Lifestyle

Can We Live in a Porn-Free World?

By Katie


*This post contains affiliate links.  It doesn’t cost you anything, but it may give us something*

This post is a departure from my usual posts. But its important.

I attend BayRidge Alliance Church with my family.  One of the ministries offered by BayRidge is Shift Parenting Seminars, designed to equip parents to raise their children in the fear of the Lord in a world bent on evil.

This past Sunday, BayRidge hosted Strength to Fight for its March seminar.  Strength to Fight is an organization that sheds light on the evils of the porn industry and equips parents to prepare their children to navigate a porni-fied world.

Josh Gilman spoke of the awful statistics that tell of the havoc porn is reeking on our homes.  The stats brought shock to my heart and tears to my eyes.  The stats of how many men and women and children are entrapped, of how the porn being produced is violent and sadistic, that this violent porn is setting the parameters of how men and women and adolescents  view sex and relationships.

But I don’t want to focus on those facts.  You probably have heard them and maybe you feel defeated already.  But Gilman left me with a way to beat the porn industry: to talk about its evils, to put words to my disgust, and to give words to others to speak of theirs.

And so I am.

One of the things that shocked me was that MindGeek, a company that disseminates over 90% of the porn worldwide, is located in Montreal.   Montreal, Canada.  That’s 3 hours down the 401 from me. In a global world, that is my back yard.

He believes that a bill geared towards limiting the availability of porn in Canada was gutted due to MPs being influenced by MindGeek.  That has got to stop.  We can not have a corporation dedicated to destroying lives for money influencing our government.

But there is hope: Gilman said that they are starting to see, in the last 2 to 3 years, internal correspondence in MindGeek speaking of their  fear that public opinion may be shifting away from being accepting of porn.

We can live in a porn-free world.

Gilman believes that we can change our porno-fied culture within the generation, much like public acceptance of slavery was shifted over a short time.  But it needs to be because of the people.  We need to say out loud, to our family, friends and neighbours, that this worldview is not ok.

I come to the table as a mom.  I fear for my son and daughters.  My initial thought is to shelter them, to shut them off from the world.  But I was told that they will eventually encounter pornographic images, and my responsibility is to teach them how to deal with it.

Right now,  I am not worried that my kids will accidentally click something, because they currently do not have access.  My kids get no screen time.

But some day they will.  And I want to start building the foundation of trust and openness today, so that if they do encounter something in the future, they will know they can talk to me.

There is a book called Good Pictures, Bad Pictures.  This book had been on my radar for a while, and I had heard positive things about it from other parents.  Strength to Fight was selling copies and I picked up the junior version, written for 3-6 year olds.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures gives me the language to speak to my children in a way to prepare them and protect them, without scaring them.  It tells them what is bad, and what to do if they see something that is bad.

I read it to my kids today.  I read the very basic version and I did not include words like “pornography” because the other idea that stuck with me was “be specific, but not graphic.”  My kids are sheltered, and I don’t want to give them more then they can handle.  You need to prepare your kids as they become ready, building on previous conversations.

The last few pages of the book gives kids practical things they can do if they encounter a bad picture.

Today, Atticus walked by me and casually said, “if I see a bad picture, I can tell my mom.”

This is how I can protect my kids.  They need to know that if they encounter porn it is bad, but it doesn’t make them bad.  They need to know they can tell me and we will walk that path together.  They need to know I will not react in fear and anger, but in love.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures also talked about what to do if someone tries take bad pictures of kids.  I believe this book gives language to kids so they know what is good and bad and they can protect themselves.

I weep for the world that we are in.  But I take joy in the work of organizations like Strength to Fight who are working to equip me to help and protect my kids.

 

*This post contains affiliate links.  It doesn’t cost you anything, but it may give us something*
Lifestyle

New Year, Same Me.

by Vicki

Happy New Year! I know its a couple of weeks into January, but I think that saying “happy new year” is okay for the entire month of January…soooo “Happy New Year!” 😉

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Typically people start the new year with a host of resolutions and goals. We see the year ahead as fresh and as a clean slate, with the possibility of being the “best year yet”. I have to say, I love the idea of a new year. I love the hope that I feel the first day of January. A brand new year, an expanse of time ahead of me with unlimited possibilities.

