All posts by Teri Maxwell

Teri Maxwell is wife to Steve for over 40 years, mom to eight children (three married), and grandma to eight. She loves keeping her home running smoothly and sharing with women in the vein of Titus 2:4&5. Teri homeschooled for thirty years, and she's graduated all her children. In between her other responsibilities, she manages to squeeze in writing time. She is co-author of the popular Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores. In addition, Teri's written three books just for ladies Homeschooling with a Meek & Quiet Spirit, Sweet Journey, and Sweet Relationships. She has been writing monthly encouragement articles for homeschool moms for 25 years. Find more information on Teri Maxwell and her books.

Mother’s Day Thoughts

This is written by my amazing husband of 40+ years, Steve. He requested to share this month. Be blessed!

The ups and downs of being a mom are incredible. Admit it, did you have any idea how tough being a good mom was going to be? I remember hearing Teri, sleep deprived and discouraged in the days after our first child’s birth, say, “Mom never told me it would be like this.” Maybe you have felt like that.

Twenty years later, when our eighth child was born, Teri had a good idea what motherhood meant. She still had struggles, and she knew a lot of work was ahead. She, however, had the comparison of the joy set before her. She had learned how critical a daily walk with the Lord Jesus was to her calling.

I wonder if it isn’t even more difficult these days for moms to want to invest in their children’s lives when children are seen as having little value compared to 40 years ago when we started having children. Sadly our society has turned it upside down. To the world, the huge investment of motherhood is seen as nothing compared to the value of Mom earning a paycheck.

Wouldn’t you agree that for most a woman’s worth is evaluated by the size of her paycheck? We’ve seen that sort of trade before when Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of soup. Paychecks hardly last from one to the next, but children are eternal. Think about what you are pouring your life out for.

As I write this I am looking out my window on a beautiful spring day watching two of my daughters in the backyard with nine of my little grandchildren—all of them joyfully singing praises to the Lord. I want to put that picture in your mind as you continue to pour out your life into your children’s lives. All those sleepless nights, dirty diapers, runny noses, spilled milk, and hours upon hours of teaching result in servants fit for the Master’s use.

Truly there is no tougher or more rewarding job than being a mom. If God calls, He equips. You might ask, “But if I’m equipped, then why is it so difficult?” Are you abiding in the Lord Jesus? He doesn’t ask you to do this on your own. Your spiritual energy, your stamina, your peace, and your hope are all in Christ.

“… He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16).

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). I saw days when Teri grew weary of her well-doing in motherhood. She needed to be encouraged not to faint but to look forward to the season of reaping. May I be the one to encourage you moms who are reading this Mom’s Corner that your children are worth every sacrifice you make. I want you to look out your window in the future and see your little grandchildren singing and praising the Lord! Remember Christ’s own words, “And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me” (Matthew 18:5).

Steve Maxwell

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Making God Real to Our Children

Recently a mom asked me a question for a Mom’s Corner: ​

How do I practically teach kids about God outside Bible reading/family worship time and other formal situations to teach God’s Word? Sadly this does not come naturally to me. How do I show the little ones that God is real and loving, and they need Him a lot?

I believe moms have a powerful platform of spiritual influence in their children’s lives by being purposeful in this area. It is something I wish I had done more and better when my children were little. I encourage you to take the challenge.

“We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children whichshould be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psalm 78:4-7).

Praise and Thanksgiving

One thing we see in Scripture is the call to praise and thanksgiving. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

If you continually thank the Lord, out loud, at every opportunity, and praise Him often, you will be bringing Christ into your children’s little hearts and lives. They emulate you and develop grateful hearts.

Prayer

Teach yourself to stop and pray out loud with your children often. Pray together when you hear Daddy is having a rough day at work, when someone gets hurt, when you hear the sirens going down your street, or when you have a friend who is sick.

