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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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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Raising Daughters Who Are Worthy of a Good Man

RH1

I’m raising five boys.  Three of them are already journeying through the teen years, but that part doesn’t scare me.  You know what does, though?

The fact that we’re inching ever nearer to the day they will be ready to consider marriage.

I’m not afraid of them marrying, exactly, but it’s a bit concerning when I look around and see a world full of young women who are terrifyingly bold and assertive.  Even more so, however, is the fact that girls are no longer being taught to respect themselves as the treasures they were created to be but are being encouraged to seek full and complete liberation from Biblical roles.

And this is not simply a “worldly” epidemic.  It is totally infiltrating the church from every corner.

I’m not impressed by the flesh-baring, egocentric, selfie-obsessed society I find myself raising children in.  Not impressed, yet it is my reality and it does me no good to sit and complain about what is or pining for what isn’t.  My time is much better spent helping my children navigate their way carefully toward what will be.

My hope and my prayer is that each of their will be’s include Jesus every step of the way.  Even the step that leads toward marriage, if one is in His respective plan for them.  But what kind of girl will be suited to walk beside my guys as they continue on in their faith experience?  As the mother of boys who is also raising girls, this is something I have thought about often.  Here are some critical components to their “princess” training we are striving for…

 

Join me over at Raising Homemakers for the rest of the article.

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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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because moms need to know they’re okay

pianohands

It was the middle of the dark night and I was sleeping alone, my husband tucked snug into his bunk at the station.  The bed felt cold and big and sleep was slow to come.  When it finally found me, it didn’t keep me long.

A little blonde head with big brown eyes and a raggedy teddy bear reach out a questioning hand to touch my face.  In the gentle glow from the night lantern I made out his tiny pale face and watched as he popped his thumb in his mouth, uncertain.

quinnandbear

He wanted in.  He wanted me.  He needed to be close and to know he was safe and to feel he was loved.

I reached out a sleep-weak arm and helped him climb up.

He settled in, snuggled up close.  I rested my chin on the top of his soft head, ready for sleep.  But then I felt his sweet mouth touch my cheek and heard the whispered words, I love you so much, Mama.  A moment later he was asleep.

But those words stole my tired.  They left me almost breathless with a racing heart.  And as I laid there listening to the gentle breathing of my contented child, it hit me.

He just flat loves me.  He doesn’t keep score of all the times I fail.  He doesn’t lie awake thinking how mama fed him cold cereal for supper, again.  He doesn’t cling to a grudge when I deny his request for pancakes and french fries.  And he isn’t horrified to find me sleeping in the same pajamas I’d worn all day.

His heart is pure and wide open.  And it needs me to fill those places only a mother can fill.

Imperfect mothers fill little boys hearts everywhere.  Working class mothers.  Single mothers.  Exhausted and cranky mothers.  Mothers with too much on their plates and mothers who feel they have no plate at all.  Mothers with stained clothes and stretched out underclothing.  Mothers who want a hot shower without frantic pounding on the door.

Just every kind of mother out there.

Me?  Well, I’m a little piece of all those mothers wrapped into one very inadequate woman who beats herself silly for not being more.

Because who needs enemies when you have those voices in your head, you know?  The ones who tell you to slow down and hurry up….like that mom over there.

Only that mom isn’t real.  She’s a badly photoshopped version of a mother without even one pretty little toe dipped in reality. Yet, we feel threatened by her.

She’s the shadow that chases us and the fuel behind the voices which tear us down until we give up.  Defeated.

We’re not good moms, we tell ourselves.  We’re terrible, horrible, selfish, impatient women who have been given a job we can’t fill.  We’re getting it all wrong and everybody knows it.  Everybody, that is, except our children.

Because they think we’re beautiful.  They love our smile more than anything in the world and the sound of our laughter is like tinkling bells of joy.  They thrive in our presence, especially when we slow down enough to catch the sparkle in their eye and their need to be noticed.

quinndimple

It’s like a flood of light pouring into my weary soul just to know I am loved so purely by another human.  To know that He’s standing in the gaps of my failure, not insisting I be flawless to win the heart of my precious child.

Weary from the battle I had just waged within my mind and soul, I felt myself give into sleep once again.  And as I caressed the sweet hand so warm in my own, I breathed the only prayer I could muster in that moment…

Thank you for making me his mom.

