Category Archives: children

Second Rate Faith

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We are reading through this devotional right now:

You can get it for the Kindle (which is what we use): Case for Christ for Kids 90-Day Devotional

Or in PaperBack: Case for Christ for Kids 90-Day Devotional (Case For… Kids)

Last week, we read a chapter than likened Christianity to getting into a pool of cold water. Some people dip their toe in to test the waters. Some start at the shallow end and work their way to the deep. Some people go whole hog and do a cannonball right into the deep end.

It got me thinking. What do I want for my kids? The truth is, I don’t want them to have a second rate faith. I don’t want their relationships to Jesus to be ho hum or back burner or non existent. I don’t want them to be luke warm. But then I realized… my faith is second rate. My faith is ho hum. My faith is back burner and luke warm at times.

How am I to challenge them to see the depth of the love of Christ and the unending grace He offers if I can’t even see it. How to I model this Christ to them that I want them to have when I don’t have that kind of faith. It challenges me to think that I am one of my childrens’ first exposures to Jesus. Who do they know him to be by my actions. Do they know grace and forgiveness? Am I teaching them to be little pharisees… to outwardly follow rules with no depth or grace or heart? Do they see love or anger from me? Grace or Legalism?

What a burden I could turn this into if I didn’t believe that God is so much bigger than me. I have to trust that He placed these children into mine and my husband’s keeping. That he is shaping and molding them according to his great wisdom. But still… I wonder.

I have been challenged to go to my knees in prayer for these precious little ones. I posted THIS PRAYER GUIDE a while ago. I think it’s time to print it out and put it into action!

I’ve also been reading this book:

It’s helping me. I struggle with the balance between justice and grace. This book is helping me to know how to help my children experience God’s grace. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. Neither did my husband. We are navigating these waters together and learning so much as we go.

 

 

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Teaching Children About Prayer with FREE Prayer Journal Printable

kidsprayer

Last year, I was asked to lead a session at our church’s womens retreat about teaching children to pray. I was really challenged as I prepared to teach. This can be a daunting subject. It can easily be avoided… oh, they are too young. Oh, they won’t understand. Oh, they’ll learn when they are older.

But like anything, setting a good foundation early is important.

The biggest way, in my opinion, to teacher our children to pray is to lead by example.

Pray together as a family. Pray for your children and with your children. When something goes wrong, pray! When something goes right, pray! When something is confusing, pray! Pray with your children at meal times, bed time, school time. Just pray.

Prayer doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, Jesus encourages us to NOT be like the pharisees who used a lot of fancy words and phrases. He encourages us, rather, to be sincere and from the heart. Our children don’t need us to be great orators. They just need us to be real. Prayer is simply talk to God. We talk to each other all the time. We can train our children that, because of the work that Jesus did on the cross, we can approach God with whatever is on our minds and hearts.

I do think there are a few key things to teach our children about prayer:

1. Prayer is talking to God (we’ve covered that)

2. God answers prayer… but it may not always be with a “yes.” Be sure to point out to your children when God has answered prayer. My son was four when we moved to Florida for my husband to go to seminary. Just before we left, he desperately wanted to go to the Georgia Aquarium. I told him that he would have to pray about it because we did not have the money for tickets. He did. He prayed and sure enough, we were blessed with a significant amount of money. The giver encouraged us to do something special as a family. We point back to that with my son often to remind him that God cares about what we care about…. that God heard his prayer.

3. God is not Santa Clause. God does not reward good behavior with treats and saying yes to prayers. God’s favor in our life is not based on our behavior. God’s favor in our life is based on His love for us. We should not only go to God with our desire for “stuff”. Prayer is also about confession, thanksgiving, praying for others.

4. Confession. Teach your children that it is okay and encouraged to go to God and tell him when we have messed up. We can ask him for forgiveness and know that he will forgive.

5. A heart of thankfulness. This one is hard for me and for my children. We live in such a society of bigger and better. There is always something bigger and better than what we have. I am always asking my children to be content and thankful for who they are and what they have.  Another way I have sought to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving in my children is this: when they wake up in the night with bad dreams, I tell them to think about things they are thankful for and thank God for those things. This helps to get their minds off the bad dreams and onto what God is doing in their lives.

