Adoption Transition

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Adoption Transition
I know I haven’t offered an update since our girls came home from Ghana. I think partly because there has been nothing really outrageous to report. And quite honestly, it has kind of shocked me.

Adoption Transition

We read through the books of experts and the stories of other adoptive families how hard things are when their children come home. We were prepared, as best we could, to take on those challenges. The first week was just blissful and all the children got along like best friends. In fact, even today, the children fight over playing with Margaret! Gabriella (12) and Margaret (11) are inseparable.

So, after a few weeks of settling in, we were kind of waiting for the fireworks to begin. We waited and waited. And, well, 5 months later we’re kind of still waiting.

There haven’t been any big explosions to speak of. The girls are adjusting beautifully and each month we uncover more of them; they release more of themselves to us…little by little.

Elvis, the director of the orphanage they came from, stayed with us last weekend and he said Margaret never used to talk. He was surprised to see her talking so much!

Elvis With Girls
Margaret is a very bright, very driven young woman. And I do mean woman. When we first met her in 2011, she was 8 years old and a little girl. When we went to pick her up this July 2014, she was growing into a young woman. It’s hard to believe — it’s almost like we brought home a different girl than we originally met, just because of how much her physical appearance had changed!

She has a gift for drawing.

Margaret's Drawing
Christina has an amazing, strong, beautiful singing voice! She loves to sing, but she’s not yet ready to hone those skills in voice lessons. I pray in time she will because she has a LOT of potential.

Christina is a bit more complex. We knew from our first impression of her that her adjustment would be more difficult, but it’s far from impossible. She is a very sensitive girl and a puzzle at times, but we are working through it a day at a time. She can often struggle with motivation — to do anything; whether it’s school work or learning to ride her bike this summer. Sometimes she tends to give up a little to easily, so she needs some extra encouragement.

I remember within the first six weeks, when Christina would struggle with an issue, she would automatically shut down (or as the experts call it, “take flight”). She wouldn’t talk to anyone, despite our prodding. So, I would do the talking. I would tell her that I understand she has gone through a big change, that she must be scared and miss her family back in Ghana. I then would tell her that I wanted to help her, but I couldn’t help if she didn’t tell me what she needed. I would squeeze her in a side hug, kiss her head, tell her I loved her and leave the room.

After about 10 or 15 minutes, she would come out and open up again. But she would never tell me what it was that was bothering her. After a few weeks of doing this routine, she started to talk to me and tell me what was bothering her. It could be anything from having a headache to not wanting to eat something in particular to not wanting to do a chore.

Here’s an example of such a scenario.

A few weeks ago I integrated Margaret into switching days on and off with Gabriella on hand-washing dishes. Which, in a family of 9, is a big job. So one would wash and one would dry. Because of this, I decided it best to give Margaret’s chore of sweeping the dining room to Christina. Ohhhh she didn’t like that at all and I couldn’t quite figure out why. We had suspicions that it could be because the job was seen as “Margaret’s”.

So, we explained the situation to Elvis while he was here and he said in the orphanage, they NEVER switched chores around. Everyone always had the same chore…even if they switched days, it still remained consistent. That change in the routine didn’t sit well with Christina’s security levels. So, the job went back to Margaret.

Two Common Issues in Children With Trauma

Any child, no matter how early they were adopted, has suffered loss and trauma. When a baby is taken from their birth mother, they automatically experience trauma that is associated with loss. There are all kinds of reasons why that I won’t get into here, but suffice it to say all adopted children suffer with loss and trauma to some degree.

As a result, common behavioral issues will arise that may not be what they seem, such as lying. We don’t deal with the majority of the issues many families face.

Lying

We do continue to deal with some issues such as lying. This was something that went on in the orphanage as well, as told to us from several sources who experienced working with our girls. We are unsure yet why, but knowing it was already a “norm” {strange as it sounds} is a bit comforting.

Bryan Post is an adoptee with a wonderful organization to help adoptive parents. I learned from him that all lying stems from fear, and if you think about it, it certainly makes sense. Why do people lie? They are afraid of something. For a child, it would be punishment. For an adoptive child, it could be fear of being sent back.

These issues are not unusual for children who have trauma in their life and I share these details with you in an effort to help those coming up behind me. Because I know how valuable first-hand experience is and if I can help even one other family in similar circumstances, wonderful.

