Make Your Home Kid Ready for Summer

With summer right around the corner, most kids will soon have more time on their hands. How can you prepare your home and plan ahead for ideas that will stimulate children’s imaginations and keep them from mischief? With a 12-month-old toddling all over I am trying to answer that questions for myself. After all, we all know what is said about idle hands . . .  I will be talking more about summer activities that engage the family, learning, and creativity over the next few months. But, if you’re wondering how you can make your home more fun for the children, consider these … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: The Life Giving Home

When you walk into somebody’s house and feel at home, what is it that makes you feel that way? Is it the physical environment? Probably not, though that can contribute to it. That feeling of home that embraces you like a warm hug is often a combination of things. But most of it is relational in nature. Casting a vision for your marriage, family, and home is crucial. We all need direction and focus. Without it, we wander aimlessly. Meandering about letting our days and precious moments with our families slip away from us. To recapture and engage the hearts of … Read more…

Plan to Be Surprised

I am a planner. I like to know what is going to happen. I tend to set unobtainable expectations. Unlike my spontaneous, easy-going husband, a change in plans can really derail my day. The past several months I have been reflecting on what it means to give thanks in every circumstance, even when plans change. A couple months ago I read One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (affiliate link), which opened up my mind and heart to how often God tells us to give thanks. Jesus was always giving thanks, regardless of the circumstances. Even when … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: A Special Gift of Love

I grew up knowing most of my extended family on my mom’s side. And I am talking extended family . . . like 4th and 5th cousins extended. Growing up we always went to family reunions and annually gathered at my great-aunt Margie’s for Memorial Day lunch after placing flowers on the graves of extended family in Arnold, Nebraska. My husband has always marveled at the interconnectedness of my family. Even in Phoenix, we had the blessing of getting to know my mom’s cousin (so my second cousin) Doris really well. In fact, on most family vacations we would visit some cousin … Read more…

A Family Tradition–Watching the Sandhill Cranes

Rebekah’s fever finally started to break and stay low enough to get out a bit. And by “get out” I mean drive around. After all, we didn’t want to overwhelm her. We had been wanting to drive around to the cornfields and river to look for sandhill cranes, so we packed up and set out. Most of the cranes have already continued on with their migration, but we still saw quite a few rummaging in the cornfields. Going out every spring to see the cranes is a favorite family tradition of mine. Some years, like today, we just casually drive the … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: Unpacking My Childhood

I don’t have much to share by way of Yarn Along Wednesday, except a dream I have to crochet Rebekah a light yellow dress for this summer. I crocheted a darling little yellow flower for a hair clip to match her Easter dress, but I failed to get a fantastic picture of it. Now that she is walking, she is a busy body. I don’t walk away with many pictures that are not blurry. And our Easter family picture was a bit mopey. Rebekah was on the brink of sleep when we took it. As always, remember to check out more … Read more…

He is Here

This Easter we celebrate so much: Christ conquering death, defeating Satan, and delivering forgiveness, restoration, and redemption as only He could. Though Christ rose from the dead many, many years ago, may we never forget the resounding truth that He is Here. Jesus stands as our advocate in heaven, but also within our hearts and souls in the form of the Holy Spirit. Every day we have reason to celebrate this incredible truth.

Gather Around Inspirations and Yarn Along Wednesday

Today I am blending my Wednesday feature with my Tuesday feature–sorry! However, I think that they fit together very well. I often talk about what I am reading during Yarn Along Wednesday, and what I was going to talk about this week is also one of my favorite “read-together books.”  After discovering what fun it was to crochet boot cuffs, I decided to make some more. This green pair is going to a friend who is having a rough time. It is my prayer that they brighten her day and let her know that she is thought of and loved. If you … Read more…

A Breath of Fresh Air: Dealing with Anxiety

I understand that for many people, anxiety is a severe disorder that requires medication to function. I am not arguing with that reality. However, I do believe that we all struggle with and internalize anxiety in our day-to-day lives. You may not even realize that you are dealing with it because our culture is addicted to self-medication–and I’m not talking about prescription drugs.  We all seek out things to numb our pain, help us cope, or provide an escape. This could be food, books (depending on the type of book this isn’t necessarily a bad thing), TV, pornography, drama, social … Read more…

Crocheted Boot Cuffs and the Downside to Spring

As much as I love spring, I am sadly coming to terms with the fact that it probably won’t snow again. New growth is happening everywhere, the birds are singing, and the spiders are becoming active again. In case you don’t know, I am very afraid of spiders. So much so I think I drive Mitch slightly crazy some days. One thing we didn’t consider when frantically trying to find a place to rent last June was that this place is old, the carpet is brown, sealing around doors rotted, the windows ancient, and there are cracks and crevices all … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: Poetry

In case you missed what Gather Around Inspirations is all about, let me fill you in. It is about introducing quality literature (but also art and music) into your home. Looking for a good book to read as a family? I’ve got you covered! Through Gather Around Inspirations, I am sharing some of my favorite (past and present) read-aloud books. I believe we cannot effectively pass on a love of reading to our children by nagging them to read more. Instead, we need to be willing to come alongside them and share the joy of reading with them, together. Which leads me … Read more…

Refresh Your Home and Family Calendar for Spring

(This post was contributed by Georgina Parkinson.) Spring has arrived, and it’s the perfect time to reflect on months gone by and look forward to the future. Whether you’re planning a summer of fun or you’re looking to build on discoveries made in the winter, here are some simple tips to create a refreshed, organized home. Out with the Old and in with the New Spring is all about change and new beginnings. It’s arrival is an ideal excuse for a spring clean. Devote a couple of spare afternoons or a weekend to getting rid of any unwanted clutter and giving your home … Read more…

Yarn Along: Imaginative Play

One of my favorite things ever is to watch children imagine, create, and play. Many of my own best childhood memories involve imaginative play. Even now, I like to think I have a healthy and active imagination. 😉 Because I love encouraging imaginative play, I have been creating some whimsical crowns. I made this one for Rebekah, and though it turned out a bit tight, it fits great (I am a tight hooker). I decided to make a couple for my friend’s daughters because they are 3 and 5–the perfect ages for imaginative play! But, because I am a tight … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: Tap the Magic Tree

