Staying On the Same Page

Bill and I are ridiculously blessed to parent our children together. It’s a privilege I easily take for granted. Most of our neighbors and many of our other friends don’t have someone to partner with in their parenting endeavors. If you’re in the latter category, I look up to you more than you know. One of my closest friends on the planet has become a single mom in the last couple of years, and I’m amazed every week at how strong God continues to make her. He’s taken a horribly broken situation and turned it into something beautiful, but her lot is still much more difficult than mine.

For those of us who are married, we all know how difficult it can be to connect when kiddos are in the picture. Bill and I have intentionally set aside various ways to stay in sync. Obviously, this list is aimed at married couples, but if you are on your own, you can still use some of the same principles with tweaks. I pray you’re part of a solid church and community who’s praying for you and ready to be a sounding board, offering help whenever needed. My friend, for instance, made a decision early on that her church would take the place of her husband in most decision-making areas. We have a group text, and she uses it liberally to keep us updated as she asks for prayer and counsel. It’s been a sweet privilege to weep with her, rejoice at God’s deeds, and work through tough situations together. God called us to depend on those around who love him, so please don’t attempt to do this tough parenting thing alone.

With that in mind, here are some things Bill and I do regularly to stay connected:

  • Couch Time–We used to actually do this on the couch. (That totally sounds like I’m talking about couch sex! Go for it!!!) But I’m actually just talking about 30 minutes of catch-up conversation at the end of Bill’s work day. The kids know they aren’t to interrupt this time except for emergencies. We plan it for a time the kids are occupied, and in the past we’ve even set a timer so the kids knew when they “got us back.” These days, we almost always have this time during neighborhood walks which happen most days when the weather’s nice enough. When the walks don’t happen, yeah, we usually do it on the couch. [middle school snickering] We talk briefly about our day, but we mainly talk about issues we had with the kids and try to make some decisions moving forward with them.
  • Home Date Nights–One dinner a week, we hang out in the living room eating together while the kids eat in the dining room. This is usually a simple extended talking time. The kids know to quietly put themselves to bed, and we get a couple of hours without interruption since we start close to bedtime for most of our kids. We often use these evenings for some planning time, too, looking at the calendar for the week ahead and working out logistics.
  • Weekly Dates Out–These dates out are more about talking without interruption and about connecting. That means our dates aren’t event-oriented, but relationship-oriented. We’re at a point in our lives that we pay for weekly babysitters, but this hasn’t always been a possibility for us. In times past, we did a variety of things such as trading babysitting with other friends, trading services with others (once I mentored a college woman in exchange for babysitting; you could teach a skill or trade an item), paying for babysitting once a month or so, or simply asking favors.
  • Sex–And a lot of it. If you can be as vulnerable as you need to be with regular sex, it’s easier to be more connected in other ways, too. Just different ways to work things out together. [still snickering]
  • Guard Your Tongue–If you find out your spouse gave permission for something you might not have (or vice versa), table your thoughts for a private time with him or her. Best for you to decide together to change the decision than for you to undermine the decision in front of your children. Otherwise, you’re opening the door for strife between the two of you and causing anxiety in your children from the double standards.
  • Pray Together–Unity comes through the Spirit. And since one-fleshness is the deepest human to human unity, praying together is a beautiful humbling way to ask the Spirit to continue that unity and draw you even closer together in him.
  • Ask Intentional Questions–Each night, Bill and I ask a couple of simple questions to wrap our heads around the next day. We ask how we can pray for each other and for one way we can serve each other. It helps focus the next day on the right priorities.
  • Regularly Communicate Throughout the Day–Like most families, at least one of us works outside the home. But with modern technology, it’s usually possible to still connect. Many times if Bill’s at the office or working upstairs, I’ll send him a text to ask help about a decision with the kids. I know he can’t always answer right away, but he can almost always find a brief moment to chime in without too much delay. It’s also sweet to send encouragement and definitely fun to flirt this way.

What are additional ways you and your spouse stay connected in the midst of craziness?

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Chores with Our Kids

20171126_223716579_iOSA few months ago, a woman in our home for the first time saw our chore chart and started a conversation with one of our girls.

“I bet you guys are great helpers for your mom,” says woman.

Daughter responds, “Yeah, now that Mom and Dad have so many kids, they don’t have to do anything!”

