Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Cure For Picky Eaters and Mama's Boot Camp!

Well, I finally got sick of it! I cooked a nice meal to only hear another groan and "This again?". I'm sorry,but I give my children a HUGE variety of meals during a month's time. I even space my leftovers so we are not eating the same thing twice. I told my kids that it was impossible for me to please ALL six children and that I was tired of trying. I'm going to make a meal and if I hear ONE groan, moan, or complaint that they were going to have plain, brown rice for that meal. The only thing they could put on it was butter, salt or pepper. Boy, that got their attention. Brown rice is not their favorite thing in the world. I also told them that is what most people in the world eat EVERY day! I quickly made up a large batch of rice and put it in small bags in the freezer. They are ready and waiting for the picky child that complains about their food. It's funny. I haven't heard one complaint about my food for over a week. Ha ha!!!!!!!! (Do you hear me cackling?)

I'm seeing a huge difference in attitudes when it is time to do chores. Andrew has really started enjoying being part of the Brown Team. He is now emptying garbages, unloading the dishwasher (sometimes), mopping (sort of), doing the silverware, emptying the recycle bin, making his bed and emptying his laundry hamper and doing it most of the time without complaining. Very cool! Here Lily is doing her best to help.
This child will not be left out. She wants to be doing everything her sibs are doing. You should see us when we are trying to homeschool. She likes to get her little phonics book and pencil and crayons and draw with us. Everything goes good until she starts throwing all their papers, rulers, and pencils on the floor. More about that in a later post!

I'm so thankful that my husband encouraged me to train our children to help me with the housework. My biggest chores now are budgeting, taxiing, cooking and laundry. They are proving to be a great help and I am confident that by the time they leave this house, they will know how to keep an orderly house.

I am really working on attitudes and not allowing my children to argue with me. It has been an exhausting week. My firefighter hubby left for an out-of-town class for five days (plus one of his regular shifts). I decided to crack down the day he left or I knew I would be run ragged with all the arguing that I had been allowing. It kind of crept up on me. I always want my children to feel like they have been heard. But, I know I take this too far. It breeds arguing, especially with the oldest two. God held my hand and gave me lots of wisdom (via friends, books and prayer) as I formed my own "Mama's Bootcamp". I could see major fruit by the end of the week as my children started "seeing the light" and I think even liking some of the boundries placed.

One son decided to quit Tae Kwon Do right after he passed his belt test that we paid $35 for. I made him earn the money back. He was not happy, but I think he learned a valuable lesson. This child needs hard consequences if he is going to learn anything. I can't protect him from them and more importantly, I shouldn't be! I now have a clean fridge, picture frames dusted, every room in the house vacuumed, showers and bathtubs scrubbed, sinks and mirrors are glistening. Oh yeah! Plus the child had to work for his Papa Russ all day.
I pray that next week will be better and I will be even more consistent and the children even more compliant. It is amazing how much disciplining I am doing with six children. Sometimes I feel that is all I do. But I have to. It isn't a choice. I love them too much to let them disobey and misbehave. It does them no favors in life. God will see me through this stage. I know He will. How do parents do this without God?

"Correct your son and he shall give you rest. He will give delight to your soul."-Proverbs 29:17

I'm in for a lot of rest and delight if I keep this up!

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Moral Training Starts With You!

"The starting point of moral training is with the parents. Before you dilegently teach your children, Moses said, "These words shall be in your hearts." If the principles of moral conduct are not resident in your own heart, you cannot pass them on to your children. It's a mistake to think moral training is the duty of the Sunday school, day school, (youth pastor) or Christian school teacher. It is not! By intent or neglect, parents are the greatest moral influence on their children. Not only do parents teach principles of moral conduct, but they validate them in the context of daily living.

