No Matter How Hard I Try, I Can’t Be Patient

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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 this article on their site.

It all started when one day I put tape over my mouth to keep myself from talking.

As crazy as it sounds, I had had enough and didn’t know what else to do.

Four kids, ages four and under gives me MANY opportunities to practice how the Bible tells me to act: don’t be quick tempered, be slow to anger, do everything without complaining or arguing… I found myself talking and talking, reacting, correcting. One day I grew tired of my own voice, and in desperation pulled the tape out of the drawer and put a piece over my mouth.

I was REFUSING to let my emotions, anger, and impatience get the best of me again that morning. I told the kids I didn’t want to say anything I shouldn’t, so the tape would help me not say anything at all. One morning the kids and I were going to do some baking. This is usually a prime time for me to talk… a lot, “Stir slowly, don’t pour it all in, that has raw egg in it-don’t eat it!”

So, before we started I decided to try my little tape experiment. It had worked great when I was frustrated, so could keeping my mouth closed make for a more peaceful baking experience?

You better believe it! It was the most peaceful baking experience to date.

I am learning that intentionally practicing the art of being quiet is key. Although I can’t, of course, leave tape on my mouth all the time, I knew the Lord was pruning the heart issues that I still needed to work through.

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2

By putting tape over my mouth I was in fact quietening the flesh. The more I talk, the less I can hear the Spirit. The more focused I am on what I want, whether it’s how I want things to go or how it makes me feel, the less focused I am on how I can serve God, how I can bring Him glory, how I can love others intensely as He commands.

I can choose to focus on myself, or on God.

As a child of God I must choose to become a slave to righteousness. Letting go of letting sin be my first choice and instead choosing what is right.

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:18

“After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Galatians 3:3

In an act to be a better mom, I would wake up and tell myself, “I WILL be patient. I WILL be kind. I WILL be loving.” The problem here is that little word “I.” It’s not about me and my efforts.

  1.  John 15:5 tells us: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We are JUST A BRANCH. A branch that is not connected to the tree can lay on the ground all day trying as hard as it can to bear fruit, and no matter how hard it tries, it can’t. It has to be connected to the tree. And since we are branches, we HAVE to be connected to the vine to bear fruit. We don’t have to stress ourselves out trying to bear fruit. All we have to do is keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and live to please him, and he says that when we simply REMAIN in Him then we will automatically bear fruit! And not just fruit, MUCH fruit.
  2. Paul tells us in Romans 7 that no matter how much we try to be patient or try to be kind or try to do what’s right, our flesh is constantly waging war against our minds and our only hope for truly doing what is right lies in Christ Jesus. We must instead wake up and say, “Lord, I am yours. You live through me. Use me today, no matter what you have in store for me. No matter the circumstance, I am your servant.” We quieten the flesh, allow the Spirit room to breathe and move within us and His fruits will start ripening. Love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control will start oozing out of us against our own pathetic efforts, but it will happen because they are the Spirit’s fruits to bear through us.

“No one can get Joy by merely asking for it. It is one of the ripest fruits of the Christian life, and, like all fruits, must be grown.” Henry Drummond

 

My Kids Favorite Healthy Snack – Energy Balls

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Energy balls. These are hands downs my kids favorite snack! And they are healthy! I have to limit them or they are gone in a day. I usually double the recipe. Super easy:

1 cup oats (I use quick oats)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup or less flax seed (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips or dried fruit or both

Mix everything, chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll into balls. Store in air tight container in fridge. Yummy! And for nursing mamas these are great when your supply is low!

 

Teaching the Bible Through Play and Being a Family of 6 now!

It absolutely blows my mind when I see my children respond to the Bible, to God’s living Word. Who needs reality tv when you have the stories of the Old Testament? And I’m talking about reading straight from the Bible. We have some children’s Bibles and they’re good, but nothing is better than the literal Word of God. My kids love fun, so if I can make learning God’s Word fun, I WILL DO IT!

 It’s not expensive props that get their attention; it’s the Word of God and interactive play that help them understand it. Play time with mom is always fun so I like to use it to my advantage to teach them the Word. Jesus used parables to help people understand God. I use Fisher Price Little People. 🙂 

Here’s some ideas of what we do.