Food Issues

Many adopted children deal with food issues for a number of reasons. Food hoarding, controlling, overeating, and other behaviors involving food stem from issues of trauma. We have had to deal with some minor food issues, but even after just 5 months, many of those issues have been resolved–at least for the moment.

One of our girls was quite an eater the first 4 months and given the fact that they were rather skinny, I {mostly} let them eat until they were full. After they gained some weight and grew an inch and a half each, their eating habits leveled out. I do believe one of the girls was wanting to be sure her belly stayed full for a while, but even so, since what she was eating was healthy foods with the vitamins and nutrients she needed, I allowed it.

God has taught me (and is teaching me) so much about, not just mothering, but a deeper compassion and understanding. He is teaching me to stop reacting and to think before I speak. Something spoken in the wrong tone or at the wrong time can cause further damage rather than healing. I don’t want to end up going backwards.

Today, I am learning how to care for their hair. I have been scouring the website Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care and plan to buy their book that just released in September. Which is an entirely different post! ;)

Chore Incentives for Children

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When Children Struggle to do Their Chores

Monday’s are often hectic around here as we scurry back into our routine after the weekend. Sometimes we are all overtired or just dragging our feet simply because we don’t want it to be Monday. Who can relate?

Yesterday was certainly one of those Mondays. I felt like a drill sergeant trying to get everyone back on track with their responsibilities. I started wondering what made it so difficult for them, knowing they do the same things regularly. Surely there was a better way to encourage my children to complete their lessons and chores without having to be constantly told.

So, I got to thinking. What motivates me? I mean, as an adult, the reward is being able to live in a somewhat neat and orderly home. It increases peace in our home and offers us space to breathe when there isn’t stuff all over the floors and surfaces. But when I was younger, those things didn’t drive me. But money or prizes certainly helped me move! Who doesn’t like to be motivated with some kind of incentive. Isn’t that why our husband’s often go to work? Even when they dislike their jobs? The reward of being paid (even if it is required to live) keeps them going.

Are Rewards for Chores a Good Idea?

There was a time I also found sense in hearing others say our children shouldn’t be rewarded for something that’s expected of them. But yesterday, it stopped making sense to me.

Because I thought, “Even God rewards His children for running the race. Even God blesses His children when they do what’s right…even though it’s expected of us.” Isn’t THE PRIZE what helps us keep going? So, why would we deny our children that same gift? The gift of a prize or incentive to continue running the race?

I mean, we can’t even get it right and yet we have eternity to look forward to. He tells us to press on toward the PRIZE.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9

He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 1 Corinthians 3:8

What a perfect spiritual lesson built from real life!

As our children continue in their work, day after day, week after week, not only will they see the fruit of their hard work, but they will understand as they continue to press on, there is reward. When they are old enough to understand this as a spiritual parallel, it will make good sense to them.

So, I created a schedule for each of my children, with their particular responsibilities on them.

Children's Schedule

That way there is no question of what they need to do or when. It’s all right there in front of them. This alleviates me from becoming the drill sergeant and them from hearing me. :P

So, I shared my thoughts briefly on my Facebook page yesterday and a commenter shared a link that may interest some of you.

My Job Chart

The site is called My Job Chart and it’s to encourage children to learn work ethic, accountability, and money management. All very important skills for real life.

The best thing about it, besides how wonderfully organized and enticing it is, is it’s FREE.

Children can earn points from taking care of their responsibilities. Parents can convert those points into money AND it’s linked with Amazon so if a child has something they want, they can work toward it. There are also charities they can donate to. They use the Save Share Spend format. So, if that’s something that interests you, you can look into that. I may use that in addition to the paper charts so they don’t have to constantly be on the computer to check things off. Instead, they can do it at the end of the day.

The above chart I made I had laminated so the kids could cross off what they’ve accomplished with a dry erase marker, than clear it for the next day.

Chore Incentives

So, I’d say my mind is changing on offering an incentive for a job well done. The children will quickly and easily learn the consequences of doing poor work or excellent work because it will be evident in more than merely my disappointment. It will effect them more directly, too.

I don’t think it’s right or wrong to offer a reward or not. I think it really depends on each family. We are a large family, so we make large messes, and that can be overwhelming for a child. I make sure I pair up children to work on jobs together — especially big jobs. They learn teamwork and it helps get the job done faster. But it still can seem hard to get motivated with no end in sight.

