Hard to Breathe

Ladies, this past week has felt like months. I've lost track of time over and over.

This week, we received some difficult news, some very tough realities for our family. I am being vague intentionally, not because I'm seeking further inquiries about what's happening, but because it is a delicate matter involving one of my children. I am also writing this because I need the prayers of other believers to be offered before the Father.

Sometimes it's hard to breathe, hard to sleep, sometimes it's hard to stop the tears... struggling.
So here I am, writing, getting thoughts out, sharing with you, because maybe you're in a tough situation, too. My husband says that often, satan uses our trials to isolate us, to keep us from drawing on each other for strength. You aren't alone. I will pray for you, too. And prayerfully, very soon we can celebrate victory together.

a sign I saw in a waiting room
 In the midst of the rain, I am thankful for the blessed work of my home life to keep me busy. . . clothes I finally folded after not tending to them for a full week; little pigtails to twist; clothes to iron for church tomorrow; math grades to enter, granny squares to crochet...

my little girls'clothes

crocheted granny squares

And I've been reflecting, wanting to see God's hand in it all.... and of course, He is there... I mean way down in the details He's there. From people and places, timing and events, He's there. He knew we would have this moment in time to face, and He has taken the time to see about my family. And we are grateful.

So, as folks keep telling us, it is one day at a time around here. I'm counting my blessings each day, willing myself to put one foot in front of the other, while looking to the hills. . .

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—

From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121: 1-2


Cherishing Your Older Children

Little babies are so sweet and cute. To bring one into your family life is a game-changer for sure. Even so, it seems as though the camera lens is often aimed in their direction, as it should be, capturing smiles and funny faces, little fingers and tufts of hair. As Charles Dickens once said, "I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us." It is simply amazing.

As they grow into toddlers, we tell and retell all the funny things they say and do, all the faces they make and we double over in laughter. And, we should, because these years are lively and full and bring youth to a mama's achy bones, because there is never a dull moment.

And so it should continue as our children grow up and enter the next phases: tweens, teens, and young adults. So often I hear people saying awful things about their teenagers or telling me that I won't be so happy when I get to that stage. I see people almost giving way to the world regarding their behavior: You know how teens can be.

There's nothing in God's Word that instructs us to abandon the godly rearing and training of our children just because they are a little older. And if we continue to faithfully bring them up reverencing the things of God, they will be a great blessing not only to us a parents, but to the Kingdom of God.

And as we go with God, He shows us what a joy and treasure our older children are. With my own group of "big kids" there is so much to love and marvel at as their understanding of life continues to unfold. I've watched them learn sacrifice. I've seen them give of themselves. I've been there when they had to grapple with the Truth and rejoiced when they submitted to it. We have been through tough lessons that stretched them, that they can see the value in having learned, and are grateful for. Great, great blessings there.

Then there are the day-to-day gifts--helping siblings, academic achievements, sweeping a crumb-laden floor, taking out trash, folding laundry, soooo many hugs, whispered prayers, new skills, hilarious jokes. . .a sweet friendship that deepens as parenting older kids continues.

And of course, there's still all of the mushy stuff, like I still think their smiles and faces are as cute as ever, I still take tons of pictures of them, still enjoy the sound of their laughter, and I absolutely love that my big kids still call me "Mommy".

I know I'm just at the start of this teenage journey; my oldest is a few months shy of 14. I have a long way to go. But rather than look ahead to these older years with discouragement, regret or indifference, I will look ahead with joyful expectation.


Scripture: The Benefit of Reading Aloud

Reading through Scripture with your children may seem like a daunting task, particularly when they're young. If your young children are anything like mine, they are really wiggly and giggly and you wonder if they ever listen to what you're saying. And then, when you've finally quieted them (sort of) so they can hear you read, you wonder if they even understand what you're talking about. You may think, Lord, how can I teach them the deep truths of your Word, when I'm having trouble grasping them myself?

I'm here to tell you, just keep on reading. Don't ever underestimate what they can grasp . . . and more importantly, don't ever underestimate the working of the Holy Spirit. Nope, they won't catch every deep meaning. No, they probably won't understand each Biblical truth. But, God's Word is true and able. The Scriptures teach us that it won't return void and it accomplishes what it sets out to do:

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10-11

Even in the hearts and minds of your littlest ones, keep sowing seeds of faith. Let them get used to the Word upon their ears, not paraphrased Bible stories (although those are certainly useful and have their place). The point is, children should be accustomed to hearing the Word and becoming familiar with it, even at an early age. My little ones come up to me all the time, quoting bits of Scripture or asking me questions about something we've read. And, I am always amazed at what their little minds are able to understand. They are little sponges, why not fill them with the true Word of God?

