Category Archives for Parenting

How I prepare for church with a large family

At the beginning of the year my husband told me that one of our family goals was to get to church before it starts. Yeah we were pretty much that family that showed up in the middle of praise and worship and sometimes later. He is not late for his job and the children are not late for school he reasoned.  The Lord wanted us to have a renewed perspective on going to worship as it is more important than a job or school.  Point well taken Pastor Tyrone. I will say it is a lot of work but with more deliberate planning on my part it can be done. Hear me when I say that I write this post not as an expert or as someone who has mastered all of this.  I am in the thick of things here folks but I have found that consistently implementing the following steps has helped us to be punctual.

1. Washing and combing the girls hair can be very time consuming.  With that in mind I now try to wash and comb the two older girls hair on Saturday.  This way I just have to focus on Faith’s hair on Sunday morning. No more playing beauty shop on Sunday mornings.

2. Select and iron clothing for children and adults midweek.  This is a huge time saver.  When I say select clothing I mean everything, including accessories (tights, socks, belts, etc.).  Make sure the tights you thought would work don’t have holes in them, not fun to find this out on Sunday morning.   Even with a designated spot to put them, shoes can quickly go missing from our shoe closet downstairs.  Tyrone has made it a point to get the younger two boys church shoes and put it in their rooms as opposed to the regular shoe closet. This way we don’t run the risk of searching for missing shoes as we are heading out the door.

3.  Fill your vehicle with gas during the week, don’t wait until Sunday morning.

4.  We also try to make sure everyone completes their homework either on Friday or Saturday.  This way we don’t have to stress about signing papers or completing homework before or after church. I realize that this may change as the kids get older and their homework becomes more difficult.  However at this point in the game we are trying to teach them to prioritize and prayerfully these lessons will stick.

5.  Restock the diaper bag with pampers, change of clothes and wipes the night before. In the morning, I have a designated child pack snacks for the younger ones and fill the sippy cup.  He is also instructed to take the bag immediately to the van once the task is completed, ensuring that we do not leave the diaper bag behind.

6.  Get to bed at a reasonable hour.  We try not to entertain the mindset of  ” oh it’s the weekend so we can stay up as late as we want.”  We don’t allow the children to stay up late on school nights so the same holds true for the night before we go to worship.   Our service starts a little later but we try to have breakfast together on Sunday mornings and we also have to travel a distance for church.  We are not mommy and daddy kill joy so the kids may stay up one or two extra hours later but we encourage them to get a good night sleep.

7.   I aim to get up at least a hour before the entire family on Sunday morning.   This means I have to be wise about what time I go to bed on Saturday night.   During this hour I cook dinner.  Don’t be too impressed, I try to make my Sunday dinner as simple as possible and make the oven do most of the cooking.  I do not try new recipes on Sundays.  I stick to what I know and what I do well.  Sunday is the day for whole roasted chicken, ribs, roast, etc.  I like to slow cook my meats so I put it in  first thing in the morning and by the time we are ready to leave for church 4 hours later, I can take dinner out the oven and put it in the fridge.  I also aim to prepare sides that require minimum work like oven roasted sweet potatoes or steamed vegetables.  It takes me approximately 30 minutes most mornings to prepare a nutritious Sunday dinner.  We sometimes choose to eat out on Sundays as a special treat but this is an exception not the rule.

8.  We have a departure time in mind.  This sounds simple but it really is needed.  If you have the mindset that we will leave when we can, it doesn’t give you a goal to work toward.  Announcing to the older children what time we want to leave  helps to keep them on track and keep us all on the same page.

With six children 11 and under things  won’t always go as planned but the above steps have helped to minimize a lot of frustrations on Sunday mornings.

What are some things your family does to prepare for Sunday Worship?