For older children, it might be helpful for them to keep a prayer journal. They can keep a record of their prayer life and look back over it to see how God is indeed present in our lives.

I’ve included three different printable prayer journal pages. Click on the link BELOW the image to download the printable version:

prayer 1Click to download ->> Prayer Journal Purple Flowers

prayer 2Click to download ——->>Blue Letters Prayer Journal

prayer 3Click to download—->>Green Letters Prayer Journal

How do you teach prayer to your children? Comment below and share your ideas!

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Freebie Friday- Kids Bowl Free

Have you heard about this great program?

kidsbowlfree_logo

You just have to sign up and your children can bowl free all summer? Not all bowling alleys participate… so be sure to check the list for an alley near you.

My kids LOVED this when we did it a couple of years ago. I’m really excited because the bowling alley in town in participating this year! Just click on the picture above to get started!

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Mother’s Day 2013

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I wish I could wake up every morning at 5:30 AM to the sound of my 16 month old crying and have my first thought be “oh, I’m so thankful for that sweet little blessing!” I have, at times, felt so guilty when I read facebook statuses of people who sing the praises of their children and just go on and on about how blessed they are. People tell me that I need to treasure the little years because they go so quickly…. to enjoy every moment.

Every moment?

Really?

Like the moment when everyone in the house was sound asleep except for the 16 month old who was screaming and climbing all over me because she wanted to play. And then, when I gave her a waffle to quiet her down, she proceeded to grind it into my shirt, hair and the sofa we were sitting on.

Or like when my children came stumbling, sleepy eyed out on Mothers Day morning and immediately asked for food and tv instead of lavishing me with Mothers Day greetings, homemade cards, etc.

Or when, later that day, I was stuck in the bathroom of the posh country club that my parents belong to… changing a stinky (and I mean stinky) diaper with NO wipes. I texted for help as I sat there on the floor (because there was no changing table) and waited and waited and waited for help to come!

Am I really expected to treasure those moments?… covered in waffles? covered in poop?

Don’t get me wrong… I love my children. I adore my children. I can’t imagine life without my children. They have taught me so much about myself and about the love and patience that the Heavenly Father lavishes upon me. I am amazed at how they love me, despite the fact that I might be covered in waffles… and poop. I enjoy watching them play. I love to hear the games they make up. I love reading to them and teaching them… hiking with them, exploring the world with them. I do love being a mom.

I want to be a mom who, while picking up the dirty clothes from the floor or putting shoes in the shoe basket for the tenth time that day or washing dishes, again can say “I am so thankful for the little hands that made these messes.” “I am so thankful for the food that went on these plates and filled our bellies” “I am so thankful for the sweaty little feet that ran around in these stinky little shoes.”… But quite honestly… I’m just not always in that frame of mind.

I am constantly getting on to my eight year old about how ungrateful he is… about everything! Perhaps I should swallow that pill, take my own medicine and check out my own heart. You would think that being thankful would come easily. There are so many ways in which we are blessed each day… but thankfulness really is  discipline that must be practiced often.

Ok… I get it… I need to stop looking at the sippy cup as being half empty and train myself to see it as half full. I need to stop thinking about the sleep I’m missing and start thinking about the time I’m getting with my littlest snuggle bug. Stop thinking about the dirt on the floor, counters, sink and start thinking more of the ones who are behind all that tom- foolery!

After the waffles and poop yesterday, my husband took us all to a flea market… because I love yard sales… he let me loose… all by myself to peruse and purchase at will. He took the kids and let them pick out gifts from me. How can I not be thankful for that.. and check out these awesome gifts:

momsday

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Pinterest Made Me Do It- Sidewalk Paint

I’ve been meaning to do this for quite a while. Usually, I get an idea in my head and it doesn’t come to fruition until a few weeks after. Anyway… I was spending some time on Pinterest (shocking, right?)… and THIS PIN (or variations of it) has popped up quite a bit here and there. The chalk/ paint is actually incredibly easy to make.

