Tag Archives: Parenting

I’m Fired!

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Today I set an oven on fire.

I was cooking for a herd of college kiddos with a couple of friends at the building where my husband works. I set a stockpot of 20lbs of potatoes down and cranked that burner on high. When I looked back a minute later, the stockpot was surrounded by about two feet of flames.

One of my friends reached for the fire extinguisher. One swatted at it with a damp cloth (which we later found out was not recommended protocol). I managed to stand in the middle of the room and squeal, “Fire!”

I now know I do not respond well in crisis situations.

As we later cleaned up the mess from the debacle, I realized something.

I had unknowingly fueled that very fire.

I was being clumsy and not careful, pouring olive oil over three turkeys and, apparently, the stove. Then I set that bad boy on fire.

Isn’t that how it is sometimes as a parent? You don’t realize that you’re “adding fuel” to a fire? Maybe you go to bed too late, you focus on the wrong things, you don’t stay in God’s Word, you don’t pray through your day and your parenting decisions.

And then you combust. We yell at the kids, we make poor decisions, we act in anger and selfishness.

And we stand in the room and scream, “Fire!”

And God hears. He knows. And he cleans off the mess and the soot. Then He sets us back aright to begin again.

And I’m so glad he does.

He uses His fire extinguisher of grace on our kids and on our mess. His love covers a multitude of sins.

And I’m so grateful because I sure do have momma sins!

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A Reading Rundown: Good ideas from Great Books

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I have been a plugging along reading these last few months, and what fun it has been! I wanted to share some of what really stuck with me after the books were closed and put away. After all, there are scores of reviews found on books on the Internet….I wanted to share something different. Be advised that these are not necessarily main thoughts, just the leftover parts…like the fat build up on my thighs after I’ve eaten too many skillet cookies, or something like that!

JanuaryEducating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

  • Rest is for mommas, too! I don’t like to admit I need rest, and I think naps are overrated. But I have discovered, especially as I homeschool, that a short rest (for me that’s reading a book or scrapbooking) is just what I need! I get the kids all settled, and enjoy about 20 minutes of undisturbed peace and quiet. And, what’s more, I don’t allow myself to feel guilty for it!
  • Instead of a movie night, try cuddling up with popcorn and other snacks for a “reading night!” We gave this a try and loved it! I am anxious to try it with an audio book – I was too busy reading to eat popcorn.
  • Limit phone use (and other technology) to really “get something done.” This is pretty basic, but served as a good reminder to leave my phone away from the area where we do school. It was so helpful! I need to try that again!

FebruaryGood and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

  • “Come when you’re called” is pretty self-explanatory. But I love the way the authors encourage you to get near to your child and for them to get near to you to discuss things. How often are we yelling, “Would you clean up your toys?” from the kitchen? And then we wonder in amazement that our kids annoyingly holler at us! We’ve been practicing having the kids come to us when we say their names. We’re still a work in progress on this.
  • The authors introduce the term badgering to refer to a kid pestering, relentlessly, to get a parent to change an answer. My kiddos, as young as they are, try this technique now and then. After explaining to them what badgering and bullying were, I now simply say, “Mommy said you can’t do that right now. Since you’re asking again, I am feeling bullied.” They actually apologize on their own, and move on to other things! This one has been so useful in our house!
  • When you give a child a task, it’s so important to follow-through, or check in with them. You can ask them to let you know when they’re done, or you can simply watch them accomplish it. This has been helpful in helping our boys follow through with our requests, instead of finding out hours later that a bed was never made. Reduces momma’s blood pressure just a bit!

MarchWordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

  • My favorite quote from this book is, “Read until your brain creaks.” Man, I love that thought. It makes me just want to read and read. He encourages readers to have 20 books going at once – a dangerous thought for this half-book-reader-who-doesn’t-always-finish-the-book! But it’s encouraging, too, that you can pick up a book – from an array of choices – that best suits your mood!
  • Stretch yourself – write a genre you wouldn’t normally write or read something you wouldn’t normally read. You’ll be stretched and maybe enjoy something more than you thought!
  • Don’t worry about the fact that you will forget most of what you read – rest in the thought that you have been shaped by it

April For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay

  • Forming good habits with the kiddos is so worth the time. Having good habits for the everyday and mundane frees up a kiddos mind (and a momma’s!) to think about more important things! I have been making a list of the habits I want to better instill in my kids (like what to do when we finish our work early, how to best leave the table after dinner, etc.) so I can focus on bigger ideas with my kids.
  • Kids need to be outside – often. The best education comes not within the four walls of a building, but in the world around us – God’s creation. As much as I don’t like bugs, letting the kids capture and examine a grasshopper can teach far more than any textbook on the subject.
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers.” The words of Jesus. Simple ones that I have heard hundreds of times. But I have never been encouraged to apply them to my life as a mom. So powerful.

I hope you’re keeping up with reading a book or two each month of your own! I would love to hear how a book has recently impacted your life as a woman, a wife, or a mom!

Stay tuned – later this week I have a fun craft to share!

 

Good Grief

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This past week, we endured the passing of another dear family member, the third grandparent lost to us within the past year. In this time of grief, a great amount of family warmth, laughter, joy and memories were shared. The grief was real, and the reality was sad, but the time was good.

Today, as I was dealing with the poor attitude of one of our boys, I endured another time of grief, much less profound. And yet, this grief was also very real.

My son has been testing the waters of parent follow-through. Today, exasperated, I explained to him that he would lose a privilige this evening if he continued to react to others in so poor a manner. As soon as the words left my mouth, I was frustrated with myself for offering so thoughtless a punishment. For, in using this withdraw of privilege, I was offering something costly to both him and me. In that instant I couldn’t help but mentally plead with him, “Please don’t go there.”

But, sure enough, he did. It was not as on purpose so much as out of habit, for he has been in the habit as of late of not following directions. Sometimes, in these moments, I would “rescue him,” by offering a lesser sentence. But I have since realized that this is likely how we came to the place where he has little regard for obedience – for the punishment often did not end up hurting all too much.

And so today, I explained to him that he would have to endure the loss. He was upset and shed tears. Hearing him from the kitchen, I was sad at his loss. And we both grieved.

Sure, this is a temporary loss, unlike that of my grandfather who will forever be missed and live on in our hearts.

But there is real grief as a parent when your child hurts.

But, in the end, this small, temporary grief will be worth it. Someone said this weekend to me that all death leads to life. Plants die and give birth to seeds. Animals die and give nourishment to soil. We die and give way to a new life with Jesus. And, in the same way, the grief of our children, caused to purpose them to better lives as adults, gives way to life with better reason and preparedness.

In my son’s tears, the seeds of obedience spring forth.

And, in the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder, “There’s no great loss without some small gain.”

And so, we press on with our kids, giving them “good grief.”

Anger’s Bitter End

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It hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks.

A small sentence. A minor statement in the book Good and Angry. A dad says, “I had developed bitterness toward my kids.”

It took my breath away as I sat in the realization of it all.

Most everything I do is for my kids. I wake up and tackle the day to help them learn and grow and mature. I cook two or three meals a day, all the time considering their health and wellbeing. I read, read, read to them, bathe them, groom them, manage them, discipline them. I teach and explain and correct, always debating in my mind how to handle the issues in the most God-honoring, for-their-betterment, least-need-for-counseling way. I spend the hours after they are tucked in mulling over the events of the day, preparing for the next. I love my kids.

But I was “keeping a record of wrongs.”

No, I wasn’t tallying whines, hurtful words, complaints, and problems. There was no list of good and naughty, no journal accounts of their offenses.

But, unknowingly, I was starting my day with a tankful of anger, ready to pounce. Because I was full.

Full of no one being ready when it was time to leave. Full of picking up toys. Full of putting away laundry. Full of cooking and cleaning. Full of sibling rivalry. Full of disobedience. Full of anger. Full of thinking it all over. Full of self. Full of guilt.

And full of records.