For 2017 I decided to join the ranks of many and chose a simple word for the year as opposed to multiple resolutions. I chose simplicity and I loved it…for the first month and a half. I eagerly decluttered my house, organized cupboards and closets, used a daily planner, and talked Mark’s ear off about making our busy family schedule simpler. Then…Dax was born and I went into survival mode and didn’t really pay attention to anything else, least of all making sure that I was able to call 2017 “my year of simplicity”. I tried to come back to making our lives simple but I mostly focused on trying to get caught up on sleep (my 10 month still won’t sleep through the night, whats up with that?) and making sure my three kids were fed on a regular basis.

I liked the idea of having a word, but when it came down to it, for me, it became another ‘thing’ that I wasn’t accomplishing. I said I wanted to just use one word so that I wasn’t loading myself down with rules or unattainable goals for the year, but I think, in the end, the word was just a cover for all the unmentioned rules and goals that I saw encompassed in it. I felt like it was another thing (things) that I was failing at.

So, that brings us to this New Year. 2018. A ‘clean slate’. But really, just another 365 days to live our lives.

Maybe I will do a ‘word of the year’ again next year but I don’t think I have the brain power to think of one or the ability to separate it from a list of unaccomplishable goals for this year. No worries though, all is not lost for 2018.

Truthfully, I am continually assessing and reassessing who I am and what I want to accomplish. I try to make little tweaks here and there when I see the need for change. I think that’s really what life is about. Continually taking a look at who we are, where we are going, and making adjustments to make sure we are doing okay.

So I don’t really have set 2018 goals or resolutions. And other than ‘sleep’ I don’t have a word for 2018. But, I do have a list of things that I have been working on lately and that I hope to keep working on. So here goes:

  1. Stop striving for perfection. Its not going to happen this side of Heaven. Accept imperfection and find joy in trying my best no matter what the result.
  2. See the excitement and beauty in the “trying” and not just in the result. I have a hard time starting a project if I can’t see the final result being ‘the best’. Example? I struggle cleaning my kitchen if I know I don’t have the full 1.5 uninterrupted hours to get it done to a sparkling/crumb-free/sanitized result. I need to start being happy with a partially-clean-work-in-progress kitchen. I can’t just freeze and get nothing done because I don’t have uninterrupted time…ever.
  3. To spend time creating. Being creative doesn’t come naturally to me, but when I create something its feels so good! I love decorating my home, writing things on my chalkboards, trying my hand at calligraphy, DIYing, etc etc etc :D.
  4. Spend more time with God! My church is reading the entire Bible together this year and I am so excited about it! Its pretty special to know that what I am reading is being read by my church family too.
  5. To be vulnerable and real. I am imperfect. I have been hurt. My marriage has had mountains and valleys. Sometimes I don’t want to be a mom. I don’t always read my Bible. I cook sometimes and order food in sometimes. Sometimes my house is super clean and organized, and sometimes it looks like a tornado came through. Just showing the good sides of life can be nice, but it can also hinder true relationship. I have found that the more “me” I am, the better I have been able to build my tribe of people who I love and who love me.
  6. To keep trying to make healthier choices for me. Eating Trim Healthy Mama, dancing with my kiddos, and sleeping more (please, Dax!).
  7. To live like Jesus. To love like Jesus. To live for and love Jesus.

Nothing too crazy. No new morning routines, or exercise regimes, or scheduled cleaning systems. Just me, continuing to be me, striving to be the best me, and living for the God who created me.

So, here’s to the New year, but same me!

If you have decided to start this year off with some goals or resolutions, or just refocusing on things you’ve been working on already….let us know! We love to hear other people’s ideas for inspiration and encouragement!

Hope all of your 2018 dreams, hopes, desires, resolutions, and goals come true! Happy New Year!

 

Lifestyle

Broken Things.

By Vicki

Broken Things by Matthew West

This song has been playing on repeat in our house for the last couple of days weeks months. The first time I heard it the words resonated with me so much. I used to think that I was maybe the only one (or one of the few) who felt like they were legitimately broken. But lately I am learning and realizing and understanding that most people (all people?) have felt broken, feel broken or will feel broken in their lives. Its part of our human nature. We were made for perfection, but with the fall into sin, that perfection became unattainable. We know we want perfection, we know we can’t get it, and we feel broken because we know our desire and reality will never meet.

This song speaks to my heart. I know the heart wrenching ache of knowing that I do not deserve to approach Jesus or enter His Kingdom. The ache is real and the knowledge is true. I don’t deserve Jesus or his Salvation. But, just as true, is grace. Broken people are used for His kingdom. He paid our punishment and then welcomes us, the broken things, into his presence. Its definitely true and its exceptionally wonderful. That ache of being broken no longer paralyzes me or makes me terrified for my future. I know that Jesus uses Broken Things: the messy, the imperfect, and the inadequate. Not only does He use us, He welcomes us into His kingdom. He delights in us and prepares a place for us to party and celebrate with Him. He loves us. He has a plan, a purpose, and a place for us. What a King we have! I eagerly await entering the Kingdom through doors that are only open because of grace.

