probably we should be bored a little more often

bored

Don’t worry, I’m not going to thump you over the head with all the reasons you should get rid of (or use drastically less of) the television, computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone, etc.  Okay, so maybe I am.  A little.

I’m not anti-electronics and I’m not going to climb onto my roof and start screaming about the evils of technology.  Because technology is not inherently evil.  It would be ridiculous for me to pretend I thought it was considering I’m tapping out this post on my laptop and will publish it through an electronic transmission at the touch of a button.  Pretty cool, if you ask me.

That said, abuse of any kind is not good and we, as a society, absolutely and totally abuse technology.  Period. The end.

Well, it’s not really the end, I guess, because I’m just getting started.

I’m going to be honest and to be honest, I’d have to admit that sometimes honesty isn’t my favorite thing.  Like when I’m having to rat myself out.  Like I’m about to do.  Here goes.

In our home we have 2 laptops, 1 desktop, 5 iPad minis, 1 iPad, 2 iPods and 3 cell phones.  Oy, I think I need a minute after throwing that out there.  Even I think that sounds ridiculous.  In my defense, however:

  • The iPad mini’s were gifted to our 5 oldest children as a means to enhance their homeschool experience.  They are able to download books and other learning tools using this electronic resource.
  • The iPad (of regular size) belongs to my hard-working husband who uses it for his schooling.  He’s a career firefighter but he’s also working toward his Fire Science degree.
  • The desktop is my husband’s and it actually doesn’t really work too well.
  • One of the laptops belongs to me and the other belongs to our oldest son who uses it for his online academy.
  • The iPods were gifts several years ago from doting grandparents because our teenagers had not yet been permitted to have phones.   It was a nice compromise.
  • The cell phones belong to my husband, myself and our oldest, who is nearing 17.

Now that I’ve so nicely defended myself allow me to throw myself under the bus.  There is no question that electronics abuse is an ongoing struggle in our home.  No matter what the intended use of each one of those gadgets mentioned might have been, there is temptation lying right outside the realm of intended use.  Lots and lots of temptation.

Here are some guidelines we are implementing:

  • No electronics between the hours of 9am and 3:30pm, which are our school hours.
  • If schoolwork is completed before 3:30pm, as it is for many of the children, you still may not use the electronics.
  • If you are bored during the hours of the electronics ban, find something creative to do.  Read, craft, climb a tree, ride a bike, make a fort, be a kid.
  • Electronics are to be shut down at 9pm if you are one of the children still up at that hour.  This does NOT mean we will expect or allow their faces to be glued to the screen between the hours of 3:30-9pm.  Moderation.
  • All electronics are to be placed on the office desk for overnight storage.

Frankly, I’d love for my kids not to own a single device.  If we could go back, we’d do things differently.  But since the horse is already out of the gate, we’ve decided the best path is to train them (and ourselves) to practice self-control.  One day they will be on their own with full access to all the technology they want.  We want them to be prepared for that onslaught so we’re walking this path with them while they are yet in the fold.

bored2

When I think back on my own childhood, I remember scraped knees and dirty fingernails.  I have fond memories of my favorite doll and my make-believe family, of which I was the matriarch.  I remember playing ball and riding bikes and laughing.

But mostly I remember that I didn’t spend time staring at a screen.

My imagination was fully engaged and if I lacked for something to play, I could always find something to read.  That is what I want for my kids.  For them to know how to work hard, play well and live life.

I want them to know reality from the photoshopped lies and glossed-over deceptions fed to them from most every online portal.  I want them to know boredom so they can hear that sweet voice of Jesus that often calls in a whisper.

And for the record, that’s exactly what I want for myself, too!  How about you?

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Join me on Thursday when I’ll share the online and social media parameters we have for our children at various ages.

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lessons from my ‘ugly’ house

lessons

The day was sunny and bright.  Just the thing after a long, snow-filled winter and a disastrous move from one home to another.  I stretched myself out in the hammock my husband had taken the time to so carefully string between two trees for me.  Closing my eyes I found my mind filled with the past few months.

