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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Being the parent

There are some days that I would rather just let everyone do what they want to without getting after them to complete their schoolwork, chores, etc and to clean up after themselves.  It seems like it would be a lot easier.  But would it really be easier?  Cleaning up after eight and soon to be nine kids would take me all day.  I wouldn't be able to move in this house. 

So I continue to be the parent and to count it all joy when I fall into various trials of children playing a game when they should be doing schoolwork and baby crying at the times when I'm the most busy.  When my child says, "I'm tired." when I ask him to do his chores and I'm sick on the couch and honestly can't get up to do it.  What do I do?  I'm afraid that I don't always respond appropriately.  In fact in this instance, yesterday I didn't,  but I didn't let it get completely out of hand either.  I chose to send him to bed early (this was my rational line of thinking), and told him that if I have any more trouble with this, it will be even earlier.  Maybe he was honestly tired, because this a.m. he came down and said it was good for him to go to bed earlier because he felt like he was almost ready to get up when the alarm went off. 

Legit or not, he still needs to realize that there are days when we don't feel like doing our chores, his was simply to empty the dryer and bring the next load up from the basement and start a new load of wash - 5 minutes max.  Some days we just feel tired, but the important thing is to keep moving.  Some days we just shouldn't do stuff cuz' we're sick and there are eight other people in the house and maybe they can cover for us this once.

What I have to remember throughout these teen years is that I am the parent, working on transitioning to being their friend.  But for now, I must be the parent.  Laughter is o.k when I'm the parent.  Having fun building stuff with them is o.k. when I'm the parent.  Talking about stuff and how terrible it is to be short is o.k. when I'm the parent.  But I'm sorry, you can't just blow me off when I ask you to do your chores, you can't say, "But I'm too tired." or "I'd really rather play a game than do my schoolwork."  Guess I'm not just the parent but also the teacher as well. 

Also as the parent, I need to remember that they are children, still young in the learning process.  I will fail them if I don't choose to teach them, whether or not they desire learning is up to them.  Teaching them is my job, so I commit to teaching them how to do their chores properly and respect one another's property, and treat one another in a God-honoring way.  We are memorizing Romans 12:9-18 and I hope it's sinking in. 

I trust and pray that as I walk this journey that I will draw closer and closer in line with what God desires me to be, and that the times when I do start to miss the mark, I will allow Him to draw me back in line with His will and apologize to the one I wronged.

Have a wonderful Son-filled day,
Steph

Friday, January 27, 2012

Quiet time and the blessings of it

A friend posted on her blog about the benefits of quiet time in her house.  Now, maybe a lot of you are thinking of devotional time.  But in this case, I am not talking about that.  Well, I sort of am.  You'll see as we go along here what I mean.

I wake up in the morning around 5:30 and get breakfast and rush to help my husband get out the door.  We eat breakfast as a family at 6:00 so I'm busy trying to get breakfast ready and his lunch made before he leaves.  Obviously we get his lunch made the night before, but gathering it together and getting it in the cooler is part of my way of serving him.  If I don't get to it before he does, he's fine with that.  I just find joy in getting it done before he gets to the kitchen.

As soon as Dad walks out the door, I start printing off the day's schedules for each one from my on-line school planner that I've mentioned before.  The kids are doing dishes, getting showers, cleaning rooms and we're all hustling to be done before the first child arrives at around 7:20.

Then school has started and it's piano and "Are you where you are supposed to be on the schedule?" "Oh, it's my turn to watch kids." And on and on.  Snack comes at 10:00, but with 9 little ones, snack time is over and still I haven't had my snack, unless I'm on top of things and get snack ready before I call the little ones.

So by noon, I'm lagging, just a little tired, but I know that just around the corner is QT (or quiet time).  Everyone goes to a corner and reads usually.  One of the older boys (today it's Jones) takes the baby and plays quietly with him in my room till baby falls asleep and then Jones will put him in the crib at the end of my bed.  Sharpie is writing a book and working on that today.  Waterman is probably reading.  Bugaboo is reading Mr. Popper's Penguins.  Tank is working on some schoolwork he let slide this a.m, usually that's not allowed but today I'm letting him.  Jules is hopefully looking at books in her bed and Tractorman is probably sound asleep as last I checked his thumb was in his mouth, eyes droopy and blanket tucked firmly in hand.  This despite the fact that after lunch he told me "I'm big now." meaning "I don't need a nap." 

