Thursday, January 31, 2008

Embracing Privileges

I want to raise boys that will grow up to be men that are serious about taking care of their responsibilities - their family being the first and foremost on that list. So we talk a lot about taking care of our responsibilities before we enjoy our privileges.

My big boys have long outgrown naps so after lunch in our house we set to our afternoon responsibilities (in the summer, when school is out, there will be morning ones as well). Every day we pick up all the toys that have collected, we put out that days' recycling, we feed the cat, we practice the verse we are working on for the week, and we sit down and read the Bible together. I also come up with one "extra chore" that each big boy does. (for example, wiping down the glass coffee table, wiping the sliding glass door, dragging the laundry basket to the utility room (or many other laundry tasks), wiping toothpaste from the sink, sweeping our wood-floor stairs, cleaning garbage and junk out of the car, and on and on...) The whole process takes about 30 minutes. My six year old is completely independant in his tasks now, and my three-year-old is becoming more independant each week.

It does take some thinking, but it is paying off, as my boys are actually becoming helpful. It has been an incredible opportunity for training, as the boys learn how to do many useful things around the house. It is also a built-in accountability for me because I see it as a time to take care of my household responsibilities too (like I can take care of them all in 30 minutes! Ha!).

Another concept that the kids are seeing is that I, too, am adhering to this principle. I have answered many of their requests to play with me with a "let me just finish this responsibility, and then I can." There is great freedom in this, because the kids get it (most of the time) that I need to take care of things. And on the other side of it, I am being purposeful to end my task in a timely manner and enjoy the privilege of reading to, or playing a bit of basketball with them.

The establishment of all this has prompted me to process the notion of privilege. Afternoon privileges in our home right now are usually 30 minutes of TV, sometimes 20 minutes on the computer. Prior to establishing this household priciple, I was THE GATEKEEPER of the TV and computer. I have great distain for this role, as it is a referee's close cousin. Now, the kids hold the keys to the gate. They know that responsibilities come before those beloved privileges, and instead of asking if they can watch TV, they are asking if they can take care of their responsibilities.

Usually the last thing we do on our "R" list is sit down and read a couple pages from our Bible. Today I rounded the corner, prepared to sit and read with them. I was blessed when I entered the family room to find my big boys sitting on the couch together with the Bible opened to the picture of one of Jesus' parables. Davis was telling (quite adeptly) what happened to each of the seeds that fell on the rocks, path, thorns, and good soil. Jackson was listening with great interest, interrupting with his questions. I sat next to Jackson and we listened and I smiled.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

WFMW - Easier Meal Planning

It's another Works for Me Wednesday! This is not rocket science here, but a simple tip to make meal planning a little easier.
First,
grab a piece of paper and write down all the meals you can think of that your family loves to eat. Then write down all the meals you enjoy cooking. Tack the list up on the fridge and add to it throughout the week.
Then,
the day before you grocery shop, pull your list down and use it to create your menu and grocery shopping list for the week. (Tack that menu on your fridge for easy daily reference.) When I am not pregnant or in another sort of season of stress/exhaustion, I try to cook one new recipe per week. As I discover new recipes that are a hit with the family, I add them to my quick reference list on my fridge.

For more great WFMW ideas on all sorts of things, visit rocks in my dryer. And for a cute little essay I wrote on the subject, click here.

Corn & Toast, Anyone? (Meal Planning 101)

(Another installment in a series of articles you probably read a Mom to Mom newsletter of yesteryear.)

One of the best wifely tasks I do every week is plan the dinner meals. Now, I know what you are thinking because I thought it too: “Ugh. Why would I want to take the time to do that?!?! I dread cooking dinner enough as it is!

For six long years of marriage, I, too, resisted planning a weekly dinner menu, preferring instead (oddly enough) the hungry-stomach, blank-stare-into-the-freezer nightly ritual. Nothing sounds quite right when you are starving – except of course take-out. I would open the freezer then close the freezer, open the fridge then close the fridge. Sigh. Then open the freezer once more only to close it again, more quickly this time. Then walk to the food pantry, stare at the random selection of cans and wish, in vain, that mealtime inspiration would hit. But the truth of the matter is I am not —and never will be — an inspired cook.

