Modeling Mondays: Series on Teaching Children to Live a Godly Life

As a new mom, I had a lot of worries for bringing children into this world. How could I be a good mom to them? I was clueless how to even raise a child for Christ, and honestly, still am quite often. Really… my children are 4 and 3… so I have much more to learn, but I have learned a lot in the last 4 years.

I want my children to grow up learning to love God and relying on the Holy Spirit. I want them to see an example they can live by. An example of parents who are living a Christ-like life. 

It is my job to teach and train my kids in the way they should go. My job to make sure they know how to live a godly life. What a godly life looks like. Why a godly life is important. Why we serve our God and love Him. What He has done for us and wants us to continue to do for them.

Living a Christian life isn’t always easy, but it comes with great reward.

I want my children to know about His sacrifice. To know His reward for us. To know what God did and why He did it when He sent Jesus. To know what Jesus did for us.

MY job.

Wow! What great responsibility God has given us as parents. He expects us to teach them what they need to know. Especially when they are too young to learn it themselves.

God is showing me these things each and every day. The Holy Spirit reminds me that they are learning from me. My choices. My words. My actions. Where my time and energy is spent. How I react to certain things.

I take the responsibility quite heavily. And I fail daily. Guess what?! We all do. We all fall short.

So should we give up? Give up on being patient with our children? Give up showing them love and compassion when they fail? Give up on teaching them even when we set a bad example sometimes?

Do we want God to give up on us? I DON’T!

I am learning to be new everyday. I have to pick up my cross everyday. I have to teach my children the same.

So join me if you’d like. As I seek out what God wants for me and my family. How I can best learn and then teach them.

Over the next several Mondays I am prayerfully exploring how God wants us to teach our children. I am praying about how I can MODEL to my children a godly life; as I have prayed just about everyday for at least the last 4 years.

These posts will include many things we have already been implementing in our home, and many ways we want to improve and grow.

Here is a list of topics we will cover:

  • 3 Ways to Teach Children to Pray

  • Teaching Children to Memorize Scripture in 4 Easy Steps

  • 4 Steps to Help Children Have Daily Devotions

  • 3 Ways to Teach/Model Worshiping God

  • Teaching Children to Love as Christ Loves Us

What do you think? Are you excited about this series? I look forward to you adding what has worked for you in these areas! 

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Dear Judgmental Homeschool Mom

When James and I were dating he mentioned he would like his children to be homeschooled. By this point we were already planning our wedding, so I knew he meant he wanted me to homeschool our children. I laughed.

I am a public school teacher! I loved my high school years. Why would I homeschool?!?! They would miss out on so many important things like prom, sports, theater, graduation, etc. etc. etc. Besides… those people are generally weird, unsocial, awkward around people, etc. etc. etc.

My husband was homeschooled :). Obviously he was the exception to this rule. 

James is amazing and knew he needed to just let the issue go! We didn’t fight about it. He didn’t judge me. He just said ok and supported me in my decision. Something he does so well and in so many ways in our marriage! 

I feel certain he must have prayed about it often because God began changing my heart. While many people, over the years, have assumed that my in-laws have “changed me,” they are wrong.

God. Changed. Me. 

He spoke to me. He gave me a love for my children and being home with them. He laid on my heart their education and how I should raise them to serve and love Him. 

Not to mention… I was a PUBLIC SCHOOL teacher! I saw what was happening in that system. I saw how the teachers were being treated, and in turn how the students were being treated. I DID NOT want my children in that system. *If you choose to send your kids to public school, that is your choice. I would recommend being involved and knowing what your kids are learning, but I will NOT tell you what to do with your children… in turn… please don’t tell me what to do with mine :-). 

Moving along… Once I made the decision to homeschool my children you can imagine I got plenty of advice ;-). Mostly unsolicited, as most advice is, but I smiled, took what I felt God wanted me to, and moved on.

I had a friend tell me about the year she tried homeschooling. She was fed up with the public school system, and heartbroken at the things other kids were teaching her children. You know? They weren’t sheltered and that’s a good thing right? Ok! I will try to keep my snide remarks to a minimum haha! That is for a whole other discussion. Anyways, she began to homeschool.

It. was. Hard! 

She was frustrated. Overwhelmed. Crying. She surrounded herself with co-op groups. And guess what happened… She was told God made us to homeschool. All moms should homeschool and that is how we are created. 

Think about it (especially you homeschool moms… me included), she was frustrated, overwhelmed, and crying. She thought, “There is NO WAY I can do this.” And she was “encouraged” with… you were made to do this. Naturally, this came across that she was a failure. If she “couldn’t” do this, but God created her to do this, then something must be wrong with her. So she quit.