Come on moms, you know we get just as discouraged and overwhelmed! It’s okay to show our children sympathy and tangible appreciation. :)

 

I modified this chart from Learn With Play at Home. You can download yours from there. :)

The Life of a Homeschool Mom of Many

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31 Days 2014
 

Day 1 – Celebrating 14 Years of Marriage

Day 2 – When Unexpected News Clouds the Day

Day 3 – The Day My Alarm Failed

Day 4 – Mommy Work Day

Day 5 – Saturdays

Day 6 – Sunday’s Are For Rest

Day 7 – Distract of the Dog

Day 8 – Terrible Tuesday

Day 9 & 10- Last Full Day

Day 11 & 12 – Family Workout Weekend

Day 13 – Chicken Breast Parmesan Bake

So, starting tomorrow (Wednesday, October 1), I will be sharing my raw life as a homeschooling mom of many for 31 days. My hope is to give people a realistic picture of what being a homeschool mom of many children really looks like.

Believe me when I say I have the ideal in my head, but reality doesn’t always play out that way. I have our schedule and our lesson plans but this isn’t just about homeschooling.

Homeschooling takes up a large (very large) chunk of my day. But I am also a work at home mom and I have to make time for my clients as well. If you don’t work at home, don’t let that discourage you from following along. I do not work full time hours. My working hours simply replace some of my own free time. I really enjoy what I do, so I don’t necessarily consider it “work”.

So, here is how I am going to set my posts up so they don’t feel all over the place.

I will do a few hour by hour posts throughout the month.

I am going to try and focus on a theme each day. However, if a theme fails to really present itself, I will just write about our day.

It will be a journal of sorts, and I will get personal into my own heart and struggles and write them publicly.

I will write in *almost* real time. What you read on a given day will be words from the day before. So I have not pre-written these posts for the month. I will write them as each day comes and goes.

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary, so tomorrow’s post will reflect what we did today as a family. I can tell you right now that I’ve canceled our lessons for the day in order to celebrate. :D

I will use my own photos as much as possible to offer a realistic picture rather than a stock image.

I will not worry about word count. Some posts will be longer than others and others may be short and sweet. They will ebb and flow with life within these 31 days.

You may find me sharing tips and recipes I use throughout the month as well. I honestly have no set plans or goals which is probably a huge no-no! Ha ha! I just want to write and be helpful where I can. But I will do my best to present the days in a way that will be helpful for you and easy to read.

October offers me a unique opportunity to share my experience at the Allume Conference–so I will be leaving my family for 4 days. Something I only do once a year.

So…here we go!

Oh and be sure to get your ticket for the Homemaking From Scratch conference coming up October 7th-9th. If you purchase your ticket before the conference dates, you’ll get over $200 of homemaking resources FREE. I will be speaking on Biblical Motherhood. Would love for you to join us! Click below for a full spread of topics, speakers, and the free resources.

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Me Time: Everyday Essentials

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Me Time - Everyday Essentials.png

 

After discussing the two extreme’s of “me time”, and what an effective time of solitude needs, I would like to discuss some everyday essentials for taking care of YOU.

It is very common for mom’s to naturally let themselves go as they care for their children. No doubt our hearts are in the right place! However, we need to caution ourselves to think through what we’re really sacrificing. Are we putting forth our best efforts by sacrificing our own, simple needs?

I used to [and sometimes still struggle] with caring for my basic needs without feeling guilty simply because what I was doing focused on me. I needed to learn that it’s not selfish to take care of myself! God wants us to care for ourselves (1 Cor. 6:19). If he doesn’t want us abusing ourselves, would he want us neglecting ourselves?  Some may vary on what they consider “needs”. So let’s begin with the basics.

