Friday, December 30, 2016

Just say no!


I rarely say a solo "no", it always comes with a long explanation to which one child finds a solution to why we should do it anyways. The arguing begins, it isn't always whining. It disguises itself as problem solving, logical thinking and them offering to help so I don't have to do everything. Ya know, things you want your children to do. So I typically let the decision change along with my "no". I don't say "no" without an explanation or with the tagline "because I said so"...those words are scream inducing in our house. I don't want to hear the screams, trip over the little people that throw themselves on the floor or have to discipline the whiny arguing.

So instead I create confusion but not giving clear answers. I respond with...

"Maybe later"
"We will ask daddy"
"If everyone cleans their room"
"I'll think about it"
"After I finish my work we can talk about it."

I hope that through my ambiguity they will forget. That something will distract them. I give them two choices for lunch and when they say they would like chicken nuggets instead. I say "fine" and turn on the oven because then maybe they will be happy, maybe they will eat lunch without a fight and I will be able to sit the whole time I am eating instead of getting up to get them 5 things. (I have a problem saying "no").

The answer might seem easy to you. In black and white the problem appears a little more obvious to me. But standing in my kitchen with a mop in my hand, the dryer beeping, a 4 year old painting, a three year old clinging to my leg and the 6 year old asking me to read him a book the answer gets complicated. It's  emotional and relational to me. I can play Devils advocate well. This throws me into a back and forth reviewing everyone's perspective, needs, opinions and desires. It makes prioritizing very difficult because for each person's need or perspective there is a different top priority.

When there is quiet, I can think more clearly. I can foresee problems (like leaving a bucket of mop water in the kitchen while I go read in the living room). When I think ahead I can fit more of each person's needs AND desires into a day. But this also makes the times I need to say "no"more obvious.

When I say "no" I help them (and me) understand what there is time for and not time for. When they hear the word more often it becomes more familiar to not get what they want, to learn patience or experience disappointment. We all have less dramatic reactions  to that word when it isn't a shock.
I want to say "no" more often because it creates time and space to be intentional. It allows me more of a choice with what I say "yes" to and that is what I want to say most!!!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Holiday Survival: make room for a mess!


During the routines of life there are many things we all feel we miss out on. As a homeschool mom I focus our school time on math, reading, and writing. With a kindergartener and a first grader their attention span doesn't reach much further than those and once those are completed each day we need some free time to run, read books, be loud, clean the house, eat, and give the 3 year old some more focused attention. In a normal day the tasks alone can overshadow larger projects, or something as simple as sitting down and playing a game together. The past few months I have been sad about the lack of crafts, science experiments and family free play time.

We need time and space to be creative. It cannot happen in scheduled increments.

When the holidays come around everyone's schedules change and for most of us that can feel stressful. I have more food to make and it is more complicated and time consuming. If you don't homeschool or your kids are still at home this is the same for you. Your kids are now home for more hours or they are little and can't occupy themselves while you make an entire feast for thirty. There are more people around and more places to go.

This December we are taking 2 weeks off of school and my husband is home for most of that. We have lots of down time and project time and our schedules are topsy turvy. I desperately wanted to enjoy this season and rest well and play well with the change in our schedule. I wanted us to experience rest and joy as a family.

My kids always ask to paint. I pull it all out 2 or 3 times a month and let them get messy and then clean it up and try to plan time in our schedule or peace in my head to allow for the mess again weeks later.

But this year, I allowed space for the mess. We didn't need our dining room table for a fancy dinner or as a school desk. So it became the craft zone. I didn't walk in and pick up. I in fact didn't go in unless asked by one of the kids. I didn't have an agenda for what they had to create. IT was free zone. There were scissors, glue (I did check the glue caps periodically), water colors, construction paper, crayons, colored pencils and my son's foam building kit strewn EVERYWHERE!!!! It was on the floor, the chairs, drying on the window sill. They were pouring salt on water color to change the effect. IT was a total mess. But, they had so much joy. They were in there for hours each day for 4 days! They created things I didn't know they were capable of. They invented things and crafted in ways I couldn't have devised on Pinterest. They had complete freedom and I had complete joy.

Sometimes, holidays are for doing less laundry, less sweeping, more microwaved Leftovers!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day 7: The gift of Family and Community

Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

Galatians 3:26 “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith”

Genesis 2:18 “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’”

Family is a group of people that share a house or a last name. They love each other, they celebrate together, they cry together and they help each other. When that family doesn’t live in the same house or share a name but they still love and celebrate, cry and help each other we call them a community. A group of people living life together for the same purpose. When we live around people in our community who love God and we work together to serve God and love each other our family and our community start to become one.
God longs for us to love each other well. To dwell in unity means to work harder at loving each other and making peace then fighting over what you want that is different. In families and communities we learn to help each other, we learn to take care of others and we learn to let others help us. We learn that our way isn’t always the best way. We learn how to work as a team and not to tell other people what to do, we learn to share, to live and to love. It is hard but when we do this well God promises it is good.
Living in community allows us to use our strengths to serve people. Are you good at everything? Does your mom and dad do the same things or do they do different things? In a family we tend to take on different roles or different tasks? Our family is created so differently. Who takes out the trash? Who helps mom with cooking or folding laundry? We work together but without one of us things look different. If daddy isn’t home for dinner there is less focus.  If sister is tired and fussy everyone is fussy with her. If mommy is stressed out then it creates disorder. But when one person is excited about taking the trash out it becomes an adventure we all do together. When one person wants to help we become an unstoppable team! Some of us are good at math, some of us love to snuggle up and read, some of us our great painters, adventure seekers, vision builders, team builders, instigators, lovers, silly story tellers.  Because God created us individually we can take the specific talents he gives us and use them as part of a group when we live in a family and a community. We have to work together.