Take a listen to the song, read the lyrics below, and enjoy your Sunday basking in the grace that turns broken things into guests of the King.

“Broken Things”
If grace was a kingdom
I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes that I’ve made

Oh but I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use

It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside

(lyrics taken from https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/matthewwest/brokenthings.html) 

Lifestyle

5:30 Thankfulness

by Kara

 

A while ago, my friend posted a couple vlogs titled “5:30 Thankfulness”. These vlogs were posted on days when her daughter woke her up at 5:30 in the morning, and they were little things to be thankful for, despite the lack of sleep.

I thought this was a great idea, and today was one of those days that Zoe woke up at 5:30 and did not want to go back to sleep. Its now 17 hours later, and I thought I would post some of the things that I’m thankful for today, even though I’m a tad tired. These things are direct results of the 5:30 wake up call!

  1. Since we were already awake, Zoe and I drove Tsjibbe to work, and we had the car for the day! We met a friend for lunch and did some Christmas shopping!
  2. When we got back from dropping Tsjibbe off (we always come back home before we go on our adventure), the fire was roaring and the house was warm. Tsjibbe had made sure to put some logs in the fire before we left, and it was so nice to come home to a warm house!
  3. We got to see my friend Sarah. We hardly ever see Sarah. So it was nice to catch up, enjoy lunch together, and discover my daughter’s fear of elevators together.
  4. We got to spend a lot of extra time with Tsjibbe! Not only did we get the extra hour of driving together, after Tsjibbe was done work, we got to run a few more errands together! Shopping is much easier with a man to carry around the [big] baby!
  5. We got to see both the sunrise and the sunset while driving. Two absolutely beautiful views. Its amazing to see the beauty God put into creation – for no other purpose than for His glory and our enjoyment.

Now that our day of fun is done, I’m ready to curl up in bed. Zoe, on the other hand, is happily crawling around and playing with the TV remote. Maybe she thinks that by not going to bed, she gets to spend a fun day out with mom.

 

Lifestyle

Why We Chose to Homeschool.

by Vicki

We have been homeschooling for two months now. We are all enjoying it…most days. Peyton has grown in leaps and bounds and is starting to read little books, make connections from our school work to our daily lives, and is learning so much about her God and Creator.

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A lot of people have asked us “why?” about our choice to homeschool.  Most of the time they are genuine ‘why?’s from people who are interested in our schooling choices. This is awesome and I love to share what we are learning and experiencing. But sometimes (like from a certain grocery store cashier) I get a “Why would you even do that? Do you really think that’s a good idea?”. Ummmmm, yes. Yes we do. That’s why we are doing it. Obviously.

So, to answer everyone’s spoken and unspoken questions of “why??”, here are some of the top reasons that Mark and I have decided to keep Peyton home for her kindergarten year.

