There are words that penetrate your heart and leave you standing there wondering how you will continue to go on.
My testimony is a story of hope, love, loss, despair, forgiveness, and about my desperate dependence on God.
Jesus came for you, and for me, so that we might have eternal life. Some people think that if they are good enough that they will go to heaven when they die. It does not say this in the Bible. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We can do nothing to earn salvation. God gives it freely to those who believe in him. In Romans 10:9-10 it says, “Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. “I have titled my testimony praising through the tears, because God is so powerful, mighty, and awesome, that He has saved me, when I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. There are tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of frustration and pain, but I will continue to praise Him through all of my tears. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I have read about people who were without food, clothing, shelter, and didn’t have material possessions, but they had faith that God would provide in a way I did not have. In other words, they had something far more valuable that I had with my big house, healthy children, an abundance of food, clothes, and material possessions. I was incredibly needy for God and did not know it, because I did not see my dependence on God for my well being. I had fallen asleep and thought that my luke warm faith in God was doing just fine. In Deuteronomy 8:17-18 it states: Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. On November 6, 2009, I came to see how desperate I am in need of God, each and every day.
My hope in sharing this very real and painful account of what happened to my family is that you will be pointed to Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
On November 6th we said goodbye to our third child Eli. I laid him down for his morning nap, and when I went to check on him later, he was not breathing. Words at that moment escaped me. I felt so many things in that moment like fear, guilt, gut-wrenching pain. I ran to the basement and called Greg to come up. And said words. Words that I had never thought of saying. “Eli isn’t breathing.” Greg ran up the stairs two at a time as I sat there shaking and not knowing what to do.
I called 911 while Greg administered CPR. We lived very close to a volunteer fire fighter and he came in the door within just a couple of minutes. Everything from then on was loud, scary, and painful. So much pain. I could barely pick myself off the kitchen floor to get in the van to go to the hospital. I wanted a reset button. I wanted to go back and to hold Eli for his nap. I wanted this nightmare to end. I cried out to God, sobbing in the car and asking him to save Eli. We arrived at the hospital and three people from our previous church were already there and waiting to be with us. I was so scared of what I knew in my heart, that the doctor would tell me, that I thought it was better to stay in the van. I did not want to hear the words.
God brings words of hope, not of fear. God gives us words of love, not of hate. God was there with me on that day. God is with me each and every day. God is with you right now and tomorrow and the next.
Eli did die that day. We were able to hold him, love him, and say goodbye to him. We were surrounded by more love than I can ever remember being around me. That love was the Holy Spirit working through believers of Christ. In the days and weeks that followed, we saw God working and loving us while we were broken. Meals were delivered, groceries were brought, people came to give attention to Leah and Jonah while we went through with the funeral arrangements and had to meet with CPS and the local police.
There really are not words to express what kind of loss it is when you lose someone so close. Yet we live here on earth, and we will all feel this kind of loss. The pain you feel makes you physically ill. But then there is Jesus. He brought us hope in the midst of our suffering. He brought us glimpses of Himself.
Our daughter Leah was 4 years old when Eli died. Jesus spoke to her heart and she said to me, “Mommy, Jesus says not to be sad, he said he is holding Eli.” Greg, myself, and our friend who is a Pastor heard her say that and we all stood in awe, and with tears of Joy on our faces. A friend who is not a believer gave me this pencil sketch of Jesus holding a baby in heaven. Then a couple of days after the funeral I was standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes, and just very desperate for my baby boy to be back in my arms. And I heard God speak to me. I can remember it like is yesterday, and never before have I heard Him that clearly. He said, “It is okay Tiffany, I have Eli here with me.”
A little background about myself. I did not grow up in a Christian home. There were some things about my childhood that I wish I could forget; but God put people in my life to speak words of hope. Words of love, and they taught me who He is. When I was in high school I made some decisions that were not good. I made choices that I am not proud of. All of us fall short, all of us sin. When I accepted Christ to be my Lord and Savior, He forgave me of my sins. He continues to forgive me of my sins. Nothing is impossible for God. He forgives. If there is anything that you have done that you regret, lay it at the foot of Jesus and ask Him to forgive you. He will, He will do it with love.
