by Vivian Germain

As I was lying in bed a few nights ago, I started to think that no matter what season of life I am in, I find myself striving to accomplish something great. Whether it is strengthening my relationship with Christ, becoming a better wife and mother, or maybe sometimes I am striving to lose weight or to have a sparkly clean house. No matter what I am striving to accomplish, I always feel like there is so much to do. And I don’t know about you, but I feel like there is not enough time in my day to accomplish it all.

It occurred to me that I’m putting too many expectations on myself. My time is spent thinking about the things I need to do and sometimes feeling like a failure because I didn’t achieve anything on my “to do” list. As I reflected on this epiphany, I realized I’m missing out on “the now.” God only promises today, not tomorrow or next week or next year. So, today, I’m going to love my husband and my children. Today, I’m going to read my bible and talk to God, but most importantly, today, I won’t let the joy of the Lord be stolen from me because my house is not clean, or I haven’t called a dear friend or perhaps I weigh just a little bit more than what I would like.

My season of life is very busy between changing diapers, preparing meals and playing with my children, all while I am trying to have a presentable home and take care of myself. Although this season of life is busy for me, my goal this summer is to celebrate every moment, to be open, and to be present. I’m going to allow God to take control of my days and to show me how to spend them. I don’t know what our exact plans are this summer, but I know it will be spontaneous and fun. I still want to be intentional about everything I do; I just don’t want the stress and busyness to steal the gift of being present.

If you are in a season of life that is busy, be kind to yourself, relax and enjoy the present!

Are you so busy that you forget to enjoy “the now”? How do you manage balance in your life when you are busy? Please share your thoughts and comments below. 

 Vivian Germain has been a Christian for over 20 years and really enjoys the freedom that is in Christ. She brings encouragement to other women by sharing her spiritual walk. Vivian and her husband, Dustin, have three beautiful children; Daniella, Andrew and Matthew. She loves the beach, date nights and to travel almost anywhere. 

by Jenelle Garden 

I hated Art class when I was a little girl. Making crafts alongside my school-aged peers proved to be a task beyond my realm of capability. My drawings would get questions like, “Is that a butterfly or an airplane, Sweetie?” And while Suzy would get compliments for her ability to stay inside the lines as she colored controllably, my teacher would give me a pat on the shoulder and suggest I slow down, saying, “Good, but try not to scribble so much.”  These well intentioned comments really scarred my little “inner artist.” I desired so much to conform and be the tidy little DaVinci that they wanted me to be, but my clumsy little fingers would not cooperate. After elementary school, I happily gave up on Art and concentrated my efforts on areas that came more easily to me. Now, as an elementary school teacher myself, I look back at this early experience with trying and failing, and giving up, with a renewed mind. 

The belief that we are incapable of rising to the occasion or meeting with expectations is nothing new. Even in the bible, there are examples, time and time again. I think back to the story in Matthew 19, when a man approached Jesus and asked him what good things he needed to do to earn eternal life. Jesus started with the things that came easily to the man (don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t commit adultery, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself). The man was feeling pretty good about himself and proclaimed, “I’ve done all that!” But, then Jesus threw him the curve ball, telling him that he must also sell all of his possessions, give everything to the poor, and come and follow Him. In Matthew 19:22 it says that this was the last thing the man expected to hear and he walked away feeling like a failure. 

As I’ve gained more understanding about who I am in Christ,  my confidence has grown. I find myself more willing to try and fail at new experiences. This is because I now understand that it’s okay not to conform to the expectations and patterns of this world (Romans 12:2). For me, the only lines I really want to color inside of are the ones that are designed by Jesus.

I recently took an Art class for adults. I approached it with the attitude that I would try again, have fun, and not care too much about the end result. What a new experience! Instead of painting to please others, I approached the experience with a real concentration on my Spirit. I didn’t worry about what the teacher thought, or my other classmates. I purposely used the “wrong colors,” and went with what I thought was pretty: a yellow sky, a teal blue pond, swirly looking leaves on the trees. My painting didn’t look anything like my peers’ works of art. But, it was pleasing to my soul; not so much because of how it looked, but because of how I felt as I made it. I felt His peace. I enjoyed the beauty of His creation around me as I painted outdoors. I remembered that everything in the landscape I painted was made for His joy and praise…my butterflies might still look like airplanes, but their little wings point toward heaven and flutter to the glory of the Lord!   

What have you tried and failed at? Did you fight or take flight? What do you think would happen if you approached the same activity, situation, or experience with a Romans 12:2 mindset?  Share your thoughts and comments below! 

Jenelle Garden is a first grade teacher, mother of 2 beautiful girls and married to her high school sweetheart. Jenelle recently joined the Beautiful Ministry as a small group leader and enjoys sharing her love for Jesus with other women and feels most blessed as she draws closer to God through fellowship.

by Kim Wiezycki

I am a list maker. I love making lists and smiling at the progress as I cross each item off with my favorite purple pen. 

This summer I made up a new kind of list, as I realized I have ten weeks with my children home from school and I would like to maintain a presentable home if that’s possible. I had considered just not even trying. Have you heard the new cute little saying that’s gone viral on social media? The one that says, “Trying to clean your house while the kids are home is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.” But, I decided that living in a pig sty for the summer was not going to work for me so out came the BINGO summer list that I found from “Flylady Bingo”! 

Warning to mothers of pre teens or teens: my older son thought this idea was “Epic”. Before I got too excited and ran to post the idea to Pinterest, I realized he meant “Epic Fail”. So, this may only work with young and easily rewardable children.

Summer Bingo

1. Print out a cute Bingo board from a free website or have your child make and decorate one.

2. Label each square B 1, B 2, B 3, B4, B5, etc.

3. Write one task in each square. Some ideas are: replace garbage bags, make bed properly (as opposed to putting bedspread over a crumpled mess of sheets), read silently for 20 minutes, empty dishwasher, wipe down bathroom sinks and countertops, put away laundry.

4. Have your child write a reasonable reward in the FREE SPACE box in the center of the board. My kids chose things like $5 spending money, a trip to Thorntons for a slushee and bag of chips, or a trip to Publix bakery.

5. Write Bingo numbers on small slips of paper and have the kids randomly pull one. Set a timer for a reasonable amount of time to get the task done. I may set the timer for 5-15 minutes depending on the job.

6. Mom should approve the quality of the completed task before it can be crossed off the board.  *Remember that your kids are learning so be gentle with them and don’t criticize. If they need guidance, teach them patiently.

“Parents do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of The Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 

“Parents do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21 

7. You may choose to work on your Bingo game over a week or just a few days. But be prepared to reward the kids right away for a job well done. Rewarding behavior that you want them to continue is very effective!

How do you keep the house tidy over the summer with kids home from school? Or if you homeschool, what is your routine? Share your ideas below!

 Kim has been married to Larry Wiezycki for 17 years and they have two boys, ages 12 and 10. When Kim isn’t in church, she can be found teaching curly girls how to take care of their hair, spending way too much time on Facebook or reading real books, and running a half marathon here and there.

Today we begin a new series on A Beautiful Blog. All month long our bloggers will be sharing their Summer bucket list! Summer time is all about making memories with the ones you love! We hope their summer adventures bring you joy and laughter! 

by Marilyn Hinders

God gives every one of us the same number of hours each week and we can choose how we use them! Every week, there are 168 hours and if you were to work 50 hours a week, get about 56 hours of sleep, you still have 62 hours left to develop relationships and create memories. Having relationships with others is just like our relationship with Christ; we have to create time to get to know each other just as we do with Christ.

Today is our 47th wedding anniversary! Through the past 47 years, my husband and I have made it a priority to create intentional memories between us. Some of our fondest memories have been going on a hot air balloon ride, dancing in the Fount of Trevi in Rome, parasailing, traveling to different cities every year and sharing a romantic kiss on top of the Eifel tower in Paris. And how can I forget our dates every Friday- a tradition that started over 35 years ago, and still occurring to this day!

We kicked off this summer by renting a jet ski in Dunedin. My husband was in control of the jet ski, and there was a lot of speed! I found myself ducking behind him because he was going so fast! I was scared, but I trusted him and depended on him to be a good driver-and he was! We screamed in excitement and we laughed at the top of our lungs. This adventure brought me back to 20 years ago when we would spend most of our Summers riding jet skis and it brought me back to childlike ways that recreated fond memories.  This time though, we learned that an hour jet ski ride was just too long…our 70 year old knees were frozen in place! So lesson learned for our next jet ski adventure! After our jet ski ride, we went to a local restaurant to have one of the best Grouper sandwiches, ever! That day was perfect; memories were created and we relived some of our fondest.

It is important to spend time with the people in your life to make memories that can last a lifetime. Memories create breathtaking moments that lead us closer to each other, and half of the fun is the adventures you go on! 

I challenge you to start thinking outside the box. As we grow older, the things we used to do, we may not be able to do. I also challenge you to use the extra 62 hours of your week to spend time with the ones you love. Get to know their hearts, share smiles and lots of hugs; create memories. 

What is your favorite summer memory? How are you going to create moments this summer? Share your thoughts and comments below!