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31 Days Unplugged – Day 18 – Unplugging Your Family

17 Mar

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As I have spent less and less time plugged in this month, I have become much more aware of other people and how they are spending their time.  I am no longer satisfied sitting next to Jason with both of us glued to our cell phones.  That just doesn’t count as quality time, you know?

Something else I don’t like seeing is this:

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Not that they aren’t the cutest things ever, but there are so many other things I would rather see them doing!

I have never been a fan of phones at the table, or the person riding next to me in the car scrolling through their newsfeed, but now I am aware of those things more than ever.  Honestly, I find it very rude.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 tells us, “So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.”

God gives us many pleasures in this life: our friends and family, our jobs, our churches, nature.  The list goes on and on!  Is your family taking advantage of these gifts from God, or are you allowing technology to rob you of those joys?

In this verse, King Solomon tells us that mealtimes in particular are meant to be a time of joy.  We need to take full advantage of those opportunities to sit around a table with our families, talk, laugh, and enjoy food and drink. Whether it’s a homemade meal or McDonald’s, in this busy, fast-paced world, God means for us to slow down and enjoy our meals together.

Challenge #14 – Today, I want you to pay attention to how your family uses technology.  Stop letting anyone use technology while a meal is taking place.  Use that time instead to talk, laugh, and find joy in each other!

 

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31 Days Unplugged – Day 17 – Four Books to Change Your Mind, Marriage, Time and Faith

16 Mar

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We are well into our 31 Days Unplugged Challenge, and if you are anything like me you are finding that, as you spend less time in front of your computer or with your phone in your hand, you have time to do other things.  

Amy Bennett is guest-posting for Mommy in Bonlee today, offering us a wonderful alternative to spending our time online: reading an actual book!  Amy is a working mom of 2 daughters from South Carolina.  You can read more from her on her blog, Amy J. Bennett.

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I believe books to be life-changing.

I’ve always been an avid reader, but for years I only read novels.  I’d watch my parents read non-fiction books and it never looked appealing.  Perhaps because I was in school for so long and then had young children, the last thing I wanted to do in my free time was learn.

Somewhere in my 20’s I started picking up Christian non-fiction and I got absolutely hooked.  Even though I try to read a novel every once in awhile, there’s nothing I love more than gaining new knowledge and new perspective to help me grow.

I put together a list of four of my favorite books that have significantly impacted my life in different areas.  Reading a book a week, in just a month you could change your mind, marriage, time and faith.

Change Your Mind

I don’t know about you, but I struggle a lot with insecurities and self-doubt.  Renee Swope’s book A Confident Heart was such an encouragement.  She helped me stop the negative talk and build confidence in who God made me. So much of our struggle is in our minds and this book definitely helped strengthen my mind and heart muscles.

Change Your Marriage

I’ve read quite a few marriage books.  Some older favorites are the 5 Love Languages and Love & Respect.  A more recent, but less known book, that absolutely helped in my marriage is Beyond Ordinary.  After surviving an affair, Justin and Trisha Davis have solid advice on how to resist keeping your marriage ordinary.

Change Your Time

You may know Crystal Paine as Money Saving Mom, the blogger behind the uber popular home finance site MoneySavingMom.com.  Her latest book is Say Goodbye to Survival Mode where she’s gathered up all her best advice for the “super busy, the stressed out, and the overtired.”  She talks about everything from laundry to finances.  Crystal always challenges me on how to be intentional with my time. I’m really not sure where I’d be without her!

Change Your Faith

Christian fiction is my favorite type of non-fiction and there have been so many books that have shaped my faith.  One book that I like to recommend because it’s an older book is A Shepherd Looks at the Good Shepherd.  As an actual shepherd, Phillip Keller gives us insight to Jesus that very few of us, if any, in America can provide.  I walked away with a new appreciation for God’s love for us and a compassionate heart towards those without a shepherd.

I hope you’ve found some new books that might encourage you and would love to hear what books you might recommend!

31 Days Unplugged – Day 16 – Turn Our Eyes

15 Mar

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Challenge #13 – Memorize Psalm 119:37. 

This is a great verse to have memorized for those weak moments. Also, it is a great reminder that spending time in God’s word is more beneficial that anything we could ever do online.

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Have a great Sunday, everyone!

 

31 Days Unplugged – Day 15 – Unstructured Time

14 Mar

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A big part of the 31 Days Unplugged challenge has, for me, been about time management.  I have found that when I am unplugged, I have  a lot of time to do other things.  How do I spend that time for the glory of God and the good of my family? I have grown a lot this month in that area, and found that several new and exciting opportunities have arisen due to my new focus.  I hope that is true for you, too!

Recently, my husband and I had to decide whether or not to sign Charlie up to play T-Ball this Spring.  I really wanted him to start playing, but Jason wasn’t so sure.  I thought it would be good for Charlie to meet some more kids his own age and start getting some baseball skills.  Jason thought he was too young and unfocused, and he also knew that we would have to sacrifice a lot of our free time (which we really value) to take Charlie to practice and games.

In the end, we decided to wait a while longer to begin playing organized sports, and even though I was disappointed at the time, I am now relieved that we don’t have to spend our Saturdays this spring at the ballpark, especially after talking with some friends who are stressing out, trying to figure out how to add ball practice into their already busy schedules.

Having too little unstructured time is a problem for a lot of people, whether you have children or not.  We run from one activity to another, spending hours a day in our vehicles (with the kids watching movies or playing on the phone).  We spend our Saturdays rushing from one game to another, then from birthday party to birthday party.  What are we trying to accomplish, exactly?

According to the National Wildlife Federation, today’s children in America spend less than 30 minutes a day in unstructured play and 7 hours or more in front of some sort of electronic device!  That just sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? 

No wonder so many of our children are obese, diagnosed with ADHD and depression, and simply stressed-out!

Today’s post is an extension of yesterday’s challenge to cut down on your family’s time in front of the TV.

Challenge #12 – This weekend, structure at least one hour a day of unstructured time into your schedule. (That sounds ironic, doesn’t it?) In my opinion, that isn’t enough unstructured time, but that’s a good start.  Spend this time doing WHATEVER you want to do, and let your kids do WHATEVER they want to do (except watch TV, of course:)).  

I am a big believer in unstructured time, and a large portion of our days are spent with the kids simply playing.  I have always believed strongly that that is how kids learn and make memories, not by being shuttled from one activity to the next.  We’ve got to give ourselves and our families time to just be.

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31 Days Unplugged – Day 14 – Television

13 Mar

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At this point, I am more unplugged that I ever thought I would be!  As a SAHM, I sometimes miss the human interaction that the Internet affords me, but I am happy that I am spending more time on things that matter.  My house seems more peaceful and I feel much less stressed out than before.

Today, we are taking it to an extreme.  I want you to think about how much television you and your family watch.  While doing some research for this post, I found some really interesting information.

Did you know that the average American spends up to 34 hours a week watching live TV?  That’s not counting movies and what we watch on the Internet.

One study found that for every hour spent watching TV, our life expectancy decreases by 22 minutes. (To put that into perspective, for every cigarette smoked, life expectancy supposedly decreases by 11 minutes.)* Can you believe that?!

There is tons of research out there that shows that we make unhealthy food choices while watching TV, and of course we get no physical exercise while we’re sitting on the couch.

If that doesn’t convince you, check out this article.  It has tons of really interesting info regarding the pitfalls of watching too much television.

So today’s challenge deals with the amount of time we spend in front of the TV.

Challenge #11-Keep a running tab of how much television you and your family watch today.  Just keep a post-it on the kitchen counter and make a note of times that the TV is on.  At the end of the day, look at how much time you spent in front of the TV, and make a plan to cut that time in half.  

If you’re anything like me, a trip to the library for tons more books is in order!

*from http://greatist.com/happiness/how-much-tv-too-much

31 Days Unplugged – Day 13 – Do Something Big!

12 Mar

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We are 13 Days into the 31 Days Unplugged challenge, and we have made some serious changes in our daily routines. I hope that you are getting as much as I am out of this, and finding that your days are running much more smoothly.

Do you have a dream?  I mean, something BIG in your life that you have been putting off? Something that you think about every day, that you feel led by God to do, but for some reason or another you just never follow through with that nudge?

Romans 12:6-8 addresses different talents with which we have all been blessed, each different from another person’s:

6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Have you been thinking about taking some college courses or finishing a degree, starting a Bible study, or planting a community garden?  Have you maybe felt like volunteering your time somewhere, going on a mission trip, or taking up a new hobby?  Maybe there is something special you have been thinking of doing with your kids or at work, or taking on a new responsibility at your church.

We all have different gifts that have been given to us by God, and we need to make sure that we are using them, not ignoring them.  Your gift could be planning, organizing, teaching, gardening, writing, or many many more things.  If you are feeling a nudge from God to do something BIG with the gift he has blessed you with, I say go for it!

Challenge #10- Think about something that you have been feeling led by God to do.  What gift has He blessed you with that you have been ignoring?  Spend the day praying about what God wants you to do, and ask Him to lead you in that direction.  

31 Days unplugged – Day 12 – A Word About Pinterest…

11 Mar

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When Pinterest entered my life a couple of years ago, it was a dream come true for me.  What a great idea-a place to house all of the crafty DIY’s and recipes and home decor ideas that I found online.  I spent hours, DAYS of my life scrolling and pinning and scrolling and pinning.  What was even better-all of my friends were doing it, too!  It was like a never-ending craft-fest!

Now, I wasn’t one of those people who pinned and pinned and never used any of the cool ideas.  I found tons of  crafts to do with the kids and new recipes to try out.  Pinterest has been very inspiring to me over the years.

I started to notice, though, that all of the things I was being inspired to do was stressing me out a little.  The kids can only do so many crafts, and Jason is only willing to try out so many new recipes (a good many of which were flops) before he longs for a good old-fashioned hamburger or plate of spaghetti.  In my quest to create the Martha Stewart-like home that is emulated so much on Pinterest, I was becoming a little crazy.  Plus, I was wasting a lot of time at night (time I should have been spending with my husband when the kids were in bed) looking at Pinterest until my eyes were burning and watering.

Pinterest put an unnecessary burden on me and my family.  It has a wonderful place in our lives, a place where I can store and organize good recipes and nice activities for the kids, but I realized that it should not be a form of entertainment for me.  It places unnecessary stresses on me to be something I just am not.

I have a long Bible passage for you to read today.  It is about a woman who would have loved Pinterest, I am sure!  What I love about the Proverbs 31 woman is that she knew how to balance it all, and that is what we all have to find: balance.  Most importantly, she put the Lord first, and because of that everyone around her flourished as well.

10Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
14She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
15She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
16She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
18She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.
19Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
20She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
21She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.
22She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.
25She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
26When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
27She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
28Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
29“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
30Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
Proverbs 31: 10-31
Challenge #9 – If you are a Pinterest-fan, examine its role in your life.  Is the time you spend on Pinterest useful to your life?  How can you better spend that time?  Limit your time on Pinterest to 10 minutes a day and delete the app from your cell phone so it isn’t as much of a temptation.  (Don’t worry-all of your great recipes will still be on the Pinterest website!)

31 Days Unplugged – Day 11 – The Witching Hour

10 Mar

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We have made so much progress over the last week-and-a-half!  I hope that, like me, you are finding it easier to go through the day without the distraction of social media, games, etc.

There is one particular time of day I would like to address, a time that I have always referred to as the witching hour. After talking with other stay-at-home-moms, I know that this is a problem for most of us.  I am sure that for those of you who work outside of the home, you also have this struggle. I know I did when I was teaching.

The witching hour is the hour or two in the afternoon that is simply difficult to get through.  I get tired and sluggish, easily bored, and just can’t focus on anything well.  You know, when you feel like this:

Need a nap, anyone?

Need a nap, anyone?

For me, this usually occurs anytime from 2:00-4:00 in the afternoon.

It is during this time that I would usually zone out on my phone or computer.  The kids are napping or resting, and what should be a productive time for me turns into a wasted time period.

Now that we aren’t turning to our electronic devices for entertainment, how can we get through the witching hour and make better use of our time?

Here are some suggestions.  These are things that I have found helpful as a stay-at-home mom.  They will have to be tailored according to your circumstances:

1.  Get outside.  Play tag or kickball, go for a walk, or work in the garden.  The kids and I love riding our golf cart around the yard (I’m sure people think we’re crazy.)!

2.  Do something easy on your to-do list.  This will make you feel accomplished and make you want to continue on.

3.  Take a quick nap.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Cuddle with the kids. (But be careful-I know that if I nap for more than 15-20 minutes, it messes up my sleep that night.)

4.  Do some stretches.  I love doing this short yoga video that I posted on Saturday.

5.  Have some fun with the kids.  If you have more than one child, this can be valuable one-on-one time if some are napping and others aren’t.  Get out the play-dough or bake something simple.  *I know for me, the witching hour is not a good time to read books or put together puzzles or try to teach the kids something-I just don’t have enough energy or patience!*

The kids and I made some cheerios bars during the witching hour today!

The kids and I made some cheerio bars during the witching hour today!

Maddie loved them!

Maddie loved them!

 

6. Put on some make-up.  For some stay-at-home-moms, it is hard to even get a shower, much less put on make-up!  However, it instantly makes me feel better and gives me a little boost.

7.  Dance.  I am so glad that no one is videotaping me during the witching hour!  The kids and I love dancing around the kitchen.  Our current song of choice is Pharrell’s “Happy”.

Basically, anything you can do to get up and move during this time is good.  We have to work to create new habits in our daily routines. If you are struggling, remember to go to God!  If you pray for energy and persistence, He will help you.  

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Click here for the recipe for the Cheerios bars!

31 Days Unplugged – Day 10 – Key Fob Wristlet Tutorial

9 Mar

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Welcome back to the 31 Days Unplugged challenge!  I know that with the amount of social media you have cut out of your day, you probably have some extra time that you are trying to fill.  One of my goals with this challenge is to give you some ideas of how to spend your time productively and creatively in order to live abundantly for God.

I am so thankful to Kerri Waller for guest-posting on Mommy in Bonlee today.  Kerri is a wife and mother of 3 who plans weddings, attends college, blogs, and creates websites, so she knows quite a bit about time management! This is an awesome DIY from her to get your creative juices flowing.

If you are interested in purchasing one of these cute key fobs instead of making it, you can check out Kerri’s Etsy shop or send her an e-mail at kerri@mintforever.com. (Pssssttt…there’s a giveaway at the end!!!)

Hi everyone! My name is Kerri and I blog over at Kerri Waller Blog (original, I know). I am guest posting today for the 31 Days Unplugged and I’d like to share a tutorial with you all to make fun key fob wristlets!

These key fob wristlets are the perfect addition for your keys especially if you’re a mom and have your hands full and aren’t carrying a bag with you. They make perfect gifts for family, friends, teachers (teacher appreciation week!), colleagues, etc. You can personalize them to any interest or hobby by choosing the specific ribbon. SO! Here it is:

Supplies

You’ll want to measure and cut about 11″ of ribbon and cotton webbing. This ensures it’s long enough, after folding in half, to still fit on your arm.

Put the sewing pins in the middle of the ribbon. I used about three of them from one end to the other.

Sew one side of the ribbon and webbing from one end to the other end.

Then you can take the pins out and sew the other side of the ribbon and webbing.

After you have sewed both sides and trimmed the excess thread, fold it in half and press.

Take the key fob hardware and put it over the open end of the fob. Use the key fob press to squeeze the hardware together as tight as you possibly can get it. I actually don’t have a key fob press, so I use pliers. :p It works!

And you’re done! You can use any ribbon and color cotton webbing that you want. The possibilities are absolutely endless!

Win a Custom Key Fob Wristlet!

Click here to enter to win your very own custom key fob wristlet from Kerri!

31 Days Unplugged – Day 9

8 Mar

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If you haven’t noticed, every Sunday during the 31 Days Unplugged challenge we will be memorizing scripture.  This is a way to keep us focused on our ultimate goal-to live our lives as God wants us to!

Challenge #8-Memorize 1 John 5:22

1 John 5:21

What an important reminder to guard our hearts and minds. Have a great Sunday, everyone!