Foot Prints Across the Year

20190102_131204
I thought this turned out adorable but in hindsight I would not use a black background.

Children grow up so fast and it really is true that the ‘days are long but the years are short’. As the mother of a 12 year old I can tell you that the years fly by and I’m sure that will become even more a reality as he continues to grow up and gets ready to leave home. I am blessed to have four children ages 12, 10, 4, and 10 months and I want to make sure that I utilize the perspective that comes from having older children to really enjoy the moments with all of them. This doesn’t mean that every moment is going to be fun or that I’m going to be any less exhausted (teething anyone?) but I want to make sure that I capture the memories while they are at each new stage.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

When my oldest was a baby I thought I would always remember with vivid clarity each moment, each new accomplishment, each different stage, but time has a way of making some of those memories quite blurry. I think this is especially true for busy moms that have so much going on with just keeping the house running and making sure everyone is clean and fed. I wanted to be intentional about watching the baby grow up even in the midst of the hustle and bustle so I decided to create a keepsake each month that would remind me how much he was growing.

Each month I’m going to do a foot print project that goes along with the month/season and at the end of the year I will have a fun collection and be able to see how much his tiny feet grew over the course of a year. My four year old LOVES anything related to paint so he will probably also participate although I don’t expect to see as much of a dramatic difference in the size of his prints. I may use his hands instead of his feet. I had originally thought about using hands for both of them, but attempting to make a hand print using the 10 month old taught me that it was not the best plan.

20190101_155201
The hand print did not turn out well as he did not want to relax his hand.

I hope to be able to create some kind of book or keepsake at the end of the year to commemorate the growth.  While you have the paint out and the children messy you can even create a duplicate project that you can send to grandparents or other relatives that might enjoy the keepsake.

For January I found this footprint snowman that was super easy to complete. For the baby I just helped him make his foot print and then I finished the project. I let my four year old see the example of this cute snowman project using a hand print and he loved the idea. However, I made the mistake of leaving him alone with his hand print and his new paint sticks and the results were not quite was I was expecting.  We may try again later this  month with a little more guidance.

20190101_165356

If painting isn’t the right fit for you, you could do some other fun craft, a series of pictures, or a program like Qeepsake which sends you a question each day to answer and create a journal of memories. I hope this post encourages you to have fun capturing memories of the hectic but wonderful time when your children are small and growing and changing rapidly. I would love to hear your ideas in the comments for how you record those memories and mementos.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Make meal planning easier with done-for-you meal plans and a variety of recipes that will keep your menu full for years with the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. Get recipes for every type of eating style for $37 during this 6-day sale!

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

2019-fresh-start-new-year-1st-pinterest-768x1024

WriteShop

 

Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Join the FREE Get Active Inside Challenge!

Over the course of 5 days, we’ll discover ways to allow physical activities indoors, get your child’s energy out when it’s too ❆ cold ❆ to go outside & keep your kids busy so they’re not bored and asking for cartoons.

 

Advertisements

Be Still and Be Present: Week 4

James 1:17

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

James 1:17 probably is not the first verse that comes to mind when you think of the Christmas season. Most people thing of the story of the birth of Jesus as told by Luke or Matthew.  However, during this time of gift giving and receiving it can be so easy to lose sight of the true gift of the season. Sure we know that Jesus is the reason we celebrate, but do we really live that out both in our hearts and our actions?

I want to spend the next week really focusing on all of the gifts and blessings that are in my life. We celebrate not just because Jesus was born but because he died for our salvation. No matter the stresses and frustrations of today, the gifts not yet wrapped, the child who is sick, the dinner that isn’t going to cook itself, the house that still needs to be cleaned; we celebrate because Jesus became flesh and was born to a virgin in order to die for our sins. When I put things into proper perspective there is so much for which to be thankful and joyful.

