Friday, February 12, 2016

Addressing Our Kids with Scripture

There are affiliate links in this post- that means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. I only recommend books and products that I can personally vouch for, and I take your trust seriously. Thanks for your support of The Purposeful Wife! 

Recently I finished Bruce A. Ray's Withhold Not Correction-the first of twelve parenting books I'd like to read this year. If you recall it was a book I'd been given at a baby shower for my firstborn, and four and a half years later still hadn't read. What bumped it to the top of my stack? 

Seeing not one, but three copies on the shelf of good family friends. These are lovely, lovely people. All five of their boys are grown men, several with families of their own. They are some of the nicest Christian men I know. The mama who raised them said she didn't read Ray's book until her kids were grown, but it basically said everything she would say. Say no more, ma'am. I was sold. 

While it feels somewhat somber and heavy-handed, Withhold Not Correction lays a solid theological framework for parenting. It's sobriety was a splash of cold water to wake up my lethargic parenting. As Christian parents we've been charged with a serious task- to raise our little ones in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We're responsible for training, instructing, and disciplining- all very hard work, but worthwhile and necessary. 

I've made a lot of excuses for myself and my children: It's so hard to be consistent! I just struggle with laziness. She is very hungry. He is super tired. Boys just have so much energy! Girls are just dramatic...etc. 

All of this is true... but if I'm not careful, they can become my justification for neglecting the all important work Christ has called me to. I'm not perfect, and my kids are not perfect- but Christ has called me to this role, and He will equip me for it. My job is to keep showing up, keep seeking him, keep loving and instructing and disciplining and following through. 

One of the areas I most need to step up in is addressing my kids with the Word of God. It's only the Spirit of God speaking through the Word of God that can save my children's souls. I can't save them, but I sure can plant as many seeds of His Word as possible into their little hearts, hoping and fervently praying that He will bless that and cause them to take root and bear fruit. 

The verse my kids hear the most is Ephesians 6:1- "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Ray calls this a "holy catch all," but I've used it as my only catch-all. Different offenses require different Scriptures. Our kids need to see how their behavior fits within the framework of God's Law.

Now when my son takes a toy from his sister, I'm trying to remember Scripture- "God says 'do not steal,' and taking a toy from your sister is stealing." Or when one hits another, instead of just saying that hitting is mean, "the Bible says we ought to love one another- you are not loving your brother when you hit him." Whiny child? "Do everything without grumbling" {Philippians 2:14- there is also a great song for this}.

Instead of just telling my child they are being naughty, I want to pinpoint exactly what it is they are doing that is wrong, and address it with the Word of God. This is challenging- and it requires a whole lot of Bible knowledge from parents. Which means I need to be more diligent in my study of Scripture.

It would be a shame if I only spoke Scripture to my kids in situations of correction- I also want to commend their growth in character and any good I see by pointing them back to the Word. When they are enjoying something good, I want to point them to the Giver of all good things. When they've been obedient and are enjoying blessings because of it, I want to explain it to them as encouragement for future obedience.

This is going to require years of both study and instruction, but I'm thankful that this book gave me the jolt to move forward in this direction. Planting and watering seeds is wonderful work indeed!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

DIY Spice Rack Makeover

One of my all-time favorite wedding gifts was our spice rack. Since it was the first either of us had lived on our own {except for the few months before our wedding that Niall spent settling into the apartment}, I was going to have to start from scratch in building a collection. Generally speaking, spices aren't cheap -thank the Lord for discount groceries and bulk shops!

About a year into marriage I set up a system of cutely labeled baby food jars with painted lids to house the spices not contained on the rack. Essentially I had the equivalent of two spice racks/systems. That's a bit much for this wannabe minimalist.

Add to the fact that over 7 years later, all of the containers had gotten kind of grimy and nasty- a combination of cooking splashes and dust creating a sticky layer over them. I shudder just typing about it. Shame on this not-so-fabulous housekeeper.

At the beginning of this year I was decluttering in my kitchen and decided that enough was enough. I tossed all of the spices I never use- which was half of them. Then I washed all of the containers thoroughly, repainted the tops, and labeled them with a paint pen.

Because I am super on top of things- ha- I dabbled off and on in this project for about two weeks. Now that it's complete, I feel very accomplished and love the look of it!

If your spice rack could use a revamp and face lift, here's what I did:

1. Remove labels. I bought paints for this project before carefully thinking it through- oops. I thought the labels were stamped on, requiring a paint over. Turns out they were just stickers! I could have just taken off the labels, cleaned them, and written a new label. But I had already purchased paint and had my heart set on black lids by this point.

2. Wash the containers. I went the lazy route here. If I was emptying the jar entirely to make room for a more used spice, I washed the whole jar inside and out with hot soapy water. If the contents were going to stay the same, I simply screwed the lid on extra tight and scrubbed the outside carefully, quickly hand drying it. Before taking the labels off for the wash, I wrote the spice name on the bottom in permanent marker. This worked like a charm!

3. Paint the lids. I used an acrylic paint- bad idea, because it can easily wash or chip off. If I could do it all over, I'd just spray paint them.

4. Write a new label. I bought a paint pen for just a few bucks at Wal-Mart, and for the most part loved how it worked. They have oodles of colors if you want to go fancier than I did. I did run into a bit of trouble on several of the labels when it dumped a profuse amount of paint out, but I did my best to work with it and in the end was satisfied as a whole. Alternately, you could just print labels on a label maker or your printer.

Paint pen leaks- oops.
I'm not the craftiest of crafters, and my execution wasn't great. But I love that a) all of my spices are in one handy location, b) my spice rack is super clean now, and c) a little piece of my kitchen got a makeover. I've been enjoying looking at it and using it every day.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Accepting My Portion

There are affiliate links in this post- that means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. I only recommend books and products that I can personally vouch for, and I take your trust seriously. Thanks for your support of The Purposeful Wife! 

I'm beginning every Monday morning of 2016 with words from a "great mind"- encouraging quotes from believers who have finished the course before us, running well to the end. My prayer is that they will give both you and me the boost we need to start our week both hopeful and fixed on Jesus.

"Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are cancelled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter." Elisabeth Elliot, Keep A Quiet Heart

How easy it is to resist God's Providences in our lives. The kids get a stomach bug, and our hearts start grumbling and complaining about cleaning nasty messes and all the extra laundry and how our houses are so much filthier.

I'm woken several times in the night by little ones, and now it seems very unjust that I have to get up when the alarm goes off, and the requirements placed upon me don't lighten up even though I didn't get nearly enough sleep. I forget that God knows exactly what I need.

Why can't we just make more money, or have more obedient children, or stop having all these health issues? Why do so many little irritations pop up and vex us on a given day? Why can't things just go my way?

All of these little rebellions to circumstances are actually assaults on the goodness of God.

Can we trust Him in the little irritations? Will we walk in joyful obedience to His will, even when His will is the stomach bug? Can we rejoice in His perfect plan when our kids aren't sleeping, bad news comes back from the doctor, or the bills are piling so high and our financial situation seems hopeless?

According to EE, as we graciously accept our circumstances, other options are cancelled. Yes, it would have been nice if the kids hadn't gotten that nasty bug- but now they have, so the sooner I accept and get on with it, the better. Now instead of moping I can just do the next thing in front of me and be faithful in the cleaning and the soothing and the laundry.

A life of quiet contentment no matter the circumstances is far happier than a life of grumbling and resisting.

In the midst of writing this post I took a break to feed the kids breakfast. My son is a wild child, who needs to move- he literally spends the majority of each day bouncing up and down. You think I'm exaggerating, but this actual bouncing is commented on by most people who spend any time around him. As you can imagine, sitting still {especially at mealtimes} is tough for him.

He strongly dislikes his booster seat, so I allowed him to sit in one of the "grown up" chairs. Of course five minutes later he was bouncing, fell right off the chair and bumped his chin. At which point I determined he needed to be buckled into his booster for the rest of the meal. This did not make him happy.

As he screamed and resisted my will {which was for his good!}, I couldn't help but see that this is exactly what we do when God's will for us isn't to our liking. Childishness rants against the kind Providences of God when they are painful or uncomfortable. But the obedient, who respond with gratitude and humility, will be blessed.

It's the start of a brand new week. This week many new circumstances are going to arise- some to our liking, and some not. Let's purpose to embrace each one with a quiet heart- trusting in the goodness of the God who ordained them. And remember, "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" {Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart}.

Friday, February 5, 2016

How to Help Your Kids Drink More Water

Everybody knows that staying hydrated is super important. Especially during cold and flu season, it's essential to make sure that you and your kids are drinking enough water. Sometimes kids just aren't big drinkers... and what mom has the energy for another battle? The easier it is to establish this good habit, the better.

One of my kids is constantly drinking. I never have to tell them to do it, they just drink water all day long and continually ask for refills. My other big kid is a different story. If I want that kid to hit their daily quota, it will involve lots of coaxing and encouragement.

Here are a few non-stressful methods I've employed to ensure that my non-drinker drinks enough.

Before you can do this, drink this. Before I serve you your dinner, you have to drink this entire glass. Before you watch a movie, drink this much. Potty break during the movie? I won't turn it on again until the kids have drained half of another glass. Finishing a sippy cup is their ticket to the next cool thing they want to do- play play dough, go to the library, have a snack. This provides an effective incentive!

When one of the kids is sick and hydration becomes all the more essential, I've been known to go through stacks of books, having the child take another sip before I will turn the page. Each book, depending on length, can get a good ten sips or so.

Make water novel. Sure, water is anything but novel... but how can you make it just a tad more enticing? Sticking slices of lemon, lime, and cucumber are more obvious additions. But why not a few frozen berries for ice cubes? Or sliced grapes? Throw a fancy swirly straw in the glass, and you might just inspire your kid to drink more readily. Serve it out of a tea pot and have a "tea" party. A little bit of creativity goes a long way in motivating small children.

Model it and share. My kids are still little enough to want to be just like mom {I don't have high hopes, but I'm praying that this lasts!}. When they see me drinking out of my Starbucks cold cup with the straw, they want to drink it too. If I offer them what I'm having, they are super-de-duper excited to be in on it. When that non-drinking kiddo is struggling, I encourage them by taking one sip for every sip they take, or chugging down my glass while they do the same. Children more readily follow instruction when the instruction is accompanied by example.

It really can be as easy as all that. How do you encourage water drinking in your home?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Habits Update {February}

The links below are affiliate links- which means that if you make a purchase through them, I receive a small comission at no extra charge to you. But you should know that I am an avid believer in reading for free through your library. Thanks for supporting The Purposeful Wife!

At the beginning of the year, I shared my plans to focus in on developing a few key habits instead of making resolutions. Here's an update on how the year is going so far, with my fresh habit tackling plans for a new month. The first day of each month is another little blank slate in the New Year, and I am trying to capitalize on that happy truth!

Get Outside Every Day. I'd say I've accomplished this about 50% of the time. Of course it helps that we are having an unusually warm winter- hooray! But it is an area I need to develop in. I'm channeling the power of scheduling, writing it in for a specific time on each day's plan. So far I've managed to follow through on it every day this month {we're only 3 days in you say? well hey, it's a start!}.

Work On My Blog Every Week Day. More or less, yes. I got sidetracked two weeks ago with a big project that is blog related, but prevented me from writing actual posts. Oops. Still learning that whole balance thing! If you noticed that posts were a bit sparse at the end of the month, that's why. I'm working on it every day at nap time... or quiet time, as W has just given up napping. Yes, this makes me very very sad. Quiet time isn't exactly quiet either as we are in the training phase.

Pray With My Kids Every Day. This is going well for me, praise the Lord! If nothing else, I try to at least pray with each kid as I'm tucking them in at night. It can be tempting to skip when all I want is to be done with kids at the end of the day, but I'm trying to remind myself that this is seriously important. And that they are my most important work.

Pray With My Husband Every Day. We were faithfully praying together each night before bed for the first three weeks of January... and then started forgetting and fell out of the habit. No surprise, a drop off in praying together and we were both feeling discouraged and not as connected with each other. Another reset button to push! We're trying to get back on track this month.

Go To Bed At 10 Every Night. Niall and I have slowly been inching our bedtime earlier and earlier, but I haven't quite hit this mark yet. So far this month I've been doing it {again, only three days}. Getting sick again helped. Who wants to stay up late when you feel yucky and wiped out?

Money Saving Mom is doing a go to bed early challenge on Instagram right now, and I'm thinking of joining in by posting a nightly winding down pic. It would be around 9 each night, the time that I need to be getting ready for bed so that I can read, relax, and turn out the lights on time. Are any of you on Instagram? Would you be interested in doing something like that with me?

No Sugar For January. We officially did it! We've had a few days of enjoying a return to all things sweet... but I am still not putting it in my coffee or tea {one pretty significant victory for me!} and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a no dessert except for weekends or special occasions policy.

I'm officially tracking my habits in my new "bullet journal"
How are your new year resolutions/goals/habits going so far? Am I the only one who considers February a perfect reboot time?

P.S. If you want help in creating habits you actually stick to, I highly recommend Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before {recently released in paperback}. I found it to be so helpful and inspiring last year, that I'm seriously considering a reread soon! I checked out a copy at my local library.