  1. A regular shower. Let’s face it, when you have kids, a shower tends to become a luxury. Sometimes we can’t squeeze it in when we’d like. I’ve come to find that I feel my best when I’ve showered [go figure]. This is something we need to make time for. I would even go so far as to say to make time for it daily. Some like this commodity every other day, but there are more benefits than cleanliness alone.
  2. Get fully dressedFlylady makes an excellent point to why she highly suggests “getting dressed to shoes“. It is motivating–especially the shoes part. She highly recommends shoes that lace up because they are harder to take off and are snug on your feet. When I am wearing my shoes, I know I am in “work mode”. At the end of the night, when my shoes come off, [typically after the children are in bed], I instantly relax. If you don’t like to wear shoes in the house, buy a pair that are for the house only. Trust me on this. :)
  3. Style your hair and face. When you feel your best, you’ll do your best. Simple as that. You don’t have to wear make up. A simple wash will keep you feeling fresh. Brushing your teeth counts as well. Don’t feel guilty for taking 5-10 minutes to blow dry your hair if that’s how it looks best. Take care of yourself.
  4. Get with God daily. This is the most important need that we have. We need His strength, wisdom, and direction every single day. We cannot get that if we are not connecting with Him, through prayer and His word. We tend to hear this over and over again. There’s a reason. Make it a priority to get with God daily.
  5. Exercise. Yet another dreadful task we never want to take the time for. This one may require a bit more selflessness if you don’t like to exercise [like me…ahem]. A simple walk is sufficient. Something to get your blood moving and energy up a bit. It doesn’t have to be long; 5-15 minutes. If you can’t get out of the house, consider buying a workout DVD. You’d be amazed at what exercise can do for your energy and mentality.
  6. Eat!  I forgot to put in to eat! As a mother, I often forget this very important necessity! Take the time to eat.

These are simple, daily necessities that every mother needs. There is no reason we should feel guilty for doing these things. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can best care for others.

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What do you need to do that you are not doing because of guilt?

A Gentle Answer Now Available on Kindle

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A Gentle Answer Devotional.jpg
A Gentle Answer is now available for Kindle for just $2.99. You do not need a Kindle device, just the Kindle app.

This is a resource for mothers who need help keeping a gentle tone in the midst of frustrations. It offers insights that we often don’t think about on the fly. I hope that it will encourage you to pause and take a step back before choosing to respond to a child who’s having a difficult day, or react from having a difficult day of your own. It is easy to vent when frustrations are built. This book is meant to help moms study helpful scriptures in order to work from the inside out.

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Me Time: Be Intentional

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Last week I posted on Two “Me Time” Extremes.

The extremes were that some believe they are entitled to “me time” and plenty of it and often would get angry or frustrated when they couldn’t get it. The other extreme is that some are wholly against this “me time” and believe it to be nothing less than selfish.

Me Time: Be Intentional

I wan to dig in more to why I disagree with throwing out me time all together.

I used to believe that any time I did anything for myself, it was selfish. Everything from doing my hair (blow drying), to putting on make-up, to going out to coffee with a girlfriend. It made me feel guilty, as if my time should be invested somewhere else. So I would always throw my hair up, never add “life” (make up) to my overtired face, and turn down invitations to go out of the house. I fell into the trap that doing any of these things made me less than a sacrificial mother.

The result of doing this? I didn’t take care of myself well. I was constantly burned out (and you could tell). I was literally running on empty and had very little to give to my family. I rarely conversed with adults other than the few minutes before and after church, and my husband in the evenings. (Not that conversing with my husband is not fulfilling, because it is. He’s a great conversationalist and listens well)!

I have heard the argument that God will provide us with the time we need to rejuvenate and I totally agree with that. That’s why He created, and made into law, a day of rest, once a week. The Sabbath day was created for us (humanity) as “permission” to take a day off. (Mark 2:27)

The key is to make this time fruitful. We can take a day off and come back feeling the same way (or worse) then when we left if we’re not intentional about how we spend our time.

Identify Our Needs

We go through different seasons, even if it’s on a week to week basis, where we have need of different things. We might need time to talk with a girlfriend over some struggles we’ve dealt with or are dealing with (without family bashing, of course). We might need to go out for genuine FUN to just loosen up our uptight-selves! Perhaps we need extra time with God and just need to get away to pray and seek Him through His word. It may just be that we want to CLEAN while the house is empty. Honestly, even that can be refreshing because you are being productive with no interruptions. Sometimes the need for rest is not always physical. For me, it is often NOT physical. Whatever it is, identify what needs to be filled in order to refresh yourself to better serve.

Plan Accordingly

Based on discovering your need, plan carefully to fill it. If you need to spend more time in the Word and just bask with God, don’t accept an invitation to go out with a girlfriend that week. You will surely come back with an unmet need and not be refreshed for the coming week. That’s when the need for more “me time” comes in. Because our needs were not met. Take care to plan a time when your greatest need will be met that week.

Also, do not plan your time of solitude while the kids are with you and no one else can care for them, if you can help it. This can often end in frustrations because your time is not productive or interrupted. I don’t mean that to sound selfish, but the point is, once a week, you needtime to refresh. If the time was not planned well, it will do little good. And everyone is different–if it refreshes you to have time while the kids are still around, that is totally personal for you.  Maybe your time is productive spending it having FUN with your kids. You know your needs best.

Be Productive

Keep your mind focused on meeting your needs. Don’t get side-tracked into doing something else. If you want to spend time writing [because for me it’s a huge release], don’t waste your time social networking or commenting, etc. If you’re a blogger, you know exactly what I’m talking about! Use the time you have the way it was intended so your need is met and your “tank” is filled. (Or stress is released) The point is to stay focused on filling your need. Although this is a time of solitude, it is for your good and the good of your family, and the time needs to be disciplined in order for it to be effective for you.

Finally, after your time of solitude,

Prepare Yourself to Go Home

Don’t allow yourself to remain in the “me time” mentality. Once your time is up, pray, and prepare yourself to serve again. Too often we can remain in a state of solitude in our minds and become distracted from our children or tasks, and/or frustrated with their needs because we are not truly back “home”. So, be sure to prepare yourself to go home and serve again. Be aware that the house will still need cleaning and children tending to when you get home. The whole point of this “me time” is to refresh you to serve again. Resist the temptation [and flesh] to seek more of it before the week comes around again.

A few notes:

  • This time is not the same and should not replace your time with God, in prayer and in His Word, on a daily basis.
  • I believe making this a weekly endeavor is completely acceptable but be sure to talk it over with your husband so you can agree on what will work best for your family.
  • You don’t necessarily need to be out of the house to be productive. However, if you’re anything like me, sometimes getting out is the most productive because you are not in constant view of what needs to be done while you should be focusing on restoration to come back (in body and mind). If you are focused on all that needs to be done when your time is up, you will not be productive in your time.

In part 3, I address some small (but big) day to day refreshers that help you get through each day as it comes. These refreshers help you feel your best in the day to day. They may not address your biggest need, however, they can help prevent your biggest need from getting bigger.

What do you do for mom time?

Me Time : Two Extremes

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Me Time - Two Extremes

As a mother, so much is required of us. Let’s face it, mothering is not easy. Rewarding, yes. Easy? Far from it.

It empties us regularly. Not of fulfillment, but of rest and clear thought.

Many of us have been taught one of two things about me time. You know, the time a mother gets alone?

Two Extreme Beliefs About Me Time

1. We believe that we deserve “me time” based on how hard we’ve worked, how many hours we’ve put in, and the stress our “job” as a mother puts on us. After all, we’ve earned it.

or

2. We are fully against the “me time myth” and believe it’s an extreme act of selfishness for any mother to desire such a thing.

Here’s why both these extremes can be unhealthy.

Entitlement Leads to Bitterness

When we believe we’re entitled to this time for ourselves, it’s easy to see how we can fall into the trap of having rights to get it . I mean, we do work extremely hard and need a break, right? Well, yes, this is true. But we have to be careful how we set our minds on this. When we believe we are entitled to, have earned, or deserve something, we can get very upset when we don’t get it. This can put our family in a foul position. They become the target of our irritability when we don’t get what we want. In fact, sometimes we can actually blame them or become bitter toward them because we feel as if they are the reason for our “need” of me time and possibly the result of not getting it at times.

Additionally, when we do get our me time, what we have chosen to do was not very productive at “filling our tank”, so we begin to need this me time more often. We indulge in our flesh and it is never satisfied. Our need of me time is focused on only ourselves and satisfying its desires {which are never really satisfied}. No matter how much time we got, it wouldn’t be enough.

This becomes a dangerous breeding ground for selfishness. This me time can become such an idol that all we can think about is the next time we’ll get some. It becomes an addiction. Yet it lacks substance so it’s not truly fulfilling.

It is a Myth Moms Need a Break

On the other hand, some completely reject me time and claim the need is a total myth.  Any woman who felt she “needed” this me time was just being selfish and trying to feed her own desires. God put us into this role and we should not try to “escape” it. We are to put our children and husband first and learn to sacrifice. It is absurd to think that mothers need a break.

 

Both these ideas of thinking can be toxic. There may be mothers who can go long bouts of time without needing to step away for a breather. And there may be some who need to step away more often than some would be comfortable with themselves. We all carry different needs and to dismiss or degrade one mom’s need over another is dangerous.

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I caution both of these me time extremes. Neither one is healthy. Either we’re “over eating” or we’re “starving” ourselves.

In order for me time to be healthy, it needs to be productive.

Next Monday I will address being intentional with your me time.

What do you struggle with when it comes to getting time for yourself?

Linked with:

The Modest Mom
Mama Moments
Monday’s Musings
Making Your Home Sing

When You’re Tired of Being Out of Control

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Many of my frustrations lie within my inability to control most situations. From our adoption, to selling our house, to the dog barking incessantly for what she wants until she gets it.

God Controls the Wind

Out of {My} Control

It’s frustrating to me because I’m simply unable to control these situations. I cannot control how my kids will react when I tell them what I’m making for dinner, or when it’s time to pull out lessons, or when I tell them they cannot watch anymore TV. Their reactions are out of my control. I can discipline them and teach them, but ultimately the decision is up to them.

It’s exhausting to constantly hold on to what I think I can control because when I’m unable to control it, I become frustrated. I take it personal. I don’t understand why things can’t go the way I expect them to.

Sounds kind of like a toddler having a temper tantrum, doesn’t it?

The only thing I have in my control is what I choose to believe about where God has me in this season and how I choose to act (or react) as a result. Will I choose to believe that He has my best interest at heart? Even if I don’t get what I want when I want it, so to speak?

My best interest may not be what I think it is.

There are so many circumstances that are just out of my control, yet I continue to hold on and try to navigate things I don’t even have access to. It’s like trying to drive a car from the passenger seat. I don’t even have a steering wheel, but somehow I think my ranting, complaining, whining, and woe-is-me attitude will move the car in the direction I want to go. And quite frankly, it’s exhausting.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am in the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

Not Our Burdens

I see a pattern of this behavior when I’ve allowed myself to try to do things on my own. Like I’ve allowed myself to become disconnected from God and believe that I need to do everything and control every situation. But that’s not how God designed us. We have to remain in Him or we cannot do anything. That’s not to say that we’ll be able to control things, quite the contrary. We’ll learn to give up that control and be OK with it.

He never meant for us to carry such a burden and trying to control everything is a burden. Most of what we want to control really isn’t in our power to control anyways. The illusion of control does nothing but drain us of energy and joy.

When the wind picks up or changes direction, God still holds on to us, directing us to fall in with the wind. We can choose to follow His leading, or be crazily blown about trying to gain control of what we cannot control. When God calls us into the air, He’s the one controlling the wind, not us.

Mommy Control

This is no different in motherhood. In fact, I think in some aspects it’s amplified. And because we may have this illusion of control, when things don’t go our way, it can cause some major frustrations, leading to mommy anger that gets vented on our children.

I have been doing a lot of reflection on my own mommy anger and it’s root cause and I have a feeling I’m not alone. I also know that I’m tired of constantly trying to control things I really have no control over. There is a big difference between influence and control. We lose control through anger when we feel like we’ve lost control of people or circumstances.

I will be diving more into this in the coming weeks. Please tell me I’m not alone. It’s not that I am eager to have an epidemic of angry moms, but rather a movement of moms who recognize the root of their anger and want to eliminate it. I think for many of us, it starts with control.

Mothering by Heart

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Do you tend to be attracted to books or posts on how to mother better? I know I do. I’m curious to know if anyone has successfully implemented the strategies laid out in these books. I’m not knocking them, of course (hey, I read them, after all!).

But I’m curious whether these books were birthed from families who were so successful in their particular methods that maybe they were convinced it would work for everyone (or most everyone)? Because let me tell you, I have yet to implement any one method successfully.

Motherhood requires...

Behavior Modification

Many parenting books focus on bad behaviors and how to modify them. They offer step by step instructions and formula’s that must get results, or the parent is doing something wrong. But these books lack a vital component: knowing the heart of your child.

As a result, I’ve learned to focus more on behavior then connecting with the heart of my children.  Maybe mothering is not so much how to as it is to know. It’s easy for me to fall into the trap of focusing on behavior modification. I don’t just want my children’s behavior to be modified. It’s not enough and if it were even possible, we wouldn’t have need for a Savior.

So what is possible?

What does mothering look like when we take our focus off the behavior and shift it to their heart?

Mother-to-Child Relationship

As children of God, He calls us into relationship with Him. In fact, our relationship with God was so important to Him, He made a way for us to remain in relationship by taking care of our sin since we couldn’t do it alone. At all.

