Category Archives: Mom’s Corner

Children Who Are Advocates

Recently our city wanted to limit the number of chickens that city residents were allowed to have to 10. Our 8-year-old granddaughter, Abigail, is “chickie mama” at her house, and she keeps chickens for fresh, healthy eggs for her family.

She realized that obeying the new city ordinance, if passed, would be a hardship from two fronts. The first was not having enough chickens for the necessary eggs for a large family and the other from adding new chicks to the flock before they were ready to lay eggs. If they had five hens who needed to be replaced, they would have to get rid of them before the new chicks could lay eggs.

Abby wrote a letter to the city commission stating her concerns, why she had them, and asking the city commission not to limit the number of chickens. Then she and her dad attended the city commission meeting, and Abby presented her cause before them. The vote was close, but the commissioners went with the 15 chicken limit—a compromise they felt.

Are you preparing your children to be able to cognitively and persuasively voice their thoughts and concerns publicly in areas that are important to them? Could your 8-year-old child stand up in front of an official group of adults and give them a presentation? Most adults are fearful of speaking in front of others. Maybe you are one of them. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

On Friday evenings during the school year, Nathan and Melanie have their children give short presentations at their home and sometimes for Grandpa, Grandma, and the aunts and uncles. These presentations are simply telling about something they learned or did during the school week. It is giving them skills and comfort speaking in front of people.

Talking to your family isn’t the same as talking to others, though. We can also help our children be comfortable talking to people who are friends, acquaintances, or even strangers (when they are in the protection of parental supervision). We can do that by giving our children opportunities to talk to people outside the family. Often in those situations we parents do all the talking. It doesn’t mean that the children have to monopolize the conversation, but that they are included for part of it.

Children who become adults who are stellar communicators have great potential to be strong, loving, caring fathers and mothers. Consider the importance clear communication has in families, especially from parents to children and the implications when that communication is absent. Children who have learned to think and then convey those thoughts to others will be business, church, and political leaders.

Are you not only preparing your children spiritually and academically for their future but also helping them be able to be advocates for what the Lord puts on their hearts as parents, as friends, and in whatever walks of life He calls them into? Are you giving your children a passion for things that are important whether it is how many chickens they can have in their backyard or that they can homeschool their children?

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

We have a resource available to help you in this area called Making Great Conversationalists. In that book, we give you practical projects to do with your children to help them learn conversational skills. Maybe you will learn something too.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Three Top Pieces of Advice for Young Moms Starting Homeschooling: Part 3

(To read Parts 1 and 2, please see this link.)

When a young mom who had four children, none of them yet school age, asked me what three things I would suggest to her for successful homeschooling, I was challenged to narrow my ideas down to three. I started by encouraging her to have a daily schedule, and then I suggested she invest in helping her children learn self-discipline. My final piece of advice was to find a structured curriculum that she could use by herself at home and stick to.

The e-mails I am receiving these days from struggling homeschooling moms are from those who are having to be away from home a day or more each week for their homeschooling. Also, in a survey of homeschooling moms who were not keeping up with what they felt were their responsibilities, the ones who were the most dissatisfied with their lives were the ones who were home the least. These moms were finding it difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with homeschooling and daily life. They were discouraged and some considered quitting homeschooling because of it.

It is quite amazing how much difference it makes when we lose time from our homeschooling and homemaking needs by being away from home. If you want to be able to keep up and avoid that discouragement, then find a curriculum that allows you to stay home and spend time each day homeschooling. If you can manage to do your school in four days a week, you will use the fifth weekday for other tasks that aren’t easy to fit into homeschooling days.

Our family has liked using Christian textbooks for homeschool even though we have heard many say that textbooks are not a good method of homeschooling. We found them to be easy to use, sound academically, and our children enjoyed them. They allowed our children to become autodidactic – self learners. One of our main goals in home educating was to raise children who would be life-long self learners. We didn’t want children who had to have their hands held to learn, or who had to have something be extremely enticing before they would learn. We have watched moms exhaust themselves trying to make their homeschooling engaging enough for their children to be willing to learn. Sometimes in this process they give up and quit.

The young homeschooling mom wants to equip herself for the long haul, knowing her homeschooling is a huge investment. She doesn’t want to choose a homeschooling method because it appeals to her emotions but because it provides a sound education and is sustainable for the 13 years she will invest for each child she homeschools. When you give so much, do you want to end up being a depressed, angry, frustrated mom? What could be better than a method that results in children who are lifelong learners? Why not make curriculum choices that will facilitate a joyful mom who is faithfully homeschooling her children with patience and contentment?

If you would like to know more about what we specifically used and did, Managers of Their Schools is a resource that details all of that.

Here are links to a few other Mom’s Corners on this topic:
Homeschooling with Textbooks
Homeschool Textbook Curricula
A Voice for Christian Homeschool Textbooks
Curricula Decisions Impact Homeschooling Success

Three Top Pieces of Advice for Young Moms Starting Homeschooling: Part 2

In this series, I am sharing the 3 suggestions I gave a mommy who was preparing for her homeschooling years and requested that information in a casual conversation we had one day. My first encouragement was to use a schedule. Even though her children are not yet school age, a schedule will help her be productive, and she will find the children’s days flow better when there is structure. The schedule is critical for homeschooling. Our newly-revised Managers of Their Homes is the perfect tool to help you in this area of time management.

The second point I made was that she should help her children learn self-discipline. We talked about this in a Mom’s Corner a few months ago. Here is the link to that article.

If a mom will be diligent to teach her young children self-discipline, she will have children whom she can instruct during their homeschooling years, knowing that they will apply themselves to their lessons. This will facilitate their education and free up her time for homeschooling other children or doing other things. She will not have to sit beside them through out their whole school day to hold their hands in order for them to learn or make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. They will quickly become autodidactic—a skill that will prove valuable their whole lives.

Let’s face it. Little children generate a great deal of work, and they take a great deal of time. To invest the time to help children learn self-discipline is just one more thing on a mom’s already full plate. Having observed thousands of families through the years, I can encourage you that it is worth that time investment.

Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines self-discipline this way: the ability to make yourself do things that should be done. The implications of that are huge—treating people the way they should be treated, obedience to parents as a child, personal health, spiritual disciplines, ability to responsibly complete tasks, backbone of a great business owner, employee, or home manager. There is such a plethora of life that will be facilitated by self-discipline.

Where do you start? I think a great beginning is to give a child boundaries and help him learn to accept, be comfortable, and even enjoy those boundaries. That might be as simple as having a set time when the toys are picked up and put away by the child in order to move on to another activity. Much of our struggles as grown ups stem from our unwillingness to live within boundaries whether it is with our time, our relationships, our health, or our walk with the Lord. In our flesh, we don’t like or want boundaries, but those boundaries are filled with blessings if we will accept them. We bless our children when we can direct them in that truth. “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).

It is likely that your success in this area will be determined by your own level of self-discipline. Will you work patiently with your children? Will you invest the necessary time first to give them boundaries and then to teach them how to live with and value boundaries? Will you have a smile on your face when you find yourself dealing with the same problems over and over? Your investment today reaps dividends throughout your children’s lives. What is that worth?

Three Top Pieces of Advice for Young Moms Starting Homeschooling, Part 1

Recently I was talking to a mom with three little children, the oldest being 4 years old. She was planning to homeschool and had heard that I homeschooled for 30 years. She sweetly smiled at me and asked what I felt was a very insightful question. She said, “What 3 pieces of advice could you give me that you think would be the most important for my success as a homeschooling mom?”

I was thrilled to talk to this mom. She was thinking about and preparing for her homeschooling days. She gave me boundaries for the information she wanted—boundaries that would help her remember what I said.

For number 1, I started with what is probably the dearest to my heart—a schedule. Structure is what productivity, learning, and stress-free days hang upon. The schedule helps a family accomplish not only their homeschooling but other essential and even non-essential parts of their day.

I have observed schedules transform the family life, personal life, and homeschooling life of weary, discouraged mommies. That thrills me beyond measure. I don’t think it is a matter of personality —schedules for the disciplined person but not for the free spirited person. Schedules let the disciplined mom put her talents to use, and for the free-spirited one, it lets her have time for her free-spirited activities.

Even before you begin homeschooling, you can schedule. Mommies with preschoolers can benefit from a schedule just as much as those who are already involved in homeschooling can. Getting children used to a schedule as preschoolers keeps those days flowing and productive while getting children accustomed to the rhythm that a schedule will bring to homeschool life.

When we were preparing for another Managers of Their Homes (MOTH) reprint, we realized that we had gained a huge amount of scheduling experience since we first wrote and published Managers of Their Homes, and we wanted to impart that to others.

When MOTH came out, it was based upon our own personal scheduling experience and confirmed by those first 24 test families who used MOTH. Now, however, we have worked with countless moms as they have scheduled and seen the power of the schedule in a much broader framework.

We decided to take that valuable experience and put it into a revised version of Managers of Their Homes. So we ruthlessly tore into the text and took out what we didn’t think was as helpful in the book, and put in what we have gained from working with MOTH moms.

We know that the original MOTH is successful in teaching moms to schedule. We have the testimonies from so many who have read and used it to prove that it does. The revised MOTH doesn’t change those basics, but it brings in a fresh power from our real life experiences with a multitude of MOTH scheduling moms. We are excited about that!

If you haven’t yet dived into scheduling, this is the time to get the new, revised Managers of Their Homes. If you have friends who aren’t scheduling, suggest it to them. I really can’t think of a better Christmas or birthday present for you or a friend than this resource that will help bring productivity, peace, and contentment to a family.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Seeing the Other Side

I have recently made a challenge to myself that I am finding a little more difficult to do than I thought it would be. I decided that I will no longer bring up negative things in conversations. I don’t want to tell what didn’t go well, what I don’t like, what someone did that I think they shouldn’t have done, or what’s troubling me. I think you get the drift. Instead I find positive things to talk about.

I believe Paul truly had sound direction for us in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

It starts with what I allow in my mind. If I am thinking about the negatives, that is probably what is going to be in my conversation. On the other hand, positive thoughts should lead to positive words.

Then Paul says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

Do my negative words edify anyone in any way? Do they minister grace to the person I am talking to? For me the answer is no.

As I have accepted my personal challenge (I haven’t even told Steve, but now he will know so that gives me added accountability :)), I regularly find some of my conversation being shut down. That means I need to come up with new things to talk about—the positive, the good, the areas of gratitude, what I can praise the Lord for—those are edifying and those bring grace to the hearer.

I find myself doing well for a while until there is something negative I really, really want to tell Steve or another family member. Then I justify talking about it by deciding that they either need to know or would want to know, so I speak it out. As I have done that, though, I have also discovered that it really didn’t matter. It just satisfied my desire to tell it. They didn’t need to know and likely they didn’t want to know.

With November being the month we celebrate Thanksgiving, we tend to think more about being thankful. As I sat down to write this Mom’s Corner, gratitude was my first idea for a topic, but then I realized that my thoughts of thanksgiving right now are rooted in a desire to be free of negative thoughts. When I look for what I can thank the Lord for in a person or in a situation—and that can take a concerted effort—then I avoid dwelling on negative or critical thoughts.

Even though I have failed regularly in my personal challenge of positive rather than negative conversations, I am determined to continue. I believe this is pleasing to the Lord and that it will make me a more pleasing person to be around. What would happen to your thoughts and your conversation if you gave yourself the challenge that I have given myself? What would happen to your relationship with your husband, with your children, with others?

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

The Blessing of a Smile

theblessingofasmile(Picture above is of our daughter-in-law, Melanie, with her four children. This beautiful picture is a reminder of the blessing and power of a smile!)

I remember the time years ago, in the midst of my season of homeschooling that my husband, Steve, looked at me one day and said, “Honey, I think you should smile more.” I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but I am sure it was not one of my more stellar days, and I didn’t receive his encouragement very well. I went off by myself into my bathroom and did a little experiment.

I looked at myself in the mirror and evaluated how I looked. Then I pretended to be unhappy with a child while correcting that child with that attitude. Immediately, I thought to myself, “Wow, Lord, if You had put little mirrors on my children’s foreheads so that I could see what they are seeing when I am displeased with their behavior, perhaps I would have more quickly come to the meek and quiet spirit that I long for.”

Finally I smiled at myself in the mirror. The difference was astonishing. It was beyond amazing. There was no doubt in my mind which image I preferred looking at, and I could readily see why Steve would suggest that I smile more. Truly, the smiling face was the one I desired for my family to see.

When a mom writes to me with struggles with her children, the first thing I usually ask her to do is to look each child in the eye at least once every day, smile at him, and tell him you love him. We get busy with life. We work with our children. We talk to them. We play with them. We do school with them. We disciple them. We are with them a great deal of time each day. Sometimes, though, we forget to simply quiet ourselves enough to catch their eye, smile into their face, and express the words that fill our hearts—”I love you!” We might say, “I love you” as we hug them during the day or tuck them in at night, but what about looking them in the eye when we say it?

There isn’t a verse in Scripture that says there is power in a smile, but this verse is pretty close: “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken” (Proverbs 15:13). Here the smile comes from the heart. For me there were times when my heart was not merry, but I chose to put a smile on my face. From that I discovered that the decision to smile could also cheer up my heart.

I was amazed a few months ago to read of a secular study that showed that simply having people smile changed their attitudes to become more positive. It really didn’t surprise me because I had that experience myself.

A smile is a blessing to my family. They like to see a wife and a mommy who is happy. A smile is a blessing to me. It expresses my feelings for my family, and it causes me to feel happier. A smile is also a blessing to my Lord because it says to Him that I am content in Him with whatever circumstances He has given to me. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

Could I challenge you to take the mirror test yourself? What kind of mommy do your want your children looking at—the one who is smiling, the one who is serious, or the one whose brow is furled and frowning? I would like to remind you to smile more. I would like to remind myself to smile more. There is blessing in your smile. Don’t lose those precious blessings!

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri Maxwell

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Are You a Happy Mommy?

In the midst of pushing to get your homeschooling accomplished, wiping runny noses, making meals, and changing diapers, do you ever get discouraged? What thoughts go through your mind? Do you think that you could be doing something else where you might be more appreciated and applauded?

Did you know that studies of highly successful people in the business world show that they are motivated and thus successful because they have a goal in front of them? They set short-term and long-term goals, and those goals keep them doing tasks they might consider mundane and even boring, but tasks that lead to their eventual success. Their goals give them vision for the future that makes what they do today feel worthwhile. They aren’t focused on the task at hand so much as they are on the end product. They delay present self-gratification for tomorrow’s achievement.

This is how God says it, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18). I think that is essential to moms as well. Do you think about your vision? Do you consider why you are doing what you are doing? Do you have that goal sitting on your heart, pulling you through your day?

“… bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Is that your goal? When the milk is spilled at breakfast as you are hurrying to get everyone moved on to school, do you remind yourself of the high calling you have from the Lord to raise your children in the nurture of Him? Would that reminder help you calmly and patiently clean up the mess?

I know I failed miserably in my thinking for several of my early homeschooling years, and I suffered the consequences of impatience, anger, and even depression (see Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit). When milk was spilled, I thought, “Oh, no. Another mess to clean up. They are always making messes. I am too tired to deal with one more mess, and I have way too much to do.”

How different it would have been had this gone through my mind instead. “Thank You, Jesus, for these children and for each mess that they make. They are strong. They are healthy. They are energetic. Those are blessings. You are giving me the opportunity to show my children Your love. You are allowing me the privilege to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of You. I look forward to the day when my children no longer make messes, but are servants in Your army. That’s my goal, Lord Jesus, to raise my children for You, for Your kingdom, and for Your glory. Help me, Lord Jesus, to model meekness and gentleness to my children in the midst of something that can be as frustrating as spilled milk.”

Those thoughts lead to a joyful heart, a smile on your face, and an enthusiasm for your day—even when you are wiping up spilled milk, correcting a disobedient child, or refereeing a sibling squabble. I didn’t get it or understand it then, but I sure do now, and I know the joy and the power of thinking God’s thoughts rather than thoughts focused on me. I would like to see you free from the emotional trauma I dealt with in my heart.

Moms, your children are worth the investment you are making in their lives, and you are making a huge investment. Don’t let yourself be robbed of the pleasure your role as a mom can bring you by giving in to thoughts of self pity.

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). God wants us to think right thoughts.

Could I encourage you to write down your long-term biblical goals for your children (no more than three), and then use them to help your thinking today and to motivate you in your thoughts, words, and actions? If that sounds intimidating, start with one (you can add to them bit by bit)—perhaps a goal like this one: that your children “… might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:10-11).

Try it today, right now. The next thing that you don’t feel like doing, but you know you should, think about its value to your children’s long-term spiritual growth. Talk to yourself about it. Take your procrastinating, “I don’t feel like it” thoughts captive. Replace them with the “this is worth it” thoughts. The next time the children are doing things they shouldn’t do, consider your privilege to help them toward their future as a servant of Christ who is fruitful in every good work, and get busy teaching them the Lord’s ways rather than feeling frustrated with them.

Long-term goals—that vision the Lord gives you for your children—they are a key part of helping you be a happy, productive, fulfilled mommy today—and they will help you, with the Lord’s strength, mercy, and grace, to see those goals met.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri Maxwell

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Where’s the Blessing: Self-Discipline or Self-Indulgence?

I love watching my married children raising our grandchildren in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Steve and I are 1st generation Christians (we are grateful that both sets of our parents were eventually saved). Our children are 2nd generation Christians, and our grandchildren are 3rd generation Christians.

I thought I would share with you one specific example of what it might look like for a 2nd generation Christian to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. First generation Christians can follow this same path, but they don’t have an example from their own childhood to follow.

After being saved in our 20’s, as Steve and I grew in our walks with the Lord, we became convinced of the necessity and beauty of daily fellowship with Jesus Christ through reading His Word and praying. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). While we did that on a personal level, we also did it as a family. It became a habit, a part of our lives. That meant our children grew up, some from infancy, with daily, family Bible time. (See Steve’s Feed My Sheep for more information).

Now we observe in our married children’s homes that they also are having daily, family Bible time with their children, from infancy. Not only are these children hearing God’s Word every day and learning from it as they become old enough to understand Scripture on a child’s level, but they are developing the beginnings of self-discipline.

Which Parent is Happy?

Have you ever heard someone say, “He is just a child. Let him play and have fun”? What does that mean for a parent wanting to raise their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Is there a switch that is flipped on an 18-year-old’s brain that suddenly turns him from a playing child to a responsible adult with self-discipline?

I can’t help but wonder if we have lost sight of the high prized godly quality of self- discipline in favor of the world’s philosophy of play. Whether the world likes it or not, there are serious consequences to lack of self-discipline. To the extreme the person without self-discipline can’t hold down a job, ruins his health by obesity, destroys relationships, has no spiritual depth, loses his possessions, and may even end up in prison.

What outcome do you want for your children, and when does it begin? What age do you start helping your children toward self-discipline? In our permissive-parenting age, it seems that boundaries to move a child toward self-discipline are discouraged. The parents I observe who are enjoying their parenting, are the ones with children who are learning self-discipline–not that the children are perfect, but they are moving in a positive self-discipline direction. The frustrated, angry parents are the ones with children who are out-of-control.

Self-Discipline Practice

At family Bible time, I see our grandchildren learning a measure of self-discipline, an important beginning. Many would say it is impossible for young children to be quiet, listen, and sit still for a period of time each evening in order to be part of a family Bible reading. In the household of our three married sons, though, we have seen that even though there are different parents, different children, and different standards, all eight of those children (ages newborn to eight) in those families are learning self-discipline. As they participate night after night in family Bible time, they are growing in their ability to control themselves and to make choices against what they might most naturally want to do–sit for a brief season. What a precious opportunity those parents have to not only build God’s Word into their children’s lives but also to be teaching them the beginning steps of self-discipline.

Children who can obey, who can sit still when necessary, who can be quiet sometimes, who will respond when spoken to are children who are happier because they aren’t in trouble all the time. They also make living with them much easier for their parents and siblings than children without those qualities. Not only is life today better in their families, but their future looks brighter.

Does Self-Discipline Bring Blessing?

I think Paul nicely describes self-discipline in these verses and why for a Christian, it is important. “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).

Could I encourage you that boundaries are beneficial for your children, even beginning at a young age? You will bless your children by giving them opportunities to develop and practice self-discipline. I love watching my little grandchildren in family Bible time–happy, secure, and self-disciplined! I know that self-discipline will be a life-long friend helping them and bringing them peace and joy.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri Maxwell

Free From Regrets

She came to me desiring help with depression. One of the first projects I gave her was to go to bed early enough so that she could get up in the morning to have time with the Lord before the children were up. She agreed to the homework, but clearly told me that she didn’t have self-control, that she liked to stay up at night, and that she didn’t get up in the morning.

The next week, she reported having gone to bed and gotten up on time for a whole week. She was very pleased with herself. She had also had Bible reading and prayer each morning. What about the depression? I asked. “Oh, it was a great week. The depression really wasn’t an issue.”

Who Has Self-Control?

Have you thought about self-control? What value does it hold in your life? Do you esteem it or reject it? Have you noticed that self-control is sometimes made fun of, mocked, and put down? Or some will say that others can have self control but they can’t.

In our society, though, athletes are admired. Doesn’t it take self-control for them to achieve the physical prowess that makes them skilled? People who have built successful businesses are also admired. Some even study those individuals’ lives in order to dissect what qualities they have that help them in their achievements. Usually self-control is at or near the top of those lists. What about the student who receives academic accolades? Again self-control is integral to that success.

Did you know that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Doesn’t that mean it is available to everyone who is saved?

Freedom!

Ten years ago, I was drinking several sodas a day. I justified myself by saying I had no self-control when it came to resisting a Pepsi. Even so, at the end of a day of drinking Pepsi (which was every day), I would guiltily think particularly about wasted calories and some about wasted money and decide not to drink any more Pepsi. The next morning, though, I would find myself making excuses as to why “today” wasn’t a good day to break my Pepsi habit.

On December 31st 2006, I drank my last Pepsi. Do I regret giving up Pepsi? Not a chance! Do I live anymore with guilt because I drink Pepsi? No! I am free. I often thank and praise the Lord for the freedom from bondage to Pepsi and the guilt that went with it. Freedom is a delightful thing!

Drinking Pepsi was following the flesh for me, but stopping it was walking in the Spirit. Which life do you think has fewer regrets and less guilt—life in the flesh or life in the Spirit?

Self-Control Brings Blessings

There are struggles moms come to us with for which they want help. Often self-control is the solution—a simple word but difficult implementation. For example, some have trouble with time management or there are moms who ask for help with depression or anger.

Steve and I have watched moms get hold of the simple concept of going to bed and getting up at a set time. Initially they say can’t do that because they lack self-control, but they are so miserable with their current life that they say they will do anything for change. They make a commitment to do it for a month.

Those who follow through on that commitment are excited. They have chosen self-control when they thought they had none. They discover the key to their time management problems. They are elated not only with the changes that happen as a result of going to bed and getting up at the designated time but also with the realization that they do, after all, have self-control.

Those who don’t live out their bedtime and wake-up time commitment have excuses and continue in the same discouragement with which they started. Similar women, similar circumstances, similar needs, similar desires but a significant difference—one chooses self-control, the other doesn’t.

The Path of Self-Control

Each of us has those kinds of choices before us each day. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

When I was tempted to drink a Pepsi, or a mom is tempted to stay in bed when the alarm goes off, or you are tempted by something the Lord is calling you to exercise self-control concerning, Scripture tells us that God has provided a way of escape. Is it possible, though, that we don’t want to take the way of escape, that we enjoy aspects of what we are doing, that we would rather follow the flesh?

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:4-6). After giving up Pepsi, I experienced peace in my heart whereas before there was conflict and guilt. I would so much rather walk after the Spirit than after the flesh. What about you?

Would you tell me that you don’t have self-control, that you have tried before and failed? Then could I remind you of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Are you praying and asking God for His strength? Do you have Scripture memorized to quote to yourself? Are you willing to deny your flesh? I am no spiritual giant. I am no different that you. However, I do strive to daily learn more and more to rely on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, and the joy and peace that brings. If I can have self-control through Christ Who strengthens me, you can too!

Counting the Cost

What is God calling you to have self-control concerning? Your battle might not be with unhealthy food or wasting time, but whatever it is, I expect you are aware of it. I am sure that self-control will bring you peace you long for–and a multitude of other benefits along with it.

The peace would be enough for me, but I could not help but do some calculations as I closed this article. Based on drinking 24 ounces of Pepsi a day (and I could easily drink much more than that some days!) for ten years, I didn’t consume 87,600 calories, which would convert to 25 pounds of weight that I didn’t gain, and we saved about $1662. I have no regrets. I would like to encourage you in a life of self-control without regrets as well.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Five Tips To Make a Homeschool Mom’s Summer More Productive

This month’s Corner is written by Sarah, my oldest daughter. Sarah grew up in a homeschooling family, has helped countless homeschooling moms, and observes her homeschooling sisters-in-law. She has a wealth of practical homeschool experience to offer. Sarah graduated from our homeschool in 2000 and loves to serve in the Titus2 ministry. Teri

Summer is here, well, not officially according to the calendar, but school is out, and the temperatures are heating up, so it feels like summer. I want to share some tips from our family’s personal experiences that could help make your summer more productive. I remember looking forward to our summer homeschool break and the variety in activity that it afforded us. We were always excited about what Mom had in store for those summer months.

Plan a Summer Schedule

Plan a summer schedule! “Why would I do that?” you might ask. “Isn’t summer meant to be free time without any structure?” Have you noticed how your children act without a guideline for their day? Don’t they seem to get in trouble, say they’re bored, or fight with their siblings? Having a schedule will alleviate that, give them purpose, and you peace. If you have teenage children, let them have input into their schedules and how they’d like their day set up. I enjoyed plotting my schedule. Be creative.

Change out chores and train the children in new ones since you have more time to do that. Wouldn’t you love to move through summer without having to wince every time you walk by the laundry room? With a schedule, you’ll keep up with a clean house and folded laundry and a whole lot more! A side benefit will be pleasing your husband. What guy likes to come home to an unkempt house with bickering children and a crying wife?

Back to the schedule. Maybe you have a child who has a special interest or talent in an area like art, writing, handyman work, or sewing. Scheduling in an hour a day for them to devote to that will help both of you to see if it’s something they want to keep pursuing during the school year.

Write Out a List of Projects You’d Like to Accomplish

Do you have dreams of getting to those projects that bug you, but you just don’t have time for? Write out a list of those projects, and make it your summer goal. Maybe your husband has mentioned several things he’d like to see you do, and you’ve never made it happen (i.e: the kids’ winter boots that are stacked up in the garage doorway, the front flower bed needs weeding). Now is the time. Write those on your list, and you’ll have a very happy husband when they’re done!

My mom loved summer because it afforded her opportunities to do things she normally didn’t have time for such as putting photos in albums, deep cleaning the refrigerator, polishing cabinets, and a host of other things. How did she manage to do that with little ones underfoot? At that point, I was in my teens, and she scheduled me to take the five younger ones on a walk right after breakfast and then to play with them outside. That gave her an hour to do things on her list, and an hour a day netted her a mostly-completed list by the end of summer (I think sometimes her lists exceeded her time!). If you don’t have a child old enough to watch the others, consider having them spend that time in a safe environment like their room with special toys or books.

Schedule Some School

Even if you’re one of those who would prefer summer to be kept without school, consider how scheduling 1-2 hours a day could help you. For us, if we did some school, it kept our skills current in weak or hard subjects, instead of trying to jump back in with cold feet in the fall. It also allowed us to have a more relaxed schedule in the school year itself and even time off for a family vacation in September when places weren’t crowded. School each day kept us occupied in the hotter parts of the day, when being outside playing wasn’t much of an option.

Spend Dedicated One on One Time with Your Children

What better use of your summer hours than to spend them with your children? Regardless of their age (toddler to teen!), plan a regular time at least once a week to spend one on one. Consider letting them pick what they want to do. Your little boys might want you to build a Lego fort, and you might find you’re better at it than you thought. Or, your little girl might love for you to play dolls. When was the last time you played dolls?! Perhaps your teenage girl would like to bake something or go shopping (in the evening when your husband is home and can watch the others). I heard my sister-in-law was doing one on one time with her girls this summer, and Friday night they were happily talking about what Mommy did with them that week.

Make It Great

Whether it’s a spontaneous trip to the zoo, a picnic at the park, hiking at a state park, an overnight camping trip when Dad’s home, or simply making sugar cookies and decorating them together, use summer as a time to make the best memories possible. Remember, your schedule is your tool. So use it when you can, and on those days when you go to the zoo or do some other outing, don’t worry, and have peace knowing you’ll get back on track the next day.

Instead of allowing the summer to overtake you with stressful times, be determined to make it your most productive summer yet. The result? Happy kids + productivity + a pleased husband = a joyful YOU.

Serving Jesus,
Sarah Maxwell