Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Flexible Daily Routine for Pre-schoolers and Toddlers

It's taken some time for our family to find a good rhythm.  Just when we think we have something figured out or are in a good flow, life happens and we find ourselves at square one again.  This is part of the reason why I like routines as opposed to schedules.  For me, schedules leave little room for error and don't bode well with my perfectionist tendencies.  I've noticed that when I have tried to stick to a rigorous schedule, I'm oftentimes left feeling discouraged and unmotivated after about 2 days.  But ROUTINES, on the other hand, give me the "wiggle room" that I personally need while my kids are the ages that they are.  It's easier for me to have goals instead of "deadlines", if you know what I mean, when it comes to the daily grind of mommyhood. SO, with that being said, here is our current routine that seems to be working great for our family! You will notice that other than bedtime (the one time we actually strive to not deviate from), there is lots of room for adjustments and spur of the moment outings and changes of plan.

6:30am-7:30am- Wake up.  I leave an hour for this because depending on how our nights go (if both kids sleep all the way through, sickness in the house, teething etc.) the kids (or me) may need a bit extra sleep. When the kids wake up, they join us in our bed. Even if we are all up at 6:30, we tend to lay their and snuggle, read books or just flat out stare at the ceiling until 7:30ish.

8:00am-9:00am- Breakfast time. Again, I leave an hour because sometimes I get delayed switching over laundry, making up beds or doing something way less productive (ahem...pinterest). The kids also will play for a bit too while I get breakfast ready.

9:00am-10:00am- Devotions/Morning reading time at the kitchen table.  I (or daddy depending on which day of the week it is) will usually read a short scripture passage with the kids and then pray with them while we are at the table. They also pray if they choose to.  Then I put a series of worship songs on my phone and read my Bible by myself while Noelle and Vivienne both "read" (meaning flip through the pages or occasionally rip them if you'er Vivienne lol) their little storybook Bibles and sing along to the worship music.  If the wheels aren't coming off, we then will read a few books of their choice.

10:00am-11:00am- I do a quick clean up from breakfast, get the girls dressed, then get them situated in their bedroom (so I can close their door to keep my Vivi from getting into things lol) and let them play together while I get dressed.

11:00am-12:30pm- Vivi takes her first nap and Noelle and I do her homeschooling "lessons" (blogpost about what we are doing for pre-school homeschooling coming soon :))

12:45pm-1:30pm- Lunch and story time at the table.

1:45pm-3:45pm- After cleaning up from lunch, this time slot is usually used for running errands, playdates, outdoor play for girls while I do housework/chores, the park etc.

4:00pm-5:00pm- Vivi takes her final nap of the day, I start making dinner and Noelle either watches a show/movie of her choice or engages in a quiet time hobby (coloring, crafting, board games etc.) She also will usually join me in the kitchen to help prepare dinner (home economics, people lol)

5:00pm-5:45pm- I put finishing touches on dinner, lay out everything needed for bath time/bedtime (pajamas, diaper, towels etc.) and the girls help me do a quick clean up of the living room and their bedroom.  At some point during this time, daddy gets home and plays with the girls as well!

5:45pm-6:30pm- Dinner at the table as a family.  Everything gets turned off and we all tune into each other to close out our night.  My husband will usually read a bit more scripture for all of us and bless the food before we eat together as well.

6:30pm-6:45pm- Daddy monitors bath time and tells stories while I clean the kitchen.  

6:45-7:00pm- Lights get turned down while my husband and I get the girls all dressed and ready for bed.  We then all snuggle up together and sing a few hymns (there's just something about singing them at bedtime, knowing that Christian mommas of old have more than likely sung them over their littles for centuries) as a family. Come Thou Fount is our current favorite.  Daddy then prays over them, we exchange an endless amount of hugs and kisses and...

7:00pm- Bedtime for the girls! We try really really hard to stick to 7pm.  There are nights when we have community group at church or decide to go out somewhere and we push it back, but most nights it's 7 sharp. We also will let Noelle stay up a bit later on Friday or Saturday night sense she's the BIG sister lol.

So there it is! Most of our days in a nutshell.  Like I said before, we are not rigid with this routine but rather use it as a general frame work.  There's always room for spontaneity and deviation, which is what our family needs with two young girlies! 

If your looking for a routine, try this out! Let me know how it goes!

Bryt xoxo

Monday, January 25, 2016

Philippians at a Glance

We are jumping into Philippians this week and I couldn't be more excited. This is yet another dynamite epistle from the Apostle Paul loaded with plenty of deep truths and practical application.  It's known as the "Book of Joy" which I believe is suitable because you can't  read the book of Philippians without getting joyful. You get that pep in your step after spending some time studying it. It's not because it's full of fluffy, light-hearted sentiments but rather demonstrates the very real and raw joy that is available to us even in the midst of trial. Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter to the Philippians and without a doubt had his moments of weakness, fear and despair. BUT the sustaining force that allowed him to bear up under the pressure was the reality that he could do all things through Christ and therefore had a reason to always rejoice. 

My prayer for this week is that our hearts will echo some of the cries of Paul's heart and come to a place wherein we know in the depths of our souls that everything is loss and rubbish in comparison to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. The more we know Jesus, the more joy we will possess.

