Dwell on These Things…

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
~ Philippians 4:8

Dwell_TheseThingsFocus. If I could only focus. Instead, I hear doubt shouting in my ears, telling me this is the last straw; I can’t take any more. Doubt enjoys the company of its cousins, fear and anxiety. They are quickly joined by frustration, which removes the fear only to replace it with bitterness. My mind is a battlefield, and if I’m not careful I’m going to lose this fight. Quietly, gently; I am reminded the battle is not mine alone. I have been given all I need to succeed, if only I choose to dwell on these things.

When I allow the cares of this world to overtake me, choosing not to dwell on what is honorable, I am giving the enemy a foothold. He plagues my mind with anxiety and worry. Yet I choose not to dwell on good things. He diverts my attention to the mess around me, telling me I am worthy of something else. Yet I choose not to dwell on good things. He pushes, pulls, will resort to hitting if necessary or any other form of coercion which will pull me away from the path to which I am called. Yet I choose not to dwell on good things. 

In contrast, when I purposefully choose to focus on what is good in my life, there is no room for anything else. In Philippians 4:8 we are led through a series of ideas – a checklist if you will – upon which our thoughts should dwell. Our minds are to focus on what is true, noble, just, pleasing to think upon, attracts the love of holy souls; whatever is wonderful and Godly.

Too often, however, I allow my mind to be diverted from dwelling on these things. The stress of daily life, the struggles of parenting, the hiccups in marriage, and constant responsibility crowd my head. If I am not careful, the cares of this world leave little room for anything good. I must remember the instruction found here in Proverbs. Truth must take precedence! My thoughts need to be refocused to dwell on the things of Christ. Things which are good.

No matter what my day brings, no matter the chaos which surrounds me, Christ needs to be my center and my focus. I need to choose to dwell on what pleases my Father, and brings me into His presence. Through practice, dwelling on these things will lead to a life well-pleasing to the Lord and peace of mind.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become deeds.
Watch your deeds; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.”

Your Turn!: Is there a Bible verse which helps you dwell on the good when the enemy attacks?

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Helping Our Children Manage Change

helping_our_children_manage_changeEvery once in a while, our family goes through major changes. It doesn’t happen often and we try to keep changes to a minimum, but, on occasion, something needs to give. There have been times I have had to change our homeschooling methods or curriculum. We have changed our church, our homeschooling group, our set of friends, and, at one point, almost moved out-of-state!

Our kids, like most others, do not always handle change well. They become anxious, moody, fearful, sad, obstinate, or clingy when life goes out of balance. It is our responsibility to help our children overcome their fear and accept this new area of their lives. While each child needs to be comforted in their own way, there are a few tried-and-true helps for everyone:

We try to make ourselves available to them. No matter the change, I want to make sure they are with me through it all. Our children are encouraged to share input and thoughts; they know we are doing this together.

We talk about the changes we are going through. I am honest about my fears, anxiety, and excitement. This helps them to know they are not alone and we are going through this as a team.

We let them know they are free to talk about their worries. My kids need to know I am here to listen to their concerns and there is nothing they can’t tell me.

We help them prepare for what is ahead. We discuss expectations, encourage one another, and prepare as best as we able for the coming changes.

We try to keep everything else normal. I try not to overwhelm them with too many changes at once. (e.g. If we are changing curriculum, we keep everything else about our day normal.) This keeps life a little more stable and gives them less to worry about.

We try to keep a positive attitude about the situation. It helps my kids when I get excited about the change and I show them how much they have to look forward to.

We try to make sure they are keeping healthy. This may sound funny, but it is vital. Kids get anxious about change, which can make them sick. It helps if I keep my kids on a regular diet; making sure they get exercise and plenty of rest.

Change can be a good thing. For children, it can also be scary. How we handle change, and make ourselves available to our family is vital. May the Lord help us embrace whatever change He is bringing our way, giving Him all glory and honor through the transition.

If you’re struggling with last-minute changes in your routine, – Don’t you just love when that happens? – it might be the Lord asking you to be Open to Change. Or, perhaps, curriculum isn’t working according to plan and you need a complete overhaul? May THIS article encourage you to take a breath, seek the Lord in all things, and give Him glory through the madness.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
~ Jeremiah 29:11

📢 Chime In!: How does your family handle life changing situations?

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10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom

“Imagine never having to worry about your children again. That would be the life, wouldn’t it? No more sleepless nights, stressful days, or a stomach tied up in knots because of what your children are going through that you can’t control, or what might happen to them that you constantly fear.”
~10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom

10_Secrets_BookReviewIs it just me, or do we ladies worry a lot? We worry about pleasing people, we worry about doing enough, we worry about doing too much. We worry, worry, worry about everything and everyone. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back, refocus our thinking, and learn a few secrets to becoming worry-free.

In her book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, Cindi McMenamin helps us gain a better understanding from whence our worries derive and what a Biblical response to those worries ought to be. Gently reminding us of the Only One who can calm our fears and care for what we love far better than we can, Cindi does a lovely job addressing all areas of parenting and directing us to the Perfect Parent, Jesus Christ.

Covering such topics as “What If I’m Not Doing This Right?”, “Will They Ever Get Through This Phase?”, “You Did What?”, and more, Cindi McMenamin offers encouragement and Biblical wisdom.

“I’m sure you and I would never worry at all if we could be assured that our children would be happy, healthy, and safe all their days. But life comes with no such assurances. And while I personally can’t promise the well-being of your children, I can offer you ten ‘secrets’…”
~ Cindi McMenamin

While the entire book is a gem, filled with Scripture, my favorite portions of the book come at the end of each chapter. Here, Cindi includes “Putting Into Practice”; practical tips for putting each new worry-free plan into place, complete with an “In Community” section making this book a small group study! I would also be remiss if I did not mention both Appendix A & B; you’ll want to make a point of gleaning from those pages as well.