I love to wander the aisles of children’s books at the library. I always come home with way too many picture books. And I have the unfortunate habit of picking out books that I think look awesome, rather than thinking of what Rebekah would like. Right now, we are mostly reading aloud from Heidi while nursing, or enjoying board books together (which I often don’t like to get from the library because every baby chews on them). She loves turning the pages of board books and will sit while we read several. She does has a few picture books she … Read more…

Surrender and the Joy of Spring

Over the past three weeks we have been enjoying spring-like weather. Everything is budding or blooming. Everywhere I look, new life is pushing its way out of the earth. This warm weather has resulted in several family walks. Rebekah has taken to wanting to either hold tight to one of our hands or on to Hazel’s leash–which she is quite good at! Columbia has so many parks and trails that we are still exploring and finding new locations to walk. Over the past two weeks we have either visited or been visited by both of our families. This new year truly … Read more…

Hello and Goodbye, All in One Day

This past week we rejoiced with our family and friends who welcomed sweet baby Blake and Eleanor into their arms. Our friends, Andrew and Sonia, gave birth a sweet baby girl Eleanor. I couldn’t resist making her a couple headbands. Here is the first: I am working on crocheting flowers for another headband (possibly interchangeable flowers) and a flower or two to make into barrettes for her older sister, because older sisters should not be forgotten! Be sure and check out other Yarn Along posts here. Last Friday we made the trek down to Springfield for a quick day trip. … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations: Heidi

As a young girl I dreamt of a loft bed of hay with a little window over looking the mountains and fresh goat’s milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I always remembered how Heidi  is described in the book and the vivid descriptions of the mountains and her loft bed. My mom had this old, large, edited version of Heidi. I can still see the blue cover with a picture of a small girl in her thin, white smock. I don’t know where that book ended up, but I hope I can find it again. As a pre-teen at a scholastic book … Read more…

The Battle for My Epic Door Collage and How My Parents Encouraged My Self-Expression

The Battle In middle school I started a door collage. A door collage, you wonder . . . . Yes, it was my pre-teen, then teen form of self-expression. I am not sure what motivated me to start. Maybe it was my obsession with Allen Iverson from the 76ers . . . I don’t really follow many sports, but I saw an article about him in my dad’s Sports Illustrated magazine and it spurred a short-lived interest in him and professional basketball. Embarrassingly, his pictures were the first to be taped to my door. (To be fair, I do really enjoy basketball, … Read more…

Hospitality When You Have Young Children

I used to wonder how parents could manage to be hospitable when they were wrangling small kids, constantly picking up toys, wiping noses and bottoms, and trying to maintain children’s sleeping schedules. Fortunately, I have been inspired by many young moms through the years. Currently at church there are several moms who consistently open up their homes for playdates, small groups, bonfires, or other get togethers, despite having young kids. I love that young moms still stretch themselves to be welcoming and hospitable, even if their homes are not perfect or the sliding glass doors have finger prints. Hey, life happens. And … Read more…

How do I connect with God when I am a busy parent?

Each week I am going to begin taking one to two days to talk about intentionally building faith in the home. This is at the heart of The Engaged Home and at the heart of what I believe is a major purpose of parenting. This is not a new topic to The Engaged Home. However, it is one I want to engage in conversation about more by sharing my insights, my ideas for different ages of kids, my favorite resources, and by opening up the conversation in the comments or through guest posts. I have several things I am excited to share with you, … Read more…

If Only Life Came with a Pattern . . . Oh Wait, It Does!

In Psalm 142:3 David proclaims, “When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.” Reading this made me feel both grateful and disappointed. I am thankful that God will breathe strength into our weary hearts and guide us when we are overwhelmed. Still, some days I want a pattern in life to follow that will reveal the finished product. What will the tapestry of my life be? Like the picture on the front of the puzzle box, I want to know how it all fits together. But, oh, how forgetful I can be! God gave us the ultimate pattern to … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations

Gather Around Inspirations will be my new Tuesday feature, focusing on books, art, and music worth gathering around. Call me old-fashioned, but I love the imagery of families gathered in front of the hearth, sewing or relaxing while someone reads aloud or plays the violin. Often they read from the Bible or classics like Tennyson. It is idyllic, I know. It may not have involved a fireplace, but some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around books. Whether that meant reading through Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my mom, The Chronicles of Narnia with my dad, admiring pictures in picture books, scoping out … Read more…

The Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Yesterday, my mom called to tell me about a woman who called her for help but couldn’t speak English. “Nathana, while we visit, can you teach me some Spanish?” “Well, mom, I haven’t taken Spanish since my sophomore year of high school, I don’t really remember anything . . . “ “Oh sure you do, your teacher said you were a natural and so good you could teach it!” (I really wasn’t that good . . .) “It was a long time ago mom. I learned it fast, but I also forgot it fast. I mean, I only took it … Read more…

Yarn Along: Finding Beauty and Finishing My Winter Projects

The other day I found myself thinking how all life is poetry if we look close and listen. Even the hard moments. The flecks of color in my cracker, a baby’s cries, dust on the window sill, and the dripping of snow off the house. I am trying to slow down and observe life, especially in the hard moments. There is beauty everywhere, even among pain and tears. Still, it is hard to slow down and see. Though my eyes may be open, my heart is often blind. And some days just don’t get off to a beautiful start. Not because beauty … Read more…

Stay-at-Home Mom Seeking a Friend . . .

Have you ever felt like posting a wanted ad for a friend? For me, the realization hit when we graduated college and moved across the country: it is a lot harder to make friends as a young adult (post-college). At least it felt that way to me. During college, I was surrounded by friends, ranging from close, intimate friendships, to friendly acquaintances. Whether studying, grabbing coffee, watching movies, talking, praying, or eating wings at Applebees, there were always available friends. And, I am happy to say that I have stayed in contact with many of those friends–thank you technology! However, we are separated … Read more…

The Cure to Loneliness

Yesterday, I watched the snow fall. The feathery, fluffy flakes started slow and lazy, but they soon gained momentum as they came in contact with each other and began to clump. Soon, everything was covered in a fresh, white layer of snow. When we allow ourselves to accept God’s love and grace, it blankets our hearts in such a way that God doesn’t see our sin. He sees His child. He sees the blood that Jesus shed to bring us back to him. His love working in our hearts begins to shape every interaction we have. Not all of these … Read more…

Valentine’s Day: A Family Affair

Valentine’s Day. Do you love it or hate it or celebrate it at all? I know people who are all over the spectrum on their feelings about this famous holiday. Mitch and I always treat it as an excuse to go on a slightly nicer date than usual. Sometimes we will budget to buy ourselves gifts while we are out. One year, while we lived in Phoenix, we trekked up to the Grand Canyon, snow and all. It was Mitch’s first time. We remember just standing at the edge and staring at the vastness in silence. Later, on that road … Read more…

Free Printable Valentines, Stationary, and Scripture Cards

Last week I created a devotional for our youth groups girls about identity and who we are in Christ. (You can download the devotional to encourage yourself or use within your own youth group.) This message was on my heart for weeks. We have so many influences trying to shape us, I think it is important to back up and affirm that we are loved by God, God’s child, beautifully created, made for a purpose, holy through Jesus, valued, forgiven, redeemed, called out of darkness, filled with the Holy Spirit, and ENOUGH.  From those truths, good characteristics and fruits will naturally begin to … Read more…

Are You Kind to Yourself? #WholeMama

I think we often associate kindness with our attitude toward others. But I am learning that kindness begins with myself. If I am beating myself up with guilt over my failures or perceived shortcomings, if I am constantly comparing myself to the edited versions of others, I am creating a heart that is critical. Critical of myself and critical of others. This heart opens itself up to bitterness. Though I may don a kind smile or share a kind word, if I am not learning to treat myself with kindness and grace, the contents of my heart may not be … Read more…

A New Take on Coloring: An Interview with Andrew Miller

Have you ever known someone who has inspired you to be more creative and to pursue your passions?  I have a couple of those people in my life who inspire creativity and courage within my heart simply by their example of embracing creativity and hustling after their goals. One of those people in my life is Andrew Miller. He was a college classmate and friend of mine and one of my husband’s college roommates. (Andrew with his wife Sonia and daughter Anya.) Mitch and I made a point to stay in touch, as much as possible, with Andrew and his wife Sonia after … Read more…

Healthy, Heart-Shaped Pancakes

Rebekah tested low in iron recently, probably because she has been battling off sickness. Regardless, I decided it was time to boost her with some iron-rich foods. She has been more interested in baby purees and finger foods over the past couple weeks. The baby cereals seem to have a lot of iron, but they sometimes feel like filler. It was time to get more creative, so the other day I decided I would try and make pancakes using her baby oatmeal. It’s essentially oat-flour anyways, right? And to make it more fun, I decided to make them heart shaped. Just because … Read more…

Letting Go

Have you ever seen those stubborn winter trees who refuse to drop their leaves? The wind blows, the snow falls, and they endure. Those old brown leaves remain withered on the branches until spring overtakes them. I used to admire these trees. I thought, What determination they have. They are lesson in perseverance. But the other day I realized they are not persevering. They are resisting change, resisting transformation. Fall purposefully strips away leaves in preparation for winter and then the rebirth of spring. But here they are in mid-winter clinging to death. When spring unfolds her fragrant garment of new grass, tulips, and budding … Read more…

What is #EngagingLife?

#EngagingLife

If your new year didn’t come with the changes you had hoped. Remember that God gives us not only new years, but new days, and even new moments. Yesterday I had to hit the reset button several times. Gratitude is the key to joy, but Satan wants to keep us stressed and discouraged. God has been working on my heart to seek the beauty in every moment. To fully connect and claim the moments. To choose to see the beauty, even in the ugly. Over a year ago, this idea was but a whisper in my mind. This very whisper lead to me … Read more…

Blessings Big and Small: A Linkup

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, … Read more…

Yarn Along: So Many Babies!

What am I crocheting? I have a couple baby items I am sewing and crocheting for our nephew Blake. He is due this next month. We cannot wait to meet the little fella! I will share all my projects when they are done, but for now I am working on crocheting a sweet little vest. I am making it 9-12 months in hopes that it will fit next fall and winter. So far the pattern is easy and adorable. But I am about to start the arm holes, which tend to be tricky. When I made Rebekah’s fall sweater I … Read more…

What I’ve Observed on Raising Healthy Children

As a new parent, I sometimes find myself stressing out about whether or not I am giving Rebekah the best start in life possible. Crazy thoughts sometimes bombard me: Oh no! We haven’t started a college fund yet . . . Can I feed her non-organic food?! (Just typing some of my thoughts out loud make me realize how nutty they are!) One of my favorite things to do is to observe others. I know that makes me sound like a creeper . . . but I promise I am not! I like to observe couples and families who are raising healthy children … Read more…

Lilla Rose Sale–Just in Time for Valentine’s Day!

Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift? Lilla Rose hair products are beautiful, functional jewelry for your hair. Plus, they are oh so comfortable and durable! Whether you sport your hair in a ponytail, half up, or a bun or french twist, there are many styles you can create with Lilla Rose products. I am kind of obsessed with their hairbands because they are adjustable, comfortable, and stay put better than any hairband I have tried. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and Lilla Rose is hosting a 48-hour flash sale. It only lasts today and tomorrow: January 26th and 27th!  … Read more…

Winter Picture Books

1948 winner of The Caldecott Medal. Its age shows in its faded, worn cover and mostly black and white pictures. The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader is one of my favorite winter picture books.  I recently found this book at Goodwill, and I am so glad I nabbed it up. (I am always on the prowl for quality picture books.) Not only is The Big Snow a classic, but it is perfect to read this time of year. It teaches about what different animals do during the winter. For the past couple months I have been watching the flocks of geese settle … Read more…

The Sickness, Quarantine, and the Delicious Soup I Developed in the Meantime

The Sickness Ugh. Hand, foot, and mouth (HFM) can be a nasty bug to fight off! We thought Rebekah’s strain of it resembled chicken pox more than HFM. Rebekah’s primary doctor is older than he looks and had seen more than the typical pediatrician. Due to this, he had seen chicken pox firsthand (many new doctors have not) and many, many strains of HFM. Even though he was confident it was HFM, he sent pictures of her sores to Dermatology to double check. Right before Rebekah got sick, I wrote about treasuring the moments. Well, few things make you treasure your child’s smiles, … Read more…

Post-Sickness Cleaning Tips

Chores can really pile up. Especially when you have several loads of laundry after a week-long trip. Compound that with your baby coming down with a bad case of hand, foot, and mouth right after you get home. Then you get sick. And you realize you need to sanitize EVERYTHING before your husband gets sick too . . .   Sigh. Thank you for listening to my mini rant. 😉 Things are looking up. I am at least caught up on laundry. However, I am getting ready to make a game plan for the rest of the house. I find that the … Read more…

Finally . . . the reader survey results and a giveaway winner!

The blog has been a bit quiet as of late. This week Rebekah had her first real dose of sickness. And it was a doozy. She caught what our pediatrician said was the worst strain of hand, foot, and mouth he had seen in a couple years. And he sees it a lot. 🙁 A sad, sick baby makes for a sad mama. Fortunately, she has perked back up to usually self. But to her credit, even during the worst of it, when she wasn’t napping or crying, she was pulling up and trying to stand and wanting to walk. I … Read more…

Treasuring the Moments

“And his mother (Mary) treasured up all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51B) From a young age, this verse about Mary treasuring the moments always stuck in my mind. We don’t have many specifics about Mary after she is visited by Gabriel. Or Joseph for that matter. But I’ve always loved this glimpse into her heart. She knew who her son was born to be. But he was still her son. I used to think that she treasured all these things because Jesus was Emmanuel, God’s son. And, be warned, I am getting solely into the territory of my opinion here. But, now … Read more…

Our White Christmas

Christmas took us from Columbia, up to Nebraska, back to Columbia, and then down to Springfield. I fought off a cold the first leg of the trip, but all things considered, it was a lovely Christmas. Rebekah did quite well around our large families, at least until she reached nap time. Then it was nuzzle-into-mama-and-don’t-let-go time. She even slept pretty well, thanks to a rocker that some friends lent us. (Sadly, we are now on the rocker’s goodbye tour because Rebekah barely fits in it length-wise, and the tiny straps barely reach around her tummy.) It snowed on Christmas Eve. … Read more…

Connecting with Your Children Through Everyday Opportunities

For better or worse, there are many fears shared by parents around the world. Even before their child is born, mothers can go through all kinds of uncertainties. One worry that I find particularly prevalent is a fear that you’re not engaged enough in your children’s lives. This is a common qualm. But, be careful! Don’t let your fear turn into a negative self-talk and guilt complex. Instead, let it lead you toward intentionality and motivation to engage more fully with your children. If you really are drifting out of touch, don’t panic. There are various ways you can become … Read more…

Crossing Kansas

Watching the terrain change before our eyes as we travel across Kansas toward Colorado makes me marvel at how diverse we are as a nation. As I write this post, the mountains of Colorado are rising in front of us, straight out of the plains that draw our eyes miles in every direction. We made our way through a patch of winter fog earlier this morning while crossing Kansas outside Salina. Frozen cow ponds and knotted, gnarly trees draped in the heavy mist, looked as if they belonged in a gothic novel by Emily Bronte. Mitch let me pull off at … Read more…

Motivational Books for the New Year

I’ve lost my rhythm with reading. I still love it. But sometimes it feels like such a luxury that it gets pushed off into a dusty corner of my mind and life. TV at least allows me to multitask: crochet, fold laundry, etc. I’ve been reflecting on changes I would like to make in 2016. I decided that reading needs to become a bigger part of life. Reading is more than recreation. And I need it to be more than an auxiliary activity in my life. Reading encourages my imagination, sparks ideas, motivates action, helps me relate to others, relaxes me, stretches … Read more…

Our Top Five Favorite Posts of 2015

It is always interesting to look back over the year when on the cusp of a new one. 2015 held more change for us than we could have predicted. Looking back over my posts from 2015, the word transition kept popping up. This was a year of transition. But it was beautiful and wonderful. Due to all the changes, it went by fast. Now, I am trying (hopelessly) to remind myself that tomorrow is January 1st, 2016. As we close out the year, here are our five favorite posts from 2015: Joy Redefined: My Heart Now Resides Outside Itself: The moment Rebekah … Read more…

Small Things

faithfulness

This Christmas season has left me a bit worn out. I’ve been battling my first cold in a long time. The day we drove up to see my parents last week, I found myself shivering and utterly void of energy. Not a great way to start out our Christmas travels. Fortunately, the worst of the cold passed within 24 hours. Now, I am left with the annoying cough and stuffy nose. But I will take it. Dealing with the initial debilitating fever and sore throat made me so thankful for Mitch picking up a lot of my slack, especially during the … Read more…

Are You Ready or Not?

Today we celebrate Jesus’ birth in the flesh. Think about that for a second. He was born: blood, placenta, labor pains, and all surrounded by animals. (Probably not on December 25th, but still . . .) He came to earth fully human, fully God. I think sometimes we almost romanticize his birth in a cozy little stable with fluffy sheep. But Jesus was born without luxury, hospitals, or even a familiar family home. He came to encounter what we encounter: hunger, dusty feet, an aching back, fatigue, and much more. More importantly, he came to touch the untouchable and to … Read more…

Our Christmas Letter

Maybe it is a bit old-school, but I love writing and receiving Christmas letters. And since I didn’t get around to writing one to go with our photo card, I am sharing my Christmas letter here with you. Dear Friends and Family, Our hearts are so full when we think of all our friends and family stretched across the country and even the world. We wish we had time to sit down with each of you over a steaming mug of coffee as we catch up on one another’s lives. But sadly, that is not possible. I think that is … Read more…

Reader Survey and Giveaway!

I am passionate about a wide variety of topics. My interests are probably too numerous. I am sure you have noticed by now. However, my focus, goal, and prayer with The Engaged Home is not to ramble about my various interests, rather to write about topics that are of interest and benefit to you. Of course, I will only write about topics within the realm of I can write about confidently. If you want to learn about baseball or how to become a ninja, this is NOT the blog for you! 😉 I have created a quick, easy, and hopefully painless survey. Would you take less … Read more…

My Beautifully Crowded Bed

Mitch and I joke that we keep trying to chase all the little foxes out of our bed (bad Bible joke from Song of Solomon). But they keep burrowing back under our covers. This morning Rebekah woke up at 5:15 AM to nurse. My alarm was set for 6 AM, so I decided to bring her into our bed to nurse and snuggle for a bit before I got up (She was wide awake, on her tummy, and attempting to crawl around her crib when I went into her room. Can we slow things down a bit?). As I was … Read more…

How to Encourage Your Child’s Education

Read the statistics. Ask the teachers. Ask the youth ministers. Parental involvement and encouragement are huge, whether considering your teenager keeping their faith when they reach adulthood, or your child or teenager embracing learning and education. Parents, please don’t underestimate your power of influence here, and the volumes that your example will teach your children. If you are homeschooling or your children go to public or private school, here are some ways that you can actively engage in their education as you encourage them to be lifelong learners. Educational Apps I will admit that I often resist technology. Just ask my husband. I … Read more…

The 12 Treats of Christmas

Sugar Cookies

I have to admit that I have stressed myself out a bit trying to make a bunch of Christmas treats to share. I keep telling myself to stop, relax, or, you know, finish my Christmas gifts! But, for some reason baking, giving, and frosting cookies is so compelling for me during the Christmas season. I have fond memories of my grandma’s frosted, cut-out sugar cookies and my aunt’s Oreo balls (or truffles). And then after Mitch and I got married, every December we would dip pretzels in chocolate, make cookies, fudge, cocoa, and many other wonderful treats. I hope that … Read more…

The Pattern for Rebekah’s Flower Headband

I never thought I would be the mom that would want to have matching hair bows for my daughter’s outfits. Well, I am. She really doesn’t wear them that often. And she usually pulls them off and makes a toy out of them. But my recent preoccupation with making hair bows probably has less to do with wanting her to wear them, and more to do with how cheap, easy, and fun they are to make. I experimented with fancy ones before she was born. (Note the red and green bows.) But now I find I have one ribbon style I really … Read more…

3 Clever Ideas for a More Child-Friendly Home

As any mom will tell you, children are pros at making a mess. They spill juice, splatter food, and sometimes, even draw on the walls. This leads many parents to think that they can’t have a nice home because their little ones will only mess it up. However, that’s not the case. Children might make a mess, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a beautiful home. It might be a little harder to keep your house looking good when you have toddlers and young children about, but it is doable.  The key to keeping your home in good shape … Read more…

Last Minute Gifts to Buy

Yesterday, I realized that in my gift guide I failed to share a couple of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts to buy for others! And then I realized how quickly Christmas is coming! Breathe Nathana . . .  The problem is not that I procrastinated on shopping. My issue is that I have way too many DIY Pinterest gifts to make . . . Time to prioritize I guess and save the rest for next year!  You can always follow what I pin on my handmade gifts’ board on Pinterest. I am hoping to follow up this post with cheap and … Read more…

Reality Check: Six Things I Don’t Usually Share

Vulnerability is hard. It takes courage. Letting down barriers and letting people see into the dusty corners of our lives means risking rejection. But it’s so desperately needed within our churches, marriages, friendships, and, even blogs.  One of the things that I truly love about following blogs are the posts where those men or women admit their humanity. Yes, they are a food blogger, but this recipe failed miserably. Or the mom blogs where they talk about their personal struggles with yelling or how messy their homes are. It helps me relate to them and realize I am not alone. Being … Read more…

The Final Reveal: Rebekah’s Fall Sweater

As of Thanksgiving week, I finally finished Rebekah’s fall sweater. It was a really fun and easy pattern to follow, minus all the ends to weave in from changing colors. If anyone has a pro-tip about how to manage those, please let me know in the comments! (Rebekah’s fall sweater pattern is pinned on my Yarn Along Pinterest Board, along with many more crocheted sweater patterns.) (Those teeth . . . She has four coming in on top right now. All things considered, she handles it well. But she has her moments. Does she ever. But my heart goes out to her … Read more…

Lengthening Your Baby’s Attention Span

First of all, I am not a medical professional. Also, I am right in the thick of this parenthood thing with you! But I have researched and learned many things from people with vast medical and non-medical experience with babies that I have successfully put into practice with Rebekah. We have seen positive outcomes. So I am excited to share these tips with you. All of that said, I do understand that each child’s development is done at their own pace.   Before I jump in, I do have three more disclaimers: 1) playing with your child is a good thing 2) engaging … Read more…

Helping Your Teen Find Their First Job

Do you remember your first job? I do. I worked as a hostess at Red Lobster. I was so excited that I did not have to resort to working in fast food or detassling! (Unfortunately, I did still end up detassling one summer during college. If you don’t know what that means, consider yourself fortunate!) I owe a lot my success to my parents encouraging and equipping me, and my high school English teacher drilling us on how to write resumes and cover letters. Ugh. To this day, I hate writing resumes and cover letters. But, knowing how to do it well can … Read more…

2015 Gift Guide for Your Family

As I have confessed before, I am that Aunt. The one who buys you books for Christmas. Yep. That’s me. This year, I intentionally pushed myself to try and find more fun gifts.  I thought I would share some gift ideas that have made my list this year or in past years. Enjoy my 2015 gift guide. As much as possible, I try to encourage gifts that will bring your family together! 🙂 ***Disclaimer: These are Amazon affiliate links. There is no obligation or cost to you. But if you buy anything through our Amazon link it blesses our family!*** 1. Devotionals for Children … Read more…

A Thankful Year

I know I am a bit late on my “thankfulness” post for November. Nonetheless, I felt moved to share all that God has done in our lives in just this past short year. We have faced challenges, goodbyes, and hard times, but it has also been a year of life-changing blessings: the birth of Rebekah, Mitch’s new ministry position, a cross-country move, laying down roots in a new job and new state, and a so much more. We put our trust in God when we had no idea what the future contained, and He not only brought us through–he brought … Read more…

An Educational Christmas Countdown

    Many of us treasure holiday memories with our families because of unique family traditions. Mitch and I have formed a couple of our own since we got married (5 years ago!!!). We always make homemade pizza on Christmas Eve (or before we go to celebrate with family). We have certain Christmas movies and music albums that we love to listen to (you can check them out in my Amazon store under products that we love). Seriously, if you have not checked out The Star of Bethlehem, do so this year! We watch it every Christmas. I’ve seen it … Read more…

Lilla Rose Black Friday Sale and Giveaway

One of my favorite places to buy presents for Christmas is Lilla Rose. I am so excited to shop their Black Friday sale for Christmas gifts (and for myself . . . )! I really want to get my hands on one of their adjustable headbands. I have the worst time with the pretty headbands actually staying on my head, which is why I think it is genius that Lilla Rose’s headbands are adjustable! 🙂 3 Day Black Friday Sale For Customers & Guests Only 20% Off Everything, including New Releases 25% Off select Festive Styles 30% Off select Holiday Styles, 30% … Read more…

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Roundup

Thanksgiving is around the corner! For most of us anyways. This year we get to celebrate three times! We celebrated with my parents on Monday. We will get together with more family on Wednesday and then on Saturday. Strangely, we have no official plans for Thursday. However, we will be with my husband’s family in Springfield, so I am sure we all will soak up lots of time with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. 🙂 In celebration of this time of year, I have compiled some of my favorite recipes, crafts, decor ideas, and lessons. This is the ultimate thanksgiving roundup. Feel free to share your … Read more…

Water Conservation Starts at Home

I am excited to share this post with you, because my husband and I are always looking for ways to lower our bills and save money! Plus, as a clothing-diapering and laundering family, we wash A LOT of diapers. Due to this, saving on our water bill in other areas is important! 😉  Guest Post by Matty Goodwin The time has come to start taking water conservation seriously. Even though I try my hardest every day, it is easy to waste water. I turn on the tap and before I know it I have used more than my fair share. … Read more…

Do Not Be Deceived

Deception is alive and well. Satan is the master of lies and a deception artist. Truth can be difficult to discern. Intuition can be muddled. Consciences can be dulled. Our world has lost sight of truth. A lack of truth has led to watered-down morality. It has also led to anger, confusion, and darkness. Desperate for truth, many people–like the youth persuaded to join ISIS–buy into extreme, radical lies. Our world is polarized between extreme, hate-fueled philosophies and a post-modern disillusionment.  But, there is nothing new under the sun. Paul addressed self-delusion in Romans. He explained how many people strayed so far … Read more…

Tips for Creating a Functional Homeschool Space

This is a guest post by Ella Andrews.  Creating your very own homeschool space is not exactly an easy task, since you will need a location to not only hold school, but store your supplies. That being said, you will have a chance to make a lot of great choices both for storage and tutoring purposes, so make use of the following tips to make it work: Make your space more functional and comfortable, ensuring there is enough space to walk between the desks or other furniture. Basements and garages can be good areas to deal with this, especially if you work on them with … Read more…

DIY Baby Pat Mat (Free and Only Takes 3 Minutes to Make)

We are participating in Parents as Teachers, and a couple months ago we learned about this super fun and easy baby pat mat. The best part is that most people already have all the supplies needed to make it!  It is super simple, and if your baby is 3-9 months, chances are they will love playing with it. Plus, it teaches about cause and effect. Talk with you baby about “When you hit it or pat it, what happens? Did that blue piece move? What if you pat it here?” Supplies: water 2 gallon plastic bags (you’ll want to double bag) tinsel or … Read more…

All Life is Transition

The wind is roaring tonight. The blustery winds are rattling the poorly installed windows of our rental. Nonetheless, we are cozy inside (minus a warm fire because I am pretty sure the fireplace isn’t safe). Flaws of our rental aside, I am thankful to be in a warm home and not out on the streets on a night like this. Something about tonight lends itself to be a night of reflection. On the way home from church, Mitch and I recounted that we have lived four different places within the past five years. Technically, we’ve lived in four different apartment/houses and … Read more…

Indoor Activities for Kids During the Cold Winter Months

You’ve probably noticed that over the past few weeks the weather has started to change. Winter is headed our way. When temperatures start to drop and rain becomes more regular, we can no longer spend as much time outside with our families as we would like to. For many parents, this means sticking the kids in front of the television to keep boredom at bay. While a little television is okay, like many moms, I don’t believe in letting kids spend all day in front of a screen. I believe that boredom is not always the enemy–in fact, I believe … Read more…

Join Me on Monday!

Mark your calendars for this Monday! Tomorrow is the kickoff for the Joyfully Empowered Moms Summit. This is a free opportunity to learn from 21 different women about topics such as stress-management, self-care, creative outlets, business development, and more. The heart of the summit is about living each day with joy. Yes, it is geared towards moms of special needs kids; but the host, Kristine, emphasized that the summit is designed with all moms in mind, and it would even be beneficial for dads. So, if you are feeling a bit frazzled (cough, cough, I know the feeling), if you feel like you are barely surviving … Read more…

Avoid Common Engagement Mistakes

I remember vividly the moment I got engaged. I think it’s a moment in your life that you never want to forget. We knew we were going to marry before he proposed, but he still managed to surprise me and make it a wonderful day. He proposed after our college’s annual banquet in the Prayer Chapel on campus. It was a place we both loved. We spent many moments there in prayer about our future. It was perfect, minus being interrupted twice by another college student relocating a dance party. Argh . . . .  (Right after we got engaged.) (Where he proposed.) … Read more…

Yarn Along

Well, I haven’t made much progress since last week on Rebekah’s sweater. I need to pick up the pace! I keep having grand plans of what I am going to finish before Christmas. I think I need a reality check. 😉 However, on the reading front I am making decent progress. The class I attend on Wednesday nights at church just started reading The Lord and His Prayer. I am a little over half way through it, and I feel so challenged to rededicate to my prayer life. In the churches of Christ, we don’t regularly say the Lord’s Prayer, … Read more…

Quick Tips for Fall Cleanup

***I am excited to share this post today because my husband and I are in the midst of fall cleanup and getting the yard in order! We have several trees and are digging our yard out from under all the leaves. Plus, I am getting ready to rake out and tend to my small garden patches. So, if you are also tending to your yard before the cold of winter sets in, I hope you find these tips useful!  (This post was written by an Engaged Home contributor. It includes affiliate links.) It’s easy to spot the difference in gardens between … Read more…

Don’t Let the Holidays Knock You Off Your Rocker!

I love the holiday season when there’s so much going on, and we can spend time with our friends and family: Christmas concerts, Christmas lights, decorations, holly, hot chocolate, presents, crackling fires, Christmas music, caroling. I feel giddy just thinking about it! But, also a little stressed . . .   From Halloween to Thanksgiving and Christmas, we all get to have a lot of fun together. However, if we are not careful, all the fun of the season can get lost in the chaos and details. Although I try to stay positive, there’s no avoiding the fact that things can get very … Read more…

Thankful Thursday–A Linkup

This week I am co-hosting a linkup with my solidarity sister, Charlene, a blogger at From Bisons to Buckeyes. And I am SO excited about it! Every last Thursday of the month she co-hosts a linkup called Thankful Thursday. Tonight, I am thankful for so many things. My mind is flooded with blessings. But as I sit down to write, I have my sweet, sleeping daughter curled up at my side, and our dog Hazel cozied down by us with her head resting on my leg. Poor Hazel has had a hard time adjusting since Rebekah was born. She went … Read more…

A Fall Sweater and Mr. Ed’s Hat

I have been working on a fall sweater for Rebekah that I hope will keep her cozy as the temperature starts to drop. Though I have to admit I have not had much time to work on it. Fortunately, when we drive to church, I bring it along to get in a couple rows since it is a 20-30 minute drive. These fall colors have been in my yarn stash for awhile because I originally bought them for a blanket that didn’t happen. But I am enjoying putting them to use now. If I get the hang of sweaters, I … Read more…

Ideas for Making Your Kitchen Family Friendly

(This is a guest post by Beth Holmes, an Engaged Home contributor. It includes affiliate links.) I spend a lot of time in the kitchen each evening, cooking dinner for myself and my family. Being a busy mom means that sometimes it feels like I get very little time with my family. That’s why I like to encourage them to chat with me while I’m cooking dinner. Many kitchens are anything but family friendly, which can make chatting while you cook difficult. However, by making a few simple changes to the design of your kitchen, you can change that. To … Read more…

Introducing Charlene, My Solidarity Sister

One of my favorite parts of blogging is the online community that is formed by both readers and fellow bloggers. It has blessed me far more than I ever imagined! I just wish I had more time to read and follow blogs, because there are so many fantastic men and women sharing advice, insight, humor, and quite simply put, life.  This past month I had the awesome opportunity to find a “solidarity sister” through the blogosphere. A blogging friend, Susannah from Simple Moments Stick, began this unique opportunity to connect with other bloggers, make a friend, and grow your blog. Susannah … Read more…

The Joyfully Empowered Summit

Do you ever have opportunities come along that surprise you, make you feel honored to be thought of, super excited, and yet incredibly nervous?  Well I just had one of those fantastic opportunities come my way! After discovering The Engaged Home, Kristine Farley contacted me about participating in The Joyfully Empowered Summit that she is hosting November 9th through the 21st. Kristine Farley has such an amazing heart for families with special needs children, and moms in general. It was an honor to be able to take part in her telesummit. And, as a new mom, I am thrilled to … Read more…

Top Christmas Presents for the Pet Lover in Your Life

I would wager that we all know at least one major animal lover. You may even be one. Our dog Hazel has a special place in our family–though she would probably tell you that she feels displaced since Rebekah was born. Just for fun we like to put up a special “Hazel stocking” at Christmas that we fill with treats and maybe a chew toy or bone. Over the past four years that Hazel has been a part of our family we have received many great Hazel presents ranging from special treats for her, to light-up leashes, to framed pictures of her from … Read more…

The Importance of Superheroes for Children and Teens

  I am excited to share Tracey’s post today! The Clay household enjoys Batman. So much so that I made Rebekah a Batman outfit. 🙂  By Tracey Clayton Superheroes track the bad guys relentlessly through the sky and defend the innocent against injustice, all without ever revealing their true face. Whether they are called Superman, Batman or Spider-Man, our kids love them. But why are superheroes so fascinating to the youngsters? How do they help them grow? Why Do Children Need Superheroes? The superhero is an ideal, an aspiration, a goal, and that is an excellent moving force for children as well as … Read more…

11 Foods to Eat While Pregnant

Confession: I felt healthier while pregnant than I normally do. This was because I wanted to give Rebekah the very best nutrition possible and take care of my body so it would be in good shape for labor and nursing. I did a lot of research into what to eat and what to avoid while pregnant. I had sweet and smart friends who freely shared their wisdom. And my husband was awesome about cooking healthy foods for us. So when Julie Roy contacted me about sharing her information on healthy pregnancy foods, I was excited to pass on this excellent information. … Read more…

Creating a Happy and Safe Home

(This post is by Liam Thomas, an Engaged Home contributor. It contains affiliate links.) ****Nathana: I am so excited to share these tips with you for a couple reasons: 1) Because as a new mom, creating a safe home environment is crucial. I want Rebekah to be able to function is all environments, but I do believe in protecting her from things that could seriously harm her. 2) My husband still remembers the year his childhood Christmas was ravaged by a robbery. He still protests to putting a Christmas tree in front of the window, because he thinks it invites in robbers.  Part of … Read more…

TLC for Your Garden

(This is an Engaged Home contributor post. It includes affiliate links.) Having a garden is a real added bonus for any family home. Not everybody has a lot of outside space included with their property. Some people don’t want a garden at all because they can be quite hard to maintain. Whether a flower garden or vegetable garden, gardening with children can be a great learning opportunity for them! Looking after a larger yard isn’t always something you want to tackle on your own, though. Keeping a large lawn in good condition certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted! If you look for … Read more…

DIY Bible Box with Supplies From the Dollar Tree

Rebekah loves Bible class. I started dropping her off when she was only three months old. I honestly didn’t know how she would do, but she adores it! Sweet teachers, Bible songs and rhymes, and objects to grab and play with make it a fun experience for her. (I’m sure she will go through separation anxiety at some point, but for now she loves going to class.) I genuinely believe that babies can learn a lot more than we give them credit for. So, why not start teaching them about the most important thing: The fact that God made them and loves them!  … Read more…

The Best Ways to Keep Bugs Out of the House

I love living in Missouri. Minus the spiders. I hate spiders. Like a lot. The place we are currently renting has old windows, bad sealing around the doors, and numerous unsealed cracks and crevices inside. You know what can sneak through any crack or crevice . . . spiders. Bleck. First off, let me clarify that we are clean! This is not a dirty/messy house situation. However, we do have brown carpet that many spiders blend right into, which makes me slightly paranoid at times. But after several unpleasant confrontations, (I drowned a big black spider in dawn dish soap. Wasteful. And not … Read more…

Gift Ideas for New Moms

Whether you’re a mom yourself or not, choosing a gift for someone who has a new baby can be challenging. The main problem is that most new moms will receive almost everything that they need for the baby at their baby shower. So you have to think outside the box when it comes to post-birth gifts. Here are a few tips and gift ideas to take note of: Personalized Presents   So the new mom has everything that she needs, but there are still plenty of things you can get her. Some of the best presents I received when my little one was born … Read more…

How to Breathe New Life Into Your Bedroom

I love our bedroom. It is where we connect, relax, cuddle, and enjoy sweet, sweet sleep! Oftentimes we end up sharing our bed with our dog and daughter. We call this phenomenon family bed. As much as we love cuddling, reading, and enjoying family bed before Rebekah goes to sleep, we are trying to regain our bedroom by crating our dog at night (which she hates), and encouraging Rebekah to sleep on her own. Just for the record, she does a good job and we rarely co-sleep. Some nights I am just really tired and she really wants to be close … Read more…

Encouraging Your Child to Have a Healthy Self-Image

Now that I am blessed to be the mother of a 5-month-old baby girl, I am realizing how easy it is to slip into the comparison and labeling game. I am excited to unravel her unique personality. Yet, the sneaky sin of comparison sometimes sneaks into my mind. She doesn’t laugh as often as so-and-so, but she has more motor skills than that kid . . . etc.  These thoughts are unfair to her. They make me over-analytical and anxious. Plus, comparison is always a lose-lose situation. Either she comes out ahead in my mind and it feeds my pride (a sin I struggle with), … Read more…

What Defines Your Self-Image?

Shy. Spoiled. Tom Boy. Only Child. These are all adjectives, or more accurately labels, that I remember struggling with as a child. I was quiet. I loved my friends and family, but I was not naturally extroverted. I was simply not your “normal” 5-year-old chatterbox, at least not around those I didn’t know very well. Now get me around friends and family and that was a different story! In addition, I was an only child–though by no choice of my own, mind you. Every day I prayed for a brother or sister, even writing God a letter with the request of a sibling. … Read more…

My Simple Guide to Decluttering Your Home

(This post was written by Laura, an Engaged Home contributor. Laura’s post includes her affiliate links.) A cluttered home is a cluttered mind, as they say. Over the years, many of us are guilty of hoarding and collecting things – and they never get thrown away. The result can be a house that is packed to the brim with useless objects and old stuff that will never see the light of day again. While some people can happily live like this, it makes my skin crawl.  Studies have also started to reveal that there is a correlation between clutter and … Read more…

3 Column Bible Study

If growing up in the churches of Christ taught me one thing, it was how important it is to read and know your Bible. Teachers and preachers impressed on me the importance of context and how we need to look at it through the eyes of the initial readers. When I was a child I loved church. And in middle school I really fell in love with Jesus and decided to get baptized. Reading my Teen Devotional Bible and praying every day came easily. I devoured books like Mere Christianity in high school. Yet, as a busy adult, sometimes reading the Bible and praying … Read more…

Save Time, Money, and Sanity With My Top Time-Saving Cleaning Tips

Let’s be totally honest, very few people like cleaning their home. But it is unavoidable. You’re going to have to do your fair share of cleaning if you don’t want to live in filth. As a mother and dog owner, it seems like there is always something that needs cleaned. I also like to avoid costly and chemical-filled cleaning products. As a new busy mom with only small gaps of nap time to clean, nap, blog, or relax (gasp!), I’ve learned the importance of organization and streamlining my cleaning routine. The good news is I’ve come up with some techniques to help … Read more…

4 Ideas for Making Your House a Home

Have you ever walked into a house that felt sterile or staged? Those houses always make me feel uncomfortable because I cannot envision the family actually living there. Since our home is where we spend a lot of our family time, and since we are considering homeschooling in the future, we really want to make sure that our home is a comfortable, cozy, and a positive place for Rebekah. Based on that, here are four ways I’ve learned to make a house a home your family can relax in and enjoy: Personalize it: Your home should be filled with things that you want … Read more…

Equipping Our Children to Engage a Broken World

equipping our children to navigate life

Some days I wonder about what type of world our children will live in. I think of the challenges we faced growing up and wonder what is in store for them. It doesn’t surprise me that more and more parents are trying to shelter their kids from the world. Yet, I do not think that approach is always beneficial. I believe we need to teach our children to navigate and engage the world around them in a healthy way. Teaching our children truth, so they can filter out lies is essential. How do you teach your children the wisdom they need … Read more…

How to Prepare Your Home for a Family Get Together

hosting

Holiday season is right around the corner. For many of us, that means our houses will be full of friends and family. If you’re having a big family get together soon, you need to make sure your home is prepared for it so it is an enjoyable experience for all. Here are five things you can do to get your home guest-ready: Make Sure There’s Enough Chairs When you have people over, finding enough chairs is always a big problem. So, make sure you don’t leave the task of gathering together chairs until the last minute. You don’t necessarily need … Read more…

When Your Child Asks “Why would someone do that?”

The "Why" question

I think one of the most intimidating (but healthy) questions a child can ask is why. Recently, a friend of mine mentioned how her young daughter came home from school, where they had talked about 9/11, and asked “Why would someone do that?” Why? I think we could jump into a discussion about how the terrorists believed false ideas of glory, how America was evil, etc. And historically, that is good to talk about if your children are old enough to understand it. But doesn’t why come down to hatred?  Whether you are Muslim, Christian, Atheist, or Buddhist, isn’t it hatred that causes … Read more…