All you need is

Cornstarch

Water

Food Coloring

Mix equal parts of cornstarch and water and drop in whatever coloring you want. I did 1/4 cup of corn starch and 1/4 cup of water.

I only added a few drops of food coloring to each cup and the colors turned out so bright.

FYI… the paint almost seemed like it wasn’t working at first, but as it dried… the colors brightened.

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Lead By Example

I know that words can only do so much… that we must lead by example, especially when it comes to our children. But, I have to confess, I’d rather just say some really eloquent words and let that do the trick than do the hard work of backing up my words with actions!

Lately, I’ve been using our yard as my own personal gym. We were members of the YMCA when we lived in Florida. They offered classes for my kids while I exercised. We loved going there. However, when we moved, we discovered the local YMCA doesn’t offer as much for the kids and we opted out of a membership. I didn’t really care at that point because I was pregnant and not so much in the mood to work out.

jumping jacks

A couple of months ago, I made a commitment to myself to start exercising several times a week. My husband had measured off our yard and discovered that ten times around approximately equals a mile. But… our yard is rather hilly and I just wasn’t quite ready for that! I made up my own circuit training with stair steps, push ups, crunches, etc. I am generally a very private person when it comes to exercise. I don’t like a big audience. I don’t really even like working out with my husband. I think I’m just really self conscious. So… I started exercising when the kids were resting in the afternoon. Pretty soon, however, Little Sis decided to drop her nap. Baby girl decided to be awake when everyone else was resting. I had to find other times to exercise. My kids LOVE being outside. So, I started heading out with them while Baby Girl was taking her morning nap.

They had seen their dad run around the yard when he exercised and now they were seeing me run up and down stairs and do jumping jacks and other (not so) fun stuff. Soon, they started joining in. I usually have at least one, but usually three work out partners. They are underfoot and sometimes I wish they would just go play, but I have to admit, it does my heart good to see them in on the action. Big Brother makes up his own circuit around the yard that includes running around the house, running up and down the ramp, jumping jacks, swinging and other things. Big Sis makes up exercises like “count the sunflowers” and “scratch your legs.” They usually lay down next to me when I am doing crunches. It’s pretty cute.

running laps

I have told them the importance of exercise. They knew that when we went to the YMCA I was exercising, but it took them seeing me and their dad in action to catch on. I didn’t exercise or eat well as a kid. I started retraining myself in college and it has been a tough road. I am praying that the kids learn solid habits early on.

Even more important than all the exercise is what my husband has been doing with the kids in the mornings. He gets up with the kids most mornings (bless him) and lets me sleep in (oh Lord, bless that man). In an effort to keep the kids quiet, he had been letting them watch tv. We made the decision recently to cut back on the amount of tv the kids were watching. We were noticing that they were becoming really loud and unruly and seemingly unable to calm themselves down. We don’t know if it was due to increased tv watching or not.  Well, my husband has stopped letting them watch tv in the mornings, but not only that… he has started the habit of reading their Bibles in the morning with them. They each (age 7, 5 and 2) get a Bible and look at it quietly while my husband reads his as well. He said it took about three or so days for them to catch on and now they don’t even ask for tv any more. We don’t mind them watching tv every now and then, but now it is more of a treat than the norm.

Lead by example. It really does work…. good or bad, our children will follow the example we give them.

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Let Them Be Little

I have been reflecting more and more about why I like homeschooling. I think the biggest perk for me is seeing my children be children. We do school. We do math, language arts, science, history and all the other stuff that makes school, school. Really, it only takes about two hours of our day to “do school.” The rest of our day is spent playing and drawing and reading together and exploring and so much more.

Lately we have been reading the Little House on the Prairie Series. We’ve read Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie and Farmer Boy. My kids can’t wait to go to the library and check out On the Banks of Plum Creek. Big Sis immediately identified with Mary. She wants her hair braided like Mary and prides herself on being the oldest girl. They’ve made up a part for Big Brother to play. They decided that if Mary, Laura and Carrie had a brother, his name would have been Charlie and he and Mary would have been twins.

I cannot tell you how many hours a day the kids are outside playing Little House on the Prairie. They do chores, farm, hunt, ride in wagons and so much more. I love it. I sit on the porch and listen to their little imaginations at work. If they are not playing Little House, it is something else, with other characters and in depth story lines. I can’t help thinking that if they were in school for eight hours a day and then doing homework and sports and all kinds of other things that they would miss out on these chances to head out on the prairie or into a castle and just be children at play.

This world forces our children to grow up so fast. They are bombarded with grown up images so early. The clothes sold for little girls are too grown up. Kids are pushed to read and write by the time they enter school. They are pushed to succeed academically and, in my opinion, robbed of so much of what childhood has to offer. When I was teaching four year old kindergarten, one of the hardest things to get my parents to understand was the importance of play in learning. They wanted to know that their children would be learning their letters and numbers and shapes. I tried so hard to convey how crucial play is for young children.

As I watch my kids play for hours on end, I am thankful that they are not in a hurry to grow up. I  want to let them be little. I want to let them play dress up and make believe for years to come. I want them to play with sidewalk chalk and dance and swing and sing. They will have years and years to be adults. They will have to grow up, but for now, I want to let them know it’s okay to be little.

 

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Never Say Never

I am realizing, more and more, as little sis is fully in the midst of being two years old, that many definitive statements I have made in the past are coming back to bite me.

In regards to potty training… “Once we give up diapers, we will NOT let the child wear a pull up or diapers during the day… just underwear.”… that one went out the window when little sis started potty training and went through 6 or 7 pairs of underpants before 10 am.

“I will NEVER yell at my children”…. well… that one was wiped out pretty early on

In regards to temper tantrums in public… “My children have NEVER really thrown big fits in public”…. until little sis came on the scene… where do they learn to throw themselves down on the ground and flail around like that?!?! And… then she kicked me because she didn’t like what I had to say… what in the world?!?!

“I do NOT want to homeschool our children”… that one quickly dissolved as soon as big brother was born.

In regards to feeding children and having picky eaters… “My children WILL eat what I prepare or they WILL NOT eat…. Surely if I follow what all the books say, my children WILL be great eaters.”… and then there was Big Sis… Many a night have ended in tears on my part and her’s when it comes to the dinner table.

“My baby will NOT sleep in our room for more than a couple of months. It is best for them to be in their own room, in their own bed.”… says the mom who has a four month old sleeping just a couple of feet from her bedside.

“I WILL definitely breastfeed my babies. I WILL NOT use formula”… says the mom who had a dwindling milk supply with her second baby and had to switch to formula at four months… and now again says the mom whose baby’s mouth was not formed well for nursing and has been bottle fed from the get go.

“I will NEVER cater to my children and spend tons of money finding a bottle they will use or a sippy cup they will drink from. They’ll just have to learn to use what we have.”… until Little Sis would only drink out of the expensive sippy cup I bought while on a road trip and then couldn’t find in anymore at any store so I ordered some from Amazon.

” I will NEVER bribe my child do do what he is supposed to do”… until Big Brother refuses to learn his math facts and I start paying him a quarter for each math family he learns.

“I will NOT fuss at my potty training toddler for accidents… after all, she is only two.” … but seriously, she keeps peeing on the couch… she even peed on me the other day… TWICE!!!!

So… you see… I should NEVER make such definitive statements. Statements made from my pride will always come back to haunt me. It is written in the book of Proverbs that pride comes before a fall. I shouldn’t judge other parents, declaring that I will NEVER make the same mistakes… because… most likely I will make those same mistakes and many, many more.

I suppose that the only definitive statements I could ever make and actually mean it are these: I WILL make mistakes. I WILL be in need of forgiveness. I will NEVER get it all right, all the time. And to my children: I am a sinner just like you. I WILL wrong you and hurt you, but I will NEVER stop loving you. To my husband: I WILL lose my patience and be cranky, but I WILL ALWAYS appreciate and love you.

I am so glad that when the Lord makes a statement, he sticks by it and doesn’t falter:

I will NEVER leave or forsake you… Hebrews 13:5

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Caught Not Taught

“Caught not Taught”… that’s how James Dobson describes how children learn. I was at a Homeschool Moms breakfast last week and the speaker referred to that statement… caught not taught.  She used the example of a cold… we don’t intentionally go out and try to spread our germs, but when we cough or sneeze or forget to wash our hands, the germs spread.

My two year old has a cold. She has been coughing almost non stop for two days. She tries to cover her mouth… but she forgets. She wants to wash her hands and wipe her nose… but this results in puddles in the bathroom and a trail of snotty tissues down the hall. She is a cuddler and just wants to be held and snuggled. She keeps walking up to me and saying “I (cough) need my (cough) mommy (cough, cough).” Each one of those coughs pointed right at my face. And wouldn’t you know it… I woke up this morning with a sore throat and sniffles.

Caught… not taught.

Just as my two year old has been spewing germs all over the house, I am constantly spewing lessons all over my children. They learn from what they see… what they hear… how they are treated… the expectations placed on them.

I can tell my girls all day long that they are beautiful and that God loves them just the way they are… but do they hear me sigh as I look in the mirror, complain as I point out my love handles, groan as I try to squeeze into my jeans. Do they see the disgust I have of my own body and the way that I don’t believe the words that I tell them about beauty apply to myself. I am not a big make up wearer or one to dress up with nice clothes or jewelry… but my attitude about myself communicated volumes to my girls.

Where do my children find their worth?

I can tell my son all day long that he is special and that God has gifted him and has a great plan for him.. but those are simply words if I continually sigh when he comes bounding into the living room and jumps on my sofa… when he builds towers in his room only to loudly knock them over… when he takes fifteen minutes to explain some scene out of the latest boxcar children book he’s read when I need to be getting dinner ready. Am I communicating that I think he’s special when I am constantly shuffling him off to his room or outside just so I can have some time to myself or get dinner going or change a diaper or feed a baby.

Caught… not taught.

When I tell my children that they are loved just as they are by God and mommy and daddy, but I constantly pick apart the way they clean their rooms and go behind them to make it right… I am communicating that they just don’t measure up to my standard.

I have some great speeches in my mommy bank.. about how to treat others, how to respect mommy and daddy, care for the less fortunate, do all things with excellence, do all things without complaining and disputing… I have verses and examples to back all of it up… but really… it’s all for naught if I’m not walking the walk.

What legacy am I leaving my children? What memories will they have? What are they picking up from me from day to day? How am I telling them I love them with my actions and attitudes?

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I Corinthians 13:1

I do not want to just be a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal!

 

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Motherhood Moments

I have really had to challenge myself to find those moments that remind me why I got into the business of parenting in the first place. It has been rainy and cold here lately. We have been stuck in the house. My son NEEDS to be outside… running around! As I am typing this, he is literally bouncing off the walls of his room. He is hanging upside down from his loft bed. He is jumping from the train table to the floor.

My girls are filled with drama. One second, they are playing well together… the next they are trying to pry toys from one anothers’ hands. They want to play well, but are not quite sure how to handle that desire.

I have written before about my son’s struggle with anger and our struggle in how to help him. He is a sweet boy. I know that he is. He cares deeply about right and wrong and has a hard time reconciling injustice. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in his life. We have been working with him on strategies for controlling his anger… we have been cracking down on the disrespect that springs from his anger.

Last night, I felt like we had a breakthrough of sorts. He got angry…had his feelings hurt… I don’t even remember what about. Instead of pouting and screaming and making everyone in the room feel his wrath, he quietly went into his room for a few minutes. He came back out… quiet and calm. When his dad asked him what he’d been doing, he simply said that he went into his room to calm himself down. We didn’t tell him to do that. He took responsibility for his emotion and feelings and knew what he needed to do to calm down. I’ll count that as a victory.

So… that’s my Motherhood Moment. That’s the moment I’ll go back to while in the trenches. Something is working. Something is getting through.

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