Lessons from a Box of Tissues

I wrote this 2 years ago. Under the pile of used tissues and amidst the chorus of varying degrees of coughing, I have found these words worthy of review year after year.

Lessons from a Box of Tissues

When Mommy is sick

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world”
(Philippians 2:14-15).

The children’s ministries at our church are having all the children memorize the book of Philippians. Last week’s verse was above. “Now that’s a good one for my kids to hide in their hearts,” I thought. Complaints in my house run the whole spectrum.

“I hate spinach.”
“School is boring”
“We never get to do anything fun.”

But it soon became apparent that many of the gripes were coming from my own heart.

“I’m tired of being disrespected.”
“I wish homeschooling is easier.”
“My children never listen to me.”

The verse that I thought was just perfect for my grumbling children was the very one that needed to pierce my heart this week.

“It’s that time of year,” everyone seems to say. ‘Tis the season of colds, coughs, flu, and other sicknesses. And, our household was hit with all of the above this past week. I wish I could say I’m such a devoted wife and mother, who nursed her family back to health, even at the sacrifice of her own. Sadly, I have a lot of selfishness that needs to be dealt with. And, the Lord saw fit to purge it out of me by allowing our whole family, myself included, to get sick.

When Mommy gets sick

Towards the end of our week of quarantine, God mercifully granted me ears to hear myself complaining, and my whining bore a strong resemblance to the complaints of my own children, the very ones I have rebuked them about over and over again.

Thankfully, before I saw the bottom of the box of tissues, the Lord gave me eyes to see the immense log obstructing my own view, while I thought I was doing well remove to the microscopic specks out of my children’s eyes.

I did not treat my children with the grace that I have been given. The Lord Himself did not roll His eyes in exasperation at my failures. While my patience towards my children was reduced to tiny droplets, I experienced the abundant showers of God’s patience towards me.

Tears of Fall

During this most challenging week, the Lord has multiplied His tender mercies and lovingkindness towards me. From my self-made pedestal of supermom, God brought me low, showing me I needed to learn the same lessons as my children.

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin’. Let’s connect!

 

Click on the image below to vote for my blog.
One Click = One Vote

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

image credit

Being Thankful for the Hard Times

Thankfulness for the Hard Times

This is the time of year when kids come home with thankfulness crafts from school, when the internet has no lack of articles about gratitude, and when families pause briefly at the dinner table to share what they are most thankful for.

image

My youngest son proudly held up his project from his Sunday school class, listing three things he is thankful for. “My parents, my baby sister, my family” Certainly, I echo his sentiments, and I’m sure I can easily add to his list even during difficult seasons in life when cultivating thankfulness takes a great deal more effort. But what about the difficult seasons themselves? What about the hardship that doesn’t seem to go away? Or the trial that seems to press down hard on me?

Instead of merely being thankful despite our trials, can we also be thankful for our trials?

image

Difficulties on any given day range from a mild irritation to something that sends me to my pillow weeping. But whether small or large, I find that thankfulness for that one thing that seems to keep life from being easier raises me to a better vantage point, allowing me to discern things I, otherwise, would easily miss.

There is a purpose.

Hard times are not a one-size-fits-all. Financial problems, sickness, abandonment, terminal illness, parenting challenges, broken relationships, unforgiveness … and all to differing degrees. But I believe there is a purpose to our trials. God has a purpose for them. He did not dispense them arbitrarily, like hands dealt from a deck of cards. Some people spend their entire lives, raising their fists at God, cursing Him for their lot in life. But the humble heart, who submits to God, will begin to see the unraveling of His purposes for those trials.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

image

Life is more than me.

When I get fixated on how much I’m suffering, naturally, I spend less and less time noticing that others are hurting too, perhaps even more than I am. Must we be out of the pit first in order to help someone? I say no. Turn around, and you will find that a desperate soul is in the mire with you. Let her climb on your shoulder to boost her up. Hold fast to her arm so you don’t slip during the climb. Cheer each other on. Then be thankful, for you likely would not have found each other if you had not stopped for a second and looked around.

image

image

God’s ways are higher than mine.

