What’s Wrong With Kids Today?

entitled 3

As generations continue to develop, grow and mature, a noticeable trend of entitlement is also growing at an alarming rate, sweeping the nation’s youth. In a technological-driven society, today’s kids are prematurely exposed to adulthood, yet do not accept the terms and conditions which adulthood demands. Today, economic class no longer determines which kids are fed by a silver spoon or not because so many parents, regardless of income, are ensuring their children’s every happiness.

Kids expect to be treated like adults, but fail to actually act like an adult. But who’s allowing them to be treated this way? Kids need to be kids. While kids deserve fundamental rights- basic needs, love and nurture, they also require to be disciplined, led, and equipped for life. In a culture where so many children feel entitled, I couldn’t help but wonder, what has happened to kids today?

It is no surprise that the generations who survived the Great Depression, fought in World War II, and persevered during the Civil Rights Movement view today’s youth as ungrateful, spoiled, and entitled. While our grandparents were raised to understand the meaning of character, parents today are raising their children to understand the meaning of comfort.

My Grandmother grew up in a time where kids spent their childhood preparing meals, cleaning, caring for younger siblings, and even working outside the home, if lean financial circumstances demanded this of them. Meanwhile, kids today are equipped for receiving handouts and are often only motivated to do something if it advances their selfish gain. But are kids the culprit of their entitlement?

entitled 1

“You know what makes me sick to my stomach? When I hear grown people say that kids have changed. Kids haven’t changed. Kids don’t know anything about anything. We’ve changed as adults. We demand less of our kids. We expect less of our kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is truly about. We’re the ones that have changed.” -Frank Martin, S.C Head Basketball Coach

Even though our culture has changed from what it was 50 years ago, which makes parenting arguably more challenging in certain ways today, we can’t deny the logical fact that kids have always been born with the same innate, child-like instinctive behavior. Kids are kids. All kids want things, but it’s the parents who set the expectations.

We (the parents) have changed. We have evolved into these passive disciplinarian enablers who have allowed society to shape our parental convictions, define our essence of parenting, and even make our decisions for us. My husband commonly references a quote to his football coaches that perfectly correlates to parenting: “The actions you see are either taught or allowed.”

We teach or allow our children to be self-focused, ungrateful, tech junkies who have no concept of real perspective, personal sacrifice or work ethic

entitled 2

Entitlement is a learned behavior. As parents, we are either fostering their entitlement or we are fostering their character.  The greatest disservice we can do to our children is give them everything and require nothing. Sometimes, the love for our children drives us to want to give them every opportunity and every luxury, and remove any shred of pain or struggle. In doing so, we feed into their entitlement and starve their character.

50 years ago, my dad sat before a plate of sauerkraut until it was time for bed. The next morning, my Grandmother sat the same cold plate in front of him because she was upholding the rule at the dinner table: you eat whatever you are served without complaint. Let’s be honest, we don’t even hold our children accountable to finish their dinner anymore. In fact, we accommodate them by preparing meals we know they will eat, so we can avoid the conflict altogether.

We have been so indoctrinated to believe it is our responsibility to ensure our children’s happiness. In doing so, other children become the standard by which we determine our parental decisions, rather than choosing what is in the best interest for our family. Your ten-year old’s friends all have a Facebook account, so why shouldn’t yours? Your eight-year old’s friends got iPhones for their birthdays, so yours should have one too. Perfectly logical, right? It’s parental peer pressure!

As parents, we have no obligation to provide these kinds of privileges. Too few kids today understand the profound correlation between responsibility and rights. We tend to fly past the responsibility part and skip ahead to handing out the rights- the rewards. Our children do not  even have to prove they are mature enough to handle their privileges before we pass them out. And yet, we still wonder…what has happened to our kids?

Entitled kids do not only become dysfunctional members of society, but diluted Christians

entitled 4

As parents, our primary responsibility is to disciple our children, not entitle them. Understanding our Father’s Heart is the first step in how we are to teach our children accordingly.  Our Lord desires for His children to be servant-leaders, humble, diligent, and hard-working.

By raising entitled children, we lead them astray from who God calls us to be as His children. It is up to us- the parents- to train our children in the way they should go, to resist the temptations to feed into their earthy desires, and live a life that is truly pleasing to God.

So what is wrong with kids today? It’s us. Parents who teach or allow their children how to be ungratefully entitled,  rather than  be a humble servant for God.

Our Savior did not live a comforting, entitled life when He walked the earth. Jesus didn’t demand for His disciples to wash His feet -He washed theirs. He humbly carried out the Father’s will, even unto the cross, where He suffered in our place as the sacrificial Lamb of God.  Sacrifice is the complete opposite of entitlement. And that is the life God has called us and our children to- not entitlement- but living sacrifices.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship.” -Romans 12:1

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

 

Why There Is No Friend Like Mom

mom

She’s your trustworthy confidant, biggest cheerleader, and loyal companion. The one who longed for you and loved you even before she ever laid eyes on you. She tirelessly devoted herself into every ounce of your well-being (and probably still does).  Growing up, my mom was my everything- my security blanket, source of comfort, playmate, and teacher.  As I have journeyed through womanhood- got married, had children and a home of my own- out of nowhere, the woman who was once my mentor, suddenly became my best friend.

