I’ve had so many requests for more information about what Our 24 Family Ways looks like and what it’s all about. Y’all know I’m lazy when it comes to A LOT of things. A family devotional has to be EASY in order for me to make it happen. And I just love this devotional! Our family has used this devotional 3 times – this is now our 4th time. Since the Watch Your Mouth challenge only runs for two months, you won’t completely finish it during the challenge. But I think once you get into this devotional, your family will grow and you will it so much that you will want to finish it!
Our 24 Family Ways is broken down into 24 weeks and 6 main categories: Authorities, Relationships, Possessions, Work, Attitudes, and Choices.
The lessons focus on loving one another, serving one another, encouraging one another, and forgiving one another. I like how each week is broken down into a specific topic in a specific category.
I should add, one reason I like this devotional so much is because it can apply to so many different ages. Each section has coloring pages for little ones, but it also appeals to older kids who love to get involved in the discussion with the question and story starter sections. We have fun and learn as a family, even if they don’t all get the same thing out of it.
Each lesson includes a coloring page with the topic for the week and a scripture verse.
Each week is broken down into 5 days and every day is broken down into 4 parts: “Ask a Question”, “Read the Bible”, “Talk About It”, and “Pray”. The last page for each week serves as Saturday’s devotion. It’s a summary reviewing the character we are working on and the scripture. Plus, there’s a cool section called Story Starter that gets the kids talking. We take off Sunday and we just do family prayer time before bed. There’s also a practice list section in the back where there are some ways to work on applying each of the 24 Family Ways in your family. You could include some of these on Sunday if you’d like.
In the very back section there are more individual coloring pages. Which means technically, you don’t have to buy the coloring book if you don’t want to. Our family doesn’t have the coloring book because our Bible time is short and I just haven’t made time for the coloring pages. But I know some families like to have a coloring book for each of their children to keep the kids engaged.
We are so very excited about the Watch Your Mouth Kindness Challenge. But as I’ve said before, it’s hard to make a big family change like this without being in the Word often! Even if you don’t pick this devotional, chose something that keeps your family focused on God’s word. Make sure your devotional time is focused on the Bible and teaching your children scripture.
I hope this was helpful! And if you’re not using Our 24 Family Ways, I’d love to hear your favorite family devotional! Please take a minute and share in the comments below!
I’ve been struggling with lies. I don’t mean little white lies…For years, I’ve struggle with believing lies I tell myself.
Have you ever faced this? Do you ever catch yourself believing lies about yourself? I used to feel like I had an inner voice that tells me things… you know that one that says, that girl! you rocked that! you’re awesome!
Then there’s the other voice. You know, the one that tells you LIES. “You’re a failure.” “You’re the worst mom.” “You’re not a good wife.” “You’re terrible.” “What’s the matter with you, Stacy?” “Why are you doing things like that?” “You’re not pretty.”
I always thought that voice was my friend.
I assumed that voice was telling me the truth. That is, until I read a book by Jon Acuff (Finish). He teaches that your inner voice is not your friend – it’s actually your FOE. When I read that – it struck me! His exact words…
“If you don’t kill your voices, they will kill you!”
For years I have lived in that lie. And I’m sure some of y’all have been there too – wrongfully believing lies about yourself. But I thought the things I was telling myself were the truth, when really, they were far from it. I have a tendency to believe false things about myself instead of having confidence in the reality that I’m a child of God. He loves me.
Regardless of what my inner voices try to tell me – I have worth and I have value.
Just because you know your inner voice is your foe – it doesn’t mean your life is instantly better. Things aren’t all of the sudden rainbows, butterflies, and lollipops. That would be awesome, but that’s just not how it works.
But knowing the inner voice isn’t always your friend IS helpful.
Now, whenever those lies and fears creep up, I say right away, “Hold up. STOP. Stacy, this is just not true.” Then I quote scripture to myself. Find the verses that speak to you and will reassure you in times of self-doubt. It’s a constant struggle here for me! I hear those voices LOUDLY.
But I just say STOP.
For me, this means to actually say out loud “NO, Stacy.” Then, I seek to find the truth in the scripture and read or recite it to myself. I am chosen. I am holy. I am set apart. You have to say these things to yourself. Don’t let those negative thoughts pile up! You may think you are telling yourself truth but you are NOT. No, you’re not perfect – but God doesn’t want us to get caught up listening to that voice of the enemy. He doesn’t want us believing lies about ourselves. Our feelings sometimes deceive us, but don’t forget – you can ALWAYS turn to God’s word to find the truth.
