Category Archives: Parenting

More on the Calling of Motherhood

Afternoon on the HillPerhaps you’re wondering why this subject is consuming two days in a row here on my blog? It’s a bit of everything. I’m feeling pulled in many directions (homeschooling, church, writing) and being convicted on one. Motherhood. So easy to get off track, at least for me. I’m realizing again, that it’s an area of my life needing protection.I’m going to quote Holly again, because she sums up my thoughts on this so nicely. For the whole post, stop in at Seeking Faithfulness.

I do also believe that our society and churches will do much better if a woman is focused first on her husband and family – but that doesn’t mean she can’t do anything else. The priorities just need to be staunchly guarded and maintained. I do also see how easy it is for young mothers to be “guilted” into serving in the local church – MORE than they are able – and as a result feel like they are constant failures: never able to give their families what they need, never able to give the church what it needs. There is “almost” this complex within the church that says “Hurry up, Mama, and get those kids into the nursery or to school age so that you can serve more. Because you know, your real ministry is here, within the church.”

I see both sides – that a husband and children are very worthwhile ministries (first ministries) AND that there are many places a woman can serve God as He leads. A mom just has such a brief time to directly impact her young children. We may *think* that we have them for 18 years, but their impressionable, moldable years are actually much fewer than that. We need to capture their hearts while they are small, and that takes time, love, and a pouring out of our lives.

That would be the key. Listening carefully to Him so that we do, indeed, know “Where He Leads,” for the different stages of our lives.

He Leadeth Me
~a snippet~

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

I’m excited and energized by helping out at church, it grows me in many ways and I love the bonding with church family. I just struggle with wanting everything, and knowing it’s not working out for my family. Because the more I am involved, the less excited and energized I am about homeschooling, etc.

“Never murmur, nor repine…” Ah, Lord. Am I listening, as Holly urges? Or am I too busy to listen?

Praying For Your Child’s Future Spouse

I just finished reading Forever by Karen Kingsbury. Such an awesome author she is, with a way of weaving truth into real life struggles that always has me recommending her books.

While reading Forever, I came across this beautifully worded passage between a mother and daughter, and just had to share it here. The teenage daughter has been openly sharing her frustrations with the opposite sex, and her mother tells her that this means their prayers are being answered.

“Prayers?” Bailey loved these moments when no one else was around and she and her mom could share their hearts so easily.

“Yes.” She reached out and framed Bailey’s face with her hands. “Since you were born we’ve prayed for you. Your father and I. We prayed that God would make you into that one-in-a-million girl who wouldn’t be dragged into something you’d regret. We prayed that love wouldn’t really awaken in you until it was God’s timing. These years are for you and God, so you’ll become who He wants you to be.”

That love wouldn’t really awaken in you until it was God’s timing. Wow. What a great prayer.

I’ve prayed from all my girls’ cradles for their future husbands, hoping they were being raised in godly homes with righteous standards and strong father-figures. But I’ve sorely neglected praying for my daughters’ “dating years”…so reading this was really convicting to me.

I’ll just leave you with a snippet of my mom’s comment to my “Happy Anniversary to Me” post the other day…

“…And when your dh appeared in your life, we knew that God’s faithfulness was at work. I feel so strongly that all your blogging friends should make a commitment to be praying daily and wisely for the mate each child will meet down the road. Your Dad and I pray for each of our grandchildren in that way. That is our main prayer request as we move along through life.”

The Church’s Influence on Modesty

My experiences with modesty over the years have had their upswings and down.

If you’d asked me about modesty in my early married years, I would have defined it differently than I do now. Back then I didn’t see anything wrong with wearing tight jeans, etc. I figured if my husband liked me in them, what was the problem, right?

Remembering how blasé I was keeps me humble. After all, I was 18-21 years old, a Christian, active in church, etc. Sure, I didn’t wear my tight jeans to church, but some of my blouses dipped a bit lower than they should have, and I had at least two long skirts with slits that weren’t quite innocent. At all.

When I was 19, my husband and I started attending a church where most all of the women wore dresses. Conservative, matronly dresses. *Smile* Or at least they seemed so to me.

