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.

Grandma’s Lessons: Back to the Basics, Part Three

Self-Control for Children

Aside from salvation, there might not be anything more important in a life than self-control. Self-control touches every aspect of who we are including relationships, work, health, self-esteem, spiritual life, parenting, and marriage. The person who has learned self-control has a great potential to excel in these vital areas of life. Even beyond these benefits, the parents I observe enjoying their children are the ones whose children have an age-appropriate level of self-control. Often the miserable, angry parents are the ones who have children who are loud, wild, and demanding; they lack self-control.

Scriptural Directives

Scripture has much to direct us to the importance of self-control. Here are a couple of examples: 

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Proverbs 16:32 

“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 

Ultimately, we need salvation and the Holy Spirit to help us with self-control, but we are all able to develop a degree of self-control, even children.

When?

When does Mom begin helping her child learn self-control? I wonder if it isn’t early, quite early. As long as a child is allowed to do anything he wants with no boundaries, he is not given any opportunities for learning self-control. Boundaries are a tool you want to incorporate into your parenting.

Boundaries for Young Children

What kind of boundaries might we consider when working with young children? 

  • Sitting in his high chair with some toys to play with while meal clean up is going on.
  • Playtime alone in a safe place.
  • Sitting quietly and relatively still during family Bible time.
  • Not interrupting a conversation.
  • Speaking in a normal loudness of voice when talking.
  • Running outside not inside. 
  • Staying in bed in the mornings until a designated get-up time.
  • Not asking for things but waiting for them to be offered and given. 

One of the greatest examples our family observed of starting to learn self-control at a young age was when our girls were asked to watch two babies about 6 or 7 months old while their mommies walked around the display hall at a homeschool conference. When the mommies returned, the babies saw them and both started to cry for their mommies. Our girls reached to give the babies back to their mommies, but the mommies said, “No, we won’t take them until they stop crying.” Even at that age with something so simple, these mommies were helping their children learn self-control.

Boundaries for School-Age Children

For your school-age children self-control might be:

  • Staying in an assigned place to do their school work.
  • Saving questions from their individual school work for a designated time rather than interrupting the school Mom is doing with a sibling.
  • Completing assigned chores well and on time.
  • Choosing to let others go first.
  • Portion control when eating.

Self-control situations abound. When you start thinking about it, you will probably come up with more than you feel you have time to tackle. I want to assure you that each one you identify and work on will be a blessing to your child and to you.

My heart aches for those parents who have allowed their homes to be ones of misery because of ignoring this critical part of parenting. I want you to enjoy the fruit of self-control in your children’s lives, and right along with that, your children will enjoy not having angry, frustrated parents. I want your children to step into adulthood with all the advantages a life with self-control gives. 

Grandma’s Lessons: Back to the Basics, Part Two

The Schedule

Being many years beyond life with little children, it is easy for me to lose sight of the key factors that contribute to a peaceful and productive home life. Now that we are daily spending hours helping Christopher with his five young children so he can work and be daddy while his wife is having chemo treatments 2,000 miles away, we are once again aware of those components.

Last month we evaluated the benefits of a bedtime and wake up time for Mom that allows her to get the sleep she needs to function well all day, plus have time with the Lord and exercise in the morning. Those pieces are the beginning of a peaceful and productive family. 

What do you know you need to accomplish each day and what are the weak areas concerning that? I believe if you were to write those down, then pray and think, you could come up with a schedule to solve those problems.

For example, homeschool moms must do school. If they schedule school time, they make steady progress on their school work, likely finishing by the end of the year when they want to finish. However, haphazard, hit and miss school is a frustration. The end result is that schoolwork falls behind and Mom feels guilty. 

Perhaps you long for quiet time to do work at your computer. That could happen if you scheduled it and scheduled the children to do activities that don’t require your attention. That might mean preschoolers and babies are napping while older children are doing independent school work. 

Speaking of computer time, one key to a successful schedule is stopping when the schedule says to stop. Computer time has a way of engulfing the next scheduled activities so quit at the time you have scheduled. If you don’t, whatever you have scheduled next doesn’t happen, and that presents a whole new set of problems.

