Battling the Gimmies: Raising Financially Responsible Children

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Today I have a sweet friend sharing some tips on how to battle the gimmies in our children. Please welcome Nancy from There is Grace!

It all went down right there in aisle 7: Boy sees toy. Boy wants toy. Mom says “no.” Boy throws a colossal fit that melts Mom into a puddle of frustrated humiliation.

Source: Microsoft Images

We’ve been doing this dance for decades, us and our children.
No matter how many toys are scattered in the playroom or around the yard at home, my children will always want the shiny new one they see right then. It’s an ongoing battle with the “gimmies.”

The “gimmies” is what I call that have-to-have-it-now attitude that dominates my offspring in any retail setting. Who are we kidding, I struggle with it as much as they do; I simply have enough control to not throw myself into a full-blown tantrum in the middle of Target.

It’s a constant struggle in our age of marketing overload. So, what is a parent to do?
Here’s how we approach it in our family: Money = work.

When kids associate money with work, they are less likely to develop a sense of dis-contentment that can lead to the “gimmies.” In his article, “Teaching Your Kids About Money,” financial guru Dave Ramsey says, “Kids need to make an emotional connection between work and money at a young age.”

Following Ramsey’s advice, we created a list of jobs around the house. A dollar amount was assigned to each job, and whoever does the work gets the money. The jobs and payments are age-appropriate for our 5- and 8-year-olds. For example “feeding the dog” (a daily activity) will earn you $.25 but “raking the leaves” (a once-a-year chore) will bring in $3!

As they grow older, the jobs will grow more difficult and the pay will increase. We record their earnings on a chart throughout the week and tally them up on “payday.”

Give, Save, Spend

We made three simple jars labeled: GIVE, SAVE, SPEND. (Get a free printable here to help you create your own jars.) When the kids earn money, they divide it between the three jars. “The concepts of spending and giving help develop problem-solving skills,” explains Ramsey. “You’re laying a foundation for their lives.”

GIVE. As Christians, we believe in the biblical principle of tithing, so our kids are expected to put at least 10% in the give jar when they are paid. (We help the little ones who don’t know percentages yet.) On Sundays they empty their GIVE jars and take their tithes to church. If we want our kids to have a realistic view of finances, we must teach them to be givers as well as savers and spenders.

SAVE. We encourage our kids to put at least 40% in their save jars. This money is set aside for bigger items they want that mom and dad are not planning to buy. (Mom is not paying an extra $15 for a name-brand label!). They each choose the item they want to save for, and we print a picture to put by their SAVE jar.

SPEND. The balance goes into the SPEND jar. They can take this money with them when we go to the store for something small they might want on a whim.

To our surprise, our kids have consistently chosen to put most of their earnings in their SAVE jars and have already made some great purchases. It’s helped to curb the “gimmies” that strike in the toy aisle, too. Instead of having a meltdown over a desired toy, we simply add it to the “save for” list.
While we have not banished the “gimmies” in our house, we have managed to gain a little ground in the battle. More importantly, we are striving to raise financially responsible children who will one day become hard-working adults who can manage their resources responsibly.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” ~Proverbs 22:6

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Nancy is a lover of words and all things chocolate. She is married to her best friend, and when she’s not settling sibling squabbles between her Little Miss and Little Man, she can be found sipping coffee and writing about faith, family, and finding grace in the journey. She blogs at There Is Grace.

The Joy of Motherhood is in the Cross

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Today fellow blogger, KM, is sharing some beautiful truths about motherhood and the cross.

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Tiny hands grabbing your finger, your child’s first smile, the wobbly first steps, the first tiny kisses, watching your kids sing in a Christmas pageant, celebrating an “A” on a tough test, holding them when they fall down and hurt themselves, magical band-aids, whispered bedtime prayers, and a bouquet of weeds brought in from a summer day.

Don’t these moments bring you joy?

All of these moments are tender, happy, and precious. They’re fleeting. They’re moments to treasure, cherish, and hide in our hearts.

Or maybe you’re having a hard time finding joy in motherhood. Things like never-ending messes, tantrums, angry outbursts, and fatigue overwhelm you. Your heart is heavy perpetually.

