Friday, October 31, 2008

Is Hallowe'en for Christians?

How does a Christian family decide whether or not to celebrate Hallowe'en? How about Santa Claus? What should be the deciding factors?

The bible says that there are issues that are "disputable", and we are not to pass judgement on others who are not the same as us in these areas (Romans 14:1-3).

One family may see Hallowe'en as an innocent day to dress up the kids and get some candy. Another family may give out treats to be visible for Jesus. And yet another may feel that Hallowe'en is not appropriate due to it's origins and the practices it encourages in some parts of society.

Santa Claus could be a beloved childhood tradition, or to some a way to teach the love of Saint Nicholas, while still others may see the 'fat guy in the red suit' as an "idol" for their children, and choose to celebrate Christmas another way.

Again, what are the deciding factors? I think each person needs to know. Romans 14:13-14 speaks about not causing our brothers to stumble, and knowing for yourself what you see as "right". Remember I'm still talking about the disputable matters here and not concerns of vital doctrine, etc. If you feel guilty about celebrating Hallowe'en, don't do it. If you feel it's fine and your brother doesn't, don't convince him to do it.... because for him, it is "unclean".

Do everything out of faith (Romans 14:23), and teach the kids to do the same. For whatever reason we celebrate or don't celebrate an occasion, I see it as a wonderful opportunity to teach our children these lessons, and talk to them about knowing WHY they do what they do, and how to do it all FOR THE LORD.

Happy end-of-October friends. ttyl

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Real Life Treats!

Cook up a yummy treat or two to satisfy your heart,
But watch ingredients closely or it may just fall apart.
If your bowl is life and you put in it some stuff,
some rottenness and selfishness that keep you really tough,
Maybe keep yourself alone - let no one in the mix,
Your recipe is bitterness and you won't get your fix.
But if your bowl is life and you put in it some sweets,
like peace and love for others and some other godly treats,
Add a friend or two in there and open up your heart,
Mix them all together and you'll never fall apart.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

God's Word applied to a child's nightmares...

Not long ago, my sweet 5 year old boy was having nightmares. The poor thing would crawl into my bed every night around 1 am, and not want to go back to his own. When I would tuck him in, he would ask me if he could stay up because he "wasn't sleepy", even though he would have needed 2 clothespins to keep his eyelids open.

Finally he started telling me about the dreams he was having. :( At 5 years old, the world was just becoming real to him, and this was a wonderous, yet scary experience. So we turned to God's Word.

We found this verse - Proverbs 3:24, referring to the person who follows in God's ways:
"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."

God is so precious. He knows our every need, and the Book he gave was written even to calm the hearts of his smallest followers... His innocent children. My boy was so happy! He understood what the verse was saying. We wrote it on a big piece of paper and hung it up over his bed. Night after night, we said the verse and prayed for "sweet sleep" for his little mind. And God is faithful. And I am thankful.

Have you ever dreamed about Jesus?? I have. Twice. It is the most amazing experience ever. I dreamed once that I was being condemned by three judges whom I could not see, but sitting beside me was Jesus. He told me not to speak, but that He would speak for me. And I was saved. The most overpowering emotion through the whole dream was LOVE. And it stuck with me long after I woke up.

Another time I dreamed about Jesus being here on earth, and I was chasing Him down, trying to spend time with Him. I finally found Him after He got off a bus or something (the details are fuzzy) and it was myself and a small boy, walking with Him.. being with Him. Again, LOVE. AWE.

How I love my sweet Saviour!

One more story, not a dream but... I have always struggled with feeling accepted, and truly loved by God. One night I was finished tucking my children into bed and I was thinking about how much I truly love them not based on anything that they do... but just because they are who they are. I love them. It's just the simple truth. I walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and heard, almost audibly, in my spirit, "Then why don't you believe that I love you, beloved daughter?"

WOW. Can you imagine... God loves us, and loves His precious children, and gives to us His peace... His grace. Priceless.

Psalm 92: 1-3 says:
"Lord, it is good to praise you. Most High God, it is good to make music to honor you. It is good to sing every morning about your love. It is good to sing every night about how faithful you are."

Just writing these things stirs up my heart in gratitude and faith towards my God. And I will tell these stories and more to my children. They need to hear them. Keep talking to your little ones... faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God. Good night friends!

Love and prayers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sleep-blogging and prayer....

Hmmm... What can I blog about? Sigh. It's late. I'm sooo tired, and my brain has already "clocked out" for the night. Pretty soon I'm going to be "sleep-blogging". Hmm.. could be interesting. Could be dangerous... :O Sometimes I just have no idea what to say. Which reminds me... ***insert flash of inspiration here!***

Sometimes (ok, often), I also have no idea what to PRAY. I am soooo thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings (not the whining kind - I can do that myself) that words cannot express! And that Jesus intercedes for me with the Father...

Thank You God for helping us at every turn.

Now to teach my kids about their MIGHTY INTERCESSOR! They will be so happy to hear...

Good night! Zzzzzzzz....

P.S. Sorry I'm too tired to look up the scripture references for you. Use your concordance, or pop me a comment and I'll add it to my "to-do" list for tomorrow. zzzzz...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Should you tell your kids the things YOU did as a child?

