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Monday, December 15, 2014

Knowing Your Limits and Avoiding Burn Out as a Mom

When my twins were toddlers, I found some other Mom friends who gave me the best gift anyone can give a struggling new mother, HONESTY.  They took off their Super Mom capes, and showed me what real motherhood looked like in their lives.

These brave women were not filled with sense of joy from "being needed” when their child cried for them in the middle of the night.  They didn't rejoice in the growth spurt happening during “cluster feeding”. Some of them even admitted how they would also rather have some alone time on Mother's Day than spending the entire day with their kids (GASP!).

And as my twins got bigger, the my 'mommy guilt' seemed to grow accordingly. The whole parenting thing was a shock to my system.  It didn't feel like what I thought it would feel. 

 It didn't help I went into parenting with an extremely large chip on my shoulder (an extra large cape if you will) of  having an Early Childhood Education degree, and having been a successful teacher at a prestigious college preschool.   I was an amazing parent before I had kids.

I had also grown up in a yelling household, and had sworn I would never be the 'yelling mom'. I found that when I was completely spent and had not more resources to give to my kids, I unfortunately reverted back to my family of origin of dealing with frustration....I became a yelling mom. The guilt was again exacerbated as I knew what being yelled at felt like as a child.  In one of those moments of extreme shame after having lost my temper yet again, I knew I had to be more proactive to prevent these moments of loss of self control.  I found I was able to be proactive by discerning when I was close to reaching my limits.

If you are feeling "crowded", know your limits. In Mark's gospel, we learn Jesus asked the disciples to ready a boat because the crowds were pushing to get to him, sound familiar at all? Please say that isn't just my house that my kids push each other to be the first at just about everything, even hugging me. 

Because of the crowd he[Jesus] told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, 
to keep the people from crowding him.  Mark 3:9

Jesus wasn't 'crowded’ like you feel in the lines at Disney World; he was surrounded by people who genuinely needed him. They needed him so much, they did not realize they were physically crushing him.

We all have people in our life who genuinely need us, and sometimes they are oblivious they are crushing us. But I have had to learn that their genuine need does not negate my need for solitude with God. 

 Instead of shaming myself for the fact they I can be 'a yelling mom', I have had to learn to be proactive, recognizing when I am reaching my limits, to stop the yelling before it begins. There are times when I feel “crowded" and need to take a "mommy time-out". It may not rational, it may even be hormonal sometimes, but laying down the pride to admit I just can not do this on my own is what is best for my family.

Get your 'boat' ready for a break.  As more people needed Jesus, he actually sought more , not less, time away with God, to pray.

"But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray." Luke 5:15-16

I think many work within the assumption that the act of meeting  the needs of other will fill us up all by itself.  And yes, being an extrovert, I definitely receive some energy from serving and being with others.  But not matter how extroverted you are, when you are pouring into the lives of others, you will eventually just plain run out of anything to give. 

Jesus sought refreshment and stillness from the only one who could TRULY refill Him, His Heavenly Father.

Pray and respectfully be honest with your spouse.  Let him know when you feel like you may be reaching your limit (usually BEFORE you reach the limit is best).  Be aware of signs that you are wearing thin, and ask him for a break.  It helps if I tell my husband, "To be the best mom and wife I can be, sometimes this week I know I am going to need a night off to myself. What night works best for you?" When the twins were toddlers, I needed a monthly break.  Now it is has become maybe once every 3 or 4 months.

 Taking a break has taken many different forms in my life. Sometimes I need an hour break to take a quiet bath after dinner when my husband gets home.  Sometimes I need a whole Saturday afternoon at the movies, where I can buy popcorn and put as much butter and salt on it as I want! Maybe you need a date night with your husband, or girl’s night out with friends.  Or better yet, time at a restaurant to do my bible study without six interruptions of my kids bickering.

 If you are a single parent, find a worthwhile activity for your kids that enable you to take a break.  When the boys were younger, MOPS was a my break.  Now I have a built in night off when they attend AWANA each week. 

We Ex-Super Moms give you permission to take off your cape, take a night off to take yourself on a date, just you.  No judgment.   You will come back to your house having had time to miss your kids. And if you go to the movies, don't forget to eat some popcorn for me. 

