Parenting success for 2017!

Towards the end of 2016 my husband and I spent some time discussing and reviewing the amount of time our children were spending on screen time.

Overall we have maintained boundaries around their screen time that we firmly believe in.  With simples things like these…

-No electronics after 8pm.

-No phones or electronics in their bedrooms they must be used downstairs out in the open.

-No using phones or electronics on the morning on the way to school.

However even with our boundaries in place we were feeling that with all time they were spending with these devices they could be putting a little more into reading. (Ok so they could be putting A LOT more into reading 🤦🏼‍♀️)

Tyler Emily Joshua Richard

None of our older thee children, Joshua 14, Tyler 12 and Emily 12 are super avid readers.  They each have gone through phases when they read for pleasure here and there but overall it is not their favorite leisure activity to do.  They have the same habit their parents have to pick out lots of books and start many but finish few books.  So we explored some ways we could help get them reading more regularly some really great books.

We discussed all the different ways we could come up with and implement an enforced reading plan. This is the simple plan that we came up with for each one of our older three children for 2017.

An ENFORCED READING CHALLEGE each child will be;

-Assigned and required to read one book that was chosen by a parent each month.

-After completing their book they were required to answer some simple questions about the book in writing, I had some worksheets I made for them.

-Required to keep a log of the books they read and how many pages were in each book.

To try and make things fun and a little competitive we put a challenge on it.  We told them they could read above what we assigned with parent approved books and the child who read the most books would win a prize and the child who read the most pages would win a prize.  Of course our reading choices were carefully selected to make sure they were reading good books.  This was done on top of what assigned reading they had in school and reading they wanted to do on their own.

At first they grumbled and complained…but they did it.  We were mean parents but our children were reading some great books!

It seemed after a few months in they were even starting to enjoy some of the books.  Some of the books were faith based, some were nonfiction, some were fiction.  We even through in some of the books we had to read as a child like ‘Where the red fern grows.’  Some of the months they were challenged more than others.  Emily did note on several occasions she felt this reading at home was helping her at school with her reading comprehension.  Hopefully it helped the other two as well!

Of course this meant work on our part as parents, following through with it.  Taking the time to select books each month and keep up with them and make sure they were actually reading.  We did let the month of September go by as a free month as they got back into school routine that month.

We sat down one night last week at dinner and pulled out all their reading logs and the questions they answered on the books they read over 2017.  Talked about their favorite books and least favorite.  Added up totals to find the winners of the most read and the most pages read.  Talked about what a successful year of reading they had and how awesome they felt for accomplishing this challenge.  And then came the reward…my husband and I told them that since they did such a great job we would find a weekend before the end of winter and take just the three of them to Great Wolf Lodge for some play and fun!  This is a huge treat for them and they are super excited and looking forward to this.  Our 6 year old who was not part of 2017 reading sat in on our reading discussion and got to see what all the fuss was about.  He will be jumping into our new and improved 2018 ENFORCED READING CHALLENGE.  Now he is excited too!

And of course the OCD nature in me has neatly filed away all the reading logs and questions so next year we can pull them out and compare and see how they have grown in their reading and writing.

We are super pleased with the way this reading challenge progressed however we have learned along the way and have made some adjustments to our plan as we take on 2018.

—–>First: we are adding a book of the bible to be assigned each month as well as their assigned book.  January they are reading 1Timothy.  We the parents of course will be reading the books of the bible as well.  Last year I did read some of the books before giving them to the kids to make sure they would be appropriate and beneficial.

—->Second:  Richard is joining the reading challenge this year so since he is an early reader as a 1st grader he will have some help especially the first few months as he gets the hang of this and his comprehension questions are scaled down to his level.

—->Last: When the 1st of the month rolls around if their reading from the prior month is not done they will lose all electronics and phones until it is complete.  I think after once or twice this will help encourage them to be more aware of having their reading and questions done on time which was a challenge last year we saw.   Hopefully this year they can be completing each month without being reminded.

As in most parenting moments this has been a learning experience for us this past year as well.  As a result I myself have increased the number of books I read and have been reading a wider variety—->Mom win!!!

I know felt super accomplished that we followed through and stuck this out even through all the grumbling and complaining. Even when it was extra work to keep up with during busier seasons.

I do believe the kids and the parents in our home are pleased with the outcome of this 2017 ENFORCED READING CHALLENGE.

Sometimes the parenting successes feel few and far between but this was a big success for us and I am excited to see how the children and parents in our home grow with our 2018 reading!

PS——>We are open to books suggestions for 2018!