 

4 simple and Inexpensive Ways to Spend Time With your child every week

We live in a society that often complicate simple matters. Money is great and I could always use more.  However, the lack thereof should not be used as an excuse for not spending quality time with your children.  No, we have never taken our children to Disney, and we don’t go on too many vacations but this doesn’t mean that we don’t spend quality time with them.  Below are some things we do on a weekly basis to spend time with our children, providing a sense of security. IMG_2261

 

1.  Pray with your children.  Yes that counts as spending time with them.  Prayer breaks down walls you didn’t know existed between you and your child.  We have been making more of an effort to have corporate prayer times as a family.  Tyrone and I are not the only ones that pray, we give each of the children a chance to participate.  You hear what’s on their heart during this time.  Some of that prayer time is spent disciplining and training the younger ones to be still, this can sometimes be frustrating but necessary so we keep at it.  My goal this year is to also have individual prayer time with each child.  It may only last a few minutes and that’s ok.  I often ask them what they need prayer for, there is a short dialog, we pray and carry on.  Each week the prayer time looks different. I am learning to not always wait for the perfect moment but to incorporate prayer with the flow of life. IMG_2371

2.  Attend church together each week as a family.    I have a husband, six children and we are all very different.  Attending church together to worship God is our common ground.  The sermon that was shared, the songs that were sung, the people we spoke to at church, the prayers that were prayed, the convictions that were felt, the aha moments that came as the preacher preached…these all give us some point of connection to dialogue on throughout the week. I know of parents who go to church without their children because they view them as a distraction from service.  They may also feel that church is too long for the children especially if there is no nursery or children’s church.  Believe me when I say I get this.  I have had my fair share of  being in the hallway with a misbehaving or loud child during service.  But this is  a part of the training.  They eventually get it, some sooner than others. More seeds are sown than you may realize even if they don’t understand all that is being said.  God knows how to reveal His truths to the youngest of soul. Whatever you do, choose a church based on God’s leading and not your child.   It’s not always about the abundance of flashy and exciting programs for your child. God knows exactly where you and your family need to be for your spiritual growth.  Trust his leading, it has eternal implications. IMG_2313 20141228_113726

3.  My husband has a weekly library date with the children.   Each week the children are allowed to check out three fiction and three non fiction books along with some videos.  While picking out the non fiction books, Tyrone gets insight into their world and interest.  Conversations naturally flow and it is an outing that they look forward to every week.  The kids absolutely enjoy this time with their father.   Library cards are free and there are always new resources at the library, not a bad deal.

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4.  Eat dinner together as a family.  I get it, we are all busy and I know that this is not always possible to do every night.  Perhaps you can start off with picking just one day of the week and build from there.  When we eat together, we each go around sharing the high (good) and low (bad) parts of our day.  This gives us a lot of insight into each other’s day and provides a lot of teachable opportunities  for Tyrone and I.   IMG_2224 IMG_2422

What do you do to spend quality time with your child?  Leave a comment below.

Dear God Please Undo What I Have Done

She was not sleepy, I just got her her up 30 minutes prior.  She was not hungry she just gobbled down breakfast AND NO she was not wet. I changed her diaper right before she ate.  But there was princess tugging at my leg demanding that I pick her up.  Why?  She is spoiled, very spoiled.  All I could do was whisper in desperation, “Dear Lord please undo what we have done. ” You see Faith has a story and when God answered our prayers, we were overjoyed.  We brought our miracle home and spoiled her… real good.  Tyrone and I were not the only culprits.  Her siblings stayed in her face.  If she cried, there were six other pair of hands ready to rescue her, it was a team effort.  And today we are dealing with the results.

 

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How many other times have I prayed that same prayer when I felt the consequences of MY poor choices.

When I yell at my children in anger and unleash misdirected frustration at them. I see them deflate right before my eyes.  I feel ashamed.

When I speak negatively of others and I later hear my children with the same critical tone.  I am forced to look in the mirror.

When I have had one too many “deserved” treats and I am left  feeling sluggish, cranky and quite round.

All of the above situations leave me asking the Lord to undo what I have done. I have learned that God won’t go back in time and undo my mess.  However, all is not lost. When you have a surrendered heart, He provides the tools to move forward and the wisdom to make choices aligned with His will.  My life testifies to the fact that repentance invites the Lord to masterfully redeem self inflicted pain.

