Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Curriculum Chaos




Fellow homeschooling moms ... this post is for you. :)

Do you ever suffer from "homeschooling mom headache syndrome"? It can come and go at different times, but often in the spring one can especially be found suffering from this syndrome. Between the kids having spring fever and the curriculum catalogs piling up .... it can lead to total chaos for sure.

Obviously with having a graduate this year, we've been at this homeschooling journey awhile now. Wow, things have changed over the years! Not only are there different styles of homeschooling but about a bazillion dozen curriculum choices of each kind to choose from! Seriously craziness! OPTIONS are a WONDERFUL thing! Yet, if they take all the joy and focus out of the journey then sometimes they end up as nothing more than additional stumbling blocks.

As I wade through our current family dynamics, kids' needs and various options I've found myself thinking on these things to keep me grounded:

  • There is no one "right" curriculum. {it really is true, moms!!!}

  • There is no one "right" method of homeschooling. {I know, those catalogs can have you believing otherwise, can't they?!?!}

  • God knows my kids' needs even better than I do. {Perhaps then I should be including him HIGHLY in the decision-making process.}

  • I need to NOT focus on what everyone else is doing and find a good fit for my current family dynamics. {repeat 3 times so it fully sinks in}

  • It is OK if I do things different from how I did them with my older kids. {shakes head still trying to embrace that}

  • Character training should always remain at the top of my priority list. {Might as well embrace the teaching moments, cuz they are most important for the long-haul.}

  • Not every year will look the same. {more accurate - NO year will look the same}

I'm still thick in the decision-making process. What a blessing it is to have so many homeschooling friends around the globe to gather insight from. I'm trusting that the Lord will help me wade through all the curriculum chaos and show me His will for this next year for the kiddos He has entrusted to my care. I want so much to not lose sight of the big picture and what matters for eternity.

Feel free to share in the comments about your own journey! I would love to hear what has been a blessing for your family and why.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

His Resurrection Power


As we reflect on Christ's death and anticipate celebrating the resurrection, I can't help but think about the times that I have needed God's working in my own life.


The same God who raised Jesus from the dead is the SAME God who has the power to move mountains in your own life. He is the one who longs for you to call him Father. He is the one who knows about your deepest needs. He is the one who cares about the dark places in your life that you can't share with others. He is the one who is able to HEAL the broken places. He is the one who RESTORES. He is the one who is able to breathe NEW LIFE into areas that were once dead.

What areas of your life are you needing to trust Him for that kind of power? Do you have a struggling child and you aren't sure what to do? Are you in the midst of financial hardships that are crushing in hard on you? Does your heart ache about things you can't share even with the closest of friends right now? Do you wonder if there will ever be breakthrough in your marriage? Are you trying to wade through the overwhelming journey of adoption, mixed with all the obstacles that come with it? Is the diagnosis not what you had hoped and prayed for?

Sometimes when we don't see God act quickly we find ourselves shaken and wondering if He's really there after all. Oh, we believe and know He's there, because His Word says so ...... but the day in and day out struggles of the journey can cause us to be tempted to doubt. To lose hope. To wonder where He is.

It's during those times we need to remember His power. And we need to choose to TRUST Him and WAIT for Him.

Acts 2:24-28

"But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death,

because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him

David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest in hope,

because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,

you will not let your holy one see decay.

You have made known to me the paths of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence.’"

As you celebrate the resurrection tomorrow, may you be encouraged to remember that your Father ... the one who raised Jesus from the dead is the same Father who cares so much for you, as well. He cares about the burdens you carry and the dark places of your life. Just as Jesus laid down His life at the cross for us, may we also lay our burdens down. May we ask God for the courage to truly LAY THEM DOWN. And then may we wait in HOPE and watch for Him to work His resurrection power. We must realize that it could be we'll see that come to pass here on this earth ... and we might not see it 'til we are with Him in glory. Giving Him control does not mean we'll get our way with things, but it DOES mean that we can rest in fellowship with Him and enjoy His presence and joy. Nothing can keep us from His great love.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Few Food Thoughts



Why is it that so many issues in parenting revolve around food? Maybe it's because we typically eat three times a day and for littles you generally throw in a couple light snacks. Yesterday I shared the big "Picky Eater Cure-All", but today I want to address other areas where food is involved and stress can be triggered for all involved. :)

