It's almost 8 AM, and for once in my life, I have accomplished more before 8:00 then I usually do by, say, 10:00. :) Summer just begs me to roll my lazy bum out of bed and get a jump start on the day. We've been doing it fairly well the past month, simply because circumstances have dictated it to be so. Like spraying the weeds around the edge of the garden before the inevitable SD wind kicks in for the day. Or, watering the plants in the morning before the inevitable sun blisters the heck out of the special little seedlings. Or, wanting to enjoy a brief moment of glory out in God's creation before those inevitable little pesky gnats show up for the day to buzz around your ears and drive you insane. You know, those things. They'll get you out of bed in the morning.

As you can see, sometimes life just necessitates an early start. When there is a task at hand, and I can see that it needs to be done right away in order to make the day run smoothly, it's much easier for me to throw off the covers and hit the ground walking (certainly not running), albeit slowly, particularly before the coffee kicks in. (And, easier is a stretch, because I am NOT a morning person, not one single bone. The desire is there, but it is often squelched by the night person who is certainly the dominant one in this relationship.)

So, please tell me, why is it that God's Word doesn't haul me out of bed the same way? The criteria remain the same - certainly, if it is done right away it DOES help my day run smoothly. If I don't get into the Word right away in the morning, the whole day is often times gone before I even stop to catch my breath, let alone spend time with my maker. (And I don't mean COFFEEmaker - I always seem to find time for him.)

I reflected on this whole concept this morning as this has been a continual struggle for me. I am busy. Super busy. Not the running around "I have to be in town and go a lot of places" type of busy, but more of a "there's always one more thing to do on my to do list" type. It's never going to all get done, but each day is going to be packed chock full of whatever is the latest and hottest burning fire, followed in a nice and neat pecking order of "other important must be accomplished tasks". I know this and don't see it changing in the near future, but yet I continue to put on the back burner the one thing that can give me the most peace and the most power.

It's time for a change. It's time for a commitment. I know God doesn't care how I come to him, but just that I do. It may be at the end of my day, throughout my day, or in spite of my day, but coming to him is necessary, vital, and essential to living and breathing. A relationship cannot develop or grow without a commitment by both parties to be there for each other, and I'm letting God down. Sporadic time with my Savior is no longer acceptable.

That's my resolution and declaration, written right here in black and white. I will start each and every day with my Father. It may be through a brief prayer, an indepth bible reading, a bible study with friends or my husband, or listening to praise music. But, today is a new day, and each and every one will start with Him. I don't think he'll care how I do it, but will just rejoice that I do. It's the least I can do, especially when I think of what he did for me.

Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the anme of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised!
Psalm 113: 1-3
Hi everyone!

Well, the rainy day has come and gone and we are heading back to 80+ degrees today. My list? Well, I did get SOME of the items off but, of course, the list was a bit more ambitious than I was. ;)

Here is the original list...
Clean basement
Reorganize school room
Children complete character sketch essay
Registrations for camps
VBS flier
VBS sign ups
Practice skit with children for Sunday's service
Plan and cook evening meal
Visit Grandpa in nursing home

And, here is what I have left...
Reorganize school room
Children complete character sketch essay (1 got done, 1 still in progress)
Registrations for camps
VBS flier
Visit Grandpa in nursing home

So, it is a bit improved, but I also was able to weed the garden at the end of the day, and managed to sit on the front porch for a bit, so all in all, it was a successful rainy day. :)

Today, I am filling out our calendar and looking to see how we can fit some schoolwork in between all the activities. :) I not only want to finish up everything from this year, but want to get a jump start on next as well. This allows us the ultimate flexibility to travel in the fall and spring if we want to, and helps when I have to work at Brad's office occasionally.

Summer school is going to be casual though, and here is what I hope to accomplish: (I'm obviously into making lists right now! I seem to be so much better at making them, though, than accomplishing what's on them...)

Complete last two science units
Spelling (new list each week)
Cooking camp
Household management camp
Daily reading
Art 2x/week
Restart piano lessons
Daily math practice (pre-algebra prep...nailing down the basics!)

So, hopefully I can get this organized into a plan of attack very soon, and we can get down to the business at hand. We will take weeks off here and there (for my sanity as well as my kiddos) so I anticipate it to be a fun summer.

