Best of the Web- June 27

Happy soggy Saturday!  After the past week, we may have to build an ark.

Why we need to stop saying, “You need a bigger house” got a lot of great feedback on Facebook.  As a side note, I should mention that I also struggle with prematurely opening my big fat mouth, so take my snappiness as a little tongue-in-cheek! 😉

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Life

7 ways successful people spend their free time – I did not see Facebook on this list.  Uh oh.

 

Finances

A very honest and thoughtful post from Crystal @ MoneySavingMom.  No, I don’t think credit cards are evil.

 

Travel

Tipping guide for countries around the world!  I pinned this one.

Tips for Visiting Cambodia with Kids

How to keep your money safe while traveling

Quebec’s Grande Dame

why traveling with your kids is worth the trouble

 

Faith

This was a wake-up call.  The statistic that can change your marriage.

The change in the child that sponsorship creates.  Inspiring!  My best ever lady

2 questions to ask- that might keep a whole lot of us walking away from God and the church

 

I already added many of these links to Pinterest account. Check it out!

Why we need to stop saying, “You need a bigger house.”

Guys & Gals,

There is something that a few people have told me lately and it really gets my goat.  Pretty much since baby #3 was just a bun in the oven I’ve often heard, “You need a bigger house.”

I don’t get this statement (and I have to curb the need to say, “You need a smaller mouth” LOL).

Here’s the reality:

I don’t need a bigger house. 

house

Our family of 5 lives in a humble 1300 square feet.  When Brian and I bought the house we figured we may have a baby or two and they’d fit just fine considering we had three bedrooms, a yard, and a garage.  Built in 1920, our house is pretty typical for the time in was built.

The current average home size in America is 2,679 sq feet.  The average household contains 2.54 persons.  (I’m not sure where the .54 lives but I think in our case we have 5.54 persons because Miley cat weighs 18 lbs.  I digress.) When new build home statistics were calculated in 1973 the average home size was 1660 sq. ft and there were 3.01 persons in the home.

We’ve shrunken our families but increased the size of our abodes.

In the UK the average home is 818 sq feet, Germany is 1,173 and Spain in 1,044.  The Yoders are actually living high off of the hog compared to our European friends.

Truthfully, there are days when I want a bigger house.  When you walk into our home you are smack dab in our living room.  I’d love to have a foyer to drop our shoes and bags so they aren’t greeting you at the door.  I’d like to have an office where Brian and I could shut the door and hash out those budget meetings.  For goodness sakes, I’d like a toilet on the main floor!

The thing is, we could totally buy a bigger house TOMORROW.  We are in the financial shape to do so and could be approved for a larger mortgage (not tooting our horn, just putting it out there).  We CHOOSE to stay in our home because we love our neighbors, enjoy a small mortgage payment, and really just aren’t up for selling and moving right now (like I wanna keep a house spotless with three littles around).

Also, I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids sharing a bedroom!  Our kids have a few toys in their bedroom but they are typically only in there to sleep.  It doesn’t hurt them to share a dresser and a few square feet, someday they may go to college and have to do this and eventually they may get married and be sharing a whole lot more.

Furthermore, I think as Americans (or Canadians or Australians- at 1948 sq feet and 2303 sq feet, respectively), we can throw this around flippantly without really thinking about what we are saying.  Are we telling people that their home isn’t good enough (even though we don’t live there)?  Are we denying that sometimes people don’t have the financial wherewithal to support a bigger place?  Are we implying that a big home is the marker of success and perfection?  These are issues I think we have to work through.

Also, as Christians, I’ve heard it approached as if “well if they want to have more kids, adopt, foster, etc, they are going to need a bigger house!!!”  Maybe this is just said flippantly, but this is not the Gospel.  The Bible says to “take care of the widows and orphans” not “go get yourself strapped into more debt so you can take in your grandmother.”  Children (and adults) need an environment that is loving and safe- they don’t need their own closet and bathroom.

We choose to have a smaller home because it allows us to give more, save more, and travel more.

Having a small mortgage (and lower utility bills) allows us to pay cash for cars, take vacations, and give to causes when led.  It makes me consider all the stuff I may bring into our home because there may not be a space.  I’m working on living a more minimalist lifestyle and I’m thankful that our smaller house forces me to do that!

So next time your bff or your neighbor tells you that now that baby #2 (or 4 or 6) is on the way you’re going to need a bigger house, ya’ll can smile politely (or roll your eyes) and tell them confidently that you’re doing JUST fine where ya are!  I’m pretty sure our grandmothers had babies sleeping in dresser drawers. 😉

xo

Leah

Best of the Web- June 20

Happy Father’s Day weekend.  I’m blessed to have an amazing dad, but also to have a great husband who is so loving to our kiddos.  I’m thankful for both of them!fathersdaycollage

 

Here are my favorite links from the past week-

Parenting

Message in the Monotony–  Oh yes, every word is so true.

Finances

How to get a raise: take more vacation – Now this is research that I support.

How Financial Security and Useful Skills Change Your Decision-Making Process – This is a long read, but fantastic.

Is your emergency fund big enough?

Travel

Can I be honest and say that I’ve been slightly obsessed with visiting Norway since we watched Frozen approx 59,329 times this winter.  Pinning this one for the future:  Oslo with Kids- A perfect two days

I’ve been obsessed with Peru for ages.  This made it worse : A Journey to Machu Picchu, Peru with kids

How to stop planes colliding on the world’s busiest runways – “There’s pressure, but no stress.”  (I’ll sleep better tonight).

Road trips with kids – There’s been so much in blog/Pinterest land with advice on keeping the kids occupied.  I lean towards this classic advice. I have little patience for travel-related crafts and the hubs abhors more junk in the car.

Faith

Elisabeth Elliott went to heaven this week.  Here’s a list of some of her most quotable thoughts.

Because love always wins:  MSNBC Anchor breaks down

 

xo

Leah

The Fruit of the Spirit for Moms

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

My kids love this catchy little tune on YouTube. – “The fruit of the Spirit’s not a coconut.  The fruit of the Spirit’s not a coconut!”   You’re sooo welcome for engraining that in your brain. 

While we often teach little ones to know these character traits, how often as a mom do I need them even more?

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I know that I love my kids.  That one is easy!

But do I have joy?  Joy when they wake me up at 5:45 am?  Joy when I’m on the 3rd dirty diaper of the day?  Joy when the popcorn or graham cracker crumbs are all over the floor?

Do I have peace?  Peace from the anxiety that keeps me up at night?  Peace that God is with my children even when I can’t be?

Patience.  No need for a question mark, I do not have patience.  Lacking patience when I’m ready to leave and little shoes are not around. Or someone hasn’t been to the potty.  Or we’re leaving 30 minutes late.

Do I have goodness?  Do I speak well of others?  Neighbors? Friends?  Daddy?  Do I help others?

Faithfulness?  Am I faithful to my commitments?  Am I faithful to my friends?  To my husband?

Am I gentle?  Do I respond gently when little hands fumble glasses of juice?  Am I gentle when I’m angry and I’m flailing around the house like a mad woman? –the answer to that one is No.

Do I show self-control?  Negative.  See last sentence above.

I’m continually reminded of my need for the Gospel.  That I am a sinner saved only by His grace. Motherhood has revealed my selfishness and fear.  While we think we are here to preach the truth to our children, most often than not they are the ones that reveal our sin.  No, they don’t come out and say, “Mommy, you’re sinning again,” my reactions alone show my heart.  This is why I must be in the Word and of the Word.

Romans 6:1-4  What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Mommas, I’m going to focus this coming week on praying for God to help me with the fruits of the spirit.  Who’s in?

xo

Leah

 

 

 

Best of the Web- June 6

June 6 is here and I’m at a constant love/hate relationship with the air conditioner.  (First world problem, I know).  I’m always too hot or too cold and I’ll suffer through being too hot to keep the a/c off and then the hubs comes home and is hot and then it’s like the budget v. comfort argument all over again.  Because I will spend $4 on a coffee at Panera but I will sweat it out to save $4 on electricity.  I do not understand these mysteries of life.   Maybe you deal with this, too?

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Oh, yeah, I run this little weekly post about my favorite articles from the web.  Here’s my recap from this week:

Life

Tell Your Story, Then Live It  – What happens when you write the first 4 sentences of your obituary?

25 Awesome Tools for Getting Organized – As I find myself trying to purge and organize, this post will come in handy.

Parenting

7 Reasons I read to my little ones – Helpful reminder of why we do what we do, but also some great suggestions of summer books to read to your preschoolers and beyond.

Travel

How to make family roadtripping better – Another great post from The Art of Simple.

Namibia’s Landscape Safari– Beautiful photograhy, add it to the list.

Family Friendly in Atlantic Canada– This destination has been on my Bucket List for awhile, and I think the kids will want to go just based upon Theodore Tugboat (who I didn’t know existed until now).

8 Travel Bloggers to Follow on Snapchat– I just started on Snapchat a few months ago.  It’s a fun way for the kids to send Daddy videos during his work day.  Anyhow, following the Travel Bloggers is super fun, I got to learn some things this week about Nashville that I would’t have otherwise known.  Great way to inspire some wanderlust!

Faith

“Yes, I’m wading through my own mess, but that doesn’t preclude me from venturing into yours. It may mean I don’t know what to say or how to respond… which gives us both plenty of chances to practice grace”

^^ I really love this blog post from Wendy.  And I’m excited to be on the Fair Trade Friday Blogging Team with her!

When Your Heart Isn’t In It – Sadly, there have been many times when my heart just wasn’t excited about going to a worship service.  I’m thankful for a husband that made me go (even if I was spitting nails at him on the way there).  A good read.

Marriage

This could have been filed under Faith but I was between laughter and tears when I read this post from Annie Leigh.  I never tried to stab Mr. YT with a stiletto, but there is a story floating around about how I threw a stained-glass Santa at his head.  It was large.  And I missed Brian, but injured Santa.  I digress.  Read the post.  So good.

 

That’s all for this week!  Thanks for stopping by!!

Best of the Web- May 23

Happy Memorial Day weekend!  I have a post coming for you on Monday that you’ll want to check out (Hint: it has to do with Spring Break)!

In the meantime, here’s my favorite links from the past week.

 

Faith

This piece by Ann Voskamp really shook me.  “You are where you are — to help others where they are. The reason your hands are where they are in this world — is to give other people in this world a hand.”

 

Life

Sisters, Let’s Become Cheerleaders–  Yes, let’s do this.

 

Travel

What’s New in Hocking Hills

Because SE Asia is on my list- 72 Hours in Bangkok with Kids

Just another reason to visit Australia

A Children’s Museum with a full-sized AA plane to explore? Wow!  Add Puerto Rico to the list!

I have been eyeing the WOW Air flights to Iceland.  Where else can you go in Europe for under $2000 for your family of 5?  This is a great review of the flight- and helpful info about the extra fees and charges.

How to dress like a local around the world– A little heavy on the Europe and US content, but helpful nonetheless.  Put away the bright white ASICS, friends! Haha.

 

That’s all for now.  Thanks for stopping by!

Hey Christians, do you really value life?

Dear Christian,

I see you wearing a pro-life shirt, yet you scowl when I sit next to you at the restaurant.

You see, that baby turns into a squirmy, squealing 17-month old.  She’s full of movement and determined to never lose to her older brothers.

I hear you joke that you’re glad your hotel room isn’t next to mine.  And then wonder if I’m maybe a Catholic or a Mormon.

I’m not, but I love Jesus.  You know, the guy who said, “Let the little children come to me.”

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Having three kids in four years has proved one thing to me- that most Christians don’t really support life.

Sorry.

Have we forgotten that babies grow up–  and to support life you have to like babies, and toddlers, and sassy preschoolers?   Maybe what you really support is women having babies because it makes you feel better about yourself?!  Oh, Pharisee!

 

This isn’t easy for me, either.

Somedays I want a break.  A vacation.  A quiet house.

I forget that when I love on my kids and teach them grace and love and mercy, that I’m literally doing the Lord’s work.

I forget that when I spend extra time to do all those little things- brush teeth, wash behind ears, cart them to the grocery store and swim lessons and homeschool outings, that I’m investing in them the way that Jesus invests in me.

There have been days I have wished them away so I could JUST get my house tidier and my toenails painted.

We’re on this journey TOGETHER.

 

I don’t want you to babysit.  Or offer empathy.

I want you just to stop.  Hold your comments.

Maybe chew on this,

“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.” (Psalm 127:3 NIV).

 

Not every Christian needs to have 19 children.  Or even 3.

The disobedience lies in our hearts.

 

Do we love children?

Do we value the next generation?

Do we value Christ’s view of children?

 

I’m so thankful the Lord  blessed me with these three little hearts.  They have revealed my own selfishness and my wicked heart in regards to children.  I pray that your heart will reconsider your actions towards children (and the moms and dads doing the hard work to raise them up)!

 

In Christ,

Leah

Making a Eulogy List, not a Bucket List

I recently went to the Memorial Service of a friend’s grandpa.  Now, I had only met his grandpa one time, but after hearing the speeches at this service, I could have given a short synopsis of this man’s servant heart and his love for God and family.

The eulogy is like the window into the true heart of a person.  You won’t hear about the size of their home or the 37 cruises they took, but you WILL probably hear about the time they saved a friend or influenced a young child.

There’s been some talk on the web about creating a Eulogy List v. a Bucket List, ever since David Brooks wrote this editorial for the NY Times.  In it he said:

“We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.”

This is fascinating, yet concerning.  I know how to keep a clean home and feed my children healthy meals, but are those the issues I want people to talk about at my funeral?  Or maybe I can drive like Richard Petty (that’s what Mr. YT says) or talk as fast as the Hot Wheels dude, but those aren’t really the traits I want talked about when I’m lying dead in front of the speaker.

While I definitely think it’s important to make goals and have dreams, and I myself have a list of places I’d like to go before my time on earth expires, I can’t help but shake the feeling that the Bucket List is unimportant because it’s all about ME while the eulogy list is of most important because it’s about what I did or the positive influence that I left.

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My grandma passed away almost 2 years ago and I was able to write a eulogy for her funeral.  The thing that kept coming back to me as I wrote was how much she valued her time with me.  Her face lit up when I came through her door.  She was genuinely happy to see me and eager to sit and listen.  Her name was Martha, but she had a Mary heart…she unknowingly blessed me with the gift of her time.  When anyone was at her home, they were the #1 attraction and her actions reflected that.

I’m not sure I do well at giving people my undivided attention.  I know I’m easily distracted by my phone and the things on my agenda.  If I died today, I’m not sure people would be running to the church podium to talk about my gift of time.

There’s many other things that wonder if I’m really generous enough with:

my faith

my money

the legacy of my children (i.e. knowing that they have the values that Mr. YT and I stand for).

I guess a Eulogy List can be considered an Intentional Life list.  When you list the values your family has, and then are intentional with all time based upon that list, it’s much easier to know that you’re living the best way you know how.  If you want to be intentional with making eye contact and focusing on your children, you’re going to have to turn off the TV or put down the cleaning list and instead play a board game or throw a baseball (<- a sermon to myself).

There will always be seasons of life.  And I’m definitely not as guru on time management, let that be known. Your values for your eulogy list may not be mine.  I value Christ and so I deeply hope that my faith impacted another!

I do know that I need to get away from the “what am I doing for me?” mentality that so permeates our country and consider more of “what helps others?  What is my contribution here?” thinking.

Even though I love to travel and write about travel, my #1 treasure is people.  I guess I know the start to my Eulogy List…

What do you think?  Do you have a Eulogy List or a Bucket List? Are you more apt to make a Eulogy List now?

For your continued reading

My grandma’s Bible was full of her sermon notes and underlines and highlights.  It is a treasured book to our family as we see her heart through the notes and markings that she made.  Here is a blog about being intentional with the Bible you leave behind!  I love this idea – and I would have more fun doing this than a scrapbook.

 

How good mentorship can change your finances and your life

Why do young men begin a life of thievery or violence in order to support their habits?

Why do some women serial date men that will never commit to marriage?

Why do young students go out and borrow $100,000 for a Bachelors degree?

This, and other issues, I believe can be radically changed by changing the level of mentorship in our society.

Sometimes, this mentorship will be called parenting, but many times it won’t come directly from the parents.  I remember reading something that said from the early teens onward, children aren’t keen to take mentorship from their own parents, they want to hear things from a trusted friend or family member, like an aunt or uncle or grandparent.

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The concept of mentorship has been around since Biblical times.

Paul writes in Titus 2 (ESV):

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.  Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.  Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,that the word of God may not be reviled.  Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Oh, how I’ve failed at this, too!  I’m not sure how much I’m teaching younger women to love their children or husbands when I’ve had a bad day and I’m crabby about my circumstances.  My grandma mentored me for much of my young life, and that didn’t mean she was perfect.  She had bad days, too!  But she committed the time just to sit with me,  let me talk, and then engage me with her thoughts.

In his book WreckedJeff Goins said:

“We need initiation- the older generation walking with the younger one, helping them learn where to walk and how.  This is called mentorship and its grossly needed in our schools, churches and culture… We need practical training where young people, even children, learn by doing, not merely watching or hearing.”