As I stared night after night, year after year, into my fridge, freezer, and pantry, the process never got easier. In fact, it got more difficult because I had kids. Frequent trips to the grocery store with kids were more trouble than they were worth, and the kids were hungry even sooner than I was.

Further impetus for planning a dinner menu was a comment a dear friend said to me: “I only go to the grocery store once a week. If we run out of something, that’s just too bad.” I was flabbergasted at what I thought might be indignation. In truth, the reason she could say that and not regularly feed her family a can of corn and toast is because she had planned for the whole week already. I considered all the last-minute trips to the high-end grocery store nearest my house that I make in a month (our checkbook tells no lies) and decided to start planning our meals.

Becoming a “once-a-week-Winco” girl I now sit down at the table with my recipe books, grocery list, a thick piece of paper (my menu) and a pen. I write the days of the week down the side of the menu and glance at the family calendar to see what I have written in it that pertains to meals (going over to the in-laws Saturday night, date night Tuesday, snacks for Women’s Bible Study Wednesday, etc) and I write that down on the days they apply.

Inspiration via cookbooks I find main dishes that are simple and sound good and write them on the menu, along with the book name and page number that the recipe came from. I go through the ingredients list and record what I need to buy at the store, filling in the side dishes as I go. HINT: Don’t forget to account for leftovers! If you make lasagna for Wednesday, write “leftovers” on Thursday – make sure the family knows that you did not intend for the whole meal to be devoured in one sitting.

Baby steps When I first started, I committed to cooking a new recipe one or two days a week because our family needed to change what we were eating. I have three recipe books that I primarily cook from. I use them because they contain relatively simple recipes and the family nearly always likes them. Often I use just one book for any given week to keep things simple. On the days I was not trying something new, I cooked old stand-bys.

Save the menu! I post my menu on the fridge (amidst the sea of colored alphabet letters and family photos) and refer to it all week. At the end of the week, don’t throw it out! I keep all my week’s menus, because they come in handy again (say in about four weeks)!
Create a cheat sheet. One final superb thing to do: start making a list of dinner ideas that you enjoyed cooking and your family liked. Post the list - with the cookbook name and page number next to it – on the fridge for easy reference. I also underline the type of meat that it takes, again, for easy reference.

How long does it take? Well, a better question is, “How long did it used to take?” I used to agonize every day about what I will cook for at least an hour. Now, my planning takes less than ½ hour a week, and my think time each evening is zero. I just look, and cook!

All corniness aside, what I really like about planning our menu is that it requires thoughtful consideration for my family – especially my husband. I know what I am cooking will please him because I thought about that when I selected the meal earlier in the week. In the end, the whole family benefits because I took a little time to plan!

For other meal-planning tips visit the newly updated Seriousmoms.com.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Salad Talk

Just some funny Jackson conversations...

Jackson says to me, as I am getting ready to pour dressing over his salad, "What kind of dressing is that?"
Mommy: It's your favorite one. Thousand Island.
Jackson: Well, I want Twenty-One Island. (Hysterical 3-year-old-laughter quickly follows.)

*****

It was time to get on jammies. Jackson had dutifully stripped down to his birthday suit and was sitting on the toilet, moving his bowels. Davis was working on putting a very precise amount of toothpaste on his toothbrush (I tell that boy one time how to do something and he takes it as gospel truth...when he was nearly three years old and I was trying to teach him how to measure how much toilet paper is a good amount, I told him to unroll it until it just touches the floor. To this day, he still measures it exactly to the floor - not an inch above or below. For that boy, there is just one right way to do things. Oh Lord, bless his wife with grace and patience.)

Wow. I digress! This is supposed to be a story about salad. Okay... Jackson is on the pot and Davis notices he is chewing something:
Davis: what are you eating, Jackson?
Jackson: Just some salad.
Mommy: It must have been left over from dinner, huh? ...Did you find that salad in your teeth?
Jackson: ummm...yeah. I did.
Mommy: Yeah.
Jackson (on second thought, and with a straight face): Actually, no. I found it in my nose.

I burst out laughing, feeling like he just handed me one of Bill Engvall's "I'm Stupid" signs.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Three Hour Masterpiece

For just a tiny bit of background, jump to yesterday's blog.