Moral training is to take place during the normal activities of the day. 'You...shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise.' by implication, moral truth is best communicated in periods of non-conflict. That doesn't mean we will not teach at times of correction, but it does mean a healthy dose of moral enlightenment should take place throughout the day and in moments of non-conflict when the child is not in a position to have to defend his or her actions.

The charge to parents from this passage is to know the God of moral truth, live His moral truth, and, from that experience, teach your children that truth."

-Ezzo taken from "Growing Kids God's Way-Along the Virtuous Way"

God spoke this into my heart when I gave birth to my first son, Joshua. I still remember Him saying, "Do you want to do this your way, or my way?" I remember telling Him, "I've made a mess of things doing it my way. I want to do it your way."

I'm so thankful that I surrendered my life, and my parenting to Him that day. I can't imagine what kind of mother I would have been if I had not. Selfish, impulsive, sinful, stressed out, joyless.

Praise God for His mercy and pursuit of me! Now my goal is to be a godly example to my children. To pursue holy living and to pass that on to this generation and the next and God-Willing the next after that. I can only do that, "Through Him that gives me strength".

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Are You Turning Your Family Towards God?

I came across this quote from Brooke Wayne in "An Encouraging Word" magazine.

"A person can 'do' all the right things in life, and yet have nothing eternal to show for it because their hearts were not in service to the Lord during the 'doing.' Many mothers have cooked scrumptions meals, kept immaculate homes, and taught their children three grade levels above average, yet done so in a self-serving way that turns their families away from the Lord."

Ouch! I asked myself,"Why am I doing all of this?" Is it in a self-serving way? Oh, I hope not!

It is good to examine ourselves before the Lord. We need to question ourselves about our motives.

Are we doing all this to look good? To look like the perfect mother?

Or are we doing this because we truly want God's best for the family He has gifted you with?

Is homeschooling something He has laid on your heart or is it something you are doing because everyone around you is doing it?

Even worse, are just mad at their last teacher? Anger will not get you through the tough days, so before you yank them out of school, make sure you are in God's timing and have full-support from your husband. I have heard nightmarish tales of people who homeschooled on knee-jerk reactions. Prayer is the key!

Are we more stressed out about keeping our houses looking like a magazine cover than we are about turning our children's hearts towards Jesus and discipling them?

I want to turn my family toward the Lord! I want to model contentment, love, joy and peace to them so that when they go out into the world, they will KNOW the difference.

Mothers, "Choose this day whom you will serve"...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

His Grace-When Life Gets Messy

Life has been kind of messy around our house lately. I have seemed to clean up more than my usual share of messes.

Children covered from head to toe with mud.

Baby finding the dirt pile.

Baby smeared with chocolate and sticky yogurt.

Black ink being left out, tipped over and spread all over the counter, floor and the baby.

I have had my patience tested GREATLY!!!

I have needed a daily portion of grace to get through each day without losing it!

I ran into this quote by Charles Spurgeon and couldn't believe how something written so long ago could speak to me so profoundly.

"A daily portion is all that a man (or woman) really wants. We do not need tomorrow's supplies; that day has not dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. we cannot eat or drink or war more than the day's supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the veriest glutton can truly enjoy. This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with His daily allowance...we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.

"Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you...Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy."
Wow! Was this written for mothers or what?

Something I am trying to remember as well, is that messes make memories!

So here's a toast to many more memories!!!
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Friday, October 22, 2010

New Clothes For Jess

The other day Jessica told me that she really wanted a particular style of clothing. She has never expressed this desire before. She has never known anything but hand-me-downs. We are so blessed by other people's generosity. I think she finally figured out that all of her friends at church were getting new clothes for school. This is one nice thing about homeschooling. You don't have the huge pressure of making sure you are "in-style" with costly, name-brand clothing.

