Write It On A Rock

Faith and Family

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

February 10th, 2014 by Sarah

10 Winter Survival Tips For Moms and Dads


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This is the view out of our front window from last winter.  It’s pretty to look at, but I have high hopes for an early spring this year.

The last month has been filled with canceled school and some days with sick kids where we can’t leave our house.

After eight winters in MN with kids, here are a few things that have helped us survive physically and mentally.

Ideas for days when you can’t leave the house. 

1. Let go of your expectations for a clean house or your to-do list for the day (if possible) so you can give extra snuggles.  Sometimes the sick days that I dread become precious because of the extra time I get with our kids.

2. Have a beach party.  Get swimsuits on, grab some beach towels, and get the kids in the bath.  Put some music on and pretend it’s a sunny day at the beach :).

3. If you have girls, do a spa day.  Put some coconut, olive or catsor oil on your hair with a plastic bag.  Do a honey mask and manicure.

4. Get a stack of books, and let the kids into your bed for a cozy time of reading.  My kids seem to think it’s fun if it’s in our big bed.

I try to get to the library once a week in the winter to keep us stocked up on books and videos in case we have a few days where we can’t leave the house. If you can get out for a quick trip to the library, the books on CD, videos, and of course books can be a life saver.

5. Take a deep breath.  You will leave the house again.

I would love to hear your ideas as well!

Help for Our Bodies.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.  These are things that have helped me as I have researched and tried various home remedies. I use a variety, but these are some of my favorites.

1. Freeze a container of homemade chicken noodle soup for one of those days when you need it.  I will share the easiest way!

Buy a large rotisserie chicken. Take the meat off and put it in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on when you will make it.  Then put the carcass in a crock pot, cover with hot water (and garlic, carrots, or onion if you want to make it richer but if I’m in a hurry I skip that).  Cook on low for 12-24 hours.  Your broth will be rich with vitamins and minerals.  There are many benefits to bone broth.

When you’re ready, follow a chicken noodle soup recipe like this one, (but I add peas).  You have your chicken and chicken stock all ready to go, so it takes me less than 20 minutes to do the rest!

2.  Vitamin D3, which primarily comes from the sun and certain foods, is essential for our physical and mental health.  I buy D3 drops and give them to our whole family daily throughout the winter because, well, we’re not seeing much sun in MN.  This has been found to help to ward of illness, depression and even certain cancers.  

When you have your yearly physical ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels.  Even though I had mine tested in the summer and I was taking the recommended amount of D3, my levels were still not in optimal range!  My goal would really be 60, and I believe 40-70 is considered optimal.

You can take too much, but if you’re not in the sun, most people need much more than the recommended daily dosage.  If you want to learn more click the vitamin D link above.

Here is where I buy my vitamin D3 drops in olive oil.  It’s the cheapest I’ve found and I don’t receive anything for mentioning Vitacost.  I think you can find a coupon code for $10 off you first order.

3.  Honey lemon water.  When I feel a cold coming on I drink really strong hot honey lemon water and it often causes the sore throat to go away, or diminishes the length of the cold to a few days.  The tea should have about 1/2 cup of a cup of lemon juice, hot (not boiling) water and as much honey as you need to make it drinkable.  Microwave the water before you put the lemon in it or it supposedly kills the enzymes?  I don’t know, that’s what “they” say.  Cinnamon is also anti-viral, by the way, if you can get a teaspoon of that into your body somehow it’s an added benefit.  I just don’t like it in my honey lemon water personally.

4. Garlic oil. Garlic is antimicrobial.   I have cured my ear aches as well as my kids with this and they did not have to go on antibiotics.  My oldest sons say that it gets rid of the pain within minutes.  You can buy garlic oil or do what I do and heat up a chopped clove of garlic in a small sauce pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Let it cool and add drop it in the ears.

I also swallow chopped garlic like I would a vitamin with water when I get a stomach ache and it often gets rid of it.  The article I linked above shares some of its benefits.

5. Green smoothies.  These are very popular right now, but particularly if you let your kids help you make them or call them a cool name, you can pack some great nutrients in a little drink.  Green smoothie recipes abound on the internet.

If you have ideas, corrections, or questions, please comment.  I am not a health expert and love hearing suggestions!

