Monday, August 29, 2016

When the House Is Quiet

This past weekend, our older daughter was away at a volleyball tournament.  (She doesn't play, but is the manager for the JV and Varsity girls' teams.)  Things are a lot different around the house when one of the girls isn't at home...

When the house is quiet, I can actually hear myself think and can write a complete sentence...but instead of working on a blog post, I sit and wonder what you're doing.

When the house is quiet, I can straighten up your room and it stays that way all day...but then it looks way too neat and un-lived-in and I don't know that I like it that way.

When the house is quiet, I can listen to whatever podcast or music I want to without earbuds...but I don't get to hear you playing away on the piano.

When the house is quiet, I can sit down and eat my lunch in peace...but I can't laugh with you over a story from your school day.

When the house is quiet, I can bake cookies and eat them warm out of the oven...but then I end up eating too many because you're not here to share them with me.

When the house is quiet, I can take time to exercise...but I can't get an unexpected hug from you when you pass through the kitchen.

When the house is quiet, I can actually lay down and take an afternoon nap...but I don't rest for long, because I need to make sure I haven't missed your text or call.

When the house is quiet, I can choose what to watch on television...but I can't hear you laughing along with me at Barney Fife's antics.

When the house is quiet, I can go to bed on time...but I can't turn my phone off in case you need me in the middle of the night.

When the house is quiet, I have lots of time to think about how happy I'll be to have you home again.

So mamas of littles, those brief moments of peace you have from time to time - savor them!  Embrace them because they rest your soul for when all the noise and chaos descend on the house again. 

But remember that those moments of peace get more and more frequent the older your kids get.  And while both a noisy house and a quiet one are good and right in their season, I think it's the noisy moments we'll remember most.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday Salutes

It was back to cheerleading for my younger daughter this week (back row, right)

Chelsea explains that She Is Not Me.

While many of our children have already gone back to school, you could use this countdown idea for any holiday - How to Make a Paper Chain Countdown for Back to School.

When I saw the words "fun" and "Math" in the same blog post title, I had to check it out! ;)  Misty shares Our Favorite Fun Math Games.

Patty shares 3 Verses for Every Little Girl's Room. I love the idea of having Bible verses as part of your child's room d├ęcor.

Lauren gives us 5 Ways to Find Balance in Your Life.

Kathie lists 7 Tips for When You Feel Like a Bad Mom.

Shan tells us How to See Married Life as a Joy NOT a Ball and Chain.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

How to Make a Monthly Prayer List for Your Family

About eighteen months ago, I began creating monthly prayer lists for my family.  It has been such a blessing to go to God with specific requests for my husband and daughters and then see how He has worked in all of our lives.  Today I wanted to share with you how I generate this prayer list each month.

While there are certain things I want to pray about every day - physical safety, spiritual growth, protection from temptation, future plans/spouses for our daughters - I realized that I was sometimes missing the basic, day-to-day issues they were facing.  To remedy that, I decided to make a monthly prayer list for each family member. 

On the first day of each month, usually during my morning devotional time, I sit down and write out my list.  I limit it to five items per person - otherwise it could get very long!  If I can't think of five requests on that first day, I may leave one or two spots empty, but I make sure they're all filled in within the first three to four days of the month.

I write the list in my basic notebook, which is also where I keep my gratitude list and jot down any Bible verses I want to meditate on.  However, my current notebook is almost full, so I've thought of ordering something like this pretty journal to use next.  I think it would make me happy to open that every morning!

As I sit down to make my prayer list, I go through the following steps.  I try to be very specific when I come up with each request.

1.  Break the prayer requests down into categories.  Most months I try to balance my list with one request in each of the following areas:  spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, and social.  This allows me to cover almost every aspect of their life in prayer.  However, some months I may know of more needs in one particular area than another, so I don't stress about having to include all of the areas every month.

2.  Look at the calendar.  I keep my calendar on my phone, so I quickly scroll through the month to see what's scheduled.  I'll notice if my husband has a business trip, if one of the girls is traveling for a ballgame or a fine arts performance, if we have a doctor's appointment or family event planned, etc. 

3.  Think about issues your family may be facing in the next thirty days.  There may be things that aren't on my calendar, but that I know we have coming up in the month ahead.  Maybe someone in the family needs wisdom for a decision, or perhaps a transition is coming up in a particular area, or a relationship needs some help, or discernment is required in a certain situation.

