Still Feeling Burned Out After Your “Me Time”? Here’s Why.

“Self care”

“Me time”

“Fill your cup”

The world seems to practically scream at you these days: “Tired? Overwhelmed? Burnt out? You need to take time for yourself!” Self care is the catch all solution to practically all your ailments.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love some good alone time (Hi, my name is Liz and I’m an introvert!). Even Jesus had alone time! However, here is the problem: Have you ever woken up from your nap or returned home from your “me time” at the coffee shop to find out something crazy?

Your life is still there! 

Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve been like, “okay, I just need a little down time and I’ll be good,” but then moments upon reentering normal life I am just as stressed out (or maybe more if the dishes magically piled up in my absence) as before!

What gives? I thought “filling my cup” was supposed to fix all these problems!

What is the answer?

A few weeks back I was listening to the sermon at church. I honestly don’t even remember what the general topic of the sermon was, because there was one illustration that totally rocked my world.

The pastor was talking about how we often view the power that comes from God like gas in a car. We “fill up our tanks” (through Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, etc) and then try to go about our days, using that “stored up” power. However, that’s not how it works. We don’t run on gasoline, we run on electricity. As long as our wires stay connected to the source, the power keeps flowing.

In John 15:5, Jesus says:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

We can’t fill up at church on a Sunday morning, or even in our morning quiet time, and expect to run on that until we can “fill up” again. And we definitely can’t expect a monthly girls night, a nap on the weekend, or taking time to do our makeup in the morning to be able to give us the strength to face our days with love and patience.

It’s not that those things are bad (they can be very good!), they just don’t have that kind of power. Only one person does. 

Change your mindset

This simple revelation totally changed my mindset. Time with God is no longer another thing to do in my day, it is the lifeline that gets me through my day!

A good way to envision it is this…

Imagine you are swimming in the middle of a large body of water. The water is still, the skies are blue. You are enjoying yourself during your refreshing swim.

The wind starts to pick up a bit, but you are doing fine. However, time passes and the wind blows harder and clouds cover the blue sky. The waves start to roll, getting bigger and bigger.

It begins to rain.

The wind whips the rain into your eyes. The water below you is swirling all around. It is dark now and hard to see. The pleasant swimming you experienced before is only a memory. It is taking all your effort just to keep yourself afloat in this storm.

All of a sudden you look up. A boat has come near. Someone throws you a life preserver ring and it lands within your reach.

You turn to the source of the device and cry in despair: “Can’t you see I can barely stay afloat? How am I supposed to hold on to something while I am already so overwhelmed?!”

Ridiculous, isn’t it? Of course you wouldn’t say that. You would grab that thing for dear life and never let go. You would cling to it in the midst of the storm. 

I just can’t seem to make time

How many times have you said this in regards to spending time with Jesus? “I just can’t seem to make time.” How many times have I said it? We beat ourselves up for missing our quiet time, for skipping our Bible study because of the demands of life. Life swirls around us and we wonder, “when was the last time I prayed?”

Dear friends. God is not someone that we arrange a daily meeting with. To get our instruction and correction and then be sent out to face the world alone. No, God desires to be the life giving power throughout your day. Jesus is your vine. Your life preserver. Your rock.

In the words of the great hymn:

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
  Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
    I come to Thee.

Stay connected to the vine

The truth is, when we are tired, weary, and overwhelmed, taking a nap, having some alone time, or even doing a Bible study is an easy answer. It is simple. It is a concrete action we can take. Clinging to Jesus is not. It takes practice to continually turn our minds to Him. It takes relying on the work of the Holy Spirit within us, instead of on something that we can do for ourselves. However, the power is in Jesus, not in our ability to make time for self care.

So cry out to Him..

…when the kids are going crazy.

…when the baby’s been up all night.

…when your marriage is going through a difficult time.

…when you are overwhelmed.

…when you aren’t sure what to do next.

Go to His Word. Not just to study like a textbook, but because it is the very life-breathing Words of God. 

Sing praises to him throughout the day.

Whisper a prayer or two or three during the moments that try you.

Come to Him again and again for forgiveness and a fresh start. He is not looking for someone who has perfect prayer and Bible study time, but someone who humbly goes to Him again and again for his mercy, grace, and strength.

So yes, take some time for yourself. Get that breather, enjoy your moment of peace. But when the trials of the day return, stay connected to the vine. Cling to the one who really has the power and the strength you so desperately need. 

That is something no amount of self care will ever give you.

