Whether you are a first time hostess or a seasoned one, nothing smells more like Christmas than this festive concoction. This heavenly scent wanders into the farthest rooms in my home. Start a new tradition with this recipe.

Christmas Stovetop Potpourri

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What do you want to remember about this Christmas? What do you want your family to remember about this Christmas? What do others feel when they have been with you? Is your presence life-giving? Are your words full of hope and encouragement? At the end of the day do you feel exhaustion mixed with gratitude? Are your days full, but empty? What do you want more of? Here are some thoughts for more presence that presents this Christmas.

More Presence than Presents this Christmas

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This easy berry pie recipe can be made with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and peach slices. Don’t forget the homemade vanilla ice cream.

Leah’s Easy Berry Pie

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What could be more fun than intentionally planning time with family and friends. With the weather is turning cool and the need for some of your cozy clothes, use this inspiration of 10 ideas to create more space for for friendship.

Fall is for Friendship: 10 Ideas to Enjoy Friends

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Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving with your family or not, this season invites room for an additional gathering fondly called Friendsgiving. While the name of this get-together might be relatively new, the idea of gathering with friends over a meal is thankfully not. To orchestrate your own Friendsgiving this year, just follow these seven simple steps.

Friendsgiving in 7 Easy Steps

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Have you ever stopped to wonder why you and your siblings are so different from each other? Goodness, you grew up in the same family. Shouldn’t you be more like each other? Do you ever wonder as a parent why you can’t ever seem to get along with a certain child, while life is always a breeze with one of your other children? Perhaps birth order explains some of these differences.

Birth Order

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Fresh, warm, fragrant bread fresh out of the oven is one of life’s simple pleasures. Whether you are a seasoned baker or just starting out, you will love this easy recipe!

Breadmaking 101

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Searching for a lifetime partner or teammate is extremely complicated. Since Tim and I have been married for over 30 years, we have some tips that might help in the search. The second most important decision in your life is choosing a spouse. Check out these 10 valuable considerations!

10 Tips to Find a Lifetime Teammate

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As a parent we have the opportunity to intentionally gather songs for our child’s childhood. Instead of just letting the music just happen, let me invite you to consider what music your child needs!! Share meaningful spiritual music that will last a lifetime!

Songs for Life: Music for Spiritual Formation in Children

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The walls of our homes are clear indicators of the people who live inside. What do your walls say? What would someone who walked around your home without you know about you? What would they know about your impressions about God? If your walls could talk, what would we hear?

If Your Walls Could Talk

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God is not going to ask me if I was successful in raising Godly children, but He will determine if I was faithful. This impactful opportunity was given to the parent of the child. As you plant seeds daily in your child’s spiritual formation, he will grow continually. Intentionality and consistency are the keys. Here are some easy ideas that anyone can do to grow a child spiritually.

Whose Job is it Anyway?: Spiritual Formation of a Child?

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As conscientious parents we eagerly work to give our kids the skills they need to be a success in life. One of the most important abilities we all desire for our child is the ability to communicate effectively. This requires thinking, speaking and writing prowess. With a few intentional moves, your child can be a phenomenal writer. A well trained child who is raised to write moves confidently toward his future. Here are few thoughts about bringing your student along from the beginning so that you RAISE a WRITER.

Raising a Writer

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One of the most important jobs of parenting is teaching your child social skills. An often ignored skill is teaching a child how to interrupt politely. Whether you have been cut off mid-sentence or just completely shut down, you might remember a time that a child has abruptly interrupted the flow of conversation. Teach your child how to interrupt and master this social skill.

Training Your Child HOW TO Interrupt

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Savor the idea of generosity toward others. Recall times when you have been met with a warm welcome. Be that for those God places in your path. Conversation builds friendships. Camaraderie solidifies trust. Commonness  reinforces strength.

Hospitality Habits: Ideas for Easy Hospitality

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Decision fatigue is a real sensation. Exhaustion in making decisions simply means that the more decisions we make, the more challenged we are making our next decision. For me, my decision making power is stronger earlier in the day. As humans we do have a finite limit to our daily willpower and our energy to evaluate choices and solidify a selection. Often the clutter in our environments is a direct result of decision fatigue

Combat Decision Fatigue: 5 Ideas for Left-for-Later Clutter

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Have you ever calculated the number of hours you spend in your car? If you have children, you might be transporting them back and forth to school daily. When your vehicle is full of little people, the daily car time can lead to trash spilling out as the car doors open or fights over who will sit where. Whether you function as a couple, a single mom, a small family, a large family, a grandparent or just by yourself most of the time, the following ideas might create more pleasant travel time.

Mom Secrets for a Peaceful Ride

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In simplest terms, to rest is to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. To rest is to be restored, renewed, refreshed and in recovery. Practice these five ways to add more rest to your days. FREE “101 Ways to Experience More Rest.”