  • Peyton’s Age: Peyton is young! She is 5 now, but would have only been 4 when she started full time Kindergarten. Mark and I both feel that 4 (and early 5s) is just too small to be gone from the house for 7+ hours each day. I dreaded the rushed grumpy mornings and the exhausted irritable evenings. Peyton still enjoys sleeping in in the mornings, having an hour (or more) of quiet time (nap?) in the afternoons, and is typically enjoyable during the evenings. In a year she will be that much more ready and mature to handle longer school hours, more structured routine, and her big emotions; making ‘regular’ school a better possibility for her.  IMG_0982
  • Family Time: Family time is very important to our family (as it is to most families, I’d imagine!). Since I am currently on Maternity Leave I felt strongly about Peyton having this time with me at home. She has spent time in daycares off and on since she was one, so I wanted to give her a year at home to relax and enjoy our family. I also thought it would be good to take this time to pour attention, love, and confidence into our little girl before she starts ‘regular’ school. As well, Mark gets home a little later in the day and, if Peyton was in school, she would have to go to bed pretty soon after he walked in the door (or sometimes even before!). With Peyton being homeschooled we are able to enjoy relaxed evenings with our family. Later bedtimes typically mean later mornings for Peyton, which is okay because we can start school on our own time.
  • Family Values: We believe in a Christian worldview. This worldview affects everything that we do, especially how we learn and process the world around us. Mark and I feel convicted that we want to start Peyton’s school career off in a place that encourages a focus on Christ and an awe of how our Creator has woven this world together. And, although we toured two wonderful Christian private schools, we like having another year to pour into our little lady. We, as parents, try to model Christ-like behaviour, love and values so that our children can know who and whose they are. With one more year at home, God willing Peyton will be that much more secure in her faith and identity so she can stand firm.IMG_0958
  • Flexibility: We are able to teach Peyton what and when we want (even when following a curriculum and ensuring she is staying on par with the Kindergarten standards). We are also able to take a day (or week) off if we need to rejuvenate, if we go visit family in Kingston or Ottawa, if we’re having a bad day, or if we’d rather sit in our pajamas reading books and drinking tea all day.
  • Understanding our Little Girl: Teaching Peyton one-on-one allows me to ensure she is learning in a way that helps her. I can manipulate the curriculum to ensure she is learning to her strengths. If she isn’t getting something I can spend more time on it to ensure it is firmly understood. Or, if she catches on to something very quickly (numbers seem to make a lot of sense to her!), we can spend less time on it. I can also choose subjects and activities that interest Peyton. She is so much easier to teach and so much more interested in learning if its incorporated into something she already has an interest in. When Peyton goes to regular school next year I will have a good understanding of Peyton’s abilities (her strengths and weaknesses), her interests and disinterests, and how she learns best. I will be able to help her navigate the different learning environment and can be an advocate for her during her schooling career. IMG_0948
  • No regrets: Both Mark and myself were homeschooled at some point in our lives. Mark was for the majority of his schooling and I was for a couple of years in elementary. It is something that we talked (in passing) about maybe doing for our kids one day. When the opportunity to do so became an actual possibility one thought kept coming to me: We will never regret trying, but we may regret not trying. Its easier to do it and realize that it doesn’t work for us than to always wonder what could have been.

There are so many more reasons that we have chosen to keep Peyton home, but these are the main ones. We have many friends that have chosen to send their children to private or public schools and we love that. We do not think that homeschooling is the only or even the best way to teach your children. We do believe that you need to know your children and make choices that are right for them and for your family. For us, that means keeping Peyton home (at least for this year) and reevaluating her schooling situation next year.IMG_0952We just finished our first two months of school. And it is hard. But we are enjoying it. Peyton is excited about school each day and finds the weekends kind of long. We have been able to go on a couple of field trips already and have done some cool projects. Peyton and I are both learning a lot about each other. I am so thankful that this is the route we have chosen to take. I am even more thankful for this “extra” time that I get with my ‘peanut’.  I will do more homeschooling posts about some of our day-to-day life in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions about homeschooling or are wondering if this is a choice for your family I am more than happy to share (the little of) what I know. I am by no means an expert but I am happy to help you with this journey!

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Lifestyle

A Promise to my Daughter

by Kara


My baby bonked her tooth today, against the hard leg of the piano bench. She was so shocked, a hurting tooth is such a sharp pain for such a little child, and her teething gums are already in so much pain. She cried big crocodile tears.

So I scooped her up in my arms. I wrapped her in a bright, comforting quilt, and popped her soother into her mouth. She snuggled down in my arms as I read her a few more paragraphs from The House at Pooh Corner. Then I sang to her. Then I just rocked her, as she slowly slipped into a peaceful sleep.

She and I always snuggle. She’s as much a snuggle bug as I am, and I love it. I love rocking her every night, and I love taking a break from daily tasks to snuggle her before I put her down for a nap. But something about this snuggle brought me back to nearly 8 months ago, when I first brought her home. Maybe it was the way she had managed to shrink into my body; maybe it was the fact that my body is feeling the dull aching pain of recovery – this time from a workout rather than surgery. Maybe it was that my mom visited yesterday, and we talked about that first week that Zoe was home with us.

I sat and held her for longer than usual. I looked down at her peaceful face, and wondered what she knew, what she remembered.

Does she remember what my heart sounds like from the inside? When she leans against my chest, does she know it’s the same heart, every beat echoing a love for her thats so deep it overflows into constant hugs and kisses? Does she remember the harsh light in the operating room, the gentle hands of the nurse that first held her and checked her? Does she remember being placed into her dad’s big hands, as he lovingly held his newborn daughter for the very first time? Does she remember the drive home, all bundled and warm in her new car seat, mama sitting beside her because after 9 months of being completely connected, she couldn’t let her new baby out of her sight? Does she remember stopping at Tim Hortons because mama wanted something (anything!) other than hospital food? Does she remember Grandma holding her, walking her, night after night? Does she remember all the whispered I love yous? Does she remember that her first real smile was when she first saw her daddy’s clean-shaven face? Does she remember the bassinet that she first slept in, close to mama’s side?

Does she know how much I loved to lie awake, listening to daddy’s rhythmic breathing and her soft snoring, love for my beautiful family pulsing through my veins? Does she know I sneak into her room every night to check on her before I go back to my own bed? Does she know that her smile is the most beautiful smile I have ever seen, her laugh the happiest sound I have ever heard?

Does she know that there is somebody who loves her even more than I do? Does she know that He will be there, even when I can’t be? Will she learn to trust Him, to love Him, to follow Him?

Do I know how to teach her these things?

The song that I was singing to her goes like this:
(Song by Keith and Kristyn Getty; Lyrics taken from gettymusic.com;
Listen to it here)

A Mother’s Prayer

“Before you close your eyes to sleep
I have a promise still to keep
As I hold you in my arms.
I pray your little frame grows strong
And that faith takes hold while you are young;
This is my prayer for you.

Hold my hand;
I’ll teach you the Way to go.
Through the joys, through the tears,
The journey of these years,
May you trust Him ‘til the end.
May you trust Him in the end.

This world is not as it should be,
But the Savior opens eyes to see
All that’s beautiful and true.
Oh may His light fill all you are
And the jewel of wisdom crown your heart;
This is my prayer for you.

Hold my hand;
I’ll teach you the Way to go.
Through the joys, through the tears,
The journey of these years,
He is with us ‘til the end.
He is faithful ‘til the end.

You’ll travel where my arms won’t reach
As the road will rise to lead your feet
On a journey of your own.
May my mistakes not hinder you
But His grace remain and guide you through;
This is my prayer for you.

Take His hand
And go where He calls you to.
And whatever comes, seek Him
With all your heart;
This will be my prayer for you.
mmmm Father, hear my ceaseless prayer;
Oh keep her in your care.



 

This is the promise I make to you, my beautiful daughter:

I will hold you up in prayer, even when I can no longer hold you in my arms.

I will teach you to take His hand, even when you can’t hold my hand.

I will support you in your calling, even when it no longer overlaps with my calling.

I will show you his perfect love, even through my imperfect love.

As I make you this promise, I must also tell you this: I will fail. In your short life, I’ve already failed. But He never will.

So, darling, whatever comes, seek Him.

Love always, Mama.

Bookish Posts · Lifestyle

Grow Your Mind(set).

By Katie


A few weeks ago, I instagrammed about Mindset, a book I had just picked up.

I finally finished it. It’s a non-fiction, which means it took me longer to read it, because I journaled as I read.  I don’t journal all my non-fictions, like Into Thin Air By Jon Krakauer or Dead Wake by Eric Larson, both brilliant narrative non fictions.  But for books like Mindset, where I want to absorb the lessons and change my worldview, I find I can’t retain all the info I want to.  Writing down my thoughts and reflections as I read allows me to understand it better, and to easily flip back to remind myself of key points.

If you have not encountered Mindset Theory before, you may wonder what the big deal is.  Carol S. Dweck spends 246 pages telling you what the big deal is.  Go pick up the book and find out.

Ha.

Anyways.

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I finished Mindset.  And I want it to change my life.   As a fixed-mindset person, my initial thought is, ‘it’s too bad I don’t have a growth mindset,’ and end it there.  But, I want to develop a growth mindset, and the first step is to know that traits/talents/intelligence/mindsets are not set in stone, but can be changed.

I’m going to do a couple posts on Mindset, dealing with self, parenting and relationships.  This may be an introduction post, or it may be the one on self.  We will see.   (I am a champion planner, as you can see.)

As I was journaling, I noticed that I was writing more about Fixed Mindset traits then growth mindset traits.   Even though I want to change to a growth mindset, I am drawn to the idea that I can’t change and it’s too bad.  About a third of the way through, I started consciously writing more about growth mindset and how to cultivate it.  My mindset is changing already!!

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The reason I want to change is because Fixed Mindset people don’t deal with problems and failures.  They don’t find solutions.   They assign blame.  They are embarrassed if something requires effort.   Criticism is a personal attack and devalues your worth.  Failures occur because there is something intrinsically wrong with you.

