Category Archives: parenting

Second Rate Faith

**Post contains Afflilate Links**

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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For Those Who Think I Have it All Together

I often have friends tell me things like “You are so laid back. How do you do it?” Or “You make it look so easy…”

To those friends… first, of all… thanks… I guess. I can only say that God’s grace must be shining through because I, indeed, do NOT have it all together… and I am sure that my children would argue the statement that I am laid back.

Yesterday… I did not have it together.

We’ve been battling mold in our basement. I am terrified at what lurks beneath. My husband’s car broke down this week. I am dreading what that might mean for us… money poured into fixing it? Scrapping the car and becoming a one car family… I know… first world problems. I’m sorry… I live in a first world country… they may be first world problems, but they are problems. We homeschool… community keeps me sane. If I don’t have a car to connect to said community… well… let’s just not go there.

Baby girl is up during the night and up early in the morning. This mama is sleep deprived. This mama needs sleep.. legitimately… more sleep than the average person.

Anxiety was the name of the game yesterday. Things were not easy and I was not laid back. I did not handle whining well. I did not handle simple requests well. I did not handle Baby Girl opening and trying to climb into the microwave on multiple occasions well. I did not handle Baby Girl pulling markers out and “painting” her toes. I was looking forward to nap time. I was sad when it was over.

I did not speak with gentleness and grace to my children. I grumbled. I whined and I complained. I did not take a deep breath and count to 10.

I fed them crescent rolls and eggs for dinner… they had popcorn and fruit the night before… so much for meal planning this week.

I’m thankful God’s mercies are new every morning.

One of the best words of wisdom I received from a dear friend a few years ago was to pray for my children… specifically to pray that their hearts would be like a colander… that as all the things of the day flow through their hearts, only the nuggets of truth and love would remain… that all the junk (that they see, hear, experience… even if it’s from their stressed out mom) would wash away. I prayed that for my children last night.

They are such a beautiful example of unconditional love. They greeted me with hugs and kisses this morning. They declared their love for me as if nothing ever happened. I would like to see me through their eyes… I have a feeling it’s a much different picture than what I imagine myself to be.

Parenting is hard. It stretches me and pulls me and breaks me.

At the end of the day… I’m glad for it.

 

 

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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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To Judge or Not to Judge

Don't judge people you never know what kind of battle they are fighting | Anonymous ART of Revolution

I found this picture on Pinterest… I’m sorry… I don’t know who to give credit to.

I have vented my frustrations on here before about the unnecessary comments people feel the need to make when I am out and about with my four. You know… like “wow, you sure have your hands full” or “are those all your’s.” I really don’t understand why people feel the need to say anything at all about the number of children I have with me. It’s like if you have more than one child, you must be some kind of crazy person!

I have found that I can tolerate ignorant comments from strangers much more than I can handle the judgment that seeps out from those who should be more understanding.. other moms! Especially other moms who are of similar mind set and have multiple children!!!! We’re on the same team ladies… we should be having each other’s backs… building each other up… not tearing each other down.

I have come to the conclusion that we are all desperately insecure. Our insecurities come out in different ways. Some of us are timid, constantly questioning the decisions we are making for our children. Should I potty train now? Cloth diapers or disposable? To spank or not to spank? Am I doing enough to prepare them for school? Should I homeschool? We ask questions of other moms. We hold ourselves up to an unattainable standard. We compare ourselves to other moms, using them as the measuring stick of our success or failure. Other show insecurities in different ways… they want to appear in control… so they become the “expert” on everything. They have an answer for all our parenting woes. They know exactly when and how to potty train. They know the solution to your child’s behavior problem. They parent you as you try to parent your child.

I really do think much of these behaviors come from a place insecurity, but come out as judgmental. The fact of the matter is, we are all created in God’s image… and we are all gifted by him… but we are not all the same. We have different gifts, different talents and different abilities. God created us as unique individuals with a purpose.

One of my favorite things that I learned from a mom to mom mentoring group that I was part of is that “God has a will.” You want to know when you should potty train your child, ask Him.. He has a will. How should you discipline your child… ask Him.. he has a will. Should you have your child tested for ADD… as Him… he has a will. Should you have more children… ask Him.. he has a will. Should you work or stay at home or both… ask Him… he has a will.  I think you get the point. His is the voice we should listen to!

SO…how do we drown out all those other voices that scream for our attention. How do we filter through all the advice, criticisms, comments, critiques that we receive?

I don’t know… when you figure it out, will you tell me?

I mean… I guess the answer is really spend time with the One who actually has all the answers. Read His word.

Here’s the thing… everyone has a story. There are things that happen in our lives that inform our decisions and behaviors. Until you know someone’s story, you really have no right to judge… and even if you do know the story… use discernment. I have been on the receiving end of judgment. I have also doled out judgment of my own. Neither one really feels all that good. I guess I’m just pleading to the other moms out there… can we give each other some grace? Can we speak to each other with love and not condemnation? Can we work on the planks in our own eyes before we start in on each other? Motherhood is a tough job… we need all the encouragement we can get!

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Top Ten Favorite Parenting Books

I used to be part of a Mom to Mom mentoring group… Oh I miss it so! It was there that I started reading some wonderful books by solid Christian authors that dealt with the subject of parenting. These books are filled with tools and strategies to help in the journey of parenting:

(these are in no particular order)

Which Brings me to my # 1 resource for parenting woes and needs:

Come back next week for my TOP TEN scriptures about parenting!!!

What are your go to books for parenting?

Linking up with:
Hip Homeschool Hop Button

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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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Rockin’ The Mom Jeans

When I was in college, I wore the low waist, trendy jeans. I never liked them. I mean… they fit, but I always felt like my hips and stomach were spilling out of the top. Everyone complains about having the “muffin top” look, but we still buy the jeans that are unflattering and try to stuff ourselves into them.

Well… when I started having children, my hips expanded and my waistline headed north. Now.. the only jeans that fit comfortably are mom jeans. They come all the way up to my extremely high (like only a couple of inches below my bra) waistline. They efficiently tuck in and conceal the stretched out from having four babies skin that just kind of hangs there on my stomach all sad like. With mom jeans, I have no fears of my stomach spilling out over the top of the waist band.

I’ll wear my mom jeans as a badge of honor… just like the widened hips and those gray hairs that are popping up here and there.  I’ve earned them with every moment I’ve spent in childbirth… with every moment I’ve spent in the trenches of parenthood. I’ve earned these hips that now are roomy enough to comfortably sit a two year old as she helps me cook dinner. I’ve earned the mom jeans that scream “I no longer have time to worry about what the world deems fashionable.. nor do I care.” My assurance doesn’t come from my style of jeans… thank the Lord.

With mom jeans sitting comfortably on my body… I have one less thing to think about. I don’t have to constantly pull up my jeans as they slide down my hips. I don’t have to wonder if I am showing off my underwear to the world when I bend over to pick up fallen toys or squat down to wipe tears and tend to hurt feelings and broken hearts.

So.. yeah… everyone makes fun of them… Saturday Night Live has done skits about them… but I don’t care… I’m rockin’ the mom jeans and I like it!

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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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Motherhood Moments

Yesterday afternoon, I was working on a t-shirt quilt that someone had ordered. Thankful as I am to use my sewing machine and skills to help our family, I was super glad to finish this project last night. The lady that ordered it actually ordered FOUR quilts and this was the final one!

As I was in the back of the house pinning pieces together, I could hear the two older children playing in the bedroom and the toddler out with her daddy in the living room. He was reading a Curious George book to her. She was so delighted to have his full attention.

As I listened to their interactions and her giggles, I was reminded how thankful I am for my husband and children. My husband adores our children. When he plays with them, he makes them feel like they are the most important thing in the world. And… they happen to think he’s pretty great too!

 

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Motherhood- It’s Not for the Faint of Heart

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was a preschool teacher. For eight hours a day, I was involved in the lives of 40 little people… well.. more like for 3 hours I was involved with 20 and then 3 more hours I was involved with 20 more. I had an hour break in between. I had an assistant. I had another lady that came in and assisted me with one child who was “a handful”… to say the least. I had a speech therapist that came twice a week and took a few of the kids for some of the time. I had a playground just outside. We had activities… art, PE, library, school assemblies…. I thought I was tired then.

I went into work by 7 and left no later than 4. I came home and napped while my husband cooked dinner. I was so pampered during that pregnancy!

When I was pregnant with the second one, we moved twice. I didn’t have to do much in terms of packing or unpacking… no one would let me. My job was to take care of the first born… who was twenty one months old when the baby was born. He was a rock star nap taker while I was pregnant. He would sleep for like three hours every afternoon. I would nap every day when he napped. I thought I was tired then.

Pregnancy with number three showed me levels of tiredness that I had never known… but still my older two napped for the most part in the afternoon… I could still catch a few winks in the afternoon.

Now… pregnant with number four… I am homeschooling the first two and trying my hardest to keep the toddler from destroying the house and herself. I “go into” work around 7 and don’t leave. This is a twenty- four hour a day job.

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Motherhood is dirty. Motherhood is smelly. Motherhood is life in the trenches… an uphill battle. You have to know the names fifty stuffed animals. At any time, you must recall random facts about dinosaurs, ocean animals, birds, leaves, etc. You have to know who had the unicorns last when playing My Little Pony, keep up with whose turn it is to open the van door, help with the dishes, take a bath first, etc.  You must be careful to treasure every scrap of paper they bring to you… because they made it just for you… and keep up with every flower and weed they pick for you… because they picked it just for you.

You try to survive the day… you try to write down the cute things they say and did because you know you want to remember, but your brain only has so much room. You try not to cry over spilled milk.. but come on… you just mopped the floor!

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Motherhood is missions, discipleship, teaching, training, loving, crying, praying, striving, resting, laughing, refereeing, cheer-leading.

It’s tiring work… but it sure is rewarding (most days)!

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