Tag Archives: how to

7 Ways to Find Time for Bible Study

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As part of my goals for this year I’ve decided to get more intentional about my life and the things I do.  One of the big things I wanted to change was to become more intentional about daily Bible study.

I used to spend hours in God’s Word, soaking up everything I could and writing pages and pages of journal notes about my experience.  And oh, how I long for those days!  But at this point in my life it is hard to find that kind of time.  I’ve gone for far too long with little to no Bible study because I’m waiting for the “perfect” time of the day to do it.  I’ve tried getting up at that mythical hour before the rest of my family gets up.  It’s pretty much impossible right now.  My daughter is a rise-with-the-dawn kind of child while my son is generally up for a time in the 4 – 5 am hours.  That just makes for a cranky mama.  And nobody likes a cranky mama.

So while I would love to have my quiet time consistently before the kids get up, that usually doesn’t happen.  And that’s ok.  I’m telling you now that there is no perfect time for Bible study.  You don’t have to do it first thing in the morning.  You don’t have to spend an hour a day on it.  You don’t have to wait until you have that perfectly quiet and uninterrupted time.

Because how often does that actually work out, right?

The main thing is to have a yearning and a desire for Bible study and time talking to Jesus.  To set aside what time you can to learn more about Him and to grow closer to Him.  

So here are a few practical tips for taking time for Bible study and getting more out of your quiet time with God.  Some of them may work for you and some of them may not.  Keep trying until you find something that works for you.

  • Set aside a specific time each day for it.  If twenty minutes is all the time you have today, use it.  And remember, it doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning.  Utilize the baby’s nap time (cleaning can wait 20 minutes) or another block of time you have.  Just go into the day knowing that at a certain time you have to stop what you’re doing and get into the Word.
  • It doesn’t have to happen all at one time.  Only have 10 minutes right now?  That’s ok.  Read some now and come back to it when you have another 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Keep your Bible open in a conspicuous place.  Every time you walk by throughout the day, stop to read for a moment.  Meditate on what you read between times.
  • Try listening to the Bible instead of reading it.  There are several apps and websites to go to where you can listen to the Bible.  Pop in your ear buds and listen while you wash dishes, fold clothes, take a bath… whenever.
  • Use sticky notes for Scripture memorization.  Are you trying to learn a particular verse or passage?  Write it down on several sticky notes and post them around the house.  No, it’s not chapters of reading at a time.  But on those days when that’s all you can do, at least you have had some meditation on God’s Word.  And don’t forget to switch out your sticky notes every week or so.
  • Wake up 30 minutes early.  Yeah, I know it won’t always work.  But (in my case) my day seems to go better if I’ve started it off in the presence of God.  And if you do get interrupted?  At least you tried.  And maybe it’ll be easier to get back to it during the day if you start it off that way.
  • Have accountability.  Join a Bible study (online, with a church or elsewhere).  Call an accountability partner each day to discuss what you’ve read.  I know I’m way more apt to do something if someone is counting on me.

While I was writing this a question came to me.  What if you don’t have that yearning for daily Bible study anymore?  What happens when you’ve been gone for so long you’ve forgotten what daily fellowship with God feels like?

Friend, I’ve been there.  And I’m not going to lie and tell you an easy answer.  It’s something you’ll have to deal with yourself.  But making the time and the effort to talk and listen to Jesus daily is a step in the right direction.  It’s a habit like any other — the more you cultivate it the easier it is to do. 

how to series

How To: Start an Evening Routine

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how to series

I’ve been focusing this month on implementing and sticking with a new evening routine.  I’ve written before on my morning routine (and how to build one), but I haven’t really spoken about my evening (or before bed) routine.

If you’re familiar with the teachings of Flylady at all you know how much she stresses having a Before Bed Routine (or BBR).  For a long time I would get hung up on the words “Before Bed” and start my BBR… well… right before bed.  But that was too late in the day for me!  I was too tired to care what my kitchen looked like by that point and didn’t want to mess with it then.  And pick out clothes?  Wasn’t happening.

And so eventually (never mind how long it took before I finally had the epiphany) I decided to change the wording and change when I did things.

And that was when my Evening Routine was born.

If you’re just starting on an Evening Routine, don’t forget to start small.  Pick out just a few things — just two to four things — that you want to get done every night.  Start with those.  Give it a few weeks of consistency (don’t worry if you have a few off days — it happens) and then add something else.

For example, at this point in my life my bare bones Evening Routine would be:
1) Clean the kitchen (dishes, stove, counters and sink).
2) Pick out clothes for tomorrow (for myself and my children).
3) Check calendar for tomorrow’s activities and get necessary things together in one place.

On those crazy days when I’m running out of time that’s all I try to get done.  At the very least I “hit a lick at a snake” in the kitchen and check the calendar to make sure we don’t have to be anywhere early.

And on those nights, that’s ok.  Don’t give up when you have a few nights that don’t go according to plan.  Keep at it. 

On those awesome nights when everything goes according to schedule, my Evening Routine is a bit more involved.  I’m still very hesitant to add too much to it or it will overwhelm me.  (And then I just shut down and don’t get anything done.  And we don’t want that.)

My full Evening Routine goes something like this:
1) Quick tidy of the main living areas.
2) Clean the kitchen.
3) Set out morning items (cereal, bowls, coffee mugs, juice cups, etc.).
4) Make sure I’m prepared for school tomorrow (if I haven’t already done this; usually I have).
5) Pick out clothes for tomorrow.
6) Check calendar for tomorrow’s activities and get necessary things together in one place.
7) Make a quick To Do List for tomorrow.

As you can see, the majority of the things I do in the evening directly affect how my morning will start.  When I don’t do my Evening Routine, the next day is generally a write off.  I start the day cranky and have trouble finding my peace.

And you know what else?  My children notice.  They crave routine as well.  My whole house is happier when we follow a routine.

So what happens if you consistently are having trouble getting your Evening Routine done?  You probably need to step back and ask yourself a few questions.
Are you trying to do too much?
Are there some things you can try and do earlier in the day?
Are you waiting too late to get started?
Can you delegate some things to others in your household?

My husband and I work together to get the Evening Routine done (although I can guarantee you that he doesn’t know we have a “routine”).  While I’m cleaning up the kitchen after supper he is making sure the kids get a bath.  When I was trying to “do it all” (like clean the kitchen and bathe the kids) I would go to bed far too many times with a dirty kitchen.  There just wasn’t enough time in the evenings!

Do you have a “bare bones” evening routine in place?  Is it working for you?  What else can you do to make your mornings run more smoothly?

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This post is linked up at:

A Pinch of Joy
Tips and Tricks Linky Party
Titus 2sday Link Up Party
Roses of Inspiration
Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party
Wholehearted Home
Raising Homemakers
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Homemaking Party
Hearts for Home
I Heart Naptime

6 Easy Ways to Build a Morning Routine That Sticks

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This is the first post in a new “How To” series.  I plan to add more posts each month so stay tuned!
how to series

I began implementing a morning routine several years ago.  Largely pregnant with my first child, I realized that I needed to have a routine in place in order to get things done after baby arrived.   Aaaaand I think it lasted maybe one day after I got home from the hospital.

But I floundered along — sometimes getting things done and sometimes not.  Hey, it’s hard to stay on schedule when you have a newborn!  And I used that excuse until we moved and I got pregnant with my second child.

I was sick every day all day (who named it “morning sickness” anyway?) and had a two year old to look after all day as well.  Plus the laundry, cooking, cleaning… unfortunately all of that stuff has to get done no matter how bad mama feels.  We had this nice, new house and I enjoyed how it looked when it was clean.  I just didn’t know how to keep it that way.

And so in desperation (and with the help of Flylady) I built another morning routine.

But this time I did it differently.  I didn’t just make a huge list of things I wanted to get done each morning.  I didn’t overwhelm myself by scheduling a new task every five minutes.  I spent a few days to see what I normally did each morning and went from there.

So if you’re floundering, unhappy with your current “routine” — or maybe you don’t have a routine at all — here are six easy ways to help you build a morning routine that sticks:

  1. Give yourself time.  Don’t just go in half cocked trying to change your world.  Give it a little time to figure out what you want and need to get done in the mornings and build from there.  Also, give your new routine a few weeks before you give up and try something new.  Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get in the groove, so to speak.
  2. Keep it simple, sweetie!   If you have an hour to spend on your morning routine, you can’t try and squeeze three hours worth of work in there and expect to stick with it.  You’ll get frustrated and give up.  So save yourself the stress and guilt and:
  3. Start slowly.  Pick three to five things that you want to implement and do those for a few weeks.  When you feel like you have the hang of it, start adding a few tasks.
  4. Write it down.  Put it on sticky notes and hang them on your bathroom mirror.  Add a page to your homemaking binder.  Use index cards, a dry erase board or a plain old piece of paper.  It doesn’t matter what you write it on as long as you look at it.  You’ll find that as time goes on you’ll probably need to look at it less and less as your routine becomes a habit.
  5. Don’t compare.  Just because Suzy Homemaker mops all of her floors every morning doesn’t mean you have to as well.  Don’t try and be like someone else — YOU are the only person that has your life.  You need to do the things that are applicable to YOU, not someone else.  (I could write a whole other blog post on this subject, but for now I’m stepping down from my soapbox!)
  6. Revisions are okay too.  Life has a habit of changing on us — new jobs, additions to the family, added responsibility, etc. — and you can’t keep trying to use a routine that doesn’t work anymore.  It’s okay.  Routines are not set in stone.  If you find yourself in this situation, just start over with #1 on this list and make a new routine!

If there is one more thing I can add it is this:  don’t forget to give yourself grace as well.  There will be days that just don’t go according to plan.  You all know the kind of day that I’m talking about.  When the toilet backs up and floods the bathroom.  Or your baby is sick and you just need to give some extra cuddles.

Those things happen.  Regularly, it seems.  Do what you can and pick back up tomorrow.  It’ll still be there. 🙂

And while I firmly believe that each person should have their own routine, I know when I was first starting out I was looking for someone to give me a guideline — some sort of base to start from so I could see how “everyone else” was doing it.  You know, the “normal” people.  (As if there even is such a thing. :))

So here is my morning routine.  I have found that I do better if I do everything in threes.  It just works for me and I remember it easier.

1.  Wake up, make bed, get dressed.
2.  Drink water, read Bible, make coffee.
3.  Empty dishwasher, make breakfast, wake up kids (if they aren’t already awake).
4.  Eat breakfast, morning chores with C, my morning chores.
5.  Reading (or play) time, J nap, C homeschool time.

Your routine may look nothing like this.  That’s okay!  Do what works for you!

All I know is this:  my life runs so much smoother if I have routines in place.  I’m more productive, better organized, and happier.  I don’t run around in circles flitting from one job to the next — never accomplishing anything — and I don’t waste time wondering what I need to be doing.  It’s all written down in my homemaking binder waiting for me to check it off and go to the next thing!

You know what routines give me?  Peace and stability.  And I can always use some peace and stability.  🙂

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This post is linked up at:

heartsforhome

 

Monthly Menu Planning – How I Make It Work For Me

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I have known for a long time that menu planning is one of the most important things I can do to help me stay sane. In my opinion there is nothing worse than trying to decide at 5 p.m. what to cook for supper.  You know, when the kids are whining, your hubby comes home from work hungry and all you want to do is pull your hair out and hit the closest drive thru.  I’m sure we’ve all been there.  Menu planning is a key component to help me keep the day running smoothly.

On the flip side, I also like some “wiggle room”. I like to be spontaneous at times. Sometimes I want the freedom to cook whatever it is that I’m craving. Sometimes I find a really good deal on chicken at the grocery store and need to cook it right away.

What’s a girl to do?

I tried weekly menu planning. I tried really hard. But the days seem so short when I do that and it seemed like I was always planning my menu. Then I would forget that I needed to make another plan and a day would slip by with no plan. Or two. Or a week.

Ahem.  Let’s just say that it didn’t work for me.

So I went about trying to figure out what would work for me.  And what I finally came up with was a modified version of monthly menu planning.

Since I wanted it to be flexible I decided to leave one day a week free (Thursdays) because I generally go grocery shopping on Wednesday or Thursday.  Then if I find a great deal on pork/beef/chicken/whatever I can cook whatever I want without “messing up” my menu plan.  {I am under the misconception that because it’s written down that means it is set in stone.} Having a free day also helps if I have leftovers that need to be eaten or we decide to go out to eat one night (it is very seldom, but it does happen).  And if I don’t find a good sale or we don’t have leftovers I know I always have something in the freezer or pantry that I can throw together for a quick meal.  Breakfast for supper, anyone?

Sorry, I have to get off on a side rant here.  I’m sure there is some chemical or psychological imbalance in me that demands a calendar to be perfect at all times.  I detest marking things out or not completing an item.  A missed appointment haunts me all month.  A changed menu item bugs me for days.  Does anyone else feel this way? No?  Well, ok then.  Carry on.

Anyway, my point is that for too long I used this as an excuse not to meal plan.  When you don’t want to do something it’s really hard to get motivated enough to do it, no matter how much it may benefit you.

So I changed the way I did things.  Instead of writing down my menu on my calendar I started writing each meal on a small sticky note.

005 hah

Simple solution to a problem that had been plaguing me for months.

I have a monthly menu that can easily be changed to fit my circumstances.  If I decide on Wednesday that I’m not in the mood for baked cod I can just switch it with another meal.  Added bonus:  I don’t have to rewrite them.  When I’ve used that meal I can just take it off the calendar and stick it to the wall to be used again later.  Or stick it directly on the calendar several weeks in advance.  I save paper and time.

At the moment I am just planning for supper meals.  My husband is gone during breakfast and lunch on the weekdays.  The kids and I generally eat the same things for breakfast (although I’m thinking about expanding on that soon).  Lunch is usually either leftovers or something simple.  As the kids get older (read: eat more) this may change again… I might need a dedicated calendar just for menu planning.  But for now, this is working well for me.

And for the record, yes, I have tried to write my menu plan down elsewhere.  I lose it or forget about it.  I check my calendar all the time so that’s the most logical place for me to put it.   And I’m sure some of you are wondering why I don’t just write in pencil.  Good question.  Simple answer is: I don’t like them.  And yes, I know I have issues. 🙂

I hope this helps someone who may be dealing with the same what’s-for-supper woes.  Even if you try this method and it doesn’t work for you, keep trying until you find something that does.  Tweak things here and there and make it your own.  If it works for you that’s all that matters!

This post is linked up at:

   Thriving-Thursdays1   LivingWellraising arrows