
  5. The Light Has Come advent book. For something novel and fun for kids, this book is super cool. The author, who happens to be one of my friends, cut out elaborate paper snowflakes with symbols that tell the story of the gospel. Each page has a list of symbols to find, as well as corresponding Bible passages to read during the advent season. You can check it all out on his website.

6. A homemade quilt or other homemade blanket. I did actually make something by hand for one of my sis-in-laws this year, but I am getting to the point where I am ready to pay someone else to make stuff for me to give, and the winter is a great time to give a quilt as a gift! Katherine at the Rhymes with Smile etsy shop is the girl who taught me to quilt, I have seen and used her quilts in her house, and my daughter has a quilt made by her, so I can attest that her quilts are beautiful. And her prices cannot be beat. Honestly, it can be hard to make your own quilt for these prices, and the blogger Crazy Mom quilts recently listed some of hers for sale at 10 times the price. Crazy! Although, I admit, they are pretty fun.

Let me know if you have any other great gift ideas. I am almost done shopping this year—my nesting instinct was apparently to get everyone’s Christmas presents bought and wrapped before December—so I just need to pick up some stocking stuffers at the last minute.


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Nearly every time I get on Facebook, there are a couple posts in my Newsfeed with links to articles saying some kind of food to avoid, something I should be making from scratch, some political cause I need to take up, some thing I should be doing to save the earth or my family. Last week there was an article trying to get me to convert from paper to cloth toilet paper. I was like, “Cut me some slack, People!” [Besides, I’m not convinced cloth toilet paper actually helps the environment–especially if you have a large family and have to run extra loads of wash.]

I am bombarded with messages about how I should be using my time and concerns. While it is obvious I can’t do it all, some days I don’t make it past cleaning up toddler accidents and getting food on the table.

The message of which I need to remind myself is that Jesus said ONE thing was necessary.

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10, ESV)

The one thing that is necessary for me to spend time doing is listening to Jesus.

The other message of which I frequently need to remind myself is that Jesus said one thing was NECESSARY.

I can’t prioritize other things above time with God’s Word every day and expect to get a “Well done!” at the end. If I do prioritize other things, they may be done in vain anyway.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127, ESV)

We obviously have responsibilities to work hard and take care of our families, but if you put Jesus first, He will take care of the details, and you will get done what you need–what He wants you to get done. Also, it won’t necessarily be the same as what He has other people doing.

So next time I see a Facebook or Pinterest post telling me what I should be doing or concerning myself with, whether it’s good or not, I’m hoping I’ll remember what Jesus tells me is most important, and make sure to put first things first.

Am I the only one who needs this reminder, or is anyone out there with me?