Want to Get Your Kids Excited About the Bible?

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7 Sanity Secrets When You’re Stressed Out!

We all go through times when there are extra, or unusual things going on that add some stress to our already full schedules.  Sometimes it can get overwhelming, and you either want to cry or scream!  (Yes, I’ve done both!)

Sanity secrets for stress

I’m at that place right now. 

This past week I was only home for one day, as I left Tuesday to go to Cleveland and support my sister in the sudden death of her husband.

Today, my brother is flying in from FL.  He will be staying with our family, and spending Easter day with us.

Monday morning we will drive to Cleveland to spend time with both of my sisters before the viewing Monday evening.

We’ll be staying overnight at a friend’s home, then going to the funeral Tuesday.  I will be back home sometime Tuesday evening.

On Friday, I will be leaving town again to speak at a conference on Saturday. At the conference I not only speak, but we also take resources to sell in the vendor hall, so I have packing to do.

On top of all that, I am trying to finish a new curriculum project that I’ve been writing, and was supposed to have ready for the conference next weekend.

Soooo,  I have been feeling a bit stressed thinking about getting the house clean, preparing Easter dinner, making sure clothes are clean for the trip to Cleveland, etc.

I have faced overwhelming times like this before, but with different circumstances.  I have learned that there ARE ways to handle the stress that comes when it’s crunch time, and you’ve got lots to do but very little time.

Here are some secrets that will help when you face these stressful times.

1.  Remember that it’s temporary.

This past week has been unusually busy with all the events that happened, and this next week will be.  But AFTER that, it will go back to normal.  It’s not going to be like this forever.

2.  Don’t neglect your time alone with God.

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”  Proverbs 16:3

At times like this, my thoughts are very scattered, running in many directions.  I NEED God’s help, wisdom, and strength!  It’s so common during extra busy times to neglect THE most important thing – spending time with God.  We think we don’t have time for that, when really it’s more important than ever to take time to spend in His Word and prayer.  Don’t be a Martha – be a Mary!

3.  Prioritize

After seeking God, make a list of the absolute “must do’s“.  Don’t worry about the things you’d LIKE to do, but focus on what you MUST do.  For example, in cleaning today for my brother’s arrival, I found myself wanting to do some organizing and deeper cleaning.  I had to remind myself that this wasn’t the time for that, and I needed to focus on getting the bed made for him, the kitchen cleaned up, and the floors cleaned.

4.  Plan your schedule to accomplish the must do’s in the time you have.

At times like this, the TIMER is my best friend.  I set the timer when I begin one of the tasks on the list, and try to get done before the time is up.  That helps me to be motivated, and to stay focused.  It’s easy to get distracted, and start doing something else on your list, before finishing the project you are working on.  The timer helps you stay on track, and when you beat it, it gives you a nice feeling of accomplishment

5.  Delegate whatever you can.

I gave both of my kids a list of things I needed them to do for me today, to help get things done.  I also asked my husband to drive to the airport to pick my brother up. It’s a stressful drive for me, and I’m already a little stressed.  He doesn’t mind the drive at all.  (He drives for a living)  Not going to the airport also gave me about 2 extra hours, which is why I have time to write this post.  :)

I asked my married daughter if we could all come over to their house tonight for a cookout.  They are coming over for Easter dinner tomorrow, so I also asked her to pick up a couple of things I still needed from the store. Two less thing for me to have to take care of:  no trip to the store, and tonight’s dinner is covered.  An added plus is the time we will all have together to visit with my brother, since he won’t be here for very long.

6.  Eliminate your time wasters.

Identify your time wasters, and avoid them! I turned the sound off on my computer so I wouldn’t hear when notifications came in, and then be tempted to spend “a minute” reading it…..which usually turns into an hour.  I did hop on in between tasks, but gave myself a 5 minute limit, then went back to work.

7.  DON’T skimp on your sleep.

I’ll admit that for a couple nights this week, I stayed up later than I should.  By Thursday I was feeling it, and realized that wasn’t a wise move to make.  Today I was tempted to get up early to get started on things.  However, I knew that I needed to allow myself at least 8 hours of sleep.  When you’re tired, everything is even more stressful and overwhelming.  I want to be a blessing and help to my sister, and if I’m a basket case I won’t be any help at all!

You may not be in a time crunch that has you stressed right now, but it WILL come, so be prepared to handle it calmly, rather than giving into the stress!

 

 

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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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.

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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.

