Category Archives: Mom’s Corner

Learn of God

Do you ever struggle with fear, worry, or anxiety? When that is a part of our lives, then we lack rest and peace in our souls. We might want to have a quiet heart, but the worry ends up consuming our thoughts. Because worry seems to be something we regularly, or even often, deal with, I address it from time to time in Mom’s Corners. Usually, the theme of those articles is taking our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) by using Scripture to help us think truth.

Did you know that God has given us another solution to this problem? Actually, this is a solution to anything that causes unrest in our hearts such as anger, discouragement, or self-pity.

The Biblical Basis

Look at these passages:

Matthew 11:28-29: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

2 Peter 1:2-3: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”

Here we see two amazing things about quietness for our souls. First Matthew 11 tells us that when we learn of Christ, we find rest for our souls. Secondly, in 2 Peter, it says that grace and peace are not just given to us, but it is multiplied through the knowledge of God and of Jesus.

Not About Me!

Overcoming worry, or anything claiming our peace, isn’t about me, but it is about God, the One Who is peace and gives us peace. We are to know Him more and better if we want rest for our souls. Have you ever embarked on a path of learning more of Christ?

For most of my life in my personal Bible time, I focused on trying to get something from the Word, something that was for me to help me. If I was discouraged, I looked for verses in what I read that day that would encourage my heart. If I was dealing with frustration or anger, I tried to find something that addressed that. If I didn’t have anything specific, I would read the chapters where I was and ask God to show me verses that were needful in my life.

How Does It Work?

In Jim Berg’s book, God Is More Than Enough, he teaches this biblical path to quieting a noisy soul that focuses on learning about God. Reading that book, I got excited to begin asking the question in my Bible reading time: What does this teach about God?

How does learning about God quiet our souls? There is always a truth about God and Who He is that relates to what is creating unrest in our hearts. It might be His sovereignty, His mercy, His love, His faithfulness, His grace, or another of the multitude of His wonderful qualities. We take what we know of God, through His Word, and we choose to believe that what we have learned of Him is true. Our souls can rest, as Jim Berg says, because of those stabilizing truths.

Of course, we learn about God in our Sunday School classes, preaching services in church and other preaching we listen to, and Bible studies we attend. There are two great Christian classics on this topic: Attributes of God by J. I. Packer and The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer.

May I encourage you to learn more about God in your personal Bible time? And if you aren’t in the Word each day, may I encourage you of the necessity of that in your life?

Teri Maxwell 

Posted in: Mom's Corner

The Productive Summer Schedule for Homeschoolers

A productive summer schedule can help homeschoolers (or anyone) toward desires or goals you have for your summer months. Perhaps those would include doing some homeschooling, accomplishing activities that don’t fit into a homeschool year, or simply relationship building. Whatever the desire, purposefulness in making a schedule should give time to work on various aspects that lead to its achievement. Often moms get to the end of their summer dismayed with their lack of productivity and disappointed that they didn’t accomplish what they had envisioned. Your schedule is a tool that will let you look back on summer with satisfaction rather than regret.

If you haven’t scheduled before, summer is a perfect time to learn scheduling because usually summer has a more relaxed pace than the school months do.

List and Pray

To begin, write your desires for summer accomplishments onto a list. Having these desires in writing means you can visualize the ideas all together. You have a limited amount of time and energy so what you want to accomplish will be mitigated by that. The list and then the schedule is a reality check for what is reasonable to try to do.

Before you work on the actual schedule, you want to pray and seek the Lord’s direction for what He would have you and your children accomplish this summer. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). You may grow or shrink the list as you spend praying over it and also evaluating your available time.

Then pray about the actual planning and working out of the schedule since you want God’s help through that process. He is the One Who gives you direction and creativity for how to put the pieces of your schedule together.

Add a Few Notes

Now look at your list of desires for the summer. What needs to be scheduled to accomplish those goals? Start by making notes on your list since a particular goal might mean multiple spots on the schedule.

For example, your list says: summer school. But your note would be more specific – keep math and reading going during the summer by doing it daily. Your list could have: relationship building. Your note with it might say: weekly outing with one child rotating every week through the summer, assign a kitchen helper for each meal, have a daily game time. 

Assign Times

The next step is to put times with what you have on your list. It simplifies the schedule and schedule production if you use the same schedule for summer that you do for the school year when it comes to your normal daily needs. Then you don’t have to relearn that routine for the summer. School time is freed up to assign for your summer accomplishments, but the rest of the schedule remains the same.

If, however, you want to change the whole thing up, your schedule can accommodate! Just be sure to write it down. Trying to keep it in your mind is a setup for failure!

Then you use your notes to help you put what is on your list into time slots on the schedule. What is on it that you will do every day? Plug those into your schedule first. That allows you to evaluate the time blocks you have available for activities that don’t happen every day. If you want to have larger chunks of time for outings, try to group your daily activities together, so that you have several hours that can be scheduled for outings and the activities that don’t happen every day.

Finally what is on the list that you can do a couple of times a week or once a week? Put those into the blocks that are still open after the daily pieces have been entered into the schedule.

Make the Summer Schedule a Reality

Sometimes putting together a schedule seems daunting. That’s usually the case when it is all floating around in your head. Committing the details to paper or the computer, generally flows nicely once you take that first step to begin.

The productive summer schedule for homeschoolers will help you end your summer with a smile as you look back over all that you achieved through those months. 

If you need more scheduling help, I recommend our book called Managers of Their Homes. That book is full of scheduling information plus it walks you step by step through putting a schedule together utilizing the included scheduling kit. 

Here are some other articles on summer scheduling.

Children’s Summer Chores

When is the best time to work on chores? I believe summer is the time to put together a chore plan, assign children chores, teach them how to do their chores, and practice. Especially for homeschooling moms, the slower pace of summer affords valuable time for a chore emphasis that isn’t available during the school year. Plus with diligence and purpose for chores in the summer, your home maintenance should be as efficient as possible freeing time for other pursuits.

Put Together a Children’s Summer Chore Plan

I have heard about online plans and things you can sign up for to receive emails to tell you what to do and when to do it concerning chores. If you think about it, though, you are the only one who knows what needs to be done in your home, who makes up the chore team, who has time available, and who knows how to do particular jobs. I am convinced that you are the best one to design a summer chore plan for your children.

Commit the plan to paper. It has to be something you can look at and refer to, not something stored in your head! Think through the chores that need to be accomplished in your home and make a list of what comes to mind. You can add to it and refine it as you go. Start basic. Just get the critical chores written down. 

Be sure your children are accomplishing tasks that involve their self care such as making their beds, picking up their toys and clothes and putting them away, and helping in the kitchen. You will not only have chore help now, but you are preparing your children to handle responsibility throughout their lives.

Assign Children Chores

Next decide who can do the chore. If you have children helping with chores, plan for the youngest child who is capable to do the chore. Is it time for an older child to hand a chore over to a younger sibling? Perhaps the older child is ready to move into a higher skilled chore. When putting together your children’s summer chore plan, this information is necessary.

Teach Children Their Chores

Then work with your children to teach them to do their chores this summer. If you spend a few days teaching and then supervising bed making, your children will soon be proficient at it. The same goes for folding laundry or any other chore. First demonstrate, then work with the child, finally observe them doing it on their own. 

It is easier and quicker to do it ourselves when our children are just maturing to a capable age for a chore. In the long run, however, you are wise to invest in teaching your children to do chores. Remember you need help now, and they need to be able to function efficiently with chore work as adults. 

Schedule Chores

Finally remember that a great chore plan and children who know what to do doesn’t gain anticipated benefits unless you have a schedule in place. You want a summer schedule that allows time at the appropriate spot in the day for your children to do those chores. Usually chores fit naturally around meal times and before bed. On your written list be sure to put down the scheduled time for each chore. 

You will have to choose to be diligent to enforce that chore block on the schedule. Don’t expect your children to be enthusiastic about their work and rush to do it on their own. I think you can affect their attitudes by your own attitude toward your household chores. The more positive you are about your work, the more they will be about theirs. Dealing with their failures in a pleasant but firm manner, more quickly marches you forward with chore success. 

Redeeming Time this Summer

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). I can’t help but wonder if one way we can redeem time to invest in what is of eternal value to the kingdom of God is to have a home that functions efficiently and children who are being trained to be adults. The more chaos in a home, the more time it sucks from all the family members. We want to spend as little time as possible on household tasks so we have more time to serve the Lord in other ministry. Invest this summer in a children’s chore system and redeem the time.

If you need help with a chore plan, I recommend our book Managers of Their Chores. In that book, I take you step by step through putting together a chore system. 

Other Titus2 chore articles:

Children’s Chores

Summer Schedules and Chores

Benefiting from Summer Chores

Busy Moms Can Read the Bible

We regularly discuss in Mom’s Corners the necessity and value of busy moms reading their Bibles. Sadly, it is easy for anyone, and the busier, perhaps the easier, to declare she is just too busy to be in the Word. The excuse is that God understands. But I wonder. The God of the Universe says our desire for the sincere milk of the Word was to be as if we were newborn babies. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). That means we crave the Word if we want to grow, and time is not even to be a consideration (babies have lots of time).

An Example of a Busy Mom Who Reads Her Bible

I had lunch the other day with a friend, who recently moved from across the country and now lives just 45 minutes from me. She’s a busy, homeschool mom, like many of you are or were. In 2007, she started reading her Bible daily. At that time, she only had two children. Now she has five. Her life has only gotten busier since she started daily, Bible reading. She has had every reason to say she didn’t have time, but she wanted to grow spiritually.

Fourteen years after that decision to daily spend time reading her Bible, she now has a beautiful, spiritual life along with thirteen lovely journals that document her faithful meetings each morning with her Savior, Jesus Christ. Back then, she grabbed hold of a simple, yet powerful, way to spend time in the Word. She reads, finds a verse that speaks to her heart from her reading, copies that verse into a notebook, and then journals about what that verse said or meant to her. She told me what an amazing blessing that time in the Word has been to her.

The Busy Mom’s Outcome When She Reads Her Bible

Her life shines with the spiritual fruit that comes from Bible reading. “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).

I observed that fruit in her life as we talked. Her life was not pressure-free. She had struggles and difficulties, but she radiated faith through them. She sparkled with joy in what God was doing in her life and her family’s life. She was filled with love for those she served. She demonstrated peace as she talked about the trials she faced. She lived out long-suffering as she told about physical problems that were ongoing. 

Jesus Says Not By Bread Alone

When Jesus faced Satan’s temptations in the desert, one of them was to command the stones to be turned to bread. After all, with forty days of fasting, Jesus was hungry. He did have a physical need. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Do we consider time in the Word to be even more important than our daily physical needs and duties? Or could it be that a little more sleep or the pressures of responsibilities push out time for the words God gave us in the Bible?

Mary Sits at Jesus’ Feet

We have another example in the New Testament that I believe we can relate to—the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. 

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Nothing in my life compares with serving Jesus like Martha was serving Him by preparing food for Him and the disciples. Yet, Martha was rebuked for being burdened with her service, and Mary was commended for hearing Jesus’ words. Jesus said that Mary learning from Him was what was needed. 

Is It Worth Being Too Busy?

May I again implore you to set aside any “too busy” excuses for not spending time reading your Bible? Would you choose today to find a place in your busy life for God’s Word and then be faithful to meet Him there every day?

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105).

“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word” (Psalms 119:114).

For more encouragement on this topic of our walk with the Lord and Bible time, check out Sweet Journey.

How to Overcome DIscouragement for the Homeschool Mom

I regularly have moms write who are struggling with discouragement, negative thoughts, and even depression. I understand and empathize with these moms. I look back on my younger years, early in our homeschooling days, and that was me. We had great expectations for our daily walk with the Lord in family life, and then I was discouraged if life, or more specifically my reaction to life events, didn’t meet my expectations. Those happenings could range from spilled milk at breakfast to the difficulties of teaching children to be kind to each other or obey Mommy and Daddy to living with chronic pain—the whole gamut of daily life.

Our mind is an incubator for problems when we harbor negative thoughts, discouragement, or depression. What we do with our minds influences how we feel. If we let negative, stress-filled thoughts stay and put down roots, then we will be pulled lower and lower emotionally. But if we battle those negative thoughts with the truth of the Word, then we have done this: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16). Satan wants to cripple or destroy us with destructive thoughts. God wants to protect us through faith in Him. Practically speaking how would this work?

I just had a mom mention things that derailed her and discouraged her. They were a baby taking off a messy diaper before she got to him on waking up and then another day it was ants in the kitchen. So let’s take the baby’s mess as an example and walk through wrong versus right thinking.

Take Your Thoughts Captive

Here is our theme verse of 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). 

This mom can think:
This is so hard.
I don’t have time to deal with this.
Why do these things always happen?
I don’t want to have to deal with this.
I am so discouraged.
I can’t handle this.

Or she can take those thoughts captive with Scriptures like: 
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

She thinks:
Thank You, Lord, for this sweet, stinky little guy. Thank You for a washing machine. Thank You that I can praise and worship You, while I clean up. Thank You that I can talk to my children and sing with them as we do this work.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). 

She thinks: 
Lord, You allowed this mess to happen, and You will give me strength to clean it up and then accomplish what You have for me to do today.

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

She thinks:
Lord, You know I don’t feel I have time to deal with this, but I give it to You to be Your problem, not mine. Thank You that You care for me and that I can do all things through Your strength in me.

Practice It 

It is simple for me to write, but I know it is truly the spiritual battle that Ephesians 6 tells us about. Whether you are young or old, single, or with a family, you probably have negative, discouraging thoughts from time to time or frequently. Why don’t you try as Jim Berg tells us in his great book, God Is More Than Enough, saying to yourself: STOP/THINK. Then say or read (if you don’t have it memorized) an appropriate Scripture and put the right thoughts into your mind. Try it. Then let me know what you think of that instead of letting the negative thoughts stagnate and rule your mind. I love to hear from you!

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Prioritizing Relationships That Matter

Next to our salvation and a relationship with Jesus Christ, probably the most important thing to us is our families and relationships with them. Life is busy for all, and maybe even busier for the homeschooling mom. What happens to those priority relationships for busy homeschool moms in the midst of that lifestyle? Is it possible to accomplish what needs to be done but lose the heart thrust of relationships? How can we purposefully nurture relationships but still keep up with the responsibilities the Lord has called us to fulfill?

Schedule

Your schedule is critical for helping you prioritize relationships. First, it maximizes your productivity, allowing you the most time possible to invest in relationships.

Next, it shows you where your time is misplaced. Is it possible that you have time for relationship building, but you are spending it in ways that aren’t your real priorities? Social media, texting, and emailing could be your biggest time robbers. Some of the moms I admire the most are the ones who choose to keep those things contained within a scheduled time frame and stay away from them the rest of the time. When your children leave home, what do you want them to remember about you—the mom who had her face glued to her phone or one who looked at them?

You can put activities into the schedule that are relationship building. What about scheduling individual time with a child? It probably won’t be every day except for school time, but it could be once or twice a week. Even a half an hour or hour dedicated to one child will grow that relationship. It might be a time where you simply talk, perhaps discussing spiritual things and the child’s struggles and joys. “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). It could also be doing something with him that you know he enjoys doing.

Working Together

If you have your children scheduled one at a time to work with you in the kitchen for meal preparation, you just gained a huge amount of relationship-building time. With 21 meals a week, if we estimated 30 minutes preparation time per meal—breakfast will likely take less and dinner more—that comes up to ten hours of individual, relationship-building time per week.

By keeping it to just one helper, your full attention is on every story that child wants to tell you, every joy he desires to share with you, and every worry that is on his heart. You have the opportunity to speak into his life what you see he is doing well and those things you know he could grow in.

In the process of all of that, in addition to relationship building, your child learns kitchen skills he takes with him through life and character that equips him for the areas of service God will call him to in adulthood. I can assure you that your two-year-old will slow you down in the kitchen, but he will be a happy helper full of enthusiasm and words. By the time he is five, he will be capable of doing many tasks independently and at eight, there might be meals he could do alone. Don’t resort to giving him that assignment on a normal basis, though, because remember—by working together you are taking time with and for that child.

Attitudes

Balanced with spending time together for relationship building is your attitude in general. If you spend lots of time with a child but are negative when you are together, I doubt that relationship will grow strong. Take inventory. When you talk to your children, are you negative and critical or encouraging and positive? Do you smile at them or talk to them with your eyes focused on your phone, seeming distracted?

Blessed

Ask the Lord to help you find ways to build relationships with your children. There is nothing dearer to a mother’s heart than for this to be true:  “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her” (Proverbs 31:28). May I encourage you to purposefully invest in growing relationships with your children.

If you need help making a schedule, Managers of Their Homes is a resource we have available for you. It has helped many, many moms do what you want to do.

In the Word: The Right Priority

As the year closed and the new one began, did you evaluate yourself spiritually, looking back and looking forward? Can you see spiritual growth in your life? If so, do you want more? If not, do you want it this year? Bible reading is the right priority in your life, and it is key to spiritual growth.

God’s Word

God gives us the path to spiritual growth. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). 

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Too Busy? Too Tired?

I’ve learned something about people. They find time for things that are important to them. The Word is what nourishes and sustains our souls and keeps us going when things are crazy, hectic, overwhelming, hurtful, or troubling. You name it—God’s Word helps us with it. Bible reading is the right priority. Therefore, I must be in the Word. We make time to eat physical food. Nourishing our souls is just as critical as nourishing our bodies. I remember the days of babies, preschoolers, and homeschooling. I heard moms in that stage of life say, “I don’t have time to read my Bible. I would like to, but I have so much to do, and I am too tired to get up early. God understands. This is just a stage in my life. Things will be different later.”

While that sounded appealing to my flesh, my soul had a deep need. Like that newborn baby Peter talks about, I longed for the milk of the Word so I could grow spiritually. Sisters, you know babies aren’t put off easily from eating. They are insistent and demanding. That is the attitude we need toward time in the Word—an attitude that nothing will keep us from it. 

Early Will I Seek Thee

I understand the problem of not having time for Bible reading, but I also learned the solution. Make a scheduled time, an appointment if you will, with the Lord and your Bible. When you get up early to read your Bible before family life begins, you have fewer interruptions, you gather spiritual manna to carry you through the rest of the day, you focus on what is truly important, and you begin the day abiding in the Vine. You carry truth from the Word in your heart and mind as you move into your daily tasks. “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” (Psalms 63:1).

Starts Even Earlier

Here’s the secret to getting up early to have time with the Lord. Go to bed early! You won’t get up with your alarm if you haven’t had enough sleep. I can almost guarantee that. You will make an excuse about needing more sleep, roll over, and go back to sleep. And in doing that, you reap negative consequences all day. How sweet it is, though, to rise before the children, get your Bible, and spend time with your Lord—praising, worshipping, delighting, feeding, learning, growing, and being nurtured. 

You might tell me how much you have to do at night and that you can’t go to bed early. Sister, evaluate your priorities. Is texting, computer time, dishes, laundry—whatever is keeping you up—more important than Jesus, more important than drinking the sincere milk of the Word, more important than the fruit of the Spirit in your life?

If you are staying up late for those tasks, implement a daily schedule, and they can be accomplished before bedtime. 

Dear Sisters, no more excuses, no more wishing it was different, no more living without spiritual milk and manna, no more good plans for tomorrow. Choose today, the beginning of a new year, to do what God tells us will help you be what He wants you to be and what you want to be as well.

Do you need help putting together time in the Word? If so, we have two resources available: Managers of Their Homes (for scheduling) and Sweet Journey (for spiritual discipline).

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Quality Reading Books for Children

With Christmas approaching, are you evaluating Christmas gifts for children? Perhaps you are concerned not to add to the clutter of toys in the home and also want to avoid the worldliness that is part of most of the toys. Books are a good alternative to toys since they take up little space, help a child develop reading skills, are profitable for use of a child’s time, and if the reading material is good, can even move them along in their thinking abilities and maturity. 

One of the most critical and basic skills our children need is to be able to read and comprehend. They learn the nuts and bolts of reading in school, but fluidity in their reading and comprehension comes through practice. That means we want a well planned and thought out collection of books in our homes for our children to read. 

We don’t, however, want to give these children appetites for reading that will cause them to spend hours upon hours of profitable teen, young adult, and adult years entertaining themselves reading books. While they are young and most of their free time is spent playing, reading is a productive alternative use of their time. But that changes, starting in the teen years, when overdone. We also don’t want to expose our children to ungodly and unwholesome material simply to give them something to read, even if it might be acceptable with other Christians.

So when our children were young, we started on a trek to find books that met our reading criteria. Thirty years ago when we wanted reading materials for our elementary-age children that didn’t conflict with our biblical principles, we struggled. It is even more difficult now. That’s one reason our oldest daughter, Sarah, began writing children’s books almost 20 years ago and now has published 14 titles. She knew what we desired in a child’s book, and she could write to those specifications. Certainly, we won’t all share those same benchmarks for a reading book, but her books have been embraced by conservative Christian families.

Sarah's Reading Books for Kids

Sarah’s goal in her books is to provide positive role models for children and limit or eliminate negative influences. I remember reading books to my children when they were elementary age, or them reading the books on their own, only to have them learn bad attitudes, critical or destructive words, and even negative actions from what they read. That did not benefit them nor our family and wasn’t our goal for their reading time. Certainly the books we allowed them to read were filled with many good and positive words, attitudes, and actions, but our children gravitated more quickly to the negative than to the favorable.

I love hearing about families who write Sarah telling her the positive things they see in their children as a result of reading her books. We even hear of dads and moms whose lives are impacted as well. 

This verse has often influenced our choice of reading material for our children and also for ourselves: “For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil”  (Romans 16:19). This is a powerful directive for all areas of life, including what we read. Are you using that filter to sift the books your children read?

Investing in books at gift-giving occasions allows you to build a set of books the gift receiver can enjoy and learn from and that younger siblings can profit from as well. I know I am Sarah’s mom and have a biased viewpoint, but there are many families who agree with me about Sarah’s books. I encourage you to look at and consider one or more of Sarah’s books as a Christmas gift for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or other child you gift at Christmas and to be careful in any book you provide your child to read.

Posted in: Mom's Corner

The Importance of Gratefulness

I want to be more thankful. It is easy for my thoughts to be stuck on problems, difficulties, unhappiness, or inconveniences rather than turning those into opportunities for gratitude. When my back hurts, rather than feel sorry for myself, a thankful heart is grateful for all I can do despite chronic back pain. When the day seems extra busy, rather than stress about it, a thankful heart praises God for each thing He sets before me to do. When a family member disappoints me, a thankful heart praises God for that loved one rather than allowing bitterness to creep in.

A thankful heart focuses on the positive and all that God is, does, and gives in our lives while an ungrateful one complains, seeing the negative. A thankful heart puts our minds on things above while ingratitude keeps them on ourselves and often grumbles in the process. 

Consider the following two verses:

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:10

What do you see in the verses? There appears to be a huge contrast between thanksgiving and being in the will of God versus murmuring, the opposite of thanksgiving, that leads to destruction. Who do you want to be? I sure know the one I choose. Don’t we as Christian women desire God’s will in our lives? He tells us to give thanks in every thing. On the other hand, we can be complainers, and those who chose that in the Old Testament account were destroyed. 

Then there is a convicting and concerning verse in Romans about being thankful. It goes like this: “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). 

Dear Sisters, I believe this is serious, very serious, and I rebuke myself with it as well. We know God, so we must glorify Him as God – continually – and be thankful. When we aren’t thankful, we are complaining against the God of the Universe, and the One Who allows us to call Him, Abba Father. It is pride that takes us down that bad murmuring path, and the outcome is disastrous.

We don’t think of it in those terms, though. We justify and excuse our ingratitude and complaints, if we even consider that we don’t have a thankful heart and should. Maybe we think the complaint is just expressing truth and the way things are. We might deceive ourselves by saying the complaint is not a big deal and doesn’t really matter after all. Or we could say we aren’t ungrateful or complaining, but we are just pointing out areas that need to change (and that could be true and needed sometimes).  

Not only does gratitude keep our thoughts in the right place, but it makes us more pleasant people to live with. You may not even be aware of how depressing negativism is, with lack of thankfulness, to those around it. Don’t you want to bring smiles to your family? 

As we enter a month where we have a national holiday dedicated to thanksgiving, may we as believers be reminded again of the importance of thanksgiving every moment of every day. Challenge yourself to have grateful thoughts in your mind and when ingratitude enters, ask the Lord to help you turn it around.

Here are just a few more verses to help us keep this in the forefront of our minds.

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” ( Ephesians 5:20).

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).

Teri Maxwell

P.S. Not long after finishing this Mom’s Corner, Steve and I were exercising in our basement. I saw him doing chin ups. I know how much we both dislike that exercise, and I started to say, “So sorry you are stuck with chin ups today.” I got as far as “So sorry,” when the Mom’s Corner and thankfulness popped into my mind. I dropped the rest of what I planned to say, changing it to something like this, “Wow, Honey, I am so grateful that you are able to do chin ups.” 

There have been several times like that lately where I catch myself in the middle of ingratitude or right after a murmur and then speak out the grateful thoughts instead. Steve told me how much that thrills his heart when he hears that.  

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Family Time Doesn’t Just Happen

Recently a mom asked this question for a Mom’s Corner topic:

One other area I want to improve is our family time together. Our children are growing up so fast. We often are busy doing our own things at home. We homeschool our three youngest children. Our oldest is taking classes at a nearby Christian college, but he lives at home. We want to make sure we are living in such a way that we are making time for each other and that we have our children’s hearts. We so admire reading your blog and seeing how your family gathers together for special occasions or ordinary time that is also special. I know those times don’t happen without planning. I would be grateful if you would write about how others could cultivate those times in our families. I was better at planning fun things when our boys were little, but I find it harder to do now that they are older. Our sons are 18, 15, 13, and 9 years old.

A Planned Evening

For our family, scheduled dinner time with clean up and family Bible time right after it was key to having consistent family time. We picked a dinner time that fit best with the whole family. Sometimes we would float it earlier or later if that would accommodate someone for one particular evening, but generally it was a stable time, and everyone showed up for dinner at the right time.

Our evening meal together allowed the family to debrief about their day. There was always lively conversation around our dinner table that everyone enjoyed and participated in. When someone wasn’t there for that meal for one reason or another, they were disappointed to miss the family news that was shared and the discussions that had gone on.

In the process of these discussions, there were opportunities to discuss God’s truth and how it applied to what we had observed during the day, what we had experienced, or what we were dealing with. “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge (Proverbs 5:1-2). 

Even now, with three grown daughters having busy schedules, we still value our family dinners and plan a time for dinner that will work for all of us on the evenings we have activities.

Clean Up and Bible Time Together

Working together on dinner clean up made it go faster and continued our family time. 

When clean up was finished, we transitioned to family Bible time. Family Bible time was a habit that we prioritized for every night. Often as we gathered in the living room our family talk was still going on and would continue for a while before we moved into reading the Word. 

What better way to grow together as a family than around God’s Word as we read it, discussed it, and sought to nurture our walks with Jesus. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). 

Working Together Is Better Than Fun

A few years into our parenting, Steve and I became disillusioned with fun being a good basis for growing family relationships. Experientially we observed activities that had no benefit besides fun generating selfishness, greediness, and laziness in our children. So we transitioned to focusing more on quality talking time, working, and serving together. In the midst of those projects we did as a family, there was lots of laughter and enjoyment, plus the accomplishment of a productive goal.

Parent/Child Times

When the girls were in their teens, I planned regular time (usually once a month) to take a daughter with me on errands and out for dinner. 

For many years, once a month Steve and the boys went to an inner-city mission to minister to the men. The girls and I made and individually wrapped chocolate chip cookies for them to bring. Steve would often take a child with him on errands. It was a great dad-son or dad-daughter time. There are many special family memories tied up with these activities.

Family Walks

With communication key in family relationships, we regularly took family walks in the evening or on the weekend (And still do but not nearly as often, and it can be a much bigger group!). During those walks, we had the family gathered together doing one focused thing, we were talking with each other, and we got some exercise in the process.

Often we saw neighbors when we walked so we could stop to visit for a bit and develop those relationships as well.

Extended Family

We have five married sons and 17 grandchildren, along with my mom, who all live less than an hour from us. On holidays, we generally have a special meal here with whoever can and wants to come. Also, on Sundays, after church, those who are available are welcome to come over for lunch. Some Sundays we have a big group, sometimes fewer or even just one other family, and occasionally, it is just us. Each of those Sunday groupings has its own benefits and joys. And both of those traditions we’ve had for many years, even when only one or two sons were married, and we’ve continued that on. There is no pressure to come, but they know they’re welcome, and we think that has fostered family relationships.

Prioritize Family Time

I doubt you will regret prioritizing family time and protecting it. When that time is built around the Word, you not only develop family relationships but also help your children to grow spiritually. When family time involves working and serving together, you have the added benefit of showing your children the joys of giving rather than taking. Strong families come from purposeful parenting. 

Posted in: Mom's Corner