That’s right, my minion. You now know your place in the family. Bon bons and Netflix, here I come!

Seriously, though, my kids are great helpers, and if I’m honest, I hardly clean a thing in my house.

Most of this is because I have older kids now. Even the little ones are old enough to take part in household chores. If your little ones are all, well, little, you obviously won’t be joining the sit-back-while-your-kids-rub-your-feet club anytime soon (I’m president), but I’ll reserve a spot for you when the time comes. I do include a few tips below, though, for how to start your little ones off.

Since I have so much time on my hands now, I’ll share how we handle this with our kids. Because I feel like I should do something useful.

We divide our kids’ chores into two categories: Daily required chores and paid extra chores.

Daily Required Chores:

These chores are general tasks that help keep our home running smoothly day to day. Our kids’ payment here is the blessing of living in our home. Praise hands! The child is in charge of a the same chore for an entire month, and then we rotate them to something different. Here’s what our children are responsible for in our home:

  • Clear and wipe the table and chairs after each meal
  • Sweep floors after each meal
  • Dry and put away dishes from dishwasher
  • Hand wash dishes that aren’t dishwasher safe
  • Take out trash and recycling
  • Clear and wipe kitchen counters after each meal
  • Sweep kitchen after each meal
  • Wash and dry laundry
  • Quickly wipe down each bathroom mirror, sink area, and toilet, including swiping out the toilet bowl with a toilet brush
  • Open and close blinds on main floor
  • Turn on and off porch light
  • Bring in the mail
  • Quickly dust mop main living area
  • Cooking helper (this is when that child gets to assist me and learn how to cook, eventually taking over some meals entirely)

We give each child a page with detailed instructions for each job when they get their new rotation. This is especially helpful for things like laundry, which can be very confusing.

In addition to the rotations, each child is also responsible to make their own bed each morning, to sort and stain treat their own dirty clothes at the end of the day, and to fold their own laundry each week.

This seems like a lot, and if you have fewer children, you’ll be doing more of these chores than I do. But our children often do 2-3 of these each month depending on how much time each takes, and we’ve found that kids can handle way more than we usually think. With the rotation, they tend not to grumble about their chores, and they’re happier to have something for which they’re responsible. Not to mention great life skills they’re learning.

It’s important to say here that the point is not to have a perfectly clean home. The younger your children, the sloppier the job will be done. Encouragement is so key!! Point out what they did well (“I like how you pulled your covers all the way to the top.”), and then gently work on one thing they can improve (“Next time, let’s work on tucking the sides of your blanket under the mattress.”), and then practice it with them.

Paid Extra Chores:

Each month, we post a Cleaning Checklist the kids get paid for. This is somewhat optional. Some of the chores are our weekly cleaning tasks. We do these one morning a week. The CC (Cleaning Commander, aka Liam) assigns his siblings with tasks, and they work through the assignments until they’re done.

Then four mornings out of the week, the kids set a timer for 30 minutes and choose a bi-weekly, monthly, or seasonal cleaning task. They put their initials by the chore they completed and get paid at the end of the month. The harder they work, the more they get paid. This motivates some kids more than others, but we intentionally give some freedom here so the kids can see that some things in life are simply expected (daily and weekly chores), but sometimes extra work pays off. Our kids can also choose from this list anytime they’d like some extra dough.

The monthly and seasonal tasks never get all the way done, so I sometimes have to take a break from my me-time to pick up the slack here while I grumble about how hard life is. Someday, mini-me’s, this, too, will all be on you and my day will have arrived. [maniacal laugh]

If you’d like to pay your children but are in a tighter time financially, there are other options here. We used to do what we called “Chuck E. Cheese” rewards. The kids would get stars instead of money and then would trade them in for different things. Sometimes they could choose from a box we’d filled with Target’s dollar section finds, but usually the kids would get privileges like screen time, choosing a family activity, getting a chore-free day, or a date with Mom or Dad.

With little ones, there are often small jobs they CAN do on their own, things like turning on the porch light at night. But they can learn harder ones insanely fast, too, especially when they’re immersed in it. For a long time, our littles’ job was simply to be my or an older sibling’s helper. They basically shadow an older sibling and help them by doing things like holding the broom pan while sibling sweeps, handing them dirty clothes to put in the washer, or carrying something into the kitchen to help clear the table. It doesn’t take long before those little ones are ready to take on their own chore, and they love it at that age!

The last comment I’ll make here is to inspect all you expect. The best way it’s seemed for us to train our children in this area is to simply let our kids try each job. We don’t usually give them tons of instruction beforehand, but we do make sure to inspect the jobs they’ve done. It gives them a chance to figure things out on their own, and then we only have to instruct them where they need it. As they have more experience, we raise our expectations and encourage them to rise to it.

Whew! My fingers are going to be sore from all that typing! Time for me to encourage one of my girls to give me a mani and hand massage.

New Year Preparation

I love fresh starts. It seems like most people do. And obviously many use the good ol’ January 1st for that purpose every year. I don’t claim there’s anything magical about that day in particular, but our family does join with the rest of the country to do some re-evaluating and goal setting. It’s a quieter time when the craziness of the holidays is dying down, and it’s the middle of the school year. So why not?

Here are some things we do to prepare for the new year:

  • Go through Don Whitney’s “10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or on Your Birthday.” Psst, there are actually 31 questions… This just gets the good ol’ noggins going regarding priorities.
  • Clean out our file folders. It’s a great time for it since we’ll start getting new tax forms in the next few weeks.
  • Evaluate our budget from the previous year and rework it to suit our needs.
  • Plug into our calendar a long (7-day) and short (extended weekend) family vacation, four personal retreats for Bill and me (two each), a weekend getaway for Bill and me, and a dudes’ weekend and a chicks’ weekend (for Bill and our boys and then me and our girls). These get planned to intentionally set aside time for memory making, reconnecting, rest, and evaluating.
  • Prioritize big purchases we plan to make.
  • Make one overall family goal (this year it’s prayer), and one goal for Bill and me (this year mine’s doing one thing at a time, no multi-tasking; Bill’s is moving more slowly, not being too quick to act).
  • List books we’d like to read in the next year.
  • Take a fresh look at our daily and school schedule, deciding what needs to change.
  • Come up with blog goals (these will be posted tomorrow).

In Defense of Schedules (and My Wife)

So, something interesting has happened since Court and I both posted our schedules—and it was the opposite of what I expected.  You see, I’m constantly joking that I’m the poster boy for adult ADD (never tested, mind you) because I can’t hold onto a thought to save my life.  Thus, the whole idea of scheduling is incredibly foreign to the way my brain wants to work.  I usually consider that a bad thing, especially since I find it so hard to get anything done.

That’s just to say that I feel like the aberration.  I figured people would resonate with Court and mock me for being a big hot mess.  What’s been odd about the post is that it has come across like Court’s the crazy person and I’m the perfectly normal one.  On the one hand, I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my pathological inability to stay on track.  But on the other hand, I don’t want to watch my wife get treated like some kind of freak show for having a schedule that pretty specifically details our day, nor do I want to minimize how important scheduling is to how our family operates.

Here’s the deal: I don’t like how I am.  I drive me crazy and I constantly fight with how I am.  I read time management and organization books with the hope that by absorbing the information, it’ll actually bring about some change in the way I do things.  So far, not so much.

But here’s what I do know: even though my “schedule” is funny and somewhat enjoyable, it drives me nuts for our family to live “my” way for more than a day or two.  I’ve found that I enjoy my routinelessness as an occasional contrast to our structured life, not in place of it.  Because when we do things that way I laid out Friday, we don’t get the important things done.

You see, Court makes a schedule to help us stay focused.  There are only so many hours in a day and only so many things we can accomplish.  My haphazard way of living is somewhat fun, but incredibly selfish.  If given the choice between working on a project or vegging, I can tell you what the clear choice is every time.  That’s because I’m giving myself a choice and my sinful, selfish heart always chooses what sounds best in that moment—which usually is NOT what is best over the long haul.

We have the schedule Court posted in our family because we want to live well.  We want to set aside time to do what’s important and not just live willy nilly lives that seem fun but are ultimately empty.  I like that we have a schedule like we have.  Every day I struggle to actually follow it, because it is so counter to how I think.  But it’s how I want to be.  Sure, it may not be for everyone, but I really can’t imagine how our family would work any other way.

But that’s just from my perspective.  I’m not even sure how I can explain how much our schedule serves our kids and others around us.  When we don’t follow our own schedule, our kids get shifted to the side because I always make selfish decisions on the fly.  Our schedule is about planning to make the time for the kids and to know when we have time for others, like our church.  Without our schedule, we’d be like a little boat tossed around in a storm at sea.

