The “What If Game” of Warnings and Wisdom

The Father in Proverbs 5 is warning his son about the sneaky/adulteress woman. He tells his son what to look for, things she will say, and what she will do that might tempt him to go with her. Proverbs 1 teaches us to not give into sinners when they ask us to come along with them. While I do not need to warn my children of the adulteress woman (yet), I copy him and warn my kids of ways others might tempt them to go along with them in sin, what they might say. I warn them of people who might try to harm them. Since mine are all little, I do this in a very gentle way, without having to go into much detail, but with an overall focus that not everyone is good with good intentions and we need to be aware of this. There are also lots of Bible verses that tell about  the blessings received by those who live to please the Lord, so we talk about ways we can live as lights to bring glory to God.

To do this, we play the “What if…” game. A friend told me she did this with her kids and I immediately loved it and started doing it too. It’s simple, I give them a “what if” question and they give the answer. When it’s a first time what if question I usually have to tell them the correct response so they don’t just keep guessing. This game has brought up so many wonderful conversations with my kids. Once we did this for a while, the questions started expanding to character training questions. I can cover every topic from how we treat people, what to do when approached by a stranger and everything in between. It can be a 5 minute game, or as long as you want it to be. We play in the car, while I’m making lunch, giving baths, etc. My kids love it and I can address things in a light hearted way. It’s not something we do every day, but it’s a great tool to have in the parenting belt.
EXAMPLE WHAT IF questions: (Keep in mind, my children are 6 and under, so these questions are geared for their age group)
  • What if you’re playing at a park and someone, a kid or an adult says, “Hey, I have some puppies in my car, want to come see them?” Answer: “I have to ask my mommy first.” If there really are puppies, of course I want to see them! But do not go with a stranger to his/her car.
  • What if you are playing outside at home and a car pulls up, rolls down their window, says they need help with something and could you help them? Answer: Run inside and tell mommy. If someone needs help I will be happy to help them. (*I read once that adults who actually need help won’t ask children for help. If you need something, or directions, are you really going to ask a child? Nah, you’ll probably ask them to get their mom or dad)
  • What if you are playing and someone hits you? Answer: (Whatever your family does for this)  We say things like, if they’re toddlers, just give grace and play nicely, if they’re big kids and are intentionally being mean, let us know and find someone else to play with.
  • What if you are playing with a friend and they ask to see your boy/girl parts? (I know this sounds crazy, but it happens!) We tell them to say, “NO, that is inappropriate” and to come and let us know asap.
  • What if you see a trail near the playground and you want to go on it? (My kids love trails and we play at a playground that has some trails off of it) Answer: Ask mommy first.
  • What if you are in Sunday school and you see someone sitting alone? Or a new person comes to class? What’s something you can do? Answer: Go and say hi, tell them your name, etc.
  • What if you are playing with other kids and someone starts being mean to another child or doesn’t want to include them? Answer: Don’t participate in being unkind to someone. Be the child that stands up for others, and if you see someone playing alone invite them to come and play with you. If it continues, find a new group to play with. Do what is right and good.
  • What if you are walking into a store and there is an elderly person coming out, what’s something nice you can do? Answer: Hold the door for them. (or a woman, or another family, etc)
  • What if you are playing and you get really frustrated and want to hit? Answer: (Whatever your family does) We say: fold your hands, walk away, take a break, talk to one of us about it, go find a bird out of the window to watch for a few minutes, etc)
We take this beyond warnings and character training to address anything one of our children may need extra help with:
  • What if you are laying in bed and can’t sleep, what can you do?
  • What if you have three trains and your brother or sister also wants to play, but they don’t have any trains? (I have one that can have a hard time sharing)
This may seem simple and obvious to you, but it seemed like an ingenious idea to me when a friend first told me about it. As the kids have gotten older, the questions change accordingly. I’m definitely not saying my answers are all the “right” answers, I’m simply giving ideas based on what we do. My kids are in training too and they need correction for some of these things as much as they need to hear the what if answers. 🙂 It’s about helping them be alert. Alert in how the enemy might tempt them, alert in how to love others well and see other’s needs. It’s helping them think through things while they are outside of the moment. It’s teaching. It’s training. For me, it helps me be intentional.
As the kids get older I have started asking them “why” with some of the answers so they can have an UNDERSTANDING. I pray discussing these things with our kids will help build a bridge that prepares them, helps them. I want them to cling to wisdom and run to her and look for her in every situation. I want them to, “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,” and call understanding their kinsman.” Proverbs 7:7 I want them to know wisdom like an old friend. I want them to know this about her: “Stay close to wisdom and she will protect you, love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Though it cost ALL YOU HAVE, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a  crown of splendor.” Proverbs 4:6-8
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DAILY MOMENTS IN PARENTING MAKE UP OUR LIVES

My three year old loves to help in the kitchen, like most do, so I video her from time to time so that I can remember these moments. Sometimes I watch them, and when I do I notice the way she likes to taste everything, how she splatters milk out of the blender, how she loves to feel the oats before we mix them with anything, but what I notice most is her watching me. Her little eyes watch my face. My reaction to her crying baby brother. My reaction to her two older squabbling siblings. My reaction to her accidental spilled mess. She’s always watching me. They all are.

Every single time I respond, whether my response is negative or positive, encouraging or discouraging, I am shaping who they are. And how I respond is how I am seeing them respond to their own circumstances and to others. Sure, they have their own ways of responding too, but I have an over-arching sense of how the way I act is shaping them. Shaping their character. Their love for others. Their self-control. It makes me re-evaluate. Am I responding as I should? Am I responding in ways that will show them how to be gentle, how to remain calm in the face of frustration, how to love others well? Not always. It is sobering and feels heavy with responsibility.

But then, God gently reminds me all I have to do is love HIM well and the rest will follow. If I am living to please him it will shape them well. When I am responding in ways that God has asked of me in His Word, then their little eyes will be filled with His truth and goodness. And when I fail, and where I do still leave scratchy corners, he will round them out as they enter into a relationship with him themselves. The MOST important thing I can do for my children is to put God first in my life. To love him, know him, and obey him. It is who we are, the depth of our character, and the way we love others that we will impart to our children. We cannot impart that which we do not have. So we begin with ourselves and the relationship we have with Christ.

Our lives are made of moments. Like grains of sand make up a beach, our daily moments make up our lives. And our lives are what speak to our children. It’s not one or two big things that speak to them. It is our daily moments. Our daily reactions. Our endless supply of love for them that can only come from an endless supply of love from our Father. A few grains of sand may be hard, dark, or pebbly, but if most of them are soft, white, and smooth that is what the beach will be made up of, and what you will see when you look at it. If our daily moments are made up of irritability, breaths of annoyance, and selfish desires to do what we want to do, then that very well may be what we see when we look at our children. But if our daily moments are made up of love, laughter, songs of praise, encouragement, serving them joyfully, and open arms, then that very well may be what we see when we look at them. I pray that the Lord keeps me true to him so I can see the latter.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity.” Ephesians 5:15-16

This article was originally published on Raising Godly Children website where I am thankful to be a contributor.

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Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum: What We Used

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We are wrapping up our first year of homeschool around here and I wanted to share what we ended up using. I LOVE reading what other moms use and I’ve gotten so many wonderful ideas from other moms. This is NOT a post about the “right” curriculum choices or “look what I did” or “look what my kids did.” NO ONE can tell you what to use for your children. This is merely what we used, and if you resonate with the Charlotte Mason style homeschool, or even if you don’t, you may pick up an idea or two. When I was starting out, I spent hours and hours reading and researching every homeschool curriculum, blog, and idea on the internet! I’m sharing in hopes of helping another mom. And I remember the blogs and videos that helped me so much, so I want to pay it forward! You know how Sarah Mackenzie always posts her details? Well I’m one of the ones who gobbles them all up, so I’m sharing too. 🙂

What did you use this year and love? And what are you thinking of using next year?? I will have a 1st grader, so please share any favorite resources!! I’m already planning. 🙂

Here’s the quick run down, and below I’ll go into detail:

Reading: Alphaphonics
Handwriting: The Good and The Beautiful Level 2 and copywork from her daily Bible reading
Math: Math-U-See, Primer Level.
Science: Sibley Backyard Birding Flashcards, a bird-feeder, butterfly house, and Liberty Christian books
Devotion: Leading Little Ones to God.  
Art Study: Picture Study Portfolios by Simply Charlotte Mason.  (we did Monet)
Bible Memorization: Verses and Books of the Bible
Poetry Memorization: Prayers for Children, The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose
Character: Character First, Bible, and Wisdom and the Millers book: Proverbs for Children
Hymn Study: Hymns at Home
Literature: LOTS AND LOTS OF BOOKS-see lists below.

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Reading: Alphaphonics. This worked great for my early reader. No pictures, color, or images in the book which I liked. I plan on using this with my other kiddos and hope it works as well with them.

Handwriting: The Good and The Beautiful Level 2. Basic handwriting. We loved it. Has space for a student to draw or color a picture on each page. Each lesson only takes about 5 minutes, which is all my DD wanted to do. Christian based. Will be using Level 3 next year. My daughter also did copywork of Bible verses from her daily Bible reading.

Math: Math-U-See Primer Level. Math is one of my weakness so I need something with planned lessons in it. There is a 5 minute video to watch once a week where Steve Demme, the creator of Math-u-see, explained the concept of the week and we watched together, then the student does the workbook the rest of the week. Each lesson only takes about 5 minutes. With this program, some weeks my daughter would fly through the lessons, but other weeks we needed more than a week to do them, so we just took our time and when I felt like she got it, then we moved on. I didn’t rush her. I didn’t have an “end date” in mind this year so I was good with taking our time.

History: We didn’t do much for History for Kindergarten. My daughter liked to read through Living Long Ago from Usborne, but that’s about it. I recently picked up Story of the World and a Beautiful Feet Books History Guide to alternate for next year and am really excited about both of them.

Natural Science: We do the Charlotte Mason method of science, where you basically study your outside surroundings through the elementary levels and read living books. So, we bought the Sibley Backyard Birding Flashcards and my husband built a bird feeder. We would see a bird and go find it in our cards and hang it on the wall. We have learned about so many birds this way! We also built a butterfly home where we would put caterpillars and watch them turn into butterflies or moths! And lastly, we read from the Liberty Christian books and the kids love them. So do I. It’s a book that tells facts about animals and insects in their natural environments in story form.

Devotion: read during Morning Time with all the kids: Leading Little Ones to God. This is separate from Bible. We do Bible reading every day. Devotion is extra. Like my friend says, it’s the skittle after dinner and dinner is the Bible. 🙂 We also incorporated personal prayer time for the 3 yo, 4 yo, and 6 yo. I sit with them to guide, but they do most of the praying.

Art Study: (during Morning Time with all the kids) Picture Study Portfolios by Simply Charlotte MasonThis was one of my favorite things we did all year! You pick an artist and you get eight pictures and an artist biography. Basically, you look at one picture a week until the student can close their eyes and see the picture in their mind. I love looking at one artist’s works for an entire term, because we become familiar with the artist that way. We chose the Monet and Van Gogh portfolios, but only did Monet this year b/c we kept each picture up for longer than a week. I can’t believe they learned 8 Monet works! And I did too-I’m learning art, birds, all kinds of history right along with them. 🙂 My 4 year old son saw a Monet picture at a friend’s house, and said, “Look, it’s Monet! Woman with a Parasol!” I was SO excited and thought if we did nothing else in the year I would be happy with that. I also checked out these picture books about Monet for free reads:
Claude Monet: Getting to know the World’s Greatest Artists 
Claude Monet: Sunshine and Waterlilies 
Katie and Waterlily Pond
Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains

Bible Memorization: I keep all that we’ve memorized in a binder with 8 tabs. The tabs are Daily, Odd, Even, and then Mon-Fri. Our daily work is what we are currently memorizing. The last thing we’ve memorized goes under the Even or Odd day tabs so we can review it more frequently. Behind the other tabs are what we’ve already memorized but we review them once a week. Once we learn our daily work, then it gets moved to the odd tab. Eventually it will get moved to a day of the week tab. I got this system from a Charlotte Mason site and it has worked well for us. We also worked on memorizing the books of the Bible.

Poetry Memorization: We picked a couple poems out of the book Prayers for Children, a Little Golden Book that I found for .50 cents at a used bookstore and it’s one of our favorite books for poetry memorization. We also read and read and read The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose and the kids just naturally memorized lots of the shorter nursery rhymes.

Character Study: We used Character First, the Bible, home-made character study, and Wisdom and the Millers book: Proverbs for Children

Hymn Study: Holy, Holy, Holy. The site Hymns at Home is a wonderful resource.

Literature/BOOKS: This is my very favorite part of homeschooling. 🙂 We read a bazillion picture books, but these are our favorites.

Here are the chapter books we read aloud as a family and loved this year: (These are GREAT FIRST ALOUDS! Click here to see a complete list of our favorite first read alouds!

B is for Betsy
Back to School with Betsy
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Milly Molly Mandy
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Betsy-Tacy
The Courage of Sarah Noble
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Charlotte’s Web
Little House books on audio (b/c we’ve already read them through a few times, so my daughter likes to listen to these during quiet time) The audio books performed by Cherry Jones are PHENOMENAL!!

We also purchased the audio Zondervan Dramatized Bible for quiet times. We all love these.

That’s it!

In case you’re interested in the Charlotte Mason method, here’s my rundown on it: The Charlotte Mason style of homeschool resonated with me as soon as I heard about it. I started reading lots of books and posts about it and am still learning, but find the ideas of education as an atmosphere, a discipline and a life, using living books, outdoor play, art and composer study, natural sciences, treating children as born persons, and creating good habits in life and learning to be what speaks to my heart. It’s about spreading a wonderful feast in front of your children of truth, beauty, and goodness. I do not use only Charlotte Mason, but go there first when I’m planning.

Remember! There is NO ONE who can tell you what to use with your family! You are the one God gave them to; you know them best. But let us be encouraged by one another in sharing ideas! Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:4-5

Broken Mirror

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Last week I was reflecting on all God had done for me over the last 15 years. I found myself crying out to him, giving thanks as, story after story, I saw how he mended, repaired, loved, showed up, and was just there with me, loving me.

When Jeremy and I first started dating again after college (8 years after college), I was living in the only thing I could afford at the time, a small, run-down apartment attached to a water factory. It was yucky with yucky memories of a previous life and was a place where I had to call the cops twice a month because there was always suspicious behavior going on around the back of the water factory. One time a guy was arrested because he had picked up a woman from Dollar General, and drove her behind my apartment. It was about midnight so I called the cops and they found an illegal sized knife in his bag, duct tape, and rope. Another time, my car was broken into and everything stolen. Where I lived just looked like a part of the factory, not an apartment so people always thought it was just an empty lot. Meanwhile I’m peeking out of my window every time I hear a car outside and making sure my door security bar was tight.

One room was where I would get ready and there was a broken mirror that sat on a basket on the floor. I would sit on the floor and get ready every morning. I had done it for years. It just kind of became a way of life. Jeremy says when he saw me sitting on the floor in front of my broken mirror his heart broke. Not just because it was a broken mirror, or even all the other physical brokenness of where I lived, but because for several years prior I had lived in so much brokenness this was a kind of representation of it all.

So, a few weeks before our wedding day Jeremy said he had a surprise for me. I went over to his house, soon to be “our” house, and he took me to one of the spare bedrooms and opened the door. I just stood there, soaking it all in. My eyes moved around the room. It was an entire room for me to “get ready in.” He, himself, built custom made closets and shelves that spanned the room wall to wall on two different walls. He painted it one of my favorite colors of pink. He put down a beautiful rug. And the last thing he wanted to show me was a sitting area with a beautiful little seat, a desk to keep all my girly stuff, and the biggest WHOLE mirror I had ever seen. He said there would be no more broken mirrors.

It was seriously like the time Patrick Swayze said, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”! I had someone fighting FOR me! I had someone come along and start to love me out of brokenness. I cried and was beyond thankful. For the room yes, but more for him. After everything I had been through in the few years before that moment he was like my knight in shining armor times ten. That previous life made me KNOW, deep down in my heart how much he loved me. It made me never want to take him for granted. I knew what life was like without this kind of love and I would never be there again.

It’s the most beautiful image of how Christ comes in when we let him, and he covers us with love and protection and he picks up all our broken pieces and makes us whole. Whole in him. His love for us is the most wonderful love story in history. A short time before my husband and I would see each other again for the first time in 8 or 9 years, in that run-down apartment, with all my hurts and weakness and pain I found myself laying on my face in the bathroom floor. I was weeping unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was in so much pain and had so much brokenness in my heart that I KNEW I needed God. I knew that I had gotten myself in this place because I didn’t have a relationship with him. Because I had walked away from what I did know of him. I turned my back on him because I thought I could do a better job of making life decisions. And then the day came when I realized how far OFF course I had gone. How deep I was in pain and yuckiness, and all I could do was cry out for him to help me. If he would still have me. I remember saying, “Could you possibly still love me? I am SO FAR from you. I am desperate. Desperate for you to save me.” I was moved more than I could ever write about with the overwhelming love and comfort I felt deep down inside. I felt him saying I love you. I have been waiting for you. And I cried out, “But I have NOTHING TO GIVE YOU.” And I heard, All I need is your heart. Broken and all.

So that day I gave him my broken heart. I wanted him so badly in my life I didn’t care what I had to give him or what he wanted to do with my life. From that point on, I started running everything in my life like a conveyor belt that had to pass by God before it came/stayed in my life. I started growing in the Lord. I was walking WITH him in life, in relationship. And he mended, loved, and nourished me back to wholeness in Him. He loved me out of my brokenness. I am still growing, still working out my salvation, but now I KNOW that he is my refuge, my hope. My husband is an earthly picture of Christ’s love for me. A love I never thought I would have on this earth. The Lord has a purpose for me in this life. And for you too. If you do not have a relationship with him, enter into one with him. Ask him to save you from your sins and give your life to him. You will never, ever, ever, ever regret it. After all the darkness, I had LIGHT. And you can too. You do not have to stay “used to” your brokenness. That is not what God has intended for you. He wants to make you whole.

And now that room has two little boys living in it. And beside that room is another room with two little girls living in it. The broken girl in the broken apartment looking in the broken mirror thought she would never have children of her own. But the whole girl made whole in Christ looking in the whole mirror saw four sweet little faces looking back at her. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” Psalm 73: 28

Please feel free to reach out to me any time for prayer, encouragement, or questions.

Drawing Pictures When Memorizing Scripture

I had to share something SO simple that worked super fast and helped us memorize scripture faster!

We had been memorizing Psalm 23 for a couple of weeks. My oldest memorizes in just a couple of days, but for the rest of it takes us longer. Because this was a longer passage we were having a harder time, so I drew SIMPLE pictures/symbols beside each verse and my son had the whole Psalm memorized in just 2 days! And I did too!

All it took was seeing these pictures as we read the verses then recalling them in our minds when it came time to say the verse. And this is something that has stuck-we can still recall the pictures in our minds well after we have moved on from that passage and onto another. I don’t know that we’ll use it every time we memorize, but if any of us are struggling with memorizing a particular passage, I will definitely do it! And now I’ll be watching to see if my son may be a visual learner since this worked so well for him. A few times the kids picked a verse to “draw” and I think that helped them too, so I think we may add in drawing our verses from time to time during Morning Time. It sure helped me to draw it out! Doesn’t have to be on a white board. A piece of paper does the same job.

Here’s a pic so you can take in all my beautiful artistic ability, 🙂 but mostly so you can see how simple it is. DSC_0318

Favorite Books for ages 0-4

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So, this was a really hard list to narrow down! (And now that I keep thinking of books and adding them, I’m not sure how “narrowed down” it is after all 🙂 ) A friend and I were talking about how we wished everyone would list their favorite books and share them, so here are some of our favorites so far. (And it’s a way for me to write it down to give my kiddos when they have little ones and I can’t remember which books we loved 🙂 ) We are always adding to the list. The best part is our local library has almost all of these! I know there are TONS of great books we haven’t read yet, so list your favorites so we can have even more to check out! We all have different reading tastes, but hopefully you can find a couple on this list to add to your next library visit! This list is in no way an exhaustive list. Feel free to ask any questions! I could talk about books all day and love to hear what everyone is reading! I haven’t listed any chapter books in this list as I see that as an entity all on its own. 🙂

 Age 0-2ish+ Board Books 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr.
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? Dr. Seuss
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Where’s Spot (lift the flap books) by Eric Hill
That’s Not My Tiger by Fiona Watt (and all of the rest of the touch and feel books by her)
God knows all about me by Kate Toms
I Love You Through and Through by by Bernadette Shustak

Age 2ish
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Go, Dog Go by P.D. Eastman
The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
My First Songs by Tomie dePaola
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare by Sam McBratney
I Am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Age 3ish and 4ish

The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
My First Mother Goose by Tomie dePaola
Doctor Dan the Bandage Man (Little Golden Book)
Little Mommy (Little Golden Book)
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
Peter’s Old House by Elsa Beskow
In the Town All Year Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems
There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems
Cows to the Rescue by John Himmelman
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
Farmer Will by Jane Cowen-Fletcher
The Abandoned Lighthouse by Albert Lamb
Angus Books by Marjorie Flack (really, any books by her)
Prayers for Children (A Little Golden Book)
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Age 4+

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter
Journey by Aaron Becker (I am anxiously waiting to get the other two of this trilogy from the library!)
Roxaboxen by Barbara Cooney
Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall and Barbara Cooney
Miss Rumphius by Barabra Cooney
Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
Caps For Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina
Miss Suzy by Miriam Young
Moonshot:The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca My kids can’t get enough of this one, especially my son
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert Mccloskey
Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barkley
Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey
Little Bear’s Friend by Else Holmelund Minaret (and the other Little Bear books)
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Brave Irene by William Sleigh (this is a great book to talk about determination and perseverance)
The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber (my son insisted I list this one)
When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
The Spiffiest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire (and all the other books by them. This one may be too long for this age so it depends on each child, but both mine at age 4 loved it)

Favorite Construction Books

B is for Bulldozer by June Sobel
The Construction Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallet
Construction by Sally Sutton
Roadwork by Sally Sutton (and her book Demolition)
Digger Man by Andrea Zimmerman
I Am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines
Dump Trucks by Aaron Frisch (from Seedlings series-lots more in this series)
C is for Construction: Big Trucks and Diggers from A to Z  by Caterpillar

Nature Books

Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing Animal Habitats by Jim Arnosky (lots more of the Crinkleroot books!)
Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Birds by Jim Arnosky
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner

Firefighter Books

Fire Engine Man by Andrea Zimmerman (and Digger Man and Train Man)
The Little Fire Engine by Lois Lenski
The Fire Engine Book (Little Golden Book) by Tibor Georgely

Character Books 

Cool Down and Work Through Anger by Cheri J. Meiners –she has many others
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr
Being Honest by Cassie Mayer
Sharing is Fun by Joanna Cole
My Big Girl Potty by Joanna Cole (also the boy one)

And my kids LOVE books that are personalized. I like to use a site like Shutterfly to make a family picture book of our year, an ABC book for each kid, etc. These are always very cherished books. While the books may be time consuming to make, it always feels well worth it.

Eventually I will do a chapter book list of favorites so far!

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5 Characteristics of a Godly Wife

Hoping this encourages someone. I am honored to sometimes get to write for Raising Godly Children. I may be able to write about it, but does NOT mean I do it well all the time, but am praying daily how to live it out. The Lord’s word is FULL of so much wisdom…

With the new year I reflected on my home and began praying over it. I want more peace inside these walls that hold 6 of us. Instead of reacting to my husband and children, I want to respond to them. I want to be alert and aware of the enemy’s schemes that are disrupting my peace. The Word of God tells us how to regain that peace in our homes and live in a way that allows us to simply follow God. We do not have to fix our children or our husbands, or even ourselves. All we have to do is open our hearts completely to the Lord and allow him to change us. To be moldable, workable clay that he can work into an image that is like Jesus. And give to Him, in prayer, our spouses and families. Jesus is the protector of our hearts and when we allow him to do his work in and through us it will open up an atmosphere for him to do the same in others lives. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

As wives, we are the heartbeat of our home. If it is to be a place of joy and rest, it is up to us. When we are following God, and being obedient to him the Bible tells us, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house…” Psalm 128:3 A fruitful vine is bearing fruit, thriving, and refreshing others. Note the words, within your house. Being a wife and mother is more important than anything we will do outside of our home. God has given us, through him, an influence over others within the walls of our homes. An influence unlike any other. Doing work for the Lord outside our homes is wonderful yes, after we are in obedience to him inside of our homes, giving our best efforts there first.

Characteristics of a Godly wife

Wisdom and Fear of the Lord – We can build our home and establish it and FILL it with RARE and BEAUTIFUL TREASURES! It all begins with fearing the Lord, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:1 With this verse, we have wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Now look at what you can do with that for your home, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4 Wise women spend time getting to KNOW the Holy One, understanding all that He is, his character, and his ways. To know his power, might, and sovereignty, and to realize she is nothing apart from him. To know his ways and walk in them. She then tries with every area of her life to obey him and worship him and thank him. Without knowing and fearing the Lord, she is, without intention, tearing apart the inside and outside of her home: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1

Non-Quarrelsome – Quarrelsome is being argumentative, provoking, quick to quarrel, quick to anger. Selfish in not getting your way and then making sure your husband knows about it by your actions. I know I struggle with being able to just “let it go” and it’s something I must pray about often. Especially because I NEVER want my husband to prefer to live on the corner of our roof by himself than inside of it with me. And I NEVER want to be like a dripping faucet to him, wearing him down, annoying him, and leaving him wishing it would just stop and turn off already: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Proverbs 21:9 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day, restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.” Proverbs 27:15 Oh Lord, don’t let me be a constant dripping that is wearing my husband down, and leaves him feeling hopeless for it to get better. Let me be full of words that encourage him, building him up. A rushing water of love and encouragement from which the source is you.

Being willing and saying YES to the Lord – During the difficult days, it’s hard to remember that God has called you to this. To being a wife and mother. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to get up and bring everything together inside of us to say, “Yes, Lord. Whatever you have asked of me, I will do it.” If he’s asked you to mother one child or four, willingly do what he’s asked of you. Be like Mary, the young virgin bride who was told she would be with child and knowing all the questions that would bring from her soon to be husband, her family, her friends simply said, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38 When we have a heart that is WILLING, a heart that is ready to accept what the Lord has for us, he will strengthen us: “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.” Psalm 31:24

Self-control – I’m sure most of us have areas where we need more self-control. “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28 To quote Matthew Henry, “In Biblical times, the key to a city’s security was its strong walls. A city with broken walls has clearly been defeated and left vulnerable for further attack. The person without self-control is in a similar position, although his conqueror is the passions of his own spirit. They overwhelm him, disgrace him, and leave him vulnerable to further shameful outbursts. A man controlled by the Holy Spirit has far better prospects.” I started praying and seeing areas of my life that were left vulnerable to an enemy who only needs an inch in the door. What areas of your life are leaving you like a city without the protection of its walls? It may be anger that isn’t bridled and comes out in outbursts scarring those around you. It may be sugar. Maybe you are running to sugar instead of to Jesus for his sweetness. Maybe it’s technology. “If you find honey, eat just enough-too much of it, and you will vomit.” Proverbs 25:16 There may be things in your life that are good and beneficial, but too much of it will make you sick, physically or emotionally. Whatever it is, rebuild your walls. Make boundaries and pray that the Spirit will help you find self-control.

Prudence – Pray to be a prudent wife, “…but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Proverbs 19:14 Being prudent means showing care and thought for the future. Seeing and handling problems involved in running a household, and finding solutions and doing all we can to successfully manage the home. I am not a planner by nature, so I have to work at it, but it pays off when I do. I am still flexible on so much, but planning certain things helps me cut down on decision overload.

Let us dig into the Word and ask God to show us and help us bring holiness into our home.

GIVE YOUR KIDS YOUR PRESENCE, NOT JUST PRESENTS

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During the Christmas season it’s easy to get caught up making sure we get just the right gifts for our children. But what our children want more than presents is our PRESENCE. Here are three ways to give presence to your children.

  1. Give your children your time. Set aside technology, computers, phones, making the house just right, and look into their precious eyes. Be with them. Give them your eyes, ears, and your hands. Grandparents are great at this, and kids notice. They love time with grandparents because mostly Grandma and Grandpa give them TIME. Undistracted time where they aren’t hurrying to the next thing. Jesus spent time with people. He was not hurrying to get through the conversation with the woman at the well so he could get on to Galilee. He spoke with her, looked at her, listened to her, and loved her. He did this with all people. Let us follow his example in how we love our children. Give them your physical presence and your mental presence. This is making deposits into their love tank showing them they are important to you. They notice when you don’t.
  1. Create traditions. Traditions build memories, create stability, and make deposits into your family’s love tank. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Play Family Olympics and create fun ways to play together as a family, such as carrying something on a spoon across the room, pillow sack race, push a candy cane across the floor with your nose. Even the youngest can play and some of the big kids can probably come up with better ideas than the parents! Go caroling to a friend’s house, or if that’s out of your comfort zone my husband and I will have the children go to their rooms and we will go caroling to their bedroom doors. So silly, but they absolutely love it! And then of course they want to do the same. I know there are way better ideas out there, so just pick one and do it together as a family. I’m sure your kids will remember and want to do it again next year.
  1. Slow down. Christmas parties, ornament exchanges, plays-there is so much that tries to grab at our time during the holidays. Learning to say no will go a long way in helping us to slow down. Instead of trying to bustle around doing extra, slow down and whatever you’re doing around the house, include your children. They just want to be with you. So if you’re cleaning, give them a job to do alongside of you. If you’re purging the house of excess toys to make room for Christmas presents, give them a bag and ask them to help fill it up with things they’d like to give away. If you’re baking, let them help. Just take time to enjoy them in the every day. Be WITH them. Jesus worked alongside of his disciples. He brought them along as he taught and served. He did life with them. Let us do life with our children…AND enjoy it. As you set out to slow down, make every effort to be with Jesus. Make him a priority in your life. He is worthy of all our praise and has already ordained our days for us, so let us make the most of every opportunity and love him more than life. When you are putting him first and making time for him every day it will get your thoughts and focus where they need to be, and as God fills you up, you will in turn have more to give to your children.

The Lord is our Great Shepherd and we are to shepherd our little ones and care for the flock he has given us, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.” 1 Peter 5:2-3

Click here to see this post on the Raising Godly Children website.

4 WAYS TO BE A BETTER WIFE FROM SONG OF SOLOMON

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Super excited this post was published by Raising Godly Children. Their website is a wonderful resource! http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org. And this is the direct link to the article on their website.

I was recently blessed to co-teach a podcast study on Song of Solomon (link below), and my marriage and my relationship with Christ was so blessed in studying this book of the Bible. Here are a few truths I learned while preparing to teach about marriage:

  1. Work on your inner beauty.

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

Don’t depend on your outward beauty to make you beautiful. Depend on your INNER beauty. Your heart. If our heart is ugly, it makes us ugly. If we are selfish and disrespectful all the time, that’s what our husbands see. We can put on the cutest clothes we own and look beautiful on the OUTSIDE but if our hearts are dirty with nagging, complaining and discontentment then those cute clothes are no longer noticed. All of our heart’s impurities are what are seen. In Matthew 23 Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and these were men who, from the outside, did everything right- they knew the Bible, they prayed, and fasted, but their insides were greedy and hypocritical. So Jesus told them they were like cups-they were washed and clean on the outside, but the inside was filthy! And he compared them to white washed tombs-they were beautiful and clean on the outside, but inside they were full of dead people’s bones and impurities! He says to first wash the inside of the cup, then the outside will become clean. Let’s get our insides right, then our outsides will follow.

  1. Catch the foxes in your vineyard.

Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Solomon 2:15

We have to protect our marriage vineyards from foxes that want to come in and DESTROY it. Foxes lurking around in our marriages are bitterness, rage, complaining, discontentment, trying to change our husbands. There are foxes like that guy at work that keeps asking how you are and you are feeling more and more inclined to talk to him instead of your husband. It may be a fox that jumps out when you’re husband is making an effort, but your words cut him and he can’t do anything right. CATCH THE FOXES and throw them out of your vineyard! Hand them over to God and ask him to help keep your marriage vineyard thriving, nourished, and free of foxes.

  1. Intoxicate him with your love

Turn to me, dear lover.
Come like a gazelle.
Leap like a wild stag
on delectable mountains! Song of Solomon 2:17 (MSG version)

The mountains referred to here are her breasts. She is saying to him I WANT YOU!! God designed us to have and to want intimacy with our spouses.

Proverbs 5:18-19 says:

Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts satisfy you always.
May you always be intoxicated by her love.

INTOXICATED BY HER LOVE!! Pray that YOUR HUSBAND is intoxicated by your love! Work at intoxicating him with your love. Pray about ways to do so, for creativity if you need it. Admire him, respect him, thank him for his devotion and hard work, thank him for trying so hard to protect his eyes and mind from temptation, and tell him you want him. You desire him.

One way to keep your husband intoxicated by your love is to give him unconditional respect. Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” And part of our obedience to the Lord is respecting our husbands. God commands it in Ephesians 5:33 “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” God has to tell us to respect our husbands because it doesn’t always come naturally to respect him. It comes naturally to love him, but respecting him is harder and that is what he desires. We’ve heard of unconditional love. Well there is a term out there called unconditional respect.

There was a research study where author Shaunti Feldhahn asked men this question: Would you rather feel ALONE and UNLOVED or INADEQUATE and DISRESPECTED? 3 out 4 men, said they would rather feel alone and unloved. That they’d rather live with a wife who respected them and didn’t love them, than with a wife who loved them but didn’t respect them. I asked my husband this question and he answered the same-he’d choose being alone and unloved ANY DAY OF THE WEEK over feeling inadequate and disrespected. Of course they need love, but they need respect MORE. It’s part of how God wired them.

  1. Make a list of things you first fell in love with about your husband.

After a conflict, Solomon tells his bride things he loves about her, things that he has loved about her since the beginning of their relationship. Sometimes in marriage we lose sight of the things we first fell in love with about our husbands. We get focused on mishaps from day to day living. Take a few minutes to reflect on the things that sent you head over heels in love with your husband. Write them down. Pull them out when you are angry with him. Read over them when you are not angry. Pray and ask the Lord to help you “make allowance for each other’s faults” (Colossians 3:13). Try to assume the best in your husband, and give him respect even when he doesn’t deserve it so that you are showing honor to the Lord.

The enemy will probably throw darts as you are trying to love your husband well, but just keep praying and reading God’s Word. Pray it out loud. Pray for God’s strength to continue to mold you into the wife he wants you to be, to mold you to be more like Christ.

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The Song of Solomon study I was blessed to co-teach with some wonderful women can be found here: https://goodsoilgirls.wordpress.com/listen-now/

ABC Bible Verses Printable

Here’s a quick reference for the ABC Bible Verses we use. I wanted a chart for a printable guide and thought I’d share. There are tons of options for ABC verses, but these are usually the first verses my little ones memorize. Here is the link for the printable version: ABC Bible verses

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“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” Psalm 119:9 To keep their ways pure. The definition of pure: unstained, innocent, guiltless, genuine, unmixed, without undesirable elements. When we are pure in devotion to God, not being mixed with the world, is how we gain true wisdom and understanding. How can we be pure? Live according to His word. Which means DOING IT not just knowing it. But knowing it is half the battle right? Learn it, know it, DO IT. Don’t be a pharisee who knows God’s word but never actually lives it out.

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 I love how one exposition said it, “His (David’s) heart would be kept by the word because he kept the word in his heart.”

“I desire to do your will, my God; for your instruction is written on my heart.” Psalm 40:8 Writing His Word on their hearts will help them make decisions that are pleasing to God. Decisions that are in line with His will for their life. They have INSTRUCTIONS to life!!