5 Ways to Add More Rest to Your Days

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In response to an overwhelming enthusiasm for this decadent four layer cake, I agreed to share it with eager lemon fans. This is so easy! Bake it for your next celebration or create a party when you bake it for your family and friends.

Leah’s Decadent Four Layer Lemon Cake

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One of the most extraordinary things about my life has been knowing who I am in God’s eyes. This truth continues to reveal itself in the most unusually beautiful ways. It is the simple, yet life-transforming reality of who I am in God’s eyes that immediately equates worth, dignity and immense joy!!

Who Am I? What is My True Identity?

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If you have children, they need to be part of the daily and weekly responsibilities of cleaning and maintaining the space they live in with their family. Implement this method to expect quality work and inspect a finished job. It is only fair that everyone who lives in a space contributes to the maintenance of the living area. Keep in mind that if your child does not learn to clean, cook and organize when they are growing up, what makes you think that they will know what to do when they become an adult? Many young adults are completely unprepared for adulting. Don’t let your kids be unqualified for independent living. Create a cleaning routine with teamwork!

Expect and Inspect Method: Teaching Children to Clean

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Bulk cooking simplifies the weekly responsibility of food preparation and clean up that is needed in all of our homes. Bulk cooking gives you power to be generous spontaneously. In addition to practical needs being recognized and resolved, you will be filled with the joy bursting from magnanimous action! Remember, people that are fed feel loved!!

Bulk Cooking with 10 Easy Ideas

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What is blooming outside your window? What is blooming inside your home? Any parent who loves the Lord personally should consider how to communicate spiritually with their child. Are your child’s spiritual roots growing deep? Are they planted a river of Biblical truth? Are they blooming from seeds planted by an intentional parent or mentor?

Spiritual Blooms – Growing Your Own Children Spiritually

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Lean into the ideas of a one of our favorite singles, Paul Becker, as he shares how he lives intentionally as a single. Living each day with purpose offers contentment and preparation for a potential family. Engaging with community and pursuing life as a Christ-follower brings a lifestyle of thriving today!

Thriving in Singleness

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Suicide in very young children continues to rise in alarming rates. From January through September 2021, children’s hospital cases related to self injury, suicide ideation and attempts in kids ages 5 to 17 rose 53 percent from the same period in 2020. What is happening and what are we doing wrong?

A Silent Tragedy: How We are Raising Our Children

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As a parent, you likely observe your child’s strengths and weaknesses in academics as well as other situations such as church and social opportunities. Our strongest qualities are often partnered with our greatest weaknesses. Establishing a pattern of intentional evaluation and planning creates a customized plan for developing the best in your child.

5 Ideas for Developing the WHOLE Child

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In responding to this epidemic of loneliness, the most consistent response we can have is to communicate “I see you” with our actions and our words.

I See You – The Epidemic of Loneliness

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Many of my younger friends are either doing college, graduate school, military, bouncing into new careers and simply living on their own. Food continues to be a significant part of their budget. Some see their food costs rising monthly. Regardless of the motivation, many are giving their weekly food situation a hard look. I think you can eat better food, spend less money and time in the kitchen and just enjoy an overall more relaxed lifestyle by applying some of meal planning ideas.

Meal Planning for One

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Packing for College

While most dorm spaces are hardly large enough for two people to move around in simultaneously, local retailers suggest differently by the sizable “must buy” dorm lists.  In truth, many moms….especially first time moms, react as if they are nesting again comparable to the days before they anticipated the arrival of their first baby. They overbuy and over plan. Check out this packing list which is divided into needs and wants.

Packing for College

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It is easy to be a Christian on Sunday morning, but the reality of faith must have a practical everyday value that each day real life. Early Christians operated from the margins. Nothing is really different today. If we are truly modeling Christ-likeness, we are really in contrast to the culture. Our saltiness offers a pathway to eternal life with our Father God. The invitation is to live in kindness and community with those who are lost in this maze of one dimensional reality of the earthly world.

I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian, and I Liked Him Better Then

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Home is God’s idea. Family is God’s idea. No matter the size of your home or family, living in your space necessitates daily and weekly cleaning. When routines are established, the rhythm of life creates more time for enjoying living in your home.

Cleaning Your Home with Weekly Contributions

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Laundry seems to be a burden to so many. Several moms have asked how our family does laundry. Perhaps the size of our family leads to the belief that we have a “system”. All I can relate is how laundry works into our schedule. Once a system is in place, prepare to be flexible. Don’t complicate a simple task. Follow these simple steps to simplify your weekly laundry.

Laundry Simplified

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In 2014, on the day after Christmas, we loaded up the van and drove to Destin, Florida to spend five days with 24 family members.  It was a first for all of us. While that may sound overwhelming, it was a very memorable time that we were eager to duplicate. This first annual Vance Vacation was aimed at spending quality time together to build our family community. It worked. Check out how we accomplished such a large task. Don’t miss the helpful download full of “how-to” details.

Vance Vacation: Building Family Community

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Playing with mud as an adult has been insightful, even mind blowing. Who knew that taking up a new hobby of pottery would be a journey into spiritual and personal observation. Although we are just starting, here is what we have learned so far.