 

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 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

HOW TO BUILD A STRONG CHRISTIAN HOME

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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

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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

 

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 – 1

For the past 18 years, I have been speaking at homeschool conferences and support groups. Being at those conferences gave me the opportunity to meet and speak with hundreds of homeschooling moms over the years. I heard about many struggles, and many joys; many questions, many fears. Also, I saw many tears. This being my 29th year of homeschooling, I can relate to those tears!

crying pic

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE homeschooling! But it hasn’t always been easy. Some days were sunshine and smiles; other days or times there was frustration and tears.

Rremembering the many times I’ve seen a homeshooling mom cry as I gave a workshop, or talked with her, I have found that there are 5 COMMON REASONS HOMESCHOOLING MOMS CRY.

1.  FATIGUEburned out mom

Sometimes the exhaustion of keeping up with the baby, toddlers, homeschooling, and housework just gets to us!  We become overwhelmed, and fatigued, often resulting in a meltdown.  I know because I have been there!  Nights of being up with a sick fussy baby, followed by a day of needy toddlers make for a rough day.  Sometimes we just need to take a break!

When you are too tired to handle your normal daily routines, only do what is necessary that day!  Give the kids lots of reading times, do some fun things with them that don’t require much energy or thought, and NAP!  Even if your kids don’t still nap, have them take a quiet time in the afternoon.  Train them to stay in their rooms and play quietly, rest, read books, or listen to CDs.  There will be many times when you will be so glad for that training, as that time to rest is the only thing that gets you through the day.

Remember too, that you are in charge of your school schedule.  If you are in the midst of fatigue-filled days due to a new baby, or other circumstances, consider doing only the basics academically.  Also, consider a four-day school week.  That extra day to rest and catch up on things can make a huge difference in how you feel.

Above all, listen to your body!  If you don’t get the rest you need, it is going to catch up with you, and you are going to burn out. (If you think you are burned out, you may enjoy this previous post:  Are You Suffering From Burnout?) When you are fatigued, do what ever is needed to get the rest that your body needs!

Why Homeschooling Moms Cry 2 (anger issues)

Why Homeschooling Moms Cry 3 (Difficult or rebellious/prodigal child)

Why Homeschooling Moms Cry 4  (Comparison)

 

 

 

Spinning My Wheels

spinning wheels pic There have been many times in the past month of driving in Michgian snow, that my wheels were spinning! However, this post isn’t about driving in snow, but is actually about my productivity – or LACK thereof! For some reason this past month, it seems like I’ve just been spinning my wheels, running here and there, but not getting much of any thing done.  Anyone else struggling with that?  Maybe it’s all the extreme COLD, and snow!

Last night as I was laying in bed thinking (because unfortunately, that’s when most of my thinking seems to take place!), I was trying to kind of sort it out in my mind.   The realization came that I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with what all that needed to be done, but wasn’t getting done.  I began wondering what  to do to get moving in the right direction again, get my priorities in place, and accomplish those things I feel I should be doing.  Plans started coming to my mind…..

Then I heard that still small voice!

God reminded me that I didn’t have to figure this out on my own!  He brought to mind one of my favorite verses.

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and they thoughts shall be established.  (Proverbs 16:3)

I have shared that thought so many times when speaking to homeschooling moms, but I had failed to remember the wonderful truth in that verse! I don’t need to try to figure it all out on my own.  God wants me to come to Him, give it all to Him, and let Him lead me.  What an absolutely freeing truth that is!

When you feel overwhelmed, and like you have more to do than you can handle, go to God. Pour it all out to Him, and let Him give you clear thinking, and show you what is important.  Don’t struggle to figure it all out on your own.  Planning is good, but take all those things on your to-do list to God, and seek His wisdom and guidance!

Then there are three things to do:

1.  Make a list of what God has shown you is important.

2.  Start with the top priority He has shown you.

3.  Discipline yourself to just DO it!

Don’t put it off, and don’t get distracted.  Once you  get the first thing on the list accomplished, you will probably feel motivated to go on to the next priority.  If you don’t get to some of the things of your list for the day, at least you will have done what God has shown you is most important.

Aren’t you glad we have a God that will establish our thoughts, and give us direction and guidance?!

 

 

 

5 Tips For a Better Spirit

create in me a clean heartI was blessed by the sermon that my nephew preached Sunday, from II Kings 2:10.  In this passage, Elijah told  Elisha to ask him what he wanted done for him before he was taken from him.  Of all the things Elisha could have asked for, he chose to ask for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.

The importance of having the RIGHT spirit spoke to my heart.  I think this is one of the KEY things in being successful in our homeschooling. As moms, WE must have the right spirit, if we want our kids to have the right attitude.

I don’t know about you, but there have been many  times that I started our homeschool day with less than a good spirit!  Sometimes I’ve been tired, or irritable, and just not all that excited about another day of teaching and training kids.  Then I got discouraged when my kids began to show a bad attitude, not realizing it was often a reflection of my own spirit.

HOW DO WE KEEP OUR SPIRIT RIGHT?

1.  We need HIS spirit to fill us and empower us.

We can’t do this on our own!  We have to draw our strength and wisdom from God, and His Holy Spirit’s power.  Yet how often do we try to get through our days in our own strength?  As a result, our spirit isn’t right.  We lose our joy; we get impatient.  No matter how good my curriculum is, it cannot be taught when my attitude is wrong! Ask God to fill you with HIS spirit daily.

2.  Spend a few minutes alone in God’s Word and prayer before the kids are up and about.

If you are at that really busy stage with little ones, this may be a real challenge.  If nothing else, write down a verse at bedtime, and carry that verse with you through out the day.  Keep it where you will see it, and have your mind renewed.

3.  Start the day with the kids by singing Scripture, reading a few verses or chapter of the Bible together, and asking God’s blessing on the day.

It’s hard to keep a wrong spirit when you are singing Scripture, or when you are asking God to bless your day.

4.  Remind yourself of the importance of what you are doing!

We don’t always feel like getting up and doing the whole parenting, teaching, training, correcting, and homeschooling thing all over again.  However, if we remember that we are stewards, and it is our job to disciple our children, it will help us to have a better attitude throughout the day.

5.  When things start to unravel, and you find your spirit isn’t right, steal away for a minute, and ask God to show you what you can do to get things back on track, and to renew your spirit.

Sometimes for me that meant changing things up a bit; maybe skip the math function the child just couldn’t get, and go to a different one; or stop the academics with everyone for awhile, and do something fun.  Sometimes if the problem was more me, than the kids and the homeschooling, singing a song of praise often helped me to change my atittude to what it should be.

What do you do to renew your spirit, and keep it right?  Please share what works for you!

 

Embrace Their Differences

Embrace kids' differencesIf you have more than one child, I’m sure you were quickly surprised to realize just how different two kids in the same family can be! As a mom of eight kids, I never expected them to all be so different! Of course, in many ways there were similarities, but each had their unique differences – some more than others!  I wouldn’t say that I always “embraced” those differences as I should have.

At times when differences showed up in how the kids learned, acted, responded or failed to  respond, I would feel discouraged or frustrated; other times I would feel stressed. However, it made me rely on God, and it also caused me to really study my kids, and get to know them for who they were. God showed me that “different” doesn’t mean bad. It just means that I have to learn the secret that unlocks the mystery of that child.

Now that most of my kids are adults, I can look at those differences and see that they helped prepare them for what God had planned for them as adults. If you have a child, or children, that are different, let me encourage you with these thoughts:

6 Things To Remember About Your “Different” Child

1. God made them just the way they are for a reason, and His purpose.

2. God wants you to depend on Him!

If all our kids were the same, we’d feel confident after the first one or two.  He gave me kids that were different from each other, which made me realize how much I didn’t know, and how much I needed His help and wisdom!

3. God put them in your family with those differences to develop character in each member.

I have always believed, and always told my kids, that God put each of them in our family with their unique personalities and characteristics, to help the rest of us develop certain character qualities God wanted us to learn.  Some of my kids were definitely my personal character builders!

4. God wants you to know your child, and invest in them.

Make it your personal goal to know what makes each of your kids tick; learn what motivates them, and how you can best help them and reach their heart.

5. God has plans for them that you don’t know yet; those differences often will benefit them when those plans are revealed.

That child who seems so stubborn and strong willed, could very well be in a leadership position when they become an adult.  Help them learn to channel that strong will in the right direction, and they will be great leaders.

6. God wants you to see the gold glittering in them.

Sometimes we have to look through the flaws we see in them, the irritating behaviors, and see the gold that is glittering there, just waiting to be discovered.  Ask God to help you to see their value, worth, and potential as He does.

When you are at your wit’s end with that child who you just don’t know what to do with, you are right where God wants you to be!  Realizing that we can’t do this parenting thing on our own is a GOOD thing.  Let it be a reminder to call on God and ask Him for the wisdom He freely offers.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.         (James 1:5)

How to Keep the Light in Their Eyes

In  my last post I talked about  What Makes the Light Go Out of Our Kids’ Eyes.  That post focused on the negative things we sometimes do in our parenting; reactions that cause that smile and glow in their eyes to disappear.  Today I want to share the positive side of it.

light in kids eyes pic

What We Can Do to KEEP The Light in Our Kids’ Eye

 Actions:

*Spend time with them; let them know you want to be with them.

*Randomly bring them a little treat or surprise.

*Write them notes.

*Be excited about their ideas and listen intently.  They should feel like you are their biggest fan!

*Be fun!  Laugh when you are with them; let them know you enjoy them.

*Be fair.

*Treat them with honor and respect.

*Show affection; depending on their age, give tickles, hugs, pats, etc.  Even your teens enjoy hugs!

*Put your cell phone away, or close your laptop when they are with you, and give them your undivided attention.

Words:

*Praise them.

*Brag on them to your spouse or Grandma/Grandpa when they can hear you.

*Tell them what you like about them.

*Affirm them with your words.

*Look for opportunities to encourage; focus more on the efforts and improvements, than the failures

When was the last time you told your child something you liked about them?  When was the last time you praised them for something they did, or how they did it?  All kids LONG for their parents’ approval, and when they feel that approval and acceptance on a regular basis, it will keep that shine in their eyes!

What have you done or said today to affirm your kids, and keep that light in their eyes?

Encouragement for the Weary Mom

weary momJanuary is often one of the biggest times of discouragement for homeschooling moms.  There’s some fatigue after the holidays, maybe a bit of a let down after all the “fun” is over, and then there’s the dreary, cold weather.  (At least for us in the cold states, like Michigan!) I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time getting motivated to start school back up after the holidays.

Of course, with it being a new year, we also start with some new resolutions and perhaps even a bit of unrealistic expectations.  Then when reality hits, and we have some “bad” days of homeschooling and parenting, we get discouraged.  Perhaps we even let the thought enter our mind, “Is it worth all this effort? I’m not seeing the results I had hoped for!”

Over the past 33 years of raising, training, and homeschooling our eight children, I have been there often!  But today I’m here to encourage you, and reassure you that it IS worth it!  What you are doing will bring results, and is making a difference!  Unfortunately though, you often don’t see the results you are hoping for till the kids are older.  Persevering can be hard, and defeat can creep in if you aren’t careful.  My favorite “remedy” for those times when defeat threatened to overcome me was this verse in Galatians 6:9

Be not weary in well doing

This is a Bible promise!  I love this promise, and the reminder that we need to plants seeds with the harvest in mind, but realize that our success isn’t measured by the immediate results.  We have to WAIT for the harvest.  Claim this promise, and stay faithful to teaching and training your kids in God’s Word, and helping them to develop Godly character.

I was encouraged a couple days ago when my son, David, sent me this picture via text mail:

Davids award

David is 26 years old, and has been working at Walmart for about 5 years.  They have offered him a position as manager several times, because of his good work ethic.  Recently, he decided to accept the day time supervisor position, for which he got this award.

I sent a text back to him, congratulating him on the good job, and letting him know that I was proud of him.  He responded with the following text:

“Thanks, and recognition goes to you and Dad for teaching me a good work ethic.”

Many times over the years, I stressed over him and his character; sometimes I wondered if any of our teaching was sinking in. (I felt this way about all of the kids at different points, not just David!)  The above text from him  was such a great reminder that the seeds we plant ARE important and WILL bring results – in due season.

Weary  mom, if you are discouraged, or feeling like your efforts are in vain, BE ENCOURAGED!!  You reap what you sow.  Plant God’s Word in the hearts and minds of your kids, because His Word won’t return to Him void, but will accomplish what is supposed to.  What another great  promise to claim, as you remember not to get weary in well doing.  Keep up the good work Moms!

A Lesson in Honor

honor pic 2Honor changes kids, but sometimes it’s hard to communicate its importance to children. One way that you can teach honor is by modeling it as you extend hospitality to others.

We live in a compartmentalized society. Many of the entertainment options today decrease interaction between people and leave them feeling lonely. It’s an honor to be invited over for dinner or for an evening of games and activities.

Opening your home is an excellent way to extend grace and honor to others and it’s good for your kids. Talk with your children about who you’re going to invite and why. Plan the evening together and talk about how you’ll treat your guests as special. Afterwards, talk about how things went and emphasize the positive things that happened and how you all worked together to show honor to others.

1Peter 4:9 gives an interesting command to believers. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Use that verse before, during, and after to help your children understand the benefits of honoring others.

So, who can you invite over this week? Not only will you bless others, but also you’ll be blessed yourself. And your kids are always watching and learning.

***This parenting tip is taken from the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kids, by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

Family Christmas

I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas, and were able to enjoy time with your family celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus.  I am feeling incredibly blessed tonight.  Our “celebration” started last night with a Christmas eve party with my husband’s side of the family. There are 14 kids in his family, and nine of them were there last night.  Below is a collage of pictures from the party.

Morrissey party Dec 2013

After the party, we came home and had a wonderful time talking with my son Mike, and his wife Ruth, via Skype. Of course, it’s always fun to see the grandkids too, when we Skype with them.  Today we were surprised with a 11 x 14 canvas of this picture of their family.  That sure made this mama smile!!  They also sent us a puzzle to put together, and though it took awhile, the finished product was worth all the time and effort!  It was a picture of their two little ones. With them being in the Philippines, pictures always mean so much to me.  Seeing their sweet little smiling faces was a wonderful Christmas gift!

Dec. 2013 Mike and familypuzzle of Beth and Michael

This morning we started our day with the usual Christmas morning tradition:  blueberry muffins for breakfast!  Then we gathered in the family room, and read the Christmas story.  After that we shared gifts with each other.  My youngest son was here, my two youngest daughters, and my son Dan & his wife, Mel.

Kids by fireplace Dec 2013

This afternoon, my daughter Ruth and her husband Rob, joined us for our Christmas dinner.

Rob and Ruth dec. 2013

Dinner was followed by some rousing games of Dutch Blitz, and Taboo!  Much noise and laughter in this house, just like when the kids were younger, and all of them were still home.  What a blessed sound – family laughing and enjoying being together.  So thankful for a day to remember just how blessed I am by the gift of salvation due to the birth of God’s son, and a day to enjoy the blessing of family.

I hope all of you will be able to enjoy time with your family during this Christmas season.  I’d love to hear what your family did, and about your special family traditions!

Prisoners Receive the Greatest Gift Ever!

prisonerAs Christmas quickly approaches, and we focus on the birth of Christ, we remember that  He was born to die, so that we could have the greatest gift – the gift of salvation.  I was so blessed and excited by this story that my son Michael, a missionary in the Philippines, shared with us recently,  about 25 prisoners who received the gift of salvation.

 

The story began after the Sunday evening service when I learned from a mutual friend that one of my more illustrious converts was in jail….again!  No, he wasn’t in jail for preaching the Gosepl; he was in jail for stealing, so I decided to try to visit him at the nearby jail.  Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I decided to take my wife along with me.

We we arrived at the jail, the front gate was slightly ajar.  No one was there to meet us, so I pushed the gate open and walked into the jail’s large front courtyard.  Once inside, I met a man under an awning who instructed me to write my name in a ledger book and the name of the  person who I wished to visit.  He then stamped the underside of my arm and pointed me towards three guards relaxing around a rough-looking table nearby.  As I approached the guards, they look up and casually asked whom I was there to visit.  I told them the name, and they waved me toward another steel gate.  I had forgotten to leave my pocketknife at home that morning, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I pulled it out and asked the guards what they wanted me to do.  To my amazement, they just shrugged and said, “Just don’t give it to anybody.”  At this point, I was wondering how I was supposed to get through the gate into the mail prison since none of them seemed to have any intention of getting up to help us.  Not knowing what else to do, I took Ruth by the hand and approached the gate.  Upon reaching the gate, I was further amazed to find that it too was unlocked,  I pushed it open, walked into the main jail, and began asking if anyone knew my friend.  All the jail cells were open, so there were prisoners everywhere, but no one seemed to know him.  I was surprised at ho helpful the prisoners were.  Everyone there seemed to want to help us find my frined, and, within a few minutes, I had a group of 10 or 12 prisoners following us around the yard, calling out to their friends, asking what cell my conveer was staying in.  After about 20 minutes, I concluded that I was athte wrong jail, but by this time, I had over 20 curious men standing around me.  They were friendly, and I was amazedc by how respectfully they treated my wife.  It was an opportunity that no sould winner could walk away form.  I asked the men to sit down under a shelter in the prison yard, and I took my new Testament out of my bag.  For the next 30 minutes, a group of over 25 prisoners listened attentively as I gave them the Gospel in the Cebuano language.  When I was finished, 23 of them bowed their heads and trusted Christ as Savior!  Amen!

TWO EASY Crock Pot Recipes for Holiday Meals

If you are looking for easy, but DELICIOUS meals for the holidays, here are two of our family favorites.

ROAST BEEF In the CROCK POT

roast and potatoesPut 4 cans of Cream of Mushroom soup in the crock pot.  (less soup if you have a small roast, and don’t need as much gravy)

Add the roast to the soup in the crock pot.

If the roast is frozen, cook on high for several hours. If it is thawed, cook it on low all day.  (6-8 hours)

Stir occasionally, so the edges don’t burn. If needed, cut the roast into smaller pieces to get it done faster.

**The soup & meat juices make a delicious gravy.  We always make mashed potatoes to go with this, and a side vegetable.

CHICKEN & STUFFING In the CROCK POT

Put 4 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup in the crock pot.

Add 4-6  boneless chicken breasts

Follow package directions for 2-3 boxes of Stove Top Chicken dressing.

Add the finished stuffing to the crockpot.

Cook on low for 8 hours.  (If the chicken isn’t frozen, it won’t take as long)

Remove the stuffing, and put in a bowl; put the chicken on a platter.  Ladel out the soup, and use as gravy for mashed potatoes.

 

4 Things to Consider at Christmas

real meaning of Christmas

1.  Look at your focus.

It’s so important that we keep our focus on Christ, and not the THINGS of Christmas.  I love all the decorations, music, baking, and gift giving that go with this time of year.  However, we know that’s not what we should be focusing on.  We need to check and be sure we keep our focus on His birth, the real reason for our celebration.

2.  Look at your faith.

Many parents spend a lot of time trying to make their children believe in Santa Claus.  Do we go to just as much effort (or more) to help our kids know that Jesus is real? Do we live and talk in such a way that our kids know we truly believe in Him, and have a relationship with Him?

3.  Look at your giving.

Christmas is a time of giving.  We enjoy giving gifts to those we love.  We spend time trying to find the perfect gift or gifts for them.  We get excited about showing our love by giving.  Are we that way about giving to God?  We need to remember that it is a privilege to give back to God part of what He has given to us.

4.  Look at your love.

We should love God more than anything.  However, loving Him will cost us something.  It means dying to self; loving those who are hard to love; and loving in not just word, but in deed.  We should let His love flow through us, and out to others.

These are great, simple reminders about the importance of making Christ the central focus of Christmas!

(These thoughts are from a sermon my nephew, Dan King,  preached at his church last Sunday. It blessed me, so i wanted to share it with you!) 

 

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7 Tips To A Stress Free Holiday Season

stress freeBetween Thanksgiving and Christmas things can get really busy.  In the past, I have failed to plan well, and as a result, I was stressed through much of the holiday season.  By the time Christmas got here, I was worn out.  I realized that trying to do too much takes a lot of the joy out of what is supposed to be a joyful season.  It can also take some of the joy out of it for your family, if you aren’t careful. I’m sure most of you are aware of this, and have struggled with balancing things during this busy time.

The KEY?  Decide what is important for you and your family, and LET THE REST GO! It’s really okay to not do EVERYTHING.  In fact, your kids will probably be happier with doing less, and having a happy mom.  :)

I knew this year would be extra challenging for me, because of being gone for a week, due to my daughter’s surgery.  We left home Thursday, and will be gone for at least a week, because her surgery is being done in St. Louis – nine hours from our home. When we get back home, it will be a little less than 2 weeks from Christmas.  This meant that I had to make choices this year, and plan well.

The thing that helped me was recognizing what makes me feel stressed.  Things like baking  multiple kinds of cookies, and other goodies to give away, going in and out of stores in the cold, driving and shopping in crowds, and last minute preparations.

For you, the list will probably look different.  The important thing to consider is to not feel bound by traditions of the past, if they stress you, or your circumstances are different this year, and you can’t handle them.

Some things to keep the season stress-free:

1.  Shop online.  This may cost a bit for shipping, but saves hours of driving to stores, shopping, standing in line, etc.  Decide ahead of time how much you can afford to spend on gifts, and stay in your budget.  Overspending creates stress!

2.  If you homeschool, put the books away a couple weeks before Christmas.  Let the kids help with baking, make cards for people, make decorations, and help keep things clean.  Encourage them to think of ways to bless others.  Make some fun traditions.

3.  Give the kids regular cleaning jobs to get the house ready for visiting family, rather than waiting to do it all at the last minute.

4. Limit outside activities.  Choose wisely – there are many choices at this time of year.

5. Get extra rest.  You don’t want your kids remembering a tired, crabby mom when they think of the holidays.

6.  Delegate what you can to kids, to give you time to be able to do more of the fun family activities together.

7.  Before starting a new activity, ask yourself “Will this create a good memory for my kids, or will this be stressful, and leave unpleasant memories?” Great activities that should be fun, usually aren’t as fun when Mom is frazzled, and probably won’t make for good memories!

What are you doing (or NOT doing!)  to more fully enjoy this blessed Christmas season?

 

Ready or Not, Here It Comes!

ready or notYears ago our pastor preached a sermon about being ready when the trials come.  He said that even though things may be going great right now, trials WILL come, and we’d better be ready!

Life can change so quickly!  Last week my sister-in-law got a call from her Doctor about the CT scan that showed an abdominal mass.  A biopsy came back as follicular lymphoma. Today she had an appointment with the oncologist.  She will start chemo soon, and they aren’t sure what the outcome will be.

Last Wednesday night, just three days after hearing that she had cancer, she was at church singing in the choir as always.  I watched her as she sang the following song with the choir:

As I look back on all of my days,
So many times and so many ways,
I have been blessed and all I can say is God is still good;
Sometimes the night brings sorrow and pain,
Sometimes the tears flow like the rain,
But through it all He’s never changed,
God is still good.

God is still good when the waves roll high,
God is still good all through the night; When I’ve done all I can and I don’t understand,
God is still good;

Myths About Large Families

This was one of my most popular posts, so I thought I would share it again for my newer readers.  I hope you enjoy it, and will be encouraged by it.

The Lord has blessed my husband and me with eight children.  When the kids were younger, and we went places as a family, we would see heads turning as they mentally counted, “1,2,3…”  We also got lots of comments like, “Are they ALL yours?!”  Often people would say to me, “You must have a lot of patience.”  The truth is that I’ve run out of patience with those types of comments.  The world looks at people with large families and says, “You’re crazy!”  But God says children are a heritage and reward.  According to the Bible, children are a blessing or gift from the Lord.  The world is telling us many myths about large families. Here are some of the common myths I have heard often:

You can’t afford to have a large family today.

The Bible tells us that God will supply all our needs.  Many times people who say this really mean they can’t have a large family AND the high standard of living they desire.  God says, “And having food and raiment, let us be content.”  We found it was a huge blessing to see God supply our needs, and also to have to trust Him for those needs.  Our kids have seen God supply, and have learned to trust Him as a result.  Maybe we can’t afford the best of everything, but we feel blessed to have eight gifts from the Lord.

My kids drive me crazy! I can’t get everything done!

Usually the folks saying this are giving away the fact that they aren’t disciplining their children, and they are too busy with themselves!  Yes, my kids drive me crazy sometimes too, but I’ve found over the years that has usually been the case when I’m too busy doing what I want to get done, and I resent being bothered.  Other times it’s because I’ve slacked off on discipline, and am not requiring instant obedience.

I always enjoyed going out to eat when the kids were younger.  We got a log of stares due to our large group, but often as we were leaving, we heard comments like, “Your kids are so well behaved!”  People aren’t used to seeing kids that mind are pleasant to be around.  Therefore, they believe several kids would drive you crazy!

As for, “How do you get everything done?”, the world looks at children and sees WORK.  Yes, much work is involved. But, I see them as workers!  If you train your kids to help, you are able to manage things easier, and they learn character.  You’re also training them to work for the Lord!

I get so bored, and feel unfulfilled just being a mother.

I remember when a young lady from church told me that when she had children she planned to stay home with them, and quit working.  In response to that, a friend had told her, “You’ll stay home for awhile, but then you’ll get bored!”  Well, that’s true IF you feel that raising kids isn’t serving God, and isn’t of eternal value.  And yes, you may feel ‘unfulfilled” IF you expect to accomplish all your goals.

Here’s God’s answer.  Get excited about molding and training Godly children!  What an opportunity and what a challenge!  Do all you can to learn how to train your kids in God’s way.  Rather than being ‘bored”, you’ll find that you are growing as you look to God for help and wisdom, and as you die to self to meet the needs of those children.

All of these myths stem from the idea that children are a bother, not a blessing.  As Christian parents may we replace that worldly attitude with the idea that what we’re doing is a Godly investment.  The Bible says we will reap what we sow.  We are sowing to reap men and women who will be spiritual warriors and give their lives to serve God.  What a blessed privilege!

7 Tips For Helping Kids Keep the Right Focus at Christmas

As we approach the Christmas season, one of the things we want to be intentional about is helping our kids have the right focus.  Our goal when our kids were younger was to be sure they knew and remembered what the true meaning of Christmas was – the birth of Christ.  We also wanted to help them to focus on  how they could show Christ’s love to others, rather than thinking of themselves.

baby Jesus pic

We do most of the normal things at Christmas.  We have a tree, and decorations around the house. We play Christmas music, and we give the kids and family presents.  That doesn’t mean that our kids don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas, or that all they thought about was what they wanted for Christmas.  It’s easy to let that happen with your kids, unless you plan ways to prevent it.

Here are 7 simple ideas to help keep the right focus at Christmas:

1.  At Thanksgiving, start talking about how thankful you are for Christ’s birth.

2.  During the weeks leading up to Christmas, remind your kids often of what Christmas is.

When the kids were little, we would ask them “Whose birthday is it on Christmas?”  or “What happened on Christmas day to make it so special?”  On Christmas morning we sang happy birthday to Jesus, and read the story of His birth from the Bible, before we opened our presents.

3.  Sing songs about His birth. 

We listen to the fun songs, but also make sure that we listen to and sing the songs that remind of us of what Christmas is all about.  Teach them songs like Away in Manger, Joy to the World, and Silent Night.

4.  Have decorations that remind them of the purpose/meaning. 

One great example of this is having a nativity scene that the kids can set up, and even play with.  We also have window stickers that say “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come,” and a little nativity night light.  A star on the top of the tree is a good way to talk about the star that led the wise men to Jesus, and once again bring their focus to His birth.

nativity night light

5.  Plan ways to show God’s love to others, by showing them love and kindness.  

Talk about who you want to show love to, and make plans of how to do it.  Perhaps you know a family who is struggling financially, and everyone chips in with a little money for them, or a food basket.  Another idea is saving throughout the year to send money to a missionary family at Christmas.

6.  Encourage kids to think about what they can give to their siblings and family, to show their love. 

My kids used to get SO excited about buying little gifts for their siblings.  Often they didn’t have much money, so their gift might be as simple as a candy bar, or something from the Dollar Store.  However, they loved finding something special to give, and were more excited about giving their gifts on Christmas, than opening their own.

7. Visit widows, or older folks, and carol for them. 

We often did that with the kids, and we  brought them a plate of goodies, then visited with them for a few minutes before going on to our next stop. Their response to our visit was always an encouragement to all of us.  We would go home and talk about how fun it was to surprise them, or to visit them and give them some company. Bringing joy to others at Christmas was something that also brought joy to us.

What are some ways you help your family keep the right focus during the Christmas season?  I encourage you to make traditions that your kids will remember, while also keeping their focus on the true reason for the season!

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Thankful for Chocolate Chips!

Thanksgiving is the time of year when we make an effort to focus on, and  be aware of, all that we have to be thankful for.  We have so much, and often I think we tend to take much of it for granted.  I know I do!

chocolate chips 2

With the holidays approaching, I have been thinking a little more often about my son & his wife in the Philippines, with their two little ones.  Thinking of them often makes me more aware of many things we have here in the states, that we are so used to having we don’t even think to stop and be grateful for; “little” things to us, that we are blessed to have.

It reminded me of the need to be thankful for a few simple things.

1. Chocolate chips

Chocolate chip cookies are usually a part of our holiday festivities, and most of our family gatherings.  However, in the Philippines they can’t go to the store and buy chocolate chips!  Now when I buy a bag of chocolate chips, I am reminded to be thankful.  No, they aren’t a necessity at all, but we sure do enjoy baking together, and savoring the goodness of the cookies.

2. A vehicle to drive

When was the last time you got in your car to go somewhere, and thanked God that you had a vehicle of your own to drive, and that you could go where you needed to when you needed to?

Not many folks in the Philippines have cars.  When my son & his wife first moved there, for over a year he rode his bike almost everywhere. Often this meant getting soaked because of getting caught in the rain, or being all sweaty by the time he arrived at his destination.  When his wife needed to go somewhere with him, they often took the public transportation.  What a blessing it is to have the ease of warm, dry transportation whenever we want it, or need it!

3. A clothes dryer

This is something I have really come to appreciate more after talking to my daughter-in-law.  They have washers in the Philippines, but dryers are very expensive.  So when she does laundry, it has to all be spread out and hung to dry.  This makes it hard to keep up on laundry, because she can’t just do it all on one day.  She has to wait till one batch that has been hanging up has dried, before she can do the next load.  Often it rains there, and is humid so it takes the clothes even longer to dry.  Having two little ones, she has lots of laundry to keep up on.  I can’t imagine trying to keep up on the laundry for our family without our dryer!

As Thanksgiving approaches, may I encourage you to take a little extra time to just think about all the little things we have that make our lives so much easier, or just more enjoyable?  Let’s not forget how blessed we are in our country, and most of all, let’s remember that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights”.  (James 1:17)

What are you thankful for today?