+M_RP8^ৠ;kw)Uh[?΁L*yL)a[ӯI_x$60#HR/K )4~{;Nr4’Rآ͛l<( ۝njvǯD|9%^Ķz ^Q_8\bU^JW0ʈ"Ux[:TR.&@4a卧TΪ8^?SH Rr47(0l&h,S>U4/??2\CEP)b>> AH#gbk"Y-?G$;=Kp;z<5!.*+N  >?nC@Ί vVw>lT!/#5KIx`/M(3Ax Consider it All Joy | An imperfect journey through homeschooling and motherhood | Page 3 +M_RP8^ৠ;kw)Uh[?΁L*yL)a[ӯI_x$60#HR/K )4~{;Nr4’Rآ͛l<( ۝njvǯD|9%^Ķz ^Q_8\bU^JW0ʈ"Ux[:TR.&@4a卧TΪ8^?SH Rr47(0l&h,S>U4/??2\CEP)b>> AH#gbk"Y-?G$;=Kp;z<5!.*+N  >?nC@Ί vVw>lT!/#5KIx`/M(3AxU4/??2\CEP)b>> AH#gbk"Y-?G$;=Kp;z<5!.*+N  >?nC@Ί vVw>lT!/#5KIx`/M(3Ax
15 Nov

Godly Women Make The Best Friends

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How many girlfriends do you have? I don’t mean people you see once a week at church or that you chat with at the park, I mean real girlfriends. The girls who are there when you need them, no questions asked. The ones who will pray with you in the middle of the night over a sick baby. The ones who will cry with you over something that doesn’t even make sense to them.  How much time do you invest in those relationships? I think friendship is one of the most difficult things to maintain through the motherhood years. We already have so much that we are responsible for between children and our husbands, housework, finances… the list goes on and on. It’s sometimes difficult to find time to nurture and grow great friendships. It’s so important to have godly girlfriends to walk through life with. Someone to build you up when you’re feeling discouraged, someone to speak truth into your life when you need to hear it. Maybe just someone to sit and drink coffee with to take a break from all the stressful moments. Good friends are so valuable. God gave us friendships, He spoke about them often.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 

Two are better than one,because they have a good return for their labor:10 If either of them falls down,one can help the other up.But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.But how can one keep warm alone?12 Though one may be overpowered,two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

These verses are about relationships, not just about marriage. God is describing how we should love each other, how we should build each other up, help each other when we stumble, comfort each other when we are hurt. Friendships are important to our Godly walk.

There are two types of friends in this world. Well, really there are many, but I want to talk about two in particular. Godly friends and worldly friends. I’m quite sure we all have a few of each, right? Let’s talk about their roles in our journey.

Godly friends speak truth into our life. I love my Christian girlfriends. I know that when I have an urgent prayer request I can call them and they are prayer warriors. They will pray for me, every day and they don’t have to be reminded. They will call me or message me to check on the progress. They are invested in my life and in my walk with Christ.

Every single one of us struggles with sin. We all have our favorite, am I right? Your Christian friends *should* be the type of women to discourage sin in your life. They shouldn’t be afraid to tell you when you’re headed down the wrong path, but they should do it in love. A friend who judges you, looks down on you or condemns you without compassion is not a friend. She’s someone who is quite possibly taking pleasure in your struggles to make herself feel better about her own life. These people belong in your acquaintance file… they aren’t the girls you go to for spiritual advice or when you’re struggling. I’ve had several friends like this through the years, I always walked away feeling worse about myself than before. They weren’t capable of building me up when I need it. I still love them, but I know their limitations.

In my little circle of close friends there are a few women I can call at any time and know that I’ll get Godly wisdom and advice. I know that I’ll get confidentiality, they won’t gossip. They won’t judge me. They will speak truth to me, because they genuinely care about my soul. They care about my walk with God. They know and understand God’s calling on my life and they won’t deter me from it. They encourage me to get up, keep walking and they hold my hand when I need it.

I read a quote this week and loved it so much.

“True friends are like jewels, precious and rare. False ones are like autumn leaves, found everywhere. “

I thought that was a very accurate picture. You can surround yourself with dozens of girlfriends, but there only seem to be a small handful that you can consider to be trustworthy; wise. Truly godly friends will edify you and lift you up. They don’t judge your personal convictions. They support your walk with Christ. 

Worldy friends are the other friend zone I want to talk to you about today. The friends who you may have had forever who are, well, worldly. They may not know Christ, they may or may not attend church, but they don’t walk with God. They may be wonderful people, they may be great friends, but sometimes that’s just not enough. I had a small group of girlfriends that I hung out with regularly for several years when my kids were very small. We had play dates and mom dates together quite often. We talked on the phone all the time, supported each other when times were hard. I could count on them to be there… when the whole house had a stomach bug my friends would drop hand sanitizer and Gatorade at the door. We used to get together quite often to go to a favorite restaurant for dinner, a girls night out if you will…  We would eat dinner and have a few glasses of wine together, gossip about different people we knew, and talk about life. We did this together for years. The last time I went was right after John and I had started going to church. I had begun renewing my relationship with Christ and striving to be the woman He wanted me to be. I felt convicted about drinking alcohol and I had decided that I wasn’t going to have any wine at dinner. We got to the restaurant and everyone placed their order, I asked for a diet coke. My friends looked at me and asked why I wasn’t drinking. I was a little embarrassed so I told them that I was on a diet and couldn’t have alcohol. My lie was thinly veiled. They knew why I wasn’t drinking.  It had mentioned a few times over the weeks prior that I was turning into one of those “church ladies.” They weren’t bad people, the were among the best friends I have ever had, some of my favorite people in this world… but they didn’t have the same convictions that I did. They spent the rest of the night encouraging me to just have a glass, telling me Jesus drank wine. I personally don’t think it’s a sin to have a glass of wine. I do believe it’s a sin to get drunk. The Holy Spirit convicts me about drinking because I’m not the girl who will have one glass and He knows that. But whether or not it’s a sin isn’t the point. My friends weren’t supportive of my decision to abstain because they simply didn’t understand it. They didn’t respect my personal convictions because they didn’t feel the same. It’s hard to explain how we feel about things like this. Especially when we may not even fully understand it ourselves. I still love them dearly, but we aren’t close any more. I don’t call them for advice like I did in the past because I know that they are more likely to speak to my flesh than my soul. Sometimes it hurts. I do miss those girls. Our lives have just changed in such a way that we’ve grown apart.

The Bible tells us that we are to surround ourselves with wise (biblical) friends.

Proverbs 13:20

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. 

The word wise in this verse isn’t referring to intelligence. God isn’t telling us to walk with the intelligent, He’s is telling us to walk with the GodlyIf we do not surround ourselves with wise counsel, we will suffer harm.

Take my girls night situation for example. My girlfriend encouraged me to be like everyone else, to conform to the world and enjoy the happy hour wine. She pressured me, made me feel like the odd man out for not drinking.  If I had been with any of my close, godly girls and considered ordering some wine they would discourage me. At the same time, I would never feel pressured to sin with them. If gossip starts in our group it’s nipped away quickly. Are  my girlfriends perfect? Of course not. They make mistakes just like everyone does. But I know they genuinely try to live a godly life. We pray for each other, we serve each other. We care not only about each others physical and emotional well-being, but our spiritual well-being as well. I know that when I’m struggling and I call them, I’ll get wise counsel. I’ll get compassion and not judgement. I’ll get truth. Our godly friends give us the truth that our friends who are conformed to this world don’t understand.