 Sometimes 'the crowd' may not  be your kids.
Knowing my limits has  meant recognizing that sometimes I need to take a break from the other ‘needy crowds’ in my life; dropping ‘good’ activities that were draining me of the resources I needed to a wife and mother. 

In the end, knowing my limits has meant that I stopping trying to save my loved ones with my own power, and point them to the only True God who can save them.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Zucchini, Kielbasa, and Pasta Casserole- Freezer Meal

During our September Freezer Meal Swap, I had a garden full of zucchini, so it seemed fitting to make one of our family's favorite.

 Zucchini, Kielbasa, and Pasta Casserole- Freezer Meal
Makes one 9x13 casserole 

  • 16 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 pounds Skinless Sausage
  •  1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ½  TBSP of dried minced onion
  • 2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 jars (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped

  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown sausage in oil over medium heat; drain. Add the onions, zucchini, carrots and garlic; cook and stir for 5-6 minutes or until crisp-tender.
  2. Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Drain macaroni.
  3. In each of two greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dishes, layer a fourth of the macaroni and meat sauce. Combine egg and ricotta cheese; spoon a fourth over sauce. Sprinkle with a fourth of the cheddar and mozzarella. Repeat layers. Top with green onions.
  4. Cool one casserole; cover and freeze for up to 2 months. Cover and bake the remaining casserole at 350° for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
  5. To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until heated through. 

If you are interested in starting your own Freezer Swap, 
click for How to get Started or Freezer Swap Group Guidelines and FAQ's.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans~Crockpot Freezer Meal

One of my favorite perks of participating in a Freezer Meal Swap  has been getting me out of a recipe rut.  If you are a fan of Chipotle, but on a  budget, this hits the spot!   Everyone in my house asks for second, and thirds, of this recipe.  It also makes your house smell AMAZING!

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans
Crock Pot Freezer Meal

·         2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
·         Juice from 2 limes- about 4 tbsp (you may add more if you like lime flavor)
·         1 -2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
·         1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn
·         2 minced garlic cloves
·         1/4 cup dried minced onion flakes (or 1 small chopped red onion, but my kids don't like the texture of onion so we use the dried)  
·         1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
·         1 tsp cumin (we love cumin at our house, so I add 2 to 3 tsp)
·         salt and pepper to taste

Optional- Add 1 to 2 TBSP of Olive Oil

  • Trim fat from chicken. Cut breasts into halves, so that you have 4 pieces of chicken in each bag.
  •  Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix together and zip bag closed. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Thawing is best, but if cooking from frozen, run bag under hot water to break up pieces.
  • Cook in Crockpot on LOW for 8 hours (or HIGH for 4 hours). 
  • To serve: Shred Chicken with fork and serve with hot  tortillas corn tortillas for gluten free) or on top of rice. Serve with toppings such as with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and cheese. can also be served on top of lettuce as salad.
TIP: Pair it with Cilantro Lime Rice, and you will feel like you are at Chipotle! Added plus, this is one of those recipe that also taste great as leftovers.

I adapted this recipe from Over The Big Moon  to fit out family tastes.

FREEZER SWAP Guidelines and FAQ's

 I recently started a Freezer Meal Swap to help stock my freezer, and also get me out of a recipe rut.  A freezer is NOT Cooking party, all meals are made in the participants homes on their own time tables- click here the differences here between prep party and swap.

You can host a Swap Monthly, Bi-Annually, or whatever timeline fits for your group! 

Swap Guidelines and FAQ’s

• Already Frozen
• In a disposable dish or Freezer Grade Gallon Ziploc bag
• Contain enough servings to feed of a family of 5-6 people (8 x 13 pan if casserole).  Err on the side of generous with portions.
• Labeled clearly with date, cooking instructions  and name of who made it
• Please one copy of typed recipe to lay next to dish at swap.  This is important to aid  those families who have dietary concerns.

Each woman bring multiplies of the same main dish. There are several great ideas on pinterest, but make sure the recipe is freezer friendly (MANY meals do not freeze well).  Preferably you have made the meal yourself  already and know it works.