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
-Matthew 19:14


Book Review: Kids Study Bible (David Jeremiah)

I must say right from the start, this Bible is one I would definitely recommend for children! Here's why.

It is the NKJV, which is one our family has come to use most of the time for devotions, study, and history. The NKJV follows the KJV very closely in text, but is a bit easier for young ones to grasp. That being said, it is a true Bible with complete Biblical text--all 66 books are there. I love that because the gospel isn't watered down just because the Bible is intended for children.

In the first few pages, your child will "meet" the crew members of the Genesis Exploration Squad, who "travel" aboard the Airship Genesis. On this ship, they have the ability to travel back into time to delve into the Bible as it unfolds.
Throughout the journey, they point out different truths of God's Word to young readers, which I find does not overshadow the message of the Scriptures.

Some of the key features are Mission Overviews that give a summary and purpose of each book of the Bible; Rupert Reports which gives interesting facts about Bible history; and Bible Blasts which are specially marked Scriptures for children to learn.

It has traditional features as well, such as a Table of Contents, a Concordance, and maps interspersed with the text. It even includes full color pictures of Bible characters and stories, which children will enjoy.

Which brings me to my (short) list of drawbacks. Although the pictures are nice, it always bothers me when I see images that don't try to be Biblically accurate as far as ethnicity. The clothing is appropriate for the time, but the people could use a little work.

Next, the foreword is given by David Jeremiah, which is great, as the Airship Genesis is a brand from his children's ministry. However, I don't think his name should be larger than the words "Kids Study Bible" on the cover and title pages. It distracts from the fact that it is a Bible and not some other book.

Finally, the color scheme--navy blue and orange--may not be neutral enough for girls. When I saw it, I thought of my sons rather than my daughters.

Even still, I am glad to have found this Bible. It is geared towards children ages 7 to 11. I think it can go a little younger to a little older. I plan on giving it to my 5 year old for Christmas, since he's been wanting his own Bible, just like his older siblings. He realizes that his own children's Bible doesn't have the same words as ours and I think it's important to let children hear the the Scriptures without paraphrasing. So I'm excited to see his reaction at having a real Bible with features that are appealing to kids.

What Bible do you use with your children? Do you prefer one version over another?

(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)


How Does Your Husband Teach?

Us moms, we are different from our husbands in many ways, as it should be. Different tones of voice, different in stature, different in our mannerisms.....we bring different dynamics to the atmosphere of the home.

So, it should be no surprise that our husbands' teaching and parenting styles are different from our own. But somehow, we are still surprised.

In my own marriage, I've learned to embrace my husband's way with our children, rather than criticize him at every turn. Nope, his style is not mine, and nope, I probably won't ever bear hug our children down to the floor, while tickling them mercilessly, only to have them come back asking for more. Not quite my style. But one thing is for sure:
God chose him to be the father of our children and equipped him to fulfill that task. I have to let him live that out before God, without badgering him to do it my way.
Another thing I've learned is that, whatever is dear to my husband, chances are he will use it as a means to teach the kids. Some husbands are number-crunchers, others hunt or fish. Some husbands build things while others play guitar. Whatever it is, it is likely your husband will use it to get his point across.

My husband is a former college football player, with a coaching minor. His teaching tool: sports, athletics, fitness, physical activity....however you'd like to phrase it. Now, although I knew this about him before we were married, and cheered for him to score in several football games, I didn't really know until after marriage.

I had no idea that he ran miles per day or did that many push ups and sit ups at a time. I'd never heard of a 3-count jumping jack or ever exercised until my stomach hurt. My husband would seek out tracks, fields, and stadium stairs for running and training. After his football days were over. He still does. So.not.me. My idea of fitness is to do an aerobics video or spend 20-30 minutes on the elliptical. Yeah, big difference.

So, when we had children, naturally for him, he would share this with them. Initially for me, it seemed foreign, awkward, and made no sense at all. But over the years, I've come to realize how much wisdom my husband is sharing with our kids, while they're sweating and running in an open field.

They're learning specific sports skills and how to keep physically fit, but they are learning so much more. Hard work. Dedication. Pushing through the pain. How to fall and get back up. Confidence. Mental is greater than physical. Progress. Patience. Grit. Determination. Teamwork. Don't quit. Togetherness. Encouragement. Loyalty.

I've listened as my husband has connected what he's teaching them with what they have to face in life. Sports skills become life skills, how worthy things take commitment and time, that consistent work must be done. Don't give up at the first sign of adversity, but keep the end goal in mind.

Maybe I've learned a few things myself.

Trust your husband, even if it is the opposite of the way you do it. God gave children fathers for a reason.

What are the ways your husband teaches? Does he use a hobby or skill to do it?

Originally written for Our Homeschool Forum.

Letting Go: When Your Curriculum Isn't Working

I think most every homeschooling mama has been there. You've found the perfect Science series for your daughters. It fits right in with your Classical education style, it goes along with the History period you're studying, it has experiments and diagrams and has a good emphasis on scientific vocabulary. Actually, this was my experience with my girls a few years ago. It was perfect...in theory....on paper.

I just knew it would be a winner, but it wasn't. The information was organized in a way that was different from how my children think; it didn't flow well for us. So because the information was disjointed, it effected my girls' learning. But, I was determined to make it work!

I highlighted key words, people, and phrases. I "sticky-noted" pages left and right. I gave further instructions on how to complete each assignment. I mean I tweaked and tweaked as much as I could because after all, I paid for it, right?


The more I tried, the worse it got for my daughters. One was just completely lost. Looking back on it, I know she tried, but she was overwhelmed with the number of tasks she had to do each Science class. The other began to see Science as a subject she didn't enjoy. Instead it was nothing more than a box to be checked off of a to-do list. So, she would complete assignments satisfactorily, but was unable to explain what she learned.

Frustrating for all involved. This happened during my early years of homeschooling and I was afraid to try something else in the middle of the school year. Even though it was clear to me that switching to a more suitable curriculum was what we needed, I froze. And we struggled our way through Science that entire year.

Reflecting on that time, here's what I learned:

It is wise to let go of the "perfect" curriculum if it isn't working for your family. I'm not talking jumping ship at the first sign of difficulty without trying again. I'm not suggesting that you don't give the curriculum due diligence. However, if you've done what you can to make adjustments and they aren't working, then changing your plans is best.

Struggling through a poor curriculum choice is a terrible learning experience. I could see the disinterest in my girls' eyes every single time we pulled the Science books out. This from girls who run outside with an insect encyclopedia to identify the butterflies in the back yard or who wait in great expectation for Ranger Rick magazines to come in the mail. I could no longer get them to engage, which meant little satisfaction in the learning process.

Make the necessary changes guilt-free. One of the best reasons for homeschooling is being able to tailor my children's education. Yes, I spent money on the curriculum. Yep, it should have worked great with my teaching method. But  I should never have felt bound by either of those things. I have access to flexibility and a ton of wiggle room in homeschooling that I can't be ashamed to use.

I'm learning to relax. Teaching from a state of anxiety and stress is not healthy, not for me or my family. The world wouldn't have exploded if I had taken a couple weeks off of Science to find a more suitable curriculum. There wouldn't have been a gaping hole in their learning had I switched to something else. In fact, my girls probably would have learned more if I'd given them that time to explore the backyard and research things on their own.

Here are two truths someone once told me that help me "keep calm and carry on" with homeschooling: 1) I have 18 years between birth and college to teach my kids what they need to know. 2) I can't teach my kids everything there is to know about everything. That perspective is freeing.

Hopefully my experience is helpful to you on what to do (or, what not to do) if you find yourself in a similar situation. If you've already faced something like this, how did you overcome it?


Homemaking: Bridging the Gaps

The Titus 2 mandate is a lovely one. It calls upon Christian men and women to reach beyond their own generation, to take the hand of a younger one, showing them side-by side how to live, work, and function in the context of home, family, and community--how their conduct as Christians should please God.
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Titus 2:1-5
For the Ladies, naturally, our primary "older woman" would be our own mothers. Other influential older women may also be grandmothers, aunts, and friends . However, as I've mentioned before, a gap exists between the women of old and the young women today. It seems with each generation born, the gap widens. With the major influence feminism had on society in the 60s and 70s, the culture shifted and women began leaving their homes in search of something society told them was greater: do whatever it is a man can do to prove your worth and place in society.

Problem was, God had already given both the worth and the place, but those were largely exchanged--exchanged, not accompanied by or added to, but exchanged--for careers, more education, monetary pursuit, promotion, and notoriety. Those pursuits mean less time at home, which means less time and attention spent on the home and those that dwell there. In recent conversations about homemaking with my mother, a working woman during my entire childhood, she said to me, "Stacie, the truth is, I can do many things, but how many things am I really doing well?"

In stepping out of the calling God had for the woman, you see the pull, the tug of war: women trying to be both things and in two places at the same time. Demanding freedom from the home, yet wanting to be the best wives and mothers they can be. Then we hear the phrases "super mom" who is the woman that "does it all" because she's been told "you can have it all." Funny thing is, you don't see the men (historically) trying to maintain their roles as husbands and providers, while also demanding to birth children and stay home to raise them.

In all of the commotion, the art and beauty of homemaking has been lost and undervalued in society. And young girls grow up to be smart, bright, and brilliant women, who don't know how to cook a decent meal, keep a home, or organize a day spent with their own children. More importantly, these women don't even realize the sacredness of the tasks set before them, how the home is a woman's domain, how she sets the tone and attitude, how home is where she creates a haven for her husband, and it's where she guides her children in right ways. Many don't understand the beauty of refinement that God brings forth in the day-to-day duties of home life.

I know, because I feel like I'm a late bloomer. I tell people that I feel like an "Eve" without a model for many of the things that come with the territory of being the wife and mother of a first-generation homeschooling family with 7 children. I am so hungry and thirsty for true Titus 2 encounters that I look for them everywhere. I want to know what the older women can teach me about loving and doing life with my husband, about raising children and loving my family well, how to bring about love and beauty and joy by the way I live and how I work with my hands right in my own home. Thirsty. Hungry.

So, what is the point in all of this?
We are all "older women" to someone, whether that is to our own daughters, or to the young newlywed bride, or to the new homeschooling mom. We should do more sharing of what we know rather than the selling of what we know. I get it. Writing a book or a making some income through blogging or vlogging is not a crime, and the Word does NOT forbid it. In fact, these are things I've considered myself. However, the basics of homemaking, the ins and outs of running a household, teaching how to love husbands and children....these things we are instructed to teach within the Body of Christ. I get so excited to see online workshops and courses for homemaking and learning to be a better wife and mother, because someone has taken the time to put information together, specifically targeting the Titus 2 mandate. . . .only to find out that I have to pay $30 or more to access the information. I'm thinking, shouldn't homemaking be free? 

Why are women able to capitalize in this way? Because there are women out there wanting to be shepherded and guided in this area. Because many of us are lacking these skills in our own lives and we need help figuring out what exactly we are to do at home (again, the generational gap) AND because many of the older women and younger women, in real life, aren't connecting with each other in our churches and communities. I have learned more about Christian homemaking, and its purpose before the Lord, from blogs, books and Facebook groups than I have from women in real life. Although I had/have great relationships with my grandmothers, mother, and aunts, I didn't know to treasure and seek out those qualities, characteristics, skills and such that would aid me specifically in keeping my home. It just wasn't emphasized when I was growing up, not even on the radar.

So, I'm seeking the Lord on what I can do to bridge this gap in a specific, tangible way among the women and girls I'm around. Still mulling it over, but I think it is imperative that we start somewhere in sharing the importance of Biblical womanhood and homemaking. And, that we can freely share, in love and in community with each other, as an offering to God.

My start begins with my own daughters. I have answered the Lord's call to blog here, not fully knowing the reason why when I started. Over time, many of the reasons have unfolded. In part, this blog is a record of sorts. It is a way for me to document this journey for my girls. One day, I hope my daughters can look at this and know that I tried hard to live out this call of wife and mother and that I stressed that importance to them. I hope my girls will see the beauty and sacredness of such a call and treasure it and not wish away the work and effort it takes to be diligent in their homes. I pray that homemaking is a labor of love that they feel equipped for and are ready to pass down to the next generation. And even for my sons, I hope they can look at this and cherish their own wives and have a great understanding of the importance and the blessing their wives will be in the heart of their homes.

I am grateful also for what I have learned from other women who blog and describe things down to the details on the "how to's" of Titus 2 wisdom. And, I am thankful for readers who have left comments and shared amazing advice, and for the lasting friendships I've formed with some of you outside of blogging. I also hope to be an encouragement to other women as I struggle and triumph my way through life as a daughter of the King, wife to one amazing man, and a mama to as many as God will give.

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