Although this book is mainly written for the benefit of mammas, I believe the Biblical wisdom found in these pages applies to all areas of life, not just parenting. God wants us to rely on Him, leaving our anxiety at His feet; fully trusting Him to meet our needs and the needs of our family.

I pray God would do a mighty work in each of us, giving us wisdom to train and disciple our children in such a way as would bring glory to His kingdom. May the Lord work in each of us as parents, helping us to live worry-free lives dedicated to His work.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
~ Philippians 4:6-7

📢 Chime In!: Are you a worrier, too? Share with us your favorite Bible verses for overcoming moments of anxiety and stress!

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Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

– John 14:27

Let_Not_Your_HeartI am a worrier. Lord forgive me – literally – but this is true. If our routine’s off by just a smidgen, I start to sweat. Mass amounts of responsibility sit on my shoulders and I start to wonder if I can handle it all. Kids are getting out of hand, acting out, and I start wondering if I’m failing as a parent. My choices in curriculum and social activities begin to weigh on my mind. These are just the small worries.

If work is slow, paying bills is going to be tight, because we are self-employed. My kids need braces, all four of them. New laws in our state might force regulations upon us that usurp our parental authority. The list could go on.

It is in my nature to worry about everything and anything. I worry about having dinner finished at a good hour; using too much laundry soap; stretching our budget; whether or not I should have said those words to that person; and if I am ‘enough’ for the people who depend on me. I worry; I worry; I worry. This is who I am… on my own.

Ah! But that changes everything doesn’t it? What I am on my own cannot compare to what I am in Christ. In Christ, I am a new creation. (II Cor. 5:17)

My old nature is constantly battling with who Christ is trying to help me become. I can easily slip back into a pattern of old habits, allowing myself to be overwhelmed by life, forgetting Who is in control. My emotions war with the Holy Spirit who is trying to comfort me, offering me peace during times of trial.

Overwhelmed by Emotion

If gone unchecked, emotions can sometimes overwhelm; clouding our minds and paralyzing us. We cannot see the truth for the feelings standing in the way. We have allowed reason to fall by the wayside and allowed our hearts to dictate our current state of mind.

And yet, we are reminded in Jeremiah 17:9 that our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We are not to be ruled by our emotions or the turning of our hearts. What we feel is not to be our focus, but, rather, what is true.

What Is True?

The truth, as we are reminded in John 14, is that we have been given a spirit of peace. Not just any peace, peace given by God Himself! We have the God-given ability to accept this peace and move forward, but we have to choose to do so. God will not force His peace upon us. He will not shove this peace down our throats. He will not beg us to take it. We must choose to accept His gift willingly.

Let Not Your Heart…

Our emotions are not going to gain control of themselves. We need to be proactive about not letting our emotions control us. We need to rely on the Lord and ask Him to remove this stress and fill us with His peace. We need to trust He is going to see us through.

This does not mean He will always meet our needs in the way we expect; sometimes He doesn’t! Christians die, go hungry, and are persecuted – we are told to expect this (John 15:20) – instead we ask that He see us through the trial and come out of this stronger. We accept that God is in control.

On my own, I am a worrier. In Christ, I am learning to have peace; peace which surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). My friends, let not your heart be troubled. Instead, accept the gift our Lord has freely given. Peace which fills our empty hearts, calms our sea of emotions, and confounds the unbeliever. May we choose to accept the gifts Christ so willingly died to give us and enter into a life well lived.

🔔Time to Chime In: When worried, I find it helps to pray and reorient my focus. What helps you when emotions seem to hold sway?

Spare Some Change?

My Boy

My son, after having three girls! Now THAT was a huge change for us!

Every once in a while, our family goes through some major changes. It doesn’t happen very often and we try to keep the changes limited, but on occasion something needs to give.

After much prayer and lots of thought, we inform the kiddos of the upcoming alteration to our lives and do our best to handle the aftermath.

There have been times that I have had to change our homeschooling methods or curriculum. We have changed our church, our homeschooling group, our set of friends, and, at one point, almost moved out-of-state!

Our kids, like most others, do not always handle change well. They become anxious, moody, fearful, sad, obstinate, or clingy when life goes out of balance.

It becomes our responsibility to help our children overcome their fears and accept the new area of their lives.

Each child will need to be comforted in their own way, but there are a few methods that work on most anyone:

I try to make myself available to them. If we are going to a new homeschooling group, I want to make sure that they are with me through it all. This way the children do not feel abandoned, but know that we are doing this together.

I talk about the changes we are going through. I am honest about my fears, anxiety, and excitement. This helps them to know they are not alone and we are going through this as a team.

I let them know that they are free to talk about their worries. My kids need to know that I am here to listen to their concerns and there is nothing they can’t tell me.

I help them prepare for what is ahead. When we started at our new church, we got to church a little early and walked the campus together.

I try to keep everything else normal. I try not to overwhelm them with too many changes at once. If we are changing curriculum, we keep everything else about our day normal. This keeps life a little more stable and gives them less to worry about.

I try to keep a positive attitude about the situation. It helps my kids when I get excited about the change and I show them how much they have to look forward to.

I try to make sure they are keeping healthy. This may sound funny, but it is vital. Kids get anxious about change, which can make them sick. It helps if I keep my kids on a regular diet; making sure they get exercise and plenty of rest.

Right now we are contemplating some changes to our lives. We are not sure where the Lord is leading or if we will actually be going forward with them at all. We are simply spending a lot of time in prayer and trying to focus on the right path for our family.

If these decisions come to fruition, we will to need to put these actions into practice, helping our kids to overcome any fears they might be experiencing.

How does your family handle life changing situations?