Monday, August 25, 2014

The Real School Supply List ...

For the first time in 4 years, we are headed 'back to school'.  Homeschooling has been a wonderful journey for our family and has enriched our lives greatly.  But, life is often about changes and transitions and this is one of those times for us. 

We have been doing the usual back to school preparations, purchasing new shoes, pens, paper etc.  But the preparations go a bit deeper.  This is a new season of life and requires much change. We have to adjust our family schedule, our habits but most importantly, our hearts. Going from home to school will be a huge change for my son.  

I came across this article that shares some great tips on truly preparing our kids:

We can instill purpose in them | We are raising kids in a culture that is constantly changing its moral code. And without deep-rooted purpose, it’s far too easy for our children to get tossed around by whatever is politically correct or by social norms that shift without warning. If we don’t teach our kids we are here to glorify God and our ultimate purpose is to know Him and make Him known, no one else will.

We can encourage positive community around them| When we’re expecting our kids to live in the world, but not be like it, it’s absolutely crucial to provide opportunities for positive community. It’s actually not always convenient to attend church youth group or get together with like-minded friends, but it must be a priority. Kids need to feel like they belong somewhere. And they will.

We can offer them a safe place to fall and fail | Our kids grow through failure. We all have bad days and offering them a safe place to be themselves is a gift. If they have to keep it all together all the time, they just might fall part in the wrong place. Be their safety net. We don’t have to expect failure, but our kids should be able to expect our support no matter what.

We can remind them to be kind and thoughtful to others | Nothing makes me prouder than when I hear that my kids were kind to the new kid or reached out to someone. Parents are often the best teachers. When we take time to serve or put others first, we are teaching our children that this is valuable.

We can show them the beauty of faithfulness when life is hard | In our culture, it’s too easy to quit when things get tough. When we are faithful in hardships, this is when we learn. This is success. Expecting our kids to be faithful to their commitments is something they will carry through life.

We can choose to live in peace | Our world is in chaos. It’s a scary time to be raising kids today and we can’t predict or provide peace in the world. But we can try and provide it at home. We can pick our battles with each other and especially with those who choose to live differently than we do. It’s not really about tolerance; it’s about love.

So along with the school supplies, these tips will come in handy to equip him success in all areas of life.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Your Life is a Picture

Your Life a Picture 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

What does the picture of your life portray?
What does it communicate to others?
Do you know that people watch you?  Have you ever noticed that when a group of women get together how much they pay attention to one another? They notice each other's hair, nails, clothes, shoes, purse, phones and what each other eats!  I live in a house with all males - a husband and sons.  The things they notice about me never ceases to amaze me!  They notice my tone of voice, my mood, my response etc.  
As a Christian, we are called to represent Christ.  As we grow and mature, we strive to become "Christ-like" in our attitudes, words and actions.  As people watch us (and the do!), they are looking hard to see being a Christian is making a difference in us. Sometimes we share a witness by living our life while people watch.  Here are a few questions for us as we seek to be the picture of God, His love and grace to those around us. 
Does the likeness in the picture resemble Christ?  Do others see Him when they look at you? People will base their conclusions on not only whether you are doing what Jesus would do but also if you display Christ-like qualities and attitudes.
Does the picture glorify God? Both what you do and how you do it paint the strokes of such a picture.
Does the picture accurately exhibit the fullness of life in Christ? If so, your life will be colored with a vibrancy that comes from realizing how much God has truly blessed you, reflected in sharing with others.
Does the picture portray a consistent representation? If not, you might merely be confusing people about life in Christ.
Does the picture move others in their walk with the Lord? The real benefit of a picture is what it stirs up within the beholder. The ultimate purpose in letting your light shine is that others “may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Regardless of how you answered the above questions, your life, like a picture, is visible to the people around you. And, as we've noted, a picture is worth a thousand words. What image do people see when they look at you and how does it impact their lives? May others see Christ in you and me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Secrets of the Very Fit (that everyone can use).

When we think of 'very fit' people it is easy to turns aside and dismiss them!!  Usually we think that these are the people that live at the gym, exercise for hours a day and have very little life outside the fitness world. 

Although there are some 'extreme fitness' people around, the majority of people who desire to be more fit and healthy, constantly seek a balance which includes a healthy lifestyle. The 'super fit' put a bit more emphasis and effort in fitness and nutrition, but understand the benefits that come are worth the sacrifice.  Becoming 'super fit' is simply a process over time of making  healthy choices one at a time and developing good habits.  

Here are 10 Secrets of the Very Fit:

  1. Look at exercise as a pleasure and a privilege, not a burden or chore. Think positively about the changes regular exercise will produce. Rather than obsessing about your next meal, get excited about your next workout!
  2. Focus on short-term fitness goals with an emphasis on completing daily exercise.
  3. Work to take your exercise to new levels of intensity.
  4. Make it your goal to do some form of exercise 5 or 6 days a week. If some days you exercise once in the morning and once in the evening, even better! If you're eating right, exercise will fuel your energy level!
  5. Create an exercise schedule the day before instead of leaving it to chance or waiting to "find" the time. Plan to set aside some time during the day when your energy is highest. 
  6. Enjoy contributing to the health of others by having a partner or friends to exercise with, as well as recruiting others who want to feel better and have more energy. Have a neighbor who's sitting on the porch every morning when you walk by? Ask him or her to join you on your walk!
  7. Avoid monotony by taking up new forms of exercising, or using things that keep you motivated and inspired, like new shoes or great music.
  8. Invest in the right tools—good shoes, a portable MP3 player or iPod®, fitness equipment, a new series of tapes, etc. Doesn't have to cost a lot of money, get what you use and use what you get!!
  9. Subscribe to fitness magazines to keep focused on health as an overall way of life.
  10. Eat well-balanced meals and remember that excess calories, even if they're from food that's fat free and high in protein, will turn to excess weight. No matter what the latest fad diet says, extra calories equal extra weight!
These tips will get you moving in the right direction for a fabulously fit life!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Almost an In Law - How To Be a Good One!

In the midst of our wedding excitement with all the plans, the details, the joy, the anticipation, it is almost easy to forget that the wedding is actually just the beginning!   It is the beginning of two lives being united, families being enlarged and intertwined, a new home, new routine and a new life for the children and the parents.

Our family of all boys is thrilled to be adding a girl to it!!  Which means...I will be a mother in law!  The very word tends to usually bring reactions from people.  We've all heard horror stories about 'the mother in law".  
Unfortunately, many mothers-in-law have earned the reputation, read these two examples!!!

Consider the story of a bride who wanted to please her new husband. He often mentioned how much he loved his mother’s chocolate chip cookies, so his wife asked her mother-in-law to share the recipe. Instead of recognizing the request as a sincere compliment, the mother-in-law coldly responded, “That’s my recipe, and I bake those cookies for my son. Why would I give the recipe to you? Of course you can’t have it.”

Another young wife opened the door one morning to discover her mother-in-law standing there armed with a mop and a bucket filled with cleaning supplies. “I’m glad you’re home. I've come to show you the proper way to clean a bathroom.”

Thankfully, the family I married into welcomed me and made me a special part of their lives.  The mother in law God blessed me with is the best!!  I want to carry that tradition on!!   I began praying early for my sons future brides. I prayed for their parents and asked God to give them wisdom as they raised the young women who would someday become part of our family.  God has truly answered our prayers!

I searched for advice from those who had good, loving relationships with their daughters-in-law. Here’s a few tips I found that will help me and others who have that desire for a great mother in law relationship.:

  • Make an effort to help your daughter-in-law feel welcome in your family. She is not an outsider; don’t treat her like one. Include her in conversations, activities and family photographs.

  • Don’t force your son to choose between the two of you and don’t put him in the role of playing peacemaker. Realize that you and your daughter-in-law are not competitors; you are allies. Your son has enough love for both of you.

  • Notice your daughter-in-law’s good qualities and then sincerely compliment her. Is she thoughtful and kind? Is she an exceptional housekeeper or a good money manager? Is she an accomplished cook or a talented decorator? She will appreciate knowing you recognize her virtues and talents.

  • Think before you act or speak. Remember what it was like to be a young bride.

  • Pray for your daughter-in-law every day. Tell her you are praying for her, and ask if she has any special requests. Better yet, pray together if the opportunity arises. Perhaps your daughter-in-law is not who you would have picked for your son; pray that God will help you to love her.

  • Remember her birthday and celebrate her achievements.

  • Don’t speak negatively about your daughter-in-law to others. Be her biggest cheerleader.

  • Does your daughter-in-law make your son happy? Then send her a card or letter expressing how much you appreciate her love for your son.

  • Don’t give advice unless it is requested. You’ll be surprised how well the young couple will manage without your help. They know where you are if they do want advice.

  • Don’t interfere in their lives, and don’t take sides.

  • Be available, but don’t be constantly underfoot. Give them space to live their own lives and build their own traditions.

  • Take your daughter-in-law to lunch or go shopping together. Spend an evening experimenting with new recipes. Find a mutual hobby or volunteer together. Make an effort to bond with the “daughter-in-love” God has placed in your life.

 I hope my daughter-in-law never consider me a nightmare. I genuinely want to be a good mother-in-law to the one God has placed in my life. But, this is a new journey for our family and I'm believing these tips and a heart centered on loving as the Lord loves us will bring about a beautiful relationship that will flourish and grow for many years.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Mom Contract

This week my life as a mom is a bit stressful.  We will hit a few monumental moments all in one week.

Saturday will be the first wedding in the family as my oldest son will be getting married.  I've spent lots of time and posting on that, so I'll share the other big thing...this week our youngest son will turn 13...another teenager in the house!! Since there is a bit of a space between the youngest and his two older brothers, he's watched them for years as teenagers and can not wait to be one!  

Things are a lot different with a teenager this time around for us.  Facebook, cell phones, email accounts are a brand new world for teenager today.  For a Christian family we should recognize the benefits of these, but also be aware of the dangers that they may hold.  A 13 year old given unlimited access to so many freedoms at one time can be overwhelming.  So...some guidelines need to be in place.

A recent article read shared some fantastic guidelines for a teen's first phone.  It was called "The Mom Contract" and I loved it!! 

1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest?

2. I will always know the password.

3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads "Mom" or "Dad". Not ever.

4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 pm every school night., every weekend night at 9:00 pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 am. If you would not make a call to someone's land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It's a life skill.

6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.

7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

8.. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

9.. No porn or anything inappropriate.

10. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

11. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else's private parts. Don't laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear -- including a bad reputation.

12. Don't take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

13. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO -- fear of missing out.

14. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.

15. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

16. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.

17. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and; I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.

There is more than moral dangers with all this technology, there is the danger of missing out on real life, making face to face relationships and connections and the danger of manners slipping....may we as parents find that balance of keeping them up in the world of technology while keeping their feet and hearts grounded in love!