(almost) ready

I had a brief conversation with a stranger last week. A sweet and kind middle age woman who was beyond the years of bearing children. She was just amazed to learn we had six children at home and that we have one on the way. Her eyes lit up as she pondered the busyness we see everyday.  Then when she spoke of how exciting Christmas morning must be in our home she was so excited. And she repeatedly told me just how lucky my husband and I were to have a large family.

Then the light in her eyes died as she spoke of never being lucky enough to have any children of her own and I could see the pain and heart break in her eyes. My heart broke for her.  The deep hurt and longing and emptiness she felt deep inside could be seen in those few brief moments of our conversation. I wanted to be able to say something, to say anything to offer her comfort or healing. The words didn’t come, I sidestepped the conversation into a different direction.

But her pain has not left me or my heart.

How humbling and startling at the same time. In all the chaos of this Christmas season to see our family through the eyes of another. I do know our children and large family are an amazing blessing but the day to day takes over and you in a way become desensitized to truly appreciate these blessings.

On a typical day when I am tired or sick, the kids are not getting along, not listening, complaining and bickering, full blown two year old tantrums, preteen attitudes in full swing, messes to be cleaned, never-ending to do lists are growing its hard to look at all that in the moment and think ‘wow I am blessed!’.

So in this moment, this conversation I was given the gift of seeing our super size family through the eyes of someone who longed for a family that never came.  To be reminded that all the mess and chaos and busyness is a blessing even during the hard days and moments.

Not to be taken for granted but loved, valued and appreciated.

I am thankful but not as thankful as I should be.

‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.’ Colossians 4:2

I am joyful but not as joyful as I should be.

‘But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God, may they be happy and joyful.’ Psalm 68:3

I am imperfect, a work in progress.  I will continue making progress and I will continue to grow.

‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ 1Thessalonians 5:18

During this last week of December I will reflect on this past year and pray for the upcoming year.  This sweet reminder will continue to sit with my heart as I prepare myself to enter 2018.  I will study scripture and lean to the Lord to mold me and guide me to be a more thankful and more joyful momma-bear and wife during this next year and season in our life.

Bring God glory in all circumstances!  Bring on 2018!  I am (almost) ready.

Rising to the challenge

We had a heck of an evening.  One of those disaster after disaster days when you question whether or not you have done anything right as a mother.   

After several minor sibling problems and other behavior issues brewing amongst several of our children.  Our daughter especially presented us with quite the challenge as her preteen attitiude took rude and disrespectful to an entirely new level.  There have been moments of this attitude here and there but this evening her attitude exploded and crossed many lines.

I will not go into all of the details but reached a point a line was crossed and enough was enough.  It was not quite 6 pm when this situation peaked.  As an immediate consequence her youth activities at church were taken away and she was sent to bed without dinner.  And to bed without being allowed to complete her homework for the evening.  If you know Emily you know that not being allowed to do her homework is devastating.  

All this being done with discussion and further consequences to be given tomorrow.  These are the moments when parenting is at its hardest and most challenging.  Respond don’t react.  Don’t overreact.  I am human, I struggle in the heat of the moment with this concept, but today this situation I kept it together.  Calm face, no raised voices. Success, no yelling or arguing she put herself to bed.  Deep breath and I have time to collect my thoughts and prepare to sit down and discuss this with her tomorrow.  

Several hours later after I chopped up some fresh veggies for salad I slipped into Emily’s room to slip the carrot peels and lettuce heads to her bunnies.  I startled her out of her sleep as I was slipping back out of the room.  Half asleep, eyes closed and she says quietly to me “Mom I love you”.  That’s it, drifts back off to sleep.  

No pleading for getting up out of bed, no justifying her behavior, no apologizing, begging, arguing, just a sweet simple ‘mom I love you’.  

This is the first thought she had when she woke up.  Not angry with me for holding her accountable.  Not trying to get out of consequences.  Just that she loves me.  Oh despite her many flaws I love this girl’s heart.  This sweet heart melting moment does not change her consequences the following day.  She is still held accountable for her words, actions and behaviors.  


But as I lay drifting off to sleep I wonder what if that’s how I responded to God.  When I am dealing with the consequences of my own sin, facing the mess I have created trying to do things in my own strength and not turning to God.  Instead of rationalizing, justifying, complaining and worrying about the discussions of tomorrow.   To just stop and rest and tell the Lord I love Him.  Laying in bed after a day of trials and storms and just say “God I love You.”  How peaceful, simple.  

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”  ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭


Thank you sweet friend

This week a much needed reminder appeared on my desk the other morning.  It has been a challenging few months and weeks and days.  Taking things day by day, moment by moment.  I came into work and this beautiful figureine was sitting there waiting for me.

It really took my breath away.  And then I picked it up and read the inscription.





‘Help me heal

And use my gifts

As you command

With gentle hands’


     What a treasure this gift this is.

