Friday, October 30, 2009

Weeding Out Distractions

Hi Girls,
Last night I posted what is probably my last post (or at least for a long while) on my other blog Daisy and Pear. The computer has quickly become something that consumes too much valuable time. It's tempting to go on the internet instead of spending extra quality time with the girls. It's the first thing I run to after they're tucked into bed, and it has begun to steal time away from my husband in the evenings. We haven't been operating as a cohesive family unit. We only have a vague idea, if that, of where our family is headed in terms of service to the Lord. And how can we if our evenings are spent consumed with individual interests? It's time to close the laptop and have a face to face, genuine conversation with my husband. Sharing the couch, a conversation, a blanket, and some tea with my love sounds really good right about now... so much better than staring at this cold, mechanical thing.

Jesus is stirring up a desire in my heart for more of Him, and that means I need to shake off the distractions. It's never easy, and I truthfully don't want to give up my cutesy little blog. However, I was clearly convicted, I know it's His will, so how can I refuse? His plans and ways are always better than mine. His promises are good. I'm excited!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Biblical Womanhood

In a world that desperately tries to diminish and mock biblical womanhood, it is so refreshing to find ministries that encourage those of us who embrace God's picture of femininity. My absolute heroine of all time is the Proverbs 31 woman. I run to this passage of Scripture often to remind myself of the character and values that are beautiful in God's sight. The glimpse I gain into her life helps me to prioritize, set goals, and rid myself of the distractions that can so easily creep in (currently working on this one!).

True Woman, a ministry of Revive Our Hearts, has an encouraging blog and a 30-day makeover. You can read and sign the beautifully written True Woman Manifesto and receive emails with biblical teaching, encouragement, resources, and links. I signed up a few days ago. I'm woman number 10,492! I haven't gotten any emails yet though, so I may need to sign up again...? I wonder if that will also make me woman number 10,493. :)

Girltalk is another blog with a wealth of resources and information to encourage us. They've been doing a wonderful series on hospitality that has challenged me to reflect on how I can serve others with grace to reflect Christ. This is not an area that comes easily or naturally to me. I used to hesitate to have others over because I was too consumed with myself, how clean my home was, and how convenient it was for me. Do you hear that? Me, me me. But the more I look at Jesus, the more He places hospitality toward others as a priority on my heart. I'm excited to see the bits of growth that He's done in this area of my life.

Do you have any other resource recommendations that encourage biblical womanhood? Books, links, blogs? I'd love to check them out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yes Mommy

Sometimes it is the simple changes in our parenting that we make in our lives that can have the biggest impact on our children's behavior. What I mean by that is that we can make a simple change, but the fruit of that little change can be bountiful. The change is simple, so it easy to implement and fashion into a habit for yourself.

Case in point is having my children immediately reply "Yes, Mommy," in a nice tone when they rebel against my directions. If they say no to me or talk back, I do not let them move on until they say, "Yes, Mommy," in a nice tone. It is so amazing how quickly it changes their behavior. Now, after training them, I can just give them a stern look, and they will say a very nice, occasionally reluctant, "Yes, Mommy."

Such a simple phrase to teach, even my littlest one can say it. It amazes me how it resets their buttons and points them back to the direction they should go. This simple action on my part, communicates to them that you are to honor and respect me, saying "no" is unacceptable behavior.

Now if I could just make more of these simple changes to form good habits which stem for Godly character. Please share simple changes that you have made that have had a big impact on your children's behavior. Wanting to build good character is one thing, how to go about it in your daily life in a piratical way is completely another.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Patience to Persevere

We had one of those homeschooling days today. The kind where you just want to put your kid(s) on the next school bus that drives by. No amount of my patience would ever be enough to deal with the situation at hand. Granted, it is not life or death, but a stretching experience non the less. The root of the problem is woven so tight and so complex, that it seems like an enormous task to untangle it all. If I did mange it, I would find at the center heart issues, theirs and mine. While the trials of homeschooling provide a non-stop opportunity for character building, both for the parent and the child, it is not necessarily a pleasant experience at times.

Through prayer, God will show me the solutions to my tangle of problems to lead me onto a less stressful, more positive way of building character through homeschooling. While I may have to just wait some problems out (like my part-time job), He will give me the patience to persevere if I abide in Him. So, when I start to loose my patience, I have to stop and pray. Also, I need to ask others to pray for patience for me too. Sometimes, like today, He has given me a solution, but I just have to have patience while I get the processes up and running. While the heart issues are there, the problems just bring them out, we can head off temptation at times by applying habits and systems into our daily life (i.e. daily prayer and Bible reading in the morning or a discipline chart). These habits and systems also help our children to build character with less of a struggle. If they knew exactly how much work they had to do today, maybe they would not have whined so much. Sometimes the solution is as simple as your child needing some protein to help them to control their emotions.

Many moms tell me they do not have enough patience to homeschool their children, and their right. I do not have enough either. God has to give it to me, God needs to change my heart. I need to go to God with my problems and ask for solutions. Today may have been hard, but trials are hard. It is the trials that we learn from. It is the trials that God uses to fashion our character. What else would you expect to find on the road less traveled by?

Kid Logic

Mr. Z loves the Berenstain Bear series. Yesterday he told me he wanted the book"Berenstain Bears Get Hit by a Car." Considering all the titles they have, I could see why he would think they would have a book by that name.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

*Sweet* Hospitality

Photo: Charles Schiller
If you're like me, you love having people over, but the amount of work involved in preparing a nice meal, tidying the house, and cleaning up after dinner can seem daunting. Add several young children to the mix and the task is almost impossible to accomplish with a joyful spirit.

My husband and I tried something new tonight, and we're hoping to start a new trend. :) We had a family from church over for dessert, and it was a wonderful time! It was casual, stress free to prepare, the kids loved it, the grown ups actually got to talk to each other, and the clean up afterward was a cinch! A new friendship has formed over brownies and ice cream in a way that it wouldn't have over an elaborate meal.

In the future, I'd love to serve chicken marsala, mashed potatoes, a side of veggies, garlic bread, and a tossed salad again. But in this season of raising small children, I'm going to have to put that on the back burner. If you also find a full course meal daunting, will you join me in practicing some *sweet* hospitality by inviting someone over for dessert?

Romans 12:13 - Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Teaching Moment

No, this is not a post about my children learning something. I learned something today from a simple mix up at the grocery store. As I was unpacking my groceries after a pretty long trip to the grocery store, I realized I had gotten a couple items that were from the customer before me when the guy was bagging my groceries. (Actually at first I thought my little toddler had snuck a couple toddler dinners into the cart, but then when I saw a pack of chicken, I realized what had happened.) Anyway, I was tired and hungry and so were my children, but I wanted to call and tell the store what had happened. Upon calling, I found out the lady whose groceries I had at my house had just called the store and was going to pick them up after her child's nap. That sounded good to me to wait till after nap to return them, but then I would feel bad if she got there before me. So, I made lunch quickly, and we all ate in the car on the way to Shop Rite. As I was driving, I had it in my mind that this was an opportunity to give God the glory since I was thinking that a lot of people probably would not have called let alone dragged their kids out a second time to delivery someone else's groceries. I'm guessing a little pride was mixed into that as well! Anyway, I made up my mind when they overlly thanked me for returning the groceries to tell them that all glory should go to God, not me. Sounded like a good idea. However, when I got there, the young girl at the desk simply said, "Okay, thanks," very quickly and moved on to the next customer. I did not get the chance to say anything! Then it hit me. The Lord had another lesson for me today: He gave me a small taste of what it felt like to do something and not get any thanks for it. I was immediatly drawn to the cross of Christ and the One who gave everything and instead of thanks received a slap in the face. I was angry, but not for myself, but for the fact that so many times Christ is not honored when He is so worthy to be praised... and how many times I withhold honor that I know He is due. Today, let's praise Him. Amen?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Care Bears Party Ideas

We just had our first official care bears party, and I wanted to post a couple ideas. First is the care bear cupcakes. Fun to make... pink frosting, sliced large marshmallows for the snout and belly, mini-marshmallows for the ears, hands, and feet, red gel for the nose and mouth, chocolate chips for the eyes, and I formed starburst candies into little hearts for the belly (microwave about 5 sec. to make them pliable!)

Another idea for any girlie party, serve lemonade and then add a couple colored ice cubes made from Kool Aid. The kids totally thought it was cool that their drink was changing colors!

The Terrible Almost Twos!

I'll be talking to another mom about her children, and usually I will hear, "Well, my oldest is my laid back one, but my younger one is definitely strong-willed" or "My daughter is strong-willed, but my other two were so easy!" And what am I thinking in my own head? Something like this: laid back? easy? Out of the two kids I have, BOTH are strong-willed!
When we had our first daughter, I was certain she was my "strong-willed" one. And, she still is difficult at times. However, upon the arrival of our youngest daughter into the almost-two stage, she may be even more strong-willed than the first! I feel like I spent most of the last month disciplining her. Much of the day I found myself saying, "Don't hit your sister." "Don't kick your sister." "Did you just bite... YOUR SISTER?!"
It seemed as though she just wanted to be mean, and I was wondering if the punishments did anything. Then, we started praying for her, that God would change her heart. My oldest would pray for her, I would pray for her... And the Lord is faithful! This past week was much better. Through the Lord's grace, I saw my little one hug her older sister, when she would have hit her. I heard her say, "Sorry, Au-Au (Autumn)" before I told her she had to. Is she a perfect angel now? Definitely not. However, the progress makes me hopeful. It's amazing how little my faith is, and how great our God is... a God who hears what seemed to be such a little prayer!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Caution: Unsocialized Homeschooler

There are many good reasons families could have for not homeschooling, but I do not think socialization is one of them. Yet, it is a top reason for parents not to homeschool, but it is really a myth. And I will tell you why.

One big reason is our modern public and some private schools are not great models for socialization. These are schools that segregate children in groups by age and geographic location with limited interaction with more than one adult at a time. Life does not work that way, nor does it prepare them for the workforce or being apart of the community. Children have more time to learn social skills from their peers than from their parents, another words - they become peer dependent. Who do you want you child to learn social skills from yourself or another 8 year old? Who do you think has more wisdom to pass along?

A functional family unit is a great model for children, after all they will probably have a family of their own one day. I always say, the hardest people to get along with is your own family, and I never have had one person disagreed on that point. Just think of how different each personality is in your family. Homeschooling is great at exposing issues, especially of the heart, that lie underneath the surface. Plus, homeschooling gives you the time and motivation to work out those issues.

There are those few homeschoolers that completely cut themselves off from the outside world, and yes, those kids probably will turn out weird. However, I also remember quite a number of weird people that I went to school with and none of them were ever homeschooled. What I am saying is that the social misfits of society will be society misfits whether they are homeschooled or not. Actually, public/private school would magnify the "different" child's weird behavior because of high level of bulling and teasing.

As far as homeschooling social activities, there is more out there than you could possibly do. Homeschooling also leaves more time for social activities because there is no homework and during the elementary years, most children are done by lunch time. Then it is off to art class or music lessons, maybe sports or dance - or just playing at the park with a bunch of friends. Where ever you live, I am sure there is a homeschooling support group that plans events, park days and field trips. Homeschoolers tend to be more involved in their community, like 4H clubs, library events and outreaches through your church. Actually, there are so many opportunities, that homeschooling moms can burn themselves out by going to too many activities.

One great homeschooling activity is belonging to a homeschooling co-op. This is a group of homeschooling families that met at least once a week for classes in a "school" type setting, sharing the teaching responsibilities. At a co-op your child will learn how to work in a group outside of the family; take instruction from other adults; and build relationships of their choosing (not because they just happen to have lunch the same period). It is also great socialization for the moms too! Plus, it is a good chance for children to learn some of the hard lessons in life - like being teased, but learn them on a more manageable scale. By middle school and high school, most homeschoolers start taking some of their classes outside the home by paid teachers in homeschooling organizations or county college. This actually gives them a similar experience as they will receive in college - classes once or twice a week and doing their assignments between on their own.

In all of these opportunities for homeschoolers, they will be able to interact with a wide age span. A 5 year old and a 7 year old can be friends. A co-op class may have an age span of 7 to 10 in one class. A homeschooling field trip may have kids from preschool through high school, like the piano factory tour our family went on. During these times, your family will build relationships in the homeschooling community that will last year to year.

When people ask me, "What about socialization?" I answer, "Yes, that is one of the reasons why we homeschool."

Here is a link to Homeschool Legal Defense Association's website about socialization if you want to know more. There have been studies on the subject by universities as well.

Just on a personal note, I have nothing against public or private schools. My education took place at both. I also feel that free public education is essential to a nations peace and prosperity, as well as the personal enjoyment in the life of each citizen. Also, I believe being a teacher is a very important job and deserves an elevated level of status in our society.