DO’s & DON’Ts of Helping In Time of Loss

When someone you know and care about is faced with the sudden death of a loved one, or even the expected death of a loved one, you wonder what you can do to help.

Help in time of loss

Yesterday in my post A Case of Sudden Death, I shared how my sister unexpectedly lost her husband this past Monday.  I was with her for a couple of days after that, and want to share what I mentally took note of during that time — what she needed, what helped, etc.

1. DON’T ask “What can I do to help?

As much as you are willing to do whatever they need, the truth at first is:  THEY DON”T KNOW WHAT THEY NEED!  This is especially true immediately after the death, when they are still numb, and exhausted.  My sister commented to me more than once, “Everyone keeps asking what they can do.  I don’t know what to tell them!”

2.  DON’T tell them what they need to do.

That was another thing my sister said to me the next evening after her husband died.  “Everyone keeps telling me what I need to do.  I don’t need to do anything right now!”  And she was right.  All she needed to do were the essential things like planning the funeral, and letting folks know the details, and then getting some rest.  All the rest could wait. The day after he died, and she’d been up most of the night, she was pretty much numb, with shock and  fatigue. I think that’s pretty normal. (I will say that after a good night’s rest, she felt much better, was thinking better, and knew what she needed to do as far as phone calls that were urgent, etc.)

3.  DON’T ask to come over for the first 2 or 3 days.

As much as you want to go show your support, and be there for them, they will be spending several hours at the funeral home getting things set up; there will be phone calls they need to make to family and relatives.  There are just many time consuming things that must be done, and they have to be the one to do those things.  (Having a relative or good friend to go with them or make some of the calls would be a big help!)

My advice, if you know the person well enough, would be to think of something practical, and just DO it for them.

I heard a story once about a young woman, with several kids.  Her husband died unexpectedly, and a friend came to the house and cleaned and polished all the kids’ shoes, so they’d look nice for the funeral.  That is what I mean by thinking of something practical.

4.  DON’T call for the first day or two.

Unless you are related, or VERY close, it’s probably best not to call, as things are hectic. They are busy with what needs to be done, and probably have family there to spend time with them.

5.  DO provide food.

Usually the person who has lost a loved one is going to have family over there to help, and the last thing they need to be concerned with is making food.

*Vegetable trays and meat/cheese platters are nice, because they keep well, and make for good nibbling throughout the busy day.

*Healthy, quick snacks that are easy to keep, and can be grabbed on the run are great.

*If you bring food,  use disposable containers.  Then they don’t have to wash dishes, or remember what dish belongs to who, and deal with getting it back to the right owner.

*Providing paper plates and plastic cups are nice, as well.

*When bringing food, don’t come in, unless they insist. The house may be a mess, and they don’t need to worry about that.  (I noticed my sister dusting her living room by the front door, and teasingly said something about it.  She replied with, “Well someone is coming over with food, and this house is a mess!”

6.  DO send a text message letting them know you care.

Sending a text that says something like “I’m so sorry for your loss!  Just want you to know that I’m thinking about you, and praying for you.” is a great way to show your support,  but it doesn’t require a response from the person. Facebook is another great way to let them know they are in your prayers, if they are a person who uses Facebook regularly.

7.  DO just go over there, IF you are a close friend!

Give them a hug, and let them know you wanted to be sure they were ok. Then  tell them know you just want to do some things around the house to help, and that they can do what they need to, and you won’t bother them. Look around and see what would be helpful, and get busy.

I think the two most important areas to consider would be the entry way, where visitors would come to bring food, etc.  Is there anything you can clean in that area, or the area they see when they walk in?  I guarantee you that is a source of concern to the person, but it’s not something they have time to deal with.

The other important area is the kitchen.  Everyone feels better when they can walk into a CLEAN kitchen.  Are there dishes in the sink?  Wash them.  Does the floor need to be swept, or vacuumed?

When I went to my sister’s house, her kitchen counters had things all over them, and so did the table.  When her friend brought food over, we had to push things around to make a place for the food.  The next day, I told her I thought it would be nice to have the counters and table clear so when people brought food, there would be a place to put it.

While she was busy making needed calls, responding to emails, etc. I cleaned up the dishes, counter,  and table, swept the floor, and took the trash out.  It made things look much nicer, and also provided a space for things.

8.  DO remember them AFTER the funeral.

This is probably where we most often err.  Everyone comes to their rescue and support right when the death occurs.  After the funeral is over and everyone leaves,  reality sets in.  Then  they have to deal with bills, lots of decisions, and loneliness.

*That’s when you should call.  That’s when you should ask, “What can I do”?  Then offer ideas in your area of expertise, whether that be helping with all the paperwork that will need to be done, decluttering and cleaning, being the driver for the errands, buying groceries, bringing meals, or just keeping them company.

*It would also be a good time to send notes and cards letting them know you are thinking about them and praying for them. This is a good thing for months afterwards.  The first year is the hardest, I’ve heard.

*Remember them on holidays. That’s when the loneliness is felt the most.  Invite them to join your family, and don’t just assume that a relative or someone else will.  Even if they say no, it will mean a lot to them.

*Continue to pray for them!  Prayer can do for them what we can’t do.  Be faithful in praying for them to have wisdom in the decisions ahead, to have the strength and grace they need, and to feel God’s arms of comfort around them.

Obviously, each situation is different, and there will be variables to consider.  But overall, most of these thoughts would be good to remember when you want to be a help, and don’t know what to do!

 

 

 

 

A Case of Sudden Death

When someone you know and care about is faced with the sudden death of a loved one, or even the expected death of a loved one, you wonder what you can do to help.

Late Monday night I got a phone call from my sister, Donna.   A shocking, unexpected, heart-breaking phone call.  Her husband, 61 years old, had just died unexpectedly, with no warning.

Donna Jim collage

 

My sister posted this on her Facebook page the next morning:

Thank you everybody for your prayers. I am still in shock and numb. He was fine. They gave him a clean bill of health. He walked in the bathroom and just dropped dead. Whew, it was his time. He was finished here on earth. He is so much better off now. Good night my darling hubby….I will see you again. I love you.

My sister is only one and a half years older than me, and we’ve always been close,  yet I wasn’t even sure what to do to help her! She said I didn’t need to come, but when I asked again a little bit later, she said she’d like for me to come and be with her.  So Tuesday morning I threw some things together, and drove to Cleveland to be there for her.

On the trip over, I found myself singing the Scripture song that says “I am the resurrection and the life….”  How comforting to think that this weekend we will be celebrating the resurrection of Christ, and because of that, we don’t grieve as though who have no hope.  We know he is in heaven with His living Savior, and we rejoice in that truth!

I had an inside view of what goes on right after someone loses their loved one, and has so much to think about, and deal with. While walking through some of it with my sister, I learned  by watching what she was going through and what was going on, then made mental notes about things.  In my next post, I will share my observations of what someone does and doesn’t need in this type of situation, and HOW YOU CAN BEST HELP someone in their time of loss and grief.

In the meantime though, remember that praying for those in need, and those who are hurting, is ALWAYS the right thing to do!!

 

 

The Homeschool Secret No One Tells

PSSST…….I HAVE A SECRET ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING!!

secret about homeschooling

I have been homeschooling our kids for 29 years now.  I still remember something I heard someone say in my 2nd year of teaching our kids.  I was at a support group meeting, and this lady was attending for the first time.  She was planning to take her kids out of public school and  homeschool them.  I told her that was great, and that there are many benefits to homeschooling.  She replied:  “I know!  I have several friends who have been homeschooling, and all of them have really good kids, so that’s why I’m doing it.  I want my kids to turn out good!” Have you ever thought that?  I know I did!

And that brings me to my little secret…..

Homeschooling doesn’t guarantee that your kids will “turn out good!”

Many, many homeschool kids DO turn out good, and go on to follow and serve the Lord.  However, it’s NOT because of the homeschooling.  It’s easy to  think that if we are following certain steps in our parenting, protecting our kids from the wrong influences, and seeing they are outwardly obedient, it guarantees they are going to stay true to the values we have taught them, and avoid significant struggles with sin.  What we fail to remember is that they are individuals with a free will.  Yes, we should teach them and train them in the ways of God, and teach them our values.  However, we need to let go of the idea that a certain “formula” guarantees good kids!  Often, we tend to judge our “success” on how our kids turn out.  We worry more about having “failed” than we do about making sure we have done our part.

I love how Reb Bradley says it in the book, Solving a Crisis in Christian Parenting:

One of the reasons parents homeschool is because they want to accomplish something good in their children.  Success in homeschooling requires that academic, moral, and spiritual goals be set.  It is only natural for parents to have high hopes and dreams for their children.  However, when we begin to see our children as a reflection or validation of US, we become the center of our dreams, and the children become our source of significance.  When that happens in our home it affects the way we relate with our children, and subtly breaks down relationship.

….from God’s standpoint, parents’ success is measured by their obedience–not by how their children ultimately choose to respond to their influence.

I believe that by our influence we can greatly increase the chances that our kids will love and follow Christ.  However, it’s more likely to happen because of what they see us living, than by the “formula” we follow.  (Don’t get me wrong – we need rules and standards in the home – it’s about balance)

The other key that increases the chances of our homeschooling kids “turning out good” is having their heart!  They are much, much more likely to “buy in” to what we believe and teach, if we have their heart.  By having their heart, we gain their trust. They realize that we are concerned about what is best for them, rather than feeling like we are just trying to control them.

Solomon is a great example of this balanced parenting. When he encouraged his young adult children and gave them commandments, he realized that for them to honor those commands, he needed their heart. (Proverbs 23:26)

The point of telling this secret is not to discourage you, but rather to remind you that even though homeschooling gives us more opportunities to influence our children, and protect them, it doesn’t guarantee the results.  We need to focus instead on being obedient to God by faithfully teaching and training them in His ways, while seeking to win their heart.  Leave the results to God, while praying for Him to work in their heart! My desire, after I’m done raising my kids, is to be able to say that even though I’ve messed up at times, I did my best to be faithful and obedient, and gave it my all.