     This statute on this day 

     at this moment 

     was God’s perfect timing.  

I walked into work with the weight of the world, all of the trials our family is facing in this season of busyness and then the night before we had received news of a loved one who had passed away.  This morning  I was struggling and walked in to work this morning see this statue.  

During a time when I would be sitting down and diving into another busy day without a second thought I stopped as this quiet reminder caused me to pause and start my day in silent prayer.

“Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy.”  ‭Psalm‬ ‭86:6‬ 

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  Colossians‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭

What a sweet and precious reminder to me that I need to be carrying the presence of Jesus and not the weight of our trials and circumstances.  

I can rest knowing that God is in control of this crazy stressful fallen world.  I need to continually place my trust and faith in Him, He will not leave me or forsake me.  Even in the most challenging of our trials when I am blinded by my own emotions and sin He is there, steady and strong.  

In all things I need to be going first to the Lord in prayer, even in my work and caring for my patients.  Not trying to take control and carry all this on my own but I need to stay in continual prayer.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭

On my desk is where this statue will remain to remind me day after day.  From the bottom of my heart thank you sweet friend for your thoughtful gift.

Capturing the WINS!

Being a mother is one of life’s greatest blessings and I am so grateful to be on this journey. However some days are harder than others, some moments bring heavier challenges. There are days as a parent it feels like one defeat after another with an overwhelming blanket of failure closing in. The day when everything little thing seems to be going wrong, all of the kids are having a rough day and it all bubbles into one disaster filled day. The day that you know the sun is there hiding behind the clouds but you cannot see it or feel it. I don’t think I am alone, I am pretty sure that any parent can relate to what kind of day this is, thankfully these days are few and far between.

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.’ James 1:2

Sometimes it may not be the whole day but just parts of a day that weigh down and burden you with feeling like you have failed in some way and it feels like the sunshine is a million miles away instead of just behind the clouds.

‘He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.’ Job 8:21

To help stay focused on the positive and keep me to be more aware and sensitive to God’s blessing in my life I have been capturing the wins each day. This has helped to break through the clouds and see the sunshine even on the more difficult challenging days. Some days I am not as good with this, I fall to the negative feelings of defeat.

But overall capturing the wins has really been encouraging and quite rewarding.  For several months in my journal I have a space everyday for writing down my ‘WINS’. So as I go through my day I am making a conscious effort of looking for the positive things and then writing them down. Some days I am able to find more wins than others. Some days I struggle to find the wins however I am always able  find something positive to write down.  This has helped keep my heart and mind focused on seeing God’s blessings in my life, small and big.

Some days my wins are as simple as ‘5 minutes of uninterrupted bathroom time’.

A beautiful sunrise on the way in the morning.  

The way our youngest snuggles in my lap to play.

God’s forgiveness.

Sweet note from my loving husband.

As I have been capturing these positive moments and details of my life it has been most rewarding to go back and read the wins from weeks and months ago. My heart and mind are filled with these precious moments in time. Capturing my wins as turned out to be wonderful rays of sunshine in the stormy days.

‘Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.’ Psalm 100:1

‘You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.’ Psalm 30:11

‘When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.’ Psalm 94:19

Heavenly Father,

I pray to keep my eyes focused on You.  I pray our marriage, our family, our home will keep You in the center of everything.  I pray for your will to be done in our lives, I pray to glorify You especially in our trials and struggles.  Help me to focus on the big and the small blessings in our lives.  I pray to keep my eyes and my heart open to Your blessings and the good being built within our family and home and to not dwell on the negatives or the struggles.  I am human and I make mistakes and fall short all the time, I pray to learn from my mistakes to grow stronger because of them.  I pray for direction and guidance.  Please Father give me courage and strength to be the wife and mother You have created me to be.  Thank you for my family, for blessing me with an amazing husband, for blessing me with the awesome adventure of being a mother.  ~~~In Jesus name, AMEN

 (un) prepared.       (Un) positively. (un) joyful.

It’s seems like just when I think I have things a little figured out, small handle on the chaos of our busy blended adventurous life there’s another bump in the road.

I finally feel like I am going to be able to stop and catch my breath and bam the wind gets knocked out of me again.  Whether it’s one big thing that knocks me down or several small at the same time.  It seems to be the inevitable cycle of life in this fallen world.

This week has knocked me down hard, several small blows have taken a toll.  Challenges of parenting intertwined with complications and emotional hurt caused by ‘the other parent and home’.  Little hearts that are hurting and needing guidance and support.  Exhausted parents after minimal sleep carried into difficult and challenging days at work and busy demanding evenings caring for kids and keeping up with housework.

The circumstances and struggle of our day to day during a more demanding week blow by blow has dictated my moods and reactions and knocked away my joy and stole my smile.