You just feel like something is broken.

Joy in motherhood is a funny thing. Motherhood is wearying, and yet there are those precious moments. Those moments however aren’t why motherhood can be joyful.

In fact, these precious moments are empty if we don’t cherish the one thing that brings true hope and true joy to our mothering.

True joy cannot be had in motherhood apart from the Jesus, His cross, and His resurrection. Without the cross, our children don’t have the hope of God’s forgiveness or strength. Without the cross or the resurrection our children have no hope of Heaven.

Without Christ, our children have no hope of a life filled with purpose.

All the Eskimo kisses, hugs, and cuddles in the world can’t bring true joy. True joy in motherhood begins because Christ came to save, Christ came to bring peace, and Christ came so we and our children can live life more abundantly.

I know what true joy is because I’ve felt it. Holding a baby isn’t true joy, but in the words of Bill Gaither, holding a child and knowing “He can face uncertain days, because He Lives” does hold true joy.

I can’t imagine being a mother not having the assurance that my Jesus lives. Life would be empty, and all those tender moments would ultimately be pointless.

When we peel back the surface, every moment of motherhood: the happy, the stressed, the fatigued,

blessedtoknow the animated, the agitated, and the content; every moment contains joy. Every moment can contain joy because that joy always comes from the hope that Christ brings us.

The only hope for true joy in motherhood is found in Christ and Christ alone. If you are struggling to find joy in parenting, rest assured our Lord and Savior is close, and it is because of Him and His sacrifice that we can treasure each moment and memory.

Joy doesn’t need to be an outward display unbridled ecstasy though. Our joy begins
I like to think of the special moments in motherhood as tiny glimpses of heaven. The snuggles, the giggles, and the little blessings, are a shadow of the amazing joy that is to come if our faith rests in Christ. That is the true joy of motherhood.with the peace that the Lord holds our children’s and our futures in His hands. Our joy is in knowing the promises that hold true in our lives will hold true in our children’s as well.

What are some ways you have struggled to find joy in motherhood? 

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KM Logan is a wife, mother, teacher, and author. She is wholly inadequate but strengthened by the Lord. She’d be tickled pink if you stopped by her blog and said hi.

Seriously God? {Giveaway Closed}

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Today I have a guest post from author Jenny Smith who has written a wonderful book called, “Seriously God?” I encourage you to check it out! I have been reading it and it sure does shed some light on things I had not considered before!

seriously-god

The day I walked through my house one last time was the day I felt most abandoned by God. As I reached the front door, knowing it would be the last time I opened it, all of a sudden I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t open that door and walk to the truck piled high with our belongings. I remember resting my head on the doorframe as tears filled my eyes, asking myself, “How did we get to this place?”

Oh, I remembered all the mistakes we had made, but when we finally began to wake up, we immediately turned to God. We thought he would come through.

He didn’t. Our house went into foreclosure, we moved into a rental house, and God didn’t seem to care.

God had let me down. My whole Christian life had been built on this understanding of God being our provider—the one who we went to when we had a need, knowing he would provide. Where was he?  Why wouldn’t he provide a job so we could maintain our standard of living?

Recently, I cried as I listened to a lady on the radio, she was crying as she explained to the host she only had five days until she had to move out of her rental home. They had lost their jobs. She was sharing how many people told her “to have more faith.” Those are hard words to heed when, in your heart, you have mustered up as much faith as possible and you’re still faced with unthinkable circumstances.

I wish I could have spoken to her, telling her how those of us whose hearts feel abandoned can find healing through a passage in John 10:11–14 when Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd.” If only someone would have shared the role of a shepherd when I was going through our foreclosure, I believe it would have made such a difference.

Maybe in your mind, you only see a shepherd walking with a big stick through lush fields while the fat, happy sheep graze. That’s what I pictured and it was far from my reality! So, I never connected with Jesus as my Good Shepherd.

As I thought on Jesus saying, “I’m the good shepherd” I began to wander what he meant. I know the shepherd is entrusted in caring for the sheep as they follow him, and they depend on him for safety and provision. But how does a shepherd actually shepherd?

A shepherd mostly lives in an environment that is hostile to the sheep. Every day the shepherd leads his sheep through rugged terrain, looking for the two basic necessities of life: water and food. The sheep follow him, facing dangers all around—sometimes of their own making when they stray too far. Other times the dangers are simply life in the hostile environment: predators, thorns, and holes in the ground.

I started realizing my life was being lived in a hostile environment, much like the sheep face.  The most astounding aspect of shepherding is what happens night after night as the sheep go into the sheep pen. The shepherd bends down running his hands over each sheep with love, carefully inspecting them. He looks for any cuts, debris stuck in their coats, or anything that has hurt them during the course of the day. Within his capable hands is the power to mend, remove, and treat any harm the sheep has sustained.

This would have been so helpful in the midst of my own hurts. The realization of how each night Jesus wants to address my hurts from the day, frees me from the burden of striving to attain my shepherd’s notice. I don’t have to go searching for my shepherd’s care; I already have it! If only I had realized how willing Jesus is to care for my battered heart.

Friend, maybe you’re struggling too. If you are one of the many facing very difficult circumstances, knowing Jesus is your Good Shepherd can bring strength to your daily life as you walk out your door. The Good Shepherd is with you, as you walk through this hostile environment. I promise he sees the hurts, the doubts, and the fears. Not only does he see them, but there is also caring and healing in his hands.

Believers in the early church also faced circumstances where their lives changed drastically in the blink of an eye. They faced it by living lives devoted first to Jesus but also each other. They knew the Good Shepherd not only cared but had entrusted them to be his physical representatives. They came alongside of each other and helped one another.

One of my most vivid memories is sitting at table with a couple we are good friends with. For the first time in our life, we feared we wouldn’t have enough money to pay our bills. I’m talking about the bills that matter: electricity, water, groceries, the necessities of life. We were asking them to pray for us, and they offered not only prayer but money. We decided together to wait until the end of the month. God ended up providing some odd jobs for us, but the impact of their willingness to help changed my view of true Christians. I saw how the Good Shepherd was caring for me.

Their willingness to help is pictured in Acts 4:32 when the early church held all things in common. Are we willing to share what we have, even in days where our instincts tell us to hang on to what we have?

I pray that for those of you struggling to realize what shepherding means to those of us who belong to Jesus. I pray you are surrounded by Christians coming alongside of you with an offer to help. At the same time, I pray all of us take the opportunity to share what our Good Shepherd means to us, and become willing to step in and help where we can.

Giveaway CLOSED

Jenny is giving away a copy of her book to one reader. Woot! Just leave a comment briefly sharing how you this book might help you?

U.S. residents only please. Winner will be randomly drawn and contacted by Friday.

You can purchase Seriously God in paperback or Kindle.

jen

Jenny teaches at her local church, conferences, retreats, banquets, or wherever women gather to hear hope from God’s Word for their lives. She is a contributing writer for Encouragement Cafe and Laced with Grace. She is also a graduate of She Speaks and can often be found surrounded by books with pen in hand, writing in her favorite notebook. She loves country life in Adairsville, Georgia, with its clothesline and all, with her husband, Chad, and their three daughters. If you want to know more about this country girl with a passion for God’s Word, then visit with Jenny at www.keepinginstride.com.
 This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure here.

The What and How of Helping Your Kids Fall in Love With the Bible

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Today’s guest post is from author and speaker, Keith Ferrin.

When I was a kid, I didn’t like reading the Bible very much.  I didn’t dislike it. I believed it was true, and I thought that was enough. Thankfully, that all changed in my 20’s. How that happened is a long story, but the bottom line is I love the Bible now.

My wife and I have three young children. We want them to start loving it now…not fifteen years from now. We know that if they believe it’s true – and enjoy it – they will be much more likely to read it, internalize it, and be shaped by it.

In my book – Like Ice Cream: The Scoop On Helping the Next Generation Fall in Love With God’s Word – I boil down a year of conversations with parents, children’s pastors, and youth pastors into nine principles for helping kids love the Bible. Let’s look at one of them.

