Breakfast Tray and Kitchen Caddy {Flash Sale}

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

From now until March 29, Mary & Martha is having an awesome FLASH SALE on some great items — perfect for Mother’s Day!

These are exclusive to Mary & Martha and they come in three combinations. Choose one or choose all — you can get one for a friend (or your mom) and get one for yourself. Only while supplies last!

The Breakfast Tray $20 (Retail $74)

The Kitchen Caddy $30 (Retail 38)

The Breakfast Bunch Bundle $45 for BOTH items (Retail $112)

This sale is only good through March 29, 2015 or while supplies last.

Bless a mom this Mother's Day!  Breakfast Bunch Bundle from Mary & Martha. Good Through March 29 or while supplies last.

Kitchen Caddy - a best seller! A great addition for your kitchen, or homeschool supplies! {Only $30 through March 29th or while supplies last.}

Mary & Martha is having a fabulous FLASH sale. Only through March 29 or while supplies last (and these won't last long).


The Breakfast Tray $20 (Retail $74)

The Kitchen Caddy $30 (Retail 38)

The Breakfast Bunch Bundle $45 for BOTH items (Retail $112)

This sale is only good through March 29, 2015 or while supplies last.

A Day in My Life as a Homeschool Mom

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

So, about a month ago, I shared I was working on a project. Before I continue, I want to make certain this project will be worthwhile. I’m compiling a collection of my days as a homeschooling, work-at-home mom of seven. A real-life picture inside our home. Is a booklet of these compilations something that would interest you?

Here is an example of one of my days…I would LOVE your feedback. What would you like me to talk more about in such days? More details? More focus on specific parts of our days?

A Day in the Life of a Homeschool Mom

Of course I moaned at my husband’s alarm clock going off at 7:30am. I just didn’t want to get up. I told my husband I may as well turn my 5:00am alarm off because I never get up to it anyways.

Oh but how I want to! I dream of waking up before the sun rises, sipping my coffee, reading my Bible, and being fully alert when my children begin to wake up for the day.

But that’s just not reality. Instead, my 18-month old Great Dane finishes the task of making sure I’m awake by making her way to my bedside and licking my face (yes, she’s that tall).

My 4-year old comes in asking me if I can cut his waffles. I smile at him and tell him I’ll be right there, but inside I’m groaning. My feet haven’t even hit the floor yet and the day’s demands have begun.

I don’t even make it out of my room before I hear crying. My seven year old, Jeremiah, ran his hand into the wall as he tripped going up the stairs. Poor guy! No doubt, he was probably running, as most my kids do when they need to get from point A to point B.

I check it out and make sure he’s OK. The three of us make it down the stairs and we all get through breakfast. Well, I don’t actually eat breakfast that early. I usually wait until 11am to cook up some eggs and toast for myself. But, I tend to play referee where needed and help small children pour juice.

I start the coffee pot and begin putting random items away as I come across them in my path. The routine in the morning is pretty much the same. The children have their morning chores and I continuously prompt them to get them done. I’ve made each child a schedule and put it on their very own clipboard, but still, the prompting is needed.

I remind myself, this is their training ground. When they grow up and move out, they will learn they will need to be their own boss in order to keep their homes tidy. I also try to remember that I was a child once, too, who didn’t like to remember to do her chores.

So, we work through math, which, with 7 children, takes all morning. We didn’t even finish my eleven year old’s lesson because it was simply too long for one day. So, we will finish it up tomorrow.

So I make a quick lunch of eggs and toast and some of the children go downstairs to play. I start to think ahead to dinner with dread. I’ve never been good at menu making, despite all the wonderful tools available. Tonight two of my girls have dance class and it falls right at dinner time. It’s always difficult to juggle.

It’s not long before a fight breaks out downstairs and I hear yelling, screaming, and crying. I sigh deep. Why can’t my children see the value of their relationship over such trite issues? Oh, right. They’re just children. So, I send the offenders to their beds so they can both calm down and regroup.

For the next hour the children kind of scatter and tend to their own interests. One is drawing with chalk pastels, another writing a book about firefighters, a few playing dolls, one working on a Word Search. Then it’s time for quiet time. One hour for the children to read in their beds and for me to write.

Some days this hour goes smoothly and other days there is more correcting than time that is actually quiet. Today is a mix. This time allows everyone a little space to breathe again, including me.

After we conclude quiet time, everyone wants a snack and then a few children want to pull out the chalk pastels. For the older children, this activity is great! For my four year old, not so much. He makes quite a mess! But, I let him indulge anyways.

