Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Raising Strong Kids in a Fifty Shades World

Are you reading Fifty Shades of Grey?  I’m not.  Dannah Gresh sums up my thoughts pretty well.  (And if you don’t know what the buzz is about, hop over and read her post.  I’d like to keep my blog closer to PG.)

As I’ve listened to the conversation on blogs and Facebook, I’ve found it ironic: In a day when women are supposedly freer than ever before, they are falling all over themselves to read an erotic tale of pain and subjugation.  Because no matter how “consensual”, a lifestyle that includes the purposeful bondage and hurt of another is degrading, sinful, and abusive.

We can trust Jesus with our children.  If not, it would be a scary time to raise kids.  How will they navigate relationships and marriage in a world where books, movies, and one-click porn have made disordered sex mainstream and taught young people to expect and even crave it?

We parents of young ones can’t wait and see.  As we trust God, we must also be proactive.

Even before the Fifty Shades phenomenon, I saw parents react to our perverse culture in two radical ways.  On one end of the spectrum—admittedly the less popular end—I have seen parents over-shelter their children.  I believe this sets their kids up to be victims.  In this paradigm, loving parents want to protect their daughters by assuming all-encompassing responsibility for their protection even into adulthood.  This results in naïve young women who can’t defend themselves.  Also in this paradigm, guys are sometimes emasculated as they rely on rule-keeping and parental involvement to keep them from sexual sin.

On the other end of the spectrum are parents who give their kids no guidance about relationships.  The children are left to figure it out on their own.  They are discipled by the culture, AKA thrown to the wolves.

I’m certainly not an expert, but I propose that a middle way might be wisest.  We should seek to create strong, stable family structures that will shield our kids from the worst of the world.  But we should seek to raise our children to be strong individually as well.  They are not ours to keep forever.

Here are some questions we might ask ourselves about our kids.

Are my children discerning?  Our kids should be trained to spot obvious signs of a predator, but they should cultivate that spiritual sixth sense that says “danger!”  Foolproof?  No.  But important in today’s insidiously deceptive society.

Are they spiritually mature?  Are we teaching them to walk closely with God?  Do they know God’s Word and recognize ideas that oppose it?  Are they “God’s friend,” who can hear his voice?  A deep faith and spiritual toughness won’t happen by accident.

Do they have a secure identity?  Do they look to anyone—man or woman—for self-worth, or are they fulfilled in their position as God’s child?  Do our girls understand that beauty is a gift but it’s not what gives them value?  Do our sons understand that manliness isn’t about lust, sexual prowess, and domination, but about being God’s guy and stepping up to the plate to respect women?  Does their worth come from performance or from God alone?

Have they received unconditional love at home?  Really.  Do we parents love them even when they mess up?  Do we extend grace as God has extended it to us?  Do our kids have to go elsewhere for total acceptance?

Are they both strong and gracious?  Scripture tells us to couple truth with grace.  In a hostile world, have our kids learned to defend their convictions firmly while seeking to hear, understand, and extend compassion to the other side?

Are they sexually confident?  The world SCREAMS to them about sex and relationships.  This is no time for parents to be shy.  As we teach our kids to make moral choices, they should know what they are saying “no” to and what they are saying “yes” to.  Parents should be specific without being inappropriately graphic.  Our kids should know that they can ask us anything, because if they can’t ask us they can sure ask Google.  You won’t like what they find there.

My children are not grown yet.  I might get it wrong.  My kids will make poor choices—hopefully not lasting ones.  There are no guarantees.  But parents, I do know this: God is on our side, and we can’t afford to be passive with our children when there’s a Fifty Shades world ready to devour them.  So let’s raise them strong.

How about you?  What are you doing to prepare your kids for the world they live in?

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The Making of a Reading Mother

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be –
I had a Mother who read to me.

~from The Reading Mother by Strickland Gillian

I did have a mother who read to me.  Constantly.  We had no TV or videos growing up, and reading together was one of our favorite forms of entertainment.  We usually had a book we were reading in the morning (usually a biography), a book we read together after lunch, and a bedtime read-aloud.  We wore out at least one set of Little House on the Prairie books.  I am guessing we read that series together a dozen times.

But when I became a mom, it was REALLY hard for me to read to my kids.  I just didn’t enjoy it.  Read to myself?  Sure.  Read to the little ones?  Zzzzzzzzz…

I did read my oldest the Happy Little Family series when she was about four.  That was fun.

But for the most part I really could not stand reading aloud and I guess I convinced myself it was not that important.