That same scheduling principle applies to whatever your priorities are—put them on the schedule. Start with the needs and after they are filled in on the schedule, then add wants.

Make It a Habit

When you have a schedule up and running, it becomes habit. Habit makes life simple. You aren’t in perpetual decision-making mode as to what to do and when to do it. You don’t have to keep chasing after your children to round them up for what they need to do. (Although when you start a schedule there will be a training phase for everyone involved.)

The Results

My heart’s desire is to see young moms enjoying this season of their lives. More often, though, they seem run-ragged, frustrated, and burned out. I wonder if they have tried making and using a schedule. The schedule is a powerful tool for time efficiency and productivity and from that flows energy, contentment, a peaceful heart. 

When I recently wrote on scheduling I had a response I think will encourage you and motivate you with scheduling:


As an old home-educating mom with much hindsight, I would like to add another benefit of schedulingjoyful anticipationbased on wonderful results of homeschool scheduling. Florida homeschool laws required us to turn in annual assessments of our children (to show progress, measured by wonderful licensed teachers) and I anticipated, planned, and prayed for wonderful growth and success. And successful, calm, and happy we were. It’s FUN to schedule, anticipate, and accomplish great homeschool goals! It is like achieving any huge goala college degree, new home, a huge family celebrationonly its happier and better because it’s your children. What an accomplishment. What a blessing. And it’s renewable with each and every homeschool day well done.

Now is the time to start. It isn’t hard. If you need help, Managers of Their Homes is a solid, proven, down-to-earth resource.

Grandma’s Lessons: Back to the Basics, Part One

As our family steps back into the role of helping our son Christopher with five of his children ages 2 to 7 while his wife, Anna Marie, is in Washington state with her family undergoing chemotherapy, we are again reminded of the basics that allow life to run smoothly.

Mom, you are critical to the heartbeat of your home. When you are tired, it falls apart. You let things go that should be done. You feel discouraged. You are impatient and frustrated. You aren’t the happy, upbeat mom you want to be. You snap at your children when you would like to be smiling at them. You yell at them when you wish you would be whispering your love to them. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Bedtime/Wake Up Time

If you are to be the mom who gets the sleep you need, you must discipline yourself to go to bed at night at a time that allows you to awake rested. For most of us that choice doesn’t happen automatically. We are way too prone to enjoy the quiet of the night after the children are in bed, putting off the call of sleep. It isn’t worth it, though. Too much is at stake.

When you go to bed early, you can wake up having slept the hours your body needs so that it is energized and strong throughout the day. If you carefully plan your bedtime and wake up time, you have the potential to accomplish two vital tasks before the children require your attention: time with the Lord and exercise.

Time with the Lord

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1). When you wake before the children for time in the Word and prayer, you prepare yourself for the day in the most important way possible. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). 

Growing in your relationship with the Lord and learning all that His Word teaches about how to handle relationships, anger, fear, worry, and the multitude of difficulties you face allows you to not only walk through your day abiding in the Vine but also discipling your children. Plus a time of focused prayer prepares your heart for what lies ahead in the coming hours of busyness with whatever your day holds.

Exercise

Too many moms say they are too busy to exercise and can’t fit it in their day. Could I encourage you that you are too busy not to exercise? Your body must be fit and strong to accomplish all of that busyness. You must have the energy to keep up with your children and to have the patience to engage with them gently and lovingly at 7:30 p.m. the same way you might at 7:30 a.m. You can find an exercise program that you can consistently do at home in the morning before the children wake up.

Determine the Time

From the time your children are up in the morning, work backward to determine when you need to set your alarm to get up. Do you need two hours for Bible and prayer time, exercise, and a shower? More? Less? From that wake up time, work backward again. How much sleep do you need to function well all day? 8 hours? 8.5 hours? 7.5 hours? Now set that bedtime and discipline yourself to be in bed going to sleep at that time.

I challenge you if this is not your method of life to try it for one month. I am sure you will be delighted with the differences you see in yourself, in your family, and in your home. If you need help with this, Managers of Their Homes is a resource to guide you.

Posted in: Mom's Corner

What Do You Want Me to Learn, Lord?

