A Lesson in Running

Intentionally setting aside time to hang out with your kids is quite a challenge, no? Especially for those of us who are stuck in our ways! But, it is extremely rewarding, I assure you. And truth be told? I didn't need to do much "planning". I just had to make myself available when my children wanted me to read or play or help with a craft, or simply listen. The most it required of me was my time. Most of what my children wanted me to do was read to them. Read Dr. Seuss. We have many books by him and we all enjoy them.

This is my favorite part of "Green Eggs and Ham". The look on his face is priceless! He didn't know how good it was until he tried it. There are so many life lessons that can be learned from this truth alone! The whole book he was running from something he ended up loving in the end.

Are we running the race in the right direction? Are we aimed for the prize God offered us? Or are we chasing the wind?

Do you have times when you are playing with your children and you begin to fall for that lie that you're not being productive? We get overly wrapped up in doing those things which are seen--those things that can be measured with the eye, and open for all to see. We fail to realize the real value lies within doing those things which are unseen--that what will count for eternity.

By seen and unseen, I mean that others would see if/when they walked through your front door at the end of the day. Would they know you've been productive? Do you spend the entirety of your days cleaning and barking at the children to not make messes so they're afraid to bring anything out?

Or, do you spend your days reading to you children? Teaching them about having godly character? Doing sums and writing stories. Playing games and tying heartstrings.

Our children need us to be there for them more than they need an immaculate house. A great resource that has really challenged me with this is called "Keeping Our Children's Hearts" by Teri Maxwell. In today's world, some of these ideas may seem radical. But if we're honest with ourselves, we can see how difficult it is to keep our children's hearts focused on God with everything else pulling for them.

Jamie over at Simple Homeschool shares how she handles her deep cleaning--once a month. You don't need to be a homeschooling mom to adapt this schedule. But it is certainly something to think about.

I school year round and take Friday's off. So Friday's are the days I "catch up" on house work and deep clean one area of the house. The point is to have a set time so you don't have to think about it. You can stay focused on meeting the needs of your children without feeling overwhelmed by all the cleaning "to do's". Obviously daily maintenance is a given. (Clean as you go).

Don't let the days go by with your mind set solely on the wrong things.

How did you do this week? If you really struggled to meet this challenge, would you consider writing a post anyways and sharing your struggle with us? Perhaps we can offer insights and be of encouragement?

The linky is at the bottom, so don't forget to link up!

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Tomorrow I am putting a "sign up linky" for those of you who want to participate in the "31 Days to Clean" challenge. So be sure to come back if you're interested in that. You can subscribe so you don't miss out on anything.

I will also be announcing TWO winners to Sarah Mae's e-book, 31 Days to Clean AND the winner of the ListPlan It Print Membership. So be sure to enter those if you haven't yet.

We will not be having a Homemakers Challenge this week. We will be gearing up for 31 Days to Clean, but I'm also going to give you some things to think about over the week.

Have a great day everyone! Don't forget to link up your post below!

Children Need Encouragment

As a mother, my default is to chastise. As an adult, I see the world differently than my children do. I have many more life experiences than my children do. Rather than lead them by encouraging them and walking with them, I am quick to tell them how they are doing it all wrong. I know, great mothering tactics, right?

Sunday night I was at my church's monthly worship night called "Encounter". My 8-year old was dancing around the sanctuary in worship {she loves ballet, and is pretty good at it}. At one point, she knelt before the alter with her hands raised to heaven, and I began weeping; sobbing, even. Because even through all my mothering failures, God is still faithful.

It was at this time that God spoke to me about changing my mothering "tactics" by becoming an encourager. Here is the irony of it my friends: my spiritual gift is encouragement. So, tell me why my own children have become an exception to having this gift offered to them? Why are they deprived of such a grace-gift?

Not only am I to encourage them, but I am not to wait for the opportunity to come knocking--I need to go seeking those opportunities out. Create them myself. Who can thrive on constant correction? With little words of affirmation?