For many of us the next few days will be busy and it may seem that we do not have time to ‘be still’ but I encourage you to try very hard to carve out a bit of time each day to focus on Him. Sing hymns as you travel to visit family, read the story of the birth of Christ together on Christmas morning before you open gifts, pray over each person with whom you exchange gifts.  You may not be able to hide away and have thirty minutes of uninterrupted time but you can still take a few minutes to focus on the reason that we celebrate.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 (NIV)

 

48417620_1157002584464138_1556153671673184256_n

Sometimes our best laid plans just don’t happen. We had some fun times and did some great things this week, but other things did not go according to plan.  On Friday my four year old woke up with a fever. This is never a good thing but was made worse by the fact that Friday was supposed to be a fun day out with friends.  After much deliberation on my part, he stayed home with my husband and I took the other three to meet up with our friends.  This time of year can be hectic and it was nice to spend an afternoon hanging out with friends and enjoying fellowship with no obligations. We tried a new burger place, had some yummy cupcakes, and then spent a couple of hours at the aquarium where most of us have memberships.

It would have been very easy to decide not to spend the day with our friends due to all the things on my to-do list. I could have said that I was too busy to go and no one would have argued with me, but sometimes we need to put the lists aside and just spend time with our people. My first priority in ‘be present’ is my family, but I also need to take the time to pour into my friendships as well. Friday we were able to ‘be present’ not only as a family but with our friends.

We have not yet done our graham cracker nativity scenes because I want to wait until my son feels better so that we can do them together. We did do some more puppets because he has decided he is really into the puppets. Another activity that we did this week with our 4H club was a five senses activity with these blooming tea balls. It was fun for all ages and simple to do. It is also easy to adapt for one child or a group of children. I simply unwrapped one of the tea balls and had them look at it, feel it, smell it, and listen to it. Then we dropped it into a pitcher of very hot water and they watched it bloom. Once it had steeped they were able to taste it.  It would make for a nice low key activity this week after the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

If you didn’t finish all the fun crafts and activities that you wanted to do, do not despair Tuesday is only the first day of Christmas. I have found that the days following Christmas often bring a slower more relaxed pace and we can enjoy those activities without the pressure of long to-do lists hanging over our heads.

Take some time this week and ‘be present’ with your immediate family and if you can with extended family. If you are not close enough to visit for the holidays maybe you can spend time with neighbors or use technology to virtually visit those that live far away. Take the time to bake the cookies, get on the floor and play with the new toys, read the book, or just sit and chat.

How are doing with this challenge? I pray that it has blessed you and brought you closer to God and your family. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. While this challenge may be wrapping up, it is my hope that you will continue the habits of ‘being still and being present‘ into the New Year.

 

Be Present Resources:

Blooming Tea

Free Printable Nativity Coloring Pages

Hands on As We Grow (If you have young kids and struggle to come up with easy activities to do with them, this maybe a great resource for you. She has some free challenges, e-books, and a membership plan full of great activities that are easy to implement.)

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Amazon is doing it again! $5 off $20 Book Purchase. Use Code GIFTBOOK18. If you aren’t sure what book to buy you might want to check out this new book by Sally Clarkson that is on pre-order right now: Girls’ Club.

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

Be Still and Be Present: Week 3

Joy

 

Some weeks ‘Be Still’ is much harder than others. It felt like last week was a lot of ‘go, go, go’.  It was a really busy week for us as a family, with our business, and our church volunteer obligations. However, I’m pleased to say that my goal of being still didn’t just ‘disappear’ out the window as it has in the past when things got too busy. Using the app on my phone to do my devotional and spare minutes here and there to be intentional about prayer meant that I was able to spend some time focused on Jesus each day.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Sometimes I think God uses a variety of ways to reinforce that which he is teaching us. This week he used the lesson I was teaching to our middle school students to reinforce that focuses on Jesus in this season is the key to true joy. When I focus on myself and what I want or need it is easy to be disappointed. Maybe we didn’t get to do some fun activity I wanted to do, maybe I’m not going on a cool vacation like my friends, maybe money is tight and I don’t put everything under the tree that I would have wanted. If I am focused on me those things are disappointing and frustrating, but if I turn my focus to Jesus it is much easier to be joyful over what I do have, eternal life, because he came as a baby to grow up and die for my sins. When our focus is on what we have because of Jesus the joy flows naturally. It may not erase all of our problems but it will bring joy to our hearts.