I cannot help but wonder, what if she had been nurtured instead? What if she had been loved where she was and encouraged to seek out how to make homeschooling work for her? What if someone had said, “It was hard for me at first too. I still have hard days. But we are here for each other. We can work together.” 

Last year I attended a homeschool convention that offered classes and a book fair. I LOVED it! So many people with so many ways to “do” homeschooling. I have TONS of options to “do” homeschooling the way that works for ME and MY FAMILY and how God leads us! 

You know what else I found, people who think their way it the only way to homeschool. 

I see this as a lose lose situation. If we encourage people to choose to homeschool over other school options, we need to be helping them find the way that works for them. Does that mean every homeschool option is good. NO WAY! But does that mean if it isn’t done the way you do then it is wrong? Absolutely not either! 

And so it begins. People are already upset and judging me on my homeschool ways. I expected this and I know it will continue to happen.

Some think the earlier you start the better. Some think the least amount of planning the better. Some plan to the tee. Everything should be done at home with only your family. You need to join a co-op. Schools that work with homeschooling so they have a little of both. And on and on and on and on. Did I mention how you do it in YOUR OWN HOME matters to some? Where you sit to teach and learn. It is just silly! 

To the homeschool mom: No matter how long you have been homeschooling, encourage one another. Support one another. Help each other. Let’s put aside our opinions over trivial things and instead praise God for how He is going to move through the process. Maybe we think certain methods are best… and maybe they are… for OUR family… but each family is different. God may need to show someone else something that He didn’t need to show you. I am sure you are trying to help. Aren’t we all? But you never know how difficult the homeschool idea is to one person. Whether it is a confused mom taking her kids out of the public school, or the mom who taught public school and is doing what she does best, or the mom who was homeschooled herself and thinks she cannot live up to the expectations set before her, we all have different journeys. I am enjoying the journey God has put me on and I must focus on Him and what he wants for me and MY family. You should do the same.

*Obviously if someone ASKS for your opinion on the best curriculum or homeschool method or whatever, then they asked for it. I would still encourage you to offer it in a kind way and try to avoid a judgmental tone. Or write your own blog post :-). 

To the non-homeschool mom: This post was not written for you. So do not take it as a personal attack at you for not homeschooling. That is on you. I have to do what I know I need to do for my family and what God has called me to do. Maybe you can find something else through this post. Or even learn to judge the homeschool mom less. Pray God would show you what to take from it. That’s what I like to do. 

My Prayer:

God, thank You so much for the ways you have changed me over the years. I am not the person I was. I am becoming the person You want me to be. Thank You for providing for our family and giving me the strength to trust You when I quit my job to stay home. Thank You for a husband who supports me and also lovingly lets me make my own choices while praying the Holy Spirit guides me the way I should go. 

Forgive me for also showing judgment on others. Oftentimes I do not even realize it. Holy Spirit, put me in check when I begin to let MY opinions and advice get in the way of things You are doing in someone. Forgive me for not always showing love the way You show love.

God, I ask You to give me wisdom in my words. That they would be Your words not mine. When people come to me for help and guidance, that I would always point them to You. That I would always seek You to speak through and to me in all situations. Lead me in the right direction as I begin to prepare my home for our homeschooling years. Put people in my life who will encourage me to find the way best for me and my family, while still encompassed by Your love and direction. 

I surrender my homeschool years to You. I offer up my children to You. I yield before You that it may not be about me but about You in everything I do. I love You and praise You for all You have done and are going to do. 

I surrender all, I surrender all, all to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

Amen.

The 30-Minute Day

So today was a full day home! No trips anywhere! I had a lot (in my mind) that I wanted to get done.

Have you done that before? Made a list in your head, or maybe even on paper.

Did you get everything done?

If you’re anything like me then – nope! Especially if I didn’t write anything down. At least I get a few more done when I make a list.

Today I decided to make it different. I was determined to get most of my list accomplished.

After breakfast, our Proverbs reading, checking email, Facebook, and some play time with the boys, I pulled out a pad of paper and a pen. I went to work!

Everything was going to be in 30 minute blocks.

11:30 – 12: Scentsy thank you cards and pay for a craft show spot

12 – 12:30: laundry

12:30 – 1: workout

1 – 1:30: lunch

1:30 – 2: clean kitchen

2 – 2:30: pack up for tomorrow’s Scentsy show & finish thank you cards

2:30 – 3: lay down with boys

3 – 3:30: clean kitchen floors and/or bathroom

3:30 – 4: shower and clean up for tonight

How did it go?!? I did EVERYTHING except the kitchen floors/bathrooms. I also did a couple other things I forgot about and of course the kids don’t follow the schedule, since they are 2 and 3 1/2, so my times got off some.