I don't know about you ladies... but I was not a Christian until I was 25, and boy do I have some stories I could tell! Eek. I'm not saying I was the ultimate rebel or anything... I was actually pretty "good" but I sure did have my moments. :o

I was just thinking that my boys are young now, so it's not much of an issue, but soon enough we will come to that "fork" in the road.... the decision to tell, or not tell what I was REALLY like when I was their age.

And as much as I don't want to... as much as I want them to look up to me as the perfect mom and role model... I'm going to share my secrets. This is why:

My kids are going to struggle. I had my first round of major depression when I was 14... and that sent me into a lot of messes. I had my first boyfriend at 15, my first drink at 19 (no it wasn't better to wait), and my second round of depression in university. I'll let your imaginations take over from here (sorry no gossip on this site! :)). Some of the things I have done have filled me with shame, and still do when I think of them. But they are blessings to me now because I can be open with my sons, inviting them to feel safe being open with me.

I have two young teenage friends right now... beautiful young women whom I truly cherish. We became close when I shared my testimony. Not the good parts... the ugly parts. And it drew these ladies to me because they have similar struggles and they feel safe and accepted with me. And they are. And my sons will be too. If they are going through a difficulty, a period of doubt, some sin that they are caught in, I WANT them to come to me or their dad to talk, and ultimately to their heavenly Father.

Maybe this decision seems like it might be easier for me than for someone who has been a christian for longer. Perhaps you think I can blame my sins on my "pre-Jesus darkness". If only this were true. I had my third and fourth rounds of depression very recently, and I will admit, I still struggle. And most surprising to me are the worldly sins and temptations that have floated my way. I want to tell you that I've handled them perfectly (I can't. Sigh.) - but I CAN tell you that my GOD is faithful.

And He can be faithful to my babies too... my bible babies, whom I soooo desire to see become strong men of God, who know where to turn with their sin, not denying that they are sinful but nailing those sins to the cross and marching forward in His strength.

God bless you friends!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My HUSBAND is a BUDDHIST MONK!!

Once a month my husband turns into a Buddhist monk.... Now before you go switching blogs on me, hear me out. He is actually teaching my boys about God! We read about this fab idea in the totally cool book, "The Hair-Raising Joys of Raising Boys" by Dave Meurer (this is a must read for anyone with boys - this guy is SOOOO funny, and encouraging).

Dave was having a challenge keeping the attention of a grade 5 Sunday school class (I know, absurd, huh? ) UNTIL he decided to turn the tables on the kids. He he. He set himself up as someone who has never heard of the Living God and challenged the (little hooligans) um, youth to convice HIM that they were right about their beliefs.

This worked so well and led to so many more bible learning adventures that Dave was (stuck), um, blessed teaching the grade 6 class the next year!

Anyhoo... my hubby thought this was awesome and oh, so cool. And my boys just LOVE trying to show daddy, the buddhist monk, how wrong he is and how right they are. They get so excited that they even resort to opening their bibles and searching for scriptures to prove their superior intelligence in this matter. ****WARNING - if you play this game with boys, you will need to follow up with a lesson on humility and how ALL of our gifts come from God.

It is sooo worth it. I love to see their eyes light up and their eager little faces as they seek to know God and make Him known. Even my monk-y hubby gets a tell-tale twinkle in his baby blues....

If you are looking for a laugh and some great biblical encouragement, I highly recommend you visit http://www.davemeurer.net/ and check out his books. You won't regret it!

TTYL friends :-)!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bible Baby Flashback... aw...

This is my youngest little man one year ago (the one on the left - lol)...

and another:



Sleeep.... goodnight ladies.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pen and Paper and other CRUDE writing instruments....

I went shopping today to buy, what I thought, was a simple item... a stationary set for writing letters. After several trips into STATIONARY stores with no luck whatsoever, I went home and decided to search for one on-line. Sigh.

Guess where I found it? The Canadian MUSEUM of Civilizations (I am so serious!):
http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/exhibitions/cpm/catalog/cat2105e.shtml

You've got to be kidding me.... A real-live article written about "Writing Instruments and Stationary" as if we people who used to use such things are now ANCIENT relics to be placed alongside our quills in a dusty museum (I didn't actually read the article. I couldn't get past my shock.)!!

I mean, I knew when I passed the big 3-0 that I was no longer a plucky spring chicken (not to mention the 4 boys who honestly, have been the ones to add most of my wrinkles, not the passage of time thank you very much) but I'm not THAT old! Jiminy Cricket! (And please don't tell me you don't know who HE is....)

I am now BOUND and DETERMINED that my children will become well versed in the lost art of COMMUNICATION. Perhaps I will even make them practice that scrawling-messy-ink-blobbing thing called penmanship and let them write some thank you notes after Christmas! Yeah! Or memorize some scripture verses by putting quill to paper. :-)

Honestly I think in this new age of fast and furious technology, we miss the blessing of actually thinking about our subjects as we write, pondering our thoughts and feelings, and putting some love and effort into our correspondence. I will find and order a stationary set (not from the museum) and maybe I'll even write one of you fine mommies a letter - umm.. if I can find my bifocals and get up off this rocking chair...

Where's my cane?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Baby Bible Training...

