Enjoying Our Little Ones

Enjoying Our Little Ones

Well, school is going again, and along with the comfort of a schedule, us mommies are quite busy. The first couple of weeks can be tough as everyone is adjusting and mom is having to “tweak” methods and curriculum to meet everyone’s needs. I know that it sure has been tiring, yet rewarding for me the last two weeks. During this time of getting things up and running again it can be tough to really relax and enjoy our time with our children.

Recently I had one of those chance encounters with a mother of two older teenage boys. One had just graduated and the other will soon. I don’t actually know this woman, but ended up having a very insightful conversation with her. She had asked how many children I had, and I had told her that I had four, all elementary age and under. Instantly her eyes lit up, and she told me how much I should enjoy my time with my little ones, as it goes by so fast. She proceeded to tell me how hard it had been on her to watch her “babies” grow-up, and even got teary eyed when confessing that she felt like she took her time with them for granted.

Well, being an emotional mama myself, I felt that instant moment of panic, knowing that I already felt my kiddos were growing-up too fast. I still distinctly remember when my oldest was an infant and an older lady at a fabric store told me how quickly time goes. At the time, I remember thinking that she must be exaggerating, and I shouldn’t worry about it. Now I look at my tall, intelligent son, and wonder how it happened so fast…

As I continue to seek God’s will in my life, for myself and my parenting, I have come to see that trying to keep my children from growing up is not His will. Training them to be the godly men and women He wants them to be, is. Actually, I think that is part of the whole solution. Yes, it can be tough and emotional to watch our children getting older, but when we are there with them, training them up, we get to experience their whole childhood with them.

Seeing as how I haven’t had to deal with my children becoming adults or leaving home yet, I can’t say how hard it is, but I definitely know that I don’t want to miss out on this wonderful time.

I am going to give it my best to not get too focused on getting things “done”, and be sure to enjoy “doing” things with my kiddos.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Psalms 127:3

Letting God Guide Our Learning

Letting God Guide Our Learning

Over the last couple of weeks I have been scouring through endless materials and curriculum to make some changes to our homeschooling this year. It seems to have completely monopolized my time. As my kiddos are getting bigger, I want to make sure that I am doing a good job teaching them, and preparing them for their adulthood.

As I have looked into numerous methods and styles, I found myself feeling frustrated. I would like certain aspects of one, but not other parts of it. I felt discouragement creeping in, and the “year” hadn’t even begun yet!

Well, I think I have figured out a solution, at least for the time being. But that’s not really what I want to talk about. Instead it is the realization I had while trying to find the “perfect method“: I have been looking in the wrong place. Instead of trying to replicate or purchase the right method, I need to look to God for the answers. By spending some time in prayer and God’s Word, I know that He will direct and guide me in the way He desires for me to go.

Living in the society that we do, it can be very easy to just view our home education as a “school” at home. Teacher buys materials, and reads and directs students through preplanned curricula. This is not what I want for my children. I am continuously telling them that they should look to God to lead them throughout their lives, and when it comes to their education, I need to be sure that I am doing that too.

This isn’t just a matter of choosing a Christian method or curriculum, but allowing God to direct the daily teaching. Not only do I want to make The Bible the main source and focus of our learning, but I want God to be leading the whole way.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Choosing Submission At Home

Recently I read an account of a woman who was warning other wives of the dangers of submitting too much. She went on to talk of how much she resented being forced to stay at home, wear skirts and bake bread. She claimed that being submissive and wanting to please our husbands was the breeding grounds for abuse. I have found myself thinking about this repeatedly since I read it, and want to talk a little about it.

Let me start off by saying that I have never been in a physically abusive relationship, and am not trying to advise how to handle such a situation.

That being said, I was saddened to think that there are women out there that are warning against submitting to our husbands. First off, it is biblical to submit, and secondly, it is absurd to think that just because something bad happened to one woman, it will happen to all women. Our God is a loving God, and I see no reason why He would call women to submit, if it would cause men to hurt them. Obviously there is something else going on to causes the abuse, and submission and staying home to care for our families should not be blamed.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22

I was raised in a family where submission was not something practiced. When the subject was brought up, it was said to be a thing of the past, not something that really applied to wives today. As a young wife, I naturally sought the approval of my hubby, but let me just say that submission was not on my list of “things to work on“. As God really began working on my life, and I actually picked-up my Bible myself to look for direction and answers, I began to truly take notice of how many times God commands women to submit to their husbands. My eyes were opened. I instantly knew it was something that I was not good at, and definitely needed to pray for the strength to make such a change. Well, one thing led to another, and although I still know that I need to continue to work on my submission, I can feel such a positive change in myself and my marriage.

So, as my mind has repeatedly gone back to the warnings of that poor woman, I have taken some time to think about why submission is a positive thing for me, whereas it is obviously not to her. I, in no way, am stating that I am better than her, and maybe that is why I have spent so much time pondering it. From what it sounds like, she was forced into submission by her husband and church. I, on the other hand, was not. My submission to my husband is something between me and God. He showed it to me, and gave me the strength to take the step.

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” Ephesians 5:24

Whereas this woman resented wearing skirts, baking bread, and submitting to her husband, I find it to be wonderfully freeing. I am outright ecstatic! I don’t have to try to “keep-up” with the men in the world. I don’t have to compete for the new promotion. I don’t have to sit in hours of mind-numbing traffic each day. I don’t have to lift things that are too heavy for me. I get to stay at home, where super- comfy skirts, teach my children about God and life, make wonderful things for my family to eat, and enjoy guiding my house. Now that’s freedom!

As women, we need to feel brave enough to stand up and say that “I am striving to be submissive to my husband, and although it can be tough at times, it is wonderful.”

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18

Are You A Help Meet?

Are You A Help Meet?

Over the course of my marriage, there have been many times that I tried to change my husband’s mind about something. Every time it happened, I thought I was really, really right. Some of the times hubby decided that he did in fact agree with me, but other times, he held his own. Now in all honesty, up until the last few years I though submission was a little “iffy”. I knew the Bible repeatedly spoke of it, but I thought there must be more to the story. As God has worked to turn my heart towards Him, I have come to realize that submission really is something that I need to do, and it is quite basic.

One of the things I love about my hubby is his ability to make a decision based off of what he thinks to be right, even when his wife disagrees. I know, it sounds odd, but it’s really how I feel. Of course, at the time, I am not happy, but it is wonderful to know that our family is in good hands.

I used to be quite upset that the husband is to be the head of the house, and the wife is to submit in all things. It sounds so difficult. As I have tried to accept the role God has given me, I have learned how freeing it can be. Of course there are times it is harder than others, but when we truly seek to follow God’s teachings, our whole life is at peace.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” Ephesians 5:22-24

On the flip side, I can’t imagine the pressure our husbands feel at this enormous responsibility. I dearly love my hubby, and want to be a good help meet to him. One of the things I can do is be supportive and loving to him. Each of our husbands are quite unique, and have different needs and desires. As their wife, it is up to us to find out how best we can help them.

“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18

Instead of making a mental list of the things we wish our husbands would change about themselves, let’s focus on their strengths, and find a way to help them with their struggles. Rather than fussing at hubby for his “impatience” with our kiddos after a long day, maybe we can help him by getting the children occupied with a fun activity, that doesn’t involve kids running through the house and screaming.

My challenge to you is to actually take 5 minutes to write a list of a few things that you love about your husband. Then come up with a couple of ways you can help him with his struggles. 

I love that my hubby: isn’t swayed by other’s opinions; passionately loves his children; strives to be more godly; listens to my thoughts on how we should parent; wants to be the leader of our house.

I can be a good help meet to my hubby by: making sure the house is run to his liking; work to improve on our children’s education where I have been lacking; show him how important he is to me; be supportive of his decisions, even when I don’t want to.

Now it is your turn… how can you be a good help meet to your hubby?

Loving With Words

The last week has been quite crazy for me. Along with a few unplanned issues, I have been trying to get our school year planned. Although this has left me with less time than I wanted to blog, I wanted to quickly cover a topic that has been on my mind.

When our children are young we often times dote on them, telling them how much we love them. It’s easy to look at their cute chubby cheeks, repeating how special they are.

As our little ones grow older, it can be easy to forget to tell them how much they mean to us. No longer do they want to hear how “cuddly mommy’s baby is” (well, maybe some do). Now you get snickers, and embarrassed looks.

Nevertheless, I think it’s important to remember to let our kiddos know just how special and loved they are. Now, instead of treating them like cute babies, we can tell them some of the joy they bring to our lives. If this is something you have grown out of the routine of, here are some tips to get back in the habit:

  1. Telling your kids you love them only takes a second, and not just when you are telling them good night.
  2. Don’t stop complimenting them just because they seem embarrassed by it (it just means they don’t know how to respond).
  3. Make sure to point out positive and helpful things they do, even if they seem small.
  4. Jot down thoughts that come to mind, even if now is not the time.
  5. When working alongside them and teaching them, you have plenty of opportunity to say a kind word.
  6. Leave them a loving note where they will find it. Who knows, it might even make it into a memory box.

By building your children up, you are not only being a positive reinforcement in their lives, but helping to strengthen your bond with them. Especially if your child loves words of affirmation, it can really make their day.

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

 

Adapting To God’s Blessings

Like so many larger families out there, hubby and I didn’t start out wanting a lot of kids. Well, God had His own plans for our family, and boy am I glad!

When we only had two kiddos, we were at a different place in life. We were seeking the “American Dream“, with Christianity mixed in. I had this ideal of having my children in their perfectly decorated rooms, with trendy clothes and getting lots of “individual” time with mom and dad. Now with four children, our life looks a little different. Not only did God really shake-up our spiritual life, and cause us to really seek Him and His will, but the way our house functions has really changed.

Having a big family has affected many aspects of our lives. Here are a few:

  • What’s a restaurant? An occasional drive-thru might be feasible, but sit down restaurants are far too expensive and difficult.
  • Can you say “Staycation”? Years ago we made frequent trips to amusement parks, and many other fun vacation spots. Now, it neither sounds as doable or fun.
  • Buying in bulk; cooking from scratch. Need I say more?
  • Hand me downs are wonderful!
  • I’ve learned to cut everyone’s hair. Even at bargain rates, six haircuts add up quickly!
  • Cloth diapers. I can’t even begin to calculate how much we’ve saved by not buying disposables and wipes!
  • No longer does every child need to be signed-up for extracurricular sports and lessons. “If you really want to learn something, and I can’t teach it, you must be committed before we start a new kind of lesson.”
  • Really, kids don’t need their own bedrooms.
  • We share everything. “I understand you got it for your birthday, but we still share.”
  • Not everything is fair. Sometimes some kids get some things, and others don’t. It’s really okay.
  • We learn together. I don’t have any desire to teach each child individual subjects, per grade.
  • Older children help out with younger children.
  • “Sometimes you have to eat things you don’t love.” I’m sorry but I can’t be a short order cook all day.

Really, when it comes down to it, we are all very happy. Obviously God has blessed us greatly with many children, and we would love more. I used to think that with lots of children, we would need lots of money, and even then I would be compromising the care of our children. Now, with less income then when we had two, we eat healthier, live more simply, and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Psalms 127:3

Freeing Your Children From Consumerism

Freeing Your Children From Consumerism

Target bags

consumerism: a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods

Earlier this summer I posted about consumerism, and how it has become an addiction for so many of us. Lately, I have really become aware of a more specific problem: consumerism targeted at our children. We all know how many different toys, tv show characters, and video games are focused on luring in our children.

Growing up, I remember when you actually had to seek out toys. Other than specific toy stores, one could get their regular shopping done without a bombardment of toys in every store. If my parents wanted to buy us a “little something” it was usually either a yummy treat or a little bouncy ball. We didn’t have whole sections full of toys at our normally frequented stores.

Times sure have changed. The other day our whole family went into Target to get a few essentials. One of our kiddos had a little money he had gotten from his birthday, and asked if we could walk over to the toy section. “Sure… what harm will that do?”

Let me just say that it was awful! Every aisle had toys that seemed to be perfectly catered toward our different aged children. The two year old fell in love with a series of toys that looked enormously appealing, the five year old found a giant stuffed animal of a lion (her newest, passionate interest), my boys found an assortment of fun, older kid toys, and let’s not mention what I found that I wanted. (Ok, so I almost caved and bought this wonderful looking organizer. I have been wanting to redo my homemaker binders, and this just looked so easy, instead of having to print up and make my own! Now, I’m glad I didn’t because I’m really enjoying designing mine own.)

Well, by the grace of God, we actually made it out of the store without buying anything that wasn’t on the list, but it really was quite hard on everyone. After our little excursion, everyone was exhausted. At the dinner table that night we all talked about what we had wanted, and how it felt to have to leave it at the store. Of course the two year old did not have much to say on the subject, but everyone else understood that we really didn’t need any of that stuff. Yes it’s fun to get new things, but if it means you have to get rid of something to make room for it, it doesn’t seem near as appealing. Ironically enough, after leaving the store everyone was relieved, and many didn’t even want those exciting things anymore.

So here is what I was thinking about. I know that it is hard for me to not “buy into” consumerism and just get everything I desire, so how much harder is it for my young children? I fully understand why I should not spend unnecessarily, both financially and Biblically, but here are my kiddos, still immature and trying to figure out life, and what do I do but throw them into a small “world” of exciting, appealing toys and games.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

This isn’t just a matter of telling my children “no” to the toys they want, but rather helping to reduce the constant barrage of temptations. God is clear that we should flee from temptation.

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” 1 Timothy 6:11

Now obviously, the moment we turn on a movie or walk into a store, our children are going to have to deal with the fact that there are tons of alluring things that they can’t have. And really, teaching them they can’t have all their material desires is a very good thing, but at some point it becomes mean to taunt them with all these wonderful looking toys.

What should we do to help our kiddos not be caught by consumerism?

  1. Repeatedly perusing up and down the toy aisle, with no goal in sight, is not helpful.
  2. Limit, or eliminate, tv shows. Commercials make every toy look like the answer to a lifetime of no boredom.
  3. Set a good example. If you frivolously spend, so will your children.
  4. Do fun activities with your little ones. If your teach your children to enjoy having fun by playing with educational toys, they won’t feel the need to get every action figure available.- I wrote a post on this, you can check out here.
  5. Homeschooling your children keeps them out of the main stream of trendy toys and gadgets.
  6. Be aware of the temptation. Noticing all the times your little ones are subjected to excessive temptations will help you to help them.
  7. Skip video games. Let’s face it, their addictive, contribute to unhealthy mental and physical ailments, and expensive. Besides, there’s always a new and improved game or accessory.

I know that our children need to learn not to buy into consumerism, and the sooner I instill this in them, the better it will be for them.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Teaching Forgiveness When The World Wants Justice

Children have an excellent ability to know when something is right or wrong. They have a black and white outlook on life. Although this can be a very insightful, it can lead to a want for swift justice when a wrong has been made. One of the challenges we have faced in our home is teaching one of our children about not seeking to right all wrongs.

Some children have an especially strong desire to make sure that all wrongs have been made right. This stems from a lie that we are fed, where we need a strict justice system to handle all wrong-doings. I admit, it sounds nice at times. Even as an adult there are many times when I hear or read about a horrible wrong done to others that makes me angry, and want the offender to pay for their wrongs. In fact, we live in a society where criminals are punished, in a means to right their crimes. Although criminals must be stopped, how do we keep this mindset from becoming ingrained in our children?

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18

When children decide they must take matters into their own hands, and “punish” their peers, there is a problem. So, how are we to help our children kick this unloving habit?

  1. Children should not be allowed to exhibit authority over other children close in age. By putting them in this position they feel the need to play “parent”, even to the point of punishing. I think this is more often a problem with oldest children that we commonly look to for their help. Although asking an older child to help out with their younger sibling is a great way to teach many life skills, I think that a child needs to be old enough to handle the responsibility of being in charge, and they must not be close in age to the child(ren) they are watching.
  2. Our children need to understand that when we, as parents, punish them it is not to make them “pay for their wrong-doings”, but to correct and train.  As our children have grown older, we have had to make an extra effort to show that we aren’t punishing out of anger or frustration. We need to let them know that we are commanded to train up our children, and punishments are a way to teach them.“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15
  3. We need to teach our children of the wonderful gift Jesus paid for all of us. He died to forgive us of all our sins, not just some of them. Although His payment was made for justification in God’s eyes, we do have to deal with the consequences of our actions in this life, but when one really begins to understand the magnitude of this wonderful gift, it has a profound  effect on our ability to love and forgive others. God doesn’t just want us to forgive others, He commands it:

As we exhibit these behaviors, our children will begin to better understand that they need to not try to take matters in their own hands. Not only will this help them to have better relationships with their siblings and friends, but it will also make them happier. There is much joy and freedom in forgiving others, and the sooner our children learn this the happier they will be.

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13 

 

Feeling Like You’re Failing

We all have those moments when we realize we have messed up teaching our children something. I don’t necessarily mean just when it comes to schooling, but also life skills.

This week has had some of those moments for me. It has been a tough week for me physically, and I have really felt like I haven’t done well teaching my little ones. Thoughts swirl through my head, like:

  • “They don’t know how to properly do their chores because I haven’t taught them correctly.”
  • “They procrastinate because I have taught them to, through my example.”
  • “Their moments of defiance are from my lack of consistent discipline.”

I know these are not helpful or Godly thoughts, but it is hard to stop them. These are the times when I feel like I am failing. I know that my children are individuals, making their own decisions, but as their mother I can’t help to feel that I could have done a better job.

When we are feeling down, not knowing how to move on, we need to turn to God for our strength and encouragement. We are weak, and God needs to be our strength. As women, many times I think are weakness is an emotional one. Most of us are capable to continue physically, but sometimes it’s just our feelings that keep us from excelling.

On those days when you feel like you haven’t done your best:

  1. Take a few minutes to spend with God, focused on Him and His words. I found a verse that was a real help to me: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
  2. Ask God for forgiveness where we have lacked, and accept His forgiveness. If we continue to wallow in our inadequacies we are not truly accepting God’s forgiveness.
  3. Write out any changes you want to make. If you have neglected an area of training, spend some extra time focusing on it. Even small steps of improvement can add up to make a huge difference.
  4. Last, but not least, go hug your kiddos. They love you, and probably have no clue you feel you have failed them in any way.

Once we start having these negative thoughts, feeling as though we have let our children down, it can be tough to break out of them. Most of the time the things we are worried about are not detrimental to our children’s ultimate outcome or ability to follow God. Knowing that God is with us and will strengthen us gives us the courage to move on.

Mommys corner

Mommy’s Corner

Well, it’s been a while since I actually posted on my Simple Summer decluttering progress. I just have had so much fun posting about following God and raising our little blessings that I haven’t gotten around to it, but I need to keep going because the summer sure is flying by! So, I chose to tackle the master bedroom.

Long, long ago we used to have a dungeon of a bedroom (well maybe just a few years ago). If you have ever had one of these you know exactly what I am talking about. The curtains are rarely opened, the bed is only remade so that you can climb in it, and there are odd piles of various things throughout. You don’t really want to clean the room because, well, you’re not sure of what you will find. With the help (or insistence) of my darling hubby, we don’t have this problem anymore, but if you’re still living it, I totally understand!

One of the biggest helps for me is to make my bed and open the curtains every morning. Having the focal point of your room looking nice makes a huge difference. By letting light in, you no longer have to feel trapped or depressed. Next, reclaim your room. Taking out the kid’s toys, piles of papers and dirty clothes helps you to remember who’s room this really is.

When we moved into our current house about 3 years ago, we had just finished a complete remodel of the entire house. Hubby had made book cases and shelves in our room, and the closet was off in our bathroom. The joy in this was no clothes in our actual room, and places to put our books and any special knick-knacks. Also, our bedroom is not very big. There is ample room for what we need, but it’s not large, which is actually a huge help when trying to reduce clutter.

Since there isn’t a lot of room for clutter in my bedroom, other than weeding through unneeded books and trinkets, I chose to focus on a small improvement I wanted to make: a mommy corner. I know, it sounds a little selfish, but I mean it to be a positive thing. One of the hardest parts of living in a not so huge house with four little ones is finding a moment where I can read the Bible, or take a minute to myself to pray during our hectic day. Although at night and early morning are perfect times to spend with God, it’s during the chaos of my normal day that I need a chance to refocus.

When I am feeling short on patience, and need a chance to “get away” to beg for more, it’s nice to have a spot where I can go. I had thought about making it in the craft/school supplies room, but that isn’t very relaxing is it? I wanted a place that was away from the bustle, the computer, and all the things that I think I should be doing. Otherwise, instead of praying to refocus, I will end up praying to get more done, or just adding things to my mental to-do list.

Since I am a huge fan of rocking in a rocking chair, I moved one from another room and stuck it in the corner of my bedroom, right next to my bookshelf. It’s not inaccessible when a little one needs me, but away from the noise of the rest of the house.

If you’re looking to find a place for you to get a little quiet, think about where you can squeeze it in. Is there a corner of your bedroom, spare room, or even the family room where you can have your Bible waiting for you during your hectic day?

My hope is that it will be a place for me to refocus on God, and close to my Bible.

Do you have a special place where you can take a quick minute during a trying moment?