But the schedule gives us a foundation and structure around which to fit the materials of our lives.  The schedule helps us to build lots of time into the stuff that matters.  The schedule helps us see where we’re wasting time on frivolous pursuits.  In many ways, a schedule helps to reveal how selfish we are with our own time, because we constantly in the moment choose ourselves over others, including our kids.

And that’s not to mention the way the schedule helps us as a large family to work together and actually, well, be a family.  It seems like the only other alternative is some version of anarchy where everyone does what they want from moment to moment because no one knows what’s coming next.  Some of the most disobedient times our kids fall into come when we’re not structuring our lives, because the kids think the same way we do: I do what I want when I want.  And when I tell them that’s not actually the case, it doesn’t go well.

The funny thing is, we get asked all the frickin’ time questions like, “How do you do it with all those kids?” or “How do you even get out the door?” or “How do you handle all those kids without going crazy?”  Simple: my wife, Structurer Extraordinaire and love of my life.  God, am I grateful for her!

Bill’s “Schedule”

So, to start with, let me begin with showing you what my schedule looks like before I explain:

 

<INSERT IMAGE OF BLANK PAGE>

 

While Court might be tempted to treat schedules like a savior, I tend to treat them like an allergy.  I can’t be linear to save my life.  If I had a schedule, it would probably look something like this:

  • Get up on a Saturday when a kid finally makes so much noise that I can’t avoid dealing with it
  • Hang out until all the kids are starving and then decide to make homemade pancakes and waffles
  • Possibly clean up the dishes (why do now what I can do later?)
  • Hang out again till I declare out of the blue, “Let’s go to the library!” 
  • Unlike every other day, the kids didn’t start by getting dressed, so they’re still in their PJs—guess we should take care of that before going into public
  • Once home from the library, let the kids at their new books
  • When everyone starts to get a little cranky and moody, I’ll think “What the heck is going on—wait a sec!  It’s almost nap time and I haven’t even given you guys a snack yet!” 
  • Pull together a snack
  • While the kids eat said snack, start working on lunch prep
  • Give kids lunch immediately following snack
  • Head into the afternoon with the kids taking a nap an hour late
  • Et cetera  

Even if I started the day with a Courtney-esque schedule, it would end with a huge black X through it and scrawled words across it saying, “Just do whatever randomly pops into your head at the moment.”  Welcome to my schedule.  And, yes, for those of you who are horrified at how my mind works, you’re right: each day is just like a ride on the tilt-a-whirl.  But at least I think tilt-a-whirls are fun…

Barely related P.S. – Nate Wilson’s Notes from a Tilt-a-Whirl is one of the few books that I can highly recommend with no caveats or reservations.  Go read it.  It’s worth your time.  You’ll rejoice in God and his goodness in new ways.  And its total non-linearity makes me feel warm and cozy. -B

Our Weekday Schedule

So here it is. You can click on it to see it larger.

A few notes: First, this is only a sampling of one day for us. In reality I have a separate schedule for each day of the week. Bill wants me to let you know this is actually much more toned down than what it used to be. See, the mocking has already started. Second, I have another schedule for school hours. This changes each day because it also functions as my lesson plans. Third, my day never, and I repeat, NEVER, goes as planned. Some days it’s difficult to even compare what you see below to what actually took place. This routine is simply a goal, one that is easily changed or scrapped when the need arises.

*Update: It’s important to know that I make no schedule for Bill. To say this is his schedule is somewhat laughable (see next post). I roughly threw in some things to show you what this might look like; however, people pay much closer attention than I expected. It seems many are curious how Bill only works seven hours a day. He doesn’t. He works eight. I quickly tossed Humana in there paying no attention to the times. I say this for clarity and because, well, I have no desire to get my husband fired. 🙂

Making a Schedule

So, ironically, I forgot to schedule this blog post to be published. Hence me being a liar about posting it on Monday. Note that it is Tuesday today.

