Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Preparation - Strategies for a Smoother Sunday

     And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as some are in the habit of doing; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:25

     Ah, Saturdays.......time to relax?  Yes and no.  As I type this, my husband Scott is painting the bathroom, Emmie is cleaning the kitchen, and well, Hayden (Hayboo to us) is making jewelry in between loads of laundry, and the boys are playing with action figures in the family room (until I send them outside to clean out the van). 
     Once that kitchen is finished, the girls and I will be heading there to begin our preparations for tomorrow - the true day of rest - Sunday.  I suspect that many church going mamas might not feel that way about Sundays.  It can be stressful getting everyone dressed, fed, and in the car - with their Bibles - and arrive on time.  It is particularly difficult to get your mind in a peaceful place, ready to worship the Lord, if you've been bellowing like a drill sergeant all morning,
"But I can't find my other shoe."
Been there?
Me too.
      I'd like to share some strategies we've learned to help Sundays truly be a day of rest and undermine some of the plans of the enemy to ruin your Sunday mornings.  It will take some discipline on your part, Mama, but that is part of your job description.  Use your Saturday as a day of preparation and if your Saturday is booked with other family plans - than pick another day before Sunday to do this.  Whatever day your family has chosen to worship the Lord corporately with your brethren should be set aside as something important and valued.  It needs to be protected.  Some of my Messianic Christian friends may celebrate their Sabbath on Saturday.  Well, then prepare on Friday or even the Sunday before if it will help you to dedicate this day to God and family.  All of our days should be His, but a day with the brethren is worth fighting for and honors our shared Father.  This is what we try to do on Saturdays to make our Sundays more enjoyable as a family.  We usually begin our preparations in the afternoon after a fun, relaxing morning.
1.  Plan/Make breakfast beforehand.  Sunday breakfast for us is usually a sausage biscuit because a little straggler can always eat it in the van on the way to church.  Sometimes that little straggler can be me!  Scott and I have a routine.  Typically, women take more time to get ready than a man (how I wish that weren't so - but I am just not as pretty as my husband in the morning....) and so Scott is usually the one to throw the biscuits into the oven (our absolute FAVORITE is the frozen bag of "Grands Southern Style" biscuits.  Place them close together, while still frozen, onto the cookie sheet and they are soooo soft and yummy compared to the others!  I don't know why these are so much better than their "whack 'em on the counter" kind, but they really are!) The sausage patties are usually made on the griddle the day before and placed into a freezer bag and refrigerated.  As children finish getting ready, they come into the kitchen, take a biscuit off the cookie sheet, and zap their little sausage patty in the microwave.  Kudos to you if you have a formal breakfast together at the table!   The kids and I are blessed to have that every other day of the week as a homeschooling family.  We could do that on Sundays too if we got up earlier, but since my husband gets up very, very early during the week, we sleep in a little and still manage to make 9:00 Sunday School. 
     It is very, very rare for me to serve children cold cereal for breakfast.  Even though there may be healthy varieties out there, it is just not practical or economical for our family.  I have learned that within an hour after eating cereal my kids are hungry again, their favorite brands are loaded with sugar, our milk disappears twice as fast when cereal is in the house, and the entire $4.00 dollar box is gone after one day. Even with coupons, I just can't get myself to buy it! Hayden makes a wonderful granola that the kids love to put in their yogurt or even eat as cereal in a bowl with milk as a snack, and I feel much better about the reduced amount of sugar they're consuming.  We'll be posting that recipe soon. There is also something special about having a nice, warm breakfast that someone has prepared for you - especially on a cold, winter morning!
      Another Sunday morning favorite is the breakfast casserole.  One of us will be making this today and then refrigerating it for tomorrow.  Once it is made, anyone can cut himself a little square, zap it in the microwave, and have an instant, hearty, breakfast.  It is very simple, versatile, and also freezes easily in case you need to make it way in advance.  There are also usually leftovers for a convenient breakfast the next day.  We'll be posting that one as well.
2.  Prep Sunday's lunch.  Sometimes, I put everything for a meal into a crockpot and pop it into the fridge on Saturday and then take it out and plug it in on Sunday morning before we leave for church.  This could be chili, beef stew, or chicken and dumplings.  The options are endless.  One of our favorite Sunday lunches is begun on Saturday when I'll make a large Greek salad, and tzatiki sauce and Hayden makes homemade pita bread.  On the way home from church on Sunday, we'll pick up a warm rotisserie chicken and make Greek pita sandwiches within minutes after we get in the door.
3.  Everyone picks out clothes (including undergarments, socks, and shoes) the day before and hangs them on his closet door.  Mama inspects them to make sure they are appropriate, clean, and wrinkle free.
4.  Get all our laundry done.  Between towels from showers, pajamas, and Sunday clothes, coming home from church can greet you with an overwhelming amount of laundry - especially when the kids change after church.  By making sure your laundry is caught up, it will make things much less overwhelming for you when you get home.
5.  Iron clothes in advance.  My wonderful husband has ironed our clothes many times while the rest of us take our showers, etc., but I much prefer to spare him this chore and do it myself the day before so he can have even more rest.
6.  Have as many family members take their showers the night before as possible.  You may have some folks who really need to wash their hair in the morning because they have that teenage oily thing going on, but most little guys can bathe the night before. 
7.  Lay out everyone's Bibles on the same table near the front door.
8.  The boys clean out the van.  Why?!  Well, if you allow your kiddies to eat in the van while traveling during the week, there are probably crumbs in the seat or paper towels in the little side pockets of the doors.  I like to get to church CLEAN and crumb free and not have debris fall out into the parking lot when we open the door to get out of the van!  A clean vehicle is far more pleasant to travel in and starts your week off right.
9.  Company clean our house.  We try to keep our house clean the entire week.  I like order.  But there is also "company clean".  This clean means that things are dusted, carpets are vacuumed, bathrooms smell nice, etc.  It is always a blessing to come home after church to "company clean" instead of "we barely made it to church on time" chaos. 
      Do we still have crazy Sunday mornings?  Sometimes.  Kids and parents get sick, unexpected things happen (somebody gets a bloody nose, or spills something; you know what I'm talking about).  There are times your week has just been unpredictable and you just can't find the time.  HOWEVER.....  This should not be the routine.  We are to seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11) and your home is a haven God has blessed you with.  If you are so disorganized that you just want to stay away from your home, or so involved in multiple ministries you can't fulfill your God-given responsibility in your primary role as a helpmeet and mother - THEN SOMETHING HAS GOT TO CHANGE.  Let me encourage you to challenge yourself to improve the environment and peace of your home through prayerful preparation.  Mothers with younger children may need to start earlier in the day.  I have three teenagers who can help me so setting these kinds of goals may be unrealistic for you at this time.  Please don't be discouraged or think that you must accomplish all of these things to have a successful Sunday!  If your stressful Sunday has been replaced with a stressful Saturday, you've missed the point!  The Lord is no more pleased with your barking at your children on Saturday than He is on a Sunday.  Start doing what you can and pray that He will bless your efforts.  I hope this helps! 
     Well, I have much to do now and soon, we'll be sharing our breakfast casserole recipe as well as Hayboo's granola recipe.  I also have some recipes for those of you who may be dieting after the holidays.  Scott and I are trying to lose weight and it is not easy when you have several children to feed as well.  It is hard to resist temptation!  We are working on some recipes for easy, healthy snacks for the kids, as well as some ideas for those of you, like me, who want to shed several pounds.  Have a blessed Saturday!

She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her...
-Proverbs 31:27-28



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