Yesterday, my oldest was figuring out that he will never be able to buy everything he wants to play with in his childhood years, so he is feeling the desperation of this situation. His amount of cash accrual is not equaling his desire for cash outflow. So, he is shamelessly seeking gainful employment. So, yesterday he made a sign that he put on his front and back, advertising "Happy Housecleaning. Fast and efishint." (His spelling, not mine. ;)) JT hired him to clean his room, so he was able to make a fast $1 there as his room is probably the cleanest one in the house. However, much to his chagrin, his mother did not have any duties for him, stating that his allowance was providing adequate compensation for the jobs she needed him to do. He proceeded to lament the fact that allowances are only paid once a week, and he needed to make some money on a daily basis. He then decided to write a business letter (we learned how to do that in composition last week - good to see the school work going to good use!) to his father, outlining a business proposal in which he would be responsible for push mowing the clinic lawn.

Dear Mr. B,

I have hear that you need a mower for your work; I may be able to help. For jest $50, this will cover gas, oil changes, and transportation.

$11 for gas, $3 set aside for oil change, $1 for transportation each way, equals $15. That would be reduced from the cost for your expenses. I am vary excited for this job. I hope you will agree.



Problem is, we are not sure he's tall enough to even push the mower, so there may be a slight kink in his plans.

I guess I better get the stuff out and have him wash the windows at least and earn an extra buck or two - gotta give the kid a bone when he works so hard to play the part, don't you?

So, if you need a good hired hand, I have a child desperately seeking employment. Sounds like he'll do almost anything. And, if you can request a business letter, that would make the teacher happy, too.

Have a great day - of to make a list, and hopefully check something off it, too!
It's already almost 11am and not much has been accomplished today. Seems like I wait for the rainy days to come by and then when they do, I whittle away the time drinking coffee and contemplating my "to do" list.

Days like today, though, do let you sit back and rearrange the priorities a bit. While bright, warm days necessitate garden time, mowing, and outside work, days like today allow me time to get the laundry caught up, find the floors that somehow get cluttered even though we are outside more often, and spend some time doing desk work. I just love rainy days.

While I am already behind the eight ball in the time element, I still have big plans. So, today, here is my list:

Clean basement
Reorganize school room
Children complete character sketch essay
Registrations for camps
VBS flier
VBS sign ups
Practice skit with children for Sunday's service
Plan and cook evening meal
Visit Grandpa in nursing home

Off to start the process...we'll see how far I get! :)

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Happy Memorial Day! Thanks to Sandra for hosting!

On my bedside table:
Lies Women Believe - three more weeks left on this study, and then I should start over!
Eating Well magazine
Taste of Home magazine
Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real - Book 3, Neta Jackson

On my TV:
Nothing! I love summer because there are no new shows to have on our DVR, so we aren't missing anything - and we aren't wasting our time watching TV!

On the menu for tonight:
Grilling - of some way, shape or form. I am thinking shrimp at this point...

On my To Do List:
Enter insurance checks
Wash bed sheets
Weed the garden (continually!)
Plan VBS skit for this Sunday
VBS information for kick off on Sunday
(Oh, just kidding about those three)

New Recipe I tried last week:
I was on a roll - I think I tried 4 new ones, but this vanilla pudding from scratch was my favorite. Uh, hello, who knew homemade vanilla pudding was about as easy as pulling it from a box...

In the craft basket:
Still, all gardening, all the time ;)
Swimsuit cover up (cutting off an old knit dress)

Looking forward to:
Getting many more of our outside jobs done today so we can sit on the porch more and relax!

Homemaking Tip for this week:
When making a plate of hamburgers, pork chops, or meat to put on the grill, line it with plastic wrap first. Then, when they are ready, remove the plastic wrap, and your serving tray is clean and ready.

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
Just from this morning! Hot off the presses - visit Evening Shade, Morning Latte for a wonderful tribute!

Favorite photo from last week:A beautiful sunset off our front porch...

Lesson learned the past few days:
You don't always need to be in charge. Learn to go with the flow, even when it is against your nature. Stop, take a deep breath, and consider if the change of plans may actually be better than the original plan!

On my Prayer List:
All military families, now and from the past
Praise for the freedoms we have
Thankfulness for those willing to serve
Our pastor, for continued strength in leading the flock

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
From our church service last week..."When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat upon it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up - one on one side, one on the other- so that his hands remained steady till sunset." Exodus 17:12 While we may think we can do it on our own, we need others to keep us on the straight and narrow. The fellowship of believers can be a great asset in strengthening and uplifting us when we are down, and, in turn, we can assist others and uphold them with God's help. Whether near or far, prayer can be the most powerful of tools and weapons to defend against the Evil Foe.
What a difference a day makes. From mid 90's and high winds the past two days, to 55 degrees and overcast today, the change is significant. You can't help but notice the difference the minute you crawl out of your blankets that you certainly didn't need when you went to bed in an 81 degree house! (We knew we just had to make it to today to cool the house down -one less day using the AC!)