I think much of our student loan crisis could go back to a lack of mentorship.  If the parent who is co-signing the loans or helping the child apply for loans doesn’t explain, “Hey Jr, these 4 years of late nights and fun are going to cost you the equivalent of a mortgage payment.  Enjoy your fun now, because you’re going to be paying $700/month for the next 20 years,” how are young people supposed to know what they are really in for?  I’m thankful for my dad, who when I wanted to go to a different college said about my full-ride to Capital University, “You’re going there, you’ll thank me later.”

Many parents would rather see their children be happy than teach them to make wise choices.

I have a friend who went to college two years after high school because his parents took the time to teach him that college debt wasn’t necessary. He worked full-time those two years to help pay for his education.  In the grand scheme of life, him getting his bachelors degree at 24 instead of 22 did not ruin his career, but it did save him from a lot of interest payments!

Russell Moore wrote a piece on mentors and a few of his suggestions were very practical.  Be specific when you ask for mentoring.  Rely on different mentors for different aspects of your life.  You may know someone that has fruit on the tree when it comes to their finances or business- seek them out for advice on those matter.  Maybe you know a couple that has a marriage that you want to emulate- ask them how they do it.

There is nothing wrong about seeking out a mentor.  I’d rather look dumb by asking about a subject with which I need help than just go about something blindly.  After all, when I want to know more about something, I’ll pick up a book and take advice from someone I know nothing about- how much better to take counsel from someone from whom I have directly witnessed their character.

Do you have a mentor in your life?  Maybe someone mentored you as a young person and you believe it changed the trajectory of your life?   I’d love to hear!

For your additional reading:

A mentoring cheat sheet

Kids will be kids- a talk on character v. behavior

Last week we were at a friend’s house and Olen climbed up into a chair with his shoes on.  He wasn’t trying to jump around, just literally get his body into the chair.  I immediately told him to sit down and reminded him we never climb on any furniture with our shoes on.  I was probably a little embarrassed when one of the ladies (who is 89 by the way) said to me, “All kids do that. He’s just being a kid. Don’t worry about it.”

I know she probably doesn’t realize what an impact those words had on me, but I came home from our visit thinking about the emphasis among moms (especially in Christian circles) to focus on behavior over character.

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Now, I’ll be the first to say that there are some “cultural nuances” that kids need to be reared to know.  Please and thank you.   Respecting others belongings- i.e. no shoes on the furniture.  Most simple lessons in manners, and modeling these values in your own home, are simply enough.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 15-yr-old boy climb up on a couch with his shoes on.  Or at least I hope not.

However, when we go to a playdate or meet for an outing, why do we assume that kids must not be kids?  Oh, my son didn’t share with your son.  I AM SO SHOCKED.  Three year olds don’t like to share.  Oh, my 16-month old baby tried to climb up and sit on the table. LET ME APOLOGIZE.

These behaviors obviously aren’t learned from mom and dad, they are born out of our sinful nature.  But instead of acting like our children are full-blown heathens, maybe we should just remember that THEY ARE KIDS.  Bambinos.  Babies.  Little SINNERS. Hahaha.

I’ll be the first to admit that it would be really nice if my kiddos would always do what I say, follow where I go, and sit when I tell them to sit.  Mostly because IT WOULD MAKE MY LIFE EASIER.  Just because I have a 3-yr old that can throw a nasty fit doesn’t mean it’s not a phase and he’s headed for prison.  Sometimes I throw fits!  I mean, sometimes I get mad and lose my temper, the only difference between a three year old and a grown woman is I can control myself  without wailing and flailing for thirty minutes like preschoolers like to do (I’ve wailed a flailed, too, sadly).

When all we do is teach our kids behavior, they learn to be “good.”  I can’t think of any greater antithesis to the Gospel than the word “good.”  (Maybe a little strong?)  Considering the Bible states  that NO ONE is good except God, maybe we should stop hoping that our kids turn out to be “good kids” and instead hope that they are “sinners saved by grace.”  I really don’t want good kids, I want bad kids that love God.  Not bad in the sense that they are partying heavily, sleeping around, and running a muck, but the fact that they KNOW that God saved them in spite of him or herself– In spite of their daily struggles and temper spats and irreverence.

After all, we all know adults with great esteem and etiquette who are just giant jerks!   Kids will grow out of being kids, but they won’t grow out of their selfishness (even if they learn to control it) and  they won’t grow out of negativity (we all battle that, I’d say).  So let’s teach them deep-seated character, repentance, and a love for Christ-  things that they can hold onto tightly when the storms of life rage…and let’s leave the worry over coffee-table-climbing to the fact that kids are going to be kids!