Let's start with Littles. Moms of littles know that meal time can be challenging. Usually the tension begins during preparation time. During our years of raising wee-ones, we often lived in very small places. Little ones didn't really have anywhere to go during meal prep except under your feet! :) I would usually place youngest in the high chair so he could see what I was doing. That solved a lot right there! I'd hand over extra measuring cups, spoons, etc. for him to play with while I cooked. In addition, there would most generally be bits and pieces of what I was cooking that would land on his tray. :) Pieces of chopped carrot, half a banana, apple slices, small bits of cheese, avocado pieces, handful of frozen peas or rinsed black beans .... all of these choices serve as a GREAT little "snack" for your observer. I hear so much talk about "don't give your kids too many snacks, it will ruin their dinner". Well, I suppose that's true if you're only handing out bagged potato chips and chocolate chip cookies! :) But if you offer your young child something healthy think of it as the best appetizer on the block! You just gave them a jump-start in a nutritious meal, kept them safe & snug in their high chair and thinned out a bit of the commotion while you round up dinner for the rest of the crew! Keeping junior safe up in the high chair also allows for your other kids to get involved in the kitchen helping out with no one dropping a knife on Jr's head when they are learning to slice carrots for the family! :)

What about restaurants? For our family, going to a restaurant is a BIG deal. During the years hubby was in Bible college our oldest three were all very young. Getting to eat out was a HUGE treat. (and yes, I'm talking even McD's - big deal it was!) For us, our time out was a whole lot more about enjoying a tremendous blessing than it was making sure everyone ate their veggie quota. Our kids were getting lots of nutritious meals at home and knew very well that what was being served (at home) was what was going to be entering their tummies! ... whether that meant it took one, two, or three meals to accomplish it. :) Trust me, one of our children tried! For our family, going out to a restaurant meant you got to choose what you wanted to order. Isn't that what a restaurant is for? NOT Mommy's kitchen. :) We would determine ahead of time what the choices would be (sometimes splitting a regular meal two ways for young kids was cheaper than two over-priced kids meals that didn't contain enough food to fill up our growing boys!) It was fun to watch the anticipation as they went over their options and made their selection and got to request their meal from the waiter. I realize that was lots of "theirs" in that sentence. But truly, that was a BIG deal! Mom didn't run a 24/7 restaurant at home. It was a big treat to choose their fave food, just as it should be.

What about snack time? We have to remember as moms that our little ones have LITTLE tummies. This means they are going to need to eat more often than we do. That doesn't mean they need to fill up on junk in-between meals. For our K and under crowd we have a mid-morning snack and a small after nap snack. Mid-morning snack consists generally of a piece of fruit or a handful of baby carrots. For the smaller ones we split a large piece of fruit. This is a great time for your kids to pick a fave. You might notice some of your kids are more veggie or more fruit eaters. Guess what?, both are healthy! This is a great time to get to pick one. :) NOT during the bigger meal times when mom (or other sibling) has worked hard at preparing a meal for the whole family. My one daughter sometimes won't wake up until really close to supper time. She still gets her "snack". I have no fear it's going to "ruin" her supper. A piece of fruit or some carrot sticks are actually just a jump start for her on that meal. :) I encourage moms to not look at snacks as being a "bad" thing. Truly they aren't if you're not just serving up junk.

What to drink? We started long ago serving water at our meals, except for breakfast. I truly believe this was one of the major keys in our kids being good eaters. They weren't filling up on sugary juices or kool-aid or whatever else was served, so they had plenty of room for some good food. Now if we're having pizza with friends or a special company night, we will often serve a different beverage. Our kids know they get one glass (and they are small) and after that it's water. Obviously my teen guys bump up to adult sizes/portions of everything. ;) I'm mostly talking to moms of littles here. For breakfast our kids would drink milk or juice, depending on what is being served. Now obviously moms of babies this would look differently. I can't tell you how many children I have seen stick up their noses to the thought of drinking WATER. I blows my mind! Our bodies NEED water! Shocking bit of reality here folks, children are dying all over the country because of a LACK of good, clean water. We really should wake up. I should probably add here, that's also what our kids drink between meals. Simple. Water. :) Our children are typically always ready for meal time, because they aren't filled up on only junk in-between.

I was out with my husband and littles the other night doing some errands. The older boys were at a 4H meeting. I received a text from oldest saying ... "could we have some ice cream"? I wrote back ... "sure". Next text ... "okay, thanks!". I paused for a moment and realized, they really "get it"! They understand that food is something to be appreciated. EXTRAS like ice cream and fun desserts and the occasional junk food set out when friends come over .... those don't just all fall from the sky! Someone works very hard to help provide for those. I think many times we're doing our kids a HUGE dis-service in the area of food.