Here is my personal study plan for the week:

Monday- Read book in its entirety from start to finish several times without making any markings/notes. Again, this is to get that aerial view and greater context.
Tuesday- Same as above
Wednesday- chapter 1 in depth (commentaries, journaling, marking etc.)
Thursday- chapter 2
Friday- chapter 3
Saturday- chapter 4
Sunday- read through from start to finish several times again, making final notes etc.

Join me on social media for periodic encouragement from the book this week.
Facebook: @thepreciousandthepleasant
Instagram: @brytnimcneil

Would love to hear about what God reveals to you this week!

Happy reading!

Bryt xoxo

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ephesians at a Glance

This week we are jumping back into the New Testament studying the book of Ephesians!  It's a short book of only 6 chapters but each one is JAMMED PACKED with theological and doctrinal richness and practical daily application.  The book starts off exhorting the believer, informing us of our newfound position in Christ.  It's FULL of the inheritance that has been given to us as sons and daughters of God. We are told the sad truth of where we were prior to the cross but will find ourselves jumping through the roof as we read line after line of not just good news, but the GREATEST NEWS EVER TOLD! Then in chapter 4-6, the book then progresses into explaining what it looks like to now LIVE as a child of God.  We are told that "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10)

Basically, a key theme is that our purpose flows from our position.  What we do is a result of who we are. We don't "work" to earn God's love, but rather, in Christ, we already have God's love and therefore we work. We move forward on the battlefield of life from a place of victory, not defeat.

My prayer this week for myself and for those participating is that we will gain a deeper understanding of who we are in Christ and everything that that implies.  I also pray that as we embrace the solidified and eternal identity that Christ has secured for us, we will walk in the good works he has already prepared from us out of love for Him and appreciation for all he has done.  May our lives become a living sacrifice of worship to the only worthy One!

With that being said, here is my personal reading/study timeline for the week:

Monday- Read through Ephesians from start to finish a few times refraining from highlighting/journaling etc. Like I've mentioned before, the reason I do this is so that I can grasp the greater context and get that aerial view before I start really diving into details.
Tuesday- Focus only on chapter 1, using commentaries, journaling/highlighting etc.
Wednesday- Chapter 2
Thursday- Chapter 3
Friday- Chapter 4
Saturday- Chapter 5
Sunday- Chapter 6

I'll be posting periodically throughout the week personal insights and encouragement on Facebook @thepreciousandthepleasant and on instagram @brytnimcneil ! Please feel free to join in on the conversation and share what the Lord is doing in your heart through the reading!

Happy reading!

Bryt xoxo

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ruth at a Glance

I am BEYOND excited to study through the book of RUTH. She is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE Bible characters who's life story is laced with tragedy, uncertainty, romance and DESTINY! I'll spend the full week studying this book even though it's only 4 chapters.

Along with reading/studying the book, I will also be reading through a short novella about the life of Ruth by Francine Rivers called, Unshaken: One of five unlikely women who changed eternity.  

You can find it for purchase for your kindle or a hardcover on amazon. I read this book years ago in about one day because it really brought the story of Ruth to LIFE and I couldn't put it down. So I thought that this would be the perfect time to revisit a book that I thoroughly enjoyed so very much.

With that being said, here is my personal projected reading plan for the week:

  • Monday & Tuesday- Read through the book in its entirety several times without stopping to reread, underline, journal, etc.  Again, my reason for doing this is to grasp the greater context and get that aerial view before really sinking my feet into it.
  • Wednesday- Study, in depth, chapter 1 only using commentaries, highlighters, journaling, etc.
  • Thursday- Repeat with Chapter 2
  • Friday- Chapter 3
  • Saturday- Chapter 4
  • Sunday- Re-read the whole book in its entirety several times

I also highly advise doing a thorough study on the meaning and purpose of a Kinsmen Redeemer.  THIS is where you will start to see foreshadowing of Jesus and will walk away more intimately connected to HIM, rather than just deriving some good "life lessons" from Ruth and the other character's lives (although we want to learn from their lives as well). 

Lastly, I will periodically post verses from Ruth and things that God places on my heart as I read on social media. Please JOIN IN on the conversation and follow me on Facebook @Thepreciousandthepleasant or on instagram @Brytnimcneil .

I pray that as we observe the life of this beautiful, redeemed woman, we will grow closer to the REDEEMER who connects our story to hers.

Happy reading!

Bryt xoxo

A New Creation: All that Matters

Let's just say that my heart desperately needed to study through Galatians the first week of the year! I can already tell that I am reaping the rewards and benefits of choosing to go through it first.  The Spirit highlighted several things in my life and the whole book is halfway scribbled on to death, but I think Galatians 6:15-16 brought everything full circle for me.

"For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.  And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God." 

It doesn't get any more straightforward than that! Nothing I do, absolutely NOTHING, can count me righteous or merit my salvation and justification.  The only thing that matters is a NEW CREATION who is given a NEW HEART with NEW DESIRES AND PASSIONS and therefore will DO NEW THINGS for God's glory, through the sacrifice of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit! Once I can truly learn to live in step with that gospel message, I will be ruled by peace and be a recipient of mercy from a loving Savior day in and day out.  THAT is what I want. To be ruled by peace. No more striving, no more performing.  Just peacefully and passionately living as a new creation, appropriating and walking in the righteous works and deeds that Christ purchased and prepared for for me.

Thank you, Jesus.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

5 Minute Mushrooms


1 package of organic mushrooms
1-2 Tablespoons organic butter
3(ish) Tablespoons Marsala Wine
Salt & Pepper
1 Teaspoon dried parsley flakes

D I R E C T I O N S 

Melt butter in frying pan and sauté mushrooms with plenty of black pepper but minimal salt (the Marsala Wine is salty). Once the mushrooms begin to cook down (about a minute or two), splash in the Marsala and crank up the heat until most of the liquid is cooked down and the mushrooms are nice and caramelized, stirring frequently. Sprinkle dried parsley on the top and serve!


Bryt xoxo 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Galatians at a Glance

It's almost time! I'm getting more and more excited about studying scripture with you. I'm praying an ancient prayer of David when he said, "Open the eyes of my heart that I may see wonderful things in your Word" over my own heart and for those of you participating. I believe God's Spirit will illumine the text in such a way that we will not be able to CONTAIN the transformation that ensues! With that being said let me briefly share why starting the year in Galatians could possibly be the BEST thing to set your spiritual thermostat to the right temperature and a few (hopefully) helpful study tips.

Why start with Galatians?

I desperately need to start my year in Galatians because of the unfortunate tendency of my heart to believe other "gospels". I'm a works person by nature and tend to measure God's love for and delight in me based upon what I DO; what I accomplish. Although, from an intellectual vantage point, I understand and am well-versed in the doctrine that I am saved BY GRACE through faith and not of my own doing, I undermine that theological truth when it's time for every day practical application. Paul rebuked the Galatians stating, "Who has BEWITCHED you"! He was grieved over the sad truth that these people who had accepted Jesus and had fully thrown themselves upon his mercy seat for salvation, realizing that their works couldn't save, we're so quickly deceived into thinking that their works now needed to KEEP them saved. How foolish! Works are not needed to save us but they are supposedly needed to "keep" us saved? Works never merited the love of God in the first place, but now that we have his love we have to work to keep it? It sounds bizarre and does not even have any rational bearing but YET I tend to be a Galatian! 

The New Year with all its pressure to be resolute and set new goals only adds fuel to this destructive inferno that I have to daily throw the water of the Word and the good news of the gospel upon! I know myself, a works-oriented person with a hint of Pharisee, and need the truth that it's only by GRACE through FAITH, and that while I was STILL DEAD in my SIN Christ died and loved me, to shatter the lies! I need to start the year knowing that I don't "do" in order to "be" but rather I "am" and therefore I "do". What I do, accomplish, achieve, my obedience, my godly living, and my "works" stem FROM my identity and inheritance in Jesus (which cannot be shaken, but is fixed in the heavens, sealed with the Holy Spirit!), and are NOT a means to GAIN my identity or acceptance! Yes, yes and YES! I need Galatians because I need a loving slap in the face from Jesus at the start of this year. I need to be reminded that the good news of the gospel will be GOOD NEWS every SECOND of every MINUTE of every HOUR of every DAY this year.  It sustains me! It will carry me. I only have to walk in step with God's Spirit and the FRUIT of the Spirit will be produced in ever-increasing measure. I need the encouragement to not "fall back into a yoke of slavery" as Paul exhorts the Galatians not to do.   Recalibrating and refocusing my heart on the CROSS and all of its implications as I appropriate the perfect righteousness and perfect obedience that were purchased for and given to me, is the goal for the year!

I pray that every false gospel that tries to rise up and preach anything except Christ and him crucified to me or you this year will be dismantled in the name of JESUS, by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, for the glory of the FATHER!

Helpful Study Tips

Now that I literally feel like I can jump off my bed and go through the ceiling after preaching the gospel to my own heart, let me calm down and share a few practical tips.

1. I HIGHLY suggest spending tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday reading Galatians from start to finish without highlighting  , underlining, circling, or taking any notes.  This aerial view of the book is crucial to being able to break it down into smaller bite-size pieces. Even if you don't understand certain parts, don't stop to re-read if you can help it. Just read through it a few times.  It will be much easier to properly exegete (explain or interpret) individual verses when we are grasping the greater context.  Then on Wednesday, I plan to dive into just chapter 1 in greater depth, marking in my Bible, reading commentaries and journaling.  I'll do the same with remaining chapters/days of the week.

2. Read through Galatians in more than one translation.  The ESV is my main study translation, but I occasionally read from less formal versions to bring a bit more clarity when needed.

3. Have a few extra study materials on hand to add to aid in your study time. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem is one of my favs. Books like this one will help you to categorize doctrinal truths learned in Galatians!

Well, tomorrow will be great! Even if you have read Galatians 100 times, pray for your eyes to be opened to the well of endless truth and revelation contained within its' pages!

Happy reading,

Bryt xoxo