Monday, May 18, 2015

Find Your Zen: DIY Home Yoga Studio

Yoga studio classes can be a hassle to fit into your busy schedule and also can cost you an arm and a leg. Instead, creating your own yoga practice space at home is easy. Don’t let the sights and sounds around your home distract you, but rather learn how to control the elements and set a serene stage. The following elements are important to keep in mind when creating your own yoga sanctuary:

The Space

Choose an area that is de-cluttered, so you can move into your poses with ease. Beyond having ample room for movement, using a spacious room is beneficial to your visual experience. A simple, zen space is like a blank canvas that won’t distract you. You also should decorate your room with calming colors that aren’t too bold, such as warm whites, muted colors or cooler tones.


The lighting of a space oftentimes goes unnoticed, but it has a big effect on your experience. Some prefer to practice yoga in the warmth of the natural sunlight, whereas others might find it distracting. To create a sense of calm and limit distraction, install dimmers to your light fixtures so you can easily adjust it. If your at-home yoga studio is in a window-filled room, purchase blinds or curtains so you can control the lighting at different times of the day.


If you live in a city or near a busy street, traffic and outside noise can interrupt your yoga practice and take you out of the moment. However, escaping from the chaos of the outside world can be achieved through finding the right stereo and a soothing soundtrack. The Bose Wave music system, is a small, yet powerful, stereo that you can easily transport to any room in your house. Play the Putomayo Yoga soundtrack for a beautiful compilation of music that aids the breath and movement of your practice. The tracks feature music that have repetitive qualities that quiet the mind and create a peaceful ambiance that’s perfect for meditation.


Controlling the temperature in your at-home yoga studio is important. Many prefer practicing yoga in a hotter environment as it is believed to be better for your muscles. Create your own hot yoga studio with a Heating Green heater, which has a sunlight warmth to evenly heat the room, unlike a space heater that blows the hot air upwards and leaves the room’s temperature feeling uneven.


Scent is one of the strongest ways to heighten your experience. Incorporating incense or candles into your home studio heightens your sensual and physical awareness. However, make sure whatever product you use is non-toxic and uses natural ingredients and scents. Finding the right scent to awaken or relax your body is also key. Lemon, sage and cinnamon are known to stimulate and induce a more aware state of mind. Scents such as lavender, marjoram and sandalwood promote a more soothing state of relaxation.

This Jesus...

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. 
Acts 4:11-12

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hear, O... Homeschooler!

I've mentioned before that I believe God placed a calling on my life.  I believe I have been called to homeschool my children.  There are many people out there who don't understand that.  There are many people who think I am a bit crazy to assert that it is "calling" from God.

But those people have not heard what I have heard.  And more recently, those people have not been reminded of what I have been reminded of.

So let me take you back a few years.  I had both of my kids at home and I was trying to determine in my mind whether or not homeschooling was actually the right thing.  I knew I didn't care for our local public schools and I knew that I liked what my kids would be learning at home... But was it right?  I had been going over this time and time again in my head, wondering if I was doing the children a disservice or if I was even capable of teaching them all they needed to know.  Seeds of doubt had been planted in my head by people who had never even set foot in my home... And the seeds were growing.

So there I sat, watching my son do math and watching my daughter learn her letter blends.  I started to think, and somehow thinking turned into praying and I heard myself asking God, in my head - in my spirit - was this right?  Was I nuts to be doing this?

And that's when I heard Him.

Yes, friends, I heard God.  No, there was not a voice like thunder from Heaven and my children, who were sitting right there, did not hear anything.  But I heard Him.  As I looked at my kids, as I pondered all of this in my head, as I sat confused and seeking an answer... God spoke.  I heard it.  My spirit heard it.  I know that I know that He spoke.  I knew it then, and I know it now.

And He said, "This is right."

And it was clear.

Our family would homeschool.  God had called me to it.

I'm now about to enter my seventh year of homeschooling.  As I study through God's Word, I am often reminded of why I do what I do.  But the most recent reminder came in a way I wasn't expecting.  As I study through the Old Testament, I feel God showing me His plan in how we (my husband and I) raise up our kids.

In the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 6, there is a passage that is known as the Shema.  Shema means "Hear!" in Hebrew.  I had never given it a lot of thought until recently.  Sure, I'd heard it, but I never really stopped to consider the words...

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 

The Shema is like a Jewish confession of faith, but it is so meaningful for Christians as well.  What sets us apart from other faiths?  What set the Israelites apart?  What set the covenant between God and the Israelites apart?

"The Lord our God, the Lord is one."  

One.  One true God.

And as I read the Shema, I read the One True God telling me to teach my kids.  He tells me to make sure that in my household all of these things are taught to my children at all times - when I lie down and when I rise.  In regards to homeschooling and the calling on my life, God has told me to teach them about Him, making His ways central.  Therefore, everything we study is studied with Biblical principles in mind.  As I studied through this passage and learned that Shema means "Hear!" it became abundantly clear to me that God wants me to know this - God wants my family to know this. God wants to make it perfectly clear in my mind as well as the minds of my family.  And the way to do that is to be sure I am teaching them.

So I studied on in the Old Testament, feeling encouraged in knowing that not only has God called me, but He has provided a Biblical reminder as to why.

It was then that I discovered how important these reminders are...

The Isralites took possession of the Promised Land, settling into Canaan just as God had said would happen.  In the book of Joshua, chapter 24, we read that even they had to be reminded of what God brought them to.

I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant
Joshua 24:13

God had given them a land that they didn't actually earn - it was a gift.  An inheritance.  It was out of God's love and mercy that He took them there.  So God reminded them, through Joshua, of just how special it was.

And then He told them how they would keep it.

Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. 
Joshua 24:14-15

So there I was, reading this reminder and this command to fear the Lord and serve Him only, to choose to serve Him, to cast off anything else that is evil in my eyes and I got to thinking again...

I'm a mom, a homeschooling mom at that, not a pastor and not some great missionary.

But I have a mission field.

My home is my mission field.

To my kids, I am the witness of God.  They listen to me.  They learn from me.  They are watching as I teach them diligently about the One True God and as I serve Him faithfully.  And when I mess up, if I put things of this earth before God, they are watching that, too.  I have to choose each and every day to follow the calling God has placed on my life.  I have to choose to serve the Lord in the ministry of homeschooling as He set forth for me to do.  He gave me everything I need.  He gave me a husband who supports me.  He gave me a home with a great design for a school room.  He gave me the means to purchase curriculum that is centered around His Word... Even when I didn't think I could afford it, He gave it to me!

He has asked me to teach my kids.  He has asked me to serve Him in this homeschool ministry faithfully... sincerely... choosing Him and His ways.  This is great calling, friends!  This is a huge responsibility!  This is what I do, and I've been reminded of just why I do it.  Praise God!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Proverbs 31:26-29 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

3 Lessons for Dad, from 'National Lampoon's Vacation'

When it comes to learning how to be a loving and effective dad, you don’t always have to turn to the parenting experts and their words of advice. Sometimes, you can get all of the parental inspiration you need from Clark Griswold.

That’s right—“National Lampoon’s Vacation,” the hilarious comedy from 1983, offers some pretty poignant parenting lessons. Sure, on the surface it's about the Griswold’s ill-fated cross-country trip to Walley World and the series of mishaps they encounter along the way. But if you peel back the layers of slapstick silliness, it turns out that the Griswolds did a great job of teaching their kids — and us — some important lessons.

Give Your Kids Memories, Not Just Things

When Rusty and Audrey Griswold look back at their childhood, what do you think they’ll remember more: the various birthday gifts their parents gave them, or their summer vacation with their parents? Our kids can beg for a new LEGO set, bicycle or Barbie doll, but giving the gift of memories can truly be the greatest gift of all. Even if your kids don’t agree with the experiences you are providing them, it’s still important to schedule them. For example, take your kids to places like art museums, national parks and live theatre shows; these experiences will help mold them into well-rounded individuals. If you are planning a summer vacation in New York City, sit down with your kids and check out shows or Broadway productions and tourist sites they would like to see in the Big Apple.

Teach Them to Overcome Disappointment and Adversity

At the end of the movie, when the Griswolds finally make it to Walley World, they find that the park is closed. After everything they’ve endured to get there, Rusty and Audrey are understandably devastated. As a dad, your kids will have plenty of times when they are looking forward to something, only to find that their own "Walley World" has shut its doors. Resiliency, or the ability to bounce back from a disappointment, is an important skill to teach our kids. Life is not always going to be fair or kind. But how we react to the various disappointments and help our kids get through them can have a real impact on their future happiness. For example, being there for your kids and showing them unconditional acceptance and encouraging them to keep on trying will go a long way in creating resilient adults.

Encourage Them to Go Outside Their Comfort Zone

It’s pretty obvious that the Griswold kids would rather be anywhere else than stuck in the back of their family’s car, enduring a less-than-enjoyable family trip. But just as Clark knew he had to push his kids to try something new, you can also encourage your kids to step out of their comfort bubble. As Parenting from Scratch notes, pushing yourself is a great way to learn and grow as a person; to foster this value in your kids, build up their self-confidence by praising their efforts and let them know that you would be happy to sign them up for dance, karate, art and/or music lessons, or anything else that they would like to try.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Finishing What He Started

Both of my kids have signs in their rooms that say "Please be patient, God isn't finished with me yet." These signs are a good daily reminder to me as a parent to just take a deep breath and relax a little. Kids are kids and they make mistakes. Perfection is not necessary.

Did you realize that God gives us the same sign in His Word? He provides us with an assurance that He isn't finished with us yet. And He lets us know without any doubt that He will finish what He started. He's not going anywhere.

Thank You, Father, for promising to complete what You start in us. We can only do this life through You.

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