Training Our Boys to be Men – Part 2

by monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry

To read part 1, visit here.

As moms, we have a vital role in releasing our boys to God’s destiny — through our consistent discipline and biblical encouragement. Empowered by God’s grace, our boys can hit God’s target for their lives; but we need to aim these arrows “toward” God’s bulls-eye, not merely “away” from the ground, or the sky, or some random tree. In parenting (led by our husbands), it’s much more fruitful to focus on the YES-side of advancing God’s kingdom, rather than on the NO-side of man’s legalism.

Boys long for adventure, and they long to be men.

Just look at this awesome newspaper ad from over a hundred years ago. The famous explorer Ernest Shackelton didn’t mince any words, and he didn’t make it sound easy as he was recruiting men to accompany him on a dangerous South Pole expedition . . . and thousands volunteered.

II Timothy 2:1-7, and 19-22, contains 7 KEYS for training our boys to be men:

vs. 1 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

KEY # 1: Let’s train our boys . . . to to be strong in God’s GRACE — We need to teach our boys to love God and to obey whatever He says, not relying on their own strengths or abilities (or being discouraged by their weaknesses or inabilities), but trusting in God’s grace and relying on His power. What God will tell our sons to do, He will enable them to do.

vs. 2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

KEY # 2: Let’s train our boys . . . to LEARN and to LEAD. — We need to train our boys to be teachable and completely submitted to God. They need to learn how to be under authority, and how to be servant-leaders — so others can eventually follow their leadership.

Our boys being boys -- Patrick, climbing a mountain -- Josh, killing a rattlesnake -- Mark, riding a quad

vs. 3 “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

KEY # 3: Let’s train our boys . . . to ENDURE HARDSHIP.– Let’s raise our boys to not be wimpy, but strong and uncompromised; to have a heart for the persecuted, the lost, and the needy; to stand-firm against injustice; and to boldly advance God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

vs. 4 “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”

KEY # 4: Let’s train our boys to be . . . UNENCUMBERED and SOBER-minded. — We need to train our boys to not be like the world, bogged-down, selfish, or distracted. They need to learn to guard the gates of their lives (their mind, eyes, ears, and tongues) — to focus on God’s glory.

vs. 5 “And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”

KEY # 5: Let’s train our boys . . . to GIVE it ALL they’ve GOT! — to be men of integrity and character, with discipline in every area of life — spiritually, mentally, financially, educationally, socially, and even physically.

Our son, Mark (preparing to "ride" a giant sturgeon), and son Philip (with a trophy salmon)

vs. 6-7 “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.”

KEY # 6: Let’s train our boys . . . to WORK HARD. – We need to teach our boys to understand the value of money, and to know how to invest in the future — to make a generous difference for God’s kingdom, with self-control and financial patience.

vs. 19-22 “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity. “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

KEY # 7: Let’s train our boys . . . to be SET-APART for God.–We need to raise our boys to more than “ordinary” and “common” guys, but boys who are God’s chosen vessels — set-apart to push back darkness, and to advance God’s kingdom.

Our son-to-be, Trae Childs, doing rugged missions in Niger, W. Africa - and my husband Jon in E. Africa

My husband and I have always believed seriously in the need to train our boys to be men. Today’s world needs righteous men to advance God’s kingdom, not just sons who aren’t “too bad” or merely “good little boys.” As women, as wives and as moms, let’s release our husbands, our young men, and our boys — to rise up and take leadership against the sins and injustices of this world, for the glory of God.

Let’s train our boys to be men.

“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth . . . ”
Psalm 144:12

Comments { 37 }

Training Our Boys to be Men – Part 1

by monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry

A while back, at a ladies retreat, one of the women’s speakers began to passionately address the needs of today’s Christian men. As she asked a hypothetical question, “Where are all the MEN today?” several young women pointed toward me and shouted, “They’re at the Dunagan’s!”

Wow. As everyone laughed, I shook my head and smiled, and enjoyed an incredibly proud momma-moment (and I could hardly wait to get home to share the story with my guys!).

My husband, and our five sons (currently ages 11 to 25), have definitely had their share of adventures — climbing mountains, hiking into remote unreached villages, running triathlons and a marathon, sleeping all night in frozen igloos, and bringing justice into war-torn areas (both in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of a Rwandan genocide, or preaching during civil wars in Sudan or Congo; or for one son, in commanding USMC snipers in front-line military battles). Right now, I have one 15-year-old son tanning a bear hide in our backyard; one college son preparing for a mission trip to Germany; and one newlywed son starting a remote Bible school in SE India. They’re tough guys, physically and spiritually. They do pullups. They know how to pray. And they know how to give their mom some big strong hugs!

Our college son, Daniel, on top of Mt. Hood -- and preaching the Gospel in East Africa

My husband, and our boys, are dangerous men for the kingdom of God; and they’ve lived through more dangerous situations than I can remember: smuggling Bibles into Communist China, preaching in a tin building being stoned by angry Islamic rioters, and surviving a life-threatening storm on an Antarctica-bound expedition.

So as a woman, and as a mom, how do you think that affects me?

Well I’ll tell you one thing. As a wife and mother who wants her men to be mighty for God, I have learned that “worry” is not my friend. Being fearful is not the “responsible momma-attitude” to have; being worried is not the same as showing love; and fear doesn’t do anybody any good.

Fear is the opposite of faith.

Do you realize the Bible tells us in Philippians 4:6, to “be anxious for nothing.” Moms, did you hear that? NOTHING. That means NO THING. NOT EVEN ONE THING. No worries. No fear.

We’re not to worry about money. We’re not to worry about the future. We’re not to worry about our husbands. We’re not to worry about our boys.

NOT EVEN ONE THING!

Try that when your husband is preaching in an area controlled by witchdoctors who want him dead, or when your son is fighting in Afghanistan and you haven’t heard from him in a month.

Our son, Patrick, commanding his USMC platoon, and returning from Afghanistan

But by God’s grace, it’s possible, and it’s a thrilling way to live.

If I want my men to be dangerous for the kingdom of God, I need to be dangerous too. Over the years, God has shown me that I need to be WARRIOR in prayer and intercession, and not a WORRIER.

Today’s world desperately needs REAL MEN; and as mothers in God’s kingdom, we need to do our part to raise our boys to make a difference.

Recently, William Bennett addressed the situation of today’s men. In an article, “Why men are in trouble” he writes how woman have made huge strides in achievement, but men are falling behind. Did you know that men now account for less than half of today’s college degrees? Young men are lacking in maturity, in work skills, and in the discipline (and desire) necessary to provide for a family.

The current situation has led many young men, even in the church, to be floundering. Many guys are without self-control, without work, and without a fervent passion for God. Young men hunger for adventure, yet their desires will never to be met by watching high-action movies, or by becoming an expert in video games. And they don’t need us as women and as moms to tell them to just sit still in church and be good little boys.

Our newlywed son, Josh, ministering at a Bible school he recently started in SE India

We need to release our husband from our fearful (we can do it better) control; and together as a husband and wife, we need to raise our boys for daring kingdom leadership.

As wives, and as mothers, we need to let our men be men.

Comments { 82 }

Intentionally Celebrating Lent & Easter as a Family

I have been convicted lately considering how much thought and intentionality I love to put into preparing our hearts for the birth of Christ during the Advent season and then how little thought I take to preparing for the ultimate accumulation of Christ’s life in his death and resurrection that is the focus of our Easter celebrations. It usually just comes upon me with little to no thought or preparation. In light of this, I felt like this was the year to begin cultivating more intentionality in celebrating this glorious occasion which is the foundation for our faith. I am beginning early by preparing a list of activities that our family could complete during the lent season of preparation. There are 40 days of Lent, which starts on Wednesday, February 22, this year. I have decided to compile these activities on cards that could be completed throughout this 40 day period. These activities are primarily for young children but could be adapted as necessary. Pick and chose any of these ideas for your own use as desired. I hope to do 2-3 of them each week during Lent.

1. Make a Jesus Tree.
During the Advent season, we like to make a Jesse tree with symbols representing stories throughout the Old Testament that led up to the birth of Christ Jesus. For Easter/Lent celebration, why not make a Jesus Tree with images or symbols from the life and death of Christ. Find ideas to make your own Jesus tree here or buy a complete kit here.

2. Start a Garden.
Start a garden indoors to help your children understand the death and rebirth of Christ. Plant little lettuce seeds or whatever seeds you desire. Explain how the planting symbolizes the death of Jesus and how the sprouting seed symbolizes His rebirth. When Easter arrives, transplant your seedlings to your yard.

3. Make pretzels.
Pretzels were a common fasting food among early Christians, and they were traditionally made of flour, water and salt. The shape of the simple food signifies the arms crossed in prayer. Share your pretzels with a neighbor or family you are seeking to reach out to.

4. Make hot cross buns.
Hot cross buns are also a traditional Lenten bread. Make some with your children while explaining how they are important in the celebration of Lent. The buns may have originated in the 12th century, and the frosting is applied as a cross. Younger children can make simple, bread-shaped crosses to give to grandparents, friends and other family members.

5. Make Easter Story Cookies.

6. Make a Salt Dough Crown of Thorns. An alternative idea: make a crown out of playdough and toothpicks.

7. Make a “Stained Glass” Cross.

8. Encourage a Heart for World Prayer.
Lent is a season of focused preparation and a great opportunity to focus on praying for the world around us. Traditionally, the first Friday in Lent is celebrated as a World Day of Prayer. Chose a continent to focus on during each week leading up to Easter.

9. Take a Nature Scavenger hunt and collect items that remind you of the life of Jesus.
Two sticks could be used to form a cross, a stone could represent the stone across the tomb, a thorn could represent the crown on Jesus’ head, an acorn shell to represent the cup at the Last Supper, long branch to represent a whip, something black (for sin), something red (blood), something white (a clean heart), something green (growing in Christ). Older children can go on a digital scavenger hunt, taking photographs of items that remind them of Easter.

10. Have a foot washing for your family.
Fill a bucket with water. Grab a few towels, and discuss how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and commanded them to love one another (John 13:34-35). Pray for one another.

11. Read an Easter related book. (See recommendations below)

12. Paint your doorpost for Passover.
Allow your kids to paint red paint on the (paper covered) doorpost to a particular room or the front door of your home to represent the Passover. Read Exodus 12:1-42. Explain Christ’s death as the ultimate sacrifice for sin and discuss the significance of God giving up His firstborn son.

13. Help your child understand that Jesus was called “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7-8). Make a lamb craft project with your kids by gluing cotton balls to a paper plate, then add pink and black construction paper eyes, ears, muzzle, nose and hooves.

14. Discuss as a family something that you could give up and give to another or use the money saved on that regular purchase to give to a charity ministry.

15. Listen to Handel’s Messiah.

16. Make a “He Is Risen” or “Our Redeemer Lives” poster and hang in a prominent place in your home on Easter morning.

17. Bake something for a shut-in or needy family.

18. Make palm leaf crosses.

19. Act out the “parade” of Palm Sunday as a family.
Take turns being the donkey, Jesus, and the part of the crowd. Discuss that “Hosanna” means “Save us, we beseech thee.” Read John 12:12-13. Make palm branches out of green construction paper and decorate the dinner table with your creations.

20. Dye Easter eggs and discuss the new life that has been a symbol of spring since ancient times. Discuss the “new life” that we experience in Christ.

21. Make a sand craft.
Sand is a Lent symbol of how God led the Israelites in their journey in the desert and how Jesus faced temptations for 40 days in the dessert.

22. Collect purple things from around your home.
Discuss how purple is the color of Lent. Purple symbolizes the pain and suffering leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. It is also the color of royalty and symbolizes the kingship of Jesus in our lives. Wear something purple for the day.

23. Make a Jesus is Risen Tomb Craft. Discuss the significance of Christ’s resurrection.

24. Watch The Passion or Animated Passion as appropriate for your family.

25. Get Buried in Grave-clothes.
Read Matthew 27:57-61. Wrap up one of your children in toilet paper, or “grave clothes”. Allow the child to break free from the toilet paper and talk about how sad the disciples must have felt and how happy they must have been when they saw that Jesus had conquered death.

26. Find your own grave stone.
Go to a park, search for an oversized boulder and try to move it. Read Matthew 27:62-66; 28:1-4. Discuss how a large stone couldn’t keep Jesus in the tomb and how surprised the soldiers must have been when it was rolled away.

Sources:

Christian Lent Activities for Children

Great Books/Resources for Easter:

The Animated Passion Film
The Passion Film
The Gospel of John film
(this is our favorite adaption of the life of Jesus)
From Trail to the Tree: A Family Devotional for Lent from Ann Voskamp (with printables for your own Easter/Jesus tree)
Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter - deep thoughtful articles from many classic authors (C.S. Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Chesterton, etc.). A great choice for a couple to read together or for families with older children.
Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross by Nancy Guthrie – another wonderful compilation of short articles by various authors that will help draw your heart to the Cross during this season.
A Season of Lent - devotional guide for the seven weeks leading up to Easter with a focused thing to fast from each week
The Very First Easter
The Tale of Three Trees – a fun children’s story
Benjamin’s Box (best used with the Resurrection Egg symbols)
The Legend of the Easter Egg – a fun children’s story
Resurrection Eggs – we have used these cute visual and select Scripture passages for meaningful discussion on Easter. Hide them and have kids find them and open one by one as you retell the story.
Felt Easter Banner – check our the Heart Felt Truths etsy shop for this fun homemade easter banner that provides you with meaningful visuals for Holy Week with felt icons and Scriptures passages for discussion. Very cute! Make your own instructions here.

(Some of the resources recommended here are affiliate links. We always seek to recommend products that we have used and love! If you purchase through our affiliates, you are helping to support our orphan home in India. Thanks!)

Comments { 31 }

Crockpot Chicken Vegetable Curry

I have recently been on a mission to adapt most of our family favorite recipes into simplified crockpot adaptions that could easily be combined in a freezer ziploc bag for a future meal. I love my crockpot for the simplicity it provides to my homemaking – one pot meals with little mess to clean up afterwards. This week we made an easy adaption to my favorite chicken curry recipe, added a few more yummy vegetables, and threw all the ingredients in the crockpot. And guess what? It was our favorite curry yet! 

1-2 chicken thighs, cut into chunks
3-4 Tbsp curry powder (adjust depending on how spicy you like it)
1 Tbsp dry ginger (or 4 Tbsp fresh, finely chopped)
1 Tbsp garlic powder (or 4-6 garlic cloves, minced)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
1-2 zucchini, cut in small chunks
1 apple, diced
2 carrots, cut in small chunks
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 Tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 Tbsp sea salt
1-2 Tbsp sucanat, rapadura, or other natural sweetener
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1-2 cans (14 0z) coconut milk (adapt to your tastes)

Cut, chop, and prepare all your ingredients as described above and throw together in your crockpot. Turn crockpot on low for 4-6 hours. Stir on an hourly basis until fully cooked. You may desire to thicken further with additional flour or arrowroot powder or remove the lid during the last hour so some of the liquids can simmer off. We also like to add additional coconut milk and puree in the blender for the kids so it is not too spicy for them. Serve over a bed of brown rice and enjoy!

If you want to make this ahead of time for the freezer, simply combine all the raw ingredients above and place in a freezer ziploc bag. Store in the freezer until you are ready to thaw and prepare in your crockpot on another occasion. Be aware that it may take longer to cook if you place the ingredients directly from freezer to crockpot. This is crockpot freezer cooking for you!

I’m eager to adapt my recipes so we can have a weekly or monthly freezer crockpot meals preparation day! That would certainly simplify my life!

Comments { 46 }

Establishing A Family Service Night

Making goodie bags for the elderly

One of my goals for this year was to establish a monthly service night where we could work together with our children to serve others around us. I passionately desire to be participating in the Great Comission in simple and practical ways. I desire that our children can have real life tangible activities to be the hands and feet of Christ to those around us and to the nations. But at the same time I knew it is easy to get consumed in ministry and leave our families behind.

My goal this year was to establish a night in which we could serve others in a doable manner. I don’t want to add a huge project to my plate, but still practically encourage a heart for service to others in our hearts, both my husband and I, and our children. I am so thankful for the inspiration of Kristen at We Are that Family who recently compiled an excellent resource called 100+ Ways Your Family Can Make A Difference. This list has so many wonderful ideas for your family!

Homemade flower gifts made with love

This year our family is setting aside the 4th Friday of every month to be our family service night. These are the ideas we will be doing throughout the year, Lord willing. For February we are doing our service project for Valentine’s Day (today)! Some months we will likely do more than one activity at a time (as in December we will complete #13 & 14). I found it helpful to plan out our activities and get them on the calendar now!

1. Make Valentine’s Gifts for the elderly at our local care center.
2. Send a care package to our military.
3. Collect shoes for Shoes for Kids (visit our local consignment stores, Goodwill, etc. to collect shoes).
4. Buy restaurant gift cards and distribute to the homeless on street corners.
5. Collect items for restoration bags for girls coming out of trafficking.
6. Donate school supplies to a classroom in need (contact local school for specific needs here in our community).
7. Prepare New Mommy Blessings bags for our local Pregnancy Resource Center (newborn baby supplies (diapers, rash cream, toy, gender neutral outfit, burp cloth), new mom care items (nipple cream, lotions, etc), wrapped in a cute baby blanket or receiving blanket)k
8. Decorate our local Elder care center with homemade art work.
9. Bake cookies for our local Fire Department.
10. Pick up trash at local park as a family field trip.
11. Fill Action Packs for the persecuted church (via Voice of the Martyrs).
12. Make a baby care kit for a baby in need.
13. Fill Operation Christmas Child boxes.
14. Adopt an foster child for Christmas through Angel Tree.

Want to join us in establishing a fun family service night at your home? I will be sharing our adventures with you all as the year continues!

Love how babies bring such delight to the elderly!

Comments { 21 }

January at Our Home

There has been a mixture of sweet and challenging moments this month at our home. As I mentioned previously, we have had a few bouts of sickness and I had some very difficult nights sleeping as insomnia has plagued me off and on over the last few years. I have been crying out for grace to embrace each moment no matter how weary and tired I am. I am desperate for God’s continual grace. I feel so blessed to have such a peaceful infant in my little Eden Joy. She is nearly 6 months old but has been the most joyful and laid back baby I have ever experienced. She is a true delight in her sweet smiling easy going nature. Most of the time she sleeps through the night, which provides sweet relief to me. My other sweet babies are growing well…Ty loves to sing and help Mommy. Karis is continuing to love learning and we have been reading through the Little House on the Prairie series and truly loving it.

We are going through a lot of transition as we welcomed my hubby back to work at home on his new business launch. It has certainly taken some adjusting. We set up his own little desk space in the basement with a room divider to give him a little more privacy. Now I just have to learn not to interrupt him. ;) With all our toys and school materials in the basement as well, we are learning to protect his work space. We also welcomed my cousin to live with us this month, to help provide a bit more income and cover some of our ongoing expenses. It has been very peaceful having her live with us thus far…so we are thankful for God’s multiple provisions.

We are doing well dressing ourselves to begin our day and the kids are joining in on the challenge! ;) It is very helpful for getting me started well for the day. I am finding short moments to take prayer walks and get fresh air and exercise on a regular basis while the kids rest. It does wonders to my joy and constitution. If you are feeling weary, tired, or depressed, I recommend you stop, get out and get some fresh air. I can testify that it will encourage your spirits immensely. Even 5-10 minutes is so sweet.

January Reading

I was blessed to receive a Kindle Touch this month so I am finding myself being able to read so much more in each little spare moment. I love it! I find such joy and encouragement in seeking to invest at least 30 minutes in reading each afternoon during my daily pause and before I go to bed at night.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett – I was so greatly moved by this movie so I knew I had to read the book, and I have certainly not been disappointed! I couldn’t put this book down. I love hearing from the perspective of these sweet black ladies serving in the South before the civil rights movement. It was challenging and beautiful and brought tears to my eyes multiple times.

Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian – I have LOVED this book! Such a powerful refreshing read on living in light of the gospel. We need to be washed in the gospel daily, hourly, moment by moment. It was a challenging reminder that I have been redeemed. I am “In Christ” and therefore do not need to struggle with my identity, comparison, fear, or condemnation. The more I seep myself in the truth of the gospel the more joy we will truly experience. Highly recommended!

I started participating in the classics book study group (with other friends in our church) that I had determined to participate this year to complete my goal of reading more classics this year (thanks to the inspiration of the Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer). We read The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and found it quite intriguing. Now I’m on to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte! It’s so cool that you can read so many classics for free with the Kindle!

My Thankful List

Even in the struggles and pains, there are so many glimpses of sweet graces in my everyday life. I am continuing on my journey to reach 2,000 gifts by the end of the year. I still need grace each day to be faithful in looking for the gifts that each day brings. I am loving the Joy Dare thanks to Ann Voskamp and highly recommend you join us in this pursuit! Here are some of the sweet blessings I experienced this past month.

932. Tea parties while reading aloud
933. My 4 yr olds initiative to start dressing herself first thing
934. My hubby rising at night to care for a needy child
935. An infants enthusiastic laughter while big brother throws a ball around
936. The gift of my Kindle to dig deep into the wonders of books
937. Extended insurance care to get all our health needs covered
938. The sound of soggy grass beneath my feet as the earth is watered with nourishing rain
939. The fresh revitalizing nature of an afternoon walk 
940. The colors of fall leaves lingering through winter
941. Sweet community of sisters fellow shipping and giving thanks while enjoying pedicures
942. The gospel bringing fresh light and deliverance to my struggles with self identity
943. For the versatility of my hair
944. For the gift of administration and organization that the Lord has given me
945. Chocolate dipped pretzels
946. For the warmth and welcoming nature of a glorious fire in the fireplace 
947. Karis’ delight in holding baby sister 
948. Titus pretending to be a monster with a blanket over his head
949. Reconnecting with an old friend
950. Delicious zuppa tuscana soup
951. Craft project in the mail to delight my girl
952. Tableware brought down to the kids level to make my life easier
953. Candlelight dinner with red apple scented tea lights
954. Little billows of smoke floating off a candle saying goodbye
955. Impromptu dinner guests over hearty chili and cornbread
956. Getting drenched during a revitalizing walk in the rain
So thankful for our continuing sponsors: The Willow Store, Sweet Bottoms Baby Boutique, Paula’s Breads, and our new February sponsor, Jenuinely Pure. Check out the wonderful collection of homemade natural care for your home and body. With your help we are supporting a sweet little orphan home in India. Join us in praying for these precious children!
Comments { 33 }

Making My Life a Little Easier…

It has been a challenging month at our home. From a bout with insomnia to multiple sick bugs. I am always thankful for the little ideas that the Lord graciously puts in my head for making my life a bit easier as I strive to faithfully manage my home and care for my children. When you are feeling stressed…don’t forget to simply pray for wisdom in how you might simplify your life. Our God cares even about the little mundane things in life. He is able to guide you and direct you to simple solutions for your every day needs. He is always gracious to give me little ideas and every little idea helps towards fulfilling the bigger picture of pursuing intentionality in every area of life. Here are just two little ways He guided me in making my life a bit easier this week…

Bring the dishes down to the kids level. I have an awkwardly designed kitchen that leaves me with very little lower cupboard space, so I finally determined to move my pantry stuff around a bit in order to give me a portion of the cupboard that I could move all my dishware and cups for storage. In this manner, the kids can now upload the dishwasher and put all the dishes away because it is all within their reach. This makes the unloading more of a manageable task for them. They can also set the table independently. So my 4 year old and 2 year old can fully participate in our kitchen management now.

Train the kiddos to wash their hands independently with a good step stool. We have had a tiny step stool for awhile now but it was nearly impossible for my littlest guy to wash his own hands independently. I would have to pick him up every time and often would be lazy and not do it at all. ;( Not a recommended practice. This week I found a tall step stool at IKEA for only $15. This stool enables the littlest child to wash their own hands. It also is tall enough for my daughter to help wash the dishes with me.

I love being able to equip my children to work independently and be little helpers at the same time. One less thing for this Mommy to do…;)

Comments { 29 }

A Way Through the Wilderness: Your Home Management Binder

Written by contributing writer, Trina Holden at All That Is Good.

Are you overwhelmed? Are you constantly making lists but never getting closer to your goals? Are you drained by the constant need to prioritize your time, yet fearful that if you let your mind rest, something will leak out?

I’m with you, girlfriend.

By the time I had my third child, I began to fantasize almost daily about hiring outside help. Unfinished projects, unfolded laundry, and dirty dishes filled my time and had me constantly struggling to stay on top of things. I thought, “If I just had help, then I could do it all!” And doing it all was what my prideful heart wanted most.

One day the Lord opened my eyes to how pride was at the foundation of many of the goals that were overwhelming me. In His graciousness, He not only showed me what I needed to let go of, but also led me to some habits and strategies that brought more peace and productivity to each day. One of those strategies was to create a home management binder.

Since I have built my Home Management Binder and been using it daily, I feel like I have space to breathe even in these demanding years of little ones, sleepless nights and tight budgets. Menu planning is simpler when a template waits next to a list of our favorite meals. Big goals are getting chipped away at with small, daily progress. And I’m relishing the satisfaction I have when I live with my priorities in clearly before me.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

If time feels like your enemy or you feel like you are not making progress toward your true goals, I’d encourage you to take your days before the Lord and ask Him to show you what is most important. Then perhaps you’d like to create a Home Management Binder as a place to record what He speaks to you.

Creating Your Home Management Binder

What you need…

  • The Binder – you probably already have one lying around you could re-purpose. Two inches is a nice thickness to start with.
  • Dividers – can be as simple as an old file folder, cut down the spine and hole punched, or you can get fancy with Avery Plastic Dividers with Pockets.
  • Pages – a combination of lined paper in each section, awaiting your notes, as well as plastic page protectors to hold printables.
  • Pens – I use wet erase pens to write on the page protectors.

Time to Build. A binder that actually works for you needs to be custom made to your family’s needs, goals, and schedule It’s best to look around a bit to get an idea of how you want to organize yours. Check out these gal’s binders or my pin-board for inspiration…

I order my binder by my roles (wife, mother, homemaker, writer, etc.) and put them in order of their priority in my day, thus my binder acts as a constant reminder of what I really want to focus on. Within each section, you may jot down goals, books to read, ways to grow in that area, and printables you find to help you schedule and plan.

Printables…a gal’s best friend. I love printables! They take half the brain work out of planning and scheduling, allowing you to simply fill in the blanks.

Daily To-Do List. Finally, you should be sure to include a daily to-do list. I drafted my own with space to jot down food prep, phone calls, emails, errands, and household chores for that day. I have two weeks’ worth of daily lists printed and slipped into plastic sleeve holders. This way I can jot down something I need to remember to do next Tuesday on that page, and remind myself to take the meat out of the freezer for tomorrow night’s dinner on today’s page. Twice a month I sit down with a wash cloth and wipe down the previous weeks’ activities to prepare for the weeks ahead. Here are some great daily to-do printables…

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Prov. 16:3

Once you’ve created your binder, keep it out where you can see it and use it! After a few weeks, if you aren’t using a printable, ditch it. If the rhythm of your family changes, be sure to update your binder so it continues to be a relevant tool for organization and bringing focus to your days. And regularly take your binder before the Lord and ask Him to help you prioritize. Be encouraged that our God is one who makes a way through the wilderness – He can guide you through your busy day as well!

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Screaming Babies & Praying Mommas

by contributing writer Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry.

Finding God’s balance for motherhood and ministry is sometimes a difficult (and continually changing) tug-of-war; but I believe the struggle is healthy. As a homeschooling mother of seven, I place a high priority on God’s calling to care for our own children; however, I also feel a call of God’s heart for the needs of world missions. Multitudes across the globe desperately need God’s salvation and millions of orphan children are in need.

God cares about my kids and God cares about the lost. As a mission-minded mom, how can I keep these two “pulls “on my heart in balance — in a way that will truly please the heart of the Lord?

Most of the time, just doing another load of laundry, or drilling the kids on grammar, or reading a bedtime story . . . doesn’t seem very important. But God sees the big picture. He highly esteems motherhood and He values a faithful mom who is willing to lay down her “big dreams” . . . to serve her family.

At the same time, He sees the lost and the reality of heaven and hell. The blood of Jesus is the only way of salvation and the “unreached” must hear the gospel. Over 1.6 Billion people are still waiting to hear of the cross. According to UNICEF, there’s a minimum of 143,000,000 orphans in the world and many of these children are in desperate need. Unsaved people. Unborn babies. And so many real-life needs.

How can we balance this two-sided pull?

 

“Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”

―Hudson Taylor, Missionary to China

 

The “healthy” motherhood & missions tug-of-war

If you’re a mission-minded mother (a Christian mom with a heart for others), I’m sure you’ve felt this tug-of-war between motherhood and ministry. Our children need to know that we love them; but they also need to know that we have a heart for others. Our kids need to know that we care about their needs, but they also need to know that they’re not the center of the universe, and that others have needs too. Finding the balance can be a struggle; but I believe the process of finding God’s daily divine balance is a healthy evaluation process, both for ourselves and for our family.

We all face this struggle . . .

Perhaps the phone rings, and your friend begins pouring our her heart about a desperate situation. Maybe a fragile marriage is falling apart, or someone at church was just rushed to the hospital. These needs are real, and often urgent. How do we find the right “combo” for each day, and each season of our lives? How do we balance these pressing needs with the ongoing “everyday” needs of our own family?

This personal testimony of “The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies” is from one of our Africa mission trips years ago. The story has continually reminded me to seek the Lord’s divine calling for each day. I have found that the key to finding God’s balance is to stay in communication with God through prayer; however, He sees the full picture of both motherhood and ministry.

God sees the world’s needs, and He also sees the needs of our children. He can help us to see both in His divine daily balance, and God can speak to us . . . as a mom.

The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies

About five thousand women gathered for a week of ministry, teaching, and worship. The accommodations for our East African village conference were humble. Bamboo awnings covered with tarps provided shade from the hot sun, and most of the women simply brought straw mats for sleeping. Many women also brought little children and nursing babies, whom they cared for as they listened to the sessions.

One morning, I got up and took an early morning prayer-walk, and I was blessed (and challenged) to see hundreds of women gathered for a time of fervent prayer.

As I walked quietly behind the group, I noticed a few women who were praying very hard and loud, but then I noticed that these women were totally oblivious to the needs of their little babies–sitting with bare bottoms in wet little puddles in the dirt, screaming at the top of their lungs. As I watched for a few moments, I wondered what God thought about their fervent prayers. One by one I picked up the babies and tried to help them stop crying, handing each one to his or her momma.

Later that day I shared with the women about the importance of balancing our ministry with our family priorities. Yet I was also challenge on a personal level.

How many times does God see my own out-of-balance efforts, like when I’m at work on the computer or busy with a mission project–and my little kids are plopped down in front of one-too-many videos?

I want God to hear my prayers, and I want my efforts to be actions of obedience. I need to keep balanced; but it’s not a one-time solution. Every day, we need to come to God to allow Him to tune each string of our instrument. Each heart-string needs to be stretched to just the perfect sound . . . that will be pleasing to the heart of God.

Let’s pick up our babies and love them.

And together with our kids-in-tow, let’s get a family-vision for world missions!!!

“Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.”

–Proverbs 4:26

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The Heavenly Work Before Me

There have been repeated times in the past few years where I have struggled with the “what if’s” of my past. What if I had continued to pursue a college degree and not gotten married so early? What if we had waited longer to have children? What if I pursued an active career? I see other couples waiting five years to have children and feel a bit of discontentment creep up in my heart because I wonder what it would have been like to have such freedom. I’ll be honest and confess that it has been a great struggle in my heart. This job of motherhood is so hard. It’s hard to get up and care for little ones when I am lacking serious sleep. It’s hard to train them with grace and patience. It’s hard to embrace their neediness with joy.

The Lord has been gently working on my heart as I am currently mediating through Ephesians 5:15-17, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

What does God have for you? I’ve found that what God desires me to embrace is often right in front of me. It’s not way out there. It’s these little hands and feet He has called me to nurture. It’s this strong man that He has called me to support, cheer on, and follow. The will of the Lord is for me is to delight in, to embrace where He has me right now. When I doubt that, I am walking foolishly. I’m mocking his plan. He has called me to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. It may not have come in my own timing, but it certainly has been His timing (Proverbs 16:9).

THIS, right HERE…is what God has assigned for me. The fullness of my womanhood is experienced in embracing these tasks with intentionality. We truly only have one life to live, it will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last. To walk any other way is to walk blindly, foolishly.

I’ve experienced such fear, doubt, and lack of value because I’ve focused on what this culture exalts, rather than what God truly values. What did Jesus embrace? Jesus welcome the little children (Luke 18:16). He chose the humble, the weak, and gave them beauty and value (even when his culture looked down upon them and tried to send them away).

THIS WORK…this is heavenly work. He said they were what the Kingdom was made up of. He embraced the weak…not the intelligent, educated, and religious people. Jesus said to love the little children is valuable. It is beautiful. It is His work. Even with all it’s messes and challenges. He never promised it would be easy, but He did promise that this is the work of the Kingdom, and what we do to the least of these, we do for Him (Matthew 25:40). If this is the season He has called you to, then being faithful where you are is the best use of your time.

What you do sisters in your homes has beauty and value. It was what Jesus exalted. Don’t waste another moment thinking about the past, or what you’ve given up. It’s a waste of the precious moment you have in front of you.

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