Fighting the moment by moment internal spiritual battle.  Distracted and overwhelmed by the circumstances and  powerful emotions that are threatening to take over.  Not one big trial but many small storms.

The enemy never backs down, he is always trying to steal our joy.

I did not do well this week.  I am weak and tired.  I did not have a good attitude or joyful heart.

I can quote you the verses and tell you the ‘church’ answer of how I should have handled it all.  But in the heat of the moment when I’m tired beyond tired, hungry, pulled in 10 directions and feeling very overwhelmed and out of control I do not act or respond the way in my heart know I should.  My sinful selfish self takes over with a toxic negative attitude and responses.

 

This photo sums up how I felt this week!

And then it happened…..scrolling casually through my Facebook feed and there is this tiny precious fragile baby who has been born much much too early, strapped to all kinds of tubes and life support machines keeping him alive.  A true miracle to still be alive despite all odds at this point and still facing a lifetime of disability when he does grow stronger.  His parents full of fear and questions but yet living positively and with BOLD FAITH!!!  After considering the pain and worry of his mamas heart suddenly my disaster of a day at my office and tired kids just does not seem that bad anymore.

In this moment…..time stops briefly…

My eyes burning to cry.

My heart mourns and prays for this baby and his family.

My spirit is condemned and my heart convicted.  Tornado of emotions shake me to my core, guilt for being so selfish, awe mixed with a huge surge of thankfulness for my husband and our family and our abundant blessings.

Convicted………guilty……ashamed……..a couple of bad (not ideal) days and I open myself up and allow the enemy to come in and steal my joy, this not the first time I have allowed this and this not only effects me it impacts everyone around me.  I allow the circumstances , being tired, having to wait 10 minutes for a treadmill at the gym, awful day at work, cranky kids drive my mood and actions.  SELFISH!!!  This sweet precious baby and his family are holding on in joyful faith as he fights to stay alive and I’m having a bad (not ideal) day and I cannot be obedient to God in how I respond and act!?!?  


This realization shakes me to my core, my spirit and heart immediately soften and I turn to God.  Not any more, I refuse to let this go on any longer.  This is not who I am or who God created me to be.  

 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭

I am truly humbled, call out to God confess my transgressions and beg His undeserved forgiveness.

This week will not need end way it started.  The enemy will not have his way with me or my family.

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭108:13‬

I will be prepared, study and memorize God’s word and truth.

“I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11

I will be faithful and remain close to the Lord in prayer.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:12

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.” Psalm 61:1

This is not new information or realizations for me like I already said I have known all along what I should be doing, and have actually been doing most of it.  I read God’s word most days, pray daily, I go through the motions.  But the difference is in the heart when I am doing these things.  My heart needs to be God-centered.  If Iam going through the motions but my heart is cold and cut off then my efforts are essentially useless and meaningless, I see the fruit and evidence of this in how I started my week and where my heart was and where my heart is now.


I need to be prepared…. For the ongoing and endless daily battles I will continue to face.  The enemy knows my weaknesses and will continue to use my circumstances and prey on my humanity and try to steal my joy 

 

 

 

“For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory.” Psalm 149:4

 

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes its you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deuteronomy 20:4

I need to keep a positive heart, mind and spirit in moments and circumstances that are more demanding. I choose God, I choose joy.

” Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.   Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth!” Psalm 66:1

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and the your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19

 

—> NOT ANY LONGER!!! satan you lose, God wins, I have victory in Christ and will not sit back and willing allow you to take my joy or delight, God is my source of great happiness, I am truly blessed and will keep my heart and mind focused on the Lord and take delight in His love.<—-

Rising up to take ACTION!

Pushing forward in our Christian blended family and parenting adventures.

My husband and I along the way have consistently been incorporating some form of family devotional, typically during one of our family meals.  We are not successful in doing a devotional every night but typically at least once a week.  Which has been good but we feel God leading us to take this devotional time in a new direction.

         —>Plan of action!<—

My husband and I are going to intentionally direct our family devotions to teaching, modeling, and instilling God’s law in the hearts of our children. I have recently read an amazing book by Ray Comfort, “How to bring your children to Christ and keep them there.” He offers some great advice and tools. This really opened my eyes on how important and crucial it is to teach our children about sin.

I think it is so easy to shy away from the focusing on the affliction of sin to stay more focused on God’s love and forgiveness. Especially with children, your instinct is to protect them from anything that may be scary or harmful. Sin and hell are scary and harmful! But we need to do exactly the opposite. Our children can never be truly appreciate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross if they do not fully recognize and understand the entity of sin.  They need to be taught God’s law, what sin is, they need to see themselves as a sinner or they will never truly repent and turn to Jesus.