 

Adam and Eve. Reading Genesis 2:7-9, 15-25
At the table, we use little people dolls as Adam and Eve. These dolls also function as Moses, Pharaoh, and Noah at the appropriate times. As I’m reading the story, the dolls are acting it out. When Adam falls into a deep sleep, Little People Boy lays down. And my 21 month old says “night night.” 🙂 For the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil I use whatever is laying on the table. Yeah, there’s usually something on the table that can be used because I so don’t keep a clean table most days. So, it may be a book, or a block. That’s the fun thing with little ones, their imaginations are not limited. They don’t care, they go right along with it. And when the animals are brought to Adam to be named, I use my fingers as the animals. I’m pretty sure my kids love this the most. I walk “animals” up to Adam to be named (i.e. whatever I say is what my fingers are, which makes the opportunities endless), so an animal tromps up to Adam and blows it’s trunk (raise finger in the air) and he names it “Elephant.” When we act this out on the ground, we use stuffed animals. My son is Adam and he happily sits on the arm rest of the chair and waits while my daughter and I bring him animals to name. In the making of Adam, he lays on the ground and I (God) “forms” him out of dust, making his hands and feet, etc. Then he falls into a deep sleep, and my 21 month old says night night, and then I take out his rib and form Eve. Enter my 4 year old daughter. Then I stick them in the garden. The garden is the living room. So easy and my kids LOVE it. The kids actually ask for me to read more Bible stories. They’re learning and they don’t even know it!

 

The Fall. Reading Genesis 3:1-19
Once we’ve read the story a few times at the table, I’ve learned enough of it to start acting it out. I try to use some of the exact verses from the bible while we’re acting it out. So, with this one, I stick Adam and Eve (my 4yo daughter and 3yo son) in the Garden of Eden (the living room) next to the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life (ottomans). We use play fruit from the kitchen to entice Eve. Anything long laying around is the serpent (necklace, paper towel roll). They eat the fruit and then sew fig leaves (pillows) to cover themselves. Then when they hear God walking through the garden they run and hide behind the trees (chair). When they are banished from the garden the cherubim (21 month old) waves her flaming sword (paper towel holder or a shoe) and she loves every minute of it.

 

The next story is Cain and Abel. We don’t do this one yet. I don’t need my kids getting any ideas. Noah, the tower of Babel (building blocks), the wise and foolish builders (rocks and sand)… anything to make the Bible come ALIVE to my children because it IS alive!! They get absorbed when it’s made SO MUCH FUN. You don’t need anything special. All you need is your kids, a little imagination, and the Bible. We all have that.

 

We are a family of 6 now! What’s that like? Well, let me tell you. It’s walking to the kitchen and saying, “Son, why are just sitting in the hallway?” To which he replies, “I’m in timeout.” Riiight. I forgot. Hmm, how long has he been sitting here? They only get baths when I can actually see that their legs are darker than their bellies. My prayers are less of the quiet prayer times and more of the getting on my knees in the living room to pray for strength for the next hour with my son climbing on my back asking to “ride the horse” and my 20 month old bent over on her head saying, “ma-ma? ma-ma?” It’s choosing sleep over a shower. I’ll smell clean again one day. Hopefully. It’s wearing a pair of pants to the store with baby pee on them. It’s thinking about maybe leaving the house by myself with all 4 kids until my mind pictures what that actually looks like: getting diapers changed, potty breaks for the older two, shoes on, water cup scavenger hunt, breaking up fights, and then deciding it would be easier to find something really fun to do at home. It’s dealing with a lot of poop.  I’m not sure we would have had all these kids if I had known how much poop would be involved. Totally joking, about having the kids. Not joking about all the poop.

Am I Cut Out For This Parenting Thing?

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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 their website for this post.
I want to be transparent. I want to point all things to Christ. I want the good in my life to reflect Christ, not me and how I parent. Trust me, if my kids are good it is because of Christ, not me.
Right now I have three little ones under five years old and I’m seven months pregnant. My 17 month old is transitioning to one nap. These transitions usually take some getting used to, but for some reason this one seems harder, more overwhelming than in the past.
I often worry that I’m not meeting everyone’s needs, that someone isn’t getting loved the right way, that the book that didn’t get read to the little one asking is going to take away their love of reading forever and it will be all my fault.
Today I sat down and cried to God, “How can I do this with four kids? Some days I feel like I’m barely getting by with three! We prayed about all these children. We left it all to you. I think you got the wrong girl. Did I somehow forget wisdom or hear you wrong?
Yeah, it was heavy. How heavy? Well, Job crossed my mind, if that tells you anything. When I asked that last question I knew nothing but God was what I needed. I just had to stop wherever those thoughts were going and take them captive, so I grabbed my Bible, got on my knees, and opened it up, knowing that God’s Word was the giver of wisdom and understanding that I needed. I prayed God’s word back to Him – Children are a reward, a gift. (Psalms 127:3) Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Heavenly lights. (James 1:17)… I continued. I cried. I sat my Bible down and asked God to teach me, to lead me, to give me WISDOM and PEACE.
I’m so not one to just open the Bible any ole where and see what works for me today, but in desperation I did just that. It just happened to open to, of all places, the book of Job, the part where God replied to Job: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) I immediately felt convicted. I was darkening God’s counsel, His plans for my life without knowledge.
Job replied, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”
I knew I was questioning things FAR TOO WONDERFUL for me to understand. I KNOW that God has it all planned out. I know He wants this for our family. I also know that with each child I cling to him more and more because I realize how very much I need him, how I am nothing but dust without him. But what helped me more than anything were these TRUTHS:
“… you are familiar with all my ways. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”  (Psalm 139:3,15-16)
God gave me these children KNOWING ALL MY WAYS, all my weaknesses, all my insecurities, my faults. And yet, he STILL gave them to me.
Every one of my motherhood moments was laid out for me long ago. He saw all my mishaps, failures, and sinful choices and he STILL chose me to be the mother of these specific children. Once I meditated on that, my doubts and fears changed to praises and humbleness that I get to do this. Not questioning WHY he chose me and DID HE MEAN TO, but that he DID. And ALL I have to do is ask him HOW to do it all, and he WILL show me.

Using scripture for discipline and encouragement

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I have prayed that the Lord will show me ways to use His Word for discipline and encouragement. I was so excited to find some resources to help me and I wanted to share them!

“Wise Words for Moms” by Ginger Hubbard. This has been SO amazing. It’s a calendar sized chart of 22 different behaviors, heart probing questions to ask the child, a Bible verse (or paraphrase from a couple of verses) for correction, and a Bible verse (or paraphrase) for encouragement. Along with additional verses related to the behavior. I love it. There are times when I stand around wishing I knew what to say but I don’t. Or wishing I could remember a Bible verse that would be perfect. This chart has helped so much. Example: one of my children getting a new book then complaining that they want another one. I go to my handy chart and ask my questions for Complaining: 1. Is your attitude showing thankfulness and contentment? 2. Rather than complaining, what can you be thankful for in this situation? Correction verse: “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Phil 2:14 Encouragement paraphrase verse: “It is God’s will that you be thankful and joyful in all circumstances.” paraphrased from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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I totally stand there, chart in hand, and read from it when I need to. I’m hoping to have it memorized by the time baby #4 starts acting up. I’ve told several friends about this chart and one friend said she found an app for it so she can pull up the chart on her phone when they are away from home!

http://www.amazon.com/Wise-Words-Moms-Ginger-Hubbard/dp/0966378660/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430943468&sr=1-1&keywords=wise+words+for+mom

Another resource is the Parenting Cards from We Choose Virtues. There are 12 character traits represented on colorful cards with a Bible verse. There’s a fun little story to read on the back about the character on the front. My kids really love these. We pick one and focus on it for a week or two. We are doing obedience this week and every time the kids say “Yes ma’am” or “Yes ma’am, I’d be happy to” when asked to do something they get a fruit of the spirit on their Fruit of the Spirit chart. They get lots of tries to be obedient. It makes it fun.

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http://wechoosevirtues.com/collections/all/products/parenting-cards

Side note: we also play the “obedience game” that I learned from hearing another mom talk about it. We sit in the floor and one of the kids sits in front of us and I’ll say, “Please stand up, take 3 big hops, and roar like a lion.” Before they stand up they have to say, “Yes ma’am, I’d be happy to!” They ask to play this game A LOT. It’s a fun, easy way to practice obedience. Cheerful obedience. I’ve found that it helps practicing and role playing the behaviors I’d like my kids to have.

Another helpful tool I’ve learned about recently came from Pam Tebow, the super inspiring mom of Tim Tebow. I watched a video of her and she said she would sing scripture over her kids. “Something learned in song is remember long,” she said. So she would take a verse and just sing it to them. So I’ve tried to start implementing this. She said her two great parenting tips were “scripture and faith.” I love what she said when talking about what she did that was different or special in parenting: “I have the same Bible and I have the same God. I don’t have anything anyone else doesn’t have. I’ve just chosen to count on it and stake my life on it and the lives of my children on it.”

Lord, help me STAKE MY LIFE AND MY KID’S LIVES on YOUR WORD.

“Fathers and mothers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

Love intensely

Help me Lord. Speak to me.

“Help me Lord”

Last week I had one of those days. You know the one, the “Whelp, I did it. I ruined my kids today.” I yelled, I spoke harshly, I critiqued, and after it all, I cried. And cried hard. I felt like a failure. Like a terrible mom. A disappointment to my children. I went for a walk and found myself on my knees crying out to God for help: “I feel overwhelmed, help me. Speak to me. Please speak to me.” And I waited. After some time my heart was flooded with answers from his Word, “Love them intensely. Be gentle. Train them, but let me lead. And stay close to me-my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 “…love one another deeply, from the heart” 1 Peter 1:22

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness… 2 Tim 3:16-17

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Phil 4:5

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

“…she gives instructions with kindness.” Proverbs 31:26

I felt relief and gratitude…and repentance. Okay, I can do that. That sounds so much better than trying to control everything. It’s hard having a white knuckle grip on things out of my control.  I feel depleted some days, physically and emotionally. I think, “I just can’t do this.” And then Christ reminds me, not by yourself. I don’t want you to do it by yourself. I want to help you. I have sent you a helper to teach you all things. Come to me. I am your everything. 

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

“Then Jesus said, “COME TO ME, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

None of it is mine. These precious kids are not mine. My life is not mine. My time is not mine. It’s all his. I want to do it His way. I want to live with everything I have for him. Yes, motherhood is hard, but aren’t all the big things in life? Marriage, raising children, ministry…hard, but totally worth the work.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galations 6:9

Building a shield of faith

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“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

In 2 corinthians 6, Paul is talking about being in the power of God and doing what is right with WEAPONS of righteousness in the right hand and in the left. Weapons for defense AND action. The sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, and the shield of faith. A soldier would not go to battle without his weapons. We NEED weapons and our children need weapons too. Ephesians 6 tells us “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…” It goes on to tell us what to wear in battle and to put on the armor of God. I need weapons and it is my job as a mother to make sure my children have these weapons too. We are TRAINING them and PREPARING them for the WORLD and for KINGDOM WORK. Sometimes I get lost in diapers, baths, every child pooping at the same time, and lose that kingdom mindset. BUT God has a plan for them and it is for good, not disaster. We are to be training them FOR THIS PLAN that he has for them. We are to prepare them for the vision he has for them. And we are equipping them for His plan for their lives.

One way I am able to help them use their weapons is to help them build a shield of faith. I keep a prayer journal for each child and I write down prayers for them since they were born-health, purity, sibling relationships, heart murmurs, salvation, fears, weaning, nursing, relationship with us as parents, how to love, teach and accept their uniqueness, that He will show us how to equip them to serve Him best, and so much more. I always write “Answered ________” and leave a space to go back and fill in when the prayer was answered. I highlight the answered date and write a praise to the lord when it’s answered. In the back of the journal, I write down their strengths. These are God given. On a post it, I write down their weaknesses. (on a post it so I can remove it from the journal before I give it to them). I want to pray over their weaknesses. I want to be alert of how God made them. I want to be in prayer over how they can glorify the kingdom using their strengths, and what may be a pitfall for their weaknesses.

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” Proverbs 27:23

When my husband and I think they are ready to receive their journals, we will give it to them and say “Have faith! Look what ALL God has done for you!! He is always faithful. He truly cares for you and loves you deeply.” It’s a tangible way for them to actually see how God has been working in their lives for years. Since conception. And from my own prayer journal, I know that prayers can be answered in just hours or days, but I also know some prayers are not answered for years. And that there are those prayers that God has other plans for all together. Them seeing this also helps build faith. And it helps so much when I face a trial to look back at a prayer journal where God has answered SO MANY prayers. No matter how or when it was answered, God hears them all. We need to speak truth and life into our children. I want to HELP BUILD THEIR SHIELD OF FAITH. I want them to have a real sense of what it means to have a shield of faith.

“In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16

I want my children to carry with them a HUGE shield of faith. One that covers them from head to toe and arm length to arm length. Not one that just covers a small portion of their body, like just their face or just their chest. I want their shield to cover ALL of them!

“My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life.” Psalm 63:3

I wish I always had the faith our Lord deserves, but I don’t. I forget. I somehow forget the thousands of prayers he has answered for me. I so do not want to be like the Israelites in how they continued to forget all the Lord had done for them. Huge things he had done for them-parted the waters so they could walk through, lead them by a pillar of cloud, fed them with bread from Heaven! Help me Lord remember all of your good deeds and kindness towards me and proclaim your goodness to everyone.

“I will tell of the LORD’s unfailing love. I will praise the LORD for all he has done. I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel, which he has granted according to his mercy and love.” Isaiah 63:7

Mom’s that Crave God Event

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If you are in the Chattanooga area October 4th I wanted to invite you to a mom’s event! October 4th at 10:00 at Church of the Highlands:

Come be encouraged with us! This is a morning for moms to be strengthened in the Lord, reminded that we are not alone in our struggles, and time to fellowship with other moms. There will be a time of encouragement, a guest speaker, and prayer. If you ever feel like you are struggling, overwhelmed, or alone in motherhood, come join us so you can be encouraged! We are all struggling in different ways…we all feel overwhelmed at times…You may be an encouragement to someone else! 1 Peter 2:2: “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment” Let us crave God like babies crave milk, and let us cry out for his nourishment!
Please RSVP so we can plan accordingly. Nursing babies welcome! Invite a friend. Lunch will be provided. No charge. Hope to see your there!

Bible Circle Time at home in 5 Easy Steps

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The kids love circle time. This can be done with just one child, or with lots of children. We don’t do it every week, but we try. They enjoy it even if I only do it once a week, and I know this because some days (probably most) are more about going with the flow than what I had planned. Just about anything can be incorporated into circle time, but here is a layout of what I do with a 3 year old, 1.5 year old, and a 4 month old. 

1. Blanket Squares and a song
I put out “blanket squares” and the kids sit down on them. They like having their own space to sit. Since we will be homeschooling, I use this time to practice training them to sit down while I am teaching and to sit quietly while I am reading. And with a boy, we practice this a lot. I start with a song that uses motion and I will do the same song for about a month. Here is an example of the “open shut them” song we do that we learned at library story time. Wheels on the bus, My God is So Big So Strong and So Mighty, and tooty ta by Dr. Jean is a fun one too-this is a cute video so you can see it in action.

2. Bible Story and re-enactment
Then I will read a story out of their children’s Bible, holding it up so they can see the pictures while I am reading. After reading, I may point something out about the story-like how someone showed courage or love. Then we do some sort of movement re-enacting the story. My son especially likes getting up and moving around. Examples are: After reading the Battle of Jericho we marched around the island in the kitchen seven times, singing “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,” blew our trumpets, and then ran to the living room and fell down as the “walls came tumbling down.” They really loved this one. Another example is when we read the story of a paralyzed man’s friends lowering him through a roof for Jesus to heal: I took a diaper box and my husband cut out windows and a door and a hole in the roof (this took all of 3 minutes to do), then I used little people dolls and animals as our actors from the story. We took a piece of fabric and the friends lowered the man down through the roof to Jesus who was inside teaching. Then we just played with the house for a little while.

3. Craft
Sometimes I will do a simple craft that can be done on the floor with the kids. But this is not something I do every time. For the Battle of Jericho we decorated a piece of paper, then rolled it up and taped it as our “trumpet.” Simple. Or for the pool of Siloam, we printed out a square and wadded up blue tissue paper and glued it on the square to create our pool. Then we used the little people again to re-enact Jesus healing the blind man. (John 9:1-12)

4. Bible verse 
After we act out a portion of the story, I will read a Bible verse that goes along with it. We looked for simple cards that had Bible verses on them for kids, but couldn’t find any. My husband bought these at Lifeway Christian Bookstore. They are post it notes with Bible verses. We wanted to use them over and over so he got them laminated and cut them out. It took about an hour for him to cut them out, but it was so worth it! I know we will be using these a lot when the kids can read on their own too. I pick out a verse from these that goes well with the story we read and leave it out all week in a place where we see it as we’re walking by (on a table, taped to the wall) and read at random times or when an opportunity presents itself to use the verse.

For The Battle of Jericho, I read: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9. 

For the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man I read: “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

5. Prayer
After I read the Bible verse we get on our knees and pray. I pray the Bible verse over my children. Example, “Lord I pray that M, T, and E will be strong and courageous for you. I pray they will not be afraid or discouraged, and that they know you are always with them. Let them be strong and courageous all the days of their lives, serving you without fear.”

We end with a group hug!

Oh, and as a side note, I recently listened to a researcher who wrote a book about how to connect your children’s hearts so they are bonded closely. He said that one way to do this was to have them spend time reading together. So, this is a great stepping stone to that. And just in case your curious like I would be, he said the number one way (according to his research) to bond your siblings was to have them support one another. In extra curricular activities like piano recitals, sports, or just in general encouraging one another and cheering each other on. Great info!

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We start looking like this.

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And in the middle we look like this. 🙂 It’s training to teach them to sit still right?

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And this. Sometimes, eh most times, my fun loving boy needs to be reminded to sit down during circle time.

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But we always end on our knees in prayer.

Fruit of the Spirit Chart

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“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24

My husband and I agree that the two most important things we can teach our children is 1) to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and  2) to have compassion for others. We also agree the the third most important thing to teach them is character. Not just teaching them to be good, but to have a good heart. 

I don’t want to focus on teaching my children what they are not supposed to do, but what they are supposed to do. 

I often wonder if I’m doing it “right.” Or how I’m supposed to do this parenting thing anyway. But what always helps is fixing my eyes on Jesus. He tells us, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12. He already has MY race marked out for me. He knows exactly what I need to run this race. He tells me to run it with perseverance! The definition of perseverance: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. He tells me to run it fixing my eyes on HIM. Not on the world, not on other moms, not on what everyone else is doing, but on what His Word says.

This is an introduction of biblical terms for my children, and an opportunity to train them in how to have character. Our Seeds of Character CD already familiarized us with the fruits of the Spirit, so I just explained that she’ll be getting fruits to put on the chart when I see it in her actions. Once a row is filled up, she’ll get a reward.  The reward may be ice-cream, a trip to the park, going to put our feet in the river, a new book, 5 m&m’s, etc. After she gets rewarded, we take the fruit down from that row so she can start all over with that one. *2017 UPDATE: 3 years later, my third child gets a chocolate chip when a row is filled. No time for much more than that. :)*

Here are a few of the ways she earns her fruits:

Love: Bringing her brother’s favorite book to him when he is crying (thinking of others), holding her sibling’s hands, kissing her brother’s toe after she runs over it with the riding toy :), being selfless

Joy: Obeying with a joyful heart, saying, “Yes ma’am, I’d be happy to” when I ask her to do something, doing every day things with a joyful heart

Peace: Choosing to be a peacemaker, calmly asking for something rather than whining, peacefully playing with her brother, choosing peace (harmony) even when others do not

Patience: any time she is waiting patiently – to brush her teeth next, for dinner, etc.

Kindness: wanting to make a card for someone, holding a door open for someone, picking up something that someone dropped

Goodness: Being sincere, selfless, honest. Saying “thank you for ____” when given something, being helpful without being asked, being well behaved during an outing, sharing toys with friends, asking for forgiveness from someone when she has wronged them.

Gentleness: Sitting beside her brother when he is upset about something, using a gentle voice and gentle touches around her baby sister or another baby, having a tender heart towards someone else

Faithfulness: “Reading” her Bible on her own, praying without being asked or asking me to pray for someone, saying all of her ABC Bible verses.

Self-Control: Asking for the toy back that her brother just jerked away from her (instead of yelling or jerking it back-this is definitely practicing self control!), starting to whine about something but choosing to use big girl words instead, choosing a gentle voice when she is frustrated, choosing not to hit

What’s really beautiful is that when I am looking for ways to reward my child’s character I am amazed at how kind and thoughtful these special little people really are.

And then my friend Erika made a super simple chart (see next picture) and I absolutely love it! All you need is a poster board, marker, and some fruit stickers! Same thing, way less time consuming to make! When it’s all filled up, just make a new one!

Elias


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“Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

INSTRUCTIONS FOR CHART: Big poster board, drew lines with a sharpie, printed out cute fruits from google and had them and the poster board laminated, velcro dots on to hold them on. BUT-I love my friend’s idea above where she just drew it on and used stickers!