"Mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them." ~Charlotte Mason

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Tree by the Water

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

I came across this passage in my Bible study this week. It is reminiscent of Psalm 1, which I have always loved, and the image of the luscious, green tree planted near the cool, refreshing water keeps returning to my mind.

What does it mean to trust in the Lord, to have confidence in him? How do I send my roots towards the water? How do I face the blazing heat without fear? How do I withstand the drought without worry? How do I continue, without fail, to bear fruit, when all around me is drought and heat and despair?

Jesus referred to Himself as the Living Water, who permanently quenches all thirst. My confidence comes in Him. If I remain in Christ, I do not fear when the drought and the heat come. I know he will give me all I need, regardless of my circumstances. He does not change, and he does not fail. He will never leave me or forsake me, and he loves me with an everlasting love. So I can trust him. He is in control, so I can be confident in him.

Who are you trusting today? Where have you planted your tree? What nourishment do your roots chase after? Follow hard after Christ, the only one who can quench your thirst and help you grow.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: The Fight of Our Lives

I received this book from www.booksneeze.com just before our twenty-three hour drive across country to take my son to college. I read the book aloud to my husband on the way home, and it sparked such great discussion!

The book is written by William J. Bennett, former Secretary of Education under President George Bush, and Seth Leibsohn. The subtitle reads, Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth, and Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam. This book is a real eye-opener about what Radical Islamists are doing, and have been doing for many years, around the world. We could not put this book down!

While it was released during Obama's administration, it is by no means a diatribe against his dealings with Islamic Radicals. Addressing difficult issues that none of us like to think about, the authors deal honestly and fairly with the terrorist actions of Islamic terrorists in the past decades, through several administrations. From the introduction:

This is not a book intended to detail every mistake, error, and lapse of judgment we have made against the war that Radical Islam has declared on America and the West. Nor is it a book that can describe every threat against us. Nor is this book merely a criticism of President Barack Obama. The truth is that we have criticisms of both this and the previous administration, as we have certain praise for both as well.

According to the authors, the threat from Radical Islam is calculated, long-standing, and very real. The authors explain the thread of Radical Islam attacks on America and the West through recent decades, connecting dots and explaining background information I otherwise may not have pieced together. Then, the book moves forward with a plan to win this war against Radical Islam, suggesting policies to maintain U.S. sovereignty and prominence.

This is not a book that you finish reading and then move on with your life. It will change the way you think, the way you hear the news and the way you understand the threat of Radical Islam.

Tread Softly

HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

W.B. Yeats

I have been blessed to volunteer in my church preschool department for the past 25 years or so, and I have led my fair share of preschool classes down the hall. Before we leave, I always tell them, "Put a bubble in your mouth, put your hands behind your back to make a ducky tail, and put marshmallows on your feet!"

(Translation: Close your mouth, keep your hands to yourself and don't stomp down the hall!)

This poem by W.B. Yeats reminds me of those marshmallow feet.

Children are dreamers. For them, life is full of wonder and possibilities. Anything is possible, for they have not yet learned the List of Things Impossible to which adults silently adhere. Moment to moment, their eager minds question and ponder and dream. And, sometimes, they trust us with those dreams.

...dreams of who I am and who I might become.

...dreams of my ideas becoming reality.

...dreams of mountains I know I can climb and victories not yet seen.

...dreams of big things I can do for Jesus.

So often, it's not until they are gone that we treasure those dreams entrusted to us by Small Ones. Busy with the details of life, we fail to listen as they whisper the secrets of their hearts. But these dreams and hopes reflect the face of the Living God, who places them on their young hearts. Don't miss the joy of those moments! Encourage those dreams. Dream with them!

Take the time, Sweet Momma, to listen to the dreams your children spread under your feet. There will always be dinners to cook, crafts to work on and tv shows to watch. Set them aside, and put on your marshmallow shoes.

And tread softly, Momma. Tread softly.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Top Ten List, Part 3

For the past two days I shared the first half of my Top Ten Things I Learned to Say as a Momma. Those five were things I have learned to say to my children.

The remainder is a list of things I say to myself. Sometimes, out loud. So, without further adieu:

#5. "This, too, shall pass."
Whether it's a baby who keeps you up all night crying, or a high schooler who keeps you up all night talking, just remember....This, too, shall pass. This applies to good moments as well as difficult ones! Whatever the stage, they will only be in it for the briefest moment. Then, that moment will be gone and it will be too late to enjoy it. So, whatever the stage, take a bird's eye view and enjoy the ride!

#4. "They are not out to get me!"
I'm actually serious about this one. No matter how much it might seem that everyone in the house has plotted against you to maintain a messy home with peanut butter-stained windows and an obstacle course on the stairs, they are NOT out to get you!

Most of the time, they really want to please you.
But, they get tired.
And they get sad.
And they get busy.
And they forget.
Just like we do.

When I realized they aren't doing this "to me," I am able to step back, breathe, and focus on training, rather than take offense and get angry.

#3. "There's a time for that."
This is most helpful to me with regard to messes. I have learned that having a housekeeping schedule maintains peace and order in our home. If I know that there is a time later today that's already set aside for someone to address that mess, I am able to ignore it for now, and enjoy the moment. Which leads me to #2....

#2. "Let it go."
Not every mistake needs to be corrected. Not every lesson has to be taught verbally. I have six children. If I point out every mistake, every mess, made by every one of them, I will be griping all day long. If I'm fussing at them all day, they just learn to ignore me. And they learn that raising children isn't fun. And they learn to avoid me and our home. This is not what I want; I want my children to see what a joy they are to me, and what a joy it is to raise them. I want them to enjoy our family and our home.

I am learning to just let things go. This is difficult for me, but I have noticed that, when I do, our home has an atmosphere of peace. The rest of the home mirrors my mood.

And the #1 I say to myself, as a Momma?

"God isn
't finished, yet!"
God is not finished with my children, yet. He is saving them, daily, from the bondage of sin. He is training them in righteousness, conforming them to His image. But, He isn't finished, yet. And He isn't finished with me, either! We have to teach our children to understand this concept, and show them grace as they learn to be like Christ. In turn, they will learn to extend grace to the unfinished works around them.

Keep these thoughts in mind as you snuggle your children today.
And pray.
A lot.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Top Ten List, Part 2

Yesterday, I began the Top Ten Things I Have Learned to Say as a Momma, which I delivered at a MomHeart conference in Dallas. The first five items are things I say to my children. We covered #10, "Actually, he is the boss of you," and #9, "I'll give you two guesses," yesterday.

8. "Kind words or no words."
"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:19

My children love to talk. Sometimes, though, they speak without thinking and say hurtful things to one another. This is never acceptable. I want them to learn to choose the right word at the right time, and speak the truth in love. When they speak unkindly to one another, I remind them that, in our home, speaking is a privilege, not a right. That privilege may be suspended if it is abused. Forced silence is a fate worse than death to my verbose children, so this is a very effective tool! This helps them learn the self-control they need throughout their lives.

7. "What am I going to say?"
Another fantastic discipline tool. Let them lecture themselves! Most of the time, the child already knows he has made a poor choice, and he regrets it. By the time he older, he knows all of your speeches by heart, anyway. So, it goes something like this:

Child hits sister.

Mom: "____(insert name of Precious Child)____, what am I going to say?"

Child: "We don't hit."

Mom: "Why not?"

Child: "Because it's not kind."

Mom: "So, how are you going to fix the situation?"

Child: "Apologize."

Mom: "And, next time?"

Child: "Don't hit."

Done! And Mom didn't have to scream, or yell or anything!

6. "Do over." aka "Try again."

I love do overs. If we say or do something hurtful or wrong, we can call a do over and try again. This gives the child a chance to practice correct behavior. Moms get do overs, too!

I also use this when I receive an unacceptable response from a child. When they are very small, I feed them the correct words to repeat back to me. When they are older, though, I just tell them, "Try again," until I get the required response.

Now, we talk about the fact that, once they are out there, our words can't really be taken back , but a do over goes a long way towards healing relationships. It helps people to see each others' hearts, even when their initial words or actions are wrong.


Tomorrow we will discuss the second half of the list, Top Ten Things I Say to Myself about raising children. Have a blessed day with your precious children!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top Ten List, Part 1

David Letterman, from Late Show with David Letterman, CBS photo

I have always enjoyed David Letterman's show. His dry humor reminds me of my brother, and that makes me smile. The best parts of Letterman's show are the top ten list he offers every night, and the occasional Stupid Pet Tricks and Stupid Human Tricks segments.

In true Letterman fashion, I recently delivered my own Top Ten List to a group of 800 moms at a mother's retreat in Dallas. Many have asked me to post the list, so here you go!

Top Ten Things I Have Learned to Say as a Momma:
To the Children (#10-6):

10. "Actually, he IS the boss of you."

When my son was young, I was continually fussing at him for "parenting" his sisters.

"Their mother is here," I would tell him. "I don't need you to be in charge. You worry about yourself, and I will worry about them."

Well, this was all well and good until, years later, I wanted my son to babysit his sisters so we could have our coveted Date Nights.

"You're not the boss of me!" became the girls' new mantra. It took quite a bit of work for me to undo the mess I had made. I immediately established a chain of command, and began to stand behind the decisions of the older children.

It would have been much easier if I had known, from the beginning, to grant the older children authority over their younger siblings. This gives them great practice in learning what is a good leader, and creates more order in our home.

9. "I'll give you two guesses!"

I have five daughters, and one son. They are all talkers. I hear an endless barrage of questions, all day long! They all just have so much to say!

A sweet friend once noticed my plight, and taught me the "two guesses" trick that her grandmother used. Here's how it works:

Child: "Momma, why do I need a jacket?"

Momma (old response, includes sarcastic, irritated tone and a fair amount of eye rolling):
"Because it is w-i-n-t-e-r!!!! You already know you need a jacket! Can you really not see the snow outside? It should not be a shock that I ask you to get a jacket! How hard is it? Go get your jacket on. Now!!!"

Result? The child is hurt and resentful, Momma is angry and the argument most likely took more time than we had before we needed to head out the door. But, with the two guesses trick....

Child: "Momma, why do I need a jacket?"

Momma (pleasantly, because it's a game): "I'll give you two guesses."

Child: "Because....it's cold outside?"

Momma: "You got it! See, you didn't even need two guesses! Look how smart you are!"

Result: Everyone moves happily out the door, wearing jackets and smiles. The child learns that he is pretty smart, and Momma thanks the Lord for such an intelligent child.

Alternate Result: Occasionally, Momma discovers that the child really doesn't know the answer to the question. Thus, Momma learns that the child is not trying to irritate her, but honestly seeking to learn something. Imagine that!

Try putting these into action today, and I'll share the rest of the things I have learned to say to my children tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

They do not know

The Music Lesson by Lord Frederick Leighton (1877).

I was struck, today, by Jeremiah 8:7 which reads,

"...But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord."

Let it not be said of my children that they did not know the Lord's requirements, for it is my responsibility to teach them. It is my job to place their feet on the path of truth, and point them in the way of the Everlasting God. If I don't teach them, who will? No one on this earth loves them as I do. I have been selected by the Almighty God to teach these precious souls to follow Him.

Deuteronomy 11 reads, "Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt...It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the desert until you arrived at this place...But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the LORD has done...Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds...Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates..."

It is my responsibility to teach my children of the Lord, so that they may follow him with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength. May I never present to them a tame God who can be neatly illustrated in storybooks and understood by human minds. My God is omniscient, omnipotent, infinite and mighty. He hung the stars in the sky and wove the butterfly's wings. He created every particle of every atom in the universe, and it is His hand that holds them together, even now. He created gravity and the water cycle and centripetal force.

Yet, He cares intimately about tiny, selfish, stubborn me. He leans forward to listen to the cry of my heart. He loves me with an everlasting love. He is for me.

This is the god I want to pass on. What kind of God are you passing on to your children? What are you doing to make sure that they know?