Romans 12:2

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

I’m not telling you that I don’t have friends who aren’t Christians, and I’m certainly not telling you that you shouldn’t either. I’m just reminding you that we do need close, godly women who are following after the heart of God. We need those friends and we need to strive to be those friends. I’m a work in progress. I fail my heavenly Father daily but He has blessed me with some of the most wonderful women on Earth to call friends and I am so grateful for that. I am so thankful to have women of God who influence me and encourage me daily.

So you sweet girls who always speak truth into my life, always pray when I need it and always love me no matter what, thank you. <3 You know who you are.

 

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06 Nov

Uh Oh! Mom’s Sick Too!

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mom's sick

What a week!! Our family has spent the week passing around a nasty respiratory virus. Well, at least three out of the five of us have. It all started last Thursday morning, Liv woke up around 2 am asking for covers. She NEVER uses blankets, she’s my hot-natured little bug. She was shivering.  Uh Oh… fever. She didn’t feel too warm so I thought maybe it was a fluke, so we rolled back over and went to sleep. I got up a few hours later to go for a run, I warned John that she felt feverish in the night and to call me if he needed me. Like he can’t take care of a toddler with a fever? Lucky for me, he understands my particular brand of crazy.

When I got back home my little girl was sitting on her daddy’s lap, with a great big smile and bright red cheeks. Yep… thermometer time.

101… not a good way to start the morning. I gave her some Motrin and turned on Doc McStuffins. She seemed happy, no symptoms whatsoever, so we went ahead with our normal school day.

I was a bit worried about how long the fever would last because we were hosting a big Homeschool Halloween Party the following day, so I messaged all the other mom’s and let them know we’d need a plan B. We all hoped and prayed that Liv would wake up from her nap and be fever free…

No such luck. She woke up at 101 again. Plan B it was… Thank you to my sweet friends for changing the venue and taking my boys to the party so that they didn’t miss out! You girls know who you are and you rock!

By dinner time she had gotten up to 103, oddly enough though, she still had zero symptoms. She didn’t eat much dinner, but didn’t complain of any stomach pain so I felt pretty confident that she’d wake up better after a good night’s rest.

She didn’t. She ran 103 fever all night, and she slept on top of me. John slept in the spare room to avoid catching whatever she was sharing. He is a wise man.

The next morning, we were both cranky… neither of us having much sleep at all. As we sat on the couch together, her with her sippy cup and me with my coffee, she proceeded to throw up all over me. Yay motherhood. That’s when I called the pediatrician.

After one more vomiting episode a gnarly cough set in, literally in the doctor’s office. They tested her for flu and strep, both negative (she had her flu shot a month ago) He diagnosed her with croup :( The nurse tried to give her a steroid in the office, she promptly threw it up. I think kids are like cats in that manner, they can vomit on command or when it suits them or to get out of a test…

Anyway, that was Friday, the day before Halloween. The day that no kiddo wants to be sick. She had the cutest costume this year, Lambie from Doc McStuffins, her very favorite show right now. *So glad her Yo Gabba Gabba phase is over!* I was disappointed that she likely wouldn’t get to wear it.

Friday night went very much like Thursday night did… she slept on top of me, with a fever, and now an awesome cough. All. Night. Long. Yay me.

Saturday morning she still looked puny, but both the boys seemed to be good so I was thankful for small blessings. We continued on with the planned fesitivies, Trunk-or-Treat at church, only daddy had to stay home with Lambie. She helped him pass out candy so it was not all bad.

lambie

 

When the boys and I got home we did a little Trick-or-Treating with Lambie and came home and put the kiddos to bed… after they ate about half of their candy. :)

The next day, Sunday, I kept Liv home while John took the boys to church. In the blur that is life with a sick kiddo on a holiday weekend, I completely forgot it was my turn to bring breakfast to Sunday School (sorry Family Life Group!) Liv still felt crummy all morning but I got a ton of stuff done with the boys gone for a few hours.

That night Kaden and Collin had a big play at their Co Op, Olivia wasn’t up for the show so my dad stayed with her… this is how she looked when we left her at 4…

sick girl

I’d say she was still under the weather, wouldn’t you? And she insisted on wearing those socks… all weekend. She didn’t go anywhere, so I figured why fight her on it :) Her way of celebrating Halloween I guess.

The boys did an amazing job in their play. I was so impressed. I was so very proud of all their work, John and I laughed so hard we cried at their mannerisms on that stage. It was awesome!

We got home that night and put everyone to bed, and I was feeling rough. You know that “I’ve had a sick toddler stuck to my side for 3 days and now I feel like I have a fever” feeling? If you’re a mom I bet you do. I went to bed, hoping and praying that I wouldn’t get sick. The next day (Monday) was our 13th wedding anniversary. No one wants to be sick on their anniversary… I went to bed early, slept with a croupy toddler and woke up sick.

The problem with momma being sick is that everything stops. John would have happily stayed home from work if I needed him to but that just didn’t feel right. He’s got a busy, demanding job. I knew it’d be better if he stayed out of the sick ward. So we pressed on.

Monday came and went, Olivia and I both sick and running fevers. By Tuesday Liv was better. No more fevers and only a little cough left. My mother came and got her for a couple days so that I could recoup. I am so thankful to have amazing parents who live 20 minutes away! They are  my life savers!

I spent the next two days laying on the couch watching old episodes of Law and Order SVU and Ghost Busters with the boys, it’s not a bad way to spend your sick days. Knowing the toddler was taken care of (Papa let her eat jelly beans for breakfast but that’s a topic for another post), and that the boys are big enough to entertain themselves I was able to relax. However, by Wednesday, Kaden was feeling crummy. He didn’t have fever but he had the stuffy head and cough that had plagued Liv and I… Luckily his illness only lasted Wednesday and Thursday… kids bounce back so much better than we do!

sick days

So here we are on Friday. Everyone is feeling better, although we all still have a cough. Collin and John seemed to have come out unscathed and we are praying that they stay that way. We got nearly zero school done this week, although I did make the boys do their daily reading and I let them watch their favorite marine biology show on Netflix (We call that sick day science!) so we survived. We got so stir crazy that we all got dressed and went to Target at 9 am today… Just to get out of the house… Then to lunch with Daddy… again… We. Were. Stir. Crazy.

We have some things to make up next week but that’s ok too. We got through a rough week together. I didn’t have to worry about how much school they were missing or if I was going to have to send my sick kids to school because of a test… I know it sounds funny, but that was peace to me. We had no where we had to be, no tests that couldn’t wait, we could just sit home together, with netflix and tissues and get well together. It was the best sick week we’ve ever had. <3

Have a great weekend!

Nicki

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26 Oct

“You complete me” and other lies Hollywood tells us about love

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12167016_10208006309258917_852143385_n“Hello. I’m looking for my wife. Alright. If this is where it has to happen, then this is where it has to happen. I’m not letting you get rid of me. How about that? This used to be my specialty. I was good in a living room. Send me in there, I’ll do it alone. And now I just… I don’t know…but our little company had a good night tonight. A really big night. But it wasn’t complete, it wasn’t nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete, because I couldn’t share it with you. I couldn’t hear your voice, or laugh about it with you. I missed my wife. We live in a cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors, I love you. You complete me. And I just…”

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Do you remember that famous speech? It’s what Jerry Maguire uttered to Dorothy Boyd in his “heart felt” attempt to win her back. He had ignored her and broken her heart in many ways throughout the movie, even though she has stepped out of her job to support him in his personal career goals… she finally had enough. At the end of the movie we all watch with baited breath as he finally puts forth some effort. And how did she respond?

‘Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello”

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Ahhh romance. Every woman watching that movie with her girlfriends longed to have her husband utter those words.

You complete me.” 

Do you know the main problem with that sentence? Your husband can’t complete you. It’s not his job to complete you. If you enter a relationship with the expectation that your spouse will “complete you” your marriage will suffer. We are all designed to need to be completed by something, there is definitely a hole in our souls that we long to fill. Hollywood tells us to fill that hole with a man, with a soul mate, with love. However, that void can only be filled by God. Praising Him through prayer, worship, service and seeking Him. That hole in your heart was put there by God. He designed us to know that something is missing so that we would seek Him. He’s the only one who can complete you. 

Isaiah 43:21 

21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

Think back to all the relationships you’ve watched on the television or big screen in your lifetime. Ross & Rachel, Michael & Sarah, Cliff & Clair, even Zach & Kelly and Kevin & Winnie. We are told that we need to be completed by the perfect romantic relationship at a very young age. Hollywood models relationships after unattainable standards. They also show us love through the world’s lens. Not God’s.

Love isn’t perfect. It’s messy. Yes, we all feel that new relationship feeling. The warm and fuzzy butterflies that make us swoon every time we think about our new love. But that fades. Husbands leave dirty socks in the floor; wives burn dinner. Children come and things get really crazy. If you’ve used your marriage to try to fill your spiritual needs you’ll be feeling some serious strain at this point. Without a relationship with Christ, you can’t understand true grace. Grace is undeserved mercy. That’s beautiful isn’t it? If my husband tracks dirt through the house I can have one of two reactions. I can get mad and start a fight or I can sweep it up, understanding all he does for me. Maybe he was out cutting the grass and tracked dirt in when he was done? That’s grace. That’s a very simple example but you get what I’m saying. We make mistakes, we aren’t perfect, but we still love each other because we choose to.

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Most television relationships promote sin. Ross & Rachel lived together and were physically intimate long before their drunken wedding ceremony in Vegas. They had a child together while they continued to date other people. When they came home and sobered up they had an annulment. No biggie right? Their marriage was disposable. Do all of these things happen in real life? Of course. Does God love any of the people who have been in this situations any less? Not even a little bit. I lived with my husband for nearly 3 years before we married. It was a sin. I’m not proud of it but it’s part of who I am. It’s part of our testimony. You see, we were young and not in church. We lived in the world and in the world it’s acceptable to live together before marriage. They do it on tv and in movies all the time. That sin has become an acceptable sin because we’ve been taught that “everyone is doing it” and so we do.

God wants us to model our relationships after His Word. We are spiritually and emotionally complete when we have an intimate relationship with Christ. Walking daily with Him, depending on Him, talking to Him every step of the way. That’s what completes us. Then and only then can we have a successful, godly marriage. When you allow yourself to be completed by God it takes the pressure off your husband. You’re able to give him grace for his imperfections, he’s allowed to be human. When you aren’t expecting him to meet every emotional and spiritual need you have you’ll be happier in your marriage because you no longer have unrealistic expectations from each other.

Hollywood also tells us that if we are unhappy with our spouse, when we feel that they aren’t completing us, we should look for a new one. When we get married we say vows, they vary in the exact wording, but traditionally they all involve the following.

“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part.” 

The Bible tells us that when we are married before Him we become one flesh. We don’t marry for a season or until we aren’t feeling fulfilled any longer, we marry until death do us part.

Matthew 19:4-6

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Divorcing your spouse because they don’t make you feel special any longer goes back to that hole you’re trying to fill in your soul. You see, people are selfish. It’s part of our sin nature. The world tells us to look out for ourselves, are we being served? Does my husband bring me presents, does he make me feel pretty, does he meet my needs? A godly marriage, between two people who are modeling Christ in their marriage looks different. Spouses ask how can I serve my husband or wife? How can I show them they are loved? How can I make them feel special?

See the difference? It goes from “What have you don’t for me lately?” to “What can I do for you?” (<<<did you see what I did there, music is another way the world tells us how we should love)

Let me be clear. I am in no way advocating for anyone to stay with a spouse who is mentally, physically, sexually or even verbally abusive. I’m not even advocating staying with a spouse who has been unfaithful, although I believe that some marriages can survive unfaithfulness if the cheating partner has genuine repentance and remorse. Those couples need to seek counselling together to repair their marriage. If your spouse is habitually unfaithful you are not going to get genuine anything from them, in which case, divorce is acceptable, even in God’s eyes.

Matthew 19:9

9And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

You see, God knew that marriage would be hard. He knew that it would take work, therefore he set up guidelines and rules to ensure we give each other grace for most situations, and that some situations just can’t be repaired. Love is an action. It’s not a fuzzy feeling when he touches your hand or you kiss his cheek. Love is grace in action. Love is accepting that your spouse isn’t perfect and loving them regardless because you are one flesh, joined in the eyes of the Lord.

So to recap. God completes us which gives us strength. God’s perfect strength gives us the ability to give grace to our spouses when we realize that they aren’t perfect, when the new wears off. That grace that we give is given back to us when we don’t deserve it. Spouses learn to serve and love each other the way that Christ loves us. Hollywood has it all wrong. God designed it perfectly.

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20 Oct

Can I Get a Monday Do Over? Please?

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Mondays are supposed to be the chance to start a new week, full of possibility and promise. But we all know they aren’t. They are the day that steals our joy almost as soon as they begin.

Yesterday, Monday, I started my day off right. I am using a new running app. I love it, It tells me what to do. “Ok, start running for 3 minutes,” “And lets walk for 1 minute, ” “Now sprint for 15 seconds…” I ran 3.5 miles and I felt pretty great. Like I could take on the world right? Well, the world is very different from 3 homeschool kids.

As soon as I got in, Liv greeted me at the door. John was finishing up his breakfast and headed up stairs so I was in charge. I always hope she’ll sleep until I can at least get a cup of coffee in me, but this is Monday so no such luck. I made her some pancakes (the microwaveable kind, I’m not a hero on Mondays) and myself a cup of liquid gold. The boys joined us soon after… everything was going ok so far. I fixed their breakfasts and headed up to get a shower. The boys had instructions, “Eat your breakfast, clean up your mess and get dressed for school.” Easy right? Think they followed them? Nope.

Almost as soon as I stepped out of my 2 minute shower, I heard the boys fighting in my bedroom. I walk in to find them both, still in their jammies, rolling around on my bedroom floor like a couple of hyenas. I felt the urge to scream but I held it together. I sent them to their rooms to get ready and I threw on some clothes. Olivia and I walked down stairs… that’s where Monday began.

There were breakfast plates all over the table, at least my sweet husband had moved his to the counter by the sink… As I took inventory of our  beautiful new home I saw that the boys had flooded the bathroom floor and left their dirty clothes in a pile in the middle of the water from showers the night before. There were shoes and toys strewn about from the front door to the back. A half eaten bag of pretzels on the couch, open… and tiny plastic wrappers everywhere… I picked one up… Pecan Swirls… they had literally opened them, ate them and just dropped the trash. Really? I realize that kids will be kids, but these boys are 8 and 10, they know better. Monday.

I called the boys down and I yelled. They hurried around, cleaning their mess. Olivia following behind them, barking orders herself… she’s seen me do this a few times. Once it was picked up I had them sit in their desks with a pencil and paper. We were having a come to Jesus meeting. I wrote House Rules on the white board and they copied them down.

1. NO TV Until after school is over

2. Clean up your own messes

3. Turn the lights off when you leave a room (this is a big problem in our house)

4.Put your dirty clothes away

5. NO SMART MOUTHS (this one is for Collin… he’s sassy like his momma)

6. Follow directions the first time

Simple rules really, in my mind I think they should already know these but clearly my kids needed a reminder.

We laminated the rules and taped them to their desks, a constant reminder. I felt pretty good about my meeting so we started school.

Kaden goes first, always… Collin plays with Liv until it’s his turn.

School went pretty well with Kaden, he was having a good focus day (he’s our ADD boy) and we ended with a smile.

Then it was Collin’s turn, Kaden went upstairs with the instruction to watch his sister. I told him that if she wanted to watch TV they could, but it had to be one of her shows… Clifford, Sophia, Doc McStuffins… Shows that wont suck a 10 -year-old boy in. I knew that he would pay attention to her if they were watching “baby” shows.

I went back downstairs and started school with Collin. 15 minutes later, Olivia came walking down the stairs alone (she’s not allowed to ever be on the stairs without holding someone’s hand), covered in blue gatorade. You know that if a toddler is covered in anything, chances are something else is covered too, right? So I call up to Kaden…

Me “Where’s your sister?”

Kaden “She’s right here mom.”

Me “You sure?”

Kaden “Hey! Where’d she go?!”

Me “She’s down stairs wearing blue gatorade”

I asked Liv where the mess was and she says sweetly “Come on mom, I will show you!”

I go up and there’s gatorade everywhere, on the table, on the carpet… beige carpet with blue gatorade is a shocking sight. After I surveyed the damage I noticed that Kaden was watching Hot Wheels. Hmmm… that’s why he didn’t even notice she was gone. You see, some people don’t realize that ADD kids have laser like focus when they are interested in something. An atom bomb could have gone off and he wouldn’t have flinched.

I lost it. Yelling, screaming, angry words left my lips. I threw a hissy fit, cleaned up the mess and reinstructed Kaden… then headed back downstairs.

Not long after, Kaden and Olivia came down to play playdoh at the kitchen table. Great, that’s a quiet activity, she’s not in danger of falling down the stairs, I’m good with this. Liv gets into playdoh, she loves it… which is why she had a poopy accident yesterday, on Monday, because she had to go and she didn’t want to stop playing. Cleaning up poo isn’t fun, ever. Well played Monday. Well played.

Now I’m sitting there, after cleaning up the mess, trying to dive back into school with Collin, I can’t find where we left off because I’m flying by the seat of my pants anyway… I didn’t do lesson plans the night before because there just wasn’t time. See, we are in the throws of the MLB post season and this is a big deal here in the Herrell House, a virtual holiday if you will… My sweet husband thinks it’s a holiday from bedtime… our boys have been sitting up until 10:30 or 11:00 Every. Single. Night. For a week!

I know you girls know what I mean when I say that by the end of the night, I don’t want to see my kids… at least not awake. I prefer to see them sleeping soundly in their beds.  I love them dearly, but I have been needed, wanted, touched, climbed on, wiped on, and tasked all day long. I need a break. I wand some adult time, nothing crazy, just having an hour or so where no one needs anything from me. I don’t have to wipe a bottom or pour a milk, or clean up a mess. Just to talk, watch TV, veg out a bit. The volume level in our house drops drastically when our kids are in bed. I’m craving quiet. I’m not getting that right now and it makes for a very cranky momma. We need downtime. NEED, not WANT…

So back to Monday… we finally got done with school and I sat down to do a bit of work while the kids ate lunch. That’s when Collin appeared, asking for the dustpan. Now, this isn’t a normal question for an 8-year-old boy so of course I had to investigate… he spilled a bag of popcorn all over the kitchen floor. #Monday

I could go on and on about how our day derailed. The broken trinket a rogue baseball hit, the missing baseball bat that we still haven’t been able to locate, all the countless spills, quarrels and inconveniences but I’m sure I don’t have to… You likely have a similar disdane for Monday. We all do. Our Mondays, or Tuesdays or any days… are filled with the craziness of motherhood. My stress outlet is to share mine with you. I find a bit of comic relief to put “pen to paper” or key to screen in this instance?? It helps me laugh it off to know that someone else is laughing at me er… with me?? So thanks for reading and I hope we all have a better week!

 


 

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12 Oct

Obedience isn’t just for children

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Can we talk for a few minutes about obedience? God has laid this word on my heart today. As mothers, we talk about or ask for obedience on the regular, don’t we? We instill it in our kids, we punish them when they aren’t obedient. I know in our home we have regular time-outs or restrictions when our kids don’t follow the rules. Sometimes disobedience requires a spanking. We give our children instructions, they are clear and we expect them to follow those instructions. We understand that they are children and they are going to mess up but as a general rule, we expect obedience.

So does God. Not just for our children though, He expects it from us, He’s laid out all the rules. He gives us instructions, tiny whispers spoken in our hearts. Oh but He, in His infinite wisdom, knows that we are going to make mistakes. His plan for our life is so perfect though. When we make mistakes we come to Him with genuine repentance in our hearts and He lovingly forgives us. Do you know that there is often a consequence in that plan? No, God won’t put us in a time out in the same sense that we do with our children, but sometimes our sin will separate us from important things in our life. A friend, a relationship, maybe something we want to do.

Proverbs 3:9-10

Honor the Lord with your wealth,    with the firstfruits of all your crops;10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,    and your vats will brim over with new wine.

For example, God has instructed us to honor him with our first fruits. This is our tithe. Tithing is not about money, tithing is about obedience. God asks us to trust him enough to give our tithe before we give to any other bill. When we disobey this we will likely find ourselves in financial struggles. When we spend our money only on the things that please us, we may find ourselves unable to afford things that we need or even want later on. However, when we honor God with our money, when we give Him our trust and obedience, He blesses us.

When my husband I first started attending church we didn’t tithe. We gave money, when we felt we had extra, but that wasn’t what God wanted from us. Giving money when all your bills are paid, when your belly is full and your wallet is overflowing isn’t trusting God. It’s saying “Okay, all my wants and needs are fulfilled, here… you can have what’s left.” Those aren’t your first fruits. When you get your paycheck and the first thing you do is give to God, before you see how much is left over, before the bills are paid, when your savings is empty… that’s when you’re trusting God. That’s when you’re saying “God, I don’t know how I’m going to fair this month, but I’m going to be obedient to you.” This is what he wants. Do you know that God doesn’t want or need your money? He’s God! He wants your dependence, your trust and your obedience.

So back to my hubby and I… we didn’t tithe for nearly a year. It wasn’t until after we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (<<< I HIGHLY recommend this class!) that we began trusting God. I remember when we wrote our first tithe check. It was a little nerve wracking to give that much money away but we trusted Him. We knew that He would bless our obedience and that He would meet our needs. Notice I said needs not wants… Within a week of me writing our first tithe check I was checking the mail and I had an envelope from the local hospital. It was a refund check for a bit more than we had just tithed, from our middle son’s birth 3 years earlier. Can you imagine the odds? Now, is God going to send you a check every time you give Him yours? Of course not, but He does bless you for the obedience. For us it’s been in the form of a promotion at my husband’s work, the ability for me to stay home and homeschool our kids, being able to get out of debt and begin saving money. He orchestrated us moving into a house that is nearly 2 times the size of our old home and would you believe that our payment is $100 LESS per month? That’s how God blesses us. Our obedience to Him puts us in His will. It puts us on a path where we are following after His heart. And He pours out His blessings on His children. You only need to read Deuteronomy 28 to see how God feels about obedience.

Several years ago I was driving home with our middle child; who was two at the time. He noticed that Chick Fil A was up ahead and asked for a biscuit. We weren’t in a hurry so I decided to stop. As we were turning in I noticed a man standing on the corner. He had a sign stating that he was hungry. I felt God speak to my heart, He told me to buy this man breakfast, so I did. I ordered him a chicken biscuit and a coffee as it was pretty cold outside but as I was paying fear struck me. Here I was, a woman, alone with a small child and I was about to approach a strange man in the street. I reached over and grabbed my purse while I was still in the drive thru lane. I put it on the floor behind the passenger seat so that it wasn’t within reach of the window and I prayed, “God, I’m doing what You want me to do but I am scared. Please protect us.” As I pulled out of the parking lot I could see the corner where the man was standing only now the scene was very different. There was a police car there with the blue lights on and two officers had this man up against the back of their car. They were patting him down. He was being arrested, for what I have no clue. There I sat, at the red light beside them;  I had his hot coffee in my cup holder and his breakfast in a bag on the passenger seat. God had protected me, He had shown me in a way that would reach me like no other (my husband and my mother are both law enforcement so seeing the blue lights spoke a message of safety to me) that He was there. I was so amazed. I called my husband, I told my pastor, I called anyone and everyone I could think of to tell what God had done for me that day!

Later that night I met some girlfriends at a fancy sushi restaurant for a birthday dinner. It’s an expensive place and there were probably 20 of us sitting together celebrating our friend. I had a couple of sushi rolls and a diet coke but most of my friends at the time were sharing bottles of wine and lots of food. As they were just getting started I was ready to leave, I’m not a drinker myself, and I tended to cut out when things got exciting. I asked the waitress for my check, it should have been about $25 if I was calculating correctly. The waitress smiled and said “it’s been taken care of.” I was confused, I assumed one of my girlfriends had picked up my tab but that wasn’t the case. An elderly gentlemen who sat inside had seen the celebration we were having on the porch. He had paid the nearly $600 (my best estimate based on the number of women and what our table ordered)tab for our entire group. He hadn’t even come out to tell us. He paid and left. The waitress said he does this about once a month, he picks a table and blesses them without ever saying a word.

I went back to my friends and told them what had happened, I also told them about what God had done for me that morning. One or two of them laughed, they thought I was making a whole lot out of a coincidence but I knew. I knew that God had rewarded my obedience. He had showed me He was watching. He made His presence known to me that day. He showed me that when I am obedient He takes notice.

God whispers to our hearts. He gives us little tasks throughout our days, some of those tasks may seem menial or even silly, but when we are obedient He moves mountains with those small tasks.

Be obedient, be submissive, look for the appointments in your life that God places before you. Even when you don’t have time or the desire, obey Him. Don’t let fear be an obstacle, fear nearly kept me from homeschooling my kids. God called me to be on this journey and He has blessed me for obeying, but fear delayed me for a full year. I didn’t trust that God could work through this area of my life. I felt like the stress would be too great. The task too difficult. But my God knew, He knew that this was where I needed to be. He knew that my children would thrive. He knew that our family would grow in a way that I can’t even put into words. He grew my faith. He grew my trust. He grew my relationship with Him. Obedience, Obedience is the key to following God’s heart. It’s the key to happiness, to being contented in your life. It’s not just what we expect of our children, it’s what our heavenly father expects from us.

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05 Oct

Raising Respectful Kids

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12084245_10207926085253367_217915034_nI am a mother to two baseball fanatic little boys who are quickly growing into young men. We are at the beginning of our fall baseball season so our family is spending a great deal of time at the local ball fields. As a homeschool family, I have to say that we sincerely enjoy having the kids around all the other boys a few times a week. It’s great for the socialization everyone always worries about! However, watching the games I am reminded of all those influences I am trying to hard to protect my boys from. The vast majority of the players in our league are great kids. They play well together, and they have great sportsmanship. But there are those few who seem to forget that it’s just a game. Parents yelling and screaming at a child for striking out quickly leads to a kid who will yell and scream and stomp off the field when he’s tagged out in a play.

This week I watched a child throw his arms up and argue with an umpire because he didn’t agree with a play. I know it sounds silly and small but picture a 10-year-old child arguing with a grown man over a baseball game, this isn’t a small problem. It’s disrespect for authority and it’s so prevalent among young men these days. My middle son saw it too, he looked at me with a little bit of horror on his face… I smiled and reminded him quietly that I’d better never see him do such a thing. He shook his head, assuring me that he wouldn’t dream of it.

We’ve worked very hard to teach our children that God has set people in authority over us and that we are to be respectful to everyone, not just the people we agree with. It seems that society as a whole has stopped teaching this lesson. Have you ever looked up the definition of respect in the dictionary? Merriam-Webster defines it as follows…

Respect: a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way

In order for a child to be able to respect someone they need to understand that the person has value. It seems that many children today are taught that their value is above all others and this is the death of respectfulness in children and young adults. As I watch these kids on the ball field, I see 3 major respect killers… and I think we are all guilty of them at times.

Respect killer #1: Undermining Authority

Think about it in this scenario… a boy is running to first after hitting a ground ball and he’s thrown out. The umpire calls him out and the child leaves the field right? No big deal, it happens to every single kid who ever plays the game. But what if that child gets to the dugout and is upset, as many of them are, and rather than telling the child that it’s ok, he’ll do better next time, the parent tells him that the umpire is wrong or blind or that he was clearly safe! Guess what that parent just did? He lessened the value of the umpire in the eyes of the child. Now that child has lost respect for this person of authority in his life. The same thing happens in school, if a parent tells a failing child that the teacher is picking on him and that it’s not his fault he has a bad grade the parent lessons the value of the teacher, which in turn causes the child to not respect the teacher.

God tells us that we are to respect the governing authorities in our life as they are all placed there by Him. This means all, teachers, umpires, bosses, presidents… God has placed these people in a position of authority over each of us for a purpose. When a parent challenges that authority to a child he is undermining God’s will in that child’s life.

Ephesians 6:4 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

It takes a great deal of discipline over our own mouths to raise respectful children. It’s easy when we see our child hurting to blame the person of authority, but it’s not the right way to handle the situation. When we let our child learn to deal with life’s disappointments we are teaching them not only to respect the authorities put in place above them but we are also teaching them to work harder in future situations.

Respect Killer #2: Children who are taught they are perfect

There has been one perfect soul on this planet. Jesus Christ is perfection. He’s the bar so to speak. Somehow our society has decided that we need to tell our children that they are the best at everything for the sake of their self esteem. I have news for you… your child isn’t perfect. Don’t worry, neither is mine. My kids are flawed. Parenting imperfect children is hard. It’s a constant battle between their flesh and my faith. Telling your children that they are perfect is actually a huge disservice. I know I’m using a lot of baseball analogies but stay with me here: If a child strikes out and comes into the dugout crying, you have two choices… you can tell him that the ump called them strikes when they were clearly balls but you’ll once again undermine the authority of the umpire.You’ll also create a lack of respect in your child’s heart. If you lift him up and tell him he’ll do better next time you’ll encourage him to practice and to work hard; to be diligent in his work. Which one of these scenarios is going to create a more respectful adult?

If we want our children to esteem someone above themselves we have to be willing to tell our children that there are other people who are better than they are. That’s a hard one in today’s society. We spend countless time telling our kids how great they are. How they are the best at everything. They get a trophy every single time the show up for a season, regardless of how hard they work. We’ve created a generation of kids with a huge amount of self worth but very little respect for anyone else. It has to stop. It’s ok if your kid isn’t the star. It’s ok if they aren’t the best student in class. Coming in second should be met with encouragement to work hard, not an explanation of how they were wronged in some way by not being recognized as the best.

Respect Killer #3: Being a disrespectful adult

You can’t raise a respectful child if you are not a respectful adult. When you are a parent you are being watched constantly. Every single thing you do or say in front of your children is written into their hearts. They learn from how you react to situations. If you argue with the umpire at a game, guess what they’ll do?? Yep, they’ll argue too. If you’re disrespectful to the adults around you they’ll learn to do the same. As a parent, you have to be willing to admit that you aren’t perfect either. You have to understand that God has put people in authority over you too. And you have to treat them as such. Show your children how to treat people of authority, teach them that their God is bigger than everyone, even you. Teach them to put others first, our society will be better for it.

Phillippians 2:3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…

Value others above yourselves… How hard is that? That’s the bar, that’s the goal. Those little words are how we raise respectful young men and women rather than a society of brats. Instilling this in our kids is how we end the attack on authority in this nation. It’s how we ensure that our kids will be godly adults who raise more godly, respectful children. It’s how we make sure that the next generation loves each other rather than just themselves.

 

 

 

 

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28 Sep

Slow Down Mom!

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This is our second year of homeschooling our boys. Prior to then, they attended a more traditional, Christian school that we loved. We weren’t one of those families who homeschooled form day one, although today I wish we were. Having your kids in traditional school places certain expectations in your mind that are hard to let go of. You see, kids go to school from 8 am to 3 pm most days, so when you first start schooling at home and you realize that you’re done by noon you assume “I must not be doing enough!” You’ve spent weeks over the summer preparing your perfect schedule. You’ve picked the best curriculum, scheduled field trips and days off… You’ve looked into library programs for homeschool families and maybe even sports for your kids, and of course you’ve found the best co-op around and you joined… and agreed to teach… and suddenly you’ve lost complete control of your sweet little schedule.

I had the best plan for this year. We decided to try a year round approach to school. We basically work six weeks on and then take one week off. This gives us less time off in the summer but here in Florida we really appreciate the time off in the fall and winter when it’s beautiful outside. My year-at-a-glance schedule is printed out and posted on the wall over my desk, color coordinated and lovely.

I have weekly and daily schedules as well. Those are also color coordinated but they are anything but lovely at this point. We have almost zero blank space. Blank space is so important to a homeschool family, you need time to do experiments or art projects, to go outside and explore or maybe just to take an afternoon off to ride bikes or play outside. Our calendar had a ton of white space in June and July… then August came.

In August, our church lost our fabulous Mini Zone teacher. She took care of our 2-4 year-olds and they adored her. Every week she had special crafts, lessons and snacks for them, she put a ton of effort into planning and making sure they had something fun to do! Then she got a new job, and  had to move to Nebraska… and guess who was asked to take her place? Yep, this over booked homeschool mom right here… Our church is currently a little short staffed on the nursery front, it’s a good problem to have really. We are growing and we’re gaining new families and lots of new little ones. Anyway, I was reluctant to take on the Wednesday night teaching position but I figured “How bad can it be? They’re toddlers…”

Wrong. It’s a ton of extra planning, supply gathering and studying which wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t already doing lesson plans for fourteen 2nd and 3rd graders every week for co-op as well as those that I do for my own students weekly here at home. Add into that planning field trips, housework, dinner, taking care of a two-year-old, and all those other mom-duties we all have. It can get overwhelming.

The other project I’ve taken upon myself is our weekly Cross Trainers group. My kiddos and I decided to start this a couple of months ago. It’s basically a group of homeschool kids who enjoy running together. We’ve been training for an upcoming 5K together. This has been a lot of fun but it takes up a big block on our calendar. Thankfully, it requires very little planning on my part, we just show up and run, then the kids play for a bit. But it delays our school by about 2 hours every Wednesday.

I also have a personal direct sales business that I try to put a little time into every day. I have this blog that I love to write, I’m the team mom for our boys’ baseball team (2 games per week and practice on Saturday)

So enough about how busy I am, because seriously, every homeschool mom, or just mom for that matter, is busy. How do you make it stop? That’s the question right? Here’s the answer…

Stop. Saying. Yes.

It’s that simple. Why is it so hard for us? I think it’s because we sincerely don’t want to let people down. We also all have this tiny desire to be super mom. I think most of us genuinely want to serve, but when we are stretched so thin how effective is our service? If I run out of time to plan during the week and I have to wing the Mini Zone lesson I’m doing those kids, as well as our church, a disservice. If I take that time away from my co-op planning then those kids miss out. I’m at a point where I have too many people depending on me. I don’t want to let any of them down but we don’t have any margin. We don’t have any spare time. Here’s my basic week… You’ll see a lot of “chores,” Friday is my deep cleaning day, we don’t do school on Friday’s so I sweep, mop, dust, clean the appliances, bathrooms and put away all the laundry. The other days’ “chores” are maintenance, wiping counters, doing dishes, preparing dinner, general clean up. I left my personal free time in white… but quite often this isn’t actually “free” it’s a cup of coffee between demands to “play with me,” “read to me,” “Mom, can you get me…” I also use my free time to catch up on my lesson plans, Jamberry stuff and blog posts…

schedule

 

^^^^ This is what will burn you out on homeschooling your kids. Not your kids themselves. This crazy packed schedule isn’t necessary for my kids to get an education. It’s not filled so that they can be more well rounded, it’s filled because I have a need to do it all. We can’t do it all, we really can’t. Something is going to suffer, more often than not, it’s school that gets cut when we are overbooked, not the activity that over booked us in the first place. This schedule is why I snap at my husband and my kids. It’s why I’m on my phone more than I should be. It’s the exact thing we wanted to avoid, the hurry up’s of school life. Granted, it’s much better with homeschool because we still have the power to manipulate this schedule when we need to, but still, something gets less attention than it should…

So what is this rambling post about? What’s the moral? Slow down moms, don’t over book. Co-op is fun, but it’s not necessary. If you really want to do it, don’t teach. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, leave some white blocks in your calendar to enjoy this little journey. This years will go by quickly, you want to remember spending time with your kids, not how stressed out you were all the time.

 

 

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22 Sep

Graceful Discipline

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A couple of weeks ago we had something happen in our home that shook us up a tad. I won’t go into great detail because I do not want to embarrass my children, however, I will share a bit for the sake of the lesson we learned as parents. A couple of weeks ago we found out that one of our children did something dishonest on his Ipad. It wasn’t anything alarming, just some in-app purchases that he didn’t have permission to make. When the bill came, no one was willing to own up to the situation. When I called Apple to ask why my in app purchase block wasn’t working they told me that any time an Ipad is updated it opens that up again (I had no idea… take note of that one parents) they also were able to tell me exactly who’s iPad was used. He was caught red handed, to the tune of $65 (Apple refunded it all but that’s not the point) He would not cave. His brother had done it, maybe his sister? A friend down the street? Everyone but him. After being presented with irrefutable facts (sometimes having a cop for a husband can be very valuable) he finally admitted what he’d done. We were so surprised that John and I just looked at each other. These was uncharted waters for the two of us. We’ve never had to punish this child for something like this. What do we do?