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. -Hebrews 3:13

The days are evil, friends. We need to make the most of every opportunity. Children will struggle with sin just as much [maybe more?] than adults. They need our encouragement. They need to know who's "got their back". They need to know we still love them, even when they fail.

When we focus on implementing a positive behavior, it automatically pushes the negative behavior out. So as I encourage my children, I will also encourage them to encourage others. This will help push out negative talk and negative attitudes.

It's the building up of the body of Christ; and it begins in our own homes. :)

Question: How can you encourage your children?

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5 Ways to Nurture Your Children

I've written about how I was leading more of a "robotic" life by going through the motions of meeting the physical needs of my children, yet forgetting the importance of nurturing them. I've discovered 5 wonderful ways to help nurture my childrens minds and spirits (spiritual lives). And I don't necessarily think something has to be straight from the Bible for it to have a spiritual impact. Like reading a good book can be soul-nurturing [as long as the book is good, as God wants us to think on good things. Wait--that is straight from the Bible....ahem.] Moving on....

Here are some ways I've come across to be great for tying heartstrings with your children:

1. Read quality books aloud. Not only is this nurturing for the mind but for your relationship with your child. Sometimes it can be challenging to get your child to sit with you to read. If you have another child, especially a younger child, grab that child, open a book, and begin reading. You might be surprised to see your older child make their way over to listen in as well. After getting over that initial "resistance hump", reading time will be an enjoyed time with you and your children.  Some great character building books include fables, Beatrix Potter stories, books by author Thornton Burgess, and of course Bible stories.

2. Conversations--and many of them. Children ask a lot of questions. Many times I tend to push them off as insignificant. But I need to remember, though I know much of how the world works (as compared to a child) , my children don't. They are trying to understand the world they live in by asking questions. This gives me an excellent opportunity to engage in conversation. It is time well spent and much is learned. Children will value our opinions and direction more when we take the time to listen to them and answer their curiosities.

3. Share a hobby. Find something you all enjoy and pursue it together. My daughter and I share many of the same interests while my husband shares many interests with our first son. The point is to take the time to be interested in the things they are interested in. Help them foster their talents. If you don't know much about what they do like, search it out and learn! Or better yet, have your child teach you. My daughter is in ballet and I don't know a thing about the moves or what they are named. She has been teaching me. And together, we are working on a short ballet dance for her to "perform" at our church, but as surprise birthday present for her daddy. She is coming up with the dance. The only thing I'm doing is giving input and helping her remember what moves go with which part of the song. The bottom line is, we are working together, and she is being nurtured.

4. Special 1-on-1 time. In addition to spending small bursts of 1-on-1 time with each child everyday, every week, my husband or I take one child out to breakfast for their own special time. We let each child decide who they want to go with because it gives us a bit of insight to that child's greatest need. As a matter of fact, this opened my eyes quite a bit to how much my children needed me, even though I'm home with them all day. A couple of my children needed me to go to breakfast with them. I thought for certain they would choose their daddy. This has allowed me to adjust our time spent at home, to better fill their "tank".

5. Speak grace. This may be one of the most crucial aspects of nurturing [or tearing down] a child. Our words and our tone have such an impact on our children, you could not even imagine. Not only do they learn from us how to speak to others [by how we speak to them], but they learn our very hearts through our tone and words. Are we speaking in frustration? Anger? Annoyance? They know. Speaking words of grace is the best, and I mean best way to diffuse anger and create an environment of peace. The Bible speaks of this well:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

I cannot even begin to tell you how true those words are. And it helps to get to the root of our frustrations, and deal with them.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13

And it isn't just our face it makes cheerful, but the face of our children. It isn't just our spirits that would  be crushed, but our children's.

This list is my no means exhaustive. There are many ways to nurture our children, but they do all have one thing in common: our time. Our children see what's most valuable to us by how we spend our time.

What are some ways you nurture your children? Let's add to the list and share ideas.

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Photo credit (my lovely sister)