I still don’t know what we’re doing about dinner. While the children are engaged again, I sit down and do some VA (virtual assistant) work for a couple clients. Then we prepare to leave for dance. We have to leave by 5pm and won’t return until about 7pm.

As I’m driving home from dance, I’m still mulling over in my head what we’re going to do for dinner. We have some frozen chicken patties and tater tots I can put in the oven. Easy peasy and everyone’s full.

The children do their evening chores and routine and are in bed by 8:30pm. Today is one of those rare days I feel like collapsing. Maybe it’s because the two weeks prior of sickness throughout the family finally caught up to me.

I put my husbands dinner in the oven and work on some more VA work. Then we turn on Netflix and complete our night vegging. We actually head to bed early this night; 10:30pm. I drift off wondering if this is the way I want to live the rest of my life. (Yes, I am a thinker).

Do I really want to go through each day with the tunnel vision of merely checking things off my list and schedule? How can I truly make the most of this life? How can I be more eternally minded? I admit, my time in the Word has been sorely lacking. Why is it so hard to open it again after it’s been some time? It feels like repelling magnetic fields; a tug between my flesh and my spirit.

No two days are exactly alike, but that’s what this particular day looked like.

The U.S. Desk Atlas by GeoMatters {Review and Giveaway!}

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Geography Resource


We are fans of Geography in my home. We have two large maps hanging on our wall; one for the United States and one World map. They are great for a quick “go to” when we need to locate something.

With the homecoming of our adopted daughters from Africa, it only seemed fitting to do a State notebook project to help them become more familiar with the State names, locations, capitals and other tidbits of information.

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for my time and given a free copy of the Desk Atlas of the United States from GeoMatters. All opinions are my own.

U.S. Desk Atlas

We have really enjoyed utilizing the Desk Atlas of the United States from GeoMatters. It is bright, colorful, informative and great for students ages seven and up.

As my children work through the The Trail Guide to U.S. Geography, created for use with this atlas, they learn how to label maps, to find things on a map, and what the different symbols and lines mean on a map. It has been so fun watching my children work through this project.

Christina Desk Atlas

Once I started my older three children on the project, two of my other children were interested enough to ask to join in. The Trail Guide to U.S. Geography comes in three different levels so I was able to accommodate them all!

Simple and Fun

I think the best part for me, as a homeschooling mom of seven, is that my children thoroughly enjoy and look forward to this project each week, and it is self-explanatory and independent. So I only need to give them their sheets, and they are off doing their own research. It’s a win-win for us both.

Children Doing Map Work

Aside from being used for our State Notebooking project, it’s an excellent go-to resource to find information. My twelve year old daughter likes to create her own stories and often does research to create her settings and that was the first thing she used the Desk Atlas for. She loves the detail it offers on each of the States; something she has been unable to find in any other atlas or resource we own.

Gabriella Atlas Work

On a personal note, I would like to point out that I love the detail the pages of this atlas offers. The water colored postcards of an important part of each state is really unique and adds a special touch. The State quarters in the corner of each page is fun, too. I remember when I was a senior in high school, was when they started coming out with these State quarters.

Margaret Atlas Work

While each two-page spread is set up with the same format, every single one is quite unique.

Two Page Spread Desk Atlas

Make learning about the United States simple, fun, and personal for your kids with the Desk Atlas of the Unite States.


All my readers get 25% off the Desk Atlas of the United States with code: 25OFF

If you buy the Desk Atlas Bundle, you get 50% off AND FREE shipping. (No coupon code necessary) Folks, this is a great deal for these resources. They will make a GREAT addition to your homeschool.

Follow GeoMatters:



We are giving away a Desk Atlas Bundle!! Woot!




Spring Clean Your Heart and Home

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Spring Clean Bundle All books with notes

Most of us do a little spring cleaning in our homes, but have you considered that sometimes our hearts could also use a little freshening up? Just like a breath of fresh air, this bundle will help infuse life directly into your heart and home.

Valued at $138, we’re offering this Spring Clean eBundle to you for only $14.74! That’s an 89% discount!

And at just $0.73 per book, it’s a deal you won’t want to miss. From video courses to organization guides to fun printables, this bundle is sure to have you feeling motivated and inspired as you spring clean.

Homemaking Image

Chaos to Clutter-Free by Davonne Parks ($4.99 value)

As someone whose own home has gone from chaotic to clutter-free, the author understands how difficult, discouraging, and energy-zapping clutter can be. But she also knows this: no matter how disorganized your home currently feels, there is hope. Chaos to Clutter-Free reveals the hope so you can make positive, lasting changes in your own home, starting today.

Freed from Clutter by Becky Mansfield ($9.99 value)

Freed from Clutter is a wonderful resource for you! It will take you from decluttering your home to organizing it. Clutter can cause emotional stress, so becoming free from clutter will bring an overall peace to your home.