And for perspective purposes, I placed my 3 year-old's boot next to the masterpiece. This is my valentine card. From my "secret admirer," Davis.

I will translate my sweet son's words, since proper spelling is still a couple years away. It says, "Dear Mom, How do you do. I love you."

And below that is a note he wrote on behalf of Jackson: "Jackson, here. How are you doing? Look down there."

And here is "down." (The big yellow face at the bottom with the enormous smile is my portrait.)

And as to what I am going to do with the card the size of a queen-sized bed, today the boys made it into a tent, and then into a karake kick target. And now I have some photos by which to remember the monumental project.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Where is THAT going to go?

My six year old son - the one who didn't pick up a crayon for coloring purposes until age 5 and who has drawn for me literally 4 pictures since that time - is currently drawing me a picture. He has been working on it for about 3 hours. He has panicked every time I have entered the room, shouting, "Don't look! don't look! Mom, can you go to another room please? I don't want you to see this yet. I am drawing it for you."

I am, of couse, delighted at the effort and energy he has put forth. I have one problem, though, and I am contemplating it more and more as the hours pass and he continues to work: the canvas he chose. You see, our live-in supernanny just bought a queen-sized bed frame from IKEA. Her wonderful fiance set it up last night and when the boys woke up the next morning they saw the cardboard box that queen-size frame came in. The box, when in it's original box-shape, was about 3 feet by 6 feet. But the box somehow got opened up so it is now one flat piece of cardboard. Yes. his canvas is larger than a doorway. Larger than a set of french doors. About the length of a Dodge Grand Caravan.

I have done my best to not look at what he is making, but I did see in my periphery several big red 6-year-old hearts. Where on earth am I going to display all that hard work?

Check back later for a photo of the finished product (and where I figured out to display it).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Big Question from a Little Heart

"What is better, Mommy? Learning about God or preaching about God?"

You can imagine the wonderful conversation that ensued. Oh Lord, give me wisdom to answer questions in a way that causes my kids to ever increase their thirst for you. And THANK YOU for my boys.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Conversation

My Winco bag of bulk mixed beans broke open in my pantry today and Davis helped me clean the mess up. I think something about the shape of the little black dried beans triggered his memory about something he did earlier that day:

Davis: I pulled off all the legs of a bug today.
Mom: You did?
Davis: uh-huh. But it didn't kill him.
Mom: oh. ok.
Davis: First I pulled of one leg, then another and then another...
Mom: ok. ok. I got it...
Davis: So then I squished him.
Mom: That was probably for the best.
Davis: Yeah.

Six Things I Love About My Mother-In-Law

Nope, it's not her birthday today. I have no particular reason for posting this except I appreciate her. A lot. And I know she checks in on the blog from time to time and I want her to know.

1. She regularly thinks of the needs of others before her own
2. She is passionate about healthy eating and living and is bold about passing on what she knows
3. She assumes the best about me and my family
4. Without a hesitation, she drives in rush hour traffic to come pick her grand kids up - and then offers to do the dropping off, as well
5. She is quick to offer to take the boys for a night when she knows Ryan is going to be gone
6. Her strongest Christian witness is her servant's heart
7. She telephones her widowed step-mother every morning on her way in to work.
8. She takes lots of pictures
9. She is interested in what I have to say
10. She is always up for a party at her house
11. She lets me host things at my house, too
12. She understands my husband and is a great resource when I need it
13. She saves arthritis magazines for my sister (not her relation)
14. She values serving people more than an organized house
15. If word of a "family vacation" is breathed she is immediately on the task of booking the trip
16. She is sensitive to the strains and stresses of motherhood and is quick to offer empathy
17. She gives good advice when solicited
18. She sends me home with fresh fruits and vegetables
19. She has loved me since the day I entered the family (and even before), even when I acted unlovely
20. She can tell you how much vitamin A, Omega 3 fatty acids, and calcium is in a rutabaga.
21. She loves her family unashamedly, even more than we deserve.

I said "Six things," huh? Well, I couldn't hardly help myself. I love you Maryann!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

With My Body, I Thee Worship

I wrote this article a couple of years ago, while I was part of a young mom's leadership team. I needed to put it in front of my eyes again as an encouragement. Perhaps this will be a source of encouragement for you as well.