Here is roughly how I go about making the schedules we have in place. Want to remind you that there’s nothing magical about it. Some of these tips may work for some of you and some or all may not. I will only be embittered toward you if I find out you don’t follow my advice to a tee. So the best solution for avoiding that is to lead me on to believe my tips have changed your life. 🙂

1. Do a time budget. I was introduced to this by one of my favorite frugality blogs, Money Saving Mom. As it sounds, it’s similar to a money budget. You start with how many hours you have in a week, 168. Then you make a list of all the things you would like to include in your week, including sleep, meals, pre-scheduled obligations (job or school, meeting with church, soccer/piano/basket weaving practice) & commutes. She even recommends adding in at least two hours of marginal time a day so you don’t get so easily behind and to deal with any unexpected circumstances. Next, I try to guess how much time I would like to give to each of the things on my list and do simple math to see if I have enough hours to spend on everything, weeding as you go. This is always revealing to me because it helps me see I don’t actually have eight hours to spend cleaning the house every week and that three hours of sleep a night isn’t enough.

Now, I tweak our schedule several times a year, but I only do this first step once a year or so. It’s a big time commitment but one well worth it to help you make decisions about where priorities should lie. It can serve as a beautiful evaluating tool, but I don’t find it necessary to work through this step super often.

I was going to show you my time budget from a few months ago but couldn’t find the file. So instead I borrowed one from the Money Saving Mom blog I mentioned earlier. Hers was actually for 24 hours instead of 168, so I multiplied her times to show what this could look like as a weekly budget:

3 1/2 hours Bible reading/journaling
7 hours with Jesse [her husband]
28 hours of homeschooling, reading and playing with the children
7 hours of exercise
3 1/2 hours shower/dress
14 hours cleaning/home management
49 hours sleeping
14 hours meals/meal preparation
28 hours blogging/computer work
14 hours of extra/”margin” time

2. Begin to plug your items into your preferred schedule. Start with your pre-scheduled items as mentioned above. You have no control over these hours, so you’ll have to work other things around them. Then begin to work in the rest of the items on your list. There will be more tweaking once you see how it practically divides among your days. For example, Sundays are particularly heavy for us with pre-scheduled events, so though I would like to have two hours of marginal time per day and technically have enough hours in the week for it, it doesn’t actually work out that way on Sundays once I see it on paper.

As far as the form of your schedule, anything goes. As I’ve mentioned, mine is pretty much the extreme of details. I’ll be posting it tomorrow (if I remember to schedule it), so I won’t go into many details today. I use an Excel spreadsheet broken into eight columns, one for hours of the day and the other seven for each member of our family. I divide the day anywhere from hour-long segments to fifteen minute segments. I can’t emphasize this enough. This kind of detail doesn’t work for most of my friends. They find it stressful. So don’t think this is the bee’s knees. It’s not. It simply works for my personality.

There are many other ways you can do schedules, so I’ll just mention two other favorites. One is to break your schedule into larger time increments and list what you hope to accomplish during that time period. A good example of this was done at the Girl Talk blog several years ago. One of the authors, Kristin, listed a simple summer schedule for her boys.

A second idea is to break your day into three segments—morning, afternoon, and evening—and have goals of what you would like to get done during those times. I even know some who don’t break down their day into any time periods. They simply list the items of their day in rough order. All are good options. If you’re new to this, you’ll probably need to play for a while to find out what works best for you.

3. Let it go. I know I’ve probably gone overkill on saying something along these lines, but your schedule is a tool, preferably one that helps point you and your family to Christ. If you find yourself getting frustrated that your schedule isn’t going the way you planned, you are becoming the servant and the schedule is becoming the master. As parents, we all know that NO schedule ever goes as planned. There are explosive diapers, random tears, discipline that needs to happen, teachable moments, little “helpful” hands that seem to take everything three times as long to do. One of my favorite authors, Carolyn Mahaney, often says that all interruptions come from God. We can choose to see it as an annoyance or joyfully and expectantly go with it. Let’s hope, through Christ’s work, that we can choose the latter.

If It’s a Hindrance, Why Do It?

Wednesday I confessed how schedules oftentimes become a savior to me. I develop a dependency on them that convinces my heart that the schedule itself is somehow solving life’s problems. But schedules aren’t the only thing that can block my view of the cross.  Exercise, reading my Bible, talking to my husband, teaching my children, cleaning my house, hospitality, serving others, managed finances, reading the right books, buying the right things, saying no to the wrong things.  I’ve got more.  But when I’m trying to safeguard against temptation, is my only option cutting these things out entirely?  If so, I would have to drop all the things I just listed along with many others. In fact, I might just need to lock myself in a padded white room for the rest of my life, though I’m sure I would find the color white to eventually become a stumbling block as well.

This was the problem the Pharisees had. They put their hope in all the boundaries and rules they set up for themselves instead of in the promises of God himself.  The moments I begin to worship some routine I have in place, the issue is not the routine itself. The issue is that I’ve taken my eyes off Jesus and have placed them on my own works. Therefore, the solution is not to drop the routine so it’s no longer an obstacle for me. The solution is to remember who I am and what has been done for me, to keep my eyes there and then just let the routine (or lack thereof) be just that: a routine.  No one needs a routine. We only need Jesus. Sure, sure, I have things like Bible study worked into my schedule, things that can be helpful to keep my eyes on the cross, but those things have the same function as the schedule–a tool that can help keep my eyes focused.  And a tool is only as good as it is actually useful.  And there’s never any confusion about if the tool serves the worker or the other way around.

Here’s the deal: I’m not gifted in many organizational areas (look in anything that’s covered by a door or drawer in my house), but I am gifted in time management. It’s not laborious for me to whip up a routine for my family.  But I’m not not not gifted at keeping up with all the kids and what they need to be doing along with my own workload, sans schedule. When the kids are off from school for a week here and there, I almost always drop the schedule just to give everyone a break. It’s super fun, but I become kind of like a baby who sits and drools all day. I get to enjoy the kids in out-of-ordinary ways which is completely worth it, but my family tends to live without clean clothes, home-cooked meals that move past PB&J, and baths. While that’s actually awesome for a week or so, it obviously wouldn’t work on a regular basis. I have many friends who are super stars at having zero routine in place and get more done in a day than I can in a week. And I despise admire them for it. I was not gifted for the same calling.  And I’m good with that.

We use routines and schedules, but only so far as they help us.  Bill and I later in this series are actually going to post what the day would look like if he stayed home with the kids instead of me to display how absolutely different we are in this area. And you know what? Our family often follows Bill’s “schedule” on the weekends, and they are some of the sweetest, most gospel-centered moments we have together. Regardless of whether you use a schedule, the goal of each day is seeing Jesus more clearly.  If schedules help us do that, then great.  If not, then great.  And despite my temptation to savior-ize schedules, they still help keep me from just sitting and drooling while the kids rampage the house.

Monday I’ll pick up with some tips on how I go about plugging things in my beloved excel file.

Schedules, Routines, Time Management, Oh My!

One of the biggest topics I get asked about, and coincidentally one of the biggest topics for which my close friends pick on me, is the routine I have with the kids. I have one. It’s a detailed one. Like really detailed. And some of my kids are obsessed with it, which means they may grow up to be like their mama. Oh boy.

Schedules can be great. They add order, help everyone understand what’s coming next, show you how much time you actually have, help you accomplish your to-do list.

Schedules can be terrible. They can add stress, rule you so you forget what’s really important, take away flexibility and spontaneity, cause dependency issues like one has to crack.

I have struggled with schedules and routines for many years. Early on, I understood God had gifted me in time management. I am super blessed to have a mother who is a rock star at this stuff, and many of those genes were passed down. I have applied those giftings since the day Liam (firstborn and so far only man-child) was born. I can put anybody’s day in an excel spreadsheet and make sure all priorities are in order.

EXCEPT, almost always schedules become a savior to me, and that’s just dumb because there’s only one Savior, and it seems moronic to try to substitute him with anything, especially a Microsoft product. Nonetheless, when I feel down or stressed, I don’t reach for a Hershey’s bar. I reach for the computer so I can brainstorm. Here’s my line of thinking: “Things aren’t going well right now. The kids and I are really jacked up. It feels like constant chaos. I know if we were more focused on Jesus things would be better. Oooo! I know! I’ll rework our schedule. I’ll make sure to add more order and more Jesus. Then all will be well!”

It seems to go well for a few days. Then we’re back to the same jacked-upness.

As Bill has been talking about in his last posts, we want to parent by faith in Jesus and nothing else. Schedules are fine and can work as great tools for our family, but only if they spring from an admiration for Christ, not as a means to force that admiration or to produce joy.

Over the next few days, we’re going to be talking about the blessings and dangers of schedules, why our family uses them, give you some pointers on how you can go about making one for your family if it seems to be a good fit for you, and eventually show you our current schedule. That way you can join with my close friends in their snickers…