To a fixed mindsetter, effort is terrifying because a) geniuses or people who are naturally superior aren’t supposed to need it; b) it robs you of excuses (ie I failed because I didn’t try).

To a fixed mindsetter, the hardest thing to say is “I gave it my all and it wasn’t good enough.  I still failed.”

Both of these apply to me.  I fear failure.  I am mortified if I do something and I fail.  I can’t talk about it.  I pretend it never happened.  I fear effort.  I am mortified if I have to try hard at something.  I don’t talk about it.  I pretend I never tried.

If I look back at choices I have made, I can easily see where my fixed mindset has crippled me; where a fixed mindset allowed me to quit instead of trying.

While in university, I received a letter from the English Department after taking an English Lit class asking me to join the department.   Despite the fact that reading and writing are passions, I never followed through.  I didn’t want the possibility that I could fail at something I loved.  In my mind, I finished at the top.

I was embarrassed that it took effort (ie: I needed to do all the homework) to get the A+ I got in first year Calculus.

I quit flight school because I didn’t comprehend the math immediately; I felt that if I didn’t get it in class, I would never get it.

These are really embarrassing to write.  I want everyone to think that I made all the right choices, all the time with no effort.  It’s kind of a crazy thought process when you really think of it.

I don’t want to continue to live this way.  It is actually quite a dumb way to live. I have dreams that I want to fulfill, but they will take a lot of effort.  And I may fail.  But that needs to be ok.

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A growth mindset is characterized by the idea that “I gave it my all for things I valued.”

Dweck said that confidence is not a necessary part of the growth mindset: you can give effort and acknowledge you can learn without self confidence.  This is huge for me.  I am not a confident person.  And I have always used that as an excuse for why I don’t try things/talk to people/apply for experiences. 

I think that the first step in growing my mindset is to stop assigning blame.  And to stop tying my worth to my success.  And to stop taking criticism as a personal attack.

I need to see failures as a chance to learn.  I need to enjoy the learning that failures give me.  I need to realize that people who are good at things are good because they have worked at it.  Effort is a good thing.

And the biggest one:  I need to see my worth as a Child of the King.  It doesn’t matter if it takes me 100 tries to master something.   The Creator of the universe is my God.  I am His child. In what else could I possibly find worth that equals that?

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(Clearly this was a post about self.  I am glad I planned that out.)

Lifestyle

Life in the Slow(er) Lane.

By Katie


Have you noticed that there are Christmas trees set up in Costco?  The fall and Halloween displays have been taken down and the left over merchandise is tucked into out-of-the way aisles.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Christmas music will be playing next time we go (which will be next week.  I love me some Costco samples!)  I am fully expecting to go on Dec 24 to buy Valentine’s Day cards.

What is going on?  How did our culture get sucked into living at super speed?  It is not only shopping: its all aspects of our North American Culture.   The part the gets me is how it has affected parenting.  I know of parents whose children are in school all day, and activities all night.  Weekends are full of activities and obligations and running around.

I don’t want that life.  I can’t do much about unseasonable displays in retail locations, but I can do something about my children’s childhood. I want to do something about my children’s childhood.

I want to slow it down.

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This is a picture from last fall. I am wondering where the energy is going to come from to rake up all these leaves this year.

I have always wanted to homeschool.  I was homeschooled for 3 years and consider them the best, most educational schooling years of my life.  I mentioned earlier this week, one reason is to have an impact on my children’s mindset – I don’t want them to adopt a fixed mindset, which I believe institutionalized education fosters.  (I am not saying all children in schools have a fixed mindset; I think the current set-up of education pushes children towards, and intentionally rewards a fixed mindset).

The other reason I want to homeschool is because I don’t want our family life to be sucked into the whirlwind of busy.  I understand that life will be busy, that my life will be busy with 4 kids close together in age.  But, there is a difference between external busyness and family busyness.   External busyness is running everywhere like a chicken with its head cut off trying to accomplish all the tasks that society tells us we must in order to be living the best life ever.  Family busyness is attempting to sit down for supper and having to get up 134 times because you forgot all the things kids need in order to complete a meal.   Family busyness it trying to corral your kids and all their stuff at the same time so you can take a leisurely fall walk in which you spend all your time answering questions, guiding the run-away kids, preventing a tumble into the lake.  (Ha. Leisurely…)

I want to be able to intentionally slow down on a regular basis.  I don’t want my schedule to get cluttered with external obligations at the expense of my family’s life.   The art of slow does not come easy to me:  I like to be productive.  But I want to change my mind set to see that spending time doing life with my kids and husband is productive in the best kind of way.