I am still a work in progress. I am learning each day what to means to trust God. I am learning as I read His word and reflect on His will. I am real. I mess up, I sin, I fall short, but I am His. I will always be a work in progress and I am so thankful that He sees fit to work on me daily. I need it. He sees fit to work on each of us; if we let Him.
There are words that penetrate your heart and leave you standing there wondering how you will continue to go on.
Pain hurts! Life can get painful, both in the physical way and emotional. It hurts my heart to see one of my children dealing with something painful, I think it hurts me more! Living in a fallen world, leaves the effects of sin to muddy up God’s perfect creation. There is death, disease, famine, sickness, pain, loss, poverty, etc. Sometimes it is hard to see the light and good in this world; but it is there.
Recently we experienced our fourth miscarriage. Miscarriage is pain; it is hard. We had 2 miscarriages before we had our first baby Leah. Then we had another 3 children, then we had our 3rd miscarriage. A few months later we conceived and carried Maria to term. We were very excited about another baby to add to our family. I always take progesterone when I find out that I am expecting. I started taking it, I started to get the morning sickness (which lasts all day for me), and felt pretty tired and sick. Those signs are good for me, as I have not miscarried with feeling morning sickness before.
I wanted to have another home birth (my last was my first home birth), so I waited until I was 12 weeks for my first appointment. I was pretty sure the pregnancy would go to term since I had not miscarried that late before. The midwives do not perform an ultrasound like the OB office, but just listen to heart tones. They could not find the baby’s heart beat, but assured me that they cannot always hear the heartbeat at 12 weeks, and it was nothing to worry about. I made another appointment for 2 weeks later to try to hear the heart again. But I went home knowing in my heart, that this pregnancy might end in miscarriage. I started to mentally prepare myself if it came to that. I called my OB office and asked them what I should do if I started to bleed. I was glad that I called because 3 days after my midwife appointment I started bleeding. It was a Saturday and I had to go to the hospital to get a Rhogam shot (I have one each miscarriage/pregnancy/delivery). We were at the hospital a couple of hours where they did an ultrasound and confirmed that the baby had died. I decided to try to miscarry at home naturally like I had with my other 3 miscarriages.
I started to bleed more heavily the next day and stayed in bed resting. At dinner time, a friend from church brought us a wonderful dinner of bbq chicken. Since the meal was a messy meal, I decided to go downstairs and eat with the family instead of eating up in my room. After about 15 minutes downstairs, I suddenly became very dizzy. I told Greg I better go rest and I almost did not make it up the stairs and to the bathroom first. I had to hold on to the steps and wall to keep from falling. At this point I knew that I had better call. I first called my midwife and she told me to walk around for 30 minutes and if I could not do that without getting dizzy then I needed to go to the hospital. I got up and moved around for about 8 minutes before I had to rest, and I asked Greg how I looked. He said, you look really white, we need to go. Greg is very relaxed about things and does not overreact, he tends to under react about things; so I knew we had better go. Greg’s parents came to stay with our kids, and we headed back to the hospital. They were very surprised by how much blood I had lost and continued to lose. Apparently sometimes your body cannot pass everything and it just keeps bleeding and bleeding try, but will never. So I had to have a D and C.
I have never had a D and C or had any type of minor/major surgery. They gave me a spinal for the pain, and I was awake the entire time. It was really hard after as I did not have any feeling in my feet/legs and could not go to the bathroom unassisted. It was really late in the night at this point (2am) and we just wanted to go home. A little while later, we were able to go home.
But here is why I wanted to write this blog post. Once the D and C were over, they wheeled me to a recovery room. A nurse had to stay in my room for a while to monitor that I was doing fine. I was laying there on the bed (I could not move) when God really spoke to my heart to talk to this nurse. I asked if she was married (yes). I asked if she has children (no). She told me that she just experienced her first miscarriage and D and C about 2 month before. She then explained how she was nervous they might have trouble getting pregnant, and really wanted to be a mom. My first miscarriage was so hard and devastating for both Greg and I. I still remember it in detail. My heart ached for this dear nurse. I did talk to her about charting her cycle and natural family planning signs and told her how great God created our bodies to tell us when we are fertile. I know we have broken bodies since they do not always work like God intended due to sin, but I know a number of women who have had success charting. I knew God was asking me to pray for her. I asked her if I could and she said yes. It was such a tender and beautiful moment in that tiny recovery room with the nurse, Greg, myself, and God. I was able to minister to her, through my own pain, and my own experiences with miscarriage and infant loss.
I do remember her asking how I was able to pray for her, when I was going through my pain. I told her that God was using me. I told her that God was giving me peace through my sufferings. I did mourn this pregnancy, very much, but I also knew that I would have another little one to hold in heaven. I take comfort in that. Without that promise I could not imagine how to deal with this pain and loss.
My hope in sharing this blog post is to encourage you to reach out to someone who has been where you have been. To listen when God is directing your steps. Even when it is hard, it is always a blessing to step out in obedience. That nurse brought me comfort through my pain, but being able to share with her. While it may have looked like I was blessing her; she was really the blessing of the night to me.
If you have suffered a miscarriage in the past; I am so sorry. I understand the feelings of loss. I pray that you find comfort in knowing that your little one is waiting for you in heaven with Jesus holding on to him or her.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people;[a]
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
My family and I went on a camping trip recently and while we were enjoying our time at the beach, my attention was drawn to a mother yelling at her child. It was the type of situation where you cringe, because you know that she is causing all of this damage, but nothing you can report to CPS. I was afraid of this mother. I wanted to take her aside and guide her into looking at how she was speaking and treating her “treasures”, but I knew that from her body language any attempt on mine would be wasted and just escalate her already bad mood.
She was yelling at her 5-year-old son for running through the sand when they were leaving the lake. I have worked with kindergarteners (as a teacher, substitute, etc) and know by observing this child that he really was not trying to be disobedient. He just got excited and forgot to exit the lake and walk on the grass so he did not get sandy. But the mother was at her limit and screamed at him while grabbing his arm roughly.
Mother: I am never taking you camping again. When you ask to come to the lake or camping, you can forget it, because it is not happening. You cannot even listen to me when I ask you to walk in the grass. You know when we get to the camper what will happen to you (as she glared at him).
Her daughter then did something that I did not see and she threw the beach towel at the 4-year-old. Both of these children had slumped shoulders and walked back with the saddest faces.
I wish I was making this up. I can still see the scene in my mind and my heart breaks. It breaks for these children whose mother treats them this way. It breaks for this mother who does not know how to manage the children obeying her without having to become so angry and hateful towards them.
I wanted this post to be about how I can tear apart her parenting, but in reality, it is about me taking a look in the mirror and finding that I have things to work on too.
I have never done what this mother did, but I have yelled at my kids, tore them down with a tone of voice, an angry look, I have been angry in my heart and not always liked my child in the moment. So I really do not want this post to be about finger-pointing, but to try to bring my faults, sin, ugly messes to God to have Him forgive, wipe away, cleanse me from my anger. I have come a long way when it comes to get angry. Adding more children to our family has forced me to look deeply at my own issues and sin and find answers on how to deal with my children when I can feel very upset and angry.
First it helps to understand when a child is acting childish: spilling milk, walking in the sand, forgetting his hat on the bus, etc.
Or when a child is clearly disobeying your authority. I have a couple of strong-willed children who will clearly disobey to see what will happen.
I need to know when to overlook childish behaviors, while always trying to teach the child to mature in those areas. In other words, milk will be spilled, mittens will be lost, but we can still teach them to be careful when handling a glass, and teach them to be responsible for their items without getting angry at them each time they mess up. As an adult I have spilled milk, broken dishes, had accidents and I was being careful! Accidents happen!
And I need to know what kind of responses/discipline I will have before my children disobey and push the limits; because they will. The more prepared I am before hand, the more my anger can stay in check and I can stay in control and loving, but firm. I like to model scenarios with the kids quite frequently to practice good behavior and responses, so that they can practice what kind of response to acceptable. The same goes for me. If I have not thought about and envisioned what my reaction will be when a child is breaking the rules, or stomping up the stairs, or hitting his brother, etc then I am more likely to be out of control because I am not sure what to do, I just know I want the action to stop. It reminds me of drivers training. I remember learning in class, watching videos, reading books and scenarios about how to respond when a certain situation happens and that helped me and other drivers in training to know what to do. The more you practice being prepared for the what ifs, the more in control and better you feel how to handle them. Imagine if my family had never practiced a fire drill before (this is reminding me that it has been too long, so I need to practice the drill again…lol) and we had a fire. This could be a very dangerous situation of chaos for the kids to be in, if they had never had any training at all. This is the same with parenting. I do not want anger, chaos, and uncertainty to cloud my thinking when responding to my children. They need to know that mom and dad are in control and will lovingly correct them for disobedience. I know that my kids react to my discipline so much better when I am in control and not angry with them. If they sense that I am angry and I yell, they fall apart and the situation really unravels with me feeling guilty afterwards.
I remember reading before that, the mom never had an anger problem until she had children. As funny as that sounds, it rings true. I would say that the anger comes about when we are pushed, but really it was there before my children came but they know how to push the buttons to trigger an angry reaction.
Another way I try to stay calm with my kids is to take deep breaths when I can feel my heart rate rising. I have taught my kids how to try to use techniques to calm down. Like hugging a pillow, a stuffed animal, rocking with mama, reading, taking deep breaths, praying, etc so therefore I can use some of those same tips when I start to become angry. I really do not want to get unglued and end up yelling and feeling bad afterwards.
I also try to make sure that I am taking care of me! I need to eat, drink water, get adequate sleep and rest, having time with the Lord, and exercise and when I have done those things, I know that my mood and blood sugar levels will help quite a bit with how I react to my children and situations. I owe it to my kids to make sure I am taking care of myself, or how can I care for my family on an empty tank? I would always be running on fumes!
So these are the tips to trying to keep my cool, and respond with love, instead of anger:
1. Train my kids to obey
2. Practice how to handle when my kids do not obey (act out how different situations my come about and how to handle them).
3. Using calming strategies and recognizing when I need to cool down before it gets out of hand
4. Taking care of me
I never want to become the mom on the beach who verbally abused her children and came across that she did not like her role as mother. God entrusted these children to me. They are precious to Him! I want to honor Him and treat them with the gentle care they deserve!~ They are TREASURES! So I need to look in the mirror and confront any areas of my parenting/mothering that might not be glorifying to Him and repent of those ways. God continues to teach me through His word and my children what I need to work on, and how to mother these treasures!
First I want to point out that I am constantly learning and growing in my parenting journey; and also failing. I fail, I make mistakes, and I take my mistakes to my Father and ask forgiveness. I also ask my child to forgive me if I have wronged them. I do not want to come across with having all the answers or that my life runs perfectly with a good schedule in place. That is not the case, but I do know that for me and my kids, that having a schedule and routine in place helps to reduce the number of struggles and frustrations. I also want to start off by saying that I am not an organized person. Being organized does not come naturally or easy to me, but I have learned if I want my house to run more smoothly I need to have some order and organization. I still have lots to learn, but I want to encourage you that if you feel like you cannot create a schedule or routine because it does not come naturally, that I believe we all can step out of our zones and learn new things all the time 🙂
With summer break starting up for some, or just about to start-up for others, this is getting me into thinking about a summer routine or schedule.
I remember a few years ago when I did not have to do school with my oldest, when she was just preschool age and we homeschooled (still do) I can remember very clearly the disorder that came from not having a routine and schedule in place. Leah did not know what to do with a whole day, and she often became frustrated. It was not until later did I realize that she needed some structure to her day and things started to go more smoothly. I started to think about if she were at a traditional preschool she would have order and structure to her day…things like free play, circle time, snack time, outdoor time, art time, etc. Once I started to think in these terms I made a rough schedule of blocks of time for the things I wanted to get done and for her to do. She was a lot less fussy now that she knew that she did not have to figure out her entire day. And I was able to get more of my chores done in the designated time slots. This was where we started 6 years ago with a schedule and we do things a little different now, but with the same idea.
So when there is a school break, snow day, summer break or any break from a normal routine, it is okay to start a different routine. The beauty of all of this is that you are the creator of the schedule and can make it to fit your needs on a daily basis. Sometimes that may mean making a schedule and tweaking it when something does not work well after you have tried it. For example, I have learned that having my kids do math right before lunch might bring about tears and frustration much more than if I have them do it right away after breakfast. I am always learning and tweaking the schedule to fit us at that time in our lives. With a baby in the house, I need to be mindful of when I will have the most time to devote to teaching, and when I will not. A lot of that is based on her naps.
A few good questions to ask yourselves when starting to think of a schedule are:
1. What time should breakfast/lunch/dinner be?
2. Do I want everyone to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner at the same time?
3. What time should rest/nap time be?
4. What errands do we need to do?
5. What chores need to be done and by whom?
6. What do I want the kids to accomplish?
7. What do I want to do that is intentional (example…I always want to make time to do things with my preschooler, just him and I, but the day can get away from me very quickly so I need to put it into the schedule to make sure it gets done).
8. What character training should we focus on this week/day?
9. What chore/home management should I start teaching them?
I do not ask myself these questions each time I make a schedule, but they are good questions to start thinking about. When we have our school schedule I make sure to put in all the necessary subjects and when I will be needed to assist. I also add in daily chores so that we can fee like we are getting some things accomplished. But I also give myself and kids grace when something pulls us away from checking everything off the list (errand took longer, someone sick, an expected playdate, etc).
During our school schedule the kids get up and go to bed around the same time each morning and night. I find this to be helpful in the summer too and here is why. I really like to have everyone eat meals together. If child A is up at 7 and child B at 9, then breakfast at 9:30 is not going to work for child A. If child B needs more sleep then he/she goes to bed earlier and thus our meals will not be interrupted. I like eating together as we do our daily devotions, read aloud, and family time together during meals. I still do these things in the summer as there are just too many good books not to read. Lets say that we set the alarm for 7am during the school year, but do not want to get up that early in the summer, make the alarm work for you, and your schedule work accordingly; I know I do, I just make sure it works so breakfast is served all together, etc.
After breakfast in the summer we get to the must do’s of the day. The kids work on reading, a few math facts, and piano, a few chores. Since we have more time in the summer, this is where I would put in items like learning to tie shoes, more character training stories, typing games, baking more, etc. So I would look at my schedule each week, see what might be on the calendar and fill in the schedule so we have a nice solid routine in order. This still gives a huge amount of time for playing, creating, carefree, relaxing to happen. I do not like to pencil in so much, that my kids cannot think of things to do on their own. If I always am the one to do this, how will they ever learn what to do when they are “bored”.
As far as chores go, I seem to get a lot less complaining when the child knows that chore time is after breakfast (as well as reading, piano, etc). If I suddenly look at the clock at 4pm and realize child A did not get any chores done (because I have not asked him to) then it is much harder to get him to stop playing and come do a chore. He knows he must obey, but I do not want to have a battle if I can avoid it. Sometimes I am create more battles by not being as organized or prepared, but I also want my kids to know that I when I ask them to do something any time of the day, I expect them to obey with a happy heart.
I like to follow more of a routine than an actual strict schedule that every half hour of the day is scripted, but I know people who work best with a strict schedule. That is the beauty of it, you can make it work for your situation and personality.
I am not a fan of the “I’m bored” expression that comes from my kids. I usually respond with a number of chores that could be done and they suddenly disappear and find something to do. I do notice that I hear I’m bored a whole lot less when we have some structure time of activities like light school work, chores, reading, etc. When we finish with the must do’s of the day, they are off and exploring, playing, learning to be creative. They seldom are at a loss of what to do/play. But if I leave the entire day up to them all of the time, that is when they run out of things to do. So it just works better for all of us to have some structure and things to get accomplished. There are so many awesome things to learn, that pulling out a great bible study, devotional, encyclopedia, magnets, paints, etc….that it does not take too much thought to come up with some cool learning ideas for your kids. I know children learn the most when they are in charge of what they want to learn. So if you have a child who keeps asking about storms, check out some books/videos from the library about weather and climate. By putting these extra’s into your schedule it helps to make sure that the extras actually get done and are not just another idea stuck in a pintrest folder.
If you have children that are in school for the school year, it may be a good idea to make up a sample schedule when an unexpected day off occurs (bad weather, sickness, etc). That way when all the snow is coming down, the school is closed, and you have a houseful of children who do not know what to do with their time, you can pull out a sample day that you had already planned and have some structure to your day with minimal effort. I love giving my kids lots of unplanned time in the day for creative play and thought, but they also crave structure and order, so I make sure to have both. You do not need to entertain them all day, you do not need to have the most creative art projects planned, just having some structure will go a long way!
Last….the dreaded dinner hour rush! The clock hits 5pm and the kids are bickering with each other, hungry, complaining, and you are wanting to get dinner done before you end up yelling at all of them and then feel bad after. Ok…maybe that does not happen at your house, but this happens at mine quite frequently. So I decided to get organized and came up with some things for them to do during this time while I can still get dinner on the table at a decent hour! Some suggestions that we do are: stickers, card games like solitaire, audio books, dancing to music we have, helping to set the table, get drinks, etc. I also make sure they have a snack if needed (most likely this is for the 3-year-old who is starving and cannot do anything…so he gets to eat vegetables at this time.
I would love to hear how you use a routine/schedule to work for you!
My first post on beautiful blessings can be found here https://rememberingeli.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/beautiful-blessings/
I want to break up this series in segments that make sense in my scattered brain; so bear with me!
Years ago when I did not always see my children as blessings, I know that part of the reason was that they did not always behave. Some of the things they did irritated me. Things like whining, arguing, disobeying, throwing fits, etc. For the record, my kids still do these things; but it seems to be less once I understood that they were not taught what to do instead of those things. I was the one who needed training! I needed to learn how to train these kids! I needed help and started to seek out biblical parenting resources.
I am not here to say that I have all the answers! I read a lot of books, ask a lot of experienced parents, and read a lot of blogs. Some of the information is really helpful and some I discard. I just know that when I started to train my children from bad habits, it really has made a difference in the atmosphere in our home.
Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Isaiah 54:13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.
I learned that I can train my children to the right response and discipline for negative responses. This is still ongoing today! This is the HARD work I was telling you all about! But, I have seen the sweet rewards of this! I will explain some of those rewards in another post! But for now I want to talk about the importance of training.
It take time, patience, and commitment to train our children. We teach our children to use the potty, sleep in a big bed, eat from a spoon, ride a bike, etc. There are a number of things we teach our children, most of them without thinking that training is happening. This is the same thing, but teaching our children how to respond when they do not like something. So when one of my children start to complain about a chore they have to do. I say something like this, “Remember what mama says about obeying right away, with a happy heart. When you say yes mama and do the chore, that is obeying.” I want to give them the correct response first, they do not always repeat the correct response though. If the child still complains (I have strong-willed kids…you bet some of them still complain) I say, “I can hear and see with my eyes that you are not obeying, you can now do 2 chores instead of the one.” This happened the other morning. My child was not happy to do 2 chores, but the next day when he had the 1 chore, he obeyed right away with a smile. (They get a chocolate chip if they say yes mama and do what is asked of them).
I try really hard to relish the times my children disobey! Yes I said RELISH! Why you ask???? Because it then lets me train them and help build their character. This is good stuff! So when I am in the middle of doing something (which is always) and one of my children need to be corrected, I can sometimes feel the irritation start to rise (have you ever felt that?) But after many times of this happening, and my smiling and asking God to help train my child, I really do not see these times as irritations or interruptions anymore; just more good training time. Sometimes that means that my older child has to wait on me helping her with spelling while I train a younger one. Sometimes it means, that the homemade biscuits stayed in the oven a little longer than intended. Sometimes it means being very flexible. But this mindset is building my character too! God is so good to teach me along with my kids what it means to walk with Him.
I now have a 1-year-old baby in the house again! This spells…TORNADO! She loves to go through a room and create quite the storm while she pulls things off the shelves, takes toys apart, throw her toys around, etc. I used to allow this behavior from my other young toddlers as I thought this is just what they do. But I never liked this behavior. Now though, I stop what I am doing and correct any behavior that I do not want. There are about 3 shelves that she is not to touch. It is liberating that I have taught her about the boundaries and she is accepting them (okay, she is learning to accept them 🙂 Will she continue to go to those 3 shelves? Yes, because she wants to test the boundaries, and I say…YAY!!! Another opportunity to teach her! Do I still sigh, grumble, and complain (yes, I am afraid that I do, but God is so patient with me, that I go to Him and forgives me daily for this sin in my life). It is not always easy to see the blessings of dying to yourself; sometimes it is quite painful. But as mothers; we are called to die to ourselves and put the needs of our husband and children before ourselves.
We have a saying in our home called JOY! It stands for Jesus First, Others Second, Yourself Last. This is hard to live out. But the more I do this, the more I see my children for the blessings that they are. This statement of JOY if for everyone in our family. We talk about it, practice it, and pray for it.
We have a chair in our house that is called the grumbling, whining, complaining, fit throwing chair. My children know that if they start any of those behaviors (not the youngest 1-year-old) then they will have to go to that chair. A lot of times, they stop what they are fussing about. If they persist and do not go to the chair, they then get a punishment. The chair is not a punishment, it is just a place to go when they start acting up.
Sometimes when someone starts to ask for something in a whining voice, I repeat what they said, but without the whine and have them repeat it back to me. This may take a while, some of mine have had to repeat things many times until they reached a nice tone of voice, but they did not care for doing this and have hardly had to repeat this.
Some of my kids have stomped up the stairs when they were angry. I then make them try that again until they can nicely walk up and down the stairs. They are not fans of this, but I really want them to practice doing the behavior in the acceptable way in our home. I think of it like math flash cards. If they get a problem wrong, we may need to go back to the flash cards and practice some more.
I try my very best (and fail sometimes) to talk in low tones. This serves two purposes. It allows me to keep my anger and temper in check and to not yell. Also it makes for them to quiet down to listen to my voice. This has helped a lot, since I want them to talk in a respectful way to me and other people in the family; so they should see me talking this way to them as well.
I give grace! I find it hard to discipline my children when they are over tired or hungry when it was me who is to blame! My 2 older kids can go without snacks between meals. But my 3-year-old cannot. If I forget a snack one day and he is very cranky…I try and give grace, because he really is hungry. That does not mean he can hit, kick, scream at any of us, but it does mean that I pull back on the discipline. I also will have him practice the desired behavior after a nap or snack.
Part 3 of this series will be about routines and schedules and what happens when we got off them!
Recently after winter break, the local schools cancelled school for 3 more days because of the huge amount of snow and the extreme cold temperatures. On Facebook I saw many comments and complaints that the moms were not sure what to do with the kids when they had been planning on having them back in school. Moms were generally feeling like it was a bad thing to have their kids home for extra days. I understand if parents are both working and finding care on top of shoveling out of the huge snow and going to work; that can put a damper in the plans. But I am referring to the moms who are stay at home moms and do not want to be home with the kids all day. I also want to add, that not all moms that I know said this, some were so grateful to have the extra time with their kids.
But for the most part it seemed like moms were not grateful for this new turn of events.
As a homeschooler, I love being home with my kids, training, teaching, cleaning, cooking, playing, reading, etc. But there are days when I see the yellow school bus drive down the street and drool. Ok, I really do not drool, but there are hard days homeschooling. But to be honest, it was harder for me the first few years of mothering. I really had no idea what I was doing. It got really hard for me when I had a 2-year-old and an infant, who both needed me a lot. Now I have bigger helpers (my oldest is almost 9, then 6, 3, and 1). I have more work to do, but I also have more systems in place to help make sure that the most important things get done.
I used to buy into the lie that children were not really the blessings that God says that they are. Psalm 127:3: Behold, children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
I know that the word of God is truth, so why did I use to listen to worldly advice, the culture, or buy into any of it? I am not entirely sure of the answer, but I think that since I was a new Christian, new mom, I just looked around and saw how other moms were living. I was always drawn to the moms who seemed to love this mothering role. I did not always love getting up the middle of the night, breaking up fights, having my children misbehave…etc. But as I was confronted on many times God was showing me that it was me that was wrong, not my children. I was selfish, it all boiled down to, I did not want to do something (get up in the night, change a diaper, stop cooking to discipline, etc). God has been showing me what a blessing children really are. I started this blog 4 years ago when we lost Eli. I promise, they are so worth all the hard work, sleepless nights, headaches, etc. I am doing God’s work. It is hard. It is tiring, but it forces me to confront my own selfishness and come out better for it. With His help. I cannot die to myself without reliance on Him. I go to Him daily. I need his hand to pick me up when the going gets tough.
I want to write a series about how children are the blessing that God says they are. I do not have all the answers (far from it). I am not super mom (far from that). I fall and make mistakes (often). I do not have it all together (hardly). But I know that what I say and do can either reflect that children are a blessing, or they are not. Either one or the other.
I hope you will come back and read what the next post will be about.
I think I can safely say that most of us complain, and we complain on a regular basis. God has been working on my heart in this area lately and I wanted to share what I have learned.
First, with my daughter Leah, she consistently complains about doing school each day. Each night when we are doing our family bible time and end with prayer, Leah asks God to forgive her for complaining about school, and to help her not to do it the next day. Her prayers are all from her heart and we do not lead her to what she feels compelled to confess. One day she even asked forgiveness for complaining about school. I said, “Leah I never heard you complain today.” She replied that she did not say the words but she was thinking them. I remember being humbled that my 7 year old knew that even thinking these negative thoughts were a reason to ask forgiveness. I am always learning from my kids in their child like faith.
Leah would ask me how she could stop complaining, that she really wanted to, but did not know how. So we came up with an idea. We have only carried this idea out for the last week, but it is a step forward. Each time I hear her complain I gently put my hand over her mouth. She then asks forgiveness from God and then says something that she is grateful for for the very thing she was complaining about. So an example:
Leah: I do not want to do school
Mom: Gently puts her hand over Leah’s mouth
Leah: asks God for forgiveness, then says…”Lord I am grateful that I have pencils, paper, and a teacher to help me learn.”
Then we hug and move on with our day. The great thing is that Leah gets to do this very thing back to me and Greg. So if she catches us complaining she will gently put her hand over our mouths. I decided that Leah really wants to stop complaining based on our conversations, but I think she got into a habit and did it without really realizing what she was doing. Isn’t that the same with me? It sure is. My best friend and I talk on the phone a couple of times a week. We take turns sharing our days, and complaining to each other when we feel like something is hard (husbands, children, schooling, time management, you name it). While I love my talks with her, I do not believe I should have such an ungrateful heart with our conversations. We also share in our joys with our husbands, kids, schooling, day to day, etc. But I am not sending my kids a very good example of not complaining and disputing. I am not living out giving God thanks in all things. When I complain I am really saying, “God I am not happy with this circumstance, I am not happy about how this is going, and I am going to let you know about it.” When I stop and dissect what I am actually saying, it is not how I want to be talking. It has become a very bad habit and I am excited with Leah’s help to start breaking it.
God has blessed me with soooo much. Yet I will find something wrong with just about anything. I really do feel very privileged to be able to home school my kids. But on hard days I find myself complaining about their attitudes, attentiveness, etc. Instead of praising God that he wants to grow me as a mother and teacher with the difficult times, I complain when it is not easy. I complain when my life is not as comfortable as I think it should be. I complain when I have to get up in the night with a child, when I should be praising God for the life of that child. I complain when I have to clean up after the kids when I should be praising the job of teaching them to clean up after themselves. I want immediate results, and raising kids, teaching my kids, and loving my kids takes years of patience, time, and a loving praise from me.
I might complain that I have to start my car early in the morning since we do not have a garage. When there are many people who would love to own a car to start in the morning. I might complain that I do not have anything to wear, when in actuality I have plenty to wear and am not satisfied with my choices.
I am not sure how long this bad habit of complaining of mine will take to break, but I am happy to say that I am eager to spend the hard work to break it. When did I get so against hard work?
Philippians 2:14 “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)