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We take three approaches to setting goals…

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Setting goals approach 1:shutterstock_122400934Why bother, it’ll never happen? Doubt is an evil thing and it can hold us prisoner for life. When we say “I’m being realistic” we may simply be fearing or doubting the outcome. That’s OK. Some call it paralysis by analysis; all thinking and no doing. To reduce or eliminate doubt pray before you set down your plans. If you don’t know how to pray find a quiet place and talk to God out loud. As in any conversation remember that you have two ears and one mouth so use them in that proportion. The more you ask in a thankful manner then doubly more you need to listen for His thoughtful response.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to
prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

When the plans you receive give you a positive feeling go with them and drop the ones that make you feel like throwing up. Either they are wrong for you or you’re not ready to receive them.

Now you can work backwards from the desired end result, break it down into manageable chunks and space them out throughout the year towards the desired results. Be sure the starting point is immediate. Any plans postponed or delayed are soon forgotten.

For all of us doubters there is a trick to help us along. Once you’ve set the goal and laid out your plans don’t look to the right or to the left but only at the goal. Too often we let “facts” get in the way by giving too much attention to the possibilities of failure. We’ve thought it through once, made the decision and now it’s imperative that we avoid revisiting the decision or dwelling on the challenges we face as we work toward our goal. It may be necessary to adjust your plans as circumstances change so set your goals in concrete but your plans in clay!

Here’s where I love to reference the Apostle Paul. We all know what he went through as he traveled from Jerusalem to Egypt to Turkey, Greece and Rome.

2 Corinthians 11:25 “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was
pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a
day in the open sea,…”

In spite of immense hardships like imprisonment, torture and shipwreck he “stayed the course”! He had every reason to quit and only one reason to continue: he had prayerfully set a goal and although circumstances and conditions changed (including no doubt his timeline!) he “pressed on towards the mark”. The end result is history reflected in the thousands of churches and millions of believers that grew out of his efforts. Paul changed his plans as circumstances changed but never lost sight of his goals…and so he surpassed them.

Setting goals approach 2:

To those who believe that whatever they plan will happen or that they can make it happen….good luck! Please don’t tell anyone your plans. Buy lots of lottery tickets and stay home to avoid embarrassment.

Nothing much else to say there that isn’t covered by the Apostle James.

James 4:13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to
this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make
money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is
your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then
vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we
will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant
schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good
they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Setting goals approach 3:

Setting goals and hoping they’ll happen… Once you’ve mastered the techniques for overcoming negative this is really number Setting Goals Approach 1, without the struggle. You will no doubt reach this level of planning, focusing on and achieving goals as your confidence in God’s grace and wisdom grows. Write your goals down and look at them daily. But
remember, whatever the outcome, be thankful… there’s always next year!

Genesis 8:22 “As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold
and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

…and finally…

2 Corinthians 8:11 “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.”

Written by CHRI’s General Manager, Bill Stevens.

20 Questions for a New Year’s Reflection

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
newyearsA new year is a great time to reset your internal clocks, re-calibrate your settings, and re-chart your course. There’s something encouraging and natural about using a fresh calendar page to make new goals in your life, which is why new year’s resolutions are so popular.

But made in haste, resolutions can be pointless at best, discouraging and depressing at worst. When they’re vague, broad, and unreachable, you’re almost setting yourself up for failure. But when they’re specific, productive, and attainable, resolutions can truly be an ebenezer in your life for some healthy changes.

Reflect before you resolve

I’m in favor of New Year’s resolutions – but why not also use the turn of the clock to reflect on this past year? Before deciding on how you want 2015 to be different than 14, take a moment with your journal and answer some – or all – of these questions.

These questions can be a catalyst for digging deeper into personal reflection, or they can be icebreakers between you and your spouse for a New Year’s Eve conversation. However you want to use them – use them to your benefit.

Reflection Questions for 2014

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

5. Pick three words to describe 2014.

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2014 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2014 (again, without asking).

8. What were the best books you read this year?

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home?

16. What was your most challenging area of home management?

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2014 for you.

Want to answer these questions solo? Grab a cup of coffee and a pen, and use the space provided on the first three pages of the free download.

Want to chat over the answers with your spouse or with friends? Use the last page of the PDF to cut each question into squares, and then toss them in a hat to draw, one at a time.

