Tag Archives: parenting

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Why Having Baby #5 is More Fun Then #1

Few things in life compare to the wonder of holding your first child for the first time and realizing, yes, you are a mom!

However, now that #5 is on his/her way, I have to admit, I wouldn’t go back there! There are some fun perks to this stage.

  1. You don’t worry about everything.

Along with all the thrill and joy of baby #1, there is also a lot of fear. Will you be a good mother? Will you do everything right?

(By #5 you realize no, you will not do everything right. You will get grouchy sometimes, you will have rough nights and feed your kids that super-bad-for-you macaroni and cheese, you will not do all the magical activities you always imagined yourself doing with them and no, you will not be anything like Mary Poppins – even on your best days, but that’s OK.)image

You will be what your kids need – their mom, you’ll go to bat for them, love them, laugh with them, and help them clean their rooms and do their homework. You’ll believe in them and cheer for them and even when you mess up – you’ll get up and by God’s grace be there for them the next day – and for as long as you live. And by baby #5, you’ll know it’s not about being ‘perfect’ but about loving them and being there for them. You can do that.

  1. Less people talk about your shape and poke at your belly.

When you are surrounded by a mass of little kids, people cannot even get to your belly let alone poke it. And with 4 little socialites crowding for their attention, those people also don’t have time to talk about your increased size.

(Whew! That problem is solved! Yay for less Pillsbury Dough Boy pokes!)

  1. You have more people genuinely excited about the baby.

Maybe extended relatives will roll their eyes when you tell them you are having another one, but as far as the people who will be changed and affected by the baby every day, you now have a household of 6 people who are thrilled to pieces. (Even if their name choices are not always the best. Lumina? Thor? Leelee?)

  1. You are secure in your body and birth plan.

For baby #1 and even #2, you read everybody else’s opinions about birth. By #5, you know your own body, you know what you’re going to do, and you need minimal help.

(The doctors are also lot more apt to let you do what you want to. Seriously, they look at my chart now and kind of nod in a very hands-off way, and I’m thankful for that. I’ve been here multiple times before, and I’ll call them if I need them.)

  1. You are secure in your approach to mothering

imageThe moment you look into your first baby’s face, you are overwhelmed. Never have you seen someone so wonderful, but you are also overwhelmed by your own identity change. You are now a mother.

By the time you’ve had a few, you are secure in your identity as a mom and in your approach to mothering. The moment you see baby #3, #4, #5, you just soak up their little face.

  1. Necessary life changes have already been made

- You’ve made the schedule changes

Most of us with #1 had to make some major changes – whether it was stopping working, finding childcare, or embarking on the journey of juggling a combination of those things.

By #5 those things are in a rhythm. Yes every newborn brings new challenges, but you are old hat at the juggling game, and your family is accustomed to rolling with the punches and working together as a team.

- You’ve made the heart changes.

I’ve heard so many new parents say it. “We don’t plan on changing much in our schedule. We’ll just bring a baby along. Not much will change.”

(I just smile and nod when I hear them say this and then I admit – I laugh with my husband later. We know they’ll learn.)

By #5, you have long since laid down an active social life. Yes, you sometimes miss it. Yes, it’s important to call friends and have deep conversations sometimes, but by #5, you’ve realized that right now your kids simply come first. You’ve accepted that for this season in life other things won’t happen, and you are (usually – except on the messy, PMS days) content with that.

  1. No Shower Gifts to Deal With

I say this tongue in cheek. I was given a lot of wonderful shower gifts for baby #1 that I still use today. However, now that I have my systems set up, I am relieved to not have to deal with an onslaught of new gifts. Less clutter, less stress, and less returns sound great! I’ll just buy the few items I need.

  1. Less Hard on Yourself.

image- After #1 you realize you will never be the perfect mom because you’re not perfect. And you realize that’s OK.

- After #2 you realize that your love multiplies and there really is plenty to go around.

- After #3 you realize that you can never keep them all happy at once, and that’s OK.

- After #4 you realize that you can’t always stay in control of everything. You have to let some things go, and not only is that OK, it’s pretty relieving.

-Verity

PS (And I’ll let you know what I learn after #5, but I’m really excited to find out!)

 

 

Minimize Maximize

Raising Lights: Minimizing the Wants to Maximize the Needs

Beyond salvation and a godly marriage, my children are the greatest gifts I have ever been given.

Sometimes it makes me totally speechless how amazing it is to be their mom. To watch them grow, discover, and become men and women of God.

It awes me beyond words that before the foundations of the earth, God had a plan for each of them – to play a part in His eternal story – and that through these little ones, He will raise up the next generation of Christ-fearing men and women.

They are the greatest thing I will leave behind. My heritage – to live on decades and even centuries after I am in Heaven.

As their mom, I want to open every door and opportunity possible. I want to give them every tool they could ever need.

However, (like most of us) I have a limited amount of energy and an even more limited budget.

Having limited resources is not a bad thing; It is an opportunity to choose best over secondary.

It’s a chance for us as parents to stand back and say ” I cannot give my children ‘everything,’ but I can give them what’s important – so what is important?”

And this opportunity – brought on by a tight budget and limited energy – creates the need for purposeful and thoughtful parenting.

I’ve needed to think A LOT about what my children’s most important needs are – and what the ‘needs’ are that I’ve simply perceived based on the loves I’ve adopted from society.

With everything, you need to minimize things – in order to maximize the pursuit of what you value.

No great thing is achieved without great sacrifice.

I want to make sure that the things I’m sacrificing are not the real needs but the extras that I’ve simply been perceiving as ‘needs.’

Example: Our family budget is such that I am able to stay at home and be with my children – at the cost of living in a small house, shopping at Goodwill and limiting trips to business and family.

This is hard for me sometimes as I feel like I would like to give my children ‘better.’

A society that measures ones’ worth by their designer clothes and house screams at me that my children should be wearing Tommy Hilfiger, each have their own room, and be enrolled in expensive dance lessons.

But then I re-evaluate.

I even go write lists about what my children ‘need’ so that I can read it and remember what I need to minimize and what I need to maximize.image

More then being known as kids who have nice clothes and cool rooms, I want my kids’ character to shine as lights.

  • I want my children to be thankful, be diligent, and be good at getting along with others.

A shared room makes them learn to share, clean up, and be patient with each other.

(My limited resources are not hindering my most important tool I want to give them (good character). Their less-than-perfect situation is HELPING with my biggest goal for them!!)

  • I want my children to learn to be good stewards.

Because of our low budget, they are already learning about buying things that are a good value and a good price.

  • I want my children to be content.image

There are physical things I’ve determined each of my children will always have no matter what.

(They each have their own toy basket for their special toys and a different basket for own clothes. They each have their own bed to go and read and be alone. They each have scheduled ‘dates’ with my husband and with me. Soon they will each have their own desk to get their homework done in a designated quiet room. They each cover the same school material every year from 2 years up and each have that daily alone time with me.)

But for all the society – ordained ‘needs,’  they have been learning to be content on far less then society’s representation of the ‘ideal,’ and that has actually helped with their character training not hindered it.

  • I want my children to work for what they want.

The life tools that will help them most to become successful adults come through struggle and hard work.

Fortitude, discipline, and courage can only come through stretching situations. I don’t need a ton of resources to teach them that.

 

My children will not be getting very high allowances in high school. But I do plan on helping them start their own little businesses on Etsy or trying lawn/cleaning/babysitting services to neighbors. They will learn about business planning, target audiences and marketing, and they will learn how to work with people and be worthy of their wages.

And yes, (addressing one of the biggest questions people ask parents with limited resources) we will not be able to pay for our children’s entire college education.

(At least I doubt we will.)

But I am a firm believer in students having to pay at least part of their own way.

While we do have plans in play to provide as much as half of their education costs, much of their education will be paid for by their own sweat.

Why is that a good thing? When they finish college, they will actually have  job experience on their resume and will appreciate the degree that they had to sacrifice for, work for, and fight for.

My parents could have afforded to pay for my entire education. I am glad they didn’t. They paid for half, and I paid for the rest – sometimes easing my financial burden by academic scholarships or less expensive correspondence classes. I had to sit out of college two semesters to work, worked every every summer and almost every semester and used my entire high school savings as well.

I learned to covet that degree and when I was in that classroom, I hung on every word the teachers taught. I had to work for the thing I wanted and never took it lightly.

And already I am already trying to teach my children that mindset. When they want a toy at Walmart, I give them jobs to earn it. Even at 3 and 4 they are learning to work for things and, in the safety of home, learning money sense.

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, I want my children to define themselves and their worth by their identity in Christ.image

And that once again gets back to focus. If my focus is on Christ, then I can learn to look past our clothes and house and see that we are precious in His plan.

With one look at His awesome majesty, I can clear away the clutter of society’s perceptions of ‘needs’ – and recognize that we were bought for an unfathomable price.

When my focus is turned to my identity in Him, His light shines on those perceived needs and reveals them to be the shallow kitsch that they are.

Then I’m free to pursue the real needs – Him – and teaching my children about Him and the glorious identity they can find in Him.

They do not need a nice house or name brand clothes to help them succeed.

They need a mama who puts Christ first and, looking through His glory can minimize the distractions and maximize the pursuit of real needs – helping her children to know Christ and learning to pursue Him.

-Verity

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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)

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Wars and Rumors of Wars

Increasingly powerful Big Brother, Stazi-like stories (in our country) coming up almost every day, power grabs, high-ranking officials whose values are opposite mine, enemies within our country and without, empire building, economic troubles.

Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time a hundred years and guarantee my children and grandchildren some relative safety from the increasingly socialistic government. But to what? The fever of 1917? World War I? The Great Depression? World War II? The drafting during Vietnam? The Cold War?

Then I realize that there is no time or place that was truly void of danger and heartache.

And I remember Christ’s words. “There will be wars and rumors of wars.” (Matthew 24)

There have always been wars, and there will always be wars – until Christ’s return.

We live in a fallen world.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I was pregnant for the first time.

And it crosses my mind every time I read another frightening news article.

And while sometimes I find myself paralyzed with fear for my children, I need to remember some important truths.

1. God has put Them Here, at This Time, in This Place, for His Purpose.

I remember the first time I voiced my fears to my husband. I was pregnant, and I was sorry to bring my little baby into a messed up world. He responded concerning the baby. “He/She will be part of the solution.” It changed things in my mind. Godly children who grow into godly men and women can make a difference for the better. I’m not raising victims. The goal is to raise leaders and lights.

2. I Can Prepare My Children.

imageI don’t know if my children will face persecution for their faith or have to survive an economic collapse, but I can help prepare them to the best of my ability. My husband  (who is into that stuff) has already started teaching our 4 year old about survival, and we work on verses, the Romans Road, and a toddler catechism a few times a week so they will not be deceived.

3. My involvement in Politics Makes a Difference

imageIn the future I need to write about the incredible usefulness of political involvement. You can make a MUCH bigger difference then you think! For this post, suffice it to say that even in large cities VERY few people get involved, and just a few passionate people – willing to give a few hours here or there can get a good candidate elected. (Couple of decades of experience speaking here.) This summer my son and daughter joined us at our state caucus, and all the kidsimage helped with a parade. If only 10% of Christians got involved, we’d have a very different political lay-out.

4. What is the Worst That can Happen?

In her super good book “Calm My Anxious Heart” Linda Dillow suggests thinking to the end of your worry – and then giving it to God. Ask, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ The worst that could happen as the economy continues to plummet is that  my children will not enjoy as much comfort as I did as a kid. We may need to work really hard just to survive. (That’s not really a bad thing! They will probably have much better character then I do!) And the worst that could happen (in a war or economic collapse) is that my children could die – and then they will be with Jesus. They will no longer be in pain. They will be in Heaven. And in a thousand years, it will be a distant memory. This life is a vapor!

5.  I Need to Trust God

Ultimately, it always gets back to trusting God.  I need to remember that my little ones are truly HIS; not mine.

He loves them more then I do.

He placed them here for this time. He has a perfect plan for them.

My job is simply to prepare them for whatever that plan is. (–By HIS grace, HIS wisdom, and HIS strength.)

-Verity

moms musings

Mom’s Musings: Lessons Learned from Doritoes

I so often learn lessons from watching my kids.

Tonight on the way home from a trip recently, I gave them each a pile of Doritos chips. (semi-rare treat.) The 4 year old dropped 4 small pieces on the ground by accident.

Rather then enjoy the big pile of chips next to him, he worried, whined and completely focused in on the 4 little pieces on he ground.

We were determined to not pull over for his ‘crisis’ so he finally just sat miserably until our next stop about 45 minutes later. He refused to acknowledge the pile of treats beside him and within reach because of his all-consuming concern with the out-of-reach bits below him.

It seemed a little dumb, but I found it convicting.

How often am I all-too-similar to this?

Focusing on the ‘little pieces.’

As moms, we cave in to focusing on whatever chips pieces are just beyond our reach – 5 star meals, perfect houses, spotless children, and developmentally above the average kids.

We miss the blessings we have. God has given us each SO MANY blessings. His son to die for us, His word, His Spirit, our abilities, our children, our families.

We don’t all have the same blessings. My children are about average in intelligence. It used to drive me crazy that sometimes they were ‘a month behind’ developmental charts.

But in reality, I was really feeding my pride. I didn’t want to be considered a bad mom because I hadn’t pushed my kids enough. I focused on those pieces rather then being thankful for the abilities and strengths they did have.

The fact is, God has given my children certain abilities and me certain abilities.

I can sing. I have a rather good voice (or at least parents who dished out 4 years of voice lessons for me!) I can fill my home with worthwhile songs and hymns. I can use the ‘chips’ God has given me and be thankful rather then lament that I am not as naturally organized as the next woman.

I can even view  these areas of weakness in a bigger perspective.  I can be thankful for this “chip” of weakness i organizing – to help me depend on God. I’ve found that if I pray, I can keep better control. God’s used my weakness to help me draw closer to Him.

Similarly, I can look at my kids’ strengths and be thankful for the ‘chips.’ My son is 100% person. He never ever does anything half way. I can use that and help him to learn to do right, kind, brave things in his 100% fashion rather then lament that he is not as laid-back and ‘easy’ as his little play mates. These are the ‘chips’ God has given us.

So, that is the lesson I was reminded of today from a pile of Doritos. :-)

- Verity