I can see how this family journey through the commandments, magnifying God’s Moral Law is going to not only be transforming for our children but will also be at work in my own heart. This has already provoked my husband and I to truly reflect on our own sin and obedience to the Lord (or lack thereof 😉  )

JIt is so easy to deep inside try and justify or rationalize our own sin.  We so easily see sin as big or little, we try and attribute our sin as not as severe.  For example, we tell ‘a little white lie’ which we chalk up as harmless, but in God’s eyes lying is the same as murder and adultery.  Our sinful nature pulls us to downplay the seriousness of our sin.

So my husband and I are dedicated to use our family devotional to open the eyes of our children to exactly what sin is, so they can see sin in their own hearts and lives and recognize why they need to be saved. I know our kids know what the 10 commandments are but do they really understand them? They can recite them from memory but do they know what it means to truly follow them? We are going to slowly week by week take on a commandment and discuss it and study it and model it as a family.

Last week we had an in depth discussion about the first commandment.

““I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  Exodus‬ ‭20:2‬ ‭

God comes first.  It seems simple at first but trying to explain this to a child in terms they can truly comprehend is not as simple.  Before we can take this to our young audience we need to reflect on our own lives and actions; ‘am I living with God coming first?’, unfortunately not like I should or could be.  It is in trying to teach our children this that I can see where my sin has been shadowed, shining the light on it so I can repent and turn toward being obedient and putting God first.

We tried to shine light on what it means to not put God first, to put His blessings in our life before Him.  We used Ray Comfort’s  example and demonstrated what it looks like to love the gift and not the giver.

How often to we do this, value and honor our life, our family, our jobs, our things over the One who blessed us with these things.  We are all guilty, we are all sinners, we all desperately need Christ.  We are also ensuring that our kids are aware that my husband and I are just as guilty, we are not perfect or sinless, we make mistakes and need to repent from our sins and turn to Christ.

This week’s devotional we took on the second commandment.

““You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”  Exodus‬ ‭20:3-6‬

It is very easy to fall guilty to having idols, we do it all the time and don’t even realize this is what we are doing.  We idolize God as this loving forgiving God who won’t punish us for our sins.  We pray our wish lists to Him.  Idolatry is dangerous because it is so easy to fall into.  But breaking God’s law has severe consequences, if He punished us the way we truly deserved it would be unimaginable.

So with this weeks devotional in trying to teach and show the kids that God’s law is God’s law whether you believe or follow it we used the law of gravity as an example.  God of course is the Creator of natural laws, the natural lof of gravity.  My husband got to drop a raw egg and this definately got their attention, intentionally drop and break an egg!  He did it to show them it does not matter what we do we cannot defy the law of gravity because, it is indisputable that if you jump off of a cliff you will fall to a traumatic result of the law of gravity.  

The goal of having them visualize the consequence of defying one of God’s natural laws so we could impress on them on the power and consequence of defying God’s moral law.  We minimize our sins because we don’t see the immediate consequence of our sin.  However just because  we don’t receive immediate punishment we deserve does not mean that God’s law is not being disobeyed.  How quickly we turn to idolatry to justify and downplay our sin.  We need to have a healthy fear and respect of God and his law to truly be saved.  We can not repent of our sins if we are unable to reconize sin as sin.

 

My husband has done an amazing job leading our family devotional.  Not an easy task, with multiple children at varying ages and learning abilities at times it’s like herding cats to keep them on track.  Overall these have gone over really well and the cherry on top is that the all actually are participating and enjoying it 🙂

So to follow up and follow through with our new direction of devotional I have been working with them in the car on our ride to and from school.  We have been talking about the first and second commandments daily, reviewing what it means to follow them, and what it means to break them.  

In an effort to establish starting our day with the Lord and focused on Him we have established a blessing time in the mornings.  I ask one of the kids to lead us in a blessing for all of us to start our day.  They have been enjoying this as well, one morning I didn’t initiate blessing quick enough at the typical point in our drive when I would initiate and I was reminded by our daughter that we need to do our blessing.  

Another area that we been trying to encourage them in is having a servants heart and actively be seeking ways to be kind to others.  Every morning I discuss with them trying to find a way to show someone kindness during their day.  I encourage them to be on the lookout to help someone that needs it.  To look for ways they can serve others, even if it is a small way. I have challenged them to find a way to be kind or help someone anonymously.  So far none have them found a way but it’s only been a couple of weeks.

“Dear children let us love not with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1John3:18

Then on the way home we have discussion and learn who found a way to be kind.  One at a time I ask them about their day and if they found a way.  Some days are more successful than others but I feel like this we are making progress.  I also take time to tell them if I had found a way to show kindness to someone in my day.  We certainly cannot expect them to live to standards we as parents are not modeling and being the example of.

 The goal is encourage them to start their day in prayer and actively be looking for ways to serve, be kind and honoring to the Lord.

With the Lord leading us Matt and I will continue with this part of our parenting journey and continue to teach our children about God’s law, the severity of sinning against God and in turn showing them their own sin and this will lead them to a true conversion as a follow of Christ.  

These few weeks I know I am feeling more convicted, my heart is transforming and growing in my relationship with the Lord.  I can already see some small but positive changes in the kids, our family and home.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You so much for blessing us as parents!  What an awesome and challenging responsibility you have given us.  Please continue to lead guide and direct my husband and I in raising, teaching, discipling, encouraging, correcting and loving our children.  They each are a blessing from You.  I pray that we rise to be the parents You have called us to be, to teach and show our children how to love You, serve You and live their lives to glorify You.  I pray for strength, courage, wisdom and patience in this incredible journey.  I pray that my husband and I can be godly and humble examples for our children to look to us and see Your love.  I pray that our family devotional time continues to capture their attention and convicts their hearts and that they can see their sin for sin and truly repent and come to Christ.   Lord thank You so much for my husband and our children and blessing us so abundantly.  

In Jesus name, Amen. 

The adventures of PAC time

My husband and I from the beginning of our marriage and blended family becoming one have made it a point to be sure the children were able to have some one on one time with each of us.  There was no rhyme or reason to how we did this we would just kind of on a whim one of us would take one of the kids out for a meal or movie or something special that provided our undivided attention.  While this was good we felt like we could be doing better, more focused and intentional on making this special parent and child time a priority.

So we came up with PAC time, Parent Child Time.  At first I tried using ‘Power Hour’ but this was not well received and the name was changed right away.  Apparently the boys and girls club has power hour for getting homework done.  

‘They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.’ Psalm 37:26

This is a set schedule we have, my PAC time is Tuesday evening after dinner and Matt’s is Thursday evening after dinner.  We have an ongoing rotation with the kids so they each have some intentional one on one time.  We rotate the kids through in a way that if one child is with me for their PAC time the next time it’s their turn it will be with Matt.  

‘Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.’ Psalm 127:3

We do various things during our PAC times.  However they typically involve some form of sweet for dessert 🙂
-milkshakes and Yahtzee at cookout

-sweet drink and playing cards at Starbucks

-peeps from dollar tree and putting together a puzzle

-sneaking off to new port news to indulge in warm Krispy Kreme donuts

-sweet frog and Walmart

-milkshake in the car while watching the light show outside Franktronics 

– dessert at cookout and working on bible study for community group 

These are a few of the fun times we have had and look forward to many more.

We have made this parent child time a priority. I think this is important for the kids to feel like we value our time with them and sacrificing this time each week with them is a reflection of this priority. Now there has been an occasional event scheduled on one of PAC time evenings so in that case we adjust and do the PAC time another night that same week. PAC time is not taken away as a punishment, it is a constant and not conditional.


The kids were a little skeptical of this whole PAC time idea at first.  I think they waited for it to fall off as a temporary phase.  But we are holding strong and have stuck with this for nearly 6 months now with every intention to keep this up.  The kids have really come to look forward to this time.  They save some important questions and topics to bring up and discuss during this time.  They get excited and very much look forward to this time.  It essentially breaks down to each of the kids getting PAC time twice a month.  Even Richard who is five has really gotten excited about this, last week the first thing he said Thursday morning was” “yes PAC time tonight with Matt!.”  


Now this I not always an easy task to accomplish each week.  After a long day of getting everyone out of the door by 7am, a full workday, time at the gym or free clinic hours, dinner prep, baths and clean up it is next to impossible to muster up the extra energy to sneak out of the house with a child at 8pm and being deliberate and focused on them.  But we do it, we with the Lord’s strength pull ourselves together and make this very purposeful and meaningful time with our children a priority.  There have been evenings when it is next to impossible and painful to go back out in the cold, but in the end we are always very thankful we did.  

‘Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’ 1John 3:18

While we know that they truly enjoy this time now my prayer is that one day when they look back and reflect on their childhood they truly appreciate this.   That this will be one of the things they remember well.  That the time, energy and love we are pouring into these precious hours will have lasting impact on their tender hearts growing spirits.  

‘Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of he Lord.’ Psalm 34:11

As we continue with our adventures of PAC time there are some minor ways we can expand on this purposeful time we are dedicating to our children.  We can infuse more prayer and devotional time reflecting on and studying God’s word while we are enjoying our sweets and our time together.  We do incorporate this on a smaller level but as I reflect on this time well spent I can see there is great potentional to expand on this and making and even more eternally lasting impression on our children’s minds hearts and souls through this time when we have their undivided focus and attention.  We have successfully established this intentional time with our children we will continue with this and utilize this valuable time to teach God’s word, law and love through our PAC time.  

