Your Mission:  5 Steps to Creating a Mission Statement

“Do you have a mission statement for yourself?”

I was a little shocked when my husband asked if I had a mission statement.  I am a stay-at-home mom, why dcore values mission statemento I need a mission statement?

Seriously, I wash dishes, cook meals, and do laundry, and tend to the needs of our daughters.  Why would I have a mission statement?

Ben then challenged me to write a mission statement.  He said it is important to have a mission statement to remind us of what is important and why we do what we do each day.  It acts as a guide when chaos hits and helps us stay the course.

I have spent a good deal of time thinking about this, as I have to give him a copy of my mission statement by the end of the week.  Do I really need this?  Doesn’t everyone know what I do each day?  I am a mom, so that means I feed my children, putting bandages on wounds, and breaking up sibling brawls.

Who needs a mission statement?  Anyone who desires to succeed should have a mission statement.  It is about having a plan and purpose laid out to keep us on track.  It is a defining tool, a tool that declares our purpose.

Having a mission statement is about clearly expressing what matters most to us.  By examining our goals and core values, we can create a mission statement that inspires us to keep going.  Are you spending each day in a way that fulfills your mission?  When life throws you curve balls, and you need re-centered, your mission statement reminds you of your end goal.  What is your mission?

A mission statement needs to answer these three questions:

  1. What is it that you do?
  2. How do you do it?
  3. Why do you do it?

According to www.entrepreneur.com, a mission statement should define your purpose, be specific and easy to remember, and inspire others by linking your purpose to your fundamental values.  An effective mission statement is a good summary of what is important to you.

How does someone go about creating a mission statement?

While there are many options available, I have found this platform to be the most helpful.  First, consider your mission statement to be a road map of where you want to go.  Then, follow the next five steps to creating a mission statement, and you will have something that is succinct, yet effective.  A mission statement has the powerful potential of inspiring others.

This 5-Step plan to creating a mission statement was found at www.livecareer.com.

  1. Identify 4-5 examples of past successes.  Look for a theme to these successes.
  2. Identify as many core values as you can, and then narrow it down to five or six. Next, pick the one core value that is most important to you.
  3. Identify areas that you can be a contribution:
    1. World
    2. Family
    3. Employer/future employer
    4. Friends
    5. Community
  4. Identify your goals. Consider short-term and long-term goals and write them down.  Short term goals are anything within the next three years, while long term goals are anything after three years.
  5. Write your mission statement.

 

It should look something like this:

  1. Past Successes
    1. Started marriage mentoring program at church
    2. Lead, teach, and create curriculum for 4th-5th grade Sunday School class
    3. Designed and built two beds
    4. Decreased toxins in our daily routines
    5. Froze 30 dinners for our family

The common thread in this first category is I have seen a need and found ways to meet that need.

 

  1. Core Values

(fundamental beliefs of a person; guided principles that dictate behavior and determine right from wrong)

  1. Compassionate
  2. Encouraging
  3. Creative
  4. Freedom to try new things
  5. Serve others
  6. Honesty
  7. Integrity
  8. Family focused
  9. Hard worker
  10. Improve things for myself and others
  11. Gentleness
  12. Being intentional

My top five core values are being compassionate, encouraging, improving things for myself and others, serving others, and being intentional.  After reviewing this list, I have decided that my number one core value is being intentional.

To me, being intentional means striving to make the most of each day, and doing what I can to make life better for myself and those around me.  Living intentionally is putting my core values into action.

  1. My Ideal Contributions
    1. The World in general: give families tools to survive
    2. My family: build strong relationships with my children and husband
    3. My employer (in this case I am thinking of my husband and leaders at church that I serve under): finding ways to be more effective and efficient in the things I do to have the most impact
    4. My friends: to encourage and support them how and when they need it
    5. Community: strengthen families

 

  1. Goals
    1. Short-term—Use my talents to raise my daughters to be girls who are kind and compassionate, love others, and desire to serve Jesus
    2. Long-term–To inspire my family to follow God’s calling for them and follow Him with abandon

 

  1. Write my mission statement

 

My Mission as a Wife and Mom

To cultivate a stable, loving home in which my family can thrive

Spend some time writing your mission statement.  Maybe it is a family statement.  Or, maybe it is a statement regarding your finances or health.  Perhaps, you want to consider creating a mission statement in several areas of life.

