December Picture Books

posted in: Books | 0

I have really fallen in love with reading to my boys.  It is a sweet time on the couch or on their bed.  We read chapter books or picture books.

But, I also let them pick out many of their own books at the library.  They like to wander through the picture book section and find books that have dogs and fire trucks – at least for now.

I also like to get as many from this list.  It is super helpful.  I’ve not found we like them all, but it gives us new ideas and brings us new authors I wouldn’t have known about.

So, here are our favorites from December.  We probably read over 60 picture books.  These are our favorites because the boys picked these over and over.

Pirate Boy.  I’ve read this so much the last two months.  And it is mommy’s as heroes – so its a perfect one to read with your boys.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.  My boys laughed at the animals wearing clothes.  But, it talks about being who you are supposed to be. As believers, we don’t necessarily need to tell our boys to “be all that they can be” but we need to point them to God’s plan for their lives.

Can You Growl Like A Bear?

This was definitely the funnest book because they boys were acting out every animal in this book every time we read it!

Snowmen All Year: This is one we got from the RAR list.  And the boys definitely loved it.  Even if we didn’t see any snow this year.

Oliver Finds His Way.  A bear and a journey.  And talk of home.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

A friend of mine gave us this book, after we read it all weekend our friends were here. So fun!  Believe me!

 

9 Characteristics of Wise Parenting

Six years ago, we were newly married, starting our journey together as husband and wife.  We weren’t even pregnant yet.  We decided we would go through the book of James together.  My husband memorized it. I prayed it daily for him, myself, us, and our future.  We entered into our marriage with difficult relationships around us.  We needed wisdom for how to navigate these relationships and for how to head into our future together.  James was a perfect book to study through as newlyweds.

Today, our boys are five and four.  And I’m going through the book of James again with a small group of women.  I need these verses and the Lord’s voice to enter in to my parenting and give me great wisdom as to how to parent these two little boys.  With the Lord’s help, not the world’s wisdom, we can parent well.

He has promised to help us.  He has promised to give wisdom to those who ask.  He has also given us His Word.  This is how the Lord defines wisdom from above.  How can we have parenting that is wise – with His wisdom.  The following is from James 3.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is pure.  It is not bought or coerced.  It is done with pure motives.  It is without error.  This is why we need Jesus in our parenting.  We are not perfect.  We will always fail in our parenting. Our boys do not ultimately need us – they need Jesus.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is peaceable.  Where we don’t raise our voices or cut off our children because we are doing something and they are interrupting.  We seek to bring peace (not fairness) to our children’s lives when they are interacting with each other.  I seek to appease and pacify, but I find it truly difficult to bring peace in our home.  That is why our sons need Jesus – He is our Prince of Peace.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is gentle.  Amazingly I find this difficult unless I’m showing affection.  I get irritable because I’m being interrupted.  I am not gentle if they are doing something wrong.  I need a Gentle Shepherd to shepherd my heart so I can in turn shepherd my children’s hearts.

(Parenting) wisdom is open to reason.  This is getting easier for me, by the grace of God.  Open to reason in parenting is (I think) being willing to hear help from others.  These tips and help may come from my husband, my friends, my pediatrician, books I’m reading, etc.  Find those moms and dads who are (generally) ahead of you in the parenting game and seek them to pour into your life as a parent.  Watch them.  Learn from them.  And that is why we need Jesus, He is all-wise and the perfect teacher.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is full of mercy.  Isn’t God so rich in mercy!  I love it.  I apply this to some discipline.  And hear me out – this does not mean never disciplining your children when they have disobeyed.  This means walking in step with the Savior who showed you great mercy and plead with them to know how to interact with your children at all times.  They may have done something wrong.  And the best way to show them Jesus in that particular moment is by talking to them about Jesus – not giving them a timeout or spanking.  Jesus is lavish in mercy to us!

(Parenting) wisdom from above is full of good fruits.  Abundantly pouring out in good fruits.  This is an opportunity for you to encourage your kids.  One saying we use in our our is “God is helping you become more…”  We don’t want to tell our kids that they are acting better to focus on their good works.  We want to help them realize that everything good in them is from God.  And to not wait for the big things they do, but be encouraging them in the times you see any kind of good fruit – even a little bud.  And Jesus helps us bear fruit if we abide in Him!

(Parenting) wisdom from above is impartial . See the pure paragraph above.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is sincere.  It is hard to be a mom.  Even those who love being a mom every moment find some moments hard.  But, let us sincerely think about Jesus has called us to.  To shape little hearts and minds.  To point them to Christ.  To grow little boys into men who will one day shape the world around them.  Jesus sincerely came to this world to save us.

(Parenting) wisdom from above will reap a harvest.  We can definitely know that God will bless efforts to shepherd our children and reward us.  It is a promise.  And he is faithful.

One tool I’ve found in helping me pass on wisdom to my children – and hope in the Gospel – is Pass it On by Champ Thornton.  It is a Bible study on Proverbs, with a great introduction to the book, commentary some, focusing on the Gospel (how Jesus fulfills wisdom).  But it is also a journal for you to fill out and pass along your thoughts to your children.  I’ve started doing this for my sons.  It could be used once a week, 30 minutes, and it would take you less than a year for each kid.  What a treasure it would be for your children.

Pass It On was given to me by Litfuse.  All thoughts are my own.

 

Lavish Hospitality 27

This turned in to a great family weekend.  I don’t think any of us opened a computer.  We were outside, watching netflix cozied up on the couch, etc.  It was nice.  But, now – to finish off this series on hospitality!

There are some ways to provide hospitality to your kids – that you may not even be aware of.  At least these are some ways that we can provide hospitality to our children – how we can help them feel welcome, safe, and desired.  Tehse have worked for us – even in the many MANY moves that we’ve had to make since they’ve come into our lives!

  1.  Stability.  Ok – so, we’ve had to move several times.  Our older son is 5 and since his birth we’ve moved 6 times.  But, we’ve tried to do things that help with the stability.  We’ve kept the furniture in our home the same.  We’ve tried to keep our schedules (especially their daily schedule) the same.  We’ve found this helps them be mostly calm even in the unknown.
  2. Consistency.  This may sound similar but it is different for us.  Like, we don’t keep the boys out too late because we’ve learned that they do better with life if they are in bed at a consistent time.  We’ve learned that they need to wake up at the same time.  Be around the same people.  New environments make one of our boys not feel safe.
  3. Clean.  Ok – this is probably the hardest, but thankfully I’m married to my husband.  But, in our house, we like things clean because it creates a sense of calm.  When we move, we get unpacked quickly.  We keep most things really clean.  I mean picked up.  We don’t leave clutter every where.  I wish everything was actually clean – but I don’t wipe down baseboards or sweep every day.

Those are just a few ways we help provide hospitality, security and refuge.  These are pretty practical.  What practical ways do you serve your children with to provide hospitality to them?

Quote from Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

Lavish Hospitality 19

What is the goal of motherhood?

You know what – I don’t know.  I don’t have all the answers.

Basically – here is what I think the goal of motherhood it is.

With God’s grace, shepherd your children to see their need of Him.  If along the way you teach them how to do well in school, be model citizens, grow up to be a great wife or husband, be honorable, then they are good side effects.

But, the goal of motherhood is to point them to their Creator.  And point them is all we can do.  That has been the hardest thing for me to come to grips with – I can’t save my kids.  Only God can save my kids.

And, if we attempt to put on a mask of motherhood perfection – we are not being hospitable. Not to ourselves, our kids, our husbands, or our friends.  We will only let ourselves down.

Quote from Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis

Lavish Hospitality 17

As a mom of two preschoolers, two things I think about the most of anything is my children’s safety and their eternal life.  One I can do something about and one I can only point them in the right direction.

Its funny, this week my 4 year old had 5 shots and 1 toe prick to draw some blood.  All routine for a 4 yo check up.  As I was holding his arms across his chest as they were sticking the needles in his thighs, I watched him scream over and over again.  I didn’t feel like I was providing much safety for him.  And after the pricks were over, he was calling for Daddy – all he wanted to do was go see Daddy.  To have Daddy hold him.

Now, if something happens when Daddy is around, then he calls out for me.  So the kid can’t make up his mind.

And now thinking back, I think of me, holding his arms down, covering his face to he couldn’t see the needles being put into his legs, closing my eyes in tears as he screamed, wondering if he would ever trust me again.

Isn’t that often how God is.  We are safely in his arms.  Being held in the palms of his hands, nothing can take us out of his grip.  But, how often does his face cover our screams?  How often do you think that God cries and longs for our hearts when we are hurting?

On this earth, I think we are to be “little Christs”.  So, we are to be Jesus with skin on.  Being hospitable to people may be holding them in their pain, letting them cry, catching their tears.  My husband often does this.  And I think of the safety I feel in his arms.  And it makes me long for the Savior – who will never hurt me but was hurt for me.  So that I may rest secure in Him.

Quote taken from a new book by Lavon Gray (thanks New Hope Publishers) Tuning Your Heart to Worship

Lavish Hospitality 15

We are halfway there.  Thanks so much for reading.  Can’t wait to finish out the month with yall.

Since becoming a mom, I think I’ve cooked less and less. I prefer simple meals or take out or Publix rotisserie chickens.  I’m tried throughout the day.  When my husband is home I want to do other things other than just stand in the kitchen and crank out a week’s worth of food.

I know cooking is healthier and easier on the budget for the family – but goodness, tough to get in the kitchen and do.  Especially when half of my people around the table may not even eat it.

But, part of my responsibility (in our family) is to cook and make sure we have food to eat.  My mister will cook but he is usually at work until dinner time, but he always gets up with the boys and gets them breakfast.  I’m extremely blessed – also, with a nearby Publix or Trader Joes.

So, how do I welcome my misters with food?  I thought I would be a wife and a mom who always had a homecooked meal on the table.  Usually I was that kind of wife, but I’m not that type of mom.  I mean, we eat every night.  But only a few days a week is it a fresh homecooked meal.

Here are my tips:

Little Caesars Pizza.

Publix: bagged salad mixes, chicken tenders or rotisserie from the deli.

Dollar menu items.

Bagged veggies with sweet potatoes

Instant Pot

Crock Pot

A local food delivery or pick up service (we found a local place that has freezer meals on hand you can pick up.  And a friend of mine does this as well).

Cereal.

Eggs, fruit, grits

Trader Joes freezer section.

Hope these items help you offer hospitality to your family by getting food on the table.  What are your quick go-to food helps?

Quote from Karen Ehman A Life That Says Welcome

 

Lavish Hospitality 14

One of the deals with motherhood is that you tend to get interrupted.  Whether you need to change a diaper in the middle of a church service, breast feed in the middle of the night, calm an anxious heart in the wee hours of the morning, get out of bed before your alarm clock goes off because a preschooler wants some juice.  It might be to miss out on something you want to attend because you have a teenager who needs to get somewhere.

Interruptions come.  That’s just a fact of life.  The life of a mother, that is.

And I’ve learned that it usually doesn’t make me smile when I get interrupted.  I like to do what I’m doing and that’s that.  Whether its making dinner, working on a blog, or running errands, I want to do them how I want to do them.

I need God our gracious Father to show up in my heart and mouth and face when my little boys interrupt me.  I need to be ready to color with them, read with them, talk with them about the same topic I’ve already talked about for 4 hours that day, sing one of their songs for the 30th time, and watch the same kids movie with them that they know by heart.

Thanks to Sandra for writing this blog post where I pulled this quote.

Big and Little Coloring Devotional

posted in: Books | 0

When we set up our new home in late this summer, I knew I wanted to have a creative area for my boys.  A place where they could have coloring books, playdough, markers, colored pencils, etc – just waiting to sit and get all their creative juices out!

Well, we set up a little Goodwill table that I found before we moved, and put some bins of creative tools around it – and they sit their every day.  I love it.  I love having pieces of paper all around the house with scribbles and drawings on them.

Another great tool I’ve found for my boys is the Big and Little Coloring Devotional.  I found out about this devo coloring book from my friend Sarah on her podcast with the author Rachel Swanson.  Then I got to be a part of the launch team.  So much fun!

It is a top flip coloring book, made for two people to be coloring at once.  So, I’ve been sitting across from my older, him coloring, me coloring.  And the neat thing about this particular coloring book is that it is based on Scripture.  So, one side will have a (younger age) coloring page with God’s truth on it, the other page will have a more detailed coloring page with a short devotional on it.  These devotionals are perfect for you to read, be encouraged, and it may be a jumping off point for you to share these truths with your child – AS. YOU. COLOR!

Such a great activity for you and your child to do together.  And Christmas is coming – its a perfect gift for any mom of littles you know – I would say even up to 10yo or so – girl or boy.  So, grab some colored pencils, crayons, or markers, and get coloring – and shepherding your soul – and your child’s!

Lavish Hospitality 4

posted in: 31days, lavish hospitality | 0

Tonight at bedtime, doing it solo since my husband was out of town for the day, one kid was screaming in pain because of his tummy the other was pretending he was shooting me and saying he was scared of the dark because he wanted a story in a book read to him.

Not my finest hour – but all ended well.  And now, I’m waiting for my mister to make the trek back from ATL.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart – or yes, maybe it is – and that makes us lean on Christ all the more.  Practicing this type of hospitality at all times of the day is hard – but so necessary.

When we fail though, we can come to our kids and seek their forgiveness and point them to the Father’s unconditional love.

Quote from Sally Clarkson’s book The Mission of Motherhood.  Photograph: kcreatives

Lavish Hospitality: 2

posted in: 31days, Uncategorized | 0

 

“I gradually began to understand more fully that he was not a problem to be addressed, not the sum of his behavioral performance.  His worth to God was not about his ability to fulfill other people’s expectations or act according to accepted norms.  Instead he was a beloved child of the Father with a specific role to play in God’s ongoing story of redemption.”

Sally ClarksonDifferent

 

The Fall is a special time for our family.  We celebrate two birthdays and a wedding anniversary within 3 weeks time.

To say that I thrive in parenting would be far from the truth.  I have to tell myself everyday who I am in God’s sight, how He has equipped me to parent the exact boys I’ve been wonderfully given, and how I’m not like all the other moms out there.

When we compare our momselves to other moms – we are not lavishing hospitality – welcoming, grace – on ourselves or our children.  When we play the comparison game, get caught in its trap, we do such a disservice to our hearts.  And that in turn, doesn’t allow us to love our children well either.

To show lavish hospitality to our children is welcoming them just as they are.  Not only when they are obedient, or loving, or going to bed on time.  But, I’ve found for me, when I’m stressed about not being a good mom (because I’ve listened to other things besides the Word of God), I take out my unworthiness on my kids.

Let’s show lavish hospitality to ourselves and our children by staying out of the comparison trap!