Category Archives: Parenting Resources

“Roadschooling” Around Flagstaff, Arizona

I have dreams of being a “roadschooling” family, hopping in an RV and flitting around the country educating our children as we visit amazing places.  Alas, my husband’s job (which, thankfully, he loves) isn’t the kind that can be done remotely, so the chances of us becoming full-time roadschoolers are pretty slim.

We do the best we can, however, to take advantage of learning opportunities whenever we do manage to get away, and we recently had one of my favorite trips ever.  We were headed to Flagstaff, Arizona for a car show in which my husband’s family was participating, and we decided to take a few extra days to explore the area.  Thanks to our 4th grader, we even got into the National Parks for free!  Here are some of the places we visited during our week in Flagstaff.

Grand Canyon National Park

The one thing we knew we wanted to do as soon as we started planning this trip was visiting the Grand Canyon.  I actually decided to spend our whole year studying geology just because I knew we’d want to know what we were seeing.

So much of the information out there about the Grand Canyon tries to explain its formation from a secular worldview, and I knew that as we walked through the park, the information being thrown at the kids would similarly attempt to discuss its history without considering the Bible’s account of the early years of the earth and the catastrophic impact of the Flood of Noah’s day.  Therefore we spent some time as a family learning about what scientists with a biblical worldview say about the history of the Grand Canyon.

Here are some of the resources we used before and during our trip.

Preparation:

My husband and I also watched a few videos on our own so we could be prepared to answer some of the kids questions.  (Older kids could learn a lot from these, but I don’t think my kids could sit through them very well yet.)

Our visit

We decided to add a little extra fun to this excursion by taking the train. Grand Canyon Railway takes you 60 miles from the town of Williams (about 35 miles from Flagstaff) to the South Rim of the canyon.  The scheduled departure for the return trip left us about three and half hours to explore.  I would have liked more on my own, but that was just about the perfect amount of time for my kids.

We walked along the rim enjoying the scenic views, ate lunch at one of the lodges, then enjoyed the Native American dance presentation at Hopi House before heading back.

       

Slide Rock State Park

Okay, so this was more about fun, but the drive down to Sedona and this whole area has some amazing geological features as well.  We were there at the end of September, so the crowds were less than what I’ve heard it can be in the summer.  The water was still really cold, but we had a great time!

Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest National Park

East of Flagstaff are two great educational spots to visit.  Meteor Crater has a great visitor center to learn more about meteors in general and this site in particular.

Nearby, the Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Park is like no place I’ve ever been.  It was unbelievable beautiful, and the kids could tell right away that the area was formed by volcanic activity.

Preparation:

  • Awesome Science: Explore Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest National Park (streaming or DVD)
  • study meteorites

Our visit

We did both of these in one day, but we probably could have spent the whole day driving around Petrified Forest National Park and spending time in the visitor centers.  There were several places you could stop and get out to walk around and see the petrified logs.

Montezuma Castle National Park

That 4th Grader’s National Park Pass came in handy again on the day we went to see some of the Native American ruins down south of Sedona at Montezuma Castle National Park.  The museum and trail signs gave a lot of information about the people who once lived here.  There’s also a second location that is a part of this park (Montezuma Well), but we had some little ones ready for a nap and decided to head back up to Flagstaff without stopping for that.

Walnut Canyon National Park

My husband took the older boys off to explore more Native American ruins one day while the little ones and I stayed home.  After hearing his report, I’m glad we did since he said there were a lot of stairs that wouldn’t have been fun babies to wear or carry.  I’m glad they got to go, and this site was special because they were actually able to go into some of the ruins.

Lowell Observatory

Our trip to the Lowell Observatory one evening was the highlight of the trip for Arianna. It was my first time visiting an observatory at night, and we loved getting to look through some of their enormous telescopes to see things like the rings of Saturn, as well as listening to a presentation about the constellations visible at that time.

This is the place where Pluto was first discovered!  There is a whole room about it, which the older kids and adults found fascinating.  There is also a fabulous “SpaceGuard Academy” exhibit for kids that was a major hit with our family.  We were literally the last ones to leave the observatory when they closed that night because my children wanted to stay in that exhibit longer.

Superstition Mountain Museum

Okay, so our final stop for the week was not exactly near Flagstaff, but Ian was begging to go, so we made a little detour on the way home to visit Superstition Mountain, which is east of Phoenix.  One of his favorite books is Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach.  He has checked the audiobook out from our library multiple times, and he liked it so much he was even willing to read the second book in the series since there was no audio version available.

This little town has a fascinating history, and Ian was astounded as we went through the museum and he realized how much of those books was based on true events and real people who have lived there.  Our whole family enjoyed walking around the museum area, and I bought all three books in that series for our family library as a souvenir.  Someday I hope we can go back and spend a day on the Apache Trail, which is supposed to be a beautiful scenic drive.

And that was our week of roadschooling around Flagstaff.  If you’ve visited other great sites around Flagstaff, please share in the comments!

KidsEmail.org (Crew Review)

kidsemail-review
My children are all still fairly young, and while we do utilize computers and the Internet a lot for school work, I am reluctant to let them spend additional time online because it can be such a dangerous place.  When the opportunity came up for us the review an Annual Subscription to KidsEmail.org, I wasn’t sure if I was really ready to let even my older kids (ages 6 and 8) have access to the world of online communication.  Still, we agreed to give the program a try.

KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription

About KidsEmail.org

KidsEmail.org Annual SubscriptionKidsEmail.org allows parents to set up email accounts for their children (up to 6 accounts) with more control than a traditional email service would allow.  From controlling what senders are allowed to write to their children, to receiving copies of emails, to restricting when children are allowed to access their inbox, KidsEmail.org has many features parents will appreciate.

There are three types of accounts that can be set up:

types-of-accounts

Once you’ve chosen what option will work best for your child, you can customize exactly what features you want them to be able to access.  Settings can be altered for individual child accounts or for all of them at once.  Here’s what the “Safety Settings” look like in the parent controls.

 

safety-settings

It’s not just the parental controls that make KidsEmail.org appealing.  The set-up is very kid-friendly, and there also features kids will appreciate:

They can choose their own background themes.

backgrounds

They can create drawings within their emails (though I couldn’t quite figure out all the functions in that panel).

drawing-function

 

Our Experience

I was really impressed by how much KidsEmail.org allowed me to customize our family’s email experience.  I signed both of my older boys up right away and set to work getting familiar with the parental controls.  It was really helpful to be able to establish what I wanted for both of them at the same time.

It was also easy to create a global contact list that is accessible for every child on my account. Since they aren’t really old enough to have friends with email addresses, the only contacts I allowed for them were myself, my husband, and their grandparents.

Elijah was the only one interested enough to sign on and get started. He started emailing Grandma right away.

elis-email

They ended up corresponding back and forth several times before we went on a trip and then he forgot all about it until I asked him about it.  (He also emailed Grandpa, but that correspondence fizzled out quicker for some reason.)

Even though my kids get to see their grandparents fairly regularly, I think this is going to be a fun tool for them to communicate more, and I hope they will take advantage of it.  As they get older, I’ll gladly add others to their list of approved contacts and help them learn to use some of the other features.

KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription
The uncertainty I had felt in the beginning worked itself out.  I’m not sure my boys have enough desire yet to use email on a regular basis.  However, when they reach that point, I love knowing KidsEmail.org can provide the security and parental controls that can help me feel comfortable allowing them to take that step.

KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription
Crew Disclaimer

Wonderfully Made–GIVEAWAY!

Cover small

If you follow His Treasure Seekers on Facebook, you may have seen me posting about Wonderfully Made: God’s Story of Life from Conception to Birth by Danika Cooley.  I’ll be posting a full review of the book soon, but if you’re looking for an age-appropriate, God-honoring way to talk with your children about how a baby develops in the womb, you’ll want to check it out.  I wish we’d had this book through my last few pregnancies!

On her website, the author has already posted several related FREEBIES (including posters, Scripture memory cards, and a lapbook) for subscribers to her blog.  You can also get a glimpse at the first pages of the story.

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the release of Wonderfully Made: God’s Story of Life from Conception to Birth I am hosting a wonderful GIVEAWAY with the rest of the launch team.

The giveaway includes a hardcover copy of the book, along with several other books and products your family is sure to enjoy. The total value of the giveaway is nearly $600!

Wonderfully Made Giveaway

Here is what you could win:

Wonderfully Made: God’s Story of Life from Conception to Birth by Danika Cooley – hardcover $9.99 value

Wonderfully made is an excellent book that introduces a young child to the wonder of God’s creation – the wonder and miracle of birth. From conception in the womb through the nine months within the mother’s womb Danika Cooley takes us on a journey of discovery… the discovery of life.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

Touch of Life First Trimester Fetal Models $89.95 value

Sculpted from real-life photos, these four fetal models representing weeks 7, 8, 9, and 10 after conception have a personality of their own, and the life-like feel of the skin brings home the humanity of the preborn baby in its first trimester of life. Accurately portrayed thanks to medical descriptions and photos, these little samples of life are a great educational tool for helping to understand the wonder of the early stages of human development.

Bible Road Trip Year One Curriculum (includes Lower and Upper Grammar Notebooking Journals $60 value

The Bible Road Trip Year One Curriculum is a 463-page digital PDF download of the full Bible Road Trip Year One curriculum for all five levels, preschool through high school. The Bible Road Trip Year One Curriculum includes the Parent / Teacher Guide and 32 weeks of curriculum schedules for all grades.

$100 Amazon Gift Card $100 value

Enjoy shopping amazon.com with a gift of $100 + an adorable bookmark.

Big Bible Science: Experiment and Explore God’s World by Erin Lee Green (Ages 5-11) $12.99 value

Big Bible Science helps children and those who teach them to explore God’s World and God’s Word through real live science experiments. There are twenty-one different units taking students through scientific concepts such as Gravity, Friction, Animal Classification and the Nervous System.

My 1st Books and More by Carine MacKenzie and Philip Ross (ages 4-7) $15.99 value

Who is God? What does he do? Can I know Jesus? Why did he die? Children always have questions about God. They want to know what it means to be a Christian and who Jesus is. My 1st Books and More gives a year’s worth and more of bible readings, devotions and memory verses.

Living Water in the Desert: True Stories of God at Work in Iran by Rebecca Davis  $8.99 value

One man was overcome by the missionary’s kindness. Another was stopped by a vision of men in blue.  One became sick and tired of his own religion. Another saw a man named Jesus in a dream, coming to him on a donkey.  A girl found a strange book on the floor of the library and visited a secret prayer meeting. All of them eventually came to Jesus Christ for His full and free salvation, becoming missionaries to their own people. Seventeen chapters tell true stories of the Living Water pouring out on the country of Iran, even up to the present day.

Lights in a Dark Place: True Stories of God at Work in Colombia by Rebecca Davis (ages 7-12)  $8.99 value

Colombia has been known as a land of violence, but God is at work! Even though the Colombian people have reacted with violence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God has delivered people from burning houses . . . God has healed ones who cursed . . . God has given people dreams and visions . . . God has rescued kidnapers . . . God has conquered demons of darkness. Read fourteen true stories of the Light of the World shining in the land of Colombia, South America.

Jungle Doctor’s Monkey Tales by Paul White $8.99 value

The wisdom of monkeys is proverbially small. They never could remember not to get too near to the hind feet of zebra, nor to throw coconuts at Chewi the leopard, nor to look into the eyes of snakes. Luckily for his little nephews, Uncle Nyani, the only survivor of a family of seven, is always near at hand to tell them how they can live to be as old as he is!

Jungle Doctor’s Tug-of-War by Paul White (ages 5-11) $8.99 value

Even by monkey standards, young Toto is pretty dim! Those baddies of the jungle, Crunch the Crocodile, Mbisi the Hyena, Slinki the Jackal, Vibi the Vulture and Gnark the crow look as though they are going to have an easy time finishing him off. However, Toto soon finds himself in the middle of a tug-of-war, for his real friends, Elephant, Giraffe, Parrot and Hornbill are determined to rescue him from the clutches of the jungle underworld.

The Bible’s Big Story: Salvation History for Kids by James M. Hamilton Jr. $4.99

With easily remembered rhymes and Bible verses take your child through the span of Salvation History from Creation to the Fall, the Flood to the Exodus, the Exile to the Crucifixion and beyond… James M. Hamilton writes about real history, God’s Salvation History, and our future.

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership $97

1000s of topical pages, themes, and designs . . . Perfect for any subject or study A to Z!

Art Study ♦ Copywork ♦ Character Study ♦ Famous Men & Women ♦ Geography (state/country studies, continental, world maps) ♦ History of the Ancient World, Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, and Modern Times ♦ Music Study ♦ Nature Study ♦ Science ♦ Timelines ♦ and more!

Mom’s Toolbelt Lifetime Membership $24.95

A customizable home management planner for every area of your life that craves order.

Hal and Melanie Young: Mom & Dad Special: Raising Real Men (book + audiobook) plus a free registration to both Boot Camp 9-12 AND Boyhood Boot Camp. $101 value

If this is God’s chosen gift to us, then why does it seem so hard? How can we prepare these boys to serve God when we can barely make it through the day? Isn’t there a better way? The answer is yes.

When You Lie Down: Lullabies and Scripture Songs CD $12.97 value

These twelve songs remind us that true rest, comfort and hope come from God alone. This music is an awesome way to experience God’s Word with your baby, kids and family. You will discover that this album will be a powerful addition to use in your personal time with God.

Seeds Onesie- Psalm 139:13-14  $14.97 value

Seeds Family Worship Onesie featuring Psalm 139:13-14 on the front with a small Seeds logo on the back.

Cultivating Responsibility: Parenting Wisdom for Ages 9-12 by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN $14.99 value

The later elementary age years are among the greatest times to build responsibility in children. Heart transformation takes place when parents use other tools than behavior modification.

Elementary Foundations: Parenting Wisdom for Ages 5-8by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN $14.99 value

Many new things happen during the ages of 5-8. Children start school, develop significant friendships, learn to think abstractly instead of just concretely, and have a greater ability to draw close to God. Parenting during this stage produces a number of challenges and opportunities so you’ll want to be prepared.

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway open to residents of the U.S. and Canada, age 18 and older. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, April 20 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be announced at the Wonderfully Made Facebook Release Party (winner does not have to be present to win, but we hope you’ll be there!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You’re Invited!

Join us for the Wonderfully Made Facebook Release Party on Thursday, April 21. We’ll have even more giveaways and freebies, too! The party begins at 9pm EST, and you can RSVP on the event page

Please RSVP!

Wonderfully Made Facebook Release Party, Thursday, April 21, 9pm EST

Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids by Sarah Young (Book Review)

I’ve discussed a few different children’s devotional books lately, but I couldn’t resist the chance to review one more.  Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids by Sarah Young (adapted by Tama Fortner) is due to be released February 2, but the publisher was kind enough to send me a copy a little early so I could share about it as soon as possible.

Sarah Young is best known for her book Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, in which she shares daily devotions written from her personal prayer time.  They are written as though Jesus is speaking directly to the reader, and this intimate style and the encouragement Young’s writing brings has made that book the #1 bestseller in Christian devotionals on Amazon.  I’ve been going through the kids version (Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids) with my children, so I was eager to get a glimpse at Young’s latest offering.

Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids shares many similarities with its predecessor.  It is a children’s adaptation of an adult devotional (Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence, ECPA 2013 Christian Book of the Year).  The bright, sturdy hard cover with a ribbon bookmark makes it practical for daily reading.  It continues Young’s signature style of writing, where each devotion is a personal message from Jesus, along with related Scriptures for each day.  The simplicity is what makes it profound.  My children really respond well to starting each day with a little note of encouragement and time in the Scriptures to give them food for thought.

There have been a few positive changes as well.  Rather than having a devotion for each day of the year, Jesus Today contains 150 numbered devotions.  I like this style better because then I don’t feel torn about what to read next if I miss a day.  Also, the Scriptures for each day are all fully written out in the newer book, which for our family ensured that they get read.  (We don’t usually look up the references at the bottom of the page in Jesus Calling.)  There’s also a Scripture Index at the end of the book to make it easy to see which passages were referred to throughout the book.

If you’re looking for a devotional that can help your kids connect with God in an intimate, personal way, Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids is definitely one you’ll want to check out.

BookLook disclaimer

A Believe Devotional for Kids by Randy Frazee (Book Review)

I’ve recently begun checking out various devotional books to use with my children.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for (or what was out there), so I wanted to explore several options.  My most recent opportunity came with a chance to review A Believe Devotional for Kids: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus: 90 Devotions by Randy Frazee.

Although this devotional is part of a larger program with which I am completely unfamiliar, it also can be used by itself.  Right off the bat I was impressed with the quality of this book.  It is a beautiful hardcover with thick glossy pages and gorgeous illustrations by Steve Adams.  Every page spread has at least a small picture, and most have stunning full page pictures in bold, vibrant colors sure to catch the attention of anyone who picks up the book.

DSCN1060x
As far as content, each page follows a typical devotional pattern: Scripture verse, food for thought (usually about 3-5 paragraphs), and a prayer.  Because I’m not familiar with the Believe program, I wasn’t quite sure of the deeper meaning behind the organization of ideas, but that didn’t really affect my reading of each devotion.  I could easily use this with my younger elementary age children, and I think older children and even teens would find the devotions thought provoking.  These weren’t just fluffy, feel-good moments to think about Jesus, but deeper prompts toward spiritual growth.

DSCN1059x
If your church is going through the Believe campaign, you will absolutely want to get this devotional for your kids.  Even if you’re not, I think it’s a fabulous tool for discipleship.  It makes me want to check out Believe Kids’ Edition: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus and the Believe Storybook: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus to get even more out of it.

BookLook disclaimer

 

 

Family Games from USAopoly (Crew Review)

“Daddy, will you play a game with me?”  It’s Elijah’s nightly request.  So when we were given the opportunity to review two games from USAopoly, he was probably the most excited out of all of our game-loving family.  Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky:The Crazy Cubes Card Game are welcome additions to our growing collection of games we can enjoy together.

Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone

Tapple
Tapple is exercise for the brain!  The object is to think of words in a given category that begin with each of the letters on the game board.  Each player has ten seconds (the timer is part of the game board and requires two AA batteries) to think of a word that starts with a letter that has not been used yet, then push down that letter and hit the timer to start the next person’s turn.  If you can’t think of something in that category before the timer goes off, you’re out.  The categories (with two levels of difficulty) are listed on cards that fit neatly into the bottom of the game board when the game’s not being played.

Tapple Details
  • Ages 8+ (our older boys, 5 and 7, also enjoyed playing)
  • 2-8 players
  • 10-20 minutes to play (or as long as you want to keep going!)
Our Tapple Experience

playing TappleMy boys both loved Tapple so much they wanted to take it to a family party, where we taught our cousins, Grandma, and Auntie how to play.  It was a great way to bring all ages together for some fun rather than everyone going off on their own.

The box says no spelling required, and for the most part that’s true.  We had a few incidents where one of the kids tried to use words for the wrong letters (like pressing down the “s” key for “celery”), but other than that the only real limitation is vocabulary.  That’s where my boys tended to get tripped up and the “ages 8+” guideline makes sense.  We all enjoyed the game so much, however, that we just modified the rules a bit when playing with only them.

Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game

Wonky
Wonky is a fun building game that might drive a perfectionist crazy.  It consists of nine wooden cubes (each with three flat sides and three slightly curved sides) and a set of 54 “strategy cards” that instruct you as to which block to try to stack next.  If the tower falls on your turn, you have to draw three more cards.  Players win by being the first one to use all their cards (or successfully stacking the ninth block).

Wonky Details
  • Ages 8+
  • 2+ players
Our Wonky Experience

playing WonkyAgain, even though my boys were below the suggested age level, they both enjoyed Wonky and requested it multiple times.  They had a little trouble stacking the blocks, but since that’s the whole point of the game it didn’t really bother them.  I was probably the most frustrated player.  My goal wasn’t so much to win as to build the tower, so I could only take the game for so long as time after time the boys knocked it down and stacked blocks so it would fall for the next person (which is actually a good way to win).  Eventually I just got the game out on my own one time to try building the tower (which I never managed to do)!  No one else seemed to struggle with that aspect, however, so this perfectionistic mama decided to just let this be a game for the rest of the family.

About USAopoly

USAopoly has been creating popular board games since 1994, including both original games and special editions of classic board games.  If your family likes games as much as ours, be sure to visit the USAopoly website to check out more of what they have to offer.  And if you want to know what other Crew families thought of Tapple and Wonky, click the banner below to read more reviews!

 USAopoly Review
Crew Disclaimer

Motivate Your Child (Book Review)

Motivate coverDo your kids do what needs to be done without you having to remind them?  Yeah, neither do mine.  At least not yet.  But after reading Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, I am optimistic that we’re heading in that direction.  This has been one of the most helpful parenting books I’ve read in a long time, full of practical ideas and strategies for reaching children’s hearts as we prepare and equip them for life.

At a Glance

Motivate Your Child is about helping children grow and mature so that they can choose what’s right.  Throughout the book Turansky and Miller refer to three levels of thinking.  “Level one” refers to kids’ ordinary, everyday thinking about themselves and their activities.  “Level two” thinking requires a bit more responsibility, focusing on other people and things outside of oneself.  “Level three” goes even further, considering God’s hand in a situation.  As we train our child’s conscience, we help enhance the higher levels of thinking so they consider more than just themselves when making choices.

I have found so many helpful ideas in this book that go against the typical parenting advice I’ve seen (and put into practice).  “Internal motivation develops in children when parents focus on the heart instead of simply using reward and punishment to get their kids to act” (p. 43).  That seems contrary to so much of what I’ve thought was the normal way to parent, and yet it makes so much more sense.  Rather than encouraging our kids to focus on external rewards, we need to reach their hearts.

For example, in the chapter on “When Kids Make Mistakes,”  the authors give three questions to ask when talking with your child after they’ve made a bad choice:

  1. What did you do wrong?
  2. Why was that wrong?
  3. What are you going to do differently next time?

By walking through this process, parents can help their children really consider the choice they made at a heart level, rather than simply dealing with the external circumstances.

This is just a glimpse at the wealth of helpful ideas for reaching your child’s heart.  I especially appreciated the many examples from other families and the chance to see what has worked for them.  Motivate Your Child left me feeling better equipped to teach my children about integrity, compassion, and honor, all qualities I hope to see in them as they grow into adulthood.

The second half of the book focus on children’s spiritual development, particularly through the “Family Challenge,” an intentional time for the family to spiritually connect once a week.  While the first section helped me see a lot I wasn’t doing well, this part was encouraging because I think we’ve already established many of the ideas given here, like having a regular family time, teaching our children Scripture, and showing our kids faith in action.  There are plenty of ideas for helping us continue to grow in those areas, as well as encouraging conversation starters for talking to our children about making their own commitments to Christ.

In Our Family

parent the heartI have read several books that emphasize the importance of reaching a child’s heart, and all of them have left me frustrated to a certain extent, because it’s really hard to talk to young children on a heart level.  Now that my oldest is elementary age, I’m finally starting to see some comprehension when I address the attitudes and motivation behind his behavior.  However, after reading Motivate Your Child, I feel encouraged to keep trying with my younger children practicing the words that will mean more in the future, even if they don’t fully understand now.

As I read through the first section, I saw many areas where things haven’t been working for me and I’ve started to make the necessary changes.  Too often I try to motivate my children with rewards, rather than helping them develop a desire to do the right thing.  I’m also working on tightening my “action point” (when they actually respond versus when I first tell them to do something). I tend to give the older boys instruction and then go help the little ones, only to come back and get frustrated when I find the boys playing rather than accomplishing whatever it was I told them to do.  Just these two areas have given me plenty to work on already, but I’ve seen positive results, and I look forward to putting some of the other things I’ve learned into practice, especially as my children get older.

Special Offer for the Book’s Release

promo package
If you’re interested in reading Motivate Your Child yourself, you might want to act fast.  The National Center for Biblical Parenting is offering an amazing Bonus Package for anyone who purchases the book before January 31, 2015.  It has audio and video resources as well as helpful tools for implementing many of the ideas in the book.

If you’ve followed my blog you know how much I love books and how our house is almost overflowing with them.  I’ve been thinking about culling my shelves for treasures and clearing out the rest.  Motivate Your Child is definitely a book I’ll be saving and reading again.  And once I’ve made room on my shelves, I’ll be looking to the National Center for Biblical Parenting for more resources to help us as we disciple our children.

disclaimer

“Home-Management” in the Little Years–A Hopeless Battle?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted for Mentoring Monday, but I really do want to finish this book, despite the challenges life has thrown my way recently.  So here I am, diving back in.

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 16 (part 2)

WholeHeartedI’m trying to decided whether I love this chapter or hate it.  Organization has always been one of my strengths, (though I have never been able to tame the clutter-beast, and I’ve almost given up trying), but having four small children has definitely turned managing my home into one battle after another.

Right now, I feel like I’m barely able to stay afloat.  I have 4 baskets of laundry that have been sitting in various parts of the house waiting to get put away for days.  (The big boys have actually taken care of theirs; this is just for the little ones, my husband and me.  So there’s one victory.)

My Bible lies open in the bathroom, but I’ve only managed to get through 2 chapters this month.  I spend time in the Word each day in our family devotions and in preparing to teach in children’s ministry, but my personal reading habit has fallen apart.

Our dining room table is covered with a board game that’s been in progress for days as well as stacks of books and stuff for a home improvement project I started but then abandoned when I hit a roadblock.

Sometimes it feels like my life is never going to be back in order.  So when I read this passage on page 306, I probably should have felt encouraged, but one sentence reached out, grabbed me, and wouldn’t let go:

Life will always be unpredictable–your schedule will fall apart, homeschooling will occasionally grind to a halt, and the house will at times seem like someone detonated a megaton stuff-bomb inside your walls.  If that puts your heart in conflict with the Lord, then no amount of organization, planning, or scheduling is going to make you the godly homeschooling mother that you envisioned becoming.  If, though, you are trusting God and depending upon his grace, you can still be the mother you want to be, which includes managing your family and your home.  If you are regularly seeking God, strengthening your faith in the Word, letting the Spirit control your attitude, and being as faithful as you know how to be, then you can be assured you are fulfilling your role as a mother and as a family manager.  God is not asking any more of you than your faith and your faithfulness. (emphasis mine)

As I said, I suppose that as a whole this paragraph should be encouraging, but that sentence I put in bold is what killed it for me.  It seems like such an impossible ideal.  If only I could be doing all those things!  If those are the bare minimums and I’m not even managing that, how on earth can I hope to every win this war against the chaos that threatens to overwhelm our home?

I keep telling myself to give it another 5 years (!) and it will no longer be quite such an impossible task.  When I have an 11-year old, a 10-year old, an 8-year old, and a 6 year-old, even if we have more young children, things will be so different.  In the last year my two oldest have become so capable of helping with a lot of things, and I feel like surely we must be on the rebound from the hardest point, when all we had were just lots of little ones.

Right?  (Don’t tell me if I’m not.)

I look around at our very “lived-in” home and cling to the hope that I won’t always be tripping over blocks as I stumble across the house for the 4th time in the middle of the night to help who ever needs me (for bathroom trips, refilled water cups, or sick buckets, which all seem to be needed on a fairly regular basis, all in between feedings from the 1-year old who just can’t seem to sleep through the night without nursing at least once).  I won’t always have to do a quick scan of the house so I can grab the toilet-training toddler’s underwear off the kitchen floor when I realize our extended family has stopped by.  I won’t always be clinging to every last minute of nap time so I can have a moment to myself (which I rarely spend cleaning).

I want to be “regularly seeking God, strengthening [my] faith in the Word, letting the Spirit control [my] attitude, and being as faithful as [I] know how to be.”  I really do.  But in this season of life, that doesn’t look at all like I think it should.  Like I want it to.

Thank you, Lord, for your grace.

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), so my Monday posts are all being sparked by things I’m reading in this fabulous book!

Planning with Purpose

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 16

WholeHeartedI love structure.  You might not be able to tell from looking at my house, but I get great satisfaction from bringing order and organization to most part of my life, including homeschooling.  So this chapter (“Structure:Keeping the Homeschooling Together”) was right up my alley.

One thing that stood out for me was the section on “Know Your Priorities” (p.287).  For the past few years I’ve pretty much eliminated our outside commitments, but now that the children are getting a little older, I’ve started stepping back into the world.

There’s an opportunity coming up in a couple weeks that I’m praying about for Ian.  My initial reaction was “Now way–we’re too busy).  But then I actually looked at my calendar and realized some of our other activities would be ending and that really didn’t need to be a hindrance.  So said I’d pray about it.

This section on priorities gave me a lot to think about.  In fact, I had to get out a notepad and start jotting down all that thoughts that started flying through my head with regards to this decision.  Am I just thinking about what’s convenient for me or am I considering how God would use this opportunity to develop the unique gifts He’s given Ian?  Would this really be a God-honoring activity for Ian or would it be a distraction?

I’m not ready to make a decision yet, but the Lord was definitely speaking to me through this chapter, helping me to consider the matter from multiple angles, and I trust the He will guide my husband and I to the right decision and give us peace.  I know as all our children get older, many more opportunities will arise.  This is only the first of many times we’ll need to consider our priorities and pray before letting them jump into something just because it sounds fun.

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), so my Monday posts are all being sparked by things I’m reading in this fabulous book!

My #1 Job: Love

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 15

WholeHeartedChildren are an expression of the heart of God.  He loves them and created mothers so they would love them too… As you understand that perfect design and accept it as God’s blessing for you and your children, you strengthen your heart for them and reflect the heart of God to them” (page 280).

When Ian was a baby, I was giddy with the excitement of being a mother at last.  As I prayed about how to be the best mother I could be, I very clearly heard the Lord tell me I only had one job with Ian: to LOVE him.

So simple, but that little word encompasses SO much.  Security.  Acceptance.  Affection.  Grace.

Not only is loving those around us the second greatest commandment after loving God, it is the essential element of our mission as mothers.  Our children learn about the love of God through us.

It seemed like an easy job when he was a baby, but as the years have passed, I’ve realized it is deceptively simple.  The older my children get, the less I feel like I am loving them the way God called me.

I find myself losing sight of my number one job and getting caught up in other tasks, like training and teaching them.  Child-training important, but it’s not supposed to be my focus.  P1040017xI am especially prone to getting distracted by the academic side of homeschooling, simply because I love learning and I delight in sharing the journey with my children.  But educating them is not my number one job.  I am called to LOVE them.

I want to remind myself to set everything else aside when it seems that I’m losing my focus.  I put on this temporary “love tattoo” to help me to keep this in the forefront of my mind this week.  We are taking a break from all schoolwork, and I hope that I can use the time to be intentional about pouring love into my children’s hearts, that when we go back to our routine, their “love tanks” will be filled, and they will have tasted the sweetness of the Father’s love for them.

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  When I got sick a couple weeks ago, these posts were one of the first things to get pushed aside.  I actually did keep up with my reading, however, and I wanted to try to get back into the habit of writing reflections even though I didn’t write about the last few weeks’ worth of reading, just because it helps me stay focused and accountable.

« Older Entries