“They always…”
“They never…”
“When will they learn to…”
“I’m so tired of them always…”

So today, after much prayer, I attempted to see my kids without past offenses. They needed a fresh start to the day. I needed a fresh start to the day.

Sure, they repeated some of their trademark issues, and I repeated some of mine. We are all works in progress, after all.

But, as I leaned on the Lord for strength and resolve, my kids and I were able to relate without as much anger wedged in my heart. And, for the first time in quite a while, I fully and deeply appreciated what Paul was saying to the Corinthians in that famous love chapter, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

Because the freedom and privilege to love lies in the absence of records.

Lord, let me be full. Full of love.

13 in 2013: A Book Challenge

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I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think I have ever even made one. But January is a fresh time for new resolves and goals. Something about it lends to renewed starts and refocus.

So this year I have made a non-resolution to attempt to completely (key word here) read 13 books this year. I love to read but, since having kids, have failed to make completing books a priority. I don’t know if I have undiagnosed ADD or what, but I read a book until it bores me (or another book promises to be more exciting) and then add it to my large pile of books in process. I have a baby or two and then realize I have “been reading” some of the books for years!

And so I give you the books I want to read each month for 2013. I hope this can be an encouragement for some of you to make lists of your own. After all, in the words of Douglas Wilson in his book I partially read, Wordsmithy, you should “read until your brain creaks.” I love that thought.

January
Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

February
Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

March
Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

April
For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay

May
The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis

June
Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

July
What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings — and Life (ebook) by Laura Vandekam

August
The Discipline Book: How to Have a Better-Behaved Child from Birth to Age Ten by Martha and William Sears

September
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

October
When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg

November
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

December
Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason

Bonus Book (I downloaded this on Kindle to read when I steal a quick minute or two!)
Hints on Child-Training by H Clay Trumbull

If you take up this challenge, I would love to know what books you’re reading!
Happy Reading!

Driving the Kids: The Soundtrack

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The day is happy. For the most part, everyone is getting along. School is going well. Meals are healthy and thought-out in advance. I am showered and dressed, and I have makeup on. Everything is going well. Cue the song “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”

We lose track of time as we prance about the house all day singing our song when the clock strikes 3:45. We have to be somewhere at 4.

Then panic sets in, and I become a drill sergeant barking orders:
Change your shirt! (You can’t go in public in *that*!)
Put on your shoes!
Where is your coat?

Then the kids get cranky and whiny. They start yelling across the house, bickering, and fighting. Socks, shoes, and coats seem to fly through the air.

And the baby looks at me and grins. There is a stench in the air. Toddler Law says they must always poo as you’re walking out the door.

We make it to the van. One still doesn’t have shoes, one has a crusty face, and one is missing.

We are in our seats, but no one feels settled. We are all spent, tired, and cranky. It is 3:59.

Cue “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.”

I’ve come to realize that some of my weakest parenting occurs during the rush to get out the door. It’s a pattern I know I need to fix, giving myself more time and praying for more patience. I’m going to work on that.

Because it would sure be nice to “Hit the Road, Jack,” with a smile on all of our faces.

How Spilled Milk Adds Up

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The boys are being careless and silly. Then, as if in slow motion, the milk comes soaring across the table and spills into my lap. The boys look at me, wide-eyed.

I can feel the steam rising from my feet, all the way up until, out of my mouth, spews forth a comment not kindly spoken and in a voice that is definitely raised.

Mommy just cried over spilled milk.

My kids are sad, and I feel guilty for my wrath. Dripping with milk, I go to my room to change. Then I remember what my mom used to say to me in times like this.

Dear, you need to count to ten.

Apparently I have always struggled with overreacting because I remember her saying that to me. A lot.

But it’s funny that in my parenting journey, I had somehow forgotten the wisdom of those simple words.

Count to ten.

So I’ve started doing that. I’ve started simply counting to ten. And sure enough, my words have been kinder, my demeanor more loving, my voice more calm, my words more carefully chosen.

I count to ten. My words become sweeter to their dear little ears, and my toddler learns a math concept. Everyone wins.