Whatsoever Things Are Lovely ~ Think On These Things

Failing Student Tom

“A partially deaf boy came home from school one day carrying a note from officials at the school.  The note suggested that the parents take the boy out of school, claiming that he was ‘too stupid to learn.’

The boy’s mother read the note and said, ‘My son Tom isn’t too stupid to learn!’  I’ll teach him myself!’  And so she did.

When Tom died many years later, the people of the United States of America paid tribute to him by turning off the nation’s lights for one full minute.  You see, this Tom had invented the light bulb — and not only that, but motion pictures and the record player.  In all, he had more than one thousand patents to his credit.

No child is beyond receiving affection and growing in self-esteem.  No child is beyond experiencing the presence of Almighty God.

Never give up on any aspect of your child’s growth and development.  Your Heavenly Father hasn’t, doesn’t, and won’t.” *

Never despair of your child.  The one you weep the most for at the mercy seat may fill your heart with the sweetest joys.” 

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing…”

~ Psalm 126:6

Albert Einstein Childhood

Thomas Edison On Failure


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*God’s Little Devotional Book for Moms

 

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The Mission of Motherhood ~ Chapter 10: The Creative Mother

Winter Ice Beauty
Continuing with my daughter’s book study on “The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkston” from Where My Treasure Is at WordPress…..

Yesterday morning, we awoke to a ice-laden wonderland. As I shuffled into the warmly lit living room and gazed out upon the perfect stillness of the crystalline world, the first word that escaped my lips was  ”Woooooow!”

Each of my children, in turn, gasped as they descended the stairs for breakfast and saw the branches bending down heavy on the deck.

Winter Ice Beauty

We spent a long while enjoying our breakfast and discussing the amazing view. Abigail begged for a delay in the morning chores so that she and Iliana could rush outside and capture it before it all melted away.

A bit later, bundled up tight, the two of them slipped off and away through the crunchy land of wonder, breathing little clouds and breathing in the beauty…

Winter Ice Beauty

“Beauty is not just something frivolous;
it is essential to the foundation of our lives.”

In this week’s chapter, Sally shares that one of the best ways that we can appeal to the yearnings for beauty and wonder that God has already placed in our children’s hearts is to expose them to the many facets of God’s artistry as expressed in what He made.

Our children are not just brains that need to be developed academically or trained to think right thoughts. Our children were designed by God to receive pleasure through their senses, their hearts, and their minds, because of all the wonderful things He made for us to enjoy – and also to come to know their Creator through the works of His hands. (p. 182)

To me, introducing our children to God by way of His creation is one of the most joyful parts of mothering!

It is also one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

Winter Ice Beauty

However, helping my children to enjoy and appreciate God’s handiwork in its many varieties requires a choice.

In the modern world that we live in, it is so easy to substitute virtual reality for actual reality – so very easy. We convince ourselves that a quality nature show is as just as good as going outside. That a sensory table filled with a gooey (and sanitary) substances is equivalent to actually playing in the rain and mud. That a virtual pet is just as fun as touching a real, live animal. But by making these “easier” choices, we often don’t realize all that we are choosing to give up. The farther we move from nature the more out of touch we can get with God’s power and reality.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

~ Psalm 8: 3-4 ~

Many children are rarely exposed to the natural elements that were meant to daily confront our soul with the greatness of God. What can be done for these children? Well, there are many great ideas in this chapter of ways to incorporate God’s creation into everyday life. I don’t want to repeat all of her ideas here, but I will share a few of mine that I’ve incorporated into my children’s lives…

1. Experiencing God’s creation through our senses

Eating in Season 
A Simple Summer Supper
Tea with jam and bread
Adding Warmth and Light

2. Experiencing God’s creation through words and ideas

Education is a Life

3. Experiencing God’s creation through the natural world

Our family’s nature studies on:
Winter
Birds
Reptiles
Amphibians
Trees
Human Body

Education in Our Home Series: Science

A New View (a spring walk)
Winter Walk
Winter Morning
The wonder of it

Three Things To Give Kids Every Day This Summer

 Any encounter with God’s outdoors can make a difference. Over the long haul, the more time our children spend in natural settings, both wild and tame, the more deeply they will realize the magnificent message of Jeremiah 32:17:

“Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee!” (p. 188)

Winter Ice Beauty

Filling our homes

Another way that we can help to keep our children’s minds focused on God’s creativity is the way in which we arrange our home environment.

Sally says:

From the time they were very small, I have filled our home with items that appealed to their senses and fed their understanding of God’s beauty and their appreciation of human creativity. (p. 188)

Every woman’s ideas will be different (that’s the beauty of the creative mother!) ~ but each of us can find ways to fill our homes with beauty and inspiration no matter the size of our budget.

In my home, I always try to have fresh flowers on the table throughout the growing season. When the flowers are gone, I decorate with ivy , pinecones and other things we can find around the property. I seek out oversized art books of beautiful paintings for my children to browse through. I intentionally fill our home library with books about God’s creation so that my children can study deeper into the things they find outside.

As a completely NON arts and crafts-type person, it’s been encouraging for me to realize over the past few years that being creative in God’s image encompasses a wide range of activities – from storytelling to house construction to baking to music to crafts to problem solving!

All of the beautiful things that we can fill our homes with to look at, touch, smell and taste were created by God for us to experience so that we could enjoy life more fully. However, He did not intend for these things to bring us fulfillment in and of themselves, but to point beyond the things to the Artist Himself –  to affirm His magnificence, His power and His kindness and generosity in making our lives so full.