The same woman who carried me in her belly for nine months is one of my favorite people on the face of the earth, but not just because she’s my mother (which is reason enough), but simply because of the woman she is. She taught me how to love, how to forgive, how to pray, how to trust in God, and how to be a gracious wife and mother to my own family. All friendships are unique blessings, but none quite measure up like the friendship of a mother.

Moms Are Loyal

Unlike many people in your life, your mother will unconditionally love you. From the very first time she felt you flutter in her womb, she loved you. And because of this incredible bond that God designed from conception, your mother will see you through- rain or shine. After all, she has witnessed you in your deepest depravity and yet, consciously chose to diligently remain actively present and put in all her efforts to raise you into a lovely young woman.

When you disobediently defiled your parent’s wishes and when your pre-teen hormones turned you into an adolescent nightmare- your mom still loved you through it all.  Not all friends will loyally be there for you like that and love you in spite of all your flaws and weaknesses.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” -Proverbs 17:17

 

Moms Will Tell It Like It Is

While most friends are reluctant to be confrontational and tend to sugar coat the truth, moms are not afraid of honesty- even if the truth is hard to swallow. A lot of friends avoid telling the brutal truth because they don’t want to hinder their relationship with you. But there’s an undeniable selfish motive there. They hesitate to offer honesty that would benefit you in order to maintain their level of personal comfort. You know what I mean…truth bombs-the things we need to hear, but don’t necessarily want to hear.

Moms, on the other hand, have your best interest at heart and there is no room for selfishness. Therefore, they will give you the truth if they are completely convinced it’s what’s best – not for them- but for you. The Mom who told you to “march back upstairs, because you aren’t leaving the house looking like that,” is the same woman who will not shy away from telling you what you need to hear.

“An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” -Proverbs 27: 5-6

 

Moms Are Trustworthy

It’s a little known fact that women talk. Shocking, right? Since the dawn of time, girls and gossip unfortunately go hand in hand. We are naturally and fundamentally bent towards this particular temptation. We have experienced gossip from both sides- we have been a participant and we have likely all been a victim of it. The term “stabbed in the back” was coined when Julius Caesar was assassinated by his most trusted friends as a result of the Roman conspiracy.

So while men tend to be more literal creatures, as we discover here, women have all felt the same emotional heartache from a friend who betrayed us. But a mom’s love is the purest kind of love- it always protects and would never display your weaknesses or even your deepest kept secret. She wouldn’t dare sacrifice your trust and cause you intentional harm. She is first one who had your back and will always have your back.

“There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” -Proverbs 18:24

 

Moms Are Relatable

Whatever season of life you find yourself in, your mom has already walked through it herself at some point. She’s the perfect source for advice- from how to soothe a teething infant to how long you should cook the beef roast. Moms are like Google on speed dial- always there at the push of a button, containing all the answers to life’s questions (well most of them, anyhow). When you feel as though no one understands what you’re going through- remember, you have mom. For every circumstance you are facing, she has a story that relates. Through her experiences, she offers encouragement and wisdom to inspire and enlighten. There is so much comfort in knowing that someone else in this vast world not only understands exactly what you’re going through, but how to handle it.

“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” -Proverbs 27:9

 

Moms Are Dependable

Flaky friends are a dime a dozen. But someone who you can always count on? That’s a rare find! Moms don’t cancel plans because a “better” opportunity came up.  And Moms are dependable, even if it requires their inconvenience. My mom will spend her entire lunch hour just listening to me rant about my day. Whether I am overjoyed with the BEST news in the world or am a stressed out, anxious mess, I confidently rely on my Mom’s listening ear and affirmation. She is always there for me when I need her the most or when I just need someone to talk to.

“Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?” -Proverbs 20:6

I’ve watched many friends walk in and out of my life, but none have stood the test of time like my Mother. She has not only taught me how to be a better mom, but a better woman. She is one of a kind! I thank God for her and I cherish her- for being my loving mother and my dearest friend.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Parenting in the Trials

holding-hands

One of the predictable things about life is its unpredictability.  At some point, we all inevitably find ourselves in the midst of undesirable circumstances- job loss, financial setbacks, illness/injury, and even simply just being overwhelmed with life’s demands.  But even while our circumstances are ever-changing, our parenting does not have to be subject to our stress.

Easily angered. Lashing out. Yelling. Harsh words. All these indicate a problem beneath the surface. Perhaps telling our kids for the 100th time to clean their room can bring about this hostile side in us all, but most often, these symptoms stem from two frames of mind: Fear and Anger.  We are either afraid or anxious about what could happen or angry about what is happening in life.