So I started teeter-tottering on the age old “what to wear to church” question. I did my best to conform to the standards of those around me.

Fast forward several years. We left the above church in order to attend one that my dad had recently accepted a position in as Associate Pastor. Because of something I misconstrued at the first church as a strike against modesty, I spent three years wearing only dresses/skirts in public. Anywhere in public. I admit it was mostly a pride thing at that point, though I’ve always loved the femininity of dressing in long flowing materials.

After this three years of “dresses only”, my dad and mom moved out of state to a different church, and hubby and I moved back to our original church. And dress codes there had changed with the times.

I began slacking off (to me) on Sunday mornings, eventually joining the “dressing down” crowd at church, and wearing mostly slacks.

However, my little girls loved dresses and would ask me each week why I didn’t wear my dresses to church anymore. Well, for one thing, a lot of my straight skirts didn’t fit so well back then after having just given birth to baby #3. But they really wanted their mommy back in dresses. And that among other things propelled me to make a stand on one side or the other of this seeming Divide.

Also, I realized after all these years of feeling pulled to dress “appropriately” on Sunday mornings, I finally saw it as a way, in obedience to God, to stand up to the culture. To be “in this world but not of it”.

I look at it this way. It’s too easy to reason away the choices we make in dress. I’ve worn skorts that look like mini-skirts because I’ve thought it was “more modest” than wearing shorts. It’s even easier to reason this way when everyone you appreciate and look up to is doing the same thing.

So I decided almost two years ago that I’d always wear skirts/dresses on Sunday morning. I still wear jeans or Capris for helping in AWANA, and for other evening church functions. I have no problem with the vast majority of modest Christians out there today that wear pants and shorts to church services.

But my line in the sand has been drawn, and at this point, there’s no crossing back over. That said, I think everyone has to come to this decision on their own. It’s intensely personal, and the best way to get across your point, is, in my opinion, by following your convictions and letting your actions speak for themselves.

Most everyone is pretty hip at our church now, and I’m the one in danger of feeling dowdy wearing skirts and dresses each Sunday morning. Especially in a church full of beautiful young chicks all slender and svelte and wearing the latest fashions.

But finally I know I’m doing it for the right reason. I may go back to wearing dresses/skirts even to evening church events, if I’m so convicted.

Only God knows. And that’s all that matters to me.

For more submissions on modesty, visit Rebecca, this month’s hostess for the modesty blog carnival, at Between My Peers

My Baby is Three Years Old

brandnew.jpgRecently I had reason to believe I might be pregnant…took a test…it was negative. But my mind had already retraced babyfeet.jpgto those baby days…those ultra-precious brand new moments interspersed with baby spit-up and bleary-eyed mornings, teensy toes and fuzzy-edged baby blues.

I don’t want to be 32 and finished with that time of life, but it’s in God’s hands. I’m grateful for the three beaubeauty.jpgtiful children I’ve got.

This morning I brought the baby book out and sat with my youngest. We enjoyed a trip churchbaby.jpgdown baby-day’s lane.

Best thing we ever did was our decision to have her at a non-medical birth center with the help of a fabulous midwife. All 9 lbs 2 oz of her with no anesthetic–hoo-rah. I’d go through it again in a heartbeat, all you mothers know the feelinghappygirl.jpg. Four hours later we were on our way home.

She’s grown up so much…and today she’s celebrating her third birthday!

Happy Birthday little one! Mama loves you.

These pictures are all out of her baby book…

Toddlers in the Master Bedroom, Q&A

In response to a letter from a friend questioning my comment here once that we still shared our room with our toddler: Breakfast in Bed

Do they ever sleep with you?

We’ve never let our babies/toddlers sleep with us in our bed, only on certain occasions when they were really sick and I was getting up and down and up and down, etc, with them anyway. Dh was always concerned even those few times would mean they’d forever expect to be in our bed, but my toddler would ask a couple times, “Sleep in your bed, Mommy?” and I’d say “no, it’s the middle of the night, go back to sleep” (this always happened one or two nights after she was sufficiently well to sleep on her own again!) and she’d grump just a bit but drift back off to sleep. In her OWN bed! Lol.

Was it hard transitioning them to their own room after they’d shared a room with you?

