3 Things I Use to Keep My Home Running Smoothly

Keeping a home clean, food on the table, activities coordinated and life somewhat structured is a bigger task than first meets the eye!

Today I want to talk through a few things I do to keep our home running (somewhat) smoothly!

Every day I use these three things:

1. Calendar planner

2. Simple lined notebook

3. 3-ring binder

How I use my planner

I highly recommend the planners that Hobby Lobby sells. They have the month-at-a-glance as well as each week laid out in a much bigger space for organizing all the nitty-gritty of your day.

The monthly page I use for keeping track of bigger events; church activities, company coming, meeting, etc. So when we need to schedule one of those kind of events I can glance at that page and know what days are already booked.

The weekly page I use to help me know where I am going each day and how to get there. 

I write everything on these pages–from my husband’s meetings to when I need to take meat out of the freezer.

 How I use my notebook

A huge part of keeping a home revolves around food. We need to eat 3 times a day, at least, and with kids that means several snacks thrown in there too.

Just a cheap lined notebook helps keep all things food planned and organized.  On one page is our weekly menu. I always know that I have enough food and what meal it is going towards for a whole week. 

On the other page is a constant, on-going shopping list. Whenever I see something almost gone I jot it down on the list. This eliminates so many “opps I forgot” trips to the store and ultimately saves money. 

How I use my binder

The third thing I use is a 3-ring binder. Here I keep recipes and also a master list of meals our family enjoys. This list is all divided out by meat types and what cookbook it is found in. This system makes meal planning and grocery list writing so much easier! 

These three books work hand in hand to help me stay organized and our home running sufficiently. Meals our family likes are organized in the 3-ring binder which I refer to as I make our weekly menu and shopping list in my lined notebook. I then make notes into my daily planner: what day I will make that shopping trip, when I need to start prep for certain meals, events and details of our week. 

I hope these ideas will help you as you seek to serve your family well! Caring for our families is a gift! 

Meatless Meal Ideas

Looking for ways to save a little extra money? Running out of time to thaw and cook meat before dinner time? Today, Rachel shares a compilation of favorite meatless meal ideas. Meat can be one of the most expensive parts to a grocery bill, so why not try and cut down costs a bit? If you challenge yourself to cooking one or two meals a week without using meat, you might just be surprised at how delicious and easy your menu planning can still be.

  • Black bean tacos
  • Cheese or bean quesadillas 
  • Potato bar with any left over veggies in your fridge or a can of beans
  • Quiche
  • Pancakes/waffles
  • Eggs and toast
  • Zucchini tacos
  • Egg salad sandwiches
  • Black bean and rice skillet
  • Black bean burgers
  • Omelets
  • Bean and cheese chimichangas
  • Baked oatmeal
  • Tomato soup
  • Veggie grilled cheese
  • Regular grilled cheese
  • Garden lasagna
  • Potato Au gratin
  • Frittatas
  • French toast
  • Meatless Taco salad
  • Bean burritos
  • Veggie chili
  • Shakshuka (an Israeli dish)
  • Falafel (Israeli dish)
  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • Ratatouille
  • Lentil spaghetti
  • Granola and yogurt with fruit
  • Hash-browns and eggs
  • Crepes
  • Potato or zucchini fritters
  • Oven roasted root veggies

Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense — A Book Review

Note: I read this book quite some time ago and was incredibly blessed by it. With the recent events going on in our world, we at Hearts Refreshed thought it would be an appropriate book to recommend to you. – Angie


Suffering: Gospel Hope when Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Paul David Tripp is an outstanding book that addresses many of the questions that pass through our minds as we walk through seasons of suffering: Why did God allow this to happen? How can God be good? What is the purpose for this suffering? Why me? Because Tripp himself has walked through a season of intense physical suffering, he is able to write with great empathy and compassion towards those who are suffering.

Although his personal experience with suffering does give an element of validity to the message of his book, Tripp does not allow it to be the primary focus of the book. Instead, while weaving in parts of how God has used suffering in his own life, Tripp seeks to give his ideal audience–those who have gone through or who are going through a season of suffering–what he calls a “street level” understanding of what Scripture has to say about suffering. He seeks to give his readers a practical understanding of Scriptural truths and the impact these truths have on how one deals with suffering.

In the first half of the book, Tripp uses these personal experiences to identify and discuss a number of traps that one tends to fall into, either while in the midst of suffering, or after having gone through it. As I read about the traps of awareness, fear, envy, doubt, denial, and discouragement, I repeatedly found myself thinking Yes! That is exactly how I felt as I was walking through the grief of our miscarriage! It was so comforting to know that the myriad of emotions that flooded my heart and mind were not unique to me.

However, Tripp does not leave his readers with simply a greater awareness of the various emotions they are experiencing. The second half of Suffering discusses specific aspects of the character of God and how each aspect gives unique comfort. With his down-to-earth and personal style, Tripp digs into Scripture to show how one can find comfort that is grounded in the unchanging truths of Scripture and God’s character.

Suffering seems to be specifically directed towards those whom God has called to walk through a form of suffering that just “doesn’t make sense,” as part the subtitle suggests. However, I believe anyone who reads this book will be incredibly encouraged by it, for we have all gone through one form of suffering or another.

As it acknowledges the reality of suffering and addresses many of the practical aspects of what one goes through during a period of suffering, the beauty of this book lies in how it points its readers towards finding lasting comfort through a growing understanding of the character and ways of God.

I highly recommend this book.

Oh Be Careful Little Tongue

For the past ten plus weeks, most of us have stuck pretty close to home, cooped up almost. Our intake of social media and the nightly news has been much more than normal, having a powerful impact on our hearts and minds. Our opinions about the Coronavirus situation are pretty solidified, whether it is anger, fear, sorrow, feelings of injustice or apathy. It’s hard not to let those opinions boil over into our conversations. We justify our position with those who are of the same opinion and maybe even avoid those who hold another. How easy it is to allow our conversations to overstep into gossip.

As our towns slowly open back up and we begin to interact with others on a face-to-face basis, we will need to keep ourselves in check.

An old child’s saying goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

How false that statement is.

Proverbs 18:21 says that words have the power of life and death.

Words are powerful.

The book of James talks about how a great ship being driven by fierce winds is turned about by a very small rudder. James contrasts how the tongue is a very small member of our body but it is full of iniquity and can set the world on fire. (See James 3:2-12)

Words hurt.

Some of the biggest scars in our lives are a result of words.

“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” Proverbs 18:8

Words are destructive.

Proverbs 16:28 says gossip separates close friends.

A virus is tiny, unseeable even, but can cause great sickness and spread quickly. Our little tongues can speak gossip that causes great hurt and spreads farther than ever intended.

These past months have resulted in a lot of destruction for many of us; financially, emotionally, physically. We all need encouragement and we can do so for others with our words.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

There are bound to be people in our churches, in our close circles of friends, or even in our family that have a different outlook on the past and present situation than we do.

While it is not wrong for us to have different opinions, we ought to have the attitude of Paul who said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” 1 Corinthians 10:24

We have been separated physically for months and as we begin to gather together again, let’s be wise with our words and guard against creating a gulf of even greater separation.

Claim the prayer of the Psalmist who wrote, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

As we are learning how to best love our brothers and sisters during this time, let us begin with our smallest member, the tongue.

Grace for Today

It’s a rainy day here and all the kids are down for naps. Time to write! So many thoughts have been swirling through my mind over the last few weeks and sometimes it can be hard to know how to put them into actual words. I’m sure many of you can relate as you continue to face your own trials in one form or another. 

However, one thing I’ve been realizing as I look back over the last 6-8 weeks of quarantine is that God has carried me one-day-at-a-time. There have been moments of meltdowns/tears (and not just from the children! 😉 ) and there have also been surprising joys and blessings. There have been moments of anger and there have also been moments of forgiveness. There have been moments of loneliness and there have also been moments of complete satisfaction in my God. And through all these differing moments God has been here. He has confronted my sin and He has also comforted my soul…over and over. 

Trials are a normal part of life. God knows this. He doesn’t ask us to act like they don’t exist and He certainly doesn’t ask us to try and handle them on our own. Instead, He asks us to run to Him when our hearts feel overwhelmed. He asks us to trust Him. 

We are going to have moments of weariness, frustration, sadness and grief, but He invites us to come to Him with those feelings. He is the only one wise enough to truly carry our burdens, changing us as we ask Him to make us more like Him. 

On my own, I’m not strong enough to patiently care for my children for weeks on end without a break. 

I’m not strong enough to serve my husband with joy when I feel tired. 

I’m not strong enough to make one more meal, wash one more dish or pick up one more toy. 

I’m not strong enough to face potential financial loss. 

I’m not strong enough to face a shortage of food. 

I’m not strong enough to experience loss of freedom. 

I’m not strong enough! 

Period.

I’m not strong. 

And neither are you. 

But God is! And depending on God is the strongest thing we can possibly do. 

So, what does this look like? 

The next time my children are getting on my nerves, I admit to God that I am weary and I ask Him to give me strength for this task. I ask Him for a creativity and love that I currently don’t possess. 

When I’m tired of the meal-making, the scattered toys and the dirty dishes, I ask Him to help me to be faithful and that I would just do the next right thing. 

When I’m worried about finances, I ask Him to give me wisdom in how we spend our money; that I would care about the things He cares about and not my own selfish ambitions. 

When I’m afraid of being stuck at home for even more weeks ahead, I ask God to help me face today and to remember that He will be at my side in whatever He calls me to face. 

When I feel overwhelmed and tired, I run to God, asking Him to exchange my weakness with His wisdom and strength. 

When I sense my dedication to Him waning I ask Him to renew a steadfast spirit within me. I ask Him to give me a hunger and thirst for His Word where currently it is lacking.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Cor. 12:9-10

This passage used to confuse me. How can true strength be found in weakness? Humanly speaking, life doesn’t work that way. Yet, the more years I spend walking with God, the more I’m beginning to understand how this paradox works. Self dependence and strength (or even dependence on others) is not really strength at all. It can be taken away in an instant. Physical health, stamina and resolve can all be removed. In contrast, dependence on a God who never changes is strength. He never removes us from His grasp no matter what we may face. In fact, the more needy we become the more heavily we can find ourselves leaning in to Him. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed looking ahead to all the unknowns of the future and worrying about all the what-ifs and many probabilities, but God hasn’t called me to take care of those moments yet. In fact, as far as I am to be concerned, He has only called me here for this very moment in time. So, I have a choice: am I going to run to Him right now or will I try to do life on my own? 

The same choice will be mine when those future hard days do come. He’s promised that His grace will be enough for me in those moments, if I choose dependence. And when I do, He’ll be there to sustain me, just as He’s been doing all along…one. day. at. a. time.