I’m not referring to the irrational fears we can sometimes conjure up (like plugging your common cold symptoms into Web MD and wonder how to tell your family you have 6 months to live), I’m talking about the logical, real circumstances that bring out our innermost insecurities within our lives. 

As a result, our children become the captive targets of our stress-induced behavior. Our impatient and unwise words fly through the air like fiery darts to the soul.  It burns. it aches. It hurts. It leaves a lasting scar. You feel defeated. You feel guilty. You feel frustrated. You wonder- how does God expect me to act (and parent) when life is difficult?

One of the most wonderful attributes about our Heavenly Father is that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is not shaken by circumstance and thankfully, He is not moved by emotions. If we desire to mirror God, we first must understand His nature. He is Good. He is Faithful. He is Joy. He is Grace. He is Patience. He is Peace. He is Gentleness. He is Love. He is Constant. As His Daughter, I have full confidence in Him, knowing He always remains the same.

It is easy to feel like a failure when life is weighing heavy on your heart. But even though we may not be able to control our circumstances, we can control our response. God does not just demonstrate His goodness, He offers us the grace to continue to faithfully persevere and rise above the trials.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility gentleness and patience.” -Colossians 3:12

We must gird ourselves daily with gentleness and patience. This is required of parents every day, but especially when facing trying situations, we have to remind ourselves to exemplify our Heavenly Father. He is so patient with our shortcomings. He is firm, but gentle with His corrections. And when we mess up again and again, He continues to reveal His compassion as He picks us up, dusts us off and leads us forward. When times are trying and parenting is testing your patience, don’t fly off the handle at every chance. And when your children desire to cling to you, just as we do our Heavenly Father in times of need, don’t give in to your emotional urge to be alone by pushing them away, but lavish them with love. God never turns His back on us when we seek Him.

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” -Proverbs 12:18

When we eagerly speak without careful consideration of our words, we will likely regret them. God wants us to use our words wisely, because the tongue is powerful. This is why the Bible encourages us to be “slow to speak” (James 1:19). Our words can bring about two possible outcomes: they have the power to speak death or speak life. As parents and followers of Christ, we are called to speak life! Don’t be so quick to be harsh with your children as a result of your own frustrations. Even when we fail, God  reminds us of His sufficiency and love, not our imperfections. Consider the grace that God has abundantly bestowed upon you before you speak to your children.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10

Paul charges us to be “content in all circumstances,” (Philippians 4:11) because in EVERY situation, God is in control and He is our source of strength. Do not allow the difficult situations rob you of the joy of being a parent. Being a parent is a blessing, since “every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17). Enjoy your children through every season of life, no matter what struggles you are facing. We don’t get this time back with our kids, so don’t spend it sulking in your stress, but choose to operate in the joy of the Lord.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6 & 7

Prayer is our strongest defense in times of trouble. When we lean on God, His sustaining power guards our hearts and minds so we can focus less on our circumstances and more on the important callings He has for our lives- ministering to our family.

  Remember, fellow moms, that in every situation, we hold the power of Christ within us to rise above. Persevere in your parenting through the trials. Be good. Be faithful. Be joy. Be grace. Be patience. Be peace. Be gentleness. Be love. Be constant in the parenting of your kids no matter what you are facing. They depend on our hands to guide them, our words to train them, and our behavior to be the reflection of our Heavenly Father.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

How Much Help Should I Expect from My Husband?

super-mom

I have talked to several stay-at-home moms, as well as working moms, who desperately wish their husbands would help more around the house.  Women, in no doubt, have a lot on their plate- we prepare healthy meals, clean ALL THE TIME, sort endless piles of laundry, quiz the Kiddos on their spelling words, and make the 30 cupcakes for the school party.  We’re drained. We’re tired. We spend every waking hour (and even night hours) pouring into the lives of others constantly until we’re running on coffee fumes and sometimes we just need a little help.

One day, after Jesse had left for work and I already dropped Joanna off at school, I performed my usual morning tasks. I made the beds, did some general straightening, and prepared to start a load of laundry.  As I entered our Master bedroom, something immediately caught my eye. I glanced over at our hamper. Much to my dismay, I found my husband’s dirty clothes sitting precisely on the floor, right in front of the hamper. I’m certain I don’t stand alone in this phenomenon.  This is a typical occurrence in which I usually oblige, but today…today, I snapped.

“Really? Like opening the hamper and placing the clothes inside is too much work? Is it too much to ask?!!!” I quickly snatched up the clothes, opened the hamper and forcefully dunked them in like I was LeBron James, and slammed the lid shut.

I wrestled with  resentful thoughts throughout the day. I just need a break. I feel like I’m doing everything and everyone expects me to be Superwoman. I just don’t feel like wearing the cape today. Where’s Superman? I need his help! I’m being defeated by little people and housework . But since Superman was up, up, and away at work, I decided to take a breath and talk to God.

