Friday, January 16, 2015

Be A Champion For Your Children

As mothers we make a huge impact on our children... for good or for bad.  Our children view themselves often times through our eyes.  Is your Mommy lens focusing on their flaws and faults or their strengths and gifts?
The World Through A Child’s Eye by Steve Corey, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  Steve Corey 

There are enough people in this world who will tear our children down, who will taunt them and ridicule them, who will demean them and try to take away their self worth... we do not need to be added to that number.  Moms need to be their child's cheerleader, their champion.  When the whole world seems like it has turned their back on them, we need to be there with open arms willing to pick up their broken pieces and mend them back together... because if we don't, then who will.

I have seen the effects of Moms who have not stood beside their children.  Moms who wanted to forsake embarrassment and have turned their cheek and let their child be dragged through the mud for something they may not have even done.  I have known Moms who have held their tongues rather than defend their child because it was easier to say nothing at all rather than becoming tongue tied and looking like a fool.  I am daring you to play the fool because what may cause you embarrassment for a few minutes of your life will save you a life long relationship with your son/daughter.

Hypothetical situation:
Your son Jimmy is playing on the playground with some new friends he just made at the park.  You join the the other Mommies who are standing around talking, holding their Starbucks coffees while bouncing babies on their hips.  The other Moms welcome you into their circle and you join the discussion about rising grocery prices, how to pinch pennies, and small talk about where your kids go to school.
  You watch as Jimmy interacts with four other children around his age.  The other Moms are talking about affordable places to get a manicure while you notice a scuffle breaking out among the children.  Jimmy gets pushed down and the children's voices start to escalate.  The other Moms stop their talking and go to see what has happened.  One of the boys (Mike) accuses Jimmy of swearing at him.  You know your son and you know very well that he would not say such things.
   Jimmy is wiping dirt off of his pants and  tears are  threatening to spill over from his eyes.  Mike's Mom walks over to you and demands that Jimmy apologizes for saying such foul language to her dear boy.  Do you decide to flesh things out even though it will take time trying to get the truth out in the open (and it may not be well received) or would you make Jimmy say he was sorry and then promptly leave the park and talk to him in the car saying "Sometimes it is just easier to apologize and be done with it, even if you did not do anything."  It may be a hypothetical situation but I have seen variants of it happen on several occasions leaving damage in it's wake.

Make sure you are listening to your children.  Give them the benefit of the doubt, let them explain themselves and hear the whole story before judging, if you do so it will save you a lot of regret later.

Be a champion for your children.  Let them know that you are in their corner. Enjoy building that road of trust and love that will last a lifetime if it is tended with care.

"the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down." 
2 Corinthians 13:10

Some ideas on how to build up your children:
* Look during the day to see what they are doing right and take hold of that opportunity to celebrate those victories no matter how small. Example: "Wow, you did a great job making your bed.  It looks really nice."  "Thank you for playing so well with your sister.  You are a great big brother."

* Leave an encouraging note on their pillow or in their lunchbox.  "I'm so proud you are my son/daughter."

* Listen to them when they are talking and look them in the eyes.

* Take them on dates and let them know they are special.

* When things are not going right (messed up during the big game, did not do well on a test, was made fun of because of their style of clothes,...) remind them that you are there to support them, to listen, and to help.

Let your children know that you believe in them.

* What is a way your parents encouraged you as a child?* Leave a comment below.

With love,

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

20 Affordable or Free Date Night Ideas

You don't have to spend a lot of cash, or any at all, to have a memorable evening with your spouse. With small children in the home we are not always able to leave our lovely abode to get out with each other, which is why we savor those special away moments all the more when we get them. Here are some ideas that you may want to try out for your next date night.

1. A candle lit dinner for two at home.

You can set up a picnic for the kids in their bedroom while you and your darlin' have a romantic dinner for two at the table. Or... if you are able, send the kiddos off to spend a few hours with a friend/relative and take advantage of a quiet meal just the two of you. Set out a tablecloth, nice china, wine glasses with a sparkling beverage, candles, and flowers. Make it special. Soft music provides a nice background and you can dance after dinner if you'd like.

2. Go on a picnic.
Pack cloth napkins, pretty plates, wine glasses, candle, a blanket, and something delicious to eat. Then drive off to a special site and enjoy dinner together. It is fun and free!

3. Count the stars together.
Bundle up if it is cold and head out to explore the evening sky. We did this in the fall time and packed a blanket and a thermos of hot cocoa. The sky was brilliant with stars. We watched and marveled at God's creation while snuggling and reminiscing.

4. Go to the park and act like a kid again.

Whether swinging, sliding, playing hide and seek or playing tennis, sometimes it is just fun to be a kid. Enjoy the laughter that such simple pleasures bring.