 

The BIG Mistake You Might Be Making With Bible Memory

I still remember one of the first verses I had my son memorize.

Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

He probably wasn’t even three years old yet, but he enjoyed memorizing the short verse and then showing off his skills to daddy, grandma, or whoever would listen.

Fast forward a few years. Our scripture memory regularly gets derailed, but I continue to try and pick it back up. He memorizes the classic John 3:16 and works on all the verses from Hero Training. Bad attitudes come up so we learn to “do everything without complaining.” Him and his brother struggle with getting along, so we memorize 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 and work on doing “everything in love.” 

*Everyone* knows it is important to have your children memorize God’s Word and he was memorizing scripture, so though we needed to work on our consistency, I figured we were on the right track.

Well, that was until a few weeks ago.

I was just scrolling Facebook – like ya do – and stopped to read a comment thread on a post asking for advice on what verses to have their children memorize. I took note of the different suggestions as I scanned through the replies, but then I read something that made me stop in my tracks.

The simple, but profound wisdom I’d never considered

Instead of suggesting a verse, one mama shared a brilliant piece of advice.

When thinking through what verses to have her kids memorize, she looked to the future. She envisioned her children as missionaries, or possibly without a Bible and in a scenario where they needed to lean on God. What kind of scripture did she want them to have hidden in their hearts? What truth did she want them to be able to draw on in those moments?

Boom. I immediately felt the conviction. Right then and there I realized that the majority of my children’s scripture memorization was not done for them, it was done for *me* out of a desire to change my children’s behavior.

On the outside I may have looked like a “godly parent” trying to disciple my children with God’s Word. However, the truth was I was in danger of raising little pharisees who have been trained to parrot God’s commands without knowing God in their hearts.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
(Matthew 15:8)

What good would it be if I had wonderfully well behaved children, who know God’s law inside and out, if they did not know and love God himself?

So, moving forward, here are some guidelines I will be using as I choose scripture for my children to memorize…

1. Pray for guidance on what scripture would be best for that child to be currently memorizing

How often have I been in a situation where the Holy Spirit brought to mind a verse I had tucked away in my memory in just the right moment? Only God knows what these moments will be like for your child. Only he will know the situations your children will find themselves in and the perfect Words they will need in that moment.

Pray for wisdom and guidance in choosing what scripture to have your children memorize. Let God use you to hide His Word in their little hearts. Whether it is just what they need now, or will be many years down the road, He will bring fruit from it in His time.

2. Choose scripture that will help the child know God more

Instead of focusing on memorizing verses that tell your child something to do, focus on verses that tell your child who God is. Let them build up in their hearts all the marvelous vastness that is God’s character and goodness.

It is hard to follow someone you do not know and it is hard to love someone you do not care about. Sure, the child may learn to act lovingly toward his neighbor by memorizing certain passages, but if that love does not flow from a relationship with God, what is it worth?

Choose scripture that will give your child a foundation rooted firm in God’s…

…sovereignty and they will be steady through all of life’s trials.

…love and they will always know their worth

…kindness and compassion and they will never be alone

…justice and they will not need to be angered

…strength and they will live in courage

3. Think of future situations the child will benefit from God’s Word stored away

In the original post that I read, she wrote that she would picture her children as missionaries and think of what scripture they may need. Though we do not know the futures ahead of our children, we can ponder this and consider it as we choose passages for them to memorize.

Will they face trials and need to remember God’s goodness? Will they feel alone and scared and need to know that God will never leave them? What scripture will they need to draw upon in moments where a Bible is not nearby?

4. Choose longer passages of scripture when possible

Snippets and fragments of scripture rarely display the same beauty and truth of longer portions. Memorizing random verses taken out of context not only puts us in greater danger of misinterpretation, but it also robs us of the fullness of longer passages.

Instead of doing one separate verse at a time, try selecting a longer passage and slowly make your way through it verse by verse. Passages such as Ps 23, The Lord’s Prayer, and John 1 are great places to start.

All Scripture is God-Breathed

In conclusion, let’s not forget that “all scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Even if you have fallen into the same trap that I did, if you are memorizing scripture with your children, that is still marvelous and can be used by God.

Let this just be an encouragement to both of us to continue teaching our children God’s Word – not for us, that we may somehow selfishly benefit, but for them, so they may grow closer to the heart of God.

 

5 Questions For When You Need A Parenting Heart Check

I could feel the frustration and exasperation welling up inside of me. My hands clenched tight and my jaw set firm. This was a recurring problem and, frankly, this morning I did. not. have. time. for. it.