My dear sisters, oh how my heart aches for you as you face your fears and worries in our uncertain times. I would love to sit down with a cup of tea to talk and pray together and share the truths we find in God’s Word to carry us through. 

Even though the circumstances can generate fears and worries, happily they don’t have to control or consume us because God gives us a plan in His Word to deal with them. He wants to take what could be a horribly devastating time in our lives and turn it into a beautiful season of growing in Him. 

Have you learned this truth? “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).

What might be some practical steps toward this end? What does that look like in real life?

When the Thought Comes

The fearful thought comes, but instead of thinking about it, you choose to praise the Lord with verses like these: 

Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.  Psalm 63:3 

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. Psalm 86:12 

. . .  Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Revelation 4:8 

Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Revelation 5:12 

Or the worries jump back into your mind, and you comfort your heart with these verses:

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3 

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7 

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 

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 

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34 

Persevere

Keep putting Scripture into your mind to replace the negative thoughts. You can use the same verse over and over, or you could use a variety of them if you know enough. If you have the verses memorized, that’s the easiest. But if you don’t, read them. If you write verses on cards and read them over each time the worry comes, you will soon have the verses memorized. You might need to say them out loud to have them overtake the negative thoughts. 

What Is the Lesson?

Your struggle might not be with fear or worry, but God has something He wants you to learn during this time. Are you asking Him what it is? Then are you moving in that direction? If you are, you will be taking your thoughts captive and bringing them into the obedience of Christ. That is truly the power of “. . . Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). 

We have the “opportunity” to embrace fears, worries, and concerns. I can say the words, “God is in control. I trust God and will rest in Him.” However, if my mind continues rolling those fears around in it, if I play “what if” scenarios in my thoughts, if I talk about worries all the time, then I should evaluate whether those words are true in my heart, or if I am just saying them. This is not an optional thing. We are commanded to “take no thought…”. If you need to be strong with yourself, rebuke yourself. 

May you walk through this time in our world’s history and in your own life history consumed with Christ rather than consumed with self. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). 

The Power of a Schedule

Stepping back into homeschool life as a grandma helping her son and daughter-in-law after a new baby’s birth, I am even more convinced of the need for a schedule in a homeschool family than I was 30 years ago in my own homeschooling time. How is a mom (or grandma) going to manage 6 children ages 7 and under, prepare meals, clean house and do laundry, and homeschool without a plan?

If you want to be productive and efficient in your homeschooling and achieve that with a peaceful, quiet heart, your schedule will be your strongest tool. You can have the best curriculum out there, but if you hardly ever have time to homeschool, what does it matter? You might have a desire for spiritual growth for your children, but if you are stressed and angry, will that be the outcome?

Self-Discipline 

Some might say to me, “Mrs. Maxwell, I don’t have the self-discipline to follow a schedule.” 

My response would be, “You will bless yourself and your children if you set that mindset aside and decide today to ask the Lord to help you develop whatever self-discipline you need for a schedule. Next to salvation, self-discipline might be your children’s greatest ally through life. Don’t waste any opportunity the Lord gives you to grow self-discipline and move your children toward it as well.”

The schedule gives direction to you and your children. With it, life is not chaotic, run by the most urgent fire to be put out. Instead, it has a vibrancy letting you live in the present, knowing exactly what to do and meeting needs but also either preparing for the ones to come or knowing when their time is scheduled.

The Team

In the process with your schedule, you make your children part of the team. Every homeschooling mom needs help. She wants to develop that team when her children are young and fine-tune it as they grow. Without scheduled activities to keep babies and toddlers occupied and without scheduled tasks for preschoolers, they can undo what you are trying to accomplish more quickly than you can do it. What you schedule for them is part of their development of self-control. I have observed families who do it both ways, and I can assure you the moms with children who have learned age-appropriate self-control are much happier moms with way less stress.

Start Simple

Begin scheduling by setting structured times for simple basics like bedtime, wake up time, Bible time, and meal times. Perhaps your greatest challenge will be for you and your husband to lead the way with a consistent bedtime and wake up time. Do it. It is worth it! After the basics are established add in chore time and school time. Then fill in other available time with other activities.

Be the Best

Once you have lived life with a schedule, I don’t think you will ever be satisfied to go back to the way you were living before. Give yourself that opportunity to see what life can be like when it has structure, and you experience productivity and efficiency with the positive emotions that go along with it. 