As I was driving home from dropping the car off for service this morning, I was thinking about the weather changes over the past few weeks. For some reason, it made me stop and think about our parenting style, our values, our decisions we have made in regards to homeschooling our children, and I realized (for the umpteenth time)how amazing God is. He doesn't fluctuate, he doesn't change, he is ever faithful, ever loving, everlasting. He is the constant when everything around us is revolving. And this, my friends, is what you can cling to as you guide and parent your children.

May seem like a stretch - how does this all fit together? Well, this week we continued in our bible study Lies Women Believe, and we focused on the chapter regarding lies women believe about children. One lie that struck me was that "Children need to get exposed to the 'real world' so that they can learn to function in it." This is a statement I hear fairly frequently due to the fact that we have chosen to homeschool our kiddos. We have a plethora of reasons why we have gone down this path, and, admittedly, limiting exposure to the world outside our walls is one of these reasons. We don't hole them up and not let them out of the door, but we feel quite strongly that we are seeking to strengthen their awareness of God's plan for their lives, building up their defenses for fighting off the Enemy, and preparing them to be a light in a dark world. But, we do get the questionable looks, the doubting thoughts, and the inevitable question of when are we going to send them to REAL school?

God has a plan for our children, and our job as parents is to seek it out and pray over how we can best guide them in their formative years. That is why it is so amazing that God is never changing. When the world spins out of control, he is IN control. When jobs are lost, mistakes are made, tragedies occur, HE is comforting. When friends go by the wayside, HE stays by my side. These are the joys of Jesus that I want to teach and instill in my kids. I don't think I want to throw my children out in the world without helping them truly know this foundation on which to stand. We, as a couple, are seeking to "raise not just "good" children, but children who enthusaistically embrace the Truth, children who love righteousness and hate evil, children who will be used by God to change this world." (Lies Women Believe, p. 173)

It is one thing to have a knowledge of good and evil - we see it in classic movies today and most children can pick it out without difficulty. But, this knowledge needs to be taken a step further to then have our children know to flee from evil - to resist, to step away, to thwart, to reject it. Not simply because it is evil or wrong, or mom and dad said they should, or they know someone would tattle on them...We need to help them see the need to reject evil based on the truth of God's Word. We want them to love the Lord their God with their entire being - and we are up against Satan here! He is fighting us tooth and nail to put doubts in our kids' minds, to tempt them, to tell them it's "okay" to put themself first. What a strong opponent we face. So, we are trying to combat him with everything we have, and our main defense is protection in Christ Jesus. Now is the time to help them cultivate that personal relationship with him, so our kids can experience firsthand the joy of knowing their Savior as friend.

Children know and see and do what they are exposed to in these formative years. The pressure from peers is immense. We are countering that by encouraging them to choose friends that will lift them up and support them, rather than cut them down. We, as parents, have to continually look to what we are exposing them to through our choices in movies, music, and television. Parenting isn't part time - it is a full time, real time, all the time role that is a GIFT from God. We cannot misuse this responsibility and must evaluate constantly what we are modeling to our children on a day to day basis. If we are not in the Word, they will not see the value. If we veg in front of the tv for hours on end, they will see the tv as an important taker of time. What do you model to your children?

So, again, are our kids sheltered? Perhaps. Do they have limits on the computer, tv time, and other outside influences? Yes, to a degree. Do we think that they are not being exposed to peer pressure, evil, and wrong doing? Absolutely not. We know they are being exposed every single day. But, we are trying to arm them, and provide the weapons for battle. Because, only by preparing them with a foundation that cannot be shaken, and helping them see how our God is ever faithful, only through this can our children resist being conformers, but, instead, become transformers through Him!

Today, help your children be "wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil" (Romans 16:19). Then, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

May God grant you the courage and wisdom today to shelter your children in the shadow of the Almighty.
I wanted to share with you my special Mother's Day gifts that I received a couple of weeks ago...

From my son, JD...On his own, at age 11, he remembered that I needed a necklace that I could wear with black clothing. So, he called up my niece who makes jewelry, and put in his order. He sent her some of his hard earned allowance, and received this lovely creation to give to me. What is extra special on this is the way he thought through something well before the time he needed it, and initiated and followed through with his intention all by himself, without any assistance from dad! He really is growing up and showing that he is able to think of others!

From my middle child, JT. A special card with a well written poem, along with a child being held by the hand of Jesus. He handed me the card with the poem, which was a kick off to a full house scavenger hunt that he had created, with the prize of the sculpture at the end. While the sculpture may have been borrowed from another room in the house, the intention was amazing, and the poem was personally created by his loving heart. The poem (unedited)reads:
Mother, Mother you teach me well.
Mother, Mother your really swell.
Mother, Mother I love you.
Mother, Mother so do you.
Mother, Mother you take care of me.
You taught me the difference between a bee and a tree.
Mother, Mother your the best,
I'm trying hard not to be a pest.
Mother, Mother your important to me.
Mother, Mother why can't you see?
Mother, Mother your beautiful.
Your hair is softer than freshly brushed wool.
Mother, Mother you help pick up,
You did it whne Baxter was a wee pup.
Mother, Mother you pick up thumbtacks
So after I'm done please look on the back.
Mother, Mother this is my gift from me to you,
Just please say that you love me too.

Miss TJ pulled out a sweet little Strawberry Shortcake that she wrapped up especially for me from her favorite toy collection. Not to be left out, she found a special little box to wrap it in, and waited excitedly for me to open her gift. Oh, the joy to give a special present and know the recipient will cherish it always.

Last, but not least, my dh worked long and hard at creating some new garden boxes for me to finally get my herb garden next to the house, along with a salad garden and a mismatched treasure of heirloom tomatoes. We have a fairly decent size garden up away from the house, but these little boxes serve double duty as erosion control as well as produce "producers"! So here is the before... And the after... The plants are in, and the flowers for the borders added today. Now, we just have to add some decorative grasses in front of each, and we'll be set for this year. We were going to do just one, but my dh got going and decided that it looked better with three, and, of course, I agree.

Any time I have more room for fresh produce, why would I complain? (Oh, but I will, just as soon as those weeds start invading!) It was a wonderful day and I am so thankful and blessed to be wife and mommy to this family!
Special thanks to Sandra for hosting!

On my bedside table:
Lies Women Believe
The Yada Yada Prayer Group (thanks, Angie!)
Eating Well magazine

On my TV:
We've been gone, so on our DVR we have all of Survivor since last Thursday to watch (don't tell us what happened!!)

On the menu for tonight:
Beautiful night, so hoping to grill some chicken breasts and veggies

On my To Do List:
Unpack from the weekend
Purchase and plant flowers
Water garden
Send statements
Plan summer calendar
Menu for the week
Prepare for bible study for tomorrow

New Recipe I tried last week:
Nothing new last week as we were just trying to keep our heads above water
This week, though, I plan on trying some new bread recipes

In the craft basket:
Any and all things gardening

Looking forward to:
Having a less busy week and enjoying the weather now that the majority of the garden is planted

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Don't leave a pot holder in the oven by accident or you'll be trying to figure out where that melted plastic smell is coming from for a long time...(Thanks, sis!) :)

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
Bonnie hits it on the head so many times, and I found this one to touch my heart.

Favorite photo from last week:My daugher and nieces...special girls on Confirmation Sunday.

Lesson learned the past few days:
It is still possible to love my spouse more than I already do. God has truly blessed me with him!

On my Prayer List:
My cousin who is having surgery to determine if she has ovarian cancer
My niece who was confirmed yesterday - may she always walk with Christ
Brad's grandpa, who continues to decline
My pastor and staff
Our military personnel
Our country

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
For my niece's confirmation, she received an engraved bible from her parents. All the guests were invited to underline and write in comments regarding their favorite verses and prayers for her. What a special idea and one she will treasure forever. I was so surprised to see two of my favorites already underlined by my husband when I went to write my comments. One of them is Colossians 1:10, "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God..." What a challenge this is, but one to keep in mind and at the forefront of everything we say and do. I pray this for myself, my children, and my entire family. May all of us embrace this goal and do all that is possible to live our lives in this way!
I was planning on wrapping up my parenting series today, but found that I had two topics of value to share. Rather than make one REALLY long post, I will separate them out and allow each their own individual spotlight! So, the series continues, and my rambling as well!

Today's topic has to do with caring for others. I have a son who has so much compassion for others. If someone needs something, he is the boy for the job. Compassion just comes naturally for him, whereas we are finding we need to work on developing it more in the other two. This used to bother me immensely, because I wanted my kids to always do the right thing immediately.
"Say you're sorry to your sister."
"How would you feel if someone did that to you? Now, go apologize!"
"I know it was an accident, but it is still the kind thing to say you're sorry."

Shouldn't these things be automatic? I'm realizing they're not, and our role as parents is to work on developing this area of the conscience so that we can teach our children to take initiative instead of relying on us to prompt their actions. If we do that, it will, once again, be more than behavior modification - it will be heart change.

Hebrews 13:18 is our guiding principle for compassion: "Pray with us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way." Did you see the term "honorably"? The definition of honor is to treat people as special, do more than what's expected, and have a good attitude. We need to look no further than the Gospels to see our prime example of honor - did not Jesus treat people with honor? He is the example to not only our children, but to us as well.

So, how do we raise awareness of honor in our children? We need to have a plan in place to help them become more aware of others, and thus, show a compassion for others as well. For example, speak to your children about what honor means. Tell them what it means to "Honor Your Father and Mother". Discuss the implications and how honoring is a command given by God. Have them start each day with an idea about how they can honor one another, and help them find specific examples in which to do so. For instance, instruct your child to set the table as they normally do. After it is completed, suggest they do something to honor others (do more than what's expected). Perhaps they fill the glasses with ice, or collect a pretty bouquet of flowers. Maybe they pull out the chair for a little one or their sister. Another idea comes in cleaning the living room. Everyone picks up and does their part. Time is up, and then you tell them all to "take an honor look." What does that mean? Again, honor is doing more than what's expected, and having a good attitude. It's fluffing the pillows, putting away a toy that is not your own, grabbing the Febreeze and spraying down the couches...that's honor. Teach your children to do honor activities and it will become part of them. One additional idea...give them extra money in their allowance, but the intention is to give it away. They are to honor someone or something with the extra. Enjoy the excitement as they think about what they could do - is it giving it to church, or perhaps pooling their money with that of their siblings to buy a toy for a shelter? What honorable action can they come up with?

We must teach our children that honoring others is a God directed activity, and they must lead their hearts to do so. They cannot do it alone, so we must have a plan in place to help guide them in this way. Take the time to examine yourself as well, as many times we do not honor others with our words and actions. Go above and beyond, and show your children how to do the same.

May God guide you in your endeavors and give you wisdom to raise your children to honor others.

Next time - dealing with rules...

And, for the record, I am trying to feed my kids this drug every day as well.

(No, this isn't my parenting post for the day - but it sure fits!)

More later...
My dear hubby and I are sitting with our backs to each other in the office area and having some great quality time pounding on our computers. He's entering receipts into Quicken, and I just finished entering a bunch of checks into his business to sustain us for another couple of weeks. While it never seems quite convenient to take the time to do the task, I do have to thank and praise the Lord that his business continues to allow me to be home with these beautiful children and be a full time mommy! So, whether I feel like it or not, I need to take that to heart and keep it as a blessing, as opposed to a burden of time.

Now, once again, it's after midnight and I had great aspirations today to create a wonderful sonnet of words to entertain and delight you, but to no avail. It's been one of those days when you run from morning until night. I did have an enjoyable lunch with my family as we went to a local Mongolian BBQ called Hu Hot to celebrate a late Mother's Day. We had planned to eat out that day, but it didn't quite fall into place...and this was a perfect substitute and a wonderful break in the middle of our day.

I have so much I want to say, but lucky for you (teehee)I am tired and ready to head off to bed. I had planned to wrap up my last parenting post, and move on to some other great material that I am weeding through, but sleep is calling...No way do I want to miss that call! :) But, in the meantime, I am reposting my last three parenting posts in case you missed any of them. I will plan on sharing the final installment tomorrow sometime.

Parenting seminar, Part one
Tightening Your Action Point
Dealing with Wrongs

Until then, have a great day, and I am looking forward to visiting you all! Thanks for stopping by, and if you are new to my blog, I'll come see you soon!
Thanks to Sandra for hosting!

On my bedside table:
My bible
Lies Women Believe (bible study)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver
CBD catalog

On my TV:
Typical - still have Survivor and Dancing with the Stars on the DVR

On the menu for tonight:
Either meatloaf and sweet potatoes or leftovers

On my To Do List:
Finish planting the upper garden (tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes are left)
Plant lower three gardens (herbs, more tomatoes, spinach, lettuce)
Purchase and plant flowers
Enter insurance checks
Shop for confirmation gifts
Shop for birthday gifts

New Recipe I tried last week:
Whole Wheat Bread

In the craft basket:
Still gardening at full speed

Looking forward to:
Our trip to Minneapolis this weekend for niece's confirmation
We are her godparents so are excited to see her profess her faith before God- she is such a wonderful girl with a loving heart

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Use a chalk line in your garden to make straight rows - it works GREAT!

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
My friend, Amy, has been working through some tough decisions over the past few months. I love how her and her family have searched for God's direction and found it. While the best decision isn't always the easiest decision, God rewards those who are faithful to him. You can read more about her decision here. Being a mom is tough, but we are here to do what is best for our children - and I think Amy shows this in her family.

Favorite photo from last week (actually last month!):
Lesson learned the past few days:
Ruth is such an example of godliness and faithfulness. She was a woman of excellence and we should strive to be like her.

On my Prayer List:
MF's confirmation
Brad's grandpa - will most likely have surgery this week
Brad's mom for strength as she deals with all the uncertainties regarding Grandpa
Our family
Our country
Our servicemen

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
"Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." I Peter 3:3-4
Happy Mother's Day to all my wonderful blogging friends. May God grant you the wisdom to continue to parent your children through his grace and love.

In my two previous posts about the seminar we attended, I noted the importance of bringing the conscience to the forefront as well as tightening your action plan. I want to speak today to the aspect of dealing with wrongs. This is working on the emotion of guilt, and how to use correction appropriately in order to strengthen the conscience once again.

Proverbs 6:23 speaks to how God's commandments are our guiding principles and firm foundations to raise our children. "For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life." Correction is how our children learn and grow. It takes courage and humility to admit you did wrong (this is true for adults as well!!) Again, by working with the conscience, we can help our children to feel good from the inside out. Help them see that Satan is crouching at the door, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce. They are the warriors, ever on guard with the armor of God. They can be the heroes in their story by overcoming evil with good and using their training to conquer the nasty sin that wants to tempt and overtake them!

But, due to the fall of man, your child will, at times, fall to sin. But, each time they do, it is an opportunity to improve. Remember, when disciplining, work with the heart, rather than the actions, to overcome wrong.

1. Pull your child aside, get down on their level, and ask, "What did you do wrong?"
2. Then, ask, "Why was that wrong?"
3. "What are you going to do differently next time?" (Help them learn from their behavior)
4. Release them from their guilt (Psalm 51:10) "Okay, go ahead and try again." (Shows you have faith in them that they will do better, clears their conscience, and helps them have a fresh start.)

Perhaps you have a child that struggles with anger when they are wronged. Perhaps they lash out, or hit. Help your child to see that anger is good for identifying problems, but not for solving it. So, they have to have a plan! Discuss with them how they can handle their anger for good - have them suggest ideas that will help them the next time. Maybe it is counting to ten before responding or walking away (shows self-control). Maybe they can offer a toy prior to a sibling grabbing it (thinking of others). Perhaps they stay and work through it (patience). Make sure your child is aware of the "background" of why or how they should do something, so again, it's not about modifying the behavior, but about doing what God wants them to do, and doing it from the heart.

I have seen firsthand how well this works in the past few weeks. I have been trying to be acutely aware of bringing each conflict, disobedience, or lack of respect back to the "bottom line". I find myself no longer saying "good job" but "you really showed great self-control in that situation." Or, instead of "That's not the way we do things around here!" I have changed to, "You are not showing respect for me in your tone of voice." My best tip is to keep the fruits of the Spirit at the forefront of your mind, and, more than likely, you will be able to come up with an example of something lacking in almost every situation of discipline. I know this is working because my children are responding with "heart" talk once I ask them what they did wrong. I may have to probe a bit, and ask some leading questions, but instead of "I shouldn't have yelled at my sister" I am more apt to get "I should have been more patient with my sister." Who knew this would actually work??? :) Unfortunately, they're not perfect yet, and still providing me lots of practice. ;)

Three other key points that I want to make sure to convey. One is that we often, as parents, don't allow time in our day to discipline or correct our children. We are booked from end to end, and any kind of disruption in our day (read: conflicts!) cause our blood pressure to sky rocket and we cringe at the inconvenience of dealing with the problem. We don't have the luxury to NOT deal with these problems, becasue we are the parents. We are put on this earth, by God, to raise our children in the way they should go - to follow his paths and his leading. We cannot parent during commercials. We cannot parent when it is convenient. We must parent and discipline when needed, and often it is at the most inopportune moments. So, therefore, build cushion into your day, to be able to allow time to correct and work with your children. You will need, in step 3, time to work through a plan so your child can learn from their behavior and change it! Don't short change your time and don't short change the learning opportunities that present themselves.

Secondly, look at yourself and see if you, as a parent, have some heart issues you need to deal with as well. Do you struggle with patience? Maybe God has given one of your children a personality that challenges you in this area. Draw near to him to help you overcome this challenge. Do you act quickly out of anger? You are a role model to your children - have them see you remove yourself from the room, count to ten, pray for self-control, - let them see you have a plan and have them hold you accountable. Just because we are older, we are not always wiser. Nothing humbles you more than your children seeing where your faults are. Work on them, ask for forgiveness when needed, and learn from your slip ups. Your children will respect you all the more if you do.

