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

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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!

Monday, August 8, 2016

3 Pieces of Advice for My Children in the New School Year

My daughters start a new school year two weeks from today. 

I'm trying to live in denial. 

We don't have little kid summers anymore, where you stay home all day and splash around in the plastic kiddie pool in the backyard or blow bubbles and draw with sidewalk chalk or have backyard picnics and afternoon tea parties.  Now there are week-long camps or meeting friends at a trampoline park or shopping followed by Starbucks.

And while I'm happy and content in the season we're in, it just seems to make the summer fly by even faster!

While we're hitting the back to school sales and looking over the school supply lists, there's something more I'd like to do to prepare my girls for that first day of school.

This is a new practice for me.  I've never really thought about advice I want to give my children at the beginning of a particular school year.

A few weeks ago, however, I was listening to Jen Hatmaker on a Focus on the Family podcast and she talked about the three things she and her husband hoped that their kids would learn before they leave home.  I thought about what great advice this would be to share with my girls as they head back to the classroom.

1.  Be kind.  This is applicable at any age, but certainly pertains to girls in middle school and high school. If my girls learn to treat others with respect and to reach out to someone who seems lonely, it will take them a long way in life.  Looking to meet the needs of others and being selfless doesn't often come naturally, so this could be a little encouragement I scribble on their napkins and tuck into their lunch box throughout the school year.

2.  Be you.  Don't try to change who you are to fit in with a certain crowd.  Accept the way that God made you as original and lovely.  If you don't like sports or reading science fiction, don't pretend you do.  On the other hand, if you like to sew or work on 1,000-piece puzzles, that's okay, too.  I have one daughter who is realizing that friendships change as interests change, and that having something in common with a friend makes for a deeper relationship than just wanting to be with someone who's popular.

3.  Love Jesus.  As my 15-year-old said, "Shouldn't this be first?"  I explained that these weren't listed in order of importance. :)  How I want my girls to learn to love Jesus!  If they are loving Him, I can rest in knowing that everything else will be okay.  Spending time daily in prayer and in God's Word is key.  I also want to make sure they have music available to them that will encourage them in their walk with Him. 

These three bits of advice are not only good reminders for my daughters as we gear up for a new school year, but it's good for me to remember them, too!

Friday, August 5, 2016

7 Books I Read in July

Making it a goal to read four fiction books last month helped me get more books read in July!

This first non-fiction book is from my 2016 reading list.

Planet Middle School by Dr. Kevin Leman.  This book had some helpful advice for parents of middle schoolers (though I feel that Dr. Leman is occasionally crude in some of his language and stories.)  I would recommend Sue Acuna's Middle School:  The Inside Story if you were looking for an excellent book on parenting this particular age group.

I read two other non-fiction books in July.

Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup.  I really wanted to read this book after thoroughly enjoying Living Well Spending Less.  In Unstuffed, Ruth did a great job of dealing not just with decluttering in every area of your life, but in learning what to value and how to choose the possessions and pursuits that matter the most to you.

Be Satisfied by Warren W. Wiersbe.  I read a chapter of Ecclesiastes each day for a couple of weeks and used this as a companion book.  It really helped bring out some of the truths Solomon shared.

Here are the four fiction books I read last month.

Sweet Olive by Judy Christie.  This is the first book in the Trumpet and Vine series and is a small town story about interesting characters with just a little bit of mystery.  I enjoyed it so much that I moved on to the second book in the series!

Magnolia Market by Judy Christie.  This book was as good as the first one, and I'm hoping there will be a 3rd!

Miriam by Mesu Andrews.  Read my complete review of this book here.

The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow.  My husband and I have enjoyed several books by Whitlow, and I really liked this one as well.  The story switches back and forth between current day and Nazi Germany.

Have you read a good book lately?

Related post:  6 Tips for Getting the Most from the Books You Read
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