Friday, July 17, 2009

PTGW Part Seven: Learning to Encourage

Encouragement is so important, isn't it? It's amazing what a difference an encouraging word can make in someone's life. And it doesn't always have to be words, I know that there have been different people who have encouraged me with something as simple as a hug or a smile.
One of my favorite "Hide 'Em in Your Heart" songs is based on 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV ("Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing").
But encouraging someone isn't always as simple as smiling at them, is it? Sometimes it means getting out of our comfort zone and risking rejection or embarrassment (even though not many people reject encouragement, we can sometimes still feel like they will). Unfortunately, I don't know any way of getting over the awkward feeling of stepping out of our comfort zones except to do it over and over. I have to confess that I'm not very good at this, but "practice makes perfect", and I'm going to give you a few ideas on how to 'practice' starting with the least awkward. :-)

1. Smile at people! You might be amazed at how attractive and uplifting a smile is. If you've ever smiled at someone and not had them respond, you know that it's always a bit of a let down when you don't get a smile back. I've had bad days where I went to the store and a total stranger smiled at me and it really did make my day better. :-)

2. Serve people. Now I'm not necessarily talking about painting someone's house or doing their laundry. Simply getting someone a glass of water or helping them cut up vegetables for lunch can encourage them.

3. Give a hug! A hug is a very efficient and simple way to encourage someone without words. Sometimes you might find that someone gets tears in their eyes when you hug them and, assuming that you weren't just squeezing them too hard, that's a sure sign that they really needed that hug. (Now, obviously there are people that you wouldn't feel comfortable hugging, and that's fine. You should never hug anyone that you feel creeped out by, and probably you would only want to hug your friends and family anyways.)

4. Write a note or send an e-card to someone telling them that you are glad that you are friends (or sisters, or cousins, or whatever), and say something that you specifically like about them. (i.e. "Dear Martha, I am so glad that we are friends. Your patience with the little children really challenges and encourages me to be more patient. Thank you so much for your example! Love, Joy" ~ of course you're supposed to insert your friend's name and your name in the place of "Martha" and Joy! ~)

5. Listen to them. Simply listening can make a huge difference to someone and be very encouraging.

6. Tell someone something that you like about them ("I love the way you reply to letters so quickly").

7. Encourage them in the area that they really need it. This can be a little more tricky because, unless they have specifically confided in you, they might feel as though you are picking on them instead of encouraging them. Even if they have confided in you, sometimes this idea backfires and they get upset so use at your own discretion.

When you are a wife, you will be your husband's main encourager and 'cheerleader' (can anyone think of a better word than 'cheerleader'?), so if you can practice encouraging and cheering on your family, friends, ect. now, you will have a head start on knowing how to do it when you get married.
There are many ways that you can encourage people, and some of them are as simple as doing the job your Mom asked you to the FIRST time she asks. Use your imagination and encourage people in your everyday life. (On a side note, did you know that simply living a Christian life can encourage others?)

Monday, July 6, 2009

PTGW Part Six: Learning to Follow a Routine

After a very long break due to sickness, I am excited to finally be continuing my "Preparing to be a Good Wife" posts.
Today we will be talking about learning to follow a routine. Now I'm not talking about following your Mom's routine, although it is important that you work around her routine, I'm talking more about making sure that your day is not wasted because you never know what you are supposed to be doing. This may not be a problem for some of you (isn't it wonderful how God made everyone different?), but hopefully it'll be helpful anyways.

When we are younger it is not as important to have our own routine, is it? We get up, eat breakfast, do school work, have lunch, more school, free time, supper, family time, bed. And that's basically what each day looks like. But when we have 'graduated' it's a little harder to arrange our time.
Of course, in some ways it is easier because it's more up to us, but somehow it just seemed less complicated when we knew that we had to do math at 9:00, history at 10:00 etc. Now suddenly you don't have a set thing that you have to do at 9:00, instead you have a list of what you need to accomplish during the day.
Now I don't know about you, but it was not helpful for me to have a list of things to do without a set time or order to do them in. Sure, I would get things done, but when I was cleaning the livingroom I'd be remembering the laundry, when I was doing the laundry I'd be worried that I'd forget to make bread, when I was making bread... (You get the idea!)
It is hard to be peaceful and to enjoy life when you're frantically trying not to forget something.
Here are a few ideas of how to get your day in order.

1. Make a list of basic things you want to accomplish each day, and include even the simplest things. (e.g. Breakfast, Get dressed, Pick up room, Lunch...)

2. Next make another list of things that only have to be done every other day (perhaps washing your hair or working out).

3. Then make a list of the work things that have to be done each day (vacuuming, washing dishes, laundry, etc).

4. Next make a list of things that you would like to have time for. Things like sewing, writing, e-mailing, and reading.

5. Now make a chart. It's a little hard to explain so I'll show you an example one. It's kind of a rough draft that I made. :-)

~~~~~~Monday ~~ Tuesday ~~ Wednesday ~~ Thursday ~~ Friday
Get Dressed
Room Clean Up – 5 Min
Exercise – 45 Min
Course work – 1 Hour
Music – 30 Min
Social – 30 Min
Science (With Kids)
Bible Study (With Mom)
Home Improvement
Supper Prep

*Monday – Weight Lift Arms ~ Course Project Work ~ Piano ~ E-mails ~ Sewing
Tuesday – Weight Lift Legs ~ Course Book Work ~ Guitar ~ Blogs ~ Topical Bible Study
Wednesday – Weight Lift Arms ~ Course Forum ~ Piano ~ Stand-Up-Girl ~ Cooking
Thursday– Weight Lift Legs ~ Course Project ~ Guitar ~ Letters ~ Topical Bible Study

* The reason I have a list down here is so that I know which particular thing belonging to the general category of, let's say, social time, I'm supposed to do. On Monday my social time involves e-mails, on Tuesday it involves blogs, on Wednesday the forum that I volunteer on, on Thursday letters. Friday is our family day, so I do not have it listed.

Now obviously, your routine, or schedule, is going to look different from mine. Perhaps you'd like to have times listed instead of the number of minutes. (e.g. 9:00 - 9:30 instead of 30 minutes.) Because my day is very much centered around what my family has to do, I use this routine as kind of a guideline and I do not put down exact times because if my sister makes us breakfast and it isn't done until 10:00, I'm still not behind because while she is making it I can get ready for the day without feeling like my whole day is going to be messed up.

I like to have little boxes under each day and across from each task so that I can check them off when I'm done. It gives me a chance to see what I've accomplished and makes sure that I don't waste my day or forget something that I have to do. Since I only use it as a guide line, I can insert other activities (such as gardening) whenever I want, or I can do it instead of working on my Nutrition course.

Learning to follow a routine can help you to be peaceful, to have a sense of accomplishment, and to get more things done without feeling frazzled. If you can learn how to use your time wisely and efficiently now, it will be an invaluable skill when you are a wife and a mother. :-)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you so much to Mrs. Dixon (who has a lovely blog herself) at for the One Lovely Blog Award!

I just love this graphic... the teacup is so pretty!

Here are the rules:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Ok, well, I don't know if I can come up with 15 newly discovered blogs, so I'll just pick a few.*

Amanda at - I love her fun fashion reviews and suggestions

Miss Amy and Miss Olivia Joy at - Even though they only update once in a while, their blog is a pleasure to read and to look at and they have some really neat ideas and recipes for Tea

HannahBeth at - I enjoyed seeing her entries for AmandaBeth's fashion week, and I just love seeing all the pictures she puts up of her family.

Well, I'm going to stick with three, even though I have found so many wonderful blogs over the past couple of years. Why don't you go and check out their blogs and maybe leave them a comment? I'm sure they'd love to hear from you!
My sister and I are struggling with sickness so I shall go inform the authors of the lovely blogs that they have been awarded, and then go rest for a while.

*Just because their name appears in this post does not mean that I necessarily agree with everything on their blog. It does mean that I think their blog is lovely and I enjoy reading it.