Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Everyone Welcome Here

When I was younger, I was part of a few exclusive Christian groups.  The kind who feel righteous because we were not like those sinners–to quote the holier-than-thou Pharisees in the Bible, the ones Jesus had harshest words for.

Oh, we would never have verbalized this or even let ourselves acknowledge it in our own heads, but it was still very much there.

I’m so ashamed of my part in that now.  I’m a wrong-doer, a sinner, just like anyone else.  I know some people don’t like the word sinner and I’m OK with that.  Personally, an honest look at my own condition reveals a lot of brokenness, much of it self-inflicted by my own wrong choices.  Sin.  And as a Christian, I believe that the world’s sins, the ones Jesus came to die for, include mine as much as the next girl’s.  I needed a helping hand to rescue me from myself, and Jesus gave me that.  How can I look down on others with the idea that I am somehow better?  I can’t.  When I truly understood God’s gracious love toward me, there was no way anymore that I could hold myself above others.

Not only that, but this knowledge precludes me from treating others unkindly, or thinking about them unkindly, no matter how they live or what they believe.  I’m on the journey too.  My journey led me to Jesus.  And yeah, I believe that there are things Jesus calls sin.  Self-righteousness for example, along with gossip and gluttony and arguing.  The Bible says that you can’t have grace without truth and vice versa.  So if we are in a conversation we might disagree about topics like sin, or what constitutes sin.  That’s OK.  I can handle it.  I just hope that when I join those conversations, I’m gracious about it.  That I don’t feel better than anyone else.

My faith is who I am, and it’s going to come out when I write and when I talk.  I just hope that if you disagree or aren’t a Christian, or if you’re an atheist or a pagan or if you don’t even know what you are, that you will feel welcome and loved here all the same.

I realized recently that in an effort to improve my blog, I’ve fallen into the trap of copying the voices of others to fit in.   I’ve fallen back into what’s easy and comfortable and natural to this native speaker, the language of the Christian ghetto.

I’m all for encouraging other Christian moms—I want to do that—but there are a lot of great ladies out there doing that too, and the last thing I want this space to be is a happy-clappy mommy blog that feels like part of some exclusive club.  A place where it’s Us Four and No More and if you aren’t like me I’m going to wave a sign and carry on about how you are the problem with America.

I’m not going to write for an increase in page views.  I’ll work hard to improve my craft, but my goal isn’t stats, it’s people.

We’re all a sisterhood of moms on a journey that’s rocky at times.  We can all learn from smart women who have gone before us.  We all want to know how to better love our kids, how to protect them, what to feed them, what to do when they melt down in the grocery store, how to educate them, and how to meet their emotional and spiritual needs.  We want to know how to care for ourselves as moms, and what can heal the hurt and empty places that we all have in our hearts.  And as I learn myself, those are the things that I want to share with you.  Me?  I think a lot of that will have to do with Jesus.  But even if you aren’t a Christian, I hope you’ll find something to take away.

So thanks for reading.

You aren’t alone.

No matter where you are on your journey, I care about you.

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


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Internet Safety for Kids (and the Rest of Us)

~painting by Frederick Lufkin Freer~

My 11 year old is learning to navigate the internet.  My husband and I have been extraordinarily cautious with how much we have let our kids be online, but the internet is here to stay and it’s an essential part of how our culture operates, so it’s key that she learns to be safe and smart online in this strange new world.  Here are a few things we are doing and teaching her.  Feel free to jump in with your thoughts and ideas!  I know you all have lots of wisdom to share!

Use an internet filter.  I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to protect your kids from things they may stumble across (or search for) while online.  No internet filter is perfect, but we’ve been very pleased with Net Nanny.  Not much gets through.  We also take advantage of all the safe search and security settings available on other devices.  Our home computers, handheld devices, and Netflix on the Wii all must be accessed with passwords.  Our kids are not allowed to be on a device that has unfiltered, unrestricted internet.  There’s too much perversion too readily available.

Keep your computer in a public place—no internet access in bedrooms or other hidden places.

Don’t share personal info.  We tell our kids, “Don’t sign up for things without Dad and Mom’s permission, don’t give your real name, don’t tell where you live, where you are, where you go, when you are going on vacation, what your personal habits and routines are,” and so forth.  The kids know that they can’t post their picture publicly.  It’s easy for a predator to piece together personal info and figure out who you are and where you live.

Don’t mistake online interaction for real friendship.  Recently I joined a forum using all my normal caution.  Most of the people on this particular forum were my age and younger—many of them in their late teens and early 20’s.  I was blown away by how much personal, personal info they shared with total strangers, how quickly they trusted each other, and how few inhibitions they have about meeting in person.  I guess I have been naïve, but apparently this is part of today’s internet culture.  These people grew up with the internet and this is how it’s done.  I believe genuine friendships can spring from online encounters, but more often I think it promotes a false sense of intimacy.  Personally, I can think of 3 people I have “met” online that I have one-on-one contact with after 10 years of internet use, and then only after YEARS of very cautious and careful online observation.

Remember, anything you put online is there forever.  Even if you delete it, it’s cached or archived somewhere.

No secrecy.  My husband and I have all passwords to any accounts our children have.  We also have each other’s user names and passwords for all accounts.  We have access to each other’s accounts, whether email, forums, or Facebook whenever we like, although truthfully we rarely do—the point is that we are free, honest, and open with each other about our online lives.  We don’t hide our internet histories from each other.  We discuss the sites we visit and what we read.  We don’t have secrets.  Secrets destroy lives, families, and relationships.

What about you?  How do you teach your children about internet safety?  How do you keep yourself safe online?

 


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Social Media Behave! Day 4: If Everyone Else is Doing It

I only have a moment, so let me scratch out a couple quick thoughts.

Today, Laura encourages us to just say no to some social media.  Just because it’s the latest, coolest thing does not mean we have to participate.

I think I have done OK with this.  I try not to even start something that is going to suck too much time with minimal reward.  And I have quit sites that I feel are not beneficial.

Some things are for a season.  That’s something we forget we can do, don’t you think?

And we don’t have to sign up for everything.  I have never gotten into Twitter, for example.  I know a lot of people love Twitter, it can be an awesome tool, and I am probably one of the last 3 people in America who does not Tweet.  And maybe one day, maybe even tomorrow, I will find that Twitter is worth it.  But that day isn’t today.

A site only has as much power over us as we give it.  We are adults who hopefully have some modicum of self-control.  **Note to self.**


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Social Media, Behave! Day 3: Counting the Cost and Budgeting Computer Time

The other day I read a blog where the author admitted that at one time she spent 20 hours a week on her blog.  I was dumbfounded.  Not in a critical way.  She can spend her time however she chooses, and for her this must have been a good use of time.  But I realized just how much blogging can take over your life if you let it.  And how much time it can take to write a “successful” blog.

I don’t have 20 hours a week. I don’t have 10.  I have a few minutes a day, and some days, no minutes.

I love to write.  I have ever since I started journaling at age 10.  I could write all day.  But I don’t have all day.  And I’m sure I don’t have enough profound things to say to justify that, either!

So it comes to a matter of not “over-spending” the time I spend at the computer.

I need to write what God tells me to write, and to blog with as much excellence as possible, while staying within healthy parameters.

Laura challenges us today, we are engaging in social media, but at what cost?  How much time can we really afford?  What is our computer time costing us?  And she gives us tools to budget that time.  Go check out what she has to say.

 

 


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Social Media, Behave! and Make an Easy Advent Calendar

On day 1 of her “Social Media, Behave!” series, Laura talks about pitfalls of social media (trying to achieve fame or other wrong motives), and what each of us might expect from social media.   On day 2, she explores our “online presence,” our avatar, or how we portray ourselves online.  Additionally, she encourages us to write a one-sentence purpose statement.  Here’s what I came up with for me:

I exist online to share the love and grace of Christ with others; to learn from other, especially older, women; and to share what I learn in order to encourage others in their journeys of faith, womanhood, and mothering.

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Bonus!  Here is something little that I learned online–not from an older woman, and not something profound!  The kids wanted to do some kind of advent calendar or Christmas countdown but I struggled to find ideas that didn’t take too much time.  Either they were too arty and hard to make, or they involved activities that we may or may not have time to do during the month of December.  (Watching a Christmas movie, for example, is great, but how do I know if it will be convenient to do that on December 9?  Seriously!)

Finally I ran across a super fast idea–fast to make, and easy to do.  I don’t remember where I saw it, but I modified it to fit my needs.

I cut 25 rectangular pieces of paper.  Folded them in half like a card.  The kids stamped a snowflake on the front of each one and I numbered them from 1 to 25.

We are all about fostering communication and conversation at our house, so instead of an activity,  I wrote a question inside each one.  “What is your favorite Christmas memory?”  “What do you think it would have been like to be a shepherd on the first Christmas?”  “What is something we could do for someone else this Christmas?”  “Do you know of any Christmas traditions from other countries?”  “Ask mom/dad to tell you a Christmas story from when they were little.”

And then I hung them up with clothespins like the picture above.

How easy is that?  You even have time to do it before December 1!


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Social Media, Behave!

image: pinterest

what it has to do with the post?  nothing.  it’s just pretty.

Laura Booz is guest posting at A Warm Cup of Coffee all week about the topic “Social Media, Behave!”  Have you ever struggled with the place of social media in your life?  Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay and it’s one of the primary ways people communicate in our culture.  Social media can be a powerful tool, but it can also consume your life if used unwisely.  I LOVED what Laura said:

“God is calling us to use our online presence for His glory. He’s got big ideas for your every tweet, status, pin, and blog post… ideas that will bring real and meaningful light to this limitless online space.  Take a look around and you’ll see His ideas at work. He’s shaping our hearts to want what He wants. We are feeling compelled to write well, tell useful stories, speak out for the oppressed, promote ethical companies, steward our God-given abilities, and make the most of our time online and offline. This is a huge undertaking, and it’s not easy territory. We’re smart enough to know that by dipping our toe into the vortex of social media, we risk being pulled into its dizzying demands. But, don’t worry, He won’t leave us to fend for ourselves. He’s the one planting the desires in our hearts, He’ll equip us with the know-how. This week, I want to share a handful of ways in which I’ve come to enjoy making social media behave, so that I can hear God’s voice and happily obey Him.”

My main social media use comes from Facebook, which has been an amazing tool for keeping up with far away family and friends, as well as connecting with those who live near me, enhancing our real-life interaction.  I have also come to love Pinterest, and of course, blogging.  I so look forward to reading Laura’s thoughts this week.  Hop over and join her!

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