And even more than the warm sunshine on my face, I felt shame.

I had met with trials in the previous weeks and, lying there under that blue sky, I realized just how miserably I had failed.  Shame and remorse coursed through me.

I shifted in the hammock so I could see the place from which the happy voices of my children floated in the air as they played in the field.  The field adjacent to the house I didn’t want to be living in.  The house with wood floors that needed to be refinished, the dining room that had once been a carport and the great room that just never managed to feel great to me.  And don’t even get me started on the iron-laced water.  Truly, you don’t want to get me started on that.  The rental house we had moved into in an effort to save money was draining us in more ways than could be counted in dollars and cents.

Oh, how I’ve hated this house.  And oh, how that hatred has seeped into every corner of my life without my realizing it.

I felt hot tears sting my eyes and roll down my cheeks as the full impact of my attitude hit me.

A house is just walls. Bricks and mortar erected to offer shelter from the seasons.  Houses don’t define us and we do ourselves an injustice to allow them to dictate our joy.  Ask me how I know.

I looked around me again and saw some of the kids playing ball while a few others jumped on the trampoline.  I had watched just the day before as my littlest boys chattered excitedly to each other as they explored the edge of the woods lining the 15 acre property.  I saw happiness in those sweet faces.  I saw an eagerness to accept this new adventure with wide open arms rather than a critic’s eye.

I saw Jesus walking through that field waiting for me to realize He’s right here.  Not in that house or those woods, but in this moment.  Every moment.  Even the ones we wish away.

I didn’t leave my swinging oasis that day in love with my house.  But I did leave in love with my life.  Again.

I don’t know what season of life you are in.  I don’t know what you’re struggling with or how difficult it is to capture the contentment He is calling you to.  What I do know is this:  Jesus is there.  Right there with you.  And that, my friends, is the only thing that really matters!

 

Note:  I am fully aware that my battle with contentment in regards to my new home sounds ridiculous compared to the struggles many face daily.  I am not trying to compare my situation to one that is truly serious.  But no matter what, or where we find ourselves, the answer is the same.  Jesus.

 

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hope for the mediocre mom

mediocre

Because that would be me and if there’s one thing I need, it is hope.  Oh, how I need hope.

The online world is pretty one dimensional so in case you’ve never picked up on how dire my case is, allow me to take just a moment to give you the CliffNotes version of my mediocrity…

  • I’ve cooked 3 meals in the past two months.  Three.  Exactly three.
  • They weren’t great meals.  In my defense, I’ve been battling pregnancy sickness.
  • When filling out a form recently, I had to ask several of my children what grade they were in.
  • I’m not known for my exceptional skill as a laundress.  I’ll leave it at that.
  • I’ve never seen a real problem with cold cereal on occasion.  Even if that occasion spans the three meals of the day.
  • Dry cereal also works just fine in a pinch, if you ask me.  Just don’t ask my kids.
  • It is not humanly possible to keep my fridge stocked with milk.  It just isn’t.  Hence, the dry cereal.
  • Homeschooling sometimes looks an awful lot like, well, I dunno what it looks like.  I can tell you that sometimes it just ain’t purty.
  • I was always opposed to locking myself in the bathroom to cry.  Then I had kids.
  • I once told my toddler that a chocolate milkshake was my medicine.  I honestly didn’t feel too badly about it since I wasn’t lying.
  • My bedroom closet.  Um, yeah…next topic.
  • Yesterday I slept till 9.  My toddlers got up at 7:30.  I’m eternally grateful for teenagers who love me.
  • I had my first five children within 6 years.  I don’t remember much from those 6 years.
  • My husband adores me.  I always knew there was something a little off about that guy. ;)

Okay, I’m going to stop there.  You probably get the idea.  I’ve never been nominated for Mother of the Year.  In fact, I’m pretty sure one year I even saw someone glance my way and snicker as they were discussing nominees for the award.  Whatever.