How many times have you heard someone say that they struggle with prayer? Or with forgiveness? Judging others? Personally, these and many other "fleshly habits" are far too often on my "to confess" list.

I've been a Christian now for 6 years (on November 15th - thank You God!), and I am still struggling with basic things like trying to earn my salvation and when I fail, feeling guilty... prayer... self-righteous feelings when I've been wronged... forgiveness... greed... discontent... laziness... etc.

It has occurred to me on more than one occasion, that if I had dedicated ONE YEAR to learning how to master each of those temptations, that 6 OUT OF 7 of them would be off the list! Well, or at least, not nearly so high up on it.

I stumble often in my growth because my attention is everywhere. I am a mom, and I am used to a crazy and hectic life where multi-tasking is as much a neccesity as breathing. But unlike motherhood, my spiritual life is not dependent on keeping several different balls juggling in the air.

Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Yes! That's because my salvation is a gift from Him. I can trust Him to keep me safely in His hands (reserved for the heavenly kingdom) while I work on calmly following His lead... changing into His image.. one step at a time.

I'm not saying that there won't be lessons that come two or more at a time. Life is complex! But think about school, or job training. SOME SKILLS MUST BE LEARNED BEFORE OTHERS. I am not going to be able to master the deeper truths of the faith if I am still struggling with the basics.

I am finally going to try to apply this to myself and my kids... learning one skill at a time, under the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit. I wonder what we will work on this year? I think maybe PRAYER. For one year (maybe more, maybe less), I'd like to concentrate most of our training on how, when, why, what, and where to pray, and practice this discipline that is so central to our faith! I want them to know God intimately, and to lean on Him, trust Him and hear His voice. And me too.

Its kind of freeing too, to think that I can BE STILL and know that HE is God. Maybe He'll have a different plan, or change my direction... great! Now I'll be quiet enough to be able to hear Him...

:) Good night ladies!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let your 'yes' be 'yes', and your 'no', 'no'...

My life has been in "overhaul" mode lately. My house is cleaner (nope, I don't have a maid... I wish), I have less "stuff" on my schedule than I've had in years, and I'm finding more time to really concentrate on my priorities. And #1 is definitely to raise my boys to be men of God.

We had a guest speaker at church last week and he was preaching on the book of Matthew, specifically chapter 5 verse 37, "Simply let your 'yes' be 'yes', and your 'no', 'no'."

And my mind went "whoa"...

God wants us to do what we say we are going to do...

- pray when we say we're going to
- read to the kids when we tell them we will
- have longer bible times with our children when we have told God in prayer that that is our intention.
- let our sons eat that "one more chocolate bar" we promised when we were straining to hear the school principal on the phone (eek)
- etc.

"whoa".

So on my new list of "must do's" are these:
1. Snuggle and talk with my boys every night at bedtime.
2. Get up and shower before the children wake on a morning.
3. Have my alone time with God every morning and evening no matter how tired I am (after all, I made time to blog, read a book, put on eyeliner (haha - sometimes) and go shopping).

And I want my sons to know that I am trustworthy.

And I want my sons to learn to be trustworthy too. They learn a LOT from us role models.

And finally, after all is said and done, I want to hear... "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

I have to go... time to tuck my babies in. TTYL!
P.S. Thanks for your prayers yesterday.. I love you guys.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I need prayer ladies...

I want to say that I am very thankful for you guys. Your comments and blog entries and kindness are very encouraging to me. And I need it right now. Today was one of the worst days I've ever had... I made a really big mistake today (a mommy OOPS with a capital OO) with my boy (I reallllly didn't mean to) and I spent hours bawling my eyes out. I have never, I mean, NEVER, cried so hard in my life.

I really need your prayer.

Please pray for me to be a good wife and mommy. I love my boys so much.

We had a bible study in our home tonight (we meet weekly) and we studied Revelation 12. What I got out of it (LOUD AND CLEAR) is that Jesus is our salvation and that we are in a WAR against satan (i refuse to capitalize that name). This isn't just some la-dee-da life that we are called to. Our enemy is huge and is very very angry... YES, our Saviour is bigger but God has given us armour to USE in the fight for a reason.

Its very clear to me that I need to get serious once again about prayer, studying His Word, and teaching my boys straight from the BOOK how to fight this battle.

I need to go or I'm going to cry again. Thanks for reading, and please pray...
love to you sisters

Monday, October 20, 2008

The most effective way to teach kids about God... is to teach kids about God.

Whoa. What kind of a title is that? Isn't that just a little bit obvious? I mean, really Rachel, sounds like you are finally losing your mind. DUH.

Ok, before you abandon me here and click off to the REAL bible teaching websites... hear me out a second. :-) Let me ask you a question:

How many actual minutes per day do you spend reading the bible to your children and talking to them about what you've read?

Nope... devotional books don't count.
No... can't count the teaching they get at school, or church.
Bible story books? Uh uh.

Yes, I know all of these things are good, but they are really just supposed to lead point us to the REAL THING -> God's Word. The only living and active Words - the ones that will lead your child's heart to the Lord - are the Lord's.

Ok, we agree. But what about other distractions? There are many good things, but what is the best thing? My hubby is a great illustration of what I'm trying to say, so I'm going tell you his story:

A couple of years ago, my husband started meeting regularly with an older man who became his Christian mentor. He invited him to come along to a men's breakfast held on Saturday mornings. The purpose of the group was to teach men to be better husbands and fathers. My hubby went along for a while and enjoyed this time with the guys, bringing home interesting tidbits about what he was learning.

Then all of a sudden one Saturday, he arrived home about 5 minutes after he had left (he was usually gone an hour) and announced his resignation. When I asked him why, he smiled and said that suddenly it hit him.... here he was going to a lovely breakfast to learn how to be a better husband and father, while he was leaving behind his wife and children to fend for themselves!

So I repeat: The best way to do something is to do something. The most effective way to teach kids about God... is to teach kids about God.

I wonder how many other good things get in the way of the best thing?
- books
- conferences
- sermons
- concerts
- mom's groups
- bible study groups

and personally for me:
- blogging
- cleaning
- running errands
- extra-curricular activites
- blogging (oops I mentioned that one)
- listening to music

Ouch. I think I waste way too much time. All of these things sometimes seem more interesting than reading the bible as it is written to my children. But at those times, I am being deceived. The bible is purely and truly the best way to go. How can my children respond to the call of God if they don't hear His Words whispering in their hearts? Daily...

And the more I pour the Word into them, the more they will love and desire it. Because they won't be deceived either. God help me... I have a long way to go!! Could you pray for me please? thanks....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I wrote a song for my baby...

Good night sweet baby,
heaven's gift,
for me to hold,
my heart to lift.

Your tiny fingers,
small embrace,
tell my soul
of Jesus' grace.

I marvel still
to gaze on you.
How blessed am I,
Sweet child, it's true.

I love you now,
Know this always.
My heart it beats
for you, all days.

I marvel still
at God above
To send this child
for me to love.

Good night little one,
now not a peep.
Rest long and sound
in peaceful sleep.

I made another movie for your viewing pleasure...

I couldn't resist. We had such a great day at the pumpkin patch today that I just HAD to film it and share with you all (don't you just love home movies???).

Prepare to be amazed..... (drrrrruuummmmmmmm)



Thanks for watching! Oh and sorry 'bout that... LOL

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Godly twist on Halloween!

We are heading to the pumpkin patch tomorrow! Yahoo! I always loved pumpkins and halloween when I was growing up. After I became a Christian (my hubby and I were saved on the same night 5 years into our marriage), we decided that as a family, we weren't going to take part in traditional Halloween activities. Each family needs to decide for themselves what to do - and do what they feel is right. Anyway...

Even though I feel good about our decision, I've missed the fun of it all... But tomorrow we get to head out to the patch to claim a victim (I mean, a pumpkin) of our own! This came about from an email my mom sent me recently:
A woman was asked by a co-worker, 'What is it like to be a
Christian?'

The co-worker replied, 'It is like being a pumpkin.' God picks you
from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then He
cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff.He removes the seeds of
doubt, hate, and greed. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His
light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.'

My family and I are going to celebrate God's love with a pumpkin tomorrow... Hubby will tell our 4 boys the story before we go and we will rejoice in it all day long!

Happy fall to you all! Love from the pumpkin patch. :)

(Maybe tomorrow I'll have some pics!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ask your Child Specific Questions...

My little men are so busy discovering life and exploring their world that it can easy for me to wrongly assume that they are always happy. On the contrary, quite often they have heavy loads on their tender minds... loads too big for them to carry on their own.

But what I've discovered (yet again) this evening is that I need to keep asking my children specific questions about things in their lives. They are too young to know what things they should talk about and how to bring them up...

I had the painful privilege of holding my son tonight while he cried, sobbing into my chest one of his greatest fears - something he needed to unload. And it broke my heart. And I am so thankful because if he hadn't brought it up, it would still be on his mind. You know, it was something that was not even remotely true, but his tiny precious soul was aching because of it.

Keep talking to your babies my friends... I know I've said it before, but pretty soon they will be all grown up, and that world they are discovering will be calling them forth. Hugs to you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Helping a lonely or broken-hearted child...

After school today, as we travelled home in the van, my son started to tell me about a problem he had on the playground with his closest friend. Because he was way in the back seat and the windows were open, I had to ask him to speak up. The weight of what he was trying to say added to the stress of having to say it again louder, opened his emotional dam and the tears started rolling down his cheeks.

And my heart broke for my boy.

He is a very sweet kid - sensitive, eager to please, and truly finds delight in seeing others happy. So when his friend today called him "mean", he was sad. And felt rejected.

I should tell you that I am also a very sensitive person, so dealing with my son's hurt feelings nearly kills me. I want to wrap him up in baby blanket, hold him to my bosom and never let him go (which would be very awkward considering he's 7, lol).

So I called on God for wisdom and strength, and then sat down with my son to talk. These are the things I wanted him to hear:
  • Who we are in Christ - this is truth, not what others think of us. I told him that just because his friend called him mean doesn't mean that he is. His face brightened considerably. He's so young that he'd never thought of that before.
  • If we do something wrong, we can confess our sins to the Father and He will forgive us.. every time. We talked about what his friend might have been upset about and what he could do to make it better.
  • Because God loves us and forgives us our sins through Jesus, we also, can forgive the sins of others (and ask God to help us do it).
  • Jesus understands how my boy feels because he was rejected by all of his friends when he was arrested.
  • God said that persecution will come with being a follower of Christ. Even though that isn't what happened on the playground, there will be people in our lives who don't like us, so we need to be strong. And how can we be strong? We need to know and believe the truth about our identity in Christ (so that we won't waver by the thoughts and opinions of others), and constantly ask God to be strong for us in all situations.
I think its also great to mention that there are Christians around the world who feel rejected and alone every day, and then pray together for them. God does value and answer the prayers of his children.

It's important to name feelings for children as they grow so that they can identify their emotions and deal with them appropriately. My son today learned some new words - loneliness, persecution, and rejection. However I pray he learned some other, more important ones as well - compassion, forgiveness, identity, and faith. I'm leaning on Him to teach me as I teach my boys. I certainly need it!

Keep talking to your babies... it makes a world of difference... Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Helping my kids to RELATE to the Bible...

What good is a head full of knowledge if you have no idea how to use it? What good is a memory verse perfectly recorded in my child's mind if he has no idea how to download it to real life? This is what I've been thinking about.

I'm trying to do some activities with our memory verses to make them real for my boys. We did this in our adult bible study tonight (which we host in our home weekly) and I think its a great idea for little ones:
  • We picked a verse to study. (1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.)
  • Then we each wrote on an index card one thing that we feel anxious about in our lives (for me it was worrying about proper communication among family members in the home).
  • Then we talked about it! What power does God have over the situation? Why does God care about it? And about me (you, us)?
  • Finally we prayed about it, asking God for help and for peace.
I don't think we can do this once and expect it to be done. It is an ongoing process, a way of relating to God. So we have committed to writing the verse out once daily, bringing the message to mind and prompting us to go to God with that particular struggle and others as well.

Repetition is important. Talking is important. Talk to your babies, explaining and unfolding God's Word to them in a way that they can understand and use it.

My 6 year old boy named his anxiety to me last week. He had no one to play with at recess time during school. AW. Break my heart. :( So we talked, and prayed, and his anxiety lessened as I lead my precious son to the One who can truly fix his problem. We did this several nights in a row, and today he had a playmate named Calvin. Thank You God. You are amazing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

GUESS WHAT? I made an "About Me" video :-D

Filmed yesterday, this highly acclaimed movie has been released upon to the public at last! Come and delight yourselves with this witty drama highlighting the joys and struggles of being a stay-at-home-mother to four precious boys under 7. And the best part?? It's about me! Rachel... Spaceofgrace... in her smashing debut on the silver (actually it's colour) screen. :-)

Watch it above ^^^^ or click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80fgd9lQV78
((And I apologize in advance - snicker))
Toodles!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Making a Bible/Devotional Area that WORKS!

The commandments I give you today must be in your hearts. Make sure your children learn them. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up. Write them down and tie them on your hands as a reminder. Also tie them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses. Also write them on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Where do you sit down with your children and the bible? Do you have a specific place? Is the bible in plain view? How often do your children ASK you to read it to them?

I have been organizing my new house recently and I've discovered that visibility and ease of access is key (see the above bible verse) to setting up a successful devotional area (one that actually gets used for that purpose!). I've brainstormed a few "musts" for our special place that may be useful to others:
  • Use the same area all the time. It raises the air of expectancy and provides a secure place to seek the Lord.
  • Make sure things are visible, but out of reach of small hands that would love to explore (make a mess of) the special spot.
  • Decorate simply but comfortably. Don't use a chair that would be uncomfortable when wearing certain kinds of clothes, like jeans. You want to be able to go there at any time, without having to dress for the occasion.
  • Put the bible and devotional books in an easy to reach location. Too much trouble or too many missing items and you won't go there.
  • Make it attractive. I want it to lure us in as we walk by. Think pillows, throws, flowers, pictures, windows, etc.
  • Post an erasable board or hang a clipboard on the wall to write bulleted prayer items. Pray them often.

As a family, we also try to read from a devotional book at every meal. I have bought many resources for this purpose and found that they were rarely ever used past the first chapter. Finally I figured out how to make it work.... keep the book in the middle of the table as part of the centrepiece! Visible. Accessable. USED. My son actually asks us to read it the moment we sit down. :)

Teaching children God's Word will only work if we actually read the bible. Be done with spending hours thinking about how to do it. The Words are there. Just do it! Happy reading! :-)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Blessing of Mentoring Moms and Grandmas

Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:4-5

Grandmothers are a gift from God. Not only do they love their grandbabies and babysit for harried mothers and fathers, but they are given by the Lord to train us in his ways. Who else has been-there-done-that? Who else has wisdom from experience in raising decent children (you turned out ok didn't you? ;-))? Grandmothers are a gift from God.... I am very thankful for my mom and all that she gives to me and our family.

I know not all of us are blessed to have moms around in the sense of Titus 2. That's where the church comes in. There are many experienced and wise "grandmas" that God has gifted to the church, though sometimes it takes a bit of looking. I have learned SOOO much from the women of my congregation, one in particular who has loved me through difficult times and modelled for me the faith in so many avenues. I am very thankful.

When I had my first baby I was overwhelmed. I felt like I was thrown into the hugest responsibility ever without so much as a simple instruction manual (at that time I didn't know Jesus the way I do today). Teaching a child the faith and God's Word means that we have to have something to model for them - a true and abiding faith of our own. MOMS... lean on the moms God has given you in your midst... they are a treasure, and a lifeline.

TTYL!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

10 Ways to Keep Your Child's Spirit Intact

"Fathers, don't make your children bitter. If you do, they will lose hope. " Colossians 3:21

I was thinking about my children today and what causes them stress. I've come up with a list of do's and don'ts to help parents to keep a child's spirit intact. If you have one to add, please comment and share it with us! So here we go:
  1. DO set limits for your children and communicate to them your expectations. This will increase their sense of security.
  2. DO spend scheduled time with your children daily, giving them a chance to unload their burdens.
  3. DON'T get angry or yell at a child for something he's never been taught. Teach first, discipline later.
  4. DON'T use sarcasm. They won't get it.
  5. DO be on time for everything. Children get very anxious having to walk into situations late.
  6. DON'T discuss your child's progress to their teachers, doctor, etc. (unless it's all good) in front of your child.
  7. DON'T argue with your spouse in front of your child.
  8. DO let your children overhear you praying, and see you relying on God at all times.
  9. DO help them with their homework, and see that it gets done on time.
  10. DO keep a clean house. House clutter is brain clutter, I always say.

And one more just for good measure: DO rejoice with your children DAILY... for the Lord is good! :-)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

WHOA.. they were LISTENING!

Have you reached that important milestone in motherhood yet? You know, the moment of dread that washes over you when you realize that your child is LISTENING to everything you say?

Some days it seems like they do not hear a thing, much less anything you want them to, but trust me, their ears are always open. I hope to ensure that this a good thing around my house (God help me please - eek)!

Not too long ago, I had an awesome experience and it went something like this (my kids (then 3 and 4 years old) were playing in their room and didn't know I was overhearing their conversation):

J (lounging on a chair)- "Do you want to go to heaven?"

M (shuffling his feet) - "I don't know. I'm shy of God."

J - "You don't have to be shy of Jesus.... God loves you bud."

M - "Yeah.... (thoughtful pause) Wanna play Sonic the Hedgehog again?"

and the moment passed. But it was an awesome moment.

MOMS... KEEP plugging on. Keep telling them about the Lord. They are listening. Most of the time, its true! Take heart and remember the verse:

"How can they call on him unless they believe in him? How can they believe in him unless they hear about him? How can they hear about him unless someone preaches to them? And how can anyone preach without being sent? It is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14-15

Praying for you, and your babies. :-) Glad we are journeying together....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Every mom needs a little help...

...and sometimes a lot of help. I fall into the second category most days.

My husband and I were both the youngest in a two sibling family. Neither one of us was experienced with children (like I mean, not at ALL) and when our youngest was born, we were pathetic needed a bit of coaching. THAT is how you change a diaper? Are you serious???

Over the years, I have learned not only to tolerate the colourful and abundant bodily waste products of small people (in some very disgusting manifestations I might add), but I have also amassed a small list of exquisite helps and resources for the everyday mom:
  • http://www.starfall.com/ -> a great (and decent) website for preschool age to early readers
  • A Survivor's Guide to Homeschooling -> a REAL and practical book for aspiring homeschoolers (includes understandable curriculum reviews) -> see it here http://www.amazon.com/Survivors-Guide-Home-Schooling/dp/0891075038
  • Little Hands to Heaven -> awesome book with everything you need to teach a 2 to 3 year old about God and their preschool skills... simple (and delightful) for harried moms!! see it here -> http://www.heartofdakota.com/little-hands.php
  • The Reading Lesson -> sooo easy.. 2 pages a day (5-10 minutes) and my boy was reading at age 3... a truly great foundation for reading. NOT a gimmick. It works and again, is simple for busy moms. see it here ->http://www.readinglesson.com/
  • Great videos/books for children of God: Miss Pattycake, Cedarmont Kids series, Hermie and Friends, Veggie Tales, Steve Green Hide 'Em In Your Heart (Scripture memory songs/videos - awesome for moms too!!)
  • Adventures in Odyssey -> radio theatre at its best ;-) -> http://www.whitsend.org/

We all need some help. Actually come to think of it, I've been told that more than once recently... "Rachel, you need help." Hmmm. Anyhoo.. Hope y'all can find some use out of these resources too.

If God expected me to be the children's SOLE SOURCE of faith, I'm sure He would have made me a bit more.... perfect. LOL. But as it is - broccoli, celery, gotta be... Veggie Tales!! lima beans, collard greens, peachy keen....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Strange and Beautiful Christians

Ever get stopped in your tracks by something strange and beautiful? This Rose slowed my heartbeat today when I looked out into my garden. Seemingly overnight it grew several feet taller than the other plants and roses, high over the fence and stretching to the sky... almost as if searching for a glimpse of heaven.

I want my children to be show-stoppingly different and beautiful too. And to see things also from a different perspective than the rest of the world... like my rose, seeking heaven, seeing things from above - from God's point of view.

My husband talks often to my boys about what they put into their spirit through their eyes and ears. You know the song:

Oh be careful little eyes what you see.
Oh be careful little eyes what you see.
For the Father up above, is looking down in love.
Oh be careful little eyes what you see.

They talk about videos and movies and friends and basically everything. They need to know that what they see and hear will either help to shape them in the likeness of Christ... or it won't. I want my children to plant their roots on the Rock, feed on what is pure and grow tall and beautiful in God's eyes. And be strange and striking to those around them.

An activity that is great to do with your "mini-me's":

Go for a walk (or go to the library and read some books on interesting animals, etc) and look for the strange and beautiful. We bring a notebook with us and write down all the things we see that are unique and capture our attention. We might even take pictures. Then at home we talk about how God sees each thing we saw and what is special about it, and why being different is wonderful.

Children learn in so many ways, often visually and through play. Any sort of reinforcing activities are great to teach them about GOD.. especially if along the way, they get to learn how to delight in Him. For sure.. He is delightful!

Great are the works of the LORD;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Psalm 11:2-3 NIV

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Motivating a Child to Follow the Rules

Overheard at bedtime tonight:

Mother - "Time to brush your teeth children!"

Son - "Awww mom - why do I always have to?"

Mother - "Because it's important."

Son - "I know it's important but what's the other reason?"

Sigh.

We had just been through a lengthy discussion regarding the dangers of tooth decay the night before. So why doesn't this question surprise me? Because my son is 6 years old, can't remember what he did this morning much less yesterday, and doesn't want to brush his teeth. And... because he is immature - he is only 6 after all.

Mother - "Because I said so."

A perfect answer. There's no arguing with that one. At least there shouldn't be.

But, you will ask me, how do I get my child motivated to do these things, and to want to go to church, and to do chores, and to give me respect??

And my answer will not change:

"Because I said so."

Children will not understand the reasons behind many things until they are sufficiently old enough and wise enough to understand. Even then it will be a struggle.... Mary was told that she was going to give birth to the Son of God, but did she understand why, when it came time to do it, she had lie down in a smelly, cold, dirty old stable? I don't think so. Would you?

Did God explain to Mary ahead of time about the shepherds he was going to invite for the occassion, and the fact that her son, born into humility would be able to sympathize with every man's weakness and suffering? (Hebrews 4:15 was written later.) Mary listened to God when God said,

"Because I said so",

because she trusted God, as a child trusts his parent to take responsibility for him and make him do what is best.

You know you force your kids to go to school because it's good for them, so force them to go to church. They have to do their homework, so make them read the bible. They have to brush their teeth, so make them pray with you. If you are waiting for them to choose to do it one magical day when they've never been taught the habit or later the reasons why, don't hold your breath.

On the contrary, gather up your courage, take a deep breath and practice it with me,

"Because I said so."
"Because I know best."
"Because I am your mother."
"Because, because, because and that's all you need to know."

and "because I love you."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Handling Bullies God's Way

Bullying is tough stuff. When my baby boy (he's 6) came home this week telling me about another first grader who's been hurting him at school, I felt my mama-bear instincts start to kick in. How could anyone allow this to happen to my sweet little cub? Honestly, I wasn't filled with rage or anything (after all - the other boy is only 6 as well), but I did have the urge to march straight in to the office to demand that this be dealt with immediately.

Actually (umm), come to think of it, I did do that. But without the marching... or the demanding. Ok, the school principle walks the children outside after school every day, and he was standing right there. And the moment I mentioned it, he was on top of the situation. Good thing or I may have had to consider homeschooling... again. :-) (...thoughts for a future blog.)

But seriously, how does a parent teach their child how to deal with bullying in a biblical way? You can't just tell them to kick them where it hurts and run away (as tempting as that is). I think two scriptures come to mind to help us with this:

2 Timothy 4:16-18
The first time I was put on trial, no one came to help me. Everyone deserted me. I hope they will be forgiven for it. The Lord stood at my side. He gave me the strength to preach the whole message. Then all those who weren't Jews heard it. I was saved from the lion's mouth. The Lord will save me from every evil attack. He will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. Give him glory for ever and ever. Amen.

and

1 Corinthians 15:33
Don't let anyone fool you. "Bad companions make a good person bad."

ooops.. I lied. There are three... let's not forget the essential one:

Luke 6:27-28
"But here is what I tell you who hear me. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who call down curses on you. And pray for those who treat you badly.

So what do I do with this information? I make some time to have a heart to heart with my son and read him these verses. Then I talk to him about what God expects of him. And here they are:
1) Forgive the bully.
2) Pray for the bully.
3) Love the bully - any time there is a choice to treat the bully well or treat him badly, always choose what is good.
4) Don't hang around with the bully - not only for safety's sake, but to avoid being unduly influenced by friends of bad character.
5) Trust God to take care of you (while of course doing what you can to make a wrong situation right - in this case, that was mommy's and the other grownups' job).
6) Remember that you are never alone, even with no one around. God is always by your side.

And I'll be having this conversation with my baby tomorrow night and the night after that too. And punctuating each session with plenty of hugs (I'm hug-dependent remember?).

Oh... and a tip for other mama-bears dealing with wolves near their cubs... ***Don't have these conversations right before sleep time or your cub-lings might have bad dreams. I try to get on the situation as soon as possible after school, so the emotions can be addressed and time can get to work on healing their little hearts.

And don't forget to pray for them. And pray with them. Without God we can do nothing, but with Him, all things are possible. Praise to the Lord, our protector!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Can a Child Read the Bible?

I was reading about pioneers and what life was like back in the days when things were just getting started around here. And as I was flipping through this book, something JUMPED off the page and struck me square across the face... parents and teachers used the Bible to teach children how to read!

Now why is this such a revelation to me? Because it seems to me that we don't give kids (or God's Word) enough credit. We are always dancing around the Words, celebrating the "BOOK", trying to make things interesting so that they will be accepted and understood... all the while avoiding the Book itself, and subsequently losing a beautiful opportunity to strike up a child's heart and desire for the pure and unchanging Word of God - the Bible.

So these little ones learned how to read by reading the best book of all. And they were taught to go to it for answers, and by repetitive reading they were hiding it in their hearts (that they might not sin against Him - Psalm 119:11). How cool is that??

I think I will toss out my fear that my kids will not find the bible interesting. It is LIVING AND ACTIVE (Hebrews 4:12) and I have experienced this. I want them to experience it too. No second hand lesson about the Book (no matter how wonderful it is - don't get me wrong, they have their place!) will ever be better than the Word itself. :-)

Now I've learned my ABCs
and practiced words like "Thanks" and "Please",
Run and frolicked in the sun,
I find a place to sit with mum.

Pa picks up the well-worn Book
and to our God we now will look.
I love to hear the special story
that leads me safely to His glory.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What to DO with a Crying Child...

WAAAAAHHH!!!!

"Uuuhhhh.... she's crying AGAIN. I can't take take this constant whining and bawling day after day."

"I know, son. I know. But don't mind your mother.... she'll feel better in about 18 years or so...."

Yes.... I am a mother. And yes, I cry. I know..... I'm supposed to be the parent here... but seriously, hearing my babies cry makes me want to cry. Hearing them whine makes me want to whine. And hearing them throw a tantrum makes me want to walk away and leave them in the middle of the store with their father trying to juggle the baby and the cart full of falling groceries all the while taming the flailing limbs of a ferocious tiger - I mean three year old, as he melts into the floor. But I digress.

When I first became a mom, I thought that successful parenting meant always having smiling, happy children, and that I would be full of joy, constantly energized and motivated for my tasks. It didn't take long before I came to and found out that reality doesn't support that kind of dream. However, I've also come to learn that God has equipped me to be able to DO something with a crying child - and this is worth a million bucks to any parent...

There are innumerable different reasons why children cry and how to handle them, so I can't possibly tackle all of them here. I have, however, learned a bit from experience and received some wonderful wisdom-filled tips from seasoned BTDT mothers, and I'd like to share them with you. :)

1. FOR BABIES: Most of the time for infants, crying heralds one of three problems: hunger, tiredness or discomfort. Feed them, check for dirty diapers and try to get them to nap.

Also try a simple change of scene. If a baby is crying, the one thing least likely to work is more of what you are already doing! (Dads are famous for this. LOL.) Turn on the bathwater for a different sound, step outside on the porch, change holding positions.. whatever! I used to actually change my baby's diaper every time he started to fuss because he hated it so much. When his diaper was back on, he was happy again (mean mommy!). Hey whatever works.

NOTE*** Check all fingers, toes and private parts for possible stray hairs that may have gotten wound around little digits. This can happen easily, especially if anyone in the family has long hair.

(((For parents with colicky babies... I am so sorry. I have no idea. But I have a prayer for you, and a HUG.)))

2. FOR TODDLERS AND OLDER CHILDREN: There are basically three ways that a parent can respond to crying - comfort, discipline or distraction. But how do you know which one to use??

And how do you assess the situation? First, ask yourself if anything in the child's situation is out of balance, keeping in mind the HALT acronym. Hungry - Angry - Lonely - Tired. If any of these are out of whack, your child will be less able to cope. After you help them to fix their situation, teach them about how their bodies are connected to their emotions, and have a heart-to-heart about learning self-control especially in times of trial.

What if their crying is an act of rebellion? Here it comes.. the dreaded word... DISCIPLINE. Eek. But remember, the purpose of discipline is not just to change behaviour, but to change the heart - and lead a child back to God. There are many forms of discipline (from talking, to time outs etc.). The most appropriate is the one that is going to lead the child to repentance. They also need to be reminded that God's grace is sufficient for them (2 Corinthians 12:9).

And sometimes.... I JUST GIVE THEM A HUG. I do this a lot (my husband calls me hug-dependent). I know there have been many times in my life when I have been the rebellious child and God poured out His mercy instead of wrath, teaching me about love and how to be merciful.

I've noticed too, that my strong willed child, who needs a lot of discipline, also needs a ton of encouragement. Too much correction without praise can lead to bad habits. What I mean is this: if my boy thinks that I expect him to misbehave, he can subconsciously live up to those expectations. Of course you believe in your child.... so are you communicating that to him?

FINALLY, I praise God for the wonders that He has packed into a mother's (and father's) hug. It is better than any medicine for the child WHO WAS CREATED TO FIND COMFORT THERE. Use it wisely, and use it liberally, all the while reminding your precious little ones of the way that the Saviour showed His love to us two thousand years ago. :-)

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