Go Away!!! And don’t come back!!!

One of our five year old’s favorite bedtime stories is an interesting book titled ‘ Go Away Big Green Monster’.  I have read this book to him dozens of times and he still loves it every time.  Essentially the first half of the book is the author describing every detail of this big green monster, add one detail per page with a matching illustration.  For example it reads ‘ Big green monster has two big yellow eyes’ and you see two big yellow eyes staring back at you.  Then after several pages you have this complete picture of this big green monster.  And then…  You turn the page to read ‘YOU DON’T SCARE ME!’  Then page by page each scary monster feature is told to ‘Go Away’.

  ‘ Go Away Two Big Yellow Eyes.’


The book ends with the bold command, ‘Go AWAY big green monster and don’t come back until I say so!’.  I can see why this is appealing to our son, it allows him visualizes the power and confidence to tell a scary monster to go away.  He feels empowered by hearing this.  During our most recent read through this book, probably the 318th time reading it I had visualized this big green monster a little differently.  What if I faced my monsters with this simple and confident approach.  

                            We have victory and power in Christ to tell satan to go away!

           
 

          “I will never be as good as she is.”

When we feel tempted with envy —->Go AWAY evil lies of satan!!!

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  ‭‭James‬ ‭4:7‬

                   “I am worthless and will never be good enough.”

When we are attacked with self doubt—-> Go AWAY evil lies of satan!!!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”   Romans‬ ‭12:21‬ ‭



                “I have failed my kids and family and am a terrible mother.”

When we are assaulted with feelings of failure—> Go AWAY evil lies of satan!!!
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”  ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:8-9





              “This is too much, I cannot handle this and am not strong enough.”

When circumstances of the moment seem overwhelming and impossible—> Go AWAY evil lies of satan!!!

‬ ‭”But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”  ‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭






1- Armor up!!!  Stay engaged in His word and His truth.  His truth teaches us how He loves us unconditionally, not because of who we are or what we do but because of who He is.

      “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Ephesians‬ ‭6:11-17‬ ‭

2- Tell satan to “GO AWAY!” We are victorious through Christ.   we WILL conquer satan and his evil lies and constant attacks in our lives, Christ is our protector and through Him we will rise up victorious!

     “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:3-5

3- Choose positive thoughts.

      “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things. ”  Philippians 4:8

4- Fall to your knees in prayer, most important battles are won with the weapon of prayer.

      “Hear my prayer, Lord, listen to my cry for mercy.”  Psalm 86:6

      ” Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

Blended—> Challenging & Beautiful 

Our large and lively family is what is considered to be ‘blended’.  This means our family is not the traditional family, my husband and I both have been married before and have had children with our ex-spouse.  Before God led us into each other’s lives my husband and I both went through devastating trials as we lost our previous marriages to choices and circumstances beyond our control that left us both faced with the adventure of single parenthood.

Prior to meeting each other during the months we survived being a single parent we each went through our own transformation period, on our knees opening our hearts in complete surrender to Christ.  One of the most traumatic and challenging times in my life led me to a point that my eyes and my heart were opened, I was delivered from despair as I came alive spiritually and found new hope for life.  God gave me strength and carried me through every day, every challenge and every trial I was forced to face.  I prayed each and every night to let it be God’s will for me to meet someone, I prayed specific details on the man I desired to be led to, and less than a year later God answered my prayers.

Psalm 102:1. —–Hear my prayer, Lord, let my cry for help come to you.

Psalm 143:1 ——Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.


Our faithful and wonderful God brought Matt and I together. We quickly connected as followers of Christ and grew as friends and after dating for about a year we entered the covenant of marriage united in Christ.


We both were very aware that there would be some trials and challenges along the way as we entered into our marriage and beginning our beautiful blended family.  We did not do this blindly, we kept God at the center of it all and let Him lead us.  Together we did do quite a bit of research and reading of Christian authors who had been down the same path before.  We went through premarital counseling and guidance with our pastor.  We were bravely prepared as we began this journey over two years ago.  We had ultimate faith in the Lord that He would be there with us and guide us every step of the way.  God is so good and so faithful, He has been with us every step of the way.  Our marriage and blending our family has truly been our greatest blessing.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭16:34‬ ‭

I feel like there are some misconceptions or stereotypes surrounding the ‘blended family’.  Today’s society now has more blended families than traditional or intact families.   The most recent statistics show that more than 50% of families are in situations where parents are remarried or recoupled.  With such an increasing population of blended families it would be great if there were more resources available to help these families learn, grow and thrive especially in Christian homes.  Our church has embraced and accepted us with open arms, but unfortunately I think a lot of churches are not very loving and accepting of blended families or single parents.  This is very sad because it is the children and parents in these situations that desperately need the love and support of the church.  Thankfully these stereotypes mean nothing to the One who matters, in God’s loving eyes there is nothing second-rate about a blended family.

