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.

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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!!

 

Four Ways to Build Sibling Relationships

Excited this post was published on the site 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.

Sibling relationships are such unique, beautiful gifts from God. If nurtured and encouraged they can be some of the most supportive relationships we have in life. A repeated prayer of mine is that my children will have a unique bond that comes only from God. That my children will be best friends, supportive, and each other’s biggest encouragers. And that they will serve the Lord together. Here are four ways to help nurture the sibling relationship from an early age.

1. Encourage one another. Whether it’s cheering on the one who is potty training and used the potty on their own, clapping for brother’s performance as fire chief, gathering other siblings to view the massive tower built by sister, or for making the sports team, cheering on their siblings is important. It teaches them to be FOR each other. To have unity. They will have enough people in the world that will not be for them.

2. Serve one another. Serving others is a powerful biblical way of loving others. Teaching our children to serve one another helps get the focus off themselves and onto others. Have them serve each other snacks, deliver waters at mealtimes (putting themselves last), bring blankets when one is sick. Sit down with one sibling and ask, “What is something we can do for your brother today? How can we serve him?” Then have fun trying to do one or two of those things that morning. It’s good practice for the one being served too, because they get practice making eye contact and saying thank you.

3. Teach them to allow each other to belong. Typically kids go with the wrong crowd because that wrong crowd makes them feel like they belong. In all our weird, quirky ways, home should be the place where we are safest to be ourselves. It builds confidence when we are accepted as we are. My children love hearing that God has plans just for their lives that no one else can fulfill and that he made them each uniquely in order to fulfill his calling on their lives. My children are not allowed to make fun of each other, ever. They are constantly told to “encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 They don’t do this perfectly, which gives us an ample amount of time for practice. For each negative thing they say to the other, they have to say three kind things to them.

4. Create special sibling time. A few days a week my children will have “room time” where they will spend time in their rooms for individual, creative play by themselves for 45 minutes to an hour. Once in a while I will “allow” them to have room time together. They play together all day, but there is something uniquely special in their eyes of this time together. They actually get along the ENTIRE time, so I encourage that when I can. Reading together is also a time when they mostly get along the entire time. There is something about enjoying a story together. Gathering around for a read aloud book, or allowing the oldest to read to the younger ones, creates unity. When one parent takes one child, it is a great opportunity for the other children to play in a way that they don’t normally, so encourage them to play together and enjoy each other’s company. Encourage two children to work on building a tower together for baby brother. Or to build a fort together. One more way to set up a time for sibling bonding time is over snack. I open a pack of bite size crackers that they all love and tell them they must share the snack while sitting down somewhere. They can choose anywhere in the house to sit, but they must share the snack. This is another time when they all get along well. They usually end up in a boat (the kitchen mat or corner of a room) giggling and making up a game.

God has given them built in friends, right in their homes. Prayer, selflessness, and encouragement can go a long way in helping them build these friendships.

Age Appropriate Chores

We have a daily chore time after breakfast, at least most the time. I have 4 kids ages five and under. There are 5 chores they do, the same chore each particular day of the week. We have a picture chart on the fridge. Example, every Monday my daughter (5 yr old) vacuums the living room, Tuesday she wipes down the bathroom sink, Wednesday she wipes down windows and mirrors, Thursday she takes out trash, and Friday she dusts. My son (3yo) has the same chores on opposite days. My 2 year old gets a baby wipe and she wipes down anything she’d like, she just likes to join in. Yes, there may be a chore here and there they moan about, but that’s a teaching opportunity, and teaching that there is work we may not feel like doing but it has to be done anyway. Hey, I don’t like to clean bath tubs, but it’s gotta get done (is once a month cleaning them enough? 🙂 ).

But for the most part, they actually like doing chores. Even if they don’t like it, it’s become such a habit that it’s simply something we do and I don’t hear much complaining any more. Some chores they LOVE (washing windows is one). My son loves to vacuum, my daughter not so much. And they both love trash day. I go back and check their work and encourage them where they’ve done well, and show them where they need to scrub just a little harder. I take time in the beginning to actually teach them HOW to clean and what I expect of them.

When we first started chores we would sing a song we made up before we started that goes through making our beds, getting dressed, brushing teeth, then chores. And the chore part of the song says “I wanna help clean the house and do my part b/c I love my family with all my heart.” For me, it’s not a demand and “clean this and make my dinner!” attitude. It’s teaching a servant’s heart. It’s teaching to help take care of the home God gave us. To be faithful in the little. Teaching responsibilities and teamwork. I do my chores right along with them. It really doesn’t take long at all. Maybe 20 minutes to do it all-making beds, picking up rooms, getting dressed, teeth brushed and chore complete.

They have one scheduled chore a day that doesn’t take long to do and then the rest they do during the day aren’t called “chores” but are just us living life together. For instance, they start taking their own plates to the sink after meals as soon as those little tippy toes can help them reach their plates up over their heads to the sink. It quickly becomes a habit. A lot of times, by 3 or 4 years old, they don’t even have to be asked to take their plate and put it by the sink.

Each day one of the kids (ages 2,3, and 5) is the “Delivery Boy/Girl” for the day. They LOVE this. And that means that person collects all the waters before meals and I fill them up and they are delivered back out. This is such a big help to me. That person also delivers anything I need help with-paper towels, vitamins, etc. And now that the kids are older, that person gets to help make meals on their designated day.

We are working on something called “Tidy Time” where they are each assigned a particular area of the house and when I need the house tidied for my husband coming home from work, guests coming over, etc. they will be little experts at picking up their areas and it makes it so much easier on me to have them helping out. Carole Joy Seid said to tell them they are, “Little Lords and Ladies in waiting, learning how to take care of their own castles some day.”

They fight over who gets to unload the dishwasher and put the silverware away. They love to prepare the snacks for everyone. It’s such a great way to teach them to serve! My son loves a tidy room, but the girls have to be threatened prompted to pick up their rooms. They come by it honest. My husband says I’m like a tornado that blew through when I leave a room.

Every kid is different. Some may be ready for these sooner than others, some later. These are just some ideas from what we do. And here is a printable version: Age Appropriate Chores

Age Appropriate Chores

Here’s the “Ditty song.” I had been praying for something that gave us some order after breakfast, so we sing the ditty song and do what it says. Again, it doesn’t take long, and I love it because it’s teaching them what to do each day and to get their work done. It’s posted on our fridge, along with their visual chore chart.

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DAILY CHORE CHART

The letter under the days are to tell the kids who will be the Delivery Boy/Girl that day.

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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