We did what any parent who has no clue what to do does… we sent him to his room, and his brother too, for good measure. We tossed around ideas. Do we make him miss his baseball season? Just the first practice? Ground him for a week? Two? My husband had the brilliant idea to have him write the definition of lying 500 times. I vetoed that one, 500 is excessive for anyone, no less a child. I suggested that we have him write bible verses about lying… John was quick to stop that, he didn’t want to make the bible a punishment. He was right. We finally settled on grounding him for a week, while his brother is outside playing with friends in the evening, he will be doing chores. That seemed pretty reasonable.They both lost their iPads indefinitely too.

All of these things will sting him. He’ll miss his buddies in the evening, that’s hard, especially for a homeschool kid. Plus, watching his brother enjoy that time will be lousy. But will this change his heart? The more we pondered our decision the more we realized that it won’t. Yes, our punishment will still stand. You can’t back down over something like this, you have to stick to your guns. But we need to also point him back towards Jesus.

After all the dust settled, John needed to run to the store, he took our sweet boy with him. One of those rare moments when it’s just the two of them. He admitted that he had been struggling with exaggerations with his friends. His daddy helped him understand that he is enough without them. He doesn’t need to exaggerate anything at all, he’s this perfect, tenderhearted, godly young man. He is enough just as God has made him.

Do you know who that little heart reminds me of? If you’ve been following me for a bit you know that this sweet boy’s mother struggles with feeling of inadequacy. I’ve struggled with it my entire life and I know all too well what it feels like to exaggerate to make yourself look better as a child. I did it when I was his age too. I also know what it feels like to be caught in one of those lies by your peers. It’s miserable, it’s self-esteem crushing. Especially when you already feel as though you don’t measure up. I don’t want my son to feel that. EVER. I don’t want him to feel that he’s got to be perfect to be loved. This is the heart issue God brought before us today. It wasn’t about the lie over the iPad, although that is certainly something that has to be addressed. No, God brought this to us today so that we could work on the bigger issue with our child. We weren’t aware of this part of his young life. Now that we are, we can steer him. We can steadily walk beside him, teaching him diligently. We have to know where our children are weak so we know where to build and how to pray.

Deuteronomy 6:7And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Sometimes I think we get caught up in this notion that children should always do the right thing. They know better, they know the rules, why can’t they just listen and obey? Our expectation of perfection in them can easily cause a perfection complex in their little hearts. Over time, they begin to feel as though they cannot make a mistake. Children are not meant to be perfect. They cannot be expected to make adult like decisions every time. They are going to stumble. When they do it’s up to us to not only punish the sin but to also mend the heart. We have to steadily steer them towards Jesus and His perfect love. We have to give them grace when they don’t deserve it just as our heavenly father has given it to us. Grace is a beautiful thing to give to your babies. It’s good for the soul. Demonstrating to our children what God’s grace looks like in those moments goes so much farther than any Sunday school lesson could.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go;even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I spoke to a friend about this and she reminded me of something she and I heard another homeschool mom say at our FPEA convention earlier this summer. This mother would write notes to her younger children (she’d text the older ones) and give them a bible verse or chapter to read, not as an assignment, more as a “Hey, I really think you’ll like this verse!” That little act of mom-grace would gently steer their days. That ever present reminder that God is with them and that their mother cared about them reached their hearts in a way that a punishment could not. As a bonus, they were hiding the Word of God down deep in their hearts.

So this is my new approach to discipline here in our home. Yes, there will be consequences for their actions, however, there will be love and grace. There will be gentle reminders that we have all come short. We all need forgiveness and that they are worthy, just as they are. Sometimes I think we, as parents, learn more from our children’s mistakes than they do!

I’ll leave you with this reminder. When you’re faced with a child who has stumbled, please remember that we are all in need of grace. Grace is a gift that God gives us freely and undeservedly. It’s a blessing to be able to give the same to our children.

Romans 3:23 -24 

23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by His grace, as a gift. through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Thanks for reading!

Nicki

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09 Sep

A Willing Heart is More Valuable than an Educated Mind

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While studying the life of David with my husband this week in preparation for Bible study class, we found ourselves reading about the anointment of David by God; particularly how and why David was chosen. In 1 Samuel chapter 16 we find that King Saul has lost favor with God. He has rebelled against the Lord and God has set into motion the removal and replacement of Saul. God sent the prophet, Samuel, to Bethlehem to see a man named Jesse, who was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:17, 22.) From Jesse’s sons God would anoint the future King of Israel.

We don’t know if Jesse knew that Samuel was coming. I can only imagine what would be going on in his mind if he did. Was he in turmoil over which child to present? Did he have a clear favorite? Was he concerned about how his children would represent him? I would be a nervous wreck. Wouldn’t you be?

When Samuel arrives at Jesse’s home he is immediately met with Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab. Eliab was a tall, handsome man. The best of Jesse’s crop so to speak. Samuel himself believes immediately that he is standing in the presence of the future king, but God says otherwise.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Jesse presents each of his six oldest boys to Samuel. Each is rejected by God. Jesse has one son left but he is only a boy. He is working in the fields, tending sheep. Samuel sends for him. His is the heart God wants.

11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

Do you see what happened here?Jesse brought forth the child he thought the highest of. The one he felt was the most qualified to be King of Israel. He based that on the things he knew of his son. His height was of importance, as I am sure was his education, strength, and appearance. He was judged on his outward appearance, as we all are. God said no to his first choice. God continued to say no to all of the sons Jesse felt were fit for this role. Did you notice that Jesse hadn’t even bothered to have David home and cleaned up for this meeting? He didn’t even consider him as a possible candidate. The Bible tells us that David was handsome, but small and rugged. He was only a boy. It was probably laughable that he would be considered for such an important position as King. But God didn’t laugh. 

God did not care about his stature or appearance or even his age. He wasn’t worried about how polished or educated this boys was. God only wanted his willing heart. David trusted God daily. We learn in later verses that David had fought off both a bear and a lion while tending sheep. God protected him because he believed that He would. David was faithful, fearless and in complete submission to God. That’s what God was after; a man, regardless of stature, who had a heart for Him.

When we are teaching our children we see their differences. We know their weaknesses and their strengths. We know who’s more likely to have a career in math or science and which one will be more artistic or free spirited. We know our children on a very deep level but we cannot know them the way that God knows them. This is why His plan for them is so much greater than ours ever could be. We sometimes stifle our children’s future by putting our own limitations on them.

That child you have who struggles to read or learn may be weighing your soul down today. You may be banging your head against a wall and hitting your knees on a daily basis for him to understand. You may be questioning how you’re going to get him prepared for adulthood. We all want our children to be successful but it’s not always so black and white. Sometimes the best way to prepare them is to give them to Jesus. Every day.

Jesus can prepare our children for their future in a way that we cannot even fathom. He already knows their struggles. He knows the sins of their hearts. He knows where they will fail and where they will soar. He’s designed a plan for them to soar! He tells us this in Jeremiah 29…

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a]and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 

Stop worrying about your children. Teach them to have a heart that is submissive to God. This will take him farther than algebra ever could. Yes, it is our job to educate our kids and to give them as much as we possibly can to prepare them for their lives but let us not forget what God wants from them. He wants a willing heart. He wants a heart who will obey, trust and believe. If we can give our children that they will go on to live out the greatest of God’s plans for their life. There is nothing more valuable to a mother than seeing their child succeed!

Our children are called for great things in this world. Our God does not call the qualified, our gracious God qualifies the called.

 

 

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01 Sep

Just Say “NO!” to Pinterest Mom

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We all have those perfect Facebook friends. You know the ones, Pinterest Mom, Super-Duper-Birthday Mom, My-House-Always-Looks-Like-This Mom, My-Kids-Only-Eat-Kale Mom… She’s hard to compete with. I’ve been trying to compete with her for the last 6 years that I’ve been a SAHM. I finally got tired. I got tired of feeling inadequate. Tired of feeling like I was somehow failing my children if they didn’t have a perfectly planned themed birthday party. Really? Do you remember the birthday parties from your toddler years?  While sifting through some old pictures at my mother’s house I found this one picture of me, on my 2nd birthday. It was nothing fancy. My mother made me a homemade (not an ornate, custom made) cake. It was white, with some of those little candy letters that spell out “Happy Birthday” from the Winn-Dixie. It was on a piece of cardboard wrapped in wrinkled aluminum foil with a #2 candle on top. There were no crazy decorations, no coordinating party favors, no embroidered shirts announcing proudly that I had made it to the ripe old age of 2. It was my family, some neighborhood friends and cake. We played outside, we ate birthday cake and I opened a couple small gifts. Pintrest and Facebook didn’t exist back then. I’m sure my mother was glad they didn’t. She didn’t have any perfect moms to compare herself to on social media. No Facebook friends posting pictures of their 3 tiered, $200 cakes. It was a simple thing to have a birthday party for a child. Ladies, I give you the Pre-Pinterest 2nd Birthday Party… I’m sure no one would rush to post this beauty to social media!

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Today, in order to throw a 2nd birthday party you need to find the perfect venue, have cake tastings with the best bakeries, have custom printed water bottle wrappers. You need to make sure that you have allergy-free, dye-free, corn syrup-free, all natural, organic snacks for 20 – 30 of your child’s closest friends. It takes months to plan the perfect Pinterest party. Seriously, should your child’s birthday party have the same budget as your wedding? I’m guilty too. Take a peak at our middle son’s second birthday party… That birthday cake cost us nearly $200. It was a Curious George Finger Painting theme party so the cake was hand painted fondant (made to look like one of the scenes in the classic books.) I bought each and every kid a George coloring book, paints, crayons and countless other favors in custom, hand-sewn goody bags. We covered the kids tables with butchers paper so that they could finger paint. We I ordered a custom printed, personalized “I am 2″ Curious George Birthday shirt… We played the CD soundtrack from the movie for all the kiddos to dance to…  Looking back I realize how absurd this was.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. I hosted elaborate parties for both our boys for years to come. It stopped after Olivia’s first birthday (Snow Princess Theme… sigh…) It finally hit me how much money we were wasting just to have great pictures to post on social media.

I was trying to create a facade. I wanted my 800 Facebook friends to think I was a great mom. I needed their approval for some reason. Actually, I’ve always been one of those women who needs EVERYBODY’S approval. It took me a lot of years to realize that there is only one person I need the approval of and that is Jesus Christ. I spent years constantly apologizing for not being good enough. I always felt inferior to people around me so I would explain myself constantly. When I really didn’t need to explain anything at all. When someone didn’t like me I needed to know why. I worked hard to make them like me, even if it meant not being true to myself. I was desperate to be everything to everyone. It was exhausting.

The past couple of years God started working in this area of my life. First, He called me to homeschool my kiddos. If you read my post Get Out of the Boat you know that I had to go against the approval of my father for this one. That was a BIG step for me. Then He gave me a friend who would speak truth into my life. I used to apologize to her constantly for being myself until she told me to knock it off. She told me that she knows my heart, that I didn’t need to apologize for being me. She helped me realize that I was enough, just as my God had made me. I didn’t need to be perfect. I could be flawed and be a great mom. Perfectly imperfect became my personal motto.

When God is working you through something He will continually bring it to the forefront of your mind. A few weeks ago, my pastor spoke about this very subject in a sermon entitled “Living a Christ Centered Life in a Self Centered World.” That is a lofty goal in today’s society. The verses we studied were in 2 Corinthians where Paul is addressing the Corinthians and warning them about hiding their hearts from each other.

15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

That freedom is the freedom to be imperfect. It’s the freedom to not get it right every single time. God sent us grace, not just for our sins but for our hearts. We have to give grace to ourselves and those around us. We have to stop judging each other based on our ability to be perfect or lack thereof. Our pastor stressed that people connect through our weaknesses. How can you connect with people going through the same struggles you are if you are constantly hiding your struggles?  I knew God was speaking to me when he said these words

“Stop seeking the approval of man when you should be seeking the approval of God!”

That was a reminder that God’s not finished with me. I haven’t completely let go of my need for perfectionism. I sometimes stumble and long for the approval of someone other than God. I remind myself often that as long as I am following after God’s heart His approval is the only one that matters.

Have you ever stumbled across an old high school friend in the People You May Know section on Facebook? I have, and if I see a profile picture with perfectly groomed children in matching outfits sitting in a spotless living room eating homemade cookies shaped like Elsa, or Elmo or whatever character is hot right now I generally don’t even bother looking. Because I know it’s going to make me feel like I’m not doing enough. I have piles of laundry in various stages, some waiting to be washed, some to be folded and a few in between. I haven’t mopped the floors in about 3 weeks because there never seems to be time and as soon as I do I know my brood will cover it in cheerios and Play-doh. My kids eat Oreos, or Chips A-hoy or whatever is on BOGO at Publix. I can’t talk the little boogers into eating a vegetable, the closest thing I can get to one is marinara sauce so we count that as a win. We sometimes go a full week without bothering to make a bed, you’re just going to get right back in it in a few hours anyway right?

We do school 4 days a week and we take Friday off. That’s because if I don’t have at least one day where I don’t have to beg someone to write their spelling words or complete their math assignment I’ll go bananas! My days don’t run smoothly every day. I have one child who is such a perfectionist that if he misses one problem on his math assignment he might as well throw in the towel and quit school. The other is just a tad too ADD to handle school for more than 45 minutes at a time… anything longer than that without a break and I lose him completely. For days. And then there’s our bug, the toddler that terrorizes our school room. It’s constant chaos. We have a great room, but the papers are piling up, needing to be graded. Pencils and broken crayons hide in the corners, under their desks. It’s our classroom, this is our home and our school. It’s bound to get messy. If I get caught up in the details and wanting the place to be perfect and the kids to bet perfect I lose sight of what’s important. They are here with me, together. They are learning their own way. They are growing and we are closer for it. This perfectly imperfect mess is exactly what God wants me to have. He’s using it to help me grow. I am grateful.

Having God working in this area of my life has made me realize that there are a lot of women out there just like me. Women who hide their messes and imperfections.  Women who create an alter ego so to speak on Facebook so that they win the approval of the social media world. So I’m trying my best to do something about it. I am sharing my heart with you. I’m sharing my messes, flaws and imperfections in the hopes that we can connect and that I can help God make a difference in your life too. We don’t need to be perfect. Say it with me…

“I can be perfectly imperfect and still be enough!”

So I promise you won’t see fake perfection in me. If you stay with me and keep reading you will see failures and grace, messes and forgiveness. I hope you’ll share yours with me too!

<3 Nicki

 

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