The Ultimate Guide to Simplify Your Closet (video course) by Christine Satterfield ($39.99 value)

Can’t find anything to wear even though you have wall-to-wall clothes in your closet? Then you need a closet overhaul! Simplify Your Closet is a 9-session video course designed to help you PLAN your ideal wardrobe, STREAMLINE your current closet, and CREATE outfits that fit you and your lifestyle.

Cooking with Mom by Rebecca Revely ($2.99 value)

If you’re looking for a collection of tried-and-true recipes your family will actually eat, then look no further! Cooking with Mom includes one tasty, almost country, mostly-from-scratch recipe after another, all with easy-to-follow directions. Over 100 recipes included!

The Cherished Home: Protecting what’s Important by Mary Clendenin ($9.97 value)

The Cherished Home will help you make the most of your days. As life seems to get busier, we have to make plans to keep our lives simple and make the most of every day. Our families are our precious treasures and such a gift. Learn to take time to slow down and cherish this season of life.

Add to Cart

Scheduling Image

Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free by Amy Lynn Andrews ($2.99 value)

Tell Your Time outlines a straightforward, step-by-step approach to controlling your schedule and making sure the important things don’t fall through the cracks. It’s short and to the point because time management books shouldn’t be time consuming.

Creating a Schedule That Works by Marlene Griffith ($2.99 value)

Creating a Schedule That Works offers you the tools to help you create and implement a schedule that works for you and your life. The simple, straightforward approach shows you how to break your day into bite-size pieces by scheduling four blocks of time in your day to help you meet the demands of your day-to- day life.

28 Days to Timeliness: Tips and Confessions from a Semi-Reformed Late Person by Davonne Parks ($4.99 value)

What if you could improve years of late habits in just 28 days? With help from this book, it is possible! Full of useful tips and funny confessions, 28 Days to Timeliness is packed with practical information that will help you learn how to manage your time so you can be on time.

Weekly Planner with Meal Planning by Marlene Griffith ($13.00 value)

Stay on task and organized with this bright and beautiful open planner. The planner runs from January 2015 through December 2015. You’ll never lose track of birthdays, events, appointments, or anniversaries!

Advanced Penny Pinching by Tabitha Philen ($2.99 value)

Advanced Penny Pinching features over 70 pages of tips and tricks for maximizing your grocery budget and contains all of the information Tabitha personally utilized to shrink her family’s grocery expenses from over $600 a month to an average of $250 a month. Also, receive the Produce Best Price Guide and a printable Stockpile Worksheet Template.

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Homeschool and Parenting Image

Homeschool 101 by Misty Bailey ($0.99 value)

Homeschool 101 takes a look at different reasons families homeschool, and how you can know if the Lord has laid homeschooling upon your heart. The different methods of homeschooling are addressed, as well as materials you will need to get started.

Plan to Be Flexible: Designing A Homeschool Rhythm and Curriculum Plan That Works for Your Family

by Alicia Kazsuk ($3.99 value)

Homeschooling can be a daunting task—especially when you consider the realities of making it happen! Discover a powerful, freeing approach to organizing your homeschool day based not on schedules but by following your family’s learning rhythm.

A Gentle Answer

by Christin Slade ($2.99 value)

Do you struggle with keeping a gentle answer when responding to your children? This 21-day devotional offers you practical help.

Teaching Them Diligently by Mandy Kelly ($2.99 value)

We are commanded to teach our children diligently. It takes hard work but our reward is an eternal one. Join Mandy as she dives into how we can train our children diligently in several primary areas of their lives.

Colorful Student Planner by Stephanie Eidson ($5.00 value)

This student planner contains the following pages: a personalized cover page, weekly planning pages, monthly calendars, and week-at-a-glance pages. These awesome planners will help your child develop a sense of responsibility and independence as he/she keeps track of his/her days and weeks.

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Spring Clean Bundle All books

The Good Wife’s Guide by Darlene Schacht ($2.99 value)

The Good Wife’s Guide encourages women to make faith and family their first priorities from a place of sacrificial love. It reminds women that they were created with a specific purpose in mind, which is that of being a helpmeet. In supporting our husbands and living in unity we reflect God’s blueprint for marriage.

Spring into God’s Word: A 31-Day Devotional by Mandy Kelly ($2.99 value)

Spring is here, and we are all thinking about cleaning up our homes. But what about our lives? Let’s take a deeper look into the Bible as we seek to clean out our hearts and lives for this new season.

The 30-Day Marriage Challenge by Becky Moseley ($6.99 value)

It takes work to make a marriage thrive. In this book, you will find a unique challenge each day that you can apply to your marriage. These challenges will radically transform your marriage into something better than you ever dreamed.

Putting on the Spirit: Ten-Minute Devotions for Busy Moms by Katie Hornor ($7.99 value)

This one-month daily devotional on the fruit of the Spirit will challenge you to examine yourself in light of the Scriptures and give you something to apply to your life each day. Foreword by Heidi St. John. Comes with a free downloadable workbook.

More Than Words by Stephanie Eidson ($2.99 value)

A 20-day devotional designed to fit into a busy schedule. This devotional is perfect for teens and adults alike.

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Spring Clean Bundle All books

This Spring Clean Your Home & Heart eBundle will be available from March 2–7 for only $14.74.

That’s a savings of $124, so hop on over and buy it now!

Add to Cart

Additional Information

Bundle Sharing

Yes, you may share resources you won’t use from this bundle with a friend! To do so, download and save the file, then email it to your friend and delete the file from your computer. Better yet, purchase two bundles so you can keep one for yourself and give the other away to various friends throughout the year!

We trust our readers to be respectful of the bundle authors, so please remember to only use this privilege as you would a print book—once you give it away, you no longer have the book to read or to give away to someone else.

Other Fine Print:

  • Download and back up your eBundle right away! We can only renew download links until March 15,2015.
  • If you can’t find your bundle after your purchase, check the spam folder in your email account.
  • Due to the downloadable nature of this eBundle, refunds are not available.
  • If you have any questions about any of the resources included in this eBundle, please contact that author directly.
  • If you have further questions about the eBundle, contact Davonne Parks, Organizer or Finding Joy in the Journey for assistance!

It’s not too late to join the fun!

If you would like to become an affiliate of this fabulous Spring Clean eBundle, then grab an image from

this post and sign up here! (If you need help signing up, view this simple tutorial.)

Only available from March 2-7. Don’t miss out!

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Animal Learning Homeschool Activities

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Kids Animal Activities

This is a sponsored post. I was given a free packet to explore and compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Animal Learning

My seven-year old is quite fond of animals. Several of my children have taken more than an interest in animals, but he may just take the cake.

He takes great care of many stuffed animals; giraffe’s mainly, but also a french bulldog and a bull terrier. He jumps at the chance to learn new things about animals.

He was so excited to receive his Junior Explorers packet in the mail and get started right away! So we laid everything out to get a good look at what was included.

Animal Learning

Kids Animal Activities

He received:

  • An Activity Book
  • Animal Stickers
  • Animal Tattoos
  • Animal Fact Cards
  • Animal Postcards
  • A bracelet
  • A pin/badge
  • A Sheet of Facts

Also included was a mission code to be entered into the iPad app. Inside the app, he learned about animals from the arctic. His mission was to find mother polar bear that went missing from her cubs. Along the way he would learn different facts about the arctic and view photos. He went through different facts and played some fun games in between.

Science Learning

Educational Kids Games

I love the hands on aspect of it as well as the digital side because it offers some variety in his learning. It helps him to transition from one thing to the other while still maintaining the topic. It’s not just one or the other, it’s both. It also has something called “Mission Giveback initiative, where he can give back at the end of each mission.

Each month, Junior Explorers sends out a new kit with a new mission to explore. It’s set up as a subscription so they automatically arrive each month. It’s specifically designed for elementary aged children and is a wonderful way to introduce or supplement studies with characters Kia and Kyle.

They learn about ecosystems; the Arctic, the Amazon, and the Serengeti as well as the animals that live there. As they work through and complete each mission, they earn points that can be converted to dollars for the Mission Giveback Initiative. They can choose a non-profit to donate, supporting a conservation. What a wonderfully tangible way to learn!

The goal of Junior Explorers is to help connect kids to the planet through these missions in order to teach them about wildlife and nature.

As you can see, he is one happy (and cheeky) boy! And you will be, too!



Junior Explorers is offering 50% off your first month using code HS50. Woot!

Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and/or Google+.

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum for Independent Learners

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Independent Learners

The first several years I homeschooled, I believed it was my job to be alongside my child, teaching and sitting alongside my children the whole time they worked. While this may be true for young children, generally speaking, it can eventually cause more harm than good to constantly be over the shoulder of your children as they work.

What does it mean to learn independently? Does that mean there is no parental involvement, instruction, or direction? Absolutely not. As a mom who struggled with feeling at peace with allowing my child to learn without me (because I thought it was my JOB to hover), I’d like to pass on what I’ve learned and how I am continuing to teach my children independent learning.

