" The simple act of getting down on their level, engaging in play
and giving them undivided attention is exactly what they want and need. "
The other morning I woke up to a foggy, fall-like morning in the forest. The air was damp and cool. Even so, there were still signs of it being the middle of June…the birds were chirping a melodious chorus and the dirt pile in our yard showed signs where dirt roads and racetracks had been built by my two young sons the day before.
As I sipped my morning coffee, I pondered the importance of play in our lives.
The words ‘children’ and ‘play’ are synonymous. Children make play look so easy, because it is for them. Play is in their nature. It is generally the first thing my children want to do when they wake up in the morning, even before eating some breakfast.
Our family theme this month is Joy, Play, & Peace. With summer in full swing, what better time to embrace the art of playing.
Children’s minds are wired to play. My Type-A, adult mind on the other hand, finds it difficult to stop my ‘adult’ work and join my children in play. I am a very purposeful person, so if there doesn’t seem to be a “purpose” in doing something, I see it as a waste of our precious time. However, when I stop and really think about play and childhood I reminded of its importance to them.
Play is very purposeful for children and deserves more value than I often give it. Play is very important for them and it is actually a large part of how they learn. Even though it is not something that comes natural to me, I am training myself to join them in their play on a daily basis.
There are many opportunities for teaching lessons when we are playing with our children and I encourage those. But having a training and teaching mind set often causes me to be more focused on the “lesson” that will be learned from our play together; instead of just enjoying time with my children and allowing the Holy Spirit to “teach” a lesson if it arises. I believe a balance of both is in order.
The quality time spent playing with our children is priceless and it creates a strong bond between us and our child. We don’t always need to have an agenda in our play with our children and it doesn’t have to be some extravagant thing we are doing with them. The simple act of getting down on their level, engaging in play and giving them undivided attention is exactly what they want and need. But there have many days where I would get to the end of the day and realize I had no “real” intentional play time with my children.
Can you relate? Do you often get to the end of your day and realize you had no real “intentional” play time with your children? I know we are all very busy with to-do lists and responsibilities, but the responsibility of parenting well should be a top priority and that means being intentional; it means maybe sacrificing some personal interests for the time being, putting our devices down, and engaging wholeheartedly with our children.
If our daily schedules are too full to have time to play with our children, then I believe a reworking of our schedules is in order. Our playtime need not be extremely lengthy; just intentional and as undivided as possible. I have seen that sacrificing some of my own interests and personal goals in order to make time to intentionally play with my children is worth it. And an added bonus after intentional play is that their behavior tends to be more positive and compliant for long after. Our children's obedience and cooperation I think is something all us moms desire.
There are so many “ways” to play with our children. If you haven’t played with your children in awhile, I encourage you today to stop your housework, work, to-do list—whatever it is you are occupied with—for a bit, and join your children in some play time. It might be playing with their cars and trucks or dolls, Legos, a board or card game, sidewalk chalk, etc. Come to them with a fun idea or better yet, let your children choose what to play…but come with no agenda and be fully engaged with them.
Have fun today, look for joy, and be blessed by His truth & grace!
Do you ever compare yourself to others? Does the grass seem to look greener on other lawns??
Comparison is a dangerous trap we all can easily fall into. It can definitely be a stronghold in our lives if we are not on guard.
"The best thing I can do for my congregation is to quit comparing myself to other pastors and simply strive to be genuinely me." ...Words by Brady Boyd, Pastor and author of the book, Addicted to Busy.
Last night, as I was going through some old papers I came across a note with the above quote at the top. Underneath it were my thoughts about these words and I want to share that with you today.
I think the words from this pastor have application for us all. God designed each one of us in a special and unique way. Our lives are not meant to look the same. We are not meant to do everything the same way as our neighbors, friends, or even our family. Our pieces of the puzzle look different than everyone else's pieces. But the beautiful thing is that all our different pieces fit together with everyone else's to make one BIG, beautiful picture God is creating every day.
These words are not just applicable for this pastor, we can take these words and make them personal--We can say to ourselves, "The best thing I can do for my family, and for God, is to stop comparing myself to other (moms/wives) and simply strive to be genuinely me."
Comparison is a waste of time. Unless someone is a close friend, we really don't have any idea what is going on in other peoples lives and what they are going through. ...And when we do know the details of what is going on, we should be on our knees in prayer for those individuals, not using their circumstances to feed the destructive stronghold of comparison.
An unintentional, but very negative by-product of social media is comparison. In social media we get a snap shot of someone else's life and it is easy to think that person/couple/family has a "perfect" life. Spoiler Alert...Their lives are NOT perfect! No one's is.
Now I am not faulting anyone for sharing the "best" parts of their lives. I am guilty of it too...but when we are on social media we need to be aware of the pitfall of comparison. We can be on guard, turn our thinking around and share in that person's joy.
If you have a tendency to fall into the comparison trap, like a do, I encourage you to spend some getting to know yourself better. Learn your strengths, your passions; get to know your family members better, learn their strengths and passions. If you haven't thought about your own strengths and passions lately, you might even be surprised to learn that some have changed.
The best way to really know yourself better is to spend time with The Lord. Get to know what His words says about you. Our Heavenly Father cares for you deeply. He loves you immensely and He wants to bless you beyond measure. He made you in His image and He gave you strengths and talents that no one else has. His plan and will for your life is perfect, you just have to be willing and ready to live it.
Let's strive "To be the most excellent we can be; and not strive for someone else's excellent."
Blessings for you today.
This homeschooling mom and wife thing is hard. I mean really stinkin' hard. Selfishness, bad attitudes, and constant needs can make for a frustrating and exhausting day (...sometimes I am the one guilty of these). But should I just give in and quit?
If you are like me, God has called you to this life of being a wife and a homeschooling mom and it is a blessed responsibility.
I never imagined myself here. I was a professional medical provider, a business owner, but I was also crazy consumed by my career. God changed that a little over 2 years into my motherhood.
Thinking about where I was and where I am now gives me clarity and realization to the importance of my current responsibilities.
There are times when I get so frustrated with the events of the day I briefly convince myself that I am crazy to be homeschooling and that the alternative must be a better option. But once I settle myself down, I truly don't believe that is God's will for our family. And as a follower of Jesus, I remember that my hope and strength does not come from within myself. My hope and strength comes from the One who shed His blood on the cross for me. I am not in this homeschooling journey alone.
Most of the time the reason for all the frustration and chaos is because I am trying to do too much. I get consumed by all the "things" to get done and miss time with God. I overcommit our schedules and convince myself I can juggle it all well. But it just isn't possible and the ever important priority of spending time with Jesus falls to the way side or gets drastically shortened. In the chaos I can also lose sight of my purpose for homeschooling.
Our children need us to be their cheerleaders and coaches. When one of my boys has a bad attitude or throws a tantrum, it can be easy for my flesh to get annoyed and want to just walk away to avoid the tough stuff. Sometimes we may need to walk away for a moment or two to take a breath, but ultimately we need to return and press into the tough stuff. We need to get down on their level, hear what they have to say, console and sympathize with them. We need to draw out their strengths and encourage them. We need to guide them the best we can.
We also need to be praying for our children constantly. Another support system is other homeschooling moms, especially those who are also believers and who share similar ideals.
These battles we struggle with every day should not be taken at face value. They go deeper. We must remind ourselves that many of our struggles our not of this world.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. -Ephesians 6:12 NKJV
Don't give up. Don't let the devil win. Your children's hearts and souls are way too valuable to let your enemy win. You and I can do this. We can fight the good fight and be the victor! And our children and husbands will be victors too!
God is so pleased with us when we lay down our lives. When we sacrifice for His Kingdom.
If you are a homeschooling mom and are feeling down today, please know you are not alone. But don't stay in this mindset.
Remember who you are in Christ. You are redeemed and loved. You are a royal priesthood. He sees your heart and knows your flaws, and loves you with an everlasting love.
Keep pouring truth into your kiddos. Continue to love them with everything you have because it is worth it. Especially when they have bad attitudes...hold them accountable to their actions in a biblical way, but love and model respect to them. Don't take their immature attitudes personally. Show them emotional maturity and unconditional love. They need you and your husband to show them the way.
As I have been reminded many times, the training up of a child is not a sprint, but a marathon. Run the race well. Enjoy the journey. You have what it takes when you rely on the Almighty One!
May The Lord Bless you and keep you today! May he make His face shine upon you. He loves you dearly.
Check out this awesome and uplifting song by Tenth Avenue North, click here.
A few years ago a section of road on the way to and from town to my house was under construction for several months. The detour route was not completely out of my way, but it was different than my normal route.
It took a little while for me to remember the detour was there and ended up making U-turns the first several times on my way to town. The detour route was on a road that has a significantly slower speed limit than my normal route so it increased my drive time too.
This detour was a bit of an annoyance, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I really didn't want to take the detour, but in this situation I had two choices. I could chose to be frustrated at the situation, get upset and be irritated by the detour; or I could accept the detour and make the ride enjoyable for me and my kiddos. I chose to accept it, take it, and enjoy the ride.
Unfortunately, I have not taken this same approach to different area of life. If there is one thing that irritates me most, it's being sick or my husband and/or kiddos sick. I'm busy ya know?! I have plans, things that need to get done, things I want to do, and being sick or taking care of sick ones is going to mess all that up! The house chores will fall to the way side which means the house is going to become a complete wreck and I will mostly likely become totally stressed out. Ugh! Illness can be so frustrating! Can anyone else relate?
At the time the road construction was going near our home, my family had actually been sick on and off for several weeks. Thankfully, I managed to not get sick during that time, but emotionally I was down. I was tired and my patience was wearing thin. Being mom, wife, and nurse 24/7 to all members of the family is exhausting! Caring for my sick family stretches me beyond my capacity. This bout of illness though was different for me in that it brought awareness to my unhealthy attitude about sickness, really with life interruptions in general.
Here is what I discovered during this particular life interruption…
For some reason, I thought that the more areas of my life I can control, the better life will be. If no one ever gets sick, if all the chores are always complete, and if everything is in order and done efficiently, then life will be peaceful and abundant. Ha! Talk about wrong thinking.
Having this kind of expectation with life will leave us discouraged and defeated, which is exactly how I have been feeling for the last several weeks. There is no way anyone, especially one with little kids, can live up to these expectations, unless of course you have a nanny, personal chef, a housekeeper and maybe even a chauffeur. Not even close to realistic in my world nor for the majority of other people's world. Nor is it the answer to living a peaceful and abundant life.
When things don’t go the way I expect them to or have planned them too, I have a tendency to get upset internally and unfortunately, sometimes these emotions bubble over into angry towards others, specifically my hubby or our children. I can be short tempered with my loved ones, especially when I am overly tired. It isn’t their fault they are sick; they didn’t get sick on purpose. They certainly didn’t choose to get sick just so they could irritate me or make life difficult.
So how am I showing grace and love to them if I am taking out my frustration with sickness on them?? How am I glorifying God if I am caring for them with a hard heart and clinched teeth?? Plain and simple, I am not.
What I am doing is selfishly clinging to this idea that life fits in a perfectly size box during the midst of uncontrolled variables. I am making my ideals a hard and fast rule for life with no exceptions. This mentality is rooted in perfectionism and it is unhealthy. I believe ideals are good, but flexibility is a necessity.
Illness reminds me that life is not predictable, nor perfect. Illness reminds me that life cannot be controlled and that our bodies are fragile. It also reminds me we cannot do this thing called life on our own, nor were we meant to. We need help; we need the One who is in control of it all, Almighty God.
I read a book by a local pastor titled Addicted to Busy. I think it is an insightful read. Pastor Brady Boyd has logical interpretations about the cultural norms of today and brings a lot of things to light on the subject of ‘busyness’. The main idea is that our culture is so addicted to being “busy”, we don’t “have” or actually “make” time for rest, true rest—rest in God.
During this time of illness God has been telling me to “Let Go!”. To relinquish my obsession with control and perfection. He is telling me that I am focused on being “busy” instead of actually living in the present and enjoying the blessings around me.
He is telling me to acknowledge that sickness is going to happen. It is a detour from “normal” life and I have a choice of how I will approach it when it appears. I can either waste a lot of energy and make everyone’s lives, including my own, unpleasant by fighting against it or I can take the “detour” and make the ride for everyone involved as pleasant as possible. I didn’t realize I had been fighting so aggressively against the detour of sickness, but I do not want to make this choice any longer.
Do I really think that my reacting to illness this way would some how make illness magically disappear? Wow has my attitude been in the wrong place!
Illness can actually be an opportunity. This illness detour has given me an opportunity to stop, to retreat from the world, and to evaluate how I handle unexpected circumstances, such as sickness. It has also given me a chance to evaluate how me and my family spend our time. I have actually been thinking about this idea of rest for a while now, but this recent bout of sickness has given me even more understanding on the subject.
When we stop trying to control our lives and let God be our Conductor we will find peace. When we acknowledge circumstances for what they are we can gain a better perspective. When we rest in God, we find peace. A peace that passes all understanding.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV
Hubby and I are working on changing our family’s way of life to be less hectic, less “busy”. We want us to slow down, live more calmly and MAKE time to ‘rest’ in God on a regular basis. We are not to rest only when we get sick; but I think God sometimes uses things like sickness to help give us a little push in the right direction. Some of us more stubborn types need that extra push.
Side note: I actually began to like going down the road that was the detour road and now it's my "normal" route.
Peace be with you
My hubby can not stand going to the grocery store. It is one of his least favorite things to do. Any time we are out together and I mention the grocery store his face scrunches up and his shoulders drop. I on the other hand, like to go grocery shopping. I am pretty picky about food, especially produce, so when it comes to grocery shopping I really prefer to go.
Although I enjoy grocery shopping, I do not like to go often.
Going grocery shopping takes time, especially when one or two
of my young boys are with me; it can eat up a chunk of our day.
Last year life got a bit out of control and we got lazy with our money. We were not consistent with doing a budget and I got lazy with
I was shopping sporadically and usually showing up at the store with a 'sort of' list in my head of what we needed.
I don’t know how many times I have gone to the store for “just a few things” and come out with a whole lot more than we needed.
On top of that, we ate out way too much, threw a lot of food away, and…blew any kind of pseudo food budget we were trying to maintain. Being a household of one income means we really have to be purposeful with our money; otherwise it disappears fast!
Hubby and I recently started going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University again. (We took it 7 years ago and really need a refresher!) I am so glad we are in the course again and getting back on track. To find out more about FPU click here.
After evaluating where our money has been going, we discovered that I have not been as in control of the grocery shopping spending as I thought I was. I realize now that have been putting unnecessary strain on our lives because I have not been diligent when doing the meal planning or household shopping.
Are any of you like me? You get to the cashier at the grocery store and they ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” You glance at your items on the conveyor belt and say, “Yes, and then some!?” I don’t know how many times I have gone to the store for “just a few things” and come out with a whole lot more.
I realize now that if I walk in unprepared, my inner child takes over and I am drawn to the “shiny” stuff. I get sucked in to the ‘Deals’ and can end up putting way more in the cart than we actually need. They can actually be great deals, but maybe not for our family at that particular time. As the old saying goes, 'You go broke saving money'.
I personally am not disciplined enough to stay away from the deals and “Buys of the Day” unless I have a plan. Going into a store without a shopping list is like going into battle without your shield. You are going to get hit and hit hard! So don't get hit, be prepared and have your ever so vital shopping list!
In order to get back on track with a budget, having a shopping list is a big help. Hubby and I are Mac users and we use the Reminder app that is built into the devices. We also have iPhones, so this app syncs automatically between the two. You can create as many “Reminders” as you want. We have a ‘Grocery List’ reminder and a 'Costco' reminder. It's great because can both edit the list as needed.
As the old saying goes, 'You can go broke saving money'.
I am sure there are lots of different types of list apps available. You can use any kind of list. Find what works for you. In fact, old-fashioned paper lists work great too! Who knew!?
The point is…MAKE A LIST! I promise it will help you stay on track. It is not only like a friend there saying, “No, don’t buy that right now. It's not on your list.” You can also use it to tell your little tikes, “Sorry sweetie, we can’t buy this or that because it’s not on our list today.”
I know life is busy. It gets crazy. But we can either let the chaos control us, or figure out ways to remove chaos from our lives. I choosing the later.
The preferred place to make your shopping list at home. You can see what you have and what you don't have and create your list accordingly. But this isn't always possible.
Sometimes you end up going to the store and you haven't had a chance to make a list at home. When this happens, and you arrive at the grocery store without a list. Before you even get out of your car, I encourage you to take the few minutes, and make a list. Take the information regarding what you think you need to buy out of your head and put it somewhere else. In an app, on paper, on the back of your kid’s homework, even on your paper coffee cup. I doesn’t matter how you do it, you just need to make a list.
Let's stay on track with our food budgets and guard ourselves against those "Buys of the Week" arrows. I hope this helps you in some way today.
Do you make a shopping list? What type of medium do you use? Let us know in the Comments below.
On Sunday the Pastor of our church, Pastor Boyd, shared a very heartfelt message, a personal message, a message that really spoke to me...the message was one that made me feel a bit silly, and a bit ashamed really because I had been there too. Just recently in fact.
Pastor Boyd spoke about how just that past week he was feeling down about himself. He called the situation he felt, "Death by a thousand paper cuts." And then he shared how he began to throw his 'party of 1'...a pity party.
Have you ever done it? Thrown yourself a pity party??
I have. You see Pastor Boyd's message spoke very loudly to me because I was just there. Feeling very similar to how he felt. Feeling down, a little depressed, and having a silly and destructive pity party.
It can happen so easily. A few things might go wrong with household stuff, the kids might not be minding as well as I think they should, the house is an utter mess from the busyness of summer time.
...and then it happens.
I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, down, and I begin to focus on all the things that are "wrong" in my life. I begin to worry about what will happen next. And in this moment I lose focus on what is important.
The underlying theme of Pastor Boyd's message was focus. Life can get tough, no doubt about it. But are we going to let our emotions control our attitude and allow us to take our focus off God?
During the message we looked at several passages from the Apostle Paul's letter to the believers in Philippi. There were several verses that jumped off the page to me and so yesterday morning I spent time reading through the entire book of Philippians. This letter Paul wrote is so encouraging for believers.
I struggle a great deal with fear. Unfortunately, fear invites itself into my life far too often. But Paul reminds us to have confidence that Christ Jesus will complete the work He started in us. Paul writes, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6
Satan would love nothing more than for us to cower down and hide. To let the 'things' of this world get us down and for us to lose focus, to let go of the confidence we have in Jesus. But we must not give in.
I just, like Paul, want to encourage you...
Focus on the one who gives strength and confidence to face each day. You are special to Jesus and He has a purpose for your life. He will complete the work he started in you, but you have to be willing and available.
What about you? Where is your focus today? Are you letting life's circumstances steal your confidence or are you focusing on God?
Hi! My name is Mandy Jo.
Thanks for visiting my blog! Being a mom in this modern age is a blessing, but no cake walk. So many expectations are imposed on us and it can be overwhelming and often discouraging.