Quiet times are elusive. Have you noticed? I get up in the morning early. One child wakes early. I try it again the next day a little earlier and the other one wakes up. The next day I bag it, opting for thirty additional minutes of snooze alarm sleep. The following day I give it another shot, since the day I slept in the kids slept in too. The kids stay asleep this time, but my husband asks me to make him a lunch before he leaves and another quiet time opportunity is lost. The next morning I resolve that NO MATTER WHAT, I am getting that time in, so I sit in that chair by that window and try my best to sit with and worship God. All the while, anger is boiling up because in the background I hear my youngest calling out for me. Arrrrg! And as I continue to ignore it (teeth clenched), I find I am spending all my time "ignoring," and no time with the Lord.

I long to sit at my Lord’s feet and just listen and talk to Him. Gather my thoughts; focus my efforts for the day; worship Him. But it seems I am thwarted day after day. And this has been going on for four years –my entire mommyhood. I have had seasons inside these past four years where it has been easier to sit quietly, read my Bible and pray for the wisdom I will need to get through the day. And I have had seasons when it felt impossible. But a new phase – make that a new phrase – has entered my world.

With my body, I Thee worship.

When I first heard it, I imagined the act of raising my hands, closing my eyes and swaying to some perfectly beautiful stanza depicting the character traits of God. Ah, this must be what worshipping with my body is. But the Lord has taken me on a deeper journey.

He whispered to me one (interrupted) morning, “Here is how I want you to worship me today: smile at, snuggle and nurse your up-too-early son. Worship me with your body today.” I walked upstairs with a smile on my face at the thought of the task at hand, all the while thinking can it really be so? Is it legal, Lord, to call such a thing a ‘quiet time?’ Yes, I think it is: I am coming to see that when I wake up early for that coveted quiet moment with my Lord and one of my kids interrupts or circumvents it altogether, that I have actually been given a new opportunity to worship. With my body, I Thee worship.

And after that morning, my eyes were opened. I wake each morning with the intention of sitting with my Bible, and some mornings I do. But other mornings, I am making a lunch for my husband. Last week I was sitting down, taking notes as my husband listed off all the things he needed my help on that day. And this morning I poured a cup of milk and let my 19-month-old son push the microwave buttons to warm it up. And as I do this – with the freedom of knowing that the Lord accepts this form of worship from me – I have joy in my heart. Because with my body I Thee worship.

It is saying to the Lord, I give You my every movement – the act of pulling my eyelids open and rising early; the stretching down with my arms and back to pick my son up out of his crib; or careful assembly of a turkey-and-cheese with a genuine smile on my lips and a peace in my heart. I give You each of these movements and lift them up to You as an act of worship, to glorify You. And continue to teach me how with my body I Thee worship.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WFMW - Laundry

This is yet another ridiculously simple contribution to the "Works For Me Wednesday" file. Simply put, I don't do my kids laundry. (But I do supervise their adept efforts!)

I have been training my boys (AGES 6 and 3) how to do their own laundry from start to finish. One or the other (or both) has learned how to:
  • carry or drag laundry baskets downstairs to the laundry room
  • sort clothes into darks and lights
  • set and start the washing machine and dryer
  • add the appropriate amount of soap/dryer sheets
  • transfer clothes from one machine to another
  • sort laundry into "ownership piles"
  • put their own clothes away
Do note that I never mentioned anything about folding laundry. That is because I have decided that you don't really need to fold shirts and jeans. We hang church shirts that ought to be hung, but everything else just fits into appropriate drawers - unfolded. The time saved from not requiring folding is astounding, and honestly, this is my favorite part of my WFMW.

Someday, I imagine, my Type A child will prefer to have his clothes unwrinkled and will eagerly master the steps to a perfectly folded shirt, but my "more creative child" will likely always see wrinkles as a delightful part of a shirt's design. For that child, I will be pleased that the clothes make it off the floor and into a drawer.

It took several months of training each task individually, and it will take several more months before the whole thing will be done unsupervised but what we have going right now WORKS FOR ME!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This One is For Eric

We are up visiting family, staying at a hotel with Ryan's folks. Tomorrow is a cousin birthday party. After the kids were down, Doug and Maryann invited us to their room (right next door) for a glass of wine and conversation.

The following was said in earnest and all sincerity by Mr. Glover on January 19, 2008 at 10:23pm after wife Jenne literally had to pull him out of their hotel room so Grandma and Grandpa could go to bed:

"I think wine makes me chatty."

Eric, what do you think?

Monday, January 14, 2008

String Cheese Trivia

We get the brand of string cheese that has trivia on them. The outside of the plastic-wrapped cheese stick has the question and you peel it open to reveal the answer inside. The boys religiously request that their question be read to them before the cheese is devoured. We have seen enough of them to have nealry all of them memorized. Sunday's conversation at the lunch table went like this:

Davis: Daddy, will you read my trivia question to me?
Daddy: Sure Davis... It says, "What is the strongest muscle in the human body?"
Davis: The heart!
Jackson (without missing a beat): A triangle!!

Oh Jackson. You are hilarious!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Great Bibles for the Kids


I am always looking for great Bibles for my kids as they grow and mature. I thought it would be fun to show some of our family favorites!


Here is the pictorial collection. Sorry that my camera flash made a couple of them difficult to view.
Below is a brief description of each Bible and my top 3 reasons for why it has been good for our family at a particular stage/age.
Read with Me Bible: An NIrV Story Bible for Children
This Bible has been so good for us for so many years. I purchased it when my oldest was nearing three, I think. Maybe he was even an early two-year-old. (He is a bookworm and has been able to sit for long periods of time listening to stories... I thought it was my incredible parenting skills that got him loving books. My second son has made it clear that it is merely a personality bent.) Anyway, this is a great Bible when you are moving away from typical Board Book Bibles that have 8-10 of the standard Bible stories in them.
Why I love this Bible:
1. The pictures are fabulous! The colors are vibrant, heroes are handsome and strong-looking, and they really do a good job of telling the story all on their own without the words.
2. Genesis & Exodus are very well presented, with 141 pages devoted to telling so many of the rich stories from these foundational books of the Bible.
3. Each story is usually a couple of pages long, so your child is given more details (but not too many details). It is a great Bible to move your child along in their knowledge of their spiritual heritage.
The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes (NOT the "New" revision/edition)
This is an old Bible, not easily found anymore. If you are a Mom to Mom-goer you may remember Diane Moore (author of Parenting the Heart of Your Child) talking about a wonderful Bible that at the time she could find on only EBay for about $35 a pop. She recommends this Bible above any other, and I would say it is for good reason. It is good for a child perhaps 4-8 years old.
Why I love this Bible:
1. The pictures look real. (This was Mrs. Moore's reason for loving it, too.) Having pictures look like real people is really important because that distinguishes (for kids) that these stories are, in fact, real events. After reading this with Davis for the first time, he said, "Those look like real people. It's kind of like these stories really happened." Honestly it astonished me that a.) he wasn't sure the stories in the Bible really happened, and b.) he made Mrs. Moore's point so eloquently.
2. The short stories (one page each) invite the child to interact with the picture, asking them to point to this or that person, and asking them if they see the so-and-so in the corner. My kids love to chime in their responses as I read.
3. It ends with comprehension questions, which I thought would be lame, but my kids love to answer. I do have to place my finger over my mouth at my older child as he knows all the answers and my middle child is not so Bible-savvy.
The Illustrated Bible for Children
I pick up Children's Bibles at thrift and used book stores when I find them. I found this Bible at the Salvation Army for a couple of bucks. It has been a great one - ideal for a child that is ready for "chapter books" but still needs the occasional picture.
Why I love this Bible:
1. It tells the stories of the Bible even more completely, adding in more names of people and places that are not usually in children's Bibles.
2. While it is not a full translation of the Bible, it takes your child through the entire Bible, explaining each chapter of the Bible in story form. Any gaping holes in previous Bibles will be filled in quite well.
3. When I was studying Genesis with my church's Women's Bible Study, I sometimes went to this Bible to give me a very broad and simple explanation of what the next chapter I would be studying would be about. Another gal in my BS group did the same thing because she was not very familiar with the Bible at all. It is a great resource, for both young and old.
It's Alive! (New Living Translation)
Finally, I must mention this one. I bought this for $5 at a Christian book store and it contains only the New Testament and the Psalms/Proverbs. I love reading the Proverbs out of this book to my boys. The whole book is a friendly translation, but I will just speak about the Proverbs here: They are in words and phrases that speak loudly to me, which means that when my kids ask clarifying questions about what I just read to them, I know a bit better how to address their questions. I like "sort of knowing" what I am talking about because it allows me to engage them better and have more interesting conversations.
I am really interested in recommendations for other older children's Bibles, so please send your favorite titles my way!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