Over the past couple of weeks we have focused on peace but this week I want to focus on joy! John 15:11 tells is that our joy may be full in Him and I want us to hold on to that promise this week and focus on Jesus and the joy he brings. You may still have sadness or grief in your life, there still may be stress and frustration, but if we focus on Him there will also be great joy.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:11

 

IMG_20181213_203712_279

We had a lot of fun this week as I was intentional about ‘being present’. Some things were small and some a bit more time consuming but all time well spent. We had the privilege of stopping at two large light displays this week on our way home from a field trip. The first one we rode though and enjoyed but the second one you can get out and walk through. The baby was asleep so it was just me and my three older children. We all enjoyed it, but the excitement that my four year old had for the experience was amazing. I have seen these lights every year for the past 12 years and while I always enjoy them I had forgotten just how amazing they are to those that are not familiar with them. My four year old had forgotten being able to walk through them last year and was absolutely enthralled, running for display to display squealing with joy. Looking at those lights through his eyes brought me to a new appreciation of that great display and I loved making those memories with the children.

20171222_191514.jpg

I mentioned last week that my four year old wanted to do a puppet show. I had planned on printing out puppets and doing a show with him. I found these cute printable Christmas puppets and we colored them but then he and his siblings decided to change things up a bit. They ended up using some nativity masks that we have and doing a show together depicting the nativity story. It was cute and hilarious.

Another fun and easy project that we did this week was making Christmas tree garland out of noodles and paint. It was so easy because we simply put noodles and paint into ziploc bags to cover them, let the paint dry on the noodles, and then the children could put them onto a long string to make a garland. Check the blog later this week for a quick tutorial of this fun activity.

20181211_144029

I used to have grand plans and dreams of us baking and creating our own gingerbread house.  I’ve come to realize that in this stage of our lives that just is not going to happen. My oldest has an intolerance for food dye and so we cannot use most commercial kits. Some years I get a chance to go to Trader Joe’s and pick up a kit that he can eat but with the closest one being two hours away that does not always happen. Luckily I have found a variety of tutorials for cute little graham cracker nativity scenes that are lots of fun, easy to make, and I can accommodate his food restrictions. This is one of the family activities that I hope to do this week. I will link to a couple of different ideas for these in the resources below.

We are also going to spend some time this week making cards together to give to friends and neighbors. I have already sent out our ‘official’ Christmas cards but I know it will be fun for us to share homemade cards with some people that are close to us and a good time for us to spend crafting together. We can all work on them and spend some time talking and listening to Christmas music while we work.

How are doing with this challenge? I would love to hear about the progress you are making or the challenges that you are having so that I can try to help you overcome those. I pray that this challenge is bringing you closer to God and your family.

 

Be Present Resources:

Edible Nativity Scene

Another Simple Version

Gingerbread Nativity

Hands on As We Grow (If you have young kids and struggle to come up with easy activities to do with them, this maybe a great resource for you. She has some free challenges, e-books, and a membership plan full of great activities that are easy to implement.)

 

 

Sign-Up Here For Be Still and Be Present Weekly Emails

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Amazon is doing it again! $5 off $20 Book Purchase. Use Code GIFTBOOK18. If you aren’t sure what book to buy you might want to check out this new book by Sally Clarkson that is on pre-order right now: Girls’ Club.