I think my answer to the first question is why it wasn’t a big deal with any of ours to move them out of our room. For my oldest, she really didn’t care at one year old that we weren’t around anymore. We’d always gone to bed after her, and gotten up before her, so she didn’t miss our “presence”. My second (middle) child was closer to 15 months when we moved her into oldest’s room on a mattress on the floor. Oldest didn’t want to give up her youth bed yet, and we hadn’t yet built the bunk beds. For my middle child the transition was exciting–to be in big sister’s room! They never shared a bed either. To get them to go to sleep, I did resort to letting them listen to one tape/CD of Christian music or stories. They take turns, one night one of them gets to choose, the next the other one gets her pick. (Oldest always picks Ray Boltz, youngest Rebecca St. James)

On transitioning from a crib to bed:

I had a friend (older wiser mom) tell me when I first transitioned my oldest out of a crib to a toddler bed, to not allow ANY getting out of bed unless she called me and asked permission. This sounds harsh, but it’s amazing! It worked great for both my older girls. I just had a serious talk with them about how they weren’t to get out of bed AT ALL unless they called me in and asked first, and it had to be for a good reason. This kept them in bed at naptime (I also had a monitor in their room till toddler was born and I needed it in the other bedroom!) and at bedtime. Plus, they learned to tell time at a VERY young age. I told my oldest when the clock hands had gone around two times (for a long time they took 2 hr naps, w/o complaint–again listening to books on tape from library, or music) she could get up. Before I knew it, she was saying, “Okay, I can get up when it’s 2 o’clock? Or 3:30?” (at 3 years old that’s pretty cool. I can’t imagine my toddler now being able to do the same thing!)

Of course, my second child needed a couple spankings to get it into her head that she had to stay in bed during naptime (mom meant business) unless of course she had to use the bathroom. They’d always call “Mommmy, I need you…” anyway…that’s how it worked for us.

Lastly, what about romance?

There’s no lack of it at our house. For one thing, romance doesn’t always have to take place in the bedroom…

Any other questions?

The Funnel Theory of Parenting

A Funnel Cloud Reaches Towards Earth from the SkyI’m a firm believer in the funnel theory…training needs to start very young for the most satisfying results. My husband and I first heard of “parenting inside the funnel” from a parenting class our church offered one summer years ago.

It’s a common sense approach to child training…once you’re on the other side of child training! (Grandparents, for example?)

Raising responsible and mature children is made easier when applying the principles of the funnel theory. Most of us get the details inverted though, read on!

Picture a funnel, the kind used when transferring liquids, with a narrow end and a wide end. When our toddlers are being trained, we need to limit their freedoms–this time of parenting is referred to as being in the narrow end of the funnel. As they grow, we give more and more freedoms as they earn those freedoms by obeying. By the time they’re teenagers, they can handle the wide end of the funnel, which represents little parental guidance.

See how easy it is to invert the funnel? We give our littles so much freedom (in the form of choices) that they come to expect the world on a platter, and by the time they are teens, they’re out of control and parents start tightening the reins in a last unsuccessful attempt to regain control.

The Ezzos use a simple example to prove this point. Say you’re being a good mommy (so you think) and you offer your toddler her choice of a pink or orange sippy cup with her breakfast juice. Then, you offer her either orange juice or apple juice. When it’s time to get dressed, you let her pick between wearing pants or shorts, blue ones or green ones, sandals or tennies. You think that you’re equipping your child to be a good decision maker. Right?

Well, shortly after this free-for-all-choice-fest, you announce that lunch is ready and toddler needs to pick up her toys. And she says, “No.” Um, she is still in control of her universe! This is a direct result of allowing too many choices/freedoms when a child is not ready to handle them.

The other key to this, is that most tantrums are caused by parents removing freedoms they’ve previously allowed. If you let your infant play with the remote, or the piano, or the cell phone and then decide when they’re 18 months that they’re too destructive to play with them anymore…tantrum time.

So be careful what freedoms you allow your children. Are they responsible enough to handle having a choice?

If they’re responsible enough to handle not having a choice, then they’re ready.