Gently I reminded him that it's not called 'naptime' anymore, but quiet time and the only reason he's in his bed is because that is his quiet place and his big brothers are more than likely on their bed, though only two can be in that room.  We don't have enough rooms in this house for each to have their own.  If we did, each would be in their own room. 

So around 12:45 I rush them through lunch dishes and send them to their places.  Sometimes I have to go upstairs and remind them that it's quiet time, therefore loud noises coming from upstairs are not allowed during this time.  Sometimes I hear some fairly loud thuds. :)

And then, then... what fun!  I sit down at the kitchen table and open my Bible and my study book I'm working on and dig in.  I find it such a joy.  Usually by lunch time I'm a little snappy, just trying to make it.  Today it was 12:08 and I'm griping at the kids to hurry up with the dishes.  But then I looked at the clock and said, "O.k you DO have till 12:45, so you need to be done by then."  I don't want to wait, but it's so much more peaceful to have quiet reign in this house, even for only one hour and 15 minutes.  Because yes, they do read or sleep till 2:00.

And then, it's back to chaos, but my mind is re-focused to where it needs to be and I'm ready for the second part of my day.  Yes, I'm not spending my devotional time early in the morning, but I did forget to say that one of the reasons Daddy wants us to eat together is because we spend time reading God's word together right before he leaves.  So I get some morsels at breakfast and some after lunch. 

The days I don't make time for quiet time are usually chaotic and I don't handle them well.  I don't view these as God punishing me, but my mind has not been drawn back to the truths that God is bigger than all that I am going through.  When I let my mind be filled with thoughts of Him, nothing can be too hard for me. 

Thank you, Lord, for Your Word and it's refreshment to my heart.  A friend asked on Facebook "The psalmist refers to God as "my joy and my delight". (Ps 34:4) What does that mean to you? What does it look like?"  That is what it looks like in a small way.

Steph


Monday, January 23, 2012

Consistency

Someone asked me this weekend how I have time to blog.  Guess I don't have a lot of time to do this, but this my way of getting my thoughts on "paper" as it were.  I find when I log how things are going, I'm more inclined to see a way through to progress.  I do this during our quiet time or sometime during the day when things are somewhat settled. 

Today, I'm picking up after a week of somewhat discouraged work.  That kind of work is not too productive as you all know.  For one thing, I was exhausted last week from some late nights, part of those were my choice and others were not.  Other things happened during the week to leave me feeling somewhat defeated. 

Over the weekend, I asked God to renew my mind, my strength and my desire to serve Him.  He did in a place I least expected it.  You see, God knows all of the things I love doing and one of those things is organizing.  Don't ask me to maintain it after it's organized, I'm not so good at that.  It's one of those things I'm working on. :) 

I was working in my kitchen making breakfast and I found myself bumping into my husband who was either making the coffee or getting it, not sure which.  I couldn't get to the flour etc without him moving and I didn't really want to push him out of the way so I could get on with my agenda, after all we're working on serving one another.
This was where the coffee pot was.

All of the sudden it hit me that the coffee and the mugs should be together and that the edge of the kitchen by the fridge would be the best spot.  But that meant the spices would have to move.  So I ended up re-organizing my kitchen.  It gave me a fresh start to my Saturday and I was excited to keep on organizing until things were in their place. 
A much better place

That start helped me to continue on to a fresh start on Monday.  Last Thursday I made a new chart with definite schedules of things to do throughout the day for the little ones and how the older ones should fill their schoolday and when piano should fit in there so that it's not waking the baby etc.

Today we started it.  It's taking all of my time to keep people on track and to work with them in the areas they are struggling in, but that's my job.  Sometimes it's draining, but quiet time is a well-known time to them all, so while it took a bit longer to get everyone where they were supposed to be and settled, now I have a few minutes of my own, almost an hour actually.  It's a time to refresh myself and prepare for the last half of the day.  By the time QT is over, we have only three hours till parents come and pick up their kids.

Consistency is the key, but as I said before maintenance isn't something I'm super good at, not good at all really.  Even though I know I'm not good at it, it doesn't mean I'm throwing up my hands in despair and it doesn't mean I'm saying, "Oh well, I know I'm not good at that, so I'm not going to try." No, it's my thing to work on and it encourages me to see progress. 

One lady came to visit our house and said, "I can see that you are getting settled into being home full-time, the house is so much more organized."  Although I feel a stab of embarassment at the fact that it used to be unorganized and messy because I was working a lot outside the home, I am thankful that she saw the work God is doing in my heart, and her words made me realize that I have come along some. 

"He's still workin' on me, to make me what I ought to be.  It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.  How loving and patient He must be!  He's still workin' on me." 

I don't know if you know this song, but I love it.  I'm so thankful that He never gives up even though He's gonna be workin' on me for a lifetime.

Philippians 1:6 "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My family


Now that I know how to add pictures without having green across the bottom half, I thought that I would add pics of my family and introduce you to them, for those of you who don't know us personally.

My husband and I both grew up overseas as the children of missionaries.  Our parents were with the same mission organization, but we never met each other growing up.  He lived in Indonesia and I grew up in the Philippines.

I am thankful for the special way God worked to allow us to meet and get to know one another, for he is the best person for me and I can't imagine life with anyone else.

We served overseas in Indonesia and three of our children were born there.  We have seven children, five boys and two girls.  Each of them brings joy to our hearts in their own way.

Our oldest - 13 and in 8th grade

Sharpie (his code name) was born in Missouri while we were in training. Sometimes maybe I rely on him more than I should and I enjoy having his help with the little ones and seeing him learn responsibility in caring for his pets.  He bought ducks last year and almost never has to be reminded to care for them.
Our second - 12 and in 7th grade
Jones was born in Nebraska while we were waiting to head to Indonesia.  He's fun-loving and kind of opposite to his mother in that regard.  He's really enjoying helping me care for the baby boy who stays with us during the weekdays.  A smart kid who is still learning to apply himself in the area of school work. We have puppies and he has picked one that he would like.
Our third child and son - 11 and in 5th grade
Waterman was born in Jakarta, Indonesia.  He is very focused when he wants to get something done.  He has devoted himself to finishing his Awana book and has a few sections to go and he'll be done.  He loves to get things organized when he's in charge of playtime.
My three oldest boys

My fourth child and 1st daughter - 8 and in 3rd grade
Bugaboo was born in Wisconsin, while we stayed with Grandpa and Grandma.  The doctors in Indonesia told us she had water-on-the-brain, but when we arrived home we found nothing wrong.  The doctors from the Baptist hospital in Indonesia are certain it was a miracle and so are we.  We are so thankful for her.  She loves her siblings, though she doesn't always enjoy being a middle child.
My fifth child and 4th son - 7 and in 1st grade
Tank (a nickname my Grandpa gave him) was born in Indonesia at the Baptist hospital on the island of Borneo.  He loves to be in charge of playtime for his younger siblings and enjoys reading and studying his Awana as well.
My sixth child and 2nd daughter - 5 and in Kindergarten
 Jules was born in Indonesia at the same place as Tank.  She brings joy to our lives.  The opposite of her sister in most ways.  Bugaboo is dark-haired and has dark eyes and is rather serious.  Jules is fair skinned with light hair and blue eyes and smiles all the time.  She has really opened our eyes to prayer time.  Rarely does she request anything, she simply thanks God for making us and anything else she can think of at the time.  It's fun to hear her lists of thankful things.
My girlie-girls

My seventh child and 5th son - 3 years old for another month
Tractorman is my last child and a fun little boy to have around.  He loves to watch my husband's uncle drive his tractors past our house.  He loves living on a farm and "helping" whenever anyone will let him.  We are so thankful he is part of our lives, as we are for each one in our family.

Our house is busy and homeschooling can be a challenge keeping up with 6 different grades, but we enjoy the life we are living and are so thankful for where God has us right now.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sermons and their part in my life.

Yesterday we had a couple of great sermons.  Not that that is unusual at our church.  Our pastor shares the Word faithfully and usually it connects in some way or another to my life, or what I am studying. 

Because our annual meeting is coming up soon, our pastor usually goes over the leadership qualities necessary for deacons and elders to help us in selecting the offices necessary for the year. 

I have always felt that though I will not be an elder or deacon that these qualities are things that I should aspire to do.  A couple of things stood out to me yesterday. We were reading from I Timothy 3. 

The first thing was the words "with all dignity".  An elder should keep his children under control with all dignity.  Hmm. Those words are rather thought provoking to me.  I think there are two ways that I can keep my children under control that aren't with dignity - when I am ordering them around and a dictator, and when I'm yelling at them because I'm stressed out.  Neither of these ways sound very dignified to me. 