So here we are at the close of 2014 and it is so easy to focus on all the mistakes, all your shortcomings, all the ” I knew better why did I?”  Perhaps you are currently dealing with the painful consequences of choices that you made in 2014 that were out of God’s will. There is no sense of hope for the new year only regret for what’s behind.

If you have not done so already, Jesus is lovingly inviting you to come to Him.  Repentance is liberating and His forgiveness is the sweetest medicine I have tasted.  While others may condemn and remind you of your mistakes, it’s not so with my  Jesus…this is my testimony.  So with all the New Years resolution, won’t you put a yes to Jesus at the top of the list and watch Him redeem in 2015!

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9 NLT

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

 

 

I Train All Day

For the  last 10 years I have been a stay at home mom.  On more than one occasion I  have been asked what I do all day.   Um-mm let me see how to phrase this… I train all day.   Not the kind of training you may be thinking about, allow me to explain.  Scripture tells us to train our children in the way they should go, the God way, the truth way, the blood bought way.  Training is not an option.  Because of our inherited sin nature EVERY child, no matter how cute is born with a desire to do wrong.  Everyday I am training and quite frankly it is hard work.    My job is not to tame my children’s sin, instead I have been entrusted with the job of encouraging them to nail it to the cross through submission to Christ.  Training begins with teaching them the word of God, this is the manual. The end goal is beyond nice behaved children. I want them to live knowing that death and judgment is certain for everyone.  So through my training I am encouraging them  to have a right relationship with God so that eternity can be spent with Him.

I train them not only through speaking the word but by living the word through my actions.

  • I train them  to understand that true love disciplines wrong behavior in an effort to prevent worst things from happening.  I choose not to wink at undesired behavior because of love.
  • I train them to be humble and to have a repentant heart when I say sorry (even to them) when I am wrong.
  • I train them to forgive and extend mercy when I forgive their offenses; not constantly reminding them of what they have done wrong. Dish out the consequence for wrongdoing and move on.  Do not look for opportunities to bring up how they missed the mark.

I train not just concerning the spiritual but the natural, but wait… the two are very much connected.

  • I train them to  not be idle and prioritize that which is important when I choose to cook and clean my house instead of spending too much time on social media.  I also give them the opportunity to work with their hands and allow the mess that comes with learning.

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  • I train them to understand what  honor  “looks” like when their father comes home to a cooked meal and washed clothes.  When my words are tempered with grace and my eyes aren’t rolling when he says something I don’t want to hear.  They are watching more than I realize, and I have had to apologize more than once.IMG_1883

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  • I train them to have responsibilities when I sit in the kitchen  and talk to them for a hour and a half while they clean, a job that I could have done in 30 minutes. Or when I wait for what seems like forever for them to pick up every Lego off the floor and resist the temptation to do it all for them because I can do it faster and betterIMG_1930

 

  • I train them when I allow them to experience the consequences of their poor choices and not always come to the rescue.  “No I will  not allow you to be late to school because you can’t find your recorder for music class.  I told you the night before to put everything in your bag.  Are you kidding me? There is six of you, I cannot keep up with your stuff. Stop crying and get in the van RIGHT NOW!”  True story, I am not making this up.. oh it’s happened to you too?
  • I train them to love who God created them to be when I  allow them to cry because they just don’t fit in with everyone else.  I say a prayer, wipe the tears and tell them how beautiful and special they are because God said so and I believe Him.

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  • I train them to  feel secure through the meals we share as a family at the table.  Letting them know that even with the absence of fine china and a perfectly set table conversations about the highs and lows of our day can flow freely.

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  • I train them to know they are loved by putting my to do list on hold and reading a book with them or just being silly and laughing about nothing really important.

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  • I train them to know dedication when I take my tired body to bed, wake up the next morning, ready to do it all over again and again and again!

Yes, this training thing is hard work.  The struggle is real but so is God’s love, His grace and His wisdom.  I don’t always do it perfectly.   I continue to learn that God gave us our children to train but certainly is not expecting us to do it on our own. We can do this…because of Christ!

 

 

Learning Alphabet & Scripture

Reading is fundamental; not an original thought I know, but it is true.  I want my children to cultivate a love for reading at an early age and it all begins with knowing the alphabet.  Today I am sharing a simple activity that accomplishes two objectives, learning the alphabet and the word of God.   This activity kept my four year old occupied for at least 30 minutes while I washed the dishes.  I loved that I didn’t have to stop and sit with him but we still had “together” time as I gave him different directives.  It was a win for the both of us.  The steps are below.

  1. Get a printout for your child to trace letters A-Z
  2. After she traces the letters, have her say each letter and the sound.
  3. After she says the letter sound have her say things that begin with that letter.  If your child is a little more advanced you can have her make sentences with the chosen word.
  4. Have her repeat the scripture that goes with the specific letter. Please visit this post, scroll down to the bottom and you will see my ABC scripture list.

Below is an example of applying the above steps for the Letter “A”

  1. Ask her to point to the letter “A” on her sheet.
  2. Ask her what sound the “A” makes.
  3. Ask her to tell you some words that make the “A” sound.  You can go on and on with this step depending on how much time you need to buy and how attentive your child is.
  4. Ask her to make sentences with the “A” words she mentioned.   You can extend this activity and make a story about the “A” words.  Again this is all about how much time you need and how attentive your child is.
  5. Finally, have your child repeat the “A” scripture,  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.”
  6. You can extend this activity by having her draw pictures of the “A” words she listed.

If you decide to try this, please leave a comment and let me know how it works out.  Happy Friday to you!

 

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How to teach the word of God to young children

October 10, 2014

I am all for educating children.  As a matter of fact, I went to school to be a teacher.  But I recognize that beyond ABC’s and 123’s the most important thing I need to live and teach my children is the word of God.  This is the ultimate key to a successful life. PERIOD.  If nothing else, this economy has taught us that you can have enough degrees to bake a cake but it does not guarantee success.   I could not resist. I had to use the degrees to bake a cake joke.  Funny?…no…ok.   Before I make another attempt at a joke, I will try share the tips.

 

Take time to read stories of young children in scripture.  

  • This helps them to see that living for God is not just for grown ups.
  • Josiah, Moses, Jesus, Samuel, David are a few.  Jeremiah & John the Baptist  were called from the womb.
  • Some children bibles are extremely simplistic in their explanation, sometimes altering the truth of the word.  Do not be afraid to “beef” it up for your children.  Believe me, they can handle a lot more than we think.  Trust me on this one.
  • Be animated as you read.  Make it exciting for your child.
  • Read the story to your children  and find creative ways to assess their understanding of the story.
    • After reading provide them with materials to make puppets for characters from the story and have them act it out, join in on the fun.
    • For the older ones, have them come up with a song or poem to convey the main points of the story.
    • Have them draw a picture or paint (depending on how patient you are feeling that day)of their favorite part of the story.  Ask them questions like, why was this your favorite part, how did this story make you feel?
    • I also LOVE Popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners.
  •  I am not a big fan of sticking children in front of the television but some days are just like that.  I figure if they are going to watch it, it might as well be edifying.  Get on Youtube to find videos of bible stories that you have read in the past.  This helps to reinforce what they have already learned.  You can also click on my “Books” tab to find some of my recommendations from amazon.

 

Suggestions for helping children memorize scripture (works for young and old, repetition is key).