Very few adults have been trained in how to be responsible, I think much of our college crisis in America is a direct result of too little parental involvement during the most formative years–up to age 12. Our children are going to face hard things in life, how they deal with these things depends on how they’ve been equipped.

Any thoughts?

A Little Girl is Born

Do you ever wonder what the future hosisters.jpglds for your children? Do you pray for that newborn you hold close at night, that she’ll let Jesus be the Guardian of her way?

I’m sharing here snapshots from my mom’s life, born a homesteader’s daughter out west–that’s her–the dark-haired baby in the photo at your right, with her older sister. In her childhood, she and her five siblings had polio, measles, mumps, chicken pox, you name it. They survived. I can’t imagine being their mother, and wondering if they would. Or how she felt when their school bus flipped over into a canal and all the children escaped the water-filled bus intact.mom.jpg

Fast forward to my mom, in her Bible college days…where she met my dad. They married and had four children in fivmomdadwedding.jpge years, while dad attended seminary and started his lifetime career as Pastor-teacher.

Here thfamilypic66.jpgey are with my brothers and sisters: this photo was taken the summer before my brother David was hit by a car on his way home from kindergarten. He’s the cutie standing in front of my dad. Who could know that he’d die at only six years old? God knew, and had prepared my parents to accept it with what they call “dying grace”.

My parents will celebrate 50 years of marriage this June, and as I address the stacks of anniversary invitations, I can’t help but reflect on God’s faithfulness in their lives.

Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, sung at their wedding, and at mine, has been a song I’ve prayed over each of my newborns as they grew. It’s a perfect lullaby, especially when you substitute the “Us” with “Her” (or “him” if you’re raising little boys)…

We don’t know what the future holds for our children, but as Christians, we can rest knowing God holds them in the palm of His hand.

In the meantime, what are we doing to equip these entrusted to our care with the Biblical worldview and grounding they’ll need in the days to come?

Palm Sunday Thoughts

Paradise Palm

Something very profound happened two days ago. A mother had to give up her firstborn son–her seven month old baby boy. She had little time to gain her composure at the Judge’s awarding temporary 30 day custody of her tiny son to her ex-husband before CPS stormed to her apartment, demanded she turn the baby and his belongings over to them…I won’t go into the elaborate schemes of her ex-husband, his unbelievable family, and the social workers assigned to the case which resulted in this travesty. I will say it smacks loudly of Christian persecution.

And yet this mother–my friend, trusts with all her heart that this is all part of God’s plan for her son’s life. With peace that passes all understanding, she is able to let him go, knowing he is in God’s hands and he always will be.

I told my friend when she called me with this update, that I’d get my church and friends to praying. Guess what she said? She’d appreciate it, but to make sure our main focus was on Jesus this Sunday, and on Easter. On Jesus’ sacrifice and what He went through for our sakes, and to consider how little anything He asks of us seems in light of this gift.

Today at church we probably all read the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. My pastor brought up the amazing fact that the owners of the donkeys were willing to let the disciples take their animals with no argument. Because the Lord had need of them.

Matthew 21:2-3 when upon nearing Jerusalem, Jesus directed two of his disciples,

“saying, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘the Lord has need of them’ and immediately he will send them.” (NASB)

Our Pastor then expounded,

“What is the Lord asking of you? If He’d sent His disciples to collect your car for His use in a triumphant parade, would you have let them take it?”

I couldn’t help but think of my friend and what she’d given up in faith that God was working, and this was part of His perfect plan. Will you pray for her and her little son?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please continue to hold my friend close. You know her heart is breaking, and You know her love for You, and for her son. She’s clinging to Your promises and hoping You’ll use her son as You did Joseph when he was sold into slavery. Protect her little boy, keep him safe from evil. Open the eyes and heart of the Judge, Lord, give him wisdom to see through the lies and false witnesses. Thank You Father, for the testimony of this dear friend’s faith through the past year’s trials. Just like the song says, ‘if we never had a problem, we’d never know that God could solve them’…and Your amazing grace has been so evident in her acceptance of this situation.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Galations 2:20,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (KJV)

Life Is Not Fair

First of all, I hope you all are training your children to not be overly concerned when “life isn’t fair”. When we cater to these bursts of “inequality” by rewarding and promising equal “perks”, we are feeding the selfishness. And that selfishness will turn our darlings into little monsters.