If you need help, that is what I feel God has called me to do and what I love: to teach and encourage moms about scheduling who don’t come to scheduling intuitively. We have two resources to help you: Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores

Determine now to be the best homeschool mom you can be utilizing the powerful tool of a schedule. Your whole family will be blessed by that decision.

Fear and Worry or Trust and Rest?

What happens when our 33-year-old, 35-week-pregnant daughter-in-law with five children ages seven and under tells us that it is likely she has breast cancer and needs to be induced as soon as possible to recover from childbirth for a few weeks before surgery to remove the tumor? 

I am faced with a decision. What will I do with my mind? Will I take my thoughts captive, or will I let fear and worry consume me? “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).

Years ago, in my time of depression, that verse was God’s lifeline from negative, self-focused thinking, which is at the root of fear and worry, into trust and rest. 

What does God’s Word tell me about an overwhelming situation like this or any other situation I face? Do I believe His Word, and if so, will I act on it?

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Where is my mind to be? It is to be on God not on the circumstances.  When I choose trust, God tells me peace is the result. Trust and rest.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). What am I not to do—worry? “Be careful for nothing,” is the King James way of saying: don’t worry, don’t be anxious. I am to pray with thanksgiving. That is trusting God, and the outcome is peace. Trust and rest.

“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). If I am worrying, which is a form of fear, it is not of God. He has given us power, love, and a sound mind. Trust and rest.

Those are just four of a multitude of verses in Scripture that we can believe and rely on that lead us to trust and rest.

The reality is that every day we are given opportunities, in small ways, to learn the path to trusting and resting. Those little things that cause worry and fear may not seem to matter so much if we let them sit on our minds, but they are our training ground. Just like we give our children daily assignments in school to prepare them for the exam, God gives us daily opportunities to trust and rest to prepare us for the storms, if and when they come. These daily trials are developing our habits of life. Will we choose to take the thoughts captive? Will we trust and rest?

Posted in: Mom's Corner

The T-Shirt Caper

The Eddie Bauer email came telling me that they were still offering 50% off sitewide. Right away I thought about the long-sleeve t-shirts I like to wear that I get from them. I went to the site and looked at the colors, picking out two new ones and put the shirts in my shopping cart. Then I added another basic black one. Before I hit send, though, I decided I wanted to pray about it.

Pretty quickly I felt as if the Lord was reminding me that I already had 3 long-sleeve t-shirts that were working fine. Then I recalled that the black one had gotten dirty and was in the laundry hamper when I next wanted to wear it so I probably did need another black one. But again that prompting was there that I had a short-sleeve, black t-shirt I could wear with a sweater or the white or green long sleeve one.  “Be content,” I almost heard Him say to me. “I have well provided for you. You don’t need more.”

That was true. He has very well provided for me, and I didn’t need more. Wasn’t my lure to buy at a great price discontent, even ingratitude? If I was grateful, I would be thanking Him for His provision rather than thinking about what more I might want. 

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11 

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Timothy 6:8 

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5 

It was sweet to my soul to pray, sense His response, and then have peace from trusting and resting. That is way better than a new t-shirt. And in that process, I had another installment of the ongoing lessons of gratitude and contentment. 

What about you? It might not be a t-shirt for you, but perhaps it is discontentment with things about your husband or children. It could be your house or your husband’s job. You might not even realize you are discontent. I didn’t think of myself as being discontent when I went to look at new t-shirts. It was God Who helped me to that realization.

What is God’s solution for our discontent? I can’t help but wonder if it is gratitude. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We talked about that two months ago in helping our children learn to be grateful. Then last month we discussed taking stress away from Christmas by being thankful for what is behind the stressor or the outcome it will bring. Now gratitude allows us to have a content heart. 

Would you and your family benefit from your focusing on what you are thankful for rather than what you wish were different? Would that give you the contentment God says He wants you to have, and is it possible that might achieve peace in your heart that you don’t experience right now? Doesn’t God take care of His children? Are you content with His care?