Goal: Speak to your family with KINDNESS. Speak words of LIFE. Edify. Compliment. Praise.
I heard my kids speak to each other. And it wasn’t kind…it was UGLY.
I didn’t like it. But then I listened to how I was speaking to them – they were just repeating ME!! How did this happen?!
Barry and I decided it had to change. So, we wanted to work on it this summer. But we wanted to make sure everyone could benefit. Come learn with us this summer, over the next two months, as we lift up and edify each other!
And at the end, there’s something fun for someone!!! It will be worth the hard work!
We will use the family devotional: Our 24 Family Ways from Clay Clarkson. Each night we will do the devotional together as a family. Then, each person will say ONE nice thing that a family member said and/or did for them that day.
How it Works:
Do a family devotional together each day…or almost each day, focusing on improving kindness toward each other. Grace reigns. We are using Our 24 Family Ways, but feel free to use a different study, or come up with your own.
After the study, everyone says one nice thing another family member said or did for them.
“Punishment” is decided on by YOUR family.
Choose kind words and actions. When you find yourself going the opposite direction, stop and back pedal, making the right choice.
When it Goes Well:
In addition to being kinder to each other, everyone will also focus on offering immediate praise when they notice someone else being kind. Each week (Sunday night, in our case) Mom and Dad will assess how the week went and see if there are any prizes or treasures to be distributed for improvement. Mom and Dad judge how things went. Some ideas include:
A fun activity
A new small toy
A special privilege
When it Doesn’t Go Well:
When ugliness toward another family member presents itself, you can decide on your own family “punishment.” For us, the offender will have to clean something of Mom’s choosing…or if Mom is the culprit, Dad will choose the item to clean. Either way, just like with kindness, ugliness should be called out immediately (in a kind way).
Celebrating the Achievements:
At the end of the summer, we know this is going to result in a huge achievement in our family. We’re already making a plan to reward our family for their focus on kindness toward one another with a trip to the zoo. You can choose if that’s something you’d like to do. Choose something FUN for your family as a reward for learning how to speak (and act) with kindness.
Join us and Win!
To encourage families all over the globe to join our challenge, we’ve put together a big giveaway! It’s simple to enter: fill out the sign up form below and you’ll be added to our Family Kindness Challenge email list. We will send you a weekly email with progress updates, tips, and encouragement to make the most of this challenge. At the end of the summer, we’ll email you details on how to enter the giveaway by telling how your family of kindness challenge went – what did your family learn? What were your takeaways?
The HH staff will choose our top 5 winners who will receive dinner and a movie, via a $25 gift card and a movie voucher.
From the top 5, we will let the HH community vote and select one winner, who will receive an amazing prize package with items from some of our favorite companies, including:
I’m so excited and I know y’all are going to be so happy too. Why?! Because today, I’m sharing the recipe for the best homemade ranch dressing of all time. I should know, because I love ranch dressing. This isn’t my recipe, but it’s one that has earned a very coveted spot in my favorite recipes binder. You know it’s serious when I preserve a recipe in a sheet protector for all eternity, y’all.
For over 8 years, I searched for a homemade ranch dressing recipe because as you may know, most store-bought ranch is bad news. If you have never checked out the ingredients on the back of a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch or one of those Good Seasons paper packets… you probably should. They may not taste bad, but both are full of crummy artificial ingredients, MSG, and more!
I have adapted it be a homemade ranch dressing. And let me just tell y’all – I have not bought ranch dressing since I started making this recipe. Even people who have told me they don’t like homemade ranch agree that this stuff is amazing. I tried so many recipes, I’ve tried some that are too garlicky or too herby or too oniony…you get the idea! I don’t even like The Pioneer Woman’s ranch dressing – which might be the only recipe of hers I didn’t like! But I really, really like this recipe – it just makes me happy.
One thing to mention…I love homemade ranch dressing, but I don’t like homemade mayonnaise at all.
It never turns out right, doesn’t stay fresh for very long, and the flavor is always a little ehh. We prefer Just Mayo. Friends have told me that Facto-Fermented mayonnaise might keep longer. But I’m hesitant to try again…I cannot even tell you how many batches of homemade mayonnaise I have messed up and I get so frustrated when I waste ingredients!
2 tablespoons milk (until it is as thin as you like)
To make the dressing:
Combine sour cream or greek yogurt with the mayonnaise. Add 2 tablespoons of dry ranch mix and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add in a little milk at a time until the homemade ranch dressing reaches the consistency you like.
What’s your favorite thing to dip in or top with Ranch Dressing?
