I AM A Failure

Not living up to my own expectations is quite a challenge. I admit it, I tend to be extremely hard on myself. Some have speculated whether or not this is part of a complex known as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I would argue that it’s pride. I’m a failure, I just need to accept it.

Being a perfectionist is a pain. One of the most dangerous aspects of being a perfectionist is the inability to accept failure; mostly, in ourselves. This goes beyond a mere disappointment in our performance and jumps straight to obsessive occupation of the mind. We can’t seem let go the fact that we didn’t do as well as we would have liked.

As an adult this is hard enough, now imagine you’re a child. How do we teach our children that it’s okay to fail? And, just as importantly, when to get back up and try again?

Remain Calm – Don’t add to the situation by getting frustrated and emotional. Take a breath, pray, and then move on.

Take Stock of the Situation – Every situation offers something to learn. While we may have ‘failed’ at our initial (or subsequent) attempt at this current goal, each new attempt offers something to learn by.

Focus On What’s Important – Don’t lose sight of what your true purpose was in this endeavor. Stay focused on the main goal and keep working.

Don’t Compare – You are not other people. Don’t worry about how others could have or would have done better. You are you; do your best and keep trying. What more can anyone ask?

Move On – Not all situations need to be tried again and again, despite popular opinion. Assess each situation and decide which would be best. If trying again is what’s needed, then do so. However, don’t be afraid to move on to something completely different, if this goal no longer becomes important. It is okay to walk away from some goals.

Perfectionism can be a good thing, if managed properly and kept in perspective. We just need to remember that we’re all human and failing is just another important lesson in life.

Time to Chime In: Do you have children who are perfectionists? How do you help them through moments of failure?

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

A Welcome Stain

Pump_Day_2Welcome to “Pump Day”, where one day a week we homeschool in heels and talk about all things girlie!

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Do you remember those days of being a little kid? Eating berries, lollies, and popsicles trying to get your lips to turn that pretty shade of dark pink or red? Maybe I’m the only one…

It seems the look works for adults now, too! Instead of applying a heavy dose of lipstick, makeup experts are advising that we stain our lips with just a touch of color. The color of the season: berry!

This has got to be one of the easiest makeup techniques in the book and it looks great on everyone. Choose a dark berry or wine colored shade. Apply the lipstick onto your finger and gently dab the color onto your lips to achieve the look. Gloss also works, if you care to add a little shine. To set the color in place, blot your lips and you are good to go.

LastingFinish_PRODUCT_01

I’m sure this is going to be a fun change. I do have one concern though. I don’t like getting my fingers dirty!

Time to Chime In: I like lipstick, but my guy doesn’t like how it comes off on his face. Is there a lip color you recommend which doesn’t leave a mark?

As always… While fashion is fun, we should remember:

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – I Peter 3:3-4

I Just Want to Be Loved

The man with the kidsPeople want to be loved, people need to be loved. I understand this concept, really I do. Hey, I want to be loved, too. Who doesn’t? But having children just so you can feel the love of another person is not a good idea.

My heart hurt when I heard this young lady tell me her desire to have children stemmed from a desire to have someone in this world who truly loved her. What must it be like to feel that alone and undesired?

I wish raising kids was all about love, but unfortunately it’s not. It would be so easy if all we had to do was love on them and they needed to love on us; life would be simple and sweet. However, that is not reality. Children do need love. They also need discipline, training, an education, and so much more.

If we are expecting our children to fill a void in our lives, we are putting an enormous amount of pressure on them and setting ourselves up for failure. No one human should be responsible for our feeling loved. No child should have that much hanging over them.

Does this mean we do not love our children? Of course not! However, having children out of love and having children to be loved are entirely different things. One should never confuse the two.

Being a parent is a huge job; one which should not be taken lightly. It is an incredible blessing which comes with enormous responsibility. Love is at the heart of all we do, but it is not the end of parenting.

Time to Chime In: What advice would you have given this young lady?

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” – Psalm 127:3-5

Walking Partners

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 8:12

Mini-RetreatThis past weekend, our church hosted a women’s mini-retreat. Instead of going away for the weekend, we ‘camped out’ at church for teachings on Friday evening and all day Saturday. This year’s theme: Walking Partners!

While attending the retreat, the Lord showed me so much. The love of Christ was evident everywhere, even amongst the various minor complications which arose. It was a remarkable few days in which much was learned.