And new this year—a set of questions for your kids! Pass it along to them for a personal reflection exercise, or you could cut up the questions, toss them in a jar, and pull them out to answer as a family.

Download the 20 questions as a free PDF.

Download the kids’ questions as a free PDF.

Download questions to kick off your NEW year!


6 Inspiring Mantras to Help You Master Work-Life Balance

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

By Fred Mouawad

As CEO of eight different companies, it’s become a conscious decision for me to maintain a positive work-life balance. Over the last 20 years of entrepreneurship, I’ve learned that the key to maintaining this balance is managing my time efficiently; to help myself and my fellow entrepreneurs achieve this, I created Taskworld, an online task management program.

To further help balance work and my personal life, I abide by the following six mantras, which I encourage everyone to follow. These simple tips have helped me stay productive while still enjoying life to the fullest.

1. The right fit leads to the right balance

If you are looking for balance between your personal and professional life, the key lies in finding a job at a company and industry that fits your aspirations and skills. It’s all about finding a profession your heart and mind wants to be involved with. If you are stuck in the wrong job, your time will be spent as a chore. Balance is achieved when you are happy about how you spend your hours; life is too short and hours too scarce not to follow your passion.

2. Staying longer at work doesn’t necessarily earn you brownie points

Working hard and putting in long hours may be essential in certain industries. This is fine, as long as you are fulfilled and growing in the process. It becomes problematic when you do it and feel forced to be doing it, or if you’re only putting in extra hours to impress your boss and colleagues. What ultimately matters is your output and overall performance; more time invested does not always equate to productivity. Be mindful of how you spend your time and always focus on results.

3. Don’t try to lead a double life

The traditional concept of work-life balance has its share of flaws. Your work is an aspect of your life as a whole. Problems arise when you start treating work as an unwanted part of your time. The best way to avoid creating an issue is to not to have any distinction at all between “work time” and “personal time.”

Look at your hours as a finite resource with a holistic view. You only have so many hours in a week, so figure out what you value in life and allocate them accordingly. Your calendar is a reflection of your values. If, for example, you care about exercising, make sure you plan for your exercise time the same way you plan for business meetings. Always make sure you’re spending the scarcest of your resource in ways that truly give you satisfaction and meaning.

4. The employee, not the employer, has the ultimate power

We are all masters of our destiny. The responsibility of having a balance in life rests more on the employee’s shoulders than the employer’s. Although some employers may be demanding, that doesn’t mean they control your personal time. The power is in your hands; you either take control of your time or let others do it for you. It’s your choice.

5. Understand the root of procrastination

Procrastination by definition is the act of postponing important tasks to do less important or unimportant tasks. Procrastination occurs when you lack one or more of these factors: will, discipline and energy. Lack of will indicates your passion lies someplace else. Lack of discipline arises from misplaced priorities. When it comes to energy, it’s all about managing it. Some people have more energy in the morning, some in the evening. Figure out the best time to allocate your tasks, then the best way. The key to fighting procrastination is to carefully plan for what you have to do, and then getting it done at that time.

6. Offer uncompromised quality

By being thoughtful about what you choose to do (or not to do), you can focus on quality at work. If you take on too much, quality will suffer. Have a good sense of the capacity you have and gauge it so you get more out of your time spent. A good way to measure this is thinking about what you can do with 20% of your time to have 80% impact on your life. Not all work is equal. Delegate or eliminate what doesn’t add much value.

While work holds penultimate importance in my life, I’ve also made a conscious choice to make room for hobbies and personal time. Seeing my children in the morning, family dinners; these are the things that are extremely important to me, and the reason I’ve created a how-to for a better work-life balance.


Christianity Today’s 2015 Book Awards

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
Christianity Today's 2015 Book Awards

Some of the finest books pull us deeper into familiar subjects—biographies of great statesmen, say, or fresh takes on the essentials of Christian doctrine and discipleship. Others introduce us to people, places, and ideas about which we know very little, if anything. Last year, I finally discovered Laura Hillenbrand’s epic World War II survival story, Unbroken. Going in, I’d never heard of her protagonist, the indomitable prisoner of war Louis Zamperini. Now, I won’t soon forget him.

It’s like that with our current crop of book awards, which pursue paths both old and new. One of the victory nods goes to a new study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. You’ve perhaps heard a thing or two about him. And like always, we honor plenty of volumes touching on the Bible, the church, and perennial matters of faith. But hopefully, we’ll also inspire at least some readers to acquaint themselves with abolitionists Hannah More and Sarah Grimke, or the philosopher Charles Taylor (and his penetrating look at our “secular age”).

Whether you’re browsing for something old or something new (or perhaps just eager to learn CT’s choice for Book of the Year), we hope you’ll find your curiosity awakened. —Matt Reynolds, associate editor for books


The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing

Jonathan K. Dodson (Zondervan)

“Dodson rescues evangelism from the formulaic and trite recitation of biblical facts, re-centers it within the grand narrative of Scripture, and refocuses our attention on the particular needs of the person who needs good news. This is a biblically faithful and contextually sensitive approach to evangelism that systematically demolishes the most common obstacles to proclaiming Jesus as Lord.” —Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project

Award of Merit

Can We Still Believe the Bible? An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions

Craig L. Blomberg (Brazos Press)

“Although the title might lead one to think this is a beginner’s book, it is not. But neither is it a book only for seminary professors. It is for those who are ready to move on from the shelves full of introductory ‘case for’ books and want to see if the Bible (mainly the New Testament) can stand up to scrutiny from critical scholars. Blomberg answers the toughest challenges in an evenhanded and gracious manner.” —Craig Hazen, professor of apologetics, Biola University

Biblical Studies

The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus

Michael F. Bird (Eerdmans)

“This book covers the formation of the Gospels, asking and answering questions that have occupied undergraduate and seminary students, but in fresh ways. It will be of interest to students of the New Testament as well as anyone who takes an interest in the life of Jesus and the use of the New Testament in the early church.” —Mary Veeneman, professor of theology, North Park University

Award of Merit

For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship

Daniel I. Block (Baker Academic)

“This splendid volume is the culmination of an entire career of studying worship in the Old Testament context. What generations of students have learned from Block’s teaching is now available to all: the rich mosaic of experiences in Israel (and the church) that define us as humans. He explains how worship is done with pastoral sensitivity, theological insight, and the wisdom of a man whose life reflects the virtues he describes.” —Gary Burge, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College

Christianity and Culture

How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor

James K. A. Smith (Eerdmans)

“Taylor is the author of a monumental study of contemporary life called A Secular Age, which explores the widespread loss of religious sensibility in modern life. His work exposing the ideology of secularism has important implications for contemporary apologetics, evangelism, and ministry. But it’s so technical and sophisticated that it is mainly accessible to academics. Smith has offered not a CliffsNotes style simplification, but a paradigm-shifting book that creatively applies Taylor’s findings to the church and the larger society.” —Gene Edward Veith, provost, Patrick Henry College

Award of Merit

Facing Leviathan: Leadership, Influence, and Creating in a Cultural Storm

Mark Sayers (Moody Publishers)

“Like Francis Schaeffer at his best, Sayers uses cultural observations, historical lessons, and pastoral wisdom to penetrate the various myths and lies our culture believes. He gives readers a set of pictures to better understand the gospel and the unique challenges facing the church.” —Jake Meador, editor at Fare Forward

Christian Living

Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith (Christianity Today’s 2015 Book of the Year)

Jen Pollock Michel (InterVarsity Press)

“Most of us have wanted something at some point in life. Some of us live with a deep void in our souls that never seems to be filled. How do we live with such desires? How do we respond to the emotions brought on by longing and wanting? With raw honesty and a scriptural foundation, Michel shows that our desires have a place in the journey of faith.” —Courtney Reissig, Her.meneutics writer

Award of Merit (Tie)

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good

Steven Garber (InterVarsity Press)

“Many Christians struggle with envisioning what it is to be and to work in the world. Garber offers stories and wisdom that affirm the goodness and rightness of Christians pursuing callings in areas not traditionally considered ministry, but that may be missional nonetheless.” —Rachel Marie Stone, blogger, author of Eat With Joy

If Only: Letting Go of Regret

Michelle Van Loon (Beacon Hill Press)

“Don’t be fooled by the book’s slender frame. Wise and insightful, If Only tackles a universally recognizable subject—regret—in muscular prose that expertly balances biblical and personal stories.” —Karen Swallow Prior, professor of English at Liberty University, author of Fierce Convictions