I know this post isn’t my usual style, but after over 15 years of marriage, I feel like I’ve learned a few things that would be worth sharing. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of couples who are way ahead of us in their marriages, but Barry and I are no longer “newlyweds”. We have been around the block a few times…15 times actually! So 15 blocks and 4 kids later, we feel comfortable answering some of your marriage questions. Readers submitted these and we decided to dive right in and do a Marriage Q & A:
Chelsea: My husband and I have had a rough year with him getting his Masters’ degree. What is your favorite thing to do to reconnect?
Barry: I remember going through that process 11 years ago, and we had zero free time. When it was over, we celebrated by going on our first big trip as a married couple. We went for one week – just the two of us – to Walt Disney World.
Stacy: But we didn’t have kids then. What would we do now? We would find someone to watch our kids and go away. LOL!
Barry: One thing I regret, before kids, is we didn’t make it enough of a priority to spend time away together. I’d encourage you to spend time alone together whenever you can.
Chelsea: How old were your kids the first time you left them to go away together?
Stacy: It was our 11th anniversary. Annie was 3 and I was pregnant with Andy. We still don’t leave them super often (I have control issues) but we are getting better. It’s good for them and it’s good for us too! One of our goals for this year was for Barry and me to travel more together.
Diana: What are your favorite at-home date nights?
Barry: Sunday night is almost always our at home date night. We have pizza and watch something mindless on TV. That’s a priority for us! We sit down and watch something together. It’s nothing fancy or super special!
Stacy: But we believe laughter is good medicine! We enjoy bonding over Saturday Night Live reruns or something else silly like The Office. Laughing together is like good exercise.
Sara Beth: What do you do to fellowship with other couples?
Barry: This is very hard for us! We are not as social as we should be. Shame on us!! We really should do better at this. This is another thing we are working to do more of. Most of the time, I go to work, she’s got the kids – I come home and we do our evening routines and then go to bed.
Stacy: It’s a hard season – but it’s something we have resolved to get better at.
Emily: How do you resolve conflict with little ones around?
Barry: She’s never wrong. Just kidding! We don’t fight often, and Annie is the only one who is old to enough to even catch on. We want the kids to see us as a unified team, but not perfect. People disagree. You should be able to argue your point at times. The goal is to disagree in a civil manner in front of them. If it becomes an issue we need to discuss later, we wait until they are asleep to finish the conversation.
Stacy: We have a rule that we can’t go to bed angry – so we are up late a lot chatting things out if there is a “fight” to be had.
Karen: “Help! How can my husband and I keep my four year old from coming in our bed at night?”
Stacy: This is kind of controversial, but we never allow the kids to be in our bed at night. If they need me in the night, I go to their room. If I have to sleep in their bed or on their floor for a little bit while they calm down and get back to sleep, then that’s what I do. That’s been something important to us from the beginning – we guard our marriage bed.
Barry: We’ve got 4 kids, and they are all unique in how they fall back to sleep at night. There is not an easy answer, because not every approach works for every kid or every parent. We just agreed from the beginning that we were not going to allow our kids to hang out in our bed all night. And we never compromised on that.
Brittany: “I know this is a Marriage Q & A, but do you each take time to be alone? Do you ever get away from the kids and each other and have just pure ‘me’ time?”
Barry: Rarely. I travel some for work. But I always miss them and am ready to come home. Generally speaking, I don’t feel like I need to get away. Working in my wood shop is probably my one place I go for time alone.
Stacy: I go and get my hair cut. LOL. Or I go grocery shopping. That’s about it!
Kristen: Are you two together from dinner to bed?
Barry: We’re together, but we’re together doing things that need to be done. That’s why Sunday nights are so special. Our normal routine doesn’t give us the opportunity to just sit down together and do nothing. At best, we’ll have a little bit of time before bed.
Stacy: We’re never in a room together alone during that time. He goes to work, but we run our business together. I work on it while he’s gone but then when he comes home, we work on it together.
Barbara: Do you know each others’ love language?
Stacy: My love language that I need to receive is words of affirmation.
Barry: Mine is quality time and physical touch. But don’t all of y’all come up and hug me now! I don’t want that!
Cynthia: Do you give each other gifts, how do you budget for that and surprise each other?
Stacy: Not usually. We don’t normally do big presents.
Barry: I like to give her gifts more than she likes to give me gifts. She usually says she doesn’t want anything! But sometimes I just want to buy her something!
Stacy: That makes me sounds terrible! Here’s what happens. He likes tools, so I like go the store and pretend I know what I’m talking about. I buy something fun yet somehow, I buy the wrong thing every time. HA!