But you know what?! I’m very happy! I made a schedule and I stuck to it. I got a lot done today! Instead of my husband coming home, and me apologizing for not doing as much as I had hoped, I was happy and he was happy! He could see my progress and I felt good!

Oftentimes, either the laundry or the workout slacks. Something (well probably lots of somethings) gets missed or I just don’t have time for it all.

Success! My 30-minute schedule worked! I will do it again!

Was your day as successful?

Thankful Thursday: P90X

A complete P90X home gym - All of the standard...

A few months after Conner was born, I decided to invest in P90X to help kick my tail in gear. I love watching The Biggest Loser, but I never want to be a contestant! I also want to be healthy for my husband and kids.

A better me makes me a better wife and mom! I also need a lot energy to keep up with these three boys and this house!

When I first saw P90x I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and it might push me harder than I had ever been pushed. You see… I was the kid in jr. high and high school that asked which class could I take to replace my PE credit :). I enjoyed playing sports in general, and played soccer in high school, but the idea of PE class freaked me out.

Once I got into college, I had a gym on campus. I loved this! It was easy access and I could go and do whatever I wanted. So now, in the real world, I needed something convenient for me, especially with a little baby and the baby weight to get rid of. So P90X here I came!

I had done other workout videos before, and they were good, but this had variety and offered an excellent schedule that would transform me in 90 days. Some teenage boys at church told me they didn’t last a week, this motivated me more! There is nothing I love more (well that’s not true, but I do love it!) than a challenge and to show up some teenage boys who were in pretty good shape!

So I started that summer, and 76 days later I looked and felt amazing! I only lost between 5-10 pounds (I don’t remember sorry!), but I was wearing a smaller clothes and felt AWESOME!!! Everyone could tell a difference in my face and other body features. I felt confident and energized! It was definitely worth the hour in each day.

I ended up stopping at 76 days because I started teaching again, which took over my life, and I got pregnant with my sweet Elias! Moving forward, since Elias was born I have done some of the workouts in general, but I was trying to figure out my new life with two and where to fit in working out.

These last several months have been hard on me and my body. I lost Hope on February 7, 2012 and Jonah on April 19, 2012, so last Monday I decided I needed to do something for me and to make me feel better. MOMS: There is NOTHING wrong with taking care of yourself. It is a must!!!

I have figured out the schedule that works best for me. I do it in the mornings after breakfast. Most days we go on a walk, this gives the boys some fresh air and gets them ready for some great floor time. After the walk, or breakfast on busier days, I get out the blocks, or other toys they aren’t used to playing with, and I put in my P90X!

Most of the time I can get through at least 30-45 minutes before Elias realizes he “needs” me. Sometimes we break and I get him distracted, or play with him for a few minutes until he distracts himself, and then back on I go. So far, I have not been able to get to the AbRipperX for long, if at all, because an hour is already long enough without me, for Elias.

I’ve also adjusted it a little for our life. For instance, Saturdays are family days and I usually have no time to work out, and Sundays are out of the question, so I adjust. I believe working out the other 5 days and missing 2 is better than making an excuse, “Well since I can’t do Saturdays or Sundays I guess I won’t do it at all.” I adjust by taking out Yoga. Sorry Yoga lovers… I hate it, well most of it, so I just skip that day and do the next days workout.

In addition to working out more consistently, I am also using the MyFitnessPal app again to keep track of how well I am eating.

I feel energized! I feel empowered! I feel motivated! I feel strong! I feel (a little more) in control of my body, at least in this area, since I can’t control the miscarriages.

I feel good, and I believe this shines through in my time with my husband and kids, in my housework, and other areas in my life.

What are you doing for yourself today?

My Plan for Progress: Get Out of the House

My Pastor’s first message of the New Year was so very appropriate and spoke straight into what God had laid on my heart. He told us we needed to plan for progress. Without a plan, we are less likely to succeed at our goals.

OK. So I am beginning a series: My Plan for Progress! I am going to walk through some of my goals for the New Year and make a plan to be successful at them.

To help me with success, I use the Cozi calendar!

I feel certain I have already mentioned cozi.com and the amazing app they have available, but I want to state, if I haven’t already, how WONDERFUL the calendar is! My husband and I are working hard at using this regularly. Everything is on my phone and my computer. If I lose my phone, I do not lose my calendar!

Having said all that, I will be using the calendar regularly to help me keep up with my goals. For instance, I put my daily housecleaning schedule in for each day and set it to happen every week. It then sends me a reminder each day of what to clean.

So now that you know how I’m going to remember everything, here goes…

Get Out of the House

Goals:

  • More outings with the boys. Schedule park time, museum time (esp now that we have a membership!), library, etc.
  • Make Saturdays family days! Go out for picnics, tents in the backyard, walks around the neighborhood. Plan these events each month and make it a casual day with a lot of relaxation! This needs to be our day of rest since we work at the church all day on Sundays.
Plan: Schedule activities and put them on the calendar. Once on the calendar, we are less likely to reschedule and more likely to remember.
Schedule:
Jan
  • Tues 10th – Picnic at Park (weather permitting)
  • Fri 13th – Library
  • Sat 14th – Stay up late and watch the stars. Make some microwave s’mores and hot chocolate/apple cider.
  • Mon 16th – MLK Volunteer Activity with Family (found on http://www.volunteermatch.org/)
  • Fri 20th – Nature and Science Museum
  • Sat 21st – Draw a mural together on the sidewalk with chalk and go for a walk around the neighborhood.
  • Tues 24th – Picnic at Park (weather permitting)
  • Fri 27th – Library
  • Sat 28th – As a family, make homemade cards for the next holiday and for upcoming birthdays.
Feb
  • Fri 3rd – Nature and Science Museum
  • Sat 4th – As a family, bake a cake or delicious dessert from scratch.
  • Tues 7th – Picnic at Park (weather permitting)
  • Fri 10th – Library
  • Sat 11th – Start our family garden.
  • Fri 17th – Nature and Science Museum
  • Sat 18th – Work a puzzle together as a family.
  • Tues 21st – Picnic at Park (weather permitting)
  • Fri 24th – Library
  • Sat 25th – Make a fort of bed sheets. Camp out in the family room for a fun pajama party.
Mar
  • Fri 2nd – Nature and Science Museum
  • Sat 3rd – Lay down a blanket and watch the clouds.
  • Tues 6th – Picnic at Park (weather permitting)
  • Fri 9th – Library
  • Sat 10th – Visit the Planetarium at the museum.
  • Fri 16th – Nature and Science Museum
  • Sat 17th – Work on flower bed as a family.
  • Tues 20th – Picnic at Park with Family (weather permitting)
  • Fri 23rd – Library
  • Sat 24th – Plant more in our family garden.
  • Fri 30th – Nature and Science Museum
  • Sat 31st – Take a nature hike with the family.
Wow! That looks like A LOT! Well I would rather have too much planned than nothing at all!
What do you like to do outside the house with your family?

I wish I could stay home, BUT…

Shortly after my first son was born, I panicked! I was not working before he was born, but suddenly I didn’t know how we would ever survive if I did not get a job!

A little backwards, huh? I mean, it makes sense that I would freak out. Most first time moms do, and for good reason 🙂

Can I be completely honest??? Before a baby, my life was relaxing. Staying at home had a different meaning to me. Suddenly I had a lot more responsibility! Babies require A LOT of care. It was no longer just me at home. I had to do more now. Diapers, feedings, spit up, etc. etc. Much more than I had been doing… especially while I was pregnant!

I’m just telling the truth now. Having a baby around was suddenly a lot more work. So between thinking we “needed” more money, and wanting a break from taking care of the baby, I went back to work. It didn’t take long before I realized how much I hated being away from him. Although he was staying with “family”– first my mom, and then eventually staying at home with Krystle (Bo, as Conner has named her, my best friend who lives with us and adores my children almost as much as I do… so really family)– I still hated leaving him everyday.

Bo got to do all the things I wanted to do: the zoo, park, library, Chuck E. Cheese, etc. She posted all the cute pics. She got to share in his everyday life. I missed all of those little moments.

Don’t get me wrong, Conner saved almost all of his big firsts for me, but it was the little things I missed.

Remember how I said, in my first blog entry, that I didn’t feel like I was a good enough wife? Now those feelings were carrying over to how I felt as a mom. Now that I was working, we were “living” just fine, very comfortably in fact, but what was I stressing over? Not money. Instead it was about my family, the house being in order, dinner, etc.

Was I a good mom? The mom I needed to be for my children? Was I their caretaker? Could they come to me first? Was I taking care of our home?

I had the mindset of a stay-at-home mom, but I was working full-time. I tried to convince myself that my lifestyle and actions with my children were as if I stayed home, but I was not staying home. I was too stressed and tired to be there for my family at night.

During my first year teaching while Conner stayed with my mom, I prayed that James would find a better job: something that offered better pay and insurance, so that I could stay home. I prayed and prayed and prayed. God, please give him a better paying job. Teaching provided double my husband’s income alone. We could NEVER survive without that paycheck unless my husband could match it. Only then could we figure out how to live without his paycheck amount.

God, I know you want moms to stay home with their children, but how is this possible for me? With our house payment, utilities, car insurance, ALL of our school loans!!!, and other bills. I’m willing to give up cable, and we have been smart with our money. We don’t have any car payments and have paid down some of our debt. I will quit as soon as you give him a job that we can live off of!

Isn’t it funny how we know better than God?

No new job, so back to another year of teaching I went, this time pregnant with number two. I knew I did not want to keep working after Elias came, but God still hadn’t answered my prayer.

It was quite a year to say the least (Elias in the NICU for 76 days… another story for another entry). During this time, my mother-in-law introduced me to an amazing magazine called Above Rubies.

Sometimes, God just needs to shove something in our face before we will finally get it! The next magazine that arrived had article after article of women just like me–waiting for God to “finally” provide. That’s when it hit me! God wants me home with my children and He will provide no matter what my husband’s job is. I needed to trust Him and LET GO!

It wasn’t an easy choice, but with faith, I sent the principal an email with my resignation. I would finish out the year, but would not be returning the next year. I had NO idea how we would survive, but God did! And that’s all that mattered.

Within a month or so, God did provide my husband with another job! One with insurance and other amazing benefits, but only a $1 pay increase… um God, $1?

Can I just tell you, since I’ve been home, we haven’t missed one payment! Not one bill! Everything has been paid and ON TIME! Can you believe that?!?! Me neither 🙂

God has provided me with side jobs that I can do AT HOME and some even WITH my family, or a few around my husband’s schedule! God has provided my husband with PLENTY of extra side jobs. It amazes me how we make it every month!

Has our lifestyle had to change? YOU BET! Do we eat out as much or as nice as we used to? NO WAY! Have things had to be put aside? YUP! But am I with my boys? YES! And let me tell you, I didn’t realize how much this would truly change our family.

I am HAPPY! I feel more successful than ever! I feel like a good wife and mother! God has taught me sooo much, and continues to daily. I enjoy changing the diapers… it’s a mindset 😉 (that i remind myself often!) I love preparing their lunches! It no longer feels like a “job” or inconvenience. I get to go to all the fun outings and see ALL of the firsts! Even the little ones! I take the pictures and post them on Facebook. I get to take care of my family! I’m learning how to teach and discipline my children. I didn’t realize I was missing this by being away so much.

This entry is already way too long, so I will post soon about how we really survive. My MANY forms of income! Every $1 helps. And the ways I save my family money. Are you interested in learning how I make money and still stay home with my kids? See my post Show Me The Money!

From the Heart…

For some time now, I have been convicted of my actions both as a wife and a mom. When James and I first married, September 8, 2007, I constantly felt as though I was not a good enough wife.

Was I cleaning well enough? He’s doing most, if not all, of the cooking… does this bother him? How will I learn to cook? Why doesn’t he want to cuddle at night? He clearly doesn’t love me! I am not joking… this is how I felt! Am I doing enough for him… in bed??? Funny story about this for another time. Should I wait on him more? What is my role as a wife and his as a husband??? etc. etc. etc.

I really stressed over this the first year or two… pre-kids. Who am I kidding? I still stress over this. Anyone who knows me, will know I stress too much. Not only does everything have to be perfect, but it has to be perfect to everyone else.

So guess what!!! I have it all figured out now! I am an expert! HA! Yeah, right… maybe at finally realizing that it will NEVER be perfect. Maybe that I will NEVER be able to please everyone! Things can never be perfect because that is all based on perception.

Over the last year, God has really taken my life and changed my heart. Many of the ideas and beliefs were already there. A distant thought in the back of my mind. He has taken those ideas and forced me to form true convictions about how I interact with both my husband and my children. He has laid this blog on my heart and I have finally opened up to this journey. I pray He guides my words.

As a forewarning, I am NOT perfect. I am not claiming to be perfect. This blog is meant as much for me as it is for you, if not more. Be open with me on the process. God may speak things to us that we may not want to hear. I know He has been showing me a lot through friends, families, magazines, blogs and more this last year. Many of the suggestions were difficult for me to hear (and continue to be so)… as I used to “preach” feminism and all my rights as a woman. I have had many life changes as I go from equal rights to God’s advice.

I pray God uses it for each of us and to encourage us through His eyes.

Welcome to our journey…