The meal should include at a Protein + EITHER a Vegetable OR a Grain Example-Instead of bringing taco meat, you bring freezer Burritos or Taco Soup.  Or if you bring BBQ Pulled Pork, you bring buns. We are going for ease of prep for the Mom who is making the meal. Please use your own good judgment on this guideline, I only have this rule to prevent a woman who makes 8 lasagnas doesn’t feel shorted by someone who threw two pieces of chicken in a bag with a jar of Italian dressing. 

You bring the amount of items that you would like to bring home. For instance; if you have a freezer that only fits 4 freezer meals, you bring 4 meals and leave with 4 meals.

Watch the event page to see how many people are coming, you will not need to bring more than the people who have RSVP’d yes. Do not forget to include yourself twice, one for our family's dinner that night and one for your own freezer.

Those who RSVP yes must list Thread on FB event page what they will be bringing to avoid duplicates  and allows those with dietary concerns to know if there will be anything for them to take home.  Please include link if you found online.  

With so many people participating, we are not able to make every dish to fit all dietary concerns, but everyone must label meals clearly and bring printed recipes so families can choose the dish that works for their needs. Dairy Free and/or Gluten Free Meals are always welcome, and allow more families to participate.


  1. Bring your cooler with your already frozen meals to swap.  We will lay meals on the tables with our printed instructions.
  2. We each explain what we brought and any special instructions (like 'When I made it last time I served it over rice", etc).
  3. Each women draws a number from a cup. After the first person picks her first meal, the second person picks one meal. This continues until everyone has chosen their first choice of meal.
  4. Continue the rotation over and over again until all the meals are gone, and everyone has chosen the same amount of meals they brought.

Yes, but mothers are responsible for their own children during the swap (no sitter provided).

The swap lasted about 15-20 minutes. It is not necessarily a fellowship event, but an event to help busy families to stock their freezers with easy-prep meals.

Since each women is making multiplies of a single recipe, she can buy ingredients in bulk.  It should also cut down on eating out if we have meals ready to make for dinner.

How to Start A Freezer Meal Swap

How to Host a Monthly Freezer Swap

  1. Establish an agreed upon form of communication. We use a Secret Facebook Group.  We can cast votes, plan events, and upload documents. I have one friend who is not on Facebook and I have emailed her once we decide on date, and she communicates to the group through me.
  1. Find a location. I have been thankful that I have been to be able to reserve our church building for free so that no one has to have stress of prepping their house.The beauty of the Swap is there isn't any clean up, and very little set up, since all the cooking is happening at the members' respective homes. As host, I usually get there 10 minutes early to set up tables, set out blocks for any kids who may come.
  1. Decide on guidelines for your group. 
For a template to get you started, you can see  our Group Guidelines and FAQ's here.
For your group guidelines, you will need to determine:
  •   How many meals each women will bring?  Many groups keep have each person bring the same amount of meals as people attending, but since our number fluctuate, each women brings the amount of items that you would like to bring home.  For instance, if they have a small freezer that can only fit 4 freezer meals, they only bring 4 meals and leave with 4 meals. 
  • Size of meals. We just ask enough to feed a family of 4-5 people.  You may want to specify things like 8x8 or 9x13 casserole pans.
  • What types of meals are expected.   Is it OK to bring freezer breakfast items, desserts, or do you full main dishes that do not need a side? You don't want anyone feeling jipped when they brought 5  lasagnas, and someone brought freezer cookies. 
  • Will you have a price point for meals? We did not, it was too touchy and I felt would discourage some people from attending. 
  • How do you want food packaged and labeled? We ask each women bring food in disposable dishes, and freezer grade Ziploc Bags.  All meals must already be frozen and labeled with cooking instructions, date made, and who made it (for any follow up questions).
  • Identify any Dietary Concerns; Food allergies, sensitivities, etc. 
  1. Pick a date. We had so many people interested in a monthly swap, instead of wasting hours trying to find a time that worked for all, we have our swap the last Wed of every month. The number who attend varies from month to month, which is why the FB event RSVP is so important.   
  1. Pick recipes.  To avoid duplicates, each person must list on a thread what they are bringing on the Events Page when they RSVP yes. If you have dietary concerns in your group, list them in your guidelines or in a document in the FILES section of your Facebook group.
  1. Host your Swap 
    • Each women sets up their meals on table, with instructions beside. 
    • We  each explain what we brought and any special instructions (like 'When I made it last time I served it over rice", etc).
    • Each women draws a number from a cup. After the first person picks her first meal, the second person picks one meal. This continues until everyone has chosen their first choice of meal. They continue the rotation over and over again until all the meals are gone, and everyone has chosen the same amount of meals they brought.

Have fun planning your Freezer Swap, 
and don’t forget to bring your coolers!

Other Posts that will help you plan:

Freezer Meal Swap Versus Freezer Prep Party

Pinterest is full of Freezer Cooking recipes, but what would logistically work your family?  As a homeschooler, freezer cooking has really helped saved my sanity and keep up on household chores. Having a freezer meal at least once or twice a week has meant I can have more time to pick up the house, fit in piano lessons after a busy morning at Co-Op, or actually put away the laundry I folded. 

I have now done both a Meal Swap and Prep Party, and I loved both.

BOTH Freezer Swap Versus Freezer Prep Party save money by buying in bulk & aid in meal planning. Both have advantages and disadvantages:

Freezer Meal Prep Party 
A Prep Party is when one person buys all the ingredients (or each person buys their own ingredients for their own meals) and one person hosts, then we work together to put the meals together. I have seen a lot  of blogs that said one person should do all the shopping, then split the costs it all evenly.

  • Pros
  1. Moms with young children could find a sitter and get cooking done without little ones around.
  2. Motivation to cook when you have a friend helping you.
  3. Divide up costs equally.
  4. More Control of what recipes you bring home.
  5. Anyone with food allergies can sub their own ingredients in at party.
  • Cons
  1. More organization & time commitment involved; schedule coordination, ingredients bought, etc,
  2. Storage needed for buying so much food at one and organizing it so it can be cooked in one day.
  3. More clean up afterward.
  4. Less women can be involved. Many website recommend no more than 4 to 5 recipes (we did 7 and it was a bit much), and 2 to 3 women at a time for a freezer party so it doesn't get too complicated. 
  5. Moms with young children would need to find a sitter to participate.

Freezer Meal Swap
A meal Swap when several woman cook multiplies of the same freezer meals on our own time at home ,then come together for a short swap.  You bring the amount of items that you would like to bring home. For instance, if you have a small freezer and can only fit 4 freezer meals in there, you only bring 4 meals and leave with 4 meals.
  • Pros
  1. Women can do the cooking on our own time and less schedule coordinating.
  2. Less organization needed. 
  3. More variety in meat/dishes can happen with a large group of women cooking at their own homes.
  4. More women can join.
  5. Less prep and clean up of Host site.
  6. Only takes about 15-20 minutes, so not a huge time commitment

  • Cons 
  1. Not as much control over dietary concerns or meal choices as the prep party.
  2. Amount of time and money you spend with vary depending the recipe you choose to bring.
  3. Moms with young children would have to find time to cook their meals at home.
  4. No fellowship/friend time involved.
  5. Less control over what recipes are brought to swap.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dear Super Mom, take off your cape.

 No matter hard I have tried to keep that stupid Super Mom cape on, it keeps getting ripped off, or torn, or lost in a mountain of laundry. You'd think the movie The Incredibles would have taught me how impractical capes are, but oh well.  

It is time to take the cape off, I will never be super mom.   And THAT IS OK.  God's strength is made perfect in my weakness. I am not Super Mom, but I have a Super God.

I don’t want my kids to think I am Super Mom.  I want them to think of me as a Mom who loves them unconditionally, with a Super God who loves her unconditionally.  When I send the message of  Self Sufficient "Super Mom", I am sending the message that I am an independent power, which could not be farther from the truth.

Be Honest with yourself.
 I have come to learn the Super Mom cape I put on myself only drags me down into guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Admitting I was failing in my power and needed help to break a cycle of temper was humiliating. But like He does with all things for those who love Him, God turned my humiliations into an opportunity to learn humility...and how to tap into His power.  In humility I have to admit I need help...  I needed HIS power, not mine. I need HIS Cape, not mine.

Be Honest with your kids.
There is a school of thought  that your kids should never see you struggle, but I think that is a dangerous place to walk.  Yes, I want my kids to respect me, and look to me for wisdom, but do they know where  that wisdom comes from? Yes, I will strive to make the best choice I am capable of and be a good example, but am I also modeling the ability to admit when I am wrong?   Am I modeling dependence on my own strengths or on a much higher rock than I (note the blog title people)?

Disclaimer,  we are to discern what is appropriate to share. We are never called to lay adult burdens on the small shoulders of our children, but we are to model where to lay our burdens, at the feet of Jesus

I never want my kids to think that I do any of this on my own power; in case they have inherited my deep rooted independent streak [which is a high possibility], and think they will be able to do this life on their own power.

And when I fail [because we all do], I want to show them what it looks like in real life and real failure to ask for forgiveness.  I really want to show them what it looks like to earnestly Seek help from their Heavenly Father when they have a recurring struggle. I have been on my knees asking my kids for forgiveness for loosing my temper more times than I care to admit. I have prayed at dinner, through gritted teeth, for God to help me patient. Praise the Lord those times are exponentially less as my Savior grows my dependence on Him.

Honesty Begets Honesty. I earnestly pray transparency will one day allow my children the freedom to come to their Father with their sins, and humbly ask for forgiveness. I know my heart would have been mended, and been a little more trusting, if my temper-driven mother had gotten on my level, looked me in the eye, and asked for my forgiveness.

Your issue may not be yelling, but I bet you have issue.  We all do.  We all fall short, we all have holes in our capes.  But the beauty is you can always keep growing in Jesus, always working out your salvation and learning to use those most beautiful fruits of the Spirit.  He gives us HIS cape.  We are HIS creation. We only work in HIS power.

I am not Super Mom, and I taking off my cape to lay it at the feet of my Super, All Powerful God.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

A (Recovering) Yelling Mom's Story

Hello, My name is Robyn. I am a yelling Mom and this is my story. There, I said it.  It is an awful truth of my life. 

And when I say yelling, I don't mean everyday discipline, and using your stern "Mom voice". We all need a good Mom voice! I mean the yelling to where my throat hurt after only a few minutes. The worst thing about this truth is I know the pain of being yelled AT by your mother, yet I have allowed the cycle to repeat when my kids were very young.

I do have the joy of being able to say  I am a Recovering Yelling Mom. The reason I use the term "recovering yelling mom" instead of saying I no longer yell, is to remind myself that I do still have the capability to loose it (Can you tell I have family in AA?).

Now how do I do it, you ask? There are several things that help.   

There are several practical things I do on a daily basis to avoid the temptation of losing my temper (and all temptation).  I mostly try to avoid temptation by using acronym HALT:

  • Hungry (or not had coffee)
  • Angry (at something other than my kids or sometimes that special time of the month when I am angry at the world)
  • Lonely 
  • Tired  
When I am any of these, I have greater chance of yelling. Self awareness is one the biggest key to being a journey to yelling recovery. But I still fail. 

The LONGEST LASTING way I have found out of continuous yelling is to embrace Conviction.  

The only way to embrace the conviction is to see it for what it IS NOT:

Conviction is not shame.  
Conviction  is not condemnation.  

 A quick way to discern if you are feeling condemnation/shame or conviction is: where does it make you run? 
  • Condemnation/ Shame make you run and hide away from God
  • Conviction makes you run towards God for cleansing and change through repentance.

Condemnation/Shame is Satan's Tool Against Us
"There is not condemnation for those are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 

 "Mommy Guilt" is a common term in our modern world of parenting, and I know it is a way our enemy wants to keep us from growing, or seeking help I tried for a long time to make myself 'good enough' before I would come to Jesus with my yelling. 

How could I look for help from mentor Moms when I could not even be honest with them about my problem? That is exactly what our Enemy wants, he wants you to live in the darkness, to stay away from Jesus.  He especially wants you to stay away from the support system of your fellow sisters in Christ.  He want you to think you are the only one.  Listen to me, you are never the only one.

We must not hide sin or we allow it to become a wedge between us and our Savior. Shame is about keeping sin in the darkness. Jesus is the light, and he brings the light even to our most shameful places.  (John 1:4-5, 1 John 5-9),  Shame. is. not. of. Christ.  PERIOD. 

Unfortunately I have let the enemy drive that wedge of shame between me and my Savior too many times to count.  I am very acquainted with shame. 

 If you are feeling "MOMMY GUILT" that manifests as shame and the urge to hide your yelling from your husband, or anyone else, renounce is as a the lie it is.  No growth or change will be found in the dark. Remember your Savior Jesus is light, and His light on our weaknesses it a gift!  

Conviction is God's Gift to Us
"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 1 Cor 7:10

I am asking you to feel sorrow about your yelling.  Yep, it sucks, I know. Seriously, I know. You have to feel God's grief before you are to get better.  But remember I am NOT asking you feel worldly sorry:

Wordly sorrow is shame that make you hide your yelling.
Worldy Sorrow is Mommy guilt. 
Worldy Sorrow is shame and is a tool of Satan. 
Wordly Sorrow is embarrassment that keeps you from being vulnerable with those who have walked down the same path. 

Godly sorrow is conviction. 
Godly sorry leads to the light.
Godly sorrow leads to vulnerability and new found intimacy.
Godly sorrow leads to the joy of forgiveness.
Godly sorrow leads to lasting change!

Wordly Sorry makes excuses, Godly Sorry takes responsibility.   

No one can make me yell, only I can make me yell.  When we make excuses about our family of origin, our disobedient children, or our personality (and yes, I have used all of these),  we are not truly feeling Godly Sorrow.  

Shame and excuses are strongholds of Satan, chaining you to the repeated sin patterns because you are too embarrassed to ask for help.   Repentance leads to freedom to change those patterns that have harassed you in the dark alleys of shame.  It is liberating because it frees from our old cycles of sin, we don't have to be that person anymore! 

Self Awareness+ Conviction=Honesty. 

Honesty with yourself in the moment that you are about to lose it. 
Honesty with your kids that it is wrong for Mom to yell at them. 
Honesty with your husband when you feel like you are burning out and need a break. 
Honesty with your God, that you need him to change you.

 When I was willing to feel the Godly grief that led to prayer, I was able to truly discern where the yelling comes from, how to discern when I am close to my breaking point, and forgiveness that truly keeps me from repeating it.  

Honesty  had two fold rewards

1. Embracing His Conviction means embracing Forgiveness. 
I have experienced the true joy when I ask my kids for forgiveness for my yelling, and receive it quickly.  I have also had the freeing moment of unconditional forgiveness from my heaven;y Father.

2.Promises to perfect you. 
I will NEVER be too needy for God. God will never say "Nope, you have already asked me to stop your anger 5 times today, I have better things to do ....and you are too needy,get a hobby." He welcomes my need, tells me to run to Him when I need Him. Embrace that, embrace the freedom of conviction because it makes us RUN TO GOD to fill our need. 

C.S. Lewis  says 'The Christian does not think God will love us because we are goodbut that God will make us good because He loves us.' Jesus didn't die for me because I was good enough, He died for me because HE was good enough. 

God can break the stronghold of yelling, AND the stronghold of Shame, in your life. RUN TO HIM.  I promise you that from a fellow recovering Yelling Mom. 

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 

 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 

 If we confess our sins, he is FAITHFUL and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7-9

WHO ARE YOU? Teaching Truth

A while back, a friend told me I shouldn’t sign my kids up for a secular soccer league because "Kids can be mean, and being homeschooled, your boys are not prepared to handle that." She urged I stick with a Christian soccer league. 

There are a several false assumptions in her  statement.
1.) I’m running a homeschool, not a prison camp, we do see other children quite often 
2.) Kids are not saved through their parents' faith, therefore kids/teens at in a Christian community can also be very mean. 
3.) Immersion with mean kids does not equal immunization to their meanness 

I bit my tongue so hard it was bleeding, and I make my excuses and quickly left the conversation.  Later I thought of many appropriate responses, but in the moment I was so hurt and shocked by assumption about my children, ones she had taught herself in class, that I knew if I opened my mouth I would have said something defensive, instead of calmly correcting her false assumptions.

Late that same week, we were excited to learn there was a set of twins on our street, fraternal girls who were a year younger than my sons.   I was just inside our front room when I saw my son, Isaac, approach one of the girls as she and her sister wondered down the sidewalk into the front of our house.  I heard him excitedly tell her his name and asked if she wanted to play tag.  Instead of introducing herself, this young year old girl quickly made a chant of his name with the title "Stupid Isaac!" as her twin sister looked on laughing.  She literally had never said a word to him, and immediately began teasing him.  

Well, you can imagine the temperature of my boiling blood. The mama-bear in me wanted to roar, but something made me hesitate. I stood just inside the front door because there was a curiosity building in me to hear how my homeschooled  son would respond to this undeserved insult. 

 I swelled with pride as he calmly and very kindly replied, "I am not stupid. Do you want to play tag or not?"  The girl then played freeze tag with him for 20 minutes and left asking if she could play with him again the next day.  She and her sister came every warm day for the next three years.*

Sometimes I wonder if homeschooling is making my kids soft, not exposing them to the harshness of this world to “toughen them up”.  This interaction helped me see again how God does not teach through lies.  Isaac very quickly identified the idea of him being "stupid" as a lie, because knew the truth of who he was. 

This is not a homeschool versus public school post at all.  This isn't event exactly a parenting post.  It is a human post.  How are we teaching our kids, and ourselves, to spot the lies that the world tries to define us with?   What is our map, our compass? Are we looking at a map only with the dangers of life, and saying “avoid these”? Big DANGER signs that say KEEP AWAY, and TURN AROUND.

Maybe we should be looking map that warns of troubles and dangers of the journey, but the true destination if the focus.  The “X” marks the spot if you will; The X is the key, the goal, the motivation for going through the dangers and troubles on the road.   The X , the destination, is the truth.  The X is who you are, and who God want to make you into.   The lies are the obstacles on the way there, but focusing on them will only steal of our focus.

I think it a dangerous road to walk to believe that that by encountering lies on an everyday basis, it will somehow prepare our kids, and us, to see the truth.  Growing up in an emotionally abusive household taught me the opposite is true.  When you are told lies about who are, you don’t magically find truth about who you are because you have become “toughened up”.  

When you are only surrounded by lies you:
A.) believe the lies told you  and form your identity around them
B.)  form a protective wall where nothing can get in, truth or lies.
C.)  all of the above

Please see my heart in this, and do not take more than what I am saying.  I am not a helicopter parent, majority of our days my kids spend hours outside with the neighborhood kids, playing who knows what until they are reluctantly called in for dinner. I am not saying to shelter to the point of co-dependency.  I AM saying that lies are not fought by more immersion in the lies.  Lie are fought with truth. 

We learn who we are not by learning the lies said of us, but by focusing intensely on the truth. Experts who are paid to identify counterfeit money spend their days studying the real money, not the counterfeits.  Their minds are so filled with what the true money looks like that when a counterfeit comes their way, it is easily seen as false. I believe this is applicable when training our kids to identify lies. NO matter how you choose to school

In the incident above, my son knew truth about himself.  We tell him all the time that smart is not something you are, is is something you do.  I was thankful when a counterfeit came along, he was able to see it for what it was...a lie. If made me think of one of my favorite parts in one of my favorite books, The Help (if you haven't read this book, stop and do it now).   In this book, a loving maid makes it her mission to speak truth into the life of a girl whose egocentric mother is incapable of loving her.  She says something true to this girl every day, helping fight off the lies her mother tries to put into her heart:
"You is Kind.  You is Smart.  You is Important."

  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil 4:8

We learned later those twin girls do not actually live on our street, but after school walk to their great-grandmother's house 3 doors down from us until their mom gets off work.  After this first meeting, for the next few years, whenever it is warm, she and her sister, and little brother would come play tag at our house.  In that time, I have heard my boys share the golden rule with the sisters while they were fighting, share the fact they were Christians, and invite the girls to church. One day, Isaac  asked if they wanted to hear something from the Bible, and he read to them from John for five full minutes, then they went and played tag again. 

It hasn't always been roses.  They didn't have the same rules as us and lived a very different family structure, but through many kind and consistent corrections, the girls now know what to expect when they visit. These girls who began our relationship with rudeness and demanding behavior (i.e. "Get me water!") now ask kindly for drinks of water.  When I weed my garden, they ask if they can help.  

My husband always says "Kids will rise or fall to an adults' expectations".  I expected more of them when they are my house, and they  have risen.  As they get into middle school years, they spend more time at the others girls houses, growing out of tag, but I am thankful for the time they spent at my house.  For the years we were able to show them the truth of who I believed they could be. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

We give FOUR presents for Christmas

Gifts can be a tricky subject.

First of all, NO JUDGEMENT.  Do Christmas gifts  in prayerful consideration of what works for your family. This is a non-essential people.  Do not shame others.

Our Christmas Present Policy was born after a Christmas when I witnessed my 3 1/2 year old twin boys rip through every present in 2 seconds, then throw it aside and exclaim "What else did I get?!?!"  Yes, I know they were only 3 years old, but it is never too early to teach gratitude. 

For several years, our gift policy was three presents each, since that was how many Jesus received.  It was simple for their preschool minds to understand.

We also focused on GIFT MANNERS:

  1. Before opening a gift, find out who it is from.
  2. Thank the giver for buying  you a gift, before opening.
  3. After opening, thank the giver again for that specific. Use eye contact. 
 As my kids have gotten a little older, around 1st grade, we moved into a more refined present policy of Four Presents:

Something you want 
Something you need 
Something you can wear
Something you can read

1.  Something you want
  I want them to open one gift that makes their heart race on Christmas Morning.  It is not a cliche to have your heart race with the gift of Jesus, so why not give our children that experience in a  tangible way they can understand?

This is where your child's "wish list" comes into play. If you are on a budget, you may need to supervise your child's list making process. I personally don't believe it is good for children , especially elementary and preteen, to be taught that Christmas is an excuse to become irresponsible with the money God has given us. Don't be afraid to share that you using a  budget with your children. You can make this kid friendly teaching moment about living within our means.  I supervise my kids putting 2 to 3 items on a list. If they are using store ads (we don't get these, but my mother in law always give them these to pick their presents when at her house), then I make sure they are putting items on the list that are in our budget.

A great story was last year when my 4th grader only wanted ONE thing, but it was $40 over our budget for all his presents combined.  I told him he needed to add a few more items to his list, and he added at least 3 more items that were well within our budget.  PRAISE THE LORD I found the gift he had originally wanted on Ebay for $20 under budget!!! The memory of his face when he opened it is one of my favorite Mommy moments ever!!!!

2.  Something you need

This is the practical, but still fun, gift.  It can be anything from a new comforter for their bed, a new bookbag for school, or even a a keyboard for piano lessons. It can also be as simple as new socks and undies. I do recommended if you go the undies or socks route, splurge and  get the "cool" character ones. It is Christmas after all!

3.  Something you can wear
Pretty self explanatory. I like using this category to support a small business if possible, by ordering handmade hats from a local mom.

4.  Something you can read
Again, kind of self explanatory. We kept it inexpensive when the boys were preschoolers by stocking up on books from the local library sale. If your kids are into series, you can add to their collections through this gift.
Since are the stereotypical homeschool family, I tend toward educational books. We have been been adding to their Imagination Station book series for the past 2 years.  Now they are getting a little older, we are also planning on buying them more of the I Survived Collection.

If you would like a spiritual gift, buy a devotional or prayer journal. We really enjoyed My Big Book of 5-minute Devotions when my boys were in Preschool-2nd grade.   If you have a boy in your life, I highly highly recommend  The Action Bible. My in-laws bought these for my boys when they were baptized, and they literally spend hours reading them.

To download Free Christmas Tag Printable, click here.


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