Barry: To answer the budget part of that question: normally, we do our money together. We have one budget. But we also both do things where we can earn money separately as “fun money.” For instance, if I sell a tool and get $100, I may set that aside as money to play with. I have an envelope right now with a little bit of money in it. If something comes up that is fun that I want to use the money for, I do it.
Casey: How do you separate your work relationship from being a couple?
Stacy: This is really difficult! We enjoy work, so we don’t mind talking about it with each other.
Barry: We have to make sure that our conversation aren’t JUST about work. You can have your conversation and relationship consumed with work. If you work with your spouse, it can always be the two of you working – your business partner that you happen to sleep with. There are times and experiences that you need to take to be JUST a couple. We don’t do work when we have our Sunday night date nights. Even if the business fails, I want us to be married. Or even if it really succeeds, I want us to still be happy and together.
We hope y’all enjoyed this little Marriage Q & A session. Maybe you laughed, maybe you cried. Maybe you just thought we are crazy. Ha. But, maybe you even took away a little piece of advice from this Marriage Q & A session that gave you some fresh perspective. We love y’all – please be sure to share any other questions you think of in the comments below! Also, we originally did this as a live video on Facebook, if you’d prefer to check it out there.
Today’s post might be considered a tough love conversation. Not everyone thinks change is good thing! I’m sure this is one of those topics not everyone will like. That’s how it is on Sunday sometimes. When are sweating in the pew and can’t wait to get out there…it’s just a sign it was probably a good sermon you needed to hear!
I think there is this overwhelming sense that we as women have that there is a certain, right way things should be. And we are often hard on people who do things differently – when we shouldn’t be. The reason I started thinking about this was because lately I feel like a lot of women feel like they need to apologize when things in their life change.
But y’all, change is a good thing!
For example, let’s say you are going thru a very hard time financially. When the money is tight and your budgets are small, you have to cut back in certain areas. You live on a bare bones grocery budget because you are in a certain season of life where that is what the circumstances call for. But then you work hard and the Lord brings you out of those financial struggles! Now you’re on the other side, thriving! I’d say that change was a good thing, wouldn’t you?
Women tell me all the time about how guilty they feel when they are better off financially. They tell me they feel bad about spending too much money on groceries. On the one hand, I get it. But on the other hand, I just want to shake them! I just want to say, “So you’re telling me you feel bad because God has blessed you? You’re in a different season of life! You shouldn’t feel guilty for being in a better place financial and having more money to spend on groceries. Don’t be sorry – this is a positive time in your life. This change is a good thing. No apology is needed!”
A handful of people have told me recently, “I miss the old Stacy from a few years ago.”
Well I sure don’t! Because the Stacy from three years ago didn’t want to smile, had no self-confidence, apologized for everything, was a huge people pleaser, didn’t want to play with her kids, and never wanted to leave the house. I’ve grown since then. I’m glad I’m a different person! We shouldn’t stay the same. We should roll with the punches and adapt when necessary.
Maybe you’re ridiculously busy right now because your kids are little or you’re in a very stressful time in your career or you, or someone you love, is struggling with their health. We all work thru these various seasons of life. We change and grow because that’s how life works.
Before we had kids, Barry and I were very involved in church – volunteering SEVERAL times a week. I have four small children now – I just can’t do that anymore! Could people have gotten mad about this? Sure. But thankfully, they didn’t. Because they understand that as the stages of life we’re in change, there is no way any person stays the same – change is a good thing! You have to roll with the punches or else you will be a pretty miserable person, always stuck in the same spot.
Some people might be annoyed at you because you’ve changed and grown.
But that’s on them, not you! You don’t apologize when your stage of life changes! You’re in a different place. As a woman, there will never be a time when things aren’t changing. If I tried to always stick to the same schedule and routine every year (or month for that matter!), I’d be going insane! I have to roll with the punches. Be flexible. Allow yourself to adapt and don’t be dissappointed or worried that you aren’t the same from year to year. The moment I stop learning and changing and growing – the Lord better be taking up from the earth.
But it’s who I am right now. That’s something and I love and it’s who God has created me to be for this season. The me in college didn’t talk about kids, marriage, or homemade bread. I was in a different space and had different passions. We are always adding new things that we love and enjoy. I understand that when someone in our life changes, it can be hard! But you’ve got to realize the same thing happens to everyone! We all grow and change.
Maybe you’re moving, having a baby, or you came into money. Maybe you decide you’re going to start taking your health more seriously. Don’t apologize for being in a different phase in your life. Just roll with those punches! The people who truly love you will love seeing positive change in your life.
And if someone hasn’t earned a spot as a truth-teller in your life, don’t listen to their opinions!