March 28th, 2013 by Sarah

Making Traditions and Three Ways We Can Help Our Kids Get to Know Christ


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Happy Easter week!  Jason and I are trying to make more traditions surrounding this whole week.  I am not very creative with kids crafts and sometimes I look at other blogs with their creative crafts for Advent or Easter and it makes me feel a little inadequate. I am learning not to place those expectations on myself, and I hope I don’t on you.  I wrote a few suggestions for Easter at the bottom.

I think developing family traditions and ways to teach our kids about God should be fun, not filled with pressure.  So make traditions the way you and your family do them best.  Don’t put pressure on yourself to make your traditions look like everyone elses’, rather do things that bring you joy when you think of doing them for your family.

No need to be overly formal if you aren’t already.  It doesn’t matter if you do something elaborate or use paper plates, just think of what you’re family has the most fun doing and start a tradiion of it.  Music, food, stories, dancing, art?

There are great resources to help us, BUT if we don’t buy any of them, the Bible is all we need. I don’t know that parents were doing kids crafts in 200 BC and obviously they weren’t watching kids Bible movies, but they were able to pass on the most important thing we will ever teach our kids.  A relationship with God.

Decorating Easter eggs from the box kit is about as creative as I get. I do like to cook though, so this week I decided that I would make a passover dinner to teach our kids how God led His people out of slavery in Egypt, but I also wanted to tie it into Jesus and how He has led us out of slavery from sin and death.

Well, it was pretty much a fail.  But that’s OK, I will try again next year.  I made crepes instead of the unleavened bread that accompanies a traditional Seder dinner, and our kids get a little excited about crepes.  They weren’t listening to a word we said.  Next year I think we’ll do the teaching apart from the dinner table.

It can be difficult to start new traditions because it takes planning and effort that a lot of us don’t have.  Here are a few ways we can joyfully and freely teach our kids about God and create traditions in our homes.

1. The first is obvious, but so important.  Pray for your kids and ask God for wisdom on how to teach each child at the phase he/she is at.  I fail in many ways to show my kids God’s love, grace and patience.   I need the Holy Spirit’s help every day.  Sometimes an idea comes to me on how to teach a spiritual truth and I know it is not from myself but from the Holy Spirit.  God knows the hearts and personalities of each of our kids.  Praying for each one of them is one of the greatest gifts we can give them

2. Teach your kids what you’re learning from the Bible. If you have found a devotional book that you like that’s great, but my kids haven’t gotten into the ones that I have read to them.  It’s discouraging when teaching our kids about Jesus is competing with all of the “kid things’ they want to do and we can’t seem to get them engaged.

Here is what I have found to be the best way to engage my kids as I teach them about Christ.  I usually do this during our book time before bed, but sometimes I will teach a short Bible verse or story while my son’s waiting in our house for the bus to come.

I read my Bible daily and then I will either read them the same story or tell it to them in my own words.  I am not doing any separate planning, merely teaching them what God’s teaching me.

Show them how glorious God is.  Children love to hear what a big God we serve.  They love to hear that He’s faster, and more powerful than any superhero.  It glorifies God when we tell them that God is so brilliant that “He knit them together in their mother’s womb,”  Psalm 139:13.  Our kids are comforted to know that God protect us. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”  (Psalm 34:7).

There are a lot of Bible stories missing from children’s Bibles, but if the story I’m teaching is in our children’s Bible that works well for the pictures.

A couple of my favorite Children’s Bibles are “The Jesus Storybook Bible.” and for my boys, “The Action Story Bible.”  Tonight my boys loved hearing the story about Jacob wrestling all night with God from Genesis, and I shared what I learned from that story in my own Bible study.

I love being in a Bible study where I am learning, and when I teach it to my kids I learn it to a greater length!

3. Make sure you kids have a place like church or a youth group where they can learn from other mentors besides you.  I think parents have the greatest potential for influence, but especially in the teen years, our kids will need to hear Biblical truth from other people as well.

There are many more ways we can help our children grow spiritually like introducing them to great Christian literature and helping them to memorize Bible verses that will help them through life.  I’ll write more about that later.  For now…

Here are some ideas of ways to center around Christ for Easter, so they know it’s about more than the Easter Bunny.  Not all of them in one day :).

Watch this awesome four-minute “My King” youtube video and talk about the difference Christ has made in your life this year. Read the story of Jesus’ resurrection out of the Bible, or watch part of the Jesus film.  You could tell a story about a time God has been faithful to you.  Explain how eggs represent new life, and how we can have new life in Jesus.

