Category Archives: Parenting

image

How to Tempt a Mother – 7 Sure-Fire Ways! – By Uncle Screwtape

C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece “Screwtape Letters” is a phenomenal book in which a senior devil instructs a younger devil how to tempt a soul. (You can find that wonderful book here)

But if the character, Wormwood, went on to tempt a mom, I think this is how Screwtape would instruct him. 

- Verity

My Dear Wormwood (Demon D. Younger),

I see you have been assigned a mother. I was shocked that, after your losing the last soul, you were assigned such an important person!

Mothers have and always will be the most influential people in any society. By them kings are set on their courses and future leaders’ hearts nurtured for love or for hate.

(Of course, we demons have successfully kept this truth from women in the 21st century by putting a focus on careers, unattainable beauty and a growing disdain for children.)

And moms fall for the same lies in any time or age.

Here are some lies that have worked outstandingly well for me in the past.

1. Make the Mom’s World as Tiny as Possible

If a world is tiny, it is easy to make the most minuscule mishap seem catastrophic. A spot on the rug in a tiny world is fuel for hysteria while someone who sees themselves as soldiers in an age-long spiritual battle can withstand the death of a loved one and still stand strong – strengthened by a focus on the eternal.

To that end, limit her influences – above all keep her from reading her Bible which opens a person’s eyes to the cosmic battle of time, power and love.

2. Keep the Mom’s Focus on Something Unimportant that Makes Her Feel Like a Good Mom While Losing Sight of the Important

If you can keep her running around – trying to attain perfection in enough unimportant exploits, she will never have time to notice the eternal ventures – like the character training of her children.

Of course children’s hairstyles or flurries of extracurricular activities are not bad of themselves. Your opportunity with any potential idol comes when they have grown in her mind to the point of trumping the important! Let her take pride in her victory over her daughter’s hair or her son’s music lessons until she is willing to sacrifice the sanity of her family and her own focus to achieve them.

3. Let the Mom think of Herself as a Victim

Thankfulness will destroy your work, Wormwood.

Daily bring to her mind the grievances of a leaky faucet, tight budget and a challenging child. If she thinks of herself as a victim, she will forget that she is already a victor with Him. Never let her remember that!

If you can help the root of bitterness take root in her, your battle is practically won! Especially stay-at-home moms with little outside influence can be consumed with the tiniest wrongs – letting their minds grow these wrongs into outstanding evils.

And when a person has given herself over to bitterness, their view of even the most wonderful things – like the smiles of her baby or the warmth of a home are distorted. And the woman who would normally spread joy and warmth in her home taints it with the anger and indignation that is slowly destroying her from the inside out.

 4. Make sure the Mom NEVER Thinks of Her Children as Blessings

If she realizes the true value of her children, she will pour her energies into teaching them about God and His Way.

Value must be placed on almost anything besides her children. (The career that suffers because of their demands, the social life she used to have, the heels her pregnancy-ravaged hips can never handle again or any other unattainable desire will be especially effective.)

Let her view her children as leeches – filching from her energy and resources and keeping her from her true potential.

Resentment toward her children will be one of your sharpest tools!

Of course if her child was threatened by a speeding car, she would lay down her life for him in an instant, but make the small life sacrifices that are her testimony of God’s Way seem unimportant to her. (Her smile when bringing water for the 56th time, the gentle voice at 2:00am, the prayer for wisdom when breaking up a fight all stem from her realization of her children’s value and importance in God’s eternal plan.)

5. Make the Mom Think of Her Personal Identity ‘As Being Lost.’ 

Bring to her thoughts dreams of what she would be without the demands of her family. Let shadows of herself as a put-together, non-tired, woman play across the edges of her mind – tempting her focus and reaffirming the lie that she would be more without them.

Of course we know that motherhood is a means of sanctification – of losing oneself and being fashioned more into His image as each mother lays her life down not once but daily. (Or in the case of motherhood daily and multiple times a night as well.)

6. Make the Mom Think She has Already Failed!

If she chances to get angry and yell at her kids, make her sink into despair – forgetting that His mercies are new every morning, that He readily gives grace to the repentant sinner and that ultimately He will work – even through a sinful Mom – because of His kindness and mercy – and not because of her worth.

But your biggest ally when dealing with moms, Wormwood, is complacency.

7. Always Make the Mom Think that Her Job is NOT Important!

Grow in her mind the value of financial and social success while dimming the importance of motherhood. Let her dwell on how little she feels she is accomplishing in the world today, and go to every length to make her forget that her children will shape tomorrow.

If she does not realize that she is fighting a valuable battle, you will be victorious, and she will lose.

Of course we know that Mothers are of utmost importance to God’s plan and that they are given enough grace and strength to accomplish what He calls them to do - so take special care.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screw Tape (Demon D. Experienced)

reading

Christ-Focused Christmas Traditions (Part 5)

Christmas Books!

I’ve SLLLOOOOWLY been collecting Christmas books!

Here is what we have so far, and here are some that are on my wish list!

Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend

Saint Nicholas

We read this every December 6th! I can hardly wait to read it to my kids tomorrow! :-)

It’s the true story of Santa Clause. We can learn a lot from other Christians, and his story has a beautiful message for children and adults.

A Christmas Guest 

christmas guestHebrews 31:2 says “2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” In this age-old story a little boy actually does entertain an angel on Christmas eve. There is a touch of fantasy, but I think it’s a beautiful book that brings out that Biblical truth in a way children can understand.

Masterpiece Story Bible

This book has a passage on one side and a famous painting on the opposite page. It covers the whole bible but it has a dozen Christmas related paintings and passages too.

I love covering the Christmas story using scripture verses and high-quality paintings.

My Wish List!

Gift of the Magi

magiI can hardly wait to introduce my children to this timeless classic.

Christmas Day in the Morning

morning

I read this at our pastor’s house. It’s a lovely picture of mature love.

What other books would you suggest??

-Verity

IMG_2994

Christ-focused Christmas Traditions (Part 4)

Last year Lyd posted some great articles on Christ-focused Christmas traditions! I’m reposting the links today in case you missed them!

Make sure you come back tomorrow and Saturday as I’m posting about our Christmas book collection tomorrow and my FAVORITE Pre-season kid tradition on Saturday!

Nativity Invitation to Play

Baby Jesus Craft

Mom’s Musings: The Opportunity of Christmas

Happy December Everyone!

-Verity

Christ-Focused Christmas Tradition Series (Part 1)

Happy December everyone!

This is one of the BEST seasons of the year to share our faith with our children!

Not Minimized

Every day this week we will be posting on some Christ-focused Christmas traditions that help us focus on Who matters during the holidays.

Today I’m posting a article that Lydia published last year that is an advent calendar that is easy to make, inexpensive and puts the focus on Christ.

Please check back every day this week for NEW articles!

 

” It is so challenging to keep Christ in Christmas in this day and age. I have 2 toddlers, and I feel like my husband and I are in a constant quest to explain the real meaning of the season and to make CHRISTmas come alive for them. I’m excited to share some of the things we’ve discovered over the course of this month. Today I’m going to share our advent calendar with you. Even though it’s December 2nd, this is an easy one to put together and you really can start it any time in the month.
Picture
For more ideas on an advent calendar like this, check out THIS blog post.

What you need:

·         24 or 25 small inexpensive ornaments

(I used plain gold ones that I bought 10 for $1 at Dollar Tree. These are everywhere at this time of year. So cheap!)

·         Puffy paint

(Any kind/any color)

·         This list…

The List of Names of God:

(You can use any list, but this is the one I compiled. I wanted to do certain ones for the sake of explaining them to my kids each day as we built a foundation for who God is at Christmas time. I’m also careful to do them in a certain order.)

Mighty God
Redeemer
Servant
Creator
Gift of God
The way
Living water
The Life
Counselor
Wonderful
Vine
The truth
Prince of peace
Emmanuel
Word
Counselor
Shepherd
Door
Bread of life
Everlasting father
I am
The light
Lamb
Messiah
Rock

Picture

What to do:Simply use puffy paint to write one name of God on each ornament. I found that setting them in empty egg cartons worked great. That’s also where I store them during the year.

Pile them into a vase for decoration. I use them as the centerpiece for our dining room table. This helps to keep them as a main focus and also helps me remember to do one each day.

We pull one out of the vase daily, I discuss it with my kids, and then we hang it, using an ornament hook, on a garland that hangs on a window behind them. As the vase becomes emptier, and the garland becomes fuller, we are getting closer to Christmas. We also have a visual reminder on the garland of who God is.

There are so many things that I like about this concept, and it does do a lot to draw our focus toward God and the reason for Christmas. It also provides deeper teaching opportunities with my children then simply opening a door with a picture behind it each day. It becomes an event, a teaching opportunity, and a beautiful decoration all in one.

-Lydia

Tomorrow I’ll be posting a NEW article  on a tradition that my husband brought back to America from Germany!

 

image

Our Fun Timeline! (K-4 or K-5)

The kids and I are doing American History this semester!

And one of the fun things we’ve been working on is an easy hand-on timeline.

image

- Print off some pictures of people we’ve been learning about. (The web is filled with free coloring sheets. I just google their names.)

- Color Them

- Cover them with packing tape (to laminate – but way cheaper)

- Cut out the peopleimage

(- The kids get to play with theirs [Reinforcing what we've learned])

-I put to mine on the timeline

That’s it! It’s easy and fun to do each week – and has added a lot to our History!image

image

Helping Someone Who has Miscarried

October is miscarriage awareness month. (At least that is what the many articles and banners sprinkled across my Facebook page tell me.)

Mustering up my courage and facing a lost baby who would now be almost 6 years old, I’ve decided to finally write a couple articles on miscarriage.

Helping someone who has miscarried is hard.

If you’ve wondered what to say to someone who has lost a baby – or if you have lost a child, and you don’t know how to express what you are feeling and going through, I’m writing this article for you. I hope it will be a help.

What is the Mom Feeling?

Loneliness

image

I do not know of a loss more lonely then a miscarriage. The mother KNEW the baby. She felt it’s movements, dreamed dreams, fell in love. NO ONE else did.

She lost one of the greatest loves of her life, and the rest of the world is unaffected.

Whether she told others or not, it is a very isolating time.

Guilt

Most mothers struggle with guilt of some sort.

(Did I eat well enough? Did I sleep enough? Could this because I didn’t take good care of myself in college ___ years ago? Is something wrong with my body? Does God think I would be a bad mother?)

Usually the guilt does not even make sense – and usually it is not voiced.

Asaph died 4 days before I miscarried. Somehow the inside of my body bruised up her dead little body during that time, and she was black and blue when I delivered her. I felt guilty for that. The guilt grew in my mind and eventually even made me feel insecure in parenting our second child.

(Now that I voice it, it makes no sense, but in the deep emotions of grief and loneliness, foolish feelings of guilt make sense.)

It took 3 years, and a realization that her death was because God had a BIGGER plan – outside of me and outside of her – before I ‘got over’ that.

Empty Arms

One of the best books on miscarriage is called ‘Empty Arms.’

After a miscarriage, it feels like you should be holding a baby – but the baby is gone. Your arms ache – and your heart throbs, but you can’t hold your child.

No baby is easy to lose, but I’ve been told the first is the hardest because there is no other child to hug and love. Your heart and arms are just empty.

Being around babies and pregnant women can be hard for awhile.

A Different Child Will Not Replace the One Lost

Just because a mother has an older child or gets pregnant again right away – doesn’t change the value of that child. It helps (a little – not as much as you’d think) to fill the heart void of wanting a child, but the miscarried child is still dead. The mother still misses the lost baby.

Constant Reminders (At least a month of physical reminders)

It takes a month before the hormones leave your body so you basically ‘feel pregnant’ for 30 days after your baby dies.

The first week, when the pregnancy-feeling nausea hits, you have these split-second moments that you think you are still pregnant – but then you remember – and you have multiple moments a day to relive the loss.

After a week, you just wish the nausea, cramps and pregnancy- like symptoms would end because you can’t bear the reminders anymore.

Huge Loss of Blood

When I lost Asaph, the doctor said that I’d bleed like a ‘normal period.‘  He’s apparently never miscarried a baby before.

I had to leave work the next day because my clothes were COVERED in blood.

What Can You Do?

Refer to Baby by Name

The baby is not an ‘it.’ The baby is her child. Find out if she thinks it was a girl or boy and then refer to the baby as ‘he’ or ‘she.’

If she has a name, refer to the baby by name. You are showing you believe the baby has value and is a person.

Remember Baby

Most mothers remember their miscarried baby on the day they miscarried. Others hold the baby’s due date as special.

My mother-in-law called me on the first and second anniversaries of Asaph’s death. She remembered my baby – even a year or two later.

She also has a necklace on which hangs a birthstone shoe charm for each grandchild. In Asaph’s place, she put a gold plated bead – and wears the necklace every day. Words don’t express how much that commemoration means to me.

When a baby’s been miscarried, the mother fears his/her memory will be lost. A friend remembering that life is SO IMPORTANT.

Recognize the Baby’s Purpose for Eternity

Miscarried babies are not ‘a mistake.’

They are a part of God’s plan, and they have an eternal purpose both during their short time on this earth and for all of eternity in Heaven.

Asaph’s life and death taught us to not take our children for granted, and now Asaph is serving her purpose in Heaven – praising God. (That is why I named her Asaph. Asaph was a musician who spent his life creating hymns to praise God.)

I realized that Asaph is serving the same purpose all of us should strive to serve – glorifying God!

Just because a baby’s life is short, does not make it less valuable. God, in His incredibleness was able to complete his/her earthly purpose in LESS time and now has brought the baby to Himself to do His next work for him/her.

One helpful book that focused on God’s working hand was “Safe in the Arms of God” by John MacArthur.

Meaningful Presents

  • Something to Hold

As I mentioned earlier, the Mom is feeling like she has ‘empty arms.’ A stuffed animal (or in our case, a puppy) is a huge help.

  • Something to Remember

image

After Asaph died, I bought a nice box and put in a picture of a 12 week gestation baby (that looked like she had), an outfit that I’d planned to put her in, a scrapbooked card I made with some pictures and her name and the dates she lived, and a poem I wrote 2 years afterward. A couple times a year, I pause a couple minutes and look through the contents of that box – remembering my baby. I’ve also used the box to share my memory of her with my other children. This has been very meaningful and has led to many good conversations.

Footprint necklaces are also very precious. Then you can keep the baby close to your heart. Etsy sells a lot of miscarriage jewelry, but my favorite charms I’ve found is here. I’ve simply bought the chain separately.

  • Cry with the Mother

One of my best, most precious moments only took a second. It was four days after the miscarriage. I was in Sunday school.

A hugely pregnant woman had sat down by me.

I was doing all I could to hold it together when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

I turned to see the tear-filled eyes of a friend.

She silently handed me a small plate of muffins with a simple card.

No words – just mutual sorrow over the death of my baby.

I was NOT alone.

image

- Verity

image

No sew baby doll sling in 5 minutes!

Has anyone else noticed the rising trend of mothers who wear their babies? We have worn all three of our children and I love it, but I’m amazed by how many people tell me “I wish they’d had something like that when I was raising my children,” or “they sure do come up with great ideas these days.” In reality, baby wearing has been around for many, many years, but I think Americans are just reclaiming it in the last decade or so. That said, our daughters see us (and many other mamas) wearing our babies and they want to wear their babies as well. I looked up no sew baby slings for some ideas and found the concept HERE. I felt pretty silly that I hadn’t come up with it myself! It’s so easy and I was able to do it for both my kids using items I had around the house, so the best part was (drum roll please!) it was FREE and only took FIVE minutes!! :-)

 

Here’s how you can do it too!

 

  • Strip of fabric that will wrap around your child from one should to under the other arm and have enough space to stick a doll or stuffed animal in it. (Maybe 1 ½ yards??)

image

I actually used an old skirt I didn’t need anymore; cut in half and cut the waistband off. I then cut down the side seam so it would just be a strip of fabric. Unless the fabric frays really easily, it should be fine.

  • Fabric Scissors
  • 3 rings. I used those plastic connecting rings found in the baby toy section of stores for like $2. They come in packages of about 36 I think.image

This picture shows the portion I cut out of the skirt and then you can see where I cut down the side seam.

 

Next, I put the strip of fabric on my son with all three rings near one end of the fabric. I brought the fabric up from the other end and thread it through the rings from the bottom to the top. (So you have fabric going both directions through the 3 rings.) Then, I pushed that same section of fabric (the one that came from the bottom) back through the bottom ring only to hold it in place.image

 

A few adjustments and a baby, and my kiddos now have ring slings to carry their babies in just like me! :-)

 

I tell ya’ the things they come with these days! :-)

image-Lydia

 

Letting Them Help – Part 2

House 1Well, 3 weeks ago, I glibly promised that I’d post the following week on how we do chores in our house.

Of course after promising that we had a couple messy days  (followed by a couple naughty days) which made me feel unsure of writing about something in which I’ve not yet arrived.

However, it’s been a helpful couple weeks for me – nothing like promising all my digital friends that I’d share about our chore systems, to help me reevaluate!

So I’m going to share what works for us, areas we are working on, and areas we need work – and then I’d love for my readers to share suggestions and thoughts!

What is Working for Us:

1. Having a Cleaning SYSTEM

My Mom is the best housekeeper ever. She is a natural, and she always made cleaning look SO EASY.

I am not a natural – and even though I KNEW how to do everything (since she had taught me), I NEVER knew where to start. I wasted so much time the first couple years of marriage just standing in the middle of clutter-filled rooms staring blankly around and feeling defeated.

I finally realized that I needed a system – (I think it barely even matters what the system is – just to have one. It is a starting point, a map, and the oil that helps you move faster down the track to your day and sweet productivity.)

Here are our systems. If you ask my 3 or 5 year olds. They will (hopefully) be able to recite it to you.

It is my heartfelt goal that they not get overwhelmed but always know where to start. (On anything – but we’re talking about cleaning today.  

Our system when cleaning is always in this order:

(Left to Right)

(Top to Bottom)

1. Clear Big Items

2. Clear Garbage

3. Put Away In-Room Clutter

4. Put Away Out-of-Room Clutter

Example of Dining Room Table after Breakfast Using This System:

image

I clear the big items (Crockpot or Gallon of Milk)image

Kids clear the garbage (Napkins)

I grab the in-room clutter (My husband’s iPad)

(I wasn’t fast enough – they cleared other stuff too for this pic)

image

Kids Carry out-of-room clutter to the kitchen table to be put away. (Small food items and dirty dishes.)

image

Wipe off High Chair on Left then Table then Bumbo Seat and Tray on Right (Left to Right)

Sweep Floor (Top to Bottom)

imageThis System works really well for us in any room. We use it daily in the living room and their bedroom as well. (So at least three times a day you’ll hear me say “what do we look for first?” and hear my son say “garbage!”)

 2. Having a Cleaning Routine

Again, it doesn’t matter the order, but it helps to do the same tasks in the same order.

Less decisions – more productivity!

As soon as my husband leaves in the morning we clear the table, straighten up the living room, get dressed, straighten the bedroom, clean the bathroom (If we have time), get the laundry and feed the dog.

A routine helps us start each day strong. (Of course things may be messy 10 minutes into the day… but oh well! LOL!

3. Each child has their own chores first thing in the morning – before we start our day.

If we are doing well, we are dressed and have everything cleaned up half an hour after my husband leaves for work. (About 8:30) But that can range. (9:00 is our average.) 9:30 is a bad day. 10:00 is a really bad day. :-/

I wrote about their chores here.

4. Each Child responsible for their own basket of toys

A year ago, I got rid of the big toy box and each child has their own basket of toys to take responsibility for.

(We also have a play room downstairs in the basement that I will eventually write an article about. )

I wrote about their separate upstairs toys here.

5. Children Allowed to Earn Money

imageSince my oldest was 3, I’ve allowed the kids to do extra jobs for money. They each save up for items.

This has helped them understand the value of a dollar, and they know that while I rarely buy them new toys, they always have the option of working for something themselves.

(The pic is ash. It’s messy, but I let him clear it because he LOVES to help clean the fireplace. It’s not smoke.)

Areas I’ve tweaked that last couple weeks:

1. We Clean Each Room TOGETHERimage

As mentioned in my previous chore article, the kids have picture chore lists.  This way they could refer to their lists and complete their chores themselves. Lately we’d had problems with them not staying on task so I’ve we now do our chores together.

- We ALL clear the table

- We ALL clean up the clutter in the living room

- We ALL sweep (they move chairs) and I do most of the sweeping while they help with their little brooms

- They ALL change at the same time. (Jedidiah sometimes takes to the bathroom. He has days when he’s suddenly obsessed with modesty and days when he’s …not.)

-  We ALL wipe down the bathroom,

- Jedidiah usually finishes getting the laundry and feeding the dog while I get school books.

This way I help stay on task

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

2. Toy Baskets that actually FIT on the Shelves in their room!!!

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

(Out of mind and out of sight!!)

Before they each had their own baskets, but I let them leave them on the floor or in their beds because they did not fit on the shelves.

Since we are moving the baby, (CHILD NUMBER 4 into their 10X10 room) in a couple weeks, we needed to rethink their closet system.

(I wrote about having the 3 kids in a 10X10 room here.)

(Thank you, sweet husband for the $125 worth of [super-cute, Container Store,  hyacinth, I promise this was an important purchase, complete life-saver] baskets.)

Old baskets were traded in, and now (Exciting music), they each have their own toy basket (and will soon have their own basket to put away their play clothes.)

(Pictures of their new closet system coming soon!)

Areas We Need Work: (Suggestions Welcome!)

1. Breastfeeding Baby

We have a 10 month old, and (though neither Lyd nor I have written about it) breastfeeding is not a 10 minute thing for us. On growth-spurt days, everything else falls apart because Mama is attached to baby.

Such is life. :-I

2. Getting up Before Them

My husband is a night owl, and I choose to stay up with him. I used to rise before the house. Now I grudgingly roll out when I hear the first child’s steps in the hall.

image

I even set my alarm early a few times a week thinking I’ll get things pulled together before the house wakes, but I rarely do. (Except Sundays – no choice)

3. Just Being with Them

Digital friend Jeanne commented last week that “What helped me a lot to enjoy it is when I decided I would just not care about the mess WHILE doing activities together and just deal with it later on. Then, I could relax and enjoy.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last weeks.

This is probably the biggest area that needs work – MY ATTITUDE! I need to enjoy the time with them even when our ‘morning routine’ fell apart or when the clutter takes over. Pray for me here friends!

There is what is working, is a work in progress, and what needs work!

Any thoughts? What works in your routines?

-Verity

image

Letting Them Help: Part 1

Painting House for Normal Person:

8:00 Go Outside and Paint Two Sides of (Small) House

10:00 Snack

10:15 FINISH Painting House

12:00 Eat Lunch

Take Afternoon Off.

 

Painting House with Small Children:

7:30 Dress Everyone

8:00 Help them with Chores

8:30 Summer Preschool Time (Focuses Little Minds)

9:00 Baby Wakes! Feed/Change Baby

9:45 Set Up Baby and Kids in Fenced Yard

9:50 Spend 10 Minutes Explaining to 3 Year Old How to Paint (Today Other Kids are Going to Play. Only One Kid with a Paintbrush – thank you!)

10:00 START PAINTING!

(Stop 27 Times to Give Baby a Veggie Stick, 4 times to Help 2 Year Old, Once to Give 4 Year old a Time out, Once to Give 4 year old Something Else,  32 times to help 3 Year old with Brush, and [of course!] Accidentally Drip Paint in Her Hair!!)

10:47 Go Inside to clean up little people, make them lunch do potty breaks, diaper changes, and toss them in bed for naps!

12:00 ( Accomplished:  1/3 of a side of the house)

Admittedly Painting with a 3 year old is a little extreme but the example could hold true to any activity.


IT IS SO MUCH EASIER TO DO IT WITHOUT ‘HELP’
Cooking, planting, and basic chores take so much more thought and time with little helpers.

But as tempting as it is to stick them all in front of the TV so I CAN ACTUALLY GET SOMETHING ACCOMPLISHED I am try really hard to use their ‘help’

(I do resort to the TV sometimes, but I try to view it as a ‘last resort’ for desperate times. Some weeks are definitely more desperate then others.)

But for the day in and day out. I try really hard to let them work with me.Helpers 1

  1. I Want that Time with Them OVER Getting More Done

Sometimes I have to repeat this to myself. I’m not a SAHM to have an immaculate house or gourmet meals, and if something has to give, it cannot be the kids.

It is really hard to remember that though!

(We unfortunately have a web filled with moms who are trying to ‘have it all’ – perfectly decorated and outstandingly clean homes, incredibly dressed children, and thriving careers. And between Pinterest  and parenting forums and Facebook we become Mommy ping-pong balls – bouncing from one great idea to another. And rather than just soak up the minutes with our children, we look around and recognize our life does not measure up to all of the great ideas online.)

BUT our kids are why we are here. We are Stay at Home MOMS. So if we can get a cool Pinterest-worthy project done, that’s really just icing on the cake!

2. It is Fun to Work with Them!

I’ve made cake 100 times, but nothing is as fun as watching their little faces pour in the ingredients. Every task is new and interesting again!

3.  It is a Perfect Time to Teach

Helping 4

Through the kids helping me, I have learned that one of them only works for seven minutes before he/she becomes bored. This has been a vital time to help him/her push past comfort zones and learn to work. An important lesson to carry through life!

4. To Each His Own

A friend recently shared how she put all of her dishes down on the lower counter level so the kids could independently put them away and set the table. It was a great idea for her family.

This idea would not work for us. Our present schedule, kitchen layout, and the vision of an 8 month pregnant me jerking out dishes at floor-level, makes the the setup almost stomach churning.

5. Kids Take Pride in Their Work

I still remember helping as a kid. We were taking off old laminate flooring. Mom gave Lyd and I (Maybe 5 years old?) each little kitchen spatulas and we went to work – scraping, peeling. We were proud of our progress!

God gave man work right at the beginning of the world – before the fall. It is good, natural and right for us to enjoy watching the fruit of our hands. (Ecclesiastes 12)

6. Eventually they WILL be a Help

(I’ve heard) The Amish have a saying. You invest into your children their first 7 years. At seven, they can earn their own keep. Around 10, they contribute to the family.

Hours teaching now, will make things easier (for the whole family!) later.

So at the end of the day, I may not have a fully painted house.

I have 1/3 of the side of the house painted, and a very happy three-year-old (with a little paint in her hair) proudly showing me her work. She learned to pay attention to detail and get all the cracks, she had 47 minutes to be with me (that was actually more focused then normal), and she learned that when she works hard, she has fruit to show for it!

Very productive morning for us! :-)

-Verity

I’m publishing part 2 of this series next Friday – Teaching Them to Help. :-)

image

Where Did “My” Ministries Go?

 

Before my husband and I were married, I had the opportunity to be actively involved in multiple ministries in churches, at college, in my community, and in my home.  I also worked full time for a Bible memorization ministry where I directed Vacation Bible Schools in dozens of churches, was able to impact many children and teens, and had ministries to the Amish as well. I also spent several months on tour for a puppetry company where I taught classes on various ministry tools. A love of ministry is one of the things that attracted my husband and me to each other. After marriage, we became actively involved in a dynamic inner city church with endless ministry opportunities. I share all of this to express my hearts’ desire to serve God in ministry to others…

The last few years, my husband and I have been in an interesting situation as he has been finishing seminary and we have had 3 children somewhat close in age. Our second child is what’s called a “highly sensitive child” which affects most aspects of our life—though we love her immensely!! We are also currently in a funny church situation as we make some life transitions. All of this together has left me with very few to zero ministry opportunities… at least that’s how it sometimes feels.

It has been over a year since I stood before a Sunday school class of wide eyed children, over two years since I shared God’s Word with a wonderful group of ladies, and nearly 3 years since I directed a large group of children in an athletic activity. For months my heart ached to do these things and I would go to church feeling inadequate because I wasn’t taking part in many aspects of ministry there. So what happened to “my” ministries?

God prepared and raised up marvelous other people to take them on, but he didn’t leave me in the dust with nothing to do. He gave me 3 very special children to transfer my love of ministry, and serving, and teaching, and traveling, and sharing, and directing, and counseling, and caring, and loving toward. God gave me the talents he gave me for specific purposes at different times in life and there was a time when those talents were used to help others across the country, but now there is a time when those talents are used to help 3 little people within the walls of my own home.

I used to love camp ministry because I had the opportunity to be with the same group of girls 24/7 (or 6) and I felt like I could make a more lasting impact than if I was just with them a few hours a day in a VBS or a few hours one time in a class. But what if I had the opportunity to be with someone nearly 24/7 for 18 years?? What if I had nearly 157,680 hours to impact 1 life—or 3 lives? What kind of impact could I make?

These facts make me realize two things:

 

  • Why am I complaining that I am currently in a SEASON of life where I can’t have as many ministries to others?
  • What kind of impact am I making?

This is a short season of my overall life. I had years to minister to others before this phase, and Lord willing, I will have years after this phase to minister to others again. This is a phase and just like all the other ministries I need to embrace this one just as much and give it my all to glorify God in each aspect of how I minister to my children. I need to give my very best and be transparent, and look for the teachable moments in the 157,680 hours just as much as I did in the 2 hours. What an amazing opportunity I have been given to minister to these children! These wide eyed and wonderful children who call me Mama; who love me and trust me, and desire to learn from me. I get approximately 157,680 hours (and more after they turn 18) to pour into their lives! Why would I ever complain about that ministry opportunity? God is so good to allow me to minister to them!

The second thing this truth makes me wonder is what kind of impact am I making? Just like with any other ministry, I need to start my day by asking God for a love for and an understanding of my children. I need to ask Him for the teachable moments and wisdom in my responses. Then I need to set myself aside and pour into their lives. I need to take this day in day out ministry just as seriously as I did the other ministries.

image

I have been blessed with an amazing opportunity and approximately 157,680 hours to pour into each of these children and I need to make the very most of the current ministry God has given me. I hope that I never again complain about not having a ministry, because the greatest one is my own children.

-Lydia