Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mandy's Lesson 3 - "Uptown Problems"

      I can't remember exactly what I was worrying or complaining about today when my husband tried to bring me back to reality by telling me that I was having an "uptown problem". He then had to explain to me that an "uptown problem" is referring to something that is really not a very big deal, but is viewed as a problem by someone whose perspective is out of wack.  For example, if you were really upset that your seat warmer in your new Lexus did not warm your bum to just the right temperature - that would be an "uptown problem." What I have been learning this past week with my sister, Mandy, being in ICU, is that most of things that upset me daily are "uptown problems", and that I need to seek Christ to give me an eternal perspective for daily life.
      "Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to stop being so self-centered and focused on small daily issues that I miss the lives of those around me that need to be shown your love and your light right now in this dark world."
        Do you have any "uptown problems" that you want to confess? What helps you keep your eternal perspective?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mandy's lesson 2 - Enjoy the Daily Grind!

Mandy and family (minus 1 month old Moriah)
       My sister, Mandy, continues to teach me things even when she is in a coma.  She had a rough weekend and so did we.  Her brain became so swollen after her brain tumor removal on Thursday, that they had to go back in and remove her skull cap and put her in an induced coma for 48 hours.  Normally, on Mondays, I feel a little down because my husband has to return to work, and I have to return to the "daily grind". This is not a good attitude, but one that I have to combat with the power of Scripture and positive perspective every week.  Life as a stay-at-home mom is very busy, very important, and can be very fun, but most people would not describe it as exciting. Hopefully, the next time I am craving more excitement in my life, I will remember this time in my life when I am just praying that Mandy and the rest of our family will be able return to the "daily grind."
      What are the things in your "daily grind" that may bother you when facing them daily, but you would really miss if you never got to experience them again? For example - my friend Elaine has a son who used to spill his milk everyday:).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pillar Sister, live like there is no tomorrow!

         Today I just want to thank God for my oldest sister Mandy who honestly is one of the best and most amazing moms that I know. I like to think of her as my "Pillar Sister". Psalm 144: 12 says, "May our daughters be like corner pillars cut from the structure of a palace"- strong and beautiful. She is my inspiration, because on days when I think I don't know how I am going to be able to do everything, I look at her and know it is possible. Just yesterday a surgeon successfully removed a tumor from behind her left eye. Praise God! Through this whole ordeal, she continued to be the pillar of strength that she always is because of her constant reliance on Christ. Calmly and methodically she made arrangements for her 7 children - 5 of which she homeschools, and her one-month old baby girl whom she continues to nurse during her hospital stay in ICU! Let her life encourage you that you can be a "Pillar Sister". God can help you through anything big or small and help you love your husband and children like there is no tomorrow- everyday!
         Do you have a "Pillar Sister" (in the faith or in the actual family)? We would all love to hear about her.       

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where did all the Bibles go? - Thoughtful Thursdays

     On Tuesday of this week, we talked about the importance of using the actual Scriptures instead of just biblical principles to guide and direct our children.  It has never been easier to do this, since now we have wonderful technology that provides us with the ability to fit the entire Bible - complete with numerous translations and a concordance - in a device that fits in the palm of our hands. However, with amazing technology comes responsibility.  I don't want my children to forget (or never learn) what a real Bible looks like, or confuse the truth of the Bible with all the other information that you can find on my phone. If you are not continually a student of the Bible, someone could easily trick you or your children simply by saying, "The Bible says....".  Do you know which of these things are really in the Bible?
 1. "God helps those who help themselves.
 2. The Book of Hezekiah
 3. "Cleanliness is Next to Godliness"
 4. Angels married people on earth.
 5. A Bohemoth that some say might be describing a dinosaur or even the Lock Ness Monster."God helps those who help themselves."
        You can use your handheld devices to search for these, but don't do this in church while pretending to follow along while the pastor reads from God's word.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Time is Running Out! -Wise Wednesdays