It is not my tendency to request or conceive of enduring hardship. My petitions to God tend to be a reflection of an innate desire for an easier, happier life. Often, my prayers are of the “remove this thorn from me” variety (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). However, had God freed me from the burden of my trials when I asked, I would not have known

that He gives strength to endure,

that He is faithful to answer prayers,

and that His grace …

is enough.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin’. Let’s connect!

 

Click on the image below to vote for my blog.
One Click = One Vote

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Just an Ordinary Day: Field Trip


It’s been a while, but I thought I would share a peek into an ordinary day in our life. A couple of days ago, I decided to shake things up a bit in our exciting homeschool routine with a field trip. I know. I can be crazy like that.

As a product of our public school system, I lived for field trip days! Who doesn’t? It’s not any different with homeschooled kids. My children had been anticipating this day since the moment I wrote it down on our family calendar. A couple of my kids are early risers, but on this field trip day, it took little effort to rouse up even the sleepiest of the bunch.

Breakfast was simple and quick (cereal, fruit, and milk), since we had to board the school bus (aka our minivan) early. I packed some water and our favorite homemade granola bars from Kitchen Serf for snacking later, and we were off!

image

We arrived at our destination, the community theater, where a production of The Tales of Peter Rabbit was playing [affiliate link].  I’ve read this beloved, little book to my children for many years. So when someone from our Classical Conversations homeschool community invited us to come, it was an easy yes.

image

Not only was it an opportunity to see a timeless classic come to life on stage, it was also an occasion for the kids to experience the theater and learn some etiquette associated with it. What I love about this production is that it is specifically targeted at children in the content as well as in the length of the show, which was only about an hour. I can’t imagine my youngest ones sitting through anything longer than that.

image

After the performance, our stomachs were grumbling, and because we had invited my in-laws to come with us, naturally, that meant Happy Meals at McDonald’s. I never buy my kids Happy Meals because 1) I’m cheap, and 2) I hate adding to the clutter with toys that will only hold their interest for a week or so. Well, what perfect timing for my kiddos to have Grandma and Grandpa there! Especially since the Happy Meal toys were characters from the highly anticipated Peanuts Movie!

I must admit though that these toys are pretty cute. I’m not a big fan, however, of the box made to look like Snoopy’s house. Eventually, this dog house will fall apart succumbing to the effects of the grease spots left by the French fries.

image

Exhaustion set in during the afternoon that I was the one having a hard time getting motivated to open up our school books. Cursed was the teacher, who made her students do school work after a field trip! Who wants to be that teacher? I mean, a field trip should be that alone. “Yay!” cried the children.

The fun wasn’t over yet. That night was our weekly children’s ministry at our church called Generation to Come, aimed at encouraging young children to participate in worship, bible memory, games, and listening to bible teaching. Simultaneously, our church home groups for adults met for prayer, fellowship, and bible study.

By the end of a very full day, we were all ready to crash. Usually, after putting the kids down, there’s always one or two getting out of bed with creative excuses to avoid going to sleeping.

Not this night.

How was your day?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” Click here for more information on my disclosure.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin’. Let’s connect!

 

Click on the image below to vote for my blog.
One Click = One Vote

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

To Those Who Reached Out to My Special Needs Child

Reaching Out to a Child with Special Needs

My child was just trying to make conversation, but clearly, the other kid just didn’t get him. “There’s something wrong with his brain,” I overheard him say to someone else.

At that moment, I wanted to cry but controlled it to spare myself from being the center of attention at a public place. I wanted to scoop up my child, put my arms around him, and shield him from any hurt, intentional or unintentional, that will come from this world.

But I know putting him in a protective bubble is not what’s best. As cruel as the world can sometimes be, there are people God has placed in my child’s path to reach out to him, and you are one of them. You may be thinking, “Me? What did I do?”

image

You greeted him.

A simple “hello” goes a long way. Far too many of us are preoccupied with our own world or the world being displayed on the tiny screen in our hands, that we fail to look up and notice the person right in front of us, who could use a simple smile to brighten his day.

You listened to him.