My frustration boiled over and spilled out in the form of angry words spoken in haste.

What are you doing?! Nothing. You are doing nothing. Why can’t you listen? Are you even paying attention!? We need to leave NOW. 

No. Don’t talk to me. Do what you are supposed to be doing. You are going to make us all late. Let’s go! 

The anger that quickly overtook faded just as fast and all I was left with was a blindsided little boy. I managed an apology and helped him finish his task and we went on with our day.

In a way I was right, this is a recurring problem. However, in this instance I didn’t need a page from a parenting manual or 3 quick tips to get my kid to listen to me.

I needed a heart check.

Oftentimes when it comes to parenting through difficult situations we find ourselves overly focused on what we can do to change our child. To help them become more helpful, patience, obedient, or mature. However, I have found that during these times, what I usually need to do is direct my attention back onto myself. As the parent (and the supposedly more mature one), what I am doing to make sure my heart is in the right place?

If you ever found yourself in a similar situation, here are five soul searching questions I’ve found that work wonders in shifting the focus to where it truly needs to be:

#1 Am I having a positive attitude?

When confronted with a particular parenting situation, what kind of attitude am I displaying? Am I being patient? Am I being creative? Or am I throwing as big of a tantrum as the toddler (even if I’m not the one thrashing around on the floor)?

It’s crazy how easy it is to let your emotions take over and dictate how you handle a situation. In these moments, it’s important to remember to take a step back, breathe deep, and restart.

In addition, it is easy to think that our attitudes only get the best of us in these “heat of the moment” type situations. However, I’ve found that these types of situations aren’t when we are the most in danger of having a bad attitude.

You see, when our negative emotions come flooding through the front door, we usually recognize it and eventually shut it down. But when they come sneaking in through the back, they can often go unnoticed for much longer.

Take, for example, my toddler. One and a half, full of life, and slightly crazy. He is abundantly curious, afraid of nothing, and stubborn as a bull.

He is goofy and adorable and I love this kid with all my heart. However, a few months ago I realized something was happening. Slowly our thoughts and language started to reflect something that wasn’t pretty. J was frequently called the “troublemaker”, the “difficult one”, and the like.

It was usually said with no ill-intent, but what you say becomes what you think and I realized I was constantly thinking of my sweet boy in a negative light. He was the “hard” kid, the one who took all my energy, the one who left me frustrated. I was giving him a negative label that he was going to wear for the rest of his life if I didn’t change something.

It took a major attitude shift and a lot of prayer, but now my attitude towards him couldn’t be more positive.

#2 Am I treating my child like I would want to be treated?

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
-Matthew 7:12

Ah, the classic Golden Rule. This is a big one in our house and I am often breaking up multiple fights a day asking children if they are treating the other as they would like to be treated.

However, it is easy to forget that the golden rule applies to me too.

Would I want to be treated the way I am treating my child? Would I want my husband or boss to treat me in this way? If I was being treated like this, how would it make me feel? Am I treating my child with respect as a person and image bearer, or are our interactions marked by exasperation and frustration on my part?

As a parent, you can still hold firm boundaries while also treating your child with respect, kindness, and empathy.

#3 Am I connecting with my child throughout the day?

Have you noticed that in your marriage when you aren’t spending a lot of time connecting with your spouse, it is way easier to have arguments and get irritated with each other? It took me a while to connect the way this works to my parenting.

It’s easy to get through the day and look back and wonder if we actually took any time to just be with our kids. We make their meals, help them with their chores, shuffle them back and forth to activities, and tuck them in bed, but how much did we connect?

When behavior problems come up with my son, they can oftentimes be solved just by spending some quality time together, giving him my undivided attention. When we are regularly feeling connected and positive with each other, it also makes those bumpy times a little easier to navigate.

#4 Am I having age-appropriate expectations?

It is so easy to get frustrated with your kids for being kids. We can forget that while we may have decades of life experience, they’ve only got a couple years of practice under their belts. So, when I hit a parenting road block, I often ask myself, “Is this a reasonable expectation?”

A four year old might not have the patience or skill set to clean his room on his own, a three year old can’t be expected to perfectly explain that their hunger is making them crabby, and it’s not unexpected for a 1 1/2 year old to dump half a box of baking soda in the bowl of biscuits you are making together (not that I’m speaking from experience here or anything!).

When we recognize these misplaced expectations, we can usually find alternate ways to solve the problem that work for both parent and child.

We can choose to meet our children at their level.

