Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday Salutes

If you have a middle-school-aged daughter, read Kari's post on What Middle School Girls Should Know About Friendships.

Kat tells us How Not to be a Spasmodic Hercules.

Tammy's Shape Turkeys are a cute craft idea for toddlers and preschoolers.

There are some neat products in Autumn's round up of The Best Parenting Hacks {Products to Make Your Life Easier}.

Chantel lists some helpful resources in Amazing Missionary Adventures Your Children Should Know.

Finally, if you're starting to think about Christmas, like I am, check out this Free Christmas Gift List Printable at Morning Motivated Mom.  She also has a 12-page Christmas planner/workbook that you can download.


Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Parenting My Child's Heart

"We often aim our disciplinary efforts at the wrong target.  We set our sights on stopping and changing a child's wrong behavior, and we miss the real target of shaping and influencing their heart, which is the source of the wrong behavior."  ~Clay Clarkson in Heartfelt Discipline

Guilty as charged!  I know there've been times I've disciplined my children for behavior that I felt made me look bad as a parent or for behavior that made me angry because I had to stop whatever I was doing and deal with them.  My goal was not to reach their heart, but to stop the wrong behavior as quickly as possible.

So I wondered, how can I know if I'm parenting my child's heart?  I think if I ask myself the following questions, I might be able to tell.

Am I doing what is best for my child in the long run?  I don't want to just solve a misbehavior for the moment, but rather focus on the issue that will matter when she's an adult.  I want to be building her character, not just modifying her behavior so that she will look good on the outside and impress other people. 

Am I taking the time needed to communicate the lesson that needs to be learned?  This one is hard.  Sometimes we have to correct on the fly, but if the child is old enough to remember the correction a few hours later, we can go back and talk through the situation.  Discuss what happened and how it could be handled better in the future.  TIME - that's what we usually have to be willing to give to reach our child's heart.

Am I showing her how the Bible addresses her behavior?  The Bible is the basis for how we live as Christians.  Can I take her to God's Word and show her what's wrong with what she did or said?  This isn't something you'll necessarily do every time you correct your child, but I do think it's often a good place to start.  Whether it's being mean to a sibling or disobeying a teacher, basing our response to the negative behavior on the Bible gives us a firm foundation.  (This is definitely an area in which I could improve!  Now that my girls are teenagers, I should find myself asking them, "What does the Bible say about what you did/said?")

Am I willing to deal with my own sin? It's difficult to correct my child's behavior when I know I'm in sin myself.  Now don't wait to be perfect before you parent your child!  But if it's obvious that I've just dealt with my child in anger, I need to ask forgiveness for my own sin - and ask for her forgiveness - before I attempt to deal with her.  Especially as they get older, our children will appreciate our humility and will be more likely to respond to us when they know we still struggle ourselves.

Am I building a relationship with my child outside of correcting her behavior?  If all I ever do is discipline and punish, my child isn't going to be interested in listening to me.  Spending time with her doing activities she enjoys, talking to her about her day, and just generally showing her that I enjoy being with her will connect us at a deeper level. I want to build a close relationship during the good times so that she will be more inclined to hear my correction when an issue arises.

Just writing this post has convicted me about how much I still tend to focus solely on changing outward behavior, even with my teenagers! As we do life with our children today, let's set our sights on shaping and influencing their heart as we seek to help them live for Christ.

Related posts:
How Do You Measure Success for Your Child?
A Mom's Prayer for Today
3 Parenting Truths for Those Tough Days

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Monday, October 17, 2016

What Mary Teaches Me About Praising God

Some years ago, our pastor at the time did a lengthy sermon series on the subject of praising God.  I remember thinking that I hadn't realized how much there was in the Bible on that subject!

These days, I often find myself considering the time I spend listing my blessings in my gratitude journal as a time of praise. And while I should be grateful to God for what He's doing in my life at the moment, I believe praise goes a step beyond that. 