Not only did you say “hi”, but you asked the loaded question, “How are you?” Perhaps, you were not expecting a detailed catalog of all the Minions and their unique characteristics or a list of voice actors from The Lego Movie, but you looked at him and listened to it all.

image

You hugged him.

Touch is very important to him. I think it assures him of acceptance by you. Isolation is his fear, as is the case with many of us, so a handshake, a hug, or a high-five allow him to experience the human connection that any person seeks after.

You invited him.

He seemed content to be alone, but you went out of your way to invite him to sit with you. Honestly, social situations are still challenging for him, so he probably felt awkward about accepting the invitation. Nonetheless, you took a courageous step with a seemingly simple kind gesture.

You became his friend.

He doesn’t have very many friends. In fact, if you asked him who they are, he would list names of family members … brothers, sisters, cousins, mom, and dad. But you … he mentioned you. You became his friend.

image

Approaching someone who’s “different” can be intimidating. I understand that. After all, if you’re not crossing paths, why take the detour to intentionally go to that person? Why risk the potential awkwardness of the encounter? Would it even make a difference?

Yes, it does … it certainly does.

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin’. Let’s connect!

 

Click on the image below to vote for my blog.
One Click = One Vote

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

5 Things I No Longer Have Since Becoming a Mom

5 Things I No Longer Have Since Becoming a Mom
It’s time again for “5 Things”, where I write about 5 of anything I can think of. But, truthfully, much of what I think about these days concerns my current station in life: mother to 5 young children.

As I sit here reminiscing about that moment I first laid eyes on my firstborn, it did not seem that long ago. Yet, so much has changed … my wardrobe, for one. (Although perhaps, by the time I’m able to fit into all my pre-pregnancy clothes again, they might actually come back in style.) But besides bidding adieu to some favorite clothing items, there are at least 5 more things I have had to part with since becoming a mom.

1. Sleep

I had a heads up about the lack of sleep after bringing home our newborn, but no one told me this season of sleep deprivation would last this long. Even after sweet baby reached the celebratory milestone of sleeping through the night, some other kid would have bad dreams, bed-wetting incidents, fear of the dark, separation anxieties, etc., etc. That’s ok … too much sleep gives me a headache anyway.

image

2. Sensitivity to Gross Things

From the moment I changed my kid’s first soiled diaper, there has been no turning back. When you let your snotty-nosed child smother you with kisses without flinching or the scent of vomit has no effect on you, you’re liable to be labeled a supermom or just plain crazy. But when I find myself hovering over the toilet, taking a picture of my little one’s ginormous poop, I’m inclined to think I’m the latter.

3. Small Purse

Over the years, my purse has become the keeper of more than just a wallet, keys, and chapstick. Random toys, a diaper, travel wipes, hand sanitizer, and stray Cheerios occupy that space as well. My wallet alone is bulging, not from dollar bills, but from the excessive amount of medical and insurance cards I carry for me and the kids. In other words, cute, small purses are not an option.

image

4. Short-term Memory

I’ve been planner-dependent as far back as my long-term memory can recall. My short-term memory, on the other hand, has been slowly deteriorating since having kids, as evidenced by the fully-marked pages of my daily calendar. Is it that my days are more busy or that I just can’t depend on my brain to remember anything unless I write it down?

5. Solitude

I would have to get up pretty early in the morning to get any measure of peaceful solitude. I probably had more privacy in the girls’ locker room after gym class than I have in my own bathroom. The frantic knocking, jiggling of the door knob, and notes passed under the door while I’m in the bathroom lead me to believe it is my children’s purpose in life to remind me I am not alone.

image

Motherhood has certainly ushered in many significant changes. But, I can’t really lament my state, for what I no longer possess pale in comparison to the 5 beautiful blessings I have gained.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin’. Let’s connect!

 

Click on the image below to vote for my blog.
One Click = One Vote

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Lessons on Love and Marriage From Our Grandparents

image

This year we parted with our beloved grandparents … our Grandma earlier this year and Grandpa just a couple of weeks ago. Since they were from my husband’s side of the family, I really only knew them about 12 years. But in the brief time that I have known them, they have taught me so much, by example, what it means to deeply love someone in marriage.

image

You’re never too old to hold hands.
At family parties, they were usually found sitting on the couch, holding hands. Rarely did they leave each others side.