4.  Focus on goals a family member wants to achieve.  Whether it's making it onto a sports team or auditioning for a choir or choosing healthier foods to eat, I consider what each person hopes to accomplish.  I also may choose to pray for opportunities for them to serve (i.e. playing the piano or helping in a children's ministry) or for them to be able to use their gifts and talents to bless others.

5.  Include a character trait or habit that your spouse or children need to develop.  From reading their Bible to being patient with a sibling to exercising self-discipline, contentment, or gratitude, I can usually think of a quality that would be helpful for them to continue to grow in on a daily basis.

Without sharing too much personal info, here's an example of what a typical list might look like for one of my daughters.

 - Safe bus travel to ballgames this month
 - A clear mind so she can retain the material she's studying for her exams
 - An opportunity to use her piano playing in ministry at church or school
 - A sweet relationship with her sister
 - Faithfulness in her Bible reading

One of the many blessings about making these monthly prayer lists has been seeing direct answers to prayer.  This monthly prayer list is just one way we can continue to pray for our families.  If you have another method that you use, I'd enjoy hearing about it.  You never know when I might want to switch things up!

Related posts:
Praying God's Blessings On My Family
6 Prayers to Pray for Our Children
A Prayer for Wisdom in Parenting My Children

If you'd like to receive new blog posts from Girls to Grow by e-mail, sign up here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A New Season for the Blog

1st Day of School 2016 - an 8th Grader and a 10th Grader

As I mentioned on Saturday, blogging took a back seat to life this summer!  I enjoyed having our daughters here at home, but our schedules meant less time sitting at the computer and more time doing life.

Now that they're back in school, I'm trying to figure out exactly where I want to go with Girls to Grow.  If you see me playing around with a posting schedule, just know that I'm looking for the right place to fit writing into this season.

For now, I'm going to cut back from the Monday/Wednesday/Friday writing that I tried to maintain over the past several years, and post here on Mondays and Thursdays (so consider today a bonus :) - and keeping Saturday Salutes, of course!  I'm hoping one less day of posting will help me focus on better quality over quantity.  I'd like to start sending out a short weekly newsletter to my e-mail subscribers as well, but we'll see how that goes.

I appreciate all of you who read here and if you ever have any feedback, I'd love to hear it!

Monday, August 22, 2016

7 Bible Verses to Remember When You Feel Discouraged as a Parent

If I ever thought I had this parenting thing down, having two teenagers in the house would have burst that bubble!

Don't get me wrong - we have good girls.  I believe they want to make right choices and please God and their parents.

But they're human, like the rest of us.  Some days are harder than others.

As a mom, I know that there's so much to teach them, especially in these years - so many discussions I want to have, so many lessons for them to learn, so many practical aspects of life for them to master.

Let's just say that I often feel very inadequate.

Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, we can all feel inadequate as parents.  Even with wonderful parents of my own as role models, there's no way I feel equipped to handle every situation that comes along.  We have to say "I'm sorry," too often, or we don't know how to respond to the questions they ask, or how to discipline when they've disobeyed for the 112th time in a day, or even how to get them to sleep through the night or stop fighting with their sister!

When I recently needed encouragement in this very important role of mothering, I looked to the Bible for verses that could help me.  While these Scriptures may not be directly related to parenting, they all certainly apply and I know I'll be referring back to them often!


1.  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." ~James 1:5  There's a reason this verse is first on the list!  In every stage and season of parenting, we need to recognize how much we need God's wisdom.  This verse is a promise - "it shall be given him" - so we know that if we ask for wisdom, we will get it.  Godly wisdom will always be consistent with what He tells us in His Word and will give us insight into how best to guide our children.

2.  "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." ~Isaiah 41:10  It can feel lonely, this parenting thing.  We don't always want to share our current struggle with other people.  Maybe we're afraid of being judged for not "having it all together" like a "good" parent should.  What a comfort to know that I don't have to do my parenting alone.  Even through the parts of parenting that might seem fearful or difficult, God is always with us.

3.  "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." ~2 Corinthians 12:9  His grace is sufficient for all my inadequacies.  When I make a poor decision or fail in following through with discipline or miss a teaching opportunity, God's grace is sufficient to fill in my shortcomings as a mom.  When He works in my child's life in spite of me, He gets the glory.  Any good that I or our children do and any things we accomplish for God are only by His grace.  I need this reminder daily!

4.  "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." ~Psalm 127:3 These children are a gift from God.  He owns them.  They are a blessing and God chose me to be their parent.  Whatever He may be preparing them for, He wanted me to have a hand in it.  Not only that, but He wants me to learn from them and to grow in my own walk with Him as I parent.

5.  "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6-7  No matter what time of year it is, I can find something to worry about when it relates to my children! Yet God says to be careful (or anxious) for nothing.  I like this quote from June Hunt, "“Worry is most often a prideful way of thinking that you have more control over life and its circumstances than you actually do.”   Let's leave all of our worries in God's hands.  After all, He is much better equipped to handle things than we are!

6.  "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." ~Lamentations 3:22-23  Every day I get a fresh start.  While yesterday I may have failed as a mom in every way imaginable, His mercy is still there for today and He is faithful to help me be the best mom for my children.

7.  "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." ~Hebrews 4:26  Am I taking my needs to the Lord in prayer?  Do I struggle through each parenting challenge on my own or do I go to God and ask for His help and direction?  God has mercy and grace available to me if I will just come to Him and ask.

We all have days as parents when we're discouraged.  I hope that these verses will give each of us a fresh perspective and renewed hope when it comes to reaching the hearts of our children and training them to love God!

Related posts:
Using Bible Verses to Fight My Fears
Having Faith in the Promises of God
Four Helps for Our Children from Psalm 119

If you'd like to receive new blog posts from Girls to Grow by e-mail, sign up here.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday Salutes


I know I've been missing in action here on the blog lately, but I hope that will change once our daughters go back to school next week!

Meanwhile, here are helpful posts I've found on other blogs this week.

Loved this from Kristen - Truth for You and Your Student in the New School Year.

Susan lists 8 Ingredients to Help You Grow in Your Marriage.

Alisa tells us what to do When You Become a White Knuckle Momma.

I enjoyed Jerusalem's perspective in Why I Won't Buy a Fitbit.

If you're homeschooling this year, check out Tara's 6 Tips for a Successful First Day of Homeschool and Kris' Top 10 Ways to Schedule Your Homeschool Calendar.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Not "Why Me," But "Why Not Me?"


Last week a young woman lost her long and difficult battle with cancer.  I only knew about her through other bloggers like Melanie Shankle, but I felt sorrow for her family and friends, knowing that she left behind a loving husband and a young son.

As I read about her passing, I thought about how often I look at my circumstances and say, "Why me? Why do I have to go through this?"

As blessed as I am, there are still times when I'm tempted to complain about a trial that I'm facing.

Yet how much more often should my question be, "Why not me?"  God could have chosen me to battle cancer and go to heaven at an early age.  Yet He's allowed me to walk a different path than that, blessed with good health and still here to love on my husband and children.

Neither of the questions can really be answered; we don't know the mind of God or His purposes nor can we understand His ways.  By all I've heard, Jen had an amazing testimony through all of her suffering and left a legacy of faith and trust in God. 

God gives us each our own difficulties, our individual journeys through life.  He will also give us the grace and courage to face all of them as we rely on Him.

Jen's death does remind me of the brevity of life.  Let me not sit at my pity party and whine.  God has given me this day - and every day that I wake up - to live for Him.  Since I'm still here, that means that He has something for me to accomplish - someone to love, to serve, to encourage.

So when we're tempted to ask, "Why me?" let's step back and realize that God is in control, that He's growing us into His image, and be thankful for the "why-not-me's."

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust." ~Psalm 91:1-2

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday Salutes

We got to spend time with my aunt, cousin, and my cousins' two daughters this past week.

Sarah Ann has 30 Days of Prayer for the New School Year.

I found two interesting articles on iMom this week - 4 Important Things You Can Do When Your Child is Being Left Out and 6 Ways to Feed Your Boys' Need for Adventure.

Christin lists 7 Ways to Practice Loving Your Husband Every Day.

Lisa shares a list of Read Alouds that Build Character.

Margo gives us 10 Tricks for Organizing Your Pantry.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
If you'd like to receive new posts from Girls to Grow by e-mail, sign up here.