Do I now expect my children to perform when I can’t even do it myself? My mothering has been reduced to a list of do’s and don’ts. While there is definitely a place for that, it’s not the starting place.

It starts with being in relationship with my children; building a real connection with them. By understanding their own hearts, their own fears, their own desires, their own convictions and leading them to repentance so they can be restored. Jesus reached out to the unlovely because of love. He chastised people who were so focused on following the rules, they missed God in the flesh! They missed out on being in relationship because they didn’t see their need for a Savior.

Are our children missing out on God because they haven’t learned about their need for His grace?

Our children’s behavior can be unlovely at times–just like ours. But we cannot lecture or punish them into perfection. We must lead them to the cross of Christ. Only Christ can turn hearts toward repentance–to Himself.

And there are some things that God has instructed and asked of us as mothers. We are absolutely called to discipline our children, but how much more will they receive it when their hearts are turned toward ours and towards Christ’s because of that relationship?

Mothering by Heart

Mothering by heart means knowing our children’s hearts and pouring into them as Jesus poured into His disciples and those he encountered who wanted more of Him. Not knowing them from afar, but connecting and interacting with them. Not just filling their heads with knowledge but by living life, playing, creating, and working together.

There is a practical way to walk this out, but it requires that we listen to the rhythm of their hearts. When a child lies, why are they lying? Punishing them for lying may not be enough to purge it out. What is the underlying reason for a child to lie?

Sin will always be a part of us while we’re living this life, but that doesn’t mean we allow it to have it’s way in us, or our children. When we deal with a behavior from a child, it’s typically a maturity issue, not always a sin issue. Children are learning as they grow what is right and what is wrong. They are learning how to express themselves acceptably and respectfully.

Our children require a lot from us at every age and every stage, and when we fail to meet those nurturing needs, they often respond with negative behavior. Sometimes, we are the ones who need the chastisement because we need to set things aside so our children’s need of us can be met.

Motherhood requires a pouring out of self, every single day, consistently. It isn’t just a one time deal in order to change behavior. Bad behavior is often a symptom of something deeper. A need unmet. Misunderstanding or miscommunication, etc.

Mothering by heart requires that we seek out what these deeper issues are so they can be changed.

Do you struggle with merely behavior modification, too? What area do you think you can reach your child’s heart on a deeper level?

Some real, down to earth books on mothering  I recommend:

(These are affiliate links– thank you for your support!)

Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

The Mom Walk by Sally Clarkson

The Mission of Motherhood  by Sally Clarkson

The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

Ten Gifts of Wisdom by Sally Clarkson

Discipline & Discipleship Webinar by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson

The Delight of Motherhood

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

Motherhood is hard and requires we recognize our responsibilities and obligations, not only to our children, but to God. Yes, we have responsibilities under God. They are prevalent throughout scripture.

Our delight in motherhood cannot come from other's behavior or...

The Delight of Motherhood

And there is a delight in fulfilling that duty. But our ultimate delight in motherhood comes from our delight in the Lord. If you desire to be a good mother, a delightful mother, you must delight in Him!

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

There is much joy in motherhood. And honestly, I am writing this after a rather trying day of being a mother. But I’m learning that where we found our joy is the key to making it an ongoing blessing in our lives. Finding joy in my children’s behavior alone is going to bring me on quite a roller coaster ride…where there will most likely be way more downs than ups.

Our children are going through a growing and maturing process just like we are. They will never be perfect and basing our joy on their outward behavior will only leaves us empty and, well, joyless.

Likewise, basing our joy off our own performance will leave us shortchanged every single time. Joy doesn’t last on the performance of people or the circumstances of our lives. So placing it there simply isn’t wise.

First, Delight in the Lord

Joy is from the Lord, when we have our eyes fixed on Him. Joy is found when we recognize our purpose is from Him and not our own personal endeavors or desires.

Job raises some great questions,

Will they find delight in the Almighty? Will they call on God at all times? Job 27:10

Delight in motherhood comes from that deep understanding, embracing, and walking out of the role God has given to us, but only after recognizing our life is in Him. 

I know that my joy can easily be stolen when I depend on it from the wrong places.

I delight in motherhood when I delight in Him, first.
This is part 3 of a 10 part series on Biblical Motherhood

Biblical Motherhood Series

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