I talked with Steve and he agreed to surprise her with a shopping trip. It was so fun watching her shop! At first she wanted everything, but quickly figured out that she had to be more picky since we only had $50 to spend. We decided on this cute black outfit with some shiny silvery shoes. I told her she could have this dress as long as she put some black stretchy pants under it.
She loves this little pink number. She forgot to put her purple stretchy pants under it, but knows that is what is required. It seems that peace symbols are on everything now days.
I pushed for this shiny purple shirt with a matching scarf. I loved how long it was on the bottom and the nice layered look for the top. It has been a joy to teach my young lady modesty. She is really aware of it and even lets me know if I have something on that might be questionable. Talk about accountability! It IS possible to dress cutely without showing too much skin, or things being too tight.
Also, Jess lost another tooth on top! She kind of talks funny now, but takes it in stride when we tease her occasionally. She is a good sport.

It is so fun having a girl that is old enough to shop. I am really enjoying it! I can't wait till Lily is old enough to go, too. I am so blessed to have not one girl, but two!
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Encouragement For The Parent of a Strong-Willed Child

When I talk with mothers, I have found that most of us think we have a strong-willed child. When there is a group of siblings, the strongest, loudest, most outspoken and defiant child usually stands out. That is their strong-willed one! Now, I know there are variations of "strong-willed" children. There are degrees if we actually start comparing each other. I usually hear, "Oh, mine is worse than that" and so on, but the reality is, sometimes we just don't know what to do with  him or her and it really doesn't matter who has it worse!

Sometimes having a strong-willed child just feels hopeless, like you are never getting anywhere with them.

My sister, Jackie has two little redheads, Josiah and Hailey. Josiah seems to be the "strong-willed" child of the two. He has struggled with obedience for a long time. My sister has been a shining example of consistency. She just had a "Breakthrough" the other day that I would love for you to read about on her BLOG (click on this link). This story brought tears to my eyes, and joy and hope to my soul for my own strong-willed child. God is bigger and loves our children more than we ever could.

I know she would appreciate any feedback you can give her, so please take the time to comment.

Be encouraged mothers! We are not parenting alone. We are in partnership with a Heavenly Father, a perfect Father! Be blessed today...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun Froggy Cupcakes and a Challenge

We put on a 50th birthday party for my step mom, Diana, this weekend. We decided to go with a frog theme, because she loves the acronym, F.R.O.G. (Fully Relying On God). I called upon my friend, Kim to help me make some cute frog cupcakes. This is how they turned out. Aren't they cute? Kim brushed small Nilla cookies with green food coloring, cinnamon dots for the eyes, and strawberry fruit leather for the mouths and tongues. We also ended up adding raisins on each tongue to look like flies.
Here is a picture of how we did it.
Thanks, Kim, for working so hard on these. They tasted so yummy and made the party so special!
I had to throw this one in of Lily giving smooches to her Aunt Jackie! Jackie is so enjoying how affectionate Lily is.

Do you want to see your children blessed? I know I do. I ran across this and wanted to share it with you. I pray that you would be challenged to pray for your children more.

"Let's pray for our children to be attracted to holiness and purity like a magnet, so that when anything entices them that isn't holy or pure, they detect the pull immediately and are made uncomfortable enough to thoroughly reject it. 'For God did not call us to uncleanness, but to holiness' (1 Thessalonians 4:7). To live purely within the boundaries of God's law is to find wholeness in the total person. that wholeness is what holiness is all about. Children who have a desire for holiness and seek God's enabling power to help them achieve it can never be anything but blessed and fulfilled."-Stormie O'Martian from "The Power of a Praying Parent"
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Catching Up!

Well, I hurt my back blueberry picking so I got a little behind on stuff. I wasn't able to cook the way I normally do, so I got busy today and chopped up all the ripe tomatoes (5 quarts), grated 3 quarts of cheddar cheese and three quarts of Swiss. I then made Potato's Romanoff, two loaves of bread, scones with a blueberry raspberry sauce and homemade whipped cream. After this picture was taken, I decided to continue to be productive and made two gallons of taco soup and brown 4 lbs of hamburger to put in the freezer. Why do I wait to brown my hamburger? I've gotten smart and decided to just cook it up four lbs at a time and freeze it. It's so much easier to put in my recipes when it is already cooked.
Jessica and Josiah are only four months apart. They are losing their teeth left and right! I thought they looked so cute, I had to take a picture of the little toothless cousins! Josiah is holding a "sword" in his hand.
I am really working on getting the kids to help me with some of the projects around here that kill my back. Here they are tilling and seeding the dead spot left by the trampoline. Last time I did this I ended up flat on my back for two days. My back does NOT like this kind of work. Jess did a really good job raking. I was so grateful!
And here is my sister's girl, Miss Hailey. She discovered the vent and loved to stand over it with her dresses so they would poof out. It was so cute! She is so girly! This dress has been used for many historical birthday parties over the years!

Yesterday I went back to OHSU for my vocal training. I now how permission to sing again! I need to be careful to sing only within my range (which isn't that broad), and not to overdo it. I'm so excited! It feels so good to worship without that limitation! I should only have one more vocal training left. She was pleased with the progress I had made.

Thank you all for your prayers. It has been a blessing to me to know that you care and that you pray for me. God is so faithful and He has gotten me through this trial graciously. I feel like I have passed a huge test. I pray I don't ever have to revisit this one again.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh!

Mothering can be so serious and intense as you train, discipline and disciple your children. There are not nearly enough times where we just laugh!
I want to smile more! I want to laugh when something like this happens...
Jessica left the black ink from our quill and ink set out. She had it EVERYWHERE! On her, on the counter, and the floor. I didn't know if it was permanent or not. I started to freak in my usual way, but as I grabbed the the baking soda, someone did something to make it worse and in my animated way I accidentally flung baking soda everywhere!
That is when we all broke down laughing hysterically. Josh thought I looked so funny, he snapped this picture. You can't see it, but the baking soda is in my hair, on my face, on my clothes and all over the floor! After a good laugh at Mom, we all proceeded to clean up the baby and the the mess. This reminds me of a devotion I did called, "Where's Your Smile, Mom?" Check it out!
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Monday, October 11, 2010

A Tour of My "No-Till" Garden

I have never enjoyed my garden as much as I have this year. Thanks to my friend, Catherine's suggestion, I have tried no till gardening. (Check bottom of the post for more info on "no-till" gardening.) I have to weed maybe once a month with this method! LOVE it! I love this picture of Miss Lily Pie on the old bench. Behind her, my pumpkins seem to stretch out more each day!
I added straw around my beds to keep out the weeds. Yes, Catherine, I went waaay thicker this year! This is my strawberry bed. It has started producing again and I have been able to pick about 5-10 strawberries a day for the past month. Behind the strawberries are my tomatoes and my beans. I've never had so many beans. I'm actually sick of picking them!
Behind the beans are cabbage, pumpkins and cucumbers. On the right, I have started layering my new "no till" bed that is going along my cyclone fence. I will put the beans next to the fence this year and also the tomatoes. This will give me more room for cucumbers and hopefully carrots and onions.
The nice thing about fall is that the yard gets green again. It has filled in quite a bit since the pool and trampoline have wreaked havoc on it. The two oldest boys are old enough now to mow the lawn and I so appreciate it. God is blessing me so much with my big strapping boys! I find I am using their muscles all the time.
"No-Till" Gardening method is simply to choose not to till the soil. Instead you layer the beds like a lasangna. I usually start with a good top soil, then I use straw, brown cardboard, grass clippings, compost, and in the fall I dump my leaves on it. The result is a rich, loose soil that is very fertile! Because you are not tilling up the soil, you are not bringing up all the weed seeds to the surface. It makes for practically weed-free gardening!
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is Marriage About Me?