Be each other’s best friend.
They laughed, they cried. They rejoiced, they mourned. Through any and every circumstance, they stuck together.

Kisses get sweeter as you get older.
In our family, we sometimes referred to them as “the teenagers”. But no teen in love can compete with their sweet public display of affection.

image

Laugh together often.
She would make fun of him. He would jab back with something witty about her. Then came the laughs. During a visit with them, they told my husband and me the secret of their marriage. Laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.

Count the blessing of waking up next to your beloved every morning.
We saw how difficult it was for Grandpa when he lost his bride. They lived in their own apartment up until Grandma passed away. Every time we visited him at my in-laws’ house, Grandma’s picture was always next to him.

image

Love is a commitment.
Is there a better word to describe over 68 years of marriage than “commitment”? I have witnessed no wedding dance as beautiful as theirs on their 65th wedding anniversary. Behind each step and each sway, there existed a passionate love that withstood the test of time and circumstances.

My husband and I have been married over 12 years, and I would love to grow old with him. Perhaps with each passing year, our marriage relationship can look more and more like Grandma and Grandpa’s.

 

image

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin’. Let’s connect!

 

Click on the image below to vote for my blog.
One Click = One Vote

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

16 Ideas for Memorable Photo Books

16 Cool Photo Book Ideas
Last weekend, we spent some time purging … our house, that is. I had hoped to do more, but our master bedroom alone took all day to clean up. It became the place where outdated clothes, too small for the post-pregnancy years, accumulated … where banned toys resided … where old CD cases collected dust … and where boxes of photos remained untouched.

I had high aspirations to make a special scrapbook for my child, but that was when I only had one. Now, 4 kids later, I have more pictures in my digital collection than ever, and those empty scrapbooks sat on the shelf, silently mocking me. Every summer was designated as a time when I can catch up to untangle the mess of photographed memories before I completely succumb to the sad effects of the Mommy brain, forgetting all the details of my children’s early years.

But who was I kidding? I was never gonna get to those pictures.

Fortunately for a failed scrapbooker, like me, I don’t have to endure the walk of shame for long. Photo books have allowed me to preserve some treasured memories without having to print any more unnecessary photos or leave a table full of colored paper and X-Acto knives for my curious little ones to find.

16 Cool Photo Book Ideas

One of my favorite kind of photo book to make is a school yearbook. When I’m plagued with thoughts of whether or not my kids learned anything from being homeschooled, it’s a comfort to look through those pages and see that school actually got done in the midst of laundry, cooking, and other chores.

16 Cool Photo Book Ideas

But a school yearbook is not the only thing you can make with a photo book. Here are 15 more cool ideas:

1. Vacation memories
2. First year of … (i.e., your child, your marriage)
3. Monthly highlights of the year
4. Wedding Album (Less expensive and less bulky option to capture a special event.)
5. Alphabet book (Get your kids involved by taking pictures of things that begin with each letter.)
6. Collection of children’s art
7. Children’s story book (Personalize it with your kids’ names and photos, or put their own story in a book.)
8. Activities of the season (Have a special book for each season.)
9. Book to hand down to your child when they reach a milestone age
10. Book of firsts
11. Guest book (wedding, milestone anniversary, or party)
12. Photo scavenger hunt (Turn a game into fun memories.)
13. Farewell or Milestone Gift (Collect notes and pictures from friends to put in the book.)
14. School project/field trip
15. Cookbook keepsake (Include family favorites and old family recipes.)

 

Want to preserve some memories and make your own photo book?

Shutterfly offers beautiful photo books with different themes that will fit your style. They also have plenty of idea pages if you need some inspiration!

Click here to get started.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Thank you for your support! I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Click here for more information on my disclosure.

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin’. Let’s connect!