Use this opportunity to determine what matters most to you, and then go after it.  Your mission statement is for you.  It is about you.  It is meant to guide you and inspire you, to keep you on track when life is chaotic.

A mission statement is not written in stone, so over time, you may feel you need to adjust yours.  Life brings changes, and you may need to, or want to, reflect those changes in your mission statement.

Set a deadline for yourself to have this done.  There is a much higher chance of it happening.  Tell someone about it, or write it on a calendar for some accountability.

Share your statements in the comments.  I would love to hear what you have put together.

Happy writing!

 

 

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Excellent does not Equal Perfection Part 2 (A Fresh Perspective on Proverbs 31)

amethyst-1708987_1920Proverbs 31:10-12
10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

I love that the first thing we see here is that an excellent wife is precious and valuable. The value of an excellent wife is far greater than anything else on earth. Jewels and precious metals are of great value, but a wife who is good to her husband is more valuable than the most expensive jewel. God has declared you are precious and valuable. Now, it is time to claim this truth and live in accordance with this truth.
Matthew Henry describes the virtuous woman in this way. He says she is “a woman of resolution, who, having espoused good principles, is firm and steady to them, and will not be frightened with winds and clouds from any part of her duty.”
Being an excellent wife begins with being an excellent woman. It is a natural overflow of someone who is highly resolved to do what is right and does not waver when circumstances present difficulties. This is about daily setting our minds on the truth of God’s Word and letting that overflow into everything we do.
For instance, God tells us to be diligent and work for His glory (Col 3:23). By choosing to work for God’s glory, then loving and serving our husbands is a natural thing to do. God has given us many instructions about working diligently, serving others joyfully, and speaking with wisdom.  If we obey His instructions because we love Him, then we will be hard workers, help others (even when we are exhausted), and offer wisdom when we speak.
The calling of a virtuous woman comes with great responsibility. It is our duty to take care of our husbands. I think at times we have this backward, and spend so much time focusing on where our husbands are not tending to every whim of desire we have, that we forget our role in the relationship. In all that we do we should be encouraging our husbands. As wives, it is our job to provide a respite from the onslaught of the world.
My husband faithfully goes to work every day. While he likes his job, he is under scrutiny all day, every day. He spends 50 hours a week in a high-pressure situation. Imagine doing that day in and day out, and then come home to a hostile, cantankerous wife who criticizes and nags.  For some reason, we women find pleasure in comparing to see who has the worst husband.

We spend so much time comparing our husband to someone else’s husband. This does not bring good to our husband. Rather, it creates tension and resentment. See, we become discontent with our husband because we are so focused on where he is failing us, and then we feed the discontent with disrespectful talk, that is often false and exaggerated. And then we expect him to come home and give us everything we need.

We have needs. However, that is not the point of this article. Maybe I will cover that in another post—how to bring your needs to your husband’s attention.
We are to bring good to our spouse. Always. Every day of his life. This is non-negotiable. To be an excellent wife means we are highly resolved to honor and esteem our husbands, in public and private. When your children see you talk to your husband, or hear you speak about him, are they witnessing you building him up, or do they see you tearing him down? Are you setting an example of respect? Your children will learn a great deal from you by watching how you interact with him. How can they learn to respect their father if they see you always tearing him down? Our words and attitudes have significant influence. Use them wisely.
Another aspect of being an excellent wife is tending to the household. This does not mean you do everything at home unless that is what works best for your family. I know some couples have particular jobs at home they are each responsible for seeing taken care of, and others have a lot more overlap. Either way works if both of you feel balanced.
Ben and I do a lot together around the house. However, I must have things ready for him. If he needs to spend all his available time picking up or running to the store, then nothing will be accomplished. I make sure I have a list ready for him. If I just tell him what needs to be done, he will not remember it, and it goes unfinished. When he is going to mow the lawn, it is my job to make sure it free of toys and branches. When he helps with the laundry, if I have it sorted and ready to go, then he can just throw it in the washer for me. Essentially, I am responsible for making sure all systems are ready to go.