The Church/Pastoral Leadership

Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches

Peter Greer and Chris Horst (Bethany House Publishers)

“Greer and Horst identify the common—but not inevitable—tendency of Christian organizations to slowly, often imperceptibly, lose focus on the purpose and values that that first called them into existence. Writing from case studies and their own experiences in missions organizations, they not only describe the problem but also offer practical remedies.” —Bill Teague, pastor, Langhorne Presbyterian Church (Langhorne, Pennsylvania)

Award of Merit

The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship, and Community

Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, and Dwight J. Friesen (InterVarsity Press)

“The authors explore how the limitations of staying rooted in a particular place actually provide opportunities for transformation and mission. This is counterintuitive for churches that have bought into the mobile and transient values of our culture.” —David Swanson, pastor, New Community Covenant Church (Chicago)



Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

“Robinson slowly unfolds the story of Lila, a woman not quite defeated by a brutal, hardscrabble life, who discovers hope and security as the wife of an elderly pastor. Together, they wrestle with questions of the meaning of existence and the ultimate fate of humanity. Readers who loved Robinson’s earlier novel, Gilead, will discover the same breathtaking writing, beautifully painted scenes, and strong working knowledge of theology.” —Cindy Crosby, author of By Willoway Brook

Award of Merit

The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd (Viking Adult)

“Based on the life of abolitionist Sarah Grimke and a fictional slave girl, Handful, the novel skillfully joins fiction and history, African American resilience and Southern white hypocrisy, Charlestonian exuberance and Quaker idealism. Kidd reminds us that the foundation of social injustice is ordinary human selfishness.” —Betty Smartt Carter, author of Home Is Always the Place You Just Left


Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Charles Marsh (Knopf)

Strange Glory is the best book in English on Bonhoeffer. It is honest about his failings (both personal and public) and forthright about his distance from modern readers. Still, Marsh’s sensitive portrayal of a clearly flawed saint doing great things for others in the name of Jesus Christ yields a rare combination of delight and moral urgency.” —Douglas Sweeney, professor of church history, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Award of Merit

The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade

Philip Jenkins (HarperOne)

“This sweeping yet carefully researched book makes sense of a global conflict too often recalled as some intrigue about empires that we Yanks eventually barreled into and won. Jenkins persuasively argues that the Great War is better understood as a holy war in which several crusading nations competed to advance their millennial goals. The ensuing collision, and its unfathomable destruction, redrew the global map and reshaped all the major faiths involved.” —Elesha Coffman, professor of church history, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

Missions/Global Affairs

The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity

Todd Hartch (Oxford University Press)

“This is essential background reading for understanding the history of the church in Latin America today—Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal. Hartch demonstrates a particular sensitivity to translation: how indigenous culture, theology, the gospel, and church life relate.” —Mark Gornik, director of City Seminary of New York, author of Word Made Global

Award of Merit

China, Christianity, and the Question of Culture

Yang Huilin (Baylor University Press)

“Huilin puts theology, missiology, and church history in conversation with the social sciences to clear away many of the common mischaracterizations surrounding the historical and contemporary role of the church in China.” —Judd Birdsall, fellow, Center on Faith & International Affairs


What’s in a Phrase? Pausing Where Scripture Gives You Pause

Marilyn Chandler McEntyre (Eerdmans)

“McEntyre sings with words. Her insights are profound, even on the most mundane subjects. The beauty of her language, combined with the depth of her insights, is breathtaking (and I don’t use that word often).” —Christopher Hall, professor of theology, Eastern University

Award of Merit

Called to Be Saints: An Invitation to Christian Maturity

Gordon T. Smith (IVP Academic)

“Smith has written a comprehensive and compelling volume on the central importance of maturing in Christian life. He prophetically challenges anemic views of Christian conversion and Christian living, ones that do not include and involve the imperative of growing into holiness.” —Arthur Boers, R. J. Bernardo Family Chair of Leadership, Tyndale Seminary


Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine

Kevin J. Vanhoozer (Westminster John Knox Press)

“Vanhoozer re-presents and re-tools his creative theatrical model of theology and doctrine, making it more accessible to the pastor in the pulpit and the churchgoer in the pew. In making the case that doctrine is for doing, he offers a reinvigorating vision of a church called onto the stage for the purpose of displaying the dramatic glory of the triune God before the watching world.” —Derek Rishmawy, blogger, college and young-adult pastor at Trinity United Presbyterian Church (Santa Ana, California)

Award of Merit

The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology

Jeremy R. Treat (Zondervan)

“The great, central doctrine of Christianity, the Atonement, has suffered rough treatment in this century from friend and foe alike. It has been pulled apart by false dichotomies, knocked off balance by reactionary overemphasis, displaced, overworked, and buried out of sight. Treat’s calm and sagacious book exorcises a legion of interpretive errors in one smooth argument: Christ brings the kingdom through the Cross.” —Fred Sanders, professor, Torrey Honors Institute of Biola University


Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist

Karen Swallow Prior (Thomas Nelson)

Fierce Convictions offers a compelling portrait of a woman committed to love God with her heart, soul, mind, and strength—a woman who changed the world around her. This is not a one-dimensional hagiography of Hannah More; her struggles are included alongside her laudable accomplishments in the arts, educational reform, and the abolition of slavery in 18th-century England.” —Michelle Van Loon, Her.meneutics writer, author of If Only

Award of Merit

The Measure of Success: Uncovering the Biblical Perspective on Women, Work, and the Home

Carolyn McCulley with Nora Shank (B&H Books)

“This book offers a bigger picture, bigger solutions, and wider grace than the typical women-and-work-life-balance conversation. McCulley and Shank lay out a robust theology of work and an engaging historical survey before calling women in all situations to embrace ambition for God’s glory.” —Megan Hill, Her.meneutics writer

25 sweet hot chocolate recipes to keep your holidays cozy

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
As the temperatures drop and cold weather misery takes over, optimal coziness is a top priority.Sweaters, scarves, mittens fireplaces, are all winter must-haves. And to top it all off, a mug full of hot chocolate decked out with whipped cream, marshmallows and cinnamon sticks.

It doesn’t have to stop there, though — get creative and throw a little Nutella, mint or bourbon into the mix. These recipes will take your hot chocolate to the next level.

1. S’mores Hot Chocolate


Image: @minimalistbaker on Instagram

2. Hot Chocolate Floats

Image: @elabau on Instagram

3. Vegan Coconut Almond Hot Chocolate with Vegan Whipped Cream

Image: Tumblr alloftheveganfood

4. Red Velvet Hot Chocolate

Image: @tatertotsandjello on Instagram

5. Gingerbread Surprise Beignets with Spiced Mocha Hot Chocolate

Image: Tumblr foodfffs

6. Gingerbread Spiced Hot Chocolate

Image: @savorynothings on Instagram

7. Almond Joy Hot Chocolate

8. Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa

Image: @cremedelacrumb1 on Instagram

9. Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix

Image: @smittenkitchen on Instagram

10. Black Cherry Bourbon Hot Chocolate

Image: @fickrj5 on Instagram

11. Thick Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Image: @thesugarhit on Instagram

12. Melted Hot Chocolate With Sea Salt Whipped Cream

Image: @evakosmasflores on Instagram

13. White Fudge Oreo Hot Cocoa

Image: @sweetcsdesigns on Instagram

14. Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Image: @immaeatthat on Instagram

15. Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Image: @livesimplymom on Instagram

16. Thin Mints Hot Chocolate

Image: @yourhomebasedmom on Instagram

17. Mexican Spiced Hot Chocolate

Image: @bakingmagique on Instagram

18. Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Image: @sugarandcharm on Instagram

19. Thick Nutella Hot Chocolate

Image: Tumblr chocolatefoood

20. Super Creamy Vegan Hot Chocolate

Image: @veggiebeastblog on Instagram

21. Thick and Spicy Hot Chocolate

Image: @stylinfood on Instagram

22. Baileys Irish Cream Hot Chocolate

Image: @polkadotbride on Instagram

23. Frozen Hot Chocolate

Image: @jensfavoritecookies on Instagram

24. Hot Chocolate Chai

Image: @cookrepublic on Instagram

25. Hot Fluffernutter Cocoa

Image: Tumblr chocolatefoood


Little Attitudes of Gratitude For Your Home

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

Little Attitudes of Gratitude For Your Home


ack in 2008 I shared a list of our family’s 20 Little Attitudes of Gratitude, things I wanted our son and our family to work on around the home. I’ve been thinking it is high time we revisit it, both for our own family and to hopefully inspire your family as well! I looked through the list I made back then and was thinking of updating it this week, but you know what? I still love everything on that list — so here it is!

20 Little Attitudes of Gratitude

  1. Mind your manners. Say please, thank you and excuse me.
  2. Smile when you see your family. Turn your frown upside down.
  3. Pick up after yourself.
  4. Notice when others do kind things for you, show gratitude by action or words.
  5. Say I love you before going to bed.
  6. Give hugs daily.
  7. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Focus on what you are happy about today.
  8. Create gratitude journals to keep track of daily blessings.
  9. Show thankfulness for even the little things others do for you.
  10. Leave love notes in unexpected places like lunch boxes and under pillows.
  11. Encourage someone with a compliment.
  12. Verbalize what you are grateful for when you feel like complaining.
  13. Keep a basket of small slips of paper on the table. Write notes of thankfulness during the week and read them to each other during a family meal.
  14. Remember to thank God for blessings each day.
  15. Surprise your family (or friends) with little gifts or treats to show you thought of them.
  16. No grumbling about minor annoyances around the house.
  17. Do special things to cherish time with your family. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
  18. Reflect on happy memories regularly. Make inspiration boards of special times.
  19. Help someone out without them having to ask you. Watch for someone in need.
  20. When you are doing household chores, be grateful you have a home to clean.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” –Melodie Beatty
By making a list of 20 attitudes we can work on and putting them into practice, we can make our homes a much happier place to be not only for Thanksgiving but every day of the year. I encourage you to make your own gratitude list. Share it in the comments today, or create one with your family, and even write a post about it for your blog or Facebook and let us know you shared it!


30 Foolproof Ways To Get Through This Winter

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Those dark, cold days are looming. Here are some tips on how to stay sane through the long, miserable winter months.

1. DIY a pair of wool insoles to keep your feet toasty.

DIY a pair of wool insoles to keep your feet toasty.
Totally doing this.

2. Shave the pills off your winter clothes with a razor.

Shave the pills off your winter clothes with a razor.
If your hoodies and sweaters are looking extra raggedy, this trick will help them look new again.

3. For all you knitters…

For all you knitters...

4. Rub Vicks Vapor Rub on the soles of your feet if you’ve got a cough.

Rub Vicks Vapor Rub on the soles of your feet if you've got a cough.
Cover with socks. ” Even the worst cough can be stopped within 5-15 minutes, and lasts hours.”

5. Use pool noodles to keep your boots upright.

Use pool noodles to keep your boots upright.

6. Nutella + milk in the microwave will give you the best hot chocolate you’ll ever have.

Nutella + milk in the microwave will give you the best hot chocolate you'll ever have.
It’s easy, too. Just top with mini marshmallows.

7. Prevent frost from building on your car windows.

Prevent frost from building on your car windows.
Just fill a spray bottle with three parts vinegar to one part water and spray on your car windows at night. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which raises the melting point of water and prevents it from freezing. If your car is already frozen, it will melt the ice away.

8. The alcohol in hand sanitizer will de-ice your car locks.

The alcohol in hand sanitizer will de-ice your car locks.
Just make sure to use a hand sanitizer that’s 60% alcohol.

9. Buy a natural light lamp.

Buy a natural light lamp.
These lamps actually come in smaller sizes now. This desk lamp is $36 from Amazon.
The HappyLight is $89.95 from Verilux.

10. Make a draft stopper.

Make a draft stopper.
Use a candle to check door jams and windows for drafts by seeing if the flame flickers.
If drafty air is coming from underneath a door, you could make a draft stopper using fabric filled with rice. You can also buy one off Etsy for under $20.
These supposedly work well for drafty windows.

11. Fleece-lined tights.

Fleece-lined tights.
I own a pair of these and they are super cozy and warm. They do add a little bit of bulk (more so than other tights) but the opaqueness means you can practically wear them as leggings.

12.< A snuggie is just a backwards robe.

A snuggie is just a backwards robe.
And most likely, your robe is made out of a much nicer, plushier material than an authentic Snuggie is.

13. Dry your hair with a microfiber-bristle brush.

Dry your hair with a microfiber-bristle brush.
Going out into the cold with an even slightly damp head is a terrible winter hazard. This brush will remove excess water and cut down on drying time.

14. Avoid getting shocked in your car.

Avoid getting shocked in your car.
To avoid getting shocked every time you leave your car, hold on to a metal part of the car door as you’re getting out, and let go when your feet touch the ground.

15. Easily make your gloves smartphone-friendly.

Easily make your gloves smartphone-friendly.
Get the tutorial here.

16. Get a crock pot.

Get a crock pot.
If you think crock pots are old-fashioned and outdated, you’d be surprised. You can cook soups, chilli, curries, or even use it as a rice cooker. During a season where you want to be eating all hot foods, a crock pot can be your go-to meal preparation device. And you’d be surprised how inexpensive they are: you can find a new one for under $30.

17. Here’s a tip to help you get out of bed:

Here&#39;s a tip to help you get out of bed:
Set your alarm 30 minutes before you’re supposed to wake up. When you wake up the first time, turn on the space heater so the room is nice and toasty by the time you really have to wake up.

18. Warm up your eyeliner and mascara before applying.

Warm up your eyeliner and mascara before applying.
It’s the key to a smooth application. So while you’re doing other stuff, like brushing your teeth or putting your contacts in, stick your eye makeup in the waistband of your pants. Your body heat will warm it up.

19. Vacuum seal your summer clothes away.

Vacuum seal your summer clothes away.
I recently did this, and it saved me so much room in my closet. The vacuum sealed bags will look and feel like the discarded carcass of a medium-sized farm animal, so you’ll want to stow them away in a non-visible place.

20. Learn the warmest way to wear a scarf.

Learn the warmest way to wear a scarf.
Loop the scarf around your neck and tie a knot in the front. Then tuck the knot under.
And here’s a million more ways to wear a scarf. A demonstration of the “warmest way to wear a scarf” is seen at 3:41, also called “the hidden knot.”
Unless you happen to have a cat available.

21. Don’t wear cotton against your skin.

Don&#39;t wear cotton against your skin.
It remains damp if you sweat in it. Opt for silks, wools, or synthetic fabrics.

22. Wear a sandwich bag between two thin pairs of socks if you don’t have waterproof shoes.

Wear a sandwich bag between two thin pairs of socks if you don&#39;t have waterproof shoes.

It’s a trick cyclists use when riding in sleet and snow. There is nothing worse than cold, wet socks.

23. Wash your face with oil.

Wash your face with oil.
There are tons of oil cleansers on the market, or you could make your own out of a concoction of castor oil and extra virgin olive oil. Oil dissolves oil, and it won’t strip your skin the way soap cleansers do.

24. Put a hot rubber bottle at the foot of your bed 30 minutes before you slip under the sheets.

Put a hot rubber bottle at the foot of your bed 30 minutes before you slip under the sheets.
This is a cheap way to warm up your bed without having to use dangerous electric blankets. Just fill it up with super hot water from the tap and the insulated bottle will heat up the bed for hours and hours (until you wake up, most likely). And as an added bonus, you won’t have to endure cold sheets.

25. Oh, by the way — mittens are warmer than gloves.

Oh, by the way &mdash; mittens are warmer than gloves.
It’s because gloves have more surface area.

>26. Make Reusable Hand Warmers out of Fleece and Rice

Make Reusable Hand Warmers out of Fleece and Rice
Get the directions here. Before you go out into the cold, microwave them for 30 seconds and keep them in your pockets. You can also buy similar ones on Etsy.

27. Apply cooking spray liberally to a snow shovel.

Apply cooking spray liberally to a snow shovel.
It’ll keep the snow from sticking and building up.

28. Here’s an easy savory cold remedy:

Here&#39;s an easy savory cold remedy:
Lemon, ginger, and Sriracha sauce. It makes a tasty Thai broth when mixed with hot water.

29. And here’s a tasty, sweet one:

And here&#39;s a tasty, sweet one:
Apple Cider Vinegar, honey, ginger, and cayenne plus some water.

30. Last but not least…GET A HEATED TOILET SEAT!

Last but not least...GET A HEATED TOILET SEAT!
This one’s $79.95, and the “tushietoast” is $49.95.