 

Click on the image below to vote for my blog.
One Click = One Vote

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

A Story of Inspiration

Hymn Inspiration

In the middle of your busy day, have you ever found yourself suddenly inspired to write a song? This happened to Annie S. Hawks in 1872 when she penned the words to the hymn I Need Thee Every Hour.

This is how she described it,

“One day as a young wife and mo­ther of 37 years of age, I was bu­sy with my reg­u­lar house­hold tasks. Sud­den­ly, I be­came so filled with the sense of near­ness to the Mast­er that, won­der­ing how one could live with­out Him, ei­ther in joy or pain, these words, ‘I Need Thee Ev­e­ry Hour,’ were ush­ered in­to my mind, the thought at once tak­ing full pos­sess­ion of me. Seating myself by the open window in the balmy air of the bright June day, I caught up my pencil and the words were soon committed to paper.”

Isn’t it amazing how God allows you to see Him both in the momentous events and the everyday tasks of life? When I found out the history of this hymn, I was immediately drawn to it.

Annie Hawks was a wife and mother, just like me.

She was busy taking care of her home, just like me.

She needed her Lord continually …

… just like me.

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin’. Let’s connect!

 

Click on the image below to vote for my blog.
One Click = One Vote

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Debunking 10 Myths of Homeschool Moms and Their Kids

We’ve come across plenty of folks, who, after learning we homeschool our kids, give us The Look … followed by The Nod, paired with The Smile. Then, I get the, “Oh, that’s nice!” I’m not really sure what they’re thinking, positive or negative. But if at least one of the common myths of homeschoolers has clouded their thinking, this is my attempt to bring some clarity to the issue.

Debunking 10 Myths of Homeschool Moms and Their Kids

Debunking Homeschooling Myths

1. Homeschool kids don’t know how to socialize.
I never understood this one. Kids come in all shapes and sizes. Some will be more social than others, homeschooled or not. Nowadays, being social means looking down at a screen. That’s something I want my kids to unlearn.

2. Homeschool kids won’t learn what the other kids are learning.
Even though I spend a lot of time preparing our lessons, my kids still claim they learned such-and-such from PBS Kids. So, if what other kids are learning and remembering also come in the form of a TV show or an app, then my kids are just fine.

Debunking Homeschool Myths

3. Homeschool kids can’t participate in extracurricular activities.
My problem is that the flexibility of a homeschool schedule presents too many extracurricular options. Do I really want to drive one kid to dance class, one to basketball, and another to Jiu-Jitsu. I mean, when will I have time to go shopping?

4. Homeschool moms drag their kids to run errands all day.
This brings to mind a day at the store with my littles when the cashier raised an eyebrow at one of my kids and said, “Shouldn’t you be in school?” For the record, we were actually in the middle of a math lesson, showing my kids how much you can save when you use coupons.

5. Homeschoolers stay in their pajamas all day.
Oh, come on! We’re not gonna go to Target in our pajamas!

Debunking Homeschool Myths

6. Homeschool moms don’t get any chores done.
On the contrary, “Chores” is a required subject in our school.

7. Sleeping in and starting school at 11 am is normal.
Not entirely true. We’ve indulged in some late starts, but my kids probably end up doing more school than I did as a kid, working through summer breaks and an occasional Saturday. And forget about taking a sick day … if my kid starts feeling better by lunch, it’s time to crack open those books.

8. Homeschool moms don’t get any breaks.
Sure I do! When my husband gets home from work, it’s “Wrestle with Daddy” time … also known as P.E. class.

Debunking Homeschool Myths

9. All homeschoolers come from a big family.
Exactly how would you define “big”?

10. Homeschool moms have it all together.
We don’t. Some days, I want to hit the snooze button one more time. Or, I want to be excused from class. Or, I’m the one having a meltdown.

But my students are very forgiving. They know that Teacher Mommy doesn’t always have it together, but she’s doing her best. And though they would vote for me as their favorite teacher (Do they have a choice? ;-) ), they really deserve the greater honor of Class of the Year.

Debunking Homeschool Myths

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin’. Let’s connect!

 

Click on the image below to vote for my blog.
One Click = One Vote

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory