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Podcast #10 – Keeping your house clean WHILE living in it!

Marissa Rice-2

RaisingRices Podcast Episode #10: Keeping your house clean WHILE living in it!

10 Helpful Tips and Tricks

Marissa Rice #10-2




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Currently living in my blessed home is my husband and I, our 4 kiddos, and 2 dogs.  I have always had a passion for clean homes but never a desire to clean them myself haha.

During this season of life called motherhood, I have realized and learned a lot of things about myself. I have come to discover, in regards to cleaning, what can make or break a day for me. To put it simply I have come to learn that when chaos ensues have a manageable home provides me with the resources to overcome.

Let me tell you a story: our church family does a church campout every summer that my in laws have been in charge of for years. Our family goes every year, well expect the year I was literally in labor during campout with my daughter. This past year we had just delivered our fourth sweetie, he was born 3 weeks prior to campout.  And yes, as you may have guessed we still attended campout. With of course permission from my midwife and our pediatrician.  We are blessed to be able to use my in laws tent trailer which is so nice. However, with 4 kiddos and a newborn at that, camping can become interesting. I do not have a high tolerance for chaos, which might sound funny since I have so many kids. But while we were there for 5 days camping, most of the time went very smoothly, my husband is amazing and loves being super active with the kids. Before we went we had decided my main attention would go to the baby and his to the olders. This was as I mentioned a church campout so lots of friends and family around as well. Ok have a painted the setting, now the conflict came when there was a adult volleyball game and Darren was asked to go play. I said of course, since he provided me with breaks for activities he needed some activities as well. During this time however the chaos began, you know the perfect storm, filled with poopy diapers, hungry baby, scraps and boo-boos, and dirt just dirt everywhere! I remember the moment Darren got back all I wanted him to do was to manage the chaos by picking up all the toys scattered around the campsite and putting order to our things. A funny response perhaps but after he created order I was calmed and settled.

The same results I find at home, if my home is in a manageable order I feel calmed, centered and successful. Did you hear I didn’t say spotless, deep cleaned, and without dog hair, (although that would be nice, it is not reasonable to expect that).

So here are my TOP TEN TIPS for how to keep the house clean WHILE living in it:

1: Do the Dishes before bed!

Sometimes it is hard to find the motivation to do the dishes before you go to bed, but I promise you that when you wake up in the morning you WONT be sad you did it! When I wake up to a cleaned kitchen I feel more refreshed, I have more motivation to make breakfast, and here is the kicker I have MORE motivation to make sure the kitchen STAYS clean after breakfast! Rhythms I have gotten into are putting all the dishes in the dishwasher before bed and unload them in the morning WHILE the breakfast is being made, and this is important because if you dishwasher is clear and ready to be filled AFTER breakfast then you have again more motivation to put the dirty dishes away.

2: Clear off the table before bed!

I don’t know about you guys but in my house the table is the place where everything gets collected. My daughters coloring sheets she wanted to daddy, my sons train set he sets up there so the baby doesn’t get it, all the papers that are important from the day,  or anything we don’t want to run the risk of the dogs getting.

3: Have the kids clean up the toys multiple times a day.

I operate in this controlled chaos mentally, and one of the ways I like to control the chaos that is TOYS in my house is by have the kids have certain times everyday where ALL the toys are cleaned up and put away. For our household the times are before every meal, bed time and quiet time. This is how it plays out: while I am preparing the meal the kids get to have free reign of playing with the toys in our living room.  When  I estimate I am about ten minutes until finished, I will get them the we have 2 more minutes of play time then it will be clean up time. (And yes I sing the clean up song, yes to encourage me not to get frustrated but to be light at reminding it is clean up time and because my 3 year old son sings along and it just makes me so happy to hear him sing.) During the last 8 minutes of cook time, I let the kids know it is time to clean up. They normally start to clean up the toys, excited about eating and then when finished come and sit at the table OR the older kiddos come and help me bring items to the table such as the food, silverware, napkins, etc. They also check their cups are full of water because once momma sits down to eat they can not ask for more things until they see an adult getting up and then at that time they can ask. I have gotten smarter and now place a pitcher of water on the table too for refills.

As a reminder my kids are YOUNG, in fact the oldest is 4! SO when I provide 8 minutes of clean time you may have guessed that is not always a successful clean up time, due to their age. I wanted to briefly touch on some strategies of things we have implemented to help support their clean up time. When we are first training the youngest of the littles we do it when both mom and dad are present, usually at dinner time where mom is finishing the meal and dad is coaching, guiding and encouraging what it looks like to help clean up. This begins very young, and the older siblings love to “help” teach their sibling as well. Which is great when there is only one adult around. We also have 2 LARGE bins in our living room that have lids, and basically ALL the toys in the living room live IN the bins.  This is great for a number of reasons, the 2 most important is, it is easy to throw the toys in and HAS A LID, yes we close that lid at the end and I can no longer see any of the toys! That is my favorite part. The last strategy I would like to mention that can help my kids clean up is when on occasion I play a clean up game with them. (Please note I don’t and truly can not play a clean up game every time, which in hindsight has made the game time more motivating and exciting.  I incorporate I SPY into the game, by saying I spy something blue and everyone picks up something blue, or at the end of clean up time if they have missed some toys under the chairs or hidden from the obvious toddler eyesight, I will use I spy to help them find it.  I spy has been our most successful clean up game, but we have do red light/green light, simon says, and counting game: giving a number and having them pick up that mean in their hand then putting it away and giving a new number.

Will this work for everyone, probably not, and how do I know? Because it doesn’t work for us 100% of the time either, BUT I have to tell you there is something about sitting down to a meal and looking out from the dinning room into the living room and seeing: CLEAN. Just saying that out loud makes me breath in and out and feel … peace.

4: Don’t get out all the toys at once.

Number 4 and number 3 really work well together! Not getting out ALL the toys in our entire house at once provides so much more ease cleaning up when it is time, AND it actually allows the kids to actually feel like they are not playing with the same toys all day, which in turn brings more creativity and excitement to the “new” toys. Our house has three stories, now don’t get too excited for me thinking I have a large home, it is a beautiful God gifted home to us, but it is Tri-Leveled home, a small family room and laundry room on the bottom, the middle level has the front door, living room, kitchen and dinning room, and up stairs the 3 bedrooms, and bathroom. I really do love my house BUT on every level of the home we have TOYS, TOYS, TOYS! So I created a rule that we don’t get all the toys out at once, in fact we only play on one level at a time. And yes that will probably change when they get bigger but for now it helps me manage ALL the TOYS!

5: Include the kids with daily responsibilities. 

In the Rice family we have created daily responsibilities for each of the kids. Currently they have as many responsibilities as their age. What are responsibilities? They are like chores, I just liked the word responsibilities better. I like the idea of the kids growing up in a teamwork environment where we are all responsible for where we live. Now it is super exciting to think about the different things older kids can to as part of the team but can be a little harder for younger age kids so let me throw out a few responsibilities my kiddos do with their current ages:

My 4 year old: Helps unload the dishes, feed the dogs, help fold laundry, put her own clothes away.

My 3 year old: Puts away the cleaned silverware, match socks,  help with the recycling.

My almost 2 year old: is the partner to the 3 or 4 year old on their responsibilities to help and learn. He also does a few things on his own like, checking under the couch or ottoman for toys, bring pile boxes to their correct locations. If I may quickly tell you about this pile boxes they have become a great helping tool to decluttering, what we do is when we are doing a quick declutter of a room, like the living room we put piles in containers (could be anything from boxes, bags, laundry baskets etc.)  and it removes things that just collect in our main living spaces and return them to the rooms they belong in. When we do the piles or boxes it removes so much, returns it to its home, and creates a ease to future clean ups.

We have different responsibilities on different days, it keeps it interesting and allows them to learn different skills.

6: Set up a weekly schedule to help with weekly, monthly, and daily cleaning

This can seem like a daunting task to start especially laying out all the cleaning projects that need to be done on the daily, weekly, and monthly. But the question remains true: “How do you eat an elephant?” yes, “one bite at a time.” It may feel like an elephant size task to accomplish all the cleaning projects that a home requires but when it is in bite size manageable pieces it becomes do-able.  Words of wisdom I tell myself when it comes to the schedule: MAKE IT MANAGBALE!!! And Split it up! For my daily task I consider things like: dishes, make bed, wipe down counters and table, and a 15 minute clean up, then once a week I try to do things like: Vacuum, mop, bathrooms (not including the shower), wipe down hand rails. Then looking at monthly cleaning projects like: going through toys and books, cobwebs, wipe down cabinets etc.

Again don’t be intimidated or exasperate at the to do list and remember one bite at a time. While I am reminding myself this as well!

7: Have a 15 minute clean up PARTY!

I try to do a 15 minute family clean up PARTY each day! Hear the word PARTY! And dwell on that theme. We want to make this 15 minutes worthwhile in that things get done but also something not to be dreaded, because it is amazing what 15 minutes can do with everyone working hard and invested. This can even work with young kids and I am going to explain how: we try in our Rice household to hold a 15 minute clean up party daily, (it doesn’t always happen but you got to have goals right.) During this party we literally turn on super up beat music, give every kid a wipe or a goal, just a few days ago I have all the kids a wet rag and we turned the music up and dance/cleaned the dinning room wooden chairs. While I will admit that young kids have toddler eyes and don’t see all the mess on the chair but when we are establishing a culture of the family unit having responsibility for the home, then the family unit in a team spirit should do it together. It reminds me of a story I heard of a mom letting her daughter make her bed from an early age. The mom would let the daughter make the bed to her ability level, giving an occasional guidance or suggestions but ultimately it was up to the daughter. She showed a picture of the bed at age 4 and then again at age 5, it was night a day. The first bed, blankets were thrown on, you could see the attempt made, fast forward a year, the bed blankets where tucked in, the dolls arranged, and a complete 180 of the year before. There is something to be said for know the starting line is not the finish line, and we all have to start somewhere.

Have fun with this PARTY time, whether that includes some dancing, or aprons, give the kids supplies they don’t normally get to use, like new dusting mitts, or little brooms. My kids LOVE using the mop, because I tend the be the one who mops, because I am faster and lets be honest we all including myself just want the mop job to go fast and be done. But during the party time they get to take turns at mopping, boy oh boy they get excited. Here is a silly one we did: I got socks lightly wet and put some lemon essential oils on them and let them dance/skate around the room, my house never smelled better J

8: Figure out what clean looks like to you and your partner. Figure out the feelings that clean and unclean bring out in you. This will help establish the importance, not just for you but for your husband too.

They usually say opposites attract and it is quite entertaining to see what clean means to your partner and what clean means to you. See my husband and I both like the house to be clean. But clean looks different to him then it does to me. And yet there are things we agree on too. But, if you can spend a few minutes to be open and honest without personalizing their opinion of clean, you can learn a lot about each other. Maybe go out to dinner, have a date night and chat about what helps create a home of peace. It could be clean, it could have something to do with clutter, or decorating, or maybe they might describe an atmosphere they envision. This is always a conversation that can be had through out the years as well. For example: my decorating style has changed a lot in our 8 years of marriage and while Darren has been supportive and happy with my choices, I have been de-cluttering our walls and counters lately and he has never have heard complements from him in that regard.

9: Spend a little money.

Spend a little money IF you need to get new toy box, or new cleaning supplies consider spending a little bit of money, to make cleaning as less stress a possibility. When we were first beginning our family we even went to the local dollar tree to buy bins that would help us organize all the toys and things that collect when having a family. Slowly we have been replacing those bins due to cracks and better sizing, so here is an example of spending a little bit of money to help put some organization systems in place. My sweet friend is a Direct consultant for this cleaning product called Norwex. There products have been something that has made cleaning, 15 minute cleaning PARTY, other projects like cleaning windows, moping and dusting much easier in our household.

Last thing in the spend a little money category, there has been times where my husband and I have decided to hirer someone to come in and support us by doing the deep cleaning responsibilities. Especially when I was HUGE-O pregnant or having a newborn, cleaning the bathtub feels almost impossible. But, you don’t need just to be pregnant or have a newborn to find someone to help, perhaps it would create some self-care opportunities, increase family time when the time in the day is limited,  or give you that little bit of boost you need through a season in your life.

10: Don’t let the mess get in the way of having fun.

Under number ten to me comes in two different ways: first I think about not letting the mess get in the way of having fun as in letting kids be kids. A few weeks ago my kids wanted to pretend make soup and asked if they could have pots and spoons. I thought oh man I will have to wash them pots and spoons afterwards which is more work, but then I immediately threw that thought from my head and grab the pots and spoons it was a great time of creative play that could have not happened if I let the mess get in the way of having fun.

The second part reminds me: there has been so many times I have unfortunately put cleaning before my kids, or have let a mess make a messout of me. I know having a system and a cleaned chaos makes me more at peace, but regardless I can not make an idol of having a clean house. I am saying idol because I view it as something I can put more priority on then my God given responsibility of raising my kiddos. And on the flip side I can not forget my need for peace and training within my family. So my advice to myself and to you is: Don’t let the mess get in the way of having fun.

11:  BONUS: Live in the moment and have GRACE on yourself !

Even though this is the BONUS tip, it is the most important and shouldn’t be a tip but a way of life. We should ALL strive to live in the moment with our families and have tons and tons and tons of GRACE on ourselves. No matter who I talk to that have grown up kids, they all WITHOUT FAIL say: “IT GOES SO FAST!” And I can see that, even though my oldest is only 4, I think WHAT WAIT she is 4?!?! NO WAY I JUST HAD HER, I was just rocking her to sleep, giving baby kisses and singing her lullabies!!!  Equally, they tell me they miss seeing the hand-prints on the windows, matching the little socks, and finding Legos in the couch. So may this provide us all with a little encouragement to not miss the moments, all the little moments!

I hope you have been encouraged, and inspired, if you have share this with others. Thank you for listening in today on RaisingRices, make sure to check back next Monday with Marissa


PODCAST Episode #8 Raising Boys in a Culture Who are Trying to Conform Them

Marissa Rice-2

Episode #8 Raising Boys In a Culture Who are Trying to Conform Them

Listen in today on a topic my guest speaker and I have some thoughts and challenges about! Today’s guest speaker is my fabulous husband Darren Rice, and we have been processing some of the differences between Biblical manhood and how the culture views it.

Marissa Rice #8



We hope you are encouraged and would love to continue the conversation, we are always growing and learning and pray that God would lead our discussions.

Here are some notes from todays podcast:

We always are talking about purposefully raising our kids, what we are teaching them, what values they are learning, and how we are fulfilling our roll as parents.

Biblically…  what we are responsible for ….

This is significant with both genders, we have been blessed so far with one little girl and three little boys.

I think more and more we live in a society where it becomes more and more challenging to raise not just children in a bibilical way but also specifically men and women of God.

As a Man and as the Father, the head of our household the responsibility of this is to lead my family in a biblical way. Thank you God for being the source of strength I need, because its sure not of my own doing.

Today we are talking specifically about BOYS, raising boys to be men of God.

Again today it is so sad to see gender treated as such an ambiguous thing, and so sad to see negative expressions against the uniqueness that God made men and women to have. Two major lies bother me that we see frequently

  1. Boys should act like girls, be calm, sensitive, show their emotions in the same way, sit still, on and on.
  2. Boys will be boys, guys are dumb, beer, sports, lazy, self centered

We can be bothered by both of these things for many reasons but specifically I am bothered by both because they are not an accurate picture of how God created us, and how we should conduct ourselves as Men, but yet these are the examples that our boys are seeing all around them and the standards they are being held to by the general society around us.

God created boys to grow into men for a specific purpose,

1 Timothy 6

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

2 Timothy 1

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

1 Timothy 3

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

Ephesians 5

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church

I am challenged to reject the ideas that our society teaches us about gender, about how men are not as smart or responsible as women, and how they are just going to be irresponsible.

The energy, courage, and focus that our Boys have must be trained and directed.

When I am thinking about applying these things and teaching how to be a Man of God to my boys, only ages 2 and 3 right now. I am challenged to engage the heart and the actions together. For example it isn’t just about the actions of cleaning up or clearing the table

Its not just about the action of holding the door for someone else.

It’t not just the action of caring for another person, loving them.

A fool is quick tempered, but a wise man stays calm when insulted.” -Proverbs 12:16

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” -Philippians 2:3

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” -James 1:19

It is so important that as we are raising our boys we build up the biblical role, responsibility, that they are made for. As fathers we are responsible for modeling and building up a heart after God, a Mans heart that has conviction, that serves God and their Family.

I try to think about this, and apply simple things, simple conversations about the reason behind actions, building the heart behind their service

Also teaching them how to treat their sister, and their brothers.

Also emphasizing and building up how their sister treats them, respect, letting them lead sometimes even though they are younger,



PODCAST #7 – How to ENJOY and BE IN God’s Creation

Marissa Rice #6 copy

On today’s podcast be encouraged on how to get out in God’s creation with your FAMILY! Special Guest Samantha King helps us learn baby steps to starting out. Give it a Listen I think you will be inspired!

Job 12:7-10

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

God reveals himself to us through the BIBLE, and HIS creation!



Podcast #6 – Learning to LET GO and LET GOD!

Marissa Rice-2

Podcast #6 – Learning to LET GO and LET GOD! This is amazing opportunity to learn about a beautiful story of letting go of control and letting God depend on HIM! You are going to LOVE it and be inspired! Give it a listen below!

Marissa Rice #6

Can’t listen right now? No worries you can always download or come back here to and give it a listen later. (Make sure to check out the others too!)

Feel inspired make sure you SHARE with others! And join the RaisingRices Village by subscribing!

Notes on the podcast below:

Marissa: HEY FRIENDS thanks for stopping by. Last week we had a great and inspiring time learning about church and how it relates to us and our family. If you didn’t get a chance to listen make sure you head over to RaisingRices and check it out! Today as we are continuing our awesome series of Guest Speakers I am super excited to introduce you to a friend of mine who I met actually when I was pregnant with my first child and we met at a birthing class. The birthing class was based on the Bradley Method and truly a wonderful experience and what Darren and I used as a guide in all of our births.

My dear friend Mary is here with us today, and as humble as she is would never admit it but she is a WEALTH of knowledge! Someone I regularly go to for advice, prayer and friendship. We are honored to have her on today! Welcome Mary!

MARY: Thanks for having me on.

Marissa: Mary has been a source of wisdom and a fabulous prayer warrior in my life. Today I am very intrigued about the topic we are going to be discussing! In fact I will let Mary introduce it to you   since she has a great story behind the topic today.

MARY: So to start, a little background is that I’m one of those people that loves to set New Year’s goals and for the last few years I have chosen a “word” to help define my focus for the year. I’ve done words like “able” and “enough”, and it’s been a really helpful practice in my life that I’ve enjoyed. So at the end of last year, I was kind of trying to think through what God wanted me to focus on for 2018. 2017 was a pretty rough year for our family, lots of loss and challenges, so I was feeling kind of emotionally shellshocked in a way and just really worn out. Something that I’ve found about myself is that when life gets kind of tricky, I tend to get really controlling with whatever I possibly can. It’s like, if life is out of control, I’m desperate to find SOMETHING I can control. I’m kind of a typical first-born, perfectionistic and really high standards for myself, so the yucky side of that is that I definitely get controlling. So that’s where I was at when 2017 ended—worn out and emotionally drained, and just clawing at whatever I could control. So I felt like with all of that, God was calling me to just let go and let Him take care of things. That felt really scary to me, which was a clue that it was probably what He wanted me to focus on! So I started digging, trying to figure out what kind of word would “capture” that truth of letting go, and ended up looking into if there is a Hebrew word for “let go”. I was really blown away by what I found! The first thing that came up with my online search was the verse Psalm 46:10, which is one I’ve always really loved. It says “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s just always spoken to my frazzled, controlling, always-going spirit! Well, something I never knew is that the part that is translated as “be still” is actually the Hebrew word “râphâh”, and when I did some studying on that word, here’s what I found:

רָפָה râphâh, raw-faw’; a primitive root; to slacken (in many applications, literal or figurative):—abate, cease, consume, draw (toward evening), fail, (be) faint, be (wax) feeble, forsake, idle, leave, let alone (go, down), (be) slack, stay, be still, be slothful, (be) weak(-en).

So, the literal translation of that verse I’ve read and loved for so long, is actually “râphâh (LET GO, drop, literally let your hands hang down slack) and know that I am God.” That was such a powerful word picture for me, envisioning myself just dropping everything, letting my hands hang down, being WEAK instead of trying to stay strong and keep it all together, and LET GOD HANDLE IT. So, that’s the word I chose for this year: râphâh.

Marissa: That is so great Mary and super inspiring! How has this LET GO principal in your life helped you, your family, and your relationship with God.

Mary: First, God is teaching me to let go in my role as a mother. I think that motherhood is automatically one of those roles in life that has the highest risk of guilt, just because of the intense responsibility and importance it holds, but I also feel that living in this day and age makes “mommy guilt” way more intense and frequent. I really feel that one of the most damaging things to mothers is the idea that somehow everything is “our fault”, whether for good or not-so-good. If we have well-behaved children, we are told what a good job we are doing. If our kids are in a trickier stage, we are often judged (silently or not-so-silently) and end up feeling intense guilt. I’ve noticed that it isn’t even just what friends or family say in a moment of our kids’ misbehavior, but also some of the parenting magazines and books I’ve read have fed me this idea that I am somehow in control of how my kids turn out. There are countless lists of how what we do incites behavior problems in our kids. Your kid is throwing tantrums? It’s because YOU don’t give him enough attention. Your daughter is regressing in her potty-training? YOU probably forced her to start training too soon, and now it’s all ruined.On and on it goes, until the voices in our heads ends up constantly questioning and berating every decision we try to make as parents, and every misbehavior or little quirk of our kids leads us to blame ourselves. Now, of course as parents we DO have pretty powerful influence over our kids’ behavior, and there are things we can do to help or hinder them in their development. But to take EVERYTHING on ourselves, and to believe that how our kids end up is all up to us and our abilities and actions, is a very disheartening and dangerous thing. I can’t control my kids. They are their own people, with their own decisions, weaknesses, and abilities (or lack thereof!) and God purposely designed them that way! He also purposely gave them to ME to parent, in spite of MY weaknesses. Something so encouraging that my own mom has told me over and over again is that God “fills in the gaps”. Where I mess up or fail as a parent, God can and will come in and meet my child’s need. They are His first, and He loves them more than I ever can! I am learning to let go in my mothering—let go of my unfair expectations of myself, let go of the guilt that comes from feeling like I’m failing or messing them up, and let go of my precious children themselves, trusting God to love them and care for them better than I ever could.

Another area I am learning to let go in is in my physical appearance. I think a lot of women and moms in particular struggle in this area. I know we’ve all heard about how damaging it is for women to see super models and other unrealistic body standards, but something that I’ve found damaging that may not be considered as much are the more subtle messages we hear and read even from a medical standpoint! BMI calculators, “ideal” weight charts, “correct” diet and even exercise standards can really combine to make us feel like we just don’t measure up, and don’t do enough to take care of our bodies. We are told from every possible voice how to have the “ideal” form, whether people use that terminology or not, and it is very, very disheartening, not to mention confusing! I’ve heard so many different opinions on what we should and should not be eating that I’m not even sure what is good or not anymore!

Last year I did everything “right” according to the medical experts and society in general. I exercised like a fiend 5-6 days a week, to the point that I made myself nauseous! I counted calories, stopped eating sugar or carbs, and ate an abundance of veggies. I drank half my body weight in water. And guess what? I didn’t lose ONE POUND. Now, yes, I did lose a couple inches, but it was just such a small “payoff” for all of the intense work I was doing that it was totally not worth it! I was making myself completely miserable. Beyond being sad about the lack of results, I was angry. In my head, I was following the “formula” for having a healthy body. Exercise + eating well – carbs and candy (and anything else I really want to eat) = my ideal body weight. What was I doing “wrong” that made my body not respond? Well, guess what? Ultimately, I’m not in control of how my body processes things. God is. He is the one who knit me together and chose everything from my height to my metabolism. So I can do all I can to take care of my body, but there is no guarantee that I will actually end up with the weight or appearance I’m longing for. So, God is teaching me to let go of my expectation that what I do will lead to a fit figure, and to just focus on doing what I can to care for my body (without going overboard and obsessing!)

Lastly, a major area I am learning to “let go” in is in my work as a homeschool mama and homemaker. I am a very orderly, organized person, and I get genuine joy out of planning things and setting up order, whether that be a clean and tidy home or a well-structured day. Well, I’m learning that there are some seasons that order and tidiness and structure just cannot happen! I was actually in one of those seasons at the start of this year. The holidays always kind of throw things for a loop, but right after the New Year, just as I was trying to get back into school, we all came down with the flu–all 5 of us! So that took out another week of trying to get back into our normal routine. And on top of not being able to do school or chores, we were adding extra mess because we were all 5 crowded into the same room for days on end, and things definitely got disordered. It was one of those times where we couldn’t just flip a switch and get back to normal. All of us were feeling weak, out of our normal habits, and just needing a lot of time to get back into things. I would have LOVED to be able to just snap back into a good routine and have a tidy home again, but God wanted me to learn that I needed to let go of those standards, have grace on my family and myself, and trust Him to lay out our days as He desired. I’m not in control of my days—He is! And trying to struggle against that truth to try to force my perfect vision to happen won’t change a thing.

Marissa: Mary, I love your heart! I love how you respond when God speaks to you! What an honor it is to be your friend and to now be able to have you share with my other friends here on RaisingRices. I can’t wait to have you back on here again! But before you leave I would absolutely love it if you could pray for us listening today that we would be able to also “Let go” of the things in life that are holding us back.



Podcast #5- What is the Purpose of Church?

Marissa Rice-2

Podcast #5 – What is the purpose of church? How can it be meaningful for my family? Is a podcast you will WANT to check out, AND download! This is a great reminder and encourager to ALL of us!!!



Marissa Rice #5


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HEY Friends! Thank you for popping over, if you joined us last week you heard about our daily commitments for this year. If you didn’t get a chance, check it out, it helps hold us accountable to the purposeful vision that God has given us this year, and might inspire you to think of what purposeful changes would be good for your family this year.

BUT today we have an exciting new line up for the next several podcast you WILL NOT want to miss out on. Because the next several podcast we have an awesome line up of Guest speakers. Start today with someone who I admire greatly, my mother in love Kathy Rice.

Welcome Kathy!

Kathy: Thank you, Marissa, and thank you for inviting me!

Well, it is so fitting to have you on with us today on the RaisingRices podcast because you yourself have RaisedRices and once a mom always a mom still providing guidance to us Rices and to others. So thank you again for being on with us today. And since you are such a great resource and a wealth of knowledge and will be back with us on future podcasts lets take a few moments to allow everyone else to get to know a little about you.  So let start by having you tell us a 4 things that everyone should know about you:

Kathy: 1) I love God and his word, and his church.

         2) I love family life…..everything about it. Over the years God truly developed in me a heart that is centered in the family. I enjoy it all! Noise, messes, all that family life brings. I love the oldest and the youngest and everything in between, even the supposedly “dreaded” stages of 2 year olds, and teenagers.

        3) I love the outdoors. Gardening, hiking, anything that will take me outdoors, though I am a bit of a softy in that I prefer sunshine or at least mild temperatures

4) I love food. It is possible that too much of my life may revolve around food.  But in my world food is a form of love speak. God speaks his love to me through food, and I speak my love to others through food.

Those are all great and such a beautiful description of what I see in you too 🙂 thanks again for coming on today and speaking wisdom and truth to us.

Today I have asked Kathy to come on and to speak to a topic that has been stirring in my mind lately. And I believe as we dive into this topic that it can apply to all ages and situations.  And that is the topic of CHURCH. We are going to look at the biblical purpose for church, and how we can prepare our families to dive into and be part of a community of believers and also looking at how to do and be church with our kids.

Kathy:  The church is God’s instrument for expression of his love. Through the divine direction of the Holy Spirit the structure of the church serves to preserve the integrity of the gospel message so it is not compromised or lost. As part of that the church serves for teaching and equipping believers, and therefore keeping God’s people set apart for his purposes. It is one of the means through which God desires to reveal himself to the world, and bring salt and light into the world.

We are given a picture of how that looks in Acts 2:42 that gives us 4 elements of church life  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”

So church is a purposeful community with Jesus at the center. It is a place where the Bible is taught and life is structured around God’s purposes and God’s glory.

In that setting we are given the blessed opportunity to observe, practice and live out his grace, mercy, forgiveness and love, in essence, to put into practice the gospel so that Jesus can be seen and experienced. Now that is not always pretty, and it is not always easy, sometimes it is downright hard. But church is the place where God operates on the sick (that is all of us) and does the work of transforming us into his likeness, and therefore, his representatives to a hurting world.  So when we submit to that and persist in our (stick to it, endure, there is a better word that is not coming to me right now) commitment to our church we are participating in God’s plan for humanity.

Marissa: I love that you brought up that church is not all pretty, and put together because it’s purpose is to be transforming us to be like Christ aka not there yet, always on a journey. Can you speak to this a little more, and how we can prepare our mind and hearts for this reality as well as our families.

I read a great book recently called “The Compelling Community” by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop. They talk about how groups and communities can be formed around all kinds of things, a common cause, a common interest, a common need. Those kinds of groups exist in plenty in our society, and exist without the presence or power of God. They are built around commonality. But the church brings together people of all walks of life and all kinds of interests and all kinds of personalities, and makes us into a miraculous community that is held together and sustained by God’s spirit IN SPITE of our differences.  thay community is glorious because of our differences. That is what makes the church stand out, and puts God’s amazing love and power on display. When we can love and live in relationship with people who are nothing like us.

I think that understanding is the heart of a good relationship to the church, when we embrace the fact all of us are different, coming from all kinds of different life circumstances, we will never be all the same. In addition to that we are all broken or sick in some way, and we are in the process of being healed and made new. we are still learning and growing, and being transformed to become more in the image of Christ. including the pastor and the leaders. And as such, we will all make mistakes, and blow it sometimes. We will inevitably offend or hurt someone,  will inevitably be offended or hurt by others. There will be moments when we disagree, and moments when our differences seem too great to overcome. BUT, we have the gospel, and the spirit of God living in us. So hurts, offenses and disagreements are not game enders. They are opportunities for the gospel to be lived out, for us breathe grace, practice forgiveness, grow together, and learn to love as Jesus taught us.

So as far as how that plays out for us in our daily life and our family, I believe it is so important for each of us to get our head and heart straight first. To set aside self interest, and opinions of what is “wrong” with our churches or pastors or leaders. Recognize and lay down expectations that often lead to disappointment and frustration. Ask God to give you a true love for our Pastors, and leaders and the people of the church. Ask God to give us a true passion for HIS sacred church. Ask God to show us the moments of truth, and grace, and reconciliation, sacrifice and love that occur with our church and enter into them. Ask God to show us opportunities to love people, speak loving truth into their lives and to be a part of  the expression of the life giving gospel.

I say all of that to say, if we want our children to grow up and desire to follow after God, and participate in church, they have to see it being something desirable. They have to see it being something that is TRUE and REAL, not a show of words and practices that have no effect on our real life, or do not reflect God’s love. If we do not learn to practice gospel principles in our home, why would they want to serve God? If we grumble and complain about church, trash talk the pastor, criticize every activity, or speak uncharitably about the people of the church, why would our children want to be a part of a church when they grow up?

As we mentioned earlier, we are not going to be pretty and perfect. Not in our homes or in the church, but real Christian life is manifested in how we handle those rough moments. God does not expect us to be perfect, he does not expect that we can do any of this on our own. That is why Jesus was sacrificed for us. So we can experience relationship with him and then model that relationship to others. So when someone messes up at home, or when our kids see a messy situation at church, and people are upset and hurt or trying to resolve differences, we need to work HARD at making sure that what our children see is the gospel, the power of God in action, played out in selflessness, humility, grace, forgiveness, intentional relationship, growth in Godly character. That is what God wants for us, and for our families and for the church.

Marissa: yes, I love that! I love that we are showing our kids what REAL (not picture perfect, not wanna be life looks like but R.E.A.L. Life looks like!) And how to approach those messy times with Gods grace and wisdom. I also love the part about expectations and spending time in prayer for our leaders and pastors. In fact on 3 minute daily prayers, in the month of May we are taking a focus to pray for leaders and pastors. I would encourage you all to jump on subscribe and participate, prayer is powerful and a necessary part of our personal walk and our families.

Kathy the last section of being the Church I would love to hear your heart on is advice on looking at how to do and be church with our kids?

Kathy: Yes, Thank you for your 3 minute prayers. I follow them, and love those focused reminders of scriptural things to be praying each day.

We raised our children in a very family oriented church. I knew I was blessed, but I think I did not realize the full extent of that blessing until I visited a church while we were on vacation recently, and I did not see a single child. I am sure they were being well taken care of in another room somewhere, by people who loved and valued them. But it showed me the contrast of the environment that we have at our church, where babies and children and teenagers are seen and heard at different times during any given service. Before and after the service they are seen interacting not only with one another but with the adults. I love that, it is life!

As a society, we tend to underestimate our children’s ability to understand what is being said, their ability to control themselves, their ability to speak or help. We don’t understand their potential impact upon the life of the church. We underestimate their need to be recognized as valuable. When we do any of those things, we do a disservice to our children.

So in addition to making sure that our children are observing our love and participation in church life,

I believe that it is valuable to have our children be involved both in relationship and ministry with all ages of people, mingled into church life at every opportunity, throughout their childhood.

Let them see and experience and participate in as much of your church life as possible. There will be times when that is not appropriate because of content, or length of activity, and there will be times that it is hard work on the parents to have them along. It sometimes  requires concerted effort in training so that they can be a part of something and not be a distraction and eventually contribute. But, hey, lots of parenting is hard work, right? The fruit that it will bear someday is such a blessing! In doing this our children get to see you modeling church life. They get to see others of God’s people in action, and maybe develop a relationship with someone they look up to, who may be a mentor to them someday. They learn skills of service, how to focus on others. They learn to help, they receive appreciation for their effort. It draws them into church life and helps to build connections that last a lifetime.

The church body can help families by making it a point to recognize, and interact with children of all ages. Welcome them with smiles. Be tolerant while they learn, and treat them as if they have something valuable to contribute, not as if they are in the way of “important” stuff that does not involve them. They are our future pastors, evangelists, prophets, teachers, missionaries. They are salt and light in our world. Yes, They are the future church, but they are not just those things “someday” They are those things now, just in seedling form. So we must value and treat them as such.

Marissa: wow, yes and amen! What you have said is inspiring and empowering for us Parents. Thank you so much for your power words of wisdom!!! We are raising the future! Kathy if I could ask before he head out today, would you bless us all by praying for us all?

Kathy: Absolutely, I would be honored.

Father God, thank you for the institutions of family and church that you have created, both of which are to be a reflection of you. I pray that we will honor them both, and bring you honor in both settings.

Father please help families on their journey to living their daily lives in the message and power of the gospel, practicing selflessness, grace, love, forgiveness by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Please give parents strength and courage and wisdom as they direct their families in these things.

Please encourage and strengthen families as they commit to participating in church life, and bless them with many blessings as they follow after you.

Father please help us all to engage in and love your church, the institution itself, as well as the people who make it up. Let us love and support families within it. Let us, the church, be light and life to anyone who observes or participates so that you are on display in our communities.

We thank you for your goodness and your faithfulness, in the name of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.




Podcast #4 – Breakdown of an Intentional Month (Part 2)

Marissa Rice

Listen in for the way we break down our intentional month into manageable daily, weekly, and monthly activities!

Marissa Rice-2 copy 2


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Provided below are the notes on todays podcast 🙂

Hey Friends! Thanks for stopping by today on the RaisingRice’s Podcast. If you joined in last week, you have heard about Darren and I’s vision for purposeful and intentional family time this year, 2018. We went over lots of ways that our family intends to be purposeful every month. But now it is time for the breakdown. We must look at what actually transpires week to week. In order that might obtain our goals we need to start at the foundation.

Knowing that I can not possibility get everything in everyday I started looking at the week at a glance. I asked myself what things do I want to get in EVERY DAY, EVERY WEEK, and the things that will be once a month.

Remembering that this year I was ready to have a commitment to change I wanted to include the following in the daily activities: Devotions with mom everyday, School in the form of preschool for my 4 year old. (which tends to happen 4 times a week), daily responsiblies for the kids and mom, and morning jobs. I felt like this was a good place to could start on the daily activities. So what do those look like?

When my oldest was 2 and I had a newborn I decided I wanted to create a morning jobs list for her. It originally started to help my sanity when I was nursing Noah in the morning and needing something to help keep Madeline occupied. So I made her a sheet that had all pictures of what I wanted her to do as her morning jobs, like taking off her PJ’s and putting them in the laundry basket and going to the bath room, things like that. After I saw her capability I was shocked because I didn’t think she could do it but she could and she did and I learned not to under estimate my kids. While we have had morning jobs for each of our kids once they turn one ish since then it has changed its structure a lot. And we are in a transition of change again. This season of change, each kid has a list of morning jobs while mom is making breakfast and feeding baby, and for each job that is completed with a happy heart they get a colored popsicle stick and at the end of the week they get to turn their sticks in for a special activity or dessert treat.

Devotions with mom everyday: I decided to try out the 24 family ways but Clay Clarkson. This devotion series I like for several reasons. One: it can be short or elaborate based on the age of your kiddos, Two: the lay out of the devotions is something that works with my vision for devotions with mom. It has a family way, here is an example #6 says, “We serve one another, humbly thinking of the needs of others first.” Then within the family ways it has ARTS (A.R.T.S) to do every day for 5 days. A standing for Ask a Question, There are two questions provided each day, an example being, “Describe a time when someone was looking out for you and helped you unexpectedly.” Then R stands for Read the bible, it provided a longer section of reading from the bible along with the key verse from that section. T stands for Talk about it. Which is again questions to be asked based on the bible reading that was just read aloud. And lastly S stands for Speak to God, in this section is where you get to pray as a family and it provided you with 3 different starting prayer ideas for your family. The other element to this devotional guide I selected for my mommy devotion time is you can purchase coloring books that aline with the family ways which would help if you kids are varying ages.

As we are all on this journey of discovery what works best for ourselves and for our families. I had originally planned on doing mom MORNING devotions but have recently changed it to Mommy LUNCH devotions. When I started the year off I wanted so bad to do them in the morning, but what I quickly realized for myself is when I was pushing to get them in it was a struggle not to rush my devotional time with the kids due to having to get somewhere, or start school before baby’s nap time, and other things kept popping up. So my wonderful husband suggested that I just try another time of the day. Meal times seem to be a nice centralizing time of the day for us, and meals happen everyday which helps me!

The next element I wanted to include everyday (which has morphed into 4 days a week) is preschool. I know not everyone listening is homeschooling, or has a preschooler. But I think it is important to briefly touch on learning. Learning in the form of helping those in our family learn, and ourselves being life long learners. During my mommies time at church which is a group of moms who get together with our kiddos and spend some time encouraging each other. I am know to make the comments such as, “When I was reading I learned _____” or I was just researching the other day this or I read an inspiring thought, or have you heard of this? See not only do I love learning but it challenges me, stimulates my conversations, and keeps me relevant to those around me. Which makes it all the more important that I am wise with the information I am taking in because it is what helps form my conversations.

On the raisingrices blog page I do from time to time include different activities that we are doing in our preschool time if you are looking for encouragement. And I will note that this is my first homeschooling experience and I am truly loving it, I have learned so much this year about what homeschooling looks like for me, and how different it truly is from public school which is my background. I have change, retried, morfed, added and gotten ride of so much this year and know this will be a constant journey of discovery.

CONFESSION TIME: I dislike cleaning but I love my house to be clean. Anyone else out there like that? Also since we are confessing I will tell you I have tried what feels like a MILLION different plans to accomplish this and so far. One thing I have realized is I need a scheduled structure that has grace and a back up plan. And as much as I dislike cleaning I know that I need to be actively doing something each day. I also need to really look at my heart and my attitude while I am cleaning. Because I have little eyes that are forming their thoughts on what it means and looks like to help be part of a home that pitches in and has responsibilities.

So each day we have Daily responsibilities for both mom and kids.

The kids currently we have as many jobs as their age and they range from responsibilities like helping emptying the dishwasher to checking under the couch for toys to vacuuming to feeding the dogs. And our second youngest who is almost 2 doubles the jobs of his older siblings and does them with them and so learns right along with them.

And this momma has responisbilies as well. However, man oh man I have had to come to my husband and say, “Darren I need help.” He said yes he would help and he has, but the funny thing is until recently his helping wasn’t really helping me because there was not consistently and regularly done responsibilies because he was trying to help where he saw a need. One thing I learned earlier on in our marriage is my idea of getting something done and his idea of getting something done doesn’t always look the same. Neither of our ideas are wrong they are different. So I had to ask him and I to sit and lay out, like physically write out a consistant and scheduled plan. Do I know we are not always going to be consistant and on schedule: YES. But for me this structure has helped.

When we were planning out the responisbilies we first sat and talked about what is important to us to have done, on the daily, weekly and monthly. For example the whole house can be a mess but if my husband comes home and the dishes are done he feels more at peace and content with the mess in the house. This was a revelation because my peace comes from toys off the ground and surface areas cleared. I can have dishes in the house as long as the living space is cleared. Have you asked your spouse what makes a difference to them? Here is another thing I actually learned about myself in the process. I am a lady who LOVES the blinds open, I want to see out and let the sunshine or rainy sunshine in. I want to see nature, it must make me feel not confined inside. But because of this love of open blinds, I also have an obsession with clean windows. Therefore one of the monthly responibilies Darren has volunteered to take on is cleaning the windows.

Now there are a couple weekly commitments we are trying as we continue our purposeful start to the year. And that is Tea time with Mom which the kids and I are doing once a week which includes making a special treat to share and having some purposeful conversations, we are also trying for Family Game nights once a week which I spoke about in a last weeks podcast, and probably the most purpose change we have made that is my kids favorite is Saturday morning breakfast with Dad, Darren pulls out all the options, we have pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, and the kids get to help, they just LOVE it because they miss their daddy during the week and this is their special time on Saturday mornings. Truth be told I don’t know who enjoys it more Darren or the kids.

WE are shifting gears for the next cycle of podcast coming up next month which I am looking forward to sharing with you guys! For the next couple of Pod cast we will have some guest speakers. It is going to be very inspiring you will NOT want to miss it!!! So see you next week!


Podcast #3 – Having an Intentional Month

Marissa Rice

This Podcast is all able making your month intentional! Listen for some ideas on how we are working in intentionality into our family time.

Marissa Rice-2 copy


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Hey Friends! Thanks for stopping by today on the RaisingRice’s Podcast. If you have been following along with us you have heard that as a family we have started this year 2018 off by setting up a “monthly plan” in which there are several elements we want to include within the month ALL with the thought of being intentional and purposeful. We wanted to write out our thoughts on the month so that we can make sure as our lives get busy and full that we are saying yes to the vision we had for our family that fits in with our year plan. This was inspired from my reading Sally Clarkson’s book: A life giving experience.

Yes, we have provided room for flexibility because things just come up. Some great new ideas or events we didn’t plan for, or things that we can’t avoid like sickness or life changes. But with the flexibility we want to bring intentionally to the culture of our family we are passionate about creating.

So lets dive in. First lets cover the process. I am a list maker, in fact somewhere inside myself there is a list and on that list it says, “make list’s.” My husband and I created a list of things that we want to make sure were incorporating every month as jumping off point. I will share what is on our list and then give you a breakdown and examples following,

ok on our list of the things that we want to happen or be aware of each month are:

-A focus on Read Aloud Books for the whole family

– Focus Family Game, for family game night

– Birthday celebrations

– Focus Family Bible (Which you will see includes both family bible time and devotions with mom)

– Homeschool themes and connecting activities

– Special Monthly activities

– Mom and Dad date nights (which includes going out and staying in)

– Boy activity

– Girl activity

– Special one-on-one kid date

– and lastly special events (this is slightly different from the activities section, because it is more connected with calendar or scheduled events.)

11 areas of focus, lets talk through the why and the what of these sections. Remembering while you listen see what ideas that you might want to try with your family, or what intrigues you, knowing every family dynamitic is different and has different needs and desires.

Starting off with Focus Read Aloud. Both Darren and I have great memories of being read to by our parents. In fact to this day I can tell you times and places that I have special memories of my parents dedication to reading to me. While reading aloud is super valuable for ALL kids, for me because I have dyslexia making reading difficult and hard to create a passion for something you constantly struggle with. My parents never gave up and to this day I love reading, yes I am the slowest reader EVER, but I love how books can educate you, transport you to another place, inspire you for change, and be a unifying element in a family. These reasons and more are why we wanted to start off our 2018 year by making sure we had a selections of books that we want to read aloud. Finding family friendly and good literature books sometimes can feel overwhelming. But I have found a few GREAT resources, one recommended from a friend called Read for the Heart: whole books for Wholehearted families by Sarah Clarkson. From using this resource and a few favorites we remember from childhood, we laid out what books we felt were age approach for the year. For example our childrens ages are currently 4, 3, 2, and 8 months so we have selected to read aloud the Little House on the Prairie series to start the year off.

The next section Focus Family Game, for family game night. Which was brought up by another memory we have from our childhood is family games. In fact when my husband and I were dating, a big part of the way we spent time together was playing games at my or his parents home. We love the idea of all sitting around the table, having conversations, yummy snacks, and playing games. You might be thinking WAIT MARISSA you just told me your oldest kiddo is 4 years old how are you even doing family games? Great question! This year we and potentially the next few, we have decided if family games are important to us we have to teach and create a habit of playing them. So we have decided to start with playing 1 game for 1 month. Our family game nights we have planned to be on Friday nights before the kids go to bed and with a special treat to snack on during or before the game. Here is an example of the games we have picked for the first few months: Uno, Chutes and Ladders, and Memory. And we are doing is playing the same game 4 times (during the Fridays of the month) so that the kids can get the hang of it before moving on to the next game.

Birthday Celebrations is next. Sounds like perhaps an un-needed category for some but is there anyone else other then me that gets going with our day to day lives and then realizes the day before it is your mother in laws birthday!? And you have nothing, not even a thought or anything about what to do? Our family is not huge gift givers but we do like to show we care by having a dinner and inviting the birthday guest, or having the kids draw a picture, and trying to make what we do meaningful, which doesn’t lend well to cramming it in the short hours before.

Focus Family Bible is up next (Which you will see includes both family bible time and devotions with mom). In the evenings before bed we all get our jammies on and come downstairs to the living room and circle up to do family bible time. My husband Darren leads this portion of the day, he reads a verse and talks about the application that would apply to the age of our kids and ask them questions to check of understanding, then we all pray. It is a great time but short to accommodate for their ages. However, I must say lately in many activities including family bible time we figure out about how long on average we feel is the norm for our kiddos then we try to add a few minutes to them, in hope of creating stamina. The second part of this section is devotions with mom. During devotions we usually have just finished or are finishing breakfast, sitting around the table, and I have selected to do the 24 family ways by Clay Clarkson for this years (and most likely next years also) devotions. The outline of the book breaks a value down into 5 days with verses, and questions, and prayer. I do have to say I have modified it for the age of my kids and that is why I think it is something I could honestly continue to do for several years in a row. It also has, to be bought separately if you are interested coloring pages that have the verse on the bottom. I have bought two but haven’t used them yet, maybe next year.

Homeschool themes and connecting activities. Currently since my oldest is in PreK we are doing a lot of thematic learning. And since she has some brothers coming up through the next few years of school we will be doing learning through themes. This will not always be part of our monthly plans as our thoughts will to be not continue the themes in later grades. However for the time being we have themes such as: Elephants, Penguins, Kangaroo, Zebra, Vegetables, etc. It is fun to know about the themes so we can incorporate learning opportunities into our daily lives. And plan special event like a trip to the zoo, planting a garden, making elephant ear treats etc.

Special Monthly activities, would include things that are specific activities for that month. Here are some examples: February making valentine Day cards, or May going on a family hike, or April attending the farmers market. Also could include service projects, events at church like hosting a worship concert, or planning a trip to see relatives.

Mom and Dad date nights (which includes going out and staying in). We have been blessed to have family that lives near by and helps us out from time to time with allowing Darren and I to go out on a date. We have also had the opportunity to do some date night trades with some friends who also have young children. Our goal is to plan one date night out a month. And it is important to plan that time ahead of the month so we don’t miss out or get busy and don’t plan one-on-one time for each other. The other part of our date nights include date nights in. Since our kiddos go to bed around 7:00 each night we have selected two times a month where we would be purposeful in spending time together. Some examples of things we like to do during date night ins’ are: making dessert together, having a picnic in the living room, playing games, reading a book aloud, writing music, making special drinks or more. Again, we see each other every night when the kids go to bed but there is something unique about creating hobbies and general interests together apart from the normal day activity.

Boy activity – What this is, is a time where Darren my husband would spend time with just the boys doing an activity. Now it isn’t the activity that is just boy friendly because my daughter loves to do what would be referred to as boy activities: like building, playing the in mud, etc. This really isn’t about the activity at all. It is about creating a time where Darren can impart wisdom and conversation geared toward males. Our boys are young right now, but I believe why wait, when we wait it could be to late. Some of the lessons Darren has been having conversations with our boys right now are simple and a starting point to the future but things like: courage, gentleness, respect, follow through, and more.

Girl Activity – This is where my daughter and I get to hang out and create those conversations and life lessons. Currently, it is just my daughter and me as the females of the house. And the same as the boy activity, the activity itself is not the most important element but the conversation and relationship building is. Some of the things Madeline and I have done in the past would be: running to the store, baking, going on a walk, getting our toes painted, etc. Currently the conversations Madeline and I have been focused on it about building up her brothers, finding ways to encourage friends and family, making sure to stand up for herself in what is right, telling verses tattling, and including her brothers in activities when playing with friends to name a few.

– Special one-on-one kid date, in a blog on the page you will find that there is a blog covering the details of this special one-on-one kid date. However, to give you all the quick of it, this is a special time we have created where each of our kids, once a month get to do a special activity with a family member. Since we have 4 children we have four groups that rotate which kid they get each month to do the special activity with. Our Groups are Nana/Papa, and Grandma/Grandpa and then Mom and dad separately. This is a fun time to connect one-on-one, have special memory making time. I for one am super excited to see this grow and the relationships the build from it.

And lastly special events (this is slightly different from the activities section, because it is more connected with calendar or scheduled events.) For example: Easter Sunday, Bible Study, Men’s Breakfast at church etc.

There might be some thinking, WAIT how do you get this all in within a month. Let ease you by saying, we don’t. This new to us and has come with a lot of adjustments. I can also say though I am pleasantly surprised by how much we are able to get in because we have written it out, we have set a goal, laid it out on the calendar and because of that have had more success then we even imagined. I leave you with this, the goals, dreams, and visions for our family time talked about today encompass 365 days, that is 12 months! This is not something to be done in a week or a weekend, and above anything else there is grace! Lots and lots of Grace! But join me next week for a look at the weekly calendar and how this beautiful, big picture can be broken down into a manageable piece.


PODCAST Episode #2 – Home Command Center

Marissa Rice

On today’s podcast we are covering about the beloved and hated HOME COMMAND CENTER! Check it out!

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Welcome Friends! Thanks for joining today! Today we are going dive into a topic that can be super stressful and super rewarding at the SAME TIME! And that topic is what I like to refer to as our HOME COMMAND CENTER.

What is going to be cover today is how we organize our schedules which includes daily and monthly activities, passions and pursuits, this years new plans for additional family time and how we are working that in, also few tid bits we have learned and tried along they way. So lets dive in!

Since becoming a mom it feels like I have been given this role of master scheduler, (this is not an official position and certainly doesn’t come with any addition pay ha!) But, has become a lifeline for our family. I can tell you from personal experience the power of our command center. See it has the power to inspire, dream, relax, and add ease to our lives OR it can if not done correctly become a source of confusion, stress, anger, desperation and truly I believe has lead to my increase of gray hairs!

So you may have a picture of what a command center looks like. And for our foundation of todays podcast I would like briefly provide you with picture of what ours looks like before we go into details. See our command center has one home base, and several sister locations. So lets so start when at the Home base. It is placed on a wall in our kitchen. On the wall it has the current monthly schedule and the following month schedule, these are on white boards and have a note section of the side. Along side the calendar white board we have a small white board (one that looks like you bought to put into a locker size) and on this white board we have created our to do list. And we will get more into what goes on that to do in a few minutes. We also have on monthly kid special dates paper, our Sunday Prep day and our cleaning schedule paper. Wow, listing these things may make me sound like a crazy person, and truly I am crazy person. But, I have found from listening, reading and talking with others about what works for them, is that every person has great ideas of what works and I what LOVE to do is take those ideas and mash them up and use what works for our family. SO I encourage to listen and try what inspires you, that might not be everything, that might be nothing and that might be everything haha.

But here go. SO what Darren and I have done, with the inspiration of lot of great people and books. Is we found that there is about 8 sections of life that ALL deserve our attention, passion and dreams BUT if we don’t look at them individually while we are making schedules and plans we have this tendency to GREATLY neglect several. A friend Kristin gave me the example of a wheel and if you took these 8 sections that we will go over, and spit the wheel like you would a pizza into 8 equal sections. IF you are not giving equal (or close to equal) attention then your lopsided wheel wont work effectively or at all.

So lets go through the sections, and what is included under them. Please note they are in no order, because we are looking at as a wheel. And while we are going through the sections they are all super important and may feel a bit overwhelming but will be focused on them individually in future podcasts, so only panic a little, just kidding, don’t panic.

  1. Spirit and Mind – which would include areas of: prayer, bible study, spiritual growth book, for example in the spirit area and in the mind area would include: mental health, emotional health, and books for growth.
  2. Health – which would include areas of: food/meal plans, nutrition, water, vitamins exercise, healthcare and more.
  3. Finances – which includes tithes and offering, budget, getting rid of debt, insurance, savings and more.
  4. Household – which is both inside (dishes, laundry, cleaning, chores, decorations and more) AND outside (gardening, Yard, garage , animals and more.)
  5. Career and Education – Which includes career goals, skill building, and more. Also Education including goals, and continuing education. We have also include a homeschooling area here as well.
  6. Family – which includes 3 areas, first being marriage like date nights, planning meetings, needs of husbands and wives. The next area in the family section is parenting including kids needs, health, training etc. And the 3rd area whole family, like devotions and family nights.
  7. Social – including friends and family (like get together, extended family, hospitality, caring for needs and more). It also includes ministry like church, small groups, discipleship and more.
  8. Lastly, FUN and EVENTS, which includes hobbies, sports, trips, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, movies, special events and more!

Those are the 8 sections encompassed a huge part of our lives. When Darren and I began this journey we were seriously overloaded in a few sections and lacking incredibly in others. Evaluating where we were at the moment was super important. With the encouragement of some Titus 2 ladies who hosted a planning retreat they opened my eyes to the whole picture.

So filled with passion Darren and I decided to plan a date night in which we brought this new information and went to eat kid free so we could focus and create a plan that would work for our family. Before we could start our command center to reflect a balanced wheel we needed to dive into each section individually.

And within each section we started with the end in mind. What is the purpose of this section and at the end what do we want for our family to look like in this section. For example, in the Health section we said a life goal would be: to live an active lifestyle as a family. After the big picture we moved down to Long term planning and vision, what do we want this section to reflect in 3-5 years for example in the Household section we said: All children are active members of household responsibilities. Hard to imagine now with babies at home but in 3-5 years that will become the reality.  So in order to be at that spot in 3-5 years we then created a sheet for each section that said what are our 1-2 year goals. For example in the Fun and Events section, one goal is to have Darren and I go on a solo trip just the two of us.

Ok to recap these steps that we have done within each section, they DO need to be revisited but not on the regular planning vision meetings. It is always important to know where your finish line is and that you are running the right race.

So now within each section we have two steps, first being we looked at all the steps prior and we come up with our goals to be accomplished in the next 1-3 months. For example, in the Spirit and Mind section, purchase and set up box for new morning devotion with kids. Next step, it has taken us a long time to get to this step but will be the step we work on the most week-to-week. Once we have our goals for 1-3 months away we need to break it down into action steps. If you can remember back when I mentioned the locker sized white board to do list, well this is where we write out action steps. Since there are 8 sections Darren and I have determined that in order to keep all 8 sections, (since they all are important), as even as we can, we select 1-2 action steps to write on our to do list from each section.

The majority of our command center in the kitchen reflects these 8 sections. If you will remember I place a cleaning schedule on the command center, which was formed while review our household section. You will note there was a special kid date sheet that each of our 4 children get a special one-on-one time with a member of the family and that was a result of the Family section. We also have a Sunday Prep Day, which came out of the desire to review each week our schedule and to do list as parents and to set us up for success the following week. (If you would like more information on the special kid dates or the Sunday prep day you can go to to read the blog on them.

The monthly calendars are in a way our convicting element. While looking at the week ahead we can really see by color coding if our wheel is feeling lopsided, and then when we see and feel it we adjust and remind ourselves of the end goal.

Ok, so I mentioned sister stations. For us we have tried to put as much as we could into our command home base in the kitchen but do to space and efficiency there are a few other stations around the house.

All of the papers of the 8 sections, can be found in a binder that sits on our computer desk. Darren who is much more tech savvy then myself would like to see our notes recorded on a computer but for now the binder works great, and when I set it up I used dividers so I am able to store extra papers and information that go with the subject, and helps to Declutter a bit.

Another sister station is found in my purse I have a year calendar that holds the information beyond the current month and following month.

Some of you might have heard me mention earlier about our planning meetings. Our planning meetings a little different then our check-ins during our Sunday Prep Day, see our planning meetings is what we try to do once a month. Just the two of us. This is a great time for us to make sure we are aligning with our pursuit, passions, dreams, and visions for our family.

During our planning meetings the topics we like to cover are:

  • check in on our 8 sections, mostly in the 1-3 month goals and then create our action steps
  • Check in on the month as a whole, any events, family or work related needs, anything to be aware in the scheduling
  • We try to do check in on each kid, successes, needs, prayers, learning or training opportunities, (this time is great for me as a stay at home mom to express needs for Darren my husband to reinforce with the kids)
  • And we try to go over the budget and pay bills.

This is truly a good time when it is done but can seem like a daunting task to start, so we usually like to make a special dessert treat to enjoy and we do it after the kids go to bed.

I leave you with this last bit, Darren and I are what feels like constantly changing and creating what works. I am hopeful that this plan we have in place will be the glue that keeps our passions, dreams, and visions on the forefront BUT I know they will always need attention and modification from time to time.

One of the recent areas we are excited to change and try something new elements to our family time, some of which are: family game nights, family read alouds, focus activities for a month and focused family bible time. These things and more will be looked at on another podcast so stay tuned.



Marissa Rice

Podcast Episode #1 – Don’t wait until it is too late! The Time is NOW!

Doesn’t it always feel like we have an excuse for not being in God’s word? What I have found is that my excuses change from season to season. Well I am ready for a change! How about you!? Listen in on todays Podcast (or read the script below) and lets be REAL about the struggles but let us also move past that and into the CHANGE!

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Can’t Listen now, don’t worry listen later OR read below to get the content and review later!

Welcome Friends, I am so glad you all are able listen in today. I believe we are all on a journey of discovery. Discovery of who God is, who we are, what roles we play, and it is exciting and frustrating that every season of life presents new opportunities to learn, discover and grown. My current season of life involves: 4 children age 4 and under, marriage to a wonderful man for coming up on 8 years, manager of our household which includes: cleaning, cooking, and keeping alive our chickens and dogs. And if I was honest I would say that while I list out my roles and responsibilities the one I find so hard to pursue during my season of life due to a lack of time is: my relationship with God the father. Truly I desire for him to be my #1 in: focus, time, energy, and passion, but boy oh boy am I good at coming up with excuses for making Him not number #1.

In fact I distinctly remember myself saying these phases (and maybe you can relate):

“oh when I get out on my own I will have the time and space to create a devotional war room I will spend more time in prayer.”


“Once I am married my husband and I will spend so much time together reading the scripture and praying.”


“When I start have kids I will be leading morning devotions, praying all day, teaching his wisdom, so I will be in the word more.”

OR my most recent excuse:

“When my kids are a little older, I will have more energy because we will be sleeping more, and I will wake up early and spend time with God.”

Hear me please when I say it is OK to look forward to the future but what I was realizing in myself is that as I look forward to what comes in the future I am not living in the moment. I am not using my time to pursue and be engaged in important elements because I tell myself “oh no worries we will do this in the future.”

Lets look at what we are missing out on when we do this to ourselves:

  • We cant be like Jesus if we don’t spend time with Jesus
  • We cant be wholly satisfied because Jesus is the only one that can truly satisfy
  • We create division and separation from God our Father
  • We are not setting the example for those in our life who are “watching”
  • We are spiritually battling without our sword, the word of God, so we are going to battle unprepared
  • We can get sucked into the secular worldview of life, instead of a biblical worldview
  • And this goes on and on

If you would you like to know why, listing out what we are missing when we don’t engage in our Savior, the reason for this list is I have experienced sadly the results of excuses; thus the list. Reflecting on time when I provide excuses for myself, I look at the fruits I see in my life are they are dead, they are non-existent.

So convincingly I tell myself: NO MORE! Stop with the excuses! Lets do this!

Ok so what do we do: Here’s the plan for myself and some additional ideas for those of you that might need a boost.

BUT! what I am learning is .. Life is a series of seasons .. and if I fall into the comparison trap to measure someone else’s time with Jesus against my own I am missing the point. Because time with Jesus is going to look different for me from season to season and for others from season to season. I heard a quote, “PURSUIT, NOT PERFECTION, IS THE POINT!” Therefore as we go through the ideas we need to figure out what is best for our lives the seasons we are in and what we can commit to. All with the bottom line of pursuing our Savoir.

If we look at the story of Mary and Martha in LUKE 10, we see 2 sisters, when Jesus visits them Mary sits at his feet soaking in every word that comes from His mouth. Her sister Martha is the in the kitchen: preparing dinner, cleaning the dishes, being a hostess to Jesus and is disciples, changing a poopy diaper (oops wait just kidding that is my life right now) but as I have discovered my season of life feels similar to Martha. So when Jesus comes to her to encourage .. I feel as if He is talking to me when he says in Luke 10:41-42 “ Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but there is only one thing worth being concerned about.” That is Jesus.

See Jesus desire to spend time with us, and when we do: we hear from Him, learn from Him and as a result be MORE like him! The GREAT news is Jesus’s love for US is not affected by our quiet times. 2 Timothy 2:13 says “if WE are faithless, HE remains faithful” God is not a record keeper! Thank goodness!

So strategies for sitting at the feet of Jesus and soaking it is are:

  1. Making it a priority! My season is BUSY but as we look at our schedule we need to decide what matters more? For myself I am ready to commit to waking up an hour earlier, I get to have my time with God, check over my day, see my husband before he leaves, and be ready for my children when they wake up. (seems like a win-win but I am not going to lie it has been a STRUGGLE to wake up!)
  2. Being consistent! Life happens and I am prepared for the possibility of my goal of waking up earlier not working everyday BUT there is something to be said about showing up EVERY DAY. So finding another time. Remembering I am in a relationship and relationships need commitment of TIME, CONSITENTLY, and PURSUIT!
  3. Having a Passionate Pursuit! I think it is hard because of our sinful nature we tend to view spending time with God as a chore, or a box to check of the list. God wants to spend time with us but he also wants our hearts to be in the right place. When I look at see the fruits of my pursing God I see the person I desire to be.

The Answer to our excuses for not spending time with God isn’t just making it a priority and being consistent but we also HAVE to have our hearts right with God. We have to re-examine what things we are still holding to instead of laying it at the feet of Jesus.  And when we do our passionate pursuit becomes our driving force to our relationship with Christ.

SO figure what works best for you and your season. Maybe that is in the morning, or maybe during your lunch break, or perhaps at night when the kids go to bed. There are so many recourse out there for different stages of our lives as well!

Some members of my family are listening to the Daily Audio Bible . com there is an app for on-the-go as well! I am excited to try this option during my morning devotions.

So join me we set aside our excuses and passionately pursue Father God.