When giving directions, use touch, kneel down and make eye contact. Remove distractions for the easily distracted. Make a safe area for the baby and toddler to play and explore without hearing “no, don’t touch” 50 times a day.

A great way to manage these expectations is to look at the situation from the perspective of your child. Many things that seem simple and easy to an adult are a big deal for a child. Build a strong connection with your child through the use of empathy and understanding as you help them learn and grow.

#5 Am I being proactive in my parenting or merely reactive?

I think this is one of the biggest questions we can ask ourselves as parents. Are we merely putting out the fires as they pop up? Or are we being intentional in our parenting goals?

Are we making and following a plan for teaching our children character and life skills? I’m not saying you have to have a perfect plan or have a strategy for every moment, but if we aim for nothing we miss every time.

Here are a few ideas for being proactive in your parenting strategy:

  • Pray for your children and your ability to parent wisely.
  • Regularly discuss your family values in a positive way.
  • Intentionally train your children in character (try my Hero Training series!).
  • Find ways to connect with and encourage your children on a regular basis.
  • Role play difficult situations with your kids.
  • Invite your children to problem solve with you when difficulties arise.
  • Teach your children God’s Word and pray together.

Keep Asking The Hard Questions

Every day seems to provide abundant opportunities to ask myself these hard questions. Although I wish I would remember these questions before the frustration overflows, it is never too late to get to the heart of my parenting struggles.

Do you want to join me in asking these heart questions?

Enter your e-mail below and I’ll send you my free Heart Questions for Parents printable. Hang it on your mirror, fridge, or (if you’re like me) some days on your forehead. Every time you see it you will help yourself remember these important questions when faced with difficult parenting moments.

Ready to hang up your printable? Enter your e-mail below!

Want more information? You can read more about subscribing to the Family Minute Newsletter here.
Did you enjoy the pictures in this post? Follow me on Instagram here.

3 Thoughts for the Weary Mom

3-thoughts-for-the-weary-mom

I walk down the stairs. Laundry is piled high on the couch (like, seriously high), dishes are still strewn about the kitchen from dinner, toys are scattered across the floor. It is 8:30pm and I just tucked my boys into bed over an hour late. As I type this, I’m sitting here praying I don’t hear screaming over the baby monitor in five minutes.

My husband is gone this evening. It was supposed to be my quiet night to myself to put the boys down at 7, quickly clean up, and watch some non-husband approved tv while catching up on that laundry. Mostly just enjoying the peace and quiet (hello introvert!).

However, instead I had a toddler who fell asleep in the stroller at 6:30 and after multiple failed attempts would not transfer over to his crib. So I gave up and let them both play outside with friends, enjoying the slightly cooler weather this earlier sunset has been bringing.

We came in and restarted the bedtime routine for the second time tonight. Baths, (skipped toothbrushing – shhh!), pajamas, stories, prayer, hugs and kisses, and goodnights. Finally in bed.

And now, the dishes are calling me, the dog is giving me the “I’m hungry” look, and the rest is going to have to be transferred to tomorrow’s already bulging to-do list.

What can a tired, busy mom do to find that balance between those little people who need all of you and that to do list that threatens to run you over at every turn?

A few things are spinning around in my own sleepy head tonight…

#1 Always remember that your kids are people, not another item on the to do list

Bath – check. Clothes – check. Food – check. School – check. Discipline – check.

It can be so easy to make parenting a part of the to do list – at least for me. I’ve found that I really have to slow down, look my little people in the eyes, and remember just that – they are people too. People with needs and hopes and fears and feelings and thoughts of their own. 

They need a mom who connects with them, not treats them like yet another list of things to accomplish in the day.

It seems so simple, that your children are people too, but when I keep it on the forefront of my mind I find it really changes the way I view things.

#2 Stuff’s still gotta get done

It’s also easy to get stuck in the feel good chatter…

“Be present.”

“Babies don’t keep.”

“The dishes will still be there tomorrow.”

All very legitimate statements. Truth all around. But am I the only one who finds that when they follow the “the dishes will still be there tomorrow” mentality I find myself starting tomorrow already feeling behind and stressed?

Because as much as it is a goal of mine to be present, enjoy the fleeting time with my kids, and leave those darn dishes for tomorrow, the truth is it’s all got to get done sometime. Tomorrow arrives and sure enough, the dinner dishes are still there, and now the breakfast ones are too.

So, I’ve found that I have got to have a plan. Cut back on the non-essentials, schedule our days wisely, and be diligent in not wasting time (I’m looking at you Facebook!). When I can stay on top of this, the stress subsides, making it a lot easier to be present with those babies who truly don’t keep.