Family and Community are gifts from God. They are gifts that help us, love us, celebrate with us and remind us of truth. When God created Adam in the Garden of Eden he saw that we needed relationships with others. It was not good for us to be alone all of the time. Our family and our community is a way God shows us love and takes care of us!

*For information on this Advent devotional or additional days please email

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day 6: The gift of Rest

Psalm 23:1-4 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads be beside still waters. He restores my soul.”

What makes you tired? Is it too many people, playing outside all day, helping mom pick up toys or sad things happening in your life? God created rest; a break from work, a time to enjoy what He has given you and a place to be quiet. Rest looks different for everyone. It might look like cuddling up with your blanket and taking a nap after lunch. It might be playing cars in your room by yourself or snuggling with daddy and reading a book in his comfy chair. For most of us rest is quiet.
God created our bodies to need rest. He created us to sleep at night so that our food could digest, so that our brains could save memories of what we did during the day and He gave us rest so that we could recharge to have energy to play, eat, obey, dance and work.

When we are sad or mad God even can give us rest from that. He wants us to run to Him and cry so that He can give us rest from our sadness! He is the only one who can do that! When you learn to trust that God can do all things, that He created all things and He has authority and makes the rules for all things then you are able to trust Him. When you trust God you have rest because you know you are loved. You know that someone cares about you being safe, being listened to and growing. You do not have to close your eyes and stretch your head up high to grow-God will grow your body. You do not have to make people love you-God already does!

We are workers. It is good for us to work. It helps us learn to think, it teaches us to be helpers, to love and serve people. Work can be hard and through hard work we learn lots about ourselves. We also see our need for Jesus when we work hard. We cannot be patient on our own, we are sometimes very tired and have to trust that God will give us energy to finish the work. But we can be hard workers because God has provided a break. Just as when you finish cleaning your room you get to swing outside or after soccer practice there is a juice box waiting for you God has given us the gift of rest. Rest can be us sleeping but it can also be something that is fun. Rest can be a walk in your neighborhood or painting a picture. Rest is something that reminds you how much God loves you. It reminds you that He will provide for you and that He gives you life. Rest allows you to laugh, to play, to trust God and to wake up and work again.

Continue the Conversation:
Snuggle with your kids and read to them
Play the quiet game: Whoever can walk from the kitchen sink to the table the quietest wins, whoever can tell me the color of my eyes the quietest wins, etc.
Lay in bed with your kids at night and scratch their back or sing them a song and show them how resting and being quiet can be enjoyable

Read Along:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Day 5: The gift of Food

Genesis 1:29 “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”

Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

What is your favorite food? Think of the food you want for your birthday dinner or every time your mom lets you pick. Is it a delicious pile of dirt? Or a huge bowl of rocks? Or maybe some paper? NO?! What about a cold, juicy orange or a salty olive or a sweet apple or a crunchy carrot? Yes?!

God made those oranges and apples and carrots. The Bible says God made them for you! God is the Giver. He made them because just as your mom and dad want to take care of you and give you things you need God wants to give you what you need too. Your mom and dad give you food you enjoy, your favorite toy or a hug because they love you. God loved you first and He gives because He loves. He wants to provide for you! So when God was creating the earth He created plants that we can eat. He created trees that grow food. He created strawberries, broccoli, and apples for us to eat so we would not be hungry. What are some of your favorite foods that grow in the ground or on trees?
God could have made food boring. Food that didn’t look pretty, that wasn’t a bright color and that tasted like nothing. He could have made all food the color black and squishy like soggy cereal. He didn’t! He created all different foods and plants so that we could enjoy the taste and sight. He gave us a gift that we needed but made it something beautiful and interesting and appealing. We give gifts to bring people joy, to show them we love them and to help them and that is exactly how God gives gifts too!
How do you feel when someone gives you a gift? Do you feel happy? Do you get excited to see a present with bright paper wrapped up and a big bow around it? Do you shake the box to see what might be inside? Well, God wanted us to enjoy His gift of food. He wrapped it in bright colors so it was pretty to look at it. He made it different shapes and sizes so it was interesting to look at. He made it bumpy, smooth, hard and soft. He made it taste sweet or tangy or salty so we would enjoy it’s flavor. What color is your favorite fruit or vegetable? God delights in you and He wants to give you gifts to enjoy. He gave you a gift you needed so you would have energy to play, to learn, to grow and to celebrate. But He made it something to enjoy so you would enjoy the giver, the creator of the food, the creator of the plants and trees…the God who created you and gave you the gift of food!
Continue the conversation:
Make Christmas cookies and have your children give them as gifts.
Talk about the colors and textures of produce while you are at the grocery.

Let your kids pick what is for dinner.

Just Say “No”

             I have been there…that place where you say ‘yes’ to everything because you are trying to just survive. You are trying t...