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3 ways to avoid raising youth who toss Christianity

The statistics are staggering.  The reality, heartbreaking.

Well-loved youth, brought up in the faith, are fleeing Christianity without so much as a backward glance.  And the parents who raised them with such expectancy are left to pick up the scattered pieces of hope and vision they once held tight to for their children.

Why?  Why does this happen?  These kids were brought up in youth group.  They were raised on communion bread .  They were baptized, fraternized and sermonized.  So why?

tosschristianity

I won’t pretend to have all the answers or that I don’t harbor a deep-seated fear that my own children will pack up their memories and walk off, shaking the dust from their boots as they go.  Because yes, I feel that, too.  But, there are tangible things we can do while raising our kids that drastically reduce the chances of them seeing our faith as an ill-fitting garment of hypocrisy.

Focus on raising God-fearing children, rather than good kids

Seems like the two might go hand-in-hand, right?  Wrong.  We, as parents, need to be shaken from our complacency.  We aren’t assigned the role of raising good kids.  Good kids grow up to be good adults who hold a steady job with a solid income to provide for their wife and the next generation of good kids.  

Godly kids grow up to change the world, one moment at a time.  

The difference is in how they were raised.  Parents raising good kids make excuses, allowances.  They offer indulgences such as, “Oh Johnny really shouldn’t have done that, but he’s young and impulsive.  He’ll grow out of it.”  However, parents of Godly kids seek after the heart, desiring to channel Johnny’s impulsive spirit into a finely tuned asset which ultimately advances the spread of the gospel.

Parents need to stop meeting over coffee to talk about their good kids.  We need to stop viewing our children’s willingness to attend church, youth group, mission trips, and the soup kitchen as sign enough that it is well with their souls.  We need to get serious about wearing out our knees for them, pleading with God for a life-changing transformation to catch hold of their hearts.  

They need conversion, plain and simple.  All that “good kid” jabber is meaningless if Christ isn’t planted firmly in the center of their being.  When conversion takes place, we won’t be left to sit and wonder.  We’ll see it and feel it and know it.  And it’ll change us, too.

 

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  Ephesians 4:22-24

 

God isn’t interested in lip service.  He wants whole-heart service.  He wants to see the old man thrown off.  Completely off.  This isn’t going to happen while soft-hearted parents are enabling their youth to cling to the fringes of that old man.  

 

Empower them to live for Christ

This means serious changes for most of us.  It means rejecting the notion that kids need to be coddled and pampered and stroked.  It means loving with the kind of love that isn’t about feel-good moments but rather chasing down the demons in their lives and evicting them.  Sometimes this kind of love hurts.  And it may well be the hardest thing you’ll ever be asked to do.

Because parenting isn’t about petting the sins of our children, treating them as though they’re an unwanted guest we hope will leave without ever taking offense.  Honestly, it’s okay to offend sin.  It’s not okay to offend God.  

Don’t mistake me here.  I’m not talking about becoming some Bible bruiser who steamrolls your kid into submission.  I’m talking about bathing them in the Word and pursuing their hearts with an unquenchable voracity.  It means discipling and disciplining with a firmness that’s generously laced with kindness.

There is no room for parental bullying here.  But there’s also no room for parental cowardice.

 

Equip them to make good decisions in a not-so-good world

Our kids will not be prepared for the onslaught of temptation if they have been flying on the coattails of our faith.  They need their own.  There will be no piggy-backing into eternity, and this includes children trying to gain entrance on the merits of their parents.

We paralyze our youth when we live their Christian experience for them.  When we allow them to go through the motions and consider it success that they do not rebel.  Rebellion can be silent, and that’s the deadliest kind.

As young people grow, they need to be equipped with decision-making skills.  They need to learn to snuff out the truth from the Bible, for themselves, and apply what they find there to their own lives.  This can get uncomfortable, though, and many parents see it as weakness to give a child some measure of control over their life.

But when we intentionally and prayerfully release them little by little, rather than letting them fly abruptly from the nest with unpracticed wings, we help them strengthen their own faith.  They find their own convictions while still safely within our fold.  

They learn to own their spiritual walk as dependency gradually shifts from the parents to the Creator.

This is as it should be.

There is no place for extremes if we’re seeking to raise God-fearing children into God-serving adults.  There is only balance, weighed perfectly by He who can set the scales even when we can’t.

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