40 Days of Togetherness Challenge

It’s a new year and with it always comes the desire to make changes. Last year in January, I came up with a scheduling system for our family. It includes a household chores chart, homeschooling chart, and I have just added a weekly food chart to start giving us so more variety in our diets. The initial challenge I gave myself was called 40 days of Togetherness.

I wrote this in my journal to inspire me in this challenge last year:

Diligence requires more of us than our bodies and egos desire. It requires us to restrain ourselves from too much leisure. We must go about our days seeking to be, and do life with those closest to us, not go to our own corners. Take the time to clean together, learn together, eat together, nap together. Be together; make memories together.

As much as is in your power from Hashem, you must do this. You can do this. You will do this and not put off your life any longer. For this is your life. This is what you’ve been called to; there is no higher calling. You have been blessed with the beautiful gift of motherhood; don’t shrug off so great a task as has been set before you. You are special, you are capable, you will conquer and nurture this part of you, and you will reach your full potential in the process. This is the soul stretching your vessel has been longing for.

40 days of Togetherness was an experiment to see how much I could let go of control over all my household responsibilities and begin to teach and delegate tasks to my children. We have three little ones ranging from five to nine, and I have been wanting to get them more involved in the running of our home and to teach them basic skills that will give them more independence and a greater sense of accomplishment in their daily lives.

Here’s the challenge.

  1. Make it a daily intention to do all the household chores with your children. Resist the urge to rush through each task. They will need extra time and attention while they are learning to do new things.
  2. Delegate chores according to their age and ability, and adjust the schedule as they gain proficiency in a task. This is a hard one for me, though I am working on it. I have been doing household chores so long, that I struggle with consistently don’t jump in and just do it myself.
  3. Be available. This is, perhaps, going to be a little more difficult for some. When I began this challenge, I actually had to deactivate my FB account (and subsequently, closed it all together shortly thereafter). Another thing I had to do was ask friends and family who called before our schoolwork and chores were done if I could call them back later. Being available, allowed my children to feel more loved, more important. And as a side effect, became more well-behaved.
  4. Remember the magic words. Say please, thank you, and you’re welcome to your helpers. Modeling respect is just as important as reminding your children to say the magic words. Be especially intentional in saying thank you for their help through out the day. We all appreciate praise.

By the end of this challenge, you will hopefully have gained more:

  • order
  • patience
  • perseverance
  • gratitude
  • self-control
  • delight through diligence
  • presence of mind
  • mutual respect
  • peace

Below, I am sharing the charts that we use in our home. These are by no means perfect, and may not work for everyone. The main thing is to either find one or if you have the time and ability, make your own. Each family is  different and everyone organizes in slightly different ways. Feel free to download mine, and change it to suit your own needs. (Click on the image to download the Excel spreadsheets. There are tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet labeled “Chores”, “School”, and “Food”.)

40 Days of Togetherness Challenge

*One final thought* When I initially started this challenge last year, I began it on a Wednesday. I didn’t try to catch up with all the chores from the previous days, I just started with what was listed for Wednesday. If you only do what is required for each day, within a week or two, you will hopefully have gotten caught up.

If you decide to try the 40 days of Togetherness Challenge, I hope you’ll let me know how it goes, but more than that, I pray that it will produce good fruit in your life and the life of your family.

Many Blessings and Shalom,

S~

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Cursive Alefbet Flashcards

Did you know that in Israel, the main writing style is cursive? I didn’t know this until a few years ago.

Since my oldest started homeschooling, I have been teaching this form of Hebrew script, and I thought it might be nice to offer a free printable to help so you and your kids could easily learn this style too!

I have created a 3″x5″ index card set. You can download it HERE.

Shalom and blessings,

S~

 

The “Me” Monster

There’s a dubious fellow
I really wish I didn’t know.
He’s the “Me” Monster.
The “Me first, Me perfect,
Me better-than-the-rest” Monster.
A felonious, erroneous,
And never harmonious monster.
A fiend and a foe,
A malcontent deviant.
And just when I think
I’ve got rid of the rascal,
He’s back in my life
Causing such a hassle.
Oh, what shall I do
To be free of his whims?
I’ll just have to learn
To ignore him.

© 2015, Sarah S. Walters

images

 

I’m Your Mama

I’m your mama,
The only one you’ve got.
You are my little one,
And I know you need me a lot.
I’ll do my best
To take care of you now,
So that one day,
When I am old and grey,
You’ll treat me
With the same love
And tenderness
I showed to you
TODAY.

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

~written for my youngest son, who said I was too big for him to hold. To which I replied, “One day when you’ll be bigger than me, and I can’t walk, will you carry me then?” He said, “Yes.” And I said with tears welling up in my eyes, “Good, I will love that.”

How we treat our little ones now, has a direct effect on how they treat us when we need them. This is a reminder for me to be present and love my children with all I’ve got in me.

© 2015, Sarah S. Walters

Ponderings: When G-d Gets Angry

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One morning, not too long ago, my family and I were headed to our weekly fellowship. In order to get there we drive 50 minutes, partly on country roads, and partly on the interstate. This one particular morning, my youngest son, who is still in a carseat with five point harness, decided to slip his shoulders out of the strap as we rumbled down the interstate. I turned around and saw what he’d done, and yelled angrily at him to put his arms back inside the straps. In that moment, I realized that this was the kind of anger G-d has which we read about in the Scriptures.

When we read about G-d getting angry (the story we read about the words He spoke to Moses in Exodus 32 about the sin of the golden calf comes to mind), we can have a tendency to project human emotion onto Hashem. But Hashem is not a man, and He doesn’t have “human emotions” like we do. He is love and everything He does and is comes from that love.

Out of a deep love for my son did I yell at him that morning. I saw that he was being disobedient, and I knew that the consequences of not being properly strapped into his seat, given the right conditions, would result in severe injury or even death. I, as an adult, with more knowledge and understanding, seeing the bigger picture, knew the danger. It was my love for him that compelled me to “rattle” and “scare” him into doing the right thing.

Sometimes, when we are going down the wrong way, Hashem will “rattle” us to get our attention, because He knows what lies at the end of that road. It is out of His deep, abiding, unconditional love that He speaks “angrily” to us.

So, in the future, when you read about G-d being angry at His children, I hope you will see Him in a new light. I hope you will see that He loved the people of Israel and He loves us so much that He will do whatever it takes to get our attention and get us back on the right path. Not only this, but I hope you will seek to mirror this kind of “anger”, and not one based out of ego or the desire to control another person. Let’s strive to only be angry from a place of deep love; in this way we will be emulating and more rightly representing G-d’s character to our family, our friends, and the world.

Shalom and blessings,
S~

Ponderings: Menachem Av

On a regular basis, I get phone calls and emails and private messages on Facebook. It doesn’t bother me; it is a blessing; it lets me be who G-d has made me to be–an encourager and exhorter. I love to listen and to speak words of life and blessing to others. Sometimes, however, it does take its toll, and I am learning that all the difficulties in this world are not for me to carry, but to offer up into Abba’s care time after time–to never stop surrendering to His will.

These past few weeks during the Dire Straits have been particularly trying for me and for many of my friends and acquaintances. I have felt raw, and completely exposed to the elements. I know my Covering is still there, but He has felt a little distant.

Last night, I spoke to a friend on the phone and I found myself speaking these words: G-d doesn’t show His character to those He doesn’t love.

Who does G-d love? He loves all. So then, how does He get those whom He loves to see His character? Through trials, through illness, through hunger and thirst, through sleepless nights–by whatever means necessary. For how can we recognize the true nature of our Father unless we know we are lacking, unless we see that there is a Great Provider, the source of all life and peace? He makes us to feel the lack of Him, in order that we will, like a little child who’s gone too far from her mother, notice the distance and run back to her mother’s arms. He makes us feel alone so that we know that we are never alone; He is steadfast; He is always there, longing, waiting for us to run back to Him.

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Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

He speaks to my heart; is He saying something like these words to you as well? “Will you come to Me; will you come to Me even now? When your world is crashing down around you? When all hope seems lost? Come. Cast all your cares, your worries and fears on Me.”

O, how He longs for you and me, how His arms ache to comfort us.
Run back, dear ones of the Father, run and He will run to meet you, and take you up into His bosom and hold you tenderly. Let Him love you; let Him show you who He really is, for He is the Father of all comfort. Truly, He is Comfort.

To learn more about the month of Av, I highly recommend K. Gallagher’s post here: Month of Av: Tisha B’Av and Tu B’Av
I also recommend The Power of Rachel’s Tears from Aleph Beta Academy, which speaks specifically about the purpose for fasting on 9 Av.

Prone to Wander

This week I had one of the most frightening experiences of my life. My children and I had had a wonderful morning picking strawberries with friends followed by coming back to have lunch and playtime in the backyard. When our friends left, we decided to go to the library.

When we got there my daughter and younger son immediately picked out a book, and I was assisting my oldest in finding a couple of chapter books. My daughter came up to me and asked if I would hold her book, as they all often ask, so I took her book and then went back to finding a book for my son. After finding the book, I looked and no daughter.

Now my dear daughter has always been prone to wander. When she was 15 months old, she got it in her head to walk across a football field to get to a playground with no thought of telling us where she was planning on going or grabbing one of us to accompany her. There she was just walking away without a care in the world.

So as I began to call out her name and walked toward the children’s play area, stopping short after calling her name again and receiving no answer, I started to panic.

I walked up to the librarian and asked her if she had seen a little girl with long brown curly hair leave the children’s section.  She shook her head and looked terrified as she got up to check with the other staff. I walked back toward the children’s play area, and there she was walking back toward the shelves she’d left me in. I grabbed her hand tightly and promptly told her and my sons it was time to go. It couldn’t have been more than five minutes, but it felt like an eternity.

I thanked the librarian who’d tried to help me, we checked out our books, and then I told my precious daughter to never do that again. I found myself uttering the words, “When you walk away from me, you put your life in danger. I can’t keep you safe, if you remove yourself from my covering of protection. It is so important that you stay near me, so that you won’t be hurt.”

And I heard Abba say, “Yes. You too, daughter.”

I realized that He was lovingly reminding me that all of us are prone to wander and can get so caught up in the things of this world, preoccupied with earthly matters, that we ignore our relationship with our Father. We don’t hear Him calling–and He is calling. If you hear His voice today, no matter how near or far you may be, come back to Him. Take the steps in His direction and place yourself under His covering and surrender to His care, for He cares so much for you.

A Hard Lesson

My three year old had a hard lesson this morning. About a week ago, he’d taken a “Go-go Squeeze” apple sauce packet and indulged. I told him then that at some point in the future, he’d not be happy that he took it.

Well, that “some point” came this morning, when I made our usual weekday oatmeal and I told my oldest son to get their “Go-go Squeeze” packets, and he informed me there were only two left. I couldn’t just give one to my youngest, to appease the storm I knew it would cause, because that’s not fair. So I stood my ground as he was screaming and crying and telling me I didn’t love him, and stomping his feet.

I told him to go to his room until he could calm down, and so off he trudged. When he finally said, “I’m ready to calm down now,” I pulled him up on my lap and we had a little talk.

“_______, you remember that you took a go-go squeeze off the counter that one day? I saw you do it. If you hadn’t taken it, you would have had one today. This is your fault, you need to own up to it and admit it.”

Mournfully and repentantly crying, he said, “It’s my fault!”

With tears in my own eyes, I said, “Yes, it’s your fault. When we take things instead of being given things, then when we want something it’s no longer there to give. But it’s okay, I’ll get some more this week, and you can try again.”


 

How true is this lesson for so many of us. We haven’t learned that it is better to receive than take. G-d is our Father and he gives us everything we will ever need, but when we are immature and impatient, we can be prone to taking matters into our own hands and taking before the appointed time He had chosen to give us that thing, whatever it may be.

The result is that sometimes we miss out on the blessings we would have had if we’d only waited for Him to give them to us. Instead, we may see others being blessed and gifted with those things while we stand by and watch them enjoy what we want, but had taken prematurely, those things that we took that came to nothing, because G-d’s Spirit was not backing us up, supporting us, empowering us to do the task or fulfill those desires.

When we take instead of receiving we are trying to be in control. We are refusing to recognize that G-d is sovereign; He is in control. And so, when we should have been blessed with a gift, our gift is deferred, until He sees that we are ready, ready to begin again, ready to receive, ready to recognize His sovereignty, ready to recognize Him as the Giver.

It’s a hard lesson, but one we all have to learn, one that we will all have to learn again and again until we “get it”.

Image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net