Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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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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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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Help Your Kids Fearlessly Face the Future!

Lately my Facebook news feed has been clogged with angry and even panicked political rants.  Last night as I got ready for bed, fear gripped me for a moment. There’s so much that’s scary.  What kind of world will my children grow up in?

And then I remember the story of Queen Esther in the Bible, the lovely lady who saved her people, not with strident protest or military strength, but with courage, strength, grace, respect, and wisdom.  Mordecai, her adoptive father, encouraged her:  “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

We, too, were born for such a time as this, and so were our children.

God has put us here, now, for a reason.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, you don’t have to worry about your kids. It’s an exciting time to be alive, not because there is nothing to fear, but because God is greater than our fear and has great plans for our families, for our children—for us!

He is not taken by surprise by any election result or Supreme Court verdict.  He’s not in heaven wringing has hands and saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that one coming.  Your family is doomed!”

He has hand-picked your children for today.  It’s their hour, their time to shine, their time to be a light in a dark world, to overflow with the love of Christ, to impact the lives of those around them, to serve like Queen Esther…with courage, strength, grace, respect, and wisdom.

So if you’re tempted to bunker down and raise them in fear and despair, rise to the challenge.  Raise your children to stand before kings if the opportunity arises.  Raise them spiritually strong.  Raise them with courage.  Let them know that their future is bright, because they walk in the Light.

Give them this confidence: You were born for such a time as this.

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Do you face your children’s future with fear or confidence?  How can you raise them for such a time as this?

P.S. Check out this song by Wayne Watson, For Such a Time as This.  An oldie but a goodie!

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook!  I would be thrilled!  I’m also now on Twitter.


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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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Mama Self-Care: Spiritual (No Condemnation!)

~Philip Hale~

Sorry for the spotty posting.  Life gets in the way sometimes.  I’m kicking off a season of more regular writing (hopefully!)  with something new.

I’ve heard it said that we moms need to take care of ourselves first or we won’t have any strength to take care of our families.  You know what, it’s true.  But how easy it is to give ourselves the leftovers when the urgencies of family life demand our attention!  I’m starting a little series on Mama Self-Care, easy ways to help us moms take care of us so that we are able to take care of those placed under our care.

The first and most important way we need to care for ourselves is spiritually.  If we aren’t filled spiritually, then all the other self-care we do won’t make that much difference.

~via pinterest~

But listen.  If those first sentences gave you a stab of condemnation or guilt, don’t let them.  We serve a God of grace and freedom who understands our weakness and is loving and gentle with us.  I love Isaiah 40:11 from the Bible: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

A friend told me not long ago about a women’s conference she attended where one of the speakers, a well-known Bible teacher, harshly judged young mothers who struggle to find time for “serious Bible study.”  There are many reasons that this rubbed me the wrong way, not the least of which are that this teacher had only two children (not dissing those of you with two, but the honest truth is that logistically things were much easier when I had two than when I have five), and that her young mom days have been over for about 40 years.  There is a season for everything and we should not let the drains of motherhood make us feel condemned if we cannot have the kind of quiet time or Bible study someone else—who has never walked in our shoes—says that we should.  God sees our hearts.  I know, I just commited Evangelical treason with those statements.  I am not saying that we should not spend time with God, but simply that we should find a way to configure it to the realities of this very intense time of life.

I do have a set time for prayer early in the morning.  I don’t want to set an alarm that will wake the babies, so I have asked God to wake me up on time and virtually every day, he does.  I pray while I lay in bed (if I can trust myself not to go back to sleep), while I feed the baby, or while I make my bed.  This is not my ideal, but it is better than nothing.  If you are offended, I am sorry.  I think Jesus would rather I talk to him during those times than skip it because the circumstances are not perfect.

The rest of my Jesus time requires more creativity, since my early risers are up shortly afterward.  I read the Bible on my iPod touch (yes, I am behind the times, I don’t have a smart phone) while I nurse the little one, put on the audio version of Psalms or the Gospels while I am in the kitchen, pray throughout the day.  I read Bible stories to the kids and pray with them.  We pray in the car before we pull out of the driveway.  I think about what I have read or heard as I wash dishes or fold laundry.

~Renoir~

There are lots of other creative ways to make our relationship with God a lifestyle, not just a time set apart from the rest of my day.  Leave a Bible open by the rocking chair or in the bathroom, listen to worship music and sing along, teach the kids old hymns, write scripture on a card and place it in the window sill, the mirror, or the dashboard of your car.  And I encourage you, don’t neglect church.  It is so easy to do when we are so very tired.  I have missed more church in the past months than I have in years.  When you have 5 kids, the odds of someone being sick or indisposed during the winter increase a lot.  But if it is possibly in my power, I go.  It might mean jeans and a ponytail, but I am always so happy that I made the effort, even if it was a struggle to get out the door.  Worshiping with other Christians is essential.

All this is to say: Make the effort to feed yourself spiritually, and don’t let perfectionism keep you from your relationship with Jesus.  Run to him!  He hears you when you are scrubbing potties just as well as when you are kneeling at an altar.  Maybe the bathroom is really what he had in mind when he talked about going to your “closet” to pray!  😉