First, the What: Read It Together. 

Sounds simple, right? Except that kids don’t always sit still and listen. (Or is that just my kids?) That said, something that Emilie Buchwald wrote still rings in my ears:

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

I hear countless grownups tell me about the books that their parents read to them. Little House on the Prairie. Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. The Chronicles of Narnia was the series in my house. I loved them then. I love them now. I want my kids to feel about the Bible the way I feel about the Chronicles of Narnia.

But how? Here are three suggestions.

One: Expect it to be good. 

This is huge. Our expectations typically coincide with our experiences. If we expect the Bible to be fun, we are way more likely to enjoy it than if we expect it to be dry. Sadly, most of us expect the Bible to be true, but we don’t expect it to be engaging and fun. If our own expectations are low, our kids will sense it as we read to them.

Two: Learn from Curious George. 

When was the last time you read Curious George to a little kid? Did you give the different characters voices? Did you read differently when George was joyful, scared, or getting into big trouble? Of course you did!

Do the same thing next time you read the Bible to your child. Pretend that you are reading Curious George to a five-year-old. Give the characters voices. Read with passion. Change your tone. Pause. Get louder or quieter. Your kids will have heaps more fun (and so will you).

Three: Change it up. 

Once I started looking more intentionally, I found that there are an unbelievable number of wonderful children’s Bibles and storybooks out there. We read different ones all the time. Here are a few of our favorites from the last few years:

  • The Toddler’s Bible and The Preschooler’s Bible by V. Gilbert Beers – These have really colorful, engaging artwork, as well as discussion questions woven conversationally into the text. (My reviews are here and here.)
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – This Bible shows how Jesus is connected to the stories in the Old Testament as well as the New. Make sure you get one of the versions with the audio CDs included (Deluxe or Collector’s). The narration is as good as I’ve heard.
  • The Action Bible by David C. Cook – Hands down, the best Bible for 7-12 year olds. Written in comic book style, my kids always want me to “read another story.” (Here’s my review.)

There are many, many more. Feel free to email me (keith-at-keithferrin.com) for recommendations – or with some I should add to my resource list!

Read expectantly. Read with passion. And read a wide variety. Then let me know how it goes. (I truly want to know.)

Giveaway

Keith is giving away a free copy of Like Ice Cream to one of you! All you have to do is:

Leave a comment sharing why you think it’s challenging to read the Bible to your children.

One commenter will be randomly selected and the book will be mailed to you next week! For those of you who can’t wait, you can get it from Amazon here.

Giveaway ends Tuesday, Feb. 5th, at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be announced and contacted the following day. Please be sure to include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you.

U.S. residents only.

Keith Ferrin is a storyteller, author, blogger, and speaker whose passion is helping churches, families, and students fall in love with God’s Word. You can see some clips and connect with him on his blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Find out more about Like Ice Cream: The Scoop On Helping the Next Generation Fall In Love With God’s Word here.

Me and My Mama Mouth

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Today I have a special guest post for you from Karen Ehman, author of LET.IT.GO.: How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith

When I’m trying to control someone or some situation, I’ve noticed I have a little trouble controlling my tongue. For instance, the other day the dishes needed to be done. If I’d been the one at the sink, I’d have washed them in the proper sequence I learned in Home Economics class—from least to most soiled. Instead, my son, a smart preteen, was up to the challenge.

He didn’t give me an attitude when asked to do the dishes. He wasn’t disrespectful, didn’t drag his feet, and was doing the job. So why was I tempted to tell him in a harsh tone he was doing it wrong? Because he was failing to do it my way.

He started with the grimy pots and pans, then moved to the plates and silverware. Finally, he had to bubble up more water to spit-shine the glasses last. While working he lolly-gagged, trying to stack some plastic cups in a pyramid. As I watched his unconventional ways, I could feel irritation welling up inside. An unkind reaction was itching to come out; one that was not tempered with the Holy Spirit.

If I had not caught myself, I could have easily let my momma mouth take over and blurted out:
“What are you doing? Don’t you know it uses way more water to wash the dishes in that order? Plus the water is filthy now!”

“Stop playing stack-up with those cups. Ugh! Why do you always have to play while you work? You’re so slow.”

What was really going on? I wanted to be a control freak and fire off words that would have conveyed unspoken thoughts. I think the only way to do the dishes is my way. I see different as wrong. I interpret a preteen being a preteen, with a slight distraction of fun, as “slow.”

Any time I unload on junior (or anyone for that matter), it has the potential to damage our relationship and plant seeds in his mind of his mom’s view of him, whether verbalized or implied (lazy, wasteful, distracted, and slow). It does not, as today’s key verse states, come close to resembling a woman who “opens her mouth with wisdom and speaks with kindness on her tongue.”

This does not make for a happy home and I’ve come to know that it’s better if these scenarios go down much differently. So let’s back up the minivan and replay that scene again with a fresh dose of perspective and a God-honoring, Spirit-controlled response. As I see my son doing the dishes in an illogical order, I can make a mental note to myself to explain a way to do it next time that will save water, money, and time.

When done, I can praise his efforts, keeping in mind his age and abilities. I can intentionally point out particulars in his unique method. “I saw the clever way you stacked those dishes. You always make work fun. I wish I were more like you.” I can mentally ask myself questions that will empower me to maintain calm emotions and keep my “mama mouth” in check. Like …

 

  • Does it matter now?
  • Will it matter tomorrow?
  • Will it affect eternity?
  • Is God trying to teach ME something? If so, what?
  • Can I pause and praise instead of interrupt and instigate?
  • Is there really an issue here that needs addressing with my child?
  • Or….am I just being a control freak and need to let it go?

The interaction would be a learning experience for both of us. It wouldn’t damage, it would nurture. It would be wise. Kind. And there would be no lost time, no regrets, and no need to call in the United Nations peace-keeping forces for intervention. This mama would be less control freak and more calm mom.

It might not come easily—trust me it usually doesn’t—but with the Holy Spirit, it is possible. We can learn to speak with godly wisdom and kindness. And then there won’t be any need for duct tape for the ole’ mama mouth!

Christin here…I can say with confidence and experience, and maybe you can relate–being a control freak is exhausting! Can I get an Amen?

Giveaway

Karen is giving away TWO copies of her new book “Let.It.Go.

All you need to do is leave a comment sharing why this book might be good for you.

You’re also entering into a chance to win a Kindle Fire. Drawing will be made from comments of all those participating from the blog tour. Woot!

The Details

Giveaway ends Wednesday at 11:59 EST. Winners of the book will be announced Friday!

U.S. Residents only please. (Sorry international friends!)

This book was given to me at Allume with no obligation to review. I voluntarily agreed to review book. Post does contain my Amazon affiliate link.

Jonathan Takes Over Joyful Mothering

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Hi!! I’m Jonathan, Christin’s younger, louder and far more obnoxious half and I have come to take over Christin’s blog. In my quest for world domination, I have decided the best first step was to hack into Christin’s blog.  What shall I do with such power? Actually, I never thought that far ahead. To be honest, I saw many other Allume Husbands doing this and I didn’t want to be left out. However, I will take a moment to be serious.

My wife has been blogging and doing various internet social thingy’s (my very technical term) for many years. She developed some friendships online and a few years back heard about an inaugural conference called Relevant and begged me to go. We didn’t really have the money and I was sad that I couldn’t let her go. Through some pulled strings and amazing blessings, Christin got sponsored to go and had an amazing time. She was a very small blogger and just wanted to get away, get some ideas and meet some people she looked up to. She came back with this crazy fire in her eyes. I was afraid. (just kidding) She was motivated and really pressed in to God for what the direction of her blog was to be. Slowly but surely, her blog began to grow.

She went back to Relevant the following year (a little advance planning goes a long way; hint hint future attendees.) She had made a name for herself and was greeted by people she had never met and for the shy introverted girl, she turned many different shades of red. She was accompanied by her cousin who hoped to glean from the experience as well. She came back motivated yet again and was on her way to some growth beyond what she had imagined.

This year, Christin returns to the renamed Allume with a passion to serve others that have helped her get this far. She joined the staff as Sarah Mae’s Administrative Cracker Jack. Through her blogging, she was able to sponsor someone to go so that they could receive the same blessing that gave her the push she needed just a few years ago.

So to all you people in the blogosphere. Never give up. You don’t know what tomorrow brings. Christin is in a place she never expected to be in only a few years ago. It just took some dedication and some mentoring from those who had been there before her. In the end, isn’t that the point of all this? To help others make it through each day by the Grace of God.

God Bless you All

Jonathan

This is my stealthy side shot

 

The PURSE-onality Challenge: “A Holiday-Ready Heart”

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Maybe November and December are your two favorite months of the year.

 

Perhaps preparing for, living through, and cleaning up after the holidays don’t phase you in the least.

 

You may have your Christmas shopping all done, your cards ready to mail, and your menus completely planned.

 

If these are true for you, then The PURSE-onality Challenge “A Holiday-Ready Heart” is not designed for you. (But please join us anyhow and give us your best advice!)

 

However, if you…     

 

  • dread dragging out the holiday decorations…
  • wonder how what should be “the best of times” all too often often ends up being “the worst of times”…
  • wish you could hibernate from October 30 ’til January 1…
  • become overwhelmed by the commercialized chaos that tries to overtake your life in December…
  • cringe just thinking about spending yet another holiday with certain people…
  • feel like a failure because you never seem able to do everything “just right” for the holidays…
  • have an over-full calendar already (and the invitations haven’t even started coming!)
  • wonder how on earth you’re going to afford everything this season…
  • miss loved ones more than ever during the holidays…
  • want to focus on the real reason for the season…

 

…then I hope you’ll join us in October for “A Holiday-Ready Heart“: 31 days of intentionally pray-paring for the most peace-full, joyous, family-focused, meaning-filled holy-days we can possibly have!

 

 

For some, this may take just a slight tweak. For others, this will require a serious overhaul of how we approach the holidays in our hearts.

 

Each day during October, we’ll examine an issue that often triggers holiday “baditude.” We’ll discuss how to maximize our own purse-onality strengths and intentionally meet the purse-onality needs of those we love. And we’ll plan ahead to be already meditating on God’s word and gratitude when the holidays roll around this year!

 

 

Join us for “A Holiday-Ready Heart” if you…

 

…want to do more than just “go through the motions” this season.

 

…long to focus on the true Reason for the season!

 

…desire peace on earth and goodwill toward others this Christmas!

 

Check out our website and Facebook page for the nitty-gritty details!

 

You’ll also find four free PURSE-onality audio messages:

 

 

plus a free e-Book: Top 10 Priceless Gifts that Don’t Cost a Dime for Each PURSE-onality!

 Giveaway

We’re giving away 2 sets of the laminated Bible verse cards…one to keep and one to give.

And 3 of messages on CD: “Let’s Get PURSE-onal!”, “De-LIGHT-full Giving in a Weighty World,” and “Personality Puzzle for Parents of Preschoolers.”

All you need to do is leave a comment answering the following question:

What is most challenging for you getting through the holiday season with a good attitude?

 

Cheri Gregory has been married to her pastor/teacher/musician college sweetheart, Daniel, for 24 years. The Gregorys are enjoying their newly “re-emptied nest” now that Jonathon (19) and Annemarie (21) are back in college. Cheri is a high school English teacher and Christian speaker/author. Connect with her via Facebook, cheri@cherigregory.com, and www.CheriGregory.com.

 

This is a sponsored post.

Contracts and Covenants: Changing Our Thinking

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Today’s post is by Mary Beth of New Life Steward.

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I will tell you all day long that I believe in Covenant Marriage. I believe that love is a choice. I believe that I have committed to choose to love my husband despite what he does or does not do. I believe this is the Biblical way of marriage.
But honestly, sometimes, I find myself keeping score.
I just changed a poopy diaper. Now it’s his turn.
I sorted, washed, dried, and folded the laundry. He can hang up what’s left.
I’ve been at home alone with Thomas all day. He’s in charge of bath and bed time tonight.
I cooked dinner. He has to clean up.
On and on it goes. Tit for tat. Mentally, I aim to keep the “score” even. Then I get irritable when I feel like things are out of balance–when I feel like I’m doing my fair share and some of his too. Suddenly thoughts explode into: “well if he’s not going to do anything, neither am I. We will see how long he lasts then! That will teach him!
And the truth comes out.
My actions tell another story. My actions and thoughts show a contract marriage: as long as you do your part, I’ll do mine. My desire is to live Biblically with my words, my thoughts, and my actions. So what does that mean for my marriage? I need to change my thinking to align with my beliefs–then my actions will follow.

The Common Way: Thinking in a Contract Marriage

For the majority of my life, I–along with most people in Western culture–viewed marriage as a contract. If you find yourself having these thoughts, you may be viewing your marriage more like a contract:

  • He did work all day so I guess I have to cook dinner.
  • I did the laundry last week, so now it’s his turn.
  • He hasn’t done anything all day long. Tomorrow it’s my turn.
  • I swear, if I have to pick up his dirty boxers off the floor one more time!
Basically if you find yourself feeling obligated to do something because of what your spouse has done or you find yourself excusing your own poor behavior because of your spouse’s actions, you are thinking contractually. The contract view of marriage makes the focus of marriage on self. This only promotes selfish attitudes and thinking.
The problem with this sort of thinking is that we can always find something our spouse isn’t doing right. As my professor in seminary so aptly put it, the problem with a contract view of marriage, is that it places the security of a marriage in the ability of sinners not to sin.
There is a better way. We just have to change our thinking.

The Biblical Way: A Covenant View of Marriage

How can we change our thoughts to align with a covenant view?

  • We remind ourselves that by serving our spouse we are serving the Lord (Eph. 6:7).
  • When our spouses frustrate us, we remind ourselves that we are sinners, too (Rom. 3:23).
  • We think about ways to love and honor them.
  • We remind ourselves of how Christ continues in His love for us even when we continue in our sin (Rom. 5:8).
When we begin to think biblically, our heart and actions will soon follow. We must first make the choice to take captive our thoughts and submit them to the Lord (2 Cor. 10:5). When we love and serve our spouse despite their sin, our marriage becomes a truer picture of Christ and the church. We point others to Him, and our marriage becomes about God rather than ourselves.

A Word of Caution: Please do not read between the lines and hear me say that if you are in an abusive relationship of any kind-verbal, emotional, spiritual, physical, or sexual-that you should physically stay there to honor your covenant vows. Absolutely you need to leave and seek safety for yourself and any children in the situation. However, I do believe that we are called to remain married and pray diligently for God to change our spouses. That is a hard truth, but He alone is able.

My first love is Jesus Christ followed quickly by my husband and my son. I am now a stay at home mom, writer, and blogger at New Life Steward. My career was first in teaching and then in Marriage and Family Counseling. Living in a small, Southern town in Mississippi, we enjoy SEC football, walking around barefoot, and playing outside. A day to myself would be spent napping, blogging, and reading with a bit of reality TV mixed in! Please come chat with me on Twitter!

Photo Source: Geoffrey Fairchild

What Infertility Has Taught Me About Motherhood

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Today’s guest post is by Natasha of To Live for Him.

The first time someone said it, I cringed and shook. The reference to my “not knowing” about motherhood. It was a true statement. But still a painful one.

The last time someone said it, I gently answered, “That may be true but I’ve learned a lot of lessons in this ‘not knowing’.”

Something happens when you’re one step outside a circle. Your perspective is different and sometimes different is good.

So I’m going to offer a tip to mothers. One thing that I have discovered in my not knowing of motherhood.

There is nothing your child can do that another hasn’t done before.

That’s it.

Simple, I know.

But I’ve watched so many mothers’ duck in embarrassment over their children’s actions that I feel compelled to say it.

That fit your child just threw, randomly, out of nowhere? Every child has done it.

That attitude they just offered, where usually they are so sweet? It’s happened.

That whine that just made your nerves spaz out? Heard it more times than I can count.

That total ignoring of the instruction you just gave? Over and over and over.

There is nothing your child can do that another hasn’t done before.

You don’t have to be embarrassed.

You do have to teach, to train, to instruct but you don’t have to be embarrassed.

Embarrassment brings either apathy or anger.

Apathy will leave wild, undisciplined children. Anger will leave wild, angry children. And I’m guessing that those aren’t the outcomes you desire for your babies.

Relax in your parenting, Moms. Don’t be lax but relax. Your job is to train your children because they need training. So don’t be shocked when they demonstrate that need.

If you lose the shock factor, acknowledge that there is nothing that they can do that others haven’t done, then your response to them will be filled with grace.

I do not mean that you allow them to get away with anything. That’s not what grace is. But the embarrassment? The ensuing anger or apathy? Those can be tossed to the wayside.

You don’t need to be horrified at behavior, or worried about what your friend may think, or spiral into thoughts of failure.

Solomon said,

Train up a child in the way he should go… (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

And he also said,

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

My greatest prayer? That you dear ones, who have been trusted with so great a task, will first and foremost work at showing your babies the way to the cross. Because no one has more power to show a child the way to true life than the woman who gave them life in the first place.

So, from this Mama-wannabe, to all you Moms: enjoy your babies. Kiss them a few extra times for me. Remember, this road has been traveled many times.

And though I may be standing on the side-lines; I am rooting for you- every step of the way.

Natasha is a farmer’s wife who blogs about brokenness and being made whole in Christ at To Live For Him.

Undefined

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Today’s post is written by Crystal Stine, my guest here today. :)

I don’t always recognize the woman I see in the mirror. How did she get to this place? Who is she? What is her purpose in life? Motherhood has done that, stripped me of my former identity that felt so sure and right and easy.

I was happy to be defined by my job, my education, my marriage, my volunteering. What others thought of me mattered. Still matters.
But I took their opinions of me, good and bad, and made them who I was.

Good worker

Princess

Encourager

Difficult to work with

Bad friend

Daughter

Wife

It was easy to breeze through life in that armor, dressed in the perceptions of others, happy to let my experiences and the people in my life define me. It was easier than facing the truth, easier than taking time to listen to God and do the work to transform into the kind of person He wanted me to be. Who He created me to be. I lost my identity the moment my daughter was born. All of it. I became “mom” to all the doctors and nurses. It took the nurse at her first pediatrician’s visit nearly 30 minutes to ask my name and even still they simply call me “mom” when we visit.

The period of mourning the loss of who I used to be has not been easy. It has been a road of struggle, tears, frustration, depression, loneliness, and stress on my marriage and it continues to be a journey. In my mind I constantly wonder, who am I? What purpose does God have for me now? Becoming a mother has rocked my happy, easy world.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. My daughter has taught me the art of experiencing the present in a way no one else ever has. I know joy, daily, because it is how she views the world. The sheer terror, however, of realizing that God has trusted us to raise this child into the daughter He created her to be is the thing anxiety attacks are made of.  I can’t even figure out who God wants me to be and now I am responsible for this beautiful child?

But if God trusts me to do this, then shouldn’t I trust Him to not leave me alone? And what if, in giving me this blessing, He is doing the parent-work Himself in my heart, transforming me into the definition of daughter/wife/friend/mother that He knew all along I would be, but couldn’t become until all world-armor was stripped bare.

And now, in the simplicity, I can be still and wait for God to open doors, to show me where He wants me and how to use His gifts for His glory. While I wait, I think I must just watch this little girl of mine give a big gummy grin into that mirror and enjoy knowing that we are His, and that is all my heart needs to know right now.

Crystal Stine has a heart for encouraging women through the written word. She blogs at Shine where you’ll find posts about motherhood, marriage, friendship, God and more. Crystal spends her days working at a bank as a project manager and marketing officer and manages the worship band Stars Burn Down. You can follow Crystal on Twitter at @CrystalStine.
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