Wisdom from the Wheel: What Pottery has Taught Me

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Do you have these 20 Social Skills?
Some people have work skills and academic knowledge, but not social skills to propel them to success. Some negative social behavior actually repels people. Some people lack self-awareness to identify what is repulsive to others. Some know, but don’t care. Some fail to weigh the cost of not caring about their interaction with others.

20 Social Skills to Improve Your Sociability

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Sometimes I dream that I will have met my lifetime limit of cleaning responsibility. This, however, never turns out to be more than just a dream. In an effort to survive, I eagerly keep up seasonal cleaning. The routine of seasonal cleaning and purging creates more space where you live. It can save you money as you are more aware of what you need which keeps you from unnecessary purchases. Regularly, this activity helps me to locate lost or forgotten items. Inevitably, this habit means you keep less stuff.

6 Ideas for Speedy Seasonal Cleaning

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This past summer I started taking yoga classes in an area of town that put me in contact with a corner which on most days had homeless women. Consistently, I noticed two young women at this corner. I gave them food and water bottles nearly every time I passed. I remembered the blessing bags that I used to make with my children. It seemed the right response to make some blessing bags for these women.

Blessing Bags

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Just a few days ago, Tim and I were talking to our Uber driver who began to tell us how she was not really into religion. That was just the invitation that Tim needed to tell her that we were not really into religion either. Religiousity was not really our thing. However, we were enthusiastic Christ followers. Thank you to our readers and podcast listeners who have asked, “What is a Christ follower?” We are glad you asked. Let’s unpack this simple, but profound answer.

What is a Christ Follower?

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Over the years as a mom of five, I have spent $1000’s of groceries. Growing up in a family of six with $50 a week for groceries, I actively helped my mom stretch our food costs. These five easy ideas for cutting food costs are guaranteed to save time and money.

5 Easy Ideas to Cut Food Costs

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Do you want a strong vibrant marriage? Do you have hedges established protecting your marriage? Do you anticipate compromising situations and temptations with a plan? It is important for us to win at our own marriages. Plant hedges deep and wide and tall.

Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It

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Whether you would like to improve the relationship with a child, a spouse, a parent, in-laws, a neighbor, a co-worker or a friend… the kindness challenge promises to increase the positives. Kindness is powerful!! It could be your new superpower.

Is Kindness YOUR Superpower?

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An earlier blog and podcast, “Seven Easy Ways to Grow Your Children Spiritually” unpacked the basics of spiritual training in the home. One of the most helpful ways to explore what is best for our children is to grasp the secrets of what is age appropriate. If we understand the learning capabilities of our children […]

Biblical Literacy @ Home: Age Appropriate Training

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As I step into a new season, I wanted to review some of the things that I have learned. This past year has been so full of learning. Perhaps you feel the same way. As I re-organize my schedule for the new season, I am reminded to pause and hold fast to the things that […]

Things I Have Learned So Far

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Biblical Literacy @ Home7 Easy Ways to Grow Your Children Spiritually When I was given a child to raise, I knew that it was my responsibility to grow them up physically, academically, socially, relationally as well as spiritually. I began to lean into my experience of growing up. I did not assume that I could […]

Biblical Literacy at Home: 7 Easy Ways to Grow Your Children Spiritually

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The news spread quickly as we told everyone we knew. However, our excitement screeched to a halt the evening that we began to lose them. Darkness settled in. Sadness engulfed us. Dreams died hard.

Empty Arms – A Journey of Infertility, Miscarriage and Children

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Remember that how you live your days are how you will live your life. The most fulfilling life is one lived daily in the Word of God. If you find yourself away from God or neglecting the daily patterns of a growing spiritual life, consider starting again

Start Where You Are

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Thanks giving leads to experiencing the nearness of JOY in our everyday living. It is the not-so-secret secret of boundless enjoyment and satisfaction. The season of Thanksgiving offers a reminder to practice the habits that inhabit our natural responses.

Transform the mood of a conversation or a gathering by sharing your gratitude and asking others to do the same. The ardor of joy leads to irresistible cheerfulness.

THANKSgiving

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Do you realize that a person thinks thirty thousand thoughts per day? This breaks down into about thirty-one thoughts per minute. Which of these thoughts will captivate me? How will I respond to these thoughts? Will any of these thoughts be repetitive thoughts? How can I take an unhealthy thought captive? Can I take a thought captive? Can I be free from living a chaotic thought life? Yes, I believe I most definitely have the power to grab hold of my train of thought and direct it or redirect it. Neuroplasticity promises that the train running on the tracks in my head can be switched onto another track.

Toxic Thinking: Renewal through Neuroplasticity

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As each day offers a fresh start, a renewed opportunity and a host of moments to nurture YOUR nest, my prayer is that this place will encourage a lighter step, and inspire creativity with newfound joy.

The Dream Behind Nurturing My Nest

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