But here’s the thing…I’ve grown.  The Lord saw fit to reach a loving hand out and make me able to prepare an edible casserole and serve it with homemade bread and a side of greens.  That, in and of itself, is a homemaking miracle considering I came into marriage not realizing food was actually prepared in a kitchen.  I grew up thinking you bought it frozen and just used that large room to heat it.  See how far I’ve come?  The kids may get excited when my teenage son is in the kitchen instead of me but his cinnamon rolls don’t hold a candle to mine, so there’s that.  I’m clinging to that, by the way.

I have days where I don’t want to get up.  Days where I don’t want to fill the many roles a mother must.  Times I feel I might need a sedative to deal with all the simultaneous Hey, mama, look at this!  and Watch me’s and Mama, I found a black widow. Can I keep it as a pet?

Yes, I have lots of those days.  But I get up and do it anyway.  I laugh with my kids and sometimes I cry with them.  We play and tease and romp and wrestle.  They fight for the seat next to me and each night finds my cheek covered in kisses, from the little ones all the way to my almost-men.

Because my beautiful children don’t realize I’m mediocre.  To them I am safety, security, a warm smile and unconditional love.  And that, my friends, is nothing short of exceptional….because God made it so while I was busy tallying up my flaws.

Flaws my children keep no record of.

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3 things i feel you should know about me

Taking a step back from blogging has made me realize a few things, some of them not so pretty.  The most concerning to me is that I’m not entirely sure I present myself in writing as I am in real life.  I’ve decided that I either need to hang up blogging or get back to my roots with authenticity.  Because as things stand right now, I have completely lost interest and have no desire to write from this platform.  Why?  Let me explain a few things you may not know about me from my writing…

A bin full of crumpled pieces of paper.

1) I’m a homeschooler but I have never been hard core about it.  Meaning I don’t feel that passion to induce others to follow my path.  Yes, I believe it affords my family an opportunity to grow in ways I’m not sure we could or would in another schooling scenerio.  But what I believe in is passionate parenting.  I believe in throwing our whole selves into loving and raising God-fearing children with a moral and spiritual compass firmly within their grasp as they step across the threshold into adulthood.  I have two friends, semi-locally, who choose homeschooling.  Two.  Every other of the friends around me has felt led to school in a more “traditional” environment.  But you know what strikes me?  These families take their job seriously.  They are fully invested in the task at hand.  And it is evident when we spend time with them that their hearts are knit together.  They certainly have more outside influence to deal with than we do as homeschoolers but they are dealing with it wisely.

The bottom line is, I believe in homeschooling.  I choose to stick with it because that is how we feel led to proceed.  It is the path we believe God has placed before us.  But it isn’t up to me to decide if it is the same path God has placed before others.  That puts me on the blogging fringe of some of the other conservative-minded homeschool bloggers (although I have never met with anything but kindness from them) and can create a bit of friction among readers.  I have no desire to be divisive but I feel almost dishonest not laying it out there.

2) I have 7 children and am about 3 1/2 months along with my 8th, but I have never managed to embrace that “quiverful” mindset.  I struggle through pregnancy and the older I get the more I struggle after pregnancy.  I firmly believe each baby is a blessing but I have spent more of my child-bearing years trying to prevent those blessings than waiting in anticipation for the next one to show itself in two pink lines.  My current pregnancy has already been riddled with emotion as I have gone swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other.  I am dealing with absolute fear.  I keep having to take those fears to His feet and I’m grateful to have friends, family and an AMAZING husband who remind me to keep my eyes on the big picture.  But while I get excited when I hear the heartbeat or feel those first flutterings of movement, I still have moments of doubt and fear.  I’m a work in progress and mostly the progress just feels awful slow.