My job as my children’s sole educator isn’t merely teacher but also facilitator, encourager, and challengerWhile I need to teach certain concepts and offer instructions, my ultimate goal is to encourage my children to seek out the answers to their questions rather than handing them the answers.

For example, when a child asks me how to spell a word, rather than give them the answer, I offer a dictionary. The first few times may warrant instructions on how to use the dictionary, but after that, they become masters at looking up words.

Children who take it upon themselves to research a time period that interests them, who write a story that’s burning inside of them, or utilize discipline to get through a difficult math lesson, even when it’s not their favorite thing to do, are on track for independent learning.

Here are 3 things you can do to help your children become independent learners:

Begin with simple lessons that have only 1 or 2 directions.

If you’re just beginning to ease your child into learning independently, start small. Don’t overwhelm them with half a dozen instructions and expect them to remember or understand everything yet. Start small. Offer a lesson with 1 or 2 simple instructions to follow, without you hovering over their shoulder as they work. 

You could give them a sheet or line of copy work and tell them to make sure they capitalize the letter at the beginning of the sentence and use a period at the end. That’s it.

Don’t hand out answers.

When your child asks you questions that can be found by looking up the answer, don’t freely hand them the answer. This does quite the opposite of teaching them to grow into learning on their own.

Always Follow Up.

Always follow up with your child’s work. Everyone needs accountability and it’s important we check in regularly to make sure they are on track and continue to move forward.

Our children still need to be challenged to go the extra mile and stretch themselves.

Here are 3 benefits to teaching your children to learn independently:

1.  Allows them to think for themselves.

Sometimes we as parents tend to do much of the work of thinking for our children. We don’t train them to do the work of thinking themselves so it can actually handicap them as they grow into adults. But, intentionally raising an independent learner and training them to ask questions of their own work and purposefully seeking out the answers trains them for life.

2. Helps them understand learning is constant. 

As your children take on more and more independence in their learning, they realize there are no boundaries to when learning can take place. It doesn’t have to happen Monday thru Friday between the hours of 9am and 2pm. It happens whenever there’s a spark to know and understand something new.

3. It gives them ownership. 

Once they’ve integrated into independent learning, they can go where their curiosity leads them and as parents, we can help by providing the resources they need to accomplish that.

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum

{This post is sponsored. I received the product free in exchange for this paid review. All opinions are my own.}

This is why we enjoy programs such as Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum.

My eldest daughter has been utilizing the Character and Skills for Home and Career  as she grows interested in the different aspects the course has to offer.

She’s learning:

  • How to Build a Shed
  • How to Manage Money to Buy a Home (and many things involved with that)
  • Basic home electrical
  • Plumbing

PAC CurriculumAs a mother homeschooling seven children, I love the independent nature of the Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum course. Aside from minor questions or clarifications on vocabulary words, my daughter has worked on her own, at her own pace throughout this course. In fact, she surprised me when she started telling me how two-way switches work and pointing out we had several in our own home!

We are pretty eclectic when it comes to curriculum and we like to change things up to keep learning fresh, focused, and fun. I think workbook based curriculums definitely have their place, especially in my home. Several of my children love this type of work.

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum is designed to be better than the average textbook. It combines left brain (reading) and right brain (visual) stimuli in order to offer a well-rounded comprehension of the material.

My daughter loves how this course is set up in story form. As a writer, this definitely held her attention and helped her understand the concepts more clearly. We both love that it teaches from real-life scenarios.

The course includes some quizzes with multiple choice questions and while she has worked through these, I have also asked her to explain what she’s learned in her own words. This helps me see how well she understands the material.

The Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum courses come in digital and print form and currently they are in the process of incorporating QR Codes into their courses to allow students access to extra content through their smartphones. How fun is that?!

Highlights of What Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum Includes

PAC Review

  • Texts
  • Activities
  • Teacher’s Resource Kit
  • QR Codes for further content via smartphones (coming soon!)


Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum offers 40% off for homeschool groups (with a $1000 minimum purchase) and for single parents.

They also offer 20% off for ministry and military families, farmers and ranchers, as well as first responders and foster parents.

If you qualify for either of these discounts, be sure to call Paradigm at 325-649-0976 for the coupon code to use during the checkout process.

I think this is a really good program and definitely recommend it for families who work well with workbooks, and independent learning.

Don’t forget to follow Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and/or YouTube.

Marriage: Glorious or Gruesome?

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Our own perspectives can have such an impact on our marriages and marriages in general. They can affect how we view our spouse and what effort we pour into our marriage.

Not only that, but what we do with those hard places and those hard times can either strengthen our marriage or sour them.

One of the reasons I don’t talk about marriage much on this blog is because I don’t have many hard places to speak from in my marriage. I shared about one huge failing in the beginning of my marriage, and that incident has taught me much about forgiveness, repentance, and learning from my mistakes.

I never share anything here that I am not doing (or needing to do) myself. Some of the hardest parts of marriage for me are denying myself and learning to keep my mouth shut to avoid further conflict when conflict does arise. I usually do keep my mouth shut, but I assure you, there is sometimes a fire burning within me! But I don’t focus on all the conflicts in our marriage and here’s why:

Marriage is For Life.

When Jonathan and I decided to get married, we went into it knowing divorce wasn’t an option. Despite the fact that, well, legally it is an option, we made serious about our commitment to each other. We didn’t just repeat vows on our wedding day. We owned them. It will be a long, stressful life indeed if I am always focused on the negative things in our marriage. That goes for anything in life, really. The Bible is quite clear about how God designed marriage and we take Him very seriously.

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6 (ESV)

“And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9 (ESV)

I am not in denial of the hard things in marriage, but I do not make them a center of focus either. But knowing that I made a commitment to my husband on our wedding day drives me to put effort into my relationship with him. Commitments shouldn’t be taken lightly. Unfortunately, commitments are something lacking extensively today.

Marriage Matures You.

I have grown a lot as a person since I have been married. God has used marriage to help refine me as His daughter and as Jonathan’s wife. I remember, especially through being pregnant, how needy I was as a wife and how I burdened my poor husband with always having to fill my every whim to be with him. I felt that any time he wanted to go out and be with his friends, that he didn’t love me much. Over the years, I learned how wrong this thinking was! Only God could have filled the deep desire I was searching for.

And there’s a catch to this maturing process: you must be willing and you must allow yourself to be moldable. That means you can’t always be right (even if you are) or apologizing simply because peace and unity in your marriage are more important than who had the garage door opener last and why it’s now missing.

 Marriage Isn’t About You.

When I entered into a life with my husband, we meshed everything together in one household. And I don’t mean material things. I mean personalities, experiences, preferences, a history, everything. We came from two different backgrounds and two different upbringings. Not only did we need to learn to live together, but truly understand one another. It was no longer all about me. I was sharing my life with my husband now.

The sooner we learn this truth, the more we will enjoy a glorious marriage. I think it is really important to try to understand where your spouse is coming from when it comes to dealing with conflict. We need to stop focusing on always wanting to be heard and truly listen to our husbands. Or, as my friend Jamie Harper put it,

Although we need or want to be heard as wives, we also need to move our focus from ourselves and listen to our husbands as well. This is what it means to love one another. I listen. He listens. Sometimes I listen and he learns to listen later.

Change always begins with us. As a mother, as a friend, as a wife. It may not necessarily be a behavior in us that needs changing. Maybe it’s simply a shift of perspective or a little more compassion to understand that we need. Sometimes, it’s a matter of our own heart that needs shifting.

This isn’t about ignoring conflict or about being in denial about its existence; it’s simply about doing what you can to minimize it and keep it in it’s place. Our differences and disagreements with our husbands don’t need to define our entire marriage. Instead, use them as opportunities to grow and mature.

Marriage isn’t meant to be dreadful; it’s meant for companionship.

Photo Credit

Are You A Self-Centered Mom?

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Are You a Self-Centered Mom?

So, a couple weeks ago, I kind of haphazardly read a post that asked if parents were narcissistic or self-centered. I scanned the main points and found myself nodding over many of them. But, I’d really like to address the issue in my own words and in my own way, because I definitely see it as a problem but don’t want to go pointing fingers.

I Battle Selfishness

Yes, I can be selfish. In fact, isn’t that the core of our very sin nature, to be selfish? It’s a battle I fight every single day and it’s a large part of myself that I really dislike. I don’t want to be selfish, but I it’s an uphill battle I combat constantly. And that’s the difference between being selfish and being self-centered.

It’s not really a question of whether we are selfish or not. Because we are. The question is, are we doing anything about it? Are we justifying our selfish behavior because of how hard we work or how much we deserve a break?

Oh I believe in having space for yourself. I think every mother needs it. Not because we “deserve” it, but we simply need it.  It’s hogwash to believe a mother cares for or loves her children less because she needs space to breathe and refresh regularly. We all need to be filled up again. But let’s set that aside and take a peek into the everyday life of a mom–me.

Keep in mind, I am a mom who has good intentions, but I fail daily. And sometimes I do not believe I try as hard as I could to combat some of the temptations I face (i.e. social media, laziness, etc).

A Daily Rundown of Some Ways I Am Selfish

  •  I start my mornings late–out of bed by around 8am. And I am not joking when I say it takes me about 2 hours to fully wake up in the morning. I don’t do anything before I have a cup of coffee — usually. <—-{Self-centered act number one} When someone asks for something before or during my first cup of coffee, I usually delay them.
  • While my kids do their morning chores, I work on the computer. I have felt nudges that this probably isn’t the best time for computer work because my children need to see me working alongside them in household duties. That’s not to say that my work on the computer isn’t important (it pays for homeschool supplies, socks, underwear, etc), but they don’t see through that lens. Sometimes I think, “Well, I’m the mom and I don’t need to explain myself to them.” But, the truth is, I do. One day these children won’t be children anymore and I may have a lot of explaining to do! What better accountability do we have than our children?
  • Sometimes, when my children are squabbling, rather than taking the time to handle the conflict properly, I simply shout, “You need to stop fighting!”, which of course doesn’t solve anything. That’s a lazy, pitiful way to handle a sibling relationship that is strained over something as simple as a stolen toy or being bossed around. While the issue may be simple, a consistently strained relationship continues to become complicated.
  • At night, I rush my kids through their evening routine to get them to bed, because I am just so spent. I don’t read aloud in the evenings as much as I want. I don’t take the time to just be with them. It’s, “Move, move, move! PJ’s on, teeth brushed, let’s get this show on the road!”
  • I stay up late so I can wind down. Which is why I wake up late each morning.

Now, this is not a pity-party nor is it a misery-loves-company way of addressing the issue. This is a real life look into the life of a mom battling a sin nature she can never hope to overcome on her own. It’s not a justification, and it’s not an invitation. It’s a revelation. We all have selfishness in us. But at what point will it turn to self-centeredness, which is a more consuming problem?

Being self-centered goes to a new level of being selfish. It puts us in the center of everything and if something doesn’t work in our favor, we make it so it does. Having selfishness and being self-centered are different and we must work to constantly battle our selfish desires or we will find ourselves as self-centered moms.

When we realize we all have selfishness stuck inside us (and, unfortunately, always will), we can run to the One who can redeem us and our mistakes. He molds our hearts and purges the junk. But when we don’t recognize we need Him and go to Him for help, our selfishness grows uglier and becomes harder to combat.  Because as my friend so eloquently describes:

What is inherently missing in the self help sort of approach to writing parenting articles is that it doesn’t get at the root of our most basic issue. It does not answer the fundamental question of “What do I do with my sin?” Because honestly, most of the time it isn’t that I don’t know how to spend quality time with my children; it’s that other things are more important.

Let’s just be honest.

And sometimes I downright resent the demands of my family and am perfectly content to give them my leftovers. What of that?

I am not saying I never enjoy my children or delight in serving them; but there is no point in reading and pinning an article that gives me ideas when what I really need is my sin issue dealt with. No expert can give me 3 quick steps to obliterating selfishness. Neither is there an eBook on miraculously changing my hard heartedness or removing self protection from my marriage bed.

That’s because only the Gospel can do that.

-When You’ve Messed Christian Parenting Up, Arabah Joy

 The issue isn’t about being or not being selfish, because we all have selfishness in us. The question remains, what are we doing {if anything} to combat it so it doesn’t grow?

5 Responses That Help Our Children

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5 Responses Help Your Children

Last week I wrote an article titled, 5 Responses That Hurt Our Children, and it was birthed out of recognizing my own harsh tones with my children.

It’s one thing to have a bad moment or even a bad day, but when we make a habit out of answering our children out of a place of frustration, anger, or annoyance, it will take it’s toll.

So, now that I’ve recognized I have this issue with my tone, I want to put a plan in place to help combat it. And I am totally talking to myself here so if you get anything out of this, bonus! I like to treat my blog as kind of my own little therapy session.

There is always one thing I think about that I know I need to do more. So we’ll start with that one.

1. Smile.

I don’t not smile because I’m grumpy (usually). I am just in “work” and “busy” mode and honestly don’t think about it. My natural disposition isn’t to always be “happy” so to speak. It’s just that I’m terribly focused and it can come off looking grumpy, or at the very least just unhappy. One thing I really want to work on is smiling at my child before responding to a request. Obviously, not all situations are appropriate for smiles. Such as disciplining. Afterall, I do want my children to understand I am serious but that discipline. But, even after a correction, ending the issue with a smile can do wonders for a child.

2. Deep Breath Before Speaking.

It is common for me to speak before even taking a breath, thus not allowing my thoughts to formulate a wise response. It may even be a good idea to wait a whole minute or two before addressing an issue that can already be tense. Though it won’t be a quickly learned habit, training myself to “think before I speak” would certainly prove to be better than spitting out the first thing that comes to mind. Chances are I will eat my words and need to back pedal the issue.

3. Speak Calmly.

Even when I need to be firm with my child, I can still do that if I speak in a calm manner rather than raising my voice, or sounding annoyed. The goal here isn’t to placate the child, but to honor the child and show respect. Training our children doesn’t mean we disrespect them. They are still people. But respecting a child also doesn’t mean pacifying or giving in, either.

4. Check My Pitch.

OK, this may seem a little nit-picky to some, but there is an obvious difference in my tone (literally) when I change the pitch of my voice. I have somewhat of a deep, raspy voice. In fact, I commonly get asked if I’ve got a cold or am coming down with a cold. “Nope, that’s just me”, I reply. My voice can naturally sound agitated. So, when I ask something of my child or children, I want to pay attention to the pitch of my voice. Rather than using a very low, demanding-sounding voice, I want to use more of an encouraging but firm pitch. Just raise it up an octave to put a more positive spin on it.

5. Repeat Steps 1-4

And often!

I realize some of this may seem trite, but I don’t really think it is. But I cannot work my mouth without purging the ugliness in my heart, too. How do I view my children? Do I see them as blessings or burdens?

I think this is a very important question to ask ourselves and it’s vital to be brutally honest with ourselves.

My verse for 2015 is,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

So, how can we get from wanting to change to actually changing? It begins with what we feed our own hearts and minds. Are we believing lies about ourselves or our children that is coming out in negative (and costly) ways? We simply need to slow down and be mindful of our thoughts and words. They are powerful.

Recommended Resource: A Gentle Answer: a 21-day practical devotional 

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5 Responses That Hurt Our Children

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5 Responses That Are Hurting Your Child

This past month I’ve been reflecting on who I am as a mother. I thought about what makes me tick, the bad habits I’ve developed, and tried to see what I may look like through the eyes of my children.

What I found was some hard and ugly truths I need to face about myself.  One thing God revealed to me was how I address my children when I speak to them; whether it’s to request, correct, direct, or instruct, my tone rarely has a positive air.

We are all susceptible to these behaviors and in the long run, they will hurt our relationship with our children.

5 Responses That Hurt Our Children

1. Confrontational

I realize when I need to handle a situation with a child or several children, I am very confrontational about it. I am not yelling, but my tone isn’t calm. Sometimes, it heats up whatever fire is already blazing rather than diffusing it.

When we approach our children this way, they learn to approach others this way as well.

2. Accusatory

When I need to address an issue of sibling disputes or lying or a chore left undone, I often come across accusatory. I may not outright say it in words, but my tone reflects it. Sometimes I call out a child without having all the facts.

3. Tense

Often, even when I am not exhibiting the other 4 harsh tones, I speak tensely. Not that there is any excuse, but I believe this is from all the built up stress and demands of life coming out. Again, it’s not my children’s fault, so I shouldn’t be taking it out on them. But the fact remains, my tone comes across tense more than it does calm.

It happens whether I am addressing my children’s actions or answering a question.

4. Demanding

When I ask something of my children, sometimes it’s in a very demanding tone. Now obviously there has to be some type of firmness in my tone to help my children understand I mean business, but there is a bit of a technique that goes with that and it’s not how I’ve been doing it.

Instead of saying, “Gabriella load the dishwasher!” in that demanding tone, I could say, “Gabriella, I need you to load the dishwasher, please.” in a calm tone and even smile, which also conveys this is a normal, everyday habit.

5. Annoyed

Yes, I even show annoyance all too often for children who have needs. Why? Because sometimes I am just not tuned in to my motherly duties and when my thoughts are interrupted by, “Mommy can I have some milk”, I answer annoyingly, “Yeeess”.

All of these attitudes have hurt some aspects of my relationship with my children. In addition, it has taught them to use these tones on each other. It’s quite frightening (and embarrassing) to see your children pick up your bad behavior and use it on one another.

The facial expressions I put off are often angry, tense, and annoyed as well. So, when I make a conscious effort to relax my tone, my face also relaxes.

Do you remember when you were a child and your mother would yell at you? Did you ever think she was scary? Yea…that’s not the image I want my children to remember me by.

I am thankful that God saw fit to point these issues out to me so that I can know how to pray and be intentional about how I speak to them – regardless of what the issue is.

I am not suggesting that we can overcome all of these attitudes, 100% of the time. But when we are mindful of them and their triggers, we can minimize how often we respond rashly or harshly.

How can we counteract this behavior? I wrote 5 Responses That Help Our Children to get you started.

Recommended Resource: A Gentle Answer: a 21-day practical devotional

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