Luke 1:46-55 is a record of what Mary prays after learning she's been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah.  As I was looking at it recently, I noticed several lessons I can learn from Mary about praising God.

I praise God by celebrating His glory.  In verse 46, Mary says, "My soul doth magnify the Lord..."  Magnify means to praise highly, to celebrate in praise, to render or esteem glorious.  Praise is all about God.  As I've mentioned before, Psalm 145 is one of my favorite praise passages because it talks all about God's awesome attributes as well as His mighty works.

God alone can give me joy.  I can't get true joy from my husband or my children or my church family.  The joy that seeps deep down into my spirit only comes from a relationship with my Savior.  Mary says in verse 47, "And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior."

Humility precedes my praise.  Mary had no thoughts of her own importance or worthiness for the role she'd been called to fulfill.  She says in verse 48, "For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden..."  Her focus was on the power of the one who had chosen her.  "For He that is mighty hath done to me great things..."  If I want to truly praise God, I have to recognize my human weaknesses and acknowledge His greatness and power.

I praise God both for who He is and for what He does.  Mary mentions God's might, holiness, mercy, and strength in this passage.  She also praises Him for what He's done - scattered the proud, put down the mighty, exalted those of low degree, and filled the hungry with good things. Thinking about those characteristics that are only God's (He is perfect, unchangeable, all knowing, etc.) can keep us busy for awhile! Add to that the ways He's cared for and guided us in the past, and we have much for which to praise Him.

Focus praise on God's faithfulness to His promises.  Mary remembered the promises of God to Israel, and rejoiced in that He kept them.  Verses 54 and 55 say, "He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever."  In the same way, we have seen God keep the promises in His Word to us.  A wonderful Bible study is to find verses that detail a promise of God and think about how He's proven true in that way in your own life.

I love the following quote related to Mary's prayer that I read in a commentary.
"The intended effect of all His dealings is that we should think more nobly - that is, more worthily - of Him."  ~MacLaren
We serve a God who is worthy of our praise, both for who He is and for what He's done.  Let's praise Him today!

Related posts:
Praise Ye the Lord
Praying and Praising with Scripture
Praise Changes My Attitude

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday Salutes

Lisa-Jo says Someone Saw What You Did This Week and Wants to Give You a Medal.

I am beginning to relate to Laura as she shares The Dream I Never Knew I Had.  While her post is written about parenting, it can apply to many areas of life.

What a helpful post from Kari on 5 Things Your Daughter Should Know About Chasing Boys.  This is such good discussion material for my girls and I.

Jennie tells us What Really Defines Your Worth.

Nicole lists 51 Mind-Blowing Dollar Store Organizing Ideas to Get Your Home a Complete Makeover.  There are some really neat ideas in this post!


Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to Make the Most of the Morning Drive to School

Getting everyone out of the house on time each day can be a tricky proposition.  Once we're in the car, though, I have a captive audience and want to make the most of our time together.

I don't drive my daughters to school every morning.  My husband often has that duty, since their school is basically on his way to work.  However, I have my share of days to drive, like when he's out of town or has early morning appointments.

Everyone's commute time to school is different.  Depending on traffic, ours ranges from 25 minutes (fairly rare) to almost an hour, with the average being about 35 minutes. 

At ages 15 and 13, my girls don't do much talking on the way to school. Studying happens occasionally, but they tend to be pretty quiet in the car. And honestly, I'm not much of a talker at that time of day either. 

However, with younger kids, those minutes in the car can be a great time to connect.  I've listed a few ideas below that might be helpful in making good use of this time.

Listen to uplifting media.  We currently have a monthly subscription to the Odyssey Adventure Club, so we download episodes to my phone to listen to in the car. Even though these may be geared to younger kids, we all enjoy listening to the stories from time to time. We occasionally listen to a podcast, and I also have a playlist of gospel music on my phone.  (I remember my dad driving us to school while we listened to cassette tapes by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar!)  When you have as much time in the car as we do, audio books are another good option. A couple of our local Christian radio stations have a Bible quiz each morning, and I know my husband and our girls often listen to that and try to answer those questions.

Sing along with some good music.  This wouldn't work well with my teenagers :) but younger kids may enjoy starting their day by singing along to some Cedarmont Kids, Patch the Pirate, or other Christian music.

Talk about the day ahead.  If your kids are wide awake and talkative, ask them questions about what may come up during the day.  Chat about quizzes and tests, music lessons, sports practices, or what they're looking forward to doing at recess or with their friends.

Finish breakfast.  Just being real here- we're not beyond eating apple slices, dry cereal, or a toaster pastry on the way to school

Read a verse for the day. Write out a Scripture verse on a card, either from your morning devotions or one you've chosen the night before. Even if your kids aren't up for a discussion, just read it aloud - or have a child read it - and encourage them to think about it during the day. You could even use that same verse to jumpstart a family discussion at supper that night.

Pray for your kids and their school day. If you want to do this out loud, you can certainly do it with your eyes open while you're driving!  Otherwise, you can just pray silently, asking for God's protection over your children and His guidance in their lives in the hours ahead.

I only have a few years left to make these morning drives to school.  Except for the traffic :) I'm sure I'll miss this time to connect with my daughters as they start their day.

How else do you spend your morning time in the car with your kids?

Related posts:
10 Make-Ahead Breakfasts for Back-to-School Mornings
3 Tips for Embracing Your Current Season of Life
25 Ways to Make Memories with Your Children

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(This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small percentage from any sales.  This does not affect your price in any way.)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Saturday Salutes

Christi writes so beautifully about my current season in Dear Parents of Teens ~ This. Is. Hard.

Sheila lists Top 10 Ways to Banish the Stay-at-Home Mom Blues.

I found 8 Indoor Painter's Tape Activities for kids at Views from a Step Stool.

Debbie has 48 Awesome Fall Crafts for Kids.

I really want to try this yummy looking Apple Pie Pizza recipe soon!


Hope you are safe and healthy this weekend!!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

What Eve Teaches Me About Doubting God

Do you desire to walk in faith?

I do.  I want to trust God through every trial He allows, and bring Him glory by my response to His working in my life.

Yet I often fail.  The enemy of doubt creeps in and taints my thoughts and shifts my focus from my God to my problem.

When I check out Satan's first appearance in Genesis three, I see him causing Eve to doubt God's Word.  As I was studying this passage the other night, I saw several lessons I can learn from Eve's experience.

I often make decisions based on what I can see.  Verse six says, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat..."  Instead of basing her actions on what God had told her about eating from that tree, she sized up the situation for herself and took action.  2 Corinthians 5:7 fits so perfectly here.  "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  We obey God's Word because we know it's true and eternal, rather than making the decision that seems to benefit us most in the moment.

I question God's goodness and His plan for me.  Verse six also says that she saw that the tree was "to be desired to make one wise."  She didn't trust that God was good and that if He told her not to eat from that tree, it was His best plan for her.  Eve believed Satan when He said in verse five that she would "be as gods, knowing good and evil."  She assumed that knowledge would be a good thing, not understanding that God's command was there to protect her - it wasn't a good thing to "know...evil!" 

I listen to other influences rather than staying true to God's Word.  Eve chose to listen to Satan.   Eve had no written word of God, but she had God's spoken words to obey.  Her statements about God's command regarding the tree in verses two and three show that she knew what God had said.  This reminds me that in the midst of a temptation or struggle, the best place to run for help is to my Bible.

My doubt affects others, especially my family.  As verse six tells us, Eve "...gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."  When my faith goes missing, my family will be affected in some way.  I can't be the wife or mom I need to be when I'm not walking in faith.  Worry and fear are so quick to take over when I'm doubting God's promises.

When I live in doubt, I try to control the outcome of my situation.  Verse seven says, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."  Once Eve's doubt led to sin, she and Adam tried to fix their nakedness.  If I'm not trusting God, I will wear myself out trying to control the people and situations around me.

I know there've been times when I (consciously or not) thought, "God, I know I should trust you here, but I think I know a better way."  How thankful I am that God is merciful and, even when we doubt, He remains faithful!  We can grow in our own faith and overcome doubt as we believe God and obey His Word.

Related posts:
Having Faith in the Promises of God
4 Lessons for My Trials from a Man Who Knows
Where Is Your Faith?

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Monday, October 3, 2016

7 Ways to Show Love to Your Teenage Daughter

When you first cuddle your newborn baby, you know the powerful feeling of a parent's love.  That curious toddler who climbs into your lap for a story and spontaneously hugs your neck so tightly or a school-aged child who sits close to you in church and still wants to hold your hand walking through the store make it easy to continue showing love through your words and actions.

But it sometimes takes a little more effort to show love to that child who's now as tall as you are, who acts so independent, and stays up later at night than you do!

Yet through these teen years, I think our kids desperately need to know that our love is still there.  When so much about themselves and their world is changing, mom's and dad's love can be a constant, positive force in their lives.

Since I have girls, it was easy for me to come up with this list of ways I try to show love to my teen daughters.  I'm thinking that with slight variations, these would work for boys, too!

1.  Listen to her.  As in really listen.  Make eye contact.  Ask follow-up questions that are thoughtful, but not probing.  Unless she asks for a solution to a problem, just empathize with her view of the situation and allow her to pour out her feelings.

2.  Pray aloud for her.  My dad still does this for me sometimes, just when we're on the phone together.  There is something powerful about hearing your name brought to God in prayer.  I used to make our bedtime prayer ritual about general topics - health of family and friends, safety and blessing for our missionaries, etc. - but lately I've purposely made that prayer time about my daughters and what each of them are facing in the next several days.

3.  Communicate her way.  How does she like to communicate?  Does she like to sit and talk over coffee drinks or does texting back and forth work for her?  Maybe she really appreciates you writing her notes or trading a journal back and forth.  I actually try to do some of each of these with my girls, but I would say one speaks a texting love language and the other one appreciates handwritten notes. 

4.  Celebrate her.  Yes, this includes her accomplishments in school, sports, fine arts, or other activities.  But sometimes just find a silly holiday so you have an excuse to celebrate!  For example, Friday, October 7 is Frappe Day; Tuesday, October 18th is Chocolate Cupcake Day; and Friday, October 28th is Plush Animal Lover's Day. There really is a day for everything!

5.  Do something to make her life easier.  Do a chore for your daughter. Make her bed, pack her lunch, clean up her room while she's out of the house, or pick up a book or movie at the library for her to enjoy over the weekend.  Think of what she would be relieved to have taken off her plate and do that for her.

6.  Give her space.  This one is hard for me.  I want to charge in and know all about everything that's going on in her life.  Yet I've come to understand that sometimes she needs time to digest things herself before she talks about them.  There are certainly times a parent needs to step in, but, if possible, allow her some time to process her own thoughts before you initiate the conversation. 

7.  Extend grace.  Some days I just need to sit back and remember what it was like to be a teenager myself. Would I want to go back there?  No thank you. Emotions are going to run high, disappointments are going to sting a bit more, self confidence is going to ebb and flow.  And while there are some lines you don't cross in our home (defiance, disrespect, etc.), there are still ample opportunities for me to give grace in some of the little things.  My daughters are a work in progress, just like their parents.

Last year, I participated in the Write 31 Days challenge and posted 31 Days of Loving Our Daughters.  You may find some of those ideas to be helpful as well.

In what other ways do you show love to your teenager?

Related posts:
Top 10 Things I Love About Having Teenage Daughters
Losing the Mom Popularity Contest
8 Pieces of Advice for My High School Freshman

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