It’s funny- when I approached God’s Throne, He always answers me, but usually in ways I was not anticipating. This time, He was very quick to remind me of a few things:

  • The Lord God Said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” -Genesis 2:18

I am Jesse’s wife. I am the helpmate. God designed me specifically for this purpose- to help my husband. Me! I’m the helper, not my husband. The Bible doesn’t say “husbands, help your wives.” It’s not to say they can never help, but God called us to be the helpmate. If picking up my husband’s clothes and putting them into the hamper helps him in even that small way, I need to be willing to do so.

  • “Older women…urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” -Titus 2: 4,5

Be busy at home. The context of this phrase is specifically charging women to not be idol at home throughout the day, but work to maintain the home. Again, this charge was given to women, not men. It’s not like men are forbidden to do housework, but in God’s original design of family, the men go to work to provide, while the women stay home and care for the house and children…sorry, Feminists- please don’t explode!

  •      “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” -Colossians 3: 17

Sometimes, it is easier for me to go about work when I think of working as unto the Lord. Not my children. Not my husband. But the Lord. The Lord deserves our devoted faithfulness and He desires for us to have a servant heart. Nothing is too trivial or too insignificant to be done in the name of the Lord. And yes, even picking up laundry (without grumbling) can be done in the name of the Lord. And what’s even better, He sees us and the work we do with our hands when we do it for Him! Even if your husband fails to recognize that you picked up his dirty laundry, the Lord- the one who really matters- sees you and your heart. So be mindful of the condition of your heart!

  •   “Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…do everything in love.” -1 Corinthians 13: 5,14

I realized my attitude was not the reflection of love Christ desires for me. I allowed anger to stir up within me. I was recalling every time,  picking up the same clothes in front of the hamper day after day after day. I had unknowingly been keeping a record of “wrongs.” I began to be self-seeking: “why can’t he help me? Why is everything left to me? Maybe I should just leave the clothes here for him to pick up. How do you like them apples?” I was not acting out of love.

  •  “Remember, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8

God reminded me to place my focus on what is admirable about my husband. He’s a hard-working provider, a loving partner, a dedicated father, and the most patient, resilient human being I have met on the face of the earth.  He fearlessly leads our home and our family faithfully. He’s my most beloved blessing. He’s my best friend.

Suddenly, the clothes in front of the hamper didn’t appear to bother me as much as they did before. I no longer felt angry. I felt foolish. I felt humbled.

I have learned time and time again, when I come to God with a problem, the solution is not found in my husband, but in Him. And it often requires a change of heart in me.  I was humbled, yet again, by God’s grace to work in MY heart. To refine me. To make me like Him. He grants me the strength to do my tasks faithfully. HE IS MY HELP. I can call on Him and He never hesitates to respond. I was reminded that I love my Superman, but I need my Savior.

God doesn’t call us to be Superwomen. He calls us to be the helpmate. Even when I tire of my role,  His grace is sufficient in my weakness.

Do not get weary in doing what is good, for after a while, you will reap a harvest of blessing, if you do not get discouraged and give up.” -Galatians 6:9

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Parents: Just Let Your Kids Be Kids!

playing-kids

While perusing “The Store of Many Consumer Temptations,” also known as Target, I couldn’t help but overhear the cries of a small girl, pleading with her mother- with convincing tears, I might add- that she desperately must have the new Barbie with the Potty Training Dog. It was apparent that the mother’s objection to this toy was not pleasing to the child- and rightly so. I question Mattel’s inspiration for a doll that comes with a pooping dog and  “fun, matching scooper.”

I stood nearby, waiting to hear the frustrated mom’s rebuttal against such a uniquely creative toy. The mom harshly replied: “Because I can’t afford that toy right now!” My immediate thought was: Really? The fact that this toy has to be the world’s worst Barbie ever has nothing to do with it? But my second thought brought me to a more profound conclusion: Maybe you really can’t afford a Barbie with a pooping dog at the fantastic rate of only $19.99…ON SALE! I Wonder why… Yet, does your four-year old need to know you can’t afford the toy right now? Should your four-year-old understand the mature concepts of money management?

Scenarios like this and others play out all the time right before our eyes. If you’ve ever experienced the thrill of a Little League baseball game, you know exactly what I’m talking about…the hysterical mom, screaming at the umpire for the bad call, as if the third grade Rangers and the Blue Hornets  were playing in the World Series that Saturday afternoon.  Or the mom who puts lipstick, dresses that cost more than my wedding gown, and cans of hairspray on their toddler for the sake of a beauty pageant.  Seriously- why do we want our two-year olds looking like miniature teenagers? That time will be here soon enough- and I’m only praying for God’s grace to come back again before that happens!

Parents of our generation are making common mistakes all the time that are robbing our children of their innocence and plucking them out of the wonders and beauty that childhood offers.

We Tell Them Too Much Too Soon.  Just like the devastated four-year old in Target, our kids do not need to worry about adult matters.  Matters like bills and our checking account balance.  Our children are not entitled, nor should they be permitted to a large explanation.  A simple “No- because I said so” will suffice. They don’t need to worry about what we can or can’t afford. They just need to feel secure and loved. That’s our job- not to help them understand our complex adult rationale.

 Our Kids Are Too Involved Our kids’ schedules have become more hectic and busy than ours-  dance practice on Mondays and Thursdays, swim lessons on Tuesday, piano practice on Wednesdays, and soccer everywhere in between. But running our kids around from sport to sport, practice to practice, play date to play date, is not only burning the mileage on the mini-van, but also burning out our kiddos.  Kids need down time. Time to play, time to let their imagination wander, and time to simply relax. We recently had to make a similar decision to save our child’s childhood.

Joanna has been in gymnastics since she was three. She is now six. Simple math. She was invited to join the Competition Team at her gym- an esteemed honor for a six-year old. An honor that comes with a rigorous 8 hour per week commitment, not including meets and competitions. When I asked her how excited she was, I was perplexed by her response. She said “Mom, I just want to come home and play after school.” Even though my head was thinking: “But what about the Olympics? After all, don’t ALL talented children make it to the Olympics?  But I was reminded…she’s SIX. I was still playing in the mud at six. There will be plenty of time for tumbling and other sports endeavors, but right now, she is content playing pretend and horses and coloring.  How can I take away something so pure away from her?

Too Little Shelter, Too Much Exposure. We all know we can’t live in a bubble. Our children will be inevitably exposed to the harsh realties of the world. But we are often too quick to cast out the net, allowing them to collect all the pollution out there- movies, TV shows, video games and music are prime areas. I remember my mother rolling her eyes over Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, but their music doesn’t hold a candle to the vulgarity and disrespect of Nikki Manaj and other artists whose names are too weird to recall.

I am highly offended when I see a seven-year old boy play a video game containing guns, gambling, and even prostitutes.  Even Christian-claiming families have allowed these kinds of toxicity into their homes. This example stands more firmly rooted on Biblical grounds. But even as the unbeliever who might be reading this blog, I offer this argument… for moral reasons and the sake of your child’s innocence, why would you passively allow such filth to corrupt your child?  As a Christ-follower, I even find myself closely monitoring the cartoons- the PG rated cartoons- my kids watch, as there are many subtle adult humor sprinkled in there as well.

Remember parents, our children are learning. We are leading.  Let them enjoy and embrace their childhood. Don’t take it away. Let them splash in the puddles and soak up every bit of innocence they can because it’s gone all too soon. Preserve as much as humanly possible!

For these days will one day feel like just yesterday, when they are asking to borrow the car and drive to the mall with their friends.  Don’t be in a hurry for them to grow up and savor every piece of the now! And give them the right to just be a kid. 

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Why Being A Stay-At-Home Mom Isn’t A Real “Job”

stay at home moms.jpg

I love hearing the responses from people who ask me what I do.  You might be shocked to find most people don’t view stay-at-home moms in an impressively praiseworthy fashion, which is evident in their common expressions of pity or angst. Often, I hear “Oh, I could never do it,” or “I bet you’re hands are full,” and my favorite: “That’s the hardest JOB in the world.” So hard, and yet, so devalued.

I get that this title doesn’t mean to imply offense, but I honestly can’t stand it when people refer to being a stay-at-home mom as a profession.  It’s as though corporate America and even other S.A.H.Ms feel a need to justify the role by referring to it as a job. But let me tell you, it is not a job at all. Not even a little.

A job requires “a paid position of regular employment,” according to definition. I have been a S.A.H.M for over 6 years and I have yet to receive a paycheck, so I guess that alone pretty much disqualifies this role as a legit job. But I’ll go on…a job comes with sick leave, vacation time, a 401K, and a tangible means for work- also known as a paycheck.

I don’t even get a moment of peace in the bathroom without hearing cries of demands or arguments just outside the door. Does your boss knock on the bathroom door requesting a snack immediately? I didn’t think so. And sometimes I wish my lunch was in a quiet, stuffy break room, considering it is regularly inhaled as quickly as possible- one of the side effects of being  on the clock 24/7.

My performance reviews are given from the honest opinions of a 4 and 6 year old, suggesting to modify the broccoli that I made for dinner or showing more enthusiasm when I play the part of the noble steed, carrying the beautiful princess or brave knight. My worker appreciation comes in dividends of hugs and kisses.  My benefits are stored in a prestigious eternal account.

The only raise I ever see are the hands I lift up to heaven daily, asking for God’s grace through it all- all the messes, laundry, temper tantrums, tummy aches, crayon-drawn walls, and even plunging a My Little Pony from the commode, while somehow shaping these young lives and setting a good example. The epitome of multi-tasking!

If I thought being a S.A.H.M was merely a “job,” I might have quit a long time ago. But I see it as a ministry- one that has insurmountable value. In a ministry, we do our work as unto the Lord, not to receive a paycheck or promotion. If you ask someone in ministry, they will often say it requires all of you. Being a mom who is intentional, nurturing, life-speaking, and graceful requires all of me…and you.

There is far more work to be done beyond the lunch-packing, homework helping and tucking in beds. There is work to be done in the hearts of our family. I ask for God’s strength everyday as I roll up my sleeves and set to work for His kingdom.  Seeking His will, His wisdom and discernment. Striving to exemplify His servant heart, His humble spirit, and His affirming love.

Beyond the general duties of kissing boo boos and wiping sticky fingers, we are faithfully guiding, instructing, admonishing, equipping, disciplining, and discipling our children.

Being a S.A.H.M may feel like a job some days when you’re knee deep in housework and errands, or maintaining composure when your child finds humor in tackling the cereal display at the grocery store. But it’s not a job. Let’s stop calling it a job. Because it is so much more than that.

Be encouraged, fellow S.A.H.M’s, that you are highly valuable in the sight of God, for He does not look at your work of accomplishments and track record- He weighs your heart. And He sees all the sweat and tears that we pour into our families-our number one ministry. So c’mon, ladies. Roll up those sleeves. We’ve got work to do!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

The One and Only Resolution You Need

resolution

New Year’s resolutions used to be a time when people reflected on their previous year and looked forward to a new beginning- new goals, new challenges, and a fresh perspective on life. Now, it seems  New Year’s, with it’s common resolutions, has become a bit of a joke to most- those who find humor in everyone’s inspiration to be fit, eat healthy, and join several gyms, but inevitably (3 weeks later) just fall back into their old habits of using the elevator at work and making Taco Bell runs at 11 o’clock at night.

Because of this rapid increase and equally rapid decline in gym memberships in the span of a single month and failed resolution examples alike,  people have become pretty pessimistic to making strides towards new goals and instead, have adopted the philosophy that we are creatures set in our ways. So why even bother, right?  But today, I would like to challenge you to first, have an open mind, and second, explore with me the definition of resolution we often forget or perhaps, are completely unaware of.

What is one common theme in every New Year’s resolution? I have discovered that in most cases, the goals we create tend to circle around our problems. Take a close look at your list. Problem: Gained 10 pounds over the holiday. Resolution: Try a crazy fad diet until going insane. Problem: No money in savings. Resolution: Practice discipline and cut back on Starbucks .  The other theme I notice is that most resolutions are self-focused. They are specifically geared to make us more successful, more attractive, and create a better quality of life that ensures our happiness.

I will openly admit that I believe resolutions are a wise concept that Jesse and I practice every year. We sit down and discuss our goals for family, finances, health, and spiritual growth. But this year, as we sat and pondered what specific aspirations do we see for ourselves- what do we want to achieve? This prompted me to look at the definition of resolution and I found the result to be extremely insightful.

You see, most of us take the first definition provided for resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something. But as I continued reading, I was drawn to a later definition: the passing of discord into a concord during the course of changing harmony. Are you catching my drift?  Stay with me! Here me out…

I was quickly reminded in that moment, that the most important resolution I need or will ever need is Christ. He is the real answer to my problems. Because I am human, I contain the same problem that co-exists between everyone: Sin. Sin is the greatest problem with the only resolution: Jesus.  It’s not a bad idea to save  more money or lose those unwanted 10 pounds, but if I don’t have Christ at the center of my life, I have lost sight of the most important resolution.

One of my favorite verses, found in Colossians, reminds us where to place our focus: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1 &2). The problem is we are far too focused on outward goals and appearances, but neglect the inner condition of our hearts. 

Now, if you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I invite you to ask Him into your heart. This resolution is the best decision you’ll ever make, since we now know that a resolution is a firm  decision to do or not to do something. And once you make this all important choice, there will be a passing of discord ( your sin) into a concord (your salvation) during the course of changing harmony (a new found, budding relationship with our Savior).

Look to His Word for your answers and you will find a filled void that no earthly solution can fill. Abandon yourself and cling to the Redeemer.  The more you cling to Him, you will notice your desires matching His. You will discover an awakening joy that measures far above the happiness of fitting into your “skinny jeans” again. Your problems may not completely dissipate, but the answer will be walking right beside you through it all- offering peace, comfort and wisdom.

Perhaps you’ve already made the firm choice to follow Christ. I continue, then, to encourage you to “set your hearts on things above” and ask God to lead you or your family in this next year by focusing on the one who is seated at the right hand of God. Pray and ask Him to specify His will and plans for your life. Don’t just make Him first, put Him at the center.

Resolutions are not a bad thing or even something to joke about. In this case, this all important resolution determines your eternal destination. And that, friends, is no laughing matter! Now that we have clearly identified the problem, let us focus our hearts on the answer! And unlike other failed attempts at resolutions, I can promise this resolution is without fail.

Happy New Year!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

All Kids Want For Christmas Is…EVERYTHING: A Perspective on Presents

gifts

Perhaps you are just recovering from the retail mayhem of Black Friday. You mentally and physically trained yourself for this challenge. You carefully mapped out your itinerary. And you polished off two or three (or four) cups of coffee just to give yourself some edge. You sprinted to thee isle, perhaps weathered some hostile co-shoppers, and survived mile-long lines all in attempt to give your children everything they asked for.

I’ve fallen prey to the hype of the deals a time or two. It’s true! But not this year. And it’s not because I wanted to make a stand for Thanksgiving: “Give us our holiday back and start Black FRIDAY on Friday!” And although I am very baffled by the display of insanity, this is not even a rant about Black Friday at all. Not even a little bit. This is about how Christmas has become nothing more than kids (and even some adults) getting whatever they want.

I saw a restaurant sign the other day that said “Pie is the Reason for the Season.” I mean What? What has Christmas come to? And why does it keep getting worse? After all, what’s salvation from the Son of God without a warm cherry pie, right?  I digress….but this somehow prompted this subject to mind.  We raise our children in a Christian home. We tell them the story of baby Jesus in a manager, the three wise men, and the star. But I couldn’t help but wonder- are we showing them the meaning of Christmas or are we falling in line with the worldly temptation to feed our flesh and buy more, more, more?

But let’s be honest- as parents, we have this inborn desire for our children to be happy. That means the best schools, the best clothes, having the latest iPads, iPhones, and everything else that begins with a lower case “i”, signing up for EVERY sport known to man, and buying them everything on their Christmas list. I get it- it’s Christmas!

Unfortunately, what we fail to realize is that on our journey to provide our kids with every luxury and ensure their happiness, we are sacrificing something much more! We’re providing them comfort over character. Materialism over contentment. And happiness over holiness.

Don’t get the wrong idea- I’m not against giving my children presents on Christmas. But like all things in life, we want to practice moderation with how much we buy our children. Even the less fortunate in our country are considered rich in the eyes of others around the world. And yet with all the conveniences of our modern society, we still aren’t satisfied and want more!

I am, however,  against spoiling my children on Christmas. And not just because I don’t want my kids to grow up with backward notions like Christmas is all about gifts or “Pie is the Reason for the Season,” (both of which are good enough reasons to instill moderation) but because I care more about my kids’holiness than their happiness and I refuse to give in by giving them everything they ask for.

After all, what message am I sending my kids if I always give them what they want? Life will always go your way? It is better to receive, rather than give? Life is about the pursuit for more stuff? Contentment is found in acquiring more things? This is a false message we are sending our children about life and Christianity. 

I know many of you might think I’m taking this point to the extreme. But that’s probably because our culture works so hard to indoctrinate us to believe more is always better and never to settle for anything less because we deserve it. We don’t even deserve the gift of God’s grace, but He faithfully and lovingly gives it anyway, despite ourselves.

And we must remember that in every decision, we set a precedent for our children.   What I desire most for my children is for them to know their joy is in the Lord, not a present. That nothing beyond soul winning has eternal value. I want them to learn contentment and have a heart of gratitude and not lust for the things of the world.

Now before you think my kids are getting nothing but socks for Christmas, I will tell you that they are not being deprived of gifts. I still anticipate to be woken in the wee hours of the morning by eager children and I anxously await to see their little brown eyes light up. But I also want them to understand the truth-  that Christmas is not about the gifts and it’s not even about them.

Last night, as I read Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” even the Grinch came to terms that Christmas wasn’t about packages, boxes or bags. One phrase in particular stuck with me that I yearn for my kids to grasp: “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” And that something more is Jesus! And just to set the record straight, pie is and never will be the reason for the season because “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!”

I pray you take these words to heart and put them in action. I know it’s not an easy task, but like parenting, nothing in life worthwhile ever really is easy.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

7 Ways to Raise Children of the Light in the Midst of a Dark World

candle

“This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

While the world will tell you a parent’s job is to ensure the happiness of their children, God charges us to answer a higher calling than fulfilling our children’s every desire. Nothing should take precedent over our responsibility to equip our children for eternal purposes.  It is the single most important endeavor we have as parents. “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). And although salvation can only come from God,  we are held accountable for how we raise them.

When I was younger, kids picked on me for bringing my Bible to school.  I specifically remember a boy ask me: “does that Bible teach you how to be cool?” But unfortunately, Christianity is not a popular concept in today’s culture. Our children will face opposition. Just as Jesus was rejected, so we shall encounter our own antagonists.  But how we prepare our children will determine their response to the world and to the call on their life.

7 Ways to Raise Children of the Light:

  1. Put Focus on God, not Them.  As parents, it comes natural to us to praise our children when they do something good- they got an “A” on their test, they scored the winning home run, or they simply shared their toys with their younger sibling.  Applauding our children when they do these things is perfectly fine, as it encourages more positive behavior.  But if we fail to ever acknowledge God in these moments, we also encourage our children to believe their victories and accomplishments are result of their own merits.   And it will not hurt their self-esteem to give credit to God, because their is no greater assurance than our identity in Christ.  After gymnastics last week, Joanna ran up to me and said “Mommy! Did you see my round off?”  I quickly responded with affirmation: “Of course! You did such a good job!”  But then it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to tell my daughter how God plays a pretty vital role as well. So I followed by saying “You know, JoJo, God sure has blessed you with a beautiful talent.  We should always be thankful for the gifts He gives us and we should use them for His glory.”  I have found in every situation for any given circumstance, we have an opportunity to point our children to Jesus. And within a dark world, our children need to fix their eyes on Jesus.
  2. Train Them to See Souls, not Just People.  It is far too easy to become frustrated and discouraged with others.  We have to diligently remind our children of who they are- their citizenship is in heaven and we are apart of the Kingdom agenda.  When they encounter people who are difficult to get along with or oppose their views, help them to never forget that these people have a soul and need Jesus just as much as everyone else.  Human nature is flawed and depraved.  And when our children are quick to point out the imperfections of others, may we remind them “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).  We serve a God who loves us despite our wretchedness.  And He desires for us to win souls. But in order to win souls, we have to see souls, not people.
  3. Teach the Truths of the Gospel.  As much as we are called to love others, we must always teach our children that perfect love cannot exist apart from truth.  The world will gladly indoctrinate our children to tolerate the deceitful lies our culture has adopted by which go completely against the Word of God. But scripture commands that while we are to love one another, we are not called to passively tolerate sin.  But in order for our children to know how to decipher these lies of the world, they must be filled with the truth of the Word of God.  Read the Bible to your children, help them memorize scripture, and once they are old enough to read, encourage them to read during Bible study.  “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” (Deuteronomy 11:18).
  4. Teach Them to Pray.  My son, Jesse, was afraid to go to bed one night.  He said he didn’t want to have a bad dream.  Of course, my response was to pray and assure him he would be safe.  I prayed the same prayer my mom spoke over me when I would rest my head on the pillow, anxiously anticipating the dark, lonely room: “For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7).  I wanted to pray and offer comfort for him. But I am not the almighty source of comfort as my kids would believe I am.  So I encouraged him when he felt scared, to pray to Jesus and ask to make him strong.  When our children come to us with their struggles, hurt, worries and various situations, let’s not just pray for them, but teach them how to pray.  This can simply begin with prayers spoken over meals or before bedtime. But continue to go a step further and take initiative to encourage their prayer throughout the day. Remind them that God is always listening and wants to hear from them, so they can begin to develop a prayer life and personal relationship with our heavenly Father.  And like the dark room my son feared, our children will have to stand in a dark world, where they will call to the Lord for wisdom and strength.
  5. Teach Them to Have a Servant’s Heart.  When I consider examples of service, there is none better than our Redeemer. He exemplified a servant heart when he washed the disciple’s feet and ultimately when He laid down His life for the atonement of our sins.  Encourage your children to put others before themselves and to always have a thankful and humble heart that desires to share with others.  The most practical way we as parents can emphasize this is to discourage materialism. Materialism is extremely self- indulging and self- focusing. Children have a natural tendency to focus on their wants before others. Our emphasis or lack thereof for material things demonstrates how much we look to satisfy our wants and it is very hard to have a servant heart when we are too involved in the desires of our flesh.  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45).  This is a definite difference in Christ and Christians that separates us from the world- while the world strives to compete to be the best, we humbly strive to serve.
  6. Instill Obedience.  Obedience has been tested since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. Disobedience brought sin into the world and is the bottom line for all accounts of sin- disobedience to God and His Word.  As parents, our discipline of our children should be taken very seriously.  Our children’s obedience to us will be directly correlated to their obedience to God.  We must correct swiftly and consistently.  “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” (Proverbs 13:24).  In a world full of temptations and selfish desires, we must be intentional with our discipline so our children understand the importance of obedience and do not give in to their temptations.  If we truly want what is best for our children, we will admonish them to be obedient, for God’s Word says “blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.” (Psalm 128:1). And in a world that proclaims we can do whatever makes us happy, our children must learn to obey as unto the Lord.
  7. Encourage Them to Share Their Faith. As I have personally experienced, sharing our faith does not guarantee us popularity with others.  And in the midst of a hostile world, we must prepare our children to face rejection and persecution. But that does not remove the responsibility to share Jesus. I was very encouraged with a conversation I had one day with Joanna. She began “Mom, I wonder if (friend’s name) knows about Jesus?” I said “well, you can ask and find out.” “She exclaimed “Yea! Because EVERYONE should know about Jesus!” She was absolutely right! As we train our children to be a light in the world, we are preparing them for the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15).

Children are a blessing from God. But they are also a responsibility- one that charges us to teach them the ways of the Lord and how to live for Him. Thankfully, in the midst of a dark, dark world, we have a beacon of light- Jesus Christ. By His grace, we do not belong to this world. We have a different kind of passport.  But while we remain on this side of eternity, we are to teach our children to be the example of Christ, live boldly for the Gospel, and be the light in the darkness.  “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8).

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker