Chicken Pot Pie

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Today I’m sharing our family’s favorite Fall recipe over at Denise in Bloom. Hop on over and say “hello”! :)

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Discipleship Requires Commitment

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There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient.  When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results. ~Kenneth Blanchard

We know this on paper–you know, as we read in good parenting books. We know, as a mother, we are expected to be committed to mothering.

But, that doesn’t always make it so.

Sometimes it’s a slow fade away from what we once promised to commit to when we became mothers. Our time, our money, our guidance, our love. There is really no end to what is required of a mother. This doesn’t necessarily make us willing to give it.

 

 

Friends…mothers…we need to step it up. We need to stop with the excuses and commit to what it takes to fulfilling our role as a mother. I am totally talking to myself here, too. {Never will I come here to point fingers–what I speak here is always for me, too.}

If you are already in a place where you are striving and receiving grace where you fall short, awesome! We need your encouragement and prayers! We need you to share your secrets with us {they may not be such a secret after all!}

But if you are lazing around, just letting life happen around you, without being intentional about how your time is spent or how your children’s time is spent, then this is for you us.

I admit:

  • I allow my children too much TV
  • I allow too much [nonconstructive] free time
  • I allow too many unimportant things creep in
  • I do not daily read the Bible
  • I do not daily read the Bible to my children
  • I do not daily pray or pray with my children

Don’t get me wrong. I do these things. But not in a committed way. More like a casual way. Casual can be good, just not for putting my children’s spiritual lives into. Casual is too unexpected and irregular.

These are foundational and I have not fully committed to doing them. I’ve definitely been fully committed to talking about doing them more consistently. {follow me?}

Joyful Mothering is a place of accountability. If you have a blog, make that your place of accountability. {I look forward to sharing more about this in the future, through Laura’s new eBook, Blogger Behave. Mom-bloggers, we need this}.

The bottom line is, it’s easy to say we’re committed. It’s much more challenging to follow through on those commitments. I’m challenging you, I’m challenging me–it’s time to step it up and fully get our hands in our children’s spiritual lives; to fully shape our children’s spiritual lives.

I’m talking more than reading Bible stories and praying at meal times.

I’m talking about a life saturated with Jesus. A life where people {starting with your children} know clearly, what your treasure is and that all your resources are used for His glory.

The desire is there. Right? You feel it, there in the depths of your heart–you want so desperately for your children to walk with Christ and leave home living for Him. But you’re lost. You’re confused. You have no idea where to start.

Start here.

God has called and equipped you to disciple your children.

You have the Word. You have a community of women to encourage you and spur you on. You have the Holy Spirit. You have resources at your fingertips. You have a God who promises to supply you all your needs.

We are not lacking, friends!

The thing that is holding us back?

Ourselves.

Our lack of commitment to step out and sacrifice as Jesus has called us to.

The beautiful thing about it friends? Our sacrifice won’t even compare to the fruit and life that will come out of it. If we knew what God knew, we would scoff at ourselves for holding so tight to something that just doesn’t matter. We need to be eternally minded in order to give up the now.

The last thing I want {and Christ wants} for anyone, is a wasted life.

As a mother, will you commit to being intentional about tilling the spiritual health of your children?

 

Let us begin. Not in the new year or the new month. Not with a new week or even a new day. Don’t begin tomorrow. Begin now.

Discipleship Challenge: Grab your children, gather on the couch and read from the Bible. If you need a good story, read David and Goliath.  But don’t just read; discuss, define, deliberate. If you don’t know something, look it up together. Learn together! You don’t need to know all the answers up front, before you begin. Just begin.

Might I recommend? The Hands-On Bible (for ages 6 & up, roughly) & My First Hands-On Bible (for ages 3 & up, roughly)

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The State of Your Heart is the State of Your Home

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I am the mother to 5 precious children–3 of whom are under 5 years old. Two have been through that age, so it’s not like they skipped it. I’ve had at least two children under the age of 5 simultaneously for the past 6 years. I’ll be frank friends–this age is tough for me. It is very demanding in every way. And I have only made it harder on myself by trying to runaway from the sacrifice required for this particular age span.

It is tough.

And my sour heart at every demand has only made it more challenging. Because demands get tiring day after day. My mentality grows weary and the natural reaction is to become annoyed at every need required of me. It is so hard to admit this, friends. Thus, this is the reality of my selfish heart right now, and this attitude only amplifies in my children.

I didn’t realize just how selfish it was until I saw this season in a whole other light.

Loving the Little Years

 

You cannot harbor resentment secretly toward your children and expect their hearts to be submissive and tender. You cannot be greedy with your time and expect them to share their toys. -Rachel Jankovic, pg. 14-15

In addition, my reaction to things demonstrates to them my own heart for them, and friends, faced with this truth was painful.

So think about your language with your children. When they disobey, do you talk about your own hurt? Are you pointing to all the work that you have to do now they they screwed up?

Do you want to see them feel bad, or see them with a clear conscience so you can have a little snuggle tickle-fest? pg. 18-19

I love my children, but at times do not display loving actions. I am learning the hard truth about loving children — it is not about a feeling. I know this truth, but subconsciously did not apply it to loving my children. It’s not about cute faces and funny acts. It’s loving them through the hardest parts of training and offering grace, rather than constant rebuke and disappointment.

I am always quick to point out flaws and mistakes, and ever slow to encourage and praise for good behavior and good choices. Why? Do I really believe my children will change using words that constantly tear down?

It is not as though our children are going to emerge from their current problems into perfect holiness if only we give them enough swats. They are going to emerge from one set of problems into the next, and that is good. That is the way of the Christian walk. pg. 23

Friends, it all begins in our own heart. This isn’t new information, but the perspective shift [for me] is a huge one.

If I want my children to have a heart of submission, service, and sacrifice, I must must must have these things myself–or at the very least be working toward them.

This is where they see our example to know how to walk it out, but also? It frees us from having a plank in our eye so we can see clearly to lead them.

The book: Loving the Little Years – Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic

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The Growing Need for Gratitude

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I wake to self-hatred. To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary.

Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough? ~One Thousand Gifts, pg. 27

It’s a back and forth struggle–the balance between trying to do enough and be enough with trying to remember, to believe, that He did enough to make me enough. This doesn’t exempt the need to try, rather it enables me to do. Because what I cannot reach, He completes.

Source: kristanlynn.com via Mo on Pinterest

So while I strive with walking the life worthy of His calling, I also rest in the grace that He has finished what I could not. Both are necessary.

How can I accomplish both simultaneously? It’s always the cross first. It’s always from the inside out–not the other way around. Because my outside actions cannot change the inside of my heart.

What is the mystery to joy? To living a life pleasing to Him, yet resting in His grace when we fail to live up to our standards?

How can I live fully alive?

I’ve resisted this truth simply because I didn’t discover it. How prideful is that? I thought, “Well, this won’t be life changing for me simply because it’s not mine.

I was wrong.

Because before it was Ann’s, it was someone else’s–and someone else’s before her…

…and yet, they are changed.

God gives grace to the humble…

…I wasn’t receiving because I was full of pride. I actually stopped the flow myself by refusing to dig into and live out a truth that I had not discovered on my own.

Wow. That’s humiliating in and of itself.

But how many times we do that? We let our pride stand in the way of what God has for us? As if we are too good for what He offers us. What about pride that says we are too bad for what He’s given us? We were reborn into Christ when we chose to live for Him. The sinful self has died…but we continue to run back to it. Why?

I don’t know about you…but me? It’s because I believe that’s what I deserve. It’s like Javier in Les Miserables. He was so obsessed with the law and following it to the letter, that He could not allow someone {Valjean} to extend him mercy and forgiveness when he broke the law. No, Javier wanted to punish himself for his “crime” because that’s what he deserved, according to the law.

This is the beauty of it—Jesus fulfilled that part of the Law so we wouldn’t have to. Before His death and resurrection, yes, we were recipients of it! But He took it upon Himself to take what we deserved! This isn’t new revelation for us, but often times, we don’t live that way!

We choose to live in denial and instead believe we should punish ourselves.

Do we not trust His words to us? Because if we are not living as if we do, then maybe we don’t.

What does all this have to do with gratitude?

Simply this:

If we cannot see, believe, and live what Jesus Christ has done for us, we will not be in a position to give thanks.

We will be blind, of no faith, and die in our sins. If we are professing Christians, we should not be living  a self-punishing, shameful life. If we really believe it is finished, then we need to live that it is so.

Let us begin this living with gratitude.

  1. the comfort of home on a rainy day
  2. sweet-smelling autumn candle
  3. letter from my sponsored child, Cecelia
  4. cold, clean water
  5. the smell of cookies baking fresh
  6. cookies before dinner
  7. play time with Elizabeth
  8. God’s grace on my selfish heart
  9. time at Starbuck’s
  10. baby smiles
  11. generous people

 

 

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What Do You Want?

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So, I’ve been pondering and seeing this vision in my head of ways I could work with my children on a deeper level and more often throughout the day–in discipleship.

It’s not a matter if I can or not—I can. The matter is–do I want to?

Because I know God wants it for me–He put the desire there, which means He has equipped me to do it and He will carry me through it.

Hey, that rhymes.

So what dream, what vision is God giving you for your family, for your children, that you think is impossible? I challenge you to grab a notebook and write it out.

Seriously. Every detail that comes to mind. How do you envision your family?

Here’s what I mean:

  • Do you see yourself getting up early to meet with God before children awake?
  • Do you want more Bible reading in your days?
  • Do you need to pray more with your children?
  • Do you need to train with Scripture better?
  • Do you want more delicious meals on the table? Or a more dynamic meal time for your family?

Or even bigger! Sometimes the smallest hills can seem like mountains to us.

There is no end to what the possibilities are.

Let me tell you something.

We are way too quick to settle for mediocrity because we choose not to reach high. People tell us we don’t have to because God loves us right where we are {don’t even get me started on that excuse}. We all have our reasons, but really, aren’t they just excuses? God can do anything. Anything!

It’s going to require that you let some things go. Yes, it can be done. The bigger question is: will you?

If you want to raise children who serve the Lord and are wildly in love with Him, do you think He won’t help you accomplish that?

All you need to be is willing.

Are you going to make mistakes? Absolutely. Is God’s grace there to catch you? Oh yea.

If we aim small, we miss small. Or put another way–if we don’t step out too far, we can’t fail too hard. If we stay near the shore, when the waves come, we can quickly row back to dry land where it’s safe. That land becomes our security, so we don’t want to venture too far away.

When we stay comfortable, when we don’t reach for the impossible, how can God’s glory be magnified among us? If our goal is keep ourselves comfortable we are not walking a path worthy of the calling He’s given us.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1

Fear of failure needs to go. God’s desire is for your children to serve Him. He’s called you to lead them to Him.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and in the end he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6

Another word for train is dedicate.

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them…” Matthew 19:14

In what ways are we hindering our children from coming to the Lord? When we are not intentional about leading them, we are hindering them. As their teacher and guide, it is up to us to show them and hold their hand down the path. We cannot leave their spiritual lives in the hands of chance and “hope for the best”.

Reach for the impossible–God’s waiting to grab your hand.

What’s impossible to you? Sticking with a schedule? Yes, sometimes that can seem like a huge feat. Trust me, I know that full well.

But…

…He’s planted a dream in your heart for a reason. It won’t be easy.

But God calls us to do hard things.

Seriously think about what your dreams are and write down what you desire. We are going to dig into these dreams and and watch God make them reality.

Who’s with me?

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Photo Credit: Vision road sign

How To Make Your Quiet Time Meaningful

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Sometimes when we set out to have a quiet time with the Lord, things don’t go as planned and we’re left feeling empty. We didn’t get out of it what we thought we would.

This is a good time to evaluate what you’re doing during your quiet time. Sometimes all God asks is that we show up. So, if we’re not meeting Him there, it won’t be fulfilling.

Young woman reading bible by stream in summer

How do we meet Him in our secret place? What elements make it meaningful?

I don’t want to minimize this by turning into a “4-step process of meeting with God”. It’s not that simple–yet it is. Let me explain.

Reducing a quiet time with Jesus to a 4 step system is not necessarily going to connect you with God. Obviously there are some things we need to take action on. But God is quite simple. Just show up. By showing up, I don’t mean to only get up early for God. You need to actually meet with Him. Don’t grab a book or hop on the computer and call that your quiet time.

Meeting with God requires that you bring your mind into submission to focus in that time with Him. So, you could have all the “right plans” to get up, get coffee, journal, and pray out–yet your heart still be far from Him. All because you didn’t bring your heart and mind into submission to focus on Him.

Did you know you could read the Bible, pray, worship and all that jazz and still be far from God? I know! It’s crazy to think about. But if we merely focus on the words we say, not the words He says, we miss Him. If we focus on all our wants and not His desires, we miss Him. If we focus on all the things we’re doing and not what He did, we completely miss Him.

It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about Him.

He has created us all unique and sometimes this plays a factor into how we connect with Him. For some it’s done best through song. For others, they connect with Him through writing or painting or running. But these are merely tools, and not required to meet with God. Take all these away and God still remains.

The question is – will you continue seeking Him without the comforts of your gifts? You must know what it means to connect with God. And at times that requires laying everything aside and it just being you and Him.

So, if your goal is to always meet with Him on your  terms, you’re going to have some rare, less than meaningful times with Jesus.

When we miss our “planned/scheduled” time with Him in the morning, do we just leave it at that? Or do we rearrange our agenda to make up that missed time?

If this scenario happens consistently, and we consistently miss time with Jesus and are rarely filled to full,  it’s harder to come to Jesus when we’re emptied. Often, that emptiness fills up with shame. The goal is to not allow yourself to become that empty.

So, how do you make your quiet time meaningful?

By submitting your mind and emotions to Him every time you meet with Him..

Join me on this journey of connecting with God? Subscribe to Joyful Mothering!

Practical Ways to Live for God {That Include Your Children}

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I don’t know if any other mom’s are like this, but I tend to keep my relationship with Christ more hidden than it should be. I don’t mean that I hide my walking with Him, but rather I don’t often speak aloud to my family about what He’s speaking to me or what He’s doing. I’ve always seen my relationship with Christ as a personal, intimate thing–just between Him and I. Not in a shameful way, like being “secret friends” with someone in school because you were afraid someone might see you together. No. Just simply personal and intimate.

I think and talk to Him more to myself than I do out loud. Maybe many of you do that, too—even unintentionally.

And there is definitely a place for that.

However, I am beginning to see that my children need to hear about my relationship with Jesus and see me in acts of worship in places other than church so they know what it looks like. God is calling me to live for Him out loud; to make it very clear, without a doubt, whom I serve.

There are several ways to accomplish this.

Read God’s Word Out Loud

Bible reading is but a beginning. And while having a secret place for just me and Jesus that no one else knows about is important, it’s not enough. I need to bring that time to my children. Read them the Word as we begin the day. It must be an intentional act of living out loud.

Read God’s word several times a day: At breakfast, mid-morning, at lunch and dinner,  before bed. Read different parts of the Bible: old testament stories, Proverbs/Psalms, Gospel readings, verses from the Epistles. Read a variety!

Displaying scripture around the house is a great way to see God’s Word out loud, also.

Serve Out Loud

Serving others is another way to show we serve the Lord. The best way I can think of is to begin with serving your husband. That is what we were created for; to be helpers. Do your children see you as being a helper or hindrance to your husband?

Then serve your children. Do not make them feel like they are burdens, but blessings. Take delight in serving them! What a shift they will see in what it means to serve others!

Finally, get involved in a project together, whether at your church or in your community. This shows your children how you can step outside of ourself and reach out to others.

Worship Out Loud

Turn on the music and spend time together worshiping Jesus. Allow your children to see you worship through music.

Praise Him out loud throughout the day. “Thank you Jesus for such a beautiful, sunny day!” “Praise you Father for your mercy and grace today! You are wonderfully beautiful!”

Bring Him up in casual conversation: “Isn’t God so miraculous to take care of the birds during the winter season?”

Pray Out Loud

Begin each day and invite the Holy Spirit to be active in everything you do.  Spend time in the mornings and evenings praying with your children.

Pray for your day, pray for one another, struggles they are having, pray for friends and relatives, pray for countries. There is no end to what you can pray for. The idea is to pray, and pray together.

Love Out Loud

Love God out loud!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

One of the best ways you can demonstrate God’s love is by loving your children and loving others well. 1 Corinthians 13 is a wonderfully thorough explanation of what love does and what we are without it.

When you remain in Christ, He will remain in you and love flows so much easier that way.

The goal is to live for God together. Yes, have your secret place–this is important! But don’t leave it there. Loving God out loud is just as important.

In what ways do you live for God out loud?

I’d love to have you join me on this journey. Subscribe to Joyful Mothering!

photo credit

Children & Blogging and Keeping Anger Under Control

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Today I’m sharing on a couple of different blogs.

At The Homeschool Classroom, I am sharing why I allow my daughter to blog and what it has done for her creativity. I created a homeschool blog over the summer but found I didn’t have time to maintain it as much as I would’ve liked. So I handed it over to my 9-year old daughter. Find out how she utilizes it and what our boundaries are by visiting me at The Homeschool Classroom.

I am also sharing some practical ways to gain control over our own anger at The Better Mom. Lots of goodness to be had!

Image: ponsulak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Training Children Beyond the Chores

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I finally feel like I have a decent routine for getting regular chores done. There are still a few adjustments that need to be made {mostly for deep cleaning}, but overall, there is a foundation set.

But now I am seeing some issues that need a bit of attention–not so much with the habit of cleaning, but with the training of cleaning well. It’s good that we teach our children that we need to do chores to keep things orderly. But they also need to know the importance of being efficient, taking initiative, and working with integrity.

Initiative

Teaching our children to take the initiative to do something without first being asked is an important element for leadership. It also helps them own their responsibilities and be responsible. Children seem to have a natural bent toward waiting for someone to tell them to do something before they do it. Typically it’s because we have unknowingly trained them this way. When they are young, it is second nature to constantly remind our children what they need to be doing.

Yet, as they become older, we need to set aside those reminders and encourage them to take the initiative. One practical way to do this is to create a chore chart and schedule that is easily accessible to them. In the beginning of this “re-training”, make it very clear what is expected of your child before you begin. Encourage them in their growth toward greater responsibility.

Then, explain your expectations, set up a plan of action, discuss consequences and begin. At first, you could drop “hints” if your child doesn’t seem to remember. But as you move on in the training, allow natural consequences to take their course.

For example, say your child does not clean their room at the allotted time, evening rolls around and it’s family time. Your child can be sent to go clean their room during this time rather than enjoying family time. It may seem harsh, but it won’t take long at all for your child to remember after a time or two of that! Also keep in mind these terms were discussed in the beginning of this training. This is just an example.

Efficiency

It is important that as we train our children, we check their work once it’s completed. This gives us the opportunity to help them to see things they may not have otherwise seen. In addition, it helps them know what is expected of them.

When you set up your plan for training, efficiency should be part of the plan. You decide how you want to inspect their work. It can be several times throughout the day, as chores are completed. Or you can do a “one over” at the end of each day. This is going to vary based on how you set up your child’s schedule and plan.

We want to train our children in excellence not perfection. We need to keep in mind they are yet young, and in training. Frustrations do not belong here. Training can take lots and lots of time. In fact, it may not be until they are adults and living on their own that all this training will come to fruition! But the fruit will come as you are consistent. Still, if your child does not meet the exact standard you set, even as an adult, imagine how much worse it could be had you not trained them!

Integrity

Finally, we need to train our children to work with integrity. To put things in their place, not shove them some place where no one can see them. We want them to work well and honestly, even when no one is watching. This will be a valuable attribute to instill in them that can be carried into the workforce and essentially, life.

These are a few of the traits that go beyond the habit of simply doing chores. It’s important to train in doing chores well. This will begin to empower our children in other areas as we also apply these characteristics into other parts of their lives.

In what way(s) do your children need guidance or encouragement in doing their chores?

 

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Linking up with

Top 10 Things…

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For those of you who don’t already know, in about 15 days I’ll be boarding a train headed for Harrisburg, PA to go to the Relevant Conference. This will be my second year attending this awesome conference and words cannot express my excitement.

This year I have the extra gift of having my cousin, Kelley {@MrsHaggie810 on Twitter} accompany me. We’ll be traveling and rooming together. We have a close relationship and frequently have slumber parties involving both our families. So, there may not be much for surprises here. However, for the sake of fun, I thought I would join in on sharing the Top 10 Things My Relevant Roomie Should Know About Me…

  1. I am an introvert. It’s strange. I love hanging around people, but I also love having time alone to just reflect on things and think {and write}. I suppose that is a common trait for those who enjoy writing.
  2. I have been known to yell in my sleep. Or punch. The last time I remember yelling in my sleep I had a dream my youngest, while yet a baby, was kidnapped from our car while we were out. I woke myself up yelling, “Jesus, bring him home!” As for the punching…let’s just say, thankfully my husband had already been up and left for work.
  3. I tire out earlier than I would like. That’s to be expected with 5 children. But there just comes a time when my body shuts down whether I like it or not. Thankfully, Relevant will have plenty of bottomless, Starbuck’s coffee at our disposal. You bet I will be taking full advantage!
  4. Did I mention I like love coffee? You knew that, right? ;)
  5. I am very punctual. One of my pet peeves is being late. I don’t know why. I have just always been a very punctual person. Especially if I’m meeting with someone – I feel bad if I make them wait!
  6. I do not spend a lot of time on myself getting ready.
  7. Typically I take forever to wake up in the morning, but at Relevant I am up and attem as early as may be without a problem. Hmmm…wonder why!?
  8. I highly delight in the little things. You’ll probably notice my face glued to the window on the train, drinking in all the scenery. {Last year I brought 5 five books to read on the train. Then I brought five more books on the trip home. I didn’t touch one of them!} You may also find me staring out the hotel window soaking up the mountain view:

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9. I might get homesick – you’ll probably see me texting a lot! And actually, I think Jonathan {my husband} was worse than me last year. He texted more than I did {probably because I was in sessions and stuff, LOL}

10. I’m so excited you get to experience this awesome weekend with me, Kelley! Yay!

Friends, connect with me on Twitter!

I’m linked up with Brooke at Brook McGlothlin: A Life in Need of Change

Are you attending Relevant? Let me know in the comments!

If you are not attending Relevant, Courtney of Women Living Well has something especially for you! Head over to Women Living Well to find out the details! :) You don’t want to miss it!

I also want to encourage you — I will be sharing the goodies I learn here on my blog and taking notes on Twitter through the sessions. So be sure to follow the #Relevant11 hashtag on Twitter!