Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dancing Through The Seasons - Week 5

It's a bird! It's a plane! Wait it's Super Mom!

Photo Courtesy of Dana Leigh Photography


Oh how I wish it were so, but the truth must be told, I am not and never will be "Super Mom".  I've made plenty of mistakes along the way.  There have been times when other moms appear to me, to be that "Super Mom".  They have well behaved kids, always seem to speak with gentleness and patience, make homemade gourmet meals all the time, have a well maintained home, and on and on.  But the reality is, we all have imperfections and we all are raising imperfect kids. If anything in life humbles us, it's being a mom.

The one thing every mom has in common is our need to sit and soak in God's amazing grace!! And it's that same grace that we must pour out onto our kid’s every day.

Google Image

In a home with 3 little girls there are plenty of moments of emotions, tears, screams, attitudes, selfish actions, drama, tattle telling and crankiness.  It can definitely feel overwhelming and more than I can take at times.  I want my days to be easy going, everyone getting along, everyone following the rules, and a calm and peaceful atmosphere...is that too much to ask? 


When one of my girls acted or spoke in a wrong manner I was quick to show disappointment both with my tone and body language.  I would say things like, "You know better than to do that!", "What were you thinking?". "Why would you treat your sister that way?", and other similar statements. 


I recently had a revelation after reading the book, "Give them Grace: Dazzling your kids with the love of Jesus", that I was parenting with this expectation of perfect obedience and perfect rule following. 


Is my goal to raise up kids who are great "Rule" followers?  No it's not!  Following the rules is good, but the reality is they will fail, because they have a sin nature (Romans 3:23).  Its more beneficial to my girls that I show them how to be great "Jesus" followers.  I am learning to pour out grace on myself and my girls and to be "slow to anger and rich in love". Rather than feeling disappointment when I have to "deal" with wrong behaviors, attitudes, and actions, It's an opportunity to point my girls to Jesus.  Every time they fall short, I can remind them that Jesus is standing with arms wide open ready to receive, embrace, forgive, and pour out grace upon their lives.  


I need to hold myself and my kids to a standard of GRACE not perfection.

"The Lord is gracious and compassionate.  Slow to anger and rich in love" Psalms 145:8

"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God." Ephesians 2:8


Do you struggle with mom guilt?  Do you find yourself making comparisons to other moms?  Does it seem like your patience level is very low?  When your kids disobey or make a wrong choice, do you feel like you always come down hard on them? Do you have unrealistic expectations of perfection for your kids?  For yourself? God wants to exchange the guilt for His grace.  Grace is a gift lavished upon our lives, it's not based on good works, following the rules, or perfection.  I encourage you to take a moment and surrender those areas to the Lord.

      
Having a standard of grace has made a tremendous difference in my parenting efforts.  My perspective has changed a lot.  How I handle situations has improved.  Am I perfect in my efforts?  No.  But thats where God's grace comes in! 


Here are some great recommendations:


Thank you so much for participating in this 5 week series with me!  I plan to do another series in the near future!  


For those who missed previous posts in this series:
Dancing Through The Seasons - Week 1
Dancing Through The Season - Week 2
Dancing Through The Seasons - Week 3
Dancing Through the Seasons - Week 4


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Photo courtesty of Dana Leigh Photography









Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hello from the United States!



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This week in our Expedition Earth studies we "travelled" to the USA.   First thing was to find the country on the map (that was pretty easy) and stamp their passports!

They completed a map & flag activity.


Danced to the "Wee Sing Around the World" song of the week.
video


Made their animal mini-books and added animal cards to wall classification chart.


Added the Country label to Continents poster




Read about Betty Greene, in our "Heroes for Young Readers" series.

Betty Greene: Flying High


Other things we did this week:
This past weekend I enjoyed individual mommy/daughter dates with my older 2 girls!
If you have girls, check out my Dancing Through the Seasons Series!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dancing Through The Seasons - Week 4

Photo Courtesy of Dana Leigh Photography


"I want, I need, I must have"
Helping our daughters to be content

Recently on our drive home from a play date, "Mooki" was in the back seat sulking.  Our dear friends, whose house we had just left, had made a decision to let their 8 year old daughter have a cell phone. "Mooki" was in her "I want, I need, I must have" mode.  "Mommy, I really want a cell phone too", she said.  I responded with "No honey, there is no need for you to have your own phone yet", then came the, "That's not fair, ALL my friends have phones". (Uh...not quite)

It would have been so easy for me to put my foot down and say, "I said NO and that is the end of this conversation, do not bring it up again", but I didn't do that.  I really tried to listen to her, ask lots of questions, and get to the root issues going on in her heart.  As our conversation continued, she finally admitted feeling jealous.  I was able to validate her, be understanding of how she was feeling, and also use that moment to teach contentment. 

  Why do they believe their little friends seem to have "way cooler" toys, "way cuter" clothes, and "way more" dolls?  Even us mom's can battle those thoughts too (I'll be addressing this more next week!).  It's so vital that we examine our own hearts and see if there are jealous thoughts in there.  If so, we need to confess those areas to the Lord and seek contentment.  We have to be that example to our girls.   

Why does the grass always seem greener on the other side? 


Courtesy of Google Image



I truly believe one of the greatest ways to help our kids combat discontentment, is to teach them about the importance of and give them opportunities to serve, love, embrace, share and put others first. The joy that comes through blessing others brings about true contentment!

I was reading in my Bible recently out of Exodus 35 & 36.  Moses had asked the Israelites to give of their personal belongings to help build the Lords Sanctuary.  Exodus 35:29 says, "So the people of Israel—every man and woman who was eager to help in the work the LORD had given them through Moses—brought their gifts and gave them freely to the LORD."  After the people had brought their materials, Bezalel, the craftsman chosen to do the work came to Moses and in Exodus 36:5 said, “The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the LORD has commanded us to do!” They went above and beyond for the Lord. 

My desire is for my girls to have an eagerness to give, and not just give the bare minimum, but to go above and beyond for the Lord.  Almost a year ago "Mooki" began begging for an American Girl doll (which cost $100).   I helped her come up with a plan to earn the money.  She ended up earning $200+ by making and selling small bags. When we arrived at the American Girl doll store, "Mookie" turned to "Lover Girl" and announced that she was also buying her a doll! I was one proud mama in that moment. What an awesome act of kindness, generosity, and an eagerness to give!


I'm sure I am going to have many more, "I want, I need, I must have" conversations with my girls.  In the long run though, I pray my girls grow up to be women of influence for the things of God and to have huge impact in this world! 


Courtesy of Google Image

Things we do to help instill contentment:
  • Avoid commercial media that targets kids
  • Stay far away from toy stores!
  • Request "already used" gifts at their birthdays
  • Declutter their "stuff" a few times a year.
  • Host an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Party!


  • Visit a local elderly care center at Christmas.
  • Donate money to World Vision during the relief efforts in Haiti, per their request.
  • Express thankfulness often.
  • Learn about other cultures and their needs.
  • Talk about missions and other service projects (with plans to do more of these things as they get older).
  • Practice putting one another first in daily life.

  Other Resources:

Dancing Through The Seasons - Week 1
Dancing Through The Season - Week 2
Dancing Through The Seasons - Week 3




Coming up next week: 
"It's a bird! It's a plane! Wait it's Supermom"
(learning to have a standard of grace NOT perfection in your parenting)

Want updates coming right to you email? Subscribe here!

Photo courtesty of Dana Leigh Photography







Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dancing Through The Seasons - Week 3

Photo courtesy of Dana Leigh Photography

My Little Girl Isn't So Little Anymore

It was late November and our family was out to pizza to celebrate "Mooki's" 8th birthday. I turned to my husband and jokingly said, "Well now that she is 8, I guess that means it’s almost time that we have 'the talk' with her". I knew she would have no idea what I meant by "the talk". However, she got this huge smile on her face and says, "Oh I know what you are talking about!” I got a little nervous and said, "You do?” I will never forget her response, "Yep you want to talk to me about when I can get a cell phone!" My husband and I looked at one another and had quite the laugh with that one.

I'm thankful for the innocence that my girls have and that they haven't been prematurely exposed to subject matters that their minds and hearts are not ready to hear.

I don't actually believe in having "the talk", in the sense of a one-time, never again, get-it-done-and-over-with kind of conversation.  I believe it must be on-going, appropriate to their age and maturity, and become more in depth over time.  I know for some moms they are much more reserved and it is more challenging to get up the nerve to talk about those very personal things. So if that is you, it's OK, just ask the Lord to give you those opportunities to share little tidbits with your girls and that you will begin to gain more confidence as you go along.  Often when a young child comes to you with a question they aren't seeking a 30 minute, pull out the diagram explanation, a sweet & simple response is sufficient. 

A 5 year old asked her mom, "Mommy is it ok for daddy to see you naked?" and her response was "Yes it is ok because he is my husband". That was that and the little girl headed off to play.


Periods-One thing my girls have already had a slight introduction to is women having their monthly cycle. I have never made a big deal about having my period. I strive not to gripe, complain, or make negative comments. My girls have seen my feminine products and I've explained to them that a period is a normal and natural thing which allows us to have babies!  I don't want it to seem shameful, embarrassing, or disgusting and I want my girls as ready as they can be. 

Prepare a gift basket to have ready for when they do start. Fill it with all the necessities and some fun things too: feminine products, chocolate, Aleve, deodorant, lotions, chapstick, etc. Make it a celebration!

How Babies are made - I love that my girls think that babies are made through prayer, you make a request to God and then he places a baby in your womb. However, during my pregnancy with "Sweet Pea", my oldest inquired for further explanations on how babies were made. I told her, "Well, God takes a piece of daddy and a piece of mommy to create the baby". That seemed to satisfy her curiosity for a while until one day she says,

  "I know God takes a piece of Daddy and a piece of you...but what piece does he take because I don't see any parts missing?"

At that point I simply said, "Well there is more I want to share with you about how babies are made but I'd like to wait until you are a little older so that I know your heart is ready to hear everything, is that ok?"


Modesty - Modesty is another topic that I am already discussing with my girls.  I appreciate fashion and style and "Mooki" has quite the fashion sense herself.  Obviously, many of the styles in department stores, and sadly in the kids department, are very inappropriate and immodest.  So when we go shopping we talk through "why" something is or isn't appropriate. They are learning to evaluate clothing and determine if it covers the areas that need to be covered.  We also take into consideration the  words and/or artwork on the clothing.
Courtesy of Google Image

Boy Talk - Recently I noticed "Mooki" acting a little giddy around a certain boy.  While out on a mother/daughter date I shared with her what I had observed.  She said, "Ok mom, I will tell you the truth, sometimes when I am around certain boys I wonder if maybe they are the person God has for me to marry."   Inside I was definitely laughing, it was super cute how she said it, but I was also thinking, "Really at 8 you already have those thoughts?"    I told her that she is still very young and she just needs to focus on friendships and not grown up stuff .  I also encouraged her to just be herself around everyone and that she should never feel like she needs to act, talk, or dress differently than who God made her to be....in order to "impress" anyone.  

On occasion when the topic of boys comes up in conversation, My husband and I share that we love our girls and want the very best for them, especially in who they marry someday.   We emphasize that we will be very involved and helping in the process of figuring out who God has for them to marry!

Not all little girls think so far into the future in regards to marriage.   However many girls are natural born "dreamers" even from a young age.   In the case of my oldest, I try to focus on the qualities of a future husband as opposed to talk about having a boyfriend.  When my girls are in that place, we'll talk more about boys and dating. For now they are learning how boys should treat a lady by how they see their dad treating me and them! They are learning about friendship, respect, and true acts of love.

courtesy of Google Image


Here are some recommendations of books for you to read:


Coming up next week: "I want, I need, I must have: Helping our daughters to be content"
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Photo courtesty of Dana Leigh Photography


 


 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Freedom!


This picture has a story behind it, as many pictures do.  It was a gorgeous, crisp morning in the Pacific NW and I was meeting my friend Dana for a photo session at a local park.  At one point Dana told me to go stand up on a nearby hillside.  The sun poured out its warmth down on me, I was surrounded by blue skies and I was overtaken by the beautiful scenery in front of me.  I lifted my hands toward Heaven in that moment and this photo was captured.   This past year I walked through a difficult journey full of pain, heartache, tears, anger, frustration, and sorrow.  So, when I first laid eyes on this photo, and saw what Dana had titled it, I was instantly brought to tears.  This photo captured what I finally felt inwardly....it's titled "Freedom".   

Courtesy of Google Image

Sometimes life throws unexpected twists our way.  Sometimes things don't turn out like you hoped.   Sometimes our flesh wins over our spirits.  Sometimes we don't get answers to our "Whys".  Sometimes what we say we believe in is put to the test.  Sometimes there is disunity.  Sometimes hurt & pain rocks us to the core.  Sometimes circumstances occur that are out of our control.  Sometimes words crush us.  Sometimes bondage, bitterness, and brokenness enslave us.

But those "sometimes" situations need to always bring us humbly to our knees, with arms outstretched in total surrender, before the One True God.  He is the only one who can heal the brokenhearted, strengthen the weary, pour out grace & mercy, exchange our sorrow for joy. bring hope to the hopeless, and bring freedom to the captives!

Courtesy of Google Image

Courtesy of Google Image
  
Freedom is never free.  Christ died on the cross to purchase my freedom.  Freedom from sin, freedom from unforgiveness, freedom from pride, freedom from hopelessness, and freedom to live my life to the fullest!  His death was the greatest act of Love...EVER!  And His resurrection reveals that there is power in the name of Jesus.  Power to set us free.  What area of your life do you need Freedom in?  Jesus is the only one who can break those chains of bondage. 

Courtesy of Google Image

I encourage you to Cry out to God! Cry out for that freedom you desperately need!  Lay everything at the cross. Lay down your pride, your pain, your bitterness, your anger, your hurt, your unforgiveness, your self-righteousness, your regrets, and your sorrow.  Lay it all down. It's so worth it! 


P.S. - Walking out the Freedom I know I have in Christ is something I have to be intentional about believing & speaking out every day.  I am a work in progress.  I am human.  I take 2 steps forward and 1 step back at times.  But I keep running to Jesus because He is my everything!



Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Salut" from Canada!

This week in our Expedition Earth studies we "travelled" to Canada!  First thing was stamping their passports and finding the country on the map!

They completed a map & flag activity.


Added Country label to Continents Poster



One of their favorite things is to dance to the song of the week!
video
They worked on their animal mini books and put animal cards on wall classification chart!

And they had fun making & playing with an Ice Sculpture Craft!
Other things we did this week:
  • Prayed for the People in Canada
  • Stamping passport with exit date
  • Read about Forests in our Living World Encyclopedia
  • Read about a Child from the Iqaluit Community
  • Watched a YouTube Video about the Hotel de Glace
  • Watched a Video Nunavut  (the Igloolik region of the Canadian Arctic-had some graphic images of hunting seals & caribou)  
"Merci" for visiting this blog!  Next Stop in our North America travels is The United States.

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