I need to be careful that I am dignified even in my training the children.  One thing that helps is to be consistent in dealing out discipline for disobedience.  Currently in this house, an effective form of discipline is to take away five minutes of computer time for each infraction.   This is generally dealing with forgetfulness, not blatant disobedience, but it works well for the older ones and for the younger ones as well.  Also it helps with attitude checks. 

The other thing that stood out to me was the need to manage our house well.  Obviously because we do a lot of construction the challenge may be a bit bigger for us, but we can be faithful to quit a bit early and clean up.  Also, I usually send the kids out to play while I get some housework or schoolwork accomplished, but I fail to go and make sure that the things are put away until it's dark and rather too late. 

I'm so thankful for a pastor that challenges me to walk the walk.  I don't think he was thinking specifically of me when he was speaking yesterday, but God was, and He is using it in my life.
Steph

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fridays are my favorite!!!

My littlest one (3 years old, and if I could figure out how to get pics up here I would, but I don't like half of the pic being green :( ), anyway, my littlest boy loves to say "That's my favorite. " Last night I passed out some chewable vitamin C as we are struggling to get over coughs and colds, and he came up to say, "Mom, you're the bestest mom and these are my favorite."

I thought I'd tell you about my school plan currently. Right now, my plan is to have five months of school with one month off. I have Bible study on Thursdays, so as much as possible I want to take those off and have our thorough cleaning day that day. Also once a semester, my in-laws come for a week so we take that off. Our birthdays that fall during school days are also days off.

So every year, I sit down and look at the calendar about 15 times during the school year and revamp everything once more because I forgot about this or that. Also, I have struggled with how to keep everything in front of the kids that they need to do on a particular day. I found a website that has been extremely helpful.

It's an on-line planner, that generates a new activity only after I've checked the activity off. More about this part later. Google "homeschool skedtrak" and you'll find it. It is a Christian family that needed a planner that worked for them and it works well for me, as you also mark quiz days and test days and you have to tell it what percentage each thing (quizzes, tests, etc) has and then as you go you plug in their scores and voila you have a report card. So nice for me.

During the week, Monday through Wednesday, everyone must do one lesson in each subject no matter how far ahead they are. Then, because Thursday is a Bible Study and cleaning day, if they are behind they have to work those subjects. And Friday, if they are ahead in anything, they don't have to work on those subjects. For example, we were to be finished with Lesson 94 at the end of the week. So my first grader only had to do spelling and writing, because he was on lesson 90 in those subjects. Now, today, Friday, he doesn't have to do Language because he's on lesson 95. This helps me to give them some incentive to have a 3-day weekend, though some don't really worry about it much. It also helps me to give them a bit more say on what they do and don't do, because they can do a lesson in each subject every day and stay ahead or they can use their day each week.

So using this planner and the example above, on Thursday, I only checked off spelling and writing, and so the planner generated new activities for these. Today I will not check off Language for him, so the computer will not generate a new activity for Language. I love this. I spend so much less time figuring out where they are supposed to be. As he had a writing test, I have to go to the test tab and under writing, type the grade for that. I'm done. At the end of the semester, I can print off a report card.

As a bonus, I have added other things, piano, typing, watching baby, watching preschoolers, and chores. They have different chores during the week. Also, I let them know on this planner what times they'll be doing each thing, so that I don't have two at the piano at once. It helps me so much as I just go up every morning to print off their lists. I just have to remember to check everything off the day it's done, or we get behind.

There you have it. That's why Fridays are my favorite. It's more relaxed and when they're done, they're done. Monday through Wednesday they have to work at school until a certain time, but not Friday or Thursday.

Have a great day!!!!
Steph

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Two men Paul held in high regard:

Timothy -


  • kindred spirit to Paul vs.20

  • was concerned for the Philippians as Paul was vs. 20

  • cared for the interests of Christ, not his own interests vs.21

  • proven worth, serving in the furtherance of the gospel vs.22

  • like a son to Paul vs.22

Epaphroditus -



  • Paul calls him brother vs.25

  • Paul's fellow worker vs.25

  • Paul's fellow soldier vs.25

  • Philippians' messenger vs. 25

  • Philippians' minister to Paul vs. 25

  • concerned for the Philippians vs.26

  • passionate in serving the Lord to the point of death vs.30

Would that I would have that kind of passion that I would serve Christ whole-heartedly. I don't serve alongside any missionaries this closely. Not to the point of death.


But you know, I have the opportunity to serve Christ passionately where I am. I can serve Him as I wipe noses and help children wash hands. As moms come to pick up their kids, I can serve Him by taking time to chat with them and be an encouragement to them. I can also serve them by faithfully training their children while they are away at work. I can serve Him each and every day.


This will take time and I may not always get away by myself, but I know that this is valuable time well spent as I invest in the lives of the little ones around me. As I train them to study Awana verses and read in their Bibles before they start their day, I'm teaching them the value of reading God's Word and memorizing Scripture.


I need to remember that I can serve Christ each and every day with the tasks He has given me to do and I can do this by remembering what my job is and serving with a cheerful heart.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Training up children

A friend came over the other day and we had a good talk. It was so nice to see her and because of the beautiful weather, her kids and mine were outside running around for the afternoon.

The most encouraging thing about it is we were able to challenge one another through the course of the conversation and encourage one another. What a joy when conversation steers toward truths of the Scripture! When this happens conversation becomes more, it becomes fellowship.

We were talking, of course, of the challenge of raising children. And the frustration that comes upon us when they aren't walking in the truth. And then, lo and behold, we aren't walking in the truth, because we're just so irritated that they are arguing or complaining or whatever.

As we were talking, we began discussing the facts that working on these issues outside the moment is so much better than working on them when they are happening. Obviously, we must train in the latter moments, but if we can help them ahead of time learn the truths, so much better.

We were talking of looking at a list of weaknesses in our children's lives and then picking one point to work on. It's easier to work on a whole group rather than individualize it when you have seven, so we're are choosing selfishness.

Oh and actually, my friend told me that what you work on is the opposite of the negative, so we're really working on generousity. Now, not all of my children have this as their number one problem, but all of them can use some work in this area.

Now, it's my job to talk with them about how it looks to be generous (specifically with our siblings). So I will talk about it with them at meal tables, if I don't forget and when they go to bed and when they are doing schoolwork. Hmmm, sounds a bit like something I've read in Deuteronomy.

Thanks to my friend for such a wonderful time of conversation. One that not only lasted for the time of catching up, but is still causing me to ponder the truths of the Word, days later.

Proverbs 27:17 "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

I pray each of you has friends that sharpen you as well, and may our hearts be willing to be sharpened. It doesn't always feel good.

In Christ,
Steph

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Joy in Chains

This week was the study of Philippians 1 for me. Paul was rejoicing even though he was in prison. He also rejoiced that the gospel was being preached even if it wasn't being preached for right reasons.

The gospel is centered around Jesus Christ. It's all about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. We have to know what it is in order to be able to share it. Paul shared wherever he was. I'm ashamed to say that I don't. What if I offend someone? What if they think I'm weird?

Our life is to be lived in such a way as to show others Christ. Philippians 1:27 is a good verse to memorize. Am I living my life so that others will say "What's different about her?" The next question would be am I hoping that my life's example will be enough so that I don't have to say anything. The whole Praetorian guard knew what Paul believed. He had a captive audience you might say as this was their duty. Somewhere I have read that they were chained to him. Then again, would I want to open my mouth if I couldn't get away from the fist that may come flying at me if I bothered the man.

I wonder though, were the men happy to listen to Paul? Maybe they were. Maybe they didn't mind him talking about his faith in Christ. But I would venture to guess that some probably didn't like it at all. Defending the gospel of Christ brough Paul into this situation - a damp, dark dungeon probably. But he didn't stop. He pressed on continuing until the whole guard knew the truth. He was passionate about it.

One thing to note, he does give credit to the Philippians for his boldness. He tells them it's because of their prayers that he is willing to do this. Makes me think I need to start praying more, for my own willingness to share the Truth, and for people I know who are doing this - my pastor, missionaries and others that I know have committed their lives to doing just that. My mother-in-law works in a nursing home and shares Christ with everyone she comes in contact with. I would like to learn to be more like that.

I guess that's what I'll take from chapter one of Philippians. Prayer and sharing the Truth are two areas where I need growth. And I think it will bring joy to be going on this journey instead of avoiding it.

Because He died for me,
Steph