When your children struggle with each other, have bad attitudes toward you, or even difficulty with school, pray with them. Help them learn to cry out to the Lord with their needs. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Recognize answers to prayer with your children. Talk about those answers to prayer, thank the Lord for them, and praise Him for them.

Scripture

Memorize key verses that are applicable to your children’s lives to quote to them when it is appropriate. If you do that regularly, they will grow up with those Scriptures embedded in their minds available to pop up when it is helpful.

Singing

Memorize hymns, and sing them when you are working in the kitchen, folding laundry, or during other tasks where your mind isn’t very engaged. Singing reflects a joyful heart, and it puts your thoughts on the Lord Jesus. You will be drawing your children to the Lord, while giving them the sweet spirit of joyful song. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

Through these suggestions, you bring your personal relationship with the Lord to the outside so that it is visible to your children, and you make them a part of it. You are discipling them in a real, personal walk with Jesus. This is the eternal investment you make in your children’s lives, and it is worth planning, purposing, and making real.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Would Your Boss Fire You?

If you had been hired for your job as a mom and homemaker, at your annual review would your boss give you a raise or fire you?

We value our roles as mothers and homemakers, but we also make excuses for what isn’t running smoothly. Usually, we know what we should do, but we choose not to do it. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8 ). 

Bedtime + Wake up Time

Let’s get specific. If you had a boss, and he asked you to study a book that was vitally applicable to your job for the first 1/2 hour of your work time each day, would you stay up late, come in to work 1/2 hour late, and tell him you didn’t think that assignment was important enough to arrive at work on time? Do we make an excuse like that to our Savior when we don’t go to bed at a time that allows us to get up and be in His Word? “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).

If you had a job with an annual salary of $200,000 and you were required to be at work at 6:00 a.m. each day, could you do it? Would you make sure you went to bed early enough to have the sleep you require to be alert for beginning work at 6:00 a.m.? I think so. 

Are we double minded? Do we value money more than our relationship with Jesus and investing in our children? Do we think we can accomplish what God has called us to do without Him?

Home Management

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Timothy 5:14). If one uses valuable, home-management time for Facebook, TV, movies, or reading novels, are you being a responsible, diligent worker? What does a manager in the workforce think if he comes by an employee’s desk to find him engaged in those activities?

If employees choose to curb time wasters, how much more for us as moms who are servants of the most High God. Don’t we express love for Him and gratitude to Him by faithfully doing what He has called us to do? Discover and eliminate whatever sidetracks you from guiding your home.

Child Interactions

Finally, what about your interactions with your children? If you had a high-level managerial role in a Fortune 500 company, would you express anger at your employees, be impatient with them, or cry over their behavior? 

Here again, it seems we are more motivated by a paycheck to do what we know is right than we are by accountability to God and love for our family. I discovered this when I was a homeschooling mom and told the Lord I couldn’t put off my anger toward my children.

One day the telephone rang when I was angry with my children, but I answered with a calm, sweet voice. That was an effective lesson! “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). 

Our Accountability

As stay-at-home moms, we don’t have a physical boss to be accountable to, but we have One to Whom we should care even more if we please. I think we can become lazy and allow our flesh and excuses to rule rather than yielding to Jesus. The “I Can” mom doesn’t live with excuses. She jumps on the path to overcoming whatever excuses stand between her and doing. The “I Can’t” mom listens to and believes her excuses. “I Can” or “I Can’t?”

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Short and Sweet

Recently, our young adult children talked about growing up in our home, and how we managed problems and issues. They were positive about it, praising Steve and me as parents, especially now that they observe other families from an adult perspective. However, in that conversation, I heard two words that caught my attention and made me cringe. They were “Mom’s lectures.” They weren’t speaking negatively about my lectures per se, but the word “lecture” doesn’t have as appealing a ring to it as say, “talks,” or “sharing,” or even “instruction.”

The Lecture

I don’t think my children came up with the term “lecture” because of the content of my talks but because of the length of them. A lecture to them was something that seemed to go on and on. Looking back, I wish I had kept the messages for my children short and sweet. “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21).