From Crosswalk Parenting

This came across my inbox today and It was extremely timely for me. If you want to subscribe to Crosswalk.com's parenting emails that they send out, go to their website and sign yourself up. I have enjoyed it. Now, enjoy this:

Getting to the Heart of Your Children's Behavior
Ginger Plowman
Do you find yourself threatening, repeating your instructions, or raising your voice in an attempt to get your children to obey? Do you feel guilty because you know you should be faithfully training and instructing your children in righteousness but you're not sure how? Are you frustrated because it seems you just can't reach the heart of your child?
Good news - the Bible provides a treasure chest of wisdom for parents that will richly bless their child-training efforts. God has saturated His Word with nuggets of gold. A wise parent will dig out those valuable nuggets and invest them in the lives of their children.
Unfortunately, many parents today focus only on the outward behavior of their children, having assumed the philosophy that by getting their children to act right (to behave), they are raising them the right way. Yet parenting involves more than getting children to "act" right. As parents, we must get them to "think" right and to be motivated out of a love of virtue rather than a fear of punishment.
We do this by training them in righteousness. Righteous training can only come from the Word of God. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). God has provided us with everything we need for effective parenting. The key is learning how to "flesh out" the Scriptures in the everyday struggles our children face.
When children sinfully express themselves by disobeying, throwing temper tantrums, talking back, lying, etc., they are drawing from what is in their hearts. Parents need to realize the importance of reaching past the outward behavior and pulling out the issues of the heart. Pastor Al Jackson says, "The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart." The heart is the well from which all of the responses to life gush forth. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). The behavior a child exhibits is an expression of the child's heart. To put it simply...the heart determines behavior.
Probe their Hearts. "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out" (Proverbs 20:5). Jesus set the ultimate example for how to probe the heart of another in order to draw out what lies within. When dealing with sinners, Jesus did not shake his finger at their faces and tell them what they were doing wrong. Instead, He would ask thought-provoking questions in such a way that the person to whom he was talking had to take his focus off of the circumstances around him and onto the sin in his own heart. Heart-probing questions cause people to evaluate themselves.
When parents merely tell a child what his problem is and what he ought to do about it, they are hindering him from learning how to "think" like a Christian. This child will become handicapped in the area of discerning matters of his own heart. When children learn to evaluate their own hearts and biblically deal with the sin found there, they learn to govern their own behavior. This is how they grow in wisdom and character.
Penetrate their Hearts. Parents can correct and instruct their children repeatedly, but they cannot reach their children's hearts with their own wisdom. It is God's wisdom from God's Word that will truly penetrate the hearts of children. "The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double- edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
You're probably thinking, "How do I go about locating the right passages of Scripture for the different issues with which my children are struggling?" Fear not! A tool created just for this purpose is available to you. Wise Words for Moms is a quick-reference flip chart to aid parents in using the appropriate Scriptures for specific struggles that children deal with on a day-to-day basis (See resources at bottom of article).
Provide a Means of Escape. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, God explains that when His children are tempted, He always provides a means of escape. God ordains parents as the authority over their children to put His plan into action. We must follow through with His plan by providing our children with a means of escape. We do this by training them in how to replace wrong behavior with right behavior.
It is never enough to simply rebuke sinful behavior. Rebuking sinful behavior without teaching godly behavior can exasperate children and provoke them to anger. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
It is important that children learn to put off sinfulness. However, it is equally important, if not more important, that they learn to put on righteousness (Ephesians 4:22-24). The means of escape is found in their choice to replace what is wrong with what is right.

Resources for Biblical Parenting•
Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman•
Don't Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman

Ginger Plowman is the author of "Don't Make Me Count to Three" and "Heaven at Home" and speaks at women's events, parenting conferences and home school conventions across the country. Visit her website at http://www.gingerplowman.com/.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sneaky-Sneaky

This year I am resolved to establish a daily time for my kids to read the Bible. My oldest is almost old enough to actually sit and READ his Bible, my middle is old enough to sit still with a Bible in his hands to flip through, and my youngest is old enough to disrupt the whole affair. Oh, and did I mention me? I am WAY TOO OLD to still be needing to "establish" something. What a pity, but true. With the addition of every child, the re-establishment must occur for me. The advice I have received from "Older-Wisers" has always been to do it before the kids get up. That has been a constant source of defeat for me. I hope I come up with something ELSE to encourage young moms to do. (I imagine you know my morning defeat: the earlier I get up, the earlier my kids arise. Why deprive myself of sleep and still not get a few moments with the Lord?)

Reminder: we are running a marathon, not a sprint. So my first step in the big picture of getting my kids to have a habit of reading their Bible and praying each day (essentially having a childhood "quiet time") is subtle, small, and might seem too miniscule. I am making sure that each day we read one small story in the Bible lasting 28 seconds, or upwards of 5 minutes.

My theory is that if you it every day, you have your kids eventually expecting it. Do it for a short enough time each of those days (leaving them wanting more rather than wishing it were over) and you will create a hunger for more. Then tomorrow's time is a little more enthusiastic (but not longer). And slowly s-l-o-w-l-y you lengthen the time you spend. And they grow up and begin to read for themselves. And..., And..., And...over time you have established a wonderful spiritual discipline. A little sneaky, don't you think?

I have a few challenges in this: my kids are really different. I have one who would sit and listen to books for hours on end, and another who might like a simple story but in the end would prefer to wrestle with the book. And I already mentioned my baby (who, by the way is not on a consistent nap schedule where I can count on him being asleep at the same time every day while we read together). Another magor challenge: big busy me. Enough said.

But so far (as of the middle of January) we have been successful. Lord, give me perseverance in this!

Any more resolutions out there? Any encouragement? Any other ideas floating around?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Smile Harder!

Weston's personality is coming alive these days. I would argue that his favorite time of day is dinner, where he entertains the family from beginning to end. The show he now regularly puts on all started about a month ago when he was doing these cheesy grins and holding the pose every time he saw me aim a camera at him. And then at dinnertime recently, he held that same grin and the older brothers howled to the delightment of our little ham. The next time he did it, he smiled "a little harder" and made it last a little longer, and now every time he sits in a chair with food near him, well... you just have to see it:
video

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Resolutions, Anyone?

I am not much of a resolution-maker, but this year I really do sense a newness. There were so many areas I felt I failed in this past year (gotta love that feeling) but rather than wallow in self-defeat, the Lord has given me a strong sense of hope. I am excited to respond to it.

But do I dare put my resolutions in writing for everyone to see? I am a perfectionist. That means that if I don't do it 100%, I might as well throw in the towel, give up completely and go back to my old ways. Putting my resolutions in writing, I think, would encourage my perfectionistic tendencies and actually cause me to give up.

But on the other hand, NOT writing them down might lend itself to slacking off for lack of accountability. What's a girl to do? Instead of being super-specific, I will only talk general...and I think that might help.

As of late, I think I have been emphasizing the importance of chores and responsibilities more than anything else. The kids are not allowed to turn on their daily TV show until chores and "helping mommy" is done. It has been a wonderful way to teach the kids how to be helpful and they actually ask each day what their chores are (so they can watch TV). Their motivation is strong. I like that they are developing habits and getting it into their head that work and their responsibilities come before play.

But it occurred to me that I am in danger of neglecting to teach the kids what is really most important. I want to, therefore, model and provide opportunity for the kids to develop habits that reflect that most important disipline: Spending time praying and reading scripture.

I have ideas rumbling around in my head. I am prepared to try them and allow them to sink or swim. I am prepared to try and try again. I want this to be a real theme of the year so that we could all look back on the year and see some movement in the right direction in terms of developing habits. And I will trust the Lord to use these habits for His purposes.

Are there any other resolutions hanging around out there? Any fellow perfectionists who are willing to NOT be perfect, but rather work toward a goal? Any imperfectionists out there who can encourage us to keep moving forward, even when we drop off our resolution wagon?

Happy New Year!