(Shop Amazon.com for this great book.)
      Sometimes we are tempted to simply distract and entertain our very young children, thinking that we are simply supposed to love on them and help them survive until they can understand deeper concepts and really start learning. A Mother's Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character for Christian Mothers by Jean Fleming not only reminds me that training in the early years are crucial to the developement of our child's worldview, but also gives insight and info about ways we can impress important biblical qualities in our little bundles of wet cement.
"A mother's presence throughout infancy and the entire preschool stage is important because more learning takes place in the child's first five years than in any comparable period of life. Experts agree that as much as eighty-five percent of a child's character is developed by age five, and the way a child is raised in the early years accounts for at least twenty points of his IQ." - Jean Fleming

I almost hyperventilated when I read this statement for the first time. Thank goodness Christ is here to give us strength and guidance in this tremendous task of training children. Time is running out to train your child while their cement is still wet. Seize every moment. I would love to hear any input you have about ways to seize every moment, or about how critical the "little years" are.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Free Tool for Teaching Scripture - Teaching Tuesday

            Yesterday, I promised you some kind of incentive for being faithful in your Scripture reading and teaching, so I am giving away a DVD/CD set of my favorite Steve Green album - "Hide 'em in Your Heart".  This amazing set is simple Scripture set to wonderful music.  One of the easiest ways to teach Scripture is through music.  All you have to do to enter to win is logon and leave a comment on this blog before the end of January. I would love to hear your great ideas about ways you teach your children Scripture. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

How are you doing on your resolutions? - Mom Mondays

    Almost every year, I resolve to read my Bible through this year.  Well, I am only a few days behind right now, but only because I did quite a bit of catch-up reading this morning. This is the beginning of a couple of weeks where I am going to focus my blogging on the importance of being faithful in reading and teaching the Bible in our homes.  I became convicted of this while reading Teach Them Diligently, How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training by Lou Priolo.  I realized that I often teach my children Biblical principles, but I rarely teach them directly from Scriptures. In order to teach them the Bible, I need to be a better student of them myself.  I usually work better with incentives, so tomorrow, I am going to tell you about a little incentive that I am going to offer for faithful Bible reading and teaching.
P.S. Shop Amazon.com to buy Teach them Diligently

Friday, January 20, 2012

OKC Metrofamily fun - Fun Fridays

         I would be remiss if I did not tell you about one of the  very best sources for fun event ideas for your family.  Metrofamily Magazine is the best at making sure you know what events are available in our area - especially the free or discounted ones.  You can go to MetrofamilyMagazine.com anytime to check their detailed calendar, but I would highly recommend subscribing to get their Weekend Picks e-mailed to you every Thursday, or click here to view this weeks Top 10.  I am continually surprised at the interesting events that go on right here in our community. 
          While you are at their site, you might as well leave a comment about how much you like January's "Character Corner" article about developing determination in your family. I am so excited to be writing a monthly column for one of my favorite magazines!  See Character Corner: Developing Determination

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tired? Play Hospital - Thoughtful Thursday

      I was just sitting here thinking about how tired I am, knowing that many of you feel the same, and wondering how we could teach our kids without using much energy. The idea that came to me was to play hospital.  This is a wonderful game that allows you to lay down and even close your eyes for long periods of time, while your "doctor" or "nurse" learns about caring for others. Before you lay down, get the doctor kit out, or just some bandaids, wash clothes, medicine (smarties or colored water in a small container),etc. Make sure you compliment them on how caring and thoughtful they are. Let them know, "You are a great nurse because you are so gentle, loving, resourceful, etc."  If you play your cards right, you can even get them to serve you dinner (warmed up soup) on the couch while you watch TV.
     We would all love to hear any great teaching ideas that you had that don't require much effort.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Critical School Decisions! - Wise Wednesdays

          Dr. James Dobson is so full of wisdom about child training.  I wanted to share with you this bit of crucial information to those of you with young children- especially those of you who are making choices about kindergarten. When Dobson was asked, "When is the most critical period in the spiritual training of young children?" He responded with,
          "I believe the fifth year of a child's life is the most critical. Up to that time, he believes in God because his parents tell him it is the thing to do.  At about five or six years of age he comes to a fork in the road... At that point, he may "buy it" and put his feet down onto a more solid foundation - or he may start to doubt it, laying the basis for rejection..."
           Surround those kiddos with people who love Jesus.  My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Hale made Jesus real to me, and then my mom explained the details. Pray over those school decisions. God has directed us to put both my girls are in public school for now, but I thank Jesus for my Christian school teacher Mrs. Hale.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cleaning Police - Teaching Tuesdays