The theme of this year’s retreat was ‘Walking Partners'; encouraging us women to find other ladies who will keep us accountable and edify us. During the weekend one main message struck my heart. The Lord was clearly pointing me in a similar direction… we need to be our children’s walking partners!

So often we view ministry as ‘outside responsibility’, something done for our church groups, our neighbors down the road, and people in foreign lands who need to hear the gospel. Are we putting as much into our own children as we are into others? Are we so busy trying to encourage others that we fail to do so with those closest to us, our children?

Workshops!

The Lord was showing me that our children need to come first, before we step out our door to help others. If we are relying on the church to train up our kids, we are failing to do our job. If we are relying on an occasional Bible study to teach our children the Word of God, we are in the wrong.

I would encourage all of us, including myself, to take this thought seriously. Before looking to help others, look to your family. Find ways to ‘walk’ with your children and minister to them. Discover who your children are and make a point of reaching their hearts. Learn your children’s ways and make a point of studying them. Love on your kiddos as much as possible, even those who pretend they are getting too big for hugs.

Our children need someone to hold their hand and disciple their hearts. Our children need us to help them, direct them, train them, and love on them. There is not a moment to lose and never a bad time to speak to our children about the love of Christ.

We need to be our children’s ‘walking partner’ through life. If we don’t hold their hand, the world certainly will.

In the Kitchen: Bacon, the Easy Way

In the KitchenWelcome to our kitchen. Here we’ll share our favorite recipes, lament over food failures, test out new gadgets, and discover tips to making kitchen life easier. Join us on this new adventure and share your life experience with the rest of us!

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During the summer months, I would prefer to keep my cooking light and as simple as possible. We tend to eat more salad, less starches, and gorge on watermelons. The less heat and cleanup I have to do, the better.

One of our favorite sandwiches to make during the summer is a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato sandwich). Mommy tends to avoid these, however, due to the large mess this makes of her stove and the time it takes standing there cooking enough bacon for a family of six with decent appetites.

Just a few weeks ago, I decided I would go for it. What’s a little mess, right? Then a brilliant idea struck: cook the bacon in the oven! The lightbulb went off in my head, the Bacon, the Easy Wayconcept came together, and off I went. Not only was this the easiest way in the world to make bacon, it was clean and fast! I was able to cook two pounds of bacon in about fifteen minutes, all turning out flat and crispy.

For the rest of you bacon lovers and mommies looking to make their lives a little easier, we thought we’d use this week’s post to share our tips on how to make bacon, the easy way!

Tools
cookie sheets
parchment paper
bacon
oven (set to 400º)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400º. Set out two or three cookie sheets (depending on how much bacon you plan to cook). Cover each cookie sheet with a section of parchment paper. Unwrap you bacon and place onto the parchment paper. Place two cookie sheets into your preheated oven, on separate racks, and allow to cook for about ten minutes. At the ten minute mark, turn bacon over and rearrange your cookie sheets onto the opposite racks. (The sheet that was on top should now be on the bottom rack and visa-versa.) Cook your bacon for another five minutes (or until desired crispiness) and then remove. Drain bacon on paper towels and serve.

Notes:

I prefer to cut our bacon slices in half before placing it onto the cookie sheets. I’ve notice when cooking bacon with this method, it doesn’t shrink up as much as when cooking on the stove. Cutting the pieces helps the kids with portion control and makes the bacon stretch a little further. Plus, it fits better on a slice of bread!

Definitely use parchment paper, not wax paper or no paper at all. Using the parchment helps your bacon become crispy by absorbing a good portion of the fat drippings and helps keep your pans clean.

BLTWhile some have recommended rinsing bacon in cold water before cooking to help it lay flat, I have yet to experience this phenomena myself. I’ve tried rinsing several times when cooking on the stove, to no avail. If it works for you, go for it! I just choose to skip this extra step as it has never worked for me.

For those who prefer to avoid pork, this method also works well for turkey bacon. We have used both pork bacon and turkey in the past.

Now that I have discovered this fast, easy, and efficient way of cooking bacon in the oven, I may never go back to cooking it on the stove again! This cuts down my cooking time by more than half and helps keep my kitchen clean; both pluses in my book.

Speaking of which… I think lunch is just about ready!

Time to Chime In: Share with us your favorite recipe using bacon (turkey or pork)!