For instance, my middle daughter, age 6, has never been on a sleepover. Her older sister has only this past year been allowed this privilege, and only to her Grammy’s house. We always told 6 yo, that her day would someday come, and in the meantime, she needed to be happy for her sister! Guess what? It was that simple. Sure, I told her we’d have some mommy-daughter time, but it wasn’t anything earth-shattering. I didn’t pay her money or anything for “choosing to be happy”. I didn’t go out of my way and finance a Chuckie Cheese expedition or anything brag-worthy that she could hold up to big sis: “See what you missed out on?”

I think we adults are our own worst enemies in things like this. We want so badly for our children to be fulfilled and not feel left out. None of us want to be the proverbial Jacob, who favorited his son Joseph. Equal treatment is nice (not necessary), and parents should not have favorites…if you need further convincing, read The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley.

But definitely read 1 Corinthians 13 to your children, and show them that God’s love means we’ll be happy, not jealous, for our friends and loved ones when life grants them special blessings. You cannot start too young instilling this!

Last night we decided to bless my 6 year old with the privilege of having a cousin spend the night. My oldest was going to be gone at my mom’s (second slumber party of her life) and dh and I thought it would be fun, since this is Spring Break, to invite one of 6 yo’s favorite cousins over. In trying not to leave any cousins out, it almost turned into a “that isn’t fair” free-for-all. We ended up having two cousins over, and the girls all had a great time…for the most part.

Inevitably, two’s company, three’s a crowd. My six year old got to play peacemaker between her two cousins. Thankfully, she’s used to being “bossed around” (she does, after all, have an older sister!) and she made the best of it. This morning she told me she had the best time ever! (Thank you, Lord!)

One last thing…when hard situations come up–and I hope they do–use them as the great learning curves that they are and emphasize to your child that acting this way only hurts others! Hopefully they’ll remember how awful it felt and resolve to never behave in a similar fashion.

True fulfillment and happiness comes from being able to be content with the life you have. Are we being faithful to teach this, or are we feeding the discontent by making issues where there shouldn’t be any?

Sleepless Nights

Breakfast in BedDoesn’t this picture speak for itself?
This is how I’ve felt every morning since my family became ill with the flu. Some nights, I wondered why I was even going to bed anyway! Mary Cassatt captured the feeling well in her “Breakfast in Bed” painting above. (available at allposters if you just click this link or the pic)

Pregnant mommies, and parents of newborns know the feeling. The nice thing is, you really appreciate the good nights when they’re few and far between! Last night was the first night my toddler went to bed at 8 P.M. and didn’t get me up five times in the night for bathroom runs. (She drank a lot more while sick!) She also slept past 6 A.M.! I almost woke up in a panic! (Remember that feeling the first time your newborn slept through the night?) Blissful.

I scheduled my three babies from day one in the hospital, according to the “feed-wake-sleep” cycle lined out in a parenting book I was blessed enough to get my hands on before giving birth to our first. The goal of the “feed-wake-sleep” cycle? To promote health and sanity (my words!) and the bonus of getting an infant to sleep 10-12 hours straight through by eight weeks of age. Worked like a charm with all three of my children. Baby #2 took till she was ten weeks, but was sleeping 8 hrs a night before that. Sound too good to be true? It’s worked for thousands of babies.

Healthy sleep, healthy weight gain, predictability as far as knowing when baby’s naps or feedtimes will happen…I’m so glad I did it, and I tell all my expecting friends about it. And since I started implementing this from the hospital, I didn’t have to deal with any crying as far as re-training goes when you’re trying to teach your baby to fall asleep without sleep props (nursing to sleep, etc). The basic premise: Feed your baby, keep them awake even if only five minutes (face it, most newborns want to sleep all the time), then put them to bed for their nap. When they next wake up, feed them, keep them awake, etc. As they get older, you keep them awake longer. Try to go 2-3 hrs from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next. This is directly related to how well they sleep at night! Hospitals do this with preemies!

Anyway! Have a great day, and here’s to uninterrupted sleep for all of us!