I wanted to recommend the God’s Design for Sex series as really helpful tools to have around the house. We have chosen not to go with “the talk” when it comes to sex but to try and honestly answer the kids questions as they come up. For the most part, up until the past year, Abby’s questions had been pretty simple and she didn’t dig any further. But once she did, I explained sex pretty simply to her. To have the first two books around was a great way for us to continue to share and help answer additional questions she may have. Elijah has listened in and understood. And Naomi has also listened, but didn’t seem to be too interested in the topic. As I said, right now we own the first two books, but in the next few months, we will purchase the third as something for Abby to read with either Joe or me. If you have any other suggestions on good books for children that deal with sex from a God-centered perspective, please leave your ideas in the comments section.
Joe had sent me the link for this book awhile ago and I had added it to our Amazon cart the next time I was going to make a purchase. As I read the title (How to Clean Your Room in 10 Easy Steps) I thought it would be PERFECT for our oldest daughter Abby. She is not the cleanest of the bunch, and partly that is because she my true pack rat. I have really been praying about being understanding about how her need to keep raggedy old stuffed animals dolls is not sin, but just different from the way I operate. And how I need to be understanding that in many ways her way of holding onto things is a way to keep some semblance of control due to our changing lifestyle. That is a heart issue to deal with, but the actual keeping of a lot of things isn’t necessarily wrong.
So anyway, I made an Amazon order and was very excited to receive this book. I opened it up, thinking it would be a great way to get her to clean her room without me bugging her about it. Low and behold I found it was a spoof from a child’s perspective about how to clean your room. And it was hilarious! I read it through to the kids the first time and we just laughed and laughed. Abby and I would look at one another at certain points that sounded so much like her and just giggle.
And it was actually better than getting a step-by-step book on how to clean your room. The power of humor helped me to step back and realize a messy room isn’t the end of the world. And helped her as well to see how ridiculous she may sound at times (for example, the mom asks the little girl about getting rid of a ratty old stuffed animal at which point the girl cries proclaiming it as her most favorite thing in the whole wide world and then tosses it on her heap of other stuffed animals when her mom leaves the room). So if you live with a child who is a little on the messier side, this book is a fun way to view the “problem” at hand.
How to Clean Your Room in 10 Easy Steps by Jennifer Larue Huget
When we are abroad, we have a lot more downtime than we do in the States. Although I would like it not to be the case, it often means more television watching (both for us and the kids). I set a time limit for both myself and the kids, but I have found that often one of the bigger challenges is finding television shows that I am comfortable with them ingesting 30 minutes of every day. But this season they have been watching a show called Wild Kratts on PBS. They actually watched it a few times at our friends’ house int he fall, but this season was the first time I recorded it for them and then sat to watch what it was all about. I was really pleasantly surprised.
First of all, the show is on PBS, which always makes me feel better because I know they won’t have to be sitting through a load of commercials. (Side note: If you don’t think commercials are a big deal, please check out by Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising by Susan Linn and/or watch the trailer or film.) But not all PBS shows are my favorite (for example, Arthur doesn’t top my list because of the negative sibling interactions that are often depicted). But on the whole, I really like PBS shows. But Wild Kratts is at the top of my list for a number of other reasons:
1. Educational. It is a show all about animals and is really fascinating. And I mean, so much that I catch Joe sitting and watching it with the kids and I find myself enjoying watching the show with them. I walk away knowing a really cool fact about God’s creation (like the sperm whale has the largest brain and eye in the animal kingdom).
2. Great Role Models. Both the male and female characters on the show are ones that I feel comfortable having my kids watch. Not only are all kind and encouraging, but the females aren’t boy crazy (something I see more and more in kids shows), but are intelligent, well-spoken individuals. And the guys aren’t just making dumb jokes, but are also smart and compassionate.
3. Great Interactions. As I mentioned the female characters aren’t boy crazy, but there are no love interests anywhere on the show. It seems like shows these days are about having boyfriends/girlfriends at younger and younger ages. The two main characters are the Kratt brothers and their interactions with one another are so refreshing. They are two brothers who genuinely enjoy being around one another and share a common bond of enjoying the outdoors and animals.
4. Spans a Large Age Range. The older three kids (ages 8, almost 6 and almost 4) rotate who picks the 30 minute show each day and every single one of them has picked Wild Kratts on their day. I don’t think I could say that about any other show. It appeals to both boys and girls and at an age range in our family of at least 4 years.
So I know that was a lot to write about a kids television show, but I do find it more and more challenging to find a show that I am happy to let them watch. If you have any suggestions, please add them to the comments section.
Today I want to share one more lesson that has deeply impacted me because I have been privileged to be the mom of four young children. And that is that as a mom I have been given just a very small glimpse of what it means to sacrifice your life for others in the way Jesus did.
It seems that the message of American culture tells me a few things:
1. You should look out for yourself.
2. Your life should be easy and free from struggle or hardship.
3. People that make your life difficult should be kicked to the curb.
4. At the end of the day, if you have made yourself happy, then that is all that matters.
The longer I have been a Christian, a wife and a mother, the more I see through the smoke filter of these lies. We were not created to simply look out for ourselves and create a life that would bring us comfort and ease. And we see this most clearly in the example of Jesus and what His coming, life, death and resurrection meant for people. Jesus showed us that:
1. True joy is found in laying down your life for others.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
(1 John 3:16 ESV)
2. Life will be hard and bring suffering if you are living a life in accordance with God’s will.
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
(Philippians 1:29 ESV)
3. The people who are most difficult are often those who need your love and grace the most.
And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(Mark 2:17 ESV)
4. At the end of your life, if you have shared the message of Jesus and loved others well than you have fulfilled your ultimate purpose of bringing glory to God’s name.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:6-8 ESV)
These truths have become more real through being a mother than in any other part of my life. And especially in being a mother beyond what I thought “comfortable”. I am so thankful (although I don’t always act thankful) that I have been pushed beyond my limits with having four young children. And I understand that I have not even been pushed nearly as far as many. But I know what it is like to:
- have requests made of me almost every waking minute of the kids’ days
- be the last to sit down and eat the meal I prepared
- hear very little “thank you’s” in relation to the work that I do throughout the day
- have no “day off”, but be on call 24 hours a day
- try to squeeze in my own time for things like quiet reading and prayer, exercise, and even blog posts
All of this has shown me that Jesus coming to earth was a bigger sacrifice than I can ever imagine. He suffered and served and loved and shed his own blood for His people who wanted nothing to do with Him. He chose the road of suffering, hardship, pain and abandonment. He washed a man’s feet that he knew would deny he even knew him a few hours later and prayed for those who killed him. Jesus did not succumb to the instant fix or temporary pleasure that this world has to offer.
May we reflect this Christmas weekend on what it truly meant for Jesus to leave the right hand of the Father and come to earth to suffer alongside us. To bear our sins fully on Himself so that we might never bear them again. May this weekend not be just about giving gifts to loved ones, but about blessing those who have no hope and are unlovable. Praise God that Jesus did that for us and has left us the power to do that for others as well. May your Christmas be merry and bright as you shine a light for Jesus.
One of the biggest shocks to me when Elijah was born was that adding a second child into the mix didn’t mean double the work. I am not sure of what the exact equation is when you have more children, but it isn’t a simple addition equation. What you were doing before doesn’t just double, there is some sort of exponential increasing that goes on when another child enters the house.
This is apparent in many areas:
- the physical energy you need to output
- the amount of laundry
- the effort it takes to monitor sibling interactions
- the food that needs to be supplied
- the bumps and bruises to tend to
- the personal hygiene requirements (diaper changes, bottom wipes, teeth brushings, nail clippings)
A couple of areas I have really noticed it more than others though.
1. The audio input I receive.
I have told Joe many times that one of the most tiring things for me has to be the constant barrage of noise coming in my direction. Whether it is a request for something, a question about how something works, a complaint about a sibling, or just random talking, I feel like there is barely a moment of silence. I once heard a joke about a mom who when it was her turn to pick the music for the car, which everyone else must be quiet and listen to, selected a blank tape. Moms of young children certainly know the value of silence.
On those days when it doesn’t feel like I can even hear myself think though, I am reminded that I need to be thankful for children who can speak. I am thankful they know they can com to me with their needs and desires. And I pray that the audio input doesn’t decrease in the years to come, but maybe just becomes a little more organized
2. The joy in the house.
As much as it can be crazy having four young children, the fun times have also increased exponentially. I may at times think back to how quiet things were with 1 or 2 children, but I am so very thankful for all the extra laughter now. And I am thankful for the playmates the kids are to each other. Some of my favorite moments are seeing Abby read a book to Isaiah, or Elijah teaching Naomi how to play cards, or all four of them in a room playing “restaurant”. I could have never imagined how much love there would be for everyone. It is such a blessing to see not only my own love for each of the kids, but to see how they are growing in their relationships with one another as well. Abby, for example, is a better person for having 3 siblings, even though it may have been easier for her with just Elijah.
So although four children is not simply what I had with just one child multiplied by four, in so many ways I am thankful for that.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
(Ephesians 1:3 ESV)
May you enjoy the overflow of blessing in your life today,
Yesterday morning I got some alone time out with Abby. One challenge of having four children is finding time to spend with them each individually. Although I stay home with the kids and have a lot of time with them, I find it can be difficult to get quality alone time with each one. Don’t get me wrong, I have time with each one during the day: Elijah and I will play checkers, Naomi and I will color, Abby and I will make a book together, and Isaiah and I will read books and cuddle. But to get uninterrupted time with each can be hard to come by, but is something both Joe and I have seen to be really beneficial.
Joe gets out with the kids individually more than I do, but it is something I include in my New Year goals each year: to have individual date times with each of the kids 2-3 times a year (with 4 kids, that means getting out on a date with 1 each month). In those times I enjoy just listening to them talk; when they have your full attention it is fun to hear what comes out of their mouths.
I also try to use the time to ask specific questions about their hearts and our relationship in particular (once they are old enough to engage, of course). So for example, yesterday here were the questions I asked Abby:
1. What are you enjoying in life most right now? Or what are you most thankful for right now?
2. What is the most difficult thing in your life right now? How can I be praying for you with that?
3. What do you think is the best thing about our relationship right now? Or what do you think Mommy does well that you want me to keep doing?
4. What do you think needs the most work in our relationship? Or what can Mommy do better to be a better parent to you?
5. What is something in Mommy’s life that we can pray for improvement on?
It is humbling to hear the answers to these questions from your child, but a great way to connect and let them know that we as parents are sinners too. I want them to know that even though I struggle many times throughout the day, I know I have struggles and I want to change by the grace of God. And not only are these good questions to ask with your kids, but also beneficial for those date times with your spouse as well.
In the next few days, I am going to share a little more about what has been a surprise to me in being a mom of four children. I could write down a huge list probably, but I thought I would just highlight a few things that have taken me by surprise.
Until tomorrow, Lord-willing,
One concept that has been hitting me lately with the kids is that being a parent is not only a full-time job, but it takes a continuing education. Just as many who work outside the home are always looking to further their knowledge and skill in their career, I must do that as a wife and mother as well. I have noticed that I am most joyful and at rest in my role as a wife and mother when I am reading things that are pointing me to the joy found in those two roles. So for me, I need to almost always be reading a book on marriage or parenting/family.
But another way for me to be encouraged is through other people’s blog posts. Joe is great at sending me encouraging blog posts. Here are two he linked to recently on his Twitter that I hope will encourage you today as well.
Why having my children upset with me is a “small thing” in my world by Chris Brauns (HT: Vitamin Z)
How to teach them how to think by Barnabas Piper
May we all grow in our respective roles and be encouraged to press on in faith today,
The other day I was upstairs getting Isaiah ready for a nap after lunch. Elijah had been finishing up eating downstairs. Elijah is probably one of my best helpers when it comes to cleaning up after a meal. He will put things away without me having to ask him, which is always a nice blessing. I heard him downstairs moving things around when all of the sudden I heard a big crash. The shattering glass told me he had dropped one of the jelly jars. A minute later, he slowly peeked into the room where I was rocking Isaiah with a sad face. I said, “You dropped the jelly jar, huh?” And he nodded. I said, “It’s ok bud. It was just an accident. Were you trying to carry more than one jar at a time?” (Side note: there were three jelly jars and 1 peanut butter jar out…don’t ask why!) He said, “No, I wasn’t carrying more than 1, I was carrying four.” I just laughed and told him I would clean it up in a minute so to just stay away from the spill.
When I came downstairs, it was the brand new jar of jelly that had fallen and broken on the floor (I was hoping it was the jar with just a little jelly left in it!) As I got down and started cleaning up, Elijah was watching me and said, “Mom, it’s good I learned a lesson right? I know I can’t carry that many now and need to take them one at a time.” I told him that it was very good he learned from this and that is one of the great things about mistakes. Of course, he has heard this all before as I often have to talk myself through my mistakes.
This was a great reminder to me about my own life. I am often so consumed with getting the right results that I often miss the lessons God is teaching me through the mistakes. The mistakes are a blessing as well. I get to learn, to pray, to ask for forgiveness, to see my need and so many other wonderful things when I make a mistake or sin. May we all embrace our lessons to be learned today,
I mentioned yesterday that when the kdis come to me with a complaint about one another, my first comment is to usually ask them to please name their sin in the situation. After they have done this, my next reminder comes from Matthew 18:
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
Unless someone is in danger, I tell the kids that they first need to try and work their disagreement out between each other. It is amazing how quickly something usually dies down when they have to deal with it with one another. They know that if they come back to me again, they need to tell me the steps they took to try and resolve the conflict. And even then, they will probably be asked if this is something they can overlook out of love for the other.
Every time I tell the kids to first go to the person who offended them, I am convicted. We as adults are not very good at this. We gossip, we “ask for prayer for a situation” to another person or simply hold a grudge against someone who has no idea they have done anything wrong. And even more convicting is to think about how often we simply bear with one another in love for the sake of Jesus.
I want our children to be lovers of grace and in order for that to happen, I need to love extending grace to others. I need to speak about evidences of grace I see in people’s lives and in situations I find myself in. May your day be full of the grace of God today,
In the past I have done a few series of post on Kids and _____, which have highlighted different issues we have been thinking or working through with our kids. But as of late, I have found that often what I am continually repeating to my kids is what God is trying to teach me in this season of life. So over the next couple days I thought I would give you a glimpse into the current things that being a parent is teaching me.
The number one thing I find myself saying almost consistently throughout the day is in relation to Luke 6:42 (also found in Matthew 7:4-5):
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
A lot of my day is spent hearing “Mooooooooom, Abby/Elijah/Naomi did __________.” And as any parent, or simply human being knows, when there is a problem, it is very rarely just one person’s fault. There is usually multiple sins that are contributing to any situation. So throughout the day, I am often reminding the kids to be more concerned about their own sin, rather than someone else’s.
But every time I remind the kids of this, I automatically have to turn my own words right back on myself. How often am I annoyed by someone else’s pride, only to be convicted that it is my own pride that has caused that annoyance. How often do I want to point out the sin in someone else’s life when I have much of the same in my own life? Or (one of my most amusing ones) how often do I complain about others complaining?
I know that our own household would be a much more peaceful place if the same amount of effort that was put into pointing out others shortcomings were put into killing our own sin. So I can only imagine how much peace we could each bring to our own little corner of the world if we would each employ the same mindset.