Locked in a Closet

Friends and "Family"If you’ve ever come across the numerous blog posts written by ex-homeschooled kids, you will notice a trend. Generally speaking, the complaint lies in socialization. It seems they did not have enough friends, go on enough outings, or have the privilege of attending prom. To their way of thinking, they might as well have been locked in a closet.

While we’ve discussed the silly myth of socialization among homeschooled children, it does seem there is a certain percentage of children who are not enjoying enough interaction with other people.

As a parent who truly does want my children to enjoy meaningful friendships and have lifelong relationships, how then do I go about the act of socialization? I think there are numerous ways in which this can be accomplished:

  • Church
  • Sports
  • Co-ops
  • Family
  • Fellowship with Friends
  • Ministry Opportunities

I am sure the list could go on; however, I doubt it is necessary. To be honest, I believe opportunity is not the issue. There are more than enough venues to offer socialization if one simply makes an effort. Perhaps the problem lies somewhere deeper… a lack of relationship with our children.

As parents, it is our responsibility to pay attention to our children; to understand their needs and provide for them. If my children are expressing a desire for interaction and fellowship, it would behoove me to listen and help them in this area of development.

Is this going to mean a little more work for me? Possibly. Will this mean I might taxi people around a little bit? Perhaps. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely!

Through careful study of my children, I can begin to encourage and help forge those relationships which would be of benefit. With an observant eye, I want to offer plenty of opportunities for my littles to meet new people and build lasting friendships.

It doesn’t take a public school to socialize a child. It does take an involved parent with a heart to meet their children’s needs and guide them into meaningful fellowship.

Time to Chime In: How do you teach your children the fine art of socialization? Which venue has best met that need?

Mini-Me

My 'Mini-Me'

It was pointed out to me that this is the exact face I make!

She was doing it again. That thing that just gets under my skin. The look, the attitude, and the unspoken message were being communicated loud and clear; she was not happy. My first inclination was to train her, but then I heard a soft voice remind me, “She is doing what you do.” (sigh) It’s true; my children are mini versions of me. The poor little dears…

As much as I would love to portray an image of perfect parenthood, the truth is I am human. Just like everyone else, I too make mistakes. This is most apparent when my children act out. As does a mirror, my children reflect back to me all the ways in which I need improvement.

Parenting has taught me so much about myself and not all of it good!

The most important lesson I have learned from parenting is that mercy and grace need to abound. While I have a tendency towards being overly firm, sometimes a gentle hand is what is needed.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to pay attention to those moments of frustration that these children are experiencing. I would encourage myself to listen carefully to the underlying message this little person is trying to convey. I would remind myself to be patient, humble, and gracious. Most importantly, I would tell myself that these are lessons from God for me. The Lord is using these situations to shape me and mold my character. Through my children, God is showing me areas which need improvement and giving me the opportunity to change.

This is the same advice I would offer others. When your children act like mini-replica’s of yourself – and not the best versions of you, either – consider this a wonderful teaching moment for you!  Don’t be quick to judge, but seek to restore that child back into a proper relationship with the family.

Having our children be miniature versions of ourselves can be a little frustrating at times, but it is also a blessing. Besides showing us personal areas of needed improvement, we have a unique ability to understand the struggles this child is experiencing. We’ve been in her shoes and we know what she needs to move forward.

The next time you’re faced with a ‘mini-me’ moment, consider this a wonderful learning opportunity, for both of you!

Time to Chime In: Which of your children is your ‘mini-me’ and what has the experience taught you?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

Nip and Tuck

Welcome to “Pump Day”, where one day a week we homeschool in heels and talk about all things girlie!

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Pump_Day_2I have seen quite a few hair styles come and go, but this was a new one on me. It seems runway pros are setting a trend for tucking your hair into the back of your outfit! Interesting….

Instead of worrying about a fancy hair do, simply nip a hairband around your mane to form a ponytail and tuck the loose ends into the back of your collared shirt or coat. Simple, right?

I can already tell this look is not going to work for me. I do not like my hair close to my skin. It’s a struggle just to leave my hair down, much less tuck it into my clothing. (shudder) When my hair is wet, my mane never sees the light of day; it stays tucked into a bun until fully dry.

The Tuck

For those brave enough, or just not as sensitive as I am, wear this look with high collared shirts and coats. Spritz your hair to keep flyways at a minimum, nip your hair into a band, and then tuck your mane into your clothing.

Time to Chime In: While I will not be sporting this look anytime soon. I would love to hear your take on this new trend. To try or not to try; that is the question.