You can’t please everyone – you never will. The people in your inner circle, who have earned the right to speak into your life, will keep you honest. If those people begin to question what’s going on or voice doubt, listen. An honest, open, positive discussion with those people will be life-giving, and help to make sure you stay on track. However, “everybody else” doesn’t get a say. It’s your life, so it’s that simple. Don’t apologize for being more confident, having more financial security, being in better shape, etc. If you’ve been around for awhile you’ve seen a lot of changes in me. And you know what? I hope you continue to see a lot more! I hope I continue to change and grow and you all do too. Because if you’ve learned one thing today…growth as a person and positive change is a GOOD thing, y’all!
No matter how much I talk about whole grains, bread, my bread machine and bread-making, y’all always seem to be interested in learning more! And I also make a lot of jokes about my kids’ stomachs being like bottomless pits.
My kids are for real hungry ALL the time.
As soon as they are done with their breakfast they are asking what’s for snack. Not even that they are hungry right that minute, but they just want the blessed assurance that snack time is coming.
I’ve been really, really busy the past year or so – especially in the last 3 months.
And as a result, I had gotten kind of lax with making everything from scratch. I was buying lots of snacks from the store for the kids instead of making my usual triple batches of muffins, granola bars, and more. A couple of times, I bought some really tasty and expensive “healthy” waffles, they were good, but here’s the thing…
I cannot keep my children full if they don’t have whole FRESH grains. I just can’t!
They will eat me out of house and home. Anything from the store, “healthy” breads, waffles, etc. The kids were hungrier and they were eating more! But I realized that when I use my bread machine regularly and make as much as I can from whole, fresh grains, my kids are more satiated. This is the best way to keep them full! They don’t ask for as much to eat. They act happier. It’s easier for them and for me.
Store-bought snacks just made my kids hungrier, which made more work for me!
I don’t eat as much of the breads and muffins as my kids do. But I try to ALWAYS have plenty on hand to keep my kids from being full. I love my Nutrimill – it has been such a game changer for our health. People always ask if making your own flour takes extra time. The answer is no, not really. Why? The grains are literally grinding while you are getting everything else ready.
And I also love my bread machine…and I don’t even bake the bread in there! I just love that I can throw the ingredients in there, walk away and come back to find I have dough ready to go!
You don’t have to have a bread machine to make bread.
I made bread for 10 years before I got one. But if it’s in the budget, it sure does make life easier! Easier for me to get the bread in the pan, bread in the oven, bread on the tables and bread in their tummies!
The recipe that I always use in the bread machine is the Bread Beckers Basic Dough recipe.
Some people don’t like it – bread changes based on climate, altitude, humidity, etc. so you need to find one that works for you. This is just the recipe that we’ve settled on and that we like best.
When it comes to the actual loading of my bread machine, I always do it in this order:
Warm Water first. I don’t use the warm setting on my bread machine. I think it gets too hot. But I always use warm water in the bottom of my machine.
Real salt comes next. I love Redmond’s Real Salt because it still has the minerals in it! Never put the salt and the yeast near each other. They are not friends.
Grapeseed, olive or avocado oil and also honey are added to the warm water. You can technically leave out the honey, but I like the sweetness it gives the bread. If you don’t use honey, you will need to add about a 1/3 cup of water to make up for it.
Next, comes the sunflower lecithin – or you can use soy lechitin. This makes your bread soft and less crumbly. It helps it hold it’s shape and structure while still being tender.
Last ingredient before the flour is the vital wheat gluten. I always add this whenever I grind my own flour because it helps to my bread get a better rise. For some reason, fresh milled flour needs a little boost.
Then comes the flour – glorious fresh milled flour! 3 cups of fresh grains makes about 4 – 4 1/2 cups of flour. After I scoop in the flour, I always smooth it out and then make a little crater in the middle for the yeast.
The yeast is the very last ingredient that goes on top of everything else in the bread machine! I always use Fleischmann’s yeast that I buy in bulk from Sam’s Club. I’ve tried all kinds and it is my favorite. I store in the freezer – it keeps longer and you get a better rise in your dough.
I promise this whole process takes 5 minutes or less – and the hands on time is almost nothing!
I always start my bread early in the morning with the goal being to have it out of the oven and cooling by lunch time. I don’t like to cut the bread until it cools but the kids like it squished and warm. My kids go thru 4 loaves of bread a week! And their absolute favorite way to enjoy fresh baked bread is with Trader Joe’s Organic Super Fruit Jelly. It’s a winner!
Do you make your own bread? If not… what are you waiting for!?