My blogger friend Kayse has a great e-course that does an amazing job helping you with this by the way, I highly recommend it.

This takes a lot of adjusting, trial and error, and practice (well, at least for me – some may be naturally gifted). Practice, practice, practice. For some reason this surprised me. 7 years of marriage and 4 1/2 years of parenting later and I think I may slowly be starting to show some improvement. 😉

#3 Lean on the Jesus

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, inhardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I have always loved this verse. It is often misquoted – “when I am weak, He is strong” – probably because of the popular children’s song. And while, of course, He is strong, the beauty of the verse is the paradox that it is when we are weak that we are strong. Because it is when we are weak that God’s grace and power can shine through in our lives. Instead of acting like he had it all together, Paul boasted in his weakness because it meant Christ’s power was in him!

So remember that, as much as we’d like to, we don’t have to have it all figured out. We don’t have to be strong on our own. And we definitely don’t have to be supermom.

I may never find that balance between the kids and the to-do list. However, I do know that God has called me to this job and He is the one who will provide the means to accomplish it. I just need to remember to turn to Him.

Well, my husband will be home any time and those dishes are calling my name. Here’s to another night with small children, I pray Christ’s strength for us all!

A Heart for Service Begins in the Home: 3 Areas of Service I Want to Instill in My Children

heart for serving 1

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. -Philippians 2:5-7

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul describes Christ as taking the very nature of a servant.

The King and Creator of the entire universe came to us as a lowly, humble servant.

Repeatedly through the Bible we are called to think of others before ourselves and to act in service to one another.

It can be tempting (at least for me) to think of serving as being these big, grand acts, like being a missionary overseas, pastoring a church, feeding the homeless, making BIG sacrifices to serve in BIG ways.

While these are most definitely amazing things, the small, daily acts of service mean just as much – routinely putting others before yourself, the ability to find joy in bringing another joy, being humble and lifting others up.

Although there are many ways to serve, there are three main areas of service I want to instill in my children as they grow up in our family.

Continue reading my contributor post over at Intentional By Grace

A Heart For Serving Begins in the Home

 

4 Reasons Why You Should Memorize Bible Verses Along With Your Kids

4 Reasons Why You Should Memorize Bible Verses Along With Your Kids

Memorizing Scripture is a common Bible activity for children. Whether it’s through programs like Awana, by using Bible verses set to music, or even one of the lesson plans here on Steadfast Family – there are lots of recommendations and resources for Scripture memorization.

Once you’re a grown up, however, you don’t hear it talked about quite as much.

So, today I want to share four reasons I think we should jump in there and memorize right along with our kiddos!

1. To Be a Good Example

Kids are natural imitators. Monkey see, monkey do. Unfortunately you often realize this after they’ve imitated something you’d really rather them not. AmIright?  🙂

What better way to harness that imitator nature than by leading them to the power of God’s Word? 

I hope my boys have strong memories of their mama saying, singing, chanting, shouting, and whispering their memory verses right alongside them. And not only that, but also being able to recall scripture during the moments we need it. Which brings me to my next point…

2. To Be Able to Recall During Daily Moments

One of my favorite benefits of knowing and memorizing Scripture is the way the Holy Spirit will bring to mind these verses that you have hidden in your heart.

This is not only helpful when fielding spiritual questions from my very inquisitive four year old, but is a constant source of encouragement for me personally as well.

Just today I was pondering how badly I need more contentment in my life and I was thinking to myself “I sure do wish I could ask Paul how in the world he found contentment when he was stuck in prison!” Immediately the answer popped into my head:

For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13

3. To Exercise Our Brains

I’m not gonna lie, more days than not you will find me in the fog known as “mom brain.” With everything I have to do and keep track of, plus the constant demands of caring for small children by the end of the day my brain is mush.

Doing brain work such as memorization is like exercise for the brain. It keeps things sharp and working smoothly. I don’t know about you, but I can definitely benefit from my brain being in tip top shape.

Want to read more about the brain benefits of memorization? Check out this article on Ten Proven Brain Benefits.

4. To Meditate on God’s Word

I love studying the Bible. I love learning about historical context, original languages, and the layers of meaning. I enjoy taking notes, reading commentaries, and listening to teaching.

However, I’m also learning that sometimes I need to put away the study Bible, and just meditate on God’s Word.

Read it just to know it. Just to let the truth sink in. To get lost in the wonder and grace of it all.

Memorizing scripture provides plenty of opportunity for just that.

4 Reasons Why You Should Memorize Bible Verses Along With Your Kids-2

These are just a few reasons why memorizing scripture alongside your children is a beneficial practice. I’m sure there are many more!

What benefits can you add to this list?

 

Affiliate links included

 

Five Ways to Intentionally Disciple Your Kids Even When Life Gets Busy

Five Ways to Intentionally Disciple Your Kids

Life has been crazy busy for our family lately. Some of the commitments are choices we’ve made and some are out of our control – but one thing is for sure, the days are short and the to-do lists are long!

A while back I noticed that I was slipping in my intentionality when it came to discipling my son. We used to have plenty of time for fun Bible and character building crafts and activities (like Play Through The Bible and Hero Training), but lately I had been rushing through the day without giving much thought to activities like these.

I knew that this needed to change, but I also knew that life wasn’t going to be slowing down any time soon. I needed to find simple ways to be intentional about discipling my son that would fit into our current lifestyle.

I did some brainstorming, tweaked a few things, and I’m pretty happy with how things have been going lately. We haven’t been perfect, and I look forward to when life slows down a bit so we can do even more, but it has been working well.

Here’s what we’ve been doing…

1. Discipling In Moments of Discipline

Moments of discipline are some of the best times for pointing your child to the gospel. Little hearts are often tender and in tune with their own shortcomings and need for a Savior.

I am often reminding my son during these moments that God is the only one who does only good and that is why we need Jesus.

2. Simplifying Bible Study Time

It is very easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that kid’s Bible time must always be fun, exciting, and special. Now, believe me, I have no problem with it being those things. In fact, I love making learning about God’s Word a fun and meaningful time for my son. However, it is okay to just keep it simple too.

Here are some ways we’ve done this:

  • Read straight from the Word – taking just a verse or two and reading it at breakfast, talking about it for a moment.
  • Use a simple devotional – I got my son this book for Easter and we have really been enjoying reading a page or two at a time.
  • Read through a children’s Bible – snuggle up on the couch and read a story or two. This is our favorite kid’s Bible

3. Listening to Christ-Centered Music

We love listening to music around here and we tend to listen to all different kinds. However, I do try to listen to Christian music often because of how my son picks up on the message. We will be listening and he will say “they are talking about Jesus!” or “that said the cross!” and he always gets so excited when he hears these familiar concepts.

The great thing too is that Christian music has come a long way since when I was a kid. There are a lot of quality options in different styles and genres. We enjoy listening to a “Toby Mac” station on Pandora that often plays Lecrae, Needtobreathe, Tenth Avenue North, Capital Kings, and of course Toby Mac.

We actually don’t listen to a ton of kid specific music, but some of our favorites that we do listen to are Steve Green and Seeds Family Worship.

Another awesome way to listen to music that I am discovering is through your Amazon Prime account. Did you know that you can stream tons of music through Prime Music? I had no idea until recently! A lot of the above listed artists can be streamed through Prime Music for free!

Join Amazon Prime Music – The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping – 30-day Free Trial

4. “On The Go” Chats

My son and I talk about pretty much everything. Even when he was a baby and toddler I would talk with him about things that were probably above his comprehension. I figured that when he was able to understand he would, so we might as well start now.

Now, as a very inquisitive four year old, the conversations continue. Because we started early making talking about God a normal part of life, I am constantly fielding questions like:

“Is God really everywhere?”

“How come I can’t see God?”

“Is Jesus going to die on the cross again?”

“Can God hear me?”

These conversations are usually short and sweet, but I love that his wheels are always turning and he feels comfortable sharing his thoughts and questions. I think these conversations are a great example of my favorite Biblical parenting advice:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. -Deuteronomy 6:6-7

It is my goal for the Word of God to be so on my heart that we can’t help but talk about it as we go through daily life.

5. Simplify Life

I’m preaching to myself here.

Like I said, life is busy for us right now. And while some of that is just a season, I do know I need to keep looking for ways to simplify life. I don’t want to be rushing through my days, to-do list in hand, not having enough time to be intentional with the things that are priorities to our family.

If you are looking for a resource to help you live your life more intentionally, I highly recommend the eCourse IntentionalByGrace Unplugged: 10 days to live more intentionally from my friend Leigh Ann at Intentional By Grace.

IBG Unplugged

How do you find simple ways to intentionally disciple your children? I’d love to get some more ideas!

 

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Steadfast Family!

Why I’m a “Lazy” Parent

Why I'm a %22Lazy%22 Parent

I am a lazy parent.

There, I said it. It’s out in the open. I’ve confessed.

Now, when I say lazy I don’t mean…

Lazy in teaching my children God’s truth.

Lazy in building my children’s character.

Lazy in spending quality time together.

And definitely not lazy in leading them to the gospel.

Okay, okay, you got me – when I said I was lazy, it was a bit tongue in cheek. So, what do I mean?

I am way too “lazy” to do things for my kids that they are capable of doing for themselves.

I recently read this great article from Kristen of We Are THAT Family titled, “Maybe We Should Stop Coddling Our Kids So Much” and I completely agree. In our house the mantra is, “we are all part of the family, so we all help out.” I’m not going to run around doing every bit of the work when there are more than capable little helpers at my side!

Note: does this mean I never do something nice, like get my son a glass of water, even when he can do it himself? No! Of course not. Part of being a family means doing nice things for each other too!

So, today I want to share with you four things that my four year old regularly takes care of on his own (or with minimal help). Especially recently I have noticed that what used to be the “help” of a toddler has started to transform into genuine help from my little man.

The purpose of this list isn’t to say that your four year old should be doing the exact same things. Instead, it is to encourage you to take stock of your own situation and see where you might need to be a little “lazy.”

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Learning to make grilled cheese

#1 Getting ready for day and ready for bed

Every morning, sometimes before he even comes downstairs for breakfast, K takes off his pajamas, puts his pull-up in his trash can, and gets dressed for the day. Sometimes the outfits are a little wonky and he might be wearing two pairs of socks, but it works for me!

Recently, it occurred to me that there was no reason he couldn’t do this same routine in reverse for bed time. Hooray! Half of the dreaded bed time routine outsourced to the one going to bed! So, every night he knows he needs to do three things: go to the bathroom, put on a pull-up, and get his pajamas on. All that leaves for me is to brush teeth and tuck him in bed.

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Very excited to vacuum his room

#2 Putting away his laundry

This is a new responsibility that we have been working on and it is going very well!

In K’s closet he has a dresser with four drawers. One for PJ’s, one for shirts, one for shorts, and one for long sleeves, undies, and socks. On top of his dresser is pants and sweatshirts (they might swap out with the shorts drawer if it ever gets cold enough here!). The only things that are folded are what is on top of the dresser. Nice clothes are hanged, the rest (and majority) are just tossed in the drawers.

Keeping a four year old’s clothes folded is not a battle I’m willing to spend time on.

So, lately, when I have a pile of clothes for him, he carries them to his room, sorts them, and puts them away. Amazing. One less part of the laundry pile I have to worry about. Occasionally he needs help with a large basket of clothes, or putting things up high, but overall he is doing great!

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Sometimes we are a little too helpful – like the time I came into the room to find him *attempting* to change his wiggly baby brother’s diaper. 

#3 Emptying his bathroom trash

Seeing that I don’t spend a lot of time in his bathroom, his small trash can would quickly begin to overflow with his nightly pull-ups and start to get… stinky.

One day, we were working on the character trait of helpful, and he decided to empty his own trash. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? A quick lesson and now he is capable of emptying his own trash can and putting in a new liner.

Why I'm a Lazy Parent (4 Responsibilities I Give My 4 Year Old)

Helping starts early – baby J loves to “help” with the laundry! 🙂

#4 Picking up his toys

I must admit, this has always been an area of struggle with us. He is so good at dragging his feet when it comes to cleaning up his toys, that eventually I would just step in and finish up for him. However, I am trying to crack down on this a bit!

Just yesterday he showed me that he is very capable of picking up after himself, I just have to be firm about him not getting out of it!

A strategy I have occasionally used is this – I set the timer for one hour. As soon as he is done picking up his toys, he can watch TV until the timer goes off. The first day he got a whopping 8 minutes of TV time (although it only took his about 5 minutes of active work to get everything cleaned up). I am looking forward to seeing some improvement in this area!

Why I'm a %22Lazy%22 Parent

What do you think of these four responsibilities? This is not an exhaustive list, there are many other things he can do, but these are the things I wanted to share with you today. 

What things are your kids responsible for? Do you agree that we coddle our kids too much?

The Treadmill of Mothering Small Children

The Treadmill of Mothering Small

The afternoon felt like I was stuck in that movie Groundhog’s Day.