Reb Bradley’s book, which I mentioned above, shares several blind spots in parenting that often contribute to the breakdown of relationship between parents and kids, thereby increasing prodigal tendencies.  I think every parent should read this book – it’s really that good!  To encourage you to buy the book, and glean from the valuable thoughts he shares, I’m going to sell if for 50% off for the next week.  It’s normally $9, now only $4.50!

For More Info…

solving a crisis
Booklet: $9
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God’s Opinion About Dating

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(This post is taken from a sermon that my oldest son preached at a youth meeting. I have edited it a little so it wouldn’t be as long, but still contain the vital thoughts he gave.)

God's opinion of datingDid you know that the word “dating” is not in the Bible one time? However, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have an opinion about it! God is the ultimate matchmaker, and the creator of marriage.

Therefore, I believe that God has a very strong opinion about dating:

1.The second most important decision you will ever make is who you marry.

2. You probably will marry someone who you date, so who you date will eventually determine who you marry.

3. To think that God doesn’t care how you make the second most important decision in your life doesn’t make sense.

4. God cares who you date, when you date, where you date,  and how you date.

3 Opinions God Has About Dating

1. God has a definite purpose for dating. God’s purpose for dating is marriage.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Gen 2:24

The only reason for dating is marriage. Dating is the vehicle we use to get from singleness to marriage. You don’t get in the vehicle of dating…

*just because it’s fun

*Just because it’s the popular thing to do.

*Just because everybody else is doing it.

The only reason to get in the vehicle of dating is so it can take you to the destination of marriage.

So many young people just wander in circles in dating, because they have forgotten the destination.  When you forget the purpose of dating, you will usually end up somewhere that you don’t want to be.

2. God has a definite standard for dating. God’s standard for dating is purity.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his his own soul.  I Cor. 6:18 

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 Let me share a great illustration  about guarding your purity.

If someone offered to give you a beautiful 72” flat screen TV, but required you to pay for the box to ship it in, you have a couple of options. A cheap, light-weight Styrofoam box which is easily discarded, or a very solid wooden crate that is expensive, and very heavy, but could easily hold 2,000 pounds. Which box do you think you’d choose to have your TV shipped in?

When you were born God gave you a very precious gift. That gift is your purity. He gave it to you to protect from your birth to your wedding day. Right now you are in transit between birth and marriage. What kind of box are you using to protect your purity? You would do whatever was necessary to protect a box of wires and plastic. How much more valuable your purity is!

Some ways young people keep their purity in a Styrofoam box.

1. You put your purity in a Styrofoam box when you touch the opposite sex.

“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” I Corinthians 7:1

The number one way to stay pure and clean is to simply not touch. Until you are married keep your hands off. Don’t cheapen yourself by letting everyone touch you.

2. You ladies put your purity in a Styrofoam box when your clothing causes men to lust.

Do you think that that will attract a godly Christian man? Those kinds of clothes attract the kind of men who just want to use you. A young man who wants to be godly has to guard his eyes all the time.  He shouldn’t have to guard his eyes around Christian young ladies.

3.  You put your purity in a Styrofoam box when you let the TV teach you about relationships. There is no one on TV who will tell you the truth about relationships.

The TV says…

*If you’re a virgin when you get married, you’re strange.

*Live with someone for a while to see if you’re compatible.

*If a relationship doesn’t work out, end it.

*If you’re a normal young person you will spend your late teens and early twenties sleeping around and then get married.

*If you sit and fill your head with that garbage how can you expect to stay pure?

 What kind of box are you keeping your purity in?

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3. God has a definite timing for dating.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; “ Eccl. 3:1-5

When you want to get somewhere, there are steps you take. First, you decide where you want to go, then when you want to get there. Next, you figure out how long it takes to get there. Now you know exactly when to leave.

For example, going to work:

1. You have to start work at 8

2. Be there by 7:50

3. It takes 10 minutes to get to work

4. You need to leave by 7:40.

Now apply that to the timing of dating:

1. What is the purpose of dating? (Marriage)

2. When do you want to reach marriage? (When you are ready…)

-Spiritually

-Emotionally

-Financially

-You will not be ready to get married until well after high school.

3. How long does it take to get to marriage once you start dating?

I was ready to get married after fifteen months of dating, but this varies by each couple.

4. Therefore there is no reason to start dating until you are very close to being ready to get married.

The thrill of dating can be compared to riding a roller coaster. Once you get on, you can’t slow it down. Once you start dating, it can be very exciting, but you can’t slow it down.  Why don’t you just wait to get on the roller coaster?

God has a special person waiting somewhere for you. It’s going to be great, so don’t ruin it by being impatient. Today I encourage you to make the two following commitments:

1.  I’m going to protect my purity.

2.  I’m going to wait to date.

Are Your Kids Worth the Effort?

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No one ever told me how hard it would be to raise children!  I just pictured bringing home a precious bundle of joy from the hospital, and having a happy family.  My husband and I realized early on in our parenting, that it’s NOT as easy as it looks!

Following the Biblical command to bring our kids up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord takes EFFORT.  Effort includes time, and work! However, our kids are worth every bit of that effort, and by it we are investing in eternity.

kids worth effort

6 Key Areas That Require Our Effort:

 

1.  Determine your goals or destination. 

What are your goals in teaching and training your children, as you raise them?  What do you want to accomplish in the 18 years they are in your home?  It’s important to know what your destination is, so you can determine if you heading in the right direction.

2.  Determine to do what it takes to reach those goals.

Parenting is HARD WORK.  Having kids that have good character, and love the Lord, doesn’t just happen.  It takes planning, effort, time, training, and encouraging for many years.  Sometimes it gets hard, or you get tired.  You have to remember those goals, and determine to do what it takes to accomplish them.

3.  Determine not to be distracted.

It is so easy to let “good things” distract us from working to achieve our goals in raising our kids.  In homeschooling, often we let the academics distract us, and we forget that building our kids’ faith and character is much more important than the academics.

Sometimes we let activities and busyness distract us from what really matters.  We get so busy in those things, that we end up neglecting our priorities.  We have to live each day with eternity’s values in view.  That is what will keep you focused, and help you refuse to be distracted.

4.  Determine to be self-disciplined.

Sometimes it will take self-discipline to avoid the things that distract us, or to choose the things that matter. It takes discipline to:

*Spend time with your kids when you’d rather be doing other things

*Give up your plans for their needs

*Limit the amount of time you allow them to spend on TV, and video games

*Monitor their friendships

*Protect them in the area of boy/girl relationships

*Make time to walk with God daily

Determine that you will discipline yourself to do what matters!

5.  Determine to be desperate.

In Genesis 32 we read the story of how Jacob wrestled God, and  wouldn’t let go unless He blessed him.

As parents, we need the desperation that keeps us fighting, and not letting go when parenting gets tough.  We need to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep our kids, and protect them.

6.  Determine to depend on God.

Often we don’t get desperate enough to depend on God like we should,  but we have a God in heaven Who wants us to depend on Him always.   I have shared this quote often:  “We need to work as though it all depends on us, but pray as though it all depends on Him.”  What a great reminder!

It’s wonderful to know that when we feel desperate or unable, we don’t have to do it on our own!  When we feel like we’re failing or struggling, and are concerned about our kids, we can depend on God to help us, and to give us wisdom and strength.

I LOVE this quote by Stormie O’Martian, and I think is so important to remember this:

“The battle for our children’s lives is waged on our knees. When you pray for your child, do it as if you are interceding for his or her life, because that is exactly what you are doing.  You’re fighting the devil.  When we regularly and consistently come before the Lord on behalf of our family, we are acknowledging our dependence on Him to work in their lives.”

Will you join me today in determining to put forth the effort in these 6 areas?  Let’s put forth the effort that our kids deserve, and be good stewards as we raise the children God has entrusted to our care.  It won’t always be easy, but it is definitely worth it!

Training & Correcting the Heart With Scripture

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TCH picture

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7 Tips for Chore Training Your Kids

Part of preparing our children for life should include getting them involved in helping with jobs in the home.  We should teach them how to work, and how to do it well.  We do our kids and their future mate a great disservice, if we fail to teach them to help and work responsibly. Why don’t we do it then?

7 tips for chore training

Often, it’s just SO much easier to do the job ourselves, rather than take the time to teach, train, help, and encourage the child to do it.  The truth is though, that when kids are young, they love to help.  If you can train them when they are so willing, the short-term bother it involves will result in long-term benefits!  You will eventually have young adults who are mature and responsible.

Here are 7 tips for Chore Training:

1.  Be CLEAR.

When you teach a child a job for the first time, make sure that you go through the steps that are involved, and make your expectations clear. (For example, I want you to sweep the kitchen floor thoroughly.  Be sure you move the chairs, and sweep under them and the table.  Move the trash can and sweep under it.  Be sure you get to all the corners, etc. Show them how to use the dust pan to pick up the dirt when they are done.  Don’t just assume that they will know how.

2.  Provide a checklist.

On a 3 x 5 card write down the expectations for the job.  They can refer to that to be sure they remember everything they are supposed to do in an area. Break it down into steps to make it easier for them to work efficiently.

3.  Inspect their work.

Let them know they are to come you after finishing a job, so you can inspect it.  As the old saying goes, children will do what you inspect, not what you expect!  Keep in mind that as the kids get older, they should be growing in maturity and responsibility.  You shouldn’t have to check their work every time, like when they were younger and still being trained.

4.  Have time frames for when work is to be done.

My kids knew what had to be done each day, and that they couldn’t go play, or have their free time till those jobs were done, and I had given my approval.

5.  Give the job to the youngest child that is capable of doing it.

Young kids start with easy jobs, but should then gradually progress to more difficult ones, until they are able to do all the jobs that Mom or Dad do around the home.

6.  Don’t feel guilty for delegating most of the cleaning and housework to the kids.  You are preparing them for life when you teach them how to keep a house clean, do laundry, and prepare meals.  You are also helping them develop character. It’s good to work along with them at times, because that’s a chance to spend time with them.  It also is more enjoyable to work with someone.  However, they should be responsible for taking care of what has been delegated to them.

7.  Be sure to express gratitude for their help, and praise for a job well done. 

When my kids were younger, there was a long period of time when I didn’t do laundry, vacuum or sweep floors, wash dishes, or clean bathrooms. (Keep in mind I had 8 kids to help share the load.) That’s not because I was being lazy, but because I was intentionally training my kids to work, and that in a family  we share the responsibilities.  The fact that I didn’t have to do all those things, left me more time to teach the younger ones, and more time for all of us to do fun things together.

Don’t try to do it all on your own – give your kids the benefit of learning to help!

 

 

Ultimate Blog Party

2014 blog partyWelcome to the 2014 Ultimate Blog Party at The Character Corner! This annual event is hosted by 5 Minutes For Mom. The purpose of this party is to welcome and introduce friends, old and new, to my blog. I’m excited to make and meet some new friends!

Welcome to The Character Corner– an inspirational blog filled with resources to help you train your kids in character and purity.

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My name is Kathie, mom of 8, grandmother to 4, speaker, author, and veteran homeschooling mom of 29 years. I am passionate about purposeful parenting, and love to write about parenting, homeschooling, what the Lord is teaching me, and life in general. My heart’s desire is to help and encourage parents to be intentional in their parenting, and strive to raise Godly children with strong Christian character.

My husband and I have been married for 35 years, and are nearing the end of our homeschooling journey.  Our oldest 7 kids have graduated, and our youngest son will soon be finishing his junior year of high school.  Four of our kids are  married, and our oldest son & his wife are missionaries in the Philippines.  To learn a little bit more about  our family and our ministry check out:  ABOUT US.

Wedding pic - Alan & Me

I’m delighted you’re here and I hope you’ll take the time to look around and make yourself at home!  My prayer is that you will be blessed by the things that I share.

Thanks for stopping in.  I enjoy making new friends, and would love to connect with you on Facebook and Pinterest.  I look forward to talking with you!

serving God training kids

How to Push Your Older Kids Away From You!

I believe that the biggest mistake that parents can make with their older teens and young adult kids is being too controlling!

angry teen pic

Many times in our efforts to keep our teens (or young adults) from going prodigal, we parent in a way that tightly restricts and dominates them.  This often backfires, as the teen pushes away.

Some ways of over-controlling:

*Don’t let them make any decisions on their own

*Don’t give them any freedom as they get older, and mature

*Continue to treat them as a child, rather than an adult

*Don’t give them choices about things

*Speak to them in a condescending tone.

As an adult, think how YOU would feel if someone treated you that way.  You’d feel insulted, and probably rather resentful.  So is it any wonder that our young people push away when we try to rein them in so tight?

If we follow the example Solomon sets in Proverbs, we would come along side our young people, as we would a fellow adult.  With love we would warn them of natural consequences for poor choices.  Solomon modeled for us how to influence our teens through love and respect.

When kids are young, it’s normal and right for us to control them. We choose what they eat, when they go to bed, what behavior is allowed, etc. That is stage one, and our goal in that stage (ages up to 5) should be to train them, and gradually lead them to stage 2, which is self-control. By the teen years, the goal is for them to reach stage 3,  “God control”. We want them to live a life that is controlled by what God says is right or wrong.

Many parents, however, tend to get stuck in the control stage, and don’t let go. This leads to:

1. Teens that haven’t learned self-control

2. Young people who are resentful because they are still being treated like a child

3.  Losing their heart as they push away

4.  Losing the opportunity to influence them in their teen and young adult years.

As our kids begin their teens years, we should slowly start coming along beside them as an encourager and guide, rather than telling them what to do. As we gently come along side to encourage and guide them we should:

*Teach them how to make decisions.

Show them how to make a list of the pros and cons when making important decisions, to pray about it, and to  get counsel.

*Teach them responsibility.

They need to learn that their choices and actions bring consequences.  They should know how to work hard and be reliable.

*Teach them self-control.

This starts when they are young, when we teach them to start controlling their emotions and attitudes. As they continue to grow up they need to learn to control their impulses, and to do what is right whether they feel like it or not.

*Teach them to have wise counselors.

*Listen when they come to you.

Don’t be so busy trying to plan your answer, that you fail to hear their heart.

*Don’t stress out when you fear they are making wrong choices.

Most young people will make mistakes.  That’s how they learn.  If you’ve trained them well though, these aren’t going to huge mistakes in big areas.  OR, they will realize they’ve made a bad choice, and learn the hard way.

*Encourage them when they do mess up.

Don’t criticize, lecture, or condemn.  They usually know when they have made a mistake, and have probably already suffered some of the consequences.  The last thing they need is to hear us saying “I told you so”, or “You shouldn’t have…..”!

We still need to have boundaries and rules in the home for our young people, but at the same time, we need to balance that with some freedom.  They earn that freedom as they show they are growing in responsibility, and as you earn their trust.   Ask God to give you wisdom to have the balance needed to have influence with them, and keep their heart!

 

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7 Tips to Help DeClutter

These are simple tips, that probably aren’t even new to you.  Sometimes it’s just good to hear it again though, and get some motivation to clear the excess STUFF!

By the way, if you haven’t joined us, I’d love to have you get involved in our
31 Day Spring Declutter & Fling.

Here is a picture from my first day:

BEFORE AFTER

1. If you haven’t used it in the last year, or didn’t even know you had it, get rid of it!

2. Check expiration dates on things in your pantry, lazy susan, and medicine cabinet. Get rid of all the out-of-date products.

3. Get rid of kitchen bowls that are cracked, missing lids, etc.

4. Sort toys, and put all pieces together. Consider storing some in the garage, and only having one box of toys in the house at a time. This will cut down on lost pieces, clutter, and boredom. Each week, switch the boxes out.

5. Get rid of clothes that no longer fit, or that you haven’t worn in the last year because you don’t feel comfy in them.

6. Establish the “item in-item out” rule. When a new item comes into the home, one should go.

7. Consider selling used curriculum, or giving it to another homeschooler who would appreciate it.

YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Join our Facebook Challenge group to share your progress and get encouragement as we dive into our 31 Day Spring Declutter & Fling Challenge!

31 Day Spring Declutter & Fling Challenge

Are you tired of the clutter in your home? There’s something about spring that always makes me want to declutter the house! As I look around, I realize that I have way too much stuff, and much of it is never used. Much of my housework involves moving junk and clutter to a new spot. Clutter is stuff that takes up space, makes things look messy, and in the end is a stress to me.   Anyone else with me on this? Who wants to join me on a 31 Day Spring declutter and fling challenge?

declutter pic

Here is the challenge:  For 31 days, you focus on cleaning one area per day. In this one area you challenge yourself to declutter, and get rid of things you don’t need. The goal is one bag a day.  Simple as that!

The challenge will begin on April 1 and go through May 6.  (This gives you Sundays off.)

TOOLS  TO HELP YOU GET STARTED

  1. JOIN OUR FB CHALLENGE GROUP! Join our challenge group to share your progress and get encouragement as we dive into our 31 Day Spring Declutter & Fling Challenge!
  2. Decide what areas you are going to declutter.  I made a list of all the places you can choose from.  You can see the list here:  AREAS TO DECLUTTER
  3. Print the following progress chart, and fill in the areas you are going to declutter.  Check each day off when you are finished.  If you miss a day or two, you’ll still know where you are at in the challenge.

31

31 Day Declutter & Fling Challenge Chart

TIPS

  1. Use black garbage bags for Goodwill, and white garbage bags for trash.  That way you don’t have to remember which bags go where. (Giving clothes to a needy family is a great idea too!)
  2. Make a trip to Goodwill each time you run errands during the week.  Move the things out of your house!
  3. Don’t keep things that might be useful “someday”.  By the time “someday” comes, you won’t be able to find them, or you’ll forget you even have them.  Only keep things are useful to you today.
  4. Make the rule that when something new comes in the home, something old goes out.  This will eliminate the problem of continuing clutter building up.
  5. Take before and after pictures.  This will motivate you to keep cleaning, and then to maintain.  Here are a couple of pictures that are my motivation to get going on this!  Don’t judge me!  I know I have a mess here!  :)

31 Day Declutter - desk & porch mess

6.  Tell your friends, and encourage them to join us.  If you have friends joining you, it makes it more fun, and keeps you a little more motivated, because you know they are going to ask you how it’s going!  Invite them to join the challenge! This is something we all struggle with.

But we need to remember and remind each other that:

*We don’t need all this stuff, and it doesn’t make us happier.

*Too much stuff  makes us feel stressed.

LET’S GET RID OF THE CLUTTER!

 JOIN ME IN THIS CHALLENGE!

I’d love to hear from you if you are planning to join me as we begin to fling the clutter.  Please leave a comment and let me know if you’re in!

If you haven’t already, join me on Facebook, for reminders and encouragement as we work on decluttering our homes.

 

WARNING: It’ll Be Over Before You Know It!

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Mark & TreyaYesterday my youngest son, Mark, turned 17. (Picture of him with my granddaughter last year)  So very hard to believe that in a little over one year, he will be the 8th and last  to graduate from our homeschool.  After 34 years of raising and training children, a new season will begin for me.

“The days pass so swiftly,the months come and go

The years melt away like new falling snow”

You always hear people say to young parents, “Enjoy those years.  They go by so fast!”  It is so true.  However, it doesn’t seem fast at the time.  In fact, some times it’s hard to enjoy.   There is  fatigue, busyness, frustration, and challenges. There are often times of tears.  It’s not easy being a mom, and when you add homeschooling to your job, the challenges increase.

I’d like to just share a few thoughts for those of you who are still in those early, hectic busy, busy days of raising your family, or maybe a little farther along in the journey and feeling weary.

Thoughts from an OLDER mom, to encourage younger moms:

1.  You WILL make it.

Sometimes you may not feel like you can’t  keep on, but as moms we do what we have to, and we keep going even when it’s hard. Sometimes we are too busy trying to survive, to enjoy it!  It DOES get better.

2.  Though you may not always ENJOY the ride, you will get much JOY from it.

There’s no describing the joy of watching your kids learn, grow, and then develop into young adults who love the Lord, and go on to serve Him.  Suddenly you realize that all those seeds you planted DID take root.            (3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.)

3.  Don’t wish the days away.

I know sometimes you think you just can’t wait until—they are potty trained, they can dress themselves, they learn to read on their own, etc.  I’ve been there, and I remember.  But try to enjoy each stage and season, because before you know it, it will be past.

4.  Take time to make memories.

You don’t want to be the parent who looks back and says “I wish I’d slowed down more, and spent time doing things, and making memories with the kids.”  Be intentional.

5.  No matter how mundane your daily duties seem, your home and family are your ministry, and you are serving the Lord. 

That time you spend training, correcting, and teaching them in God’s Word and ways, are an investment in eternity. When you tired of doing the same thing day in and day out, remember Who you are serving.

The words of a Patch the Pirate song, “Cherish the Moment” are in my mind right now.

Sing a song, play a game, swing me high in the air;

Ride a bike, fly a kite, how I love the times we share;

Hold my hand, hug my neck, Daddy bounce me on your knee;

Come & sit by my bed, Mommy rock me to sleep.

Cherish the moment, soon you’ll be apart,

Cling to the memory, clasp it to your heart;

Soon comes the day when you’ll have no child to hold,

So cherish, cherish the moment.

Think ahead to a time when your little ones are grown,

Hold them tight, don’t lose sight of the blessings you have known;

Think ahead to a time when your little boy’s a man,

And you’d give anything just to hold him again.

 

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

 

 

 

7 Tips for Encouraging Our Kids

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When was the last time you said something encouraging to your child?  If you’re like me, you probably find it easier to see the wrong behavior and comment on it, then to notice and praise the right behavior.  We have to purposefully look for opportunities to encourage them.

encouraging our kids

All kids long to please their parents, and it makes them so happy when they know we are pleased with their behavior and efforts.  However, if we fail to let them know when they have pleased us, they will get discouraged and quit trying after awhile.  Encouragement is a vital part of keeping a good relationship with our kids, and is something we need to determine to do on a regular basis.

7 Ways to Encourage Our Children

1.  Put a smile on your face, in your eyes, and in your voice.

It’s easy to get in that serious mode, and have a frown on our face, as if we are just waiting for them to mess up.  They should see a smile that makes them feel you are happy to see them, and be with them.

Also, the absence of that smile when kids aren’t behaving right, speaks more than  your words.

2.  Use the “sandwich method” when you need to correct.

For example, “I know you are capable of doing a good job cleaning your room.  Leaving these things out though, is not acceptable.  Please finish putting everything away, because I’ve seen how nice you can make your room look.  Give me your best effort, and show me your best work this time.”

3.  Make eye contact with them and show them physical affection in small ways all through the day.  Pat their back or head, rub their cheek, tickle them, hug them, etc.

4.  Give verbal praise often!

Be honest, and point to good character.  For example, “You sure have been working hard this morning.  Thank you for being so diligent!”

5.  Brag to your spouse when the child can hear you.

“Susie has shown so much initiative today.  She picked up all the toys this morning while I was making breakfast, then set the table for me.  She sure is being a good helper!”

6. Give tangible rewards occasionally for encouragement:

*Stickers for good work

*Certificates

*Handwritten note

*Little prizes

*Special treats

7.  Encourage every time you see them making an effort to do right.

Encouraging our kids is one of the best ways to win their heart.  They will know we are on their side, we are for them, and we think they are great.  Make encouragement one of your daily goals, as you teach and train your children.

 

Three Ways to Handle Being Frazzled & Fatigued

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Fatigue is a normal part of parenting.  Sometimes we just get tired of all the duties we have as a mother.  Other times, we are physically fatigued from being up with little ones at night, or long busy days of caring for kids and our home.  When we are worn to a frazzle and worn out, it’s so easy to get grouchy.  If we aren’t careful, we end up taking that grouchiness out on our kids, or our husband!

fatigued mom pic

I remember the time my sister came to visit after I’d just come home from the hospital after the birth of our 4th child.  I was tired and overwhelmed, and was kind of taking it out on my poor husband.  My sister commented to me about it the next day, mentioning how she could tell I was tired, and he was stressed because he didn’t know how to help me, or what I needed.  Truth is, my husband got the brunt of my fatigue in the form of my grouchiness, and he didn’t deserve it.  It would have been much better if I had communicated to him that I needed him to take care of the kids, so I could take a quick nap, or help with laundry, etc.

When you’re feeling frazzled, here are 3 tips to help you keep it under control:

1.  Take a break, and SLOW DOWN!

When you’re ready to snap, stop and ask yourself what really HAS to be done, and what can wait.  Sometimes we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves, and end up frazzled as a result.  Do you really HAVE to sweep the floor right now, or can it wait?  Realize that when you are a mom with little ones, your house is going to have toys on the floor, books out, etc.

I’d rather my kids remember me as a mom who was happy, and spent time playing with them, than as a crabby mom who always had to have a clean house.

2.  Communicate your needs to your husband and kids.

Being snappy, and expecting your husband or kids to just SEE what the problem is, and pitch in to help, is NOT realistic or fair to them.

When I was feeling overwhelmed, my husband was willing to help.   For him to do that though, I needed to express how he could help me.

My kids were usually willing to help also, when they knew I wasn’t feeling well, was tired, or just needed help.  But I had to ask them, and give some guidance.

The key is to tell them how you feel, and say it with a kind tone.  “Mommy is really tired right now, and I need you to help me.  I’m going to give each of you a job to do, and let’s see how quickly you can do it.”  Or, “Mommy is tired, and needs a nap.  I want you to play quietly in your rooms, and after I rest, we will have a snack, and read a story together.”  (This doesn’t mean your kids will always be helpful and cooperative, but it’s better than yelling and being impatient with them, when they have no idea why.)

When you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, tell your husband that, and explain what things are overwhelming you.  Whenever I did that with my husband two things happened:

First, I felt better just by expressing it and talking about it.

Second, he usually had practical suggestions, like “Don’t worry about that right now.  It can wait.”  Or, “Why don’t you try doing it this way?”  He was good at helping me put things in perspective.  He also would then ask how he could help.

3.  Do NOT allow yourself to have expectations.

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.”

Sometimes I would expect the older kids to see the need to clean up, and when I went in the kitchen and saw a mess had been left, I’d be upset.  I’d start mumbling under my breath, and slamming pans around.  Yes, they should have had initiative and cleaned up, but the fact that I’m feeling tired and out of sorts, doesn’t give me the right to take it out on them.

I realized that I needed to communicate to them in situations like that, and do some training.  I learned to call them into the kitchen, and explain that it upset me when I came home from the grocery store and found a mess in the kitchen, because they didn’t clean up after themselves.

Our kids and our husband can’t read our minds, and we shouldn’t just expect them to know when we are feeling frazzled, and expect them to come to our rescue.

Rather than giving in to your emotions when you’re tired and feel like you’re losing it, remember to slow down and re-evaluate, communicate your needs, and give your expectations to God.  If possible, try to sneak a nap in too!

How do you handle your emotions and responses when feeling frazzled?

8 Ways to Recognize Good Character

character picAs parents, we know the importance of training our children in Godly character.  However, how do we know what good character looks like?  How do you know where your kids are in this important area? Here is a great checklist to help you determine  how your kids are doing in the area of character.

GOOD CHARACTER IS SHOWN BY:

1.  Doing right subconsciously, by habit

2.  What you do in the dark

3.  Doing things for others without it being known

4.  Doing things before you are asked

5.  Doing things for which you are not getting anything

6.  Doing things in areas where it will not show

7.  Being willing to begin at the bottom

8.  What it takes to stop you.

Check how your kids are doing in these different areas, then continue to work with them, and train them.  Remember that character training is a process, and you won’t see results immediately.  Stay faithful, and God will bless your efforts.The time and work you put into training your kids, and helping them develop character will not only make a difference in their life, but it will also make them more successful in their service to God!

Sow an action, reap a habit;

Sow a habit, reap character;

Sow character, reap a destiny.

The Joy of Hormone Problems

You can find the previous posts from this series here:

Homeschooling & Hormones 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

warning hormonal picI know it seems strange to even think of JOY when you are going through hormone issues that can cause you to feel depressed!  As I mentioned, I dealt with crying, depression, being mean to my kids, feeling guilty, etc., and yet I can say there IS joy to be found even with all that going on.

I’m sure you’re thinking “Uh, the hormones have really gotten to her – now she’s just plain out crazy!”

No, dealing with PMS or any other hormone imbalance is NOT fun, and it’s NOT joyful to experience all that goes with it.  However, what you will experience as a result of those difficult times is a greater joy than you knew before all that happened.

It may not occur for awhile, but if you are letting the Lord work in your heart as you go through the hard challenging times, you WILL end up joyful.  And even in the midst of your despair, there’s a joy hidden behind the pain–the joy of knowing God is working in your heart and life.

I can’t say that I enjoyed one moment of my PMS, or other times of hormone problems, but I can say I’m thankful and glad that I’ve gone through them.  Why?  There are several reasons.

The most important one is that it brought me closer to God, and helped me to know Him better.  God brought me to the end of myself, and into His sheltering arms.  He was my one source of comfort and true understanding.  His love upheld me when I felt I couldn’t go on.  I learned the meaning of “God is a refuge.”  Verses that had once been “good” verses, became real and alive to me through experience.  I learned to depend on Him.

Another reason I’m glad for what I’ve been through is because now I can encourage and help others going through similar issues.  It’s truly hard to have a compassionate heart, when you’ve never suffered.  Now I can truly care and FEEL for others who are hurting.

The last benefit is the renewed joy I now have in everyday things.  It’s like wearing dark glasses for awhile.  When you take them off, everything seems brighter.  You see things you’d forgotten were there. I had been in the dark valley for so long, that when I started feeling better, everything seemed brighter than before.  I found myself more thankful and aware of things that I once took for granted.  And best of all, it gave me a new, fresher view of God’s love, and the joy He gives.

If you are struggling with hormone issues, or any type of physical issues, that affect your mood and outlook, run to the arms of God.  Let Him be your comfort and strength, and cling to Him till He brings you through.  Remember, joy will come in the morning!

 

 

What About My Husband? Homeschooling & Hormones 5

You can find the previous posts from this series here:

Homeschooling & Hormones 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

warning hormonal picIn my last post I talked about the effect of hormone inbalance on our children.  But what about your husband?!  Do you ever think, “He is going to end up leaving me and I wouldn’t blame him?” I know I have had that thought cross my mind!

It’s NOT easy on a husband when his wife is struggling with hormone problems, and struggling with depression, fatigue, and irritability.   However, as the wife is going through these difficulties, it is a time of God working in his life too! 

It’s a time when your husband will probably need  to pitch in, do more with the children, do a little extra around the house, and maybe even help some with the homeschooling.  It may be hard for him after working all day, but it’s a great chance for him to show his love, and get more involved.

Often as wives we do it all, and our husbands aren’t even involved in much.  When there are physical issues, your husband has  to get involved.  I found that in my situation this turned out to be good. My husband learned to know our children better, and became more aware of what my daily duties involved. I found that this gave my husband a greater love for me and the kids, and bound our hearts closer.

The important thing is to COMMUNICATE to him!  A husband needs to know what his wife needs from him. Don’t just expect him to know!  I think most husbands pitch in pretty well with the housework, children, etc. when needed because those needs are obvious.  But they don’t know what we need emotionally. We have to tell them!

Sit down and talk, and let him know that you NEED his support.  Tell him how you feel.  “I’m depressed, I’m tired, I feel like a bad mom.” etc.  You need his reassurance and acceptance.  You need to know he loves you regardless.  Most husbands will be glad to try to get you through it, if you simply tell them how they can help.

One thing I expressed to my husband was my concern about what others would think.  Fatigue has been a big problem or me, and I’ve had to remember what is really important as I make decisions about doing “extras”.  My husband has been of real help here, because he has learned what I can handle.  He knows that if I do too much I will be so fatigued that I really struggle to care for the kids, and my responsibilities in the home.

We have prayed together about what I should or should not do, and chosen NOT to worry about what others will think.  They don’t and won’t understand all you’re going through, but it doesn’t matter.  If we spend time with the Lord, and are doing what we feel HE is telling us to do, that’s all that matters.

Next and final post:  The JOY of hormone problems!

What Will This Do To My Children? Homeschooling & Hormones – 4

You can find the previous posts from this series here:

Homeschooling & Hormones 1, Part  2, Part 3

warning hormonal pic

One of my biggest concerns during my hormone issues was WHAT ABOUT MY CHILDREN?  What will this do to them?  Won’t this hurt my children emotionally?

Fortunately, I didn’t get physically violent, as some do, but I did tend to get VERY mean.  I yelled about anything and everything.  I was impatient and irritable,and I didn’t really want to be around them. I couldn’t stand the noise, and the demands which required energy that I didn’t have.

So, NATURALLY, I was worried about them, and with good reason!  My pastor helped me with this so much.

He encouraged me to explain to my children what was happening and why.  He had me use the example of a car.

“A car needs gas to run. If there’s no gas in it, you can kick it, hit it, push it, but it WON’T RUN.  Why?  Something is missing, so it can’t work right.  Well, something is missing in Mommy’s body too.  That is why I act mean and yell, etc.  I DON’T WANT to be that way, but my body isn’t working right, and sometimes I respond wrong to you.”

After explaining that to my children, they were in tears!  They felt sorry for ME instead of themselves!  It was so important that they understood, and knew it wasn’t anything they had done.

Also, I always apologized after I responded wrong to them, and was harsh.  I would immediately regret my outburst, and end up going in the other room and crying.  Then I would go to them and tell them how sorry I was, and reassure them that I loved them.  I tried to teach them that  people don’t LIKE to act mean, but often  have a problem causing them to act that way, or they are hurting.As I hugged them, they would pat MY back, comforting me.  So, they were learning compassion through this.

My kids were also VERY quick to forgive.  They always responded well when I admitted my mistakes and apologized.  Their hugs and expressions told me it was okay.  (I wish we were that forgiving as adults!)

Let me just clarify a little here.  I am NOT excusing the behavior that often comes from our messed up hormones.  I found that I COULD usually control my outbursts, and hide my irritation, if I prayed a lot, and TRIED really hard. Sometimes though, it just snuck up on me, and I didn’t handle it well.

The best thing that I found when this was a regular monthly thing for me, was to plan for it, and lighten up on things as much as necessary.  As soon as I sensed the irritation starting to come, and my mood getting bad, I would realize I needed to be prepared. I would  try to get some time alone, and extra rest.  Do what you need to in order to make it less of a problem, if you struggle like I did.

At the same time, when you do go through the depression it can bring, or find yourself being totally out of character and control, don’t be TOO hard on yourself.  Realize why it is happening, and that you aren’t just an awful person.  Be forgiving, while also doing what you can to help yourself.

(Next post – What About My Husband?)

Guilt and Depression – Homeschooling & Hormones 3

You can find the previous posts from this series here:

 Homeschooling & Hormones 1, Homeschooling & Hormones 2

warning hormonal pic

Perhaps you will relate to this cycle that I went through repeatedly with my hormone issues.

Every month I determined, “I won’t let this happen again!  I WON’T yell at my children and be impatient with them.  I will enjoy them and do things with them.  I WILL control my crying, and I WON’T get depressed!  I WILL keep up with my usual schedule and routine; I WON’T give in to fatigue and take it easy.”

These were resolves I truly intended and desired to keep.  Unfortunately, even though “my spirit was willing,” my “flesh was weak!”

The result? Guilt, guilt, guilt!

“I’m such an AWFUL mother!  How could I be so harsh with my children?  And my poor husband!  He’d be better off without me!  I’m too tired to do much –he has to do MY work at home.  Then he has to put up with my irritability and tears.  I’m just not a good wife or mother.  And I’m CERTAINLY not a good Christian!  Good Christians don’t act like THIS and they don’t get depressed.  I must not be reading my Bible enough, or SOMETHING!”

These were feelings and thoughts I fought with every month.  Because I WANTED to do better but couldn’t seem to, I thought I just lacked self-discipline.  I needed to ask the Lord to give me strength, and then try harder.  The result of continued failure led to more guilt and thoughts of being no good, which led to more depression.

Finally, I went to see my pastor.  In my heart I knew he would tell me I had a spiritual problem.  Surprise!  Yes, he told me I had a PROBLEM – a PHYSICAL problem.  And physical problems affect every other area.

He explained that IT WOULDN’T DO ANY GOOD to beat myself up, and TRY HARDER when something was wrong physically.  Instead I needed to deal with the physical and understand that the other problems were a result of it.  They weren’t a lack of character, spirituality, etc.  Therefore, my guilt was false.

I had not purposely chosen to do these things and didn’t WANT to be that way.  My body and hormones weren’t working right.  It wasn’t ME!  Wow, what a help to hear that!

So the next month when it all started again, I didn’t feel guilty.  Right?  Wrong!  BUT, I could deal with it better, and I kept reminding myself that the problem was physical.

Also, even though I didn’t FEEL spiritual, I kept on reading my Bible and praying. Actually, at the BAD times I did more praying than anything.  Sometimes I felt so bad, I’d just cry to God and ask Him to hold me and help me get through it.

I also reminded myself that my pastor had told me I was like a “wounded soldier”, and didn’t belong in the midst of the battle.  That helped with the guilt of not serving in church as I once had.  I needed to give the little I had to my family.

His words were, “Don’t put more pressure on yourself than GOD does.“  Those words STILL help me make decisions!  Often we put pressure and guilt on our self, worrying about what others might think, or comparing our self to others, rather than asking God what HE expects of us.

If you are struggling with hormone issues (or any physical issues), remember that God knows what you are dealing with.  He is there to guide and strengthen, not condemn.  Don’t put false guilt on yourself!

(Next post:  How will this affect my children and husband?  What will others think?)

 

There is Hope! – Homeschooling & Hormones – 2

In my last post Homeschooling & Hormones 1, I shared about the stranger that seemed to have taken over my body.

warning hormonal picIf you were able to relate to some of those symptoms that I mentioned in the last post, read on.  I want to reassure you first of all that you’re not losing your grip on sanity, and you’re not just lacking in discipline or will to overcome it.  Often, just knowing more about hormone imbalance helps to relieve the fears and despair it causes you to feel.

DO YOU HAVE PMS OR SOME HORMONE DISORDER?

A lot of women are suffering from PMS, peri-menopause, or menopausal symptoms and don’t  know it.  Perhaps they have a mild form of it for just a few days each month. Others may have a severe form that lasts longer, and makes them wonder, “What is wrong with me?!”

A hormonal disorder has a wide variety of emotional and physical symptoms. If PMS is to blame, these symptoms occur at the same phase of each menstrual cycle. The most common symptoms are irritability, tension, headaches, depression, fatigue, crying for no reason, forgetfulness, and cravings for sweet or salty food.

Maybe you just read that list, and said “Help me!  I’ve got all those symptoms!  I’m struggling, and don’t know what to do.”

The first thing I want you to realize is that you CAN help yourself.  No matter what type of disorder you have, there are things you can do to make it easier, and to balance things.  Hormones can disrupt your homeschooling, and bring you to the verge of giving up, so you want to do what you can to help yourself.

1.  Chart your symptoms.

Charting your symptoms will help you determine if you have PMS, or a different from of hormone disorder.  With PMS your symptoms will usually be at the same point in your cycle each month. If you see a regular pattern, you can prepare before it comes.

I used to have severe PMS.  After charting my symptoms, I learned to plan my school schedule based on my cycle.  There was one week each month where I really struggled to stay calm, I had migraines, was fatigued, and very irritable.  I purposely planned that as a very light week, where the kids could do most things on their own.  That gave me time to rest more, and also kept my frustration level a bit lower.  The less stress you having during PMS, the better!

Plan easy meals, use educational DVDs, relax and read good books, and take naps.  I realized that I couldn’t handle the normal routine of school during my bad week, and adjusted accordingly.  That’s one of the beauties of homeschooling!  We can make it fit our family’s needs.

2.  Educate yourself!

Go to the library and get some books on PMS, peri-menopause, or menopause–whichever you may be dealing with.  Knowledge is understanding.  Even though you still have the same symptoms to deal with, when you know there is a physical, chemical cause in your body it makes it a little easier to deal with.

3.  Watch your diet.

Maybe times hormone disorders can be made better or worse by the foods we eat.  For example, with PMS you want to avoid salt, caffeine, and sugar.  If you have high estrogen, you want to stay away from soy products.

4.  Exercise regularly.

Regular exercise has been proven to alleviate many of the symptoms that come with hormone issues.

5.  Take supplements.

There are several products you can buy online that will help to balance your hormones.  (Some I’ve used are Dong Quai, Black Cohosh, and Change-O-Life.)

6.  Talk to someone who understands.

That may be hard, because unless you’ve lived through the hormone ups and downs, you have no way of fully understanding what it’s like.  Very few people realize how serious it can be, and often they tend to make light of it.

The LAST THING you need at this time is to be told, “Get yourself together, and quit making such a big deal of it!” or some other similar type of statement.  So find someone who can listen, encourage, and comfort you through your struggles.

7.  If  needed, see a doctor who specializes in bio-identical hormones.

If your case is  severe, and the suggested ideas aren’t enough, DON’T DESPAIR! You  don’t have to live with depression, severe mood swings, irritablity, etc.  There are many doctors now who will test your hormone levels, and give you natural hormone (bio-identical) supplements to take in the form of pills, or cream.

Wherever you fall in the area of symptoms, whether it’s mild or severe, DO SOMETHING TO HELP YOURSELF.  There’s no need to live that way when there’s help to be found!

In my next post, I’ll go into more detail on some of the things you may be thinking or feeling.  (I’m just a bad Christian, bad mom, etc.)

 

Homeschooling & Hormones – 1

In my last 4 posts, I covered some of the reasons that homeschooling moms cry.  If you missed them, you can find the links here:  Why Homeschooling Moms Cry 1 – Fatigue

Today I am starting a series that relates to that, because hormones certainly can and do make us cry!  If you have been fortunate enough to never suffer from a hormone imbalance, PMS, or menopausal symptoms, you may have trouble understanding those who struggle with those issues.

warning hormonal pic I think many, many homeschooling moms suffer with hormone issues, and they can bevery disruptive to our homeschooling.  Whether it’s PMS, peri-menopause, or menopause, those changing hormones can bring some very real symptoms.

Perhaps you can relate to this description I wrote about how I was feeling when PMS had a grip on me,  but I didn’t know at that point what was going on.

I woke up this morning to find that the “real” me had gone somewhere, and my body was inhabited by a stranger.  To be quite honest, I wasn’t at all happy about it, because I didn’t care for this stranger AT ALL!  She wasn’t very nice, and tended to growl and snarl  a lot.  The least little thing seemed to set her off — whether it was an innocent request from her kids, or a little teasing from her husband.  She just couldn’t seem to stand any noise, and just wanted to be left alone.  When someone would ask, “Is something wrong?” she’d snap, “No!” and run from the room in tears.  she didn’t seem to know why she was crying, but yet she couldn’t stop.  if someone asked, “How are you?”  it took all she had to smile and say, “Fine,” when she felt FAR from fine.

This stranger stayed with me throughout the day and just   control me.  I’d try to fight her, but she seemed to overpower me, and I was too weary to struggle.  A terrible feeling of depression hung over me like a dark cloud.  Things that had once seemed easy, or routine, now seemed to be more than i could handle.  By the end of the day, I KNEW – I was positively mentally sick! What else could explain my awful behavior, disinterest in life, and uncontrollable emotions?

 

If you’re able to identify with some of these feelings and thoughts, more than likely you’re of the many women who suffer from PMS, or some other hormone imbalance.

In part 2, I will give more information about hormone issues and reassurance that the problems ARE biological, not psychosomatic (as you probably often wonder!).

You can find the other posts from this series here:

 Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

 

 

The Pain of Infertility – part 3

This is the 4th post in the series  “Fertility:  It’s In God’s Hands, Not Ours

You can read the previous posts here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

fertility pic

You have heard Ruth’s side of the story, and now I’d like to just add a few thoughts of mine.

I’ve said it before, and it’s SO true –one of the HARDEST things about being a mom is watching your kids go through trials, and not being able to “fix” it.  I saw Ruth cry, but at the same time I saw her grow.  I saw her trusting the Lord through her pain, and there’s no way to say how much that blessed this mama’s heart.  Sometimes God allows those hurts to bring glory to Him, and as moms, we have to “let go and let God”.

How do you handle it when one of your “kids” is hurting so badly?

1.  I listened when she wanted to talk about it.

2.  Sometimes I cried with her; sometimes I cried when talking to God about it, and asking Him to comfort her.

3.  I prayed for her daily.

3.  As much as I WANTED to, I didn’t ask God to let her get pregnant. I know God has a reason for everything, and His timing is perfect.  I didn’t want to ask Him do something that I thought was best, because His ways aren’t our ways, and His ways are above ours.

4.  As much as I wanted to,  I also didn’t ask God to take the pain and difficulty away, because often that is such a huge way that our kids grow, and their faith becomes stronger.  Difficulties are intended to help us grow, and I didn’t want to ask God to take that opportunity from her.  (Believe me, I WANTED to ask Him to take the pain away, and let her get pregnant right away!)

5.  I DID ask God to comfort her, and to give her the grace and strength she needed to deal with the pain and disappointment she was struggling with.

6. I rejoiced as I saw God helping her, and how He taught her to trust Him through her heart ache.  I heard it in our conversations, and she expressed it in her story:

But as much as it hurt, I was okay with that, and told God many times over, that while I hoped He was going to allow me to get pregnant, I was willing to let Him do with us as He saw fit, as long as He gave us the grace to bear it. I had to learn that God is good, faithful and always right, and He did teach me that, and I will always believe it with all of my heart.

7.  I reminded God that He promised to hear and answer our prayers, and give us the desires of our heart if we trusted Him.   He knew Ruth’s desire, but I reminded Him of that, and said that I would love to see Him prove Himself, by giving her the desire of her heart, if that was His will.

It’s HARD to watch our children go through trials, but what a blessing to know they are safe in God’s hands, and that He is working all things out for good, and for His glory!  God is faithful, and we CAN trust Him always!

How To Build A Strong Christian Home – Review and Giveaway

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I am so happy to share this new resource with you, written by June Fuentes, of A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.  I have been following June’s blog for about two years now, and love her philosophy, and her encouraging family-oriented posts.

June’s book, How to Build A Strong Christian Home, is packed full of encouragement for parents who want to obey God’s commands, and lead their family in a God-centered way.  You will be reminded  just how important your role is, as a parent, and how much influence you can have on not only your children, but also the generations to come.This book is very practical, and  will help many who want to have a strong Christian home, know what they can do to make that happen.

I love how she clearly points out that none of us are perfect parents, and none of us have perfect homes.  However, with the help of God, and with His grace, He can use our imperfections to help us grow more like Him, and depend on Him.

Some of my favorite parts of the book are the reminders and tips about supporting our husbands, and her words of exhortation about not being robbed of the simple joys of life.

Chapter 6 talks about teaching God’s Word in our homes, and shepherding the hearts of our kids.  Those two things are SO foundational to all that we do as parents.   It’s something we probably know, but can always be reminded of!

For me the biggest challenge was the reminder of where MY heart is as a mom.  It’s not enough to work to win my kids’ hearts; it starts with my heart being turned toward them.

“Take an honest look at what things you focus on throughout the day outside of your daily responsibilities and how you spend your time.  If you are surfing on the computer all day while your children are being neglected, then your heart is probably not turned toward them.

You can be a stay at home mom, but that does not mean you are spending time with your children.  You could even be a homeschooling mom and even then still not spend time with them. 

We must understand that ministry is taking care of our families, and we must guard it with all that we have.

This book would be a great addition for every Christian home.  It’s a book you will pull out and refer to often throughout the years of raising your family!  What a great resource for keeping us challenged and excited about the wonderful opportunity we have to bring our children up in the strong, Christian home.

You can purchase the book “How To Build a Christian Homehere, or enter below for a chance to WIN a free copy!get help you need

 

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The Pain of Infertility – (continued)

This is  Part 3 of  Fertility – It’s in God’s Hands, Not Ours.

You can find PART 1 HERE, and PART 2 HERE.

fertility pic

So, back to the nitty gritty details, we were taking our 3-6 month break and trying to save money for further treatment, and really just beginning to relax and enjoy the break from the emotional pressure of it all. At some point in this time, my husband began mentioning things more and more often about being anxious for me to get pregnant, etc. He had been very supportive throughout all of this, but it was usually me who was the one talking about it, not him! He came to me one morning and said he had just had a “random thought” and didn’t know if it was just that, or maybe God trying to tell him something, but that he felt like we were going to get pregnant soon, and we were either going to find out around Thanksgiving or Christmas time. He also had a dream about me being pregnant. Take that for whatever it’s worth – I tried not to hope too much, but did think it was odd that Rob was having all these thoughts and dreaming about it too!

Somewhere within probably the second or third month of our break from treatment, I began to experience some pretty extreme exhaustion, and I was late on my cycle. I ignored all this because it had all happened before, and I was so very tired of getting my hopes up and taking pregnancy tests, only to find out that once again, it was nothing, just my body acting up again.

Fast forward a few weeks to December 14 2013, a Sunday. I woke up that day feeling a little nauseated, but once again, I blamed it on my body just doing weird things, because as I said, I had been through things like this before, and it was always a disappointing NOTHING!

However, this time the symptoms didn’t go away. My exhaustion was increasing, the nausea lasted for an entire week, and I was starting to get worried. Mind you, I was worried because I thought something was wrong – I absolutely did not suspect pregnancy. On Friday, December 19, I was so discouraged and scared about all these weird symptoms, I made an appointment with my family doctor, thinking that maybe we should do some blood work and see what in the world was wrong with me. After hearing me out on my history of fertility issues and my current symptoms, my doctor said he would be happy to order some blood work for me, but he also kindly suggested that I take a pregnancy test. I said I would, even though I really did not think anything was going to come of it.

The next morning, December 20, 2013, I got up to take the test, and within 30 seconds – it was a test that said to wait for 3 minutes before looking at the results, but of course I looked at it immediately – I saw 2 lines appear in the one testing window, and then a faint but very definite plus sign in the other. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I immediately ran to the bedroom where Rob was still in bed, and whispered frantically – “Come here! You have to look at this! I think I’m PREGNANT!” He came in and agreed that the test appeared to be quite clear. We hugged, we cried, we laughed and prayed and cried and laughed some more. :)

two pink lines

Nonetheless, this was so very hard for us to believe, we went out and bought another pregnancy test – a digital one, this time, because I wanted one that clearly spelled out “PREGNANT” for me – which I took the next morning. Once again, the instructions said that the results should appear within 3 minutes, but just like the other test the day before, the results were almost IMMEDIATE, and said “pregnant” very clearly. Now we knew it was true. :)

clear blue pregnant

We were able to share our Christmas miracle news with our immediate family members that week as we saw each of them throughout the Christmas holiday. Lots of tears and thanks to God was given as the announcement was made to each family. :)

We called the specialist immediately, and had our first appointment on December 26 2013, at which point we had an ultrasound which allowed us to see our baby and even see his heartbeat, which was quite truly the most amazing thing I have ever seen. The doctor also said that my blood work results were absolutely amazing as they were right on target, and questioned me as to whether or not we had tried something different to make all this happen, which just made me want to laugh with complete joy and awe all over again, because I know the answer to that question has nothing to do with Rob & I, and what we may or may not have done differently. Praise God for a miracle that only He could have done.

And here we are today, continuing to praise and thank God not only for this baby, but for His beautiful plans. I’ll never know why He allowed us to go through those 2 years of difficulty, and quite truthfully, I don’t NEED to know why. God has proven His faithfulness and love to us over and over and over again, even before we saw that positive pregnancy test, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind as to His perfect faithfulness and plans for our lives, always.

To God be all the glory and praise forever.

(That’s the end of Ruth’s beautiful, candid testimony of God’s grace through those difficult years of waiting.  In the next post, The Pain of Infertility 4, I will share some thoughts from MY perspective as a mom, as she went through this.)

 

The Pain of Infertiliy

This is Part 2 of  Fertility – It’s in God’s Hands, Not Ours.

You can find PART 1 HERE.

fertility pic

We made an appointment with a specialist, who was very encouraging and optimistic about my chances at pregnancy, our course of treatment, etc. Month #1, my body did not respond to the medication at all, so they doubled the dose for month #2, but once again, nothing. Month #3-4, they tried another medication which seemed to have slightly better results, but still nothing, so on month #5-6 they added another medication, with even better results, but still no pregnancy.

not pregnant

Throughout these months, my body was undergoing a lot of stress due to the medications, and the emotional difficulty, which I really don’t even know how to describe. Mother’s Day was very difficult for me – I felt like my “secret” was on display to the world, which was really not logical at all, but it’s how I felt. It’s not something I would have ever understood, had someone tried to tell me, until I went through it myself. It was a heart-wrenching, personal sort of pain and the emotional/mental/physical stress was constant. I took pregnancy tests several times over these months, because my cycle would sometimes show up one or two days late, and I was just so very hopeful, sometimes I think I imagined pregnancy symptoms (although in my defense, I have to mention that my body also mimicked some symptoms as well, due to the medications).

Well, fertility treatment gets very costly, and we ran out of money after several months of medication and specialist appointments, so due to that and the fact that I was beginning to feel as if I was losing my mind, we took a much needed break, for 2 or maybe 3 months. Nothing happened in those months, and after that, we were able to afford one more month of treatment before the money was really gone, and this time we knew it would be a minimum of 3 months, if not 6 months or longer before we would have enough money saved for father treatment.

At this point in time, this had all been going on for 2 years, a time frame which typically flies by in life, and while it was flying, every month also felt excruciatingly slow as we waited to see what might happen. Once again, I had to surrender my heart’s desire to God. He had been with me throughout all of this – I could not have done it without Him – and quite honestly, I had never questioned Him as to why this was happening. I had no problem surrendering to Him, because He was giving me the grace to trust Him, but with surrender, there is still pain, as you realize that in His infinite wisdom, God’s plans may in fact be very different from what you had planned for yourself. But as much as it hurt, I was okay with that, and told God many times over, that while I hoped He was going to allow me to get pregnant, I was willing to let Him do with us as He saw fit, as long as He gave us the grace to bear it. I had to learn that God is good, faithful and always right, and He did teach me that, and I will always believe it with all of my heart.

I’m talking a lot about how painful all of this was, because that’s the bare, ugly truth of it, and yet it is also true that I have never known God, and known His presence and grace so clearly as I did during this time. I had some very dark times, and I want to be honest about that. But even through those times, I knew if I could just hang on, daylight was coming, and God would sustain us.

One of the things that I prayed for regularly, was for God to be glorified through all of this – I said that I didn’t care if nobody else even saw Him working (although I also said it’d be great if they did), and I didn’t care if He never let me get pregnant – if He would let me see His hand in my life and see Him being glorified, I would be all right. I also began telling Him that if He NEVER allowed me to get pregnant, I would still love Him, and I would still praise Him. The ironic thing is, looking back now, I didn’t know it right away of course, but He did allow me to get pregnant in that time frame where I had really become very adamant in those specific prayers, and I just think that’s kind of interesting. :)

Throughout this journey, I also had someone write me a note, who had become aware of our struggle, and they told me how much of an encouragement I had been to them, as the joy of the Lord was evident in my life, in spite of the pain. This was a huge blessing to me, because it showed me that God WAS being glorified and He WAS working and using me to encourage others, even though I was sometimes merely speaking truth out loud – well, on my Facebook – in order to remind MYSELF of the truth!

To be continued in next post

 

Fertility – It’s in God’s Hands, Not Ours!

My husband and I have 8 wonderful children.  Fertility was never an issue for us,  and when my oldest son and daughter got married, they both had kids within the first couple of years.  (They both have two kids now)

Joy, MIke, kids pic

Imagine my surprise then, when my second oldest daughter, Ruth,  got married, and had problems with fertility!  This is my daughter who always just wanted to be a wife and mother.  We often tend to think we can choose when to have children, how many we will have, etc.  But in reality, it is in God’s hands! 

fertility pic

There’s nothing more heart breaking for a couple than wanting a child, but not being able to conceive.  My daughter Ruth, went through two years of tears, and heartaches, but would be the first one to say that she is glad for what she learned during that time. Just before Christmas, we were thrilled when Rob & Ruth gave us an exciting gift – the news that they were expecting!!  Yes, this  mama cried happy tears!

Rob and Ruth pic

She wrote her testimony about her infertility journey, and I’m going to share that with you over the next posts.   I hope it will be an encouragement to any of you who may be struggling with infertility.  I think it will also be encouraging to all of you about the importance of trusting God!

OUR CHRISTMAS MIRACLE

Let me just start out by saying that I believe life is precious and miraculous, and whether you have one child, or 1 dozen, children are a blessing from God.

Having said that, we feel especially blessed by my pregnancy, and we have been calling this our “miracle baby.” Allow me to share our story…

For the first year of our marriage, I did not have health insurance, but I was able to get it after our 1-year anniversary, and Rob & I began “trying for pregnancy,” as they say. We had felt ready for this at least 6 months earlier, and now we were really anxious to get going with our plans. God had other plans, however…

Pregnancy did not happen over the next 6 months, which was an unexpected jolt to us, as we had not expected to have any problems, so I made an appointment with my doctor. Hormone levels were tested, and some of mine were found to be extremely low, so in an effort to kick things into gear, I began taking a prescribed supplemental hormone. We were encouraged as this appeared to be an obvious problem with an obvious solution – or so we thought.

3 months later, the change in my levels was so very miniscule, it was discouraging at best, and I cried as I began to recognize the painful fact that maybe this wasn’t going to be as easy as we had thought.

My dosage was upped, and we re-tested 3 months later, only to find that once again, my levels had budged ever so slightly, but were still dangerously low. My doctor warned that were we to somehow become pregnant at this point, my body would not even be able to sustain the pregnancy due to the low progesterone level.

At this point in time, the journey had already begun to turn very painful, as I began to wonder where this was all going to end, or if it WAS going to end. I had never considered the thought that I might be one of those women who might never be able to get pregnant. It felt like my heart’s desire was being wrenched away from me, and it hurt with a pain deeper than I could have ever imagined.

(The story will be continued in the next post.)

 

Diary of a Snow Shoveler

shoveling snowWith the unending snow we’ve been getting this winter, I thought you might enjoy this story of the couple who made the mistake of moving up north.  It will make you laugh!

December 9

We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape.  What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the whole world? Moving here was the best idea I’ve ever had!

Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a little boy again. I cleared both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life!

December 12

The sun has melted all our lovely snow… Such a disappointment! My neighbor tells me not to worry – we’ll definitely have a White Christmas.

No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we’ll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I’ll never want to see snow again. I don’t think that’s possible. However, Bob is such a nice man, I’m glad he’s our neighbor.

December 13

Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night. The temperature dropped to -20F. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life!

The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again.. I didn’t realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I’ll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn’t huff and puff so.

December 15

20 inches forecast for today. I sold my van and bought a 4×4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife’s car and 2 extra shovels. We stocked the freezer.

The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that’s extravagant. We aren’t in Alaska, after all.

December 16

Ice storm this morning. Fell on my butt on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like crazy! The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17

Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere.

Today the electricity was off for 4 hours. We had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should’ve bought a wood stove, but won’t admit it to her. Man, I hate it when she’s right. I can’t believe I’m freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20

Yippee the electricity’s back on, but we had another 14 inches of the dumb stuff last night. More shoveling! Took all day. The stupid snowplow came by twice.

Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they’re too busy playing hockey. I think they’re lying.

Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they’re out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they’re lying.

Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he’s lying.

December 22

Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white stuff fell today, and it’s so cold, it probably won’t melt till August.

Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to go to the loo. By the time I got undressed, and dressed again, I was too tired to shovel.

Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he’s too busy. I think he’s lying.

December 23

Only 2 inches of snow today. And it warmed up to zero.

The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she, nuts?!! Why didn’t she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she’s lying.

December 24

6 inches fell, but the snow was packed so hard by the snowplow, I broke my shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack.

If I ever catch the guy who drives that snowplow, I’ll drag him through the snow by his hair and beat him with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I’ve just been!

Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the snowplow.

snow plow

December 25

Merry Christmas! 20 more inches tonight – Snowed in. The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. Man, I hate the snow!

Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my broken shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I don’t know why she thinks that!

If I have to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” one more time, I’m going to go crazy!

December 26

Still snowed in. Why  did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She’s really getting on my nerves.

December 27

Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,750 to replace 4 of my pipes.

December 28

Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. The WIFE is driving me crazy!!

December 29

10 more inches.

Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That’s the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30

Roof caved in.

I beat up the snowplow driver, and now he is suing me for a million dollars, for the beating I gave him.

The wife went home to her mother.

Nine more inches predicted.

December 31

I set fire to what’s left of the house. No more shoveling!

January 8

Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed???

Why Homeschooling Moms Cry – 4

So far we have talked about the following reasons that homeschooling moms cry:

1.  Fatigue

2.  They have an anger issue

3.  They have a difficult or rebellious child

crying pic

Today we will be talking about the 4th reason homeschooling moms often cry:

4.  Comparison

It is SO easy to look at what other homeschooling moms are doing, and feel discouraged.  They seem to have it all together, their kids are well behaved, seem to have good attitudes, and they even look nice all of the time! Their curriculum seems to be the perfect one for their family, and we start questioning whether ours is adequate. We wonder why our kids have bad attitudes, and why we are struggling to manage everything.  When we allow our thoughts to focus on that, doubt sets in and often leads us to feel like a TOTAL FAILURE.  Then we CRY!  I know – I’ve been there!

comparison thief of joy

The truth is that none of us have it all together! All of our kids have times when they struggle with their attitudes, and we all struggle at times to manage it all.  However, we don’t like to talk about that, because we feel like we are the only one. We don’t want to be seen as failures.  So when someones asks us how our homeschooling is going, we respond with “Great! Wonderful! We just LOVE homeschooling!” And the comparison game goes on.

It’s time for us to admit that we DO struggle!  Pretending that things are fine when we are struggling (as we all do!), doesn’t do anybody any good.

Using  comparison with others as your standard for judging your success, is self-destructive, and brings discouragement.  If we would just remember that every other homeschooling mom has some of those same feelings and struggles, it would help us get past the tears that come from comparison.

When you are tempted to compare, remember that each person’s family and situation is different than yours.  Instead, look at where you started and compare it with where you are now.  Have you moved closer to your goals?  Have you accomplished the priorities God placed on your heart?  Have your kids grown in character, and developed more of a love for God?  Those are the things to compare and measure your success by, because that is what GOD says is important!

**For more encouragement, read a previous post:  You Are Good Enough!

Why Homeschool Moms Cry – 3

In the first posts we talked about two of the reason homeschooling moms cry:

1.  Fatigue

2.  They have an anger issue.

crying pic

Today we will be looking at the 3rd and 4th reason.

3.  They have a difficult child.

A difficult child can bring the strongest mom to tears.  By difficult I mean the child who is different from your others; what works for the other kids doesn’t work for this child.  They are high maintenance, and often demanding; learning may come hard for them, and leave you frustrated, as you don’t know how to help them learn.

I had two difficult children, and I remember MANY days when I would cry because they had pushed me all day, couldn’t “get it”, or just because I didn’t know what to do with them!  The blessing that came from dealing with them was that it made me depend on God! 

I think the hardest part of dealing with that difficult child is that they push us to our limits, and often we respond harshly to them, then we feel guilty, and are full of regreat.  We determine that it won’t happen again, but it does.  After awhile we are at the end of our rope, and feel we are the only one who has a child like this, and who struggles like we do.

Can I assure you that you aren’t the only one with a difficult, challenging child?  I meet hundreds of parents at conferences that are struggling with this.  The other comforting thing is that we have a God who offers us wisdom.  We don’t have to figure it out on our own!

“If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God…..”

There were many, many days when I cried out to God, and asked Him to give me His wisdom.  If I didn’t have those difficult children, I wouldn’t have learned to depend on God, and grow in Him like I did.

If you have a difficult child,  you might enjoy this post that gives some practical tips and thoughts about Dealing With A Difficult Child. If you want even more information, I’ve written an ebook on Dealing With the Difficult Child.

4.  They have a rebellious or prodigal child.

It hurts when you have spent years pouring God’s truths into your children, and then you watch them turn away from it all.  Often, when a child rebels, if as a parent we can work to win their heart back, they will turn around.  Other times, however, you may do everything you can and should do as a parent, but they still walk away.

This hurts because you see where they are headed, and the danger that is out there. The most important thing we can do at that point is PRAY for them!  Cover them with your prayers for their protection, and trust God to care for them.  He loves them even more than us, so we can trust them to His care.

God who made kids loves them more than you

It also hurts because you feel like you are responsible, and that you have failed in your parenting.  I address this in an earlier post:  Discouraged by a Prodigal Child?  One of the most important things to remember is that God doesn’t measure our success as parents by how our children ultimately choose to respond to our teaching and influence.  He measures our success by our obedience to Him!  If we have been faithful to teach and train our children according to God’s Word, we have been obedient, and that is the highest success.

If you are struggling with a difficult child, or a rebellious child, seek God’s wisdom.  Do all you can to win and keep their heart, train them faithfully, and pray fervently!  As I’ve said before “we need to WORK as though it all depends on us, and PRAY as though it all depends on God!”    Do your part, and leave the results to God.

If you have a wayward/prodigal child, you will be encouraged by the truths prodigal children teach us, shared in the post WAYWARD CHILDREN.

Parenting is HARD, and homeschooling adds to that challenge.  Tears are a normal part of it, and show that we care!  If we weren’t passionate there would be no tears over the struggles with our kids. It’s through our tears that we are drawn closer to God’s heart, and that we learn to depend on Him.

…….TO BE CONTINUED

 

Why Homeschooling Moms Cry – 2

In my last post, we talked about the first reason homeschooling moms cry:  Fatigue Today I’ll be sharing the 2nd reason that I have seen homeschooling moms cry.crying pic

2.  They have an anger issue.

angry parentOften in my workshops, the topic of winning and keeping the heart of your child is discussed.  Along with that, I always mention the importance of getting your anger under control.  I have had moms start to cry when I talk about this; many have come to my booth and cried as they talked about their struggle to control their anger.

When you have an anger issue, it leaves you feeling guilty for how you respond to your kids.  I know their have been times when I responded to my kids in anger, determined it wouldn’t happen again, then cried when it did. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  Getting angry with your kids occasionally, and responding wrong isn’t going to bring your children to ruin.  However, it can ruin your relationship with them, if you don’t make it right.

When you get angry and respond harshly, ALWAYS go to that child and apologize.  Make things right as soon as you realize you lost control.

If this is something you struggle with, don’t despair.  You aren’t alone.  Many moms struggle with their anger.  The key is learning to control it with God’s help.

I have written two more extensive posts on this in the past, so I am going to refer you to them if you are looking for more help in this area.

Are You An Angry Parent?

Restoring Relationships Damaged by Anger

Seek God’s help, and ask Him for victory in this area!