Life has been getting busy lately. We are desperately trying to get a bunch of renos finished before the twins come.  I feel like it is consuming my life and I am constantly anxious because I don’t think we will get done.

But I think that life will be easier if we get them done before the number of kids we have at home grows exponentially.

But I feel like I am pushing my family to the side to achieve these goals.

So, when I noticed that a new friend of mine joined a challenge for October called The 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge I joined as well.  Because I am a follower.

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I should clearly add “haircuts” to my Before-Babies-Arrive to do list.

Ok, I joined because I thought it would be good if we could take a month to relearn how to slow down before the little ladies join us in 7 short weeks (eek!!).

The challenge comes with daily things to do with your kids intended to slow down your day.  Some of them are easy: read aloud to your kids.   My kids wouldn’t let me go a day without multiple stories being read.  Others are more difficult: make a piece of land art.  My kids are constantly collecting nature to do things with, but I never follow through with the actual creating of something.

It has been difficult to find time to complete all the tasks of the challenge.

I thought it ironic that my slow down challenge has become one more thing to check off my list, so I decided to slow it down a bit more.  I am not completing all the tasks (I am not sure I will ever be the mom that does yoga with her toddlers.   Just doesn’t seem like fun to me.)   There is a daily journal component that I really want to do but haven’t yet.  Part of the reason is that I think I need to go out and buy a beautiful journal in which to transcribe my oh-so-poignant thoughts.  Really, for the poignancy of my thoughts at this stage of pregnancy, the back of a receipt would do.

One the challenge items I latched on to was the “Purge 25 items.”  I have made it into “Purge a multiple of 25 items.”  I am collector (that is ‘hoarder’ in euphemistic terms).  I have So. Much. Junk.   And even as I purge I think, “this could be useful one day.”  But I am attempting to be ruthless, as ruthless as I can be, because I actually like my stuff.

I have gone through purges before and regretted the stuff I got rid of.  Ok, there was only 1 thing I ever regretted:  my old SLR camera that used film.  It was the camera I bought for my travels.  I hadn’t used it since I purchased my DSLR, so I sold it.   And regretted it the moment the transaction was done. Now, I live in fear that I will regret another purged item.  So maybe I should keep the terra cotta pot that has one side broken because maybe I will make a fairy garden like this one day.   Or maybe it just should go into the dump pile.

Some of the tasks I missed I want to do next week, like make the land art.  We have so many leaves here from our maples that I think would be fun to collect with the kids.  I don’t know what we will do yet, but if Atticus has his way, it will involve glue and paint.  And a drill.

My journey to slow is far from complete.  These reminders and challenges are good to keep me on track.  I don’t want to raise workaholics, but rather adults who take pleasure in the simplicities of this life that God gave us.

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Clive believes in the slow life.

And, by the way, the pot got chucked.

Lifestyle

An Open Letter to My 5-year-old Daughter

by Vicki

My darling little lady,

How has this day already come? How have 5 whole years gone by since I first held you in my arms and prayed that I would live up to the name “mama”? Prayed that I would have the answers to all your ‘why’ questions? Prayed that I would have the words when your heart was broken? Prayed that you would know how loved and treasured you are?

You have always been a joy to our family. Your smile, contagious laugh, fits of giggles, and desire for a good time make our lives entertaining (if not a bit busy). You keep your Daddy and me on our toes (already) and I can only imagine that that will continue as you get older. You already ask the tough questions and desire a deeper knowledge of the world around you. You love passionately, you feel deeply, and your heart breaks with injustice and unfairness. You are intuitive and often pick up on people’s emotions before they have even been expressed. You are empathetic and you want to make sure your people are taken care of. You are loyal, almost to a fault (other people can have cute babies too, you know!). You struggle with trusting the unknown but, when the questions get hard and the answers seem harder, you willingly and determinedly repeat “I know that my God is good”. You’ve already made us so proud in your short life and we know you are destined for big things. You are our little lady. We love you so.so.so much.  Even more than that, you are God’s little lady. And He loves you even more.

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On your fifth birthday there are some things I want to tell you. Some things I pray you’ll keep close to your heart, that you’ll remember each year as you get older, and that will help you navigate this crazy thing called life.

  • Life is hard. It has been hard since the fall into sin and it will be hard until we are Heaven-side. People will be unkind, toes will be stubbed, little brothers will get bigger and beat you up, people will have things you want but cannot have, you will get sick, tests will be failed, pimples will appear before first dates, friends will be lost, you will spill water and milk and tea, you will be hurt, you will cry, your parents will disappoint you, you will feel like no one understands you, and you will feel alone. BUT!
  • Life is good. It hasn’t always been good. But Jesus, He made it good. When those hard things get you down, please remember, please know…that He’s got you. He died for you. He made it so that one day there would be no more tears, no stubbed toes, no wardrobe disasters, no failed grades, no unkind words, and no loneliness. And so, when life feels hard, remember that life is good because of Jesus.

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  • Life is beautiful. There is beauty all around you. There are breaths of fresh air, trickling streams, towering trees, glistening sunshine and full rainbows. There are smiles, laughter, soothing melodies, baby giggles, rich dark chocolate, soft sweaters, and warm cups of tea. There is forgiveness. There is redemption. There is a life redeemed by the blood of our Saviour. There is a place for you at the foot of His heavenly throne where angels will be singing praises to our King! I can’t think of anything more beautiful than that!
  • Life is love. There is no life without love. You have been blessed to be born into a world where you are surrounded by love. Your daddy and I love you so much. There is nothing you can do, or say, or think that will make us love you less. You have grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings that love you. You have friends and friend-families that love you. You are a very loved young lady. But, when those people fail you or disappoint you or seem too busy for you. There is Jesus’ love. And His love is the most important. His love is the love that makes this life possible. Don’t forget that. His love never fails, never disappoints, and He’s never too busy for you. He loved you so much that he gave His life for you, so that you could live this life well, and the next life even better!

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  • Life is a choice. Each day you make the choice to live this life. Choose to live it well. Live it loving others. Choose to be kind, caring, honest, joyful, determined for the future, peaceful, controlled, patient, and good. Choose to run this race well, to finish with honour. Like I’ve already said, its going to be hard, but Jesus lives in you. And He has given you everything you need to choose to live this life well.
  • Life is about Jesus. Be you in this life. Be uniquely you. Don’t let others dictate who you are or what choices you should make. But, be you…in Jesus.  Because this life really is all about Him: Jesus. Love Him. Trust Him. Live for Him. Do this, and it all will turn out okay. I promise.

You have so much life to live. Live it well. Defeat your dragons. Fight your battles. Discover your paths. Dream your dreams. Play your music. Dance your two step. And: Love your Jesus.

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Love always,

Mama.

Lifestyle

No Sense Crying over Spilt Milk. Or is There?

By Katie


 

Yesterday, I cried over spilt milk.

Literally.

My son spilt some milk.  And I burst into tears.

And then I started laughing because I thought, “No sense crying over spilt milk.”

(That’s probably how that saying came into being: Men probably came up with it, because of pregnant, hormonal mothers crying for no reason.  Typical patriarchy 😉 )

So I have confirmed for my kids that, yes indeed, their mother is crazy.

And that spilt milk is a reason to both cry and laugh.

These poor kids.

That is how my parenting is right now.   A melody of contradictions.  It’s weird that you don’t read about the Contradictory Parenting Method in parenting books.  Because it’s working for me exactly zero percent of the time.

I joke about it, but I really feel bad for my kids.

Earlier this year I read Have a New Kid By Friday by Kevin Leman and studied Child Training Tips by Reb Bradley with our small group.  I really felt like I found tools for effectively, godly parenting which were working.

(If you are feeling like your current strategy is not working and you are frustrated beyond all reason, I would recommend you check those titles out.  There is some parenting gold in those books.)

But all parenting takes energy.  Which is something I am lacking.  So all my strategies and methods have gone out the window and I am reduced to pleading and cajoling.  Oddly enough, not a great parenting strategy….

Anyways.   I wasn’t planning on sitting down and banging out a post disparaging my parenting.  But it is something that is on my mind a lot: what are the costs of my pregnancy on my family?  One thing is for sure, I think we will all be ready for these little ladies to make their appearance.  Especially Atticus, who told me today that he would make sure the twins don’t eat the cats’ tails.  Which makes me wonder, has he tried it?

As of my last appointment, my fundal height is the same as that of a full-term singleton pregnancy.  So remember when you were 39 weeks pregnant and felt huge and couldn’t do anything and couldn’t roll over in bed and could barely reach the kitchen sink?  That’s where I am.  With 9.5 weeks to go!  (I told Will I wouldn’t be able to do dishes for the rest of the pregnancy. 😀  Like the smart man he is, he told me that was fine.  The dishes would wait until the twins were born….Ha.  Ha.)