  • It is helpful to have visual charts when working with children.
  • Put a scripture for the month on a poster board or note card and post them in prominent areas of the home such as the bathroom mirror, child’s bedroom door, above bed, and refrigerator.
  • Use illustrations to go with the pictures for those children that cannot read. The picture cues will help them to remember the scriptures.
  • As a family come up with different gestures for words of the scripture.
    • Example: If you are learning a scripture that has the word pray in it, you can have the children fold their hands as if they are praying whenever they get to the word pray in the scripture.
  • Young children tend to learn really quickly when the material is put to song. It does not  matter if you cannot sing, the children don’t care.
  • Look for ways in everyday life to teach children how to live out the scripture.  This encourages them to be doers of the word & not hearers only.
  •  Teach children key scriptures.
    • Examples include: John 3:16, The Lord’s Prayer Mathew 6:9-13,  Psalm 23, Ephesians 6:1.
    • To help the children and yourself learn these scriptures, you can make up your own family tune to the scripture and learn a new verse each month.   Again do not assume that they are too young to learn it, kids learn well through repetition.  Make time each day to review the selected verse.  It does not always have to be sitting down. Perhaps its in the car running errands or as you are washing dishes and they are playing nearby, make the time.

 Have daily confessions with your children including scriptures.

  • This is a good time to incorporate any prophetic words that have been spoken concerning your children; this helps them to be mindful of their destiny even at a young age.
    • Example.  If you know God has called your child to  preach you can have the child say something like, “I thank you God that I am a preacher.”  He may not have a clue as to what all of this means but the seeds are planted at a young age.
  • Also use this time to help your child understand what God is requiring of her.
    • Example: If you have a child that is having difficulty obeying, you can have the child learn Ephesians 6:1 in a personal way.  Have the child say something like this:  “God I thank you that I will honor mommy and daddy in the Lord for this is right!”  You may not see immediate results, but as the word gets in his spirit & you teach him ways to line up, you will see a shift.
  • I also like to use this time to introduce some key truths to the Christian faith.  For example, my 3 year old goes through what I like to call a daily confession. I ask him his name, his age, who loves him, who died for his sins, and who healed him.  I want him to understand early on that he is loved by us, but more importantly he is loved by Jesus.  I want him to really get that the blood of Jesus is the only thing that can save him from his sins.  Isaiah has an awesome testimony of how God healed him as an infant.  I do not want him to EVER forget what Jesus did for him. As he gets older, we will build on this foundation; sharing truths such as the power that’s in the blood of Jesus, repenting of our sins,etc.
  • Watch the video below for an example.  Isaiah is not used to me recording him as he responds to my questions so for the first few seconds he is caught up in the camera.

 

 

Finally, below is a list of scriptures A-Z that I received when my oldest was in preschool.  I ABSOLUTELY love it and still use it today, even for my now 10 year old.  I tend to review this when we are in the car or on the weekends when we have an extended devotion.  Start with the letter A and work your way through the alphabet.  I also like to discuss what each scripture means with my children; going beyond memorizing to comprehending which I pray will lead to applying it.  Print it out and put on your refrigerator.  I hope you find these suggestions to be helpful.  Leave me a comment and let me know!

A-Z Memory Verse

 

A-All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

 

B-Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!  Acts 16:31

 

C-children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

 

D-Depart from evil do good seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

 

E– Enter by the narrow gate. Mathew 7:13

 

F-For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

 

G-Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Mathew 28:19

 

H-Honor your father and mother Exodus 20:12

 

I-I am the way the truth and the life John 14:6

 

J-The just shall live by.  Romans 1:17

 

K-keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.  Psalm 34:13

 

L-Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

 

M-Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Psalm 100:1

 

N– No servant can serve two masters. Mathew 6:24

 

O– Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!  Psalm 34:8

 

P-pray without ceasing.  1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

Q-Quench not the Spirit.  1 Thessalonians 5:19

 

R-Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth. Ecclesiastes 12

 

S-Submit to God.  Resist the devil and He will flee from you. James 14:7

 

T–  “ The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  Proverbs 9:10

 

U-Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  Psalm 127:1

 

V-Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Romans 12:19

 

W-Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Mathew 25:13

 

X-eXalt the LORD our God, and worship at His footstool— He is holy.  Psalm 99:5

 

Y– Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

 

Z-Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice because of Your judgments, O LORD.  Psalm 97:8

 

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