As I pondered lectures versus their alternatives, I thought about how I want Steve to present something negative to me. I prefer that he express it kindly, stating the facts, and moving on. If he spent a long time going over every little aspect of it and repeating each part a couple of times, I might think, “Okay. Enough. I’ve got it. I understand.”

Could it be that way for children? For younger children, they don’t have the maturity to understand a full explanation anyway. Older children have that maturity, but would likely prefer the truth spoken in love but briefly.

The Response

Since this realization hit me, I have shared it with several moms who have little children. They acknowledge doing a fair amount of talking to their children to try to keep them on the right path. Often during these lectures, the children have blank or bored looks or argue with Mom.

From those typical negative childish responses to lectures, I wonder if there isn’t a greater possibility, too, that Mom will have negative attitudes and emotions toward her child. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). Whereas we want to display gentleness and love with a quiet voice and spirit, we might be frustrated, irritated, and even angry with a child who isn’t grabbing hold of our words with agreement and a positive spirit.

What To Do

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Could it be that we would do better to briefly explain to a child what he did wrong, why it was wrong, and the consequence? Briefly. Sweetly. Over and done in just a minute or less, and then move on with life. 

I am not saying that there won’t be times for longer discipleship discussions with our children based on the Word. I am, however, doubting whether those are most productive when a child has done something he shouldn’t or not done something he should. Heart to heart talks might be better received when not in the midst of a possible consequence and when the emotions on both sides are neutral or positive.

Listen to Yourself

If you did something foolish or wrong and someone talked to you about it the way you talk to your child, would you like it? Is your child old enough to comprehend the depth of explanation you give for his bad behavior? If he is old enough, does he emotionally engage with you positively through your discussion with him? If the answers to those questions are “no,” then you might want to consider changing your method to “short and sweet.”

Bossy, Controlling Daughters

In traveling, speaking, and interacting with families, we often observe some undesirable characteristics especially in first-born daughters. We also receive e-mails from moms seeking suggestions about these girls. While it begins earlier than this, the concerns are generally raised when the girl is 7 or 8.

Characteristics

This daughter bosses and controls her siblings. She corrects her parents and regularly, but not always, disrespects them with words and attitudes. She responds selfishly and emotionally when she doesn’t get her way. She manipulates. When in a conflict with a sibling, she tells the story, making herself out as faultless and a victim of her sibling’s wrong behavior with no other option than to do what she did that was also wrong.

Parents know this behavior isn’t right whether it is from a first-born girl or third-born son, but they don’t know how to tackle it. It is exacerbated by the fact that the child is often right. Mom or Dad forgot something. Little brother did what he shouldn’t do. Sister didn’t feed the dog.

Sometimes these daughters develop their bossiness and controlling because they are given responsibility at young ages, especially with siblings. Because of their maturity, these girls are wonderful help.

A Team Plan

Here are some thoughts on what you might do to tackle this situation. Initially, agree as husband and wife that there is a problem to be addressed. If allowed to continue, the patterns become ingrained and difficult to root out. “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11). Controlling will greatly undermine her ability to be a godly helpmeet should she eventually marry.

Work as a team, discuss her issues, and pray together about them. Seek the One Who knows your child, you, and the future. Cry out to Him for wisdom, direction, tenacity, and the patient spirit you need.

Then develop a purposeful plan to turn her attitudes around based on what the Lord showed you and Scripture that applies. Include responses to the negative attitudes, actions, and words your child displays.

Implementation

Lovingly and privately in a discipleship manner talk with your daughter about the problem. Ask if she wants to grow up to be bossy, controlling, and critical. Hopefully she says she doesn’t, and then share with her other options she can choose. Teach and instruct her from God’s Word concerning her behavior.

Help her learn to take her concerns to the Lord in prayer rather than correcting or controlling. After all, He can remind you, and if He doesn’t, you will soon discover what she wanted to correct you concerning. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter any way. Set aside a special time each week to meet with her for ongoing talks and accountability.

Be consistent. Each time your daughter corrects you, remind her that it isn’t appropriate. Point out when her words, attitudes, or actions are not sweet and respectful. Be short and matter-of-fact, not lecturing. Consider a secret sign that you can give her that she will notice and others won’t, in an attempt to correct her behavior without embarrassing her to others.

Limit the time this daughter has child-care assignments, and when she does have those jobs, supervise. Help her with loving, patient strategies.

Finally, make sure you are the best possible role model, starting with your interactions with your husband. Don’t be a critical, controlling, disrespectful wife. Don’t treat your children that way either.

Outcome

God desires this in a woman: “a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:4). Will your daughter exemplify this later in life if she isn’t as a child? Will you help her away from her bossy, controlling ways or continue facilitating them?

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Joy in Giving

Have you purposed to teach your children to find joy in giving? Isn’t that vitally important since our flesh is selfish, and children who aren’t taught to be givers grow into adult takers?

Christmas is a perfect time of year to easily incorporate activities into your Christmas traditions that will help your children discover what Jesus taught: “. . . and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

There is another aspect of this that comes into play as well, that we learn from King David. “And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver” (2 Samuel 24:24). It isn’t just our giving and telling the children what we are doing, but rather helping them invest themselves in their own part of the giving.

Think about the good feeling you have experienced when you gave a gift that cost you something and was meaningful to the recipient. Don’t you want your children to experience that as well?

There are multitudes of giving opportunities at Christmas. The ones you pick, your attitude and excitement about them, and your children’s investment will work toward helping them love to give and focus on that more than getting. They can experience that now as children but also through the rest of their lives.

Family Gift Giving

As our children were growing up, they were expected to do their chores as part of their family responsibility. However, before they were old enough to earn their own money, we gave them a small amount of money each month that was available for them to purchase birthday and Christmas presents. When they grew older and had their own income sources, they used that money, and it truly cost them more.

Even as little children they would spend hours thinking and praying about each gift they would give. They loved to shop and find just the right item in their budget to fulfill their plan. They watched with excitement when the gift was opened, and they were always eager for the next family, gift-giving opportunity.

Steve and I delighted in our children’s involvement and pleasure in giving gifts when they were little, but to see it when they are now adults fills us with the reality of this verse: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).

We see our married children teaching our grandchildren the same joy of giving they learned. Our grandchildren have some extra chores they can do to earn money for gifts. Then they go to the Dollar Store to shop. When they give Grandpa or me a present, full of smiles, they literally quiver with enthusiasm waiting for us to open their gift.

Some families’ gift is one of time and skill because they make gifts for each other, considering the others’ needs and wants and their ability to supply.

Operation Christmas Child

We love Operation Christmas Child that gives a shoebox of toys, gifts, and a Gospel tract to children in third world countries. As young adults, our girls are now helping their nieces and nephews learn to love to give. They set up a Christmas-in-August-extended-family, fund-raising breakfast where the children pitch in to help with decorating, cooking, serving, and cleanup. The children give a presentation on Operation Christmas Child and ask for donations from the family. Then they are involved in purchasing items for the shoeboxes, filling the shoeboxes, and delivering them to the collecting church.

May I encourage you to set a goal of helping your children learn the joy of giving gifts that cost them something, whether it is their time, skills, or money—to make the focus giving rather than receiving—and then do what you can to implement it?

Sarah wrote a Christmas book we just released that I believe would help you in this goal as well. You’ll find find sweet enjoyment reading Sunflower's Christmas Miracle aloud with your children. I am sure it will prompt and motivate the kind of giving spirit you want for your children.

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Where’s the Respect?

Many moms are discouraged by a lack of respect from their children. This is contributed to by children’s negative words, tone of voice, facial expressions, or not doing what they are to do. Recently one of my unmarried sons asked some profound questions on this topic. He said, “For those moms whose children don’t respect them, I wonder if she respects her husband. What are the children seeing in her responses to her husband? Could it be that she has set a negative example for her children through her interactions with her husband?” This young man has been watching and observing families—husbands and wives, and moms and children.

Those questions hit the core of the wife part of this verse. “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

Agreement?

When your husband brings something up, would he say you will be on his side and agree with him? Or would he be pretty sure the opposite would occur—disagreement and opposition? If we, as wives, are negative toward our husband’s ideas, what will our children learn about how to respond to us? Doesn’t that teach them to disagree, make excuses, and tell why something won’t work, or they don’t want to do it? Would you view that as disrespectful from a child to his mom?

Criticism?

What about when your husband says or does something you don’t think is so good? Do you point it out to him? Do you tell him what he should have done? Do you correct him? If so, what does that model for your children? Does that encourage them to do those same things to you? Would you see that as respectful or disrespectful toward you?

Excuses?

If your husband were to give you advice or counsel, would you ignore it or make excuses for why it wouldn’t work? If so, do your children obey you when you give them directions? If they don’t, could it be because they haven’t seen you happily and willingly receiving input into your life from your husband?

An Encouraging Story

This was shared with me after the recent Mom’s Corner about being an “I Can” mom.

“At my bridal shower, women wrote advice on 3×5 cards. One woman instructed me to be a ‘Yes, Let’s’ kind of wife. So that no matter what crazy scheme (or sedate suggestion, your mileage may vary) your husband suggests, be quick to have a ‘yes’ attitude instead of thinking of all the reasons why it is a bad idea/won’t work/would be too hard/etc. Oh, the stories I could tell. But 14 years in, our marriage is amazing, and sometimes he even asks what I think about a crazy scheme before he launches it and is shocked when I say, ‘Why are you asking me? I’m in.’” 

I love the advice that was given and this young mom’s grabbing and running with it.

Resources

Steve and I attendedLove and Respect marriage conference by Emerson and Sarah Eggerich earlier this year. Over and over as Dr. Eggerich gave husband/wife scenarios that included wives not respecting husbands, the audience laughed. We could relate well. He also shared many examples of husbands not loving wives. We recommend their marriage conference and book if you would like to grow in respecting your husband.

In my audio session Loving Your Husband, I go into more depth about specific ways the Lord showed me that I wasn’t respecting Steve in our marriage and what He was teaching me to correct that. (Between now and Thanksgiving, November 23rd, if you order Managers of Their Homes, we’ll include Loving Your Husband free.)

We also recommend two of Dr. S. M. Davis’ resources: The Attitude No Lady Should Have and How a Wife Can Use Reverence to Build or Save Her Marriage.

Change

In this Mom’s Corner, I am trying to get you to think about a correlation between your children’s attitudes toward you and your attitudes toward your husband. What if you were to grow in respect toward your husband? Is it possible it would give your children a new role model in respect to you? Certainly once patterns and habits are established, they can be hard to break, but wouldn’t it be worth trying? Are you the “I can” or the “I can’t” mom? I wonder how your husband might respond too.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

I Can

I wanted to give you a real-life “I can” example since last month we discussed the differences between an “I can” and “I can’t.” Here’s the problem a young mom was facing.

My husband and I have eight children ranging from 13 down to 4 months. This most recent pregnancy was very difficult, and I spent most of the nine months in bed.  My older kids were fabulous and stepped up to fill in the gap. It was such a blessing and a joy to see the fruit of our parenting labors in such a real and tangible way.

However, my 6, 4, and 2-year-olds have acquired terrible habits, which we are having a very difficult time fixing. It feels a bit like all we’re doing right now is disciplining those three. This is having a negative impact on our relationships and the overall atmosphere of our home.

Any wisdom you might have would be so greatly appreciated. Courtney

Hi Courtney,

My encouragement to you is to stay the course with your little ones. While it feels like all you are doing is disciplining, it really isn’t. And the time you are investing in the discipline will reap rewards. You know that already from your older children.

I think one key is to eliminate expectations of what you wanted to do that you aren’t or of how your children should respond but aren’t. Simply go at your task of discipline and correction with the grit, determination, and love of the Holy Spirit’s power.

The other key is to maintain a meek and quiet spirit. Don’t let the circumstances discourage you. Discipline with gentleness but firmness and consistency, knowing that that fruit will come. Having a chart with consequences for common offenses is key. It helped me be consistent, not get angry or discouraged, and not to have to be frustrated trying to come up with the consequences.

Did you read the Mom’s Corner a few months ago about sitting on a chair? I wrote about that in Part 2 of this series, but here’s a link to Part 1 too.

Your baby is 4 months old. Those months are the months of adjusting to life with a newborn. Now that you are probably getting more sleep and your household running better, you will have the time to invest in the 2, 4, and 6-year-olds’ behavior.

I think with a focus on the younger children’s behavior, and your attitude of tackling it with resolve and joy, you will soon be seeing the changes you desire to see.

Blessings,
Teri

Within a few days, Courtney responded:

I read and re-read your e-mail several times. I spoke with my husband about your suggestions/insights last night, and he agreed with everything you said. I really needed to hear what you were saying because sometimes I get so stuck in the moment that I miss the big picture.

Today went beautifully for a few reasons. First, the younger kids and I made a rules’ poster that clearly reminded them of how to love their siblings. Then, as you mentioned, my attitude was better because I didn’t take their behaviors personally. They are children who need guidance, and I’ve been entrusted to aid them on their journey to maturity and toward Christ. My expectations were kept in check.

The final key was that I was consistent at making them sit at the table when they made a poor or unloving decision. By the end of the day, my two-year-old made a bad decision, walked over to the dining room table, sat down, and said, “Mommy, set my time.” They were hungry for the normalcy to return. There is safety in Mom and Dad being in control of the day, and they needed that to happen. I truly enjoyed my younger kids for the first time in too long. Courtney

Did you see Courtney’s “I can” attitude when presented with some simple suggestions? I loved how quickly she implemented change, and the results she experienced right away. “I can” or “I can’t”? Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Please, Not Those Two

Through many years of working with moms, I now recognize two words that are dismally sad, leading down a forlorn path. As soon as they are spoken or written, I can predict the outcome.

A mom comes to me with her problems, pain, struggles, or discouragement looking for answers, solutions, and help. Often I am a stranger to her, but her desperation drives her to reach out to someone she thinks might offer hope. I listen. I ask questions. I communicate. I give suggestions. Then, sadly in response, she says, “Yes, but.”

“Yes, but” is the beginning of all the reasons why this mom can’t or won’t try the ideas I offer. It isn’t that I have all her answers, or any of them for that matter, but without trying, she doesn’t know if they might work. Even if she has tried it in the past, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be helpful now.

I Can or I Can’t?

There are two mindsets — “I can” and “I can’t” — that I encounter with moms. “I can” digs in and goes at it. She sets excuses aside. She doesn’t go to past failures. She makes plans and tackles it. I love watching her enthusiasm and her successes.

“I can’t” makes excuses and doesn’t try. She has many reasons why it won’t work and isn’t worth attempting. At the same time, she is yearning for change and for solutions. Where will that change come from if she doesn’t do something different? Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.”

I love working with “I can” moms, and my heart breaks when I hear “Yes, but.” It isn’t that it is easy for the “I can” mom, but she attacks her issue with gusto. She tries. She prays. She communicates if things don’t move forward. She tries again. She experiences change. Best of all she has the joy of victory, even when it is just a small problem, and especially when it is a big one.

The “I can’t” mom, stuck in the excuses mindset of “Yes, but,” continues in the quagmire of her problems — weary, worn out, and discouraged. Even though I try, I usually can’t pull her out of that kind of thinking. Each time I give an idea, there is another excuse, another “I can’t,” another “yes, but.” It appears to be a never-ending cycle.

My Desire

I want to be an “I can” mom. After all, I have the truth of “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Plus, I know Scripture tells me, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Yet, even though I have purposed to be the “I can mom,” I sometimes think or say, “Yes, but.” I pray the Lord will quickly convict me of that attitude, and help me set aside my pride, my excuses, my self pity, and my defensiveness, and enable me to receive advice, counsel, and suggestions with determination, initiative, fortitude, and responsiveness.

Who Are You?

If you evaluated yourself, who are you? I can, or I can’t? Now, I challenge you to listen to yourself. If you ask your husband for his advice on something, do you take it or explain why you don’t think it will work? If you go to a friend for counsel, and she gives you a suggestion, do you try it? When you read an article that relates to a problem of yours, do you attempt to do what it gives as steps to solutions or discount it as impossible for you?

We each get to decide whether we will be “I can” or “I can’t.” It starts with recognizing if our propensity is to be “I can’t.” If it is, then ask God to help you say and think, “I can.” Don’t let any excuses tumble from your mouth. Then follow through. Seek God’s strength, grace, and mercy as you do it. I wonder what the outcome of that decision might be over the next few months or year. I would love to know.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Three Crucial Steps to Fruitfully Start the Homeschool Year

How can excitement, drive, and determination so quickly deteriorate into tears, discouragement, and feeling like a failure on the first day of the homeschool year? Somehow my plans, joy, and ideals dissipated with each grumble, resistance, and dawdling leaving me a disappointed basket case by 3:00 p.m. With experience, the Lord showed me steps to turn those first-day-of-school blues into smile-filled momentum and achievement.

1. Prepare for the Year

Have your plan in place. That includes curricula for each child and their supplies such as notebooks, notebook divider tabs, pencils and pens, paper, folders, calculators, scissors—whatever they will need. Hunting for essentials when school is in session is sure to take precious minutes from study. I have many more details in this area in Managers of Their Schools.

What about your homeschool schedule? Nailed down? Printed? Available? Invest time in schedule crafting to insure productivity in education when school starts. Playing it by ear is certain to meet disaster by the end of the day. If you need any scheduling help, Managers of Their Homes is a reliable, understandable, time-tested, homeschool-mom-endorsed resource.

Do you have a homeschool chore system in place? You simply can’t do all the housework yourself. Even preschoolers can pitch in to help, and older children are actually productive. It is possible that a chore plan will make or break not just your first day of school but your whole year. House work has to be accomplished efficiently and effectively. Managers of Their Chores takes you step by step through making a customized chore system for your family using ChorePacks.

2. Prepare Your Heart

Pray. Sometime before starting school make time to pray long and specifically for school and each child. I would gather all our school books around me, working child by child through them to direct my prayers. 

One of the deadliest enemies of homeschool joy is expectations. Give your expectations to the Lord. “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him” (Psalm 62:5). Then cultivate a heart of gratitude that finds reasons to be thankful rather than disappointed. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

3. Prepare Memories and Your Children

Let the the first day-of-school be memories not academics. We actually called this our pre-first-day of school. We had a special breakfast—that’s very time consuming. I put out school surprises that ended up distracting from our normal flow of morning life. We took photos of each child with their school books. But when memories were our goal, it didn’t matter how long it took or how much it distracted. 

I also met with each child so I could go over his homeschool schedule, look at his books with him, and set up any other school materials that he had. I let him know what the requirements were for each subject and how he would tackle it. That way when we dove into our homeschool schedule the next day, he was prepared to study.

I am smiling as I think about you starting school in the next few weeks. I am praying that these three crucial steps will have you smiling at the end of that pre-first-day of school and your children sharing a happy report when your husband comes home. I would love to know how it goes for you. Just reply to this e-mail.

Trusting in Jesus,

Teri