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.

Right Thinking

Resting in the quiet of the afternoon following a turbulent morning of peacemaking between Joseph (6), John (4), and Anna (2), I was cuddled up in my recliner chair. A heavy heart, jumbled mind, Bible, and notebook were my companions as my pen titled the page, “Thinking Right Thoughts When Discouraged and Worn Out by My Children’s Unkindness to Each Other.” Five “thoughts” soon filled the recently empty lines.

Number one: Every mother faces these same problems. Do you take any comfort in knowing my children fuss with each other? As I prayed about the situation, God reminded me every child is just like mine, and every mother must deal with the same things. None of us enjoys having children squabble. I need to change my mindset to expect the unkindness and be thrilled if any kind deed comes from them, rather than expect the kindness and be discouraged when it doesn’t happen.

Number two: God is developing my character as much as He is working in their lives. We say this often, but I have to keep telling it to myself. God is as much concerned with my learning to be patient, kind, loving, and gentle as He is in my children developing these qualities. What frequent opportunities He gives me to learn them, practice them, and even fail at them (thereby gaining humility and therefore God’s grace through my failures).

Number three: God is developing my faith, as I trust Him to do this work since I can’t myself. I can consistently train and teach my children. I can be an example to them, but it is God who works in their lives just as He works in mine. Therefore, my eyes must be on my Lord and my faith rooted in His working in their lives in His time. As a mother with both older and younger children I have proof of this as I have seen Nathan, Christopher, and Sarah develop more godly attitudes toward each other as they have grown up.

Number four: God is teaching me to rest in Him since my strength and will cannot bring it to pass. If I could, I would certainly force my children to have godly attitudes toward each other, and I do try. The truth is I can command some measure of outward conformity to the standard, but I cannot change a selfish heart. God is the One who does that, but He wants me to rest in Him as I wait for His timing. I can even trust that through the bickering He is working good in my life and theirs. We have talked about developing character in my life, but even the child who is being wronged in a disagreement is growing in character through it.

Number five: My greatest goal–even more than my goal to have a peaceful home and loving children–needs to be to teach my children to love God. Often the squabbles in our home make me focus more on peace and quiet than on the goal of turning my children’s hearts toward loving their heavenly Father. As we focus on loving God, certainly a by-product of that, in time, will be children who have servant’s hearts and are willing to give up their rights.

I find I can get so overpowered by thoughts and feelings of discouragement that I have to sit down and write truth out, like I did here, to bring my perspective back where it should be. Then I have to control my mind to think the truth when situations arise that trigger discouragement. In the midst of the emotions it is hard for me to do.

Usually, the change in thinking comes when I get down on my knees, cry out to God for His forgiveness for my self-focus, and ask for His help in my thinking truth. I pray each of you will use these situations you face with your children to see the benefits He is working for both you and them.

Children and Family Planning

As I write this Mom’s Corner I am celebrating my 40th birthday! Birthdays have a way of causing us to reflect on life, and my heart has been filled with joy for my family today. I can’t help but think about how few women, at the age of 40, have the privilege of nursing a baby and delighting in an adult son too.

Had God not changed Steve’s and my heart regarding children and family planning I would have held my last baby in my arms 13 years ago. Joseph, John, Anna, and Jesse would not have been given life, and my nest would quickly be emptying. As we evaluate these past seven years of our lives, Steve and I believe that there is nothing we could have invested our lives in that would have had any more value.

After we surgically cut off the possibility of having more children for seven years, God showed us, from His Word, that closing the womb or opening it was His domain and could be trusted to Him in faith. We knew there was a great probability, even with reversing the original procedure, that we might not have more children.

With the realization of how dependent Steve and I were on the Lord for His gift of children came very different feelings in our hearts about our children. With our first three, having children was the thing to do–taken for granted–the norm for a young married couple. But with the last four we have known it was not a matter of our will that they were conceived but God’s, and we have had the pleasure that comes to hearts that choose obedience to God’s will.

What about those seven empty years, the gap between older children and younger ones, in our family? Did God have children for us that we refused? We think about that question from time to time and for me it usually brings tears.

What did God use to change our hearts and thinking in this area? He used His Word. Scriptures like: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD . . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. . .” (Psalms 127:3, 5), “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren” (Genesis 29:31), “. . . but the LORD had shut up her womb” (1 Samuel 1:5), “. . . Be fruitful, and multiply. . .” (Genesis 1:28). Steve, home sick one day, got out his concordance and began a study on God’s view of children that both broke and changed his heart. Malachi 2:15 clearly sums up God’s purpose for marriage.

I share this part of our lives because my heart is so full of joy in my family. We wish someone had confronted us with this idea before we made our decision to cut off having children, challenging us to search the Bible for its truth in this area. We might not have liked what we found enough to consider obedience to it since my life was so full of three little children whom I was not dealing well with emotionally–but that is another Mom’s Corner. For now, let a forty-year-old mother who is nursing her eleven-month-old baby encourage you to evaluate where you stand in relation to having children, not in light of your present circumstances or difficulties, but in the light of Scripture.

School Year Planning

My summertime provides an opportunity to reflect back over our past school year and prepare for the upcoming one. New school beginnings hold the excitement, hope, and promise of significant accomplishments for each member of our household. Often, though, this promise will not come to fruition unless specific goals and direction are set for the year.

Planning with Steve for the next school year is a highlight of my summer. The two of us block out time together where we can set goals and the course of our school year. This past summer we went to the conference room at Steve’s work with a nice table, chairs, and a big whiteboard. Being away where there were no interruptions had obvious advantages. One year, though, we spent Saturday morning at home working on this with nothing else scheduled “to do” and encouraged the children to play in their rooms or outside as much as possible. After our planning time we try to have a “date” with dinner out.

To prepare for our planning time, I put together some background information for Steve to review before we meet. He takes what I give him, looks at it, and prays about it for several days before we have our meeting. I start by giving him our plan or goals from the previous summer and a schedule of what we actually did during the school year. I also write out areas in which I felt we did not do what we had wanted, including difficulties with attitudes, schedules, specific schoolwork, our not keeping the children accountable or their not doing what we had wanted. I give him a list of subjects that I think we may want each child to study or work in and the number of hours we do school each day. I may write out some character concerns that specifically affect schoolwork.

When we have our planning sessions we start with prayer, since Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” First, we go over last year’s plan to see what we achieved, what we deleted, and what did not work. Next, if we want to write out goals, we start with that. Then we look at our list of what each child could spend his school time on, and prioritize it. The big white board was great for this. We listed each child’s name on the board and then underneath placed the school subjects we wanted them to pursue with a number beside it for its priority. From there, we work with the specific amount of time to spend per day or week on a particular subject. We also write down ideas on how to make sure the character deficiencies are being addressed and followed up on.

I am very grateful that Steve is willing to sit down with me and make what we consider very important decisions regarding our school direction. Although I usually put together the specifics after this major meeting, I know where we as a team are heading. If I run into further snags, Steve and I set aside more time to address the new items that come up.

I hope it is possible for each of you as couples to make time to be together and focus on your school planning for the next year. Perhaps it will be something that you can look forward to as I do to my conference with my wonderful husband.