Archive | December 2013

The Reason for the Season

In an effort to keep the focus on Christ at Christmas, I offer you this poem as a humble reminder of the miracle we celebrate this season. May it ever echo in our hearts!

Heaven Song: May the miracle of Christmas ever echo in our hearts!

Heaven Song

A girl once lived in Galilee–
Let Heaven and nature sing
Whom God sent Gabriel to see.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
Her name was Mary. She was young.
The angel called, “Hail, favored one,
“The Child you bear shall be God’s Son.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Then Mary asked, “How can this be?”
Let Heaven and nature sing.
“I’ve never known a man,” said she.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
“Fear not,” said Gabriel, “it is true.
“God’s Spirit shall o’ershadow you.
“The Babe will bring salvation, too.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

So Mary paused to testify,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
“The Lord’s handmaiden am but I.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.
Then joy within her heart was stirred,
“My soul doth magnify the Lord.
“May it be according to His word.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Soon Caesar issued a decree,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
Commanding all to pay a fee.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
So Mary, being great with Child,
Was put upon a donkey mild
And led by Joseph through the wild.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

They traveled unto Bethlehem.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
The inns there had room for them.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
Yet one innkeeper pity took
On seeing Mary’s heavy look
And showed them to a stable nook.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

There it was God’s Son was born–
Let Heaven and nature sing
In the wee small hours of the morn.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
‘Twas in that dark and dusty place,
The Virgin Mother, full of grace,
First looked upon her Savior’s face.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

As shepherds watched their flocks by night,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
Lo, they beheld a wondrous light,
Let Heaven and nature sing.
To them an angel did appear
Who told the shepherds, “Do not fear,
“I bring you tidings of great cheer.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

“Good will be yours, and peace on earth,”
Let Heaven and nature sing,
“For I proclaim Messiah’s birth.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.
“A Child is born to you this day
“And in a manger now doth lay
“Upon a bed of fresh, sweet hay.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Then hosts of angels filled the sky,
Let Heaven and nature sing:
“All glory be to God most high,”
Let Heaven and nature sing!
And when the angels went away
The shepherds all began to say,
“We must go see this Child today.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

In haste to Bethlehem they trod,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
To find the infant Son of God.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
All wrapped in swaddling clothes was He,
The One the shepherds came to see
With humble hearts, on bended knee.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Some wise men traveled from afar–
Let Heaven and nature sing
Led by a bright and burning star.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
“Frankincense, gold, and myrrh we bring
“As homage to the newborn King,”
They spake as they were worshipping.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

May all join in this song of old,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
The one the prophets long foretold,
Let Heaven and nature sing.
Emanuel, this Babe so small,
Was born within a cattle stall–
The Word made flesh, the Lord of all!
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Almighty God, the Prince of Peace–
Let Heaven and nature sing
Did come to purchase our release.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
He came to open Heaven’s door
To you and me forevermore.
O come, ye faithful, Christ adore!
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Let all creation find its voice–
Let Heaven and nature sing
And in the Lamb of God rejoice.
Let Heaven and nature sing!
Christ came to take away our sin
If we’ll but put our trust in Him
So that we might be born again.
Let Heaven and nature sing–
All Heaven and nature sing!

– Jennifer Flanders, 2013

Housekeeping Matters: 5 Habits that Help

5 Habits of an Effective Housekeeper | http://lovinglifeathome.com
I’m not trying to chain anybody to a vacuum cleaner here, but I believe, to the best of our abilities, we should try to maintain a clean and orderly home. We should seek to make it a haven of rest for our entire family.

Whatever chores we do, whether the lion’s share or an even split with our spouse, should be done consistently, cheerfully, and as unto the Lord. Although our families certainly benefit when we keep a tidy home, our faithfulness in this area is ultimately a service to God (Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:23).

God holds us accountable for everything entrusted to our care (including our home), and He expects us to use it in a way that blesses those around us and glorifies Him.

God is not the author of chaos and confusion, so messes and mayhem should not be the pattern for our homes. Rather, He is a God of order. He has set the stars in their places and has numbered the hairs on our heads.

And since God has created us in His own image, we should make it our goal to reflect this orderly aspect of His character in our daily lives.

There are several habits that almost all good housekeepers have in common:

  1. A good housekeeper has a reliable method for dealing with clutter.

    Rather than letting junk mail pile up on her desk or kitchen counter for days or weeks at a time, she tosses it straight in the trash or recycle bin as soon as it enters the house.

    She deals with broken toys, outgrown clothes, leftover food, and anything else that has outlived its usefulness in similar fashion, purging her home of worthless junk and keeping everything in it in good working order.

  2. A good housekeeper designates a place for everything and keeps everything in place.

    She rarely needs to spend precious minutes hunting car keys or purses or shoes when she’s in a hurry to go somewhere, because each of those items can be found exactly where it belongs.

    She stores the most frequently used items in the most easily accessible space, making it a simple matter to return anything to its proper home. She also stores things as near their point of use as possible (coffee mugs and creamer close to the coffee maker, garbage bags and dust pan beside the trash can, copy paper and computer ink next to the printer, etc.).

  3. A good housekeeper is a good problem solver.

    She’s not afraid to think outside the box. If one approach isn’t working, she’s not afraid to try another.

    If dirty shoes keep tracking mud onto clean floors, she’ll put a shelf or basket by the door so kids can shed their shoes before coming inside. If the clothes rod in the coat closet is too high for her little ones to reach, she’ll install hooks at their level so they can hang up their jackets that way instead of dropping them on the floor.

  4. A good housekeeper routinely enlists the help of others.

    She realizes she cannot do everything herself. This is especially important when children are part of the picture.

    The greater the number of children in a household, the more frazzled the homemaker will become unless those children are trained to pitch in and help. Some mess is to be expected when sharing a home with little ones, but if you are always inside the house working while your children are outside playing, then something is amiss.

    I know, I know. It often seems easier to do the chores yourself without little ones under foot, but the cost of this perceived convenience is too high: Not only are you missing out on the opportunity to make precious memories with them, both at work and at play, but you are forfeiting an opportunity to teach them important life skills.

    When everyone pitches in to get the work done, the chores are (theoretically) finished faster, and then you can all relax and have fun together as a family.

  5. A good housekeeper makes wise use of whatever time is available.

    She doesn’t wait until she has a full day to devote to house cleaning to get started. She realizes that little by little will add up over time.

    She also recognizes the value of a job half-done. If she doesn’t have time to deep clean, she spot cleans. If she doesn’t have time to spot clean, she straightens.

    She knows no matter how thoroughly she scours a cluttered house — washing windows and vacuuming rugs and polishing doorknobs — it will still seem dirty if the beds aren’t made or there’s paper strewn all over the floor.

    Conversely, she understands that an uncluttered house, one where everything’s picked up and put away, will look clean, even if the furniture still needs dusting or the floor hasn’t been swept.

Here, as in so many other things, there is a need for balance. Keeping a tidy house should be a means to an end, not the end goal itself.

I view housekeeping as a way to serve God by being a good steward over what He has given me, to care for my family by creating a pleasant place for us all to live, to show gratitude to my husband for the home he has provided, to honor him by keeping it neat and clean the way he likes it, to train my children to be conscientious and competent workers, and to reach out to others by extending hospitality.

But if my desire for a clean house makes me irritable and impatient with the people inside it, then my priorities are misplaced. If I go berserk when a child spills milk on my freshly mopped floor, instead of gently coming alongside to assist and instruct in wiping up the mess, then my clean house has become an idol, and I’m sending my family the message that it is more important to me than they are.

Keeping an immaculate house (in the strictest sense of the word) is not really possible this side of heaven, so it’s futile to make that our goal. Keeping a tidy house, on the other hand, is entirely achievable — even while maintaining a proper and loving attitude toward everyone who lives there.


Check Out My Book

An Announcement and an Interview

Announcing our Giveaway Winner!Our giveaway ended over the weekend and a winner was selected. Congratulations, Tenley! You won eight copies of my new book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect. Thanks for sending in your mailing address so promptly. The books will be on their way to you shortly!

I’m over at The Laundry Moms today talking with Terri Bonnin in an impromptu interview that was filmed while both our families were at family camp. Curious to see what a mom of twelve looks like after roughing it for a week? Ever wondered whether somebody who writes so extensively about sex and marriage can discuss the same topics without getting tongue-tied? Follow this link to find out: Family Camp Interview.

Meanwhile, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect has now been enrolled in Kindle’s BookMatch program, so if you purchase a print copy, you’ll get the digital copy for free. You can give the hard copy to a friend and keep the Kindle version to read yourself. For more information, visit Amazon’s Kindle Store.

So that’s it with the special announcements. We’ll return now to our regularly scheduled programing!