Now that my first batch of "littles" have grown up and are all teenagers they've moved up in the ranks a bit. There are times after the little ones go to bed that we hang out with our teens and enjoy some ice cream. Let's face it, it's cheaper than going out to the big DQ! We can't afford to treat our kids often to over-priced ice cream joints, but we CAN bless them at home at times and when it doesn't happen every day it truly is a blessing. I've been known once in awhile to "accidentally" not put mushrooms one one section of pizza for one son in particular. This is my son who learned that eating vegetable beef soup was MUCH more tasty for supper than for breakfast! We all have favorites. God made each of us unique. But we've taken that WAY too extreme in our selfish, over-indulgence culture!!!!! We need to raise our children up knowing how to be grateful for what is provided.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Picky Eater Cure-All



Before we get started, let me just say that if you're perfectly content having picky eaters, this post is NOT for you! :) You might as well go click to another site. Perhaps you enjoy meal-time battles or enjoy cooking 12 different entrées each meal just so each member of your fam will eat something. Again, if that is you, please don't bother reading any further. :) But, if you sincerely want to pretty much rid of the whole picky eater issue ..... then read on and find out the simple cure. It truly is a pretty simple issue.

NOTE: THIS IS NOT ADVICE FOR A CHILD NEW TO YOUR FAMILY (ex., through adoption).

Are you ready? Honestly, it isn't rocket-science! We're talking e-l-e-m-e-m-t-e-r-y simple! Here goes.

Brace yourself.

Hungry children will eat.

Let me repeat that, in case you missed it. It truly is SO simple.

HUNGRY CHILDREN WILL EAT.

There ya have it. What I like to refer to as the "picky eater cure-all".

Now, where it gets complicated is tearing yourself (and your child) out of the "I don't like it" rut of self-indulgence. Yes, I said, tearing yourself. One of the main things I've observed over the years in watching picky eaters is this .... "usually" the picky-eater being looked upon also has a mom or a dad who is a picky eater. Now, there could be rare exceptions, but I'm being honest here. It's only what I've observed time and time again.

So, if you're like me you like the practical ... and are wondering how this is lived out.

Read on.

Mealtime:

Each member of the family is served dinner, including a portion of each item the 'cook' has prepared. THANKS is given for even having a meal to eat. Small children receive child-size portions of each item. Everyone eats. Ta-da! Simple.

But, if you're like our family, it might not have always gone quite that simple. We've had a couple over the years that could have easily won on the 'picky eater' mentality. One child in particular who gave amazing effort in claiming war. :) Every time we went back to the "cure-all".

What was it again?

HUNGRY CHILDREN WILL EAT.

We refused to make a mountain-sized issue out of it. That totally ruins mealtime for everyone. So what do you do? Take the meal, cover it, place in fridge. The next meal that rolls around .... remove meal from fridge, reheat and with a joyful attitude give the child the meal. Here are a few things you do NOT do!

1) Do NOT make the child anything else to eat!

2) Do NOT provide a snack between failed meal and when the meal is re-offered. (if child says they are hungry, remind them their meal is in fridge and let them know you'd be happy to heat it up for them)

3) Do NOT back down. Even if it takes three mealtimes for breakthrough. (I've been there, I know!) They MUST see you follow through. It likely will have to happen only a very few select times and the battle will be forever over, because they will KNOW you mean it.

4) Do NOT beg/whine/plead on the issue. It's simple. HUNGRY CHILDREN WILL EAT. Wait for hunger to occur.

You see, #4 is the key thing. MOST of our kids have hardly EVER felt REAL hunger! Oh, sure, they say things like .... "Mom, I am HUNGRY!". But they really do not know what deep hunger means. When real hunger comes, a human will eat.

Here are a few additional helpful hints especially if this is new to you.

a) Start with SMALL portions of each item. In our home, everyone is required to take a small portion of each item served. Once they have eaten they are welcome to request seconds. This is a HUGE help for small children. If they only received 3 bites of each item and they are really more hungry than nine bites total, they are gonna clean up that plate and ask for more. You are helping them to establish variety instead of filling up on a BIG pile of fave food leaving little to no hunger to try and choke down least fave item they left sitting on their plate. :) (you can increase portion size as they mature in the process)

b) If this is new to you, have a family meeting and inform the children of the change. This truly goes for ALL of parenting. There are times we have to adjust. It is OK to say ... "things are going to be different, here are the new rules". HELLO! :)

c) Get your kids involved in meal planning and preparation!!! It is completely NORMAL to have favorite foods! I didn't say your kids will LOVE each food, but they will eat if hungry. If Johnny is having a hard time eating spaghetti on Tuesday, he'll be encouraged to remember that Wednesday is the night for his FAVE dish of tacos! GREAT incentive for Johnny to eat on Tues!, cuz by now he KNOWS he will NOT enjoy Wed's meal until Tue's meal is gone.

