Tag Archives: Family Life

Summer for the Smiths 2018- Teenagers in the house


Summer officially starts tomorrow if you follow that on the calendar BUT the change of schedule happened for us at the first of June—no more school until August!  When our girls were little I would make schedules and plan our days- Make it Monday, Reading Wednesdays and so on.  But our girls are now both teenagers (eekkk!) and our schedules are all over the place.  Even my schedule was crazy these last two weeks as I was presenting at conferences, leading professional development (pd) and getting my own credits for pd.

I still was trying to figure out how to get our girls doing some things that don’t come naturally to them when they make their own to-do lists each day.  My goal was to get them doing the things that I would usually harp on them about doing but without the harping!  Then it hit me…

Duh Becki—you share with teachers the importance of voice and choice in the classroom, how is that not different at home?  One easy way to do this in the classroom is to use choice boards that I always say are “teacher directed and kid approved”.  The teacher sets up the tasks but the students get to choose what they do on the board. So I sat down and created a choice board for our girls.  I used the Tic-Tac-Toe grid but it is four in a row rather than 3.  I set the board up working to make sure in each row and diagonal there were a variety of tasks: reading, creating, intrapersonal, active and yes…some math practice too!

I rolled it out tonight and it was received as well as anything with teenagers can be received 🙂 There were a few moans about some of the tasks and I expected that.  My response was “you don’t have to do that one—it is up to you.”  That is the beauty, the tasks are there and if they want some extra spending money is is theirs for the taking.

I will have to come back and update at the end of the summer to let you know the reality of the plan.

I posted a template below—try it at your house if you would like!

Smith Family Tic-Tac-Toe Template


Enjoy your family—hope your summer is made in the shade,



Making time for Family time


The school year is well underway (finally after start two brought to us by Hurricane Harvey) and life is at that crazy-busy level.  It is our “normal” and I am thankful for the clubs, classes, Bible studies, and parties my girls are able to be involved in, yet finding time to reconnect as a family can be T-O-U-G-H.

Sundays set the tone for the week.  Sundays are a special day—that is how God intended it.  We all need a Sabbath, a day set aside for rest and worship.  Our Sundays can still be crazy though.  How can we carve out Sabbath time as a family on our Sundays when…

  • we have church in the morning,
  • a quick lunch all together before Brad heads off to his second job—thanks Babe!
  • the girls finish up the last of homework not completed on Saturday and then run off to Bible Studies at different locations
  • No one is home at dinner time and one child has dinner at Bible Study, the other snacks herself silly and Mom and Dad are running the roads to pick up everyone

I reflected on this and realized that in December our family makes time to have an Advent devotional and prayer time each Sunday night so why not do the same EVERY Sunday.  We love our time in December so let’s make it work for year-round.

I have decided that if we can’t have dinner together on Sunday night that at least we can have dessert.  I make sure we have something to snack on while we meet to reflect on our week ahead, discuss our time at church earlier in the day and then have prayer time as a family.  It has been a sweet time of fellowship.  It gives us time as a family to share concerns, laugh together and plan the week so the week can run more smoothly.

Sometimes I make an “involved” recipe dessert like the one Heather and I made a few week’s ago, salted caramel brownies, and then other times I pick up a box of “just add water” scones from Trader Joe’s and throw together the easy and well-loved “Fall Munchie Mix” (A box of golden grahams, mini-marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, and chocolate chips all combined in a bowl!).

Easy desserts for our family time- Trader Joe Scones and Fall Munchie Mix


How do you connect as a family when life is crazy-busy?  Leave a comment and let’s share our collective genius!!!

Hey Math Teacher…when will I use this stuff?


Yes, that is often the thought of many a math student sitting in the desk of math classes around the world. Well, let me tell you when you will use “this stuff”. Currently my life seems to be one big story problem; and the answers are not written at the back of the book!

We are excitedly looking to move back to Texas in the next few weeks. God has generously answered the prayers of many people and opened the doors for us to move back close to family. Right now, though, we constantly have to figure out all kinds of things:

  • If we have to be in Texas by x-date yet our belongings will be picked up on y-date and it takes so many hours to get to Texas, how many hours do we need to travel each day? (Make consideration for traveling with two cats)
  • If our insurance ended on June 30 and the COBRA information arrives on July 11 and is RIDICULOUSLY high, which short-term insurance plan should we go with taking into consideration the maintenance medications we are using and that our family will be traveling in two different directions in three different vehicles across the nation in just two weeks?
  • How many jobs do I apply for in the short amount of time I have to sit at the computer and give to that task?

I could go on and on. I am getting many opportunities to quote Philippians 4:6 to myself…I’ve paraphrased it a bit to fit my situations though:

Be anxious for nothing, not even finding the right job,

Be anxious for nothing, not even how you will get all of this done,

but with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.

 So the recipe for life is to start each day with Thanksgiving.

Thank you Lord for this move!

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to watch you work.

Thank you Lord for guiding each step of the way.

Thank you for the amazing friends and relatives that are all helping out in their own ways.

Thank you for being so amazing and loving me even when I don’t deserve it.


The answers are in the book…His book….the Bible.

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11


So when in doubt, go to the best book around, The Bible and seek his help with the story problems of life.   The answers are not at the back of the book but all throughout, from start to finish!  Then, as Philippians 4:7 goes on to say “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Answers throughout the book!


Back to packing!



I Heard That


Recently I’ve suffered several losses—-various types, all with different pain and grief.  When working through grief it can feel very lonely.  I have felt isolated.  I have great friends and family yet I get the sense that if I talk about everything as much as I desire or as often as it is on my mind that people will say “Get over it and get on with living.”

While I was having coffee with God this last week, I was reading in Psalms.  God directed me to this passage:

Psalm 38:9

Lord my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from you.

What wonderful words of assurance!  God knows every single desire.  He knows my desires for my family, my spiritual life, my finances—He knows it all!

He even hears my sighs.  When I feel all alone and think “no one remembers….does anyone care?”

Psalm 38:9 reminds me that God does— he heard that.  He hears every sigh and knows every thought.

So if you are experiencing thoughts of—no one cares and heave big sighs of “oh man this is tough”, God knows what is happening and what you are longing for.  He hears those sighs and the best part is that He has a plan and it is a plan to prosper you and not to harm you.  A plan to give you hope and a future.  How do I know this?  Because it says it in the Bible in the book of Jeremiah in chapter 29 verse 11.

After the most recent loss, let’s call it the loss of possibility, I got back into my car and I was a wreck.  I had been in a meeting and I was caught off guard by a friend.  The words said had been so unexpected. I was hurting and a big puddle of tears.  As I turned my car on, the stereo speakers sang out the words from the Jamie Grace song “Come to Me

...Come to me when you are weary and I’ll give you hope when you’re hurting.

I’ll give you rest from your burden….

God heard my sighing.  He knew exactly what I was going through.  He was right there.  He saw me hurting and sent the words in the song to me to remind me that He will give me hope and a future.


Have you found yourself sighing lately?

Are you dealing with loss of some sort?


Take some time today to talk with God about those things that you are grieving about.  Tell him how you feel.  He cares.  He will listen.

Then remind yourself of the promises He has given about your future and trust him to fulfill those very promises.

He will.

He always does—-in His time.


Must Haves! A Book No Parent Should be Without


Have you ever found yourself saying the same things over and over to your kids?

Do you stand stupefied by something you see or hear in your kids and realize you need a change of direction….quick!

I have.

In the last few years, I have found some resources from an excellent team that are all home runs!  Each time I read something written by this dynamic duo, I am empowered with easy to read and quickly applicable discipline to raise my children.

Guess what! This duo has just finished their most recent book and I want you to know it is a “must have” .  The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller will give you 50 heart-based discipline strategies that you can use for kids from ages 2 to 18.  It is what I call a “nightstand book” as it will be one that you will want to keep close by to refer to over and over again as different things come up with your kids.  They give you practical strategies to use with your children rather than just telling you how your kids should behave—-love that!  They emphasize the relational aspect of parenting and how to separate firmness from harshness.  You will read solutions for sibling conflict and how to teach kids to be solvers rather than whiners.

Turansky and Miller are founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.  They have written several books and this one pulls many of the strategies discussed in various books all into one excellent resource.

If you purchase the book this week, April 29th -May 5th, you can also get $400 worth of parenting resources FREE…yep….you read that right—Free.  Too good to be true?  Check it out for yourself!

CPH Banner of 400 dollar resources copy

I read an advance copy of the book and couldn’t stop highlighting, underlining and placing stars…it has so much you will want to place in your parenting toolbox.

I encourage you to get a hard copy of the book from a major book distributor this week so you can also get the $400 worth of Free resources which includes an electronic copy of the book and many other excellent items.

My only regret about getting this book now is that it wasn’t available 10 years ago when I was beginning this discipline process with my toddler.  But I have it now and it is never too late to make changes for the good.  Don’t wait- add this book to your parenting resources today!

As a member of The Christian Parenting Handbook Launch Team, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and the opportunity to promote related giveaways and activities to my readers.

All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.

Must Haves!


Each family has to find their own rhythm and beat but there are some tools that every family should have as a part of that process. As I discover a “must have” item, I’m going to share it with you because this blog is about Recipes for the Table and for Life.  So when I find an ingredient to help the recipe for family life, I want to share it with you as a good family life is even more important than a good meal on the table!

This first tool I want to share with you is perfect for teaching the Bible in a creative and innovative new way.  Phil Vischer and his team at Jellyfish Labs created the What’s in the Bible? DVD series and it is exceptional!  My girls enjoy the storytelling, the songs and the characters that explain all kinds of Bible history, explain what different words mean, and just do an all around top-notch job of explaining God’s story.

The series now includes all of the Old Testament and two DVDs in the New Testament (as of April 23, 2013).  Each DVD has two 25-minute episodes.  The focus audience is Kindergarten through 5th grade but I can guarantee that if you watch with your kids you are going to learn some new things too!  We don’t have every single volume yet in our family library but I’m sure we will one day.  The volumes we do own we have watched over and over again.  We even purchased a CD of the songs to take with us on our long drive last summer from Pennsylvania to Texas.

You will not be disappointed in this series.  It is fun, engaging and educational.  I’ve included a video from the creator, Phil Vischer, from the very beginning of the project.  He shares why he created this series.

Pondering Christmas


“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”  Luke 2:19

My Mom has always loved that verse that comes from the book of Luke in the Bible in the passages that share about the birth of Christ.  The verse has become a favorite of mine too.  I think any mother can relate to Mary here.  I think it is important that we see that Mary didn’t worry that her house wasn’t perfect for company (heck, she wasn’t even in a house but a stinky stable!…well I’m inferring it was stinky but ya get the idea).  Mary wasn’t obsessed over the fact she didn’t have anything to serve her guests.  Nor does she seem bothered that her son is lying in a manger rather than on a soft bed over at the inn.

She simply takes in the scene and ponders on it.  Actually she doesn’t just take it in but she “treasures up” everything going on.

She lived the life God had placed before her, embracing every step of the way.

What an example for us.  I’m pretty sure God allowed that verse to be a part of the Luke passage on Christ’s birth story to help Moms.  Sometimes we get so busy doing, creating, entertaining, etc that we don’t simply enjoy the life God has given us.

Was Mary’s life easy?  I don’t think so.  She was pregnant, not married, traveling right at the time she was due.  She had no real place to rest and strangers were coming to visit the same night she gave birth.

This Christmas I have determined to enjoy—to not get rushed and hurried and not to think something had to be done.  Rather I want to focus on the real reason for the season.  I want to help my family enjoy the holiday and not get caught in the Christmas-Crazies.

The last few years have brought unexpected change to our household; but one of the pleasant impacts of the change was it allowing me to realize the need to treasure and ponder.

I pray that you will take the time this holiday to stop, reflect and treasure up all that God has given you….even in the stinky stables of life He has blessed us with so much.

The Stable_mary ponders