As always… While fashion is fun, we should remember:

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – I Peter 3:3-4

‘Fraidy Cat

I used to think that in order to be brave you needed to be free of fear. I quickly learned this was not the case. True bravery is being afraid and still rising to the occasion.

Fear is hard to deal with, even as an adult. To children, fear can often be insurmountable. Taking that first step when cold panic sets in is never easy. As parents, how do we help our children overcome their fear and move forward?

Through Prayer – Kids need prayer just as much as we adults do. When our children are facing a difficult situation, we need to demonstrate the power of prayer.

Through Discussion – Helping our children identify exactly what they are afraid of often helps them to continue on. When we know what we are afraid of, we can battle that monster and conquer the problem. This is a great time to discuss previous experiences that have already been overcome or personal examples of when you conquered a fear of your own. It would also be a good time to draw up a ‘battle plan'; explaining how our children can attack this problem/situation and finish well. Little Feet

Through Action – The first step is the hardest. We need to encourage our children to get moving. Instead of looking at the problem as a whole, think of it in baby steps. Focus on one step at a time and, before you know it, you’ll be there! If that first step is a big one or they just can’t seem to walk it by themselves, perhaps walking hand-in-hand with mom or dad might be in order. After a little initial help, our children will soon learn to move forward on their own.

Through Example – As mentioned above, in our discussions and in our life we should model how to conquer our fears. When our children see us pursue issues in times of struggle and anxiety, they too will begin to face their own fears.

Fear can paralyze both in mind and body, if we choose to allow it. But that is the key… if we allow it! Through prayer, discussion, and action we have the ability to conquer anything put before us; we only need to move forward.

Time to Chime In: What was the last fear your child needed to conquer and how did you help them overcome it?

“The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1

Humble Thyself

It creeps up on us sometimes, this sneaky need to have others recognize our hard work and diligent actions. Instead of being content to accomplish our goals, we want others to acknowledge our success.

Every once in a while it is important to take stock of our heart and humble ourselves. When pride takes over, it is vital that we put our lives into perspective; asking ourselves who really ought to be given the glory.

Nothing I accomplish is done of my own intelligence or incredible ability. The knowledge I do have has been acquired through learning what others had to teach; not a world-changing revelation I have discovered. If I have a certain capability, it has been taught or learned from watching others. My pride is misplaced.

It is just as important to teach this principle to our children. We are constantly encouraging our littles and telling them what a good job they are doing. If we homeschool, we often add to this by bragging about how smart they have become and how advanced they are compared to public schooled kids. If we do not balance these encouragements with lessons in humility we will end up with horrible children who think much too highly of themselves. How unpleasant it is to be around someone who can do nothing but talk of their own accomplishments and praises!

Instead of compliments issued out of our own mouths, we should look to uplift others. If acknowledgement is received, let it come from someone else. Admiration means so much more when it is unasked for and heartfelt.

One should also note that asking with the intent of receiving praise is just as unpleasant. “Did I do well?” Now, this should not be confused with the desire for honest feedback. Generally speaking, this question is asked with the intent of improvement or helping to better a performance. However, these tactics are also used when a person simply wishes to hear praise uttered on their behalf. (I have especially noticed this in the littles. ) They are not content to ask once, hoping to receive a truthful answer, but will ask this numerous times in hopes of receiving additional praise by which to bask in the glory.

How do we battle our sense of pride? By realizing that our goal is to point others to Christ and not ourselves. If we live for Him and do all things for Him, we will no longer crave a desire for other’s praise; we will be more concerned about others seeing Christ through us. I believe we can also accomplish this goal by seeking the good in others, instead of focusing on ourselves.

As a parent, nothing is more refreshing than to hear my children praise each other. They do not look to lift themselves up, but wish other people to admire their siblings instead. What a lovely notion! Unfortunately, this does not occur quite as often as every parent would like, but we are still learning and growing.

I want to make sure my heart is in the right place. Praise for myself should never leave my lips. Instead, I would rather focus on the good I find in others and find new ways to encourage them. I want to make sure my requests for prayer are meant to be just that and not an opportunity to brag about ministry opportunities or blessings on our life.

Pride is a hard pill to swallow, one I need to constantly be on the lookout for. Even just a little pride can lead to a world of trouble.

Time to Chime In: How do you deal with the issue of pride in your own home?

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” – Proverbs 27:2