I believe the reason we do so much together is our relationship began as friends. It just naturally went from friendship to dating to marriage. We did a lot together while friends and like to work together now, as friends and husband and wife. The other influencing factor is that when I was pregnant, I was sick and dizzy all nine months. He had to take care of things during my pregnancy, so became very familiar with the ins and outs of running our home.

Find a way that works for you and your husband to tend to things at home. Find what works for the two of you, not what works for your friend and her husband. It is not a competition. If we are going to compete with one another, why not compete to have the strongest marriage relationship? I am not seriously suggesting turning it into a competition, just throwing out a concept.
I think Matthew Henry explains the concept of bringing good to our husband very well. He captures the overall picture well, and also concisely breaks it down into every facet of life.
“He trusts in her conduct, that she will speak in all companies, and act in all affairs, with prudence and discretion, so as not to occasion him either damage or reproach. He trusts in her fidelity to his interests, and that she will never betray his counsels nor have any interest separate from that of his family. When he goes abroad, to attend the concerns of the public, he can confide in her to order all his affairs at home, as well as if he himself were there. She is a good wife that is fit to be trusted, and he is a good husband that will leave it to such a wife to manage for him.
He thinks himself so happy in her that he envies not those who have most of the wealth of this world; he needs it not, he has enough, having such a wife. Happy the couple that have such a satisfaction as this in each other! ”
Being an excellent wife means our husbands trust us with everything. They trust us with their lives! We are told to take care of their kingdom. When we take care of their kingdom, they can be free to rule their kingdom without worry about what is happening. There are so many things requiring their attention every day, and they need our help managing it all. They need our wisdom and advice (this does not mean unsolicited opinions about everything). The need us to cheer them on and encourage them to keep going. They need us to feed them and help them get proper rest. While it is not our job to mother them, it is our responsibility to nurture them. Is your husband being nurtured by you?
We are created to bond with each other. All people are created with a need to bond with someone or something. We see this so clearly in infants and young children, but it gets lost as those little ones grow into teens and adults. We then act like they are babies if they admit they have relationship needs. When all they are doing is looking for a way to meet the relational need.
If you are not meeting the relational needs of your husband, he will find those needs elsewhere. Do you fulfill his relational needs? Are you tending to his kingdom so he can reign effectively? Are you loving and nurturing? Can he tell everyone he has the most amazing wife and is completely fulfilled?
When was the last time you did something special for him because you love and respect him? Do you have sex with your husband on a regular basis?
I know what you are thinking. How can I have sex with him when he doesn’t deserve it? Well, the truth is, he does deserve it. He needs you to be intimate with him. This is part of fulfilling his relational need. Are you bringing good to him in this area? Are you letting him know he is important to you? We feel loved when our husband listens to us. He feels loved when we have sex with him. And, yes, he can tell when you are doing it to oblige him. No, that is not bringing good to him, rather that is reminding him of his failures.
When we said, “I do” at the altar, we made an everlasting promise to love, nurture, and cherish our husbands, until death does us part. We signed the covenant of marriage that means we now live with his best interests in mind, not simply our own.
When we are faithful to love, serve, and respect our husband (in private and public), we give him the strength to face the next day. While our culture does not find great value and worth in being a wife, the truth is that an excellent wife is precious. She is a necessary piece to the functioning of a strong home. Strong homes make strong communities. Strong communities make strong countries.
Your influence impacts the world. Seriously.
I encourage you to spend some uninterrupted time examining your relationship with your husband. In what areas are you bringing him good and can he trust you completely? And where are weaknesses that need to be tended to?
Next, ask your husband for his feedback. Does he feel encouraged and fulfilled by you? Are you meeting his needs? Is there something you are doing that tears him down or wears him out?
Ask God to show you how to love and respect your husband. You husband will notice this change and will be more responsive to you. Others will notice the difference, too. The next time your friends are criticizing their husbands (and maybe it is true what they are saying) say something positive about your man. Remember why you fell in love with him, and look for those traits. Compliment him and thank him for those things, and then brag about him to your friends. Your friends might not like this new approach, but your husband will love you for it.