5. Stay home and have a movie night.
Once the kids are tucked into bed it is nice to snuggle up and watch something other than CARS.  (I love Cars  as much as the next person, Pixar makes great movies, however sometimes it is nice to watch something that is not animated once in a while.)  Maybe pop in a black and white classic or snuggle up to a romantic comedy, with popcorn and your loved one by your side, you can't go wrong.

6. Give your sweetie  a massage.
Nothing relaxes me more than a nice foot massage and it is even better when it is a surprise. Grab some lotion/oil, light some candles, and give you darling a massage to say "Thank you for loving me".

7. Games!
Grab a board game for two players or a deck of cards and enjoy beating your honey over a bowl of ice cream.

8. Dream/reminisce together.
Make a list of questions to ask each other when you have a few moments to yourselves. This is nice to do at night when the kids are in bed. Some questions might be:
* If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

* Talk about your first date together.

* What is your dream job?

* Where do you picture yourself/us in five years/ten years?

* Tell him/her about the first time you saw them.

* Tell me about something you have always wanted to do but have yet to do it? What is preventing you from doing so?

* What charity/mission is most near/dear to your heart and why?

9.  Dance together.
Whether you sign up for swing classes, teach yourselves how to tango (yup, the local library often has "how to" videos for dancing), or just crank up the radio in your car and dance in a field - grab your darling by the hand and have fun!

10.  Mini golf, bowling, billiards, roller skating or some other fun, affordable "sport" that will get you laughing together.

11. Take a bath/shower together.

12. Make a list of your spouse's best qualities in alphabetical order and read them to him/her.

13. Take a walk/hike together.

14. Go to a museum/zoo/art gallery.

15. Go camping on the living room floor. :)

16. Take a tour of a local brewery or winery - they are usually free and sometimes there are samples along the way.

17. Go sledding/ice skating/build a snowman.

18. Go window shopping together.
We like to visit Home Depot and dream about the things we would like to do with our house... we don't spend money we just enjoy having time together and dreaming.

19. Rather than going out for a meal, share a dessert together. It is affordable and fun!

20. Find ways in the every day to show your spouse that they are loved and cherished.
Leave him a note in his shirt pocket or mail him a card at work unexpectedly. Pour her a bubble bath so she can have a few moments to herself. Make him his favorite dessert. Buy her flowers. Compliment and encourage one another. Invest your time into each other and your marriage will flourish.

I know many of the ideas above are centered around conversation.
Conversation will make/break a relationship. It is so important to communicate with the one you love. Here are a few books that we have used in our home.

The Language of Love by: Gary Smalley

10 Great Dates by: David and Claudia Arp

Creative Romance by: Doug Fields

For women only by: Shaunti Feldhahn

For men only by: Shaunti Feldhahn

The Five Love Languages by: Gary Chapman

Now all that is left to do is to grab your calendar and plan a special night with your help-mate Have a blessed time!

:)  Dawna

Friday, January 9, 2015

Everyday Chaos and The Joy Found Within

I was going through my "drafts" and I found this post that never made it to the blog.  It is from December 2013 and I thought it a worthy read for the beginning of a new year.  Happy 2015 and enjoy the journey!

The snow clings heavily to the branches of the trees outside my window like His redemption that clings to my soul.  

White.  Pure.  Simple.  Just like His gift.

I am so grateful for His grace and mercy that are new every morning.  I fail so often and I become weary but as I change my perspective, and focus on His love, I regain joy and peace.  It IS well with my soul even when chaos threatens to swirl and spin around me.

Be it known that this is not uncommon chaos, it is the chaos of every day life that threatens to overwhelm and consume me most days.
The butter that exploded in the microwave AFTER I cleaned it.

Contractions that keep me awake at night so I wake up groggy.

Helping my toddler potty train and thus burning the bagels that are under the broiler for breakfast... for the second morning in a row.

My beautiful new dish, shattered on the floor because of little hands that were not paying attention.

Another argument to referee and provide direction with.

Dishes to wash, laundry to fold, a floor to mop.

Little ones screaming because they don't get their own way.

A boo boo to mend.

A friend who calls who just needs a listening ear and someone to tell her she is loved and all will be well.

Making dinner while my wee ones tug at me wanting a story, wanting a snack, wanting to stop and have a tea party.

A dirty diaper to change.

A last minute glance at the calendar that tells me... tomorrow I have a group of ladies coming over for a Bible study and I am not prepared, I don't know what I am serving for a snack, I skipped vacuuming the library (where we all meet) because I had to wipe up a spill and became distracted, and I cannot remember when my last shower was.

Sometimes I throw my hands up in the air and with tears in my eyes I let the children know I need a few minutes and I lock myself in the bathroom.  I just need to still my racing heart.  To focus on what is true... to focus on the BLESSINGS in this crazy, messy, beautiful life.  Life can rush at me so quickly at times I forget to focus on the JOY.

Satan loves to distract us with the mundane and try to make us feel like what we are doing is not worthy.  But beloved readers, these seemingly monotonous tasks of feeding/caring for our children and our home are MORE than we realize.

“No act of kindness, no matter how 

small, is ever wasted.”

― Aesop-

Changing diapers, doing daily tasks around the house to help keep our homes tidy and orderly, making meals, kissing boo-boos, reading the same book over and over as your little one squeals of delight because they recognize the word "cat" now... these are all acts of kindness.

  Each time we place clean, folded laundry on our children's beds we are saying "I love you",

 each runny nose we wipe and dirty diaper we change we are telling our children "we care". 

 Each tea party we have, game we play, coloring page we color, story we listen to... we are telling our children " you MATTER to me".

It is easy for me to lose sight of the big picture and become inundated with these daily tasks of life.  I can become the worst version of myself, losing it over the little things, like the Christmas tree. In those moments my children see the real me... the  imperfect, sinful Mommy who NEEDS a Savior.  They see me make mistakes, they watch me fail, they see me ask forgiveness and repentance and they KNOW it is going to be okay, they KNOW they don't have to be perfect to be loved and cherished by their parents or by their God.  It is good and healthy for them to see I don't have it all together - that Jesus died for Mommy's sins and failures just as much as He died for theirs.

I exhale and let go and allow God to move.

I gaze out the kitchen window, across the meadow to those beautiful trees, glistening white.  Redemption is here.  I look back at my day and see His hand in the midst of those crazy moments - holding it all together and bringing the beauty.

He loves us... right where we are at.  What a beautiful Savior we serve.

 Praying that you have JOY today in the midst of whatever life brings you.

With love,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Centerpiece Toilet Paper Roll Dolls

While putting a new roll of toilet paper onto the holder I tossed the toilet paper roll into the air and had a sudden urge to make a craft.  :)  I scrambled around the home school room looking for more cardboard tubes and came across one from a paper towel roll so I cut it up and ended up with four tubes in all.

I then did a google search for Toilet Paper Tube Turkey and came across this adorable idea from Preschool Crafts for Kids.

Our finished craft that adorns our window sill.

The kids enjoyed choosing a character to make... we decided to add a turkey because, well, it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a Gobble, Gobble.

 Just click here to make your own adorable centerpiece for your Thanksgiving Day table.  Happy Crafting!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Disorganized Order

I walked up the spiral staircase to the children's playroom to find a mess.  I was frustrated.  How many times had I asked them to pick up their toys?  How many times had I meant to go check and see if my request had been carried out but I had been distracted by something/someone else?  As I scanned the room I sighed in irritation...

I tripped over Lego pieces, saw stacks of board games in the middle of the room, a half empty seltzer can was on a bookshelf... I hollered down to the kids "Hey guys!  Could you please come up to the playroom please."
As I waited for them to come up the stairs I glanced around a little more closely and saw that this mess, as I perceived it, actually had an order to it.  Each little pile had a story.

A guard trying to protect his fellow "good guy" from being further injured.

The base of the bad guys, guarded by a ferocious warrior.

A paper robot invented and built by my six year old for his four year old sister. He had asked to use tape, scissors and paper and he disappeared for a while and I forgot to ask about what he created.  in fact... I was a bit put out that I could not find the tape and scissors the following day when I needed them.

As I surveyed the creativity around me my eyes began to get teary and the anger and frustration melted away.  This was not a mess, this was imagination, fun, and creativity at it's best.  

A painted wooden truck filled with small animals that are being transported to a nearby base.

Gold pilfered from the Dragon Lord.
The children made their way upstairs and asked if everything was alright.  They scanned the room and apologized for the apple cores, the half drunk cans of seltzer water, and the crumpled paper in the corner.  "We were going to pick that up but we were distracted by our game".
"Yeah... I was looking at that, your game, that is.  It looks like fun.  Can you tell me about it?"  And they explained each base, each guy, and each creation with excitement, plentiful sound effects, and lots of pride.  

When you enter into an area that seems chaotic this week, try to look a little closer and see if it is perhaps a highly organized assortment of bases set up for the protection of all that is good.  :)


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Family Devotions

When I awoke this morning the mist was rising off the stream behind the meadow and the golden pale light of the moon drifted through my window as the sun began to kiss the sky good morning in the East.

I stood in awe at the God I serve and I began to pour out my heart for the day.  Praying for those being persecuted around the world, praying for my husband, my children and my family.  Little sleepy ones began waking up and I settled into the routine of changing diapers, making beds, and getting breakfast ready.  The children know that when they wake up they come down stairs and we assemble together around the table... it is a habit we have of eating breakfast together every morning.

A habit takes time and repetition to form but once it is learned it becomes as natural as brushing your teeth before bed.

I have struggled with having consistent devotions with my children.  It is not that the desire is not there... I deeply want them to have an intimate relationship with our Father.  I want them to see who God really is by enjoying His creation, reading His written Word, and memorizing the scriptures so when trials come they have a rock to stand on where they will be unshaken.

Our devotion time goes through spurts.  We will do well for a few days and then not so great for a few weeks.  And then we will be back on the train for a few weeks and then not do anything for days.  Rather than beating myself up that my children may not remember all of the stories of the Bible or become frustrated if they cannot recite the Fruits of the Spirit, I am trying to focus on the goal.

My goal is that my children will develop a  life long relationship with God. 

 They see Him in our everyday lives as we pray before meals, as we instruct them throughout the day when they come to us with squabbles, troubles, or concerns.  We sing worship songs, have a praise journal, and try to be consistent (albeit imperfect) with devotions at the breakfast table.

I hope that when they are grown they will realize that even though it was imperfect and filled with distractions (we have five kiddos so it is not unusual for there to be a bit of chaos during our Bible time) that God's Word was/is important and that is why we do what we do.  We carry on and continue to be consistent in spite of a child drawing on the table and needing to be redirected, we hold the squirmy babe in our arms who is telling his own story as we read a Psalm to the others.  This is life.  If we are consistent in these seemingly little details of creating a habit of worship and reading the Bible, no matter if we can only get through a few verses or a few chapters, then when the children are grown they will be in the routine of spending time with the Lord daily.  And... when their own children come I pray they will pass on the same habits to them and know that it is okay if it is messy and imperfect.  God's Word does not return void.  :)

So dear readers, if you are frustrated today because your children are not all quiet and staring up at you with stars in their eyes as read from God's Word know that you are among the normal.  You are creating healthy, life long, soul nourishing habits for your children, even if you only read two verses before the day erupts into a cacophony of chaos.

There are so many teachable moments during our days as Mommas.  Capitalize on them.   If you have time to look up a verse for some life application then GREAT and if you don't because one child just ran by you naked and another one said "Mommy... there is silly putty stuck in my hair"... well, take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and know that our God sees your heart.  You are doing well Momma, hang in there.

Lifting you up today,

Friday, May 23, 2014

Joy is NOT Circumstantial

I have five children so my life is a little bit... chaotic, you know, in a happy, loud, crazy kind of way.  A friend of mine called and said she knew it was short notice but wanted to know if she could pop by for a visit.  "Of course you can sweetie, come on over, we are here."

As I hung up the phone I surveyed the scene... dirty breakfast dishes were still on the table, Rice Krispies were crunched up under the table, I was dressed but my hair was all askew since I had not had a chance to comb it out yet, one child was running around in a diaper waiting to be changed and I was nursing the baby.  A pile of laundry was in the corner waiting to be folded and an army of Fischer Price Little People were lined up as a tripping hazard in the middle of the sitting area.  My friend was due to arrive in about ten minutes.

*Deep breath*

Yes, I am a bit OCD.  I like to have things in their place and I like for people to have a good impression of me.  I want my home to be a sanctuary to others and I just don't know if stepping on Rice Krispies,  tripping over Little People, and being greeted by a crazy haired Momma = soothing.

I began to panic and then I remembered, she is not coming to see my house, she is coming to see me.

So, I quickly rinsed my hair, plopped the dirty dishes on the counter and called the rest good.

Vintage Picture of a Cute Baby Boy About to Wash Himself with a Basin and Pitcher of Water
We sat outside for a while before entering the house and talking about the ups and downs of being a Momma.  We drank tea, nursed our babies, changed diapers and let life unfold around us.  And as we were talking her eyes scanned the room and I thought "I hope she doesn't notice the cobwebs in the corners of the ceiling, or the dust on the mantle, or the cat hair I can see on the back of the recliner or...."  She looked at me and smiled and said  "Your home is so peaceful".

I exhaled and thanked her.

After she left I sat and thought on why I get so worked up over things... things that don't even matter.  I had a wonderful visit with my friend - we had encouraged each other, shared our struggles and joys, and I could have missed out on it if I had said "no this is not a good time" for fear of my home not being perfect.

It was such a boost to my spirit to know that peace does not = a perfect home or calm,quiet children.  My friend did not see the pile of shoes by the door, or the diapers that needed to be folded.  She did not flinch at the excited children who loved on her little baby, or the few temper tantrums that occurred while she was here. Instead she saw the joy of the Lord in the midst of my crazy, messy, beautiful life.

JOY cannot be taken from us because it is not circumstantial. 
Joy comes from Jesus... He is the JOY Giver.

Can I get an Amen?

Learning to let go,

What brings you joy?