To be honest, I am not sure when my attitude changed, but it was a process.  I noticed how my daughter’s reading proficiency exploded after she listened to many audio books.  My reluctant reader son started to appreciate books after I made a commitment to read to him.

I just made myself do it.  I promised myself that I would read to them at least a little each day.  Every now and then we miss a day, but most days each of the younger ones choose at least one book and I read to them for a little while.

It has become the highlight of their day.  We pile up on the couch with a favorite blanket and enjoy great stories together.  Even the busy baby wants to join us.  It is not easy to read while he wiggles and climbs everywhere, but he is learning to love books.  He will pick up a story, say “Book!” open it, and “read”: “Bababababa!”  We have no idea what he is saying, but he knows that books have words and he wants to share them!

I have come to understand that there are not many childhood problems that can’t be fixed or at least helped with a good read aloud.

Child hates reading?  Read aloud.

Child needs attention?  Snuggle and read aloud.

Child is sick?  Cuddle and read aloud.

Child is sad?  Choose a funny story and read aloud.

Child is discouraged?  Grab an encouraging adventure and read aloud.

Child is anxious?  Pick an inspiring biography and read aloud.

Child is lagging behind in school?  Find great living books (yes, even for math!) and read aloud.

Child has spiritual needs?  Open the Bible to its great adventures and read aloud.

Child wants world peace? 

Well, OK, maybe it doesn’t cure everything!  But it comes close!

I have grown to really love reading to my kids.  In fact, I hate that I don’t have time to do it more.  But I am excited that in this way I can lay a foundation for literacy, feed their souls, fill their minds with the best thoughts and ideas, and create memories by this one simple act of reading aloud.

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“Fall In Love With Reading” for February!

The other day I ran across this great idea for reading encouragement/emphasis during the month of February.  (Do check out the link!  It is very inspiring!) I meant to post it sooner since February has already begun, but it isn’t too late to do this fun project!  I made us a little poster for inspiration.  I see that Allison put her tree trunk on poster board which is probably a better idea.  We quickly realized that we are going to run out of room on our trees, even using small hearts.

{side note: our little clothesline above the picture window has been the best educational tool we’ve employed lately.  amazing what a few feet of twine, a couple nails and some clothes pins can do!}

Mom and Dad have set goals for ourselves too.  I think it is important to set a good example when it comes to reading.  I used to read books voraciously, but thanks to busyness, poor evening lighting, and other distractions (coughpinterestcough), I have not read much lately.  I have three books that I have wanted to read for a few months, so they are on my list of books to complete.  Here they are: (apparently I am on a black and red themed book kick):

Gospel: Rediscovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by JD Greear (so basic, so essential)

Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything by Tullian Tchividjian (close to my heart)

Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb (to be better equipped to help sweet ones who have suffered at the hands of others)

How do you encourage your children to read?  What is on your reading list?


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For the Children’s Sake Friday 1-19-12, and a Winner!

This week’s excerpt from For the Children’s Sake is short but profound.

“Look well at the child on your knee.  In whatever condition, you find him, look with reverence.  We can only love and serve him and be his friend.  We cannot own him.  He is not ours.”

And the winner of her very own copy of For the Children’s Sake is…

Eloise!

Eloise, please email me your mailing address at simplecraftAThotmailDOTcom, and I will put it in the mail to you!  Congratulations!


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Read Aloud Thursday: The Newborn King, Frosty, and Rudolph

Linking up this week with Three Thinking Mothers for their Christmas book roundup.  I wish I had time to write about all my favorites!

Beautiful, pictures, simple text, clear message.  And you can find it cheap on Amazon.  I have the board book version which is great for little hands.

We got oversized versions of these classic Golden books at a library book sale a few years ago.  I’m a sucker for vintage illustrations, as evidenced by the many I use on my blog!  These just make me happy.


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Read-Aloud Thursday: Bomba the Jungle Boy

For someone who loves books and reading, I’ve historically been terrible at reading to my kids.

More recently I have had them each choose a book to read to me (the 1st and 3rd graders) and one for me to read them (all 3 of my middles).  Even if we only hit 5 days a week, that is 60 books (or chapters) a month.  Not too shabby!

My favorite read-aloud this week has been Bomba the Jungle Boy.  My 8 year old son picked it out.  It’s not one I would have pulled off the shelf for sure, but I’m glad he did!

The Bomba books were written in the 1920’s.  Ever chapter leaves you on the edge of your seat as Bomba faces some new jungle danger.  The vocabulary is challenging, even for an adult—but my guy seems to have a good understanding of the words in context.

My boy has so not been a fan of reading, but he will listen indefinitely while I read to him about Bomba.  When we are done he begs for “Just a little more, Mom, we are just getting to the good part!”  And his reading ability has increased markedly since we started this book.  Coincidence?  I think not.

These books are hard to find for a reasonable price, apparently, but I found a few on Amazon for a couple dollars.  Bomba the Jungle Boy at Moving Mountain is on its way!

Linking up!


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Ten on Tuesday 3-29-11

 

Copying Payton again!

 

1.  Yesterday got off to a stellar start.  I was up at the crack of dawn and had half my work done by the time the kids got up.  Today, not so much.  But it wasn’t too bad.  I got up at 6:30, which is not terrible considering that 3 of our 5 kids woke up several times during the night.  I’m glad I went to bed on time.  Getting up at a decent time (even better, on time) makes a million per cent difference in how our day goes.

 

2.  I got Kevin Lehman’s book Have a New Kid by Friday.  The most important thing I got out of it was to tell your kids something just once.  I confess that I have been a nagging mom.  It’s miserable for everyone!  If you don’t have a problem constantly nagging and reminding your kids, then good for you.  I used to think I would never be THAT mom.  I had a lot of experience with children (younger siblings, kids I babysat, siblings of friends from large families) but still, God gave me a kid(s) that blew all my parenting ideas, theories, and yes, “convictions” out of the water.  The best part about not nagging is the extra hours (yes, HOURS) that I have since I’m not spending that time reminding, scolding, and lecturing.  Gosh, that sounds terrible doesn’t it?  No Mother of the Year here.  There is so much I could say about this, but maybe I’ll give it its own post when I feel like I have more experience.  I’ll just add: Old habits die hard.  I open my mouth and then close it a lot.  Sometimes a reminder slips out.  But overall our house is a whole lot more peaceful.

 

3.  I took a few minutes over the past few days to make new covers for some throw pillows.  I don’t have time to craft or decorate, really.  But I decided to try a couple quicky creations.  I started with pre-made items (cloth napkins are my new favorite crafting medium) so I could take advantage of hems and selvages that were already there.  To me, the most tedious and time consuming parts of sewing are measuring and hemming.  I’m all about straight lines, winging it, raw edges, and pre-hemmed pieces.  Gone are the days where I painstakingly sewed long ties and spent hours turning them right-side-out.  Give me some ribbon!

 

4.  I ran out of dark chocolate over the weekend.  It was terrible.  I realized just how addicted I am to chocolate.

 

5.  I prefer silence to music.  I love music, but with all the racket we have in our house, adding music drives me insane.  Surely I’m not the only one?

 

6.  I think I finally know how to upload photos from my new camera.  Hopefully real pictures will be coming soon.  Not to mention that I can now email photos to grandparents.

 

7.  I grew up with a 1930’s lifestyle in the 90’s.  It’s a long story.  I’m so far behind technologically that I’ll never catch up.  It’s frustrating that it’s such a big deal to just learn to upload pictures!  Gaaaaah!!!!!

 

8.  If you are interested in missions, check out the Livesay Haiti blog.  I love that Tara and Troy are so real.  My 10-year-old is their biggest fan.

 

9.  Speaking of, I made my girl her own Google Reader so she can subscribe to blogs that are fun and encouraging for her.  I keep close tabs on what she is reading, and we use Net Nanny for added protection, but this has been a great way for her to read good blogs.

 

10.  I loved loved loved this post: Order and Routine: Making Straight Paths for Peace.  The writer has a child with FAS, but I’m thinking this would be encouraging for any parent with a child who tends to throw the family into chaos.  (Isn’t that all of us at one time or another?)  Wisdom.  Check it out.


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10 on Tuesday

I’m copying Payton again.  Go read her great blog.  She’s hilarious and I love it!

1.  Today my son was supposed to start memorizing a poem for English. It was the Mother Goose rhyme “Once I Saw a Little Bird.”  He was completely unimpressed.  Apparently this poem was not nearly cool enough for him.  One of the great things about homeschooling is the ability to tweak curriculum if it doesn’t fit the need.  Now I could make him memorize the little bird poem, but why not choose something more inspiring?  Like this…More challenging, but definitely a little grittier than Little Bird.

Stick to It (by Edgar Guest)

Stick to it, boy,

Through the thick and the thin of it!

Work for the joy

That is born in the din of it.

Failures beset you,

But don’t let them fret you;

Dangers are lurking,

But just keep on working.

If it’s worth while and you’re sure of the right of it,

Stick to it, boy, and make a real fight of it!

Stick to it, lad,

Be not frail and afraid of it;

Stand to the gad

For the man to be made of it.

Deaf to the sneering

And blind to the jeering,

Willing to master

The present disaster,

Stick to it, lad, through the trial and test of it,

Patience and courage will give you the best of it.

Stick to it, youth,

Be not sudden to fly from it’

This is the truth,

Triumph may not lie far from it.

Dark is the morning

Before the sun’s dawning,

Battered and sore of it

Bear a bit more of it,

Stick to it, even though blacker than ink it is,

Victory’s nearer, perhaps, than you think it is!

Old fashioned?  Yep, but true.

2.  Speaking of little boys and learning, I was completely encouraged by a couple of Anna’s posts.  I know, I linked to her last week too.  Here she mentions a proud mom moment as her son is a National Merit Finalist.  She also mentions that he was a late bloomer academically, reading at 8 and writing at 13.  In response to all the questions she received, she wrote this follow-up post. Because Anna is highly educated (a lawyer, practicing until recently) and she’s raising well-educated children to are excelling in their fields of interest and gifting, I sit up and take notice when she gives advice about homeschooling.

3.  My sister posts about home birth. I’ve had 5 hospital births with experiences that have ranged from decent to really good, but I’m still a bit jealous.  My dream birth would be in the hospital attended by a midwife.  The best of both worlds, IMO.  Since I’m probably done having kids I don’t have to worry about it any more, but it’s a nice thought.

4.  I made Darby’s chewy oatmeal bar recipe this weekend. They turned out pretty well.  I used almond butter, and they set up nicely.  A little too sweet, probably because I didn’t have all the extra nuts that would have boosted the protein.  I may try to cut back on the honey a little next time.  But overall, they were the best granola bars I’ve tried to date.  Insta-breakfast.  These days I’ll take all the help I can get.  Here’s another granola bar recipe I’m going to try soon.

5.  I love vintage art and illustrations, obviously.  I wonder if other people find these pictures annoying.  I can never remember which ones I have used, though, so the same ones might pop up over and over.

6.  Sweet baby is falling into a newborn routine of sorts. It’s something like, be happy and sleep all morning.  Be grumpy all afternoon.  At night, don’t cry, just grunt, squeak, and wiggle enough that no one else can sleep.  And get as many hugs and snuggles as possible.  Precious, precious.  At number 5 I just remind myself that the newborn stage only lasts for a few weeks.  And I remind myself to go to bed early.  Hitting the hay at 9 last night made all the difference in my state today.  I don’t know how most moms are, but if I don’t get something that resembles enough rest I cry and get headaches.  Not good for anyone.

7.  Right now I don’t have enough time to clean or do laundry adequately.  I’m thankful for my sweet helpers who keep it from getting too terribly out of hand.  I certainly don’t have time to decorate.  But I still love to peek at decorating blogs.  Lately I’ve been starting here, at Buckets of Burlap, and going through her blog roll.  I’ll open a few windows and take a quick look when I sit down with little one, or when I need a rest break.

8.  I’m not very good at commenting on other blogs. I have good intentions, but most of the blogs I read are on my feed reader, which I read on my iTouch, and I don’ t manage to hop over to the blog proper and leave a comment.  So consequently, I suppose I’m mostly talking into a void.  I should do better about this, because  it would be good to tell other writers how they have encouraged me.  I know I appreciate it when people leave kind comments.  That said, if you are a busy mom, feed readers are great.  I have used Bloglines and Google Reader, and I like GR best by far.  Their tagline is ” keeping up with your favorite websites is as easy as checking your email.” and it’s true.  It’s all in one place instead of hopping all over the internet.  I can read the things I want to keep up with in just a few minutes a day.

9.  Today my daughter got several missionary biographies from YWAM publishing. Highly recommend.  I read the story of Rachel Saint awhile back and couldn’t put it down.  As our children learn to enjoy reading, I think it’s important to give them reading material that’s going to encourage them spiritually.  Of course, my kids read “candy” books too.  But missionary biographies are great adventure stories that can get our kids thinking about important things.

10.  I guess I’m easily impressed, but I am just blown away by all the creativity the world of blogs has put at our fingertips.  As I read through decorating and craft blogs, sometimes I just think how amazing it is that God has made us in his image, reflecting his creativity as maker of the universe.  You can look at the work of 5,000 different people and not one is exactly the same, whether it’s in photography, wordcraft, ideas, decorating, or making things.  So inspiring.  I guess that’s kind of cheesy, but I think about it all the time.

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