Friday, April 29, 2011

And the Winner Is...

I'm excited to announce the winner of my very first giveaway for The Slug and Ant Show DVD!


Out of nine total entries, number 8 was chosen by (the seventh entry counted as two because it was shared on Facebook twice- in case you're wondering! ;-D)

That means Emily is our winner! (Contact me in the next couple of days so I can send the DVD your way!)

And for those that didn't win, you can find The Slug and Ant Show for sale here!

Stay tuned for more updates about their awesome show!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Perhaps I Should Explain

Several days ago, I started getting quite a few hits on my blog from a site called The Preacher's Wife. (If you haven't been there yet, definitely check out her site, and the blog roll!) A while back, I had signed up to be on their "Married to the Ministry" blog roll, and I would get a hit every once in a while, but now I was getting several. Curious, I clicked over.

Well, to my surprise, I was listed as a "Featured M2M {Married to the Ministry} Blog"! How cool is that?

So, I thought I should explain, especially to the ladies who are clicking over from there.

I am, in fact, "Married to the Ministry". Okay, not like, the whole thing (ha ha!) but my husband is a minister, and our church's worship leader, and and and. (Actually, his ministry schedule is not as full as it has been in the past, but he is pretty busy).

I know I don't blog much about "ministry life". We were both extremely active in ministry before we had children (we were both full-time staff members at the time). Also, before we had children, I figured I'd continue to be on staff, and continue to be heavily involved in all things church-related. Well, when I was confronted with the reality of motherhood, I had to make some adjustments! I now stay home with our children and am involved in ministry in ways that don't typically take me away from my primary ministry of wife and mother. (That's not to say that I think another wife and mom in the ministry should be a stay at home mom, and minimally involved {though in reality, I would probably encourage that!}- I know it is not "one size fits all" and God has a different assignment for everyone).

Being "married to the ministry" is not for the faint of heart. That's for sure! There can be times when it's quite trying, especially when there's conflict in the ministry, or big events or major upheavals (not that we've experienced any of that ;-D). The good news is that our church is really awesome, we have great pastors, and the people involved are all pretty busy- all seem to take ownership, so I would say the "church work" is all pretty evenly divided amongst our members. (Hence my husband is not ridiculously busy, and is able to take a break when he needs one- note that I didn't say he actually takes a break! But he could if he really wanted to!)

What is your experience in ministry? And, if you're visiting from The Preacher's Wife, feel free to introduce yourself!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Cure for the Housetop Husband

The view is nice, but he'd rather be inside! :)
Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman. Proverbs 21:9

And how about this one:

Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman. Proverbs 21:19

After reading about the "whatever you think" principle in the book The Surrendered Wife (an awesome book recommended to me by a good friend), it made me realize that that is what the husband's perspective is. He would rather dwell on the roof or in the wilderness than put up with a wife that is constantly resisting him! That's really sad! We can push our husbands away by being contentious (defined as "tending to argument or strife; quarrelsome"). We may not push them to the roof or the wilderness, but maybe to the television or the garage, where he's technically present, but not really there!

This is something that is so important to a man- to be respected! Otherwise, the Bible would not give wives instructions to respect their husbands. But in our culture, it can be one of the most difficult things for a woman to do! Something that is very unnatural to us. Is that something you can relate to? But as followers of Christ (and women who want our marriages to thrive) we really need to reconsider our actions.

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude] Ephesians 4:23 (Amplified)

We can be terribly disrespectful to our husbands when we insist on controlling most everything. I'm even talking about little things like "you're going to wear that tie? I really like the blue one with that shirt" or "you shouldn't drink so much's really bad for you" We may feel like we're trying to help, but that's not the way it's perceived. Like the author says in The Surrendered Wife, "When you squash your husband's ideas you are telling him you don't trust him. Without trust there can be no intimacy. Therefore, one of the keys to relinquishing control is to respect your husband's thinking."

This is where "whatever you think" comes into play.

The next time your husband says something you don't automatically agree with, try it! "Whatever you think." It may be awkward at first, but as you practice it, it will get easier. You will begin to see that every thought of his does not need to be corrected or improved. It's okay if he wants to try to fix the problem with the family vehicle himself. Saying "whatever you think" does not automatically mean that you are gung-ho about him suddenly becoming a mechanic. It does mean that you respect his opinion (and trust that he can reasonably assess his own skill level in the event that it's too difficult.)

...and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. Ephesians 5:33 (Amplified, emphasis mine)

Have you ever found yourself in the role of the "contentious woman"? How did you change your behavior? Share in the comments!

Linking up to:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review and Giveaway: The Slug and Ant Show

And now...for the sake of a balanced approach to screen usage, my very first review and giveaway!

It was about a year ago when my family first saw The Slug and Ant Show featured on TBN's Smile of a Child station. Immediately, I knew this program was different. And by different, I mean entertaining! I hope this doesn't come off as mean-spirited, but I feel like as a Body (as in the Body of Christ) we could do a much better job of creating high-quality, godly children's programming. I am convinced that the show's creator, Michael K. Foster, is on a mission to do just that!

Of course I was thrilled at the opportunity to review The Slug and Ant Show's first DVD (which was actually released about a year ago...they will be releasing a follow up DVD in the very near future, I hear!) I really want to promote this program as well as any future children's programs produced by Salty Graphic Studio. The condensed version: You should go check them out!

Be sure to enter the giveaway (details at the end) after you read the review!

. . .

Slug and Ant are (as the DVD cover says) "best friends sharing God's love." And that they do. As a parent, I appreciate the obvious display of Biblically-based values. The show portrays a group of friends; Slug, Ant, Beetle, Spider and Fly who like to skateboard, play hoopty-hoop, and play alternative-sounding music together (hee hee). They don't always get it right the first time, but their hearts are right!

Each episode illustrates a conflict between the friends. For example, in the first, "Don't Judge a Fly by One Wing," Slug, Ant, Beetle and Spider meet the new guy, Fly. Let's just say he's different. The group forms all kinds of outlandish assumptions about him based on his appearance, until they run into their bow-tied, spectacled Sunday school teacher, Mr. Bumble. Mr. Bumble is the voice of reason and truth throughout every episode of The Slug and Ant Show. There is even a segment called "Bible Time with Mr. Bumble" where Mr. Bumble (a bee, of course) shares a Bible lesson with the audience. He shares the Word of God with the friends, and they form their own conclusion about how to handle the situation. Each episode also features a music video presenting the cast of characters and a catchy, upbeat song that even parents will appreciate.

Being geared toward preschoolers, it was a wise move to make the episodes short and sweet. After all, the show's viewers are likely to have about the same attention span as one of the characters would in real life! This could be enjoyed at home, or it could even be a fitting series to base your preschool church curriculum on (they even have coloring pages and character cut-outs available on their site). It has all the elements to open the door to simple discussion about how God wants us to live and treat others. Such themes as judging others, sharing, and telling the truth are sure to speak to the hearts of the little ones in your life.

Would you like to win a copy of the Slug and Ant Show Volume 1? There are a few easy ways to enter!
  • Leave a comment and let me know why you'd like a copy of The Slug and Ant Show DVD (this one's required- and make sure you leave an email address so I can reach you if you win!)
  • Follow the Slug and Ant Show on Facebook (come back and leave a separate comment letting me know you did!)
  • Share this review/giveaway on Facebook or Twitter, or both (again, come back and let me know you did!)

The giveaway will end on Thursday, and I will announce a winner on Friday! Happy entering!

Highlights from our Screen-Free Week

So, I'm officially back online! Did you participate in Screen Free Week?

Don't worry, I took plenty of notes (almost a week's worth, in fact) on my observations from our five days "unplugged". I will share them here, since I don't want anyone to feel left out, plus I know you all are wondering what in the world we did without television or computer, right?

How we participated:

We started out with the intention of going an entire week without television time. I would check email briefly once or twice a day, just in case something important came through and the sender was not aware of me being offline. My husband still did his online work, but if we were home, he went to the library, or if he had work to do, I would take the children out of the house. He agreed to not play games or engage in other non-work related computer activities.

How did we do?

Well, I shortened our SFW to five days instead of seven (see Thursday). I went on Facebook a couple of times to check on a family member and a friend who were both dealing with health challenges, and I needed to stay updated. But I went directly to their walls to check for updates, and did not read other people's statuses. (By the way, I'm happy to report that my family member is fine, and the friend is improving).

Thursday evening, when a friend from church came over with her children, I decided to allow them to watch a video after they got bored playing in the room so that we could actually engage in adult conversation! (Five children, four and under- I needed the help! Lol!)

Oh, and I gotta tell on my husband, who apparently forgot that we were screen-free when he played a video game at Skateland (during an event that was a part of SFW. Oh my. Just sayin'. ;-D)

What we did:

The first day (Monday) was pretty eventful. After a morning spent reading, cuddling, and playing with the children (going on 4 and 18 months), I took my son out for a couple hours to the library and then to the park while my daughter (the younger one) was napping. While we were out, we toured our city's multi-generational center (think YMCA) and discovered many interesting programs and activities. That evening, we went to Skateland where my son skated for the very first time. (They were participating in SFW and offered free admission to families who signed the Screen-Free pledge).

After all the excitement of Monday, we pretty much stayed home all day on Tuesday. I got up early to get some exercise (I think I can say that it's literally been years since I've been motivated enough to exercise! Oh my!) Later, my body rebelled by being exhausted by about 10 am! What's up with that?! Again, we read lots of books with the children, and played with flash cards, some toys,and I blew bubbles for them. It really was not very eventful, but that was okay!
Finding new uses for toys- a great source of entertainment! (It's a tuba, in case you wondered!)
On Wednesday, I did manage to get a few things done that I had been putting off for a while! I think the children were finally getting used to the idea of occupying themselves without the television, and played in their room quite a bit. Otherwise, they pretty much followed me around while I worked on stuff around the house. They would play near me, and I would often take mini-breaks to play with them. I came across a pack of balloons, and blew several of them up to play with. They enjoyed that! It didn't occupy them for very long, but they still liked it. That evening, we went to our Wednesday evening church service. By the time that rolled around, we were ready to get out of the house!
Before SFW, this was still half covered in boxes from the move, now it's a functional place for our family to eat dinner! (I'm not really sure why this picture is all "choppy" or whatever that is).
On Thursday, I decided that we would cut our SFW down to five days instead of seven. I'm weak! Ha ha! (I may or may not have been influenced by my son's DAILY question "is Screen-Free Week over yet?) Anyway, I was up early again to exercise. I took a walk around our neighborhood, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of our area. Some nearby neighbors have goats (did I ever mention we kind of live in the boonies?) and I think I may have heard some kind of large bird, I'm pretty sure it was a peacock. And of course there were plenty of dogs, and some neighbors even have horses. I guess I kind of live in a diverse neighborhood, because our street is apartments, and then the streets near us are homes with a lot of land. 

That evening, a friend from church came over with her little ones and we discussed a book we're reading together, The Surrendered Wife (pretty awesome so far if you want to check it out). Our children played together for a little while, and then they got kind of restless, so we let them watch a movie so we could continue our discussion. (I had decided ahead of time that I would make this exception if they were "bouncing off the walls!")

Friday morning, I was up and out of the house to meet up with this sweet person for coffee. She is just as nice in person as she is on her blog, just in case you're wondering! When I got home, my mother in law came over to use our computer, and we had a maintenance worker over to fix our ceiling fans (hooray!) Then after all that was finished, I took the children to the library again. So, more book reading. Books are a very big thing for us, I guess, and we read even more when the TV is off! That evening, I got to go to the store by myself to pick up a few things we needed for Easter.

What I learned:

I want a yard! I really would love to have one! We live in an upstairs apartment, and we don't even have a small patio any more like we did in our last apartment. And downstairs, it's just parking, and there's no place within walking distance for the little ones to play outside. Our neighborhood being semi-rural, only has sidewalks right in front of residences, so even taking them for a walk is challenging. (Have you ever tried to push a stroller in gravel? Hmm...) Anyway, the hardest part for me (at least initially) was finding things they could do independently. I would love to have a yard so they could have a safe place to play while I catch up on housework and stuff.

Too much screen-time can be toxic! I think right about day two is when we kind of experienced screen withdrawal! It was pretty awful! Right around 1:00 p.m., I really had this overwhelming urge to turn the television on for the children. I may have also gotten really frustrated with things in general. Thankfully, I refrained from giving up and managed to push through, but wow, that was really challenging for a little bit!

The internet is a HUGE time-waster for me! Okay, well I guess I pretty much already figured this, but it was so evident during SFW. Being "unplugged" I was much more quick to make a decision to do good things! I was motivated to stay busy with housework, and as I mentioned above, I even exercised for the first (and second) time in a very long time!

It's actually pretty easy for children to be occupied (and to occupy themselves) without a screen. Aside from the no-yard thing, they adapt pretty easily to life without a screen. Even as I type this (and our screen time has resumed), they are playing quietly together in their room. They enjoy things like reading books, playing with their toys, blowing bubbles, playing with balloons, coloring, playing at the park, dancing to music on the radio, and more! They might not stay focused on any one activity for a very long time, but they are both under four years of age, so that is completely appropriate! (Being in a zombie-like trance while staring at the TV for hours on end, however is not so appropriate for any age!)
See? Everyone was still okay without screen time!
Photo's blurry, but she's clearly having a good time!
I really need to brush up on my parenting skills! This past week, I was confronted with the fact that I'm a little rusty with actually engaging with my children. I often use a screen as a baby-sitter in a sense while I'm doing housework and of course using the computer! While I think that has a place (like when mama needs a shower, or a quiet moment to herself) it should not be the norm! I definitely need to be more disciplined myself, and be more purposeful about our screen usage.

Going Forward:

I loved the decisiveness to do good things that I adopted during SFW. It is now easier to overcome the temptation to stay on the computer a lot. I will be more purposeful about my computer usage- and not go on immediately in the morning. I plan to continue getting up early to get some exercise on a regular basis. (See Maximize Your Mornings for where I got some inspiration).

We are now limiting television and computer time for our children (mostly our son- as our daughter doesn't really care yet!) For the past two days, when our son asks for computer time (he likes to play some of the games on and a few other things), we have set a timer for 30 minutes. He has resisted getting off so quickly (compared to before) but he's fine once he finds another activity to pursue. I'm still working on how we will limit television and/or video time. (I'm open to suggestions if you have any!) We may adopt a screen-free day once or twice a month (or maybe once a week?)

It was good for our family to participate in SFW. Like anything else, computer or television time can become an idol and something that you just pay way too much attention to! It was a way for us to reconnect with each other, it brought out some things we need to deal with, and it helped us to become more disciplined with our screen time!

What did you learn from Screen-Free Week? Share in the comments if you participated!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Hero

So thankful today and every day for the price He paid!

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Couple of Great New Blogs! ;-)

Just a quick post to promote a couple of really important blogs (at least I think they are)!

My husband started Christian Music Discovery, a blog where, as the name would imply, you can discover great Christian Music. He highlights all types of Christian music (and if you just said to yourself, "there are different types?" then you really need to click over and check it out). Now, he is a worship leader, and he's been playing music since he was about 5 years old, not only that, he loves listening to music (as you might guess) and I'm always surprised by what he finds. (He really spends a lot of time listening to music). All that to say, there is something there for everyone, so you're bound to find something you like.

He also has another new blog, Psalm 133, a blog that's devoted to promoting unity in the American Church. He feels very strongly about unifying the Body of Christ so that we can grow in power to reach the lost, and more!

Even though these don't exactly fit in with the theme of my blog, I thought they might still be of interest to you. So let me know what you think! I'm really excited that he has joined me in the blogosphere...writing about topics he's passionate about!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Screen-Free Week: Are You In?

SCREEN-FREE WEEK is Proudly Endorsed by the Media Education Foundation from Media Education Foundation on Vimeo.

We are.

Screen-Free Week is happening this year from April 18th -24th.

Screen-Free Week is presented by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an organization that I've been following for a couple of years now.

The purpose of Screen-Free Week is to turn off the screens (televisions, computers- *Gulp*) and to turn on life.

I know we watch way too much television in our home, and spend way too much time online, and not enough time interacting with each other and our world.

So what are some things I plan to do while the screens are off?

  • Interact with my children more
  • Spend more quality time with my husband
  • Read books!
  • Get outside
  • Visit local parks
  • Connect with friends, new and old
  • Work on educational endeavors with my children
  • Clean house
  • I'm sure I will think of more!

I sort of wish it was longer than a week!

Here are just a few interesting (and startling) facts about screen use in the U.S.

  • On average, preschool children spend 32 hours a week with screen media. (You know what? Sadly, this is about accurate in our home!)
  • On average, preschool children see nearly 25,000 television commercials, a figure that does not include product placement. (Scary!)
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 2, and less than 2 hours per day for older children.
  • Find more facts here.

We actually participated in this last year, and it was awesome! It wasn't very difficult to just pull the plug on the TV. We did other things! And it was fun! We ended up going a total of 8 days, only because I planned to leave it off as long as my son didn't ask to watch. 

This year, the CCFC has listed organizations that have signed up to participate. Our local skating rink is offering free admission on one of the days to families that sign the screen-free pledge. How cool is that? I've been wanting to take my son skating- I think he would have a ton of fun! It's awesome what you can come up with when you think outside the "box".

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think that television is inherently bad or wrong, but I do think that screens are too much a part of our lives. I want to be able to teach my children how to occupy themselves without media overload.

So who is with me? Will you commit to going Screen-Free for a whole week? What are your thoughts about television and computer usage in your home? Do you purposefully limit your screen time? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

No Housework Party

I was so excited when I heard about the 1st Annual No Housework Party hosted by Jenn at CoolestFamily on the Block. Finally a day off without guilt (not that I actually feel guilty when I slack off on housework...I just eventually get frustrated with the mess, and start moving)! 

I'm somewhere between being domestically challenged and being a domestic goddess. Sometimes quite honestly a little closer to being challenged. I have other skills, okay? Like blogging! But seriously, I am striving to improve, and I feel that I have improved immensely over the years.

Anyway, so back to the may have noticed that this post is not from two days ago! It's Saturday morning and I'm still composing it! I certainly appreciated the day off but apparently (for me anyway), laziness begets laziness. I took two days off instead of one. (For shame!) That was pretty unintentional, though. I was determined to do no housework on Thursday...and I succeeded.

I didn't put these away:

I also was not the least bit tempted to fold these:

This nastiness did not get taken out:

I did not tidy up this room (though I will say this is really tame for a "mess" in this room!):

This mess was stepped over all day:

And I really wanted to sort through these summer clothes for my daughter and get them ready for wear but, alas, I resisted the urge:

Friday, was a different story, though. We went to an event at the library after lunch time, and then hung around there for a little while after the event was over. Then we came home. And I subsequently continued to do nothing. Actually, my wonderful husband took out the trash and cleaned up most of the dishes while the children and I were at the library. So that was a nice surprise.

Today, I thoroughly intend to get stuff back in shape around here. I might even fold the laundry!

What did you do for No Housework Day? And if you missed it, don't despair! It's happening until tomorrow and there's still time to link up!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Real Hot Cocoa

Okay, so I think you all should know that despite living in a hotter than you-know-where "warm" climate (it was well into the 90's a couple days ago!), I like warm foods pretty much anytime. Like hot tea, hot cocoa and soups, etc. (Just consider yourself warned for when I post a chili recipe in July! :P)

At any rate, I thought I would post this recipe before it gets too warm for all of you who live in a reasonable climate!

I wanted to do this because I'm trying to move away from refined sugar and other junky stuff, but I don't want to give up the chocolate creaminess of hot cocoa (yet). But I don't like what I see when I read the ingredients on the instant hot cocoa. Let's review them shall we? (Taken from a popular commercial brand of hot cocoa mix with marshmallows):

Sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, marshmallows (sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, gelatin, artificial flavor), non-fat milk, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, artificial flavor, carrageenan.

Ick! So here is my version for a single mug of hot cocoa that is not much more complicated than opening that single-serve packet and heating the water. It literally takes me about two minutes to make this. (Adapted from my Betty Crocker cookbook):

2 oz water
½ TBSP cocoa powder
a pinch (or maybe slightly more) of Kosher salt
TBSP raw honey (you could use more or less depending on your desired sweetness)
¾ cup of coconut milk beverage (You can use whole milk, almond milk or whatever else you drink- rice milk probably wouldn't work so well in this)
Add water to small saucepan and whisk in cocoa powder over medium high heat. Once the mixture is hot, add the salt and honey and whisk until blended. Add the milk of your choice, and continue to whisk the mixture until it reaches the desired temperature. Top with some marshmallows (don't tell anyone- the ones pictured are just regular ol' marshmallows- but you probably have some organic marshmallows on hand that you could use) or real whipped cream. Enjoy!
Easy! Good and good not so bad for you!

Linking up here:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party! Come on in!

Ultimate Blog Party 2011
Welcome Friend!

My name is Becky, and this is my blog, Happy Christian Home. This blog exists to "provide Biblical encouragement to the woman of the house...and some other useful stuff!"

I'm a 32 year old wife and mama of two. My husband and I were married in 2006 and started our family soon after that. I worked outside the home for about a year and a half, and then answered the call to be a stay at home mom. That has been the best decision for our family, though it has not been totally free of bumps along the way. But God is faithful, and He provides everything we need!

Sometimes you'll find me blogging more about the "other useful stuff" (like co-ops, early literacy, and real food) but generally I try to keep it focused to sending out those "iron sharpening iron" (Proverbs 27:17) vibes into the blogosphere. 

I like to share my experiences in marriage and motherhood and homemaking as a way of helping you and other women out there! I don't get it right much of the time, but thankfully, I'm learning! Thankfully, God gives us grace sufficient for whatever we're up against!

So that's're welcome to poke around a little (or a lot!) Make yourself at home...and let me know you stopped by!