          If there really were police that had the authority to fine or arrest me according to how clean my house was, I would be in serious trouble. I am scared enough of my husband who randomly confiscates things that are left-out too long. This does keep my girls in check most of the time, but I need to find a way to get them more involved in tidying up and keeping our home more orderly. Next time we are cleaning up, I am going to add some fun by letting them pretend that they are the cleaning police. I think if I give them the power to collect fines, confiscate items, and dole out prescribed punishments for people who do not do their chores or clean up after themselves, this may get them more involved in the process. If it works temporarily, I will experiment with this long term - giving them a designated room to patrol for a week. I will let you know how it goes.
         If you have any great ideas about getting children to practice orderliness, I am all ears.

Monday, January 16, 2012

You are Good Enough & Smart Enough - Mom Mondays

       I have to admit, I used to watch Saturday Night Live during my college days.  Now I am too exhausted to stay up that late.  After church yesterday, I felt like Stuart Smalley from SNL (played by actor Al Frankin).  He was an insecure nerdy looking guy who made himself feel better by self-talk.  He would say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" 
        When I compare myself to other "Super Saints", I leave church feeling inadequate and small. That is not how God wants us to feel when we leave church. Satan loves to make us girls feel insecure in order to distract us or to deture us from ministering to others. So if you are feeling a little insecure or unsure that God has big plans for you, let's do some self-talk together. Repeat after me."I am good enough because I am a daughter of The King. I am smart enough because God has gifted me with numerous talents and abilities.  And people do like me, but what is really important is that God has placed specific people in my life for me to shine God's love to.  Father, help me shine for you today!"

Friday, January 13, 2012

Terrible or Terrific Twos - You Choose (Fun Friday)

      My 3rd child, Kyah, and her cousin Hudson are both almost 2 and 1/2, so yes, I know that two year olds say "no" often, throw fits, whine, make giant messes, destroy things, don't have much self-control or patience, etc. etc.. However, I also know that two year olds can also be the sweetest, cuddliest, most joyful, most adorable, easily entertained, hilarious, and undeniable cuter than just about any age. The list of their good qualities goes on and on. 
        Though this stage in life can definitely be difficult and time demanding.  I think it is one of the most delightful, and I am trying to soak Kyah up as much as I can.  When I am exhausted and bewildered after a meltdown at the store, I am tempted to think, "I can't wait until these "Terrible Twos" are over.  Instead, I need to remind myself that I am "Gonna Miss This"! (I have trouble listening to that song by Trace Adkins without crying. See it on You Tube.) I try to think of the multitude of positive things about Kyah and the stage in life that she is in right now-the Terrific Twos. It is all about positive perspective and contentment. I need to be more like my amazing two-year-old who is so gifted at living joyfully in the moment.
       Go have fun living in the moment with your child - whatever age they are today! I would love to hear ways that you joyfully live in the moment with your kids.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Can you Force Kids to be Grateful?

        If you have not written thank you notes for Christmas yet, it is never too late to show gratefulness (although I think Emily Post says try to do it within two weeks).  I know getting kids to write thank you notes is no easy task, so last weekend, I employed my husband's help. First, I got out all the paints, stencils, and paper - to add the fun factor. Then I took captive all the things my kids had received for Christmas. My husband broke the news that they could not have their gifts back AT ALL if they had not written a thank you note for it without complaining before bedtime.  He is a hardcore genius! This method worked much better than my idea of just keeping their presents until a note was written eventually.  I admit that I was worried I would end up with some barely used Christmas presents in my possession.  However, once they started painting, the initial shock and crankiness wore off quickly and they actually had a fun night of creativily showing their true gratefulness.
       So to answer the title question: No, you cannot force kids to be grateful in their heart, but you can require them to show gratefulness.  The beauty in this above example, and that I experience often personally, is that my heart is sometimes reluctant to have the right attitude.  However, when my right actions and right thoughts lead the way, my heart attitude usually follows.
       Do you have any good ideas that you would like to share about teaching your kids gratefulness?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mighty Mom - Wise Wednesday

"Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." - I John 4:4
     Do you want to make a big impact on your kids and on the world just like I was talking about yesterday? One of the most important and mountain moving things you can do is PRAY! You can accomplish more in ten minutes on your knees than you can all day running on your own strength.
     One man's life is a great example of the power of prayer.  John Knox was a 16th century reformer who was arrested in Scotland for boldy preaching the truth of the Scriptures. While he was chained to the oars of a ship, he grew not only in physical strength but also in the strength of fervant prayer.  So much so, that the Queen of Scotland is quoted as saying, "I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You are doing GREAT THINGS! - Teaching Tuesday

Since we were young, we have had high hopes of growing up to do GREAT THINGS! 
Let me encourage you.  You are doing them now!  Let the sound of those sweet little feet running into your room in the morning remind you that your children are ready and eager to soak up whatever it is that you are going to teach them today. Don't let others deceive you into thinking there are bigger and better things to do with your time.  Raising your children to be more Christ-like is one of the biggest impacts you can have on this world and on eternity.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Moms Don't Get Sick Days - Mom Monday

I am writing this to you today as my head is pounding, my throat is on fire, and my whole body aches; so I am going to make this short. Sometimes as moms it is easy to focus on the negative, especially when you are not feeling well.  It is true. Moms generally don't get sick days, but I just wanted to write you and myself an encouraging note to remind us that God is faithful and will not give us more than we can handle.  For instance, I am blessed that I am at the end of this three day sickness, and my wonderful husband watched the kids, made a few meals, and even changed one dirty diaper so I was able to get some rest this weekend.  I have much to be grateful for. This weekend I was reminded of my faithful God, faithful husband, kind children, and my general health.  A three day sickness is very minor compared to what some others are facing.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Listen to Your Juggling Coach

(Day 6 continuation on Faithful Follow Through)
 Step 5: Have more Faith in Christ   
       As a mom, I am always juggling. I don't know why I tend to be such a control freak about the things I am juggling - keeping them all to myself.  Especially, since I tend to drop things often and tire easily.  I need to replace my prideful faith in myself  (thinking that I know everything and that my way is the best and only way) with a humble faith in the best juggler of all time - Christ. He is my caring coach who helps me build strength and guides me to know which items to hand off to my partner, or to set spinning somewhere else.  He will even daily hold up my tired arms, spot me whenever necessary, and take care of all the things I drop.  Juggling is just like basketball or any other sport, in that if you want to work on your technique - follow through, hang time, etc.- you should always listen to your coach. To faithfuly follow through this year, I am going to need to have more faith in Christ my Coach. He really knows what He is talking about.
       If you get a minute this weekend, I would love to hear about the areas in which our Coach has been giving you tips and techniques.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jolie, My #1 Commitment Today - Fun Friday

(Day 5 continuation on Faithful Follow Through)
Step 4 to faithfully following through:
    Commit to less Commitments. 
         Today is the perfect day to talk about this, because today is my daughter Jolie's birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOLIE!  You are so full of joy, singing, creativity, fun, and love! We are going to have so much fun celebrating you today!
         When I over commit to things, I miss out on the really good things in life that are going on with Jolie and the rest of my family.  My kids can't halt their growing while I get everything checked off my to do list.  My husband and God are both amazingly patient, but their lives continue to pass on, while I am distracted and neglectful. There are ministry opportunities all around me that I am oblivious to when I am overwhelmed and overscheduled.
          One of the easiest ways to keep my priorities in order and follow through with what I commit to, is by making fewer and wiser commitments.  I generally over-commit, and it is usually for all the wrong reasons like guilt, keeping up appearances, poor planning, pride, selfishness, lacking the courage to just say "no", etc.  I need to seek God's direction, and use self-control, the next time I am thinking about adding something else to my calendar that needs to stay free for all the fun birthday party planning, laundry, fort making, diaper changing, church activities, storytimes, dinners, date nights, cleaning, talking time, games, and all the other fun random needs of all the people that I touch daily.
         Join with me in committing to: committing less.  I would love to hear your ideas on this topic.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Great Gift for Fellow Moms- Thoughtful Thursdays

(Day 4 continuation on Faithful Follow Through)
       Yesterday you heard about my favorite parenting book about first-time obedience "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" by Ginger Plowman.  To accompany this book, Plowman made one of the best parenting tools I have found.
        If you are looking for a practical, thoughtful, and economical gift for a fellow mom, THIS IS IT!  This tool is made in somewhat of a calendar format so you can hang it on your fridge for easy reference.   Wise Words for Moms helps you train your children to replace their bad behaviors with positive attitudes and actions using a Scriptural format similar to a mini topical concordance.
       Stock your gift closet with this must-have resource for only $4.00 from Plowman's website http://www.gingerplowman.com/ or Shop Amazon.com.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

First Time Obedience - Wise Wednesdays

(Day 3 continuation on Faithful Follow Through)
 Step 3: Require First-time Obedience          Requiring first-time obedience from my kids, is the only way my kids will learn that I mean what I say.  I am going to hand this topic over to a woman much wiser and more disciplined than myself. Ginger Plowman is the author of my very favorite books on parenting because it weaves together the biblical truth of focusing on a child's heart with practical steps to apply these truths.
         Ginger Plowman teaches her children that first time obedience means, "All the way, right away, and with a happy heart." This is brilliant because it not only focuses on the action, but the attitude behind the action. Plowman references Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20, Proverbs 13:18,24, and more as she tells her children, "When you disobey me you are disobeying God and it will not go well with you.  I love you too much to allow you to disobey. "Don't Make Me Count to Three" Should be required reading for all Christian Moms.
          Don't miss tomorrow when I tell you about her practical tool to carry out these principles entitled Wise Words for Moms.  In the meantime, I would love to hear any great ideas you have for requiring first time obedience from your children.

Monday, January 2, 2012

No More Excuses - Teaching Tuesdays

(Day 2 continuation on Faithful Follow Through)
Step 2 to Faithful Follow Through: No more Making Excuses.
       There is a reason why my children obey my husband right away, and obey me sporadically. They know he means what he says when he asks them to do one task, and he will stand there and respond to their immediate obedience or disobedience with praise or punishment - no excuses. I on the other hand am always making excuses for everything - their behavior and my lack of discipline. "They would have obeyed right away if they weren't so hungry, tired, etc." "It is okay that I ate three brownies, because I am going to exercise tomorrow." "Well, I know that I told the kids they couldn't watch anymore TV if there room wasn't clean, but then my mom dropped by and needed to talk about something important, and I needed to distract them with something just for a few moments." The problem with this logic, is there is alway some kind of "extenuating circumstance" in all of life. Do I really want to teach my kids to make excuses for themselves or their misbehavior?
         When we make excuses, our commands become empty threats, and we teach our kids that mom does not really mean what she says. Instead, I should be focusing on reinforcing first time obedience. Don't miss tomorrows wise words about first-time obedience from one of my favorite authors.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Faithful Follow Through - Mom Mondays

          Happy New Year, Moms! I am really great at coming up with New Year's resolutions and even making great plans to achieve these goals. However, I am not great at following through with these plans. This year I resolve to be more resolute - not just in my resolutions, but in all I say and do! In other words, I am going to work on faithfully following through.
          Just like in basketball where you have to learn and follow several steps in order to make a goal (eyes on the goal, elbow in, follow through, etc.) our daily goals are no different. There are a few things I will have to work at in order to accomplish being better at my goal of being more faithful.
           Step 1: Stop talking so much. The easiest way to mean what I say and only say what I mean is to stop talking so much. As a typical woman, this is no easy task, but I am going to work on thinking more before I speak. This may mean, I have to pause for a moment before I respond to others, or this may even mean not answering the telephone every time it rings. Better yet, I will just turn my phone off every once in awhile, since I am sure that the sound of a telephone ringing triggers some kind of temporary crazy response in my children's brains.
          Come back tomorrow for step two (about no excuses), and in the meantime, I would love to hear about your New Year's Resolutions.