 

 

 

 

Lost: You–Finding Yourself While Being Mom

Do you spend every minute of every day, and sometimes every minute of every night, taking care of you husband and children?  Are you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, or discouraged?  Was all of it a little more than you bargained for when you got on this roller coaster ride?  Do you exist as a person, or just as a function?

If you answered yes to the above questions, know these two things.  Number one, you are not alone.  You are not a bad wife or mom if you feel overwhelmed.  It is overwhelming!  Number two, it is possible to find the person of you while still functioning.  Being who you are in the everyday

In the morning, tend to YOU.  In the afternoon, tend to YOU.  In the evening, tend to YOU.

I can already hear you asking the following questions:

  1. How?
  2. Isn’t that being selfish?
  3. When?

I am not talking about long hours of pampering.  I am not talking about someone hand-feeding you grapes while you sit on the throne.  Although, there are days that does seem appealing

What are some needs of your children?  The most basic things that come to mind are healthy food, plenty of rest, physical activity, and lessons to stimulate their minds.

What are the needs of your husband?  Rest, notorious food, exercise, and learning new things.

See, it took me a long time to acknowledge this fact and not feel guilty about it.  I think as children, we tend to see our parents as not having needs, especially our moms.  After all, who was up with us when we were sick?  Mom.  Who helped with homework?  Mom.  Who made all the meals?  Mom.  Who cleaned the house and took care of the yard?  Mom.  Who made sure everyone had food and clothes?  Mom.

How do we tend to our responsibilities while taking care of ourselves?  We dance.  We schedule a time to refresh and rejuvenate.  We plan times of rest, and times of fun.  It is up to us to make sure these happen.  If we do not take care of us, then no one will.  Yes, our husbands can help, and our children can help.  But, the responsibility is on us.

Here are a few things to consider.

Food:

  1. What do you eat?
  2. When do you eat it?
  3. Why do you eat it?

Are you a stress eater? I am!  When my girls are busy, I will binge out in the kitchen. While I am embarrassed to admit it, this is how I handle the stress?  Acting out in this manner has only added to my level of stress, not taken care of anything.  I have added pounds because of the habit.  I get more stressed because all the things I am hiding from are not getting done.  I eat junk, so my blood sugar levels are all out of order.  The sugar spikes and then dives.  Guess what?  I am back at it a little later.  And the cycle continues.

Drink:

  1. How much water do you drink?
  2. What other beverages do you consume?

I shared this in another post, but I must

Exercise:

  1. Do you exercise regularly?
  2. If not, why not?

Exercising is good for us.  It stimulates bone growth and muscle growth.  It increases circulation.  It energizes us.  It can help us think better and relieve symptoms of depression.  Working out helps us sleep better.  It cleans our bodies out.  The benefits of exercise are endless.  Do you take advantage of these benefits?  Or do you intend to get to it tomorrow?

regularly.  Life is easier when I am strengthening and challenging my body.  Why do I not do it?  I do not create the time.  I am somewhat rebellious on this matter.  I tell myself I am too busy.  Everyone needs something.  I do not have an hour to myself.  It does not take much to talk myself out of exercising.  The sad thing is, I know the positive impact it has when I do workout.  And yet, I do not do it.

Appearance:

  1. Do you wear cute clothes?
  2. Do you stay in your lounge clothes?
  3. Do you take the time to look nice?

decided one day it was no longer negotiable because I was slipping into depression, and I needed to get out.  I was so busy tending to my little girls; I forgot to take care of myself.  Eventually, I was unable to care for the girls or my husband.  Getting dressed is a way I tell myself it is time to work. It allows me to prepare for whatever the day may bring.  When I feel beautiful, I feel valuable and capable.

Pampering:

  1. Do you allow yourself to be pampered?

I make spoiling myself a regular part of my routine.  I do not spend more than a few dollars on this.  At the most, I might get a pedicure, but that is maybe once a year.  I will take a relaxing bath.  I will leave the house for a couple of hours.  Sometimes, I will sit by a river, or I will go shopping for something fun.  Allow yourself some breaks.  Build it into your schedule.

When was the last time you read a book?  Or tried something new?  If you are unsure of where to start, think of things you liked to do before life became crazy.  Take a class and learn a new skill.  Spend some time serving others by volunteering.  Engage in something that is yours.  You will feel empowered and recharged.  Your children will respect you because they will see you as a person.  Your husband will find the woman he fell in love with and will love you even more.

Can I encourage you to make a few minutes in the day about you?  Remind yourself that taking care of you is not selfish.  It is a necessary piece to you taking care of your family.  Ask your husband to help you in this area, if he isn’t already.  He cannot know you need something from if you do not let him know.  Be proactive about this.  Do not become bitter and resentful to your family because you need some time off.  It becomes easier the more you do it.  Before long, taking care of yourself will become a habit.

 

 

Proverbs 31 Woman is Excellent not Perfect

Over the next several weeks, I am going to break down the traits of an excellent woman that we find in Proverbs 31.  If you are like me, you have read this and heard many sermons of this portion of Scripture.  Let’s face it—no one can be this good (perfect).

I urge you to open your mind and heart to a fresh look at this.  I have recently had a new understanding of these verses, and I want to share this with you.  The truth is God gave us this picture of an excellent woman, so we can know who we are to be.  We can know what our calling is as a wife, and we can know if we are failing or succeeding.  Sometimes, it’s hard to know if we are successful.  However, we can break these verses down and assess how we are doing.  This section of Proverbs can be a tool of encouragement, not a constant reminder of what we will never become.

As we explore this together, I am going to use the NASB wording, and I will be using Matthew Henry’s commentary.  I have read a lot of thoughts, commentary, and books on these verses.  I believe Henry does an excellent job making these verses doable, not intimidating.

My recent understanding of these verses stems from a comment that was made by a lady at church.  Her comment was not negative in any way.  Rather, it was a statement of how she and her husband break down the daily tasks at home.  This couple is high energy, and God has grabbed hold of them, and He is using them for great things.  I have a lot of respect for this couple.

A group of women was talking about things that needed to be taken care of at home.  It was a very casual, light-hearted conversation.  This lady commented on how she does not ask her husband to help out with anything at home because she does not want to be a drain on him.  She handles all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping.  She does all of it.

All I heard was her say that asking my husband to help with things at home is a drain on him and stands in the way of what God has called him to do.  How could I do such a thing?  This is exactly the opposite of how I want to treat my husband.

Ben and I work well together.  We enjoy working together.  We have found working together to be very bonding.  He and I are life partners, and that means we do all of life together.  We are closely connected and do well that way.  Not all couples can be together this much, but it works for us.

I let her comment fester.  I began trying to do everything on my own.  I was determined to not need Ben’s help with ANYTHING.  I could do it all!

I did do it all.  For a little while.  In the process, I created such a wall between Ben and I that he was pleading with me to tell him what was going on.  I pulled away from him because I convinced myself I was not good enough for him.  He could not love this person that just drained him.  At this point, I was not bringing good to him.  He had a difficult time trusting me because he did not understand the drastic change in behavior.

Eventually, I told him what occurred.  He laughed at me (in the most loving way possible).  He rolled his eyes at me and grinned.  He wrapped his long arms around me and held on tight while I cried that I was never going to be a good wife.

He listened patiently, and then reminded me that we work together.  We work as a team. He and I are partners.  We have built beds together for our children.  We share household tasks.  We like to work outside together.  We built a rock garden together.  We lead two ministries at church together.  Our lives are very connected, so to start doing everything on my own, was not helpful.

Our homes will all run differently, but our attitudes should be what Proverbs 31 describes.  To serve our family well means we have done our job.  That is being an excellent wife!

 

Proverbs 31:10-31

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

 

Getting Kids to Turn Off Light

Can you remember things your parents told you as a kid that you thought did not matter? And, now that you are an adult, and maybe a parent yourself, you realize their perspective was a little more accurate than yours? Do you find yourself having the same conversations with your kids?

I remember discussions with my parents about slamming doors, tiptoeing up and down stairs, folding towels in a square, closing the door, so they did not have to pay to heat/cool down the outside. As a kid, my perspective was they spent way too much time worrying about things that didn’t matter. Didn’t they know I would figure it out eventually, but not today? Today, I needed to play.

Now, Ben and I find ourselves in the position of having similar conversations with our kids. Close the door. Don’t stand there with the refrigerator door open. Have fruit for a snack. Make your bed. Put your clean clothes away, don’t just throw them back into the laundry. And a few others.

The one direction that occurs more than all others is for the girls to turn out lights when they leave the room. This is not one they had not been able to connect with until I made it a little more personal. In their minds, it shouldn’t matter if the lights were turned out or not because at some point in the day they would end up back in the room and need the light on. Why waste time and energy turning the lights out.

My solution: Charge them a nickel each time they left the room without turning off the light.

The first week this rule was in place, my little bank was full of nickels. However, each week that went by, I had fewer and fewer as the girls remembered always to turn off the lights. They worked too hard to earn their allowance to spend it on a bad habit. Within a month, all four of them consistently turned the lights off without any reminders.

Now, we are several months from when we began this approach, and they are still outstanding about not leaving lights on. In fact, the other day, my 10-year-old was playing and needed to get something from her sister’s room. She promptly informed me she was leaving the room for five seconds, and then would be back in to finish playing. She did not need to turn the light off because she wasn’t leaving, she was just getting something and would be right back.

The girls have all learned to turn off lights and are very good at making sure it happens all the time. My husband, on the other hand, leaves all the lights on. We have come home on more than one occasion, and all the lights are on in the house because he was the last one out the door and did not turn them off. The ongoing joke the girls have with their dad is he must pay Mom a nickel for leaving the lights on.

 

Lemons and Ice Trays

The reminder to drink more water is everywhere.  It is in the constant flow of water bottles people take with them.  Articles are written and posted with health and wellness publishers boasting the countless benefits of consuming more water.  However, none of these facts change the reality that water does not taste like anything.  There is no tantalizing sensation on the taste buds.  It remains plain old water.

There is obviously a demand for flavored water since there are numerous companies that have created flavored water products.  The drawbacks to these are the cost and the chemicals used to produce the flavored water.  In a way, it defeats the purpose of drinking water.

I cannot stand drinking plain water.  As a kid and young adult, I fainted more than once because I let myself get dehydrated.  Thankfully, as an adult, I have wizened up about it, and do drink water daily.  But, I needed to figure out how to drink more.  I tried many approaches, and the favorite is lemon water.  Lemon water is tart and refreshing, offering a burst of freshness.

I know this seems crazy, but there were days that I did not want to get out the cutting board and cut lemons to have in my water.  I just did it the day before and would have to do it again tomorrow, so forget today.  Well, that day turned into days, and I still drank some water, but not enough.

The idea occurred to me I should prepare several days’ worth of lemons so I could just put them my water each morning and be good for the day.  I tried slicing lemons and freezing them.  This made the lemons rubbery and bitter.  If I sliced lemons and put them in the fridge, then they would get lost, or my husband would use them for cooking.

One afternoon, I was frustrated, but bound and determined to come up with a solution.  Lemon ice cubes!  I grabbed my supplies and got started.  I rolled the lemons on the counter to get all the juice out of the pulp.  I then cut them in half and squeezed the juice into a glass measuring cup.  Using a small sieve (to get seeds and pulp), I poured the lemon juice into ice cube trays.  My goal was to fill each tray about half way, but some were more, and some were less.  I averaged the half way mark.

The trays went into the freezer, and several hours later, I had lemons ready for the water.  I took them out of the tray after they froze (the citric acid prevents them from completely freezing, so they are sticky and slippery) and put them in a baggie.  Now, each morning, I have one lemon cube and several ice cubes in my water.  As the day goes on, I fill my glass with more ice and water, and I have lemon water through the afternoon.  This method has proven to be the perfect solution.  My 5-year-old loves the lemon cubes, so I have a little competition.