Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Mentor Monday: Sally Clarkson

From Sally Clarkson’s wonderful book, The Mission of Motherhood:

It may well be that our children are not academically gifted, athletically brilliant, or socially inclined.  It may be that our marriage is conflicted or broken and cannot provide the stability we might wish for.  Our finances might be in a mess, or our income may be insufficient to provide the material possessions our children want.  Or perhaps we feel that we don’t have a supermom personality and have a hard time just holding together normal life.

If we focus on intellect, social status, or wealth, it’s almost certain that we will eventually feel we don’t quite measure up.  How comforting, it is, then, to realize that the goals God has called us to as parents are accomplishable.

Any parent in any station of life has the ability to reach his or her child’s heart for Christ and his purposes.  All that God requires from any of us is a desire to serve him and a trust that he can make up the difference for the things we lack.  The Lord would have us know that he is the one ultimately in charge of our children.  He will use our willingness and our efforts, then fill in the gaps of our inadequacies, to prepare their hearts for what he has in mind.

Every Monday I quote or have a guest post from a veteran mom.  Although I have never met Sally, her writing is a continual encouragement to me.  She has raised four children who love Jesus and their family.  Read Sally’s blog here!

Past Mentor Mondays:

Unconditional Love: Edith Schaeffer

Raising Your Children With Honesty and Good Communciation: Guest post by Debbie Wilson

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Linking to Better Mom Monday

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How to Tame the Internet Dragon

I was raised kind of Amish.

Well, not really.  My family liked electricity and our rotary phone.

But my parents thought the Amish were the bomb dot com, and decided to live counter-culturally and pattern our lives after the Plain People as much as they could.

The results were a mixed bag.  You can imagine how awkward this was when we tried to interact with normal people.

But the positive side is that we kids learned some good skills and habits, like a great work ethic and the disciplines of silence and solitude.

As for technology, we didn’t know how to reboot a computer, much less how to get online.  On one hand, again, this was a major handicap when we joined the modern world.  On the other, we knew—and still do—that we didn’t need the internet to be happy.

Several years ago I saw a blog challenge to unplug for 24 hours.  This gave the person issuing the challenge a lot of anxiety.  She was asking herself, “Can I really do this?”  A lot of her readers echoed her anxiety.

At the time, I just laughed.  Seriously?  We had gotten to the point that living for 24 hours without the internet was almost unthinkable?

While I still think my unconventional upbringing gave me an edge in my ability to disengage from technology, it’s much smaller than it used to be.  The more I’m online, the more I want to be, and the more restless I am when the internet is not available.

I also see how the internet sucks in my kids.  Even though we have some strict limits on what and how much they are allowed to access online, it feels like fighting a three-headed dragon with a dagger.

So what’s going on?

This week, Michael Hyatt hosted a podcast calledWhat the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (And What We Can Do About It).”  In the podcast, he summarized a Newsweek article called, Tweets, Texts, E-mail and Posts: Is the Onslaught Making Us Crazy?”  Turns out, the internet is doing a lot of damage, especially to our kids.  Michael then shared his thoughts and ideas for how to harness the positive power of the internet, while guarding against its negative impact.

Michael outlined five disciplines that can help us avoid the crazy-making of the internet: rest, reflection, reading, recreation, and relationships.

At first glance, this might seem like a common sense list, but do we actually make room for them in our lives?

I’m not against technology.  In fact, growing up without it gave me an incredible appreciation for the opportunities of the internet.  But along with Michael and the authors of the Newsweek article, I fear that it’s horning in on our lives so pervasively that it’s causing us and our families a lot of harm.

Anyone who lives in the modern world is impacted by the addictive power of the internet.

How is it affecting you as a mom?  How is it affecting your marriage?  Your children?

Go listen to the podcast.  It gave me a fresh determination to keep the internet in its place and to, as Jeff Goins says, “live a life worth writing.”  What good is all this information if it doesn’t stem from something real?

On Wednesdays from August through December, I am going to focus on one of Michael’s five disciplines on my blog (and in my life).   Each week, I will issue a simple challenge related to the current discipline as it relates to family and mothering.

First up: Rest.

Come back on August 1 for the first challenge.

Let’s tame this monster and take back control!  The sanity of our families is at stake!

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How to Find Joy Wherever You Live

My first home was a murder scene.

The parsonage where my husband and I lived as newlyweds was the same house where the previous “pastor” had shot his wife in the head and passed her death off as a suicide before he ran off to his internet girlfriend.  (He was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.)

The little church my husband pastored had once been in a respectable part of town.  Over the years the neighborhood had deteriorated until drug addicts and drunks walked the street in front of our house and crack dealers sold their wares on three street corners we could have hit with a well-aimed rock.

The sheriff couldn’t carry a gun because convicted felons were prohibited from doing so.  If I recall correctly, he’d been elected to his second term from jail.

Reader’s Digest named the local judge one of the worst in the nation.

The nearest Wal-Mart was in a small town almost an hour away that had one of the highest murder rates in the US.

A few days after my first baby was born, a gang fight erupted in front of my house which left a person lying in the street.

I called 911.  Nobody came.

That’s not even to mention that I had moved far from family for the first time in my life, sight unseen.

I loved it.

No, really.  I did.

My husband and I decided when we got married that we were going to enjoy wherever God placed us.  Our family joke is that God seems to send us to places no one else wants to go.  And everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve found joy.

Good things are there if you just look for them.  In our first home, we had wonderful neighbors across the street.  We had a precious church full of loving, caring friendsseriously some of the best people in the entire world.  We even grew to be on friendly terms with some of the regulars in our rough neighborhood.  The other day I ran across a picture of a young man from the neighborhood whom my husband led to Christ, and who broke free from a lifestyle of drug abuse.

We lived near the largest bottomland hardwood forest in the United States, which was known for its rich hunting.  And we enjoyed the beauty of thousands of acres of fertile farmland that surrounded our little town.

The Methodist church down the road from ours had a Fourth of July celebration every year that was like something from a Norman Rockwell painting—watermelon eating contests, tug of war, a lemonade stand, and fireworks over the creek.  Our two churches shared a unique bond of fellowship and Kingdom-building that most communities never enjoy.

We lived in an area rich with history and with a unique regional culture.

We still miss our precious friends from that time in our lives.

Maybe we were crazy.  But I’m thankful that we were just crazy enough to obey God and determine to love where He had us.  Thankful enough to not let our happiness hinge on our surroundings.  Thankful enough to choose contentment and joy.

It’s not that we were so amazing.  Heavens, no.  I was a pretty broken girl when I came to that place.  I look back with embarrassment at the mountain of things I did wrong.  But that—that, by the grace of God, I think I got right.  And if I did it, anyone can.

Here are three ideas for how to find joy anywhere.

Embrace the call.  Acts 17:26 says that God “has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”  He decided long ago where you would live!  If God has placed you in a place you don’t really want to be, make up your mind to enjoy it anyway.

Ask yourself how you’d act if you were there on vacation.  Are there any special historical or cultural events?  What sights would you see?

Build relationships.  People make a place great, not surroundings.

Have you ever found joy in a difficult place?  Tell us about it in the comments!

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

Linking:

WIP Wednesdays

Women Living Well Wednesdays

Works for Me Wednesday


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What Does Unconditional Love Look Like?

Over the years, I have seen MANY parents lose their relationships with their children.

Today on Mentor Monday, I want to share what Edith Schaeffer says about this in her book, What is a Family? 

Here she tells us how to avoid this relationship loss.

A child needs to grow up knowing that love never faileth, that not only will Dad and Mom stay together in spite of each of their weaknesses as well as strengths, but that the door will always be open, the “candle in the window” will never go out.  Love doesn’t say, “If you ever do that again, never come home.”  Love never faileth.  Love keeps that door open, the light waiting, and dinner in the oven–for years.  This is the love a family demonstrates in its formation center.

Can human love be perfect?  No, but it is meant to be worked at through the years, and it is meant to portray something, within the family, of the love of God for His Family of children.  “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).  The loving-kindness of God toward us has been demonstrated not when we were being good, but in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Then how can an earthly father or mother demonstrate love to children by saying such things as: “Unless you are good, I won’t love you”–”If you sleep with a girl [marry that person, have a baby, get into drugs], the door is shut forever to you.  Don’t ever darken my door again!”?

…the “never failing” is meant to go on during our time in the land of the living.

~Edith Schaffer, What is a Family?

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~linking up!~


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Welcome to Reviving Motherhood!

The MOB Society, a great blog for mothers of boys, is hosting their second annual boy mom blog hop, and this year I am participating.

So MOB Society readers, welcome to Reviving Motherhood!

I’m Stephanie.  I have two sons—9 and 1 ½ (and three daughters too.)

I’m joyfully married, and I’m a homeschool grad who now homeschools my own 5.

I LOVE to learn from wise older women who have successfully raised great kids, and to pass that knowledge on to others.  I want to be just like them when I grow up!  I just started Mentor Mondays on my blog, where I publish guest posts and quotes from godly older women we younger ladies can learn from.

You might enjoy this week’s Mentor Mondays post, 4 Ways to Raise Your Children With Honesty and Good Communication, by my friend Debbie Wilson from Marriage Matters Now. 

Debbie says this: “The most influential person in your child’s life is the parent of the opposite sex.”  Read the whole post for her wise words about raising kids!

Another passion is fearless mothering.  It can feel like there are so many things for moms to fear!  As a young mom, God helped me to overcome persistent, crippling fear and learn to walk in faith and freedom.

In fact, I’m now writing an e-book about fearless mothering (especially appropriate for those of us with wild and crazy boys, yes?) that should be available for purchase this fall.  I’ll be giving away lots of copies, so watch this space!  Feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to get updates.

The theme of this year’s blog hop is games. My boys’ favorite games differ because of their age differences.  I have found that old-fashioned fun still trumps everything else.  My older one loves sports and whooping me at checkers, and the baby loves balls, blocks, and music.

I’m so proud of my sons, and I love being a boy mom, as well as a girl mom.

New here?  Here are a few more links to get you started.

For pregnant moms and moms of babies, check out what I’ve written on babies and birth.  These categories include posts about preparing for birth, breastfeeding, nurturing your tiny ones, and my favorite baby products.

Thinking about homeschooling?  Start here.

I bet I am not the only mom who has food sensitivities in the house.  Here’s a favorite summer recipe for dairy free ice cream.

Thanks for visiting, friends!  Please come back and see me again!

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Again, please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!


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Get Your Mornings Off to a Great Start With Gratitude

Sometimes in the morning rush, it’s hard to set a positive tone for our days. 

When you have a busy family, it’s easy for the days to get off to a rough start—or at least a not-so-great one.

After listening to this interview with Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, I had an idea for our homeschool mornings.  I purchased an inexpensive journal for me and each of the kids who is old enough to write, and each day during this school year, we will begin our days with a gratitude journal.

What better way to set the tone for the day than by giving thanks?

 

 

How do you start the day off right in your home?  Do you keep a gratitude journal?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

 


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4 Ways to Raise Your Children With Honesty and Good Communication

I’m so excited to have my first ever Mentor Monday!  Today, my friend Debbie Wilson kindly shares some of her insights into raising children.  I learned so much from her–I hope you enjoy it too!

In Deuteronomy 11:18-21 it says, “Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking  in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night.  Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.” The Message

Steve and I have three grown children that we raised to be very healthy, God loving adults, spouses and parents. How did we do it?  Definitely by trial and error and we watched many couples that were ahead of us and seemed to be raising great children.  We wanted to learn from God and others that were doing a great job.  With those two ingredients, we formed what we believe was good for our kids.

Growing up in my generation the saying “children were meant to be seen but not heard” was the case.  We wanted to hear our children’s hearts and give them the freedom to ask us anything and we chose to give them honest answers according to the age they were.  I believe that the scriptures in Deuteronomy speak of exactly that.

It is our responsibility to teach our children truth and instruction.  If we chose not to, the world will teach them!  That is very scary to realize what the world is teaching society today.  Therefore we have to take seriously what God has instructed us to do.  Here are a few ways that we taught our children:

1. We built a very safe environment for our children to ask anything they were curious about.  We never laughed at them or made them feel embarrassed or belittled by their questions.  This is extremely important to be able to talk to your kids about everything.

If you are not approachable, they will find someone who is.  You absolutely want it to be you and then you must take the time to give them your attention and your wisdom on what they are asking.  Kids ask why all the time and because we are impatient or just too busy, our pat answer is “because I said so!”  That statement will leave your child feeling so insecure and unimportant in your life.

If  you are not happy with the friends they are choosing, maybe you need to look at whether you are taking the time to talk to them and answer their questions and curiosity.  When our middle son was in 3rd grade, he came home one day and asked if Steve and I were getting a divorce?  I asked him why he would ask that and he said his friend at school told him that his parents were getting a divorce.  I remember Steve and I sitting down and explaining to him, at that age, that we were committed to each other and that no matter what happened in life, we would work through it.  If he had not felt he could ask that question, he would have lived with the anticipation that one day the same thing would happen to us.  When was the last time you thought about what your children may be thinking as they watch others, TV and any media?  They must have safety and freedom to ask questions….give them that!!!

2. We dated our children.  We had 2 boys and 1 girl.  The most influential person in your child’s life is the parent of the opposite sex. 

I have influenced my boys greatly and Janae has been influenced by her Dad. Knowing that we wanted them to grow up staying pure and having a healthy view of dating, marriage and sex, we took the time to teach them about that.

Steve would take Janae out on dates from the time she was 4.  It was the highlight of her life.  She would dress up, twirl and talk about it for days.  Steve wanted to teach her how a man should treat her so that she never compromised in that area.  Boy, did it work.  She married at 24 and her husband is identical to her Dad in the way he treats her.  She was a virgin when she married because she and I talked often about sex and what could happen when she went on a date and how to avoid getting into bad situations.  As her wedding approached, she would often say “28 days til sex” as she counted down the days to her wedding.  She has a healthy marriage and sex life because we prepared her in every way to see it realistically and view it as a gift from God.  I never had that from my parents and it would have made a tremendous difference in my life if only my parents would have talked honestly to me!

I must also include that your children are watching your relationship.  If you don’t model love in the way your treat each other, they will act out more on what they see than what you are telling them!!  Be careful!

 3. We provided “safe” nights for our children.  Many of you may not agree on this but we did it and it provided ways for us to know what was going on in our children’s lives.  Periodically, especially as they were young teenagers, we would have a “safe night” talk.  This meant they could tell us anything and they wouldn’t be punished for it.  It was amazing.  They told us things that had already happened but it gave us the opportunity to discuss it with them and help them know how to handle that situation in the future.  We also then knew where they were being influenced and how to keep them from those situations.  Our grown children today talk about how wise that was of us!  I can honestly say that only God could have given us the insight to know how to do that.

 4. Lastly, we very much believe that Rules without a Relationship will always lead to Rebellion.  You cannot enforce rules all the time and not build a healthy relationship with your children.  The relationship with your children is the key to the success or lack of success in your children’s lives.  They want to be taught by you, loved by you, valued by you, hugged by you, guided by you, and prayed for by you!

PLEASE see your children as God’s greatest gift that he has entrusted to you.  Slow down, be patient and take advantage of every moment you have with your children.  The time will go by so quickly and you can never get it back!

Debbie Wilson

Debbie and her husband Steve are the founders of Marriage Matters Now, and their passion is seeing marriages transformed.  Check out their web site!

***Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!***


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Are You Over-Sharing About Your Kids?

Not long ago, I read a mom’s regret:  After years of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, she felt like her children were “exposed.”

I’m sure that as she posted each status, each picture, each small bit of information, it didn’t feel that way.  But all those things add up to a digital timeline (thanks Facebook), the record of our children’s lives, pictures, stories, right there for anyone to view.

Truly, privacy is almost completely lost in today’s digital world.  Even if you opt out of the internet (impossible unless you’re a hermit), there is no guarantee that someone won’t post something about you or your children online against your knowledge or wishes.  (And even if you’re a hermit, someone might blog about you!)

It takes my breath to see how public some people are with their lives.  How will they feel about that in 5 years, or 10?  Will they really want the details of every relationship or youthful stupidity on display?

There’s certainly nothing wrong with talking about our lives and families online, but as we do, I believe we should ask ourselves: Will our children one day feel exposed?

I was very naïve when I first got online 12 years ago—late to the party—but I’ve tried to be discreet about what I share.  Not perfectly, I know.  But more so now than ever find myself saying, “No one needs to know that.”  It’s not bad things or even super-personal things.  But does the world really need to hear that I hate wire hangers or what I had for breakfast?  Do they need to know where my children struggle or fail?

Remember what it was like before the internet, when only close personal friends knew the details of your life? 

These days, what I choose not to tell provides a sort of inner sanctum, a large collection of habits and events that are not shared.  It is also a way to shield my children a bit from the whole world knowing everything about them.  If they choose to share their stories with the world one day, they can.  Their stories are not mine to tell.

It’s different for every family.  There is no one right way to know how much to share.  And I am so thankful for many people who are very transparent online, and write to encourage!  It’s something you have to settle in your own heart.

Just ask yourself: How will this expose my children?

Have you ever felt like you or your family was exposed by too much sharing?  What kinds of boundaries do you put on your online life?       

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Delicious Dairy Free “Ice Cream” or Milkshakes (vegan, paleo, primal, GAPS legal)

With people in the house who can’t have dairy, we REALLY miss ice cream especially on hot summer days!

This “ice cream” has the consistency of soft serve and really helps fill the gap.  The kids ask for it almost every day!

Peel, chunk up, and freeze a bunch of very ripe bananas. I freeze them on a cookie sheet so they don’t stick together and then tranfer them to a ziploc bag.

When you’re ready to make the “ice cream,” chunk a couple frozen bananas up and blend in the blender with a little water or coconut milk or whatever liquid you have on hand. Just pulse it slowly till it’s nice and creamy, and I promise you, it will have the exact consistency of soft serve ice cream. You can eat it plain…Add a little vanilla…a glob of nut butter…a few frozen berries…a spoonful of carob or cocoa powder…Lots of possibilities. Soooo yummy.

You don’t even have to be a health food nut to enjoy this!

What’s your favorite healthy summer treat?

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The Mom Who Failed and the God Who Fixed Her

Once there was a girl who had a baby.

She wanted to be the world’s best mom.

 

She thought about what she had been taught about this.

She read books and websites by people who said they were experts.

 

They promised that if she followed their rulebook, her children would be virtually perfect.

Her children’s souls, they said, depended on it.

She did what they said.

It didn’t work.

 

She tried harder.

People she knew tried to help.

“Be more consistent!”  they said.

“Be harder on your kids!”

“Your child has lost respect for you!”

All this advice started to feel like the words of Job’s lousy friends.

 

She looked to the experts again.

“There is no such thing as a strong willed child,” one expert said, “Only weak-willed mothers.”

“If I could come to your house,” another said, “I could tell you in 5 minutes what you are doing wrong.”

“There is only one way to discipline,” yet another added.  “If you don’t get results, you are a failure.”

 

Well.  That she was.

 

She was scared.  Would her failure ruin them?

The experts said it would.

She cried.

 

No matter how closely she followed the formulas, her kids would not obey perfectly.

In fact, they fought a lot.

Often they cried and screamed.

This was not supposed to happen!

 

Sometimes she exploded with frustration.

Where was the perfect happy home she’d been promised? 

What was she doing wrong?

 

 

Then she realized: This is not how God parents me.

He is longsuffering.

He guides me individually with a plan designed just for me.

He gives grace.

He is merciful when I fail.

The Perfect Parent did not follow the “experts’” formulas!

 

She threw out the rule books.

She repented of harshness and legalism.

She begged her children’s forgiveness.

 

She began to discern their uniqueness.

Before, she had swiftly judged every behavior in rigid black and white.

Now she looked through a multicolored lense that took into account that child’s individual struggles…

His gifts…

His frustrations…

His heart.

 

All had not been as it seemed.

Sometimes (much of the time) her children did not disobey on purpose.

But she hadn’t listened.

Although she loved them, she had viewed them as adversaries.

As little people to be conquered.

 

She was broken.

How could she not have seen?

She begged God for help.

 

She began to mend her relationships with her little ones.

Soft answers.

Gentle words.

Long talks.

True listening.

Extra hugs and snuggles.

 

Were her children still sinners?

Yes—and so was she.

Were there boundaries and expectations in her home?

Oh yes.  But it was different now.

 

She loved on her kids.

She studied them.

She learned better how to couple truth with grace.

 

A few years passed.

Each day she became a better mom.

Sometimes she fell down.  Sometimes she fell hard.

Sometimes she fell back into that black hole of fear and legalism.

But over time, things got better.

It became easier to be a good mom.

Her heart was filled with hope.

 

She is still a long way from perfect.

But her children love her and she has a happy home.

The end.

 

P.S. I won’t tell you who the young mom was.  Maybe you can guess.

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Have you ever changed your parenting methods?  How?

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Feel free to like me on Facebook!  I would be thrilled!

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