P.S. I wrote this article before Christmas and wouldn’t you know, I received not one but three of my favorite, long-sleeve, t-shirts for Christmas without the girls who gave them to me knowing this story. Thank you to my girls, and thank you to the Lord Jesus, Who does take care of His children!

Christmas Peace and Joy

Christmas family photos, Christmas letters and cards, gifts purchased and wrapped, house decorated, events attended, holiday baking completed, colds and stomach viruses—all added to an already full life and schedule. Does it make your head spin as December descends on you? Does each additional task put a little more dread in your heart and raise your stress level another notch? While I am all about planning, organization, and scheduling to make Christmas a special season (here’s an article about that), that doesn’t eliminate the extra time and work involved. On top of it all, this is the season we want to be filled with joy and have peaceful hearts. Is it possible?

In Our Minds

When the next thing comes and our minds start to calculate the time parameters, including where and when it can fit, we have a choice. We either let the feeling of pressure crush in on us and move into stress mode, or we give thanks. To give thanks, we immediately take that thought captive: “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). We evaluate what we have to be thankful for in it. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Then that becomes our focus rather than the focus of self and how to accomplish it. That’s a pretty simple formula based on two powerful Scriptures. What is the outcome?

As we thank the Lord for this need or activity, our hearts move from self to God. Truly, aren’t we grateful that He has provided funds for gifts and ingredients to bake special treats? If we struggle with the Christmas letter or photo, can’t we give thanks for friends and family we will connect to with them? As we plan to do Christmas decorating, aren’t we happy that those decorations are a constant reminder to our families of the beautiful gift of Jesus Christ born to save us from our sins? Even in sickness, we can be thankful for the family He has given us, that the illness is temporary, and that we can be there to care for the sick one.

Ultimately in gratitude, we put Him in charge rather than our owning the outcomes. After all He has told us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He doesn’t want us to carry the burden. We move out of me having to be in charge and work everything out and into “God will carry me through. I am grateful for what He has brought into my life, and I trust Him through it.”

Whose Got It?

Who do you think has peace and joy—the woman who is stressed and pushing toward perfection in all that she undertakes or the woman who is grateful and rests in her Lord? I have done it both ways, and my natural tendency is toward perfection and the stress that accompanies it. However, I much prefer peace and joy. Gratitude puts our thoughts on Jesus. It quiets our hearts. It puts a smile on our faces and makes us more enjoyable to be around.  

May I encourage you the next time Christmas stress threatens to descend on you that you immediately push it out with gratitude. Be thankful out loud if necessary since sometimes those negative thoughts can seem to be more domineering in your mind than the right ones. When you speak gratitude out loud not only you benefit, but your family does as well. With this sweet little plan, I can’t help but wonder if December 25th will arrive, and you will have a joyful, peaceful heart that has been worshipping your Lord through the whole month.

Teri Maxwell 

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Teaching Kids to Be Grateful

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). What can we as moms do to help our children toward this vital, biblical, positive, life-giving mindset? Typically children are self-centered, unobservant, and demanding, summarized as—ungrateful. 

Gratitude Is Important

Why is gratitude important in all of our lives? Certainly, we love to be around grateful people, and then we also want to be appreciated for what we, as moms, do for our families. Why, though, is gratitude critical for our children’s future? 

We read in Deuteronomy 28:47, “Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things.” Deuteronomy 28 is describing all the curses that will come upon Israel because of their disobedience (v45). These curses will also be signs and reminders to them (v46)  that they didn’t obey joyfully and with gladness of heart, for ALL THE THINGS GOD DID FOR THEM. Could we sum up verse 47 by saying they weren’t grateful? Can you see how essential gratefulness is for our children to learn? It isn’t just a nice character addition, but it can play a huge part in their walk with the Lord. 

Will our children have an entitlement mentality with the Lord, or will they recognize and praise Him for His blessings and joyfully serve Him? Gratitude blesses both the doer and the recipient. The doer welcomes hearing how his kindness blessed the recipient. Now, this is the key part. The recipient GREATLY benefits from sharing how the kindness benefited him. 

Here is how it works. The recipient has to first recognize and then proclaim.

  • Recognize: This is an ever-present awareness of someone doing something for them and to mentally process what it cost the person and how it has benefited them as the recipient.
  • Proclaim: This is to share verbally what was recognized. Without proclaiming, most of the blessing is missed. The doer is further encouraged by how his love and service to the other was used of God.  

Model

If we want our children to be grateful, it starts with us having grateful hearts and frequently speaking words of gratitude. We need to be moms who are verbally thankful to our husbands, our children, and others. Do we recognize and proclaim when they do something kind for us, helpful, or give us something? We should have hearts that don’t complain about negative situations but find ways to give thanks through them. 

Our children will learn first and perhaps foremost through our example. When we are negative complainers, they will be as well. When we expect the kindnesses shown to us, take them for granted, and don’t express gratitude, they will too.

Teach and Practice

Teach your children the importance of gratitude. You can work with them in the gratitude process of recognizing and proclaiming. Children are children, and they need lots of instruction and reminders. We can’t expect them to develop grateful hearts without investing time in teaching and then working with them. 

Give your children opportunities to practice gratitude by role-playing and specifically doing things for them where the proper response would be to recognize and proclaim their gratitude.

Rewards and Consequences

When your child expresses gratitude, notice it and praise him (Sounds a bit like recognize and proclaim, doesn’t it?) for his words or actions. Your smiles, hugs, and positive reinforcement should encourage him to want to continue to have grateful responses. 

When he hasn’t been grateful, you might point it out to him and help him figure out what he should have said or done to be thankful. 

When Not Thankful

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). God gives us a sobering view into the consequence of not being thankful. Gratitude is first offered to God and then to those around us. As mothers, we want to purposefully help our children have thankful hearts. 

Posted in: Mom's Corner

The Example We Set For Our Kids

Have you ever pondered what appetites are set in your children and your ability to influence them either positively or negatively? As we began our child-raising years, Steve and I certainly didn’t. We were just trying to keep up with our daily life tasks. However as our older children began reaching their teen years, we saw the reality of reaping what you sow and the appetites in their lives.

What Appetites for Food Are We Creating?

As an analogy, we might start with the appetite for food. Why are some children picky eaters and others eat almost anything? The picky eaters often don’t like or eat vegetables and other healthy food. My children grew up eating what I liked and therefore prepared—not particularly healthy food but not strictly junk food either. My appetites in food became their appetites. To this day, some of their favorite meals are ones I prepared for them as children.

I have seen other children whose moms could only eat extremely healthy food because of the mom’s health problems or simply her choice to only serve healthy food. Those children grew up enjoying that healthy food. I also observe children whose moms have gardens. These children have fresh produce to eat during the summer and are often allowed to graze from that garden. They are generally excellent eaters.

As our children grow up, their appetites in life are formed in large measure by what their parents love to do and by what they expose their children to and allow them to do. For example, many adults stay up late watching TV and movies for relaxation and entertainment. They sacrifice family time and sleep for their own pleasures. Expectedly, that is what their children will probably grow up with an appetite to spend their time doing. 

What About Other Appetites?

What if you didn’t want late nights and movies for your children? Could you affect it differently? Likely you could if you chose not to watch TV and movies but rather do other activities. For Steve and me in the evenings, we began to read the Bible as a family, spend time with our children, and go to bed early enough to get up and have personal Bible time and exercise before our work day began. With that example, our children should gravitate to productive evenings with family Bible time, other family activities, and early bedtime. That is the reality we see in our four married children’s families. 

Steve and I had happy memories of Halloween growing up. So we looked forward to our children having them too. However, after we were saved, our hearts grieved over the wickedness glorified on that evil holiday. Over time we completely distanced our family from participation and visibility of everything ungodly about it. You would think it was an easy transition away in those early days, but it wasn’t. Why? Because of how strong those appetites were in Steve and my lives. Oh, friends, beware of the power of appetites. Don’t underestimate them. 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). We are always training whether we realize it or not. It is important that we consider what is “the way he should go” and then purposefully work toward that.

While we might focus on trying to avoid negative appetites, this verse gives us a powerful example of positive appetites, “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:15).  

What appetites do you want your children to have as adults? What do you want them addicted to? How can you shape that? What might you need to change now in your own life to help your children not have your appetites that you know are not good ones?

Posted in: Mom's Corner