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines (Review)

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

Some days my life feels like a whirlwind of diapers and deadlines: from my wonderful eight month old baby to a four year old preschooler who is so very sweet and super inquisitive, a ten and twelve year old to homeschool, hurricane relief volunteer work, and this blog which I love but that takes up many hours each week. When I was offered the chance to review the Balancing Diapers and Deadlines course I debated on whether or not I even had time to do the course, but I knew the content sounded like it would be very beneficial in this current life stage.

diapers and deadlines picture

The course was created by Lisa Tanner Writing and is done in a self- paced online format. The course consists of six regular units, plus an introduction and conclusion.  Each unit has four to eight lessons, each set up as a post that you read followed by an action step. Some of the action steps can be done immediately and some require a bit more time. One of the action steps included e-mailing the author to check in with your progress. She was very helpful and responsive to my e-mail when I completed that step.

As I mentioned before, I was very concerned about time when I started this course. I was hoping the material would help me save or better use some of my time, but I also was not sure when I was going to even find the time to complete the course. Thankfully, the course was set up in small easy to complete steps that made it simple to fit around other obligations. Reading the lessons generally took less than ten minutes of my time. The action steps varied between just a few minutes and projects that took longer and needed to be completed over several days. The self-paced feature of this program was a huge plus because when I reached lessons that were not areas that I struggled with or maybe did not apply to me I could skip over them or move quickly through them. When I reached areas that I need to focus on, I could take my time and complete the action step before moving on to the next lesson.

She covered a variety of topics that would help you use your time more productively without shortchanging your children. This included meal planning, sleep, using small chunks of time, chores, productivity boosters, and including your family in your business. While a few of her ideas were more specifically related to writing or blogging from home, most of the course would be beneficial for any work at home job. She titled the course Balancing Diapers and Deadlines but she included tips for all ages of children and even some specific ideas for children with special needs.

diapers and deadlines photo

I think my favorite section was the last unit when she shares ideas on boosting productivity. The lessons on using ‘think time’ and ‘making spare minutes count’ were really beneficial to me. I’m still working on implementing some of those ideas but I can see how they will help me be more efficient and cut down on wasted time. She had some great downloads in this section as well as a couple of the other sections that you can use to help you as your work through the course and moving forward. In addition to the course and downloads, she often linked to other blog posts and resources that could help you with each step.

While there were some units, like meal planning, that I did not need because I was already doing those things there were others that were very beneficial. If you feel like you need to do better about maximizing time and balancing the diapers and deadlines, I recommend checking out this course. Investing a few hours into this course may save you many more hours down the road. To see what my other Review Crew members thought about the course check out the link below.

 

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Healthy Mom Healthy Children and A Giveaway!

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

fresh-start

In high school I was an athlete. Everyone saw my height and assumed I played basketball, but I lacked the hand-eye coordination to make that a good fit. I loved to swim and enjoyed competing in an age group team before swimming on my high school team. I also competed on a summer team. In order to stay in top physical condition out of season my coach had me join the cross country and track teams. This meant I was training during all four seasons and I stayed in great shape. I’ve never worn a size 2 (at least not since I was a toddler) but I was healthy and physically strong.

Fast forward a few years (we won’t do the math to figure out exactly how many) and four children and staying physically strong is more difficult. I no longer have as much free time to devote to physical fitness and I have small children that constantly need my time and attention. It had become quite easy to put exercise on the back burner and not take care of myself. I was also struggling with diastasis recti, which greatly affected my core strength.

I knew that I wanted to be active and involved with my children. I thought some of the problems that I was dealing with were unavoidable after having children. However, I learned that I could heal my diastasis and found Fit2B to help me exercise from home in the limited time I had available. These programs are great because they understand the needs of busy moms (and dads) and they provide exercises that are safe and effective for folks that have a weak core or are recovering from diastasis. Even if you have never struggled with diastasis recti but are looking for an easy convenient and affordable option for gaining strength or staying healthy this is a great program.

I use the monthly membership program to give me lots of options, including postpartum classes, regular exercise classes, baby and me classes, and even kids classes that my children can use on days when we can’t get outside. I think one of the things that I love most is that in the workouts I learn tricks and movements that I can use in my day to day life. In all honestly, I don’t always get the chance to do a workout nearly as often as I’d like to. However, I have found many movements that I can daily to help build strength. They even have an entire workout that shows you how to make use of the time you spend doing chores in the kitchen.

They also offer various courses that you can purchase separately. My daughter is working through the Fit2B Girls Ecourse which is a great program. Today I have the privilege of being able to offer you the chance to win one of their Foundational 5+ courses. “This course contains 14 Lessons designed to reboot your fitness, starting with your core. A total of 9 different routines are included in the lessons that are meant to be done once a day or every other day over the course of 2-4 weeks.” Each lesson is only 15-30 minutes long so they are easy to fit into a busy day.  Enter below (it may open in a new tab) for a chance to win and let me know your favorite way to stay fit and healthy!

 

We have a WINNER! Congrats to Holly J. (You should have an e-mail with details)

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

 

Make meal planning easier with done-for-you meal plans and a variety of recipes that will keep your menu full for years with the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. Get recipes for every type of eating style for $37 during this 6-day sale!

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

2019-fresh-start-new-year-1st-pinterest-768x1024

WriteShop

 

Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Join the FREE Get Active Inside Challenge!

Over the course of 5 days, we’ll discover ways to allow physical activities indoors, get your child’s energy out when it’s too ❆ cold ❆ to go outside & keep your kids busy so they’re not bored and asking for cartoons.

 

Why I’m Educationally “Pro Choice”

doorsI’ve been mingling in homeschooling circles for quite some time. I’ve found that homeschoolers can be among the most opinionated and adamant people on the face of the planet. It’s true. The same resolve that helps us remain committed to our cause can make us prickly and caustic when considering the choices of others. And it can get very ugly. I want to say a word about that.

We love the freedoms we enjoy in our country. Right now, we still have the freedom to choose how we’d like to educate our children. What we seem forget is that the same freedom which allows one person to homeschool (in whatever style they like, as long as it meets state laws ), also gives another person the freedom to choose the public school, or a private school, or a charter school for their child. That should be a unifying idea. But it’s often not. Because we like to think we are right, and if we are right, then it only follows that we are right about everyone else’s kids as well. Like it or not, that can happen.

I’m enthusiastic about homeschooling…most days. 😉 I’ve changed our approach and methodology several times. Switched up our curriculum more times than I can count, because the “sweet spot” keeps changing as our kids change and grow. I’ve considered the public school option a few times (I’m pleased to say our current location has a very small, conservative school with a low teacher/student ratio that is ideal if pursuing this option), but God keeps calling my heart home. My heart.  It’s what’s right for us right now.

Here are the facts:

  • You are the parent of your child.
  • You know your child best.
  • You know what your home life, schedule, financial situation looks like, to make an informed decision.
  • You know what type of environment will help them thrive.
  • You know where your kids are at spiritually, and what will best help them to grow. I’ve seen some kids positively bloom in a public school experience, while for others it was disastrous.
  • You know whether you would thrive as a full-time home educator. Many simply don’t. And that’s okay!
  • You know what type of approach is going to best match their learning style.
  • You are prayerfully responsible for this decision. No one else.

At Schoolin’ Swag, we have parents who have chosen homeschooling as the option for all of their children. We have others who have some at home, and some in a brick and mortar school. We have still others whose children are all being schooled outside the home, and the parents wish to have resources to be actively involved in extending the educational process into their home environment, or need resources to support the academic approach they’ve selected. For instance, asking in the group for ideas for a science fair project that isn’t yet-another-baking-soda-and-vinegar-volcano. 😉

We welcome all of the above. We do not tolerate criticism of any approach. We are not “my way or the highway”. Some don’t like that, and they leave to find a more targeted group for support. Squabbling doesn’t help the cause of education. We are all in this together, in the best interests of our children, helping them to love learning.

I have friends all across the globe, successfully educating their kids using all of the paths mentioned above. I love and celebrate them all. This mom thing is hard, and tiring, and sometimes worrisome.  We really should be supporting each other. We can all get a bit “barracuda” if we choose to, whether the issue is schooling, breast feeding, vaccinations, teaching cursive, having sleepovers, consuming red dye and high fructose corn syrup…the list goes on and on and on.

I think the defensiveness comes from not having our own personal mission statement formulated. Do we know why we are doing what we’re doing? What is the basis of our choices? We have to be well grounded in the whys. This will help us. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom 12:18)

Make your choice. Rest in it, friends.

The Importance of Truth Beyond Textbooks

Motherchild-sunsetI’m a Christian parent, as well as a homeschooler. Some posts will reflect how faith influences what we do in educating our children. This is one of them. 🙂  These ideas are applicable to any Christian parent, though…regardless of the schooling methodology they have chosen for their children.

I attended a Christian University for my Bachelor’s degree. In the bookstore, you could open any volume, whether written by a “tried and true” theologian like Spurgeon, or a new contemporary author, and you’d find the same thing on the inside cover. A disclaimer. A brief blurb with words like:

“The fact that a product is being sold by [this store] does not constitute an endorsement…of the contents or of any entity associated with the product…”

Why?

Because people are human. People make mistakes and can be mistaken. People are sometimes wrong about one thing, but not about another. People are fallible.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:17

Truth. Pay attention to your children, that they are using biblical truth as their standard, and not social norms, the standards of another family or friend, or the world’s idea of morality. God’s Word is an unchangeable standard. In a changeable world where it seems every ounce of truth is “up for grabs” and material for debate, it is so important for us to provide this solid, predictable, consistent foundation for our kids.

God always means what He says. He always keeps His promises. He never changes, and is not fickle. His promises hold weight, simply because He made them. They are backed by His attributes–He is holy, infinite, all-powerful, everywhere-present, unchangeable, eternal, all-wise, all-knowing, self-existent, self-sufficient, good, gracious, merciful, just, and so much more. Always.

Sanctifying. We are so prone to look around us, and compare ourselves with people (and we can always find someone we feel is “worse off” than we are, and so easily justify ourselves according to their standard). Teach by word and example that it is what God says, and choosing to live by His words, which sanctifies us.

The word sanctify means “to set apart” for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. And that job is God’s, for He is Jehovah Mekoddishkem, “the Lord who sanctifies” (Ex. 31:13).

We must continually caution ourselves as moms, who discipline and try to shape the character of our children every day. Our efforts do not sanctify. We must never communicate to our kids that good behavior is synonymous with sanctification. It may be associated. It may not be. Very wicked people can behave well. Teach them the truth of James, that our faith is proven by our works…works are the healthy and natural outgrowth of faith, not the basis of it.

Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Obedience which springs from love, (not fear, self righteousness, or mere duty) is the ultimate goal. We help our kids attain this by deepening their walk with God.

Comparison. Remember the story of the publican and the Pharisee? By what standard was the publican measuring his life?

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

How about the other man (and remember, publicans (or tax collectors) were viewed among the worst in their society for being untruthful scoundrels!), who found himself “justified” and “exalted” at the end of that story?

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:2

We moms can play the comparison game too well. Comparing one child’s behavior to another sibling’s, comparing our kids with another family’s, comparing our parenting to that of another mom…the list goes on.

Guard your heart. Compare *vertically* (what God has to say) rather than horizontally (what fallible, frail, fallen human beings have to say).

You’ll find it is a very freeing thing.

September 11th—What Am I Doing About It?

World-Trade-Center-Cross-620x410Doing a lot of thinking, this September 11th. I could reminisce about what I recall from that morning, but it doesn’t really matter.  There are bigger things to discuss.

I wonder if it has occurred to many of us that our “Christian” nation has become a vast mission field. I wonder if it has occurred to those of us who are Christian parents that our children will very likely be called upon to stand and look such atrocities square in the eye. I wonder if I am doing my best to build the kind of character in our children that will enable them to do it.

American culture teaches our kids to aspire to fame and riches. I’m not a “Doomsday Prepper”, but I completely believe there will come a day when fame and possessions won’t matter to anyone any more. When life is reduced to the questions of survival and faith, there are precious few possessions that seem important. There will be no status symbols…the only status differentiation will be “Are you a Christian?” or “Are you not?” And the cost faith will once again be high. Paul the apostle, who stood for his faith many times, wrote:

“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”

So I ask myself today, how will I teach our children to stand? How will I instill courage? How will I inspire them not to cower, but to endure…not to be paralyzed by fear when hateful, horrible, unjust and unspeakable things happen? They have to have their anchor planted in something bigger than politics and military might. I have to point them to something much bigger…a firm foundation, the only solid Rock, the Mighty Fortress.

“Remembering” is only the first step. Being mindful of the past needs to change the future. It must be a catalyst, or all it accomplishes is to make us remorseful. I may never have political influence, beyond my votes in elections; but I have a daunting responsibility to the children in our home, to teach them what patriotism is (and what it isn’t), what it looks like to stand faithful for right and truth, and to remind them that above all principalities and powers, our hope is Jesus.

Before I focus on the sacrifices made by prominent patriots for our independence and freedom, I plan to teach more about the heroes of the faith. I want to grab all the missionary biographies I can, so these humble, courageous giants of the gospel can inspire our homeschool (using this free resource to create a missionary biography notebook) and show them what it looks like to be unflinchingly, unshakably committed, and to grasp truth tightly, while also extending a loving hand in decided confidence to others.

We need this next generation to be resolute…a word which has come to be very weak in meaning today.

It starts today. We have stood upon the shoulders of great ones who have gone before. Now it is time for us to provide a firm footing for our children.

“It is wonderful what great strides can be made, when there is a resolute purpose behind them.” ~Winston Churchill

Triage

keep-calm-and-triage-the-hearts“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Prov. 23:26

Our second grader has been learning a Bible verse for each letter of the alphabet. Above is her verse for M. She writes it a few times a day, and recites the whole set every day, adding on the new one for the week.

I’ve been thinking about this one.  For a while. It does not say, “give me your music standards” or “give me your clothing preferences”. It says “give me your heart”.

Out of our hearts (our innermost beings, what makes us tick) everything issues.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  Prov. 4:23

The word “keep” is a military term, and it means to guard. Protect it. My kids will tell you that I often admonish them to guard their hearts when it comes to friends, music, viewing, reading, and thinking habits.

What do I want from our kids? Three young people who have given me their outward standards and appear “good”? Children whom everyone praises for their conformity?

Nope.

It’s a messy business, but I want their hearts.  It’s sort of a triage. That means that there may be some things people observe in our kids, about which they may shake their heads and “tsk, tsk”.  But, you know what? I’m starting to be okay with that.  Because I know that although not everything observable is perfect, I am aiming at a deeper target. A higher priority which will govern it all, in time. What do I want for our kids?

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8

I refuse to play the “you’re a pastor’s kid” card. Their accountability transcends far beyond what people may expect of them. I want them to know it. I want them first to consider God’s opinion. He looks beyond the outward appearance, and into the heart. He sees it all.

“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Heb. 4:13

This is what I want them to pay the most attention to…El Roi, “thou God seest me” (which is another of Katie’s memory verses).

So, you’ll see our kids behave imperfectly. They are sinners, just like you and me. They are individuals who have to learn to discern. We are attempting to teach them. 🙂 We are triaging.

What do you DO all day??

multitaskerIt is not the norm to be a SAHM (stay at home mom) anymore.  June Cleaver is a thing of the past. The economy is such that many ladies feel the need to work to make ends meet. If you are one of those ladies, who has to work and then come home to juggle the rest, I congratulate you!  We have more single moms than ever before.  Just in those times I’ve had my husband out of town, I have felt the challenges…know that I’m in the stands rooting for you, too!!  I am grateful I can do what I do.  We do without a lot of stuff to make it happen, but I suspect when it’s all said and done, years from now none of us will care much.

Because what I do is uncommon, it is often misunderstood. SAHM’s are viewed as unambitious sometimes. Lazy, maybe. Living a luxurious  lifestyle as we eat bonbons and watch soaps.  That is not what my life looks like.  Here is what my day looks like:

  • About 7am: Make bed. Do meds. Do exercises. Put tea on to brew. Grab my daily cup of “go juice”  and try to scoot through my Bible study time (typically daily reading sent to me via email from ESV, also Valley of Vision, and The Quiet Place, before the youngest gets up (she’s an early riser). Maybe…hopefully… get dressed? No, I don’t wear my pearls to wash dishes or my Sunday shoes to stock the linen closet.  I’m not June Cleaver. lol
  • 8-9am: Grab some muffins and tea. Check if anyone needs help on my Facebook homeschooling group (I pop on throughout the day to keep my sanity–I am online for most of our main school stuff anyway– since that is usually the only adult conversation I have most days, my husband being gone working most of the time), and post the freebies and deals for the day.  Open Cozi calendar and check what each child has scheduled for school.  Open Time 4 Learning and check that yesterday’s progress was accomplished for the oldest two, and see if any papers need to be printed for today’s lessons. Open Easy Peasy and see if anything needs to be printed for the youngest, and/or gather supplies that are needed. Get Katie’s desk set up and papers laid out for the day.
  • 9-10am: Get kids through chores (collectively, they take care of making their beds and keeping their rooms picked up, trash, cat box, bathroom,  dishwasher and the oldest does her own laundry), fed, ready for school day. Do devotions with Katie and review her ABC memory verses thus far. Older kids get started on their school day.
  • 10-12 noon: (not necessarily in this order): Guide Katie through all of her subjects, plus handwriting her signature in cursive and memory verse in printing. Throw laundry in. Clean up kitchen from breakfast. Help Michael along with any subjects in which he needs help. Discipleship (see Deut. 6:6,7). Throw laundry in dryer. Referee (our situation allows our kids to know each other pretty well…which is a blessing, and a curse. 😉 ).  Answer the phone (my husband is a pastor, so the phone is very busy). Plan supper. Read with Katie and do review of phonics and sight word cards.  Referee again. Throw more laundry in. Check on our oldest to see if she needs help (she keeps her own schedule, and must turn in things by 10pm). Sweep kitchen. Tidy, pick up, tidy some more (having everyone home 24/7 means your home is never officially “tidy”…lol).
  • Noon-3pm-ish: Lunch, PE (which can mean anything from going to the park, walking, biking, Wii Fit, trampoline, or even this), check spelling words, have the oldest demonstrate her weekly ASL skills, assign engineering project for middle kiddo, finish up any remaining school work. More discipleship. Check records in Time 4 Learning to be sure lessons are completed and check grades. Experiments and art projects. Try to remember the rest of the laundry! Select elective activities for each day’s lesson plans for next week (Basic Cooking, Biblical Counseling, American Sign Language, Engineering). Tidy some more. Make shopping list for Friday. Answer the phone some more. Referee some more. Sweep the floor again. lol
  • 3-5pm: Check the homeschool group for needs. Fix supper. Plan and gather resources for tomorrow’s school day. Begin to plan the lesson for Jr. Church, decide the snack, print any necessary resources. Make mental notes for Sunday’s bulletin. Tidy…again. 😉
  • 6-7pm: Supper
  • 7-9ish: Relax with the family. Work on personal writing projects.
  • 9-10: Bed time.  Mentally go through the day, realize that although you felt busier than a one-armed paper hanger, you still didn’t get everything done…and once more there are crayons, shoes, toys, socks, scattered hither and yon. Tuck everyone in. This is when we have some of our most meaningful conversations.
  • 10pm: Fall into bed, fairly used up, but grateful.

Lather, rinse, repeat.  What does your day look like, SAHM? 🙂