You might be asking WHY? What is the issue with being a picky eater in the first place? It's really a reflection of the heart. Are we grateful to even have a meal? Have we stopped to think that many do not have one? That is reality. And if you think that's just some silly line your parents use to say to you to "guilt" you in to clearing your plate then STOP and think AGAIN. For MANY .... that is R-E-A-L-I-T-Y. Teaching your children to appreciate what is prepared can be a great blessing for them in the future. What if God calls your child to serve in a foreign country and be around foods very unfamiliar to them? What is your child grows up to serve in the military and needs to learn to live on "pre-packaged" MRE's? I've been told those are not like home-cookin'. :)

Mealtimes can be such a great time in our day! Ours have not always been. Just recently I was told by a certain person in my family they were going to refuse to eat even if it took til death. You can imagine my shock, since this is the same child that lost the battle YEARS ago. Sometimes that little thing called "hormones" can rally up strange things. He got a fresh lesson in gratefulness for even having a meal. :) I should add here that said child is also an amazing cook! And I anticipate him never serving mushroom pizza to us when it's his turn to cook. :) I'm ok with that.





Wednesday, April 13, 2011

WHY???


WHY???????? If you're a momma of littles, or have ever been a momma of littles you've heard the question. Sometimes it comes out of their mouths at the most inopportune times as well. There have definitely been many occasions of hearing that short little word during my mothering journey.

At times though, I find MYSELF saying that word. Sometimes there is nothing else TO say. There are times my heart shatters and I have to wonder WHY.

WHY are so many families racing around frazzled and frantic with their children going from this activity to that when SO MANY OTHER children are sitting, waiting, wondering if anyone will care that they don't have a mom or a dad that can take care of them?

WHY are we SO far removed from the reality of orphans?

WHY do we care more about our possessions than we do about the poor?

WHY are we more consumed with our careers than we are with caring for those who have nothing?

WHY does the average teen pay more for a prom dress than it takes to feed a family for a month or more that is dying of hunger?

WHY are we not teaching the youth of our nation what it means to sacrifice for the sake of others who have greater needs than they have ever known?

WHY do children sit waiting in our country in foster care because of the color of their skin or their special need?

WHY do we rush our own kids to the doctor with an irritating snotty nose, but do NOTHING to help provide medicine for those suffering with HIV in other countries?

WHY are we so unaware of those that don't even have clean water to drink? ... instead many of our children whine if there is 'only water' to drink.

I realize the word can be irritating!!! I've been asked WHY many a time by my own young children. But for a moment ....... maybe we should consider the other "WHY's". The ones that should pierce the heart, bring conviction and cause us to act.

Perhaps like me you feel the buzz of Easter approaching. You might be thinking about what your children will wear to church and if little Susie has a new spring dress that fits. What about who is fixing the big dinner? Or coordinating a fun egg hunt.

As we approach Resurrection Sunday it's a perfect time to sit and ponder and consider the question "WHY". WHY are we celebrating? WHY did Jesus give His life for you and for me?

I don't know about you, but when I spend time thinking about my own sin and the weight of it all and consider what Jesus has done for me .... I cannot help but to think about the "WHY's".

Lord, help me to respond to the "WHY's" around me. Help me to answer them with my actions. Give me your perspective Lord .... an eternal perspective. Show me how to truly love, as you have loved me. Thank you, Father, that you reached in to my heart and didn't let go four years ago. Thank you for causing me to lose sleep until I let go of fear to follow you. I'm so grateful that my little girl is no longer sitting and waiting for someone to respond. I ache for those that still are. Help me to know my place in making a difference in the "WHY's" that surround me.




Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Encouraging our Husbands Podcast



Last week I had the privilege to share with two wonderful groups of moms about "Encouraging our Husbands". It definitely wasn't a "feel good" topic, but rather a message to spur us on to be the wives God has called us to be. The Lord has been working in my heart in this area for a very long time. Part of the struggle is that it totally goes against what the world and our culture tells us every day! After the message we gathered at tables to discuss and share over some questions. We can't be the wives God has called us to be on our own strength. We must depend on the Lord. That is something I need to daily remember. I wanted to share here for far-away-friends that might be looking for a little encouragement.

You can hear the podcast here.
And below is the outline we used that might be helpful as you listen. Oh, and this message is pretty much just for women. ;)

Encouraging our Husbands

Shelly Roberts

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Definition of encourage:

Definition of DIScourage:

Romans 15:4-6 (New International Version, ©2011)

4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

NOTES: