Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'll Trade You a Rock by Wendy Blackwell

{I frequently surf blogs, Pinterest and Facebook for ideas for homeschooling, parenting, life and more!! I am grateful to the women (and men) that choose to share what works, what doesn't and a laugh at yourself anecdote that helps else all get through life. To that end, I've decided to share a few things along the way….}
Just a bit past lunch time and we've already been deep into magical dungeons, searching for golden tickets and saving the world with an underwear clad superhero.
And while our sweet peanuts hang on every word and stretch their imaginations to keep up with the adventure, it all started with a rock.
Not even really a rock, more of a pebble. Buy ‘em from the dollar store in a bag “river rocks” kinda things.
Last year when we bought our children Nintendo DS’s for their birthday it quickly became apparent that we had to find a balance between games and well everything else in life. After trying a couple of systems, hunky hubby and I hit on something that we thought was genius.
Turns out. It was.
And, it has turned out better than we ever could have planned or imagined. {don’t you love when you stumble across some incredible parenting method?!?!?! Oh, let’s be honest, much of parenting is the stumble method.}
The concept is simple.
15 minutes of reading = one rock
One rock = 15 minutes of gaming time
The more you read, the more you play.
Each kid has their own jar. We put in rocks and take out rocks depending on reading/playing time.

Here’s where the couldn’t-have-planned-this-part comes in.
Our kids became obsessed with earning rocks. Piling up hours and hours of playing time. {time that resets every weekend} And how do you earn playing time?? By reading.
Our already bookworm daughter used her love of books to bank time in case she felt like playing. Our not such a bookworm, learning how to read son, wasn’t so keen on the system at first. And then, enter “Captain Underpants” in a quest to light his fire for reading (or being read to), I began searching out books that target little boys. Imagine a set of books with wedgie, underwear, booger, poopie pants and more as the center of titles, plot lines and stories. {lots of moms seem to cringe at the mere thought of the books, but if it gets them reading?!?!?} Our little man was hooked. And the more time we spent in the pages of Captain Underpants the more time he wanted to spend reading.
We now spend a couple of hours a day reading together, all of us.
Hunky hubby and I have toyed with the idea of expanding our system. 1 rock = 15 minutes of media time (video games, ipads, computer, tv, you name it). While we are still working out the kinks.
In the meantime, we keep reading. The sound of pebbles clinking into jars is music to my ears. And I don’t think the kids even notice that they spend FAR more time reading then they do playing video games.
I heard Dr. Phil say once, {said with a bit of a texas-hollywood drawl} “you have to find your child’s currency.”
For us, it’s rocks.

Monday, September 16, 2013

God’s Preparation and Timing by Stacy Camp

Gods Preparation and Timing
Isaiah 55: 8-9 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
That verse has held more meaning to me in the last 8 months than ever.  I have been waiting on God, pleading with God to hurry up, telling God now is the time.  You see for the last 8 months my husband has been traveling for work gone from home Monday- Friday while we were waiting for his new job assignment. We have known since 2010 that the plant my husband works for would be closing in 2012.  So I figured that the plant would close, and we would be relocated no later than a couple of months after closure.  God had a different plan, and it was His plan not mine.  
While we have been in this holding pattern for 8 months God has been preparing me for my relocation.  There will be the usual changes that come with moving, making new friends, finding a new home, finding a new school for my son, finding a new church.  Some of these things will be challenging for me. I am not a social butterfly, and it takes me a little longer to make friends and find my place in new settings.  As I look back over these past few months I can now see how God has been preparing me.  I like my comfort zone and dont step outside of it at all. First of all God placed me in a Bible study group with women most of whom I had never interacted with before, and I have learned how to really dig deeper in His Word.   
I have a friend who has this spiritual gift as she calls it of pushing me outside my comfort zone without really pushing but just asking me to do things that I would have never done before and letting God do the rest of the work by showing me I need to do the things she asked.  My friend first asked if I would share scripture at a womens retreat.  My first instinct was to tell her no, but God laid it on my heart that it wasnt about me at all and that I needed to get over it.  So I decided on a scripture, a very familiar scripture that I have always loved Jeremiah 29:11.  As I was reading this scripture and preparing for what I was going to share and what this verse meant to me somehow I ended up in Lamentations 3. Really, God?  Lamentations?  Its depressing!  Except for Lamentations 3:22-33 where there is hope through Gods mercy.  God knew the whole time this would fit perfectly with the theme for the weekend and the devotions lead by other women one even from the same scripture.  I love that God knows how everything will fit perfectly and work out according to His plan not ours.  I fought God so hard about those scriptures. It wasnt what I had planned, but I submitted (and if you know me, you know I used to think the word submission was a curse word), and it was a perfect weekend with godly women.  
Next my sweet friend sends me an invitation to a Facebook page she had created for the purpose of moms encouraging other moms through this journey of motherhood and the challenges we all face.  I comment on FB saying this would be awesome wish I would have had this in the early challenging stages when we got a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome with my son.  So what does my friend do…..? She sweetly suggests I should write a blog post about our struggle with Aspergers.  You got it my first instinct was to say, “no way”… God’s answer…. “Yes you will.”  So I did.  Comfort zone breached yet again!  So with all that being said I truly believe that God’s plan is bigger and better than mine. As I begin this new journey I have the tools to cope with being outside my comfort zone because I have learned to lean more on God and His word than my own thoughts or ways. 
Now that God has laid this foundation of preparation for our move I can be more effective in helping my children deal with the changes that lie ahead for our family.  I asked my 14 year old son, Logan, the other day what is concerns or fears were with our impending move.  His reply was “I am really not the type of person who worries about those kinds of things”.  I wish sometimes I could be more like Logan!  Due to his Aspergers his feelings are different than ours or sometimes even non-existent.  Logan doesn’t have those emotional attachments to people or things that typical people do in this instance Aspergers is such a blessing.  Will there not be any issues once we move?  I am not na├»ve enough to think not there will be routine changes that we will have to overcome.  Overcome we will with much prayer and guidance from the Lord.

Friday, September 13, 2013

When God Asks You To Bring Up A Child Through The Unthinkable by Traci Adams

When God Asks You To Bring Up A Child Through The Unthinkable

One of the toughest things you will ever do is raise children. Just the fact that you are here, reading this blog, shows that we are always seeking advice and tips on bringing up our children in the best way possible, to ensure they have all the tools and life skills needed to become independent adults one day. As Christian parents, we also want to make sure that our children find their way to the Savior, Jesus, and begin to walk the path He has for them as soon as they are mature enough to do so.

It's tough!! If you are anything like me, you will struggle over a infinite number of decisions during your children's lifetime. Should I take this promotion? Should we make this move, school-change, new house...... The list can be endless! Also, needless to say, daunting, in it's enormity. Yes, I know that we should seek God over every major decision, and most of us try to, but I always find myself trying to do God's work instead of getting out of His way. I think many of us are guilty of this, so don't judge yourself too harshly.

Like I was saying, TOUGH, doesn't even come close to describing bringing up children. I recently told one of my dearest and oldest friends that if you can lay your head on your pillow at night, and are able to congratulate yourself on your perfection as a parent, you are doing something wrong(or the rest of us are!!!!) Doubts will plague you, it is normal!

In February of 2009, I found out how wrong all I just shared with you was. On a freezing cold Saturday night, the 21st of February, 2009, during a Mardi Gras parade, my husband of 16 years, fell from the top of a fire truck and fractured almost every bone in his neck. He died on that street corner and was "brought back" at a local hospital. Our two girls, who were 9 and 14 at the time, as well as myself were witnesses to the entire horrific scene. He would go on to live 10 months in a vegetative state(coma), finally passing away, December 12th, 2009.

The single hardest job God has ever placed into my life, was bringing those two babies up through the unthinkable. Through the trauma of their father's untimely death, the heartbreak of the mother they love, and the indescribable ache that took hold of the three of us after fighting for his recovery for nearly a year.

My journey with the God I now know( He's not the same as the one I thought I knew, but that is another blog) began in a quite, dark hallway, around the corner of the ICU where Tommy was fighting for his life, about 24 hours after his injury. I finally left him long enough to come out and talk to my precious children and what I found in that hallway forever changed me. I came face to face with two terrified children who knew nothing of what was going on. They didn't even know if he was alive. It had been left to me to be the bearer of information to our girls and I had failed miserably!! It still hurts to remember all the questions they had. Is he alive? Is he awake? What's wrong with him? Can the doctors fix his neck? Will he walk again after they do? Is he going to die? After my 5th, "I don't know, babies" "momma just does not know", something moved through my soul. I surrendered that moment to God, and let Him lead.

The greatest decision I could, and probably will ever make was made in that moment! I knelt down in front of those girls and just said, I don't know. I don't know, was the answer to every single question that they had( that was tough when you are the momma that has a answer for everything). I don't know if he is going to live or die, I don't know if he is going to wake-up, walk, talk, or anything. I don't know, over and over, said in weakness, would become my greatest strength. I ended with I don't know anything that is going to happen, but I DO know that God has us! God has your Dad, He has this family, He has the entire thing firmly in His grasp, and we are going to be ok. HE HAS US!! It was at that moment, I realize now, that I firmly anchored my family in Faith! The faith that we would come through, no matter what. That we would walk on the other side of this nightmare one day, and be okay. That faith and only that faith would carry us through the next 5 years, and us still carrying us today. Many times I would ask my girls, are we ok? I know we are sad, I know we miss him, I know we ache, but, are we okay??? Are we truly okay?? They both always answer the same. Yes, momma, we are ok. We really are.

There is no obstacle that you are facing that God can not walk you and your family through. Not a single one. Because of my unmovable statement of faith, I know God has walked us through the worst and we are coming out on the other side. The girls are happy, well-adjusted, successful, loving children. They have large loving hearts and I see very little remaining traces of hurt, anger, and bitterness. Everyday, I watch them grow stronger and my heart is at peace. They are both amazingly strong and happy. It is not because I'm the best patent to walk the earth! It is because in my brokenness, in my sorrow, at my lowest, I cried out for help to get us through the unthinkable, and God has never left my side.

Hebrews 6:19
We have this hope as a anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

Traci Adams