6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)

Whether you are new to homeschooling or have been at it for a while, it can, at times, seem overwhelming. So overwhelming that it might seem like time to “throw in the towel.” Let me assure you, you are not alone. If they are honest, most, if not all, homeschooling parents have considered the very same thing, even if for the briefest of minutes (or while in an exhausted state of mind).

Let me encourage you to stick with this important task. I assure you it is worth it.

Here are six ways to stick with homeschooling when you are ready to give up.

Surrender your homeschool to the Lord daily. He will give you the grace, the tenacity, and the motivation to do this extremely important task.

Look for a change of pace. We have switched directions many times with both our curriculum and our schedule. Fortunately, there are many choices for curriculum since no two children are exactly the same in personalities or learning styles. There is nothing wrong with switching up the curriculum to one that works for your child. In the same vein, there is nothing wrong with changing up a schedule that isn’t working. The key is to be flexible. After all, that is one of the blessings of homeschooling – we are not all placed in one box, with one style of learning, one schedule, and one set of educational materials.

Share your thoughts. One of the best things about homeschooling is the mentors. Those who have been there, done that, and received the honorary t-shirt. Yes, I’m talking about the moms (and dads!) – the homeschool pioneers – who came before us. While they will tell you that they didn’t do it perfectly, they are a wealth of positive and encouraging advice. Lean on them as well as those who are currently “in the trenches” with you. One word of caution… choose those whom you vent to carefully. You will want to seek out someone who won’t judge, won’t offer solutions without really listening, or who elevates themselves at your struggling expense. On the same note, avoid those who offer unsolicited advice. I once had an older woman “offer” unwelcome advice. Not only was it poor advice, but she had never homeschooled.

Avoid the comparison trap. This is a super easy thing to succumb to and a temptation we need to avoid.

Take a vacation. Maui would be nice, but realistically, I am talking about a vacation from homeschooling. Just a brief one or two days a couple times during the school year to allow both you and your child(ren) a break from the rigors of schooling and a chance to recharge. Do something fun on those days – something that further connects you to your kiddos.

Have a chat with your pupils. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is our ability to think outside the box. We don’t have to teach the same things in the same way to each of our children. Nor do we have to teach the same things in the same way that the public schools do (isn’t that one of the reasons we are homeschooling?!). Have a casual talk with your child. What is their favorite subject? Least favorite? What is something they would like to learn more about? Less about? This works especially well for junior high and high school students. By gauging their interests (which can change over time), you can better choose electives that suit their personalities. I always reiterated to my tweens and teens that some classes are mandated (math, English, science, history), but that there are other classes we have some leeway on and can explore as different elective possibilities.

All this to say, let me encourage you to stick with homeschooling. You can do it! It’s one of the most important jobs you will have and for which you are fully equipped. You have been teaching and training your children since their earliest days, and who loves them more and cares about their future more than you? So hang in there and forge ahead!

Looking for other homeschool posts on this blog? Check these out:

You might be a homeschool mom if…15 clues

outside the box homeschool ideas

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

Kids write the funniest things!

14 things for girls to consider before dating

14 things for girls to consider

As a mom of daughters, we’ve had many great discussions about things to consider before they choose to date someone.

Everyone will have their own personal likes/dislikes. For example, my girls have mentioned they would never date someone who has a man bun, wears skinny jeans, or has body piercings.

While hair and clothing styles and body piercings are all a matter of preference, some things are non-negotiable, and while we need to remember no one is perfect, being aware of the following attributes (or lack thereof) will help you make a more informed choice before you choose to date someone.

Below are 14 things to consider before dating that cute guy.

1. How is his faith walk? Is he growing in Christ? Is he living out his faith? Is he unashamed of his faith? Does he pray with and for you? Is his faith an important part of his life? Does he “walk the walk and talk the talk”?

Romans 12 2

2. How does he spend his time? We have become a world obsessed with technology. While that’s not bad in and of itself, if you are contemplating dating someone who has an addiction to video games or is constantly on his phone or social media, you might want to think twice about whether there would be any room in his life for you. As a matter of fact, a name has been given to cell phone addiction: “nomophobia”. According to techjury.net, “66% of the world’s population shows signs of nomophobia.” And gaming and cell phone addiction aren’t the only addictions to be wary of.

And while video games, social media, and time spent on a cell phone are fine in moderation, look for someone who spends his spare time doing productive things.

3. What is his standard for music, books, and movies? What does he allow to fill his mind? What does he allow his eyes to see and his ears to hear? What goes in will come out in his attitude, personality, and the way he treats others.

4. Speaking of how he treats others, how does he treat…

Your family? A guy who wants nothing to do with your family is a guy to avoid. In addition, a guy who won’t allow you to spend time with your family could have possessive and abusive tendencies.

His family? Some people come from dysfunctional homes, and as such, the guy you are considering dating may not be close to his family. That is tough and there are many logistics involved in that. But is your potential boyfriend respectful to his family? Does he care about their wellbeing? You can be estranged and still care about those you are not close to.

Children? It has been said many times that how a guy treats little children and babies is a huge indicator of the type of person he is. Is he hateful, rude, and sees little ones as a burden? Does he believe babies should be aborted because they aren’t worthy of living? Notice how he treats not only your siblings and his siblings, but also children at functions, such as church.

The elderly? Does he view them as precious creations of God or as wasting society’s resources?

Animals?  Your potential guy doesn’t have to be a dog or cat lover to be kind to animals. But you don’t want to date someone who mistreats or abuses animals.

5. How does he treat you when you can’t do anything for him? Does he take care of you when you are sick? Is he there for you?

6. How does he handle disagreements? Does he withdraw, get into a raging fight, or blame everything on you? Guaranteed that if you date (and later marry!) anyone for any length of time, you will have disagreements. It’s natural for two people to not see eye-to-eye on every subject. How he handles conflict speaks volumes.

7. How is his work ethic? Is he lazy and unmotivated? Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, a workaholic?

8. Is he loyal? Will he defend your honor?

9. Is he honest? Does he keep his word? Does he do what he says he’ll do? Is he honest when speaking with authorities?

10. Does he have a servant’s heart? There are multiple ways to serve others and it’s not a one-size-fits-all. But is he using his gifting to make the lives of others better?

1 Peter 4 10

11. How does he handle your concerns or fears? Lightly? With care?

12. Does he respect you? Or does he coerce, guilt-trip, pressure, or force you to do things that are against your convictions, make you uncomfortable, and/or aren’t safe?

13. Does he show any signs of an abusive temperament? In other words, how does he treat those he is no longer friends with or girls he formerly dated?

One thing my daughters and I have discussed often is the high rate of abuse suffered by young women in “romantic” relationships. A horrifying statistic from the website loveisrespect.org states “Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year”. Further, “Nearly half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors”. The rise of cyber abuse has contributed to the problem.

As a mom, this frightens me more than I can express. We can’t see all of the warning signs in a potential abuser, but we can be aware that abuse does exist and be on the lookout.

14. How is his overall character and integrity? One of my favorite quotes is that assessing one’s integrity is done by seeing what they do when no one is looking.

C.S. Lewis

Webster’s defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”. Character and integrity are crucial and a huge part of someone’s personality. Does your potential boyfriend stand for what is right?

Stand even if alone

In our house, we put an emphasis on intentional dating. Not dating just to date, but rather seriously contemplating who to date and whether that person could be a potential long-term prospect. This helps to “weed out” those who could never be potential mates for a variety of reasons, and helps eliminate the emotions, heartbreak, and problems that arise from failed “romantic” relationships.

 

 

Other posts on this blog that you may enjoy reading:

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider.

7 tips to help safeguard against an entitlement attitude in your kids

Movie Monday: Chronicle Mysteries – Recovered

 

you might be a homeschool mom if… (15 clues)

might be homeschool mom 15 clues

People joke about homeschool moms in long denim skirts, with no makeup, and hair buns with a dozen children and a van held together by duct tape. They make all meals from scratch and have three freezers each full of “make and freeze meals” as a backup.They live in the country, grow their own food, and can everything from jam to green beans.

Sure, there are many homeschool moms who fit that description, but there are also homeschool moms who wear sporty exercise clothes, have ponytails, wear makeup, and have pink glittery painted fingernails, have less than a dozen children, and drive an SUV held together by duct tape. That mom lives on the edge and never knows what’s for dinner until 15 minutes prior. She lives in a subdivision with an HOA, and her garden consists only of flowers. Canning never has been and never will be on her radar.

One of the things I love about homeschool moms is their diversity. They come in all shapes and sizes and live in a variety of neighborhoods from city apartments to farmhouses in the boonies 50 miles from the nearest town.

So, with this wide assortment of homeschool moms, how can you spot one? Or how might you give it away that you are one yourself?

You might be a homeschool mom if…

*You stalk the UPS guy each day as you patiently (or not so patiently!) await your curriculum delivery every August.

*When you go school clothes shopping, your main purchases are pajamas (for school uniforms, of course).

*Everything that happens during the day is a teaching opportunity because you think outside the box for assignments to give your kids a well-rounded education.

*You are ecstatic that your new otoscope arrived in the mail today. This will make the perfect addition to the stethoscope and oximeter you’ll use for teaching health class.

*You are just as thrilled (if not more thrilled) than your kids when you find a perfect insect specimen during a nature walk. Good thing you ordered that high-powered microscope that has been helpful for just about every scientific observation from a piece of lint to an insect leg.

*As part of their writing assignments, your kids write letters to the editor of the local newspaper on the topic of their choice. Their opinions are well-known throughout your community.

girl doing schoolwork*You use grocery shopping as an opportunity for math, menu planning, economics, and P.E. (loading bags from the store, to the car, and from the car to the house builds cardiovascular health and strength). Your children know all about pantry patrol, food organization, and pantry stocking procedures.

*Your children have the most varied and funnest P.E. classes that include family bike rides, hiking, jumproping competitions, volleyball games, and badminton wars.

*You’ve been majorly crushing on that cute principal at your homeschool.

*Your living room hosts a permanent homemade blanket fort because that’s where your kids love to do their schoolwork.

*You are well-known and loved for all the treats your kids make in baking class and deliver to friends in the neighborhood.

baking with mom*The stares from fellow shoppers at the grocery store as you shop with your kids during the day no longer phase you and you have the entire “socialization argument” down to a science and can recite it in your sleep.

*Your kids can glance at a piece of correspondence, a newspaper article, or an online news story and pick out all the grammatical errors in 20 seconds or less. And they’ve written their own novel in a year as an English assignment.

*The librarians at the local library can see you and your “students” coming from a mile away because you’re the ones who bring a U-haul to the library to load up all the books to check out.

*Your kids are avid readers and hurry to complete their work so they can start reading through that stack of books in the U-haul from the library.

little boy readingAnd there it is in a nutshell…how to know you’re a homeschool mom!

 

 

 

Check out these other posts from this blog:

12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

the importance of living out your faith

Movie Monday: Unplanned

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider.

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

Kids write the funniest things!

 

 

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

10 ways good role models

When I was a teenager, I had a variety of posters on the walls of the room I shared with my sister. Rock stars and movie stars lined most of the walls, save the wall on which my sister had hung her baby animals poster. I eyed that piece of prime wall real estate often, trying to coax her into letting us have something less juvenile.

While pictures of celebrities are not bad in and of themselves, we need to think about what these people stand for and why we emulate them. I cringe, not only at my selfishness toward my sister’s one wall poster, but also when I think of the people on my walls – those I looked up to and wanted to emulate.

In hindsight, they are not the type of people I would have wanted to grow up to be like. Actually, they were the exact opposite.

I am astounded sometimes to see what celebrities kids and teens choose for their role models. Some are drug users, authority bashers, anti-God, anti-American people who place a high emphasis on seeing what they can get away with. Not what we would want our own children to aspire to become.

When we think of role models, they can be from a variety of scenarios: celebrities, historical figures, family, friends, or people in the community. They can be people we have never met or they can be those with whom we have a relationship. They can still be alive or they could have passed on years ago.

So, how can we help our kids choose good role models?

Talk over the values and morals that your family embraces. Encourage honest and open dialogue about the principles and behavior that are important character traits.

Be on the lookout for role models. Look to the Bible, your extended family, church, and among close friends for suggestions. If your son or daughter could grow up to be just like someone they know/like, who would that be?

Reinforce the importance of character.

Ask your child who they admire. Ask what traits draw them to that person as a role model.

Consider whether you are a good role model for your child. Ask any parent and they will tell you the shock of the first time they realized their child had “taken on” one of their bad traits. None of us are perfect. Far from it. But with God’s grace and help, we can model godly behavior for our children.

mom and daughter 2

Ponder the following criteria for helping your child choose good role models:

Do they have a heart for God? Do they live a Godly life rather than just saying they are a Christian? There are a lot of people who are a Christian in name only. They say one thing, and do quite the other. One thing I have noticed, particularly in sports figures, is they will declare the name of Jesus, but they won’t take a stand for Him and/or for what is right.

Do they have integrity? Have they been caught “doing the right thing”?

How do they treat the less fortunate? Especially when it is of no benefit to them?

How do they treat others when they think no one is watching?

Are they generous with their time and resources?

photo-of-woman-teaching-his-son-while-smiling-4145355 (2)

Our kids aren’t likely thinking about character when they choose role models. They are more often thinking about the music artist whose music they enjoy listening to, the movie star who has cute clothes and hair, or the classmate who seems to have everything. There’s a real possibility they could be resistant to our suggesting alternative role models to the one(s) they have chosen.

But with our patient help and God’s guidance, they can navigate the wide range of choices in today’s society and choose a role model that will influence their lives for the better.

Other posts you may enjoy:

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

7 Ways to Encourage Your Children

5 ways to make your child feel loved

5 ways to be your “sweet self”

the importance of influence

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

ways to keep kids engagedNeed some fun ideas to keep your children and teens entertained? Read on!

  1. Plan an indoor camping trip. Set up the tent in the living room, round up some tasty treats, and provide some flashlights, string some Christmas lights, and include a game for some late-night fun.photo-of-toddler-sitting-on-floor-3932965 (2)
  2. Make homemade slime. Little bins for little hands has numerous recipes for easy-to-make slime.
  3. Catch up on some reading. Madi’s Musings writing and book review blog has some awesome reading suggestions for a variety of ages.
  4. Get a healthy dose of exercise. Walk. Scooter. If the weather is nice, head outdoors with the family and enjoy some fresh air. Bring out the strollers and push little ones for a win/win situation.
  5. Play a game of tag.
  6. Put together a puzzle.
  7. Join with your kids in serving others, beginning in your own neighborhood. Do elderly neighbors need grocery pickup or delivery? Could you rake leaves, mow the lawn, shovel snow, or till a garden? Walk their dog?
  8. Set some decluttering goals. What a perfect time to organize! Join with the kids in setting a goal to organize their toys, a closet, or the living room. Play some music, then celebrate with a fun treat afterwards.
  9. Bake cookies or muffins. Check out these easy recipes for chocolate crinklesno-bakes cookies, or chocolate chip muffins (all with gluten-free options). choc muffinsOr suggest kids decorate graham crackers with frosting for their own creations.cute cookies 1
  10. Take on a building/fixing project. Parents, kids love to learn and work side by side. What about building a wood project? Fixing a broken item? Changing oil in the car?
  11. Enjoy a movie night. Don’t forget the popcorn! Need some movie ideas? Check out this list of some Mom-Approved Movies for Families.
  12. Connect through a Bible study. Take turns reading, then discussing the chapter.
  13. Partake in a Bible challenge. When my girls were younger, they loved it when I hosted Bible challenges and asked them questions. They would “ring in” when they knew the answer. Not only was it fun, but it also helped us learn God’s Word.The questions can be as simple as the following:Who created the earth?Who were the first two people God created?

    Who is God’s Son?

    To harder questions:

    Name eight of the 12 disciples.

    Name the nine attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit?

    Name the books of the New Testament in order.

  14. Plan meals together and make them. One good thing to come out of our recent Covid-19 isolation is that we, as families, are eating out less and making more meals together. Put kids in charge of planning meals and making (or assisting in the making of) the meals. I recommend Quick and Easy Crock-Pot Chili (gluten free).chili
  15. Make funny videos. Using your phone or other device, have your kids record funny commercials selling something they own or making a silly news program. When I was a kid, my sister and I filmed (with a gigantic video camera!) used car commercials, a news series on happenings, and music videos where we danced to our favorite songs.
  16. Play mimic mirror. With two players (two kids or a kid and a parent) have one person make certain faces and the other person mimic those expressions.
  17. Have a blinking contest. First person to blink loses!
  18. Make it a spa day. Have daughters? Create a spa day complete with manicures, pedicures, and new hairdos.
  19. Have a hot chocolate day. Who doesn’t love a huge cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows?
  20. Host a tea party.
  21. Snuggle before getting out of bed in the morning. One of my favorite memories is snuggling with my daughters when they were little and reading them stories before we started on our day.
  22. Decorate boxes. Have some boxes from recent online deliveries? Be sure to let them sit for at least 24 hours (to be sure there is no germ spread from Covid-19), then bring out the crayons and markers and decorate the boxes.
  23. Enlist your teens to make up exercise routines they host for the entire family.two-woman-doing-exercise-1671217 (2)
  24. Do a science experiment. This website offers some innovative ideas.
  25. Play hide and seek. This is one of our family’s favorite past times. Years ago, we couldn’t find my husband during one particular game. It’s still a mystery how he perched himself way above the water heater in the water closet, reminiscent of Spiderman.
  26. Have a treasure/scavenger hunt. Provide clues and a surprise at the end.
  27. Write a book together. One person starts the “book” and passes it around with everyone handwriting a paragraph or several. Littles can draw pictures to illustrate.
  28. Have a blind taste testing competition. Secretly collect different items and place a bit of each one in separate containers. Guests of the competition will be blindfolded and try to guess what they are tasting.
  29. Build a fort. Kitchen chairs and blankets, anyone?
  30. Listen to audiobooks. Adventures in Odyssey has some wonderful timeless stories.
  31. Host the Olympic games in your living room or your backyard. Everything from skipping races to the three-legged race, to crab walking can bring a gold medal.
  32. Design a fitness center with different stations. Jump roping, hula-hooping, hopping on one foot, somersaults, situps, and pushups. Set the timer for each station.
  33. Create Playdough or homemade clay. The iheart naptime blog has a great recipe for your homemade playdough endeavors.
  34. Create and color for family members. Grandmas love to hang those on their refrigerators!
  35. Create and color pictures/write encouraging notes for those in nursing homes and VA hospitals. Call ahead of time to see if they are accepting artwork for their residents.
  36. Make a craft. Make Cheerio necklaces or another fun craft, such as egg carton caterpillars, pasta pictures, and homemade frames. Check out this idea for mini-lid banjos from the Craft Train blog.
  37. Plant seeds.
  38. Host a touch testers competition. Put several items in a box and each competitor must guess what the item is. Keep track to see who wins!
  39. Create and act out a play.
  40. Play dress up with mom’s and dad’s clothes.
  41. Play balloon volleyball. (Do not use balloons around small children, as they are a choking hazard).
  42. Read the same book as your tweens and teens, then have a book discussion, complete with treats.
  43. Stargaze.
  44. Have a picnic in your yard, on your deck, or in the living room.
  45. Go on a photography hunt. Using your camera, snap interesting photos of the world around you.
  46. Shoot baskets. This works at the outside basketball hoop, or a makeshift “hoop” designed from a trash can and using a soft ball.man-dunking-the-ball-163452 (3)
  47. Have a paper airplane competition. Check out this link on how to make a paper airplane. https://www.diynetwork.com/made-and-remade/learn-it/5-basic-paper-airplanes
  48. Create a blog. WordPress offers free blogs. Perfect idea for tweens and teens to hone their writing skills and write about what’s important to them!
  49. Make smoothies or root beer floats.
  50. Crank the music and dance.
  51. Have a fashion show.
  52. Cloud gaze/watch. What animals or shapes can you find in the clouds?
  53. Watch science videos. Answers in Genesis has been hosting interesting science videos on Ken Ham’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/aigkenham/
  54. Create a “grocery store” with empty boxes and plastic containers of items. Children can “shop” for items and pay with coins or homemade coins/dollar bills made from cardboard.
  55. Make sock puppets. Using old socks, markers, and buttons, create sock puppets, then have them star in their own sock puppet show.
  56. Play a game. Uno, Tenzi, Checkers, Old Maid, Yahtzee, Apples to Apples Big Picture, Monopoly, Clue, Canine Capers, and Pictionary are some fun options.
  57. Be a gameshow host. The options are endless for this suggestion. When my girls were younger, we played a game called “Gameshow Contestant.” I would call out a letter and they would run to retrieve the letter magnet from the front of the refrigerator. I would excitedly call out, “can she do it in less than 10 seconds? Stick around, folks, let’s see!” At the end of the game, the girls would win fabulous “new cars” aka, Matchbox cars. J Other suggestions are to find items around the house and place them on the table in record time.
  58. Encourage creative play. Our children need time to be creative with no structure. This is so important to proper development and fostering an active imagination. girl-in-red-dress-playing-a-wooden-blocks-3662667 (2)

What a blessing to be able to spend time with our children and teens! Let’s use this opportunity to grow closer.

 

How do you keep your children busy during this time of social isolation?

tiny miracles

Tiny Miracles.png

On June 6, a tiny newborn was rescued…a baby girl who was destined for death when she was placed inside a plastic bag in Georgia.

Instead, upon hearing a noise, investigators found the baby, who had only recently been born. They filmed the dramatic event with a body cam.

As I watched this video, tears streamed down my face. This little baby, named Baby India, should not have survived. We all know the dangers of allowing children to play with plastic bags, let alone placing a helpless infant inside of a plastic bag. A death sentence for certain once suffocation set in.

But Baby India didn’t die. She didn’t suffocate, didn’t starve to death, wasn’t found by a wild animal in the woods where she was placed. Instead, in God’s goodness and grace, He led rescuers to find her alive and seemingly healthy.

Indeed, even before Baby India was formed in the womb, the Lord knew her. Knew she would be rescued. He never left her side, not even once.

Requests to adopt Baby India have been pouring in by the hundreds. This precious child, whom someone determined shouldn’t live, instead has a future of life ahead of her.

In a world that condones and even promotes the killing of babies through abortion, this miracle baby survived. No, she wasn’t aborted, but rather someone attempted to kill her soon after her birth.

As I re-watched the video, I was reminded of God’s love for His Creation.

Indeed, He has a tender spot for children. We learn that children are a heritage from the Lord… (Psalm 127:3). Consider the words of Psalm 139:13-16:

Psalm 139 13-16

Miracles continue to occur each and every day – with full credit given to our Lord and Savior. Such was the tiny miracle of Baby India and her survival against the odds.

 

 

5 things moms need

 

5 things moms needs

Being a mom is the best, but sometimes hardest job.

We yearn to make a difference in the lives of our children. To be the best mom we can be. We love our children with all that we are and strive to bring honor and glory to God in the way we raise them.

But motherhood can be a challenge, too. The baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. The temper tantrums of a toddler. The drama of junior high. The teenage years with all of the frightening things kids have to deal with in today’s modern world.

No wonder we moms can become worn out and tired. I look back at the photos from when my daughters were little, and my eyes are almost consistently closed in those pictures. I obviously tried to catch a wink of sleep any time I could get it. 🙂

So what can a mom do? How can she refresh and rejuvenate? What things do moms seriously need in the best, but hardest years of our lives?

Moms need…

Time with God. Francesca Batestelli sings about meeting God for quiet time in the morning before the kids awaken and life gets hectic in her song “When the Crazy Kicks In.”

Time with God is critical. Crucial. Necessary. It starts our day off right. Prayer, then some time in His Word and being still before Him makes all the difference in the direction our day will go.

So what if you don’t have time in the morning to spend with the Lord? A later time with Him, while the children are down for a nap, for example, works too. The only problem is that we, as moms, tend to get so overloaded and busy with our day and all the demands pressing on us from every side that we give what’s left to Him, rather than what’s priority.

A supportive spouse. Every mom needs a spouse to come alongside her to be a co-partner in raising their children. To be a listening ear. To forge together to make dreams a reality. To be there just to hold her, even when she has spit-up on her t-shirt, hasn’t changed out of her jammies all day, or has been dealing with a rebellious teen and is uber-exhausted. Someone to listen as she decompresses about the day.

Speaking of supportive spouses, be sure to take some time for a date night. Enlist the assistance of a friend, relative, or teen babysitter to watch the children while you reconnect with your spouse.

family 1.jpg

A mentor friend. Ideally, this would be a mom who has been in the trenches and has now graduated from a mom of littles to a mom of teens, or beyond. Empty-nesters work well for this role. A mentor friend not only is there for you when you need her, but she has sound advice (given when asked for, rather than unsolicited), is a devout prayer warrior, a shoulder to cry on, and has wisdom beyond our years as young moms.

Other moms make excellent mentor friends, as do godly women from church.

A best/close friend. We moms all need a fellow mom to text for an impromtu playdate, to call when things get crazy, and a bestie to share a good laugh with about all the adventures (and trials!) of being a mom.

Proverbs 27 9

To recharge. Moms, we need to recharge our batteries. Life can be hectic, stressful, and seem to move at the speed of light. It’s easy to become exhausted and burned out, no matter what our stage as a mom is – a new mom, a mother of elementary kids, a mom to teens, or a mom to all of the above.

How do we recharge? Take a few minutes each day to put our feet up and relax.

Tackle a chapter in that book we’ve been wanting to read (or have been reading) for the past two months.

Take time to exercise. Many gyms include “drop in centers” for children while moms take an exercise class. Or, if you are the mom of toddlers, put them in a double stroller, pack some healthy snacks, and go for a walk.

Take a bubble bath.

Spend time with the Lord (see #1).

Spend a few minutes on Pinterest pinning your dream kitchen onto a new board.

Partake in a hobby you’ve neglected or one you’ve always wanted to try.

Organize a girls’ night out with your mom friends.

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Finding time to spend in the Word, call a friend, or even scroll through Pinterest can be difficult, if not nearly impossible. To begin, ask the Lord to help you carve out time. It may be at odd moments during the day, or even evening, but doing so will not only help your health and stress levels, but help you be the best mom you can be.

7 Ways to Encourage Your Children

7 ways to encourage your children

Everyday, we can make the choice to encourage or to discourage. To build up or to tear down. To make a positive difference or to make a negative difference.

There’s no one more important than our children when it comes to choosing whom to encourage.

The word encourage in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as to inspire with courage or confidence; to promote, foster.

So, how can we, as parents, encourage our children? Below are seven suggestions…

Encourage their character.  “A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions.”*

As parents, are we helping our children to develop good character? Are we encouraging them to make good choices? Our kids will be, and are faced, with multiple decisions each day. Helping them to understand why good choices are important and equipping them with the knowledge and practice to make good choices is paramount.

One of the things we do in our home is to discuss with our children what they would do if faced with  a particularly difficult situation.  What would they do if they were asked to do something they knew was wrong?

C.S. Lewis gave the perfect definition of integrity. He said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”C.S. LewisMy prayer is that my children will have that kind of integrity.

 

Picture 095Encourage their dreams. I love the dreams of little children! My youngest once asked for a pet mongoose. I could have easily told her that there was no way we could have a mongoose and for her to be more practical. However, I chose not to. Instead, I encouraged her dream and we chatted about how fun it would be to actually have a pet mongoose (especially since they eat snakes!), and the tricks we would teach him.

Encourage your children to dream at every age and every stage of their lives.

Encourage their future. I pray regularly for our children’s futures, both during family prayer time and during my own quiet times with the Lord.  I have told my children that it’s exciting to see what God has planned for their lives. We often discuss Jeremiah 29:11 which says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Encourage their compassion. Compassion is one of the most important things we can teach our children. One thing we have done is to instill in our children the importance of serving others. For some ideas on how to instill compassion and servanthood in your children, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others. 77 ways

Not only should we encourage compassion for others outside the home, but we should especially encourage compassion within our own families. One of the ways that we do this is to regularly pray for each other and to express our prayer needs daily to one another.

 

Encourage their imagination. As a writer, I am grateful that the Lord blessed me with a creative imagination.  There are several ways I have encouraged my children’s imaginations. For one, I have always read to them. Reading is so important and can take us on adventures we would never otherwise take. When my children were old enough to begin reading themselves, I encouraged them to check out as many books as they wanted at the local library and to even have a “reading marathon” over the summer months. Reading is excellent for the imagination!

Several times, we have spread a blanket in the backyard and gazed up at the clouds. We take turns imagining what animals the clouds look like and which could we would choose if we could lounge on any cloud. The white puffy clouds always win!

My oldest daughter has a knack for art. As such, I asked if she would illustrate a story I wrote. She was delighted and it was wonderful to see her own imagination shining through in her art. I combined the story and her illustrations and asked the local office supply store to bound the pages together. We now have our own special book – not only a keepsake, but also a delightful practice in encouraging the imagination of a budding artist!

325381_piggy-back-rideEncourage their friendships. We talk often about friendships in our home and about the kind of friendships that are important. The Bible has much to say about friendships and what type of friends to choose. For example, Proverbs 16:28 talks of why being dishonest and being one who gossips separates close friends.  Proverbs 18:24 states the importance of a friend who sticks closer than a brother (ESV).  John 15:13 is a profound statement of friendship: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

In our home, we have talked frequently about three different types of friends: gold friends who are there for you through the good times and bad; silver friends who are fun to be with, but you can’t always count on them; and bronze friends who are more like an acquaintance because they aren’t “true” friends.

We also discuss how good choices for friends is critical because of the amount of influence friends have on each other.

Encourage your children to be the kind of  friend that would honor God.

Most importantly, encourage their walk with God.
Are you children growing in their walk with the Lord? Have they accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior? The most important thing we can do is encourage our children to have a close relationship with Jesus. After all, that’s the only thing that will last for eternity.

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*Quote taken from gotquestions.org

leaving a godly legacy

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According to Webster’s Concise Dictionary, the word “legacy” means anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor.

Several summers ago at my grandpa, Papa’s, funeral, I was asked to write a lifesketch and speech in memory of him. As I began to work on the speech, I was convicted once again of the importance of the legacy we, as parents, leave behind for our children.

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Papa had so many people who loved him. In writing my speech, I gave a lot of thought to legacies and what they mean.

Why is leaving a lasting godly legacy important? What is a Godly legacy?

I once heard a quote from Austin L. Sorensen that went like this: “A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father.”

Austin Sorensen

Wow, that’s a powerful statement and something we, as parents, should take very seriously.

How can a child find something of God in his or her father? For example, are Daddy’s arms always open whenever there is a problem? Is Daddy a refuge in times of trouble? Is he a shield from the bad day at school or the fight with a best friend? Is Daddy loving, caring, and full of grace? Is he forgiving? Does he put the needs of others first? Is Daddy someone his child can trust? Is he an encourager, is he patient and kind?

God is all of these things, and these are just a few of the glimpses of God a child can see in her father. To see such things in her Daddy helps her to see that God is all of those things and more, only to perfection.

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Parents (and grandparents!) don’t realize how important they are in their children’s lives and this is just another testament to this fact. I can testify as Papa’s granddaughter that I saw him exhibit traits such as being a pillar of strength, protective, loving, and caring. He was a hard worker, provided for his family, and desired justice, yet not revenge.

When I consider Papa’s legacy, I am inspired to consider my own legacy that I am building in my children.

In the song “Legacy” by Nichole Nordeman, she sings about her desire to leave a godly legacy.

As a mom, I want my daughters to remember me as someone who was compassionate, loyal, kind, one who loved Jesus above all else, was a faithful prayer warrior, a woman with a servant’s heart, and a fighter for the underdog.

Huge steps to fill. I pray I will achieve those lofty goals, but most of all, the eternal goal of sharing with them the priceless gift of our Lord’s sacrificial love.

When you reach the end of your life, will you have accepted the grace offered by the Lord Jesus Christ? Will God be saying to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

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I am thankful for the blessing of Papa and the many years the Lord gave him to us. And I’m thankful for the glimpses of God that we saw in him.

Whether we are moms or dads, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, or grandparents, may we all leave behind a legacy that speaks of Christ and His saving grace that lives within us.

 

 

 

 

 

5 ways to make your child feel loved

5 ways to make your kid feel loved

We tell our children we love them often – and our words are important. But how can we put action to those words and show them we love them? Here are five easy steps.

1. Pray with them. We pray corporately several times daily as a family – in our family Bible studies, before meals, etc. However, one of the things I have found especially important is to pray separately with each of my children as well. In those quiet times we prepare to spend with the Lord, I ask each child what specific prayer requests they have for others, for themselves  – are they struggling with a subject in school? Having difficulties with a friendship? Dealing with an illness?

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2. Spend time with them one-on-one. These moments are some of the most precious. My oldest daughter and I both love to write. We brainstorm ideas together, have “inside jokes” about a writer’s life, and discuss “problem characters.” My youngest daughter and I ran a 5k to raise money for breast cancer last year. It can be, but doesn’t have to be big events. Sometimes the littlest most ordinary times together make the best memories.

3. Listen. Really listen. So many things compete for our attention. Work duties, household chores, other children, etc. When we look our child in the eye and really hear what they are saying, we are showing we love them. I have personally found that the car is one of the best places to strike up conversations. No ear buds, no smart phones, no TVs. Just great conversations (unless, of course, we are all joining in singing with our favorite Christian artist on the radio! :))

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4. Find out what’s important to them. Recently my youngest daughter told me that she really appreciates when I plan out the day ahead with her. She enjoys knowing exactly what we’ll be doing that day and helps her to prepare.

5. Discuss the easy and the hard topics. We, as parents, should be the first line of information for our kids. We’ve always had an open-conversation-policy in our house where our daughters can discuss whatever topic they’d like, as long as they do so respectfully. We’ve had some fantastic talks about fun topics, but also some great discussions about the hard things: drugs, eating disorders, politics, abortion, etc. Be sure that your discussion topics are always age-appropriate.

In James 1:17, we are told that every good gift is from above. Children are such a gift and a blessing that the Lord has given us. May we, as parents, be worthy.

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