We do an Easter Egg hunt with Resurrection Eggs, which is nice for little kids.  They tell the story of Easter using symbols in twelve eggs.  You can buy them here or make your own using your own symbols around your house (again don’t stress yourself out).  We bought the eggs :).

One more.  These empty tomb cookies.  You start them the night before Easter.  One year they didn’t work for me and I don’t know why, but when they worked they were really fun.

Sometimes our ideas turn out disastrous, but other times they just stick.  So don’t get discouraged if your efforts go awry.

I hope you all have a blessed Easter no matter how you’re celebrating.   Jesus says in John 14:23, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  I love that.  God is closer to us than our own breath.  No matter where we are God goes with us because Jesus defeated death, and that is the best news of all.  He has risen!

August 28th, 2012 by Sarah

Family Change One at a TIme


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Two months ago a friend from my woman’s small group went to be with Jesus after a battle with cancer.  She was an amazing wife, friend, and mother to three little boys.  She was admired by many as a godly woman.

At her funeral I was inspired by her life, and the legacy I want to live.  I left wanting to know more Scripture, show hospitality, and encourage others right away when I think something positive about them.  I left wanting to be a better mother and wife and to use my time wisely.

Days after the funeral I found my motivation dwindling like a New Years resolution gone bad.  The things I wanted to do differently were drowned out by old habits.

Isn’t that so common?  We are inspired to change something in our life and it falls by the wayside.  I think for me it was because I had ten things on my  mind that I wanted to change.  I didn’t make realistic goals.  Overwhelming.

Psalm 39:4 says, “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.”  My friends funeral reminded me of this yet again.  Our days here are short.

That week I realized that I may not be able to change everything at once, but when I realized that I had neglected my whole list, I decided to start with just one.

Pick one realistic goal, ask yourself what’s holding you back and make a plan on how it’s going to happen.  That goal will become a habit and then it’s time to move onto goal number two.

This is how it looked for me.

  1. My first goal was to memorize Scripture WHILE teaching it to my kids.  Two goals in one, how’s that for goal setting.
  2. What was holding me back?  I felt like I needed some really creative set up.  I am not artsy, my handwriting is horrible, and I was always losing the memory verse I wrote out.  I have friends who type out and laminate their verse of the week.  This is not me.  It paralyzed me.
  3. I made an easier plan.  Simple… during our bed time routine I take my Bible that’s already in our children’s room and read one passage twice.  That’s it.  Just read it every night twice.  After a week my kids had memorized the Psalm.  A week after they got it I had it down too:).
  4. Tell someone.  If you’re daring, publicly mention it.  It might just hold you accountable.

What is your goal?  Maybe it’s sending a text to your spouse daily letting them know what you admire about them?  Maybe reading the Bible or journaling your prayers.  Maybe you want to make it a goal to thank God for something about your spouse when you find yourself getting critical of them.

Lest I overwhelm you, pick just one that you want to change, and it may just change your whole family.

 

May 13th, 2012 by Sarah

The Way I Want to be Remembered as Mom to my Kids


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I have been reflecting today, Mother’s Day, on my own mom and how much I love her.

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom raised us as a single mom, and she struggled with mental health issues most of my childhood.  We did not have the cleanest house on the block.  She didn’t bake, decorate, or garden, and she didn’t cook gourmet food.

I also know my mom made mistakes, but that’s not what I remember about her.

What I do remember is my mom sitting on my bed rubbing my back when I cried as a hormonal teenager.  I remember her packing embarrassingly gigantic lunches when I went on field trips because she was afraid I would get hungry.  And, I remember her compassionate responses when I was sick or struggling with something.

My mom really loved us.  1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

That verse gives me much comfort.  I know I will make mistakes as a mom, and I will sin.  I am lacking in a variety of areas.  I have bad crabby days, but I love my kids deeply.

I hope that my kids remember my love for them and forget my mistakes :).

As I think back to the ways my mom showed her love to me, times that stick out to me vividly, these are a few of the things I want to emulate.

  • My mom showed compassion and mercy when I was hurting, even if it was just a small sickness.
  • She encouraged us often.
  • She took the time to have a “special one on one time” with my brother, sister and I.  Since she often didn’t have babysitters she would take us out of school once in a while for a lunch date.  We cherished that time.
  • She gave us consequences for our behavior, something I loathed at the time but have become thankful for.
  • She was humble enough to apologize.

I remember a time right before I got married.  I was praying and thinking about the possibly near future of being a mom.  Something inside me felt scared and inadequate.  The sense of responsibility washed over me.  I wondered, well I still do wonder sometimes, am I going to mess my children up?

In hindsight I was scared because I thought I had to be perfect, and the picture I had of the “perfect mom” didn’t fit me.

I will never forget the mental image I saw in my head as I confessed my fear to God.  I pictured a little boy laying in his bed, and I was kneeling beside him apologizing.  It was as if the Lord was comforting me by saying, “you won’t be perfect, but you will be forgiven.”

That did bring me comfort, and I have apologized to my children many times since God spoke that to my heart ten years ago.  Just yesterday I turned down the radio in our car and said, “sorry I was crabby today.  I have had a bad attitude, will you guys forgive me?”

They accepted my apology, as they always do.  Sometimes we as parents think it’s unnecessary to apologize, but doing so models a repentant heart, brings reconciliation and shows our kids that we aren’t perfect just because we are the parents.

Thank you Mom for modeling deep love for me.  Thank you for your humility, and your empathy.  It’s why I still call you almost daily.  You listen, you understand, and when I am struggling you pray with me.

I pray for a healthy and godly relationship with my children and that I can model for them the deep, deep love of Christ.

 

March 23rd, 2012 by Sarah

Going Unnoticed


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I spend a lot of time doing tedious tasks. Making and cleaning up from meals, picking up toys, changing diapers, and filing away our bills.  It doesn’t feel very important.  If I am honest,  I can get a bad attitude when my work goes unnoticed for long periods of time.

I have always loved this verse.  On days when I worked outside the home and wanted to please my boss or on days as a mom when I feel unnoticed, this verse is a great reminder.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Colossians 3:23

In mundane moments I try to remind myself that even if my husband doesn’t notice that I just put away his laundry for him, or that I picked up his bowl, God does.  I am reminded that God asks me to do a good job because it’s good and pleases Him, not merely for the praise and recognition of others.

My children may not thank me for changing their diaper or coming into their room at night for the fifth time when what I really want is a break… but God sees when I work with all my heart.  This attitude has given me a joy in doing tasks that I don’t particularly love doing.

People may notice our hard work when we are working hard to please God, but that isn’t even the best reward.  The Bible says we will receive an inheritance.  An inheritance from the Creator of the world and owner of all things… that sounds amazing to me.

This poem for wives and moms by Roy Lessin really encouraged me.

CONTINUE ON

A woman once fretted over the usefulness of her life.

She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife and mother.

She wondered if the time and energy she invested in her husband and children would make a difference. At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated. “Is it worth it” She often wondered.

“Is there something better that I could be doing with my time?”

It was during one of these moments of questioning that she heard the still small voice of her heavenly Father speak to her heart.

“You are a wife and mother because that is what I have called you to be.”

Much of what you do is hidden from the public eye. ” But I notice.”

Most of what you give is done without remuneration. “But I am your reward.”

Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be without your support. Your influence upon him is greater than you think and more powerful than you will ever know. I bless him through your service and honor him through your love.

Your children are precious to me.. Even more precious than they are to you. I have entrusted them to your care to raise for me. What you invest in them is an offering to me.

You may never be in the public spotlight, But your obedience shines as a bright light before me. Continue on. Remember you are MY Servant.

Do all to please me.

By: Roy Lessin

March 17th, 2012 by Sarah

Baby Cuteness


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Some of you have asked if Hudson has adjusted to the fact that Jasper was born as an infant and not a “boy.”  Yes, he has!  In fact, out of all of the siblings, Hudson plays with Jasper the most.  He will sit and talk with Jasper.  He’ll bring him toys that Jasper’s not old enough to play with and he loves to hold him.

Jasper is already five weeks old.  Everyday I try to take a little time to lay down with him.  I know that,”it goes fast” is a cliche but I really know what that means with the newborn stage.

Sometimes I sleep next to him, with his little breath breathing onto my neck.  Or I just lay next to him and look at his little cheeks.

I have so much that needs to be done, but I know how fast this newborn stage goes.  I wish I could bottle up the smell of his almost bald head, the feeling of his soft hands, and the sound of his little noises.

To think that weeks ago he was in my womb.  Amazing.  Complete miracle.

It seemed like a long, hard pregnancy, but I look at what it created and it is more than worth it.  I love the seasons like right now, when I wish I could freeze time.  Yet I know that difficult seasons produce blessings like this.

I obviously prefer the good season to the hard, but sometimes it takes the hard to get to the good, and as I look at Jasper that is what I’m reminded of.

 

February 29th, 2012 by Sarah

Don’t Give Up: Encouragement for Parents


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A few weeks ago I told my six-year-old son he needed to go to his room for ten minutes because of his behavior.  He tried to argue with phrases like “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to disobey.”   I repeated back to him my usual response to manipulative arguing, “I love you too much to argue.”  His response… “No, you don’t love me, this last six years has been a lie!”  Oh the drama.  I had to keep myself from laughing this time at his attempt to get out of a consequence, but there are times when disciplining and instructing consistently can be overwhelming and exhausting.

Galatians 6:9 has become one of my favorite parenting verses.  It says “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”  I often recite this verse in my head when I am in a hard season of parenting.

There are moments as parents when doing “good,” like saying “no” when other parents say “yes,” or staying consistent when our kids are needing consequences can become tiring.  There are moments when you don’t see the fruit of your labor.  This verse encourages us not to become weary.

It says that if we are doing good we will reap a harvest of blessing!  The “harvest of blessing” in this verse is not promising perfect kids if we “do a good job,” since none of us is perfect no matter what our age, but there is a blessing that comes from doing what God asks us to do.

I have made many mistakes as a mom, but have really sought out God’s wisdom in parenting.  I wondered many times if the discipline I did was working at all.  I’ve walked the walk of shame through the grocery store more than a few times, leading one of my screaming two-year-olds to a time out in the bathroom as people stared at me.  I was tired and wondered if I would ever see the fruit of my labor.

I remember reciting Galatians 6:9 on some of my hardest days with a couple of strong willed children.  Though my children aren’t perfect, I am starting to reap some of the blessing of the hard work of fighting those long battles, encouraging my kids, and praying for them.  With our new two-week-old baby to care for it is a blessing to see our kids getting along, listening and being helpful, which is not something we’ve always experienced.

It is so easy to want to give into our children’s manipulation, or into our culture’s way of parenting.  It is easier to disengage sometimes.  Remember Jesus promised to never leave us forsake us.  He is with us, and we can always ask Him for strength and wisdom.

Parents don’t give up teaching your kids, setting rules and following through with consequences.  Don’t give up the habit of reading the Bible/devotions to your kids, even when they resist. It may seem too tiring at the time, but it is good and you will reap a harvest of blessing if you don’t give up!

 

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Why do children love to take all of the toilet paper off of the roll?

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It is so sweet when siblings love each other!

Do you have a memory of doing something you knew was good for your child where you ended up reaping a harvest of blessing for it?

 

 

January 23rd, 2012 by Sarah

The Purpose of Parenting


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Seven months ago we found out that we are expecting our fourth baby.

Experiencing my three other children go from an idea in my head, to an ultrasound picture, to the little people each of them has become, has dramatically increased my awareness of what a miracle this little 10 ounce baby inside me really is!

For some reason, with this pregnancy, I’ve found myself worrying more. I worried that I would miscarry or that something would go wrong with the pregnancy, along with worries about the baby’s health.

However, this worry has driven me to God in a new way.

1 Peter 5 says to cast your anxieties on God, and as I’ve done that God has reminded me of two things.

First, He’s reminded me that He doesn’t make mistakes. God uses all things for the good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

And second, He’s reminded me about the purpose of parenting.

Colossians 1:16 says, “All things have been created through him (Jesus) and for him.” Every person created on this earth is created for God, to show who he is.

He gives us our little ones as a gift, but essentially they are first and foremost His to be taught about Him.

As I thought about our next baby and the worries that sometimes creep into my mommy brain I wrote this letter to him/her.

Little Baby Strand, I haven’t met you yet. I don’t know if you are a boy or a girl. I don’t know if you’ll have red hair like your brothers, dark like your auntie, or blonde like your sister. You may be colicky, hyper, or easy going, or spirited. You might like sports or maybe music or art. I wonder these things in anticipation of the beautifully and wonderfully made creation you are. I wonder as well if you will be born with something like blindness, Down’s syndrome, or a genetic disorder.

You see, it doesn’t matter to me if you have any of the above because God has made you perfect the way that you are. I don’t believe that God makes mistakes, and I will not label you in a limiting way. You are being created in my womb right now by God and for Him. I cannot wait to find out more about you, to teach you about the One who made you. I am excited to tell you that God made you “for such a time as this,” and to train you in the way you should go.

Baby Strand, this world values certain looks over others, learning styles and gifts more than others, but I want you to know that God is knitting you together right now exactly the way He wants you to be. I love you already, and I will love you as long as I live.

Love,
Your Mommy

It is freeing to think that our job as parents is not to try to mold our children into what we think they should be. Our children are not accessories given to us to make us look good by the sports they play or the grades they receive. We can trust an all-powerful God that He has created our children with unique gifts to be used for Him.

Whether our child has a easy time learning, has a strong-will, learning disability, an outgoing or shy personality, our goal is to bring out their gifts, but also to teach them about the power of God. Power that uses our weaknesses to show His strength.

Read Bible stories about God’s power to your children and relate it to their lives. Affirm the gifts you see in your children, and encourage them in ways that they can develop and use them. And, pray for your children that Jesus’ power will become real to them even through their weaknesses.

January 22nd, 2012 by Sarah

Enjoying our “Little Blessings”


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I can’t get enough of these three little kiddos, though there are moments when I want to hide in my closet with my secret stash of chocolate and a good book.  That’s not quite an option for me.  An hour after I leave them with the grandparents to go on a date I find myself missing them.

If you were a fly on the wall in our home, you would probably find it comical. Three children ages 5 and under will either leave you laughing or crying. Our two boys are usually running around in just their superhero underwear and a toy sword, baby Isabelle is usually whipping things out of a cupboard or wanting to be held, and watching me get all of the kids into the car would really make you wonder why we ever leave the house.

After having our third baby I made the choice that I needed to laugh through the chaotic moments rather than freak out.

In the midst of these mundane moments of changing diapers and sweeping up messes, these are three of the ways I enjoy life at home with my kids.

The first way is a round about way, but truly the secret. When I spend time with the Lord and give Him the first time of my day it seems like He multiplies my time and gives me more joy and patience with them. When I’m not up earlier than my children I often have them sit next to me with their Bibles while I read mine. As you can imagine, rising prior to them is ideal, but even if it’s not much time in the morning I try to focus even a little time until I can get another quiet moment to spend time with God. I also read a children’s Bible with them every day. It speaks to both them and me, and we get snuggle time.

If you were a fly on the wall in our home, you would probably find it comical. Three children ages 5 and under will either leave you laughing or crying. Our two boys are usually running around in just their superhero underwear and a toy sword, baby Isabelle is usually whipping things out of a cupboard or wanting to be held, and watching me get all of the kids into the car would really make you wonder why we ever leave the house.

After having our third baby I made the choice that I needed to laugh through the chaotic moments rather than freak out.

In the midst of these mundane moments of changing diapers and sweeping up messes, these are three of the ways I enjoy life at home with my kids.

The first way is a round about way, but truly the secret. When I spend time with the Lord and give Him the first time of my day it seems like He multiplies my time and gives me more joy and patience with them. When I’m not up earlier than my children I often have them sit next to me with their Bibles while I read mine. As you can imagine, rising prior to them is ideal, but even if it’s not much time in the morning I try to focus even a little time until I can get another quiet moment to spend time with God. I also read a children’s Bible with them every day. It speaks to both them and me, and we get snuggle time.

Second, having wondered many times—”Do I have what it takes to do this?”—God has supplied all my needs and given me this answer:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). He has done that for me and shown me how strong He is, even though I have so many inadequacies. Jesus gives me wisdom when I ask for it, whether through a parenting book, a friend or prayer and his word right when I need it most.

Third, I realized that what used to frustrate me to a point of discouragement at times (temper tantrums, broken lamps, middle of the night feedings, the sound of multiple cries etc.), is all part of the blessing of serving and teaching my children that causes me to grow in character. We become more like Christ when we practice the patience and love that he gives us.

Every parent has good days and bad days, but our days seem to go better with some kind of routine and intentional plan. There is a greater purpose to all of the mundane moments than we can see right now. Try to laugh in the chaotic moments, pray through the hard times, and encourage and hug your children throughout the mundane moments of the day.