Finally, we are a society in which there is little to no accountability. We must stop this trend in our own homes as quickly as possible. Instead of relieving your children of the pressures that exist in this world, put the pressure on them to do what's right. Challenge them, encourage them, and equip them. They can be strong, but they will be strongest if they stand in the Word. Help them to see this through your example. Let them know that they can be heroes in this world - ones who honor God, and honor others. Don't sugar coat it and tell them it will be easy, but it will be honorable, and God will reward them in the end. By struggling, and even suffering, we know this... "Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us..." Romans 5:3-5. We are doing nothing but helping our children by guiding them to do what's right, and only through God's help can we know the way to do so.

Thank you, Lord, for being with us as we parent our children. Guide us and direct us in the ways you intend us to go.

Stay tuned - What to do about rules will be in a future post!
My friend Jen did this and I thought it would be fun to take a quick walk down memory lane. If you decide to do the same, let me know so I can check out your firsts!

Famous Firsts

First job: Babysitting my twin cousins - I think I was only 11 at the time and babysat while my aunt would go out and milk cows

First real job: Cashier at Mackenthun's grocery store. I worked a ton as I had to buy my own clothes as well as lots of other items - money was tight! I think I started working there when I was 16?

First favorite politician: Ronald Reagan is the first politician I really remember

First car: A red Oldsmobile Cutlass that my sister and I shared when we were in college...I just can't remember what we drove before that!

First record/CD: Shawn Cassidy - Oh wait, he was my first poster. I think my first record that I owned was Air Supply. My sister joined a record club and I remember her getting a free record: KISS-Double Platinum! :)

First Sport played: Volleyball, in 7th grade. Played through high school, along with softball. Only played basketball a few years, although I loved the game.

First concert: I think MC Hammer was the first one I went to on my own and that wasn't until college! Before that, I remember mom taking us to The Vienna Boys Choir.

First foreign country visited: Canada (I'm counting that), when I was around 5, perhaps? I remember mountains, a bear in our camp, a tram ride, car breaking down, and me constantly saying something about "Jasper, Jerome" in reference to some state or national park we visited...

First favorite TV show: Little House on the Prairie, hands down. I remember passing up fishing with my dad to watch it one day. (Ouch)

First favorite actor: Leif Garett is the first one I remember along with David Cassidy.

First favorite actress: Well, where there is Leif there is Brooke Shields. I think I was also partial to Tommy from "Eight is Enough".

First boyfriend/girlfriend: I loved Darin D. in first grade. I actually somehow kissed him and remember someone saying they were going to tell on me - figured I would get into big trouble over that one. Felt guilty for weeks!

First encounter with a famous person: Waitressed at Ciatti's in Minneapolis and served Dan Gladden, and some other Minnesota Twins players.

First brush with death: Flipped a three wheeler in early high school and landed on my back, resulting in a compressed vertebrae. Scared the daylights out of me and caused some ongoing problems for awhile.

First house or condo owned: Lovely redwood sided trailer house - two bedroom, two bath. My first house with Brad. We drove by to look at it this past weekend only to find it GONE from the sight. A piece of our history is no more.

First film seen: Mary Poppins or Benji - can't remember which.

First favorite recording artist: Prince

First favorite radio station: ?

First book I remember reading: Loved reading as a child - would guess it would be any of the Little House books or Judy Blume books like Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret...

First meme you answered on your blog: The Simple Woman's Daybook

Take a walk down memory lane and let me know you did. I want to come and see your firsts!
I promised a few days ago that I would talk more about some topics from our parenting seminar, and, boy, did the days get away from me. I have so many things to say, and nary a minute to type them it seems. Lately, I have been innundated (in a good way) with so much worthwhile information on so many fronts. From marriage, to parenting, to living a full life as a godly woman, to nutrition, to family, I have so many thoughts I want to share. I figure, heck, if it hits home with me, it will with someone else as well. And, if not, at least I can refer back to it sometime!

The parenting seminar we attended a few weeks ago spoke to a number of issues dealing with the conscience. If you want to read about that aspect, you can find it here. Today, I want to speak to the idea of "tightening your action point." This is the area in which we could use a lot of improvement - well, one of many. :) Say JD is downstairs and I call him up because we need to get ready to go to town. I know, in my mind, that he is probably going to need to change into a decent pair of pants, put on his shoes, gather up whatever he thinks he needs for the ride in the van, go to the bathroom, get a drink, and get his coat, all before we can head out the door. Five minutes later, I call him again, saying we are going to walk out the door in 5 minutes and I need him ready to go. Five minutes later (or thereabouts if I haven't gotten distracted with something in the meantime) I yell at the top of my lungs that he better get his butt up the steps and into the van before I take away some privilege because he is not listening to me. (Of course, you all know that this is strictly an illustration and something that would NEVER happen in our home...) So, why did he come? He came because there was something that triggered action on his part - most likely, my yelling at the top of my lungs. I had said the same thing three times, but he knew that I meant business when I yelled it.

This seminar spoke to this problem - why are our kids not obeying when we tell them something? Why do they not respond immediately? Most parents need to look at tightening this action point and meaning what they say. You can't tell your kids to go to bed, and not have a routine in which to do so. You can't parent during commercials. You can't demand a response and not carry through with discipline. BUT, your kids know what the action point is - you can, most likely, ask them about when they know to do what you say.

It all ties back to the conscience and helping your children develop the awareness of doing what is right, and caring about others. Anger isn't necessary to get a response, but firmness may be. Make sure you are using instructions versus suggestions. "JD, can you get your coat on?" vs "JD, you need to get your coat on and get in the van." The first indicates that there may be a choice in the matter while the second explains the instructions. Firmness indicates a line in the sand that will have consequences if they cross it...harshness is emotional and not always rational. Firmness ties the instruction to the conscience and speaks to being responsible, looking out for others, cooperation, and consequences. By voicing our instructions, and expecting results, we can step away from behavior modification and work on conscience building - which has long term results.

How do you implement this? First of all, it helps to be working specifically on the conscience with all your disciplining in your home. To keep the conscience at the forefront, you can speak to how it is affecting a relationship (you really showed patience while helping your sister...) If you are speaking from a biblical perspective as well, you can speak to how God requires children to obey their parents. This, obviously, won't matter much to a child who has a conscience which is not greatly developed, so you may have work to do to make the awareness more acute. Then, you may need to speak to your children about the change in your household. If you have previously given your child chance after chance to perform a duty, listen to an instruction, etc., tell them that you will now be expecting them to respond to you right away. You can give them warnings about something coming up if you so choose, "You have five minutes until your computer time is over. Plan accordingly." But, the important thing, is that you must follow through once you state the desired action.

"JD, I need you to put your shoes on to prepare yourself to leave. You are responsible for getting yourself ready and you need to start now. When you are ready, report back to me." (Don't need to give the time frame - that may trigger procrastination)

Steps to help the process:
1. Have the child do the job requested
2. Instruct the child to report back to you when finished
3. Check the child's work, providing feedback
4. Release from work to free their conscience ("Okay, you're free to go.")

Use eye contact, hand holding, and get down on their eye level to assure they are listening.

What if they don't do it? What if they refuse?

We'll talk about "dealing with wrongs" in an upcoming post!
Addendum: After re-reading this post, I feel I failed to mention something vitally important...Ask God for the wisdom to parent your children effectively. Don't try to do it on your own. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work within your child to bring his/her conscience to the surface and KEEP it there. It is only by God's love and his grace that ANY of this is possible. Pray, pray, pray!
For more Happy Homemaker posts, please visit Sandra, our hostess!

On my bedside table:
The Yada Yada Prayer House of Hope Novel: Where do I go? (I started the wrong series - bummer! But, it is really good!), by Neta Jackson
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver

On my TV:
Same ol', same ol'...DVR has Survivor and Dancing with the Stars to be viewed

On the menu for tonight:
Yikes! No plans yet. Need to get on that. Grilling season is here, thank goodness.

On my To Do List:
Purchase plants for garden
Do bible study for Tuesday
Laundry - lots and lots
Clean main floor of house
Lesson plans
Get containers ready for flowers
Prepare yearly review for luncheon meeting with Brad's receptionist tomorrow
Confirmation gifts
Graduation gifts
Attend meetings Monday and Tuesday night
Family night Wed at church
Finish herb garden with my husband - his Mother's Day gift to me!

New Recipe I tried last week:
Whole wheat pancakes - adapted a recipe
Monster cookies

In the craft basket:
Technically, it would be my project basket - and in it are all things gardening!

Looking forward to:
Getting through the first half of the week, and praying the second half is more relaxed

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Take dryer sheets that have been run through the dryer once, and use to wipe dust off of electronics, particularly TV's. The dust will not collect near as fast. (Have not used on tv screen, though)

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
So many stand out this past week, that I am going to just say, I loved them all! I love reading every post, and I wish I had more time to read more!!

Favorite photo from last week:
Lesson learned the past few days:
1. Communicate with your spouse! If you have an agenda, make sure to share it with them so you're on the same page with expectations
2. When you try something new, you may be disappointed. However, if you have a positive attitude, you can laugh and learn from the situation.

On my Prayer List:
Brad's grandpa who is in the hospital
My pastor, for continued strength to stand in the Truth
My mom, who has been sick
Our leaders, our country, our military

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
From our parenting seminar: "I speak the truth in Christ - I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit." Romans 9:1