Monthly Archives: November 2014

Countdown to Christmas

ChristmasWe love Christmastime. I love the cooler weather, the cozy fires, the music, the decorations, holiday baking, the delicious food, the family time, and most importantly, the reason we celebrate in the first place: the birth of Jesus Christ.

In my early years growing up, our family did not celebrate Christmas. Gradually, traditions changed, and we began to celebrate — but never in a highly commercialized way. The focus was mainly on Jesus’ birth; the gifts we exchanged were secondary to the true meaning. I’ve tried to maintain that focus with my own kids.

We have many family traditions at this time of year, but one of my favorites is a paper chain countdown.

It all started when our oldest child was about two years old. She was enthralled by all the lights and beautiful decorations we had in our home, and that we saw wherever we went. And I wanted her to know WHY. Why do we decorate, what are we REALLY celebrating. Is it just lights and tinsel? Is it an excuse to spend money and exchange gifts? Why do we do this thing called Christmas?

In my quest to find a child-friendly, memorable way to teach my daughter the true meaning of Christmas, I tried a variety of different things. The one that stuck, the one that captured her attention and brought joy to her face was a “countdown to Christmas” paper chain — with a twist. On each link of the chain was written one or two sentences of my paraphrased version of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Initially, I was just going to write the scripture straight from the King James Version of the Bible. But as I read it over, I decided to simplify it a bit to make it more doable for a little child. I didn’t want to omit any details, so I drew from the Biblical accounts found in both Matthew and Luke.

Once I had written my paraphrase, I divided the story up into 28 roughly equal sections (because that was the number of days in Advent that year). I wrote the story out on strips of paper, one segment of the story for each day.

Every day during the Advent season, we removed one strip and read it together. Then we read all the strips up to that point. Rebecca would recite the story after me each day phrase by phrase. Sometimes she wanted to read it more than once in a day. And — surprisingly (to me) — by Christmas, she had memorized the whole thing. It was adorable to hear her sweet baby voice telling of the miracle of Jesus’ birth.

A tradition was born.Countdown to Christmas

Every year since, we have made a paper chain and read the story bit by bit as we count down to Christmas. It’s visual, so the little kids get a good grasp on the passage of time. They are very aware of the passing of days as Christmas draws near. And they are all learning the true reason we celebrate. The wonderful, amazing reality of God coming to earth to be born of a woman, for the sole purpose of taking our sins upon himself at the cross. All because he loves us.

I’ve included my paraphrase here. If you like it, you are welcome to use it. If not, write your own, or use a version of the Bible that you love. There is also a printable with even days in one set and odd days in another so you can easily print them on different colors of paper to make the chain colorful and interesting. Our chain has alternating red and green links with the final strip for Christmas day being yellow/gold to symbolize the arrival of the King. To make the chain, I suggest rubber cement to join the paper. I’ve tried other things (including staples and tape) but the strips would rip and make the text difficult to read. Using rubber cement I can easily peel the joined edges of the strips apart when it is time to remove them and (usually) the paper doesn’t rip. I sometimes have to temporarily place a paper clip or other fastener at the join until the bond is set.

Click here for a printable Countdown To Christmas chain. There are seven pages. Print the first three pages on red paper, the next three pages on green paper, and the last page on yellow (gold) paper.

Have fun counting down to Christmas with your little ones!

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Mega meal prep for the mega family

2014-09-dsc_4783

 

(Read the first two parts of this series here and here.)

The real work starts when I get home from grocery shopping. I’ve hauled home between 200 and 300 pounds of meat, tons of fresh produce, and dairy products. It won’t all fit in my refrigerators; yet, if I freeze it as-is, I’ll have to be thawing it in 40-pound increments, which is WAY more than even a mega family will need to use for a meal. So, we get to work prepping. It’s mega cooking day!

 

I start with ground beef. I take out my biggest pots. I refer to my menu plan (see previous post) for all my scheduled meals that use ground beef. 2014-09-dsc_4788In each pot I will cook all the beef for each different ground beef based meal. In order to keep it all straight in the chaos that will ensue, I make a little chart for myself that contains the following information: How much ground beef goes into each pot, which dish it is for, what else needs to be added to the pot, and how many meals I will divide it into when I’m done cooking the beef.

mega-beef

Using the above chart as my example, I see that I will weigh out 8 pounds of ground beef in one pot for spaghetti, 9 pounds of beef for sloppy joes, 6 pounds for taco meat, 5 pounds for goulash, and 8 pounds for chili. I usually get started portioning out the meat and assign some of the kids the job of peeling onions, washing peppers, and peeling the cloves of garlic. We put the veggies through the food processor and then add to the pots of beef on the stove.

2014-09-dsc_4800Once those are all cooking away, we take the 12 pounds of beef destined for meatloaf and mix it up in a huge bowl with bread crumbs, eggs, ketchup, onion soup mix and water. Clean hands are the best mixing tool. When it is well mixed, we shape into four loaves and place in half-size foil steam table trays, which we then cover and mark with contents, weight and date. That is usually the first thing done and into the freezer.

2014-09-dsc_4806 2014-09-dsc_4807

By this time, the pots of ground beef are usually finished cooking. I use a huge commercial potato masher to make sure the ground beef is in small uniform-sized pieces. We drain off the fat and then portion each meal into freezer bags. I use a two-cup glass measure, and just put equal amounts of the beefy mixtures into each labeled bag. Before I seal and put them in the freezer, I add all seasonings and tomato products IF I have purchased #10 cans that will be divided across multiple meals. If I will be opening individual smaller-sized tomato products on serving day, I don’t bother with adding them to the bag. I take the time to add any cooking instructions to the bags, which saves me lots of time on cooking day. It’s usually just abbreviations, but it’s enough so that I don’t have to find the recipe again.

While I or one of the older kids is bagging up the ground beef meals, someone else gets started on the boneless chicken meals. Again, I make a chart.

mega-chicken

Using the above chart as my example, I see that I have five different menu selections that will use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. We trim any fat off the chicken breasts and cut them into portion sized pieces. (A single breast is often close to ½ pound.) I try to make sure they are all a relatively even thickness for ease of grilling. Or if I’m making fajitas, I’ll cut all the chicken into strips. If a stir fry, it gets cut into chunks. I weigh out all the chicken into Ziploc freezer bags. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to put a Ziploc bag into a large mixing bowl on my scale and zero it. Then add the trimmed pieces to the bag until my desired weight is reached. I label all my bags before I fill them, which is much easier than trying to write on the bags after they’re filled.

While one (or more) person is trimming chicken, another will get started on mixing the marinades. In they go into the Ziploc bags with the chicken pieces. I make most of the marinades up assembly line style. Adding the ingredients called for directly into the bag and “mixing” by just smooshing it around in the bag with the chicken.

When the chicken is all cut up and bagged (or when that job is winding down and someone is free and needs a new job), it’s time to cut up the large pieces of beef. I buy it in 12-15 pound pieces. I then cut it into cubes for stew, strips for teriayki steak and some nice roasts. Everything goes into well labeled Ziploc bags.

When I buy whole chickens, I take the neck and guts out and save it separately in a bag, for making stock, and freeze the chicken in a Ziploc bag. This makes my life so much simpler when I’m trying to put a whole (still somewhat or completely frozen) chicken into the crock pot.

If I buy chicken legs that are not already cut into drums/thighs, I do that, and bag the chicken in meal-sized portions either by piece or by weight. We generally eat either drums or thighs at a meal, not whole legs. It’s just a preference.

At this point, I’m pretty much done for the day. All the perishables are safely in the freezer. On shopping/cooking days, I always plan a simple meal that doesn’t take any significant effort — maybe a couple of rotisserie chickens from Costco, bagged salad and chips. Something like that. I have no energy to cook after all that work. My kitchen is a wreck, but I don’t always clean it up right away. Sometimes I don’t have the energy until the next day. The beauty of this system is that you get one day of a horribly messy disaster of a kitchen, but then almost every other day, the cleanup is minimal.

 

Tips for packaging:

Always, always, always use good quality bags. Ziploc is my brand of choice. There’s not much worse than going to all this effort, only to have your bag fail you, and your food ruined.

Fold down the tops of the Ziploc bags before filling, to avoid getting food stuck in the zipper top.2014-09-dsc_4808

Freeze flat. It’s easier to thaw the food.

After the bags are frozen, stand them up like file folders, in a dishpan or cardboard box. Makes it easy to flip through and find what you want.

 

Now for how I use all that food. Each week, using my meal plan and my calendar, I schedule meals for the week. I take into account a variety of factors when planning my meals. Will I be super busy or gone all day? Then I’ll plan something fast to throw together or something that can be thrown in the crock pot. Will I have guests? What sort of dietary needs do they have? What meals are crowd-pleasers? Which meals do not require a lot of last-minute fuss, so that I’m actually free to visit with our guests? Are we expecting a warm day? Let’s grill! Or cool weather? Let’s have soup and homemade bread. Do we have to go out? What travels well?

I schedule my meals on a simple blank form that my husband created for me (click to download a PDF). This goes on my refrigerator where all those responsible for cooking can see what meals are scheduled. If I remember, we take out anything frozen the night before, so it has time to thaw. When this (often) doesn’t happen, I just pop the bag of food in a sink of water to speed the process along. As I use the meals, I make a tally mark on my meal plan so that I know it has been used. This enables me to know exactly what is in my freezer at any time without having to go on an Arctic expedition. 🙂

I label my menu plans and calendars with the dates used. I store them in a binder for future reference. In theory, you could just repeat the exact same menu plan. We don’t. But I do refer to the previous meal plans for ideas and to get my ingredients list without having to haul out all my cookbooks and recipes again when I do the next cycle.

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Mega shopping for the mega family.

Mega cooking

 

(Note: This is post two of a three-part series. Click here for part one, or here for part three.)

In preparation for shopping day, I like to clean out the pantry, refrigerators and freezers, and get them organized. We have two refrigerators and two separate freezers, but this is not necessary to mega meal plan, shop and cook — we have a few other factors that make it important for us. One is that we have dairy goats and can have up to 20 gallons of milk at a time in one refrigerator. Another is that we raise animals for meat and need the larger capacity at butchering time.

Once the space is prepared to receive the glut of food I’ll be bringing home, it’s time to shop. I bring several older teens and try to leave the little ones at home. My stores of choice are Costco, Smart & Final, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and Walmart. Very occasionally, I will stop in at a traditional grocery store… particularly if the sales on meat are extraordinary. But more often than not, I can get excellent prices on meat at the Costco Business Center in San Diego, and I don’t bother with stopping at grocery stores to take advantage of their loss-leader sales.

I also shop at a few non-traditional places. This practice began because of our family’s struggles with food allergies. It’s SUCH a pain to go to store after store and stand in the aisles reading labels to be sure an item is safe for my food-allergic kids. Or to hear of a brand that is “safe” for their allergies, and schlep all over town looking for the product, only to return empty-handed. Buying online saves me time and hassle.

Online: Amazon.com – Here I buy specialty groceries and allergy-friendly items that are probably available locally, but which would take some hunting; and I find it much easier to just compare prices and buy online. Examples of this are coconut products, energy bars, protein powder, oils for soap making, gelatin, gluten free pastas, xanthan gum, sunflower seed butter, small packets of almond butter, healthy breakfast cereal. I also buy cosmetics, toiletries and personal care items. Using Amazon Prime and their Subscribe and Save service saves me money and gets my items to me fast.

Vitacost.com – Here I buy mostly vitamins, but am increasingly drawn to them for specialty food items. They have free shipping on orders over $49, and they ship fast. I usually get my items within two days.

doTerra – I buy some personal care products here. I’m sensitive to artificial scents. Essential oils have been a wonderful thing for me. I especially love the “On Guard” hand soap and toothpaste.

Co-op: Azure Standard – Here I buy bulk items, wheat, rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, quinoa, millet flour, lentils, split peas, beans. Pretty much anything you could find in a health food store can be purchased here at a discount. I’m a part of a local group that orders once a month. There are groups all over the country. Visit their website to locate a group near you.

Local: Ethnic markets. I like 99 Ranch and Balboa Market in San Diego. Both are about 30 miles from my home, but are near where my parents live so I’m in the area often. Here I purchase sweet rice flour, rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, coconut milk, coconut cream, rice noodles, produce. And many other fun ingredients. It’s an adventure to shop in an ethnic market. Fun!

Before I leave, I remove 2-3 seats from the back of my 15 passenger van to make room for all the food. (You need a heavy-duty vehicle for this level of food haul.) I put coolers in the van and some heavy-duty blankets to insulate the cold food.

I start as early in the morning as I can manage. Costco is where I buy the bulk of the food items. I go there first. The Costco Business Center opens early. They sell meat at great prices but you have to buy by the case. This is no problem since I am, after all, buying eight weeks worth of food for a mega family. I generally purchase about 160 pounds of chicken and 100 pounds of beef. I buy select cuts of pork, but since we raise our own pork, I usually have a good supply in the freezer already.

Cheese of all types can be purchased in bulk (5-pound blocks). Large packages of butter, lunch meats, 15 dozen eggs, 3-pound blocks of cream cheese, 20-pound boxes of tomatoes, etc. They also sell the most amazing 14-inch tortillas. One of those babies, when filled, will satisfy even my hollow-legged teen and young adult kids.

I go through my list and purchase everything I possibly can at Costco.

Boneless chicken breasts, boneless chicken thighs, whole chickens, chicken drums and thighs, and ground beef by the case. Large packages of beef to be cut into steaks, stew meat or whatever my recipes require. 50-pound bags of rice, beans, sugar, flour, brown sugar, potatoes and onions. 20-pound boxes of spaghetti, rigatoni and other pastas, #10 cans of tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, ketchup. Half-gallon and gallon jugs of canola and olive oils, mayonnaise, mustard, barbecue sauce. Big packages of chocolate chips, nuts, vanilla, peanut butter. Lots of bags of coffee beans, many blocks of cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, spices, tuna, tortillas, butter, cocoa powder. Large boxes and bags of fresh tomatoes, lettuce, lemons, garlic. Frozen veggies in 5-pound bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil.

Some items carried at the regular Costco are not available at the Business Center, so I make a stop at the regular Costco too for things like almond butter, potato chips, some personal care items and some nuts.

Then I hit Trader Joe’s for sparkling water, gluten-free pastas and a few other must haves like chocolate :).

Sprouts is where I buy a lot of produce, Boar’s Head deli meats and oats in bulk (50 pounds).

In Smart & Final I pick up toilet paper, some bulk items that I can’t find in Costco, frozen french fries (when I buy them), pet items, and bread bags for our homemade bread.

Walmart is usually the last stop, and is sometimes postponed for another day since I mostly buy toiletries, cleaning supplies and pet items there. These can wait.

The reality is that I don’t always have to hit all these stores on shopping day. I sometimes just get the bulk of it — all the things needed for the food prep/mega cooking session that is following — and go out another day for the rest. It depends on how pressed for time I feel.

Also, I do buy all the cheese and other dairy products I need for my two-months cycle. The use-by dates are generally at least that far out, and I have not had trouble with spoilage. We keep dairy goats, and have a steady supply of fresh milk. We have chickens which provide us with fresh eggs, and a garden to supply us with (some of) our produce. There is no way, however, that I have space for ALL the produce I would need for eight weeks, even if it could stay fresh that long. So, I buy the stuff that keeps well (cabbages, potatoes, onions, garlic), the stuff I need on my mega cooking day (i.e., immediately) and the produce I will need for the first 7-10 days of meals. As I need more fresh produce, I stop at one of several produce stands/stores near my home, or I’ll stop in at Sprouts or another convenient store when I’m out on my weekly errand/lesson day.

This huge shopping trip usually costs me between $1,500 and $1,800. Remember though, that is lasting for two months, and it is for three meals a day for 10-12 people — some of whom are teenagers. It also includes paper products, toiletries, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent and pet products. If I add in the cost of the produce I purchase each week that number goes up a few hundred dollars. So, that’s about $1,000 per month, or roughly $100 per month per person.

So, how do I budget for such a large expense? Well, we divide the work in our finances. I have a budget, and get a certain amount every month. I take care of food, household expenses, school-related stuff, clothing. My husband pays the rest of the bills. I have to keep money in reserve for the big expense. I know it’s coming. So, I hold back about $1,000 each month of the money I manage and then I have what I need when I need it.

When I get home with all this food, it’s a family affair to get it all hauled into the house. I mostly don’t bother putting away the non-perishables at first. It stays near the entry way of my home. (Please be careful if you visit us during this time. It’s a hazardous environment and I might just put you to work!) The dairy products go straight to the fridge. Many items, like tortillas and sausages, can go straight into the freezer because they are already packaged in a way that is consistent with how I will use them. The bulk meats, however are not. We get right to work on that as we move directly into…

a Mega Cooking session.

(Click here for part 3: Mega meal prep for the mega family.)

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Mega meal planning for the mega family

Meal planning

 

(Note: This is the first post of a three-part series. Read parts two and three here and here.)

Cooking is a job I’m OK with. Yeah, sometimes it’s challenging with the various allergies we juggle and all the other demands on my time. Sometimes I just want a break. But, for the most part, food prep for my family is not a job I hate.

Planning what to cook, on the other hand, is a chore I detest. Especially when I’m trying to think of it as my crazy day spins out of control. Knowing that, with every hour that passes, my options become more limited as I no longer have time to thaw that roast or make that slow cooker stew. I tick through the items in the freezer and/or refrigerator. What can I make with these raw ingredients? Do I have all the necessary pantry items to complete the meal? Sometimes, more often that I like to remember, the answer was no.

Ugh. All this food and I can’t think of a single meal to throw together. So we might end up eating pancakes. Or hot dogs. Again.

I’d look at the meal planning systems that other moms used. I checked out apps, computer programs, books, printable forms. None of them were intuitive for me. Every system I’ve seen tries too hard to be clever; inevitably, they don’t mesh well with the way my mind works.

I had to blaze my own trail, creating a system that made sense to me. I needed something to help me overcome my hatred of the planning aspect and the unprepared aspect of always lacking ONE thing from every recipe I wanted to create. I had to get all the planning out of the way and plan everything down to the last can of tomatoes I might need before I shopped again.

This is my system.

First, I decide how many weeks I want to shop for. I aim for a minimum of four weeks, but I prefer eight. Remember I hate the planning and it feels so freeing to just do it all at once and have it DONE!

When planning how many meals to make, I consider things like, How many times do we expect to eat out during this time? How often are we likely to have guests over for a meal? How many “extra” meals do I want to have available to bring to a family in need?

We eat nearly every meal at home. We frequently have guests, and I like to be prepared to minister to others, so I always figure extra into my food plan to accommodate this reality.

Next, I select recipes. I choose by season, mostly. Asparagus in the spring, pumpkin in the fall. Grilling in the hot months, soups, stews and baked meals in the cooler months, etc. I decide how many times we will have each meal. There are certain meals our family loves, and eats often. I plan to have these meals multiple times within my menu plan time frame.

I plan accompaniments for the recipes I choose. Spaghetti? I plan a salad and bread along with it. Marinated grilled chicken, I might serve with roasted potatoes and broccoli, or maybe red rice and a salad. Each combination is written down as a separate meal option even if the main dish is the same.

For breakfast, I list all the things that we might make.

Oatmeal, crockpot risotto, multi-grain hot cereal, German pancake, Baked oatmeal, eggs/muffins, eggs/toast.

Lunch, same thing:

Baked potatoes with toppings, hot dogs, sandwiches (egg salad, tuna, lunch meat, peanut butter & jelly, grilled cheese), leftovers.

I multiply recipes until they are enough to serve all the people consistently eating at our home on a day-to-day basis. Then I multiply that recipe by the number of times I expect to serve that meal in the time period for which I am shopping. I write the corresponding grocery list next to my menu selections.

__ pounds chicken, __ cups of rice, __ onions, __ pounds of potatoes, __ pounds of cheese, etc.

I do this for every recipe I will include in the lineup. Then I go through all the grocery list sections and compile a master shopping list. I write the items on the list in categories (meat, dairy, produce, breads, canned/boxed/dry) and then tally the number of pounds or cups of items (depending on how I will encounter if for sale at the store — i.e., I buy cheese by the pound, so I make any conversions necessary to translate recipes that call for cups of shredded cheese to pounds). Beans, rice and other dry items are generally sold by the pound, so I translate cups to pounds. Some recipes call for a certain number of cans of tomatoes, since I’m making mega amounts, I generally multiply the pounds and ounces and see whether I can buy the ingredient in a larger size to save money. (Hello, #10 can!!!) I work my way down my list of planned meals until everything is accounted for on my master list.

For breakfasts and lunches I do the same thing; but since the meals are simpler, I do the multiplication in my head and include it in the master list.

Then I consider my baking. I do a lot of baking. Including a lot of gluten-free baking. I don’t want to plan out exactly what I will bake when. The “fun” of baking for me is the ability to make what sounds good at the moment. Enter the pantry list.

I went through my pantry and listed everything that I purchase on a consistent basis. Things I would replace when I run out. My list is more extensive than some, because I maintain a whole arsenal of gluten free flours in addition to regular wheat flour. I also use a lot of different beans and a variety of grains.

I evaluated each item and figured out the approximate rate at which I use it. How long does it take me to go through a gallon of olive oil? a 25-pound bag of flour? a pint of vanilla? ten pounds of chocolate chips? The rate will vary, so I’m going for an average. Some things I didn’t know; I started dating packages when I opened them, so when I ran out, I would get a better feel for our rate of consumption. Once I had this information written down, I was able to determine how much I needed to buy to last through my shopping period. I add all these pantry items to my master shopping list.

The last categories to add to my shopping list: personal care, cleaning supplies and pet items. Again, I pay attention to how quickly we go through a tube of toothpaste, a bar of soap, a package of toilet paper, cleanser, dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, etc. I add to my list the amounts needed to get us through the shopping period.

Now I’m almost ready to go shopping. The final step is to go through the stock on hand and revise my shopping list to reflect the difference between that and what is on the shopping list already. I take my messy, handwritten, marked up notebook papers to the computer and collate all the information into a neat list that’s ready to take to the store!

(Click here for part 2: Mega shopping for the mega family.)

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Learning when to say “No”

Priorities

I’ve been reading through the New Testament. The other day, I read the following passage from Acts. And I believe God spoke to me through this story of a church conflict from long ago.

(Acts 6) 1Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the work of God in order to serve tables. 3Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5The statement found approval with the whole congregation and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a prosetyte from Antioch. 6And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.

7The word of God kept on spreading and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

In the first verse we get the summary of the problem. A subset of the Jewish widows were being neglected. This smacked of favoritism or maybe even prejudice. The apostles took this complaint seriously. Unity was of the utmost concern.

But in verse two, I observe that they apostles seem to feel themselves “above” serving tables. Anyone can serve tables, but we are the chosen ones. We will not stoop to this menial task.

That idea didn’t sit right with me. Especially when I observed the caliber of men chosen for this task. They were “men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom”. Obviously these men were well qualified to lead, and, at least in the case of Stephen, equipped to teach. This serving of tables must not be considered a menial task after all.

So, why didn’t the apostles want to do it?

So that they could devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. An equally important task (perhaps even more important).

So it is not that the serving of tables was beneath them, but that it was not what they were called to do! What wisdom they displayed in understanding the sphere that God had placed them in and being comfortable with the scope of their own calling.

So often I’m presented with a problem or request and I jump in and help. Serving all over the place without stopping to consider if it is really my calling. I see the apostles using the important skill of delegation when a situation presents itself that is outside their top calling and priorities.

And the result of all this? The focus on their God-given priorities and delegation to capable others for the tasks outside their calling? The result of their caring enough to resolve the problem in a way that unified, could be sustained, and did not pull them from their main tasks?

8The word of God kept on spreading and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

They were able to have a lasting impact on the world around them by being obedient to their calling, and by not getting distracted by all the other wonderful good ways they could be serving that were not Got’s plan for them.

So I ask myself, what am I called to do?

  • First and foremost: to Love God.
  • To love my husband.
  • To love my children.
  • To teach and train my children.
  • To manage my home.
  • To show hospitality.

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:4-5

Those things can cover a lot of ground, and one can justify almost any “good” activity. But I asked myself, “Is this the best use of my time? Is this what God is calling me to do?

The good things in life are often the enemy of the best things.

It’s a time of reviewing commitments in my life. Of reevaluating priorities. Of letting things go that have crept in — things outside my calling.

And of learning to say “no” to other things.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

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