It has not been an easy or effortless transition, we have had some challenges through this and still continue to have challenges.  Some days are much more trying than others, but all of the good moments by far outweighs the struggles.  Family and parenting challenges are not exclusive to blended families, intact and traditional families are also faced with many challenges.  However there is a different dynamic and unique element to challenges seen in blended families.  My husband and I have learned many things over the last two years, we have made several mistakes along the way.  We are not perfect but we have a perfect Savior to carry us along the way.  We have learned from our mistakes, praying constantly for wisdom courage and strength.

Here are a few of our lessons learned from our experiences of blending our family into one under Christ:

—Love is a choice.  Loving your biological children comes naturally but you must choose to love your stepchildren.  Love unconditionally as Christ loves us.

—Family mealtimes are golden moments of bonding, we love when we are able to have a meal with all of us at the table.  We try and make this a priority, not possible daily during our busy school year but we typically pull it off a few times a week, dinner during the week, lunch or breakfast on the weekends.  Getting 6 kids and 2 adults to sit still at the same time for an extended period can be challenge to say the least!

—Church as a family is a priority, not an option in our house, it’s expected that we will be at Sunday school, Sunday service and youth activities weekly.  No matter what’s going on with our house or family church is a constant.  

—Adults get divorced, kids don’t.  A child still needs the positive involvement and contact with their biological parent that they don’t live with.  We cannot force their other parents to fulfill this role appropriately however we can be there to support and help our children with their relationship with their other parent.  It is vital that we never speak disparagingly about their other parent in front of the kids.  This only hurts the kids and cannot be undone.  This is one are that Matt and I have done very well with, we have refrained from speaking badly of any of their other biological parents in from of them.  This area can be quite challenging, while you don’t want to speak badly of their other parent you cannot lie or withhold certain truths.  For example if a parent fails to show up or follow through with a promise it is not ok to lie and make excuses for them.  Finding the line of not speaking badly but being honest can be very very hard.  Overall we have done well with this and will continue leaning on God to guide us in this area.  We will work to support our children to continue their relationship with their other parents.

—Holidays, weekends and summer vacations will be forever changed, better just to accept this reality of custody and visitation schedules and be flexible and be as positive as possible, especially for the kids, unfortunately the little ones involved are the ones who get hurt and impacted by the complications involved with visitation schedules.  My husband and I put a lot of effort into protecting the kids from the adult pieces of this but we cannot control what happens outside of our home and we have learned to efficiently handle damage control when needed.  We have failed in maintaining joyful and positive attitudes at times but we have learned a lot and have moved on to be best example and support we can for our children.  They look first to us so we must handle conflict and complications with grace and patience.  Lord give us strength!

—As parents my husband and I have no power or control of what happens outside of our home, particularly in the home of the other parents.  However at times what happens in the other home directly impacts our home and family.  It is hard and at times impossible to accept the powerlessness of watching your child be hurt, disappointed, emotionally neglected and spiritually attacked in the other parents home.  We can do nothing to stop, prevent or change this, we have to release control and trust God in these difficult and heartbreaking circumstances.  This has been by far one of the biggest challenges for me as a mother to accept and learn to endure.  It has been a slow learning process for me, I have been stubborn (yes Matt I am admitting to being stubborn;), angry, had an unchristian like attitude, and this has made this process for me painfully long, I have been kicking and fighting this area that God has been working on me.  I’m still not where I should be but have come along way and continue making progress.  As parents we need to let go of not being able to protect our kids when they are with their other parents , we cannot bubble wrap their heart from feeling rejection and hurt and  we are unable to cover their eyes, ears and hearts from being exposed to ungodly and evil things of this fallen world.  Thankfully what we can do is so much more POWERFUL!!!!  We release them to God and rise up in PRAYER.  It has been an excruciating process for me to get this but I am still learning and will continue improving in this area, thank You Lord for being patient with me.

‘Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.’ Romans 12:9


Blending a family takes time, it does not happen easily, without hard work, without love or overnight.  It is essential to keep Christ at the center of it all.  He will give us what we need and He will not let us down.  When your marriage and family stay God centered amazing things happen.  He is good and faithful and He loves us.  He has called us to love one another as Christ loves us.  Praise and glory to God!!


“Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.”  Romans‬ ‭15:17‬