I ask myself this question, "Is Marriage about me?". Well, according to the Bible it actually is. Marriage is about me changing ME, not my husband. If I allow God to sanctify me through and through using what feels to be "God's Holy Battering Ram", I will change. I will become the woman God wants me to be as I continue to learn to give up my own wants and needs.

It's so against what the world says marriage should be...

A perfect husband who comes home with flowers in his hands after a fight.

A man who says sorry when he knows he's wrong.

A man who strives to be romantic and affectionate and loves to take walks instead of watching TV in his Lazy Boy.

Ladies, this is NOT the norm. If you have one of these kind of guys, I congratulate you! You are truly blessed.

The other 95 percent of us have to work hard to keep any spark of romance alive as we wade through the messiness of life.

"We think marriage is the place where we are promised happiness and love, not the place where we learn to love each other and face the ugliest parts about ourselves....If you don't change your view of marriage, you will eventually conclude that your marriage is flawed, that it is wrong. You will begin to think thoughts like: I must have married too young; I probably married the wrong person; Maybe this marriage was never meant to be."-Mark Gungor

I spent my first seven years of marriage asking these questions. I was so unhappy because I had a completely distorted view of what marriage looked like. I had been addicted to trashy romance novels while I was a teenager. Oh, the lies that the enemy put in my head!

"Dare to believe marriage is good, that the one you are in is good. Dare to ask God to help you treasure it, appreciate it, and stay committed to it, even though there are times you feel a little shaken-up and with your needs going unmet."-Mark Gungor in "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage".
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

He Does What It Takes

Dear Mothers,

Some of you may know that I have been struggling for the past four or five months with a very hoarse voice. It has been quite painful and it makes me sound like I have a frog in my throat all the time. I was just diagnosed with nodules on my vocal cords, which is a fancy way of saying I have “calluses on my vocal cords.”

It has interfered with my life in many ways. I can’t sing, I can’t read very many stories out loud to my children and I struggle lecturing the children when I’m homeschooling. The thing that does keep me encouraged is the fact that I know God does not waste pain. This has become very evident with a few things He has been teaching me.

The first thing I learned is that even though I knew I had come a long ways in the area of not raising my voice at my children, I still wasn’t doing good enough. It was as if God was saying, “No more! You are in a bad habit and if you can’t break it, I love you enough to help you break it for good.” So, He took away my voice. I literally cannot raise my voice in the slightest without wincing in pain. This has forced me to stop being lazy and go find my children instead of testing to see if they are within yelling distance!

When I’m angry, I need to stand or kneel in front of them, take their face in my hands and lower my voice on purpose so as not to strain my voice. I am actually thanking God for this habit-breaking affliction!

The second thing that has been affected by this malady is my worship. I am learning for the first time how to worship the Lord without singing. Singing praises to God has always been my prevalent form of worship. Instead I find myself entering into a whole new place in my worship. I am reminded of the song lyrics, “When the music fades and all is stripped away, and I simply come.” Without the distraction of whether or not I am hitting the right notes, I am forced to completely and utterly focus on the words. I can truly come into a place where I am worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth. It has been an incredible experience. I can literally feel the Spirit of God wash over me as I silently, but intentionally worship before Him. I pray that when I do get my voice back, I will be able to mesh all of this together.

The third lesson I’m learning is to choose my words wisely. I need to “let my words be few”. I am continuing to refine my speech patterns by being “slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to become angry.” Not an easy task!

Isn’t God amazing? All these years I’ve known these to be some of my greatest weaknesses. I’ve prayed hard and long for God to do what it takes to root these bad habits out of my life. I never thought He would have to give me nodules on my vocal cords to do it.

The only way these will go away is by changing my vocal patterns and to not yell (ever). I will relearn how to speak and sing in a way that will not strain my voice.

I challenge you to do a self-inspection. What bad behaviors or habits have you just not been able to fully change? Jim Cymbale writes, “God is attracted to weakness. He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him.”

Are you willing for Him to do what it takes?

From One Mom to Another,
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