Tag Archive | parenting

The Lunar Eclipse; My God How Great Thou Art!

In the wee hours of morning, we woke up our five oldest kids to see the complete lunar eclipse. “The Blood Moon”. The moon was full, the stars shone glittery and bright. They stumbled down stairs, wrapped up in their blankets. We left all the lights off and watched through the window. The dark coziness made us talk in hushed voices.

We watched as the earth’s shadow slowly passed over the moon. And our hearts were full of praise, to think of the celestial bodies, set in their courses and moving in exact precision, like a beautifully wound clock  set by the hand of the Maker.

And I felt in my soul, that I was part of an ancient audience, watching as indeed “the heavens declare His handiwork.” Blue eyes stood with his arms around me and our children clustered in front of us before the window, awed into silent praise.

Earlier in the evening, we had talked of the Passover. Quietly we went back to our beds, knowing that the door posts of our hearts have been sprinkled with the blood of the true Passover Lamb. Knowing that because of this, the angel of death will pass over us and we have life through His name, and like the children of Israel, we are free from bondage and on our way to the promised land! Truly, we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good!

“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24

Now today, my heart and mind is full of Carl Boberg’s

How Great Thou Art  

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power through out the universe displayed!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art! Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;-That on the cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin;-

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

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April is Sexual Abuse Awareness Month; Together We Can Make the World a Safer Place


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April is Sexual Abuse Awareness month.

Childhood sexual abuse is real.

 It happens and without healing it has the potential to leave emotional and spiritual scars that can last a lifetime.

One out of four women is a survivor. That’s someone you know. That’s someone you love.

Innocence lost. Trust shattered.

Happiness and hope replaced by shame and self hatred.

Don’t let this be your daughter. Or your son.

Know the facts. Be informed. Talk to your kids.

I know, it’s uncomfortable. We’d all rather pretend it doesn’t happen.

But it does.

Childhood sexual abuse is real and it happens.

Suffering through a few uncomfortable conversations with your kids is  nothing compared to what it could prevent.

Being stretched beyond your comfort zone is part of the mom package. Remember labor?

If you won’t get the facts and protect your kids, who will?

Be committed to watching your kids like a hawk.

Most perpetrators are male relatives.

Be alert.

Never put your kids in risky situations. Listen to your kids.

They may not be able to articulate why uncle “so and so” is scary or gives them the creeps but that’s okay.

Respect what they are saying.

Never doubt your mother intuition.

If someone makes you uncomfortable, trust your gut feeling.

Go with it.

Remember you don’t need to explain anything to anyone. You only need to answer to God.

Be known as a mama bear when it comes to protecting your kids.

Most childhood sexual abuse happens between the ages of six and eleven.

Do your kids really need to be having sleep overs and spending much time with other adults without you before then anyway?

You think something like that would never happen in your family?

You’re sure you don’t know or associate with any pedophiles or other kids who are being or have been abused?

One out of every four.

That’s across all demographics and includes religious and nonreligious families.

We are raising up the next generation.

Be brave.

Be committed with me.

Together.

One parent at a time.

Together.

Let’s not let that statistic rise on our watch.

Childhood sexual abuse. It happens.

By being vigilant and proactive we can make the world a safer place.

Be brave.

Please feel free to share this post on your social networks. The first step towards prevention is awareness

Let Me Be a Mom Who Prays

blog 039Years ago when I was a new mom, my Grandmother gave me a book that she said she had enjoyed once upon a time herself. It was printed in 1957 and it has a charming vintage feel about it that I love. Back when life seemed less complex. When it was a given that moms were at home being housewives and raising up the next generation. When fathers provided for their families and a woman endeavored to make her home a haven of rest and comfort for her hardworking man.

The book is held together now by a headband(?!) Don’t ask……it must have been what was handy one night when the binding first started falling apart. I keep it in a vintage suitcase with some other meaningful letters, poems and writings pertaining to motherhood that I have received over the years. Many of them from my same dear Grandmother. I keep the suitcase beside my bed and sometimes when everybody’s tucked in and Blue eyes falls asleep before me and I am not quite feeling sleepy yet I dig around in my “mama encouragement box” for something nice to read.

Several times through out the years when I have been in the mood for something light and encouraging I have picked up this book. I still love it just as much as I did the first time I read it. I wanted to share with you some of what I read last night. It made my eyes fill with tears and my heart swell with inspiration and I fell asleep praying for the precious hardworking man sound asleep beside me and all the babies that the Lord has given to us.

A Mother’s Wages

by Elizabeth Walker Strachan

A Moody Press Publication 1957

Chapter 3: Prayer

“The truly wealthy children, the children to be envied, are those born to praying parents. Even the wisest do not fully understand prayer and all that it does. But one of the many remarkable things about prayer is that those who pray the most are those most convinced of its great potential. ……….And in spite of perplexing times, those who have prayed know that God does answer prayer, and there is a vast difference in prayed-for children and those of nonpraying parents. Prayer prepares a child’s heart for early conversion. Prayer can solve the many difficult problems of child rearing. Prayer enriches every single phase of a child’s life. Prayer brings our children that “blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich and He addeth no sorrow with it.” (Psalm 10:23)

“When should a mother pray? Before the birth of her child until her last breath is spent she should be holding that child before God for His blessing.  However else we may fail our children, may God help us not to fail them in prayer. May He make us women of prayer.”

I woke up still thinking about it this morning. (A little side note: I am getting ready to bring home two dairy goats! I am super excited! Before he fell asleep last night Blue eyes told me that he was sure I would be dreaming of goats and he was right! So after I wiped the cobwebs of dreamy goats who were playing on fancy wooden play structures (thanks to all those dear little goat pins I was pinning on pintrest last night!;) from my mind, I was still thinking about it.)

I was reminded of Job, the Bible tells us that he daily made supplication and offered sacrifices for each of his children “for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” (Job 1:5) I thought of how we are exhorted to pray continually and without ceasing. I thought of my own prayerful Grandparents and the many ways their prayers have blessed my life.

Let us, Lord, be mamas who pray!

“If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14

……Homeschooling Boys Part 2 For the Love of a Story

When my little son turned 5 or 6 I could see that he would not enjoy sitting down to seat work and hand writing like his older sisters had. I had read enough about the development of little boys to agree with others who had observed that the traditional way of teaching the early elementary years of school is stacked against boys. Their fine motor skills are often more immature than those of their female peers. It is more difficult for them to sit still. This can lead to over diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and other learning troubles.

I did not in anyway want to make education distasteful to him.  Around this time I started to really think about my philosophy of education. What are my goals in providing my kids with an education? With babies and preschoolers, as well as school aged children to care for I need to use all of my resources wisely. Every amount of energy, time and attention I invest must be with the best of my ability in shaping their soul and character.

The end result of this searching and wondering was a total reshaping of our homeschool. “As a stream can rise no higher than it’s source, so it is probable that no educational effort can rise higher than the whole scheme of thought which gives it birth….” (Charlotte Mason) And what are the thoughts and lofty aspirations that are giving birth to the education of my precious children?

Upon the wall of our home I have written a quote by James Stephen which reads, “I have learned, that the head does not hear anything until the heart has listened, and what the heart understands today the head will know tomorrow.” I believe this is true. And what better way to reach the heart of my boy than through books?

Wonderful, beautiful books, full of adventure and good, noble characters! Books who’s authors can help to teach and shape the souls of my kids. Whole and living books, written with passion, about every subject imaginable! In this way I can put my kids under the teaching of great minds of men and women from the past and present. What a shame when the early formative years of children’s lives are allowed to be wasted with foolish and violent media! Parents, carefully guard the hearts and minds of your young children! What we feed into our hearts and minds is what will come out! What a charge God has given us in protecting these precious ones!

I had read of a school of thought that says that given the ideal atmosphere and proper foundation children will learn to read just like they learn to talk and walk. Without much stress or effort on their part, it will naturally happen. Prayerfully and purposefully I set out to try to create that atmosphere in my home.

From the time my kids are very young I will put my finger under the words as I read them a story. I teach them that letters make sounds and that the sounds blended together make words. (And I let them watch The Letter Factory, a lot!) I tell them how wonderful and important it is to be able to read. I tell them how God chose to communicate himself to us through the written word. It is through reading that we can be sure not to be fooled by the erroneous teachings of men, by “studying the scriptures daily to see whether these things are so”, like they did in the early church.

We have read so many books! Most importantly, the Book of Books, the Bible. The source of all goodness and truth. We like the Arthur Maxwell Bible Story series. They are not “dumbed down” like some we have tried. He is an excellent story teller. We use the King James Version Bible. I think it is good for the minds of kids to read the Old English writing. Ours have had no problem reading through short verses even with their earliest reading skills.

After a lot of study and prayer I felt that the best way to engage my son in “the gentle art of learning” would be to set some things on the back burner for a few years. Things like grammar, spelling, and hand writing. Instead I wanted to capture his heart and mind.

Our family has sat spell bound and breathless, we have had tears in our eyes and on our cheeks, we have laughed until our tummies hurt reading stories, real and fictional, about people in far away times and places. People in all sorts of situations, who were strong and brave and good. People who had such faith that many beautiful stories have come out of horrible darkness. They will never forget these historical things because they have felt them in their hearts.

My oldest son is nine and a half. I have wondered sometimes if I have been doing the right thing. Even earlier this winter he was still sounding out a lot of words and not really reading silently very often for his own pleasure. But, lo, and behold! Along comes The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (in an abridged version, 200 pages). He has seen the Christian Youth Theater performance and loved it. He can’t convince me to read the book right then, and literally, over night my son turns into a book worm!

He finishes Robin Hood in a couple of days and is on to Ivanhoe (abridged as well). But this book actually has him teary eyed and then jubilant, when he finds out his hero craftily escaped the fire! I now know the story line of Ivanhoe. He has been coming to me for one book after another. Right now he is reading Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry.

I am so happy that everything has come full circle and he is laughing and crying over his books. It was a little long in coming but it has been completely stress free on his part as well as mine. His little brother told me the other day,”He is kind of boring now, all he wants to do is read!”

A couple of weeks ago our oldest son also told his Dad that all the other kids in his Sunday School class know how to write in cursive and he would like to learn too. Sure, Son! Out come the cursive hand writing books and he is diligently practicing his hand writing on his own accord.

I don’t regret for a minute the relaxed approach that we have taken. Read more about this in Homeschooling Boys Part 3, Of a Puppy Dog and the Great Outdoors, which I will be posting sometime soon.

There are too many good books to list but here are some that our family, and specifically our boys,  have found to be the cream of the crop!

Beautiful Feet Books Early American History, this is a fabulous literature, notebooking based curriculum, I just cannot even say enough good about it! All of the books that they have chosen are wonderful.

Treasures of the Snow and The Star of Light by Patricia St.John

The Little Pilgrim’s Progress adapted from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

The Laura Ingalls Wilder books

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne

Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachian

The Sign of the Beaver, The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray

The Butterfly, Pink and Say, January’s Sparrow by Patricia Polacco

Number the Stars by Lois Lowery

Let us be Strong, Ladies

ImageI am finally reading Dr. Dobson’s book Bringing up Girls. It is proving to be just as wonderful as Bringing up Boys. I have been sharing long portions of it with my husband, my girls and even reading aloud when we are all together at the dinner table.

There are two chapters devoted especially to fathers and they are so good! Definitely need to keep the Kleenex nearby while reading what a group of twenty or so young women had to say about their relationships with their fathers. Some heartbreaking, in the longing for the approval that they’ve not been given and others so preciously sharing how their fathers made them feel lovely and cherished.

Our oldest daughter had some friends over for a sleepover last night to celebrate her 13th birthday.  Blue-eyes came home from work and presented her with a bouquet of flowers. She was so pleased. He also prayed for her before we ate cake. In the presence of her friends, affirming her and thanking God for her…..it’s good. She is learning what to expect from a worthy man.

The chapters that have made the biggest impression on me so far though were 5 and 6, Teaching Girls to be Ladies and Embarrassing the Angels. I have been thinking about what it means to be a lady and how, sadly, it is becoming a lost art in our society.

I thought of it the other night at Safeway when I went to get some gluten free bread out of the freezer. It happens to share an aisle with the alcoholic drinks and right there taking up aisle space was a rack of distasteful magazines. I mean, that should be considered completely inappropriate for a family grocery shop. I go down that aisle often with my children. Boys by nature are visual. God made them this way and it makes me sad that this is eye level for them. It also made me indignant because I am a lady.

I am a lady, raising five little ladies and two young men. When I go to a shop to buy ingredients to prepare meals for my family why should I have this lasciviousness thrown in my face? Why should I have to keep my eyes and those of my kids averted while we wait in line to pay for our purchases? It is a disgrace and a shame.

We do not have a TV at our house and we do not watch movies for entertainment for many reasons. We do not want to become calloused to this shameful uncovering of nakedness that is all around us. And it is all around us. The word of God calls us to live as a peculiar people set  apart from the world. It also refers to God’s people as “pilgrims and strangers, who are in search of a city who’s builder and maker is God”.

I feel badly for the women on the cover of that magazine, and many others. Have you ever stopped to think that she is someones daughter? I bet she’s got a lot of hurt in her heart and confusion in her soul. It makes me sad that all of us have allowed this to happen. We are too willing to look the other way. To not want to be a prude. Well, I am not a prude but I am a lady and I am sick of the disrespect for women that is all around me.  And not only for women but for men who are trying to live in chastity, and for little girls and young women who are wondering if they are lovely and for little boys who should not have to see grown women in only their undergarments as soon as they have eyes to see with.

I am not going to compromise my children. Why should I? No, I can’t keep them from seeing this ugliness but there is something I can do.

I can refuse to ignore it and look the other way. I can start asking, “Have you no shame?” It is a foolish mother who would let her little daughter play with the trampy looking Barbies and things they have out nowadays. You want them to aspire to that and think that is what beauty is? Then don’t at all be surprised when she is having sex with her boyfriend when she is 15.  What we put into our minds and hearts and souls is what will come out. It is nothing to take lightly at all. We will give account to God for these things and we will watch them bear fruit in our children’s lives. Watching the newest movies and popular shows just isn’t worth the sacrifice.

At Safeway the other night I asked to talk to the manager. I told her that I go down that aisle all the time and that magazine is nothing to put in the presence of a lady. She told me she doesn’t want it there either but that she can’t make the decision to remove it. I need to make a complaint to the corporate office. I hope they listen. If I am a lady and I allow people to treat me otherwise then what kind of a lady am I?

I want my daughters to see a lady as a God fearing woman who is full of compassion and is gentle and good. But one who is also strong and does not tolerate abuse or sit by and let sin happen around her. I want them to know that a lady can stand up and ask, “Have you no shame?”

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and his law doeth he meditate both day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of living water, that bringeth forth his fruit in due season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Psalm 1

House Keeping Gypsy Style

Image…….I am a housewife, I love that word. Whenever I get a chance to tell someone my occupation I say “I am a housewife”. It sounds so quaint and homey. I love Noah Webster but his definition in Websters Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, my favorite dictionary by the way, does not give a satisfactory definition. It just says “a woman in charge of a household esp. she who does all or most of the cleaning and cooking.”  So unromantic~sigh.

But there you have it, house keeping, it is a large part of my job as a housewife. The cooking I like, the cleaning not so much. Mostly because with many children whom we home school our house is very well lived in. Often it feels like I am constantly keeping chaos at bay. Sometimes the chaos takes over and it looks frightful around here.

When we just had a couple of little ones around I liked to keep everything well ordered but as our family has grown and I have more school aged children I have had to reassess my priorities. To keep my sanity I’ve had to learn to let things go a little.

We have three bathrooms in our house and I must say that our master bath gets awfully neglected at times. When my husband starts commenting on it then I know it’s time to get serious. See, the problem is that I notice how bad it looks in the morning when I’m in a hurry to get going on my day and I think, “I’ve got to get back in here later and clean this place!” But, alas, I forget all about it until I’m brushing my teethe before bed. Too tired, I’ll get to it tomorrow…… I hate using chemical cleaner in the tub because I usually just scrub it out while I’m in the shower, easier and less mess. My tub was really looking sad…….. I used about two cups of baking soda and a scrub brush. That’s it! It worked really well. I was so happy and my feet were nice and soft from soaking in the soda water.  Add that to my list of uses for baking soda. It is becoming a staple around here for a lot more than baking.

After our fifth baby was born my husband took over the mopping. Most of our main floor has wood flooring. Every Saturday night for at least a year he would put all the chairs up while I bathed the kids upstairs and wash all of the floors. At that time our oldest was not quite eight years old.  I love how we are able to work as a team to get through the tough seasons. Nowadays my oldest daughter does all the mopping in exchange for postage stamps. Fourteen pen-pals from all over the country, who write back often, we had to think of something!

Another thing I have done is to ask Blue eyes what is important to him as far as the house keeping goes. I think it is a good idea to do this. You may be surprised to hear what your husband has to say.  All that my love asks is that the kitchen sinks be empty and clean in the morning and that he has socks in his drawer.  I make an honest effort to always at least have these two things done.  When I was growing up about a half hour or so before my Dad came home my Mom would have us do a quick pick up, wash the kitchen table, and put a fresh pot of coffee going.  I have endeavored to follow her example in this simple way of ministering to my husband.

Otherwise as long as I have an underlying cleanliness I have grown to not mind the mess so much.  Pretty much at any given time I can tell the kids that we are going to do a “twenty minute cleanup”, where I set the timer for twenty minutes and we all race around and clean, and get the house set back in order and looking nice.  Once a week, usually on Saturday,  we do a deep cleaning.  And when the spring weather comes and the sun shines in the windows I get in the mood for a good old fashioned spring cleaning.  This is where I systematically go through each closet and drawer in my house and get rid of “stuff” and vacuum and scrub all those hidden places.  It’s only once a year but it really helps in the long term to keep things that we are not using from accumulating.  The more “stuff” we have the harder it is to stay clean and organized.

In September before we start our new school year I help each of the children make a morning chore list to put up on their wall.  They must have the things on their list done before they come down for breakfast.  For the little pre- readers we cut out pictures from magazines, an outfit, meaning get dressed, a toothbrush, a hair comb, a pile of toys to be picked up, a bed to make,  they must take care of their dirty laundry and fold up their pajamas. The older kids have a little more, like wipe down the kid’s bathroom or put away a basket full of laundry or pick up the loft/play area etc.  We’ve been doing “morning chores” for a few years now and seldom do I even need to remind anyone. Once a habit is established it is practically effortless to maintain.

 So, if you stop by unannounced, which you are more than welcome to do,  don’t  be surprised to find a well lived in house. A train made out of the kitchen chairs, a hut made out blankets in the living room,  remains of a tea party/picnic in the corner,  the bathroom sink full of soap suds from little hands washing the tea party dishes, golden retriever tracks in the hall, at least a couple  mugs half full of cold coffee, laundry to be folded on the couch, math books and pencils scattered around, some cheerios on the floor……….if all that sounds crazy just call and give us twenty minutes.;)