At this point my 8 week old was starting to fall into some semblance of predictable routines. He woke for the day around the same time, stayed up for a while, cat napped the rest of the morning, and then usually took a longer nap around 1 or 2.

At about 1:30 it seemed pretty obvious that he was getting tired and needed to take that longer nap. I finished up lunch and started looking forward to spending the afternoon catching up on house work (bad move – never count those chickens!).

Then began the seemingly endless cycle. Nurse, rock, lay down baby. Try to start working on something. Baby wakes up 10 minutes later. Play with smiley baby, rock cranky baby, nurse again, lay down. Baby wakes up 3 minutes later. Rock baby. Baby falls asleep in arms. Moments before attempting the lay down baby’s eyes open wide and he smiles as if to say “gotcha.”

IMG_6907

Oh, you thought I was sleeping, mom? 

I tried retreating to the bedroom, where he does such a good job sleeping at night. I rocked. I nursed. I set him in his bed. Happy, sleepy, and sucking on a paci.

I ran downstairs and cleaned the dining room for 15 minutes like a mad woman while listening to my baby cry over the monitor. Mom guilt crept in (I never let big brother cry like that this young!).

I climbed the stairs to the bedroom and peeked over the side of the crib. My good natured little boy smiled at the sight of his mommy. He wanted to be happy and play, but what he really needed was sleep. I tried one more time.

Rock.

Nurse.

Rock.

He drifted off to sleep.

Eyes pop open. “Just kidding mom!

It was 4 pm. I finally gave up.

I carried him downstairs and big brother entertained him in the swing while I managed to finish washing the dishes.

DSC_4391

But who could be mad at this face?

I had begun the work of cleaning the kitchen that morning when I started unloading the dishwasher at breakfast…

…and had finished just in time to start cooking dinner.

Sometimes life with little ones feels like a treadmill. Walking and walking, but going nowhere.

Like life is on repeat. Feed, clothe, soothe. Discipline, teach, correct. Walk, walk, walk – still in the same place.

IMG_7081

Didn’t I just feed you?

So often it feels like there is so much I want to do in life, but instead I spend the day just getting the bare minimum done. If that.

But is that really the case?

Let’s rewind this day back to the beginning again.

The day began with a late start due to extra morning snuggles with my two little boys. (Pouring into K’s love language – physical touch)

I fed my son breakfast, read him his Bible, and helped him with some preschool activities (Enriching his body, spirit, and mind)

I spent the afternoon caring for a baby who needed a little extra TLC. (Meeting his need for attachment and teaching him that mommy loves him, hears him, and can be trusted)

IMG_7134

Sleepy snuggles while doing computer work? Could life get any better?

All that and I managed to do the dishes? I’ll call that a win.

It’s all in your perspective.

That.. and a lot of grace.

 

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

IBG Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum

Dear Mom of a Newborn…

Dear Mom of a Newborn

Dear Mom of a Newborn,

It gets easier.

I promise.

You’re sitting there, feeling pain in places you didn’t know you even had, holding this tiny being that completely depends on you, and you’re wondering. Wondering what life will look like now. Wondering how you’re going to balance it all. Wondering if you’ll ever get to take a shower that lasts longer than 2 minutes again.

Mama. I get it.

And you know what?

You’ll figure it out.

As my second baby is now ending his newborn phase I experienced all these thoughts for the second time around.

DSC_4292

“How will I get anything done with two to care for?”

“Will my house always look like a tornado just came through?”

“Will I ever get to take a shower for more than 2 minutes again?!”

“And where is child #1?”

However, from the haze of the first few weeks, months, I have emerged. And you know what?

It got easier.

We have good days. We have bad days. But we’re figuring out our new rhythm.

Because that’s life. It gets hard. Then it gets easier. Then it’s hard and easy at the same time. It’s up and down and all over the place. But there is nothing that life can throw at you that you can’t take.

DSC_4283

So we adjust.

We finally figure out how to nurse the baby with only one hand.

We learn to get the basics done as soon as we lay the baby down for a nap. Because who knows if we have 2 minutes or 2 hours.

We corral the older sibling in a nearby area so we can keep an eye on him.

We celebrate the small things – getting through the grocery store in one piece, sleeping in ever increasing increments, finally getting to take that shower.

So, as you sit there and cradle that tiny little one, please know. You got this. You will have days when it doesn’t seem that way. And on those days you’ll need to lean hard into the strength of the Savior. Kiss those sweet baby toes and pray a prayer to just get through another day.

Version 2

Then. One day you’ll wake up and realize. You’ve found your new normal.

You’ve got this Mama.