Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chore Chart Overhaul

My kids' Chore Chart definitely needed an overhaul. 

We had used a simple page taped to each of their doors for quite a while now. Each chart consisted of what is expected from each of them every day, such as making their own bed, putting toys away, etc. Also, It reminded them of chores that are expected to be done as needed, for example, taking the trash out of their room and taking dirty laundry to the basement. Finally, each day had an assigned chore. 

At this point, Alec and Lora have both proven faithful with their daily expectations so it was time for a Chore Chart Overhaul!

Out with the OLD:

In with the NEW:

I started with a magnetic board, specifically- this is an Everyday Display by Creative Memories. There are three pockets. One for my son, one for my daughter, and a "DONE!" pocket in the center. All of the Chore Cards are stored in the "DONE!" pocket. Every morning, I will pull out a few chores that are expected of Alec and Lora, and put them in their pockets. After breakfast, their job is to check the Chore Cards left in their pocket, accomplish them, and then return them to the "DONE!" pocket. We pay our kids commissions for their work. If their work is slacking, then so is their pay. Trust me, they have only skimped on getting the job done a few times. 

We believe in developing a strong work ethic in our kids. They are expected to be productive members of the household just like Mom and Dad. However, we realize their abilities are in line with their age. As long as they attempt to make their bed neatly, then it is considered acceptable. On the flip side, when my son balls his clothes up instead of folds them, he has to start back over from the beginning. 

Here is a peek at some of our chore cards:

Of course, there are no chores on Sundays and special days are chore-free as well.
If this helped you have an idea of how to set up a chore chart for your kids, leave me a note and let me know!

Smile :) donnamusing

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Song In My Daughter's Heart

My daughter sings all the time, ALL the time. From sun-up to sun-down. In the bathtub, on the swing, while folding laundry, while running the swiffer across the floor (her favorite chore), even in the middle of a movie.

(Sometimes, I have to ask her to turn it off.) It doesn't matter if we have music playing, if she has a song in her heart then she WILL sing it over top of my Pandora station. ;)

She is always singing to God. Songs of thankfulness, songs of love, songs of praise.
She always asks if we like her song and proclaims that she knows God loves it. Of course, I wholeheartedly agree!

In one of her songs, she says, "We love you, God, because You are the only God we got."
What a simple lyric but so profound.

You see, my children are adopted. They've had a 'tougher' life than many of their peers. We are the 12th place she has lived- could you even imagine being moved 12 times before starting Kindergarten?!
She had several 'families' before us, her FOREVER family. Yet, through it all, she had one God- and so she sings what is in her heart: "We love you, God, because You are the only God we got."
She is a trooper, a survivor, and my little hero!

Through it all, she has grown thankful instead of bitter. She will proclaim that Jesus was with her through every move. She knows that God answered her prayers for a family, in HIS time. She speaks of God's faithfulness in such a way that challenges me to trust HIM more. And, she sings because she has a song in her heart. 

One moment when she particularly challenged me was a few nights ago- when laying down for bed and saying her prayers. She prayed, "Thank you, God, for my talents. Thank you for my good singing voice so I can sing to you. I love you, Lord. Amen."

Be challenged by her faith: What talents has God given you? Are you using them for Him?

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ramblings of a Birthday Girl

As a child, I would count down to the day with cake and presents. As a teenager, each passing birthday meant I somehow became older, wiser, and had more freedom. As a young adult, I still had a special year to look forward to. 26. Twenty-six marked my 'golden birthday'- the year I turned the same age as my birth date. After that birthday -in my mind- I remained 26. Well, that was six years ago and even though a cake today would parade 32 candles, (and mind you, there is NO cake!) inside I'm still 26. It's almost a shocking feeling to realize over and over again that I'm not that younger number but instead, I'm actually aging.

One thing hasn't changed through my Birthday years...
The happy feeling I get when I open my mailbox to find a card from my Grandma Lemar. Every year, I immediately recognize the card from her by her beautiful handwriting.
I smile big and feel her love radiating from the ink.

One thing that has changed is my sweet thoughtful gifts from my kids...
They give what they create or what they have but it is always from the heart. Here are some more treasures to add to my collection from their thoughtfulness today.
These small trinkets fill my heart.

As for today, God gave me a little "Happy Birthday" from His word.
When reading in Psalm 139, verse 17 stood out to me:

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God.
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.

Since I am not making a wish on a fire hazard of a cake, I will send up a birthday prayer. A prayer to grow stronger in my weaknesses, more attentive to my family, and to show more love to everyone.  

Happy Birthday, 26+6!

Smile :) donnamusing

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Son, The Chef

When we adopted our two children, a friend gave me an inspirational calendar. Each day has excerpts from The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie O'Martian. Last Saturday, July 21st, it read: 

I pray that You would reveal to my child what his/her life work is to be and help him/her excel in it. Bless the work of his/her hands, and may he/she be able to earn a good living doing the work he/she loves and does best. 

A simple prayer but profound. What a gift, to love the work you do. So many people are miserable with their job/career and wish they had sought out something different. Many times, it takes years of study to earn a degree that isn't used for anything more than a wall covering. I want my children to do a work they love.

My son, Alec wants to be a Chef. He is now nine and has said this for the past three years. He loves to cook (and eat). He has plenty of years to change his mind if he wants to but for now, this is what he loves to do. So, I let him cook. There are plenty of lessons for him to learn in the kitchen. He has to use his math skills for measuring, his reading skills to comprehend a recipe, he knows that a good Chef always has clean hands, and a tidy work space. I will throw a bug in here for www.debbiestrayer.com where I found the books Eat Your Way Through The USA and Eat Your Way Around The World. We will be using these as part of our homeschool curriculum this year. For each state/country we study, we will make a dish to go along with the lesson.

Whether or not my son grows up to be a World Famous Chef, Restaurant Owner, or a just a man who knows how to cook, I want him to love his career. For now, my job is to help him on his journey as he discovers the things that are important and interesting to him.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10a

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. 
Colossians 3:23

Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 
1 Corinthians 10:31b

Heavenly Father, In your perfect time, reveal to my children what their life work will be. May they each excel and earn a good living doing a work they love. May your favor rest upon them through their years of training. May they each work with all their might, for your glory. Amen.

Smile :) donnamusing

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Love the Haters in Your Life

Today marked week two in our study at church titled, PARADOX. The message addressed a challenging topic, Love Your Enemies with the main scripture from Luke 6: 27-36.

I've read this scripture plenty of times before. I've justified myself more times that I can count. Well, God, I'm not "hating" anyone by avoiding them at all costs, right? Interestingly, God has a different view for the "haters" in our lives.

vs. 27~ But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, Do good to those who hate you.

Am I listening or making excuses? Is avoiding someone at all costs showing love or doing them any good?

vs. 28~ Bless those who curse you, Pray for those who mistreat you.

I should bless the driver that cut me off, not bless him out? I should pray for God's favor on the business man that ripped me off? Really, isn't that a bit too much, God? I mean, I didn't even get what I paid for and yet, you want me to pray for your blessings on them?

vs. 29-30~ If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

I should just stand there and take it? Um, now I'm starting to see why this is a paradox... So, to the girl who stole my little wooden bible as a teenager, I should not hold a grudge but in my heart "give" it to her?

vs. 31~ Do to others as you would have them do to you.

I want God to show me grace and mercy when I fall. Do I extend this same grace to my neighbor? Isn't this "the golden rule" that we teach our children. Am I following this on a daily basis, myself?

vs. 35~ But Love your enemies, Do good to them, and Lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

There are those same two phrases that Jesus started with: LOVE and DO GOOD. I know that when I repeat things to my kids, I do it because it is important. This is a big deal to God. That last line catches my heart: He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. I'm glad He is kind to me when I have been found ungrateful, undeserving, unfaithful.
vs. 36~ Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Jesus ends with mercy. Mercy is not getting what is deserved. So, even though someone may speak all manner of evil about me, it is not my job to do the same. God is the judge, and vengence is His. My job is to show mercy, speaking words of life and blessing instead of death and cursing.

Now, that I've shared what God has spoken to my heart today. I must confess that I have failed in all of these areas at one point or another. Even as I sat there listening to Pastor Jon, my heart played "billy goat"- you know, "but, but, but"...

Me: But you know I've tried, I wave to them every time I drive by, while that entire family still looks away.
God: Are you waving with your hand or your heart? Do you have love?

Me: But he promised three inches of asphalt and now it's cracking with only one inch.
God: Have you prayed for his business? Is this a time when you could show mercy?

Me: But, But, BUT....

Me: Yes, Lord. Help me to show love, do good, bless others, pray for, give to, and show mercy to the haters in my life. Mold me to be more like you. Give me strength as I know that the tests will come. Bring your words of life and blessing to my heart. Make me more like you. Thank you Father for your love, goodness, blessings, and mercy that you pour out upon me. Make me more like you. Amen.

You will be able to find the podcast of Pastor Jon's message at www.brentwoodchurch.org under media, title Paradox, Part 2, 7/22/12.

Smile :) donnamusing

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Love for Writing

I love to write- whether it is in my personal journal, in a scrapbook, or in one of my kid's memoirs.

There is also Facebook, this blog, and two novels I'm currently working on.

Writing is one of those things that I do for me. Most of my day is spent serving my family. (Don't get me wrong, I love it but I do need something just for me!)

My day starts in the kitchen, cleaning up any last minute mess from the night before or unloading the dishwasher so I can repeat the process all over again. Then, I prepare breakfast for my family, usually in stages. Matt and I eat first, then I get my sleepy girl up and moving. When she is done in the bathroom, then my son takes his turn. I prep my hubby's water bottle and protein shake for the day. Then, breakfast for the kids and sending Daddy off to work. While the kids eat, I usually chit-chat with them while doing more kitchen work or sneak away to check my email.

The day continues this way with household chores, lunch, dinner, kid activities, and this fall will include home-schooling. Again, I am not complaining. It is such a joy to serve my family this way. Being able to stay home relieved a lot of stress on our whole family in so many ways.

But when I have a free afternoon. An afternoon without appointments, grocery shopping or library visits- it is my time. My kids love it because I let them watch movies while I disappear into a world I've created. Sure, I'm just in the office, they can come running if they need me but I'm somewhere else living out a tale of adventure. When working on a novel, my fingers fly across the keyboard revealing to me the twists and turns in my story.

Journaling is therapeutic for me. I believe that Alzheimer's is one of the worst diseases, robbing the elderly of precious memories. If nothing else, my story is written in my journals so that I can re-read it or perhaps someone can read it to me.

Secretly, I have always wished that my GranMa has written all of her grandchildren a special letter for us to read when she passes. (Which I pray is YEARS away!) After feeling so hopeful for that, I decided to keep a hand-written book to each of my kids. The books began even before they were adopted and have continued throughout our journey. There are many things I'm sure I've missed along the way but I try to write down funny stories and special times for them to recall.

I hope that everyone finds something to do that brings happiness. Not fame and fortune, but happiness.

For now, it is 2:20 in the afternoon and I have a date with Earl Gray and my laptop.

Smile :) donnamusing

Monday, July 16, 2012


How many of us have longed for a 'do-over' in life? I think we all have at some point.

I remember as a child, my sister and I would yell, "DO- OVER" if we swung a putter and missed the golf ball at Tiny Town. As a teenager, scratching when playing pool- meant I got a 'do-over', right? How about the thousands of times, I've let words escape my mouth that can never be retrieved...

Thankfully, God's mercies are new every morning.

Because of the Lord’s great mercies we are not consumed, 

    for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. 

So, when I awoke this morning- God gave me a 'do-over'. A new day to seek HIS face.

This blog entry in itself is a do-over. I've wanted to start blogging again for some time. The truth of the matter is, once we dove into our adoption journey and I joined Facebook, my poor little blog was pushed aside. Now, I'm digging it out of the cobwebs and wondered if I should start a new blog or pick up where I left off. I opted for a do-over instead of a start-over. Sure, I could delete the previous posts and keep the same blog name but for now I'll leave it all here. Picking up where I left off; a do-over. 

May your Monday be filled with God's everlasting compassion. Accept his new mercies and rejoice in your do-over.

Smile :) donnamusing