He gave us a richly created world to help us know Him better!

Encouraging a creative response

We must remember that being made in God’s image means we are like Him – each of us – including our children! If He is creative, then we also have that potential – all of us!

We can encourage our children’s responses to God’s creation by filling our home with tools and materials for their own creative endeavors. Boxes of art supplies – stickers, paints, crayons, colored pencils, stencils and lots of scrap paper, dress-up clothes from the thrift store, how-to books on drawing, crafts and other hobbies, garden tools and seeds – the list is almost endless! If we are on a budget, a little creativity on our part will make it possible to acquire tools for our children – books from the library, art supplies from garage sales, buying secondhand tools.

An important part of fostering creativity in our children is to model it ourselves in everyday life. We can make small choices everyday to involve our children in what it is that we enjoy doing, whether it’s baking, gardening, photography, web design or any other creative endeavor. One of the things I’ve enjoyed teaching my children to do is to create handmade cards.

When our children practice creating, they begin understanding the Creator God, who is the original Artist!

Winter Ice Beauty

Does it all sound too simple?

Go outside

Bring it inside

Practice creativity

After reading this chapter, did you feel like saying…

OK, Sally, that’s all well and good for you and your {perfect} family, but we live in the REAL WORLD here, not out in Grizzly Adams-Little House on the Prairie-Treehugger Land! My kids are more interested in Minecraft than monarch butterflies, Angry Birds than awesome sunsets, Instagram than an interesting walk in the woods and Big Time Rush than rushing outside to play!

The kind of life you’re talking about is just not reality anymore.

Winter Ice Beauty

Regardless of our family’s lifestyle choices, we all need to ask ourselves this question…

Has God’s magnificence changed over time?

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

~ Psalm 19:1 ~

Does His creation give Him any less glory in our modern, technological age? Has the creativity of the top developers at Apple® finally surpassed His old, worn-out wonders? Have Hollywood’s CGI technicians found a way to outshine the breathtaking view of the heavens at night?

In the book of Job, God takes to answering Job’s questions with questions of His own – questions all about the things He has created.

Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who set its measurements, since you know?…

Or who enclosed the sea with doors,
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
when I made a cloud its garment,
and thick darkness its swaddling band?

Have you entered the treasury of snow,
or have you seen the treasury of hail?

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion oer the earth?

Job 38: 2-5, 8-9, 22, 33

We and our children need Job’s message, today as much as ever before. There is something about the direct experience of God’s natural world that tends to put our human doubts and questions into perspective. (p. 186)

When we invite our children to explore and marvel in God’s creation alongside us,
we learn that His perspective and wisdom and purposes
are vastly different from our human, limited viewpoint.

 Winter Ice Beauty

A lifelong habit

One of my main goals of mothering is to touch my children’s hearts with the overwhelming wonder of God’s presence.

But it will not happen overnight.

Cultivating an appreciation of God’s creation and the “in his image” creativity of our families is a lifelong habit. It takes years to develop and it is built by the ways we choose to live each day. (p. 195)

As mothers, we have an awesome opportunity to draw our children closer to God. We can make small choices in how our young children spend their days. We can invite our teens to take a walk with us or plan a family trip to an exciting new place, full of God’s creation. Any small thing that we can do to get out into God’s creation or bring it into our homes will be worthwhile and have a lasting impact in the lives of our children!

A big thank you to Abigail (my granddaughter) who braved the cold and took all of the photographs in this post!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mission of Motherhood

Now it’s your turn!

Let’s discuss some different ways we can bring our children into contact with God’s magnificent creation! What does your family enjoy doing that involves nature?

As always, you are also welcome to share a favorite quote or your answer to one of the study questions from this week’s chapter, too!

Our next discussion will be in two weeks, on January 6, 2014, when we will be discussion Chapter 11: The Ministering Mother.

To view all posts in this book study, click HERE.

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The Mission of Motherhood – Chapter 3: The Undivided Heart

Mission of Motherhood

Continuing with my daughter’s book study on the Mission of Motherhood.

Welcome back, moms!

Today we are continuing with our book study on The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson. If you are joining us for the first time – I’m so glad you’re here! I need to be completely honest with you.

I came to my computer to write this week’s post with a heavy heart.

The topic of a mother’s divided heart has divided mothers amongst themselves most grievously and I have no desire to do that here on my blog. I’ve heard the advice that’s out there – Please, put down the stones! We moms need to stick together and stop tearing each other down! Every mom needs to follow her own heart and make the decision that’s right for her family! We shouldn’t say anything about how another mom wants to run her life. We need to be lovers, not haters!

Yes, it’s true that we moms need to love each other. But within the context of love, I believe that there is a place for heart-to-heart discussion about these things.

I realize that most moms I know, whether they go to work or stay at home, have a great concern and love for their children. Most of them are doing what they really believe is best for them. And yet, I feel strongly, as Sally does, that home-centered, traditional motherhood deserves to be a serious part of the discussion when we talk about the issues at stake in our children’s lives.

I can’t count the number of times that another mom has said to me, on finding out that I stay home:

Oh, you’re so lucky! I wish I could stay home! But, unfortunately, I have to work.

However, staying at home with my children is not solely about my own pleasures – believe me. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood and gazed wistfully over into the greener pastures of going to work every day while someone else takes care of the messes and crying and bickering and stress.) Staying home is about much more than being present for each of my baby’s “firsts”.

It is a decision that I have made because I feel that my responsibility as a mother commands my primary attention and calls for an intentional commitment.

I feel that mothering cannot just be something that’s tucked in around the edges of my “real” life, as Sally describes it. And yet, even as I write these words, I fear that they will sting, and that is the last thing I would ever want to do to a friend.

I weep over the position that society places us in as women.

On one hand, we modern women appear to enjoy so many freedoms, don’t we? We can vote, we are generally more educated than our grandmothers were and we have access to many of the same professions and salaries as men.

But on the other hand, we are expected to do it “ALL”.

Mom At Work

We’re told lies all the live-long day about what we must do to find happiness and fulfillment:

If only you:

  • Complete a high level of education
  • Find the perfect career
  • Achieve success in said career
  • Spend enough “quality time” with your children
  • Provide those children with everything they need (from the color-coordinated nursery to the iPad) and enriching and full lives of activity besides
  • Prepare or purchase delicious food for your family  (because we all know about the dangers that lurk in our modern food!)
  • Wear clothes that befit a modern woman and keep our bodies lookin’ good enough to post pictures of ourselves on Facebook
  • Oh yes, and keep your man happy too, by being exciting and spontaneous!

We are pushed and pushed and pushed

I, too, know the push.

Even though I grew up wanting and planning to be a home-centered mom, I found myself with a college degree and $16K of debt! When asked where my career track was headed, I always responded with, I hope to be a professor of music. So, how did these two desires (motherhood and career) simultaneously exist in my mind? I don’t know. I never really stopped to think about it.

I felt the pressure. I felt the push. I did those things because they were what I was supposed to do.

So, I want each of my friends who are here today to know – I care about you very much. I know that some of you truly have no choice about the position you are in. I have no judgment in my heart about what you are doing with your life.

And yet…

Choices have consequences.

(They actually do, even though not many people like that word these days.)

I hope that each and every one of us can honestly ask ourselves this question: How often do we think through our decisions?

Do we consider all of the repercussions of our actions through the lens of God’s Word and not just what other people say is “OK”? I know that I certainly did not think all the way to the logical conclusion of my decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

In Chapter 3, Sally says that “without Biblical conviction, the tendency is to blindly accept the norms or standards of the people with whom we spend time.”

However, if we want to experience the blessing of God and have a sense of wholeness to our lives, we must seek to understand His original design as clearly as possible.

What are three things that we can learn from Scripture about making choices and commitments that can help us as journey toward mothering with an undivided heart?

Bible

1.  We need to be aware of what we are doing when we make our choices. (Proverbs 14:1, Luke 14:28)

If we want to build strong homes, we must think ahead and do what is necessary to lay a strong, stable foundation. And then, as we build, we need to check our progress along the way, keeping our overall purpose in mind and making choices that keep our building on the right track. We must assess our choices honestly to determine whether they are helping or hindering what we are trying to do. (p. 52)

2. We are instructed to set our hearts on choices with eternal results, not choices with only temporal significance. (Matthew 6:20-21)

Our children have the opportunity to live forever in God’s family. God has given them into our hands to protect and lead and shepherd them through this life. In His sight, they are my first priority. It is eternal work to train their hearts, minds and consciences in righteousness. This is the vital work of building a morally, emotionally, mentally and spiritually strong generation of children who will be prepared to function responsibly for the rest of their lives.

3. To fully experience our fulfillment in Christ and fulfill His will for our lives, we must come to the point where we give our whole selves to Him – our freedom, our time, our bodies, all of our possessions and gifts- trusting Him to show us how to use all that we are for His glory. (Romans 12:1)

To sacrifice means to give up or surrender something of value. How do we make the commitment to give the area of motherhood over to God as a sacrifice of worship to Him? We yield our personal rights into His hands. We give up our times and expectations to Him – and also our fears and worries about how we will manage. We trust Him to take care of us and our family. We let Him redirect our thinking and expectations and adjust our dreams. And we wait in faith to see the fruit of our hard labor in the lives of our children, knowing that He will be faithful to honor our commitment to Him. (p. 54)

Many moms, including some of you reading this post today, have discovered the same thing when you have made the choice for wholehearted motherhood. You’ve discovered that through a combination of creative problem solving and active trust, that whatever the Lord requires, He also enables.

Our children need us, moms!

                        

Women were designed to nurture, to provide a life-giving environment in the home – to provide a center of life for all who live there.

With the privilege of bearing children comes the responsibility to commit wholeheartedly to the care of those children! Mothers who make the decision for home-centered motherhood have the time and opportunity to craft the kind of relationship with their young children that only extended time together can foster. This close relationship is a wonderful place to begin building a strong moral and spiritual foundation in the heart of the child.

Is the book saying that women shoud never work outside of the home?

Not necessarily. There have been many women who have creatively found ways to add income to the home while wholeheartedly mothering.

By the way…

Not a single one of us is off the hook!

All moms, whether we stay at home or work abroad, are susceptible to having a divided heart. Even if we are at home all day with our children, our hearts can be as far away from them as if we were working. Just because we stay at home does not automaticaly equate to our having an undivided heart.

“…Acknowledge the God of your father,
and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind,
for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.
If you seek him, he will be found by you;
but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

I Chronicles 28:9

To the best of our ability, each of us needs to be committed to living as mothers with undivided hearts – dedicating ourselves fully to the task of building a home and nurturing our children.

Does staying at home mean that we automatically extinguish the opportunities to use our gifts, strengths and training? No way! As Sally reminded us back in Chapter 1 of this book…

“As I live out my life in faith and seek to be faithful in my walk with God,

as I nurture and honor my commitment to my husband and children and family and home,

as I exercise my skills, training and gifts toward those whom God has placed on my path;

as I seek to give to the poor and minister to the needy and those in my neighborhood and church,

while living a life of bold faith in a great and wonderful God,

My children, in the context of walking with me through my life, will gain a clear model of how they can live as well.”

I hope that this week, each of us will consider seriously the consequences of our choices.

May God give us wisdom as we turn our lives toward following after Him in everything that we do!

Now it’s your turn!

How has God used Chapter 3 to instruct and encourage your heart? Are you a mom who struggles with feeling like you are wasting your gifts by being at home? Or perhaps you have had to overcome obstacles in order to stay home with your children and God provided a way?

I would love to hear your stories!

Of course, as always, you are welcome to share an answer to one of the study questions from Chapter 3, a favorite quote, or just your general thoughts on the chapter.

Please remember to keep your words seasoned with grace as we discuss this topic that is dear to all mothers’ hearts.

I’ll see you next Monday, October 28th, to discuss my favorite chapter in the book – Chapter 4: The Servant Mother.

To read all of the posts in this series, click HERE.*

*You can read more posts concerning motherhood and Christian living at my daughter’s blog here at Where My Treasure Is.

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Mission of Motherhood Book Study

I wanted to share this wonderful book study on Christian mothering through my daughter Anna’s blog.  She will be posting every Monday on her Mothering Monday series.  I hope that you can join us in our discussions.  It looks to be a very enlightening book on the purpose of God’s design in our calling as mothers through God’s word.

“The Mission of Motherhood” Discussion Group Kick-off! 

mission3

Welcome, friends!

I’m so excited to be able to study through the book The Mission of Motherhood with all of you! Do you have your copy yet? If not, don’t worry! You still have a bit of time. We’ll be starting Chapter 1 next Monday, October 7, 2013.

I plan to write a post every Monday, sharing my thoughts on the chapter that everyone has read. Then, more importantly, I will invite each of you to answer at least one study question of your choice from the chapter. Of course, you are welcome to share your insights and/or favorite quotes from the chapter, too.

Today, I’d love for each of you who plan to study the book with me to introduce yourself in the comment section below.

Please help us to get to know each other a bit by sharing your name (first name only is OK), how many children you have (and whether they’re in your home still or grown), what you hope to glean from the book and anything else you want us to know about you!

If you are not planning to purchase the book, I hope that you feel welcome to join us, too!

Do you know a new mom or one who could use some encouragement in their mission? Then please invite them to join us in this book study!

Reading Schedule

Here is the schedule for our reading and discussions. Please have the chapter read by the date given.

October 7: Chapter 1 – A Journey Like No Other: Discovering the Mission of Motherhood

October 14: Chapter 2 – Beautiful by Design: Exploring the Meaning of Biblical Motherhood

October 21: Chapter 3 – The Undivided Heart: Committing Our Lives to God’s Design

October 28: Chapter 4 – The Servant Mother: Mothering with the Heart of Jesus

November 4: Chapter 5 – The Discipling Mother: Reaching Children’s Hearts for Christ

November 11: Chapter 6 – The Teaching Mother: Training Children’s Minds to Think Biblically

November 18: Chapter 7 – Strong Friend: Building Loving Relationships with Our Children

November 25: Chapter 8 – Gardener of Souls: Cultivating and Enriching Our Children’s Lives

December 2: Chapter 9 – Keeper of the Domain: Embracing God’s Call to Home-Making

December 9 : Chapter 10 – The Creative Mother: Opening Windows to God’s Artistry and Greatness

December 16: Chapter 11– The Ministering Mother: Bringing God’s Purposes into Our Homes and Beyond

December 23: Chapter 12 – The Faithful Mother: Finishing the Journey with Endurance and Grace

Meet Sally

I want to share a short video of Sally introducing her own online Mission of Motherhood Book club (from back in 2012) so you can have her voice in mind as you’re reading through the book. As we study through the book, I will be sharing more of Sally’s videos that go along with each chapter.

Meet Sally through Introduction video Here.

Book Giveaway

I would like to give away one copy of The Mission of Motherhood to one of my readers (you choose print or digital). If you’d like to enter my giveaway, just let me know in the comment section below. I will announce the winner on Monday when we begin Chapter 1.

I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you who plan to join me in this study.  Please remember to introduce yourself in the comment section! 🙂 [You can do this on her blog page or here].

You can find many different posts on mothering and Christian living also on my daughter’s blog here at
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Raising Children Who Serve

   

“Momma, can I help you fold the clothes?” asked my two-year-old daughter.  With baskets of laundry to fold, a sink full of dishes, and dinner to make, I fought the temptation to do it myself and said, “Sure you can! Here is a pile just for you.”  Taking out the small items such as dishrags and socks, I asked her to put the socks in a pile and fold the dishrags in half, showing her by example.  She tried to remember which pile they went into, but often put them in the other.  She did her best to fold the dishrags and towels in half, but usually they ended up a messy ball.  “What a great job!  Thank you!” I encouraged her. After doing this for a while, I asked her to go check on something else in the home, and I quickly folded them again and returned them to their rightful piles.  My children all were given the opportunity to help with many of the jobs that mothers often have to accomplish throughout the day, even though they would do them imperfectly.  Why?  It’s because we wanted to instill in them the virtue of service.  It was a priority for us to make it an integral part of their lives, part of their being.  Service begins at home. Just as a flower grows, first shoot, stem, bud, and petal then being in full bloom brining forth their beautiful hues and aroma benefiting butterflies and insects that can partake of its sweet nectar, so blossoms the art of service first at home and then to those outside of the family.

Drying Spoons

Family: 

Some ideas for service for the very young at home:

  • Folding clothes.
  • Drying spoons, forks.
  • Wiping off their chair after eating.
  • Sweeping the floor – don’t worry if it’s a mess when their done.  It’s the effort that counts.
  • Putting cups or spoons on the table for dinner.
  • Going to get a diaper for their brother/sister and throwing it away for you.
  • Cleaning up their toys after playing.
  • Helping to make dinner or snacks for the family.  It could be as simple as stirring the dry or wet ingredients, even if it is messy and doesn’t get mixed at all!  Remember it is the art of serving you’re developing, not a TV chef’s assistant.
  • Reading their little brother or sister a story when they’re sick or tired, even though they may not read yet. Children have an uncanny way of making up their own stories with just pictures.  Doing other things to aid their sisters or brothers when ill.
  • Putting something in the trash for you.
  • Hand you transplants to put into the garden or when older – to garden.
  • Retrieving items for immediate or later use.  Could you please go get me _____. Thank you so much for helping Mama!

Children need to be needed. They need to feel a part of the family unit, part of something bigger than themselves. Serving others is a great way to fill this need.

Grandparents can also play a vital part of their learning to share with others.  We visited weekly, and the children shared with them their artwork, songs or piano pieces learned, and most of all hugs and kisses, which were, as far of their grandparents were concerned, the most precious gift of service.  They brought joy to someone else.  This, God says in His word, comes back upon the giving. 

Ecclesiastes 11:1 “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”

Cleaning Cookie Cutters

Church Community:

The church community was also a valuable tool in developing the art of service in our children.  My husband and I would go up to the elderly or handicapped almost weekly and talk with them setting an example for the young ones at our side.  We asked them how they were doing, and it soon became second nature for the children to go up to them on their own.  The elderly seemed to love the spontaneity of children’s joy and anticipated our children’s visitations. The handicapped also reciprocated with anticipation and joy when they would be approached.  We would take it upon ourselves to visit one who was handicapped in our church area on a regular basis, taking them on trips with us. They learned that those with handicaps have needs to be loved even more than others because they are often ignored by those who feel uncomfortable around them. Visiting others is an act of service.  God commands us to do this, for it is the purest form of religion. 

James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Here were some ways the children learned to serve in the church community:

  • Go up to the elderly and handicapped at services and ask how they are doing.
  • Pick up songbooks after services.
  • Help put up or take down chairs for services.
  • Get involved with singing in the choirs or playing their instruments for church services.
  • Stand with us and greet those who come through the door at services.
  • Together as a family, we would put together talent shows for the elderly, occasionally taking them to the nursing homes in our area.  Once we hosted  a pie contest along with their talent show. 
  • Make homemade cards together for the shut-ins or the sick at church.
  • Make after-church snacks together to share with others after church.
  • Putting together gift packages for those who could not attend feasts and together handing them out before departing.
  • Visiting those in the hospital, where they allowed children.

Abi Serving

Local Community:

The community was also a valuable tool in teaching our children the lesson of service. We taught the children that their gifts and talents were given to them not only for their pleasure, but also for  service to others, and we gave them opportunities to do so. (James 1:17, I Corinthians 4:7) 

Here are some of the things we would do together as a family.

  • Go to a local Senior Center and ask who needed a ride to the doctors and take them there together.
  • Rake the leaves or shovel the sidewalk of the elderly you know in town who were in need.  Again, they won’t do it perfectly.  Go behind them and fix the mess.  Remember, it’s the art of service we are working on, not perfection.

Raking Leaves For Elderly

  • Visiting the elderly at the local nursing homes and bringing them a present, like a small potted plant or drawing they created. 
  • Visit the elderly in their homes in the community.

Visiting Nursing Home

Encouragement Through Praise:

All of the above are ways in which we taught our children to serve.  There are as many ways to serve as there are individuals on this planet.  When they do serve, shower them with praise. Tell them how thankful you are that they are developing the art of service and that God is very pleased with the time and effort they put into everything they do for someone else.  That is so very important. 

2 Corinthians 9:7 “Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful  giver.”

The best example is your example. Christ taught His disciples by example.  Our children are our disciples.  Together we can learn to walk in His footsteps.

As the apostle Paul put it in Acts 20:35 …“In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring ye ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”                                 

Happy serving!

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Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 3:26 am  Comments (2)  

Whatsoever Is Lovely, Think On These Things

 Morning Prayer

It was a cool September morning when the children began to assemble for their daily studies at the kitchen table.  The oldest Jennifer, helped mother to collect the school supplies to help with the rest of the children.  Mom, who usually was cheerful and encouraging, was especially worn from the daily struggles of  being their mother, teacher, housekeeper, cook, nurse,  and creating a new member of the God family.  Jennifer asked if she could begin the school studies with a poem she had written instead of the usual prayer.

Of course, Mom let her begin:

Our Teacher

I pledge alliance to my God

For which we’ve come to learn

The vastness of His love for us

And from His path not turn

 

It’s to the Lord that we give thanks

For as a twig does mold

Our Mother guides our focus

The trunk waxed great, yes bold

 

It’s thus when storms of life do come

Strong is our foundation

What knowledge is so great as this?

How strong would be the nation?

 

Thank you Lord!

 Amen 

 

 ~Diane Stewart

September 7, 2011

When Control Becomes Your Goal

 As women, we have the task of overseeing our households, cleaning and organization of the home, preparation of the meals, washing and drying the clothes, making sure our bodies are healthy, perhaps a day-to-day job to make ends meet, etc., etc.  If we are married and have children, there is even more added on, spending time with your husband, taking care of the children, playtime, activities for school, teaching them God’s ways and guiding them into God’s family, etc., etc.

Do we expect to do all of this perfectly?  Many of us think, if these duties are not done on time, in order, and without fail, that we have “lost control.”  What happens as a consequence of this feeling? For many of us it is a horrid self-inflicted whip across our backs. The flogging comes because of our thoughts of unworthiness as a woman, wife, mother, and even a Christian!  If you don’t feel this way, you are invited to write a guest blog, giving us your insight.  😉

Are we really in control?  Like it or not, life goes on without us controlling every aspect of it.  When we go to sleep at night, we don’t have to set the timer on our heartbeat or respirations.  We don’t have the ability to watch our immune system, so it doesn’t fall asleep on guard and forget to protect us.  We cannot make the sun  rise or set.  It is hard to come to grips with this realty isn’t it?  What’s wrong with us?!!!

Perfectionism! 

An obsession with perfection can lead to anxiety, depression, bitterness, and sometimes rage if we leave it unchecked.  But you might say, “We’re talking about control here, not perfectionism.”  Perfectionism and control are very much related.

Perfectionism is the drive to control all the variables and all the circumstances so that the outcome will be “perfect.” All I want is perfect harmony, perfect quality, perfect aesthetics, perfect peace, perfect truth, perfect agreement, perfect joy, perfect progress and perfect success. 

But you might ask, “Doesn’t God want us to do the very best, be the very best, and have excellence in all we do? Isn’t that what will please God?”  There is a difference, however, in trying to please God and trying to be God.  God is the only perfect one.

We are not satisfied by giving our best, we want to do God’s part.  Instead of trusting Him with our petitions in prayer, we try to do it all ourselves perfectly. This can, at times, leave us feeling inadequate and unacceptable. 

 Perfectionism, according to our standards, is not what our God requires of us. He doesn’t hold a whip over us each day,  as we do, driving ourselves to impossible ends.  He is more concerned with building His nature, His attributes and His love within. Our everyday lives, no matter what we are doing, can be brought into focus by this awesome truth.

“God is less interested in my perfect completion of some project than He is in His perfect completion of ME. What I suppose are perfect successes are often failures because they inflate my pride, or they take inordinate amounts of time that should have been spent elsewhere, or they are accomplished through ungodly attitudes or actions. What looks like failure, on the other hand, may be God’s success if it contributes to my humility, patience, and growth in grace.”

Yes, godliness is what He is concerned about.  We need to focus on Godly attributes, such as faithfulness, patience, diligence, longsuffering, meekness.  Can we really do this during the day? Yes, we can!  Look for opportunities for growth throughout your day. 

Whenever you think that your plans are not working as you’d like and begin to feel out of control, bring these words into your mind and ask God to make them part of your innermost being: 

(Romans 8:28–29) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…

How can all things work for good?  It works because, whatever we do accomplish, our focus is not on what we do ourselves, but on what God is doing through us and what He is building in us.   Remember, perfectionism is a lie.  Godliness is the truth. 

Let’s take time and meditate on these verses:

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

 Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Galations 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.

 Let’s not let control be our goal in life.  Let’s focus on the things that God considers important throughout our day.  As we practice this principle in our lives, control issues will begin to fall by the wayside, and we will begin to have joy in those things that gives us true peace.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Fairy Tales Or God’s Oracles

The Bible Story in His Glory

I remember reading my kids the story of Cinderella.  When it came to the part where the fairy godmother came to help Cinderella out of her plight, I didn’t feel it appropriate to name the fairy a “god;” therefore, not knowing what else to do, I called her laughingly, the fairy fod-mother.   As a child, this was my favorite fairy tale, as it was an avenue that took me away from my troubles and miraculously saved me from whatever distress I was in at the time.  Not only that, but I got the prince charming as a side benefit.  🙂

I’ve had this on my mind recently as I studied the history of fairy tales.  It may come as a surprise to many, but most of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Anderson stories didn’t stem from “they all lived happily after.” 

In the first version by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Little Mermaid,”the mermaid sees the Prince marry a princess and she despairs. She is offered a knife with which to stab the prince to death, but rather than do that she jumps into the sea and dies by turning to froth.

Most don’t realize it, but mermaids came from the ancient goddesses of long ago.

The origin of the mermaid reveals the source of their strength: they were goddesses – and important ones at that. In the oldest religions the creator god is usually a goddess. 1

…From the intersection of these two ideas we have Aphrodite and Venus. Goddesses of love, and therefore fertility and creation, they are also associated with the sea. ‘Aphrodite’ means foam-born (born from the foam of the ocean waves). 1 

 

 Stories and myths of gods and goddesses, those who were put under magical spells and fairies (gods in one form or another) that rescued men have been around since the beginning of time.  The thread that connects all these stories and myths is the absence of God as the hero and supernatural forces (fairies, gods or goddesses) that saved the day.  These stories continue to permeate our culture, and are stamped on almost every child’s piece of clothing or items from backpacks to lunch boxes.  Why?  You may say, for the sake of monetary gain, and you would be right, but let’s go a little deeper into the reason man is fascinated by these stories.  Why is it that bedtime stories bring children into magical kingdoms and the realm of the supernatural? We gasp at the thought of our children idolizing wizards and witches, but in actuality we can be a part of setting them up to do just that.  Satan is not obvious.  If you think back on TV shows that we admired, such as Bewitched, I Dream of Jennie, even the all time favorite Wizard of Oz, we begin to be slowly convinced that white magic is something that can be used for good.  Wicca (religion of witches) believes in nature holding within it magical power.  Remember the worship of nature in Pocahontas?  Doesn’t that sound familiar to the Old Testament gods and goddesses of nature?  It’s amazing how far we’ve come from the fairy godmother’s wand to the famous Harry Potter’s.  This is by no accident. 

 

 

I don’t judge those who read fairy tales per se, but I would like you to consider the reason for my discussion here. 

Ask yourself this question:  “Do my children know more about Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or The Little Mermaid than they do about Esther the queen, Abigail, Ruth, Dorcus (Tabitha), Sarah, the widow whose flour and oil were always full no matter how much she used, and for the boys Samson, David and Goliath, Elijah, Solomon, Moses, Joseph, the miracles of the twelve apostles and Paul.  Here, in God’s Word, we have womanly beauty that is exemplified in Godly form by what’s inside and not outside and the teaching to young men that man’s true power and might only comes from God and not put supernatural beings (i.e. Superman, Spiderman) up on a pedestal rather than God as our only Savior. 

Now, ask yourself, what is the difference between reading what man considers (the supernatural) in children’s stories and the stories that we are commanded to read to our children and our children’s children?  What does God’s word say to teach via oracles?

De 4:5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.

De 4:6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

De 4:7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?

De 4:8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

De 4:9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons

De 4:10 Specially the day that thou stood before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.

Who are we suppose to proclaim is the superhero? Yes, God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, soon to be the ruler of the Kingdom of God.  Who are they suppose to put their trust in always under every circumstance?  Yes, in God alone.  That brings comfort to the heart of your children in any distress, throughout their entire lives.

Psalms 146:3 Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.

 Isaiah 42:20 I  am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to idols.

That’s why He has instructed us to teach our children over and over again in oral form the scriptures that God handed down through the prophets and apostles.  They are truly the bread of life, not just for ourselves but for our children and their children’s children  — so they…. remember, especially in those times in life where it is so vitally needed.

 

The study of fairy (fay) tales is a fascinating glance at our history throughout all time, where fairies, elves, gods and goddesses permeated the ancient world and now is resurfacing.
 
We know that Santa Claus and the Easter bunny came from the same type of ancient myths.  Why would we read our children stories derived from the same?   You decide.
 
 
Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  

A Little Bit Spoiled Can Be A Big Problem

 

This article below sums up what I view as training in materialism.  We say that we are not materialistic, yet we train our children to be this way by providing what they “desire” consistently.  Rather than bringing our children up in consumerism, let’s begin to build in them a “giving” heart.  In Relevation, it’s speaks of living in the “Babylon” of the world.  It thrives on living in luxury, materialism.  In fact, even the slave trade that now exists will be a major form of consumerism, the awful result that materialism if left unchecked can create.  (Rev 18:3) Yet God says “Come out of her my people.” (Rev 18:4, 13)  Should we not be training up our children to resist this materialistic society?  We do our children a favor by not creating them into this mold.

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

Hebrews 13:5  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

A Little Spoiled Can be a Big Problem

Written by Marybeth

A couple of weeks ago, this headline caught my eye: Apple iPhone games for children rack up shocking bills. Turns out the free games for children available on iTunes contain in-app purchase opportunities – enhancements that make the games “more fun.”

Which means young players of Tap Zoo could spend $99 on a bucket of coins to buy animals and build a safari. (You read that right – ninety-nine dollars, not ninety-nine cents.)

Most folks reacted to this story with the sort of outrage you’d expect – “How dare Apple create a sneaky mechanism to exploit children and get their hands on more money from mom and dad?”

I reacted a little differently: Why are little kids connected to the iTunes store in the first place? Oh! It’s because they have their own accounts, in order to enjoy the many features of their own iPod Touch devices. And iPhones. And personal laptop computers.

Parents are complaining about their children’s access to online spending, but let’s face it – these are the same parents who put the devices and access into their kid’s hands in the first place.

The repercussions of spoiling our kids

Consumerism is so ingrained in our young people that their materialism no longer seems odd or unusual. For example, it’s simply a given that more than 80 percent of teens and 60 percent of tweens own cell phones. But did you know 22 percent of children ages 6 to 8 also have them?

In only two generations, children have become one of the largest and most lucrative markets for exploitation. Not only do they have discretionary dollars to spend – to the tune of some $4.2 billion annually – but they also wield enormous influence over the spending habits of their parents and grandparents. And since they’re the future spenders of tomorrow, marketers work hard to condition their spending habits today.

But marketers are getting a whole lot of help from parents, and the impact on our children is evident.

Spoiling our children – that is, buying them nearly everything they want, more than they need, at their request or without being asked – is contributing to the attitude of entitlement that our kids often exhibit in other areas of their lives.

Parents cite all sorts of reasons for spoiling kids – they want them to “fit in” with their friends, they want to make up for being too busy with work or other obligations, they think making their kids happy is most important, and sometimes, they just don’t think it matters.

But spoiled kids miss out on the chance to develop attitudes, behaviors, and competencies around working, saving, making plans and setting and achieving their goals. If we give kids everything they want, they’ll keep wanting more and more because the “wanting” is part of the process of looking forward. It’s the trigger for making goals that must be accomplished through personal effort.

Unspoiling is more than saying “no”

I once was asked in an interview just how parents could say “no” to their children, especially if kids were unaccustomed to being denied what they want. I was actually confused for a second and said, “Wait… you want to know how to say ‘no’? Well, at our house, we do it like this: No.”

We need to remember that saying “no” to our children often is in their very best interests. If we’re committed to doing what is best for them – what’s right and will reap the most reward in the future – we MUST say “no.” Often. And mean it.

But there’s more stopping the cycle of spoiling our kids than just saying “no.” We need to regroup on the issues of money and materialism. Perhaps a family meeting is in order, when you sit down and say, “We want to change the way we make decisions about buying and owning stuff. We want you to enjoy the challenge of getting things for yourself. You deserve the satisfaction that comes with setting a goal for yourself and saving to achieve your desires.”

This skill isn’t just important in consumer habits, but in all facets of their lives. So it’s a big one that we must teach if we want our kids to be genuinely happy.

The term “spoiled brat” used to be among the worst insults that could be hurled at a child. These days, it’s a phrase emblazoned on t-shirts and worn with an odd sense of pride.

If you’re feeling like the National Bank of Mom and Dad, and not a parent whose hard work and provision are appreciated by your children, perhaps it’s time to step away from the credit card and remind the kids that all the stuff in the world can’t replace the happiness that comes from not needing any of it.

Thanks for reading and sharing Family Events!

Scriptures

 1Jo 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Following The Leader

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn

 If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight

 If a child lives with ridicule, he will learn to be shy

 If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty

 But…

 If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence

 If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate

 If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith

  ~Dorthy Lawe Holt~

What about us?

All of our children mimic us because we are to them an example of what God is like. They rise up with us, sit down with us, and walk by the way with us. 

De 6:7 And you wilt teach them (statutes and his commandments) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.

They also learn by our example that God will also walk with them, rise with them, and walk by the way with them as David said in the Psalms.

Ps 139:1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Ps 139:2 Thou know when I sit down and when I rise up, thou understand my thoughts afar off.

Ps 139:3 You keep watch over my steps and my sleep, and have knowledge of all my ways.

This method of teaching by continually walking, talking, and being with them throughout the day comes from Jesus Christ Himself.  It is what He used to teach his disciples. He taught the Israelites in the passage above how to do it.  (Deut 6:7) He knew the right curriculum for His students.  He was the curriculum.  The example of His way of life and his bringing to light what was known in the scriptures was His perfect form of instruction.

Just as Jesus Christ taught His disciples through life’s experiences, we are to teach our children in the same way.

We no longer have Christ on the earth walking with us as disciples to teach us, walking side by side to mimic Him.  We need to hear His words daily.  That is why it is so vitally important that we read or listen to His word everyday so that we can mimic Him.  We are His disciples.  This is also an integral part to the gospel message:

Mt 28:19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and make disciples of all nations.

Therefore, it is for our benefit as well as our children’s learning we search the scriptures daily to be taught of God, to follow His example. We must put aside our own selfish desires and desire to become like our Father and brother Jesus Christ, so that our children can see Christ in us and also that the world might know:

 John 17:23 I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and have loved them, as you hast loved me.

What a way to teach our children through our example as we live God’s way of life.  What an important part we play in sending out the message of the gospel of the Kingdom of God through our example of following Christ through our family lives!

In this context, when the disciples were scattered because of the great persecution, the Word says that everywhere they were scattered, they preached the gospel. 

 Ac 8:1  And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

 Ac 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

How could that be possible?  They knew the “Way” to live. Wherever they were scattered, God’s light was in them.  They were preaching the gospel through their lives. A city set on a hill can not be hidden. They preached by their example.

Mt 5:14 You are the light of the world. A town put on a hill may be seen by all.

Does the world see Christ through our example as we mimic Him?

Paul even stated this in a different way, when he made this statement of the Corinthian church:

2Co 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

God says of us that if we mimic Him, we will be His children:

Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

  Eph 5:1 “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children”

This is one of the chief reasons I chose to homeschool my children.  I wanted to disciple them in the way of God.  I wanted to be with them when I rose, lay down, and walked by the way, showing them in the best way I could how to relate to the world the way God wanted us to, so that they could go out and do the same with their families and try to be a light to the world. Christ sent out His disciples after walking and talking with them for 3 ½ years, showing them as well as teaching them the principles of God in order to prepare them for what lay ahead.  

We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to do so with homeschooling. No matter what situation you are in with your children, whatever time you have with your children, make sure God is at the center.  By your example, everything you say and do is being recorded in their minds as “the way of life” and if it is God’s way, they’ll have an easier time walking in it when they are older.

For Today:  Let’s be thankful we have such a wonderful instruction book as the Bible that we can go to in order that we can learn to mimic Him.  Let’s be grateful that we have a God who is merciful to our shortcomings and let’s us stumble as we learn to walk like Daddy. 

Published in: on May 30, 2010 at 1:43 am  Leave a Comment