3)  I’m not much of an activist.  I don’t typically launch a boycott and I don’t feel my hackles rise when I see news reports that only testify to the fact that we are sitting on the precipice of time…time that is running out.  Things are bad but we were told they were going to be.  The world at large is clueless and, for the most part, it seems perfectly content to remain so.  I detest evil and the evil workings of the dark one as much as the next girl, but my thought is that we should fight evil with good.  I don’t boycott Walmart because of the magazines that line the check-out and if a sweet little girl scout were to knock on my door with cookies, you can be pretty sure I’d hand over a few dollars to support her, not Planned Parenthood.  I have no problem with people following their honest to goodness convictions…in fact, I encourage it.  My issue comes when people look for things to be “convicted” about and then respond in ungoldly ways to unsuspecting people caught in the crossfire.  If I began to boycott every place that had unsavory ties I’d be left with pretty much nowhere to spend a dollar.  And for me (maybe not you) I don’t have the time to figure out who supports what in this world rapidly filling with evil.

So, as I timidly step a toe back into blogging, I wanted you to have a glimpse of what is inside my head and my heart.  And I’d love to hear your own thoughts.  I have absolutely no problem with people disagreeing with me, I just think it does all of us well to speak through a filter of love.

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week 8: r.y.b. fitness challenge

It’s the 8th and final week!  How are you doing?  I am so excited for everyone who has given this challenge all the effort they could muster, even when that effort has looked less than perfect.

Now it’s time for my confession.  Ugh.  I don’t love confessions.

I have been a miserable failure at the physical activity aspect of this challenge.  Seriously and without exaggeration.  But I have excuses. :)

We moved, which means I had to pack a house while still keeping it clean for showings.  And when we arrived at the new place, there were challenges awaiting me that we couldn’t have foreseen.  But I have an even bigger excuse reason.

I’m expecting my 8th child and I’ve been struggling with morning sickness for the past month and a half.  (I’m closing in on 3 months so I’m hoping to be beyond this soon!) I’ve been moderately active but not intentionally active and there is a huge difference.  I’m bummed because I told myself I was going to move even if I felt crummy.  I guess I lied to myself.

So here’s what I’m thinking.  We all need to use this challenge as a spring board to better health, spiritually and physically.  At the end of this week we need to not see this as over.  Grand prize winners will be chosen and the check-ins on the blog will be no more, but we can keep at it.

Change it up to meet your needs.  Set new goals and go for them!  Don’t settle for less than the best He has made you capable of!!

This week, instead of giving you a verse to ponder, dissect and memorize go ahead and choose one that speaks to you.  Find a theme verse for the direction you want to see yourself go from here.  I’d love to hear what you choose!

See you next week when we announce the grand prize winners!!

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week six: r.y.b. fitness challenge

It’s six already.  I’ve heard from so many of you that life had gotten in the way and kept you from continuing.  But I’ve also heard from those of you who, in spite of setbacks, have seen awesome physical progress, weight loss, stronger endurance and a more focused spiritual life.

That is what this is all about.

I don’t care where you are right now, I care where you are headed.  I want to see us all walking in the right direction…toward the light.

The spiritual challenge this week is to write out Romans 3:23-24 every day.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

I love these verses because they remind me I’m sinful and imperfect but I’m also redeemed right in the midst of my failure.  That gives me such hope!

Don’t give up.  And if you already have, jump back in.  It’s not about winning it’s about growing.

I’ve dropped the ball a bit here with the weekly prizes.  Two weeks ago, a winner was selected for a one month trial membership to Fit2B.  Last week, I never even chose a winner.  We moved, didn’t have internet and then got hooked up with a rather sketchy satellite version.  Then everything went downhill from there to the point that we’ve had to evacuate our new house until some major repairs are made making it safe and practical for us to return.  I apologize!  I plan to follow through and see to it that everyone gets their prize.  This week it’s a BicBand which are AWESOME!!!

I’m looking forward to hearing what you all have been up to!!

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